Sunday, 23 July 2017

Waldorf Inspired Multiplication Crafts


Learning multiplication is one the the staple requirements of maths education. I remember, as a child, reciting times tables in class at school. I remember the challenge of learning a new times table by heart. I remember how it opened up the capacity for higher mathematical skills. Yes, there is no doubt, learning multiplication is important. However, it can be dull to simply sit down and learn it by rote. Therefore, I am always looking for interesting ways to learn it.

When I came across the Waldorf approach to multiplication, I was entranced. This wasn't just mathematics; it was art. I knew I had to show this to the children and allow them to try it out for themselves.

Multiplication circles



I started off with showing them multiplication circles. These are a great way to learn the times times by drawing lines to different points on the circle. The above video explains the concept wonderfully.


After we had watched the video, I gave the children a worksheet with empty circles on it and some coloured pens and we got started.


Here you can see the finished multiplication circles done by D. Each times table makes a different shape on the circle. I love how D coloured in the shapes afterwards.


R did not quite finish his. It was more difficult for him to understand as he's only 5. However, he had a good go.

Making a multiplication book



We then made multiplication books using these diagrams. First, we got some A4 card and cut each piece into 4.


Next, the children cut out each circular diagram and stuck one to each page of their book. They wrote the full times table on the opposite pages.


The 2 times table.


The 3 times table.


We used ribbon to hold all the pages together and decorated the front cover. I think these will be nice little booklets for the children to look through in their own time. 

Multiplication weaving on paper plates



Next, I thought it would be good to turn this into a more practical exercise. I got some paper plates and some wool in order to do some weaving.


The children wrote the numbers from 0 to 9 around the outside of the plate, marked 10 equal spaces around the edge and then cut two slits very close to each other where they had drawn the marks.


Then they chose their wool and began to weave it in and out, according to the three times table (they chose this one to weave as it looked the most interesting).


Here are the finished plates.

Multiplication flowers



Finally, we moved on to multiplication flowers. These are such a beautiful way to learn the times table. You start off writing the number of the times table in the centre. 


Then you draw 10 small leaves all the way round. Lastly, draw bigger leaves coming out from the small leaves to write the answers in.


We cut out the flowers and stuck some green lolly sticks on to make the stem and tissue paper to make the leaves.   


Here is R's flower.


These crafts were a lot of fun to make and really captured the children's interest. D has been so taken with the multiplication circles that she has practised the 3 times table multiplication circle every day for about the last week and now she knows it by heart. 

Do you have any fun ways to learn the times tables?


Friday, 21 July 2017

Interview With Author Charlotte Olson


Charlotte Olson is the author of a fantastic new range of children's books which promote the awareness of autism through fun and interesting stories.

I recently got sent a copy of a new children's book called 'Suzie goes to the hairdressers'. It is the story of an autistic girl called Suzie and her experience of going to the hairdressers. I got the chance to interview the author to find out all about her new range of children's books.



Charlotte Olson

What inspired you to write the books?


My son was my inspiration behind the books. I thought if I can share my experiences and help others, it would be a really useful thing to do. The books are based around our experiences with Autism and so many children on the spectrum struggle with changes.

The book 'Suzie goes to the hairdressers' is all about an autistic girl called Suzie and her experience of going to the hairdressers. Tell us about Suzie.


Suzie is a character I made up in my college days. She is an only child and tries new things, even if she can sometimes worry about them. Her best friend is Sammy.

Have you always wanted to be an author?


I never imagined I would be an author. I have always worked with children and I am a qualified Nursery Nurse. It just happened. I saw a chance and I took it. There was a gap that needed filling and it became possible.

How many books have you written?


I have written 14 books and published 8. 

Why do you think children with autism struggle to go to the hairdressers?


I think going to the hairdressers is so difficult for them because many children on the spectrum have sensory issues with sounds, smells and touch. Something that is "cutting" is quite daunting to many. We had a friend that would come to the house and cut William's hair. As soon as she arrived at the door, he knew. He would cry and scream, 'No hair, no hair!' It was awful for him and for us as parents, but back then, we had no idea he was autistic or that he had sensory overload.

Do you have any tips for children with autism, their parents or hairdressers regarding a trip to the hairdressers?


Preparation is key. Discuss and talk through what might happen. Make the hairdresser aware of your child's needs. Get the hairdresser to interact with your child and use lots of praise. Remain calm (not always easy) and take it one step at a time. Do what suits the child best.

What do you hope people reading this book will get out of it?


I hope reading this book can help by making the whole experience easier to manage and be less anxious for children. If Suzie can help, I know I have done my job.



Suzie and Sammy.

To read my review of 'Suzie goes to the hairdressers', click here.

If you would like to find out more about Charlotte Olson's books, or to purchase them, head over to her website www.suziebooks.co.uk .







Thursday, 20 July 2017

Book Review - Suzie Goes to the Hairdressers


When I found out about some new children's books which have an autistic child as the protagonist, I had to get my hand on one. I have never read a book like this before which promotes awareness of autism through the story of a little girl going to the hairdressers. I was thrilled when the author, Charlotte Olson, sent me a copy to review.

The book is about a little girl called Suzie who has autism. She is worried about going to the hairdressers to get her hair cut.

The first thing you notice about the book is the lovely bright illustrations which will be sure to capture your child's interest. The pictures are colourful and clear and help to tell the story really well. The facial expressions of the characters give you a good understanding of how the characters are feeling. Suzie starts off looking very worried about going to the hairdressers but, by the end of the book, she is smiling and happy. Children with autism often find it difficult to understand facial expressions so if you are reading this book with your autistic child you can point out the facial expressions and talk to them about how the characters are feeling throughout the book. 

The book begins with Suzie in the car on the way to the hairdressers and explains that she is worried about someone cutting her hair. When Suzie and her mum arrive at the hairdressers, the hairdresser asks if she can cut her hair and gives her a cloak to wear to protect her clothes. It explains the cloak is needed to keep her clothes clean.


Then the book goes on to cleverly talk about some sensory issues for children with autism. Suzie is worried that having a haircut will hurt but, once the hairdresser gets started, she realises it doesn't hurt at all. The book mentions the smells that you may find in the hairdressers and the fact that hairdressers use a comb and water on your hair. It also goes through some of the sounds and that can be heard and some of the things you may see in the hairdressers.

Towards the end of the book, Sammy, another child with autism, is introduced. The book explains how Sammy's hair is cut differently to Suzie's. This is really useful as it means you can read this book to children with both long and short hair as a way of getting them used to the idea of a trip to the haridressers. 

The book finishes with both Suzie and Sammy being really happy with their new haircuts and their experiences at the hairdressers. 

One of the things I enjoyed most about this book is how the story rhymes. Rhyming books are great at holding children's attention and keeping them interested in the story. It also made the book more interesting for me to read to my children.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is introducing the concept of going to the hairdressers with their children. My own children, who are neurotypical, thoroughly enjoyed this book which goes to show it is a versatile book that all children can enjoy. However, it is a particularly good book for children who do have autism and I am sure it will help to prepare them for getting their haircut.

As a Speech and Language Therapist with a couple of years of autism research under my belt, I am always particularly interested to read books from an autistic person's point of view. I know first hand, the lack of awareness of this condition among so many people and support the publishing of such books that will promote knowledge and awareness of autism.

To read my interview with Charlotte Olsun, author of 'Suzie goes to the hairdressers', click here.

If you would like to see the full collection of Charlotte Olson's Suzie and Sammy books, you can find and purchase them at www.suziebooks.co.uk .




Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Trip to Marshfield Farm


We often go to special workshops and tours organised for home educated children. Last week we got the opportunity to go to Marshfield Farm where the famous Marshfield Farm ice cream is made. I had never been to this farm before, or heard much about it, but as soon as I knew they made ice cream I was in! 

The drive down to the farm did not take us too long and it made me feel lucky to have this amazing farm on our doorstep. The farm sits in around 1000 acres of land and is home to a few hundred cows.


Factory tour


When we arrived we were told to put on white coats and blue hair nets ready for our tour around the factory. Unfortunately, I could not take any photos inside the factory but it was fascinating and we learnt a lot about ice cream production. We learnt that the ice cream produced here is 100% organic and uses milk from the cows on the farm. 


K was not at all keen to wear his lab coat and kept trying to take it off! 

Ice cream tasting



After out tour of the factory, we got given a tub of ice cream fresh off the factory production line to try. It was not completely frozen yet and was lovely and soft and creamy. 


We enjoyed the ice cream a lot.

Farm tour



Next, we had a tour of the farm. We went outside and saw some calves relaxing under their shelter.


Then we saw some pregnant cows in the barn.

Milking cows



We went to see the barn where the cows were milked and learnt about the milking process.

Silage



We were told about how they make their own silage for the cows to eat. Silage is made from grass which has been cut and stored without first being dried. 


The grass is stored under sheets covered with tyres. This keeps the grass airtight whilst it turns into silage.

More ice cream tasting!



After our tour of the farm, it was time to head back into the barn for more ice cream! We got to take our pick from the 30 different flavours produced on the farm. There were so many wonderful flavours, from honey and ginger to clotted cream and gingerbread to candyfloss, it was hard to choose! 


We had a fantastic time on the farm and learnt so much about cow farming, milking and ice cream production. I can't wait to visit the farm cafe again for more ice cream soon!



Sunday, 16 July 2017

Tips on How to Homeschool With a Toddler Around


When I tell people that I homeschool my children, I am often asked how I manage it. One of the biggest things people want to know is how can I possibly homeschool with younger children around. Do they cause too many distractions? How can I keep them occupied? How can we get anything done?

Well, it is not as hard as you may think. I see homeschooling as a family affair. We do as much as we can together and I always try to include my youngest as much as possible. In fact, he often wants to be involved. Here are some tips on how to home school with a toddler around. With some simple strategies, you can do it too.

Get your toddler involved

When you are homeschooling multiple age groups, you become an expert at adapting the task to suit each child. After all, it is much easier to work together than arrange completely different activities for each child. For example, while working on our star topic, the children drew the Sun on some black paper using chalk pastels. After they had drawn the picture, my eldest wrote facts about the Sun around her picture, my middle child cut out the facts and stuck them around his picture and my toddler was quite happy drawing on a piece of paper and then cutting up another sheet of paper. We were all at the same table, working on the same thing, but each child experienced the task differently according to their abilities. 

Each time you plan a task, ask yourself how can I step this task up for an older child and how can I step it down for a younger child. It may seem difficult at first but you will soon get used to thinking of ways to adapt each activity to suit different members of your family.



K enjoyed threading beads on pipe cleaners when we made neurons as part of our brain topic.


There's a look of concentration on K's face whilst he paints glass jars for our Laylat al-Qadr candle holders.


K paints a cave painting picture during our Stone Age craft session.

Set up a separate activity for your toddler

If the task cannot be adapted for your toddler, you can set up a separate activity for them. Always set up this activity in the same room you are working with your other children in. This way, you are available to help either your toddler or your school age children, whichever needs help at the time. 

Good activities for toddlers at this time could be:

Play dough 

This is always a fun activity for many children and can hold their interest for long periods of time as they explore it in different ways. Give your toddler some cookie cutters and a rolling pin or give him cupcake cases and ask him to make some cakes. There are so many possibilities.

Play dough and buttons.


Play dough and vehicles.

Construction toys 

These have to be one of my favourite toys for children. They are great for developing fine motor skills as well as imagination. Building blocks, Duplo and Magna-Tiles can offer endless fun for toddlers as they test out their building skills.

These are Squigz; an exciting construction toy for toddlers to explore.

Water play 

I don't know about your toddler, but my toddler loves playing with water. Give him a tub of water and some cups and these will keep him occupied for a long period of time.


K plays with little pebbles, frogs and turtles in the tuff tray. I would not recommend using the tuff spot for water play indoors as it was very difficult to clear up! However, it is perfect for use with water outdoors.

Sensory play


This is another type of play particularly loved by toddlers. Set up a sensory tub filled with dried beans or oats or sand. Throw in some animal figures, utensils, cardboard tubes, whatever you fancy. The possibilities are endless.


K when he was a little younger, playing with gloop. Gloop is made of cornflour (cornstarch in the US) and water. It is such a fun sensory activity.


Farmyard sensory play with oats and animals (not necessarily farm animals as the toddler had other ideas)!


Educational activities 

You can even set up a separate educational activity for your toddler but make sure the activity is appropriate for their age group. There is no pressure for them to formally learn at this age but a lot of toddlers may enjoy fun activities with an educational undertone.

Here is my toddler enjoying some shape and colour sorting.


Little helper 

If your toddler is anything like mine, they will love to help you around the house. Give them a dustpan and brush, give them a sponge to wash some dishes or let them help you prepare food.

K loves to help me cook. Here he is shelling some broad beans. Not only was this really helpful for me, it was a great fine motor skills activity for him.


Books 

If your older children can be left to complete something on their own, why not take the chance to read some books to your toddler. Take a look at this post for a review of the best books for preschoolers.


Home school during naptime 

If your toddler still has a daily nap, as most toddlers do, this can be a great time for you to get the bulk of your homeschooling done. Whether this works for you will probably depend on the time your toddler usually takes a nap each day and whether this coincides with your homeschooling time. We do the bulk of our learning in the morning, however, my toddler takes a nap around midday so he is usually with us. Although, if you can manage to tie in your learning time with your toddler napping, things will probably be a lot easier for you!


How do you find homeschooling with a toddler around? What would be your top tips?



Mummy Times Two
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