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
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  • 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
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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 🙂

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 😉

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.

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)
hám (három=three)
mog (a mixture or the Hungarian “még” 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…

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 😀

Jellyfish

As E. is into sea animals and we haven’t had a craft project in ages, I though I would put together this easy jellyfish craft for the girls. I was keeping my fingers crossed throughout the preparation so they would both enjoy it.

What I prepared:

  • 2 paper plates (the bottom was cut off in a semi-circle line)
  • two colours of paint (pink and green; baby paint for Baby L. would have been better)
  • 2 paintbrushes
  • 2 pairs of googly eyes
  • 2 colours of yarn (pink and green)
  • glue
  • scissors (2 pairs)
  • marker (black)
  • hole puncher (I punched the paper plates before we started the activity, so it wasn’t around)

After nap time I put everything on the dining table and placed Baby Sis in her high chair. She was quite excited. E, with a curious smile on her face, settled down next to us. I told them easy instruction as we went along because of Baby Sis.

Like: Here is your paintbrush. Put it in the paint. It’s green. E. has pink. Touch the yarn. This is glue. I’ll put a dab of glue on the paper. etc.

First, we painted the paper plates. ( I used a hairdryer to speed the drying process up)

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Baby Sis tasted it a bit and wiped it in her hair.

Then I told them we needed to cut pieces of the yarn.

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Baby Sis enjoyed touching and pulling the yarn apart.

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E. was great with the scissors and cut quite many stings which were more than less the same length.

On behalf of Baby L. I was cutting the yarn. She took great interest in the scissors.

We halved the yarn pieces, the part which formed a loop went through the punched hole on the paper plate. Then the other end of the string was pulled through the loop. These stings made up the jellyfish’s tentacles.

Finally, we glued on the eyes and drew a mouth. E. did it all by herself I worked for L. while she was busy with something (fingering the yard, trying to open the scissors, putting the googly eyes in her mouth so I needed to be really watchful)

Baby Sis decided to decorate her jellyfish with the marker a little more so E. added some spots and eyebrows to hers.

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We displayed the happy jellyfish on our living-room door. When Daddy came home he immediately noticed the lovely creations.

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This activity was absolutely great for both girls:

  1. At long last we had a CRAFTY afternoon.
  2. L. had great SENSORY experience.
  3. E. practised fine moter skills like CUTTING with scissors and threading.
  4. L. learnt the word jellyfish and listened to new INSTRUCTIONS.
  5. The girls had fun TOGETHER.

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!