A new routine with books

Books have always been a central part of our language quest, since the girls’ birth. As they grow their thirst for books are thriving (Good for me). I “just” need to get the right books for their age and interest. English books are rather pricey and hard to get second-hand English books in Hungary at a reasonable price, though. (Bad for me). In this post I’d like to write about when and how we spend time with books.

The book titled Maximize your child bilingual ability by Adam Beck has confirmed my belief in reading books as No. 1 importance in acquiring a minority language (in our case English).

My husband has a love for books just like me. Some people might feel as if they were in a library on stepping into our living-room: bookcases with many many rows of shelves filled with books all along the wall.

We’ve been reading a lot of books at bedtime, or after lunch as the beginning of quiet time. Or any time E. asked for it and we had time for it.)

Last year I found a great source of cheap (well, affordable to be more precise) second-hand books on facebook. (It’s a closed group called Kadosarok. The language of discussion is Hungarian, mind you.)

I missed a system of taking books into our hands so I’ve built up the following routine:

Whenever we sit down to eat with the kids (about 4-5 times a day counting snack times too) we read at least one baby book for little L. and one big girl book for E. Sometimes we just read 2 books but at other times when we have more time and the kids are in the mood 4-6 books. Every week I add 2 new books to the after-eating book sessions and the girls choose whichever they want me to read them out.

In the first month (May 2017) the following books have been read several times:

(Colour codes: E.’s favourite and L.’s favourite and the books they both LOVE)

  • One mole digging a hole by Julia Donaldson61r+ObpoEeL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_
  • The not so perfect baby by Nicola Baxterthe-not-so-perfect-baby.jpg
  • Tickle, Tickle by Helen Oxenbury1296603
  • Is this your nose?6197TnIV9sL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
  • Little Bo-Peep (a peep-through nursery rhyme – Ladybird)9781844225620-uk.jpg
  • Today is Monday by Eric Carl514P2SZf+hL.jpg
  • Sometimes I feel sunny by Gillian Shields and Georgie Birkett61uSdXio1cL.jpg
  • Toddler touch Bedtime (Ladybird)9781409312864_18

 

I’ve been a little lazier in June (L. always wants to read her 2-3 favourite books, E. wants to read longer stories that we’ve had no time for at the table, plus we were on holiday and at a chess camp so time was scarce).

I’ve added only 3 new books to the pile:

  • Spot Goes to the Circus by Eric Hill9780140552973-us-300.jpg
  • Round and Round the Garden (Amazing baby touch-and-feel board book9781904513926
  • Incy Wincy Spider (Igloo books)9781784401733_a

None of these books has become a favourite. Little L. likes pushing the button on the Incy Wincy book, though. As the song starts she begins to dance.

I’ll try to come back monthly or bimonthly on our book updates.

Baking and reading (with recipe)

We’ve been cooking and baking with E. a lot ever since she could sit on the kitchen counter safely. (Check out my housework fun or Christmas gingerbread baking blog posts on our cokking adventures)

This week one day there was one of the rare occasions that L. (E.’s baby sister) was not sleeping in a sling on me so I managed to put her down and I could prepare a baking activity for E. while she was at the nursery.

As E. is familiar with the alphabet (check out this post on the alphabet activities and other ABC posts) and quite a lot of sight words (I haven’t written about it separately but I should) and E. has been handling picture and story books since she was born, it is no problem for her to recognise/read certain words.

I wanted to expand her knowledge of recognising words in a fun way.

Here is our oat and pumpkin cookie baking and reading fun:

I prepared everything beforehand (maybe next time it’ll be a measuring activity, when SHE can prepare all the ingredients).

Whoops… the R is missing from “butter” – sorry about the poor photo

Ingredients:

  • 150 g oat flakes
  • 100 g flour (I used oat and wholemeal flour mixed)
  • 100 g sugar (I use Xylitol)
  • 100 g butter or margarine
  • 120 g pumpkin purée (pre-baked)
  • 1 teaspoonful of baking powder
  • 1 egg

    optional: 

  • 5 g dried fruit of any kind (I use cranberries and raisins but you can add chocolate chips too)
  • vanilla extract
I made little cards for her to read and I placed them in front of each bowl. The twist was I mixed them up before she started the activity. 
First, she needed to swap the cards around to place them in front of the right bowl.

After that she cracked the egg.

Then the mixing could start. She added everything in a big bowl. I asked her to report me what she was doing as in a cooking show.
– I’m putting the flour in.
– Now comes the butter.

After all this, I made little balls out of the mixture (she doesn’t like to dirty her hands) and placed them on a tray covered with baking paper. Finally, I managed to convince her to flatten the balls with her fingers and palm.

It was a lovely treat after dinner time and we practised a lot of English. (Unfortunately the cookies were gone so quickly I couldn’t take a photo of them)

Do you cook or bake with your little one(s)? Let me know what in the comments.

Getting familiar with the ABC

I do not want to brag, but yes… a little I do. E. is so  interested in the letters and the ABC that, I do not exaggerate if I say, within a year or two she’ll be reading. In this blog post I would like to collect some fun activities we’ve been doing with the ABC.

-Videos/Songs

The very first favourite. E. was watching this video her mouth agape in amazement when she was 8-10 months old.

The traditional one is always the best (Upper- and lowercase)

A song about how to pronounce the letters – Phonic Song:

Since the age of 2 we have been watching a lot of Mother Goose Club songs:

She could watch it all the time. Sometimes she wants to watch them all day (if I let her).

Magnetic alphabet

I bought the first set of magnetic alphabet when E. was about 18 months old. She loved them at once.
First it was just one pack of upper case letters. We used it on the fridge, but the letters always fell under it. So I had a magnetic word game at home (for adults, the letters are too tiny for little children) and I started to use one of its steel boards (You can also use a steel tray or a magnetic whiteboard)

Then I bought another pack of both upper- and lower case letters later when we started making up words at about the age of 20-22 months. (Frankly, we don’t really use the lower case letter yet – age 2,5 years)

At the very beginning we just put together the alphabet from A to Z. We sang the ABC song and/or the phonic song while arranging the letters.

Adding the missing letters to the alphabet with Daddy

 I told her words starting with certain letters, like  E. for her name or D for daddy, M for mummy, A. is for our nanny’s name etc. As time passed I added some more words, such as E. is for elephant, egg, or A is for apple, ant and so on, not just names. I always tried to include things that she knew or she was really interested at that time. Within a few days she was the one who said the words: – B is for ball and bubble.

Next, we made up short words she was already familiar with.
Daddy, Mummy, M. (our dog), dog, cat, yes, no, hat, rat, egg, bat and so on. I have no intention to teach her how to read. She is the one who, from time to time, comes to me with the letters to play with. She’ll work it out by herself.

Matching game with the magnetic letters

What you need:

  • letters (magnetic, felt, play dough, cut out from cardboard, drawn on bottle tops)
  • plastic surface (e.g.: whiteboard, but I used an A/4 sheet that I spoiled while laminating. 
  • markers (not permanent!!!)
  • sponge or tissues to wipe the surface if you want to reuse it
First, I wrote three words on the laminated sheet (also drew some basic pictures)
I put the letters of these words mixed in a little container 

E. came and emptied the container.

And matched the letter. The interesting thing was that I didn’t need to tell her toe start from left to right.

She wanted to do it with our nanny, too.
When she got bored with it I wiped the surface off and at another time I made a new one with: yes, no, love, sun, hot, rat as you can see it in the photo.
She had to start with her letter, E.

 It was summer time we last did this activity, and now sometimes she “reads” letters on her clothes or, some book’s title.

Search for the letters – sensory bin (autumn)

What you need:

  • a container
  • bark (you can buy it in a packet at animal stores)
  • small object connected to autumn in some ways (berries, grapes, apples, pears, twigs, conkers, pumpkins, leaves etc. What I did was I chose 1 bunch of grapes made of plastic, 2 apples made of felt, 3 golden leaves, 4 pumpkins made of felt, 5 real conkers.)
  • letters (wooden, foam, felt, magnetic, whatever) of A-U-T-U-M-N
  • a sheet of the object and the letters of autumn shown
Throw the bark into the container and hide all your chosen objects in the bark. Put the sheet in front of your child and whenever they find something among the bark, place them in the right group, or if it’s a letter, then on the right letter.

And the search can begin.

This activity gives you and your child plenty of opportunity to talk about not only the letters, but also colours, autumn fruit, trees, leaves and berries, and in this case numbers too.

I still have several activities, but I’ll need to come back with them in another post. Try them, enjoy them and let me know how they worked out.

Story box – Vet Vicky with props

A green box with stuffed animals, a stethoscope, some gauze, a medicine box, a rope, cheese and a flower. Story box – reading fun.

I can’t remember where I found the idea but Pinterest’s story box ideas are endless.

I picked a book from the Ladybird series (Little Workmates) – Vet Vicky, which later became one of E.’s favourite.

The story is about Vet Vicky’s day in her surgery treating a dog, a cat and a mouse. Then she goes to Farmer Fred’s to have a look at Daisy, the cow, who is not eating well, but the cow has gone. Vicky finds her near the school munching on some flowers. Vicky takes Daisy back to Farmer Fred and suggests feeding Daisy with some flowers every now and then.

It was a hit at once. E. likes playing doctor, and loves animals, so even without the story box she would have loved the story. However, with it she was thrilled and did everything like Vicky in the book.

 

checking the dog over

 

giving him a pill
checking the cat over

She enjoyed following the activities in the book – five times in a row. At least I could take some photos…

Finally, she matched all the characters with their images in the book.

We’d spent nearly an hour reading the book, playing the story, when our nanny arrived.

E. wanted to do it with her too.

Ssssh! – showed Vicky to the school children when she went behind Daisy with a rope

Some body parts, like the udder, the hooves and the horns, were identified on the cow.

What’s this? – This is the cow’s udder.
E. is very interested in the other booklets of the series.

We have some of them, like Farmer Fred, Builder Bill, Hairdresser Hanna. Unfortunately, the stories are not the best for the story book idea as there can’t be so many easily available and varied props.