2nd December, 2018 – Christmas prep!

This week had a Christmas theme, with all of us getting out the Christmas decorations and preparing the advent calendars (my partner makes them for the children). It is such a lovely time of year and, although we are all atheists, we do still involve ourselves with Christmas events and pantomimes that are happening near us, just as we do with other religious festivals.

So here is what W learned this week, in subject order as usual…..

Science / Nature: W asked about the days being shorter now and why that happens and when the days will start to get longer again. We chatted about the seasons and the Earth’s tilt.

W later asked why the date of Easter moves, so we talked about the phases of the moon and how that affects Easter. Then she asked why the moon has phases, so I explained that to her too.

In the evening, W spent some time telling her stepsiblings, J and D about Blue Planet and what the different creatures do, which I suppose solidified her learning from last week.

Whilst we were going through the Blackwall tunnel, W asked why there were bars at a certain level in the tunnel. I explained that it is lower on one side and the bars are showing the height of the lowest part of the tunnel, so lorries can only go on one side and they can check whether they fit by looking at the bars.

Literacy / English: On one of our train journeys, we read a book together, which she really loved (and I wondered if the other passengers did too…..).

Wrote a song about Christmas and then also wrote some events on the calendar.

PE: On Monday afternoon, we went to W’s gymnastics class, which W did brilliantly at. She listened so well in a class of 12 children and followed the instructions and concentrated for the duration. The teacher gave her lots of praise and wrote down what she had learned in her book, so that she would know where she was up to next time.

She loved it at the class again and is very relaxed and calm there. She knows a few of the people and likes to play in the hallways with them.

Play: She showed great negotiation skills when it was time to put up the Christmas decorations with her siblings. After that, W had a great time playing with the Christmas toys. She adores the Playmobil Christmas scene and spent ages sorting out Santa’s workshop. In fact, she then played with it every day, sometimes letting all her other Playmobil toys join in!

Drama / Performing Arts: We went to the theatre to see a brilliant adaptation of Rapunzel. We talked about the actor who plays Rapunzel, who is black with purple dreadlocks. There was no prince rescuing Rapunzel – instead Goldilocks came to Rapunzel’s tower, where they worked together to defeat evil and free themselves.W loved the performance so much – She especially liked having her information sheet with her during the panto, so that she could work out which actor was playing which part and which actors played more than one part.

W’s stepsister, D (8) had a xmas show with her Saturday dance group, so we watched that. It was a Harry Potter story with singing and dancing. W watched kids in groups of 3-4 year olds, all the way up to teenagers doing different dances. We talked about why the very small children had more simple dances and the older kids had more difficult ones.

Numeracy / Maths: On 1st December, it was time to open the advent calendar. W is now obviously really good at reading the numbers and doesn’t need help at all this year.

We played the Orchard Toys Bus Stop game, adding and taking away people from a bus journey. W really enjoyed it and did well.

When brushing her teeth, W said she was going to work out maths sums in her head without using her fingers. It took quite a while, but she did it entirely by herself.

PSHE: We read an old Christmas story, which I had to pause in order to chat about the gender of the characters in books. Usually, I just change ‘he’ for ‘she’ in kids’ books to balance out the genders and to make the numbers of male and female characters equal. In this book, it wasn’t possible. J and D knew the story well and are used to me changing a couple of characters, but this time, there were 13 male characters and two female characters, who didn’t speak! We had a chat about how this used to be the norm in older books (and still is the case in a lot of modern books) and how it is important that stories reflect the actual population. We talked about which characters needed to be male for the purpose of the story (none of them) and which could be changed. Then we enjoyed the Christmas tale!!

We went to the Christmas fair at the end of our road, which was really good. W got to sit in a fire engine and try on a firefighter’s hat. The firefighter showed her the safety goggles inside the helmet and also the heat-reflecting goggles. They showed us their oxygen tanks and the dial which shows how much oxygen is left. W also learned that the firefighter in charge can see how much oxygen each firefighter has left on her own machine too.

W saw the heavy machine that can cut through metals, and the sledgehammers, axes and hoses too. She enjoyed seeing what they do with all the tools.

There was a ‘treasure hunt’ afterwards, where the children had to search for certain crocheted items on the stalls and get a stamp for each one. Once the sheet was full, they got a chocolate prize. W did very well and recognised most of the items herself. She was confident at talking to the stallholders too.

Socialisation: After the Christmas fair, we went to E (10) and F’s (7) house for a bit. They worked on their Christmas tree, which this year they are making out of Lego. W made an activity course for her soft toy dog to play with, with D and F. Then W asked their mum for a pen and paper and sat down for ages drawing pictures. She drew one of her with her toy dog, which was really good, then drew another of lions in the snow!

Later, more children arrived (T [6], J [9], B [7], N [10] and T [8]), all of whom W has met before. She played well with all of them.

On Monday morning, W’s friend, N popped over for a short time. They had a lovely time playing and W really enjoyed it.

On the train, W met a dog who W stroked and played with for the whole journey. She chatted confidently to her owners.

Art: Later, she made a Christmas decoration from pipe-cleaners and beads.

W played on her online advent calendar game. She did well with the jigsaws, then played an art game, filling in detailed colours, in which she had to use the drop and drag function and very fine control of the cursor.

W decorated her dolls’ house for Christmas. She was really inventive with the materials she had and showed good spatial awareness with measuring spaces and putting appropriate decorations into them.

Next week, we have yet more Christmas-themed activities!

23rd Sep, 2018 – socialising

Last week, I was worried that we had not done enough socialising and that we had spent too much time at home…. However, this week more than made up for last weeks lack of playdates with friends, so I’ll start this diary entry with:

Socialisation: On Monday, a friend came to play with W and they had a lovely time with the dolls house etc.

We later went to our favourite social group, which was busy again. We met yet another family with two Mums, which brings the total to 4 families at this group. It is lovely for W to be able to see so many children with families like hers.

On Wednesday, a neighbour, T (6 years old), came over for a playdate (who W met when searching for our cat’s collar). The children all had fun playing with her.

On Thursday, it was time for another play date: this time with B (6) and T (2) who we know from our Monday group. W was keen to show T how to be careful and gentle with the kittens.

At Rainbows, W played really well with the other children and also included the new children in the games.

And to round off a week of socialisation, on Friday at the park, W played with her friend, J (4 years old). They enjoyed climbing the big climbing frame and generally running around.

Literacy / English: As usual, on our train journeys, W practiced reading signs at the stations.

W is loving having her things accessible at the desk now (more about this here), and is sitting down to do colouring-in sheets at least once a day, deciding for herself when to just sit down and work on it.

Science / Nature: On Tuesday, we watched W’s favourite vet show on TV, which she loved. She particularly liked the bit about hoof care in horses and how quickly newborn horses can walk.

We saw a fox outside Rainbows and discussed why it was out in the evening and what it was going to eat.

W spent time in the garden, collecting acorns for squirrels and talking about oak trees. W made a mini garden in a planter, with shells, planted acorns and a section for an acorn display

Numeracy / Maths: At Rainbows, W did some dot-to-dot puzzles and then got to colour them in, which she really enjoyed. She did really well and recognised her numbers up to 48 with only a little help.

Next week, she is doing her ‘promise’, which she is really excited about as she becomes a proper Rainbows member then.

Earlier in the day, W had asked to do some paid work with me, so she set about categorising some items for my shop.

Play: W built one of her Playmobile sets. She was determined to do it herself and was proud that she had managed it without adult help.

This rounds off a busy week of socialising, to contrast with last week’s home learning. I am learning now that we can’t do everything in every week, but that all subjects and learning opportunities balance out over the months (and years).

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)!