Books we read in May

The girls had their own favourites this month. E. fell in love with Dr. Seuss (again) and L. rediscovered Spot’s stories. Here comes this month’s list with short reviews.

Colour coding: E.’s favourite, L.’s favourite, both girls loved it

E. (6)

My name is not Isabella by Jennifer Fosberry

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This is a book about a little girl who turns herself into famous and great women throughout history, from Rosa Parks to Marie Curie. She is brave, great, clever and loveable.

Nine Ducks Nine by Sarah Hayes

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It’s a witty book about ducks teaching a fox a lesson, directing him to fall into the river in a tricky way.

The peace book by Todd Parr

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At first I though E. will love this book, but finally Little L. asked me to read it many times. The illustrations are really simple and very colourful. The idea of peace is really nicely explained in a simple way. There’s a lot to talk about on the basis of the book even with older children. Mommy,’s favourite too.

Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss

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Both kids enjoyed this book, like all Dr. Seuss’ books. Surprisingly, Little L. was patient enough to listen to it all the way through. E. likes reading it by herself. Again a lot of rhyming pairs, funny and eye-catching illustration. A great classic.

Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss

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This month this book was E.’s favourite. She loves the funny sounds, the more and more complicated story and structures, word games, the rhymes plus the funny and unexpected ending. It’s more difficult to read for her because the spelling is challenging and the words sound similar to each other. Still, she read it out loud few times.

Little Red Riding Hood (Usborne Young Reader)

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My daughter is still not a big fan of classic fairy tales. We read it 2-3 times but she wasn’t much impressed.

Chicken Licken (First readers)

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Repeating all the names of the animals throughout the story many, many time makes even adult readers smile.

L. (2y 5m)

Tractors (DK)

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Surprisingly the tractor shaped book wasn’t a big hit with Little L although there are lots of big pictures of tractors and their parts and what they do on the farm.

The very noisy night by Diana Hendry

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Little L was a little afraid of this book I guess. But E. enjoyed it, mainly the illustrations. Her favourite picture is whan Little Mouse goes into Big Mouse’s bed finally and Big Mouse has hardly any room left in bed. Again there are a lot of things to talk about in this book. The illustrations are really detailed and I can highly recommend this book if your little one is scared of the noises at night.

Little Mole’s adventure from Spring to Winter

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This was E’. favourite book when she was about L.’s age. Both in English and in Hungarian (I have to emphasize here for my Hungarian fellow moms that Varró Dániel’s translation is absolutely fantastic). However, Little L. was unimpressed. E. was still fascinated by it, not to mention the fact that Daddy still knows some parts by heart.

Spot’s garden by Eric Hill

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Though it isn’t a lift-the-flap book, Little L. really enjoyed accompanying Spot through planting his own garden. Probably our planting sessions had a great effect on her, what’s more she loves all the spring and planting songs.

Spot says goodnight by Eric Hill

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A must-have bedtime story. Simple pictures, simple story, a lot of repetition. What else do we need to help the language sink in.

What can you see Spot? by Eric Hill

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Spot goes and explores his surroundings. The illustrations serve a great basis to talk about animals, plants, parks and what we can see in different places. When we go out for a walk we imitate that we are Spot and look for thins that he also sees in this book.

Show me your Smile! A visit to the dentist by Christine Ricci

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As far as I could judge this book is NOT for a 2-and-a-half-year old, but L. fell in love with it and she’s been asking me to read it 3-4 time a week. My guess why she likes it so much is that it’s interactive. Dora asks her questions and she answers them, She needs to find the X-ray photo of her teeth and the crayons she wants to colour with. So she feels she is part of the story. Though I’m not sure how much she understands it.

More jump with Joey – guest post

E.’s new  Helen Doron course started in September 2017. I’ve been planning to write an in-depth post about our experiences, but I was struggling with. I’m not at the lessons, E. is not very chatty about what’s going on the lessons, only if she’s crazy about it, which happens every now and then but not on a regular basis.

So I had an idea. I asked E.’s teacher, Zs., to write a guest post about the present course, and the group. So here comes the very first guest post on nonnativemommy.com.

E.’s been visiting the Helen Doron course called More Jump with Joey. This is a continuation of the course Jump with Joey, where the basic knowledge had been learnt. In these courses we get to know the alphabet a bit better, by following the adventures of Kangi, Joey, Milli and Paul in Storyville. Each adventure is connected to a letter of the alphabet. This is also where students start to read and write, the course has a workbook as well beside the activity books. Starting here, the activity books have all the pages filled with written words, getting more and more complicated according to the age group, not only the usual stickers and coloring pages.

We also use the augmented reality apps, which can be downloaded to smartphones or tablets, and function as magic wands – putting the device above certain pages of the book, the characters start speaking, moving, singing, dancing. Usually we use it every second lesson or so for a few minutes, and all the students are mesmerized and just love it. If they do well during the lesson, it is a little gift for them.

The Jump with Joey material supports the school system’s usual vocab, learning about school items, colors, animals, numbers, household items, lots of adjectives and grammar, but of course many-many more. In More Jump with Joey there is a large variety of vocab.

 

 

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Once E. begged Zs. to let L. in a bit

E. enjoys it a lot – learning about different types of insects, arachnids, naming 6-8 different spiders, also apes, marsupials, pets, flowers, birds, also using grammar a bit more deliberately (e.g. past forms) and so on. This is a perfect course for her, as it is not only about learning the basics in English, which she knows already pretty well, but experiencing the diversity of life, and using our knowledge in different real-life situations. Also using the language with others properly is a great skill for her to improve – asking politely, working in a team, improving our social skills, sharing our ideas with others, speaking up. If it was up to her, she would probably just observe everything with great interest. But, of course, the aim of the course is to get that knowledge out and to use the language, to speak as much as we can. As the students already have a certain level of English by now, we can put the focus on the details, and have more fun by challenging ourselves with new, more complicated games and activities.

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watching an episode

There are seven students in the group, three boys and four girls – quite luckily equal. This group is totally an advanced group, most of them have been learning English for 4-5-6 years (and they are only first graders!), and there are two other students who are basically bilingual, too. Spontaneous speaking and discussions are usual with them, they are very motivated and enthusiastic about English. E. is the youngest, still perfectly keeps up with the others. Not every member of the group started writing so far, but every one of them can already read or at least is trying to read the written lines all the time.

E. is brilliant in reading and writing, her speed of working improved a lot in the past year, and she barely makes mistakes. Usually she does not even need help with the spelling, she just knows it by heart. However, asking for help if she is stuck is still something we are practising, but we still have half of the course ahead, and every member of the group has improved amazingly so far. Can’t wait to go on! 

More about the school we attend and the course material, click on the link.

 

Easter Scavenger Hunt

This Easter I wanted something different, something  that we had never done before. We’d done Easter crafts, Easter cooking, Easter egg hunt… but I was really glad to accidentally come across some Easter scavenger hunt on the net. I thought I could tailor it to the girls. So I did.

As they are still young and found Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection too frightening (we read some simple books about it), I stayed with the bunny theme this year.

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Some presents (very few sweets and no chocolate treats at all) were hidden by the Easter bunny around the flat and the rabbit also made sure that the girls have some challenge. He left rhyming notes everywhere to give directions to the girls where they could find the next gift location.

Early in the morning we heard some bunny sounds (thanks Daddy and youtube). The kids jumped out of bed and started searching for the goodies.

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E. read out the little poems and helped her little sister to find the places of presents.

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They both enjoyed it a lot and were excited about the findings and the whole game. It was more fun that I’d thought.

 

You can download our Easter Scavenger Hunt Rhymes here. (It’s editable so you can alter it as you wish)

Thanks, Easter Bunny!

Birdwatching

A few months after the periodic table and chemistry craze E. is into birds and nature. I’m really glad that this new topic gives us the opportunity to spend great amount of time outside in nature.

Everything started with this Usborne book of Nature Trail.

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This is an old edition and I bought it second-hand so I’m not sure if this one is still available but I’m positive you can find many beautiful nature books published by Usborne if your kids are little biologists.

Another trigger could have been E.’s Helen Doron course (More jump with Joey) as there was an episode with all kinds of birds and E. was fascinated by them.

One day (when our native nanny came to her) she came home from kindergarten and asked for Daddy’s binoculars, her journal, nature book and markers. We packed them all in her backpack and we dashed to the park to watch the birds.

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Naively I thought she wanted to watch then draw the birds.

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Look, Mommy! It’s a blackbird. It’s a male, because it’s all black.

Instead she took note of what kind of birds they saw with N, our nanny, and the bird’s flight patterns!

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Thanks for the pic, N. 🙂

 

The next time we went birdwatching (again with our nanny) I asked her to draw the birds instead. And so she did.

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Ok.Ok. N. helped E. a bit with the drawing 😉

While N and E were watching birds, we went to the playground with Little L to make some sand ice-cream. Yummy!

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Every morning when E. wakes up, or to be more precise we wake her up with youtube videos of bird calls. Who wouldn’t want to wake up with birds singing.
You can check out her favourite on the link above.

I used to make basic bird flashcards that I needed to freshen up with some new ones, of course, with E.’s favourite ones like crossbill, eagle owl and nuthatch, to mention few examples.

And it’s not finished yet, well, it’s just the beginning. I’m certain there’s more to come.

 

Everybody sing the planting song

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 them together, like last year or the year before. Last year we also tried to plant carrots, tomatoes, and ruccola. Well, apart from the tomato it wasn’t a successful year (we had 8-10 cherry tomatoes in September), but we’d started plating really late, at the beginning of May.

To attune the girls to the revival of nature and planting I collected some youtube videos for them, mainly songs. Here are their favourite ones (that they learnt by heart within 2 days):

The Planting Song

Parts of a plant

One seed

How plants grow

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However, this year I was all prepared. I bought these cute plant nurseries at the Flying Tiger Shop and some seeds in one of the big supermarkets. (We collected some seeds from our balcony flowers, too, 2 years ago and I accidentally found the envelopes.) One of the ladies at the market who I get on really well with gave some spring onion bulbs to E. to plant.

We had a 4-day long weekend due to our national holiday, 15 March and we used one of the days to do the planting.

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I put down and old wax table cloth on the floor and fixed it with painter’s tape. Then prepared all the necessary ingredients:

  • dirt (in another word soil)
  • seeds (this year we planted radishes, gurkins*, carrots, basil, tomato, poppies, and snapdragons.)
  • spoons (next year a really need to purchase some kid-size gardening tools)
  • plant nursery

Before starting the planting procedure I showed them the parts of a flower cards and they put them in the right order: root, stem, leaves and flower. E. placed the word cards next to them. (The link above will take you to the site where you can download your own copy if you wish.)

The girls scooped the dirt in the little holes. L. was making the sound of a digger while doing it. And for her that was it all. She lost interest in planting very quickly. She went to her little kitchen and cooked some food for Daddy.

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But E. was really enthusiastic about it. She told me which seed to plant first , she opened the packets and envelopes that hid the seeds. She observed the seeds carefully noticing their different shapes, sizes and colours. (It was quite fascinating to see that the tomato seeds were blue and the poppy seeds were really tiny.)

She also wrote the name of the plants on a wooden stick so we’ll know later on which sprout is which plant.

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E. made holes in the dirt with her index finger and dropped the seeds, next covered them with some more dirt. When we finished with all of them she watered them lightly.

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E. enjoyed it some much and was so excited about the planting that she was staring at the plant nursery nearly all afternoon. She was talking to them and wanted to water them more. This gave us an opportunity to talk about that giving the plant too much water or sunshine does no good.

The next day our radish and gurkin sprouted and E. saw a gurkin loop in the dirt. She started to call them Loopy and ran to find her Ikea plush gurkin/cucumber.

After a few days I offered her to draw what happens to the plant in a plant diary. She wanted to draw only the radish and the gurkin although every seed had started to sprout by this time. She measured them and drew how they changed size and colour, how they grew.

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The next phase was to put them into bigger pots. Unfortunately we waited too long and planted the seeds too close to each other so we had a hard time to separate them. It might happen that they won’t survive as both the roots and the stems were rather weak. The radishes went to the balcony in a long pot, the gurkins were planted into bigger round pots with 2 wooden sticks and a string between them to provide support for the future vines.

Still E. is talking to them kindly and taking care of them with great care. Whoever comes to us has to have a look at the plants. Her plant diary is coming along really nicely. Soon we need to replace the other plants into bigger pots (we ran out of soil).

Stay tuned, there’s more to come, hopefully you can see beautiful flowers and tasty veggies.

*I found 2 ways of writing gurkin/gherkin. The latter is more common but I used the first version in this post. When I asked E. if she could spell it, she spellt it gurkin 🙂