Monday, 28 February 2011

Hungry Caterpillar Literacy and Numeracy

One of the little ones that I childmind loves the story of the Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. I found these printables and knew they were just perfect for a couple of extension activities. We read the story together and picked out the appropriate pieces as we went, laying them out in order (see above).

The set also contains caterpillars of increasing sizes and we ordered these using the language of bigger/smaller and biggest/smallest. The little ones have been exploring opposites and comparisons for a few weeks now and this fitted perfectly.

I did find lots of more complicate ideas on line that really sound wonderful but I have learned that less is often more and that a concept is more completely understood when it is simple. I store the cutouts in a plastic pocket along with the book and keep it in the book cart to be used when the children want it.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Imparting a Mother's Knowledge...

I am thirty and I don't know about you, but I don't often feel very grown up!! So it was with very great pleasure that I spent about two hours in the kitchen with my youngest daughter today, cooking and baking meals and treats for the next couple of days. We made lasagne, quiche, bread pudding and flapjacks.

As we worked we chatted about home-making things, like cleaning as you go, and stocking the cupboards and how and why we combine ingredients the way we do, and what makes a healthy well-balanced meal, and what well-balanced means..... oh just everything really. It has been a really special time to share together!

After watching me, and with minimal guidance, faith rolled and laid her very own quiche base (we made the pastry together). As she busily buttered slices of bread for a bread pudding she said "Mummy....... I love you!"

Later on that night I could hear my husband's friend in the kitchen saying "Ahhhh is that lasagne, oh is that bread pudding....... has Jen made those quiches?" It made me smile!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Mummy, I've made concrete!

 Now those words might strike dread into the hearts of many but Daddy was apparently keeping an eye on matters so I cheerfully went along with it! Follow the steps below to see what happened (photos 3, 4 and 5 were taken by Eve herself)

The mixing of 'concrete' and some investigation of it's properties........

Laying the foundations and initial twig 'bricks'.........

A doorway becomes evident.....

The back of the house, showing a window and part of the bark roof....

The front, with a sturdy lintel over the doorway and the 'shiplap' roof tiles!

I was impressed I have to say...... I just hope it doesn't rain tonight and leave a soggy pile of twigs and bark for the morning!

Friday, 4 February 2011

Read Write Inc....

The reading scheme is split into sets of colour coded books with ten books in each set. They are designed to become progressively more challenging, with a carefully selected number of digraphs and blends in each book. Each story also has a few 'sight words' that are repeated in the sentences throughout. The books are available in full colour but I bought the black and white versions, which come in at around 75pence per book.

I went through and listed the new sounds and sight words in each story, in order that I could provide corresponding activities and worksheets to prepare and reinforce the new digraphs and blends. For example, set one story one (pictured) has 'sh', 'th', 'ck', 'ng' and 'nk', and the sight words 'the' and 'your'.

I had prepared word lists for the 'blue series' in the Montessori curriculum a few months ago, and was able to use these lists now to make reading activities for each sound. (The blue series posts can be found in the August 2010 archives.) I adapted these word wheels by putting white stickers over the pre-printed letters and writing my own lists around the outside edges, with the beginning blends of 'sh', 'th' and so on on the top wheel. Eve loves using these.... a bit gimmicky but hey if it meets the needs of the child, I think Montessori would have been all for it!

I have also searched out some worksheets from various websites that I sorted out into an order for Eve to do a few each day to reinforce the new sound. Worksheets are a new venture for us. As Eve learned cursive writing, I had always 'written off' (excuse the pun!) worksheet and resources sites as nearly all the printables were in print rather than cursive.  Lately though, Eve has become able to distinguish between the two quite happily. She will read print then write the same word in cursive, so I looked again at what was available and I was pleasantly surprised. I have always been very careful to present only phonetically decodable words to Eve and to use 'English' words that she will be able to recognise and match to pictures. For example, sheets that used a word such as 'wash' would have hit the 'cutting room floor' so to speak! Recently though as Eve becomes more mature, I have been able to explain that some words change the sounds of the letters and 'wash' is one of them, and that in other countries such as America, people use other words for things, such as 'trash' for 'rubbish' for instance. it seems to be another natural step in her broadening her knowledge.

I will not list each worksheet that I used specifically for 'sh' or 'th, but some general links that you may find useful if you wish to do similar!

We were using a home made movable alphabet to build words but as Eve is keen to write now, we have naturally moved on from it.

The sight words I downloaded and printed from twinkl as they do many cursive literacy resources and Eve learned to write in cursive (for the reason that she was struggling with print as all of the letters started in different places; with cursive letters they all begin at the bottom left and flow from there and she took to it like a duck to water!)

I am putting together the work for each book as we come to it and there is no set time for each book. If it begins to lose it's effectiveness I will once again re-design my approach! I hope some of this may be useful to someone!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Leaping and Jumping with Literacy!

We do, quite literally move in fits and starts with learning to read in our house; Since I began teaching Eve phonetic sounds at the age of 3 and a half I have been trying to find 'the best way' for her! I started with pure Montessori activities but it didn't quite sit right with Eve... to do the activities it was very 'one on one' and she didn't respond well to that. I like the principles of Montessori though so have cobbled together a few different approaches and she is flourishing at the moment! I hardly know where to begin really but I'll try.

I looked for a long time for a progressive phonic based reading scheme that would give Eve the opportunity to read an entire book (eventually) without having to ask for me to read words that were not decodable. Oxford Reading Tree are widely used but I find that they are too daunting and rely too much on the child deducing the content of the book by looking at the pictures. Now I know it is an important part of reading for young children, taking cues from the illustrations but Eve tended to 'read' entirely from the pictures rather than the words and became very frustrated with the words that she couldn't blend.

I am very pleased to have found Read Write Inc by Ruth Miskin that I will post about soon but suffice to say it is perfect for our needs and as a bonus, costs pence per book. It is, of course, designed to be used in schools but I have adapted it for home use and am using a variety of manipulatives, Montessori activities and worksheets for the new sounds introduced in each book.

As a consequence of this Eve is really enjoying the variety and enjoying success too. She is picking up new blends and digraphs really quickly and confidently applying them to reading the 'set' book. I am delighted that this is so successful, but even more delighted with the general effects. Eve is finally using her writing to do things like making 'worksheets' for her little sister, writing cards and letters, and has plans to write a story too! We have made a date to raid the stationary shop on Friday to buy an appropriate notebook for Eve to use as a dictionary. She has been struggling with remembering 'sight words' and when I mentioned today that words like 'and' and 'the' were very useful for when she wanted to write things for herself, and if she kept them in a notebook it might help her remember, she was very enthusiastic and set to writing the list above, using the words in the back of one of the Ruth Miskin books as a guide.

I'm thrilled because this is what I wanted for my daughters. In educating them at home I wanted them to be able to discover the delights of language for themselves and at their own pace. For it to actually BE a discovery and a joy rather than a forced thing, like the sentence writing homework sent home with her school-attending peers.  It has been hard to keep the faith though and hard to be patient and wait for this to happen, but tiny little literary rainbows like today boost me no end!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Joining in With Leaps of Love

Little Leaps of Love
I am a couple of days late to this but gained the points anyway as I did play games today with my children.... dominoes and boggle, so claiming 30 points for today! I didn't leave a note for my husband yesterday but I did last Wednesday in his sandwiches when he went out to work in a grump with me so that's OK! 

If you want to join in then pop along to No Ordinary Moments  and catch up with the love for February!