Friday, 18 January 2013

SNOW DAY

Half day at school and an afternoon of snow play with a friend and hot chocolate! What better way to end a week!

This is a post of few words....... the pictures say it all!



















Thursday, 17 January 2013

A VERY MATHEMATICAL WEEK

This week seems to have been very focused on maths. Not really by design, it just seems to have happened this way. I did a toy rotation and also some new toys arrived that are all about fractions (for my boys) and of course everyone wants to try out new toys!

Little "L" and "X" enjoyed some shape work. Slotting puzzle pieces in to the right holes. 


"X" is very good at doing this by sight and does not need to try different holes. He seems to be able to visually work out which piece goes where even with new and unfamiliar puzzles.


Our Fraction pizza game arrived and Kenzie and Little "E" wanted to play with it right away. I was cooking dinner but gave the rules of the first game option a quick glance and then set them up on the kitchen floor to build their pizzas. I think that i need to have a proper read of the game options with this and a few practice runs as it does not seem to be very strait forward. The first thing we worked out was that adding fractions is not as easy as  it looks! But i am sure with time we will get the hang of it.



Little "R" has been off sick for most of the week but we were glad to see her come today! She really enjoyed the weighing scales. we used the animal maths manipulative's to try and balance the scales. She worked out the animals that were the same, weighed the same! Not all animals that are the same colour weigh the same though.....




We made towers with our ideal blocks. These are great fun for building interesting structures. These were developed in 1967 by a Swedish Mathematician and it is a great toy for developing 3D and spatial reasoning. Personally I can spend hours with this toy!




The girls also found our new Fraction tower equivalency cubes and although they are far to young to really understand them, they did enjoy pulling them apart and pushing them back together again. I did use fraction related language with them whilst they played with them and showed them that 2 halves are the same a 1 whole.



I will have a little think over the weekend of how I can use all these toys in a more age appropriate way with the little ones.


Monday, 14 January 2013

INDOOR SNOWMEN!

Well the snow came.... but not a lot and it didn't stay. No snow day for us. The school still opened and by 10am we were seeing the snow melting away. We had a brief moment of renewed hope at lunch time when a mini blizzard came down, but by this time it was just too wet to settle.

So I decided to make the most of what Mother Nature shared with us.

I ran out in to the garden and filled a plastic box with snow, gathered up some Arctic animals from the playroom on my way through and grabbed a large bath towel. I set everything up in the kitchen and called the little ones in to come and explore!

Their faces lit up and little "X" immediately started to squash clumps of snow, making them explode in his hands and shower him in little bits!


Little "L" gathered up the Polar bears, naming each one...... "mummy, Daddy and Baby!


Little "X" called the snow "snowman" and this gave me an idea. I ran to the playroom to get some of the Mr Potato heads accessories and lay them out  on the floor by the snow. I then made each child a big ball of snow and a little ball of snow. We joined them together and made Snowmen!!

Right away they knew what to do with the Mr Potato head bits. They had been playing with them before we brought the snow in and this just became a natural progression of the previous activity.
We had some wonderful, abstract creations!






So much fun! They did not get cold and soggy while the rain started to drizzle on our lovely snow in the garden! We made snowmen despite having very little snow!
I am hoping we have some more snow this week so we can do some snow painting!!

Monday, 7 January 2013

NEW MORNING RHYTHM

Today was our first "normal" day of work. My boys went back to school (much to my sadness) and I had both  little "R" and little "L" with me for the day.
The girls really do love each other, but before Christmas we had many times where they would scream at each other and both cry as a result, if they got too close to each others toys. Even if a toy had been played with and then discarded, it was not to be touched by any one else..... Reminding me a lot of that poem I read once called "Toddler law".

 I really want to help the girls through this difficult time. They are both now 2 years old and the world has become a frustrating place for them. They able to communicate better with the people around them, but still not well enough to express them selves calmly when under a moment of stress.
The world has revolved around them (as it should) in their early years of babyhood, but now they are venturing out on their own a little more and having to wait occasionally for something they want or need.
 It is a hard time and frustrating for them and those around them as they move from one battle to another.

I have tried to guide them and model positive play by sitting with them and sharing the toys between the three of us, but the moment I have to leave their side it all seems to fall apart very quickly.

This year I decided to make our mornings more purposeful. We will still have moments of free play but I feel we need a little more structure mixed in.

I have created a morning rhythm that I hope will do this. Before I take the children to school I mix up a batch of bread dough and leave it to rest for half an hour while we do the school run. Once the girls and I return, we wash our hands and sit at the table with a floured wooden board each. I then dish out a ball of dough each and we work the dough with our fingers while singing songs. This is keeping little fingers busy on purposeful work, building and strengthening their finger muscles which will be used later on for writing and we are all working and playing harmoniously together in the same space.






I am also keen to engage the girls more in preparing a meal for everyone, for later in the day. We have some lovely safety knives which I bought from Pampered Chef. They are not the best things for cutting with and work better on soft foods, but they are safe and give the children a sense of independence and allows them to be part of the food preparation. Today we made Leek and Potato soup. I peeled the potatoes and diced them. I then gave small pieces for the girls to chop. I have to be honest. I still cut 99% of the veg but the girls felt very involved and important to the process. It kept their fingers busy and their minds focused.




While we worked on our chopping, cutting and also the kneading and rolling of the dough, we sang away to ourselves and explored new words. "pinch pinch" on the dough, "push push" in the dough, "chop chop" up the Potatoes.


Before we new it the bread rolls were cooked and we enjoyed them warm from the oven with butter spread over them and a glass of fresh milk.



The next part of our rhythm is to get our outdoor clothes on and pop outside for some fresh air. We played on the scooter, rolled and threw balls, enjoyed the music wall and outdoor kitchen. We took some stale bread out to the chickens and pulled it in to little pieces and threw it in to the run. We watched for birds and listened to a noisy dog barking in one of the neighbours gardens!


We came in for stories once the girls became restless out there. This is a tricky part of the morning as they are starting to get tired and we just need to try and keep going for another 20 minutes before we can have lunch, nappy changes and nap time.

I have to say that today's test run seemed to work very well. On the whole everyone was much happier and calmer with each other. Frustrations were dealt with quickly and there were less upset.

I would love to hear about your daily rhythms and gentle ways of helping young children play together. Please leave your thoughts in the comment box. I will read them and respond to you all.


Saturday, 5 January 2013

RESISTANCE PAINTING

This week we have been enjoying gentle activity. Holding on to the last few days all together before the Christmas holidays end and the little ones all go back to school.
The decorations were packed away and the house felt large and clear. This is a good and bad feeling for me. The feeling of space and a sense of the place being clutter free is wonderful. I often feel that we need more space as a family and start to look at what we don't have, forgetting to be thankful for what we do have. This period after Christmas needs to be bottled and kept for those times when I need a reminder.
 The sadness comes with the lack of colour in our home, once the Christmas cheer is packed away and the cards popped in to the crafting box. The walls seem bare, the shelves lack a certain spark, and while I love the tidy feeling, I have an urge to bring some warmth back in.

So with this in mind, we set about creating some beauty!










The boys (being that bit older) enjoyed experimenting with other forms of adding the wax to paper and used lit candles to drip on to the paper. We thought we might be able to peal the wax off again but this didn't happen, not that it mattered because the wax made a lovely picture in itself.






We have a lovely display of these on the playroom wall and some in the living room. They have really brightened the place up and the children enjoyed making them. So did I actually!!


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