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 ūüôā

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Flower crafts

This post should have appeared in May the latest when we finished our flower projects. Well, there are tons of flowers around us during the summer time so it’s never too late to have a closer look at them.

Now I’d like to share ¬†2 of our flower activities with you (later, in another post I’ll write about some science experiment involving flowers)

1. Bottle cap flowers 

I’ve been collecting bottle tops for a long time and I’ve only had one or two good ways to use them, like the bottle cap calculator or the colour matching and size sorting activities. (I know, I know there are a number of great ideas out there how to use bottle tops creatively)

What you need:

  • bottle caps of different colours
  • green straws
  • glue
  • cardboard
  • scissors (optional – not in the picture)

How to make it:

Show and explain your child the different (basic) parts of a flower. E. had already known these parts so she named them as I put together a flower.

we didn’t go under the ground so no roots

Then we both started to work on our flowers. We were talking about what colour petals we chose or if our stem was long or short, if the flower had leaves or not.

E. used the scissors herself to cut the stems.

E.’s pic

Although not in our pictures, we also mentioned that a seed (Can you see in E.’ picture the tiny seed on the ground on the left side? It was totally her idea) should go to the ground and with the help of water and sunshine it grows into a flower (hence the watering can on E.’s picture and the sun in mine)

Mommy’s pic

This is just the first step on parts of a flower. We’ll expand the topic later on. I’m planning to prepare some flashcards and worksheets on more detailed explanation on flower parts.

2. Paper plate flower – a goodbye present

E. has said goodbye to her crèche teachers and started kindergarten in July. We prepared these paper plate flowers as part of her goodbye presents. (You can find the original idea through the link)

What you need:

  • paper plates (we used 3 for 3 flowers)
  • crepe paper of different colours
  • Popsicle sticks
  • green paint
  • glue
  • cello-tape (optional)
  • markers
How to make it:
Cut out flower petal shapes of the plates. First, I drew the lines on the paper plate then I started cutting.
As I know E. has no patience to do long tasks I decided to direct her attention on coloured letters written on the paper plate. The letters showed her where to stick which colour. Her focus was much better in this way.
I also wrote Thank you! in the middle and letters of her name she could trace.
I cut up the colourful crepe paper into small pieces beforehand. We ran out of them on the way so she wanted to cut more crepe paper herself.
Cutting practice
This was a great way to relax a little bit as there’s lengthy gluing involved.
Pinching the crepe pieces
just a dab of glue
A goodbye flower for Ms B.

Finally, we painted the popsicle sticks and glued them on the back of the flowers. (I fixed them with cello-tape just to be on the safe side.)

We did this projects in two goes as it was tiring and long-winding.
E. was still enthusiastic, even at the second round.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of all the three flowers so here is what we made for Ms K.
Needless to say, they were all over the moon when they received their presents.
Have you done some flower crafts or projects lately? Do not hesitate to share it in the comments below.

To be continued…. with a flower science experiment. Stay tuned!

Colour changing flower experiment

As a part of our flower project in spring we also dealt with a little science. More precisely, how flowers absorb water through their stems reaching the petals. This colour changing carnation experiment gave me the idea, but there were some glitch in the matrix and we needed to do it twice. Let’s see how.

The flower experiment idea is great, however, we did something wrong or were just unlucky this time.

First of all, what you need to the project:

  • 4-5 white flowers of any kind (chrysanthemum didn’t work very well, carnations were better)
  • food colouring (4-5 colours, or you can mix them)
  • transparent glasses or viols
  • water
  • measuring cup
  • spoon
  • towel for spills
  • scissors
How to do it:
  • prepare everything on a tray for you child and she/he can do all the activities
  • add water to the glasses/viols
  • add the food colouring and mix them with a spoon
  • cut the stem of the flowers (10-15 cms long)
  • make the flowers stand in the glasses/vases

  • wait… minimum 1 or 2 days
In case of the carnations the colouring of the petals could have be seen the next day,
but in the first trial the chrysanthemum took 3 and a half days to show any signs of pigmentation.

While E was preparing (pouring water, cutting stems, mixing colours) the experiment I asked her what she thinks will happen. She didn’t have a clue.

– I don’t know Mommy, You say.

Then I explained what the coloured water will do:
– The stem will suck up the water, like you suck it up through a straw. (Then she imitated sucking ūüôā )
– The coloured water will be absorbed. (she was digesting the new word)
– The water will reach the petals and they will turn red (I pointed at the flower standing in red water), green (I pointed at the flower standing in green water), blue (I pointed at the flower standing in blue water) and yellow (I pointed at the flower standing in yellow water).

In the first round after a week the chrysanthemums started to wilt so we could not observe any more colours on the petals.

In the second round of the experiment, while I was cleaning, I put the carnations on the floor light-mindedly. Then E. accidentally kicked them over. So after 5 days our second flower experiment was over.  Anyways, we could see the pigmentation of the petals somehow.

She enjoyed preparing the experiment more than the result. Who could blame her after all…?

Let me know if you try this experiment and have better results, let’s say, after 10-12 days.

Housework fun

As E. doesn’t really like playing alone and wants to be with Mommy all the time we need to do housework together. Actually, she is a great helper and likes taking part most of the times. I’ve read a lot about Maria Montessori and her method on the net and in this book:

I do not wish to popularise her method, I just found some interesting points I can build in my parenting theories and also in our bilingual journey. One of them is:

“He who is served is limited in his independence”

Doing housework together means a lot of language input, quality time together and E’s preparation for real life assisting her in her developing independence.

IN THE KITCHEN

– Preparing food for cooking

Opening pea pods help to develop E’s fine motor skill.
She could examine how the peas are in the pod.
She also learnt a sequence: taking one pod out of the bag, putting the peas in a bowl, placing the empty pod in the rubbish bag.
She can help wash the peas, but as soon as I turn the hob on she is finished in the kitchen.

Vocabulary newly learnt or practised:

     green peas
     pod

     crack

     separate

     throw it away
     grub
     off
     tiny

     

cutting the butter-bean up

examining the inside
placing the beans into a pot
Using a knife is something E has been longing for. With my very close supervision she had the chance to try it and found it hard: – Mommy, cutting is difficult.
Helping make the bean dish didn’t mean she ate it ūüė¶ although according to some blogger moms, their children became really enthusiastic to eat the food they prepared themselves.
Vocabulary newly learnt or practised:
   chopping board

   knife, knives
   pot (stripy, big, empty, full)

   butter-bean

   bean dish
¬† ¬†What’s yummie for you? (offers the practice or revision of a lot of food)

   wash

   dirty, dirt

– Baking:

whisking

I made this rhubarb cake











Baking a cake has a better chance of success in the eyes of your child. They are more likely to consume what they made. It also involves a lot of kitchen tasks and equipment and the activities have to follow each other quickly, which keeps up the interest of a young kid. Developing gross motor skills is also a key point here, like whisking, mixing, measuring, stirring, pouring etc.

Vocabulary newly learnt or practised:
   flour
   baking powder
   rhubarb

   cake
   scales

   measuring spoon
   wooden/mixing spoon
   bowl
   whisk
   mix
   stir
   grab

   crack an egg
   white/yolk
   lick the spoon 

   apron
   delicious
   tasty
   sweet
   sour
   hot
   dangerous

   baking try
   heat the oven

– Packing in and out of the dishwasher:

emptying the baby bottle into the sink

putting the baby bottle into the dishwasher

placing the cutlery into their draw

 After a while I rearranged a shelf so she can easily reach her spoons, plates and glasses.


This is E’s favourite household chore. No matter when I ask her to help with it, she never refuses. (It’s not the case with hanging the clothes to dry). Also, she practises with this chore how to select and group similar objects, to name the objects and say their colours or material. She also learns where to find things she needs around the house.

Vocabulary newly learnt or practised:
   cupboard

   cutlery
   tablespoon
   fork
   knife
   teaspoon
   ladle
   glass
   mug
   cup
   pot
  bowl
  plate
  draw
  sharp
  dangerous
  carefully
  place
  baby bottle
  plastic
  steal

IN THE BATHROOM

Another pleasant activity for E is to help with the laundry. Packing the clothes in the washing machine is not as much fun as pulling the wet clothes out.

¬†Usually we put some of her clothes in a separate basket and while I’m putting the adult clothes on the rack, she is putting hers on a smaller rack (which we bought at¬†REGIO toy shop¬†but also available at Fakop√°ncs online toy shop)

hanging the clothes
opening the dry rack
fixing it with a peg
socks
matching socks with Daddy
on the way to the draw to put the socks away

This is not her favourite activity but she uses her English (and Hungarian) a lot when she is in the mood to help.

Vocabulary newly learnt or practised:
   washing gel
   softener
   dry rack
   hang
   line
   clothes peg
   match
   carry
   fix
   dry
   still wet
   pull out
   pack in
   laundry basket
   dirty
   clean
   take off
   names of clothing (socks, tights, trousers, shorts, T-shirt, blouse, panties, vest etc.)
¬† ¬†Daddy’s, Mommy’s, E’s

MISCELLANEOUS

The best part for me is when we decorate our home together. Of course, when she paints or creates something I put it on the wall or in her room. However, she takes pleasure in decorating for us not only for herself. At the market we bought 2 bunches of flowers and she made them into 4, arranging them in small vases.

adding some green leaves to the dahlias

we need some pink in this composition

She also enjoys watering the plants on the balcony.

Involving her in the household chores was one of the greatest idea and I’m really glad she likes it, too. It gives us the opportunity to be together, to practise her languages, to experience some practicalities of everyday life and to help her become more and more independent.


Spring nature hunt with a muffin tray

Spring has arrived, together with some rain but luckily today it’s been sunny so we went out for a spring nature hunt.

I got the idea on mamapapabubba.com.¬†This blog is written by a Canadian mum, Jen and she’s got great ideas I love stealing. The spring nature hunt is one of them.

So I was in a rush to prepare everything, because in the park where I was planning to do the nature hunt the grass is growing very high and it is likely to be mowed in the near future. Then we would lose all the wild flowers, high grass and our fun activity.

I’ve got and old muffin tray. It was in a very poor condition, so I sprayed it gold. This served as the receptacle (= a new word for me meaning: a container for storing or putting objects in)¬†Then I asked Daddy to print the pictures of some nature items that I’d put together the previous night.

Our native nanny, A. arrived at 10.30 today and we were ready to set off.

E. is identifying what to look for

At firs E. was carrying the tray around, then we put it in the push chair.

E. is not a great fan of walking (she prefers to be carried), but this time she was running around looking for the items on the list, filling up the tray.

I thought it wouldn’t be easy to find seeds, so I took some wheat seeds with me from home, but A. was very attentive and found some. I didn’t need to fake anything ūüôā

wheat heads

I knew exactly where we could find some moss. (E.’s favourite word from the list)

We also bumped into some bees and beetles we needed to observe closely.

 

One of E.’s favourite flowers is the dandelion and its clock. Now she didn’t blow the seeds away, but collected them in the tray.

 

E. succeeded in tucking a big horse chestnut tree leaf in the hole. Well done, girl!

We found a shamrock with four leaves. We’ll be lucky ūüôā

Finding soil fascinated E. the most.

It was hard to find buds, but we managed in the end.

At home A. and E. went on to read E.’s nature book she got for Easter.

 

I’d like to thank Jen for the great idea. We spent a lovely hour with searching, enjoying the sunshine and learning a lot about nature.