29 October 2010

Half Term Halloween Cooking

We are nearly at the end of half term - are you bored yet? If so you might want to try some Halloween Cooking ideas.

If those recipes are too complicated - try decorating your cupcakes for halloween by adding a spider to the top (a chocolate button with legs drawn with an icing pen) or a jelly worm - or just add green food colouring to the mixture before cooking to make green cakes!

22 October 2010

Parent's Evening

This week along with many other parents (judging by friends Facebook and Twitter statuses) we had parents evening. Thinking about parents evening reminded me of the poem "Parents' Evening" by Allan Ahlberg which describes a family and teacher waiting for parents' evening. I think this poem sums up parents evening for a lot of us.

We're waiting in the corridor,
My dad, my mum and me.
They're sitting there and talking;
I'm nervous as can be.
I wonder what she'll tell 'em.
I'll say I've got a pain!
I wish I'd got my spellings right.
I wish I had a brain.

We're waiting in the corridor,
My husband, son and me.
My son just stands there smiling;
I'm smiling, nervously 

I wonder what she'll tell us.
I hope it's not all bad.
He's such a good boy, really;
But dozy - like his dad.

We're waiting in the corridor
My wife, my boy and me.
My wife's as cool as cucumber;
I'm nervous as can be.
I hate these parents' evenings.
I feel just like a kid again
Who's gonna get the stick.

I'm waiting in the classroom.
It's nearly time to start.
I wish there was a way to stop
The pounding in my heart.
The parents in the corridor
Are chatting cheerfully;
And now I've got to face them;
And I'm nervous as can be.

Luckily our experiences this time weren't bad - our boys are meeting age related expectations, behave well and enjoy learning... we have been set more targets for them so look out for more posts about these and how we are supporting them with these at home.

21 October 2010

Favourite Toys

It was interesting to read this article today about a survey by World's Apart's Dreamtown website that says children only play with five per cent of the toys they own. According to the survey of 3,000 parents, the typical child owns 238 toys in total but play with just 12 'favourites' on a daily basis making up just five per cent of their toys.

Is this true of your children?

Sadly, I think it is true of mine...

I can think of toys my children own that stay (almost permanently) in the cupboard, those that come out intensively for a few days at a time (e.g. they get a jigsaw or board game bug and do them non-stop for a day or two and then they go back into the cupboard for a month or so) and those there are two that I would say are firm favourites that are out all the time.

1) wooden train track (we have lots of BigJigs Rail from PlayMerrily)
2) Duplo (and slowly moving onto Lego)

What are your children's firm favourites?

11 October 2010

Messy Play Learning

play academy
We have blogged in the past about messy play but saw that The Play Academy are looking for messy play posts for the end of October so thought we would write a new post on this theme.

Judging by the four year old's school uniform he has been doing a lot of it at school so I asked him about his five favourite messy play things and have added some learning!

1. Shaving foam
Very simple and very messy - squirt on the table and then spread out with the palms of your hand and draw shapes, patterns and pictures or write letters, numbers and even words. This is a great activity for children who don't really like writing as they are too busy drawing to realise they are practicing and developing these fine motor skills!

2. Paint
He likes paint (claims he hasn't done it this week but someone has because there was green paint on his school shoes this morning)... He then talked about rolling marbles in paint to make patterns and mixing colours.

3. Finding Buried Treasure
Hide coins in a sandpit (doesn't matter if the sand is wet or dry - wet is messier though) and dig for them - you can use spades or spoons, sieve for them or just find them with fingers.

4. Noodles
He still remembers this from Chinese New Year - a big tray of cooked noodles to stir, pick up with large tweezers (trying chopsticks if you are brave!)

5. Playdough
Probably one of every preschoolers favourites - blogged about before with recipes - lots of learning opportunities. This week they have been thinking about birthdays and have been making playdough cakes.

08 October 2010

Book Week

Ooops I nearly missed Children's Book Week - it seems to have passed our school by...

Children’s Book Week (the first full week in October) is an annual celebration of reading for pleasure for children of primary school age. Schools, libraries and bookshops all over the UK hold events and activities aimed at encouraging children to view reading as a source of pleasure, explore libraries and bookshops and even start writing themselves.

Have you taken part? What have your children been doing?

07 October 2010

Today's Target: Spelling (Look, Cover, Write, Check Method)

The "Look, Cover, Write and Check" spelling method is an easy activity for learning new spelling words.
First, write the list of words to learn onto a piece of paper.

Get the child to "Look" at the word. They should really study the word - taking the time to say it out loud, looking at the whole word, saying the letters aloud and looking for identifiable patterns or shorter words inside the bigger word. During this step they are looking for anything that will help commit the word to permanent memory. Before moving on to the next step encourage your child to close their eyes, picture the word and to try spelling the word from memory and then opening their eyes to check accuracy. Looking at the word one last time before attempting to spell it on their own can be of help.

Now they need to "Cover" the word; they can a hand, a bookmark, or another piece of paper so that the spelling is hidden from sight.

The "Spell" step is self-explanatory - they need to write the word down on the paper

The final step is to "Check" the accuracy of what they have written. This is done by comparing it letter by letter to the original. If they use both hands they can simultaneously point to each of the letters in the word to make sure they notice any mistakes. If there are mistakes, the process should be repeated from the beginning until the word is spelled correctly.

We found using the Reception Key Words Whiteboard a really useful tool for the learning these words as it saved having to write a new list each time we wanted to practice.

04 October 2010

Why do Elephants help spelling?


Big Elephants Can Always Understand Small Elephants
So there you go - a simple mnemonic from the 6 year old...
Mnemonics are sentences or phrases in which the initial letters of the words spell out a word which many people find rather tricky to spell. He was really proud of remembering this - do you know of any others that he can learn?

01 October 2010

Today's Target: Spelling High Frequency Words

We have now managed to read the high frequency words and we have moved on to learning to spell them... here are ten ways we tried with varying levels of popularity / success.
  1. Traditional spelling test - me reading the word, him writing it down on paper
  2. Using magnetic letters
  3. Copying the words, saying each letter as he wrote it
  4. Typing spelling test - as above but typing the answer on the computer
  5. Writing silly sentences of target words
  6. The look, cover, write, check method (more about this method on another post but we found also found some games online - have a search)
  7. Backwards spelling - I said the letters and he had to work out what the word was
  8. Using the letters from Pass the Word
  9. Oral quizzes - "how do you spell..." This was great when driving or waiting for appointments
  10. Correcting my spelling (for words I knew he knew - not good for learning!)