Friday 27 February 2015

Finding pictures in the clouds


It may be the end of February and still windy and cold, but the sun was shining brightly and looked so inviting I could hardly resist getting out to soak up some rays. We don't get that much sun here so when it comes out you really have to make the most of it. There's something about the sunshine that puts a smile on my face and leaves me feeling good.

The children, of course, could not wait to get outside. They love to run around and burn up some energy. We have a trampoline in the garden so they headed straight for it and began to jump around. As they bounced, I could hear the laughter and see the happiness in their faces.This added to my own happiness as I sat on the bench watching them play. They do play so nicely together and it's a joy to see.


After a while, D lay down for a rest. It was then she spotted the clouds. She began to take an interest in them and started to look for shapes and pictures in them.


Here she is pointing them out to me.


'I can see sweetcorn!' she suddenly exclaimed. I walked towards her wondering what she was talking about. 'Look there...sweetcorn'. Then I realised she was talking about the clouds. I'm not sure how sweetcorn-like this is to be honest, but she could see it. That's imagination for you!


Next, she found a snowman!


And a sword.


R pointed this one out to me, 'It's a banana!' he told me, excited to be joining in with what his older sister was doing. He loves to copy D, he copies EVERYTHING she does and even what she says. She is, most definitely, his role model.


This one is a knife.


R returned to his jumping.


I managed to get this great shot of him with his legs high in the air!


Here they are relaxing.


Then, I had an idea. I asked D if she would like to draw the clouds she saw. She agreed so I brought out some paper and colouring pencils and crayons and she sat happily on the bench and began to draw.


This is what she was drawing.


Can you see the resemblance? Her first still life picture, outdoors looking at the scenery. We have done some still life drawings before of objects but this is the first time we have tried it outside. A bit more difficult as the clouds are constantly moving!


Then D couldn't resist drawing another picture using her favourite colour; pink.


Next, she drew a princess, complete with added mud (it had been dropped and trodden on), we were outside after all!. She loves to draw people. On the left, she drew some sound waves! Yes, she is still fascinated with sound waves since we learnt about them recently when we were exploring the senses! It's amazing what children remember! 


R decided to have a go too. 


This is what he drew. It started off as the green grass in the middle and then he added all the colours which he tells me is a multicoloured sky!

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What's Your Weekend?


Turkish lentil soup


Lentil soup is a favourite in our house, in fact it may be the kids favourite soup. Whenever I am making soup they always ask me 'is it lentil soup?' They just love it! It is very easy to make and we have it often. In Turkey, my in laws eat this soup for breakfast but I prefer it as a starter or light lunch. I season it with mint, salt and pul biber. Pul biber is a Turkish spice which is like red pepper. It is quite spicy so you can add the amount you want depending on how spicy you like it. It is available from most international shops. If you don't have any, you could use chili flakes or paprika instead. Here is my recipe:


1 onion
1 carrot
1 potato 
cup of red lentils
dried mint
pul biber
lemon juice (optional)


1) Chop onion and fry for a few minutes in oil, you don't have to chop any of the ingredients too small as the soup will be blended at the end.

2) Peel potato and carrot, slice and add to the pan.

3) Add the red lentils and stir.

4) Add enough boiling water to cover all the ingredients.

5) Add mint, pul biber and salt.

6) Leave to simmer for 30 minutes, check every so often to make sure there is enough water in the pan, you may need to add more to get the desires consistency. 

7) Remove from heat and blend.

This soup is delicious with freshly squeezed lemon juice on top and a sprinkling of some more pul biber. Hope you enjoy it!

Thursday 26 February 2015

Den Building - Peter Rabbit's Burrow

Den building is such fun for children. They love to play in dens. They may need help building the dens but they do love to join in and make it their own. My children often ask me to make dens for them. It is their little special place where they can relax and engage in some imaginative play. Sometimes I put up the pop-up tent for them and sometimes I use a blanket. When the weather is nice we often take den building out into the garden. It can be a great way to get kids playing outdoors. 

I wanted to make a different kind of den so thought it would be good to build a den around a particular theme. My toddler has been obsessed with Peter Rabbit recently so it seemed the obvious choice to base it around that. Our den was Peter Rabbit's burrow.


First, we painted some pictures to use to decorate the burrow. This is D's artwork.


R had a go too.


D even persuaded me to get involved, I chose to use crayons instead of paint and D decided to try and copy what I had done.

Here are the pictures decorating the burrow.


R helped me to stick the pictures up!

We made the burrow in the corner of the living room and I threw a blanket over the arms of the sofa to create it. I placed some cushions on the floor for comfort.

I placed some objects in the burrow that are described in the 'Peter Rabbit' book. Onions, garlic and herbs. I thought it might be nice to use some real objects for the children to explore.


I also placed some kitchen pans and utensils as well as some play food in the burrow. The children had a great time cooking food for Peter and his family!


R is practicing his cutting skills on an onion!


D gave me some parsley in a bowl. She said it was lettuce and rabbits love to eat lettuce!


The children also put on their paper plate rabbit ears so they could really get into character! You can find the tutorial for these rabbit ears here.


I also put our collection of Beatrix Potter books in the burrow for the children to look at. We have the whole collection.


After the children had played for a while we had story time. I read their favourite Beatrix Potter books whilst they lounged cozily in the burrow. This was a great way to end their play session. Reading stories in total comfort was such a lovely way to relax and wind down just in time for lunch.


Wednesday 25 February 2015

Pom pom sight words


We have been doing more literacy activities recently as D has just turned 5. She is very interested in writing but not so interested in reading yet. Therefore, I have to come up with some fun ideas to try and get her excited about words. 

Pom poms are a favourite with the children. We often use them in fun activities like this one here but we had not used them in literacy yet. I filled up a bowl with pom poms and placed it on the table with some large tweezers. R immediately started trying the tweezers out. He practiced using his pincer grip to pick up the pom poms with the tweezers. An excellent way to develop this fine motor skill.


I wrote some sight words on sheets of A4 paper and placed them next to the pom poms. I asked D if she could try placing the pom poms on the letters using the tweezers. We spoke about the shapes of the letters and the letter sounds. I asked her what words she was spelling out. It took quite a while for her to cover each word but I think this was good as she spent a lot of time looking at each word and practicing it. D has a good attention span now so this was not a problem for her.

You could make this activity more difficult by asking children to spell out the words using the pom poms on plain paper rather than them having to copy the words. You could make it easier by writing single letters on paper and practicing the letter sounds. If tweezers are too difficult, ask your child to use their fingers instead. 

Make this a bilingual activity by practicing words from another language. We will be trying this with turkish words soon!


Monday 23 February 2015

Fun with black eyed peas


D was out at farm adventures so it was just R and I at home. I decided to put together a sensory tub for him to explore. I chose black eyed peas as the filler and added some utensils for him to use to scoop and pour.


Firs,t I set it up by the wall with a cardboard tube attached to the wall for R to pour the peas into. He loved doing this and watching them all fall into the tub underneath ready to be scooped up again.


When he lost interest with this, I moved the tub into the living room and added some more pots and utensils for him to play with.


He had fun using the tweezers to pick up individual peas. It's so lovely to see his fine motor skills develop!


Paper plate rabbit ears


We have been reading Beatrix Potter books a lot recently. They are some of my favourite children's books. I think we began to read Beatrix Potter when D was about 3 years old and they are still on the bookshelves and get pulled out from time to time. The stories are so imaginative and the pictures are a joy to look at. Now, there is even a TV show based on the Peter Rabbit story as well.

We enjoy painting pictures of Peter Rabbit and his friends but I thought we could do some rabbit crafts. Here is our first one; rabbit ears.

Paper plate
pink card


First take a paper plate and cut a line down the rim of the plate.


Next, cut round the rim on both sides of the slit leaving a bit at the top uncut. Cut a line through the middle of the inner circle to make the ears. Fold so that the ears stand up.


Round the ears off at the top to make them more of an oval shape.


Next, cut out some smaller ovals from card and glue into the middle of the rabbit ears.


You should have something like this. The final step is to staple the back of the hat together depending on the size you want. Try it on your child first and adjust to the right size before stapling.


You can now wear your hat!


R looks very proud of his! Now it's time for some imaginative play!


Saturday 21 February 2015

Language strategies for bilingual families


There are many families today who live in a country where the majority spoken language is different from their own. Also, there are many multicultural families where each parent may speak a different language. With this comes the language dilemma; which language should I teach my child? Should they speak the majority language? Should they speak my language? Should they speak multiple languages? And, how should I go about doing this?

With two-thirds of the world's population being multilingual, it seems reasonable to think that multilingualism is achievable. There are many people who simply have to learn multiple languages in order to survive in multilingual societies. There are others who learn another language out of choice. There are some who pass on their first language to their children and others who don't which can lead to the extinction of some languages, but this is inevitable.

For me, the benefits of bilingualism are obvious. If you are able to understand more than one language, you are able to have access to more information, different experiences and different ways of life. Maybe it will enable you to have more work-related opportunities or perhaps it will enable you to communicate with family members in different countries. Not only are there many practical advantages of being bilingual, there are also cognitive advantages. Bilingualism increases cognitive abilities such as attention and flexibility. You may also be better at learning other languages at school.

So, how can you bring up your child bilingual or multilingual? Here are some strategies:

One parent, one language

Perhaps the most common strategy in multicultural families is for one parent to speak one language and the other parent to speak another language. This may be the easiest for the parents as they are both able to speak their native language with their child. The child also benefits from this because they are hearing the language from a native speaker. If you are not proficient in a language you should probably not be speaking it to your child as they can learn it incorrectly. For example, they may learn incorrect grammar or pronunciation. Stick to what you know best.

Minority language

If both parents speak one language proficiently and this is different to the majority language of the society, then they can both speak the minority language to the child. This is not usually a problem as the child will have plenty of access to the majority language at school and in the environment outside of the home. This is how a lot of immigrant families bring up their children and it works very well. They will all speak the minority language at home and when the child starts school they will be exposed to the majority language and in most cases pick this up quite quickly.

Different times for different languages

Another way a child can learn a minority language is by using the language at specific times throughout the day or week. For example, you could have French Tuesdays where the whole family will  make the effort to speak French on Tuesdays. You could have Turkish at meal times or German in the mornings and English in the afternoons. There are many different combinations you can try out and see which work best for your family.

Which language strategy do you use in your household?

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