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
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    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
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    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
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  4. Zoe and Beans – We’re not scared by Chloe and Mick Inkpen
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    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
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    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
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    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.

More Jump for (Jo)E(y)

Unfortunately, our native nanny’s disappeared completely so I decided to look for another. In vain. I haven’t been able to find anyone. This is the reason why I decided to go back to a Helen Doron course. E. needs a regular input and, although it’s not a native input, at the moment this is the best option we have.

In April 2017, she started the More Jump with Joey course, which she enjoys to a great extent.

Here are the details of the course:
(Here I have to emphasise that I’m NOT in any business relations with the school so this blog post is not an ad. This is only my personal experience.)

Timing:

Once a week (though Cds have to be listened to twice a day, which, honestly, we don’t do. We watch the videos once or twice a week)

School:
(Nyugati téri Helen Doron English Language School – the link takes you their facebook page)

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entrance

 

The Shcool looks of high standard. There’s a little playroom right by the entrance where children or siblings can play while waiting for the lesson to start. They can also cool off here after the lesson.

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playroom
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waiting area

There are 2 rooms (a bigger and a smaller) for the lessons. They’re really well-equipped with teaching materials, games and toys that help playful learning. There’s always some kind of refreshment (lemonade, tea etc.) for anybody who visits the school. The walls are nicely decorated with colourful English stuff, like motivational quotes, kids’ drawings, course materials and posters. It’s colourful and engaging (a little TOO engaging for my E. who could study these posters for hours if I let her :D)

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I have to mention here that the school created a nest with all the “chicks” (i.e. children) in it and on the surrounding branches. With this project the school won NatGeo subscription. I can’t wait to read it in the waiting area.

Teacher:

Well, we’ve known Zs. since the start of our Helen Doron Early English adventure. She was the one who we started with and after a little break we start again with. She loves kids, she’s cheerful and dedicated to teaching kids, gives motivating and versatile lessons during which all senses of the kids are involved. Kids have fun in English and strictly in English with her. What else could I ask for? (Perhaps a native nanny, pleeeeease)

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Zs. with Ella Doron

 

We’re very lucky with our HD teachers. Z., Baby Sis’s teacher, is very similar to Zs. (not just their initials 😉 ) Z. teaches with the same techniques, devotion and love for little children just as Zs. The “WOW” factor is always present at their lessons.

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Z & Zs

Group:

The maximum size of the group is 8, but they are just 7. Five girls and two boys. This proportion is absolutely great for E. as she is the phase of not fancying boys. (Oh, my… it’ll change too soon…) All the kids are around her age (5+). The kids in E.’s group have been going to HD lesson for quite a while. Scarcely do they speak Hungarian among themselves.

Teaching material:

First reaction: finally a useful backpack. Seriously, backpacks in the earlier packages were totally useless.

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The teaching material targets children aged 7-9. The More Jump with Joey package contains 4 workbooks (sorry! MAGICAL workbooks). During this very course they are covering 1 workbook within 3 months’ time. Animated videos are available on the DVD. 4 Cds are also included in the package (not seen in the pic above) with the stories and conversations. I wish there would be a Cd with the songs only so we could listen to them in the car.

Above I’ve highlighted the magical workbooks. There’s a special app that can be downloaded via Google Play Store to your android phone or tablet (via iTunes for Apple devices). If you place your device over the workbook pages signed with the magic wand the characters come to life.
Watch a video about this so-called augmented reality that makes real fun for the kids to (re)do the activities.

As for the content, there’s a lot of revision of the earlier materials, which are expanded during the course (songs like Hey diddle, diddle, or vocabulary of food and furniture etc). The stories have a lot of references of traditional English rhymes, songs and stories. Kangi, the kangaroo mother is a trouble-shooter, who comes whenever the kids are in trouble or need a mediator in conflicts. Just like the previous courses, More Jump with Joey includes plenty of other real life skills apart from learning the English language, such as co-operation and team work, expressing and handling feelings, problem solving etc.

The only thing I miss is that I myself cannot be there at the lessons. I play quite a lot with the magic wand and watch the videos with E.  whenever I have the time but the lessons are full of enjoyable games and activities. Fortunately, Baby L. still needs me at her lessons where I can have some fun, too 😀

E. is 5

Another year has gone and we celebrated E.’s 5th birthday last weekend. This year seemed faster than the others. With 2 kids, with many programmes the days are long but the year is short.

She has grown a lot, actually she’s grown out of all her clothes during wintertime. She’s grown not one but 2 sizes. Compared to her 4-year old self 3 sizes.

She got a “big girl” bike for her birthday. It’s size 16′.

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She’s quit taking naps in the afternoon, still she’s got quiet time for 1-2 hours, depending on Baby Sis’s nap. She reads in bed or plays with her water animals, then an hour later she sits at her table and draws (stories about Waterland, an imaginary place where fish and cetaceans live freely)

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A Mother’s Day present from E.

Likes:

  • water animals
  • reading books
  • lying in
  • talking
  • jumping on the sofa
  • games on the tablet
  • rain
  • going to the library
  • tomato soup and lentil dish
  • ice-cream

Dislikes:

  • having her fringe cut
  • being in a hurry
  • getting out of the bathtub early
  • shouting
  • Baby Sis touching her drawings
  • going to bed early
  • competitions and races
  • making her hand dirty
  • changes
  • trying unknown foods

Her main interest of this year has been water animals, mainly sharks and cetaceans – whales and dolphins. She’s been reading about them, drawing them, playing with them (made out of plush or on the tablet – Real Whales) , watching them on youtube or on TV (NatGeo).

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Real Whales game

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A book she designed on the basis on the game Real Whales (the red parts are buttons you can push and hear certain whale sounds
When she takes a break from her whales she listens to the Periodic Table Song (that she’s learnt by heart like the youtube star, 6-year old American girl Julia Barker. The only difference between her and Julia is that E. can sing it in real-time and not the slower version)

After or better to say next to chemistry, dinos returned in her life as well for a short while.

Due to health reasons she stopped going to kindergarten in November 2016. She had been ill for 6 months when we decided it was enough. After 2-3 DAYS in the kindergarten she had to stay at home for 2-3 WEEKS to recover and as soon as she returned everything started all over again.

Although she’s not in kindergarten she hasn’t missed kids’ company. We’ve regularly been meeting her old kindergarten mates either at the playground, at their birthdays, or  while going for a short excursion on Magaret-island nearby.

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We went to the Helen Doron Halloween party as well as their Carnival. Our friends’ children came to visit us before Christmas to have the usual Gingerbread Party or she’s had fun with her Godparents children.

 

We’re not buying books in Hungarian any longer as we signed up at the local library and she rather borrows books. On the other hand, I buy a lot of English books online. My best source has been Kadosarok on facebook. The books are second-hand and affordable, sometimes rreally cheep indeed.

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Quiet time scene
As for books, apart from the water animals, she enjoys reading and acting out Julia Donaldson stories. We’ve read and/or acted out Room on the broom, Gruffulo, The whale and the sail, What the ladybird heard, just to mention her (and my) favourite ones. I have hidden some more J.D. books for the near future to explore.

Apart from Julia Donaldson books she finds it fun to read Richard Scarry‘s books both in English and Hungarian.

As for her reading skills, she is absolutely fantastic. She reads fluently in Hungarian, only words with 6+ syllables can cause her trouble sometimes. In English she is a bit slower but one day I heard her reading one of her ocean encyclopedia without any problem. She’s amazing.

The love of chess has faded and slowly dissapeared this year, but taking photos is still in. Her favourite topics are nature (flowers and trees), toys, our dog (who’s passed away) and her baby sister.

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Unfortunately, I haven’t had time for many craft projects this year. With 2 kids at home, with the little one tearing, crumpling and destroying everything she touches it’s almost a mission impossible. On the other hand a lot of times E. wasn’t in the mood or wasn’t interested in what I prepared for her (like the paper plate heart activity she gave up after 2 minutes)

But here are 5 of the fun craft activities we managed to do and enjoyed a lot:

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Olympic medals and the 5 rings

Ocean picture with stickers

Painting a tree with a cork

Christmas wreath

Napkin storks

She watched only 2 animations this year: Finding Nemo (in English at home) and Deep (in Hungarian at the cinema). I looove going to the cinema but I find it too early for her to go regularly. She’s got millions of questions during the film so it’s quite disturbing for other viewers. We can stop the films and discuss whatever she’s interested in here at home.

E.’s relationship with her baby sister is getting better… quite slowly. They still cannot play together for more than 3-5 minutes. E. sometimes tries to show her books but L. gets bored within few minutes. They’ve been taking a bath together for quite a while, which is fun for both of them. E. developed a copy cat game. It starts at dinner time and she copies whatever L. is doing or saying. Baby Sis enjoys it a lot. There’s plenty of giggling and laughing in the evenings. However, there’s the other side of the coin. L. drinks from E.’s flask, crumple her drawing or scribble in her books, screams at her, pulls her hair or scratch her out of the blue. Understandably this makes E. angry.

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I feel as if her English has stagnated, although sometimes she has some utterances which I listen to agape:

“Tiger sharks are really fierce; the stronger baby sharks eat up the smaller brothers and sisters in their mommy and only the two strongest are born.”

She read this piece of information all by herself from this book:

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Our Canadian nanny has disappeared and to be honest I wasn’t pushing her coming as she had some other priorities in her life and became unreliable towards the end. So now MY priority is to find another native speaker who enthusiastically provides the native input in our language quest. I’m on it.

E. speaks English fluently at a near-native level, close to what a 5-year-old native would speak. Or I just guess as I don’t know any 5-year old native child personally. Her active vocabulary could be a little wider but as for her passive vocabulary, I think she understands everything even more academic language. I found a test online which approximated her vocabulary to more than 4000 words.

I really need to focus on a variety of grammar structures (e.g. complex conditional sentences, correlative constructions – the… the… ) as well as idioms and sayings (e.g. I’m all ears, an apple a day keeps the doctor away) I’m using more consciously as she picks them up extremely quickly and starts using them if I use them systematically and frequently. The phrases in brackets are the ones she has starteted or at least tried to use.

I cannot be any prouder of my beautiful, clever 5-year old daughter. She’s the best!

Many happy returns, Sweetie!