Valentine’s day is here and I was lost for what activity to do with E. so I decided to do nothing. This is not totally true, but we didn’t really talk that much of this holiday this year. Instead she read about it. Read about how much I love her.
Every day starting on the 1st of February I put out a new heart on her door saying why I love her so much. It went up to Valetine’s day. At first I thought she wasn’t that much interested (she often forgot to read her daily heart) but then around the 8th February she told me she couldn’t find a new heart on her door.
I made 3-4 hearts at a time and I tried to reinforce the nice and loveable things she had been doing.
Here are some ideas what you can write on your hearts to your kids or to your partner as they work really well in lunch boxes or as secret messages in your hubby’s pocket.
You’re the best big sister.
You’re my sunshine.
You are a fantastic friend.
You have a great sense of humour.
You’re one in a million
You’re so creative.
You mean the world to me.
You express your feelings.
Your imagination is wonderful.
You’re a great problem-solver.
You’re a great reader.
You speak English very well.
You never give up.
You’re always by my side.
You hug like noone else.
Your kisses are the sweetest.
There are 20 on the list but it is advisable to use the ones that apply to the days of February in case of a child as they can connect to it more easily, what’s more, it can serve as a basis of discussion. In the last couple of days E. asked me why I put on some of the hearts and I gave her examples how caring she was with her little sister or how she helped around the house, how amazingly she communicated with N, our native nanny, or how she shared with me what made her angry or sad that day.
This display of love can work any time of the year, at a birthday or around Christmas but Valentine’s day can serve as a reason if need one at all.
Last year I started a hopefully long tradition: taking note of daily memories of December, the advent period, our Christmas itself, the days between holidays and New Years Eve too. Here is the last year’s post.
Now come all the memories of December 2017 day by day in one long post. (This year we’ll be making a paper-based memory booklet as well.)
The kids were at their grandparents and the Angels have brought us the advent calendar.
This year the main theme is decorating a Christmas tree with stickers. It’s great as both girls can do it and enjoy it.
Our advent “wreath” is ready. It’s evident we didn’t have much time for it this year either. Perhaps next year.
In the morning we had a family photo shoot in our home. See the photo collage a little further down.
Our annual Gingerbread Party was in full swing by the afternoon. Friends came over and we made and decorated more than a kilo of gingerbread (this time it was dairy- and egg-free. If you’re interested in the recipe, just drop me a line. It’s really tasty and soft.)
When all our guests were gone E. did the washing of the cookie cutters all by herself.
And we had some more fun at the dinner table. E. made sure L. can’t take out her hair clip(s).
In the morning we went to buy winter boots for E. as this week it’s started to snow.
We lit the first candle on our Advent wreath today.
E. has been singing 12 Days of Christmas all day in birdy voice. (Check out this short video if you want to hear how a bird sings 12 Days of Christmas)
We’ve been playing with the choo-choo train nearly all afternoon.
E. read The Gingerbread Man for L.
I read How the Grinch stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss to E. as a bedtime story.
This was a quiet day. E. was in kindergarten and I was running errands. Little L. spent the whole day at her Grandma. We picked E. up from kindergarten together and we immediately changed into English.
At home E. found an old English writing practice book and started to work on it.
L. was walking around in her pretty red shoes the heels of which light up.
Of course, more stickers got on our Christmas tree.
In the morning Little L. and I went to the Helen Doron English session (Toddler’s Best Start is the name of our new course) which she enjoyed a lot because our new topic was vehicles (trucks, cars, trains, planes) L.’s been crazy about them lately.
But the highlight of the day was the play performed by E.’s kindergarten teachers – St Nick’s glove. It was a cute and loveable show.
My Mum was taking care of Little L while we were watching the play in the kindergarten. After having arrived home the kids opened some presents that St. Nicolas had brought to their grandma’s house.
In the evening the girls cleaned their boots and put them out into the window waiting for St. Nick to fill them with goodies. E. was really excited. She wanted to stay up to have a look at Santa.
I didn’t have to say twice to the kids to get out of bed in the morning. Within a blink of an eye they were in the living-room checking their boots.
They opened their gifts with great excitement. Although we were in Hungarian, they got books, and activities in English, some toys and sweets.
Our native nanny, N. was here in the morning and they tried to paint a magic booklet L. just got from Santa.
E. met “the real Santa” (as she put it) in her kindergarten.
In the afternoon Little L. met St. Nick in our main square. At first she was a little scared but then she got a candy (szaloncukor) and she kept saying she wanted to go back. We were in English but Santa and his helpers, of course, spoke Hungarian, still Little L. talked to me in English.
We didn’t stay out much as it was very cold and windy. All the way home L. buried her little face in my shoulder. At home we made Santa’s beard out of cotton wool balls.
We had some healthy snacks, like raw broccoli in the market and dried cranberries at home.
Our native nanny was here and E. showed her what she got from Santa.
In the advent calendar we found an instruction to put some Christmas lights on the windows. (If I can take a photo of it I’ll attach later on)
I was brave enough to give E. our paper-based Days of December album. She was cutting out some photos and I glued them in, but what she enjoyed the most was putting stickers all over the album.
In the morning we went shopping with E. as she’d grown so much that all her leggings are short, her socks are too small.
We were invited to our Helen Doron school to make some advent crafts. I’ve written a separate blog post on it.
We lit the second candle on our advent wreath.
The girls improvised dot-market painting. The end result looked like Christmas lights.
The girls had been eating so much sweets all day that I made them an obstacle race field in our living room where they could burn their energies.
We’ve started to prepare some Christmas presents and cards with E.
We received our Christmas photos. They turned out pretty well.
Our Advent Christmas tree is getting nicer and nicer with all kinds of stickers.
We finished some greeting cards for Christmas with the girls. (I’ll be writing a separate blog post on the cards and the baubles.)
Gingerbread party in the kindergarten. L. is a little snotty so she didn’t come but enjoyed the company of her grandma and grandpa. We could spend the day together with E. in her kindergarten.
What she enjoyed the most was she could show me her favourite toys and we could play together both inside and outside, in the playground. After lunch we came home and took a nap. Next we prepared some Christmas baubles we’ll give to her teachers and friends.
Last Helen Doron lessons of this year for the girls.
Little L. surprised her teacher, Z., with Christmas presents (a Christmassy pen and a Christmas card that we’d made with her hand-and fingerprint) and she said Merry Christmas in the morning.
E. gave her Christmas present to Zs. (her Helen Doron teacher) in the afternoon after her lesson. It was a Christmassy pen, the green-yellow bauble we’d made the day before and her hand Christmas tree card. She wrote Merry Christmas inside.
Zs. sent me how her bauble looks on her Christmas tree.
In the afternoon we went on to make some more Christmas presents.
With Little L. we made Christmas tree decorations out of air-dry clay and sequins.
With E. we made a clay hand-shaped , which I’d been planning to make for a long time but we didn’t have the time for it (see the source and step-by-step instructions of the idea on the link above).
They are all waiting to dry:
Our English-speaking friends visited us. In the morning my friend, B., who speaks only English to the girls, came over and played with E. and L.. She also stayed for lunch too. The kids were excited and a little ill so the whole morning was chaotic and tense. Still, we survived and spent the morning in the company of a much-loved friend.
After nap time N, our native nanny came to have our last session this year. On Tuesday E. invited her for dinner, so she stayed to dine with us. E. gave N. our little mainly home-made Christmas presents
and the girls also got a really pretty Christmas card with N.’s poem written directly to E. and L. How sweet is that?
I was preparing for Christmas while the girls spent the day at their grandparents. Both of them have a runny nose. I and my hubby are coming down with the same illness. At least we’re done with it until Christmas. (Fingers crossed)
I was lucky enough to buy white and silver lackmarker with which I’ll be able to decorate out Days of December album.
L. was really early bird, got up at 5, I managed to keep her quiet and in bed for an hour, hoping for her falling back to sleep but she didn’t. So we started cooking together. She woke up talking to me English. What a nice start, only if it had been at about 8.
When E. got up we prepared her best friend’s present for Christmas. She wanted to save the tatoo for herself, and of course, I needed to apply some body art immediately for both of them (Actually this was L.’s first tattoo ever.)
What’s more, we found some self-adhesive earrings. The girls got all pretty when they went to the library with their Dad.
In the afternoon we went out to buy infrared heat lamp as we are not getting better as for our health. And of course, we just couldn’t miss out on the choo-choo train in the shopping mall.
Late at night I put together the yearly photo book gift for the grandparents.
Literally, nothing happened today apart from lighting the 3rd candle. Well, it not totally true. In the afternoon I went to meet my friends. A little bit of me time is a big thing around here.
We went on creating more Christmas gifts, like this pine cone Christmas tree.
Two small snow globes were waiting for the girls in the advent calendar.
We read Maisy makes gingerbread about 15-20 times. Little L. loooooves it.
E.’s bedtime story was Angel Mae:
In the morning we “had to” make some more gingerbread. It was a family project. In the making Daddy needed to read Maisy makes gignerbread a few time. L. matched her rolling pin to Maisy’s.
As E. is into the periodic table again (I’ve already written a few words about her craze for the chemical elements in the post when she celebrated her 5th birthday) she and Daddy made the letters for the elements and Little L. and I were making more Christmassy gingerbread.
Today was the Christmas party in the kindergarten. We just went to give the presents to E.’s kindergarten teachers. We didn’t stay for the party due to our viral illness.
We also met E.’s best friend and gave her our Christmas present too. She also got some surprises for E. They played a little outside but it was terrible cold so we soon said our good-byes.
As we got home we finished the ring holder presents for grandmas and prepared our door wreath.
The girls used their second waterbomb at bath time.
The angels decorated the bedrooms with lights and window decor while the girls were away.
I started to prepare our very first home-made Christmas candy. (If I have time I’ll add the recipe later on)
Our cleaning lady was here today and we gave her our Christmas present. The girls got 2 beautiful baubles from her.
E. is into the periodic table again. We were listening to it all day instead of Christmas music.
In the evening we finished the Christmas candies with E. We dipped them into hot chocolate and put them in the fridge. There are 50 of them altogether. In the meantime L. was riding on Daddy’s back.
Our mistletoe is hung finally, and there’s been a lot of kissing under it.
We celebrated Christmas with my best friend, B., who talks to the girls English only. It was a fun party with really nice presents. (a clever bug, jewellery boxes, snug slippers, just to mention a few) . Below: Clever bug called Cutie came to have lunch with us. She eats only fruit as she’s allergic to veggies – according to E. 🙂
B. got here quite early, so she and E. helped me to wrap the Christmas candies. Just like my Mum.
And we tested them too. Yum!
In the morning we made pizza.
In the afternoon Daddy took the girls to their training.
While they were away I was cooking the Christmas dinner. This year there’s no fish. E. and L. like it more or less, but we’d decided that I’d cook their favourite: chicken soup, and stew with noodles.
In the morning the final touches were done before Christmas Eve, cooking cleaning and decorating. The girls opened the last pocket in the advent calendar where they found the star (in 2 pieces) and stuck it on the top of our paper tree.
Later we played a snowflake matching memory game we’d accidentally found.
While the kids took their afternoon nap the Angels brought us our gorgeously decorated Christmas tree. Nobody could enter the living room, where the Angels were working, until the sound of their bells.
While we were waiting for the jingle we made chestnut balls for dessert and got dressed in pretty clothes.
Around 5 o’clock the door could be opened and the kids were amazed by the sight.
The whole evening was about opening presents, playing together and having a wonderful Christmas dinner. According to E. this Christmas is not simply great but divine.
She said the best present was the chemical element cards, which she immediately put out according to the periodic table.
Linda loved everything she got she didn’t know what to play with suddenly. Maybe her very favourite one on Christmas Eve was the little pink scooter.
We celebrated Christmas at my mother-in-law’s place.
We celebrated Christmas at my Mom’s. Finally I could have a good use of my new camera.
The girls’ Godparents and their kid came over in the afternoon so we could surprise one another with presents.
E. went to the Helen Doron School for a one-day winter camp, where she had English sessions, arts and crafts, film watching all in English. Her favourite activity was making this bird feeder out of pine cone, peanut butter and seeds. As we don’t have a garden we hung it in the park near to our flat.
LITTLE L.’S 2ND BIRTHDAY PARTY.
In the morning we went to buy balloons for L. with E. We were in English and the lady in the party shop was amazed that E. understood both languages.
On the way we checked out the bird feeder and this scene waited for us:
We saw a robin, a finch and a blackbird that suddenly took wing as we were getting closer.
We went to see the bird feeder with Little L. and we saw this:
At nap time I picked up L.’s birthday cake (dairy and egg-free chocolate cake because of E.’ diet) and decorated the flat for the afternoon birthday party. It was just for our extended family.
Little L. was amazed by the balloons and all decoration but she was over the moon to see presents again, I’m not sure if she understood why there were so many gift at this time of the year (St. Nicolas Day, Christmas and now her birthday)
We were playing and playing and playing in English with all the toys and games the girls received for Christmas and L’s birthday.
A quiet New Year’s Eve. The girls cannot stay up until midnight so we celebrated in the evening with New Year’s Eve activity, sparklers and balloons in the bath and paper trumpets. They went to bed at about 9.30 and fell asleep immediately.
HAPPY NEW YEAR FOR EVERYONE!
I wish you all the best, loads of second language exposure, fun and happiness in 2018.
To increase E.’s reading practice in English I put on a sticky board on the bathroom wall at the end of July. Why? Read on and you’ll see this very simple and motivating reading fun for kids.
E. loves books and reading. Whatever. Her thirst for reading is endless, still needs practice, needs materials that keeps her interest. This is the reason why I put on the sticky board. And what does a sticky board have to do with reading. Well, I print all kinds of short passages for her to read when she brushes her teeth or taking a bath or on the toilet. (Who doesn’t read on the toilet?)
Among others here are the passage types I’ve stuck up on the board:
funny poems for pre-schoolers
funny poems about (water) animals
Did you know…? – fascinating facts about E.’s current interest
poems by famous poets
quiz/general knowledge questions
quotes from books we’ve read together
sayings and proverbs
spelling fun (like the magic E – at – ate, mad- made, pan – pane etc.)
location of hidden treats
She enjoyes reading them, she gets excited whenever she finds something new on the sticky board. The sticky board makes it possible to take the passage/questions/jokes off easily and stick on a new one.
What’s more she made her own writing to the board:
I change the content within 2-3 days. I work ahead, so I have a stash of reading material to stick on quickly after she’s gone to bed or before she comes home from kindergarten.
How do you practice reading with your pre-schooler or school-aged kids? Let me know in the comment section.
The idea is not mine. I stole it from the fantastic book, Maximize your child blingual ability by Adam Beck. Check out the book to get even mre fantastic hands-on advice how to juggle with the languages in your home.
As I’m writing this post with E. I’ll start with the book I’ve read with her this month (She is 5 years and 3 months old).
(E.’s favourite, L.’s favourite, both loved it)
Shark-mad Stanley by Griff
It’s a book about a little boy, who loves animals (like E.) and he’s got a gold-fish. But he wants to have a shark too. He compares her goldfish and a shark. What’s his conclusion? Well, read this funny story.
The Glow in the Dark Book of Space by Nicholas Harris
It’s a general book about space BUT there are pages that you can read in the dark because they glow. The new things she enjoyed the most: moon phases, constellation and how the black hole sucks in a star.
The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl
I don’t think I need to say much about the story as it is a classic. Actually, RD is MY favourite author and I was really anxious to find out if E. would like it or not. And she did like it. I read it to her one morning when she didn’t want to get out of bed. As the story got more exciting she got more and more out of bed.
Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson
A traditional story of a lost child (monkey) looking for her mum. The rhymes are great and the illustrations make the story come true. According to E. the best part is when the butterfly shows the monkey her children and they look very different from their Mommy. (This is the reason why the butterfly shows wrong Mommies to the monkey.)
Miss! Miss! by Julia Donaldson
A short story of a poor teacher solving problems with a child in school and when she returns home everything starts all over again with her own children.
L. is 20 months old and surprisingly she enjoys books for older children too. Here are the books for her:
We’re going on a bear hunt by Michael Rosen
This was a hit with both kids. They love it and ask for it every day. I’ve trying to read it out in the same way as Michael Rosen reads it out in this youtube video.
Maisy plays football by Lucy Cousins
Another hit. You’ll know your kids enjoy a book to a great extent if they scream GOAAAAAAL! whenever you just touch the book. (E. can read the book to L. and L. can say the names of the characters: Maisy, Cyril, Eddie, Dotty, Tallulah, Charley.)
Surprise Surprise! Animals by Jeanette Rowe
There’s a short rhyme on every page, which describes an animal hiding behind a flap. There are 6 animals altogether. Cute! L. can neigh like a horse and say seal and bat and croaks like a frog.
I love my Mum by Anna Walker
A short story about what fun mommy and baby do together. The pictures are lovely the words on each page are scarce. My daughters favourite page in the book is full of butterflies.
Feeling great! Just like me! by Jess Stockham
This is also a fold-out flap book like Surprise! Suprise! Animals! but about feelings. The emotions covered are shy, frightened, excited, grumpy, sleepy.
This month we could cover only 5 books for each child as they got really crazy about Maisy and the bear hunt books. And here is a surprise for you. E. is reading Maisy for L. (with a hiccup):
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 Donaldson
The not so perfect baby by Nicola Baxter
Tickle, Tickle by Helen Oxenbury
Is this your nose?
Little Bo-Peep (a peep-through nursery rhyme – Ladybird)
Today is Monday by Eric Carl
Sometimes I feel sunny by Gillian Shields and Georgie Birkett
Toddler touch Bedtime (Ladybird)
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 Hill
Round and Round the Garden (Amazing baby touch-and-feel board book
Incy Wincy Spider (Igloo books)
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.