Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Using Technology to Create Social Stories for Children: Adobe Voice

In the past, I have written about using social stories to help children with autism or anxiety deal with apprehension about the unknown or future events.  My previous post was about a birthday party, but social stories can be created for your child about ANY theme such as starting school, night-time routine, going to the dentist, or traveling.  The stories can also be created to help kids learn a new skill such as how to say "I'm sorry" or how to introduce yourself to someone new.

I have recently discovered the free app by Adobe called Adobe Voice.  This app can be used to make stories come alive with icons, photographs, text, graphics, and music. 

Here is a link to the video I created about a birthday party: Birthday Social Story

In this story, I used icons, but you can insert pictures of the child's actual world.  For example, for a social story about the first day of school, you can take photos of the actual school, the teacher, the classroom, his/her bookbag, the school bus, etc and make a video story for your child to watch.   Your child can even help create the video themselves.  They could record their own voice talking about the pictures that are uploaded. 

What is your story?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Economic Office Decoration

I guess now that I have been at the same job for 15 years, I should make myself comfortable!  I decided to make my workspace a spot that I could feel more peaceful in, something warm and centering for me while I work. 

The tree decal I ordered from Amazon.com cost about $15 and arrived at my doorstep in two days.  I was thinking it would be a project to figure out how to use one (this was my first) and how to get it up on my walls.  It was super easy and took about 15 minutes.  They are also reuseable and can be re-arranged with some care as needed.

The nice thing about the decal set is that it was composed of separate pieces, so you can arrange the tree however you want.  The picture on the package looks like this:

I decided to wrap it around the room and was able to create the illusion (see above office picture) of the tree growing behind the wall separator.  I also made the branches cluster around the picture frame above.  The frame was a gift from my sister in law a few Christmas' ago.  It has "clothes pins" in each of the 9 frames so you can switch out picture.  I had family pictures up for a long time which was fun.  This time, I gathered pictures of certain colors and made collages of each color on my Pic Stitch app...

Then I saved the collage of each color (e.g., one for green, one for blue, etc) and I used my touchnote app to send myself a postcard of each collage. 
The postcards come on sturdy stock paper with a nice shine.  They do not curl or fold, and they hold up better than actual photo prints. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Suddenly: Luke 5 (5-7) Devotional



Excerpt from Soul Cries devotional, copyright 2012
*2013 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist*

Luke 5:5-7 (The Message)
Simon said, “Master, we've been fishing hard all night and haven't caught even a minnow. But if you say so, I'll let out the nets.” It was no sooner said than done—a huge haul of fish, straining the nets past capacity. They waved to their partners in the other boat to come help them. They filled both boats, nearly swamping them with the catch.

When you are the parent of a child whose needs are complex and difficult, the days roll into months and years. The amount of effort can feel so tremendous compared to the amount of lasting gains. We may cry out to God, “We’ve been hard at it during this night season, and we haven’t caught even a minnow!” When Simon says this to Jesus, he has good reason. Simon is an expert fisherman; he runs a business and knows when and where to catch fish. He has come back exhausted and empty-handed, but Jesus tells him to go out again and put the nets in the water one more time. It seems futile to Peter and the fishermen with him, because they have been out there all night trying so hard and have come back so very exhausted.


Yet, when the Master says it, they do it. They know Him and trust Him. His word means something true to them. They have that kind of relationship, and “it was no sooner said than done!” Suddenly there is a breakthrough where there had been no breakthrough. Suddenly there is supply where there had been no supply. Suddenly there is abundance where there had been lack. “Suddenly,” after a long night of nothing, everything changed at the command of Jesus. Their “huge haul” of fish was surprising, abundant, and so heavy that it nearly sank the boats.


1. Beloved, have you been “fishing hard all night?” Have you done everything you know to do, but have come back exhausted and empty-handed? I pray that your heart will be open to unexpected wisdom from the Father. I pray that your hard night will turn “suddenly” into abundance and breakthrough!


2. How can you open your heart to hearing from God after such a long time of feeling empty-handed? In what ways can you strengthen your relationship with the Master so that you will go out and try again, trusting Him to be true to His Word?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

How To Train Your Dragon: book series review

Am I the only one who didn't realize that the How to Train your Dragon stories were based on books!  My 8 year old son and I came across Cressida Cowell's book series at the library.  The first book was published in 2003 and there are currently 11 books published.  My son and I started with the 11th book (because that is what was at the library) How to Betray a Dragon's Hero, published in Sept 2013.  At the end of the book, the author notes that the 12th book is coming soon, and will be the final book in the series. Check out the book series website howtotrainyourdragonbooks.com.
I was so blown away by the book we read.  It was artfully done with skilled prose and pencil drawings.  The book moves alone quickly, and we always had a hard time stopping at the end of a chapter.  The 17th chapter, Sword Fight, was so wonderful, I took it to work and shared it with many friends.  It was all about what makes a hero, a king, a leader.  It was about hatred and forgiveness, and about identity and what choices we have when someone else has what we want. 
The books embody great character and morales, wonderful prose and illustrations, and the timeless epic tradition of books like the Narnia series and The Lord of the Rings.  Now, mind you, they are different in many respects too...but there is a journey across many lands, with multiple types of dragons, and the battle between good and evil.  The hero endures trials and overcomes obstacles, until he becomes more and more the king he was destined to be.

My son is 8 and is able to read the books alone, although I do think he misses a lot that way because of the vocabulary used.  He seems to get more out of it when we read together.  I love the books, so they are definitely appropriate for anyone about 3rd grade and older, depending on reading level and proficiency.