Every year we plant flowers on our balcony with E. who loves spring and the revival of nature (and her coming birthday too). Usually I buy some plants at the flower market and we plant… More
Last year I bought this classic story The Mitten by Jan Brett but I realised in the spring that this winter book had sunk into oblivion. However, this year, when winter is really harsh with quite a lot of snowing, I managed to prepare some activities on the basis of the story.
At the very beginning, we were looking at flashcards of winter and summer clothes and put them into 2 groups: what we wear and don’t wear in cold winter.
Before reading the story with the girls I prepared an extra-large mitten out of felt. As time was an issue I cut out 2 mitten-shaped pieces of felt and used a hot glue gun to stick them together. (There’s a snow-white mitten in the story but unfortunately I didn’t have white felt at home so I used a light beige and a gray piece.)
I downloaded and shrank the animals’ pictures from Jan Brett’s site. I made two-sided stick animals out of them so the kids can put the animals in the felt mitten one by one as the story goes along. (Lucky there are 8 animals in the story and we could share the animals equally.)
After the story, they matched and compare mittens that I’d found around the house.
They told me which ones are too small or too big for them.
Then came the mitten craft. Out of white and light blue construction paper I cut out mitten shapes and provided the girls with all kinds of decorative elements: hearts, cotton balls, buttons, glittery star and flower shaped stickers etc.
They decorated their mittens as they wished. E. decorated her 2-3 mittens heavily and accurately. Little L. used the stickers mostly as she found the glue too sticky.
I also made two mitten-related, age-appropriate activities for them:
E. had the rhyming mittens. Each mitten has a picture on them and they rhyme like cat-hat or pig-wig. She matched them in no time.
L. got a Which mitten is different? activity. As she wasn’t interested at all E. did this one too. She placed a button on the mitten that was the odd one out of the four.
We spent 2 and a half hours together reading, playing with the mittens, matching and comparing mittens, decorating mittens. I’m not saying that my 2-year old’s attention didn’t flag but apart from the odd-one out activity, with a little help she could keep pace with my 5-and-a-half year old big girl. Whenever she couldn’t focus anymore I gave her something new to redirect her with success. (The story time and the mitten matching were really fascinating for her, but the mitten decorating was too long, so when she wanted to finish it half way I gave her new stickers or she could try using the glue stick or could squeeze out some glue on her paper mitten.)
All the way through we were discussing winter topics, like clothing, what animals do/eat in the winter, what patterns our mittens have , what colour the decoration on their mittens is or I was describing what we were doing.
I’ve just realised we don’t have many Valentine’s Day books or books on love. This shortcoming needs to be remedied in the future. Still, we’ve read plenty of books this months too. (And another big batch of books is on the way. Hurray!)
It is very interesting to see that even young children can have favourite authors, moreover, favourite publishers. E. enjoys Usborne books without noticing it. Her favourite authors are Allen Ahlberg, Julia Donaldson, Roald Dahl, and Lucy Cousins.
Little L. herself noticed that we read a lot of Walker books because she truly enjoys them the most. (When we start a book I also read the name of the authors’/illustrators’ and the publisher apart from the title. After a while L. finished my enumeration with saying Walker books at the end.) Her favourite authors at the moment are Lucy Cousins, Tony Mitton, Julia Donaldson, and the Hungarian writer Erika Bartos.
Colour codes: E.’s favourite, L.’s favourite, Both loved it
E. 5y 9 m old
Secret Garden (Usborne)
This is a beautifully illustrated hard cover book. We read it on the bus on the way to a musical instrument demonstration for kids in the Opera House. It was a real artsy afternoon. The story’s language is quite basic, perhaps a little too simple for E. but she was immersed in the story of a girl finding an abandoned garden and a strange boy. The two of them make the garden come alive again.
Mummy, Do you love me? by Jeanne Willis
Another gorgeous book with hard cover and is large in size. This was one of our Valentine’s Day book about a little chick always asking her Mom if she loves him no matter what he does (getting mucky, losing a race, destroying a flower etc). L. was a little frightened when I imitated little chick’s happy chirping louder and louder and she didn’t want to read the book. Careful with funny voices and volume while reading.
Monkey Do! by Alan Ahlberg
A rhyming book about a monkey who sees an opportunity and use it for his own good and escapes from the zoo. After a lot of adventures he returns to his mommy. The illustration has small details the girls liked to examine and talk about.
Pooh, Is that you Bertie? by David Roberts
This is a very funny book for kids on the one hand as you can push several buttons on the pages and they give different sounds of breaking wind. On the other hand the book has a lot of expressions how to express breaking wind in a more acceptable way than farting. (We use “fluff” in our home as our first native nanny used it and it just stuck with us)
The flying bath by Julia Donaldson
A funny story about 3 toys taking the bathtub for a rescue ride until the family is away. When they return they have a surprise for the kids. We’ve read this book about 4-5 times.
My race into space by Annie Auerbach
Although it’s a board book this is for bigger kids (first I wanted to read it with Linda only but E.’s been into space again and it turned out this book suits a 5-year-old more than a 2-year-old.) It’s a rhyming book about planets and the solar system. As for me it’s nothing special, there are much better books on space but E. quite liked it.
L. 2 y 2 m old
Dora Loves Boots (Scholastic)
Our official Valentine’s day book. Dora and Boots meet at Rainbow Rock and give each other a Valentine’s day present (something they know the other would love). It’s a typical Dora book with some Spanish words. L. enjoyed counting strawberries in Spanish.
Noah’s Ark by Lucy Cousins
As Little L. likes Lucy Cousin’s books she got this as a name day present. Both kids enjoyed it, not to mention the part when we sang the song, The animals came two by two. E. noticed that the pictures are painted. She realised the markings of a paintbrush. The story is a classic from the Bible in a simple way with interesting illustrations which gave us a lot to talk about. (For instance, there are 2 roosters going onto the ark. E. realised in this way chickens wouldn’t have survived the great flood as “you need a mommy and a daddy chicken to have little chicks” – sic)
The Runaway Tractor (Usborne)
Another name day present for Little L. for her nameday. This series of Farmyard tales contain many stickers in the middle with which kids need to fill the missing parts of the story. It is absolutely amazing how this helps kids memorise the story itself. While I was reading the story I always stopped where we had a sticker and L. said the word the sticker replaced. Not to mention the hidden ducks on every page your kids need to find. 3 weeks of enjoyment. (The story is about Ted losing control over the tractor which ends up in the pond. Another farmer comes to the rescue with his horse)
Let’s get ready for bed (Bear in the big blue house)
We do not watch Bear in the big blue house but we do have difficulties with the evening routine. This book nicely describes what activity comes after the other, like taking a bath, brushing teeth, getting into your pj and reading a bed time story) There are moving parts in this book which L. liked a lot but it was quite difficult for her little hands to move, like a toothbrush or the moon in the sky)
Horsey horsey (IglooBooks)
This is our 3rd book in this series of IglooBooks but unfortunately the tune does not match the one we know with this song. Anyways, Daddy made up a new song to this tune although it’s in Hungarian:
Áprilisi zivatar, nem tudja, hogy mit akar
Össze-vissza zivatar, ez egy nagyon hülye dal.
The kids love this song to a great extent and the tune is so catchy I sometimes sing it in the middle of the night.
Lulu’s Loo by Camilla Reid
We’re trying to potty-train Little L. with not much success yet. Though this books ahs helped a lot. There are fasteners to fix Lulu’s nappy, pink and squishy plastic potty to touch, toilet lid to lift up, big girl knickers of different patterns to touch etc. The book is really motivating, still L. is unwilling to go to the loo.
Now I am 2 (Parragon)
I think it was a January book but we read it a lot in February too. This little board book list things that 2 year olds can do (say Mommy, clap, walk etc.) This book is short so at the end I always added quite a few things Little L. can do (and whenever I told her she did them, like I can sing a song, I can wave goodby, I can blow a kiss, I can point at my nose, I can hug my sister, I can drink from a cup etc.) I think she truly enjoy the end rather than the book.
This month we’ve read quite a few Hungarian books (Anna, Peti és Gergő and other rhyme books by Erika Bartos, Oszkár by Doris Lauer, Pipacska és Kockapaci by G.V. Szapgir, L.A. Levinova, Mi történik a kórházban? – Scholar) and we didn’t have so much time for new English ones. The other reason for fewer books this months is that they ALWAYS wanted the same books, their favourites (Dora Loves Boots, The Runaways tractor, The flying bath, Pooh, is that you Bertie?)
E’s interest in chemistry started before Christmas (2017). No, I’m wrong… before her 5th birthday… no wait… maybe when she was born…
E. is a child with extreme interest in sciences: maths, astronomy, biology, geography and now chemistry.
Her interest in chemistry started with the Periodic Table song by ASAP Science. She watched it so much (in MArch-April 2017) that she almost learnt it by heart. It was at that time when we found a 6-year old girl’s performance at a talent show. Julia Baker could sing the periodic table song’s slowed down version. before E.’s 5th birthday E. could sing it at its original speed. She never let me record it, though. I’m sure she’ll regret it when she’s older.
She kept writing the atomic symbols everywhere.
In 2017 springtime we did some experiments that E. enjoyed a lot:
- naked bouncy egg (We placed a raw chicken egg into vinegar and waited – almost 24 hours – until the shell was dissolved. The acetic acid – vinegar – reacts with the calcium carbonate – eggshell – and releases carbon dioxide gas – bubbles in the picture. The egg’s fine membrane under the shell keeps the egg together. We could bounce the egg over a tray until the membrane broke.)
- soap cloud (We placed a bar of soap into the micro for few minutes. When the soap is heated, the soap’s molecules of air move quickly and they move far away from each other. This causes the soap to puff up and expand to an enormous size. The brand BABA didn’t prove very airy inside. Ivory soap is suggested online but it’s not available in Hungary. Still, E. had fun playing with the soap cloud.
- lava lamp (Add coloured water in a tall glass, add the same amount of oil on top and drop an Aspirin effervescent tablet in it and watch your home-made lava lamp. Water and oil do not mix because the molecules in water are packed densely and in oil they don’t. Another reason is intermolecular polarity but I really do not want go into it in more detail. When the fizzy tablet sinks down to the water level and starts to create gas, the gas bubbles take some coloured water with them to the surface.)
After these experiments her fascination faded away and we thought she was not interested in experiments or chemistry any more. We were wrong.
Not much before Christmas 2017 she rediscovered the periodic table song and this fantastic periodic table visual, which represents the use of each element. (On the link you’ll find the interactive online version of it, but you can print your own copy).
Sometimes she was just lying on the floor examining the printed sheet and singing the periodic table song to herself. Then she was walking around our flat “collecting elements” like kitchen foil (aluminium), toothpaste (fluorine) or batteries (lithium) to mention a few.
For Christmas she got all the elements on separate cards (you can find many different versions of the periodic table on the link).
She stated that the best Christmas present was the element cards. She checked out all the presents then sat down to put the element cards as they follow each other in the periodic table.
Another Christmas presents were Java and Babylon builders. And what did E. build from them? Molecules. What else? Her favourite was the methane. (I can’t believe I didn’t take a proper photo…)
2018 January – the craze was still on. We had to borrow a book from my Mum that E. found at her place while we were celebrating grandma’s birthday.
A tudomány csodái: Az Anyag (Ralph E. Lapp)
The first part of this book contains the pictures and description of the chemical elements.
Chemistry was so much in focus that she made a memory game with some elements on it, and drew atoms all the time. The shocking thing was that she also drew the right number of electrons on the right electron shells.
2018 february – Carnival time came and E. wanted to dress up as something that is chemistry/element related. As we were browsing the net for ideas, she saw some ladies dressed in yellow with the radioactive sign on their top. That was it! She decided to dress up as plutonium, which wasn’t too difficult to make. I bought a yellow top and leggings in her size and had plutonium from the periodic table printed in the front and the radioactive sign onto the back. She made a radioactive mask for herself. “And… then we’re….. done.”
Since the carnival her fascination with elements and chemistry has faded away, but it is absolutely sure it’ll come back sooner or later.
To finish this long post I’d like to recommend 2 books on chemistry for kids:
Baby Loves Quarks is a simple board book but it has all the basics a kid needs to know about quarks, electrons, protons and neutrons. The illustrations a really cute – atoms have a smiley face. E. loved it.
This lift the flap Periodic Table book by Usborne is fascinating. There are many interesting facts and so much information about the periodic table and the elements in a fun way.
Valentine’s day is here and I was lost for what activity to do with E. so I decided to do nothing. This is not totally true, but we didn’t really talk that much of this holiday this year. Instead she read about it. Read about how much I love her.
Every day starting on the 1st of February I put out a new heart on her door saying why I love her so much. It went up to Valetine’s day. At first I thought she wasn’t that much interested (she often forgot to read her daily heart) but then around the 8th February she told me she couldn’t find a new heart on her door.
I made 3-4 hearts at a time and I tried to reinforce the nice and loveable things she had been doing.
Here are some ideas what you can write on your hearts to your kids or to your partner as they work really well in lunch boxes or as secret messages in your hubby’s pocket.
You’re the best big sister.
You’re my sunshine.
You are a fantastic friend.
You have a great sense of humour.
You’re one in a million
You’re so creative.
You mean the world to me.
You express your feelings.
Your imagination is wonderful.
You’re a great problem-solver.
You’re a great reader.
You speak English very well.
You never give up.
You’re always by my side.
You hug like noone else.
Your kisses are the sweetest.
There are 20 on the list but it is advisable to use the ones that apply to the days of February in case of a child as they can connect to it more easily, what’s more, it can serve as a basis of discussion. In the last couple of days E. asked me why I put on some of the hearts and I gave her examples how caring she was with her little sister or how she helped around the house, how amazingly she communicated with N, our native nanny, or how she shared with me what made her angry or sad that day.
This display of love can work any time of the year, at a birthday or around Christmas but Valentine’s day can serve as a reason if need one at all.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Valentine’s day is not really our holiday but it serves as a good opportunity to do fun activities. Hearts, candies, cakes. Are there any children who are not crazy about them?
In case of E. I tries to concentrate on a more serious content this time: expressing our love towards those who we love. You can read about our I love you because… door decoration on the link above.
With Little L. it’s a bit different. She cannot really gasp the meaning of this activity, what’s more, she can’t read yet, so I decided to make salt-and-flour dough cupcake decoration activity,
I made the dough with the following ingredients:
200 gr flour
200 gr salt
180 ml warm water
1,5 tablespoonful of oil.
I mixed the ingredients and also added some red food colouring. On a tray I added whatever I found at home: buttons, beads, heart-shaped confetti, mosaic tiles, paper cups etc.
She didn’t want to play with the dough although she loves the soft and nice-smelly play doh. It’s true that it’s texture was different: rougher and not at all nice-smelly (maybe next time I’ll put some essential oil in it)
So I put little balls of dough in the paper cups and she decorated them happily. While doing it we were talking about the shapes of the toppings (round, oval, flower-shaped, heart-shapes), the actions she made with them (press, push in, pull out, take it off etc), colours (green, yellow, purple, pink, red).
When she finished her creations we put them on a shelf to dry them. Of course, one cupcake was for Mommy, and there was one for L. When E., and Daddy came home they both got one as a present. Even our native nanny could choose one cupcake (well, L. chose one for her 🙂 ). These cupcakes were L.’s present for the people she loved very much.