Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Before - after: Our new calendar and weather station

I've already written a post about how I made our weather board which also includes some emotions too. I've made some changes to it and added some more details.

I wanted to include days, months and seasons as well. So I repainted the board (the old tray) like 6 times as the paint didn't want to cover the black letters I'd written on it earlier. More or less I managed with the painting and on the top, I wrote DAY, MONTH and SEASON. I also made laminated cards. The days are hand-written both in English and in Hungarian, the months are printed but I decorated every month according to what's typical in that month. I found 4 pictures depicting the four seasons. I printed some more varied weather pictures you can find on the link. In this way, the many sources and styles make it more eclectic and more eye-caching than one kind of template (although you can find several of them online - see links later). Of course, I laminated them all and also added sticky magnets on the back.

The weather display is in the middle and at the bottom of the board you can find the feelings.

On the side of our book case next to the weather board, I printed a monthly calendar where every day we can leave a dot with our much loved dot markers.



As you can see our day turned bad (have a look at the feelings section -silly and sad... it was true for both of us... so sorry for the poor quality of the photos.

started as a fun day

making a mark
I don't think I'll change this calendar and weather station in the near future but here I collected some links of how others do it. There are some real professional ones among them:

Our classroom calendar - from Counting Coconuts

Alas, we do not have such a great wall to use.

Calendar Activities (Photo from Discovery Days and Montessori Moments)

Our calendar routine - from My Montessori Journey


I really liked this one, but unfortunately the whole thing is on an A/4 sheet which would be too small for us. The design is beautiful.

Weather chart - by Rowdy in Room 300

Easy to use, colourful but it's only weather

My weather station - by boys GERMS

It's a showpieces, I love it! Though not for my little one. She would destroy it within seconds.


The links above contain quite a lot of free printable materials.

Our calendar and weather display is rather modest compared to the others I linked in but it serves great fun and supports our bilingual learning process.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Pizza time

E. is quite excited every time she can spend some time in the kitchen with me. For me it's rather a challenge and I need to be extra relaxed,  plus in a good mood to shoulder all the mess and fuss around it.

Whenever I pull myself together and dare to enter the kitchen with a 2,5 year old hurricane to do some cooking or baking projects, it's always fun and the result is fantastic, though.

Cooking and baking together together with your child/children always gives you a great chance to learn and practice new things. Not only kitchen activities like whisking, stiring and pouring but also your second language.

This is what we did a few months ago when E. made her first pizza.

Today I wasn't prepared for the kitchen mess so I only entered into the spirit of painting.

While doing it we practiced a lot of food names:

tomato slices
pizza dough
salt (shake)

As well as colours and how to get certain colours by mixing two:

red + blue = purple
yellow + red = orange
red + green = brown

The kitchen stayed clutter- and mess-free and we were all happy.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

More fun with the ABC

E. has an unquenchable thirst for the letters and the alphabet. Here are 2 more activities we've done recently.  

1. Giant alphabet puzzle
2. Salt dough letters

- ABC giant puzzle

I was lucky enough to get hold of this giant alphabet puzzle in a secondhand toy shop. No piece is missing. There are one or two pieces that are a little stained but otherwise it is in great condition.

When E. is putting the puzzle pieces together she is singing the ABC song or we need to listen to it. (A money-saving trick: you do not need to buy a lot of English music CDs. Just turn the youtube videos into mp3 music files with a converter)

While we are putting the puzzle together we name the pictures like A is for apple (like in the picture) and add some more words starting with that letter: ant or angel or antler. (I usually come up with words that she knows but if not we always have paper and pencils around to draw the unknown thing, or if we have it at home we go and have a look at it)

We have some foam letters which are the same size as the capital letters written on our giant puzzle. In the picture below E. is placing the foam letters on the puzzle. It was her own idea.

I use this alphabet puzzle even with adult students; it helps a lot with spelling and pronunciation.

- Salt dough letters

When E. turned 2 and a half last November we made her the very first home-made salt dough (1 cup of salt, 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of boiling hot water). And it was a hit.

I found this  cheap set of ABC cookie cutters in a One-Euro shop. It has just one problem: letter S is the other way round.
spooning the ingredients

Not only was she learning/pracising words like kneading, rolling pin, mix and stir, add, measure but also strengthened her arms and hand muscles.

my little helper

First, the letters need to be in the right order of the alphabet


E. helped to put the letters on a baking paper that I'd place on a tray and we put them all in the oven to dry (at 50 °C).

Next day the painting started:

We used one colour at a time, but when we did this project this year colour mixing kicked in to make new colours like purple, brown or orange.

Ever since we have been playing with the letter as they are lying on E.'s shelf in the living room.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Planets and the Solar System

The Solar System craze started about a half a year ago (August 2014). Planets caught her attention while having the usual pre-dinner-youtube-video-watching session. Since then she's been an expert in this field just like we needed to become.

The very first song in the line:

She liked it so much that we had to watch it several times and of course more came:

She quickly learned the next one, so at bedtime I had to sing this song 7/11:

After What shape is it? here is another video from the same youtube channel with the title: What planet is it? Annoying for parents, fascinating for kids :) You can also learn about some dwarf planets like Pluto, Ceres, Makemake, Charon etc.

E. loves the next video too, although the colours of the planets are not so accurate. She mentions it every time we watch it. I guess it is an Indian video, and the pronunciation is a little funny. Still, we watch it a lot. She knows exactly how to pronounce the names of the planets and I want her to listen to as many different accents as possible.

These videos are not only about the names of the planets in our Solar System but also give some interesting information about them.

Then, we found Storybots on youtube. It's hilarious. Even for parents. At last something I and Daddy love watching, too. Well, the next videos are not typical children videos. First: The Solar System Rap
(For a week we were playing the "Microphone game" i.e. throwing a microphone to each other - E. was the Sun, I was Mercury, Daddy was Venus (!) and  Doggie was Mars. The game always ended with Mars as the dog couldn't catch the microphone :) By the way, Daddy made the microphone out of a kitchen roll tube, a deodorant cap and some duct tape.)

I'm hot - the Sun song

Beautiful Earth 

I could go on and on adding more videos in the topic. But if your child is intereted in the planets you'll find them anyway through the above mentioned examples.

After the videos, I had to make the Solar System on her plate. The following is just one occasion. The Solar System made out of frankfurters, but I've already made it out of fruit, cheese and bacon, vegetables etc.:

Here is a link where you can find a fruity solar system snack for kids together with a colouring sheet of planets.

I love the asteroid belt :)

If something is in the  middle of E.'s attention, she recreates it in all fields of life - like drawing:
(While she was drawing the picture below she was in English, later we changed languages and she asked me to write the names of the planets in Hungarian)

Why did she put the cotton buds on the planets?  - It beats me...
I prepared a pom-pom colour sorting activity for her one afternoon (in September), which turned into a Solar System activity again. (It's a kind of size comparison as well.)

Here is a video about her naming the planets in English and at the end she also sings one of the planet songs.

At the playground (at the beginning of October) we made the Solar System out of sand. It wasn't my idea, but hers.

Sand Solar System

Destroying the Sun

Destroying all the planets

I made her a magnetic Solar System to play with. I found the following printable online at 2teachingmommies.com. You can find their Planet shadow match in their Space unit. (After downloading a zip file you need to print the Planet_shadow_match.pdf)

I printed and laminated the shadow sheets (2 x A/4) and the planets (1 x A/4). I cut out the planets first then I laminated them and cut them out again. In this way they are more durable. Adding Velcro is recommended in the explanations of the original planet shadow matching task but I used small magnets (you can buy them in Creative Hobby Shops) which are sticky on one side (I couldn't glue the Velcro on the laminated sheets)

Sometimes we play with it on the floor, but nowadays the Solar System is on our fridge:

Here is a video how we play with it in Hungarian

Last, but not least - salt dough planets. I'm sure the time comes in every family when they make salt dough, or some sort of home-made dough but you can use any kind of modelling clay as well. In this way E. could see the sizes compared to the sun (which is a yellow plastic ball). Originally we wanted to paint them, but somehow they disappeared during Christmas time.

E. wanted Pluto added. It's made out of kitchen foil
For Christmas, E. got a Solar System Model Making Kit.

On Boxing Day the three of us were working on it all day.

mixing the right colours
We needed to paint and assemble the planets, then hang them on rods with fishing lines placing them around the sun in the centre.
drying the planets

putting the planets together  needs concentration

Let's read how we should put the whole thing together

measuring the fishing line

I added some glow plaint (which was included in the set. The planets glow in the dark.) It was a great family activity (in English). It looks nice in our living room hanging from the central lamp. (Sorry, the photo was taken with my mobile phone.)

This post has turned out to be a long one, but my main aim was to show you how many different activities you can do around a subject, let it be the Solar System or fruit or cars. You don't need to spend a lot of money on buying props or toys (see the sandpit or the pom-pom or the drawing fun). And there are just a few activities which needs preparation (planet shadow match or the model making). So let your and your little one's imagination fly and build the topic of interest in your everyday playtime.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...