August 20th – another Hungarian national holiday

As we have just returned from our holiday from the mountains, I haven’t had time to prepare something special for today. 20 August is the 2nd biggest national holiday in Hungary. (I’ve already collected some activities for the first most important one i.e. 15th March).

We also call 20 August Saint Stephen’s Day or the commemoration of the Foundation of Hungary as a state or “the day of the new bread”. If you’re interested in the background of this Hungarian holiday, please check the links.

So quickly I put together some fun crafts connected to our modest celebration after having unpacked our suitcases and started the washing machine.

On the way home sitting in the car, E. could see the Hungarian flag everywhere. She got quite excited  and pointed at all of them shouting: Hungary… so we made this flag out of crepe paper (red, white and green) and a piece of wooden skewer. You need some glue and that’s all.

What you need are in the pic:

  • crepe paper strips (red, white, green or the colours of your country’s flag)
  • skrewers
  • glue

Place one piece of crepe paper under the skewer and add some glue

Then roll the crepe paper on the skewer

Repeat it with the other colours one below the other. Let it dry for a few minutes

Éljen a magyar föld! – shouted E. swaying the flags

The easier the craft is the more fun you’ll have afterwards.

As we celebrate 20 August with massive fireworks over the River Danube at night, I thought we could create our own fireworks at home. We are not going to watch it in person as it is always extremely crowded and the weather has rather been capricious lately.

I’ve taken some ideas from 4th July celebrations. Check out the pinterest board on the topic.
This exact fireworks straw paint is more than fun to make.

On the link above you can find the detailed description, but here it is in short:

  • stretch and bend 7 straws and cello-tape them together (I made 2 sets)
  • prepare red and green paint in  two plates
  • provide a white sheet
The painting can start. Your child needs to dip the straws into the paint and make prints with both colours.
Even Daddy had fun 🙂

Our own fireworks at home
Did you celebrate 20 August somehow? Let me know what you did together with your little one in the comments.

Earth Day 3.0 – sticky Earth

Today we have made another fun Earth related activity:

It was a sudden idea so I didn’t do the preparation myself. It was a real whole-family task.

What you need:

– contact or sticky paper (here in Hungary you can buy it as the sticky cover for school books)
– green and blue crepe paper
– scissors
– permanent marker (preferably blue)

Optional for the letter:

– green cardboard strips

While I was drawing the Globe on the transparent side of the sticky paper my dear family were cutting the crepe paper into tiny pieces. Excellent cutting practice for little hands. If you don’t want to give scissors into your little one’s hands they can also tear the crepe paper. Then we fixed it on the wall and pulled the paper off. (Note: you need to draw the mirror image of the Earth and after peeling the cover of the sticky paper you need to fix it on the reverse side – sticky side-out – on the wall)

 

Sticking could start. Green went on the land and blue, on the seas and oceans.

It took a while and we needed to help E. She wouldn’t have had patience and persistence to do it all alone.

When we finished, E. stuck the letters up. We directed her how to put the letters. Although we did this activity in Hungarian I chose to put on the English word for our planet as it would have been awfully difficult to cut out the accents in ‘FÖLD’ in Hungarian.

HAPPY

DAY!!!

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!

Easter 2014 – a very belated post

I was going through my blog and I was shocked to see I’d forgotten to write a summary of our Easter last year. I posted a lot of ideas and activities on my Facebook page, but no summary here whatsoever. I need to make up for this shortcoming.

A quick post in pictures…

Inexpensive Easter gift tags. After having taken them out of their basic sheet I photocopied them and stick a picture in each place. E. had to match them.

 

Washi tape/Decor tape eggs – I covered some egg-shape cutouts with colourful washi tapes and decor tapes. Then I laminated them and halved them in different ways. Also, I wrote numbers on them from 1-10. She loved this activity and I’m sure we’ll do it this year too.

 

Easter basket – details in the pic
We painted some foam eggs. Additional fun with some beads and feathers.

Concentration on full blast

 

 

Easter gift hunt in the playground nearby

Five minutes before my husband and daughter, I went to the playground and spread some gifts in the grass (as we have no garden this seemed to be the best solution for making an egg hunt happen)

Then they came and E. went for a hunt.

Ready for the hunt with the home-made basket

 

A magnetic drawing board

 

Spot’s First Easter

 

Stickers

 

Opening an Easter (surprise) egg
Let’s not forget about the Hungarian tradition: Easter sprinkling
All the gifts E. hunted and got from the grandparents last Easter

I hope this little retrospection will give you some ideas for this Easter. For me it was great pleasure to look back on what happened a year ago. I’ll be back with more activities we’re doing for this Easter.

Rainbow, Pom-poms and shamrocks for St Patrick

More and more St. Patrick’s Day stuff. If you haven’t done anything that is colourful, shamrock-shaped or fluffy, then have a look at our collection.


Rainbow Name Puzzle (via Still Playing School)

What you need:

  • 7 coloured craft foam sheets (red, orange, yellow, pink, green, blue, purple)
  • printed rainbow template
  • 2 clips
  • 1 pin
  • scissors
  • marker

Still Playing School didn’t go into details how to cut the foam so they fit together nicely so I came up with my own idea.

I placed the printed rainbow template on the foam sheet and fixed it with 2 clips

Then I used the pin to pierce through the paper (and the foam sheet) along the line

You can see here that it is much easier to cut out the strips along the holes

 

It takes time but it’s worth it

Our foam rainbow with Patrick and rainbow on one side and my daughter’s full name on the other side.

When I first show her the strips she was puzzled and a little frightened as they were wriggling in my hand. But as soon as I put the colourful strips down on the table she loved them.

She needed to concentrate hard on putting them in the right order according to their size

 

In the end she spelled the letters then I read them out.

We’ll play more with it. Rainbow in the bathtub is on our list.

Pom-Pom Colour Selection with tongs

To extend our colour activity I gave E. some pom-poms of 3 colours (of the Irish flag): green, white and orange. With the tongs she separated them in 3 groups.
Easy to prepare and a popular activity with my daughter.

Number practice

I also wanted to do some tasks with numbers involved as my little one loves numbers. I was hesitating between these great number cards by Welcome to Mummyhood

and a number activity from Pinay Homeschooler’s St. Patrick’s Day Unit.

StPatrickDayTinyTots

As I couldn’t find nice and St. Patrick related (shamrock shaped or horseshoe) counters and I didn’t want to cut out numbers, I picked the latter.

From the unit above I printed the number cards and laminated them. From Christmas time I had some green counters.

E. did this activity with Daddy as we’d been having a bad cold. Although she’s better now I haven’t had time to relax a little and get my strength back. So I decided to take a little rest in the afternoon. I prepared everything for them in advance.

 

They named the object/things on the card. E. counted them and placed the counters on the right number. It took her 3 minutes to finish. She knows  her numbers. They left the cards on the table for me to have a look at the great work they’d done. How cute!

Heart-shaped Shamrock Leaves

I cut out a lot of heart shapes and some triangles. I used green construction paper and presented them like this with an example she can follow.

Daddy supervised this activity, too, and they had lots of fun. And did a little drawing as well.

 

As they put the shamrocks under one another I placed them in our St Patrick’s Day corner as a banner.

We’ve been doing loads of activities lately. Not only these ones but other fun tasks concerning our National Holiday coming on 15 March. I’ll come back with some Hungarian Revolution related activities for the Hungarian Moms. Stay tuned!