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Category Archives: literacy and writing

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

Workout for little fingers

This year we went to the PYO farm to get a pumpkin, but I was unorganised and we were too late – the ones on the fields were all rotten, but we were already there and kids wanted to PICK SOMETHING!

So, we found a lot of crops that were not being picked and were going to waste and we took a few things home. Our loot included few sunflower heads, some corn ears and some broad beans that were lying about in the field. Girls were particularly excited about these ones once they have discovered that under the dried out brown pods were very brightly coloured pinkish -purple beans.

We brought our treasure home and without delay they started peeling and shelling things. That was a good workout for their fingers!

We are going to throw in some conkers and some acorns and later on I’ll make them an autumn sensory bin. We haven’t had one for a while and girls love them! Hopefully the beans and corn wouldn’t start rotting. It’s quite peculiar thing happening in this neck of the woods – seeds tend to stat growing at the harvest time instead of saving their energy till next year.  I don’t quite understand it. Some of the corn that we picked started sprouting right on the cob, beans were sprouting inside their pods and acorns in our garden are rooting themselves to the ground! I need to look it up, I am pretty sure that’s not how plant’s self-preservation supposed to work…

After a while of shelling beans I matter-of-factly put some cocktail sticks out and engineering began! I started them off with building a square-based pyramid, hoping to go through some of the other 3D shapes, but they had their own plans, and I didn’t mind. (beans were very soft, freshly picked – this wouldn’t work with dried ones)

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Autumn arts

We made some acorn deer today and learnt to use some tools (screwdrivers to make holes with and pliers to snap toothpicks with). Mya’s deer kept falling and she was getting frustrated. We looked at it’s legs which were all parallel and straight and talked about how much floor surface they are taking. We experimented with trying to balance on a balance board and decided that the stability is better when the legs are diagonal and spread wider, so they are taking more floor surface, I.e. the wider your support the more stable you are. We remembered examples from skiing and from some story book about snow shoes, where snow shoe surface was wider than foot surface therefore stopped you from sinking into the snow (not quite the same but similar principal). So we repositioned the legs and it stopped falling.

When the Deer was finished Mya discovered engraving. She sat for a while engraving something on the acorns.

 

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Writing with magnets

I have been decluttering recently and came across a big tub of mixed magnetic construction sets that are not being played much with nowadays. I watched them playing with it and realised why. While it seemed like a good idea to me to combine all magnetic sets into one box (MagMax, Geomag, Magnetix and other assorted bits of unknown origin) because the parts looked very much the same, it didn’t work because there were subtle differences (just a few mm) in ball, rod and inserts sizes which meant that the figures that girls were trying to build kept falling apart if a part of a different set was used. It was very frustrating for them, so they quit it altogether.

I will be getting read of the lesser quality ones and will keep the better ones of one brand only and will build up the collection overtime instead by combining sets from the same brand.

But, before I have passed unwanted ones to the charity shop – we have done this fun activity:

Not all the letters could be built, letters with angles are the most difficult ones as magnets don’t stay at an angle, they tend to snap back

 

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2017 in literacy and writing, Maths

 

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Pop the letter!

We really like Styrofoam! We save white and black underlays from pizza and trays from fruits, and this is what we do with them:

First, we write on them with chalks (if black) or markers (if white), then we take a cocktail stick or something pointy and we start popping small holes along the lines, or drawing over the lines with the sticks.

It works great for fine motor skill development! They like the popping sounds, and after they are done with drawing – they usually entertain themselves with breaking the trays. Each time it breaks with a loud pop they squeal and giggle and keep going until only small bits are left.

At some point we used those bits as well to make wind chimes / outside tree decorations/ bird scares on a veggie patch together with the cut-up bits of drinking straws that we made when doing straw cutting exercise . They make a soft bell-like sound or maybe a whisper if you listen carefully.

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We tried cutting them with scissors for cutting practice – it works too!

Really want to try doing some Styrofoam etching with them next. Need a half decent roller for that and pigment ink. Anyone got some knocking about they don’t need?

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2017 in Crafts, literacy and writing, Maths

 

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Hot days in the garden

Hot days in the garden are definitely over. It turning very blustery here, but we’ll remember the fun and will repeat it next summer.

I have prepared this one day in advance with my younger child. She enjoyed pouring water into ice lollies moulds, choosing food colouring and dropping the colours in, watching the colouring drop to the bottom (when we shortly talked about density) then stirring the colour to dissolve it in the water. We didn’t have many colours of food colouring, so we used some old dried-out markers (washable) to make the colours that we wanted by dipping the nibs into ice-lolly moulds. I was expecting them to draw on paper, so I thought it would be ok. Don’t use anything that cannot be ingested if your child still puts everything in the mouth. I didn’t tell her what it was for.

 

Then we put them in the freezer. Next day I taped a piece of paper on a cardboard in the garden brought the ice moulds out, warned girls that these were not for eating and demonstrated how to draw on paper. They were very involved to begin with. As ice started melting slightly we did a bit of Pollack – I showed them how to do splats.

It was very hot and they were running around with not much on (hence not many pictures in this post), so it didn’t take much time for them to try painting with ice lollies on themselves. They wrote ABC and numbers on themselves, taking turns to write on each others backs and guess the letter or a number, then just started crazy painting their feet and hands and doing prints. You should’ve heard them laughing!

Definitely something I recommend doing!

Some colours came out very dull, I seem to be very unlucky with my food colouring. Can anyone recommend a brand of food colouring that produces great bright results?

 
 

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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

 
 
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