Tag Archives: Mandarin

A Mandarin Speak & Spell

This morning I finally got our Sparks Chinese log in details sorted and D (who was very keen) and I had a look at it together.  It started off well as D was playing a number game where she had to drag and drop the Pinyin words to their correct number: D amazed me by knowing her Mandarin/Pinyin numbers up to 4! After that it was all downhill as after she’d played for 5 minutes and managed to get all the numbers right the program told her she was too slow and to retry.  Boo.  So we had a look at one of the skits about numbers but the sound quality was so poor it was like a Mandarin version of the 1980’s Speak & Spell.  Terrible.

D asked to go on the Numberjacks Mission to Learn website after that and spent a good hour playing on it.  Then M wanted to have a go and she must have spent at least 2 hours on it.  I was happy to let her play as we’d had a bit of a blip earlier where she’d obstinately refused to work out the difference between 7 and 15.  It was very odd and I haven’t seen her behaving like that for a long time so I’m not sure what was behind it.

After Numberjacks, M wanted to get started on a Skyscraper project she’d read about at the back of one of our Wonderwise books – to make your own city using junk modelling boxes on a sheet of card. Right up M’s street.  D also said she wanted to do it but then started making something completely different so I just let her get on with it: it seemed to be some sort of pod that opened with boxes and a fir cone inside.

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M must have spent 3 hours on her Skyscrapers today, so while this was going on D asked to put on her new party dress (there were tears last night because I made her take it off for bed) and then I had to pretend I’d seen a beautiful ballerina and be shocked and amazed by how graceful she danced.  It then progressed into a kitchen disco and even M took a break from gluing to join in.

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The new bedtime routine is going better than I thought it would: the girls are  following it with minimal fuss?!  M was a bit miffed about it this morning but cheered up once we’d talked a bit.  D isn’t the slightest bit fazed about going to sleep on her own and has fallen asleep before I’ve had chance to do a 5 minute check.  This new regime means I get more quality time with M too: I taught her draughts tonight and she beat me in her first game, tsk.




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…


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!


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!

Swimming and Mandarin

I thought we’d get started on our thank you cards today, usually a painstaking operation where M takes about an hour to make each card.  A few days ago I had a bit of inspiration while I was shopping for M’s party and saw some marbling inks on sale!  They arrived yesterday so we got to work on creating some beautiful marbling patterns this morning.  The girls made 12 cards each in less than an hour!  They really enjoyed seeing the different patterns they could create by adding various colours and then blowing on or swirling the coloured water with a spoon.


Afterwards, M continued to work on her sticker atlas book and both girls watched Peter Pan while I cooked a Korma for lunch.  Today was swimming lessons and I find it easier to have our main meal at lunch time so we’re not too hungry while out.

After the film had finished and lunch was eaten the girls played upstairs while I had a cup of tea and a much needed sit down.  D then came downstairs and asked to play on my tablet.  We ended up looking at an app called Pocket Planet where you can zoom in and out of planets, moons and the whole solar system, which led to D asking to see the first moon landing on YouTube followed by a clip of Dennis Tito talking about what Earth looks like from space.

Then I called M down and we got to work on our China lapbooks.  I printed off the symbols which represent their names and they dutifully cut them out and stuck them down.  I intended for them to do the same with the Chinese numbers but D wanted to draw the characters herself: they both did a brilliant job!


A few days ago I got some Chinese number cards laminated along with their Pinyin words.  Today we had a go at matching the two up while listening to our Mandarin CD.  We got them all right!  I think M in particular liked the fact that I didn’t really know what I was doing and could see I was learning alongside them.  It seemed to stop her going into a flop about it at least!


Because we were having so much fun with our China lapbooks we didn’t leave the house in time to fit in some workbook time at the David Lloyd café.  The girls were really disappointed: I can never seem to get over the fact that they love doing workbooks, I am still waiting for the novelty to wear off.

Swimming lessons went very well: both girls have moved up a stage and have new teachers.  M was harrumphing about having lessons again but I think this will wear off once she gets used to the teacher.  There were a few tears from D during the lesson but overall she actually she seemed to enjoy it and her teacher seems to have taken a shine to her.

The evening was spent watching CBeebies Stargazing, followed by toast and Lego.  Does it get any better than that?  Well, I was very tempted to finish off the day with a hot chocolate but I resisted as they’ve eaten so much of it over the last few weeks.

I’ve just left M having a fit of giggles in bed over a line in a book I’ve just read her.  She’s been so giggly this past week, she easily falls into that silent laughter you do when you laugh really hard.  She’s well and truly happy :).

To China… and beyond!

Today we started on the girls’ China lapbooks but before we began, we had to make a trip to Tesco’s to buy some party supplies for M’s birthday party and to try out the new coffee shop, Harris & Hoole: I wasn’t overly impressed with the coffee (though it was still better than Starbucks), their brownies are delicious though.


Party supplies bought, we headed back home.

I’ve been listening to quite a bit of Mandarin over the past few days and I like to think I’m getting the hang of some of the words and tones.  When I had reversed out of my parking space at Tesco’s I said ‘hen hao’ (well done) to myself without even thinking!  I was very pleased to discover the girls understood what I’d said – we’re making progress!!

After quite a bit of playing with Lego (while I got on with a few jobs) the girls did a bit of colouring, sticking and gluing to show where China is in the world and what its flag looks like.


As we had to write down what continent China is in, we got to talking about other countries that are in Asia: the girls are getting very confident in recognising the shapes of countries on the world map, which has mainly been achieved by playing games with the globe.

I spent a long time tidying up our dining home-school room this morning as the table was heaped with stuff.  I was also looking high and low for an Usborne book on China that I’m sure I bought but I couldn’t find it anywhere.  However, I did find an Usborne Sticker Atlas that I bought months ago so the girls got on with sticking in all the objects in eastern and western Asia.


Having been inspired by a blog post I read recently, and having some spare smoked salmon in the fridge, I thought the girls might like to have a go at making sushi.  I cheated a bit and bought a kit with all the ingredients so all we had to do was cook the rice and assemble the sushi.  D was immediately put off by the smell and had to leave the room but M was very keen to do it and had a few bites of it at the end.

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I was hoping to do a bit of artwork with the girls before bedtime but I was too tired so I switched on the telly instead.  CBeebies Stargazing was admired and adored by both girls this evening, so much so that I was asked to put it on again as soon as it had finished!

Bedtimes are a bit messy at the moment, D has made a sudden shift and isn’t falling asleep until 8-8.30pm which means that M isn’t getting her special time with me.  The answer is for me to leave D to go to sleep on her own but I’m reluctant to start a new routine when we’re off to Center Parcs next week.  M is quite cross that she isn’t getting time with me so I have made a compromise and I’m writing this on her bed while she goes to sleep.  Needless to say there is quite a bit of messing about going on so I shall sign off and sort her out!

The Lounge is a MESS!

A way to measure how many indoor activities we’ve been doing is looking at the mess in the lounge!


I’ve been gingerly stepping from one bare patch of floor to the next as there’s been a lot of Lego playing today.  After a recommendation from someone on Facebook, I signed M up for www.diy.org.  It’s basically like scouts online: you get to complete lots of activities, upload your photo’s/videos and earn patches which are posted to you.  M decided to start with a Lego challenge and spent a long time writing a word in Lego this afternoon.  Her next challenge is to create a Lego ‘pixel’ picture.

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D also spent a long time playing with her Lego Friends and building the sets using instructions.  She’s pretty impressive at it for a 4 year old.


There was also a game of fairies and pirates, which spurred D on to write a letter to Lizzie’s father (from the film Great Fairy Rescue)!

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There was a lot of screen time today: M is crazy about an app I bought for her called ‘Where’s My Water’.  It’s a strategy game where you have to dig tunnels to get water into Swampy the crocodile’s bath.  It is pretty addictive and I reckon she’s learning quite a lot from it.  D spent time on Reading Eggs and then went onto the CBeebies Lingo Show game: she was very sweetly repeating the Mandarin words as she played.

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D’s favourite bit of the day was watching Stargazing on CBeebies this evening.  She’s space mad so she didn’t learn anything new but she was riveted!


I also found some little compasses that I had meant to put in the girls’ stockings but then I lost them.  I handed them over and showed the girls how to point the needle north but any further attempts to teach M resulted in her saying it was ‘boring’ so I left them to play on their own.  Surprisingly, their ‘boring’ compass game went on for quite some time.


We didn’t do as much Mandarin today as I had planned but I did put the CD on while the girls had dinner and M was absent-mindedly repeating the sounds she heard, all good!

Little things:

D whispered to me in bed this morning “Mum, when I go to bed I want you to cuddle me all night” which might have been quite sweet had it not been said in a rather threatening manner.