Saturday, February 26, 2011

Numbers, Letters—and more

This was Numbers and Letters week … and much more!

Tuesday began with Miss White helping Kanaan match letters to a letter chart. Next to him was Kyler matching money to a money chart.

Then Miss Forbis taught vowels to us by singing about them, all the while reinforcing our knowledge of sign language....

With soap, soap here and water, water there
Here a wash, there a wash -
Everywhere a wash, wash
Old McDonald did the laundry, a-e-i-o-u.

Although Mister Pat knows his letters and most of his numbers, his knowledge of sign language is quite limited. So, along with several parents, on Friday morning he took advantage of the first of two classes on just that subject. For over an hour, our Speech Therapist, Sharon Hanvey, taught us the ASL (American Sign Language) signs for not only letters and numbers, but for colors, days of the week, verbs, action words, commands, food, relatives, tableware—and we even learned how to say "Fine" when Grandma asks, "How are you?" (see below)

We left with the knowledge that we can still practice online. There are literally thousands of words and phrases on, including a Main Dictionary, a Religious Dictionary, a Conversational Dictionary, and an “ASL for Babies” Dictionary. Each word is demonstrated by a real person!

Or we can go to Signing Time is a labor of love, born out of Rachel Coleman’s desire to create a community that could communicate with her deaf daughter. Signing Time also teaches ASL (American Sign Language) vocabulary.

Another site (there are many) is, whose Dynavox devices assist individuals who are unable to communicate reliably with their own voices due to cognitive, language and physical impairments. The company was founded by Gary Killiany, who created the EyeTyper, a tool that allowed a young woman with cerebral palsy to “speak” for the first time in her life by composing and speaking messages by moving her eyes.

You can even get a book: Signing Exact English, Gerilee Gustason et al, Modern Signs Press, 1993.

Did you ever count stars?
Did you ever count sheep?
Did you ever count sheep taking walks in their sleep?
If you never did, I think that you should.
Counting sheep can be fun, and fun is good.
—Dr. Seuss

Friday, February 18, 2011

Seek the Noblest

The motto of Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity (for women) is “Seek the Noblest”; part of their mission is “service to others”. This morning six girls from NCSU’s Iota Phi chapter – Carly, Erin, Sloane, Blair, Mia and Rachel – came to our class to learn how the Frankie Lemmon School serves children with special needs.

They came two at a time, each pair for half an hour. They sang with us, they read stories with us, and they played with us.

My friends learned a lot today and I think these girls learned a lot, too, because they are not only very nice people, and smart, but they care! And now they know what I do—that every day at the Frankie Lemmon School is a learning experience! Every day at Frankie Lemmon is a noble cause! Thanks for your visit, girls!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Where do Valentine Hearts come from?

Miss Forbis had us sing about Valentine hearts in class today—songs like “I’m a Little Heart Fish”, “Hearts in my Mailbox”, and “You are my Valentine.” And Miss Paula had us sing Valentine songs like “Skinnamarink e-doo I love you” and “Won’t you be my darling?” That’s not all. We read about Valentine hearts and true love in books like:

But, should the truth be known, Valentine hearts are made in our class in a Jello mold with ever so much care—and with the promise we can have them during snack time!

Who knew?! It was a lot of fun and involved travel to the secret refrigerator.

We got quite excited. When we came back to our room, Miss Forbis decided it was time for us to wind down. She found a whole rainbow of colored nylon scarves in the bottom of her drawer. They were very light and you could look right through them. Then she turned down the lights and had us sit on the carpet. She gave each of us a scarf and began playing a CD called African Dreamlands.

While the music played, we made our scarves wave back and forth and threw them up in the air and watched them float down like colored cobwebs. We made goofy hats that we could see through and sneeze off our head. It was so enchanting, so calming, so relaxing. I can only describe it as a “lullaby experience”.

Listen for yourself at:

(I especially like the first song, by Ladysmith Black Mambazo.)

Even Mister Pat couldn’t resist the strong desire to take a nap, satisfied that he now knows where Valentine hearts come from; they come from the room down the hall where the purple pumpkins and Pilgrims and Santa Clauses and Valentine hearts come from every year.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Questions about shapes and the not-so-obvious answers we learned in school today.

On ArtikPix you can play ArtikPix flashcards and you can play the ArtikPix Matching Game. You can learn these games at and then you can play them on your Etch a Sketch Ipad (or any Ipad). See demo at:

See the Proloquo2Go demo at: (Thanks to our Speech Therapist Sharon Hanvey for sharing the scoop on these programs!)

Stephen Hawking
, our modern day Einstein, wrote the runaway best seller A Brief History of Time. It stayed on the British Sunday Times bestsellers list for a record-breaking 237 weeks. But Stephen has a form of ALS (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig's disease) and can’t speak at all—he can’t even move. Instead, his friends built a special computer for him. He writes onto a computer with small movements of his body, and then a voice synthesizer speaks for him.

His friends had asked themselves: Is it Stephen’s fault? Should we do something about it? Shouldn’t we just love him and try to help him—just as we would baby Sue who may never speak or Grandpa Jones who may never remember your name?

If we ask those questions about the people around us with love, love can shape the answers with unexpected and not-so-obvious results.