Baby Days for L.

While E. was having fun in her summer camp at our Helen Doron School, Baby L. took part in her very first Baby Days. There are 6 days this year (3 + 2 day within 2 weeks) but we could go to only 5. The days are organised around topics and the teaching materials are made up of HD (Helen Doron) course material and the teacher’s own ideas.

Day 1 – Vehicles
There were a great variety of vehicles during our 45 min lesson:

car, bus, plane, helicopter, police car, sailing boat, paddle boat, bicycle, train, submarine (!)¬†backhoe (wow), ambulance, canoe and some I forgot…

I found it a little too many for such small kids, but they didn’t mind at all, what’s more ever since the lesson L. is pointing at every vehicle and says: “auto” (car) or shows the sign of the train. On the way home she wanted to get on the bus. So I can say she was captivated with vehicles.

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There were plenty of fun activities:
-what’s missing
-match the vehicle to the place it belongs (bus-road, train-tracks, ambulance-hospital, backhoe-building site etc.)
-drive a car yourself
-drive your car on the road (road carpet and many matchboxes)
-what’s in my bag? (pulling out a lot of toy vehicles)
-ship in the water
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-make the frog sit in the vehicle
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-fit in the vehicle in the wooden puzzle
-place your vehicle in the city
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And of course, bubble blowing and dancing couldn’t have been left out.

Day 2 – Fruits, colours (painting)

Again an action packed day with fruits and colours.

Pulling things out of a bag or a hat is always fun for little hands.

Putting the the fruit on the right colours was a challenge for everyone.
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A big tray of fruit to tastes. An array of colours. L. was attracted to the banana slices only. What a pity!
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Painting is a messy business with such tiny kids. But our teacher took the risk and it was real entertainment for the little ones.
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Day 3 – Animals

There was quite a lot of revision at the beginning of the lesson: colours, fruits and vehicles. The best revision game was when different fruits were stuck on the IKEA peg and hammer toy. Kids needed to choose a fruit and hammer it, naturally with the help of an adult. But the main focus for today was animals, mainly forest animals.
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We started with some well-known animal flashcards (dog, frog, kangaroo, cat etc.) then Z., our teacher, introduced the new ones (owl, raccoon, bear, fox, deer) together with some plants (mushroom, flower, tree). The bingo card was acute way to practice them but L. was more interested in the bead manipulatives.

Next, we had a little colour revisions with mushrooms, then we got some really colourful, fluffy and thick pipe cleaners to tickle different body parts.

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Some more matching of rabbits and foxes and the Goodbye song started… too soon.

Day 4 – Family
There was a change in the teacher (our teacher was taking a break) so the lesson was little different but still fun. The focus was on revision rather than the main topic: family members.
The following activities took place:

  • puzzles with colours and fruit/veggies
    20170726_092738
  • pulling and identifying soft fruit and veggies from a hat
  • sorting vehicles according to their colours
  • stamping on coloured paper
  • swinging with family members
  • adding the missing family members to the right family
    20170726_100557

Of course, there were a lot of singing and dancing as usual. Our little group mates changed a bit but L. didn’t mind it the least bit. It’s true that she was a little more interested in other things, like pillows and cars she’d found than some of the activities.

Day 5 – Feelings (and body parts on the face)
On our last day we had plenty of funny, smiley and sad faces to L.’s great delight. There was very little revision, which we did not mind at all.
We started with the element of surprise ūüôā

Our teacher, Sz., pulled out some surprising objects from a bag. A ball that could be extended, a plush hammer that said “bang” when kids hit with it, a cat that said miaow, a singing monkey, a very bouncy ball, 2 surprise eggs and a jack-in the box kinda cow. All the children’s jaws dropped open.

Next, we got some paper plate faces the mouth of which could be turned round showing either a happy or a sad face. Our teacher used glad and unhappy instead of saying happy or sad.

A mirror appeared and the kids could look at themselves, which they really enjoyed. They could place kissy lips or a moustache in front of their mouths. They didn’t really want to, though. Two eyebrows could be drawn on kids’ forehead, whoever wanted. L. got some heat rash on her face so we rather stayed away from the face-paint.

The following game was a puzzle made out of paper plate. Everybody got a different emotion.
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Then came the funniest part. Sticking eyes, nose, lips, moustache, ears, hair, on a head shaped image. We really had fun making funny faces. I made one sleeping face as L. is fascinated by a sleeping face.
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After that a little counting. Counters (beads) needed to be places on the jumping monkeys.

Some revision of family members. Kids placed the missing animal from the given family sheet.

We finished the session with some grapes tasting and black pepper smelling (these two are connected to a HD song that we, of course, sang afterwards). I wasn’t very happy with this activity. The grapes were not cut in half and after sniffing into black pepper L. kept on sneezing. Just for your information, no kids were harmed during our session ūüėČ

We’ve had lots of fun nicely spread throughout 2 weeks. If you have a chance to try baby days at a HD school I encourage you to give it a try.

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New book routine – July

Another month has passed and we’ve been reading on. Here are the books that we’ve covered in July. I’m trying to take age groups into consideration when organising these book posts.
Most of the time we read 3-5 books at an occasion. Both kids listen to the stories, though E. spends the after-dinner reading sessions playing 30 mins on the tablet instead.

If you want to read more about our new book reading routine click on the link.

(Colour codes: E.’s favourite and L.’s favourite and the books they both LOVE)

So here come books for my 18 months old:

  1. Spot bakes a cake by Eric Hill
    51BeYPmsVmL
    Last months Spot goes to the circus was a great hit so I chose more Spot books from our secret stash. Still, L. tries to tear off the flaps, although less frequently.
  2. Where’s Spot by Eric Hill
    51TesCEC1qL
    A library book. Yes, in a Hungarian children library we found quite a few English books for kids. I’m convinced it’s due to the Mums’ English Club that takes place there.
  3. Spot goes to the farm by Eric Hill
    Spot_Farm
  4. Zoe and Beans – We’re not scared by Chloe and Mick Inkpen
    9780230766563
    Both Zoe and Beans  books are from the library.
  5. Zoe and Beans – Hello, ladybird by Chloe and Mick Inkpen
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    There’s a squeaky ball in the story. Whenever L. touches the squeaky ball with her finger E. squeaks a squeaky toy behind her back. We buzz when we find the ladybird on every page. It’s fuuuuun!
  6. My Granny (Peppa pig)
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    The least favourite. Neither of my children is a great fun. E. had a period around the age of 2 when she liked it. Mainly she asked for the Bubbles video.
  7. Baby does by Elenor Taylor
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    Very simple board book with a few words. Still, we can talk a lot about the pictures, like identifying toys, or describing action in more details.
  8. Caterpilar’s wish by Mary Murphy
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    A very simple and cute story about the metamorphosis of a butterfly.

For my 5-year-old:

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  1. Doctor Duck (Songbirds – Phonics) by Julia Donaldson
    9780198388159
    Both of my kids enjoy this first reader book. E. can follow the easy text while I’m reading it. Tough I think it’s way too easy for her. L. likes when we sign “hot” and “sick”.
  2. This is the bear and the bad little girl by Sarah Heyes
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    I can’t say that this book has become E.’s favourite. We’d read This is the bear and E. seemed to remember but when we started to talk about how the bear feels when the bad little girl steals him, she wasn’t that happy about it.
  3. Our Baby by Tony Bradman and Lynn Breeze
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    We don’t normally compare our kids but E. really enjoyed to see the loads of things described in the book that her baby sister can’t do but she can. Baby L. was fascinated by the crying baby at the end, and when the big brother/sister makes the baby laugh.
  4. The fish who could wish by John Bush and Korky Paul
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    A strange story about a fish who wished for strange things. Illustrations are funny too, but the kids seem to find it funny.
  5.  Fidgety Fish by Ruth Galloway
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    E. got this book for her birthda. The vocabulary used in the book is quite varied and fun.
  6. Ten Shiny Snails by Ruth Galloway
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    A really nice board book for smaller children (age 3+ I would say) but E. likes counting and L. loves snails so I thought it’s a nice combination. While counting backwards through the story the snails disappear, then at the end there’s a big pop-up page where all the 10 snails gather around a flowerpot.
  7. Wriggle and roar (poems) by Julia Donaldson
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    Lovely short poems with funny illustrations. E. liked some of the poems but ¬†they’re not her favourites. I read it to her when L. wasn’t around because she would be interested at all. I loved this book.
  8. Life Cycles: Ocean by Sean Callery
    9780753468944
    The list wouldn’t be OUR book list with a special interest, ocean book. E. was amazed by the food web/chain depicted on the last page. A very informative book with beautiful pictures. I’ve already ordered another book of this series: Grassland.

One extra: Noisy peekaboo Splash Splash! (DK)

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Once we had an especially wonderful day (among the many horrible, whiny days when nothing seems to work out) I presented them this noisy book as a special gift for behaving like little angels all day. They both LOVE it. It’s noisy, there are flaps to peep behind, it’s about bath-time. There are quite a lot in this series too.

I hope you’ve found some good books on the list above that can entertain your little one(s).
What are you reading now? Let me know in the comment section.

A new routine with books

Books have always been a central part of our language quest, since the girls’ birth. As they grow their thirst for books are thriving (Good for me). I “just” need to get the right books for their age and interest. English books are rather pricey and hard to get second-hand English books in Hungary at a reasonable price, though. (Bad for me). In this post I’d like to write about when and how we spend time with books.

The book titled Maximize your child bilingual ability by Adam Beck has confirmed my belief in reading books as No. 1 importance in acquiring a minority language (in our case English).

My husband has a love for books just like me. Some people might feel as if they were in a library on stepping into our living-room: bookcases with many many rows of shelves filled with books all along the wall.

We’ve been reading a lot of books at bedtime, or after lunch as the beginning of quiet time. Or any time E. asked for it and we had time for it.)

Last year I found a great source of cheap (well, affordable to be more precise) second-hand books on facebook. (It’s a closed group called Kadosarok. The language of discussion is Hungarian, mind you.)

I missed a system of taking books into our hands so I’ve built up the following routine:

Whenever we sit down to eat with the kids (about 4-5 times a day counting snack times too) we read at least one baby book for little L. and one big girl book for E. Sometimes we just read 2 books but at other times when we have more time and the kids are in the mood 4-6 books. Every week I add 2 new books to the after-eating book sessions and the girls choose whichever they want me to read them out.

In the first month (May 2017) the following books have been read several times:

(Colour codes: E.’s favourite and L.’s favourite and the books they both LOVE)

  • One mole digging a hole by Julia Donaldson61r+ObpoEeL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_
  • The not so perfect baby by Nicola Baxterthe-not-so-perfect-baby.jpg
  • Tickle, Tickle by Helen Oxenbury1296603
  • Is this your nose?6197TnIV9sL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
  • Little Bo-Peep (a peep-through nursery rhyme – Ladybird)9781844225620-uk.jpg
  • Today is Monday by Eric Carl514P2SZf+hL.jpg
  • Sometimes I feel sunny by Gillian Shields and Georgie Birkett61uSdXio1cL.jpg
  • Toddler touch Bedtime (Ladybird)9781409312864_18

 

I’ve been a little lazier in June (L. always wants to read her 2-3 favourite books, E. wants to read longer stories that we’ve had no time for at the table, plus we were on holiday and at a chess camp so time was scarce).

I’ve added only 3 new books to the pile:

  • Spot Goes to the Circus by Eric Hill9780140552973-us-300.jpg
  • Round and Round the Garden (Amazing baby touch-and-feel board book9781904513926
  • Incy Wincy Spider (Igloo books)9781784401733_a

None of these books has become a favourite. Little L. likes pushing the button on the Incy Wincy book, though. As the song starts she begins to dance.

I’ll try to come back monthly or bimonthly on our book updates.

Baby L. is 18 months old

Oh, time is flying… my second baby is 1 and a half years old. In the morning she climbs down (legs first!) our double bed and in her sleeping bag carefully tiptoes ¬†to her big sister’s room. She dashes to her bed and calls her name while patting her head. The sweetest little soul…

The description above tells you everything about Baby L.’s character. She’s loving, caring, getting more and more independent and full of energy. At the same time she is overemotional, she’s already showed some signs of her terrible 2 getting closer and closer.
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The best 10 things she can do:
1. eat with a spoon
2. drink from a cup, or with a straw
3. climb up on almost anything
4. put on a hat
5. wipe her mouth with a napkin
6. wave goodbye
7. blow a kiss
8. hug
9. pour water from one cup to the other
10. flip through a book

Favourite food: pasta, soups, sesame fish, fruity yogurt

Favourite drink: breast milk, almond drink, fruit tea

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Favourite activities:
1. walking around the flat and unpacking everything
2. carrying around my hand bags and pack ANYTHING in them
3. dancing
4. taking the coins, notes and cards out of my purse (or Daddy’s wallet)
5. rearranging her and her sister’s shoes
6. pushing the timer’s buttons on the oven
7. starting the dishwasher or the washing machine

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Favourite toys:
1. things with noisy buttons on
2. markers
3. swing

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Favourite books:
1. One mole digging a hole by Julia Donaldson
2. Tickle, tickle by Helen Oxenbury
3. Sometimes I feel sunny by Gillian Shields

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In the last 2 months she’s started to say a lot of new words both in English and Hungarian. She does babble a lot in her own baby language, but she says words that are REALLY important for her:

Hungarian words

hinta-palinta (swing)
Apa (Daddy)
tészta (pasta)
inni (drink)
pok (sic) (spider)
temtud (nem tudom= I don’t know)
ezt (this)
egy (one)
ketto (two)
h√°m (h√°rom=three)
mog (a mixture or the Hungarian “m√©g” and the English “more”)
baba (baby or doll)
auto (car)
sakk (chess)

English words:

Mommy
pasta
out
more
book
wet (first it sounded more like “what”)
water
up
down
star
aer(o)plane
moon
eye
chin-chin (chin)
no-no (nose)
baby
keys
white
tickle-tickle

And more is to come…

FAQ

In the last couple of weeks I have bumped into a lot of mums who asked me similar questions about raising our daughter bilingual in a totally monolingual environment. So I collected a bunch of questions and my answers to them with some links from earlier blog posts:

  1. Do you speak to her English only?

No, I don’t. I can’t do that. My mother tongue is my mother tongue, no matter how high my level of English is. (High level of language command is relative. I always feel my English is deteriorating.)

I assigned¬†certain times¬†to speak English. When E. was a baby we had a¬†timetable¬†which meant that we used a little bit more English than Hungarian as she spent loads of time with me. Then we needed to¬†change our schedule, still we had 50-50 % balanced language usage. (When she was around 2). Nowadays, (she’s almost 3) we are in trouble with the balance between the two languages as we do not spend so much time together therefore there is less English in her life. BUT! Her English basis is so strong that she asks for changing languages when she feels she misses one of them (it’s usually English)

Even today, whenever there are just the two of us she says: РUh-uh, Mommy. We need to change into English. We are just two.
or
– I’ve already changed into English, because there is only Mommy and I.

 

  • When do you speak English to her and when Hungarian?

    There are many methods you can follow. What I use is a special one: I call it the timetable method. By now we don’t have a timetable any more. Whenever we can, we speak English, as the Hungarian input of the environment is too influencing.

  • When did you start talking to her in English?

    When we took her home from the hospital. At first, I was just singing songs and chanting rhymes to her in English. I wasn’t sure about what I was doing and it felt strange. Then I got some inspirations after having read some books and contacted some other moms in the same shoes. From the age of 6 months I’ve been talking to her in English just like in Hungarian.

  • Wasn’t she late with speech development?

    Not at all, although it would have been perfectly normal. She was about 1 year old when she could say 6-8 English words (and Hungarian ones too). Actually, her first word (bib) was in English. Of course, these words were fuzzy and not distinct for the untrained ears. But by the time she turned 18 months these words had become clear and a LOT more had been added to them. Not to mention, she started to build up 2-3 word sentences at that time too.

    I have to admit that the period between the age of 12 and 18 months was filled with more English sessions than Hungarian.

  • Doesn’t she mix the languages?

    She does! At first she didn’t, however, nowadays more and more. I’m not worried about it… okay… I am a little bit concerned, but I know if we keep up the balance between the languages she’ll have all the language tools in both languages to express herself. Most of the time she mixes Hungarian into her English because she doesn’t know a word or she can’t express something due to lacking a structure.

    Though it happens the other way round, too. She makes her grandparents puzzled when she asks for some stories with the telescope in it (mind you, pronounced it with a perfect British accent) or when she says she wants to play on the see-saw at the playground. Sometimes she names some bugs (bumblebees, wasps, ants) or plants (pansies, daffodils, shepherd’s-purse etc) she sees in the park in English. They can sort out this teeny-weeny language problem… for the time being.

  • What do you do when she mixes the languages?

    I keep on talking in the given language. I don’t change. And I do NOT advise you to let your child take the lead (although it is also an option.) I go on talking, let’s say, in English when she says some Hungarian words or sentences here and there. If I know she could say it in English I ask back: – What did you say? or – What’s that in English?

    If I am aware of the fact that she can’t express herself, I simply repeat in English what she said in Hungarian. Some sources suggest not to make your child repeat a word or sentence, yet sometimes I ask her to repeat just to reinforce we use English and help her fix a structure she cannot use (at all, or properly). Nonetheless, I’m not forcing it. Normally, she repeats expressions after me by herself. If she doesn’t want to, we move on.

    Also, you can pretend you do not understand what your child says, but in our case (we do not follow the One Parent One Language -OPOL-strategy; she can hear me talk both Hungarian and English) it wouldn’t work as my daughter knows that I understand and speak both. The other problem with this could be that your child can get frustrated if he or she can’t put an idea or a wish across.

  • What English activities/programmes can you take part in?

    We used to have a native British nanny for almost 2 years. I’m really grateful for her as she meant that I could have some free time (cooking, washing, ironing, shopping, cleaning etc.) while I knew English was still in focus in my daughter’s life. Now we are looking for a new nanny. If you happen to know someone in Budapest who would be interested I would appreciate it.

    I’ve organised a Mums’ English Club (MEC) in the library nearby, where mums gather with their little ones and chat in English while the kids play away. At the end of our sessions we sing some English songs for the kids. An afternoon session of MEC is badly needed but I haven’t had time to find a place where we could go free of charge.

    We’ve been taking part in the well-known Helen Doron School’s programme since E. was 10 months old. We are planning to leave it, but I’ll write about that in a later post.

    For almost a year we took part in a swimming course which was instructed both in English and Hungarian. We met there some non-Hungarian families who communicated mainly in English, so E. could hear during the swimming sessions that English is not just Mommy’s crazy language.

    We also visited Rhyme Time sessions (singing and playing in English) for a few times, but we do not go regularly.

  • Does Daddy speak English to her?

    He does. Daddy speaks a lot of languages, it’s no problem for him at all. What’s more, practising English regularly helps him improve his spoken skills as well. I suppose he also enjoys our English session;

    Again, at the beginning we did it differently. When Daddy arrived home from work we changed into Hungarian, but the whole day was in English. Nowadays, as I’m starting to work, E. is spending more time with the grandparents or she is in the nursery (not to mention that our native nanny, A. has left) we have been trying to fit in as many English sessions as we can.

    We have plenty of dinners, weekend programmes, playground visits, craft activities and bath times in English with Daddy. I’m very lucky, because my husband is very supportive concerning our bilingual project.

  • Can she say sentences?

    Haha. This has been the funniest question so far I’ve received. Sure she can. ūüôā Sometimes very complicated ones. I was really amazed when she said a passive sentence in the playground (– Look, Mommy, the other swing is taken) or when she talks to her soft toy using present perfect (– What have I told you?). One day she was replaying a Berry and Dolly episode (Gingerbread) that we watch in English.

    The following left her mouth: – I’m making gingerbread with the cookie cutter and then I’ll put it out in the winter¬†(sic) to cold (sic). Magpie, (that is me) come and take it away.
    Later in the story: – Don’t take away that belongs to somebody else.

    Here is the episode.

    Not only her sentences but her vocabulary is also outstanding. I’m often surprised at how eloquent words she knows. The other day she called a pan saucepan. I don’t think I have ever used this word with her.¬†Or she can name different kinds of onions: leek, garlic, spring onion as well as varied¬†expressions for the eating process: munch, chew, stuff your face, digest, feed, bite

     

  • How do you “teach” her (sic)?

    This is exactly how this question is asked most of the time.

    And the answer is : I do not teach her.

    What I do is to play with her in English just like in Hungarian. We do the daily routines in both languages. I try to prepare everyday and special activities for her which give us a chance to meet a lot of new situations:

    –¬†experimenting,
    –¬†prepping for holidays of the English-speaking world,
    –¬†doing fun craft activities,
    cooking and baking
    doing housework together
    exploring nature
    reading books and singing a lot as well as watching videos

    These are just a few examples. In short, we LIVE our lives in 2 languages.

    +1. How shall WE start?

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started” – Mark Twain

So just start it.

If you want to get some ideas read through the blog… HAHA. Believe me, it’ll be much easier to find your own ways. But you can get some ideas here. (Feel free to search for keywords if you’re looking for something exact)

Start with some songs that you sing to your child while changing nappies or waking him/her up.

Search some videos online around a topic (cars, shapes, animals, numbers, planets etc.) that your child is interested in and watch them together. You can also explain what you see in the videos.

Learn some rhymes/songs with sign language and play with your munchkin.

Flashcards are almost always fascinating for children, but rather time-consuming to prepare your own home-made ones. On the other hand, our own flashcards are much more attractive to my daughter. You can find really good flashcards online, which you only need to print (and perhaps laminate).
If you don’t mind spending some money, you can buy some beautiful ones.

And I haven’t mentioned the endless opportunities that books offer to speak and practise a foreign language.

Again, these are some very basic ideas to start with your little one from an early age.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me either in the comments or via email. You can come and visit  my facebook page as well.

Enjoy!