Thursday, September 24, 2009

Week 2 in Review

It's been busy again - exhausting in parts and bitty in others, but overall I am pleased with what we are achieving. I find we are all running out of impetus by Thursday and tbh today has not been as good as I had it in my head to be, with only about half the work being completed, but it still felt like a reasonably good day all the same.
The pictures tell the story in a much less boring way than all my words, so enjoy - and I'll add tit-bits here and there :D

Art - painting the bas-relief creations from last week

even for Stitch !

Typing - (everyone does this at some point in the week)

Maths - all at different levels, but Lilo's is most photo-worthy :D
Minnie is doing English is this shot too.

Nature study - this is the view from the school room window and provides many moments of Tot-School conversations about cows and birds :D

Creative Play (Playdoh) - for all the smalls (what school would be complete without the stuff - and ours is all brand spanking new this week - first new stuff we've had in years!!). Here they are all making in Monsters :D

here's Lilo's;

(which of course then led to some pretend play for a little while :D)


Craft - Lilo chose to make this little keyring, from a kit she earned at conference this year that had been waiting for the right moment :D With only a little help, she did a great job

Sports / team play - of a sort!!

DT - bridge building (DD was doing this too, but missed the photo)
PE - the walk to Drama takes about 20 minutes :D -
currently the highlight of the week for the middle four.

followed up with races in the park...

and Lilo FINALLY learning how to swing herself -
and then not knowing how to stop again (lol)!

some more nature study/photography (for me this time) -
there seems to be lots of these about atm.

and then for them as we discussed the changing seasons on the way home.

and looked at seeds...

...and berries.

Group play & DT- the day got off to a pretty late start due to some elaborate games with this track that Bugs was sent to 'quickly' build to keep DD & Stitch happy! In the end everyone played for quite some time!!

Craft/DT- Later on Taz spent too much time making this, but I was impressed with his patience and effort, so I left him too it - plenty of hours in his life to do boring school work, not so many to play with Airfix model kits!! :D He took the photo too - so he could use just a little more time!

Problem solving/Thinking skills - DD got busy with his Tweenie puzzles, loved doing them and didn't argue with me that they were "too hard!" - he just did them - so that's progress! Look how pleased he was with himself - he even asked me to take a picture of him with them all done :D
Lilo was on the floor doing her alphabet initial-sounds-match frieze activity, with the 'help' of Stitch!

We did do other 'stuff' on Wednesday too, I just didn't take pictures! When Paul came home DD & Stitch disappeared into the kitchen with him and I think he let them 'help' cook tea - which was taco's, chile and salad - yum!


Maths - I gave these home-made pattern strips to Lilo together with some wooden blocks...

.... she understood it no trouble :D
Lilo is a very visual person and it was no surprise to me that she easily converted 2D to 3D and understood the patterning. Looks like I need to think of some more of these - she really enjoyed them. Next thing is to get her to show DD how they work :D

Another of the major achievements I sadly have not photographed this week, is that Lilo learnt to write her full length christian name completely independently - quite an achievement seeing as this time last year she only knew her shortened name and didn't believe her full one actually was her name! Next target is to get her to write all her names - she often doesn't even remember what her middle name is most of the time!!

DD too has been working hard on his name and is beginning to understand pencil grip and letter direction already. He is doing really well with it and I reckon might manage it solo (i.e. not traced) in about another week or so :D Currently he is writing on a sheet of laminate over a lined dry-wipe board on which I have written his name. I give him a 'blob' on each letter from which he knows he has to start and then verbally tell him which way to go ; "around, up, down to the line and flick - that's 'a' ", "start at the top, on the blob, go all the way down to the line, then back up a little, JUST to the dotty line, around and close - good - that's 'b' " - etc... This verbal method is the way I have taught them all to write and they all have very legible handwriting - so far :D The closed laminate tracing is a new idea and it seems to be working well atm. DD is the first child I have had to come out of playgroup still unable to write his name though. It's not that he doesn't have the pencil control, or that he's not bright, I just think everyone's focus has been more on getting him talking clearly than on reading & writing - still is really, but I think he will be so proud when he can write his own name! :D

On the reading front with Lilo I have put her back to the start with Headsprout ( I remember I had to do that for TweetiePie too) as she just was not remembering anything, but meanwhile I have shown her the Starfall 'learn to read' program - and printed out the worksheets - and it is really working for her!! She is getting it AND she is enjoying it. So, I'll go with her flow while it's fun and see where we end up :D I think it will suddenly click (I think I can already see the penny beginning to drop) and she will fly - she's that kind of kid. And when she has it sorted, I will be redundant - she will read and read and read and I will never be able to get her to come and do anything else! She will loose herself so completely in her stories that all else will be a nuisance to her - I can see it coming because that's how she is already, only the stories at the moment come from a conglomerate of sources; her head, things we've read and things she watches. When it's books they will take over her world - I just feel it in my bones!! :D

Other activities have played a role in our week - like Ed City and Moshi Monsters (which I highly recommend as an educational tool!), reading, writing - all the normal, boring stuff. Even when the children play trains for large portions of the day I still feel like we are achieving more than ever before! Bugs is learning a Shakespear sonnet (wow) to recite to the 'class' next week, we have done astronomy, Taz & Bugs played Jenga this morning too, which then morphed into an elaborate game of armies at DD's choosing and lasted some time (missed getting a shot of that one though); there's photography happening here, there and everywhere and Bugs' photo-blog is beginning to look significantly less neglected :D. They are playing together with the littler ones much better than they used to too, probably due to it being an expectation that they do so at various points in each day - to get down to a younger level and play whatever that child wishes is a challenge that it so good for them all, but especially Taz.

Other things of note this week: Minnie and Tweetie-Pie both passed to the next level in swimming - AT LAST! - and Tweetie also found out she did well and got a B for her Primary Ballet exam. I think the examiner might have been quite hard this time though, as none of the class got an A, which is quite unusual at this level, and Tweetie got a lower mark than when Minnie did the same exam, although I know she is much more graceful and co-ordinated than Minnie was at that time.

That's about it for now I think..!

It got better..!

Considering the start the week had it made a pretty successful improvement. There as been plenty of hard work and plenty of fun going on here this week :D Bugs and Taz have discovered Airfix modelling (thanx to the workbox system) and have thoroughly enjoyed putting together a helicopter and a war plane, respectively. Taz blogged about his - he is pretty chuffed with it and I must say he's done a neat job for a first go.
There's been painting of the bas-relief art we made last week (they look good - photos to follow) and learning of Latin (well just a teenie bit) in History. Today we have some more to learn about our earth and some Spanish review planned for after lunch - it'll be interesting to find out how much has been remembered forgotten.

Just now Minnie, Tweetie, Lilo and DD are supposed to be playing a game together, but they are tittle-tattling to me about this and that every two minutes, which drives me mad! DD keeps complaining he is 'getting bored' and being a bit disruptive, but I want him to get the idea that he needs to see things through - and it's NOT a boring game, it's just not his choice! Stitch is of course trying to get in on the act as always and not easily persuaded to  play with anything else..!
Me, I'm hiding ;-) And contemplating what I'm going to make for lunch - and tea (Paul is out again tonight) - and thinking about the astronomy lesson later - and blogging (of course!).

We still don't know what we will do with the big blue bus. It might get to the garage today. It was the plan to take it in yesterday, but the garage we like to use is closed on Wednesday afternoons. We need to get a quote from them before we decide what to do next. I just wish we had a stash of money to go buy a nice spanking new one that we wouldn't have to spend any serious money on for a few years, but of course, we really don't!!

New Names..

After some deliberation, and discussion with the sproglets, I have decided on some new pseudonyms. I think the ones I have been using are too complicated because I am not consistent and it's hard enough keeping track of 7, but when that turns into about 21 terms - well I guess it's just impossible!!
So from here on in I will be CONSISTENTLY using these across the blogoshpere :D :-

Jacob/Jake/J1/JA - will now be Bugs
Joel/J2/JI - will now be Taz
Abigail/Abbie/Boo/Babsi/ARH - will now be Minnie
Phoebe/Beefie - will now be Tweetie/TweetiePie
Elisheva/Ellie/Belle - will now be Lilo
Caleb/Bleb/CT - will now be DD (Donald Duck)
Nathanael/Nat/NJ - Stitch

Hope you can keep up with the new names OK - we think they suite characteristics of each child - and they like them so it works for us :D

More news later!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Let's Hope Tomorrow Is Better...

...than today! It's been one of those disastrous days when you are waiting to see what will go wrong next: I started my monthly (grump), I was on crèche at church for second week running - standing in - and could have done without it today, especially when a little boy who was there for the first-time didn't quite make it to the loo in time and soaked himself and the floor, but of course the bathroom was out of hand towels and almost out of toilet paper...and I was really in a quandary what to do with one soggy boy. Took said soggy boy back to crèche room still in wet pants (well what could I do?) and collected Mum, who came to sort him out, but typically the baby box was out of wet-wipes and my changing bag had got left in church (rrrrah). Thankfully he & his Mum were very chilled about the whole thing and he was happy to wear dressing-up trousers for the rest of the session! Thankfully also, Mum had been staying at her sister's and had spare clothes in the car (phew!). Rest of creche went well.
After, during coffee, I successfully knocked over not one, but TWO cups of coffee - and not at the same time. I was beginning to wonder if it was just not my day and then...
...on the way out of church, as always we were last to leave (despite having invited friends for a late lunch) and, being as the car park was now empty, Paul swung the car around (rather fast) in reverse to turn out and SMACK!! What had he hit? A steel basketball post!! Some quite serious damage to the back on the driver side :( Bumper pretty much wrecked - and bent upward so we can't get the boot open, bottom of door (which is up and over boot door) smashed significantly, now showing through all the crumbling rust that had been hiding under the paintwork, lights casing smashed (although lights working thankfully), looks like the actual rear side of the bus has buckled in the impact (under the window) and there is possible structural damage underneath as it's all nudged up to the shock absorbers - but to crown it all most of the worst damage is exactly where we just spent £400 getting a big 'whole-day's-work' welding job done to get it through MOT, and now all that might need completely replacing anyway! It's amazing how much damage one momentary lack of concentration and a rouge steel post can do :( We are not sure of the cost implications yet, but if the structural damage is significant enough, it might be a right off financially - just when we got running OK! Our other option (if we can figure out a way into the boot) is to make it road worthy, and drive it battered - at least for the year (having just done MOT on it) and try to save for a new one, but that will not be easy at all :(. If we do that we are not sure whether we would get any insurance money - if we don't do that we are not sure that the insurance money (should we get any) will be enough towards a replacement either. Tough one. And to top it all - Joel was feeling sick when he went to bed. He was the only one who said it hurt his neck a little - so we are praying there is no whiplash there for him and that he just needed to sleep.
Ok so, now thoroughly cheesed off we came home, praying to still find the house standing - which it was :D We ignored the car (to stressful to worriy about) and set to sorting out dinner, whereupon our guests arrived. Minutes after they did so, Paul dropped a large portion of the chicken roast on the floor - right in front of them!! Thankfully I had washed the floor yesterday and they are VERY laid back people!..
...Sat down to dinner - only for Paul to knock his glass of Coke flying!
Later on JA dropped an old torch of Paul's and now it doesn't work - hope it's just the bulb he's broken, but Paul is not best pleased!!

Not sure today could have got much worse, but hopefully that means it can only get better tomorrow :D

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Off To the Park..

Today I did THIS with the littler ones, while the girls did ballet, then a few errands in town, back home for lunch and a good chill out :D
That was our day!!

Oops!!! - I've Just remembered - I've forgotten to plan the week of boxes - looks like that'll be my project for tomorrow evening now then. We've invited friends over for lunch tomorrow so I won't be doing it in the afternoon!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sweet September Days

These last few days have been dry and warm, but today was warm and sunny. I'm not sure how many more days like this we have left this year - the swallows are gone and the windows are closed at night, the nights are closing in and there is a definite damp  chill in the air after the sun goes down, moreover, the trees that I see from my bedroom window every morning are turning colour - those glorious autumn colours are on their way (and I am really looking forward to seeing them), but today it was lovely to have the kids playing in the garden again for happy hour after happy hour in the warm Septemeber sun. I just love living here - have I said that before? - well, I suspect I will say it again and I make no apologies for it!! They played so happily I forgot to remind them to finish off a couple of bits work they had to do - oh well, plenty of rainy, winter days ahead to work in I guess!

Oh - Beefie & JI also made these this morning (yummy!)...

and Paul almost finished off this...

PS - I have to give photo credit to JA for the football the sunlit-dolls (he's getting a bit good!!)

First Week Back...

Time to blog school as we know it...

We start our day with this (one each);

And then onto the workboxes, which are working incredibly well- like SOOO well!! OK - it's a lot of prep at the weekends a takes some time out of every evening to get the boxes filled, but it is worth it. I have JA pretty much finished by about 2 - and that's including breaks. Lunch sometimes slows things a little, but he is completing 10 activities every day!! I am amazed. Neither he nor I know WHY it is working so well, but whatever the reason, it is and that's all I care about. And it's not only working for JA, but for just about all the others too. Despite not quite getting ourselves into gear by 9am (target start time), it hasn't mattered too much :D
Bleb hasn't quite managed his box right through any day, in fact he has disappeared off to bed after lunch each day. I guess that means he's finding it a little tiring (although the nap is usually induced by me saying "no" to something or other!!). I think he will adjust slowly, because I'm not working him that hard - how hard can stories, playdoh, matching shapes and copying your name be? Belle runs out of steam round about number 8, but usually the last two activities are easy-going ones, so she is mostly managing to finish. The others are doing fine and even the group activities went better. Everyone paid attention well enough (JA still made a few irrelevant wise cracks, but was apologetic for being a pain!) and it wasn't nearly as stressful as it was last year - hope that lasts! We even managed some cookery - two at a time worked really well :D

Boo & JA made brownies the on Tuesday - completely independent of me, save for the putting in and removing from the oven. Beefie & JI made muffins this morning (not without my help).
There's been a ton of Hama'ing, Bas-relief creations from clay (Art), and clay-tablet making in History.

It all sounds idylic, but - and there is a but - around about Wednesday I was all spent! I had been up way too late for several nights preparing for the week ahead and I was trying to keep on top of housework and still catching up with washing from the camping holiday and ongoing life (it's not exactly 2 loads a day drying weather). Thankfully Paul offered to stay home the evening (he was meant to be out) and I crawled off to bed. It helped - a lot!! I got through Thursday OK and now it's the weekend and I all I have to do is fill up the boxes tomorrow, so I'm hoping it will get easier in that respect from now on in.
NJ has not been so enthusiastic about his tot-trays as I had hoped he would be. He prefers to have free-reign and not have me encouraging him to choose a tray. It's not been easy. Even the things he has shown initial interest in, he quickly is bored with and chooses to make a mess with instead. Not sure whether things will settle down with him, but I hope so. He has, however, latched on to the idea that one or other of them is free to play with him at regular points through the day and is enjoying that very much (I've put him in as an activity in their boxes!). I'm hoping that he will gradually choose to do his trays with them.

Anyway, here's some captures from the week - tot-school included.

Bottle-cap names for C (Bleb) - this idea is courtesy of Carissa :D
Slip-pegs for NJ - he liked this but was annoyed by the boxes - something more sturdy next time.

kids doing various activies at the table.

one-to-one counting for C & peg board for NJ (with JA)

JA writing his blog.

Wii time for Beefie and C.

Sink & Float experiment :D

Clay tablets (history)

puzzles - BIG hit (he's done these over and over this week).

tweezer pop-poms (also quite popular).

hunting shaped beads in macroni was met with enthsiasm, but...

he found the dog and the bear and played with them together - momentarily - just before he started...

'raining' the macaroni from his hands - it went everywhere!

cooking cake-in-a-cup...


Not a good shot I know - a good activity (matching two shapes) which I'd like to make a 3D version of if I can figure out how.
Hama - lots of it!

Muffins (JI & Beefie)

Brownies (JA & Boo)
Think that's about it :-D