Cookie School

by SomeGirl on January 12, 2011 · 30 comments

After meeting with a speech and language pathologist last Friday and discovering that my extremely bright, oldest son has some language and memory issues that have been exasperated by the great FRUSTRATION involved in learning to read, I set about to make a change in the way we do things around here.

After a lot of research I found that, by far, one of the best strategies to help students with these issues is to get them to RELAX and make learning fun and meaningful.

So, I dipped back into my former teaching years and remembered that chocolate chip cookies have been shown to be the most relaxing smell. Then I put my mind and pen to work to formulate a fun, meaningful, relaxing day-long activity which incorporated more elements and activities that I found to be helpful in my research.

This new approach is something we’re calling “Cookie School.”


Here’s how it worked on the first day…

The lovely, sweet, kind, and oh-so-patient “Miss Cookie” (my alter-ego) met the boys in the kitchen at 9:00am, as announced the night before and greatly anticipated that morning.

She pulled out a child’s cookbook and asked the boys to help read the recipe to make sure she didn’t make any mistakes. Of course she had to step away from the cookbook to gather supplies and the boys had to read all by themselves (and my oldest did very well with no signs of frustration).


There was lots of math (fractions, units of measurements, counting…), science (hypotheses, form changes, interactions of components…) plenty of verbal language expression, and lots of fun!


While the cookies baked the boys did some math work (which is a favorite around here) and when the cooking timer went off a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies were served with a short reading lesson. My oldest one couldn’t believe it when he heard that he had to eat a cookie while he read because this was “Cookie School!”

Needless to say there was no arguing, no frustration, no anger… something that hasn’t happened with a reading lesson in a long time.

We proceeded through the rest of the day with memory games, brain teasers, story time, show and tell, outside play, and grammar work.

Then at the end of school time my oldest took a photo of the cookies and wrote a review of them in a journal for future reference.


He did a GREAT job at all of his learning that day and even read quite a bit on the couch with me as I played a game where I fumbled through a Star Wars book reading words like “dangerous” as “sweet” and “nice” as “fluffy” (to which he taught me rules like “c before e makes /s/”.) There were lots of great reading strategies he had tucked away in his mind that couldn’t come out before with the frustration.

It was also interesting to see what happened in his writing when the stress was gone… A majority of his letters were written backwards, making me wonder if he normally spends so much energy trying to get things right that when he relaxed he wrote what his mind truly sees? (just a thought)

It’s also strengthened my resolve to schedule an appointment with Scottish Rite for language/dyslexia testing (they provide testing and any needed therapy free of charge).

But mostly it was WONDERFUL to see him enjoying reading!

We all had a GREAT time and it looks like “Cookie School” will be a weekly activity at our house (on Tuesdays). :) Yum!

{ 30 comments }

Natalie

Sounds wonderful, Michelle! Your boys are blessed to have you :)

SomeGirl

Aw… thanks, Natalie! You’re so sweet! ♥

Rachel

What an awesome idea!! So glad that it was so stress free, and praying you’ll be able to get some more testing/info soon!!

SomeGirl

Thank you, Rachel! We are sending in our application to Scottish Rite tomorrow, met with a doctor to get a recommendation letter today! Thanks for your prayers! ♥

Alicia The Snowflake

Oh what a great idea! I pray many more fruitful school days for you guys. And may you find the answers that you need to help him.

BTW, my husband is dyslexic, which was not discovered until he went to college (yes, it’s a long story ;)). He is an extremely bright and thinks outside the box. But school was always a challenge for him.

Blessings to you my friend!

SomeGirl

I have been reading Overcoming Dyslexia the past couple of days and your husband’s story seems to be very common… crazy, hu? They say most people with dyslexia are very bright and made even brighter because they have to problem solve and compensate for their reading struggles. Very interesting stuff!

Thanks for your prayers and comment! ♥

Robin

I’d love to go to Cookie School ;) Some of the brightest students I ever met were dyslexic and just a joy to be around. Even if Z is not dyslexic, the Scottish Rite testing can give you a lot of good information. I did my training there. Hope they can see him soon – there’s usually quite a “line”. Still happy to look over the info sheets I mailed you way back when – if you sent them back to me, let me know because I don’t think I got them.

SomeGirl

Thanks, Robin! I met with our family doctor today to get a recommendation letter. Hopefully the “line” won’t be too long! I have to admit I have no idea where I put the papers you sent, I’ll look to see if I can find them. (I’ve waffled back and forth so often between thinking he had a problem and not that I stuck them away somewhere during one of my, “He’s fine” moments. I’ll look!) Thank you! ♥

Kristen @ JoyfullyThriving

Congrats, Miss Cookie, on finding a creative idea to deal with the situation at hand! Just as you know, and I believe with my students, teachable moments are around us every day!

SomeGirl

So true! Thanks, Kristen!

barbara

What a mom! Inspired by Holy Spirit all the way through!

SomeGirl

Oh, you’re SO sweet, Barbara… thank you!!

Marci@OvercomingBusy

What a great idea! Baking is one of our favorite math activities, but I never thought about doing reading and writing too! You are brilliant!

SomeGirl

Thanks, Marci! :) I don’t know if I can claim brilliant, but I am pretty good at sneaking reading and writing into places you wouldn’t expect it. ;) lol

Betsy at Zen Mama

So sweet! (your family and the cookies!) Don’t you love those ideas that work so well! Great job Michelle!

SomeGirl

Thanks, Betsy! You gotta love it when your idea works well! Hate the ones that flop (although they’re good learning tools for us as teachers, right?)! :)

Cranberry Morning

What a smart mom you are! Your boys are blessed.

SomeGirl

Thanks, Judy! You’re SO sweet! ♥

Deb Chitwood @ Living Montessori Now

I want to come to your Cookie School! Great idea, Michelle – making learning fun makes everything better!

SomeGirl

Thanks, Deb! I thought of you when we were doing it! :)

Jennifer

Cookie School sounds wonderful! We may have to try that around here.

Thanks for the update about your meeting with the SLP. We suspect our younger daughter has dyslexia, among other issues, but no one wants to test because “she’s so young.” It is always good to come across another way (and a yummy one at that!) to make learning easier and more fun!

Please keep me posted on his progress and any tips and tricks you learn along the way!

~Jennifer

SomeGirl

Thanks, Jennifer! I’ll keep you posted!

Btw, I’ve just started reading a GREAT book called Overcoming Dyslexia (http://www.amazon.com/Overcoming-Dyslexia-Complete-Science-Based-Problems/dp/0375400125) It was $17 at Barnes and Noble and I can’t put it down! I’d HIGHLY recommend it! I was just reading today about signs of dyslexia in young children… very interesting stuff!

Jennifer

Thanks for the book recommendation, Michelle! I’ll check it out and see if I can get a copy soon. I’m pretty sure that’s what we’re dealing with based on family history and the number of red flags we’re seeing.

I look forward to seeing more progress—in both our kids!

~Jennifer

ali @ an ordinary mom

Relaxed learning so such productive learning! I’m a huge fan of relaxed learning. (and chocolate chip cookies!!)

SomeGirl

(and relaxing!!) (speaking of myself, of course) ;)

Laura

So creative! I love it. Isn’t it amazing how so much learning can take place when we’re taking part in activities that don’t, at first blush, appear to be a teaching moment? I love it!

SomeGirl

Thanks, Laura! And that learning usually sticks better, too. Makes me wonder why I don’t do that more often!

Heidi B

Michelle,

Morris has a WONDERFUL cookie recipe if you need another cookie school day!

SomeGirl

Yes, I’d love it! We’re going to be doing Cookie School every Tuesday and trying new cookie recipes each time, so I’m on the look-out for good recipes! :)

(I heard you’re going to be homeschooling, J! Have you started yet?)

Christina

Hello Michelle, I enjoyed connecting with you at Blissdom! I can’t wait to go through some of your posts. This post caught my eye, because I’m hungry. No, really, cuz I have a thought to share with you.
My oldest is dyslexic (he’s 18) when he was your son’s age we found Spell To Write & Read by Wanda Sanseri. It is a phonics/writing/spelling program that helps with learning problems. I implemented her ideas and it worked beautifully. He to would get frustrated, like how you described your son.
IEW, Andrew Pudewa has info on teaching writing, but also some valuable advice for younger aged children. He taught that, writing is ‘art’ much like drawing, it uses another side of the brain and to often kids can’t connect reading/writing combinations as we are asking them to combine 2 different skills…(I know he’s explained it better and can look up the actual CD it was on and let you know if your interested)
So, those are my two thoughts…I hope they help you as we’ve walked some of this road as well. Take care and Keep in Touch
Christina

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