New Year’s Eve 2017

We do NOT really celebrate New Year’s Eve in our family. The reasons are numerous, but for the kids I wanted to make it a special day.

For Christmas both of them got a magnetic wand with some colourful discs. I printed a 2018 do-a-dot sheet, one for each girl. They helped me separate the discs according to colours.

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They started to put the disc on the numbers.

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Well, Little L. was not very interested in this activity… within 1 minute she started to throw the discs away. Therefore I decided to give her the dotmarkers and she painted for max. 2-3 minutes.

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As for E., she placed the discs very accurately on the circles. She chose to use different colours for each number.

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When she finished, she collected her discs with the magnetic wand and coloured her 2018 with dot markers.

During the evening we played a lot together with the toys they got for Christmas and for L.’s second birthday.

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Lucky, we have Baby Sis’ birthday at the end of December. We had plenty of balloons to play with. Even in the bath. (Not for long though as E. freaked out about the fact that the balloons might pop)

Instead of the balloons we had sparklers during their bath-time, which also made the day a little different from the others.
(No pictures, sorry)

We had a fun evening that finished at about half past 10.

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Days of December 2017

Last year I started a hopefully long tradition: taking note of daily memories of December, the advent period, our Christmas itself, the days between holidays and New Years Eve too. Here is the last year’s post.

Now come all the memories of December 2017 day by day in one long post. (This year we’ll be making a paper-based memory booklet as well.)

1st December

The kids were at their grandparents and the Angels have brought us the advent calendar.

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This year the main theme is decorating a Christmas tree with stickers. It’s great as both girls can do it and enjoy it.

Our advent “wreath” is ready. It’s evident we didn’t have much time for it this year either. Perhaps next year.

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2nd December

In the morning we had a family photo shoot in our home. See the photo collage a little further down.

Our annual Gingerbread Party was in full swing by the afternoon. Friends came over and we made and decorated more than a kilo of gingerbread (this time it was dairy- and egg-free. If you’re interested in the recipe, just drop me a line. It’s really tasty and soft.)

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Gingerbread team
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In the making
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When all our guests were gone E. did the washing of the cookie cutters all by herself.

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Mommy’s little helper
And we had some more fun at the dinner table. E. made sure L. can’t take out her hair clip(s).20171202_210414[1]

3rd December

  • In the morning we went to buy winter boots for E. as this week it’s started to snow.
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  • We lit the first candle on our Advent wreath today.
  • E. has been singing 12 Days of Christmas all day in birdy voice. (Check out this short video if you want to hear how a bird sings 12 Days of Christmas)
  • We’ve been playing with the choo-choo train nearly all afternoon.

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  • E. read The Gingerbread Man for L.

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  • I read How the Grinch stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss to E. as a bedtime story.

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Here are the Christmas books we read at this time of the year

4th December

This was a quiet day. E. was in kindergarten and I was running errands. Little L. spent the whole day at her Grandma. We picked E. up from kindergarten together and we immediately changed into English.

At home E. found an old English writing practice book and started to work on it.

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L. was  walking around in her pretty red shoes the heels of which light up.26123635_W_1

Of course, more stickers got on our Christmas tree.

5th December

In the morning Little L. and I went to the Helen Doron English session (Toddler’s Best Start is the name of our new course) which she enjoyed a lot because our new topic was vehicles (trucks, cars, trains, planes) L.’s been crazy about them lately.

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But the highlight of the day was the play performed by E.’s kindergarten teachers – St Nick’s glove. It was a cute and loveable show.

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My Mum was taking care of Little L while we were watching the play in the kindergarten. After having arrived home the kids opened some presents that St. Nicolas had brought to their grandma’s house.

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In the evening the girls cleaned their boots and put them out into the window waiting for St. Nick to fill them with goodies. E. was really excited. She wanted to stay up to have a look at Santa.

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6th December

I didn’t have to say twice to the kids to get out of bed in the morning. Within a blink of an eye they were in the living-room checking their boots.

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They opened their gifts with great excitement. Although we were in Hungarian, they got books, and activities in English, some toys and sweets.

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Our native nanny, N. was here in the morning and they tried to paint a magic booklet L. just got from Santa.

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E. met “the real Santa” (as she put it) in her kindergarten.

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In the afternoon Little L. met St. Nick in our main square. At first she was a little scared but then she got a candy (szaloncukor) and she kept saying she wanted to go back. We were in English but Santa and his helpers, of course, spoke Hungarian, still Little L. talked to me in English.

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We didn’t stay out much as it was very cold and windy. All the way home L. buried her little face in my shoulder. At home we made Santa’s beard out of cotton wool balls.

7th December

We had some healthy snacks, like raw broccoli in the market and dried cranberries at home.

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Our native nanny was here and E. showed her what she got from Santa.

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In the advent calendar we found an instruction to put  some Christmas lights on the windows. (If I can take a photo of it I’ll attach later on)

8th December

I was brave enough to give E. our paper-based Days of December album. She was cutting out some photos and I glued them in, but what she enjoyed the most was putting stickers all over the album.

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9th December

In the morning we went shopping with E. as she’d grown so much that all her leggings are short, her socks are too small.

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Fooling around in the changing room

We were invited to our Helen Doron school to make some advent crafts. I’ve written a separate blog post on it.

10th December

We lit the second candle on our advent wreath.

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The girls improvised dot-market painting. The end result looked like Christmas lights.

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The girls had been eating so much sweets all day that I made them an obstacle race field in our living room where they could burn their energies.

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We’ve started to prepare some Christmas presents and cards with E.

We received our Christmas photos. They turned out pretty well.

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11th December

Our Advent Christmas tree is getting nicer and nicer with all kinds of stickers.

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We finished some greeting cards for Christmas with the girls. (I’ll be writing a separate blog post on the cards and the baubles.)

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12th December

Gingerbread party in the kindergarten. L. is a little snotty so she didn’t come but enjoyed the company of her grandma and grandpa. We could spend the day together with E. in her kindergarten.

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What she enjoyed the most was she could show me her favourite toys and we could play together both inside and outside, in the playground. After lunch we came home and took a nap. Next we prepared some Christmas baubles we’ll give to her teachers and friends.

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13th December

Last Helen Doron lessons of this year for the girls.

Little L. surprised her teacher, Z., with Christmas presents (a Christmassy pen and a Christmas card that we’d made with her hand-and fingerprint) and she said Merry Christmas in the morning.

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E. gave her Christmas present to Zs. (her Helen Doron teacher) in the afternoon after her lesson. It was a Christmassy pen, the green-yellow bauble we’d made the day before and her hand Christmas tree card. She wrote Merry Christmas inside.

Zs. sent me how her bauble looks on her Christmas tree.

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In the afternoon we went on to make some more Christmas presents.

With Little L. we made Christmas tree decorations out of air-dry clay and sequins.

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With E. we made a clay hand-shaped , which I’d been planning to make for a long time but we didn’t have the time for it (see the source and step-by-step instructions  of the idea on the link above).

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They are all waiting to dry:

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14th December

Our English-speaking friends visited us. In the morning my friend, B., who speaks only English to the girls, came over and played with E. and L.. She also stayed for lunch too. The kids were excited and a little ill so the whole morning was chaotic and tense. Still, we survived and spent the morning in the company of a much-loved friend.

After nap time N, our native nanny came to have our last session this year. On Tuesday E. invited her for dinner, so she stayed to dine with us. E. gave N. our little mainly home-made Christmas presents

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E. is explaining what she put in the bauble

and the girls also got a really pretty Christmas card with N.’s poem written directly to E. and L. How sweet is that?

15th December

I was preparing for Christmas while the girls spent the day at their grandparents. Both of them have a runny nose. I and my hubby are coming down with the same illness. At least we’re done with it until Christmas. (Fingers crossed)

I was lucky enough to buy white and silver lackmarker with which I’ll be able to decorate out Days of December album.

16th December

L. was really early bird, got up at 5, I managed to keep her quiet and in bed for an hour, hoping for her falling back to sleep but she didn’t. So we started cooking together. She woke up talking to me English. What a nice start, only if it had been at about 8.

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When E. got up we prepared her best friend’s present for Christmas. She wanted to save the tatoo for herself, and of course, I needed to apply some body art immediately for both of them (Actually this was L.’s first tattoo ever.)

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What’s more, we found some self-adhesive earrings. The girls got all pretty when they went to the library with their Dad.

In the afternoon we went out to buy infrared heat lamp as we are not getting better as for our health. And of course, we just couldn’t miss out on the choo-choo train in the shopping mall.

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Late at night I put together the yearly photo book gift for the grandparents.

17th December

Literally, nothing happened today apart from lighting the 3rd candle. Well, it not totally true. In the afternoon I went to meet my friends. A little bit of me time is a big thing around here.

18th December

We went on creating more Christmas gifts, like this pine cone Christmas tree.

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Two small snow globes were waiting for the girls in the advent calendar.

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We read  Maisy makes gingerbread about 15-20 times. Little L. loooooves it.

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E.’s bedtime story was Angel Mae:

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19th December

In the morning we “had to” make some more gingerbread. It was a family project. In the making Daddy needed to read Maisy makes gignerbread a few time. L. matched her rolling pin to Maisy’s.

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As E. is into the periodic table again (I’ve already written a few words about her craze for the chemical elements in the post when she celebrated her 5th birthday) she and Daddy made the letters for the elements and Little L. and I were making more Christmassy gingerbread.

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Today was the Christmas party in the kindergarten. We just went to give the presents to E.’s kindergarten teachers. We didn’t stay for the party due to our viral illness.

We also met E.’s best friend and gave her our Christmas present too. She also got some surprises for E. They played a little outside but it was terrible cold so we soon said our good-byes.

As we got home we finished the ring holder presents for grandmas and prepared our door wreath.

The girls used their second waterbomb at bath time.

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20th December

The angels decorated the bedrooms with lights and window decor while the girls were away.

I started to prepare our very first home-made Christmas candy. (If I have time I’ll add the recipe later on)

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21st December

Our cleaning lady was here today and we gave her our Christmas present. The girls got 2 beautiful baubles from her.

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E. is into the periodic table again. We were listening to it all day instead of Christmas music.

In the evening we finished the Christmas candies with E. We dipped them into hot chocolate and put them in the fridge. There are 50 of them altogether. In the meantime L. was riding on Daddy’s back.

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Our mistletoe is hung finally, and there’s been a lot of kissing under it.

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22nd December

We celebrated Christmas with my best friend, B., who talks to the girls English only. It was a fun party with really nice presents. (a clever bug, jewellery boxes, snug slippers, just to mention a few) . Below: Clever bug called Cutie came to have lunch with us. She eats only fruit as she’s allergic to veggies – according to E. 🙂

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B. got here quite early, so she and E. helped me to wrap the Christmas candies. Just like my Mum.

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And we tested them too. Yum!

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23rd December

In the morning we made pizza.

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In the afternoon Daddy took the girls to their training.

While they were away I was cooking the Christmas dinner. This year there’s no fish. E. and L. like it more or less, but we’d decided that I’d cook their favourite: chicken soup, and stew with noodles.

24th December

In the morning the final touches were done before Christmas Eve, cooking cleaning and decorating. The girls opened the last pocket in the advent calendar where they found the star (in 2 pieces) and stuck it on the top of our paper tree.

Later we played a snowflake matching memory game we’d accidentally found.

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While the kids took their afternoon nap the Angels brought us our gorgeously decorated Christmas tree. Nobody could enter the living room, where the Angels were working, until the sound of their bells.

While we were waiting for the jingle we made chestnut balls for dessert and got dressed in pretty clothes.

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Around 5 o’clock the door could be opened and the kids were amazed by the sight.

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The whole evening was about opening presents, playing together and having a wonderful Christmas dinner. According to E. this Christmas is not simply great but divine.

She said the best present was the chemical element cards, which she immediately put out according to the periodic table.

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Linda loved everything she got she didn’t know what to play with suddenly. Maybe her very favourite one on Christmas Eve was the little pink scooter.

25th December

We celebrated Christmas at my mother-in-law’s place.

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26th December

We celebrated Christmas at my Mom’s. Finally I could have a good use of my new camera.

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27th December

The girls’ Godparents and their kid came over in the afternoon so we could surprise one another with presents.

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28th December

E. went to the Helen Doron School for a one-day winter camp, where she had English sessions, arts and crafts, film watching all in English. Her favourite activity was making this bird feeder out of pine cone, peanut butter and seeds. As we don’t have a garden we hung it in the park near to our flat.

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29th December

LITTLE L.’S 2ND BIRTHDAY PARTY.

In the morning we went to buy balloons for L. with E. We were in English and the lady in the party shop was amazed that E. understood both languages.

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On the way we checked out the bird feeder and this scene waited for us:

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The seeds had nearly been eaten up

We saw a robin, a finch and a blackbird that suddenly took wing as we were getting closer.

Update——-09.01.2018—-

We went to see the bird feeder with Little L. and we saw this:

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Few seeds left, even the peanut butter was gone too

At nap time I picked up L.’s birthday cake (dairy and egg-free chocolate cake because of E.’ diet) and decorated the flat for the afternoon birthday party. It was just for our extended family.

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Little L. was amazed by the balloons and all decoration but she was over the moon to see presents again, I’m not sure if she understood why there were so many gift at this time of the year (St. Nicolas Day, Christmas and now her birthday)

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30th December

We were playing and playing and playing in English with all the toys and games the girls received for Christmas and L’s birthday.

31st December

A quiet New Year’s Eve. The girls cannot stay up until midnight so we celebrated in the evening with New Year’s Eve activity, sparklers and balloons in the bath and paper trumpets. They went to bed at about 9.30 and fell asleep immediately.

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Sticky board notes in connection with the new year

HAPPY NEW YEAR FOR EVERYONE!

I wish you all the best, loads of second language exposure, fun and happiness in 2018.

Getting familiar with the ABC

I do not want to brag, but yes… a little I do. E. is so  interested in the letters and the ABC that, I do not exaggerate if I say, within a year or two she’ll be reading. In this blog post I would like to collect some fun activities we’ve been doing with the ABC.

-Videos/Songs

The very first favourite. E. was watching this video her mouth agape in amazement when she was 8-10 months old.

The traditional one is always the best (Upper- and lowercase)

A song about how to pronounce the letters – Phonic Song:

Since the age of 2 we have been watching a lot of Mother Goose Club songs:

She could watch it all the time. Sometimes she wants to watch them all day (if I let her).

Magnetic alphabet

I bought the first set of magnetic alphabet when E. was about 18 months old. She loved them at once.
First it was just one pack of upper case letters. We used it on the fridge, but the letters always fell under it. So I had a magnetic word game at home (for adults, the letters are too tiny for little children) and I started to use one of its steel boards (You can also use a steel tray or a magnetic whiteboard)

Then I bought another pack of both upper- and lower case letters later when we started making up words at about the age of 20-22 months. (Frankly, we don’t really use the lower case letter yet – age 2,5 years)

At the very beginning we just put together the alphabet from A to Z. We sang the ABC song and/or the phonic song while arranging the letters.

Adding the missing letters to the alphabet with Daddy

 I told her words starting with certain letters, like  E. for her name or D for daddy, M for mummy, A. is for our nanny’s name etc. As time passed I added some more words, such as E. is for elephant, egg, or A is for apple, ant and so on, not just names. I always tried to include things that she knew or she was really interested at that time. Within a few days she was the one who said the words: – B is for ball and bubble.

Next, we made up short words she was already familiar with.
Daddy, Mummy, M. (our dog), dog, cat, yes, no, hat, rat, egg, bat and so on. I have no intention to teach her how to read. She is the one who, from time to time, comes to me with the letters to play with. She’ll work it out by herself.

Matching game with the magnetic letters

What you need:

  • letters (magnetic, felt, play dough, cut out from cardboard, drawn on bottle tops)
  • plastic surface (e.g.: whiteboard, but I used an A/4 sheet that I spoiled while laminating. 
  • markers (not permanent!!!)
  • sponge or tissues to wipe the surface if you want to reuse it
First, I wrote three words on the laminated sheet (also drew some basic pictures)
I put the letters of these words mixed in a little container 

E. came and emptied the container.

And matched the letter. The interesting thing was that I didn’t need to tell her toe start from left to right.

She wanted to do it with our nanny, too.
When she got bored with it I wiped the surface off and at another time I made a new one with: yes, no, love, sun, hot, rat as you can see it in the photo.
She had to start with her letter, E.

 It was summer time we last did this activity, and now sometimes she “reads” letters on her clothes or, some book’s title.

Search for the letters – sensory bin (autumn)

What you need:

  • a container
  • bark (you can buy it in a packet at animal stores)
  • small object connected to autumn in some ways (berries, grapes, apples, pears, twigs, conkers, pumpkins, leaves etc. What I did was I chose 1 bunch of grapes made of plastic, 2 apples made of felt, 3 golden leaves, 4 pumpkins made of felt, 5 real conkers.)
  • letters (wooden, foam, felt, magnetic, whatever) of A-U-T-U-M-N
  • a sheet of the object and the letters of autumn shown
Throw the bark into the container and hide all your chosen objects in the bark. Put the sheet in front of your child and whenever they find something among the bark, place them in the right group, or if it’s a letter, then on the right letter.

And the search can begin.

This activity gives you and your child plenty of opportunity to talk about not only the letters, but also colours, autumn fruit, trees, leaves and berries, and in this case numbers too.

I still have several activities, but I’ll need to come back with them in another post. Try them, enjoy them and let me know how they worked out.

Starting the nursery – Mini Klub

E. started nursery in September (at the age of 27 months), but I haven’t had the time to finish a review on this issue. Here it comes:

Hello, this is my first day in nursery

We decided on a private nursery as opposed to a state one because of our bilingual journey. This option puts a greater financial burden on our family in the long run but hopefully it’ll be worth it.

Mini Klub is a bilingual nursery. There are two nursery teachers who speak Hungarian to the kids and one who speaks English only all day long. Although the English speaking nursery teacher is a native Hungarian, we are lucky enough, as her English is on a high level and her pronunciation is native-like. She is also a dedicated teacher and prepares a lot to entertain and “teach” the kids English.

We first met her (Ms. B.) in August before the official start when every week in the afternoon we visited the nursery’s playground. E. could meet all the children and nursery teachers.

Ms. B. played with E. in the sand pit and I also had a chance to chat with her a little about the routines and English usage in the nursery. I made it clear to her that the reason why we come to this nursery is because of E.’s bilingualism.

After almost three months now, Ms. B. hasn’t been talking to E. in Hungarian at all, although in some emergency situations Ms. B. needs to talk in Hungarian to other kids. Another relevant point is E. likes her a lot. (So much that in October we had several evenings when I had to play Ms. B.’s role during bath time at home.)

On the first official nursery day they hit it off. (sorry about the quality of the photos, most of them were taken secretly)

Exploring the nursery garden with Ms B.

The first few days and weeks went without any problem. I guess I was more worried and nervous about the transition than she was. Evidently, she enjoys playing there, loves the teachers and some of the kids, too.

On the first day with Ms. L. – 

Of course, we couldn’t avoid the initial illnesses, which gave me more possibility to increase the English time (at home).

Look, Daddy this is my box. My sign’s on it.

There are quite a lot of educational activities every single day (crafts, learning shapes, colours, rhymes and songs, circle games, story time etc.) on the basis of the Montessori Method that keep them busy and occupied.

Weekly routine:

Every day:

  • doing exercise
  • developing movements
Monday:
  • shapes, colours
  • feeling by touching
  • concentration
  • improving perceptibility
  • numbers 1-10
Tuesday:
  • communication
  • rhymes and story telling
  • learning verses and poems
Wednesday
  • circle games
  • songs
  • auditory development
  • developing rhythm and a sense of music

Thursday

  • fine motor skills
  • arts and crafts
  • modelling clay, painting, gluing, threading etc.

 Friday

  • love of nature
  • exploring our environment
  • plants and animals
Until the end of October every Tuesday the kids went pony-riding in the other premises of the nursery (Duna Ovi). From the middle of November (next week) they are starting ice-skating. E. just can’t wait. I hope she’ll like it. I’m not sure if she has understood what ice-skating means exactly.
The nursery also has a daily routine:
7.30-8.45 arrivals, free play time
8.45-9.00 doing exercise
9.00-9.05 changing nappies or toilet time
9.05-9.30 breakfast, teeth brushing
9.30-10.15 educational sessions (20 mins in English, 20 mins in Hungarian)
10.15-10.30 snack time (fruit, vegetables)
10.30-11.30 playtime in the playground (depending on weather conditions)
11.30-11.40 toilet time
11.40-12.15 lunch time
12.15-14.30 quiet time, sleepy time
14.30-15.15 waking up period, snack time
15.15-15.45 educational session (15 mins in English, 15 mins in Hungarian)
15.45 – free play time, departure

Food: healthy and varied (Daddy asked me one day looking at E.’s weekly menu  if he himself could sign up for lunch at the nursery 😉 – we receive the menu every week. 
Educational sessions:
  • crafts
Look, that’s my horse
  • preparing for special occasions like grape harvest festival, Halloween, Santa Claus day (Dec 6) or Christmas
  • I have a video about the educational session in English (and in Hungarian), but E. was ill and didn’t take part. What’s more, I should ask the nursery for permission to put the video up on my blog. So it might come later on.
—–o—–o—–o——o——o——-o—— Permission received—-o—–o



Play time – if it doesn’t rain cats and dogs they go out to the playground for at least an hour in the morning and another hour in the afternoon.

All in all, I am more than satisfied with this nursery and the English language input E. has been experiencing there. She plays a lot with Ms. B. and sometimes when I go to pick her up she tells me that we are in English. Every now and then, Ms. B. comes to the same direction as we do on the way home and we chat in English. E. has already made friends with another English speaking kindergarten teacher (Mrs. M.). She asked her the time in English (as I went to pick her up a little later that day).

I hope everything will go on like this in the future. My expectations were high but this nursery managed to meet them. If you have any questions about daily life in Mini Klub, just feel free to contact me.

Dem bones – the skeleton craze

Let me start with THE song, the small pebble that started the avalanche
Dem bones

(Around Halloween it is quite relevant)

E. got crazy about bones and skeletons. So it’s time for us, parents, to learn a little too.
I didn’t have the faintest idea about the names of the bones. I used to have problems with them in my native language, not to mention English. However, I did everything to satisfy my little one’s hunger for knowledge.

Flashcards
I made skeleton cards for her. I found a blog (montessoriworkjobs) where there are black and white skeletons with the major bones highlighted in red. So I printed them and made flashcards.

Cotton bud skeleton – craft
Cotton bud skeleton craft can be reached in another post in more details.

fascinated by the skulls

 

gluing

 

sticking and pushing

 

final touch
finished

Child size skeleton puzzle
I found a child-size printable skeleton on a colouring site. You need to print about eight A/4 pages. You do not need much colouring 😉 I laminated the bones as I want to use them next year too.

the skeleton puzzle
after mixing the puzzle E. put the bones in place

 

“I’m a skeleton”

The book – The skeleton inside you

It’s a funny book with a lot of information on bones. When it says “your skeleton helps you run, jump and stand”, I added some more actions (squat, walk slowly, sit, roll, make a bridge, kick, clap etc.) and E. needed to do what I said. She enjoyed it a lot.

You have 32 bones in your arm

 

the rib cage and the skull protect important organs

 

Halloween costume skeleton

 

“Look Daddy, this is the femur”

Skeleton as food
E. was absolutely amazed when she saw this snack on her plate. Since then I need to cut skeletons out of everything.

Last but not least: Skeleton costume for Halloween

These are H&M skeleton pyjamas and gloves



I do not need to comment this. Or if you wish you can read about our MEC Halloween party we had.

I hope you found some ideas useful if your little one is also obsessed with bones and skeletons.