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

Peppa pig-Gardening

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 🙂

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Easter egg suncatcher

There hasn’t been much sunlight to catch this Easter but I’m hopeful that soon we can enjoy a little bit of sunshine after this long, gloomy and really cold winter.

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The green is Little L’s and the orange is E.’s egg suncatcher

What you need:

  • contact paper (here in Hungary the best is the self-adhesive cover for school books)
  • colour paper of your choice
  • small items like paper strips, flower petals, paper cut-outs etc (I used tiny bunnies, flowers, hearts etc. having bought from Flying Tiger Shop)

Preparation:

  • cut out an egg-shaped frame and make frames out of your coloured paper
  • cut out a piece of contact paper and peel off its cover
  • place it in front of you sticky side up and put the egg-shaped frame on it. Cut it along the frame
  • place the tiny decorative elements on a tray or in little cups in front of your child together with the sticky egg

Your child will make patterns and decoration on the sticky egg.

When the artwork is finished you place another layer of contact paper on it (sticky side down) to seal it off.

Fix it in the window and wait for the sun to shine. Enjoy the beautiful colours and shapes.

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We did this activity with E.&L.’s Godparents and their kids. They all loved it and made fantastically decorative eggs.

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This activity can be done not only with egg shapes but flower shaped frame too. Even if you are not very talented at drawing the easiest way to make a flower frame is to draw it. Have fun and enjoy the sunshine.

Happy Easter!

 

Pompom run

I had to cook. Little L. wanted to play with me. Challenge accepted.

I took out some kitchen roll tubes and toilet paper tubes, which I’d been storing for a loooong time so we can play with them some day, and made a very quick, ugly but functional pompom run.

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I cooked and she played in the kitchen, sometimes I joined in too. Everybody was happy.

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I wasn’t considering how great it is from language point of view. While she was making the pompoms run she was identifying their colours.

-T his one is yellow. And this is red. Look, mommy the black one is spiky.

Then she compared their sizes:

– This is small. Look, Mommy a big pompom.

In the afternoon my big girl (almost 6) came home and started playing with it using a pair of tongs. She added some more pieces of tube to the pompom run to boot. (It was difficult for her to cut the hard cardboard.)

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DSC01548She was playing with it for half an hour.

It’s still on the fridge and I keep the pompom close by. They can play with it whenever they want to. And they often want to.

The best is it took 5 minutes to make it. Of course, you can spend more time on it, painting the tubes, decorating it with stickers together with the kids, making more interesting and more exciting ways, use it for addition, etc.

But simple is beautiful 😉

Reading list February 2018

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 favouriteL.’s favouriteBoth loved it

E. 5y 9 m old

Secret Garden (Usborne)

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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)

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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

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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

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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)

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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?)

 

2018 January – books of the month

E.’s list is a little shorter as we’ve started to read chapter books. What’s more, we read them like 3-4 times as she couldn’t get enough of them. A real bookworm. Little L.’s list is longer as she enjoyed the many books she got for Christmas and hadn’t had time to read them due to the busy holiday seasons.

I read for E. before the afternoon nap time when she’s home and before bedtime. L. doesn’t hear these stories as she is too young for these books. But E. is present when I read the books for L.

Colour codes: E.’s favourite, L.’s favourite, Both loved it

E., 5 y 8 m old

Gulliver’s Travels (Usborne)

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The story covers only Gulliver’s travel to Lilliput. The story is divided into chapters. It is large print and the language is quite easy so E. could read it for herself. We read it twice and I suppose instead of getting dressed in the morning before leaving for the kindergarten she read it once more.

Jack Frost by Kazuno Kohara

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A classic winter story about a little boy who hates winter as he misses company. But then he meets Jack Frost and they have lots of fun. There is one rule only, he shouldn’t mention anything warm or Jack will disappear. Can he manage?

Stick Man by Julia Donaldson

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Another winter story. Unfortunately E. didn’t enjoy as much as I did. What a pity as it is a really funny book about Stick man who gets involved some dangerous adventures when a dog wants to play with him or when a boy uses him as an arm for his snowman.

The Wizard of Oz (Usborne)

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Another chapter book for E. The same applies here as in case of Gulliver’s travel. A classic story in an easily readable form. I needed to read it 4 times and E. read it another 2. I think her interest escalated when I told her the story of one of my carnivals when my whole class got dressed as the characters in the Wizard of Oz.

Quarks by Ruth Spiro

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As we live together with a scientist, I had to buy this book at full price. But it was worth it. It is a baby book but not so much. In a very simple way and with wonderful illustrations atom and molecule structures

The Giraffe, the Pelly, and Me by Roald Dahl (the absolute favourite of the moths!)

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An absolutely fantastic and a typical Roald Dahl book. The story is about 3 window cleaners who get the best job in the world. While starting to the job they catch a burglar. We read it 3 times and I was about to make some activities to elaborate some outstanding vocabulary of the book, but alas I had no time. I might try to do it at another time.

L., 2 y 1 m old

Tough Trucks by Tony Mitten

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As Little L. is into vehicles this book is the absolute favourite for her. But E. liked it. I can’t recall how many time we read it but approximately 50-60 time minimum. The book presents big vehicles like trucks, articulated trucks, refuse trucks, tow-away trucks and so on. The description is rhyming and the CD that goes with it is really handy. I was especially delighted as the book uses British English vocabulary. After a while L. could finish the end of each line (the rhyming pairs mainly). E. knows the whole book by heart.

The Snow Storm

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I love Usborne book, and this farmyard series is so close to my heart. Not for my kids. E. was not interested in it after the first read. Little L. wanted to see only the lamb in the bush (that was born under the hedge). Nice illustration and a fun snowy book though.

You can do it, Sam

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L.’s other favourite after Tough Trucks. The story is about a little bear who prepares cakes early in the morning with his mum and deliver them to their friends as a surprise. The little bear needs to be very brave as he hast to take the cakes from the truck to the doorsteps in the big snow. Mama Bear say “of course” several time during the story. Every time L. added “second course”  because for her these 2 phrases sound so similar. 🙂

Maisy goes shopping by Lucy Cousins

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Maisy is still in. Read it a million time. As much as they don’t like Peppa Pig, they adore Maisy. l. compared herself and E. to Charley and Maisy. Charley who’s got a bike in the story was E. and she, herself was Maisy. She rides a tricycle.

10 chuckling ducklings by Sally Crabtree

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A typical count-backwards board book with plastic 3-D ducks on each page. There is also a button to push to hear the quack-ing. For me it was too much for the kids… well, they were fighting for the button to push or to finger the ducks.

Getting dressed (Mark and Spencer)

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A board book teaching kids the order of getting dressed. You can touch different items of clothing. The story is in rhymes. Both kids like the sensory books so a lot of argument was involved around this book too.

A birthday for boots

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L.’s been interested in counting lately hence the second count-backwards book. This was E.’s first favourite Dora book. She liked the stories I told her about the time when we’d read it together. L. learnt some of the Spanish numbers from this book. And of course, the shout at the same time: Swiper, no swiping!

This is my puppy (Usborne)

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Touchy-feely puppy board book that examines every important dog parts: ears, paws, tail, nose adding a touchy-feely experience and the joy of making the doggie woof-woof with the button.

Fox’s Socks by Julia Donaldson

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Little L. enjoyed this board book as well. Julia Donaldson’s rhymes are so easy to learn that she could say the rhyming pairs after a few reads. Lifting the flaps adds to the fun. No wonder the fox finds his clothes in strange places. E.: – Mommy, this fox is very untidy.