Category Archives: literacy and writing

posts about our home learning and DIY materials to support reading and writing

Chalks in the garden

If your kids like drawing with chalks but apart from a chalk board you have no space for them to go wild and your garden is covered in grass like ours – pick up a large cardboard from a recycling centre – this will do the trick!


Extension on activities. Wing it!

What to do if all the spelling boards in the set has finished, but the child still wants to spell and there are letters left? Wing it!  🙂

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Posted by on June 5, 2017 in literacy and writing


Bribery learning. Yes or no?

I am still struggling with how to approach to pocket money and things that kids really want but it’s nowhere near their birthday or Christmas, which for my kids all comes pretty much at the same time, and then – whole year of  waiting for next Christmas. But kids interests change so often. And I don’t want them to get some presents just because they want them. I don’t want to give them rewards for doing chores – because things need to get done around the house by all family members without rewards. And I don’t want to give rewards for homework because this should be something of a habit and learning should be for the sake of learning and a feeling of getting better at something and not for rewards.

Mya wants a stunt scooter, and since I am at war with myself about how to get her one I thought of getting her collect rewards for extra learning that she normally struggles with – Russian and Maths. So in a space of two weeks she should do a bit of maths and a bit of Russian every day for 15-20 minutes. I know it might backfire, but I think if she struggles with these subjects and puts a bit more effort in with my help, of course it will get much easier for her in the future and she’ll feel less reluctant to do things that became easier to understand. This is my theory. Yesterday she asked me herself to do some Russian with her to get her stickers, and wanted to do few extra tasks in Mathletics which I didn’t ask her to do. She just got sucked in and started liking it! Same with Russian – we tried to follow a book with tasks to do, but then she deviated from the task and started to make her own words, which I didn’t mind, as long as she was doing it in Russian 🙂



She was making words with letter blocks (Zaitsev’s blocks) first and writing them down, then asked me for Russian script movable alphabet and started experimenting with it. After struggling to find all the letters for her name (in Russian type face letters are significantly different from script, also capital and lower case look very different, all that an the fact that some letters look like English letters but sound and mean completely different) she adapted some of the letters to write her name with them in English 🙂

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Posted by on February 15, 2017 in literacy and writing


Sunny spring day – and they are indoors!

We had a busy day today. It was bright and sunny, but for some reason – no one wanted to go outside today. Too busy doing other things.

There was a bit of playing with bubble dough made from dishwasher liquid and corn flour (if I remember it correctly it was from here Creative Playhouse Bubble Dough although ours was sticky and messy, more like Gak, but still soft and silky to the touch). I used red dishwasher liquid, which made the dough pink. We had this stored for ages – it’s still good. I do like food – safe slimes and goops, but these spoil very quickly and you have to store them in the fridge and most of them don’t last more than few weeks – this is when I remember that I still have them :-)So I just have to watch smaller person closely.

berry goop

Very Berry goop

Girls enjoyed playing with it: first tried to roll it with a rolling pin, then tried cookie cutters, all of which didn’t work, cutting with a knife was a success, then reptiles came to play with a random otter and a panda – they were leaving wonderful foot prints which we talked about and tried to make prints with other things. Meanwhile reptiles sunk in and we had a giggle trying to prise them out! Tidying after that was fun – a bit of water makes dough bubble, so everything was covered in soft fragrant foam. I think we’ll try this one next: Even better Bubble Dough

Then it was time for a bit of writing practice. Mya needs to work on her writing which is her weak point at the moment, and is unwilling to do any wipe-erase or other practise books I bought for her, not even this amazing one (Pencil Control, similar one here First Pencil Practice). So I have to be very creative with pencil control exersises and teaching the correct way of writing (she even rejects Colouring books!). Teacher from Mya’s school kindly printed and laminated some big cursive letters for her, so I layed them out for her to discover with a box of Wikki Stix – she couldn’t walk by!

Wikki Stix writing practice

Wikki Stix writing practice

As you can see though – she didn’t pactice for long (at least something, huh?) and started to create with them. For the smaller person I layed out shapes mats to trace (on the left) and she did a fairly reasonable triangle and a circle, then just started playing with stix. which was ok.

And some destruction of audio tapes (yes, I was holding on to them – just for this occasion) after an explanation about storage of music, files and videos and how it progressed over the years.

Then we made some muffins in Easter Shapes silicon mould, which I couldn’t get out of but they were still tasty (I cheated and used Madeira Cake mix)


Then I finally hearded everyone outside and we had a lovely afternoon climbing, sliding, trampolining, riding toys, making toys mucky, wahing toys and cloud-watching.

Hope your Easter break is going well.

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Posted by on April 2, 2016 in literacy and writing


Writing a letter to Father Christmas

I have recently been to my first Parent meeting. It was useful. The teacher referred to M as being “gifted”. It was nice to hear, however – I don’t think she is gifted, I think there’s a lot of work has gone into her and it’s showing now. To give M a credit – she’s absorbing what I throw at her daily and making the best of it, although sometimes in unusual and unexpected ways.
We’ve also been told that she’s unwilling to practice her writing, so this is what I have been doing to improve that.

letter to Father Christmas

letter to Father Christmas

There was a post circulating on FB about writing a letter to Father Christmas Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on November 23, 2015 in literacy and writing

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