18th Nov, 2018 – a quiet week

This week was mainly about taking some time off learning while we have some family time. However, as learning happens all the time anyway, here is the incidental learning that happened, without much effort at all…..

Literacy / English: There were quite a few birthdays this week, so W made cards for friends birthdays. Her writing was very good and she concentrated on the task well.

Later in the week, W wrote a letter to Santa. She did extremely well with her letters, copying some out and writing some by herself.

On Thursday, W asked if she could try to see some bats, so after looking up some information, we found that we may see some that night, since it was a warmer night. We did manage to see a couple and then W made up a poem about our walk, which she later turned into a song.

Our last piece of work on literacy this week was when W decided to make a sign for the house. She did well trying to spell the words.

Home Economics: W helped to make cake and flapjacks for a family gathering, which obviously she loved as she got to lick the spoon!

W then asked if jelly has gelatine in, so we talked about what it is, where it comes from and how it works.

Maths / Numeracy: We played ‘Pop to the Shops’ by Orchard Toys, during which, W was reading the two-digit numbers for the first time (“forty pence”, rather than “four-oh”, for example).

W played Minecraft with her stepbrother, J (10) and later her stepsister, D (8) too. J built buildings for her on her tablet and W furnished them with J’s help. I love the way that they work together on their Minecraft buildings. J seems to really enjoy helping W with her learning these days.

Science / Nature: There was salt on the platforms at the train station. W knew it was there to stop people slipping, so we talked about water freezing and why salt made a difference. We talked about how else you could melt ice.

On the way home, we talked about why the sun sets and the fact that the Earth spins.

W asked about condensation on a water bottle, so I explained to her where it comes from ad why it happens.

Music: W wanted to learn a song that we used to sing from when she was a baby, so we did, then later W played the piano at the train station. We talked about the notes and chords.

Engineering: We were delayed at a London station, so we watched the engineers building part of a large building using a cherry picker. Then we saw a freight train and counted the carriages together.

We talked about earthquakes and how builders can ensure that buildings don’t fall down, by making them able to sway (W has a slight fascination with earthquakes lately).

Socialisation: On Monday, we went to our regular social group, where W played with her friend J (5) for most of the time.

AS always, W had a great time at her Rainbows group, playing with her friends and doing craft activities.

Play: W played with her toys (mainly My Little Ponies) a lot, taking care to categorise them as she did so.

When we played Uno on the train and W is getting very good at the strategy side of the game now. 

On Friday, W made a stable for her toy horse using boxes and chairs, then played with them for a long time.

Art / Design: W decided to design some wedding dresses, taking care to include the tiny features that she wanted on them.

PSHE: W still has lots of questions about death and funeral services, because of our recent loss (more about this here). I am glad that she is talking about it and asking lots of questions. I really do believe that when children hold in their grief, it can build to a much worse level than when they are encouraged to talk about it whenever they need to…. I am trying to remember this for myself too….

This blog post is much shorter than usual because we have actually done far less in terms of education than we usually would. However, I know that this is normal after an event such as a death in the family and I also know that it is important for us to take the time that we need in order for us to heal as a family.

5th Aug 2018 – a playful week

This week, the focus was mainly on play. W has spent a lot of time playing with her toys. Some nights, she even struggled to get to sleep because she had so many ideas floating round in her mind of what to do with her toys the next day. Having read the research on the importance of play (an example here), I knew I needed to let it happen as much as possible as W clearly had a strong need for it this week.

So here is the breakdown of our week of mainly play-based learning:

Socialisation / Play:

W played with B (6), who came over for a visit.

Later, E (9) and F (6)  arrived for a sleepover. They all played hide-and-seek together and later played with Lego.

The next day, W, her sibling D and her friend F played ‘library’, which involved setting up a library in the living room. They used all of their books, which were brought down from upstairs in many stages! Tidying time was fun on that day……

W has played ‘small world’ at different times this week, with various toys – first with her Shopkins in the doll’s house, then with her Playmobil farm and later with Lego.

On Sunday, my parents came for a visit and the children loved reading with them, playing with a frisbee in the park, going to the library for more books and then making cookies and pizzas at home.

At our Monday social group, W played with B (7) for most of the time. They put on a show on the stage, before which, W wrote some tickets and gave them out to everyone.

W played with her minifigures and Lego animals for a long time, in which she got the horses ready for riding, the minifigures rode them and then brought them back to a stable to care for them.

As usual, we played board games in the evenings. This week, W requested the “Guess How Much I Love You” board game when it was her turn to choose (the children take it in turns to choose a board game each evening). It is a very simple game, but lots of fun and the children love it.

We went to our local pool, which the children really enjoyed. We spent some time jumping over the waves in the shallow area and generally messing about – exhausting but fun!

Science / Nature:

W learned about bones this week, as our accident-prone kitten Flash had broken his leg! We have no idea how he had managed to do it – he is still an indoor cat until he is ready to venture outside. We got up one morning to discover he couldn’t walk on one of his legs, the poor thing. We took him straight to the vet’s, where W learned about the care of a broken bone, how it heals and why it is important for Flash to rest. She also learned about pain medicine and anaesthesia too.

We have a grapevine in the garden and W looked at it one day and asked how grapes are harvested. We ended up watching a Youtube video of the big machines that do the harvesting. She watched the video twice and asked questions about how the machine was cleaned and where the grapes are taken after harvest.

W rediscovered her dinosaur encyclopedia and asked me to read it to her. We read the whole thing entirely. In it, she learned about the history of life on Earth and we went through the timeline of what creatures were alive at what times in history. We also covered prehistoric sea creatures, dinosaurs, reptiles and early humans.

W particularly liked the parts about evolution and also the birth of the Earth and how it came to exist. At the end, she was fascinated by how the dinosaurs and parts of the environment turned into coal and oil.

Later, W wanted to watch a vet program on the TV, so we did. We had previously been talking about operations and how a person feels no pain at all when operated on, and how the body then heals itself. This tied in well with the program as they showed a small clip of an operation on a dog who had swallowed some stones. I asked W if she definitely wanted to watch the clip and she did. She was totally fascinated and enjoyed it.

We saw a little bit of the next program on the TV and that one was about elephants. She learned a little about droughts, conservation and safaris.

W helped to bake cheese scones and a chocolate cake with her siblings and my partner, which I count as science, but was mainly fun, I think!

In the bath, W wanted to play with her Lego minifigures again and she noticed how some minifigures stand on the bottom of the bath because their hair is less dense than the rest of the figure. W really enjoyed experimenting with them, and it followed on well from Last week, when W was doing the same thing with her Playmobil toys in their little swimming pool.

We went to the pet shop to buy our cat Watson a brush. While we were there, W wanted to look at all the animals and she mentioned how you care for each one and what they need to keep them happy.

When we got home, the first thing W wanted to do was to brush the cats and I showed her how to get the cats used to the brush gently, instead of holding them still. W did very well at letting them sniff the brush first and was very gentle with them, meaning that the cats were happy to have her brush them whilst they lay down.

On the train, W said that it would be funny if there was no gravity on the train and we were floating. That reminded me of a video I saw of what happens when you wring out a wet cloth in space, so we watched that and then ended up watching ‘9 facts about foxes’ too.

Literacy / English:

Unusually, W asked to have lots of books read to her this week. She took in all the stories and then requested more.

When we had to take the train, W helped me at the ticket machine to type in the code to retrieve my tickets. She loves doing this and she is becoming quite quick at it. Then, when we were on the train, she found our carriage and seat all by herself, by reading the ticket.

At dinner later in the day, W helped to set up a ‘restaurant’ where she helped to make menus, tell me the prices of the food and serve me my dinner. It was a great game to play and was very funny!

Numeracy / Maths:

W spent time categorising toys in her bedroom by type and by colour, just as she did three weeks ago.

She did some addition whilst we were at our Monday social group as a couple of children had made things to sell, so W tried to add up how much money she would need to buy these things.

We have been working some more on telling the time as W seems very ready now. She is not too keen on waiting for things, so being able to tell the time is really helping. When W would ask when something is going to happen, I used to respond with ‘after lunch’ or ‘two Mr Bloom episodes’, but now she needs more information than that. Every time she asks, we go to look at the clock and I will show her where the hands need to be before the thing happens and this is really helping with her understanding the concept of time.

Later, we popped to the shop that W likes as she wanted to buy a toy with her pocket money and she did well adding and subtracting amounts to work out which toys she could buy together.

History:

At breakfast, we discussed when the Queen was born, when the Queen mother was born and whether or not they were alive during the second world war. We then did the same for her grandparents’ birth dates.

W said that she had visited the Great Wall of China, which is odd since she has never left Europe. On further questioning, it turned out that W meant she had been to Chinatown in Manchester! This later led to a discussion on Hong Kong and its history.

Art / Design:

W did a craft activity at Rainbows, which was to make a rabbit out of card, and then on the way home, W was singing a song that she made up about loving animals so much!

Since W has been playing long games with the Lego minifigures and horses, she asked me if we could make stables for the horses to rest in. I asked her exactly how she wanted it to look and we made a diagram together so that we both knew how to make it. She was very clear on how many stables she wanted, what the roof should look like and where the paddock should be. She helped to choose the pieces from my Lego spares and we then built it together. W was really pleased with the result and spent hours playing with it over the week (and I got to build some Lego, so it was a win-win for us)!