Tag Archives: Chinese New Year

From Listening Comes Wisdom

This statement was in M’s fortune cookie – how apt is that for a new year in HE?!  D’s was ‘Keep your plans secret for now’ which is of course nonsense but hilarious as she is usually full of devious plots.

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So today we went to Chinatown in London.  The original plan was to meet J and have a meal there so the girls could sample some Chinese food.  This plan went a bit awry as J couldn’t spare enough time for a meal and the girls had the chance to try some at a family party last night and didn’t like it.  So in the end we visited a little shop and bought some fortune cookies then we admired the lanterns and the girls had fun with J (who can make a game out of anything, literally).  They posed for a photo with Charlie Chaplin and then ran in and out of the fountains in Leicester Square.

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In a few years time we’ll take them to see the actual Chinese New Year celebrations but I think they’re a little too small for it this year.

The past couple of days have been quite busy and I’ve felt mildly panicky about how much I’ve got to do before M’s birthday party on Sunday (why did I arrange to have flat-packed furniture delivered this week?!!).  Thursday morning saw the three of us banging a wine rack together.

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Then M put on a very lovely show with her Sylvanian Families and D and I were the audience.  It was all very well rehearsed but unfortunately M was standing in front of the stage for most of it!  I’m just so pleased that she’s using her imagination more, I think I have D’s influence to thank for that.

In the afternoon I carried on putting another bookcase up and trying to sort my faulty phone out while the girls did creative things at the kitchen table.  I have discovered that M has an almighty talent for copying pictures and font, and D made a fairy sized ‘throne’ out of two bits of furniture packaging.  We decided to give our regular Thursday group a miss, which was the girls decision although I was quite relieved as I felt I had too much to do!

This morning the creativity continued with the girls happily drawing and colouring.  I also got the girls hammering nails for the first time: m managed it completely on her own but I held the hammer with D, just in case.  M was in seventh heaven, she is such a little tinker.

January’s been a very ‘messy’ sort of a month what with Center Parcs, M’s birthday, Grandma & Granddad visiting and then M’s party.  I don’t feel we’ve really tackled much at all, at least not as much as we could have done in a normal month.  And there’s still so much I want to do!  There is so much STUFF out there to find out about!

We spent about 2 hours in Waterstone’s in Piccadilly today, the girls merrily colouring in and me trying very hard to reign myself in and not buy ALL the books in the children’s department.  As it was, I bought a GORGEOUS book of poetry called IF: A Treasury of Poems for Almost Every Possibility; An Usborne Young Readers book about WWI – I actually bought this for me in the hope that I can make some sense of it!; and an Usborne Young Readers book of A Midsummer Night’s Dream which I’m hoping will be a nice introduction to Shakespeare for the girls.  Plus quite a few more…

We got home around 4 o’clock and I quickly put a film on (before WWIII broke out) and made some dinner.  Then I quickly put our shelves into place and filled them up…. ta-da!  Not bad!  Now our HE books are accessible and we can display their work.

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We spent the evening under a blanket on the sofa reading one of today’s purchases: an enormous book about Disney Fairies.  Not my usual reading material but the girls adored it.  This then turned into a game of ‘let’s attack Mum’ before bedtime.  Happy and exhausted.

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Our Weekend with Grandma & Granddad

Grandma and Granddad went back to Nottingham this morning and as such we’ve all been a bit mopey and listless so I let the girls do some Magic Maize just to keep their minds off their sorrows.  We really must get down to some proper activities this week though: I feel as if January has just passed us by!

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After Saturday’s birthday activities we had a very quiet day on Sunday – it was full of activities but at a nice peaceful pace: Grandma spent a long time helping M to make a felt coat and mask which was an activity from M’s Sylvanian Families Club magazine.

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She also strung our Chinese lanterns up in the window for me!

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AND she helped me organise our home school room to make space for an Ikea Billy bookcase that should be arriving this week.  Granddad helped me put up our new Wallbooks too:  they’re lovely to glance at to pick up bits of history and science that we didn’t know before.

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On Monday we were divided as to what to do with the day.  I was very tempted to go to Wisley but the weather looked a bit temperamental; then I saw the London Aquarium but was put off by the prices so we decided to take Grandma and Granddad to Cutty Sark as they haven’t been before and the girls so enjoyed our last visit.

D was sooo excited for the majority of the day and dragged Grandma around the ship at top speed.  M stayed with me and absorbed every exhibit on the tween deck – I was really surprised and pleased by her interest as absorbing facts so intently is more D’s forte.  We had a very lacklustre lunch in the café below the keel, a look around the shop and then headed back home.

So today has been a bit mopey but the girls did lots of painting and we had a disco on the bed to cheer ourselves up.  The day ended with me showing them how to make a colour wheel.  I’ve never made one before and we were quite impressed with the results!

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A Creative & Crafty Day

I wasn’t sure how to approach today: whether to just go straight back into it or do something gentle.  I decided to go with gentle in the end so as not to give ourselves too much of a shock!  As it happened, both girls asked to do some Mathletics and Reading Eggs over the weekend but I don’t think their brains were really ready for it after 5 days at Center Parcs: they made quite a few mistakes and quickly lost their patience. So after breakfast (with a bit of sneaky mandarin in the background) this morning started with some art…

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D's alien
D’s alien
Jupiter and Ganymede by D
Jupiter and Ganymede by D
This is a spade in the earth and a fox disappearing down a hole by M
This is a spade in the earth and a fox disappearing down a hole by M
A person in a hot air balloon next to Mount Everest by M
A person in a hot air balloon next to Mount Everest by M

D did some great reading and writing while doing her Tinkerbell annual.  Meanwhile, M asked to borrow my mobile so she could take some pictures…

And we made some Chinese lanterns and glittered them!  We’ll hang them up tomorrow.

All in all it was a very peaceful day.  This evening I tried out a new bedtime routine with the aim of getting D to go to sleep on her own (without me in the room) and getting M to put herself to bed after I’ve read her a story and she’s had a play upstairs without me.  Neither sausage was very keen on this idea but bedtimes are getting so late now I feel I need to reclaim my evenings!

Little things: M seems to have been secretly keeping little nuggets of information in her brain that I had no idea she’d even taken an interest in, let alone been listening to: today she drew Mount Everest and when I asked her how she knew about it she revealed it was from a page in a Wonderwise book that she claims is boring; and then (after shiftily listening to said Wonderwise book at D’s bedtime) explained to D exactly what a satellite was and what it did!!!  What a sausage.

A Very Very Slow Starter

I don’t know what was the matter with me today, I just couldn’t galvanise myself to try and engage the girls.  They had rediscovered a Disney app which allows them to set scenes for Disney Princesses and then record their own voices for the dialogue.  I’m not a big fan of Disney Princesses but when it leads to such creativity I have no complaints.  I’ve said before that M is not one to do imaginary role playing games but after a bit of bashfulness she really got going with this app, which was lovely to see and hear.  There was also quite a bit of Lego building and TV watching so it felt vaguely productive but in a very slow, sleepy kind of way.

I hung around with them for a while but felt at a bit of a loose end so decided to make a roast for lunch.  Typically, once I became busy elsewhere they both wandered into the kitchen claiming they were bored so I got D flicking through a big pile of books and M making some more Lego.  10 minutes later they were bored again so I gave them a Sutton seed catalogue asked them to choose a flower and a vegetable each that they would like to grow in the spring.  This just about kept them going until lunchtime and we all sat down together to a hearty meal.

I suggested that after lunch we could look at our sticker atlases and find a sticker we like the look of and then find a film about it on YouTube: the girls seemed vaguely interested but then drifted back to Lego once they’d left the table!  I decided to take the plunge and put on a couple of short films about Sumo wrestlers and Chinese New Year celebrations but there wasn’t a lot of interest.  M drifted back to the Disney app and D played a few games on Numberjacks Mission to Learn.

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I spent an hour or so tidying and cleaning and then around 4.30pm I asked if the girls wanted to finish their China lapbooks, “Yes!” they chorused.  Phew.  So they put together the final pieces of information and I subtly tested their knowledge as they went.  As usual I was quite surprised at how much they’ve been absorbing.  They seem to have learnt the most from their sticker books and could point out a pagoda and The Forbidden City as they were sticking the pictures into their lapbooks.  I briefly introduced them to Buddha but I didn’t feel it was the right time to start talking about a new religion at 6pm.

I think I’m just starting to get my head round the fact that we don’t have to read or write endlessly to learn about something, and actually the girls (M in particular) seem to prefer casual conversations to other methods of learning.  I actually found my long-lost book on China today but it seemed that I had missed the window of opportunity as no-one wanted to read it, dammit.

The big prize at the end was to stick a new flag into the passports we made!  I’m amazed by how exciting they find this.  As soon as it was stuck in, D immediately asked if she could now learn about Australia, so that will be our next project!

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We all had a cup of hot chocolate to celebrate finishing the lapbooks.  We may have been VERY late starting today but we got there in the end!

Back in the Saddle

I woke up early this morning, not because of the rain lashing against the house but because of the excited butterflies in my tummy: I’m so excited about starting a new year at home with my 2 little sausages!

The Christmas break with my parents gave us a much-needed rest from our usual home-ed lives.  It turned out that we all needed a break much more than I thought.  We had lots of down-time: chatting, watching telly, playing games and seeing family.

We arrived back in London yesterday.  Luckily, J was home so I got all the unpacking done (and the Christmas decorations packed away) while he played with the girls.  There was A LOT of screaming and laughter.

So today, we’re back in the saddle again!  Bearing in mind we’re off to Center Parcs in 10 days, I thought we’d get cracking today on some home-ed stuff straight away (I say ‘straight away’, but actually they didn’t get out of the bath until 11am).  Both girls have been in a super-duper mood although this did falter slightly when I asked D to do Reading Eggs and M to do Mathletics:  D managed about 10 minutes before declaring she’d had enough and decided to play with the chick-peas and her 2 times table.  This time I got her counting in twos to add up the groups of chick-peas and she really enjoyed it;  M had a minor-flop after 5 minutes on Mathletics and decided to ‘draw’ a picture in chick-peas before getting on with a page in her times-table activity book.  It was a mark of her good mood that she didn’t stomp out of the room :).

Meanwhile, I was busily printing out Chinese new year resources for our next project.  As usual, I never think to do this sort of thing in advance but my method actually seems to work as the girls are always intrigued by what is coming out of the printer and this leads on to a dialogue about what I want them to do next.  I printed out the 12 Chinese zodiac animals and pegged them up on the line in our home school room.  D had a go at reading them and I told M all about what they meant and what ‘animal’ we all are.  Then I printed out Mandarin number cards which I’ll get laminated tomorrow.  D had fun looking through them and told me what each Chinese symbol reminded her of.  I know M did a bit of work on the Chinese New Year in Reception but I thought it would be fun for both girls to do this project. I hope to add a bit more to it by learning about China, learning some basic Mandarin words, tie in some art work and a visit to Chinatown in a few weeks.

I ended up not having a shower until it was gone 1pm.  When I came down, J (who had reappeared from being at work all morning) had got out the junk modelling and both girls were absorbed in making something.  I put on our ‘Easy-Peasy Chinese’ CD in the background and M immediately began to copy the sounds.  Not bad for a girl who claimed to not be interested in learning any languages last month.  Both girls collapsed in giggles when they heard the phrase ‘Where is the toilet?’.  Apparently an essential phrase according to the CD makers.

Amazing how you can have a busy yet seemingly peaceful day in home-ed!

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