Saturday, 21 January 2012

Metaphysical discussion of the week

This afternoon we were watching "Happy Feet" on the TV when Iona started asking "Who made the adverts?". I replied "The people whose products are being advertised". This seemed to satisfy her, but shortly after she continued:
"Who made the TV?"
"People in factories"
"Who made people?"
"Who made penguins?"
"Who made God?"
... Gulp!!!
"Um ... nobody did. He's always been there."
"No - God made God!".

Saturday, 14 January 2012

A is for ... part 2

As I said earlier, on Thursday we had an Astronaut Day, inspired by the fact that lately Iona has been very keen to go in a rocket. I told her she had to be fit to do that, so at least once a day now she runs around or does other "exercises" and says she's getting fit "so they let me in the rocket!". I didn't do as much preparation as I might have, but she seemed to enjoy the day. I encouraged her to dress in a pair of grey jogging trousers and a blue fleece, to look a little like an astronaut's casual wear. She had a croissant for breakfast, and I reminded her that she wouldn't be able to have that in a rocket, as the crumbs would float around due to the lack of gravity, and might break the rocket. After breakfast I went on the computer and found some NASA and European Space Agency logos, then made Iona some badges (using our printer, a laminator and some safety pins) and an ID badge:

While on the ESA site I let Iona have a look around, and there was a fun animation about a day in the life of an astronaut. We strapped ourselves into our imaginary rocket, ran through the safety checks, then counted down. I asked Iona where she'd like to go, and she chose Mars. When we "landed" I described how it was cold, and that the ground was red, then asked her what she could see. We practised a floaty, low gravity way of walking, and talked a bit more about space. She then said she wanted to go to the planet Crayon, which was what she had called the planet she'd decorated in her Charlie and Lola magazine earlier in the week, so we got back in our "rocket" and took off once more, to go there. Once there, she wanted me to be an alien, so I decided to talk only in alien bleeps and bloops and see if she was able to communicate with me. Surprisingly, with only a bit of sign language, she worked out that I was telling her to eat the imaginary biscuit she had asked me for, and was making significant attempts to understand my alien language. This was such a popular activity that several times yesterday and today I was also asked to be an alien, but I found it surprisingly hard work to keep up the bleeping!

In addition to our play-acting, Iona drew a picture of an astronaut, or "space lady", complete with helmet (and big hair!):

I also found a colouring picture of a female astronaut which I printed out for Iona, but she didn't show any inclination to colour it. I found some information about Yuri Gagarin, Valentina Tereshkova (the first woman in space), Christa McAuliffe (the first teacher in space, well nearly), and Helen Sharman (the first Briton in space) told Iona about them, printed out their photos and added them to her timeline. We read through "I'm Going to Be the Best Astronaut Ever", "Extreme Jobs: Astronauts" (well, selected highlights of it, as it's far too old for her), and Letterland's "Annie Apple's Adventure", which coincidentally includes an astronaut and a trip into space. The latter book was very popular, and she has asked for it to be read a couple of times since. It features lots of "a" words and has a good story line, rather than being driven solely by phonics.

By the end of the day we were both glad to come back down to Earth, although Iona still shows no sign of diminished enthusiasm for being an astronaut!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

A is for ...

Well, we've begun our first week proper of the Letter of the Week curriculum. I began by reminding Iona of some words that begin with A, e.g. apple, alligator, astronaut, animal, ambulance and alphabet. For our first Bible reading this week we finished the story of Adam and Eve, and asked her what Adam began with. She immediately replied "a". I then presented her with a worksheet from Christian Preschool Printables which combined a colouring picture of them with writing practice of "Aa" and their names. However, for now it still remains untouched, as she currently seems very keen not to do anything suggested by Mummy!

On Tuesday we attended our local Christian home educators' group, Fun Club. This month we were doing about powered flight, and there were lots of related things to make. However, Iona decided to spend the morning playing with the toy kitchen and food, and later the Lego - once again, perish the thought of doing what Mummy suggested!! In the afternoon she had a really good time playing with the other children, of a variety of ages. The Lego provided me with a good opportunity to reinforce the concepts of sharing and negotiation, as both Iona and some of the boys wanted to play with the same parts. Happily, everyone seemed fairly satisfied, and hopefully Iona has learned valuable lessons about how to play together. We were virtually the last to leave the hall, as Iona was having so much fun running around with a slightly older girl, and having her first game of "Tag". From the Fun Club library I was able to borrow some very useful resources for this week and the rest of the month.

The first resource I used was from the Letterland series: An Alphabet of Rhymes. I read Iona about half the poems from it, and she really enjoyed it, so I'm looking forward to reading her the main Letterland books, 3 of which I got from the resource library. I also read her the A poem from Nonsense ABC Rhymes, which was quite funny. As Iona enjoys poetry and rhymes (she keeps saying she's making one up), this seems quite a good activity for her.

Yesterday I took Iona to the supermarket, so I deemed it "Asda Day". This is a word that Iona has known for a couple of years now, I think, so it was a nice way of reinforcing her knowledge. We found a couple of foods that began with a, although as I was on a tight schedule to catch the only free bus home again we didn't have much time for education while there. When we got home I drew the Asda logo on a cardboard shelf unit that I'd built for her a few days ago, and encouraged her to colour it in, which she mostly did. In the afternoon I had intended to play shopping with Iona, using the till set that she bought last week with her Christmas money, but once again she didn't want to do what Mummy suggested!!!

Today I'd suggested to Iona that we have an "Astronaut Day", especially as lately she's been very keen on the idea of going in a rocket, and that idea appealed to her. I've run out of time now to feed back from that, but hopefully I'll manage a full report, plus photos, tomorrow.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Letter of the Week: Alphabet Intro Week

One of my plans for this year is to help Iona develop her reading, using look-say (which is how I was taught when I was a year older than she is). As "Teach Your Baby to Read" (how I learned) seems a bit too structured for her I thought I might try Brightly Beaming Resources' Letter of the Week Preschool Curriculum. I liked the way this reinforces the letter being learned by introducing lots of different subjects beginning with that letter (e.g. apple, ambulance and Africa for "a"). Hopefully this will give enough variety over each week that she won't rebel and refuse to do anything I ask, like she did with lapbooking by the end of last year! The other thing that I particularly like about it is that it's free!!

In preparation, therefore, this week I decided to work through the Alphabet Intro Week. However, I've found that (possibly owing to my aversion to phonics!) we don't have many A,B,C books (I've just remembered a Dora one in her bedroom, so maybe we'll look at that tomorrow), and owing to the holidays I've not managed to get to the library this week. Consequently, I didn't really manage to start on the curriculum with Iona 'til today, when I decided we would try the activity Fishing for Letters. While Iona played with My First Starting to Read (that Father Christmas had found for her at a fayre last autumn) I cut 26 small fish shapes out of card, stuck a split pin in each (as we had no paperclips, but actually the pin makes a good eye) and wrote a letter on each in small case. I also tied a horseshoe magnet that Iona likes to play with onto a piece of string, and tied the other end onto a large bubble-blowing wand that we've had sitting around for a while. Voila - one magnetic letter fishing set.

Iona was quite interested, and happily came over to play. I fished a couple of letters off the floor and asked Iona what they were; she was easily able to say. She then had a go, although used her left hand to guide the magnet onto the letters. Once she started, she wanted to take all the turns herself, which was fine by me, so all I had to do then was listen to her read the letter. She confuses "p", "b", "d", and "q", and read "z" on its side as "N", but overall she did very well, both with letter names and sounds, and has some idea of what words might start with some letters, e.g. "snake" for "s". As time went on she changed the game to one where she picked up a fish with her hands, brought it to me upside down, and I had to guess what the letter might be. As she was still being exposed to letter names and sounds I went with the changes, and we carried on for maybe 10 minutes.

Tomorrow, if we get time around going to the Salvation Army and eating, I will hopefully read an alphabet book with Iona and play her on You Tube the Alphabet Song, which she loves. She also loves E Eats Everything, by They Might Be Giants, so I might show her that again, as well as trying out Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, of which I've heard great things.

Next week we move on to the curriculum proper, beginning with short "a". The Bible stories are supposed to be Adam and Eve, but I ended up doing them this week, so I might have to think of something else to do if she complains. Other subjects I'll hopefully do something about with her are apples, alligators, astronauts, animals, alphabet, ambulances, acrobats, Africa, addition, amphibians, America, and the Atlantic (I may also remind her about the Arctic, that we talked about when we looked at polar bears in November). I don't plan to be as structured as the curriculum is, with different subjects on different days, but rather try to nudge her to read some interesting books with me and maybe do a bit of colouring or craft (which she's really into). Wish me luck!!!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Seeking Baby Jesus: a Lesson Learned

Over Christmas I've discussed the Christmas story a lot with Iona. She played an angel (or, as she was determined to view it, a fairy!) in our church Nativity, and we also used Truth in the Tinsel as our advent Bible study. It certainly seems to have sunk in: this morning we were both upstairs when she came rushing in to my bedroom saying "Come quickly to Bethlehem. There's a baby there!". She was holding a small, round, glittery scrunchie above her head, and told me "This is a halo". When I said "Are you an angel, then?" she replied "Yes", and led me in to "Bethlehem"!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Versatile Blogger award

Firstly, a big thank you to Sarah, over at Pyjama School, who sent me this award. I love to read her posts about home educating her little boy, who's a similar age to Iona, and her younger daughter - it's fascinating to compare notes on their development, as well as get ideas from her.

The rules of this award are:

  • Thank the person that nominated you with a link back to them.
  • Tell everyone seven things about yourself.
  • Pass this award on to 15 newly discovered blogs and let them know that they’ve received an award!
7 things about me:
  • I studied biochemistry at Oxford University.
  • My Mum was 40 when she had me (so I just beat her, as I was 41 when I had Iona).
  • I worked with adults with learning disabilities for 17 years before I had my daughter.
  • I have played guitar in several church and Salvation Army worship bands, 'though I'm not very good.
  • I adore Christmas in all its aspects, so haven't really had time to write this blog over December.
  • I'm somewhat manic depressive, although life is massively better since I went onto anti-depressants, and I really recommend them for people who think there might be a genetic component to their problems.
  • I met my husband through a Christian dating website!
My 15 award-winners (though they may not be newly-discovered):