English camp for the first time – long post, loads of pics

E. took part in her very first day-time camp in the first week of August. Of course, it was an English camp. What else?

E. took part in her very first day-time camp in the first week of August. Of course, it was an English camp. What else?

 

Zs. from our old Helen Doron school founded her own HD school and summer camps were organised for kids throughout the summer. On the first week of August E. took part in  fantastic adventures in English.

Every day started at 9 (with breakfast) and ended at 15:30 when kids needed to be picked up (one could arrived later and the kids were taken care of. They watched some animations until parents arrived). The age group was quite appropriate for E.: from age 4 to 8.

Here comes the detailed overview of the week:

Day 1 – Introductory day

This was a getting to know each other day. They stayed in and did a lot of arts and crafts and played games so the kids could get familiar with each other and the teachers (Zs. and Z.). E. was rather quiet on her first day, but I expected that. She always needs time to get used to a new situation.

They painted a mask

 
E.’s mask
 
 
There was English circle time in the morning
 
 

…and in the afternoon
 
They went to a playground nearby and “found” some dinos frozen in eggs
 
 

 

 
For a while E. was watching the frozen dino and waiting for it to melt… but it was BORING so she went climbing a bit…
 
Then returned and waited and waited patiently…
 

 

 
The dino is free!!!

 

 
As the topic of the day was dinosaurs, dino fossils were also made by the kids.
 
 
 
Day 2 – Tarzan Park
 
After breakfast there was some English circle time again

 

 

 
They always had some free playtime with lots of fun toys, books and games, too.

 

 
They visited Tarzan Park  (an outdoor fun park) after lunch. (By the way lunch was ordered for the kids from Egészségkonyha and arrived every day in the morning. As for food, kids got food 4 times a day – breakfast, snack in the morning, lunch and snack in the afternoon too – got bakery products, cereals, vegetables and fruit. E. liked them all and didn’t complain at all. On the first day their chicken nuggets were dino-shaped)
 
The group in Tarzan Park with Zs.:
 

 

 

 

 
E. got really tired after this day full of climbing and moving around a lot. She didn’t nap in the afternoon. (After lunch on most days they had some quiet time. Whoever wanted (needed) could sleep but a Disney film was usually shown and E. was more interested in watching it than taking a nap)
 
She was a little bit braver this time as for talking in English but I needed to motivate her with something. As Baby Sis didn’t let me do anything creative I offered her some treats when I pick her up if she spoke more than the day before. And she did. I took her some M&Ms. A rare treat so she did appreciate it.
 
Day 3 – Rex Animal Farm – E.’s favourite day
 

They visited Rex Animal Farm where they fed the goats (as well as some rabbits)

 
 
…saw some special animals
 

 

 
…listened to a lady talking about how to be a responsible pet owner. 
 
Your dog has to be vaccinated – just pretend in this pic
 
They also had a dog agility training session. E. was brave enough to take the dog (called Gesztenye) through the course.
 

 
 
They also had their lunch at the Farm

 

 
They had time to enjoy the small playground at the farm
 

 

 
 
 
There was no English session at the farm only the HD teachers talked to the group in English but the other days were full of English from morning till the afternoon. The teachers know it well that E. is bilingual and they didn’t use any Hungarian to her throughout the whole week.
 
 
Day 4 – Picnic
 
After the usual morning session in English (when they painted some stones and their dino fossils from day 1 with glow-in-the-dark paint) the kids went to Margit sziget (Margaret Island) to have a picnic.

 

 
They were watching the big fountain show, 
 
 
went to a playground, 
 
 
walked on dino feet 
 
 
and had their picnic (yummy lángos, E.’s favourite street food). 
 
 
The kids were really tired after the long and action-packed week so when they got back they had some nap time. At last E. slept a bit and felt more relaxed in the evening.
 
 
Day 5 – Mini show for parents
 
On the last day a mini show was prepared for the parents to finish the camp with.
 
There were some arts and crafts: kids prepared their presents for their parents by themselves (and with a little help from the teachers.
 

 
The parents received a paper basket decorated by the kids with some hand-made artwork, like an origami frog or the painted dino fossils, plus a greeting card with the best photo of the child taken during the week, stuck in it. The show was great and touching all the kids could show themselves a bit in English.
 
All in all, the whole camp was a great experience for E. (trying herself in an unfamiliar English environment and meeting new people), packed with a lot of fun activities and programmes in English. It was value for money indeed. We’re surely signing up for the next year’s camp too. 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Halloween parties 2.015

Just like last year we threw a Halloween party in our home. We invited the mums and their kids from the local Mums’ English Club. Also, we got a really kind invitation to a Helen Doron Halloween Party.

Here comes the summary of the party series:

E. had been preparing for Halloween for weeks. She decided it early what to dress up as: a Jack-o-lantern. My mum found this Jack-o-lantern costume in a second hand clothes shop and I made a little skirt to go with it. E. had an exact idea how to do her hair (a stem on the top out of her fringe and leaf hair clips).

Unfortunately, she couldn’t take part in the Halloween costume party at the kindergarten as E. had been ill for almost a week but I hope we could manage to compensate her.

My husband was on holiday to help me with the pumpkin carving and decor. I needed to work in the morning, so E. and Daddy went to the market to buy a big pumpkin and by the time I got home our Jack-o-lantern had been carved. E. scooped out the inside and Daddy did the carving. (This activity was done in Hungarian)

We wanted to put on the scary Halloween decoration in our living-room while E. was sleeping but she was over-excited because of the party and she couldn’t sleep a wink. Eventually, she ended up helping, which made the whole process really long. Mostly she took off what we’d put on.

Finally I prepared Daddy’s eye patch for his pirate costume (which was very basic: checked shirt, jeans, eye-patch and a head scarf). I dressed up as a mummy (which was E.’s idea. She loved to say: “Mommy, you’ll be a mummy at Halloween. A Mommy mummy”) with the help of some gauze that I wrapped around myself over a long sleeved white top.

Guests began arriving, bringing a lot of treats. (I’d also prepared some sausage mummies, healthy fruit and cheese snacks and some biscuits too.) And from that moment everything went in English.

There were four moms and their kids (twins and siblings too) and also 2 dads turned up. Even more moms wished to come but they got sick. What a pitty! Maybe next year.

The party was mainly about eating, though we also found some time to sing some Halloween songs and other traditional English nursery rhymes for the little ones. Throwing the Halloween balloons was one of the favourite hits with the kids.

The Halloween costume contest ended with 3 winners who received English children books for their outfits:

Ladybirds (the twins)

The witch

As I’d just broken our camera before the party, all of the photos were taken by our phones, hence the poor quality. Anyway, we could enjoy the moment instead of watching the happenings from behind a camera.

On the 31st we were invited to a Helen Doron Halloween party in the city centre. (E.’s ex-HD teacher invited us. How nice of her!). There were some colouring activities, we made a scary ghost lantern out of a jar, some gauze, googly eyes and a tea light inside.

There were a lot of fantastic costume ideas and a dark, scary room the children loved. E. went back twice. They needed to climb through spider webs and match X-ray photos with animals and body parts. And of course, at the end everybody could choose some candy from the trick-or-treat bag.
Thanks you, Zs, for inviting us. It was so much fun!

Spooky lights in the dark room
Zs. is showing an X-ray photo and the matching animal

They all managed to climb through the web
Funny costumes

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
Scare you next year, too!

Santa visited the Helen Doron School

In Hungary we have a special day called St. Nicholas Day on the 6th December. St. Nicholas (=Mikulás) is depicted like Santa Claus and more or less they are very similar legendary characters.

As Mikulás is a big day for Hungarian kids, our local Helen Doron school also organised an event: meeting Santa on Saturday (6 Dec). Alas, I left the camera and my phone at home as we were in a hurry to leave for the school, so all the photos were taken with the HD school’s camera.

10-12 kids signed up every half an hour on the big day. (FYI: Financial contribution of the event was 500HUF/family). When we arrived the previous group was in with Santa so we had time for some snacks, cocoa and some crafts. It was very simple but a lot of fun activity with a cardboard ring, some black circles, white hearts and some orange scraps. Our teacher, Zs. was preparing the materials and helping the kids with the crafts. And what did we make out of them? This door wreath of penguins:

Then our time came to go in Santa’s room, where Santa was sitting on the sofa with a thick book. In the corner there were some props for a Christmas story. The starry sky, a stable with a new-born baby in the manger.

Santa read out the story of a tiny, sad star, called Starlet, who grew big and hot when she needed to give light and warmth to Baby Jesus. The story was read in English, one of the HD teachers’ (Z.) partner played the role of Santa. Although his English wasn’t perfect, but good enough for the occasion.

After the heart-warming story, the kids needed to sing (together) a Christmassy song for Santa (luckily with the help of the HD teacher – Z.). We sang “We wish you a merry Christmas”. E. was really quiet, so I whispered into her ear that she needs to sing louder, as Santa can’t hear it. Then she started to sing REALLY loudly. She took it seriously and she was so cute.

Next, Santa pulled out tiny presents for the children (szaloncukor – the Hungarian traditional Christmas candy and a tangerine) from his bag. We could take some photos with Santa and also the director lady (O.) took some (Thank Goodness!) so this is the only reason why I can include some in this post.

After meeting Santa, we went back to the crafts room to Zs., where we could eat some more or do some more crafts. A Christmas card this time. The reindeer inside are E.’s finger prints.

After having finished two Christmas cards, we thanked O. and Zs. for the nice and well-organised Mikulás party and left for home to tell Daddy all the exciting details about meeting Santa.

Fun with Flupe – the new Helen Doron package

It’s been a while since we started the new Helen Doron Early English package: Fun with Flupe. Now I have the time to review it a little.

The whole story is based on 3 main characters:

Granny Fix

 

Paul

Granny Fix – who solves all the problems and speaks in rhymes

  • Paul Ward – I guess he is Granny Fix’s grandson. He helps Granny sort out the problems
  • Flupe or Flupie – a purple alien, who does not speak much apart from some words (it is very funny to see Flupe sad – turns blue – or frightened – turns yellow)

 

Flupe

This is what our package looks like:

 

Content:

  • A bag – it’s similar to the previous, but the colour of the straps are yellow while in case of the first package they were green
  • 4 activity books – not just picture books and rhymes, but proper workbooks. One can colour, stick stickers. Now we are working with the second one. During the lesson we work in the booklets, but no longer than 4-5 minutes

 

Rub-a-dub-dub – we coloured the tub and the animals, then had to put 5 carrot stickers on the holes
Skill development: Find and circle the same animal as you can see in the front
  • Booklet with the words for parents – quite useful for those parents who do not speak and/or understand much English (in the picture it is behind the 4 activity booklets)
  • 1 DVD – with short stories
  • 4 CDs – with all the conversations from the stories. My problem with the CDs is that the songs themselves cannot be listened to separately, only as a part of the whole story

I know it is officially not allowed but I asked our teacher to give us the teacher’s CD and I uploaded the songs on our PC, so we can listen to the songs only.

I feel very strongly about this package. Very good material from many aspects. The workbooks are strong and good quality. The tasks are suitable for kids between 2-5 years of age.

Not only does this course develop a child’s language skills but also their movements (dancing, jumping, crawling, running and hopping), fine motor skills (sticking, colouring, matching, craft activities). The five senses are in focus again.

There are 25 songs to listen to. They are mainly traditional nursery rhymes/songs with some change in the tune or in the lyrics. The songs appear in 12 animated stories in which Granny Fix talks in rhymes. (Certain lines of her return from episode to episode.) These episodes can be seen on the DVD.

Have a look at one episode (Rub a dub dub):

Our teacher, Zs., always involves some eating and drinking during the sessions if it is somehow connected to the topic. (E.g.: biscuits were hanging by the window on a rope. – I can’t reach it. – she said and all the kids tried to reach the biscuits. Then they needed to ask for it: – Can I get a biscuit? But a similar situation is created when asking for water to drink etc.) And this is just one example how well the kids are involved and encouraged to use the language in real life situations.

There is a Helen Doron Song Club on youtube where you can find videos connected to this material and to other courses too.

Five Little Monkeys has always been a favourite:

You can find Fun with Flupe as an application in the Google Play Store. Have a look at what it looks like. When I installed it, it was free of charge.

 

All in all, this set is just as professional, well-designed and full of fun as the previous, Baby’s Best Start.

Our new timeable for 2014

New year – new timetable. First I though we have been spending less time with English in 2014, but I was mistaken. We are spending more time with the second language than according to the previous year’s timetable.

Here is the new chart:

49 % English time, 51 % Hungarian time 

Of course we are flexible, this is just the plan. An illness, some unexpected visitors or a change in our helpers’ schedule can alter the timetable but this is more or less the main framework.

You can see two areas in the timetable (Friday late afternoons, and dinner-/bath time) which are neither clearly dedicated to English nor Hungarian, or, I can put it, they are the most uncertain periods of the week. The reason for this is D. has been working a lot and because of his long hours we never know if he is at home at these times or not. So when he can’t make it we use English. This is how we compensate for missing daddy.

Our native nanny, A., comes twice a week, a total of 6 hours per week.

A. and E. are reading Berry and Dolly

The timing of the Helen Doron sessions has been moved from the mornings to the afternoons and on a different day (Wednesday) but we still have one occasion per week. To be honest, we are not listening to the CDs as often as we used to. It is mainly because E. is a little bored of them (me too…) and she knows them all by heart, so what for? Still, she enjoys the lessons, especially painting (I’ll write more about it in another post) and moving water from a teapot or a dish to a cup. Playing with scrunchy balls -crumpled newspaper sheets with cello-tape around them- and pots are also among her favourite activities. We sometimes play with them here at home as well.

Fascinated by the baby paint

Even if it is a Grandma day (using Hungarian) at the end of the day I always try to fit in some English playtime, cooking time, shopping time or playground visit etc.

whisking egg yolk

The weekends are the trickiest. As I really want father and daughter to build a strong and warm relationship we (the three of us together or just the two of them) have quite a great number of programmes  in Hungarian environments. I find this more important than the language development.

Daddy time

However, at weekends I always try to spend some hours with English. These are not long, and not so interactive or highly communicative activities, like watching videos in English, or reading a story in English.

I’m looking into our bilingual future with confidence and great hope. 2014 will be even more successful than 2013 was.