Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Practising road safety

We went to our local supermarket today on bike and foot and I took the chance to practise some road safety awareness. Harry has been cycling off ahead on his own for around a year now and he is very good at stopping at roads (Peter less so!) so today we looked for safe places to cross roads. 

We talked about finding a place where there is a big gap between parked cars so your view isn't blocked. I showed Harry the difference between trying to cross at the crossroads at the end of our street and crossing shortly before you get there. At the crossroads there are four different directions the cars might come from but crossing earlier means there are only two. 

Road safety is something I want to concentrate on a bit more when we are out on the streets (so we have the chance for some practical application) now that Harry is older and wants to be more independent. These games on the Think! website look good too so I will get Harry to do them soon.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Penshaw monument

We had a fun visit to Penshaw Monument today with friends. The monument was built in 1844 as a half-size replica of the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens. and has great views far around. One of our home ed friends read us the local folklore tale of the Lambton Worm, a snake-like creature that was caught in the River Wear and grew to terrorise animals and people before being chopped in half by John Lambton, the boy who originally caught the worm.

Harry drew his own Lambton Worm and we spent a lovely couple of hours in the play area too. 

Friday, 24 May 2013

London follow up activities

I had put together some London themed activities do either side of our trip last week. We did colouring pages, mazes and these scratch art London landmark magnets before we went and Harry has been doing the rest of the activities this week. 

He did a wordsearch and themed rhyming words - I love these blank wordsearches for using with themed activities.

I printed some London themed page borders and Harry wrote an acrostic poem

His favourite painting we saw at The National Gallery was Turner's Rain, Steam and Speed so we had bought a postcard of it in the shop and he stuck this onto another page border and wrote why he likes it.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Purposeful play week

My aim with purposeful play is to introduce and cement concepts such as colours, numeracy (including concepts of number, size, weight, shape etc) and letters through focused play and also to extend vocabulary by talking about what we are doing and using lots of descriptive words.

Peter obviously takes part in lots of activities outside specific purposeful play, so the amount of focused play activity I do with him depends on what else we have been doing. He joins in with craft and cooking at home and comes on all our trips out, as well as directing his own play, playing with Harry, playing out in the garden and taking part in under-5's music group at The Sage.

Peter chose a bag of new marbles at Hamley's in London and has been very interested in them, so it was natural to use these for some extended activities.

I asked him to find the biggest and smallest ones from a selection. We talked about some features of the marbles while holding them - smooth, heavy and shiny.

I gave him a big metal bowl to hear the noisy sound the marbles made inside. He liked making a big crash by rolling them out of a tube into the bowl. 

He rolled them into my hand from the tube too and we lined them up and counted them a few times. We talked about the different colours. He likes the 'football' one and the 'tiger' one with orange and brown stripes.

I had seen this idea on The Imagination Tree website (I often browse here for craft inspiration) and prepared the egg box in advance by painting the inside with acrylic paint. I gave Peter a tray of pom poms and asked him to put the pom poms in the correct colour hole. When he had done that we got them out again and counted them in rows. We talked about big and small and compared the biggest and smallest. I also then gave him some Lego pieces and he sorted those too. I left this out on the playroom table and he has gone back to it several times to put the pom poms in the holes again.

Some of the purposeful play type activities I do with Peter are planned and some come about naturally, like this water based one. He had come into the garden while I was hanging washing out and started playing with the rain water in the water table. I gave him a bowl and a stick and asked if they would float. He tried them and they did - he said the bowl was a boat. He then picked up a big bucket to see if that would float too! 

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Gymnastics badge

Harry was very proud to pass his first gymnastics badge this week and he now has a certificate and woven badge. They work towards passing specific activities for badges every 3-4 weeks at Harry's class. He is still really enjoying gymnastics at City of Newcastle Gymnastics Academy. The class is one hour long and they do around 25 minutes of warm up and stretching followed by work on the apparatus in small groups.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A trip out - Washington Wetland Centre

We had a lovely trip to the Wetland Centre today with some home ed friends, where we saw a variety of outdoor life.

The children spotted hundreds of tadpoles in a pond.

We sat in the bird hide for a while and used the children's identification leaflet to spot several species of bird.

We stopped to look at the flamingos and saw that the babies who were in the nursery last time we visited are now in the adult enclosure. They are still grey but some had pink tails.

We went into the insect garden to look for bees. We didn't see any but saw lots of bright flowers for the bees. I read this book to the children in the playground and took along some bee activity sheets for them, printed from here.

The children all did some great co-operative playing in the play area too, which was cut short for us unfortunately as Peter managed to get himself dripping wet, even inside his wellies. He has a bad chesty cold at the moment so we left at that point to get him dry and warm. Harry had an ice cream on the way to the car and we spotted some bluebells at the side of the path. He told me they are shaped like a bell and they are blue and that is why they are called bluebells. It has been a very nice and uplifting day!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Harrogate's Valley Gardens

We have had a great day in Harrogate today with my family and a lovely few hours in the Valley Gardens, which is a place I would recommend to anyone with children. The playground is superb with lots of different equipment and there are paths for bikes/scooters through the landscaped gardens, plus tennis and crazy golf. The park was there when I was a child but has been significantly improved since then and we usually try to get a visit in when we are there.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Play dough cafe

We all had a productive and fun few hours making and playing play dough cafe this morning. We made pink, yellow and blue play dough and made bakery products first - cakes, biscuits, swirly pastries and lollies. I moved the play kitchen into the real kitchen so Harry and Peter could 'cook' their creations. We only generally do play dough in the kitchen as then I don't get stressed about the floor and it is easily cleaned up. I also moved our little table from the playroom so the products could be displayed and sold from there.

We used a variety of toys and animals to visit the bakery and buy things. We used real money in 1p, 2p and 5p denominations so Harry could practice some mental maths and this is also the start of learning about money for him. He did well - he recognised the different coins and correctly gave change when needed. We took turns at buying and selling so he had to find the right combination of coins too when buying. 

We counted up the bakery till when all the goods had been sold and talked about the concept of profit. He correctly said that the baker would have to buy ingredients to make his products out of his takings, which would reduce profit and we talked about the less tangible costs such as power, light and rent.

After we had played bakery, Harry made lots of pizzas to sell and we repeated the game with these. This has been a really fun game and an involved learning experience at the same time.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Free your voice and a beach visit

We have had a fantastic day today. We went to the first session of a home ed family music group called 'free your voice' and then, as the sun was still shining, we headed down to the beach for a few hours with the other families. We are so lucky to live near such beautiful and child-friendly beaches here. We were at Cullercoats beach today and we have never been there, but I think we will be returning given the superb home-made ice creams available from Beaches & Cream at the top of the steps! They were polished off very quickly.

The music group was really good and Harry enjoyed it and participated well - we sang an animal song with noises, played a large variety of small instruments and finished with some relaxing chanting. Peter ran around the entire time!

Egyptian headdresses

We followed up yesterday's Egyptian workshop by decorating these headdresses today. Peter stuck with it for 15 minutes, which is good for him at the moment. I was pleased that Harry took a lot of care with his and it looked really good. They have worn them lots today and Harry has been pretending to be a Pharaoh - he said his headdress had so many jewels to show how rich he is.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Egyptian hieroglyphs workshop

We attended a 'scribe school' workshop at the Hancock Museum today, where the children learnt about Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and deciphered some themselves.

We spent the morning reading these books to get ourselves in Egyptian mood and we also watched YouTube videos about the discovery of the Rosetta Stone and Ancient Egypt.

I also read Harry the Egyptian chapter of this book, which I love! We will be reading it all over the next year or two and it gives a really good and accessible overview of history. I am reading it myself as well as reading parts to Harry.

At the workshop we had to match hieroglyphic pictures to the letters of our alphabet (we used our 26 letters for simplicity, although there were hundreds more hieroglyphic pictures). There were also posters around the room with hieroglyphic pictures which we had to translate back to English to find the meaning. The children also wrote their names using the symbols. There was a replica Rosetta Stone which Harry liked - I was pleased we had covered it in the morning so he knew what it was. This was a good workshop as there was plenty to do so the children weren't waiting around and they had to move around the room to look at the symbols, so there wasn't any fidgeting in chairs!