Sunday, 24 April 2011

Planting For the New Growing Season...

We enjoyed a lovely sunny morning sowing seeds for the growing season ahead.... this was a few weeks ago now! We planted courgettes, sunflowers (of course), snap peas, purple sprouting broccoli, coriander, basil, thyme and oregano, and lavender in pots.  This year I'm trying out paper mulch ones that can go straight into the veg patches and will break down naturally.  The bottom picture is Faith sowing radishes, carrots and spinach into the veg patch directly.  I really wish that I had taken a full picture of the lovely cold-frame that my Dad and Husband built together, but I didn't and it has had to come down again now due to inadvertently drilling through the neighbour's garage wall (all fixed but the cold-frame needs moving so the seedlings are camping out under plastic at present!) Check out the pictures below to see how well they are doing! I should add that the girls made some beautifully handwritten labels to identify the pots!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Dandelion Readers

I have already posted about the ReadWrite Inc series of progressive phonic readers that I am using to help Eve learn to read. Recently I discovered a really fantastic series to go alongside called Dandelion Readers. I bought set 2 of the 'readers' starting with the book 'Chips For Lunch'.

The website is very clearly set out so you can see what digraph sounds are in each book.  They are a joy to read with cleverly written and engaging stories that contain lots of repetition of the example sound such as 'ch' or 'ing' or 'ed' endings. The illustrations are a mixture of cartoon type characters on photographic backgrounds. I wasn't sure that I would like them but Eve studies the pictures very closely and really likes them. 

There are two sets to provide extra practice with each digraph - I only have set 2 at the moment. The only thing that annoys me about them is the tendency for the stories to use 'says' instead of 'said' after speech marks..... just my personal preference! I will definitely be getting the next set soon though, ready for launching into vowel digraphs!

Friday, 22 April 2011

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

The recipe is to be found here. I was prompted to make these after I discovered a huge pile of harvested rhubarb in my kitchen!! They got the seal of approval from my (only very slightly fussy) husband and I'll definatley be making them again!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

A Shower of High-Frequency Words

Eve has a really secure grasp of phonics, and now needs to learn some more high-frequency or 'sight words' to help her reading become more flowing. She resists any activity that hints at being tested or puts pressure on her to come up with the 'right answer' so traditional flash cards are out of the question!! I have been pondering the subject for a while and then this idea popped into my head from nowhere..... as they do!

I made a list of the sight words that Eve needs to know for the set of readers that we are working with and printed them out on clouds at sparklebox. I sewed a raindrop from some blue fabric and filled it with dried lentils to make it heavy, then painted a rainbow on some card.

Eve threw the raindrop to land on a word cloud then if she read the word easily she put it on the rainbow and got a smartie to eat, if she needed help then she put it back with the other clouds. I got Eve to choose the words, and to choose a few other aspects like where we did it etc. She wasn't overly keen still but it's a start!!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Easter Fun

Today was the last day that I had all of the childminding children before Easter so after a trip to the park for a play and a picnic lunch, we did some Easter crafts.

We made Collages of chicks hatching from eggs.....

Made cards with baskets and eggs.....

And went on an egg hunt of course!!!! I gave Each child an egg box to limit the number of eggs that the bigger ones could collect before the littler ones had a chance to find any! The eggs were very kindly provided by the mum of one of the little ones that I mind.... a huge boxfull as she is used to us teaming up with other minders for activity days.... only us today so plenty for all!!!

Jack and the Beanstalk Play Dough!

As part of our Jack and the Beanstalk Growing topic, I made a batch of play dough following my usual recipe (see at the bottom of the post) then coloured half brown and half green. I set it out with two little terracotta pots, some green craft sticks and green pipe cleaners, a bowl of dried french beans and some little garden tools we had from another set. These are some of the things the girls did with it....

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 tsp cream of tarter
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp oil
Mix all together then cook over a medium heat until it all balls together to be kneaded on a clean surface. Sometimes I add the colour to the water to get an even spread, for intense colours I use powdered colourants used in Indian cooking. I find that natural food colours are very wishy washy..... i need to find a better source of dough colours..... any suggestions?

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Jack and the Beanstalk Growing Topic

We started by listening to Jack and the Beanstalk from the BBC site. We listened three times then the children came up with the main characters and props from the story. They decided that they needed Jack, his Mum, a cow, a man that Jack meets, A beanstalk, a giant, a goose and a golden egg. To make it instantaneous for them I challenged them to find them from the resources we have in the lounge. We ended up with:
  • Jack, his mum and the man were 'wow' people.
  • The Giant was a 'Bob the Builder' character.
  • A cow and a goose from the farm.
  • A rubber egg from the play kitchen.
  • A green ribbon from the craft box for the beanstalk.
  • Some french beans for the magic beans and a net bag to hold them in.
The older children loved re-telling the story with the props and told it over and over again, changing roles and voices each time..... I made sure the little ones were included by asking them questions or getting them to 'grow' the ribbon beanstalk or chop it down or shout 'fe fi fo fum' when the giant arrived!

After that we went outside and planted our own 'magic beans'....

As a twist on the traditional method of a jar and blotting paper employed to observe bean germination, we cut kitchen cloth to fit a ziploc bag, then ran a loose running stitch across it to hold it in place.  After dampening the cloth we laid three beans in each bag and left in a warm bright place to watch what happens!
I'm planning to get the children to measure their beans with string as they grow by cutting the string to the length of the plant and then gluing it to card as a visual measuring tool. We could also count the number of leaves and graph those too.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Adding the Suffix 'ed'

I thought that I had pushed Eve a step too far with this to start with. In the first session we built words from root words, adding 'ed' with an extra consonant if needed, as in the picture below.  After this we read two pages from the reading book she is on which contained 'ed' words. Eve really struggled with it and got quite frustrated. The reason being is that I had not prepared properly and had neglected to realise that 'ed' endings are sounded three different ways depending on the root word. For example:
  • 'id' sound as in 'chatted' or 'ended'
  • 't' sound as in 'jumped' or 'dropped'
  • 'd' sound as in 'yelled'
To help Eve get past this I got her to visualise telling her Daddy about what she had done, so where the text read 'He ran and skipped', I waited until she had read the root word 'skip' then prompted with "And you would tell Daddy that you skip......" and then Eve managed to finish off with "I skipped" and she had the correct pronunciation.

I did consider leaving it totally and coming back in a month or so but decided to try another tack and we got out the movable alphabet and Eve chose a root word then spelled it using the letters, she was saying 'pinched' with a 'd' sound at the end but spelling it 'ed'. Afterwards when we read the next two pages of the reading book, she more naturally pronounced the correct endings without prompting. I was really surprised and pleased..... I think I underestimated her!!!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Building the Valley of the Kings....

In the sandpit!!
Construction stage.....

decoration fit for a Pharoah

Smaller tomb for the Queen.....

Creating the buriel chamber.....

The Pharoah is buried with his treasures (AKA Bob the Builder!)
Faith poised to go grave robbing when no-one is looking!!!!!

My dear brother, over from Canada to visit and much beloved Uncle of both girls, was quite concerned that the girls were more interested in grave robbing than the building of the pyramids.... I'd say it's the fun bit, like jumping on sandcastles when they're built!!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Exploring the Egyptians

I don't really know where to start with this post as from a small beginning, all manner of amazing things have come about! With huge thanks to my mum and her teaching expertise I will list with pictures, links and descriptions where possible, all the things we have studied over the last few weeks! As blogger doesn't seem to want to let me upload any of the pictures that were taken, I will try and add them another day! Sorry!

An interest in Egyptians was triggered by the history curriculum that we have begun to use. It is a classical curriculum entitled The Story of the World, Volume 1: Ancient Times by Susan Wise Bauer and alongside it we have Activity Book One which has enrichment and expansion activities, links to geography, mapping, crafts and further reading to enable the curriculum to be used with children of different ages and stages. The story of Ancient Egypt begins in chapter two and we haven't got past it in the last six weeks!

We began by visiting the Herbert Museum and Art Gallery in Coventry, to look at their Secret Egypt Exhibition. It was very well done and covered lots of archaeological 'know-how' such as how to tell a fake from a real artifact. It provided the launch pad for lots of questions and lots of ideas to explore.

Since then Eve has put Egyptian Civilisation on a timeline, right down at one end, with our family birth dates clustered at the other end and lots of space to add in other sections of history as we go.

Mum and Eve discussed the Nile and how it floods each season and how because it floods it creates rich farmland either side. She made a papyrus boat out of straws and paper.

Eve made a version of papyrus from weaving paper together and then sealing it with a mixture of glue and water to give it the sheen of natural papyrus.

After reading through books they made a comparison chart between ordinary Egyptians and ordinary people today, looking at clothes worn, foods eaten, housing, leisure activities etc.

Mum sewed up an Egyptian dress and Eve spent ages designing a decorative collar from tinfoil covered pasta and cut straws!

Still in the pipeline are completing a family tree alongside looking at Tutankhamen's family tree. By chance there happened to be a documentary series on channel five at the same time all about how archaeologists and scientists put together King Tut's family tree. Eve was glued to it and it served a great introduction for some genetics and linking science and literature to history and archeology. Just need to finish up the family tree and compare them now! Mum also found a great book all about the excavation of Tutankhamen's tomb and it was perfectly pitched for Eve.... we rattled through it... twice so far!!

Also still waiting is some amulet making and mummy-wrapping with the baby dolls..... the Ancient History activity book has full instructions for mummifying a chicken but I didn't think it suitable for a five year old!!

A list of brilliant books that Mum found at her library (much better than our poorly stocked one!) are:
I'm going to try and put all the parts together into a 'lapbook' style format for Eve to keep and add to and refer back to. Mum commented on her phenomenal concentration whilst they were doing all the activities.... nearly two hours unbroken.... amazing.... probably something to do with having the full attention of her beloved Granny but whatever works!!!