Mummy lantern

This Halloween was quiet. E. wasn’t so excited about it this year and Baby Sis is too little to understand it at all. The party we wanted to throw had to be cancelled as some families got ill some other went away for the long weekend.

Therefore a calm and peaceful (not at all frightening) family fun took place on the 31st.

E. and Daddy went to buy a pumpkin in the morning and after decorating our living room with some Halloween decor …

… Daddy carved the pumpkin. (We made it lit up with led tea light inside as last year due to the flame the pumpkin got cooked on the inside and rotted away quite quickly. Not to mention the fact that led tea lights are more baby-friendly). E. drew the eyes and the nose of this year’s jack-o-lantern.

Then came a little crafting. Mummy lanterns. (The original idea came from last year’s Halloween party at our Helen Doron school).

At first I wanted to make only 2 mummies, but E. had something different on mind. She wanted a mummy family.

What you need:

  • 4 baby food jars (2 little and 2 bigger)
  • 4 (led) tea lights
  • gauze rolls (cheap at the chemist’s)
  • 4 pairs of googly eyes
  • glue
  • cello tape

How to make them:

  1. Wash the label off the jars
  2. Fix the end of the gauze on the jar with a little cello tape
  3. Wrap the gauze around the jar (make one or two layers only or the tea light won’t be seen through)
  4. Fix the gauze with cello tape when finished with the wrapping
  5. Glue the eyes on
  6. Add the tea lights
Mummy family with pet spider 💀👻

Of course, we didn’t miss out on a Halloween party altogether as in our Helen Doron school a spooky-crafty fun Halloween was organised for the kids on 29th and we were invited.

The party was just as fantastic as the last year’s. Here come the pictures:

E. dressed as a (pretty) ghost
Baby Pumpkin with her gourd

Healthy snacks were served: Jack-o-tangerine, Frankenstein fruit mix and ghost popcorn

Dark and scary room with some English activities was on again:

Crafty part: painting a gourd with glow-in-the-dark paint (we missed that as we were a little late) and Halloween card (see bellow)

Plus a bit of colouring

 

This Halloween was much more quiet and relaxed as in the previous years. But to be honest, life’s hard enough with two small kids, and without the hassle of a home party (preparation, decoration, snack making, throwing the party itself, then the cleaning up) it was pleasant and peaceful for me too.

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Snowdrop craft with our new native nanny

Spring has arrived and brought us a new nanny, L. from California. Unfortunately, how long she’ll stay is uncertain, but even a few months will do. Here is a fun craft activity they did together.

I found this snowdrop idea on pinterest:

http://krokotak.com/2015/02/three-ideas-with-eye-make-up-remover-pads/

While E. was in the nursery I prepared the following:

The quality of the pictures are so poor… sorry.
  • 15-16 cotton pads cut-outs
  • blue construction paper
  • green construction paper (the leaf cut-outs)
  • glue
  • green markers
L, our new nanny came at 5 and they immediately sat down to make the snowdrops excitedly. I made an example for them to follow to make the whole process easier.

They started with drawing the stems and gluing the leaves.

They also coloured the snowdrops’ top green:

Some cutting and gluing:

“I need more snowdrops”

 

 
Adding some more snowdrops:
 
We displayed them on the living room door:
Of course, this wasn’t their first occasion to meet but the 3rd or 4th. However, E. and L. hit it off at the very beginning. E. needed time to realise L. doesn’t understand when she mixes some Hungarian in her talk. I’m glad to say E. uses less and less Hungarian when she speaks English, and not only when our new nanny is around. Thanks, L! We’ve really needed the native input.

If you liked this flower craft have a look at other flower projects we’ve had:

Flower flashcards
Colour changing flower experiment
Flowers made out of crepe paper and bottle tops

5 + 1 tips to sneak in some English time

With a newborn in the house it’s extremely difficult to spend time in English with E. It’s challenging to spend time with her at all when L. needs me 7/11.

Here is a few tricks we sneak some English time in our weekdays:

1. E. goes to the nursery and comes home in the afternoon. Whenever she enters the door I greet her in English. Sometimes she doesn’t want to speak English at all, at other times I tell her that Mommy has been in English with L. all day then she is more likely to give in and we spend the evening (playtime, video time, dinner, bath and bed/story time) or part of it in English.

Bedtime reading – Picture Atlas

2. I rely on her new interests., i.e. at the very moment wind types and the Beaufort scales. She got a book for Christmas from her Godparents (in Hungarian):

She loves the Beaufort scale in the book, so with Daddy’s help we made our English version of it.

3. New nanny: Although our new nanny is only temporary (for max. 2 months as she’s returning to the US) her visits have increased our English playtime.
Making snowdrops with or new native nanny, L.
4. Holidays: preparing for a birthday or St. Patrick’s day for instance has also given us a chance to practice our in English
Heart garland for Valentine’s Day
5. Helping around Baby Sister: E. helps a lot with bathing, dressing or entertaining Baby Sister. Every now and again I manage to convince her to use English in these situations.
Helping Baby Sis get undressed

+1 Cooking/baking together is always a hit with E. She is always happy to help me in the kitchen and it goes without saying we do things there in English most of the time.

String the mixture

Life seems bright again 🙂

FAQ

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

  1. Do you speak to her English only?

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

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

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

 

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

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

  • When did you start talking to her in English?

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

  • Wasn’t she late with speech development?

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

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

  • Doesn’t she mix the languages?

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

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

  • What do you do when she mixes the languages?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Does Daddy speak English to her?

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

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

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

  • Can she say sentences?

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

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

    Here is the episode.

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

     

  • How do you “teach” her (sic)?

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

    And the answer is : I do not teach her.

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

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

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

    +1. How shall WE start?

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

So just start it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy!

Hungarian National Holiday- March 15

One of the biggest national holidays in Hungary is the commemoration of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. As it is filled with national feelings and politics I won’t go into details about history and other stuff but I’d like to show how we prepare for it in our home (this year together with St. Patrick’s Day)

The activities we have done are in mainly Hungarian.

How do we prepare for a Hungarian and an Irish celebration at the same time? We are sharing time between English and Hungarian. Let’s say in the morning we do tasks in English concerning St. Patrick’s Day. In the afternoon we spend time in Hungarian doing some fun activities around the Hungarian Revolution. Or the other way round.

We display the art E. makes on our double doors in the living-room.

One wing is dedicated to the Hungarian Revolution, the other one to St. Patrick’s Day.
St. Patrick’s Day door wing on the left, Hungarian Revolution door wing on the right

 

In this way she is not confused at all.

I’d like to list some ideas I found online or we made up ourselves concerning our national holiday. This blog wouldn’t be complete without Hungary/the Hungarian language related happenings.

Luckily, last year I made our own button cockade. There’s nothing to do with it this year. We’ll just pin them on our coat on 15 March. (I hope I’ll find them)

E.’s coat and cockade from 2014

It is made out of 3 buttons: a big red, a smaller white and a little green button. I sewed them together with a pin like these:

60-150Pcs-Brooch-Back-Safety-Catch-Bar-Pins-Jewelry-Findings-Accessories-basis-for-brooches-Assorted-Sizes.jpg

Colouring the flag is the most traditional way children prepare for this holiday. We put some fun into it. Thank Goodness for dot markers!

When she saw the sheet E. asked me who wrote there “MAGYAR ZÁSZLÓ” (=Hungarian flag)

 

 

With dot markers all kinds of colouring is more fun. E. did some more of it (colouring a KOKÁRDA=cockade, for example)

Daddy and E. were colouring in full fling so I printed them a map of Ireland and they coloured it too. You can see it in the top picture on the St Patrick’s side. (They didn’t really care about Northern Ireland. We’ll put things to rights next year, when she’ll be more capable of understanding it.)

Red, white and green are used in almost all of our activities. I bought some decor stones in a One Euro Shop (I had to separate the red, white and green stones from many other colours)
We printed the map of Hungary and made up a kind of patterning activity.

The stones had to be placed along the borderline as on the Hungarian flag (red, white, green) making a pattern ABCABC. This pattern is difficult for my daughter to follow so it was quite a strenuous exercise for her.

I’m concentrating like there’s no tomorrow

 

It was a long activity and towards the end it was difficult for her to concentrate. This is quite understandable, she’s not even 3. But Daddy was there for her.

Pinterest offers a lot of wonderful ideas for the occasion. For instance, this pom-pom garland with the national colours. (Through the link you can read about the detailed explanation how to make a pom pom with the help of a fork). If it is too much for your little one just buy some pompoms and

What you need:

  • red, white, green (and orange) yarn
  • a fork
  • scissors

E. tried to make a pom-pom, but she couldn’t. Maybe half a year later she’ll understand how to do it and will be able to make it. We’ll give it a try again.

So I made the pom-poms myself….

 

At first, she was just playing with the yarn.

then she was cutting the yarn like a maniac 🙂

She cut the yarn for 25-30 minutes and I could finish the garland with the Hungarian colours only.

The next day I made the pom-poms for the Irish garland and she was …. *surprise, surprise* cutting the yarn. She can’t get bored of it. E. kept asking: – What I’m doing? which I rephrased:- What am I doing? And then she answered her own question after having repeated it correctly. – I’m cutting yarn. 
This short conversation was repeated for 8-10 times without any alternation.

We’ve hung our pom-pom garlands (with the Irish and the Hungarian national colours) on the double doors.

Tricolour Pizza

Your toddler ALWAYS wants to help you with cooking, not to mention the great excitement if you make pizza. Why not in tricolour? Everybody loves pizza and it’s easy to make it with a toddler.

Ha még nem tudod mit ebédeljetek holnap, akkor íme egy ötlet. A pizzát mindenki szereti, nem? A nemzeti ünnep tiszteletére egy kis átalakuláson ment keresztül, és zászló lett belőle!
It’s not our pizza, but it’s coming soon

Red= tomato sauce with some basil and oregano (minced meat if you wish)
White= loads of grated cheese
Green= broccoli, spinach or any other green vegetables in our case it’ll be ruccola

The lollipop stick is optional, too… but don’t they look cool? Like real flags 🙂

We are making our own on the 15th so I can upload photos of the process later.

I still have some activities up my sleeve, however, I’m not sure we’ll have time for them. Anyways, I’ll have to share some ideas next year too.