Friday, 16 December 2011

Catching up

It's been a busy old week... but I'm not sure what we've done with it!
There's been a dentist visit and the last soft play session of the year, and there has been these delicious scones!

The boys have made family members some chocolates (for the intended recipients of said chocolates who are reading, fear not! I made sure that tiny fingers were very clean!) A good opportunity to talk about early science concepts of liquid and solid etc. We used the free net printables from SEN Teacher to make pretty boxes for the chocolates to go into...

For our numeracy this week we looked at 2D and 3D while making these sparkly little Christmas trees. 2D shapes... snip-snip... ta-da! 3D objects! I'm not sure how much of this went in though as they were both so desperate to get their hands on the tinsel :)

... and we made some crackers, just because.

We also did a little bit of work on Claude Monet, but that will have to wait for another post as we're out of time to set off for our play date with Lamb's Best Bud 1.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Solstice stables

It was quite gratifying over the weekend, to have Moo beg to do more sounds and letters practise!
The alphablocks books, while very basic, seem to be doing an excellent job.

Lamb's favourite thing of the moment is playing with these blocks. I've been using it as a sneaky way to slip in a bit of numeracy. We've been looking at estimating and more or less. Here Lamb discovered that he is 79 blocks tall (thanks daddy for the picture!)

Now although we are supposed to have started our unit on electricity and power sources, Lamb's concentration and focus are all over the place, so we've done very little topic work at all. Even the Christmas crafts we have been doing have proved difficult to hold his attention.
This is Moo's 'solstice stable'... Lamb's doesn't have a roof because it was so difficult to keep him on-task. This was a nice craft activity to test Moo's knowledge of shapes. It led on from the 'festivals of light' banner we made last week. After reminding the boys about the different festivals of light at this time of year we spoke a little more about what is actually going on with the sun at the winter solstice. I find information sticks so much better if we incorporate lots of actions and clapping! After reading some stories about the Nativity we made these solstice stables ~ and yes, it is supposed to be the sun rather than a star hanging inside the stable! We used silver birch twigs to make the stable. Not only are they in plentiful supply they are also nice and pliable. If you fancy making these with young children you'll probably find that you need to secure the joins yourself after the kids have finished :)

Friday, 9 December 2011

Rhyme Monsters!

Finally the bird feeders got finished!

Today's big project was the Rhyme Monsters.
The boys painted up some cereal boxes, added some eyes, hair and tentacles and bob's your uncle!
The monsters hold a card each (which you can laminate if you haven't some how lost your laminator...ahem) and the idea is that the kids then take turns to feed the monster (through the hole cut out for the mouth) words which rhyme with the card they are holding. Lamb needs to work on his awareness of rhyme as part of his speech therapy, and it's a pretty cool activity for Moo's age too.

The activity worked well for Lamb. Keeping to only 2 options really helped him to focus and understand what was being asked of him, and the results were good. For almost all of the words Lamb correctly identified which monster to feed :)

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Catching up

It has been a slow week for us. We've all been ill, and the fact that Lamb's medication is no longer helping him has been taking its toll on us and our 'work'. Not much has been done!
Lamb has been teaching Moo to navigate the Cbeebies website. Lamb showed some considerable patience while doing this, and was more than happy to be the teacher for a change. Moo has gotten very confident in the short time he has been using the computer. Already his fine motor skills have mastered the art of clicking on small boxes, he knows how to find 'play' buttons and 'back' buttons. He is now desperate to master the skill of using the arrow keys to play the simple games on the Cbeebies website, which is what Lamb is attempting to teach him here.
We've made a small start on our 'Electricity and Power Sources' unit this week, and have started by finding different light sources in and out of the house. The boys have also been investigating which of their toys use batteries, and both of them are already great at locating where the batteries go.

Moo has started on the road of beginning to read in earnest. I was concerned that maybe it was too soon... A chat with NemNem sorted that out and she set my mind at ease. In the words of the sage: 'If he's hungry then feed him.' Excellent advice :-) So Moo was left eagerly awaiting his new books so he can learn to read. We chose the BBC 'Fun with Phonics' pack and have started on the 'Sounds and Letters' pack.
This comes with an animated dvd which Moo loves, a work book and giant poster. The picture quality of the dvds isn't great, but it is bright and kid friendly, and the pack comes in a handy folder to keep everything together. We also ordered a couple of the new Phonics Bug Alphablocks books to see if they were any good. These are very short, very simple, but also very clear. Moo loves these even more than the Fun With Phonics pack, and I have to say that I have high hopes for the Phonics Bug books, enough that I think that Moo will be getting some more of them for Christmas.
We have already started on phonics, but only half heartedly really, and using the free jolly phonics printable flashcards available on the Communication4All website, as this is what Lamb used when learning sounds. However Moo was reliant on the pictures and without them wasn't able to recognise the letter.
Today after only half an hour of watching his new dvd and reading through the alphablocks books together Moo is now finding both the letters 'a' and 's' within text. I'm rather impressed!

We've also started looking at our new artist with this wonderful book called 'The Magical Garden of Claude Monet' by Laurence Anholt. In this lovely book a little girl goes to meet her mother's friend, Mr. Monet where she sees both his garden and his paintings. The illustrations are lovely and actually incorporate Monet's famous paintings into the illustrations. For young children it's a wonderful introduction to the artist.
We've also been working on making paper mache bird feeders, but these are still work-in-progress! Right now the pva glue (intended to make them water proof at least for a little while) is drying, and hopefully the boys will remember some of our conversations while making them about why it is especially important to help the birds through the winter.
Fingers crossed next week will be a little more productive.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Sculpting blind

We've finally come to the end of our time looking at Georgia O'Keeffe.
Towards the end of her life O'Keeffe's sight began to fail her and she turned more to sculpting.
To emphasise this point the boys attempted to make some models blindfold.
Neither much liked the experience of not being able to see what they were doing. Lamb lasted only a few minutes before he could stand it no longer, though Moo actually asked to be blindfold again later in the day to play with the blindfold :-)

They both got the point though, and found it much harder when they couldn't see what they were doing.
More than any of the art they have done thus far this little exercise has really ingrained the name 'Georgia O'Keeffe' into their minds.

There is a lovely free 'festivals of light' printable available on this winter's edition of 'Rhythm of the Home',
intended for use to make a little booklet. The kids used this to get in some good pencil control practise and scissor skills practise, which both of them need to work on, while we talked about the Winter Solstice and the various celebrations at this time of year.
Instead of making little booklets, the kids made some banners to hang on the wall using reflective baking foil
- which included a little bit of scientific discussion on why some things are shiny :-)

Now they are both desperate to start getting the Christmas decorations put up!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Salt dough angels and more Georgia O'Keeffe

We're coming to the end of our time looking at Georgia O'Keeffe's work. Moo is the real art lover, Lamb can take it or leave it. Today we had a look at some of Georgia O'Keeffe's bone pictures again, and looked at some more photos of O'Keeffe throughout her life. The boys then had the opportunity to get really messy and had a go at drawing some duck bones with charcoal sticks. Lamb wanted to post his off to Georgia O'Keeffe for her to see and I had to explain why that wasn't going to be possible.

Get messy they most certainly did!

Getting into the Christmas spirit again, today we made angels using salt dough. The boys wanted to make some angels we could hang from the ceiling so we made their heads hollow to put ribbon through. Before the little angels went into the oven to dry out we made the holes in the back to insert their wings afterwards.
And then came the glitter... an explosion of glitter, quite literally (the tops flew off the glitter shakers)!!
As we had some of the salt dough left over and lots of glitter to clear up we combined the two and the boys used the cookie cutters to make some sparkly star decorations to go on the tree when it finally goes up.
All in all a rather peaceful day (I suspect that the lack of any numeracy work might have something to do with that!!).

Maths out of doors

Well, Tuesday wasn't a great day, so yesterday it seemed prudent to think creatively. With a lot of help the boys made various shaped dice from nets. Oh the tears from Moo when he realised he had cut the tabs off one of his dice! From the 4 shapes that they attempted (alone and with help) 2 made it into 3D.

We talk the dice and the chalks out to a quiet spot and made a rather odd version of hopscotch.

They both loved this SO much (although it seems Lamb has forgotten the number 5 exists) and we had to keep going back to it throughout the day.

Moo decided to put the chalks to good use when we finally came inside :-)

NemNem suggested we put on a Christmas play. I figured she was being funny but it led to these rather handsome 3 Kings being made yesterday to learn the song 'We 3 Kings'. We've given the chorus some simple actions and the boys are starting to remember the words.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Some days...

... are not for schooling of any variety. Yesterday the boys had been up around 15 minutes before it was clear that it simply was not going to be a day for any kind of focused activity. There were lots of tears yesterday, lots of the boys shouting at each other, and generally just lots of stress. It seemed prudent to cancel any notions I had of a day of numbers. Instead we spent time in the garden. The garden is always our saviour at moments like this. There is something quite satisfying about getting wrapped up warm to go play outside during the cold months.
  The boys entertained themselves making patterns in the freshly dug soil, and devised a role play game revolving around their imaginary train station... and of course they did lots of digging, this time they were apparently building ponds. We plan to make a pond for the spring so this is lodged in their heads at the moment!
  One very good thing to come out of yesterday is that I did get to to speak to the paediatrician and all of his chromosomal analysis' have come back clear and I have arranged an appointment for Lamb to go in and have a check up. The biggest concern recently was that Lamb's medication doesn't seem to be having any impact any longer. For the weight he has put on it would seem that his dosage should be doubled, so it's not really surprising that the medication isn't helping Lamb all that much. Once Lamb has his check up in a few weeks, he'll be trialling the new dosage and it will be good to see if it helps him.
  At the time I was training to be a nursery-nurse the whole question over the appropriateness of medicating children was a major issue. It seems to me that these days it is slightly less frowned upon to give a child medication, but it still has a certain stigma attached to it. In the same way that ADHD itself was a contentious subject, it does seem that it is less so these day, but there is still that body of people that believe bad parenting is the cause or even (Still!!) that it doesn't really exist at all; and still that belief lingers out there that medication is the devils work. As a parent this has caused me all sorts of self doubt, but when it comes down to the wire I think Lamb prefers it when he can think straight and interact with people. Who wouldn't, I guess?
  When the medication is working the difference in Lamb is really quite amazing. Our first experience of it made me cry - it was like we were finally able to get to know him, after all those years. The popular assumption of drugs zombifying kids certainly hasn't been our experience. The drugs help Lamb focus enough that he can vocalise his experience of the world, and ask questions about it instead of being 'away with the fairies'. It certainly doesn't dampen down his energy or enthusiasm!
  Little rant over, and I feel much better!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

White blood cells go 'rah, rah, rah!'

The boys have been learning about blood today. Here is Lamb's blood collage. As you can see, enormous quantities of glue were used - so much so that the glue has seeped all over the pictures.
Moo in particular enjoyed learning about blood and keeps doing impressions of a white blood cell chasing after germs!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Bodies and broken bones

Hmm, does the heart go here?

Ah, no, that looks a bit better!

The boys have also been learning about broken bones...

So they've been having fun with an assortment of bandages. And if the bandages double up as skipping ropes, well that's creative play right? ;-)

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

At the end of summer

Lamb having a go at an archaeological dig, discovering some roman coins ;-)

We watched a flint knapper at work...

...and had a look at some of the things he had made (though Lamb was actually more interested in photographing the plants behind him at the time).

Circus skills day at the park. Lamb didn't quite get the hang of juggling!

Moo tried very hard to master this with a little more sucess though!

Lastly, here is Lamb at the drumming workshop.
Noise, we love noise!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Georgia O'Keeffe's poppies

On Friday we kept the 2 minutes silence, and Lamb was very sincere about the whole thing. As the last of our poppy related arts 'n' crafts we took a look at Georgia O'Keeffe's beautiful 'Oriental Poppies' painting, and the boys had a go at recreating the picture.
Here is the tracing I made of the picture for the boys to work with as a guide.

Here is Lamb's interpretation with water colour pencils....

... and here is Moo's version of the same :)

Friday, 11 November 2011

Poppy seed pictures and hairy models

Yesterday poppies were the subject of our crafts once again. It is clear to me (and thankfully also to the new paediatrician who actually listens) that Lamb has quite a few sensory integration issues. Unfortunately the Occupational Therapists are so overstretched that they are taken on only the most extreme cases with most children not getting any help. This is the situation we, and many other families in the area, find ourselves in. Sensory integration is a broad subject and I know only a little, but I've been trying to provide controlled circumstances for Lamb to work on some of his sensory issues.
This is one such activity and it went surprisingly well.
The boys used glue to create a picture of a poppy. The glue had a tiny splodge of red paint in to help them see where they were putting the glue. They then had a whale of a time shaking and sprinkling poppy seeds all over their pictures and Lamb didn't mind touching the poppy seeds one bit. Result!

Later, when the pictures were dry, the boys used the textured pictures to make prints with lots of bright red paint.

Other fun for the day included the making of a hair model (from Easy Make and Do Projects: Human Body). This activity was more aimed at working on scissor and paper folding skills than learning about hair.
Moo is getting much better at controlling the scissors, and Lamb is improving his control when trying to fold to a specific line on the paper. Lamb enjoyed giving his hair a cut more than anything :)

We also made some posters about digestion for our body topic and spent some more time with Nina and her neurons learning about digestion. Both kids grasp the basic concept of why we eat and where our food goes, if not all of the finer details, which for their ages and stages is plenty enough!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Skeleton experiment

We got out the salt dough yesterday to find out why we have skeletons :)
First we all made little people with no bones, but guess what?

They kept toppling over!
So then we tried again and this time we used cocktail sticks as pretend bones inside our little people.

And hurrah! They stand up (they weren't much good at flexing though)!
So why do we have skeletons? What would happen if we had no bones??
Lamb answers in mime: tumbling to the floor in a heap,
and Moo says 'FALL OVER!'.

Poppy and orange cakes

1 cup of self raising flour
3/4 cup of brown sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup of olive oil
about 3 finely grated carrots
2 tbs poppy seeds
1/2 a squeezed orange's juice
grated zest of 1 orange

Bake at 180 degrees for about 20ish minutes. Ta-da!

To continue talking about poppies and what they represent to us in November, we continued by making these little cakes. 'Carrots mummy? Cakes?' It was like a scene straight from Peter Kay! It was also a chance for the boys to have a taste of poppy seeds, which I don't believe they've tasted before and talk about our sense of taste. Lamb didn't like the feel of the poppy seeds in his mouth, and Moo was fairly neutral about the whole thing... but at least there were yummy cakes to eat at the end of it!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Sewing poppies

Now I'm not great at taking photo's but I'm sure you get the idea!
Yesterday we used some Binkamat sheets (which are fantastic by the way!) to sew some simple lines onto our poppies and talked about why we buy poppies in November. The poppy you can see in the picture is Moo's - not bad for 3 years old I think :) He was really getting the hang of it, but decided to call it a day half way round the second line I had drawn on to the poppy for him.
We also watched some programs about our skin and the boys drew pictures of what they had learnt. In Lamb's own words: Skin helps me. Keeps out water and germs. Holds in belly, food and heart.
Heehee, I just love that last sentance!

And here are the stained-glass autumn leaves we made the other day.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

No tickling!

Just a quick picture of the weekend :)
Giant man with a giant feather duster? NO TICKLING, NO!
Lamb was very clear on this. He was not to be tickled, and neither was Moo or mummy or daddy. Just completely NO!