Category Archives: November

Kitchen Discos and Imaginary Play

Yet another day spent indoors, the girls are over the moon that they’ve had two pyjama days in a row.  We’re all so snuffly it doesn’t seem worth going out when we can stay warm indoors.  Plus, I’ve been so croaky I’ve had difficulty speaking the last few days so there isn’t a lot of point going out to socialise!

So how have we spent our time?  Well, yesterday we watched The Incredibles for the first time, then the girls spent hours playing shops using (bizarrely) American accents.

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We spent a bit more time pinning sequins on our home-made baubles and making Christmas cards and M played on her programming app, LightBot.

I was wondering about going to Wimbledon today but when we got up no-one was in the mood and we were still feeling below-par so it was decided we’d have another pyjama day!  The girls immediately set-to with another game of shops and then D had a 2 hour bath, combing her mermaid’s hair and practising bubble-blowing in the water.

This morning I was ‘fondly’ reminiscing about how we’d have to set off for school at 7.30am so that we didn’t get stuck in traffic, then we’d sit in the car outside the school, waiting for the last possible minute before M would have to go in at 8.20am.  We always had a dance to Sammy Davis Jr’s Candy Man song which Chris Evans plays every Friday morning at 8am.  It was soooo great to be dancing around the kitchen to that song this morning.

After a snack I got the girls doing some Christmas symmetry patterns (thank you to Lisa from An Ordinary Life for these!), then D spent a happy hour on Reading Eggs.  The girls then played together for hours with Disney Princess paper dolls.  I’ve noticed how M is much more into imaginative play than she was a few months ago.  Whether this is because she wants to play with D (who spends the majority of the day in imaginative play) or whether it’s because she now has plenty of time to spend losing herself in a game, I don’t know, but it’s lovely to see.

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M spent a painful half an hour on a worksheet working out digital and analogue times.  Her heart definitely wasn’t in it but she wants to do it so she can move forward in Mathletics.  After a while she gave up and began writing a newspaper instead!

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Things went steadily downhill from there so I plonked them both in front of the telly to watch The Incredibles again, and I got on with dinner and an online food shop.

I was beginning to wonder if they could have done with some fresh air today but knowing that we’ve got a very busy weekend coming up I thought it best we rest as much as possible.  Now I’m off to help M tackle LightBot – it’s really challenging and addictive!

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Swimming and Antonyms

Just a quick post today as the girls spent all morning with their Aunt Sh while I went to see my chiropractor.

The Sausages returning home after a visit to Aunty Sh's house
The Sausages returning home after a visit to Aunty Sh’s house

This afternoon we went to David Lloyd to do a bit of work in the café: D did a bit of reading and writing and M did work on antonyms (I’ve never heard of them before, such is my appalling education, so I learnt something new today!).

Then it was time for swimming lessons.  Two bits of good news, M has decided to continue her swimming lessons next term and D swam without a float for the first time today!

We’re all full of cold so the whole day has been quite low key, but we did manage a disco before bed tonight.

 

Biscuits and Gloop

Whiskey did the trick!  No sore throat today though not 100% better.  D has a stinking cold and M a bit of one.  Our friends were supposed to be coming over this afternoon but decided they didn’t want to risk getting even more germs than they have had lately, can’t blame them!

So we had another day indoors but it was a very busy one.  To begin the day, M decided she was going to make a den in the lounge and D helped.  This went on for quite some time and they didn’t get dressed until 10.30 – in fact, D refused to get dressed at all but I let her off as she was so full of cold.

After a snack, M did about 5 minutes of Mathletics and then announced it was boring so went to do some colouring instead.  So D came to do Reading Eggs with me instead.  Then the girls played together while I got some bread dough ready for them to shape.  We made hedgehogs, plaits and knots today.

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While that was proving and baking, D did some Mathletics with me – she is now onto Year 1.  She steamed through the first few activities and amazed me by how much she knew about numbers – she’s obviously learnt loads just by looking at the number chart on our bedroom wall!  She came unstuck on an activity where you had to know how to count in 5s, but by then she’d been working for half an hour so we stopped.  I’ll see if I can show her this on the number chart tomorrow.

I cheekily told M that D was catching her up in Mathletics which immediately galvanised her into action – she spent a further 30 minutes on it!  She got stuck on an activity about reading the time on digital clocks so I found some worksheets for both girls to do.

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We had a delicious lunch of warm buttered bread, straight out of the oven and then M said she wanted to make gloop again (her most favourite science experiment ever).  It’s 2 parts cornflour to 1 part water and a bit of food colouring.  It’s incredible stuff and M can play with it for hours.  This time however, I got M to read all the instructions and do it all herself, she did a very good job!

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As Christmas draws near, I can’t resist buying in tons of biscuits, chocolate and mince pies.  The girls went crazy over some special biscuits I had bought and kept trying to sneak into the kitchen to steal them.  They’d already had two each so I promised them one more if they played the word game I made up a while ago.  They readily agreed so I went off to write down some suitable words and stick them on the window.  They have to read the word, pull it off the window, run to stick it on the table and back to read the next word until they have read all four words.  The pressure was obviously too much for D who refused to read them and still thought she should get a biscuit.  So true to character. I said she could play again when she’s ready to play properly but until then she wouldn’t get a biscuit.  It was almost unbearably cute that she stomped off to write her own word cards using her favourite word ‘the’ to use in the game instead.  She didn’t mention them to me, I’ve just spotted them stuck on the table over from where I’m sitting.  The truly cute thing is that she must have got so absorbed in writing that she forgot about the biscuit!

Colds and Coding

Today’s plans of going out to our Putney meet-up were put off after a very sleepless night with D and me waking up with a sore throat and a muzzy head.  Boo.  J went in very late this morning and managed a play with the girls and a game of chess with M (who thrashed him).  His brother, G, also came round and looked at the globe with the girls: I was pleased to hear they could tell him quite a few of the countries and D was telling him about her beloved Yuri Gagarin.

After they had both gone to work, we had a lovely chilled morning of activity books and colouring in times-table grids.  The girls stuck to type: m laboriously colouring each square using a complicated formula that I couldn’t figure out; D on the other hand coloured all the squares in yellow, job done.

I had already decided that nothing academic would be done today, I just didn’t have the brain power for it.  However, D found a laminated grid of the numbers 0 – 109 that I had dug out from M’s old school stuff.  She insisted on counting all the numbers and then said she wanted to colour it in.  With it being laminated, she couldn’t colour on it, so I scanned it in and printed a copy out for her.  D decided she was going to colour it in to show odd and even numbers, and then went one step further with her self-education and decided that zero shouldn’t be any colour because it isn’t odd or even!  Wowsers, I think I could just spend all day in bed and leave them to it :).

This weekend, I noticed a post on Facebook which featured a film about how important it is to teach children to code.  The website has a list of useful apps and links and I downloaded an app recommended for 4+ years on my tablet called LightBot.  You basically have to drag and drop commands for a robot to follow with the aim of getting all the blue tiles in the game lit.  It has been a massive success with M who loves the challenge.  She played on it for hours this afternoon and I noticed it also helped her to cope with getting it wrong and testing commands out until they worked.  There were only a couple of strops so she did pretty well!

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Meanwhile, D flopped on the sofa, feeling as rubbish as I did.

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By mid-afternoon I gave up trying to talk as it hurt my throat so much.  The girls were delighted (!) and loved trying to decipher what I was saying to them using hand gestures and writing messages.  M said she wanted to be my slave and offered to do things for me.  My voice came back a little towards evening but I didn’t want to read bedtime stories so M offered to read D’s bedtime story, she did a really good job.  At M’s bedtime we played downstairs for a bit longer and then had a chat in bed about Christmas and why we celebrated it on 25th December, which led to me trying to explain how a lot of old religious dates were assimilated by Christians.  Crikey, the questions that girl asks!

Now I’m off for a shot of whiskey, for medicinal purposes.

P.S. M took some photos using my phone today – some of them are rather good!

‘Please Don’t be a Hitman When You Grow Up’

A strange non-eventful morning of general grouchiness on M’s part, which soon infected D and I, leaving us all a bit listless and tetchy.  Thank goodness for our Thursday group!  I think we’d been in the house too long to be honest.  It was refreshing to be amongst other children and adults.  M ran wild with her friend for 2 hours.  D ran around for a bit but soon wanted to settle down to some painting and colouring.  For me, it was nice to chat to other HE-ers and have a general chin-wag.

I think M was frustrated at leaving her friend as she gave D a whack in the car on the way home.  SO unlike her and her eyes immediately filled with tears.  I always feel she doesn’t really need telling off, she has enough self discipline and shame of her own to contend with.  D made the most of it however and howled for a while.

This evening was peaceful: we got the felts out and I made a little hat for Louis (D’s toy bunny) and started on a hat for M’s Baby Annabell.  We had a lovely bedtime story with our new Wonderwise story books.

D didn’t want to go to sleep, she said she wished she was a grown-up as sleep is so boring.  I reminded her that yesterday she wanted to be a baby.

Once D was asleep I read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban to M – there were so many questions I could tell she was too tired to listen properly so I put the book down to have a chat instead.  M was complaining that she never seemed to have time to change Baby Annabell for bed.  So I said sometimes with a baby all you seem to do all day is change them and there isn’t time to do anything else.  She then said what she’s said before about how she doesn’t want to ever have a real baby.  This led to an out-pouring of things she’s obviously been secretly fretting about as her eyes were a bit tearful and she asked me questions about how she didn’t know how to get married and if you get married do you have to have a baby and she didn’t think she’d find somebody to love and marry and how she never wanted to learn to drive.  Phew!  So many worries for a 6 year old!

So I said all the things she was worried about were choices and that was the best thing about being a grown-up: choices.  Then I gave her a few ideas of choices she could make as an adult like eating chocolate for breakfast, staying in your pyjamas all day and staying up all night (are you getting an idea of the choices I made on becoming an adult?).

She said she would like to stay in her pyjamas EVERY day but when I reminded her she would have to go to work she looked worried again so I said she could choose something she really wanted to do like looking after children, construction, or organising books in a library (she liked the sound of that one).  When I said she could create bar charts for a job she scoffed and said ‘don’t be ridiculous, nobody gets paid for doing that’.  I replied that you can get paid for all sorts of things and she said ‘what, even killing somebody?’  ‘Well… er… yes… They’re call hitmen’.

A very long bedtime chat ended with me kissing M night-night and asking her to please not be a hit-man when she grows up.

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Moving On Up the Levels

We finished the marble run today!  It was first on the agenda when the girls got up this morning.  D was busier playing with her toys than building but she was having a nice time playing with the shoe box houses so I left her to it.  Then while M continued to build I got D working on Reading Eggs: she’s now on level 7!  I went to have a shower while the girls played together.  Then M did some Mathletics with me when I came down again.  She’s almost at the end of the Year 2 activities and I have to say she breezed through all of them except for the times-tables section which required a bit more input.

We had a snack and then completed the marble run!  It required quite a bit of testing, readjusting, trial and error and searching for marbles that had zoomed off course.

As and when we get more tubes we’ll add to it.  I love that we’ve got learning stuff going on all over the house: the pulley is still used daily; we’ve got times table and number charts on the bedroom wall; history time lines going up the stairs; junk modelling and boats in the lounge; cooking and nature views in the kitchen; and everything else in the front room!

An exciting order of books came today.  A lady on Facebook recommended the Wonderwise series for children who have countless questions about everything (M).  I don’t mind answering all M’s questions but it would be nice to have resources to back it up.  She asks such intelligent questions it’s hard to find a resource that caters for her age and level of understanding.  The Wonderwise books are brilliant!  D immediately wanted to read ‘The World is Full of Babies’, and both were fascinated by the one about the food chain.  I’ve got a brilliant idea for getting the girls going on their understanding of food chains but it will have to wait as we’re in the middle of our weather project now.  Speaking of which, the girls were very excited to see hail outside today, having looked at it in our Weather book last week.  Nice not to be in it though.

After a quick read, we went to David Lloyd to eat a biscuit in the café and do a page in the girls’ workbooks.  D is going through her book haphazardly, choosing different pages to do at random; while M is going through hers methodically with precision.  Both methods completely fitting with their chalk and cheese personalities.  How lovely that they can work to suit their characters, rather than being squeezed into a method of learning to suit a curriculum.

Then onto swimming.  I was wondering how D would react to swimming this week after having 4 weeks away: she was fine!  The teacher even said she’s ready to move up a stage at the end of term!  I’m not sure whether I will move her up or not as I don’t think she’s entirely confident in her current level.  M is also being moved up a stage – IF she decides to continue lessons.  She is really good at swimming but she doesn’t like lessons and would rather be left to her own devices.  I always said that she could finish having lessons once she can swim a length in front-crawl.  She can now do this so it will be interesting to see what she decides now that the power to choose is in her hands.

We didn’t get home until 6pm so I had an hour to cook my dinner and then it was time to get D to bed.  She chose to read two more Wonderwise books for her bedtime story and wanted to re-read them when I’d finished – she does love her fact books.

Little things:

The swimming teacher was congratulating another girl on swimming under water.  D (obviously feeling competitive) said ‘Well, I put my head in the water when you [the teacher] weren’t looking’.

Tornadoes and Marble Runs

Well, our lists are working well so far though I have to say we’re not sticking rigidly to them.  It seems to work better for D to spend alternate days doing Reading Eggs and Maths, rather than pushing her to do both.  She’s so bright it’s very easy to forget she’s only 4.5!  Also, because of M being 2 years older she kind of gets swept along in the things I want to teach M.  So far, she’s loved the projects we’ve done but I just need to remind myself that if she was at school right now she’d probably be colouring in for most of the day.

Saying that, she willingly sat down to do some Mathletics today (very unusual behaviour) and I realised that she’s almost finished the ‘Reception’ level?!  Today’s activities were about 2D and 3D shapes and recognising missing shapes in patterns.  All rather too easy for D but I let her get on with it as she loves shapes.  I think I’ll get her doing some tessellating patterns or making 3D shapes tomorrow to turn the lesson into something a bit more creative and fun.

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D also sat down happily to write in her ‘Get Ready for School’ wipe clean book.  M, on the other hand, wasn’t really interested in Mathletics today: she tentatively asked what I would do if she refused to do what was on her list, haha.  I replied that I wouldn’t mind if I could see that she really wasn’t in the mood for it, but that I might feel differently if she rudely refused to do it.  That gave her food for thought.  She did manage 15 minutes of Mathletics but was seriously uninterested, fiddled around with some pipe cleaners and made herself a pair of glasses instead!

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Then I had to prise the sausages out of the house to go to the dry cleaners to collect our duvet that had been puked on last week.  It was bitterly cold but gorgeously sunny and the girls (though grumbling at first) seemed to enjoy the little walk.

When we got back we had a snack and then I asked the girls if they would like to help me make Bolognese for dinner.  I couldn’t quite believe the response!  They keenly peeled my onions, garlic, carrots and mushrooms; washed and chopped the celery; eagerly ran outside to pick bay leaves and then helped me to whizz it all up in the food processor.  I didn’t know Bolognese could be so exciting.

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For some reason, D had got it into her head that she wanted to make a hedgehog, so once the Bolognese was under way, I cut her out some felt pieces and she stuck them together to make a little hedgehog.

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Then the girls watched a bit of telly before getting on with our science project, which is all about weather.  I was going to read some more from our new weather book but they were both looking a bit worn out so I asked them to do a bit of drawing and colouring for their lapbooks instead.  They happily obliged!  Then I had an idea to show them clips on BBC News of the latest tornado in Illinois which they were keenly interested in, which led onto watching a clip of the tornado in The Wizard of Oz.

I could tell at this point that their brains were full and they were starting to droop so we snuggled under a blanket on the sofa and I read a Rainbow Fairy book to them.  How lovely that we can take a break whenever we please!  D then watched Numberjacks on telly while M made Daddy a card.

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In some ways the days seem to go on and on in HE but in other ways there seems to be so much to do the days aren’t long enough!

After dinner the girls watched Topsy & Tim on CBeebies – today was about them making a marble run and I could see M beaming because they made one out of junk modelling which ran all the way down the stairs and joined onto their toy marble run at the bottom.  I suggested we have a go at making one and the girls readily agreed!

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We didn’t get it finished but hopefully we will tomorrow and I’ll post a picture of it.

Little things: I love that the girls sit by the window at breakfast time, commenting on what’s going on outside: this morning M noticed it wasn’t very windy and then D said excitedly ‘Dad, look!  The sun is rising in the east!’