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Saturday, 31 January 2015

Match the letter activity

                              

D is at the stage where she is beginning to learn to read. Before reading words, children must first learn to recognise letters. Once children have learnt to recognise letters, they can then begin to put the letters together to form words. D is not too interested in learning to read at the moment, she is much more into writing, but she enjoys activities such as this. The good thing about these activities is that the child is learning without even realising it! Learning the fun way is definitely the best way to learn.

                   

I set up this activity by placing all the alphabet cards on the floor. I put the wooden letters in a basket next to the cards. At this stage I should point out that D does not know all the letter sounds so she is really just looking at the shapes to match the letters. 

                 

She started to pick up letters and match them to the letters on the cards. She was very excited when she realised she was able to match them up. She asked what some of the letter sounds were and repeated them after I modeled them to her. 

You could adapt this activity for younger children by just putting out a few letter cards and wooden letters at a time e.g. A-E. Build up the amount of letters they work on as they get a bit older and their ability grows.


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Friday, 30 January 2015

Skeleton craft

                         

D surprised me recently by saying she wanted to make some skeletons! I don't know where she got the idea from but I went with it and found a skeleton craft for her to try.


Supplies


Black card
white paper
cotton buds
glue
scissors

                   

First, cut a skull shape from a piece of white paper and glue on to the black card. 

                    

Then, cut up some cotton buds in various sizes and use these to make the bones of the skeleton. Finally, you could draw a face on the skeleton.


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Thursday, 29 January 2015

Being organised

                     

It is my aim this year to be much more organised which is something I've never been very good at. I've always liked the idea of organising and I do find organising quite satisfying once it's done and everything looks neat and orderly. That's the key for me, it has to look aesthetically pleasing. I love to think up storage solutions and sort things into drawers and boxes but the problem is I never seem to manage to keep on top of the mess! Naturally I'm not a very tidy person, clean yes but certainly not tidy. I blame my creative streak; according to research untidy people are more creative. My mind is full to the brim of ideas that are almost overflowing into chaos. So much to do, so little time! That's how I feel usually. How can I organise these ideas and start doing more rather than just planning and dreaming them up all the time? I think I know the answer, or at least I hope I do. I need to start organising my day better. I need to make time for things, for people. I need to make better use of my time.

                     

                     

I wasn't at all sure where to start with organising my life better so, as I do these days, I turned to pinterest for some inspiration. I found these fabulous printables for a home binder and budget binder and decided to use these. I bought some cute folders from Wilkos and spent an evening printing off page after page and adding it to the folders. 

The home binder is divided into sections; calender, meal planner, cleaning, inspiration and miscellaneous. In the calender section I have a monthly calender, weekly overview and daily planner. This may seem like a lot and time will tell if they are all necessary. I am finding it particularly useful to write a plan each day detailing what we need to do, where we need to go and if I need to buy anything or contact anyone. I write it first thing in the morning and in the evening I can take a look back and see if I've achieved everything I set out to do that day. If I didn't manage to get something done, I can just carry it over to the next day and write it in the next days plan. I have been doing this for the last two weeks so far, quite successfully. Will have to see if I manage to keep it up!

As for the budget binder, I think this will be a necessity for me this year. It is our plan to save money this year by budgeting better. The sections are really useful. At the beginning is a page or two devoted to our goals for the year, things we would like to buy or save up for and how we plan to do this. Next, comes a table where I've written down all our monthly or quarterly outgoings. Then, there are monthly expenses tables where I write down what we have spent on what each day. At the end of each month is a reflection page where we can look back at the past month and figure out what we have done well and what we have not done so well. Hopefully in a few months time we will be budgeting much better.

This year I will be organised!


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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Sorting pattern blocks

                    

Sorting is a great activity for toddlers. It teaches them skills that are a precursor for mathematical skills later on. Pattern blocks are a wonderful resource and can be used in a variety of ways. They teach children about shapes, colours and patterns. They can be used to create pictures or can be drawn around or simply used for sorting.


                         

I set up a tray, Montessori style, with a pot of pattern blocks and a sectioned bowl for the blocks to be sorted into. I placed a different block on each section of the bowl as an example for R to follow. Of course, you can set it up without putting any blocks in the bowl and see what the children do.

               

R immediately started to put like blocks together in the individual sections. Then he began to place blocks together on the floor creating his own shapes. "Look Mummy!" he kept saying, thoroughly pleased with his achievements.


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Doily butterflies

                   

Whilst we were on the topic of butterflies I had the idea of using some coloured doilies for a butterfly craft. It's very simple and easy for even very young children to get involved with.


Supplies 

doilies
lolly pop sticks
sequins 
glue

                    

Start off by cutting triangles out of the top and bottom of the doilie.

                   

Next glue a lolly pop stick in the centre to make the butterfly's body.

                       

Finally get creative gluing some sequins on the butterfly!


                   

I also made these little butterflies from the triangular bits I cut out. I stuck 2 together and then glued some sequins in the middle to form the body. After we stuck them to the children's wardrobe to brighten it up a bit. They were very pleased with that.




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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Outdoor play

                           

                         

Over a year ago now we went to a nature play group which was held outdoors at the local park. It was a fantastic group because it encouraged parents and children to get outdoors no matter what the weather. It was often grey and drizzly but we put on our wellies and waterproofs and braved the weather. 

                           

                           

There are some people who prefer not to go outside when the weather's bad but I think in England the weather is so unpredictable you really don't have a choice unless you want to stay indoors for months on end. I have to say I sometimes feel like these people, I look outside and see the clouds and think I'd rather just stay in the warm comfort of my own home. However, the children love to play outdoors no matter the weather, in fact, they relish splashing in puddles on a wet day and squelching through mud.
                 

                           

There are many benefits of outdoor play, aside from just getting a bit of fresh air. It is excellent for motor skill development. By running through a field, climbing a tree and actively exploring their environment they are developing their motor skills such as coordination, balance and flexibility as well as increasing their muscle strength.

                

                        

A fascinating article  exploring the health benefits of outdoor play mentions five main benefits; improved eye-sight, better social skills, increased attention span, reduction in stress and increased vitamin D. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that outdoor play increases intelligence! This is due to a bacteria found in soil, which can be ingested or inhaled during outdoor play, which has been found to increase learning as well as decrease anxiety.


                
                 

So how can we increase outdoor play? What sort of things can we do outside? There are many things; go to the park, the beach or just out in the garden. 

                 

                 

Play games outdoors such as cricket, football, hockey, cycling rounders...

                        

                

Do some planting. If you have space in your garden, why not section a corner off for the children? Allow them to dig, plant things and learn how things grow and how to care for plants. Perhaps plant something edible so the children can eat what they have grown. Or make a fairy garden or dinosaur world out of shrubs, rocks, pools of water and sticks. The ideas are endless.

                 

                 

When it's hot enough play with water.

                     

                     

Make a den or put up a tent. My children particularly love to play in a pop up tent in the garden. They can create their own little hide out. They usually fill it with cushions, toys, books and snacks!

Play with sand.

                     


                               


Make a mud kitchen! Get some old pots and pans, let them make a mess and watch their imagination grow! It can be interesting to see what concoctions they come up with.

Go to the farm.

                     

Do a treasure hunt in the garden using toys or things from nature.

Look around and discover the beauty of nature.

                     

Use the natural resources all around you to create some wonderful nature arts and crafts. Here are a few things we have made:


                     

A flower made out of leaves, a pipe cleaner and a short, hollowed out stick.


                     

A crown made out of leaves stuck with double sided tape onto a piece of card.

                     

A crown and magic wand!


                    

It is my aim this year to spend far more time outdoors. I think we will all benefit from it. I hope to discover lots of interesting things to do outside and I hope to share them all with you! What do you like to do outside?


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Round up of 2014 in pictures

2014 whizzed by in a blur. I was so busy with my PhD, starting a business and writing this blog. I spent a lot of time reading and learning and planning and dreaming. It wasn't the year I'd hoped for, we had some hard times but we survived.

There was so much I wanted to write about but never quite got round to it all. Here is a look back at our year...

We started the year with our first pets, some chicks. We had high hopes for some fresh eggs but they all turned out to be cockerels! 

                             

                   

A few months later we acquired some hens and were delighted to finally get some fresh eggs for our breakfasts. There's nothing quite like a fresh, free range egg from your very own chickens straight out the garden.

                       


D did her first ever dance show. She loved performing so much and keeps asking me when she will do another one!

                                       

In the springtime we began to plant some crops. The children enjoyed planting seeds in cardboard egg boxes. Then, we moved the seedlings to big pots and put them in the greenhouse.


               


               

               

We went fishing for tadpoles at a local nature reserve.

                           

                        


                          


                   

This is R just before he fell in! Luckily I had a  change of clothes with me.

                   

There were so many tadpoles! The kids had so much fun catching them and watching them swim around in their buckets.


                   

 n               

We enjoyed a day out at Tyntesfied Abbey, a national trust property with beautiful gardens and plenty  of space for the kids to run around.

                  

                

                 

                

In the summertime we enjoyed a day at the beach.

                        

                             

                     

We had great fun at the fair!

                               

We visited an outdoor growing space called Feed Bristol and enjoyed an amazing salad full of unusual ingredients. D loved the flowers!


                               

 The children loved running around in the fields.

                           
                     
                               

We had a fabulous holiday in Turkey.


                                 

                            

When we came back I started my new business venture Delal Designs, stylish clothing for modest women. I did my first ever photo shoot to get some pictures for the website.

                           

                             

We enjoyed our home grown veggies! The children's favourites are peas and strawberries.


                       

                                

                               

                        

In August we crossed the bridge into Wales to visit Chepstow castle.


                         

                          


                          



                              

                              

We also saw the annual balloon fiesta, a spectacular air balloon show.

                  

With the advent of autumn we spent more time indoors, doing lots of arts and crafts as well as educational activities.



                           

                     


                   

                   

                   

We made our own play dough.

                 

                 

                        


And cloud dough.

                

                

And bicarbonate of soda dough.

                     

And explored the reaction of bicarbonate of soda and vinegar! This was a firm favourite of the children's which can keep them occupied for over an hour.


                 

A volcanic eruption!

                 

We baked tasty treats.

                     

                       

                    

                             

                            

                      

And finally I rediscovered my love of knitting.


                     

                     

Well that was a pretty jam packed year, full of highs and lows. I wonder what this year will bring...


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