Sunday, January 24, 2010

TECHNO~TOT-SCHOOL

Tot-School here is a little tough going atm. Stitch is really not that interested in 'doing stuff'. He has slots of time each day that each of the children are allocated to do something with him, but his choices are not very variable! He likes screens - what is it about boys!! So, no matter that I spent the last week of the holidays preparing a farm tot-book, with tractors and all (thanks Carissa) ~ he doesn't want to know! All he wants to do is play on the computer, the Wii, or the Nintendo (which he has now managed to damage the charger for ~ sigh!). I'm not sure if its a really big deal ~ he is using these things to learn stuff and 'fine motor skills' are not a skill he really needs to hone ~ he can already hold a pencil beautifully, lace, sort things with large and small spoons, lace things...

His choices at the moment go like this;
#2 PoissonRouge ("fish")
#3 Mum I did it 2 (Nintendo)
#4 watch Mummy, or anyone else while they are on the computer!
#5 Race around on Didicar
#6 Wii ~ Let's Dance/Mario Cart
#7 Whine until someone lets him have a computer!
#8 Repeat ad infinitum!!

Occasionally he will choose to do his wide-eye puzzles.
Occasionally he will do a little bit of lacing
Occasionally he will choose to hunt beads in the pasta for a while (and play crazy games with the little animal beads)
Occasionally he will spoon beads for a bit.
He does NOT like getting messy, so he seldom choose sticking or arty activities :(
He LOVES stories, but only at bedtime
He does like to play imagination games on his own and with his siblings ~ often he is the dog in their games of 'Mums and Dad's' ~ even though we have never had a dog there always is one in their games!!

So, from such a limited 'experience' what is he learning (and why am I not interfering a great deal)..?

THE DACS :


  • ~ It works on his colour recognition (labelling & application). In just this last week he has pretty much sorted out the rest of his colours and now gets most of them right, most of the time. He can tell me what they are on request and can hand me things and volunteer the colour. On the DACS he can also select from a colour grid and from this he is learning to identify all different shades of the same colour too - brilliant!

  • ~ cause & effect ~ particularly with the stampers
  • ~ mouse control ~ the DACS uses a stylus, but as a result I have seen a marked improvement, in just a week, in his ability to control an ordinary mouse for colouring on poissonrouge. I think he has learnt to notice the little pointer and once he learns to slow his mouse movements down he will have it sorted.
  • ~ Creativity in a non-messy way, which he likes!
  • ~ IT'S BRILLIANT (and I can fully see why he loves it)!!
BUT ~ just in case you were thinking of heading out and getting a DACS ~ we have had this about 3 years! We could never get it to work with XP or Vista. It wasn't the hardware ~ I knew that ~ but it would freeze up after a few seconds and this, according to the reviews I've recently read, is a common problem. HOWEVER Fisher Price have released a software update for Windows 7 (why didn't they think of that before!) and guess what ~ it works!! No problems AT ALL! :D )

PoissonRouge ~ well what is there NOT to love about this website. And like I said he is even beginning to be able to control the mouse a bit. Mostly though, he ropes someone into helping him play on it so it becomes interactive in another way too :D
Mum I Did It 2 ~ I bought this for Lilo, but it has been a hit with all the small ones. There's no reading involved and the activities are really fun for under 5's who can't read. And I know Stitch has learnt a lot from it too in a 'problem solving' way.

Wii TIME ~ It's just fun! I bought JUST DANCE this week and I think Stitch gets it, so it will be good for his co-ordination and 'music' skills (rhythm and that sort of thing!). Mario-Kart, that's another story and generally leads to frustration so I tend to discourage that one.


Watching ME on the PC ~ often I am sorting through photographs (that's just what I'm about) and he sits and tells me who everyone is! He loves it and it's a great way to make sure he remembers people's names. We also chat about the pictures, what we can see and what he remembers happening in them, so it's kind of like an alternative story time and a time for expanding his language ~ which is developing at an alarming rate atm, with full sentences beginning to take shape :D He asks me questions too, which I love and sometimes I even get to explain to him what I am doing with a photo when I am 'editing' it :D

DIDICAR ~ again plain fun, but great for letting of steam these horrid, wet, cold, winter's days when outside is really not a fun option! He's pretty speedy on this thing, with or without foot propulsion!

Whining ~ only to be discouraged!!

Choosing (very strongly) NOT to get dressed ~ well that's a battle I'm willing to loose most days, so I don't even go there unless we are going out!

Alongside working on his colours, which seems to be his main focus atm, he is also beginning to learn to count. He can fairly reliably get to four :D I think when he's mastered his colours without having to think so hard, that might be his next move! It helps of course that DD and I are doing lots of numbers work atm, and he is overhearing it.

DD (now nearly 5) has nearly got his numbers sussed ~ a few more weeks and we should have 1-10 sorted I think.

And just for fun here's Paul and Minnie on Just Dance!


Thursday, January 21, 2010

What should have been...

...an ordinary school day turned into a 2 hour cookery session! Minnie and TP decided to make 'cupcakes' - and yes, it took them two hours to get them into the oven!! But they were worth it ~ no help from me, except for just before they were about to start spooning into the cases I looked at the mixture, which was more like thick milk, and asked them if they were SURE they had put enough flour in? After insisting for a bit that they had, eventually Minnie realised that although they had set the measure to '2 cups' they had, for some mysterious reason, then only filled it to one and were a whole cup short on flour! Mistake rectified, the mixture looked a lot better and they carried on alone! Here's the result ~ they were GORGEOUS!;


(this one made us laugh, we thought it looked like a flopped over turkey chick!)

Whilst they were slowly spooning those out into the cases, Bugs decided that he'd like to help me cook lunch. We were having cooked lunch because Thursdays can be a little crazy these days; Taz has Youth Band, then both boys are at Scouts, and Paul races out to adult band practice as well ~ all between 5 & 7.30pm! So he helped me cook tuna pasta bake and announced to me that he really loves cooking and can't wait to 'get creative' in the kitchen! Quickly followed by the idea of maybe doing Cookery at college, coupled with his photography (which he's still very keen to do). Not a bad combination of subjects ~ food and photos ~ very creative & arty and going happily hand in hand :D We'll see...

To be honest, today never really got started HE-wise. Bugs got up and got on, as did Taz, but I never got sorted for the younger ones. I decided in the end that I wanted to spend some time with Stitch as he gets a pretty raw deal from me too much of the time, so I spent a whole hour playing on the DACS with him ~ his new favourite activity ~ and he was one happy little man. He played so long he actually got to a point where he had had enough and went off to play something else (a rare thing). Just lately he is turning into a real techno-baby. He loves anything technological and is really quite good with them all. His obsession with the DACS though is one thing I am happy to encourage (he even knows how to connect it to the PC with the USB cable and turn it on!) ~ it works on his colour recognition, labelling & application, cause & effect, mouse control (yes, the DACS uses a stylus, but as a result I have seen a marked improvement, in just a week, in his ability to control an ordinary mouse for colouring on poissonrouge. I think he has learnt to notice the little pointer and once he learns to slow his mouse movements down he will have it sorted), creativity, and all sorts of other great skills :D It's brilliant!
BUT ~ just in case you were thinking of heading out and getting a DACS ~ we have had this about 3 years! We could never get it to work with XP or Vista. It wasn't the hardware ~ I knew that ~ but it would always freeze up after a few seconds and this, according to the reviews I've recently read, is a common problem. HOWEVER Fisher Price have released a software update for Windows 7 (why didn't they think of that before!) and guess what ~ it works!! No problems AT ALL! :D )

It's turning out to be a very creative week :D

My postcards arrived from Jessops. I have had 10 of my favourite and best photographs from around our village made into postcards. I am going to try and sell them and generate myself a little pocket money (or at least get myself known of!). They won't make me much, because unless I charge an extortionate amount I will only make 10p a card, so it's hardly going to be a get rich quick scheme! That said, if I sell some it will make me FEEL great :D!! I've also made a photobook of the area to sell, but I got a discount on it. If I had to pay full price for it I don't think I could sell it at a price that would earn me a profit ~ shame, it's lovely! :(

Monday, January 18, 2010

Colour Explosion!

H.E. is going well atm. The new(ish) system seems to be working well. I still think I am over controlling, but I just don't know how to take my hands off and trust the kids to balance things out (sigh!) I almost wish they had gone with the tick box system, but hey ho! What we are doing is working and much better now I only have Lilo and DD doing 6 fixed activities a day, and Tweetie Pie only 8. Today they were finished near-enough by lunch time which gave them plenty of free time, which they then chose to fill rather creatively :D The others were still finishing off quite late this afternoon, but because I over-worked them, rather because we took delivery of our newest Wii game ~ Just Dance! This provided a good hour or more of physically active distraction, so I wasn't too worried :D (Great Game btw - highly reccommend it!).
Lilo, DD and TP are working on a 'Penguin Project' atm ~ I thought it was fitting with all the cold weather :D TP would like to go on and look at all the 'cold place animals' ~ I shall encourage her and see where that leads :D Meanwhile, today we were talking about Penguins being birds and how their feathers help them to keep warm and dry. We talked about how they waterproof themselves with oil and I took them into the kitchen for a little impromptu science. They were fascinated with the oil on top of water effect. Then I got two pieces of brown cardboard. One I rubbed with oil, the other I did not (of course). I ran them both under the tap. They were able to see how one went limp and soggy, and while the other one was a little wet it was nowhere near as soggy as the first. (Phew... that worked!) We went on to talk about the life cycle of penguins and discussed why the penguin chicks can't go in the water (i.e that their downy feathers are not waterproof) and how they have to be cuddled up to stay warm. It was a lovely lesson and I think they are enjoying it so far :D It's difficult to get DD to co-operate with anything at the moment if it doesn't involve my undivided attention, so for a lot of the penguin work he snicked off somewhere. When it came to story time ~ Mr Popper's Penguins, of course ~ I insisted he stayed and listen. At least that way he might still learn something. Maybe next time he can pick the topic!

There have been a few little gems in the past week, that I just want to document. Whilst playing on our newly-working Digital Art Studio the other day, DD was making a thankyou card for my Nan. He was doing a dinosaur picture and using the stampers to decorate a background scene. When choosing he stated "I need to make these ones really small because they are very far away." and proceeded to resize the stamp and place it on the hills in the back of the picture. I was suitably impressed that he had this perceptive understanding ~ I have never spoken to him about it as far as I am aware.

DD is beginning to recognise his numbers - now knows 1, 2, 6 & 10 fairly reliably, but I could see the penny beginning to drop, even just today, with the others :D

Stitch has been busily & independently working at learning his colours. I haven't put an aweful lot of conscious effort into this with him, but he suddenly seemed to sort out a couple at Christmas and now knows blue, brown, pink, black, and yellow fairly reliably. We are working on the others now (as he is very keen and constantly asking 'what's dat' in relation to colours) and he nearly has orange, red & green sorted too.

Stitch's speech is coming on a dream and the other day asked me, "How do you do it?" ~ I can remember my other children asking me all sorts of 'what' and 'why' questions, but I don't remember a single one of them asking me 'HOW?' at younger than 3. This says so much about him - he is such a 'how' kind of kid :D

He is also incredibly good at throwing. It's a skill he began practising at a very early age to my great distress (he throws A LOT). I have been able to tame him in recent months more, but he still LOVES to throw. Last night, as I was putting him to bed, he decided to throw a small plastic football (about the size of a golf ball) from the other side of the room and see if he could get it in his bedroom bin ~ he DID! He did it again ~ he was accurate! When he missed it wasn't by much and he got that ball in at least 5 times, from the other side of the room (about 3-4ft away). I was stunned! I don't what this little lad will do in the future, but I certainly need to encourage him to play cricket!

Anyway - back to today. Monday is our Art day. Today we were experimenting with the colour wheel. I asked the children to choose between watercolour pencils and rdinary ones this week. Lilo and Bugs chose the watercolours. The others chose ordinary. (DD went on the DACS & Stitch was playing upstairs). The challenge was to make the picture as bold as possible by using opposing colours and to 'create something new from something old', or take something from a new perspective.
Bugs painted his black and white pumps, but not black and white;



Lilo created an underwater scene (she is one amazing artist for her age). She copied some fish from a little 'stage-by-stage' drawing book we have, but she is so GOOD at copying these. She then coloured and painted this entirely on her own :D


The other choice of task was to create your own flag. This was what Bugs chose to do and he created some name for a fantasy country to go with it! He then decided he wanted to re-create it on TuxPaint and went ahead and did so. I think he did good :D



Minnie colured a 'new from old' version of Stitches beaker ~ sorry no pictures, but it was pretty good ~ and TP did a flower :D I did use the oportunity to take her outside and get her to look at how leaves are in nature and how they are joined to the stems. She always draws them as sort of D shapes - rectified that one at last :D

A bit after that Stitch came down and had a go on the DACS ~ he is SO good at it, but once he is on it's a real battle to get him off again!

DD did some tracing - for the first time. He initially kicked up a huge stink, but once he got going he really enjoyed it :D

Minnie also did a little sewing (also a Monday project) - she is making a little turtle from a kit. Body and flippers completed now! That means she done some work with backstitch and with over-stitch. She does seem to enjoy it, but like me, doesn't seem to have a great deal of stick-ability for things that require such sustained concentration and are very fiddly!


So there you go - a little insight into our day today ~ bout time too, or bored now?!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Check this out - Yenka.com


It's free and it looks like an excellent resource for science, maths, DT and IT - go take a look!! :D

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Creeping UP!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

I just noticed that I now have 40 readers on my feed - wow - that's crept up this last year! So I guess I better keep you all happy by posting now and then! :D

Already it is almost the 4th day of 2010. What did you do for New Year? This year we were due to have some friends visit, but sadly they were unwell (hope you are all better Dunnes) and so instead we headed over to Minnie's best friend R's. Her parents are good friends of ours and invited us to their party. We took food and headed over for a really fun evening with a bunch of good friends - about 30 or so I think in all. It was a really lively evening of food, games and laughter. Paul took the little ones (Tweetie, Lilo, DD & Stitch) home about 11.30 as unfortunately he wasn't feeling too well and they had begun to ask to go home. So he saw 2010 in on his own at home, putting Didicars together ready for the morning (I'll explain in a mo'). Myself, my Mum (who is up for NY), Bugs, Taz and Minnie all stayed on and eventually we got home about 2am I think!! I couldn't believe it when they were up at 9am the next day. I stayed in bed until the little ones woke me at nearly 10 (much more like it).
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IMG_0011That said there was something to get up for - Christmas!! Well, you see, as we were away for Christmas we had not been able to take all our main presents with us, so we still had those to open. My mum was up for NY we decided to repeat Christmas on NY's day. So Jan 1st was Christmas #2 :D We had a lovely late-morning of opening gifts and everyone was thrilled with what they received. Pictures going up on the 365 if you want to see more. I'm trying to limit the number of photos I post here and keep them more schooly - but this is also my family blog so you'll have to forgive that I do post family ones here too sometimes! :D
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Yesterday Mum and I took Minnie, Lilo and Bugs shopping to spend some (actually ALL) of their Christmas money. They all bought clothes! Bugs has such an individual and developed sense of style – I really like the way he dresses these days: purple sweater jacket, v-neck T-shirts, skinny jeans… He looks great! Minnie is also developing a sense of individuality about what she chooses and the belted, checked shirt that she chose (expensive as it was) looks really lovely on her with the drainpipe (sorry ‘skinny’) stone-washed jeans she also chose. I can’t believe though that she is wearing things so similar to what I was wearing in the mid-80’s!! Then Lilo surprised me too by choosing to spend her money on clothes. She pottered around while Minnie was being indecisive, then quietly came over to me and said, “I think I’ve found a top I like.” I went to look and found it was lovely and on the 3 for 2 rail (bonus!). She picked that out, together with a long-sleeved top and a pair of jean-leggings (jeggings apparently) and got all three for only a very little over her budget! Problem was the jeggings turned out to have a hole in -  :( – so she had to make do with a plain black pair. However, we then had to go to next to exchange a pair of jeans for Minnie and I spotted even nicer jeggings in there, so I caved and bought her them. I’m so glad I did though. She wore them today with the first top she chose and she looked adorable; trendy, but still very cute  - just how I think she should look at 6 :D
Mum is still here until Tuesday, so we are not starting back to school this week. I am not organised (still have that printing to do!) and I also have a pile of marking to go through from last term...
I DID leave the house SO neat, clean and tidy before we went away, but you'd never know it now! So, we also need to have a good tidy through at least before we start back. How did Christmas generate SO much mess, even though we weren't here?!!
Maybe when Mum goes back I will blitz through, then spend the rest of the week playing some of the new games and doing some of the crafts the kids got for Christmas. That would be a nice gentle way back into routine ;D