Friday, 28 October 2011

By Pumpkin Light!

We had great fun going along to our local National Trust property for a pumpkin carving event. We got to choose our pumpkins, then scoop the flesh out before carrying them to the barn to carve! The one above is Eve's face - she wasn't too keen on carving as she had one eye on the craft table next to us with coloured pumpkin seeds to make pictures with and soon disappeared to make some!

Faith LOVED carving her pumpkin - so much so that she carved four faces on hers. I was slightly concerned about letting her loose with the little knife they provided, but she handled it really well and really enjoyed herself!

I couldn't resist having a go and made this little cat on the back of Eve's pumpkin! I was surprised by how easy they were to carve as last year Dewi really struggled to carve our pumpkin, but these were really thin-skinned so much easier!

 Here is Faith scooping out her pumpkin seeds!

Here Eve is checking the fit of her pumpkin lid - the man helping cut a wedge out of the lid to act as a chimney and stop the lid from shrinking too quickly once the candle was lit -  a great tip we didn't know about and had problems with last year!!

Here is my four year old wielding that pumpkin knife! She was very skilled with it!

We ate homemade wholewheat pizza's by pumpkin light that evening - it was such fun and of course we've lit them every evening since!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Paper Mache Was So Not Part of my Game Plan for Today!

And it went a little like this:

Daddy: "Girls, shall we make that castle we planned?"
Girls: "Yeah"
Me (thinks): 'Great - some peace for me to strike a couple of things of my to-do list'

It started so well......... THEN I heard:

Daddy: "Right then so now you need to cover it in paper mache"
Daddy: "Honey, you'll watch the kids won't you? I'm going to finish up in the garage"
Me: " really..... PLEASE don't leave me with paper mache, three children and the dog...... I mean it..... no...... honey?"

Well he left and it was a whole lot less painful than last time we attempted it! Faith could do it independently this time and she stuck at it for the whole time. Of course I got stuck in as you do! And it was a lot of fun and then Daddy came back and got stuck in too..... and then we ran a huge bowl of hot soapy water and strip washed the children and scrubbed the floor and spot cleaned the dog!

THEN I sat down for a well-earned hot cuppa........

Then Idris decided that was the perfect time for a mega nappy episode...... sigh!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Letter Writing

This is my latest ruse in motivating my reluctant writer to write! She has long coveted my note cards and I'm not sure why I didn't think about it before to be honest! Anyhow she thought that going to town to choose note cards and envelopes was lots of fun - writing in them? Not so fun!!!! We battled over it and I kept my patience and refused to let her give up and she wrote a letter. It was messy, begrudgingly written but it was a start and it showed her that she COULD do it!
Meanwhile on the other side of the table, her younger sister who loves to write annoyingly penned a card without one huff or puff and rather nice handwriting for a very little girl! I switch between telling correct spellings of words and saying 'yes that's it' when they spell words for themselves. If they have no idea how to start it and we work it out together then I go for the correct spelling. If they say 'how do you spell house mummy? h - a - s ?' then I smile and say 'yes, well done, go for it'. Spelling can wait, for now I am interested in them building up the confidence to write by themselves and tackle words they don't know. I think that there can be nothing so disheartening as someone constantly saying 'no - that's wrong' or 'not like that, like this'.

In the spirit of not nagging about every little detail I have let go my foible about how Eve holds her pencil. It drives me crackers but beyond the odd gentle reminder about turning her paper to make it easier to write on, I think she has to find her own way with it now. I have decided to let it go because she is so reluctant to write anything I really want to make it as positive and relaxed as possible when she is writing! I made her a prompt sheet that you can see her referring to above to remind her of a few bits of 'letter etiquette' to get her started and a visual reminder of capital letters, gaps between words and punctuation marks!

We spent the following week away in Wales at Dewi's parent's house and there we wrote postcards to family and friends instead. By midweek Eve was much more relaxed and confident about the process with not a huff or a puff in sight! She really creates beautiful expressive sentences and chooses lovely exciting words. Next steps? Continuing to build her confidence and stamina in writing before introducing some other aspects of writing such as a wider breadth of descriptive words.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Amulets, Mummies, Pyramids and Tomb-raiding - It must be......

.....yes you're right, it must be more from The Story of The world, our History Curriculum!
We were finishing up the chapters about the Egyptians and as predicted, the idea of mummies and tombs fired their imaginations! We had already made some amulets from coloured oven-bake clay and we wrapped them inside stretchy bandages as we 'mummified' Bob the Builder figures!
The girls then entombed their 'Bob Mummies' in a duplo pyramid and then begged Daddy to be a grave robber and break in to steal the amulets! Cue hysterical giggles from the girls!!

We are really enjoying this curriculum - we read the chapter gathered around the sofa with milk and a snack and it really sets things off nicely to do it this way. Eve is getting much more used to paraphrasing the information she has just heard into a narration. Faith joins in as much or as little as she wants as long as she isn't distracting Eve and that works for us! We don't always do a big activity to go with each chapter as there is map work and a colouring page to go with them so depending what else we have planned I upscale or downscale our weekly investment in History - it's so flexible!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

An Iddy-eye View of the Autumn!

Well the days are generally cooling down now - that funny temperature where it isn't quite cold enough for thick jumpers and heating but it isn't warm enough to be in t-shirt sleeves and have the back door open all day! It took a few days training to get the girls to shut it after them as they flew out to play!

As children with teachers for parents we never had the central heating on before October half-term and for some bizarre unexplainable reason I still follow that rule as a home-educating adult!! We have had the wood burner on a couple of days though when the temperature dipped uncomfortably low. Idris loved watching the flames from his play mat.

Things are getting back to normal round here after throat infections followed by colds. Idris caught them too, causing him to have croup which was my first (and hopefully last) experience of that scary condition. I found myself sitting in the bathroom at 3am with the shower running on hot to create some warm steam to soothe his inflamed throat. Luckily it worked as a dash to the emergency doctor with three children in the middle of the night on my own (Dewi was at work!) was not top of my 'fun things to do' list! I am just getting some energy back after trying to sleep sitting up holding Idris in a position he cold breathe easily in for far too many nights in a row!!

I don't know about you but when all the children are ill and I am short on sleep I feel smug just getting a hot dinner on the table and all the rest goes out of the window! By the end of the fortnight the girl's behaviour was appalling and I have spent this week re-establishing a good routine for them. It never ceases to amaze me just how quickly a routine calms and soothes the girls and they become calm and good-natured once again! the house is almost back to normal too so I have time and space to blog again!