Saturday, 29 January 2011

Of birthdays and other things

Most of Iona's learning has gone on well this week, with the exception of her reading. That seems to have taken a step back, with her initially becoming confused between "head" and "hand", and then sometimes seeming confused with the other words, too. However, she has still been messing around, in a way that suggested she was getting bored at it being too easy, so this week I introduced the 5th body word - nose. She always remembers that one, but always calls it "no", as she'd noticed that the words sounded alike and I think she prefers to say "No"! When she does so I cover the "se" and explain that "no" is "no" but the whole word says "nose".

When we read the story of Moses in the bullrushes I helped her (well, she was content to mainly watch) make a woven thin card basket:

(I can't find the site where I found this idea, but Suite 101 features an identical one here: The lesson I drew out of this story, as from several others lately, is that God looks after us.

After this we looked at the story of the 10 plagues. This concerned Iona a little, as she's been a bit paranoid lately about bugs in her bed (there haven't been any, although there was a wasp on her floor a couple of weeks ago), so I had to keep reminding her that the frogs, lice, etc were in Egypt, and not in her bed! This time I emphasised how the Egyptian king was naughty and didn't obey God (explaining what the word meant, increasing her vocabulary), and that God had to punish him, which she seemed to accept, although I also talked about how he had looked after the Israelites. Interestingly, this was at the time there were riots in Egypt, so when the news was on I was able to point out what Egypt looked like now.
We did a couple of craft activities about the plagues. One was a colouring sheet at She coloured this really well, with suitable colours without any prompting (red and yellow for the desert, which may have been a coincidence), and the sun coloured quite well inside the line (for her). However, she then decided to start tearing it up, so I had to quickly rescue it and repair it. The other craft we did was making mock unleavened bread, an idea from the Squidoo page on Old Testament Bible Lessons ( Unfortunately I took a chance on the conversion from Fahrenheit to Gas Mark, and guessed wrong, so it burned a little, but Iona still enjoyed it. The other activity we did was to sing a song (well, I sang, Iona listened!) about the plagues to the tune of "This Old Man" ( Iona's too young to really learn it at the moment, but I can see it being very useful in a few years to memorise the order of the plagues should she want to.

We've managed to do other activities a bit this week. It was my birthday, so I tried to do a mini-theme with her on birthdays, although I've not managed to do much with her about that. We borrowed a book from the library called "Celebrating a Birthday" ( This was just the right level for her, and she quite enjoyed it. As she loves glueing, I also cut out the shape of a cake, 3 candles in the colour of her choice, and 3 flames, all from sugar paper and got her to glue them onto a large piece of sugar paper, again in her choice of colour. I wrote "Happy" and "birthday" on 2 more pieces of paper and glued them on the top, suggesting she "copy" them underneath. She loved doing the glueing, and although she tore quite a few of the pieces off after, she re-stuck them on later, which is a first.

What I have learned from doing crafts with Iona lately is to take a photo as soon as we have finished doing them, then I can be less concerned if she decides to disassemble them straight away. This has seemed to make her more relaxed, and, as I said above, she has even begun to mend them again after. Hopefully this will continue and one day she won't even try to destroy her work (roll on that day!).

Saturday, 22 January 2011

What's cooking?

I've managed to get Iona to do a bit of cooking this week, mainly by bringing it to her in the living room, rather than moving her into the kitchen where there are too many distractions such as the vegetable cupboard. Earlier in the week we reached the story of Jacob and Esau in our Bible studies, so I decided Iona could help me make a stew like Rebecca made for Jacob to give to Isaac. I explained to Iona what we'd be doing, and after washing the vegetables I sat with her and helped her (hand over hand) use a potato peeler to peel a parsnip and a swede. She agreed to help, on condition that she was able to eat small pieces of them as we went along (yes, believe it or not, she eats raw swede and parsnip!). She also watched me peel the carrots and chop all the veg. I then peeled an onion and showed her how I chopped it. Afterwards I cooked the veg with chicken stock, herbs, yellow lentils, and pearl barley in a slow cooker, adding dumplings towards the end. Iona really enjoyed eating it, and I kept reminding her of the Bible story as we cooked and ate it, reinforcing that we should be nice to other people, especially our family.

The next day we read the story of Jacob's ladder, and I got Iona to help me make biscuits (Iona stirred the mix several times for me). Again, I explained as I went along what I was doing. I then formed the biscuits into ladder shapes before baking them, so every time we had a biscuit we could talk again about Jacob's dream and how God promises to look after us. This seems to have made an impression, as yesterday Iona had been talking about dying then said "We're not going to die - I'm only joking! We can't die because Jesus is here."!

The idea for both these activities came from Denise Oliveri on Suite 101: .

Today I made hash for Iona and her daddy for lunch, and I asked if she'd like to help me prepare it again, to which she replied yes. Again, I brought everything into the living room, to stop her running wild around the kitchen. I got her to sit next to me on the settee, helped her hand over hand to hold the potato peeler, and helped her peel the potatoes. She was a bit nervous about hurting herself or me, especially later when I got her to help me slice the washed, topped and tailed leek, but accepted that if I helped her she wouldn't, and she again enjoyed eating the result.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Teach Your Baby to Read

My attempts to teach Iona reading have been derailed somewhat this week, since she learned 5 words. On Thursday I had to travel a considerable distance by bus for my heart check-up, so I was gone from 10 in the morning to 8.15 at night (thankfully the doctors are very happy with my progress). It gave me a chance to do a lot of reading and writing up of notes from a book I'd borrowed from our home educators' group library ("The Little Book of Fun on a Shoestring", but no time at all to do anything with Iona. Yesterday my husband was having minor surgery as a day patient, so I had plenty of time to do things with her, but when I tried to read through the word flash cards with her she decided to be silly and mess around with them. The same had happened on Wednesday, so we ended up doing no real reading for 3 days. The joys of trying to teach 2-year-olds to read, I suppose!

I tried asking her today if she wanted to do some reading. The first time she wouldn't really concentrate on it, again, so I just asked her to recognise, rather than remember, words. In other words, I presented her with the 3 body part words and asked which said "hand", which "foot" and which "knee", followed by doing the same for "Mummy" and "Daddy". This is easier to achieve, so provides less evidence of learning, but it tends to be more successful when she is struggling to concentrate (she was quite tired today having stayed up worrying about bad dreams til 10 last night). Anyway, she correctly identified all 5 words in that way. Then, this afternoon, I tried again to get her to read them. This time she did so, 'though saying silly things like "Mummyknee" for knee and "Mummyfoot" for foot. She's obviously still enjoying it, though, as she wanted me to go through them again with her immediately afterwards.

Bible study has also been a little less successful this week. We have continued to read the Bible with her every day, but on 2 occasions it has been my husband who has done so, making it a little harder for me to work with her from that. We looked at hospitality when we read about the angels visiting Abraham to tell him about Sodom, and I asked her to help me make biscuits as Sarah made dinner for the angels. When we read about Isaac's birth being promised, I emphasised that God told Abraham his descendants would be as numerous as the stars, and that God keeps his promises. As a craft activity I used an idea from Toddler Activities at Home ( and made a star mobile with Iona to hang in her bedroom. I made 10 stars from card and covered them with foil (Iona was supposed to help with this but was more interested in unwrapping them and the glue turned out to be quite hard to use). I then tied string to them and hung them from a strip of corrugated card which I covered with paper on which I wrote "God promised Abraham as many descendants as there are stars" on one side and "God keeps his promises" on the other. Iona was able to learn the latter and repeat it after me, so I know she's taken in at least one thing!

Monday, 10 January 2011

Father Abraham

Work with Iona on her morning Bible studies continues. We have now begun studying the story of Abraham. We spent a couple of days looking at God's call to him, which was quite hard to find online resources about. I emphasized how Abraham trusted God, who looked after him, as well as telling her the simplified story of how we moved to our current house before she was born. In addition, we played a little bit at travelling. Yesterday and today we read and talked about Abraham giving Lot the choice of where to move to. That was a little easier to find resources for, but there still wasn't much about, especially as she seems to be a lot less careful about colouring in the last week, possibly because I've given her too many sheets lately. We talked about sharing, and I demonstrated fair sharing with some sweets she was eating. I also followed the suggestion of and did an activity with Iona sorting coloured bricks, as Abraham and Lot had to sort their flocks and herds. This gave her a bit of practice in an important maths skill, and I found she could do it quite easily - so much so, in fact, that she got distracted partway through and insisted on building with the bricks instead!

Moving on from Bible study, we have also continued to practise with the reading flashcards. Introducing "knee" threw her at first, but by today she seemed to have some idea of which was which out of that and "hand" so I asked her if she wanted to learn another word. She said yes, so I showed her the flashcard for "foot". I don't know if that's too soon, as I wanted her to overlearn each word, to give them the best chance of "sticking". However, it's a fine balance between that and her getting bored of doing the same old words, so I took the chance, and she was very happy to be taught another word. We'll have to see how she does with recognising it tomorrow.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Mr Noah built an ark

Work with Iona on her morning Bible reading is going really well. Yesterday and the day before we read the story of Noah and the flood, and I decided to make a lapbook with her. I was amazed how much we got done in a short time. She enjoyed colouring pictures of Noah:

The colouring picture of Noah came from Christian Preschool Printables (

The minibook telling the story of Noah came from Lapbook Lessons ( They also had a layer book for practice measuring animals, but the link to this appeared to be broken, so I drew it myself. Iona received a ruler for Christmas as part of a present from someone at church, and had appeared somewhat interested in what it was, so I used this activity to demonstrate to her how to use a ruler to measure. I first asked her which animal was tallest; she said the elephant, but I showed her how the giraffe was taller. I then asked which was next tallest, and she said the elephant. Next I asked which was smallest, which she answered correctly, and likewise for the next smallest. Having put the animals in order, I put the ruler alongside the line next to each animal and helped her to read the nearest number. To begin with she seemed a little rusty on reading numbers, but soon got back into the swing of it.

The other minibook on this double page also came from Lilliput Station. I used it to document how we made rainbow shaped animals (Iona coloured them while I cut them out and assembled them) and Noah for Iona to play out the story. The animals were printed from (

On the next page I used some of the leftover printed animal heads from the rainbow animals to put inside a folded ark shape. I got the idea from Bible Kids Fun Zone ( but was not able to print it out as I am not a member. I liked this craft as it was reinforcing the message I was trying to teach Iona from the first half of the story.

The song on the next page was one I was taught when my Mum taught me in Sunday School:

Mr Noah built an ark.
The people thought it such a lark!
Mr Noah pleaded so,
But into the ark they would not go.
And the rain came down in torrents x3
And only 8 were saved.

Iona enjoyed me singing that to her, and demanded I sing it many times.

On the next page we completed a sequencing activity I found at Bible Story Printables ( Iona wasn't really concentrating, so needed some prompting from me, but she managed to put some of the pictures in the right order. On the opposite page is a water cycle wheel which I found with great difficulty using people's posts on Lapbook Lessons. The address is Iona coloured it in a little and I explained to her about water falling as rain, running along rivers, and into the sea, although I rather glossed over the last step. She was quite interested, although as we had watched on "Come Outside" ( that morning about the sewer system she thought that water from rivers flowed into the sewer!

Finally we talked a little about rainbows, although not too much as Iona already knows the colours from one of her other favourite programmes, "Show Me, Show Me" ( I drew a rainbow and coloured it in, then drew another for Iona to colour. I labelled it with the 2nd day's lesson - God keeps his promises - and Iona kept saying "God promises me" as she "coloured in" the writing (translation: coloured over it so it became illegible!).

I also taught her another song my Mum had taught me in Sunday School:

When you see a rainbow, remember God is love x2
Yes, God is love x2
When you see a rainbow, remember God is love.

This was even more popular than the other song, and I had great difficulty persuading Iona to let me stop singing it!

Monday, 3 January 2011

Adventures in Bible Study

So far, I've managed to achieve my aim of discussing her Bible reading with Iona each day, using resources I've found online, 'though I'm guessing it may be more difficult with more obscure ones. Iona's been really receptive to doing colouring and crafts based around the stories of creation, Adam and Eve (both of which she already knows quite well) and Cain and Abel. For creation we talked about how God made everything, and I printed out a colouring page of the world with Genesis 1:1 on it (can't find a reference to it now). For Adam and Eve we talked about disobedience (though not using that word) and I printed out a nice picture of Eve in front of the tree, with a snake to cut out and put through a slit in it (again, I can't find it online now). Cain and Abel was interesting, as it's a hard story for children and Iona didn't really know it before. I used it to emphasize how we should look after each other, especially family and friends. DLTK's site was very useful in this - I was able to print out a picture of 2 children playing together, saying "Share and be a friend. I am my brother's keeper" ( We also made toilet roll tube models of Cain and Abel ( and, which we used to act out the story and Iona played with a bit. Lastly, as suggested in the DLTK site, I used the story as a jumping-off point to introduce our family tree. I made a large copy of the family tree ( with sugar paper as a poster for Iona's room, labelling 3 generations of family members, as well as putting on a photo of each. While doing so I talked a lot about how Mummy's mummy and daddy were Nanny and Grandpa and Daddy's mummy and daddy are Grandma and Grandad. The poster will go up in her room. In addition I printed out the details sheets for each member of the family and began filling them in, stapling them into a book for her all about her family.

Concerning reading, I have now laminated the "Mummy" and "Daddy" flashcards I made, and used them with Iona for 2 days. On every occasion she has been able to tell me what they said and distinguish between them, although she could not at first read the word "Mummy" when I wrote it in smaller writing later today. I am therefore going to try making the next flashcard in the series very soon (if I can remember the next ones, as I can't find my "Teach Your Baby to Read Kit".

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year

Well, it's a new year, and I'm back. For those who don't know, I've had heart valve replacement surgery 4 weeks ago, so education has had to take rather a back seat, both now and in the weeks leading up to it. However, I did use the chance to teach Iona something about the heart and about jobs of people in hospitals. I'd planned to do it as a lapbook, but that never quite happened. She was very keen on the hospitals books, though, and also the book which I used to introduce the idea of Mummy as a little girl (as I was explaining to her that I had my first heart surgery then) - "Before I Was Your Mother" ( I was disappointed, though, that it was almost impossible to find any books about a parent going into hospital for an operation, as I could have done with that to help prepare her. The only one I could find was from America, "Let's Talk About When Someone You Love is in Hospital" (, which wasn't specific to a parent, and didn't talk at all about after-effects, but which was some help.

Unfortunately, due to my operation, I wasn't able to do much work with Iona on the meaning or customs of Christmas, as even when I got home the breathing tube had bruised my voice box so I couldn't talk much. However, I did find this printable nativity set to make - We made the characters on half toilet roll tubes, and managed to make a stable from a cereal box. The original idea had been to assemble it in the window and leave it there, but that was reckoning without Iona! She adored playing with the characters, and did so for days. One day she placed both the angel and shepherd in the stable and I heard her saying "Hello, angel, what are you doing today?" "I'm in the stable"! We don't now have a usable stable scene, but I feel it's worth it, as she knows all the characters and their role in the nativity story well.

Now we have entered a new year, and I have made some new goals for me to achieve with Iona during the year. Firstly, I plan to have her toilet trained, which I will be able to begin working towards as soon as I am able to lift again, after the wound has completely healed. Second, I intend for her to start attending the youngest group of Sunday School on her own some time around her 3rd birthday. I started taking her into it a few months ago, but as the minimum age is supposed to be 3 I have been staying with her to ensure that she doesn't cause problems for the teachers. She enjoys the craft in it, and has been learning some of the names from the lessons, although she still misses being able to play with the toys in creche.

When I can drive again (probably February) I will be able to re-start attending home education groups with her, but I also intend to start going to some new groups. Our local home education group runs a weekly gym session for children from the age of about 3, so I will try her out at that around then. She is also very keen on ballet, so I plan to try a local class that takes children at a similar age and allows you to pay by the week.

At church we have several native speakers of other languages which I don't speak myself. I want Iona to become proficient in a variety of languages, so I'm planning to ask them to help her learn at least basic greetings in them and see what happens from there, to complement my teaching her Spanish and French. If she can just chat to them in their own languages whenever they meet, I think she'll be part-way to becoming fluent, in a way that I never have been in anything other than English.

When I was 4 my Mum started teaching me to read using Glen Doman's "Teach Your Baby to Read" Kit (the nearest I can find now is I tried this with Iona when she was still a baby, but it didn't really work out, as she wasn't really interested. I thought maybe now would be a better time, so I asked her today if she would like to learn to read this year. She said yes, so I wrote the word "Mummy" in red on an A4 piece of paper and told her what it said, as per the programme. However, she became more interested in the fact of the writing, and wanted to write on it, too, so I'll just try again tomorrow. My hope is that by the end of the year she will have completed the programme and be a competent basic reader. However, she may have other ideas, so I'll just have to accept it if this doesn't happen!

Iona really enjoys craft these days, but still can be obstinate about doing it her way, so I wasn't able to let her help make any Christmas cards this year. I also ran out of time due to my operation. Next Christmas I hope to be able to make all our own cards, and involve Iona, so I plan to start this with her in October to give us enough time.

Lastly, to ensure that I get into good habits with Iona's education before the local authority wants to get involved, I plan to do at least one educational activity (or something that can be considered educational somehow) with her per day. I also intend to contribute to this blog at least once a week, to keep a permanent record of her progress.