Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Family visit

I took Harry and Peter to visit Stuart's family, who live near Lancaster, at the start of this week and we stayed for a night. They had a great time playing with their older cousins who are now on school holidays and it was really nice that Peter joined in rather than being the baby. We went to this lovely tea room/garden centre which had some nice play areas and they also had a paddle in the river.

Harry took some photos on the way home - these were the things that interested him... traffic cones

....Cumbrian sheep 

.....and Peter's feet!

Literature study - Funnybones

I remember watching Funnybones on TV as a child so I was pleased to spot this book at the library and Harry and Peter enjoyed reading it and watching some of the episodes of the TV show on YouTube. Several of the ideas I have used came from the Teaching Ideas website which has lots of activity ideas for use alongside popular children's books.
This is the first book in the FUNNYBONES series and introduces the skeletons - a big skeleton, a little skeleton and a dog skeleton. They live in a dark dark cellar of a dark dark house on a dark dark hill and so the word repetition continues through this lighthearted story for early readers. The skeletons venture out of their cellar one night to find someone to scare, but everyone is in bed so they amuse themselves by scaring each other and playing with the skeleton animals that live in the zoo.

As the word 'woof' gets jumbled up when the dog skeleton is put back together incorrectly, I made letter tiles of other words from the book - funnybones and frightened and we used them to see how many other words we could make from the letters. I printed some Funnybones page borders to record this on. Harry did well - setting up end sounds and then changing the start letter to see if it made a word. We also came across a new word for him by doing this - yen.

I asked Harry what he knows about bones already. He told me that they hold you together or you would be a pile of jelly. We read this page of our body book and watched this video, which explains the skeleton as being a framework and protection for your organs. We have attended a skeleton workshop at a museum this year too where we looked at hinge and ball and socket joints so we talked about this again too and demonstrated using our shoulders and elbows.

He knew the bones skull and ribs already. To introduce some other bone names, we drew around Harry on a big roll of paper and he drew the bone shapes inside and wrote the names. 'Skeleton Harry' is now hanging on the living room door.

We also watched this song video and had some fun chasing around the house trying to grab and tickle each others bones. Hopefully that will help to remember that 'the leg bone's connected to the knee bone'! 

We used the spot the difference page and made a moving dog skeleton using a templete from here.

We used black card and cotton buds to make skeleton pictures. They both really enjoyed this.

We also drew skeletons with crayon and then painted over it with a water/paint mixture so that the wax image of the skeleton showed through.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Airshow outing

It was the annual Sunderland airshow today and we went to see some of the displays from a nearby cliff overlooking the beach. We didn't actually go down to the main airshow area as we thought it might be a bit busy, and we were meeting up with some friends, but we may do next year. We saw an amazing display from the red arrows, flying right above our heads (a bit loud for some of the smaller children!), some helicopter acrobatics (Harry's favourite) and a Lancaster Bomber flanked by a Spitfire and a Hurricane.

I took along my face paints and we had several small boy tigers running around towards the end! 

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Purposeful play time

We haven't spent much time at home recently due to the wonderful summer weather, so Peter has been mainly joining us in beach, forest and playground trips, alongside lots of water play in the garden and watering the plants at the allotment to keep them alive. 

Harry has been to some school holiday enjoy-a-ball sessions where he stays for 4 hours so Peter and I have spent some lovely time together alone this week. I don't think I planned any of the play activities in this post, they just happened and I think all purposeful play can be like that. It just needs an engaged adult to facilitate, make sense of the experience and extend it by talking about it and joining in. Learning areas like colour, number and shape come naturally into that for us. 

We have been playing lotto games, practising taking turns and memory skills. Peter knows all the colours in the Red Dog, Blue Dog game now and he enjoyed pointing out all the pictures in Alphabet Lotto and saying the names.

We made pancakes and Peter did very good and controlled mixing, pouring and whisking. Much better to use real ingredients than to pretend, and you eat the finished product! He was concentrating so much and it was nice for him to do everything instead of sharing the jobs between them. Harry dislikes pancakes to the extent that the smell almost makes him sick so I make them for Peter as a treat when Harry is out.

We have been building lots of marble runs and talking about the colours of the pieces as we add them. Peter even had a go at building one himself. Putting things like this together is great for hand strength and motor control and for investigating cause and effect.

We sang nursery rhymes and Peter used some of his puppets to act them out. Here is Humpty Dumpty falling from the wall. We used to read and sing lots of nursery rhymes with Harry and he has always been very good at rhyming so perhaps that has helped. This must also be one of the earliest stages of comprehension for a small child, as they understand what the (sometimes only four) lines of a rhyme mean and, for example, make an ouch sound when Humpty lands!

We used up some stickers from old sticker books and I noticed that Peter had grouped the same kinds together on the paper - pink fish, green fish and squid so we talked about the differences and used some descriptive words like curly, long and stripy. We counted the stickers in each group too. 

Sunday, 21 July 2013

A trip out - Wallington

We spent a lovely afternoon at Wallington today. The ponds and river banks were lush and green and, although there was not much water after the dry spell we have had, the boys enjoyed pottering in what remained of the river. We spotted a lovely moorhen family stepping over the lily pads in the pond with three fluffy babies.

We watched the birds in the wildlife hide.

And looked down the cracks in the dry ground for any signs of life!

We found things to complete this Nature Detectives treasure hunt sheet - flat, dead, shiny and bendy. The slimy box was filled by a moss covered stone Harry found in the river but we didn't bring that home! The fat box was filled by an enormous tree stump.

We also played frisbee on the lawn. We always have a great time at Wallington, it is our perfect family day out!

Eating from our allotment

We had a family weeding visit to the allotment yesterday as the beds were looking a bit untidy. Everything seems to be growing beautifully and we brought home a variety of things. This is what we have been working towards for just over a year, since getting the allotment last summer and we have worked hard so we are very pleased. Today for tea we are having sausage and broad bean pasta followed by rhubarb and raspberry crumble, all using our own produce!

We also have lots of plants showing promising growth - sweetcorn, courgette, squash, peas and lovely green tomatoes.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Our summer reading challenge 2013

Harry signed up for the 2013 summer reading challenge this week at our local library. The challenge is to read six books in the school summer holidays and he borrowed his first two while we were there. When we go back to return them he will get some stickers to put in his brochure. Harry is usually inspired by a challenge so this is a good way to encourage his reading. I also remember enjoying similar challenges as a child and I am pleased that Harry wants to be involved. 

This is the first one he read.

I looked carefully for the right books for him - this time I wanted ones he could ideally read in one sitting (as he gets a big boost from being able to read a whole story) as well as being the right level for him. The second book we borrowed is another Tadpoles Tales book - The Boy Who Cried Wolf. These two books practice some of the sounds we have covered in his phonics workbook and the Oxford Reading Tree books he is using at the moment - oa, ie, ai, ou and ar. 

We don't take a school summer holiday as I try to make home education part of everyday life anyway, and reading is something that it is great to encourage children to do for pleasure, not just for school. This challenge is a good incentive and a new perspective for Harry in his learning to read journey.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Beach trips

It has felt like pure summer for the last few days and we have been to the beach twice. I don't think we will ever get bored of the lovely beaches at Tynemouth and Whitley Bay. I feel so positive in such beautiful surroundings and the boys are so happy there. We took my sister and her fiancĂ© for one trip and the boys really enjoyed having some extra grown-ups to play with. 

We went into the rock pools and found a couple of crabs and some small fish.

Harry collected algae and seaweed and pretended to make spicy algae burgers on a barbecue rock.

They also enjoyed throwing the algae lumps as it made a great splat sound!

Peter liked watching his shadow copy him.

And they loved several trips down to the sea to splash in the waves. Perfect days!