Days of December

 

The Advent Calendar opened on 29 November when we we lit the first candle on our Advent wreath. The kids were worried that the Angels would bring the calendar only on 1 Dec but they didn’t. On 29 November the Calendar arrived nicely put in the shape of a square, just as the girls had asked for.

I know this post is about December but this year the beginning of Advent is a bit early. The calendar hid some fluffy marshmellows and some sticks so we fried our marshmallows placed above the first advent candle.

The second advent presents were headbands on 30 November. E. took hers to school. Little L was a bit disappointed that they didn’t open them together.

It was funny to see that another cat (the kids call him Mitsy) took over our cat’s outside winter home that we’d built at the weekend.

On 1 December we got a note from school which said the school was closing down the next day due to the pandemic. Quite a few teachers had got infected and substitution became chaotic.

We were quite relieved to hear the news as every day it was rather nonsense to send E. to school while we had been home for more than 2 weeks (home office).

We sat down to play Daddy’s new board game that he got for his birthday: Cottage garden.

2 December

The Angels hid little stamps in the calendar. Suprisingly they did not appreciate them so much. (I guess they have a lot of stamps and ink pads). Still, they said thank you for them.

The morning was about digital education, cooking and playing. Daddy read a lot of stories to Little L in Hungarian snuggling on the sofa upstairs. In the meanwhile we were doing school work downstairs with E.

After lunch we looked through E.’s English workbooks (English, Maths, Reading and Writing). Although E. wasn’t very impressed, Little L came to me to check the activities. I was pretty surprised she could do some tasks from the workbooks designed for 7-8-9 year olds. In the meanwhile E was playing with her Lego (partly in English partly in Hungarian)

In the afternoon we could try a new game that we borrowed from our board game fan neighbours: 80 days around the world.


E. could practise her counting skills. Little L helped me move the counter on the board. When she had enough of it, she went to play with Teach your monster to read on my phone.

The girls found the Christmas books and E. read some storied to Little L. but they refused to tell me which ones.

3 December

The girls found big 3-D stickers in the Advent Calendar.

We made afternoon snack time a family happening. We all sit down to eat fruit and biscuits and chat about anything that the kids come up with.

4 December

Digital education is on hold. We gave E. a little free time. There was only little homework she would be able to do at the weekend at some point.

Again we played 80 Days Around the world until E’s classmate called her on Teams.

I’ve started to worry that we’re spending very little time in English. I hope the Angels will bring us some English speaking games.

5 December

Little L. looked out of the window in the morning and said: Can we go to the river bank? The weather is so sunny and nice. So after lunch we went to the river bank as she’d wished. We took beautiful pictures, the girls were throwing sticks and stones into the river. Even a dog joined them to play sticks.

There was an English speaking Grandpa with two of his grandkids and I encouraged the kids to go and play with them but they are not famous for their social courage.

Much to my surprise we also met some of E.’s schoolmates. We agreed to meet them again.

And the Advent Calender brought us some mini Santa puzzles that the girls had to colour. One is more beautiful than the other.

In the evening we cleaned our boots so Santa could put his presents in them by the following morning. It’s lucky that Santa was coming this weekend as the boots were so muddy due to the river bank adventure that I don’t really know how else I could have motivated the girls to clean them.

They also prepared carrots for the reindeer, biscuits and milk for Santa on the windowsill together with some drawings.

They were extra excited at bedtime. Little L put out her excited photo on the weather/date and emotion board. The magic of believing and hoping filled their hearts and our whole evening.

6 December

The morning started early so we could check Santa’s presents in the boots before going to the stables. The girls were over the moon to see the nice treats and little presents. There were no golden birch (a bunch of golden twigs, which is given to naughty children), thank Goodness.

After breakfast we were off to the stables to ride a horse. There was a little disagreement who could ride Sári, the brown pony, both girls’ favourite. To ease the tension, we promised E. she could ride the pony the next week at an extra session we would include in our weekly schedule.

After lunch we headed to the river bank to meet E.’s classmates again. We had a lovely time, the kids had lots of fun searching for sticks, rolling logs and building forts out of drifwood and sticks.

In the afternoon we played a board game that the Angels hid in the Advent Calendar. It’s called DON’T EAT SANTA!. On the link you can read about it.

We finished the day with another board game we’d already played earlier this week: 80 days around the world. E. managed to see through the main idea of the game and developed her own strategy and finally won. I am not really motivated to play board games any more. I’m always losing whatever we play with.

With Little L. and I played with her new sticker book That’s not my… She really enjoyed the time spent together. She was kissing and hugging me. We finished the whole book.

7 December

Online education was on hold today as both the class teacher and the German teacher were on holiday.

The Advent Calender surprised the girls with 2 candy canes. I made them pumpkin biscuits for breakfast that they could decorate as snowmen.

We were supposed to go horsriding but due to the rain we postponed it to Wednesday. The girls were a little disappointed so they spent the whole afternoon drawing ponies and magic unicorns.

We gave another try to play 80 days around the world, although I was rather unwilling. I had all the reasons … E. won AGAIN.

8 December

The girls got some hair bands, but they complained about that they were too tight so they transformed them into hairbobbles. The rest of the day somehow disappeared without knowing what we did. Probably nothing special. It was a school day so E. had to study and hand in some Maths and German tasks.

9 December

As we couldn’t go to the stables to ride the horses on Monday due to bad weather we had this extra session today in the late afternoon. E. could ride her favourite horse, the brown pony, Little L. was riding on a big grey Arab horse. L. was a little scared on the big horse but E. was delighted on Sári.

10 December

E had an online German lesson in Teams, while I was having a lesson in Zoom with one of my students. The girls got pink and purple hair bobbles from the Angels but they couldn’t agree who had which colour combination so I put them away. At bed time we read When Santa came to stay, which is a hit with the kids. We could talk about a lot of funny happenings on the basis of the illustrations. Great book, I highly recommend it.

11 December

E. got homework from school that made both girls really excited. They had to build a minuscule city out of lego or other building blocks. They had to arrange the builings on a dark surface then snowed it over with flour. After removing the buildings, they could discover the plan of the town from birdsview. Although we were in Hungarian it was great fun.

In the evening the Advent Calendar surprised the girls with glow sticks so we arranged a light bath in the dark. I lit some tea lights and added some thyme oil in the ceramic aroma burner. The kids put the glow sticks in the bath and had lots of fun…. until they started to quarrel about who had which colour of glowstick. Aaaargh…

12 December

Bird feeder – we gave a present to the birds of our garden. I wished the girls to feel how nice it is to GIVE a present to someone else instead of RECEIVING one, and the Angels somehow listened to me and brought a lot of of tools and ingredients to make the birds happy.

Earlier we had prepared bird feeders so it wasn’t unfamiliar for the girls.

Apart from the seeds we added nuts and figs to the mixture this year. Also the kids prepared apple slices as some birds really like fruits. Check out the details on the link. (added later on)

13 December

Candle painting, sorting old artwork, Live advent calendar

14 December

Chinese New Year

This year the festivities of the Chinese New Year started on the 25 January and I decided to talk about it with the girls through some crafts.

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Originally, I was planning to make some printables concerning Chinese New Year (which is also called Lunar New Year) but I had no time so I picked 2 crafts that seemed fun.

Whirling Dragon

The whirling dragon is very decorative and fun to make although my kids didn’t seem to last until the end of the project as it takes quite a while.

What you need:

  • paper plate
  • red paint and paintbrushes
  • coloured markers/pencils
  • scissors
  • glue
  • string
  • stapler
  • dragon template from the Red Ted Art blog (it’s free)

You can follow instructions from the link above.

We painted the paper plates in two goes as one side needed to dry first, then we could go on with the other one. Well, the kids lost interest after the painting and a lot of waiting. (We dried them on the radiator)

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I printed the templates and the got excited again so we coloured them together. At this point we checked the lucky colours of the Chinese New Year Festival to bring good luck to our home with the dragons. These were red, yellow, green, blue and white.

Again, they had enough of colouring, so I needed to cut out the pieces. This took even me a lot of time.

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They returned for the stapling and a little bit of sticking. Little L. glued on the tail and legs then ran away. E. helped with the stapling but wasn’t in the mood to glue so I finished them off.

After having hung them in our hallway they admired the dragons, but all in all they were not as fascinated by it as I thought they would be.

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Still, we talked a lot about the traditions, the animal zodiacs and the festivities in Asian countries.

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Bird feeders

Last December E. made some bird feeders at her one-day winter camp. She loved the idea of feeding the birds when they have real difficulty in getting any food during winter so much we needed to make some more.

The first bird feeder idea came from our Helen Doron school.

PINECONE+PEANUT BUTTER BIRD FEEDER

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What you need:

  • pine cones (you can buy them but easier to collect your own)
  • peanut butter (of any kind)
  • seeds (you can buy canary food in a pet shop, but we mixed our own: corn, sunflower seeds, millets, smashed walnut, sultanas, dried cranberries)
  • knife
  • thread
  • bowl

How to make it:

  1. Mix the seeds, dried fruit, nuts in a bowl

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  2. Spread the peanut butter with the knife between the scales of the cone

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  3. Roll the cone into the seed bowl

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  4. Tie a string or thread so you can hang it up on bushes or trees
  5. Go to your garden, balcony or, as we did it, into a park nearby and hang out your bird feeders

We went back to check on the bird feeder and seeing the seeds and the peanut butter disappear gave E. tremendous joy.

We made the pinecones with our native nanny, N, in English. We spread them around E.’s kindergarten area with I.-Grandma in Hungarian. When we went back to check them we were in English again. So we covered a lot of vocabulary in both languages. (bird feeder, seeds, corn, hang out, hide, quiet-busy, visible, don’t migrate, robin, blackbird, finch etc.)

TANGERINE RIND BIRD FEEDER

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What you need:

The same as above except for the pine cone and the thread. After pressing some orange/tangerine juice for the girls I kept the rind. Quite a lot of seed mixture remained from the previous bird feeder project so we used it.

How to make it:

  1. Take the pressed out tangerine (or orange) rind and line it with peanut butter.
  2. Sprinkle the seed mixture in it
  3. Place it on and under bushes or just in your patio or on your balcony.

  4. Return to check how fast the seeds are eaten up.

In the second case again we made the little feeders in English and the next day we went out into the snow to play (we were in Hungarian) and put out the tangerine bird feeders.

It’s a lovely winter project even with little kids and you can save the tiny song birds that do not migrate in the long, cold winter. Through this topic you can build your children empathy and teach them how to take care of nature and its creatures.

Crafty Mommy workshop 2. – winter edition

The winter workshop took place in the middle of November, before Thanksgiving, so that we could cover some Thanksgiving crafts apart from Christmassy and winter activities.

The workshop aimed to help mums with winter fun ideas, whose kids are about 2-3 years old, but 4-5 year-old children would find them enjoyable too.

There were 4 major topics that we covered (and this time we managed to cover them all)

  1. Thanksgiving
  2. Santa/ St. Nicholas
  3. Christmas
  4. Winter
I’m not writing about the details only the ideas I shared. if you have any questions about the activities please do not hesitate to contact me either in the comment section or via email: nonnativemommy@gmail.com
This time I got some photos from the mums taking part in the workshop. Thanks!
 

Thanksgiving activities:

  • Cheerio corn

Santa:

  • Santa’s hat out of popsicle sticks

 

I made this free printable so just click and print it. Colour it with your child if you wish and glue a cotton ball on Santa’s beard every day until Christmas. As we celebrate on Christmas Eve there are only 23 places to stick the cotton balls on.

Christmas activities:

(I can’t find what we made so I have no picture of it. Here is a photo of the original source I’d found the idea at and you can go and have a look at it if you click on the link above)

  • Paper plate Christmas door wreath

Originally I planned it with pompoms but we prepared it with pasta. I would have gone for a red base but E.’s choice was orange.

  • Pine cone ornament
I prepared this colour matching activity that you can download on the link above. You just need some coloured buttons, pom poms or M&Ms to place on the printed buttons of the Gingerbread men. A simple colour matching task.
The last figure is left empty to draw coloured buttons of your child’s choice or use it as a play dough mat if you want to take further on this activity.
 
Other winter crafts
  •  Cotton pad snowmanpict00023_jpg
  • Decorating mittens
    (We did mot finally make this activity but here is the link where you can see the details) UPDATE: We made the mittens (among other activities) after reading the lovely book The Mitten by Jan Brett
  • Popsicle snowflakeddf2e-pict0206