Category Archives: February

History, Films and Maths

We’ve been watching a fair amount of telly over the last few days, interspersed with other activities.  I’m getting really into history documentaries at the moment – I prefer to watch them in the daytime, partly because the sausages sometimes take an interest and partly because I’m too tired to concentrate in the evenings.  This week I watched The World’s Most Beautiful Eggs: The Genius of Carl Faberge; Tutenkhamun: The Truth Uncovered; and Stonehenge: A Timewatch Guide. The girls tend to be busy when I watch telly which is nice as it means they can dip in and out of my programme, depending on how interesting they find it.

The girls, D in particular, have been watching all three of the Narnia films over and over and also Hotel Transylvania 1 and 2 – the questions that arise from films get more and more complicated!  M is starting to get a grasp on story telling and asks questions about certain scenes or characters and how they link into the plot.  I’ve said before that their telly watching isn’t ‘zoned-out-gorming-at-a-box’ type viewing: they’re really engaged and learning so much from it.  I sometimes use their film time to do some cleaning but recently I’ve been using the time to get some cross-stitching done so I’ve been around to answer tons of questions. 🙂

D was sick in the night this week – she appeared to be fine but a little tired the next day.  She spent a good couple of hours in recovery on Wednesday, watching Storybots Dinosaur Songs on YouTube.

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On Thursday we went to Wimbledon Common – it was absolutely freezing but D of course was boiling hot and took her coat of almost straight away :).  It was so quiet and peaceful there, particularly by the lake – it’s the first time we’ve been that way since D fell in and she was ok about it.  The entire walk took on a Minecraft theme with D marching ahead to collect diamonds and kill off mobs.

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We spent Friday morning at a friend’s house – after a bit of playing together and trying out their indoor swing chair and hammock, the girls got to work on designing t-shirts.  They had such a lovely time!

In the evening, in the middle of our bedtime stories, D’s new calculator arrived from Amazon – she was so excited and asked for sums immediately, M then wanted to join in too so I asked M the sum while D checked her answers on the calculator.  Hooray for maths in bed at 9pm. 😀

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Creative, Autonomous Sausages

We’ve had a creative few days – Lego building, sewing, drawing, Minecraft and sewing: M noticed an embroidery hoop in her Stitch by Stitch book and wanted to try using one. So I dug one out and she helped her draw a template for a bird.  She chose the fabric from our scrap bag and taught herself how to do a blanket stitch from her book. Very impressed 🙂

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We tried out an activity at the National Gallery – Drawing Sunday.  This class was all about tone – we examined 3 paintings/drawings and looked at how colours change depending on light and various other things that I have now forgotten!  The class finished with all the children having a go at shading a template of the angel’s face from Da Vinci’s ‘The Virgin of the Rocks.  It was all very interesting for me, even though it was aimed at children :). D was bored to tears but luckily M really enjoyed it.  The classes run every fortnight so I think we’ll definitely try another one out soon.

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When we got back home, D got straight to work playing with her bunnies while M played on Sims Freeplay on the iPad (her new favourite app).  Then J took them to their Aunt Sh’s house and they came back a couple of hours later having made cars out of Lego.  The cars have been played with quite a bit since!  J transformed the lounge into a race track using pans, teddies and piles of DVDs for bridges; blankets and sweets for paths; and cushions for mountains.  It’s still there now although Lollipop Lane has been mysteriously shortened.

M’s Castles and Cannon’s Minecraft course started this week – there doesn’t seem to be anything set to do until next week but M had fun buying things from the ‘shop’ and exploring their server.  I’m really hoping she enjoys this course as she’s really excited about it!

It was back to art class this morning and this afternoon we’ve had to do some homework for Brownies (leaving it until the last minute!). M had to find a picture of a Brownie from another country and write a few details about the country too.  She hasn’t enjoyed it much and I feel resentful too – it brought back memories of ridiculous research homework she’d be given at school, which the parents inevitably ended up doing.  So yes, I have done most of the work and we’ve had a few tears from M about it too.  Humph.

It re-emphasises to me how important autonomy is to the sausages. 🙂

Maths and Cocooning

Our half term week has continued as it began – slowly and peacefully… sort of.

I can never get over how we seem to be doing so little but under the surface we’re actually doing quite a lot!

On Wednesday, J took the girls to the park in the morning and in the afternoon their friend B came over to play.  They began with Minecraft and then finished with a game of football in the garden. 🙂

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On Thursday I gave up all hope of going out and mentally prepared myself for another day indoors.  D is definitely cocooning – I like that word, it sounds much more legitimate than needing a pyjama day!  The girls spent the day doing Minecraft, listening to ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’ on Audible, and playing on their homemade boat.

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Another reason for the quiet day indoors on Thursday was because we had booked to go to a maths workshop at Curious Minds (our usual social group) on Friday.  We haven’t been to Curious Minds yet this year: by the end of last year, M had stopped playing with the other kids (she’ll play with them on separate play dates, but she just didn’t seem to want to play in a group) and D’s best friend stopped attending so D no longer wanted to go, so that sealed it for us really!  I can’t say we’ve felt lacking socially as we’ve had plenty of play dates to compensate but I have missed that ‘anchor’ to my week.  However, I feel sure that they’ll want to give it another go soon as we have a lot of happy memories there.

Anyway, back to the maths workshop – a lady had been brought in to Curious Minds to do a workshop that she does in schools, it was basically getting maths concepts across to the kids using balloons and bubbles.  It was a tad long (6 hours) and the lady rather ‘schooly’ but M really enjoyed it and stayed for the full day!  It was the opposite of fun for D though but she was really brilliant and played with friends outside for hours and hours.

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After a few recent class-type learning experiences, I think M might be wanting to try a regular class in something, which I will have to start looking into.  She really seems to get a lot out of that environment.  D on the other hand, has no wish to learn from anyone who is telling her what to do: all these people get the same label – “bossy”.  Her learning is very much self-directed, which is absolutely fine by me.

Parks, Cards and Half-Term

We made it to Morden Hall Park the day after writing my last post.  First of all we went to the garden centre so that M could choose some seeds to grow plants for her Brownie gardening badge – she’s decided to work towards a few badges in her own time!  In the shop, D was like a dog straining on a leash so we made some quick choices (mint and coriander) and headed for the park.  We ran around the playground, swung on the zipwire, played chase and cracked ice on the puddles.  M found a few daisies and made a chain and D showed me around her ‘house’ (a den in a bush).

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When we got back D put on a show for me with her toy bunnies.  At the moment, if she’s not doing maths, she’s watching films or playing with her bunnies.  The other night she was working out the 7 times table so she could figure out how many days were in 4 weeks. 🙂

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On Saturday, the girls were meant to have two play dates but one cancelled and only M went on the other one because D was in tears about her wobbly tooth.  So D stayed with me and worked on her favourite maths app.  M had a wonderful time with J and her friend B at Mercedes-Benz World.

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D’s tooth finally came out later that day – hurrah!! However, we’re not totally in the clear as her second front tooth is hanging by a thread and it’s still affecting her mood.

M has been busy on Minecraft – we both learnt how to build a minecart station using redstone this week – we haven’t really done a lot with redstone yet and it’s pretty amazing stuff!

M has also begun creating a few cards so that she has a ready made ‘stock’ for peoples’ birthdays:

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And she made this pot in clay:

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This week is half term so I planned a few other activities instead.  On Monday, I had hoped to head into London but neither of the girls were wowed by my chosen destination and as it was freezing and dreary we stayed in.

Today I had planned to go and see some snowdrops at Gatton Park but D had an accident in the lounge and has been hobbling around ever since so I cancelled that too.  What was supposed to be a busy week is turning out to be the opposite!

However it has meant that I’ve had time to follow a few of my own interests:  I watched another episode of Shipwrecks (and M watched with half an eye too), I’ve done quite a bit of baking, and I finally finished my cross-stitch design!  I’m determined to get it finished by the end of the year…

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Screens, Screens and More Screens

Yes, I love screens.  Especially when D is too down to do much else.  That flippin’ tooth still isn’t out and although D’s now doing hilarious Nanny McPhee impressions with her snaggle tooth she’s still struggling mood-wise.  It doesn’t take much for her to descend into tears and she painted this very sad picture with our homemade watercolours:

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Poor D.  The best place for her at the moment is chilling out in front of Dora The Explorer, which she’s been watching lots of.  However, she’s still found time for sums in the boat:

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And they’ve both been painting and clay modelling:

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And and and, I almost forgot a big spark that started this evening: I was making pancakes in the kitchen for me and M, and D was mucking about – pretending she couldn’t get past an invisible glass pane.  So I showed the girls some mime videos on YouTube and they were seriously impressed (we tried Marcel Marceau but he was way too slow and old fashioned unfortunately).  D tried out some miming acts afterwards – she’s pretty good!

So back to the screens.  We’ve had a fair amount of screen time going on due to D being on edge.  We’ve got tons out of it though, it’s never wasted time in my opinion.  Even I’ve managed a fair amount of telly watching, thanks to J keeping the girls occupied on Sunday!

We watched Mr Peabody and Sherman, which we all love: there were lots more in-depth questions about Marie Antoinette, Robespierre and the revolution this time around.  They both made accurate judgments on Mr Peabody’s character too (M: “Peabody can’t be that clever or he wouldn’t have said Sherman can’t fly” (if you haven’t seen it, this comment causes Sherman to lose confidence and crash the plane) and D: “Why would Sherman trust Mr Peabody if Mr Peabody doesn’t trust Sherman?” (Mr Peabody has trust issues!)).

I tried watching a programme on Russia’s Lost Princesses today but ten minutes in I realised I’d already seen it.  M was semi-interested but it was a bit too complicated for her to follow so she asked to watch Anastasia instead.  We seem to keep coming back to revolutions!

And this morning we watched quite a few videos on The Kid Should See This.  Really fascinating ones that led onto so many questions: one about Mary Leakey discovering footprints of human ancestors; Alfred Wegener proposing contintental drift; a 14 year old rock climber; surfing the world’s heaviest waves; a world record sky dive; and London’s history in paper craft.  This site works really well for my two: the videos are short enough to keep their attention, the animation/filming is interesting enough to make them want to watch, and the subject matter isn’t too complex.

We had our usual day of art class and Brownies yesterday – the art teacher was full of praise for the way M works – choosing her colours so carefully and meticulously drawing detailed patterns – I was so pleased as M hates how slow she works compared to everyone else so hopefully this will help her to see that speed isn’t everything.

Today we were meant to be going to Morden Hall but there was no way D was going out and the weather looked a bit iffy so we had a day indoors instead.  I have just left the sausages upstairs, ‘playing’ Frere Jacque on pillows – they were working out which ‘notes’ they would need and then jumping on them in the right order. 😀

Crafts, Maths and Wobbles

So here’s the more detailed post that I promised.  Unfortunately I’ve been too busy to make daily notes so I’m probably forgetting quite a lot but here goes anyway…

We had a well needed pyjama day on Wednesday, partly because we were still recovering from a busy weekend (or at least I was!) but also because D and I had a mild tummy bug. I feel like I barely moved that day, I certainly didn’t do any of my usual jobs, but somehow I managed to keep the girls going with activities:  M has resurrected her old Sylvanian Families project (from 16 months ago!!): making tiny food packets.  It is noticeably less labour-intensive for me this time around as she is now able to do a lot of it herself (measuring/cutting/calculating etc).  You probably don’t get a sense of scale from the picture below but just to give you an idea – those larger food packets on the right are just over 2cm long.  The project idea and the food labels are from the Sylvanian Families Fan Club magazine.

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D has gone bonkers for an old calculator of J’s – in fact it’s so old it’s ready for the bin but it has nice big buttons and she loves it.  She has been writing reams of sums; or getting me to write the sums, which she then works out on the calculator; or just asking me for sums and not writing it down at all.  We also had a short spell of writing sums out ‘properly’ but really, she just loves pressing the calculator buttons!  And even though she’s not working out the sums in her head, connections are still being made – she can now read numbers into the tens of thousands and is beginning to get really good at multiplication.  Impressive for a 6 year old!

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D is longing to be 7, but at the same time is regressing emotionally.  It’s a normal part of being 6 and I remember M going through the same thing.  D’s way of expressing her wobbles and showing her need for love is by pretending she can’t do her seat belt/coat zip/bath time.  She has also asked me to stay with her until she goes to sleep each night, which I told her I’m happy to do until she doesn’t want me to anymore (to which she replied something along the lines of “that’s good, until I’m a teenager then” !!).

I’m happy to go along with all of these things but I’m ashamed to say I lost the plot a little when she asked me to help her on the toilet.  There are only a few childhood phases I was happy to leave behind and that is one of them.  We had a little chat afterwards and she burst into tears and told me how worried she was about her wobbly teeth.  I was astounded – first of all that she could identify what the problem really was (better than me) and that I hadn’t thought there was something behind the toilet issue (if I had stopped to think for a minute I would probably have dealt with it a lot better – lesson learnt).

I learnt recently that there is a German saying: “wobbly tooth, wobbly child”.  This so fits with both of my two!

On Thursday our play date was cancelled in case we spread our lurgy around so we decided to go to Wimbledon to buy some more clay from our beloved art shop.  I had to put imaginary blinkers on M as I could see her eyes lighting up at all the wonderful things in there which we really can’t afford right now!  We had a visit to the library which was quickly aborted due to building works going on in there and then home again for more craft and play.

D and M have been doing lots of imaginary play together recently – they are still working on a cardboard boat (it keeps collapsing), looking after D’s toy bunny, ‘Cute Twitchy’ and going to D land together.  I can hear their dialogue maturing and becoming much more respectful of each other.

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On Friday we went to see D’s best friend (D) and spent a happy couple of hours there.  D was really upset to have to leave and they were both trying to organise a sleep over to extend the playdate, but given that they’re both hardened co-sleepers I don’t think it’ll be happening anytime soon! 😀

On Friday afternoon M asked to make gloop and D tried touching it for the first time!  She managed a few minutes play before going to wash her hands.  We also had a go at making our own watercolour paints after seeing this video on Facebook.  They still haven’t dried but even if they don’t work, we had a lot of fun making them.

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Today we’ve had a busy day of play, house work, baking and M went to a special Brownies event at a local school where she made putty and earned a Science badge.  All good.

M’s 9th Birthday!

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, hence no blogging – the reason for this is because it was M’s 9th birthday!

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She looks so much older!

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We had my parents here for her birthday weekend, and while they were here we managed to fit in a visit to House of Illustration to see Lauren Child’s Doll’s House.  It was a lovely and interesting exhibition, though the museum itself was a tad small considering the entry price.

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The following weekend my sister and her family came to stay and so M had friends and cousins here for her birthday party.  J did an amazing job of entertaining them all for two hours and even extended the party by half an hour because he didn’t want it to end! 😀

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With all this activity going on I’ve definitely not been feeling as flat.  The girls have been busy with all sorts of things – imaginative play; sums; card games; cooking; den building; dancing; craft; climbing trees; and Minecraft.

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A more detailed post to follow soon.