Jacks Journey – A Case Study

jacks journey hero

Jacks Mum Amy received our Busy Books back in October 2020. Her eldest son James loved them and spent hours playing with them. The dedicated Mum that Amy is, she also spent a lot of quality time observing and encouraging James as he worked his way through the Busy Books. James is now 5 and at school, and has received fantastic praise and recognition of his knowledge and skills with his colours, shapes, patterns, alphabet, numbers and writing skills.

Now it’s Jacks turn!

Handsome Jack was a darling premie and has some developmental delays, this however does not stop this powerhouse!

Join us and follow Amy at @raising.james.and.jack as she documents Jacks Journey over a 2 month period and watch how she encourages, praises and teaches Jack as he works through his Busy Books. We are sure you will find many useful tips along the way.

James and Jacks Mum Amy also has a beautiful business catering for premature babies, please check it out at www.miraclemumma.com.au for all things premmie baby.

Now lets get started on Jack Journey!

Jacks Journey – By Amy Purling

☆ B U S Y B O O K S – W E E K 1 ☆

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Let’s just say that Week 1 of Jack’s Busy Books Australia learning has surprised me well beyond what I expected! Our first attempts were a bit messy, Jack lacked focus & just wanted to pull the velcro pieces on & off, or hoard them in his lap! I persisted with gentle redirection, lots of emphasis on repetition & expression of key words (e.g. blue car, yellow banana etc.) & encouragement with clapping & high fives when he tried his best. He very quickly came around to the idea & in just another few days he was not only able to place most of the coloured cars in their matching garage, but he also added yellow, blue & purple to his vocabulary (he previously couldn’t recognise or say any colours!)

So far I have only used 3 pages in the book on repeat, which I know are suited to him & will encourage his participation. He can now do these pages with minimal assistance, but still likes to ‘check in’ with me to make sure he’s getting it right. I have also noticed that he does better when I give him a simple specific direction e.g. ‘where is the yellow star?’ There are times that he loses focus & interest, but by that point I usually let him move onto the next task rather than forcing his attention. Over the coming week I will try some new pages while giving a lot of help & encouragement, but attempt to lessen my involvement in the three pages we’ve already been focusing on.

It’s hard to believe that just 3 months ago (age 21m) Jack only had 10 single words & his expressive language was assessed to be delayed by 9 months. It’s been a long road to get us to this point – a lot of work with a speech pathologist & daily therapy at home with lots of repetition of words & language modelling. Jack imitates everything James does which has really helped shape Jack’s interest in books & colouring. My goodness he’s come so far in such a short period of time! I can’t wait to see his progress again this week.

☆ B U S Y B O O K S – W E E K 2 ☆

Yesterday Jack needed a lot of re-direction but was still keen and was able to get it right at times, which showed me he was capable. I was modelling using colours as key words and lots of expression and repetition and he was able to say “yellow”. This facilitates early learning and speech development. Even when he wasn’t trying or focusing on the tasks I kept it light-hearted and encouraged him with direction. This creates a positive learning environment and builds his confidence to try again.

☆ B U S Y B O O K S – W E E K 3 ☆

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Today, simply by changing the way we did the same task, Jack smashed it! I asked him to find the colour car first and gave him a visual cue. He was more focuses and engaged. You could see the pride he has and how quick he is to go back for more. I think him standing helped too. It’s so important they can see the whole page and be above the pictures. Soft re-direction and encouraging him to do one at a time to reduce confusion helps. He doesn’t like when I try to show him, so I allow him time to do it himself correctly.


We took our Busy Books with us out to dinner which was very handy. Jack is now able to recognise a number of pictures which has hasn’t been able to do before. By associating objects with colour he is better able to figure it out. He frequently checks in with me to make sure he is putting it in the right place. This held is focus for about 15 minutes which is amazing for Jack!

☆ B U S Y B O O K S – W E E K 4 ☆

I’ve seen Jack’s learning explode over the past couple of weeks and as usual I contribute a lot of it to our Busy Books from Busy Books Australia. We’ve moved from colours, which he has mostly mastered now, into shapes. This transition has been a bit harder for him, and while he can mimic the names of most of the shapes when I say them, he is still working on placing the name to the correct shape. We’ve been able to use his new knowledge of colours to aide this transition e.g. find the ‘blue’ triangle.

I’ve found myself applying this in our everyday activities too, for example where I used to emphasise an ORANGE ball, I now also emphasise that the ball is round, like a circle. He is proud that he gets the colours right and the repetition of both the pictures & words means he is subconsciously learning the shapes at the same time!

He has tripped up on the page where the colours are unable to aid him, and this is just a reminder that we don’t always win. A few people have been discouraged by how quickly Jack has been learning compared to their own, but remember, I show a snippet of our time using these books, and mostly the wins – because I want to celebrate that! But what you don’t see is the countless hours I spend behind the scenes to get to that point, the days where I can’t stop him from turning to the bloody car page, the times where he wants to just pull the velcro tabs and put them in his pockets, the times he gets everything wrong. I lose my patience and so does he, but I know that even just opening these books facilitates learning. Repeating key words, pointing to colours, guiding their focus, clapping their wins – every little bit counts. But it doesn’t happen overnight.

However, today Jack called a pig a pig, and he has finally started saying Mummy and even ‘love you’. We have worked so hard to hear these words, and I’m so thankful for the role our Busy Books have played in his willingness to learn and focus. One of the best investments I’ve ever made ????

☆ B U S Y B O O K S – W E E K 5 ☆

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Activity 9 in the Colour Shapes Patterns Busy Book is the perfect transition from Colours to Shapes. Jack doesn’t know his shapes, but he surprised me by quickly finding the shapes based on the last few weeks learning of colours.

Being a new page he needs extra direction as he is excited and wants to do his own thing, but he is so proud when he gets it right! He still looks for reassurance and loves getting the positive feedback.

He has come so far with his speech and now attempts to repeat most key words I’m saying when we do the activities. E.g. ‘dark blue’. This has transferred over into every day life and he now also tries to tell me what colour he sees.

Activity 11 in the Colours Shapes Patterns Busy Book is another page we use on repeat when we first transitioned from colours to shapes. Jack was again able to use the colours he had learnt to identify the shape, and a bonus on this page was I could also name the objects to help E.g orange ball, green book, rectangle etc. He needed some direction initially, but now a week or so later he can mostly do activity 11 independently. He gets distracted by other pages but I’m able to pull his attention back when he’s ready.

Another advantage of Busy Books Australia’s Busy Books are the development of fine motor skills. Jack is getting stronger at lifting the velcro tabs and better at correctly placing them on the appropriate dots.

☆ B U S Y B O O K S – W E E K 6 ☆

Jack cant use this knowledge of colours to match the shapes on activity 8 in the Colours Shapes Patterns Busy Book due to the shadow shapes in the activity. It’s a good next step to stop him relying on colours and to focus on the shapes, and it’s a good challenge for him.

As he moves the shapes he waits for me to give him a sign that he is correct. I let him go for a while before giving him some direction. This is a reminder that Jack doesn’t always smash it. Don’t get disheartened, it takes time!

Instead of associating the shape with the colour, with this activity I associate the shapes, for instance the circle being round like a ball. He tends to think, then looks between both circles on each page to check and then confidently choose the right shape saying ‘ball’ in an excited tone!

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