05 November 2010

Remember, Remember the 5th of November...

gun powder treason and plot...

I see no reason why gun powder and treason should ever be forgot.

The children have been doing firework things all week... The eldest has learnt a bit about Guy Fawkes and loves the rhyme above. The middle one has been writing firework sounds e.g. "bang" "pop" "sizzle" and was very proud of his work (and his wishes and stars feedback - "my writing was brilliant but she wish-did that I did my 'g' the right way round") and at Stay and Play they were painting fire with orange and yellow paint and making sparkly glittery pictures.

So today is firework night and this morning we went to school to hear the foundation stage children singing their firework song...

10 sparkling fireworks ever so bright, one went bang in the dark dark night...
9 sparkling fireworks ever so bright, one went bang in the dark dark night...
8 sparkling fireworks ever so bright, one went bang in the dark dark night...
7 sparkling fireworks ever so bright, one went bang in the dark dark night...
6 sparkling fireworks ever so bright, one went bang in the dark dark night...
5 sparkling fireworks ever so bright, one went bang in the dark dark night...
4 sparkling fireworks ever so bright, one went bang in the dark dark night...
3 sparkling fireworks ever so bright, one went bang in the dark dark night...
2 sparkling fireworks ever so bright, one went bang in the dark dark night...
1 sparkling fireworks ever so bright, one went bang in the dark dark night...

And of course they were told about the firework code...

Keep fireworks in a closed box

• Follow the instructions on each firework
• Light all fireworks at arms length
• Stand well back
• Never go back to a lit firework
• Never put fireworks in your pocket
• Never throw fireworks
• Keep Pets indoors

We are off to fireworks tomorrow night - wonder if they'll like the bangs this year???

01 November 2010

Booktime Book Research

As a parent of a reception age child we have recently received the Booktime pack of books for those starting school this year - a copy of “Slowly, Slowly, Slowly,” Said the Sloth by legendary author and illustrator Eric Carle and Why is the Sky Blue? by Geraldine Taylor and illustrated by Amy Schimler. These two books have certainly gone down well in our house and this backs up the recent research!

According to new reader research animals and nature are top page-turners for children across generations. The research reveals that animals and nature are the favourite reading topics for both children and their parents.

The research, commissioned to coincide with over 1.3 million books being given to 4 – 5 year-old children as part of the Booktime programme, found that animals are the favourite subject matter for more than half (52%) of children. 49% of parents also said animals were their favourite thing to read about when they were growing up, suggesting that books with animal characters and environmental themes are enjoyed across the generations.

Booktime’s research, which polled over 1,500 parents and carers across the UK, also showed that reading books featuring animal characters motivates children to find out more about the natural world: 44% of children are inspired to want to go to a farm, zoo or safari park to see the animals for themselves. 90% of respondents stated that reading books about animals increases their child’s interest in the natural world and more than half of Britain’s parents report that their children are more inquisitive about animals and nature after reading a book on the subject.

One of the reasons for this enduring call of the wild was hinted at elsewhere in the research with parents and carers overwhelmingly agreeing that animal and nature themed books help their children to make sense of human feelings, relationships and the world around them.

Key findings:

  • 42% of parents say that reading about animals and the natural world inspires their children to read more books. This figure rises to 48% in the North East.
  • 97% of parents find that reading books encourages their child to talk with them about new things.
  • 67% of parents find family discussions useful in exploring their children’s questions about the natural world: 58% turn to books for answers.
  • 92% of parents and carers feel that reading books where animals are the main characters can help children to make sense of human feelings, experiences and relationships.
  • 90% of parents state that reading books about animals increases their child’s interest in the natural world. Parents in the North West are most likely to agree, with 93% stating books increase their children’s interest in the wider world – this is the highest in the UK.
Eric Carle, author of “Slowly, Slowly, Slowly,” Said the Sloth:

“I love all animals, and have since I was a boy when I used to go on walks with my father. I hope that my books can help children to develop a love of the natural world so that they will treasure and care for their environment. I am happy to be working with Booktime to inspire a love of reading that will lead children to engage with their world and every living thing in it.”

Researchers asked parents to tell them some of the most difficult and funny questions they had been posed by their children and the responses ranged from the challenging to the funny to the downright bizarre:

Why is the sky blue?

Why is water wet?

Do dolphins drink water?

Why are there no dinosaurs anymore?

How high can cows jump?

How does the moon stay in the sky?

Was the orange named after the colour, or the colour after the fruit?

Why doesn’t the dog use the toilet?

Was the world in black and white when you were young?

Can I be a vampire when I grow up?

Do you need a passport to travel to the moon?

Geraldine Taylor’s Why is the Sky Blue? is a compilation of questions asked by inquisitive children; a special shortened edition of the title was produced specifically for Booktime.

Animal character books featured in the research as the favourite books for both children and adults, with one of Eric Carle’s classic titles appearing on both lists:

Children’s favourite books 2010   1. The Gruffalo – Julia Donaldson
2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
3. Peppa Pig – Ladybird Books
4. Mr Men series – Roger Hargreaves
5. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt – Michael Rosen

Parents’ favourite children’s books (when they were 5 years old)

1. Mr Men series – Roger Hargreaves
2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
3. The Snowman – Raymond Briggs
4. Thomas the Tank Engine – Wilbert Awdry
5. Just So Stories – Rudyard Kipling

As well as inspiring inquisitiveness and intellectual curiosity, books help to fuel children’s interest in interacting with the natural world. After reading books about or featuring animals, nearly half of 10 year olds ask for a pet while 17% of children say they would like to be a vet when they grow up.

World famous primatologist Jane Goodall who wrote the foreword to “Slowly Slowly, Slowly,” Said the Sloth:
 “I’m told I was already watching insects and in love with our dog from before I could talk. Mum got books about animals knowing I would learn to read quickly in order to read them! Reading is so good for the imagination. When I was a child there was no TV and books were the only window to the wide world. Today it is even more important to stimulate the imagination. My mother always told me that if I was disappointed or sad, I could go into another world through reading. It still, for me, is a way of experiencing another world.”

To help encourage a lifelong love of reading, 1.36 million free books will be given to schoolchildren in England through the free books programme Booktime, administered by independent literary charity Booktrust in partnership with Pearson. The programme promotes reading for pleasure at an important transition stage in children’s learning and development.

Inspired by Bookstart, the free books programme for babies and toddlers, Booktime will distribute 680,000 book packs to children in over 17,000 primary schools across England. Over 25,000 resource packs will be given to schools and libraries in England to support the programme.

Geraldine Taylor, author of Why is the Sky Blue? and BBC Wildlife Writer of the Year 2000:

“As a mother and wildlife author, and as a mental health professional, I know how important wildlife is to us all. We have to love the planet, and know things about it, in order to be committed to helping it in realistic ways. In my wildlife work with children and families, I’ve noticed that it’s the small details that captivate the curiosity; the melody of a blackbird; the way that rabbits’ ears move; watching bees weigh down the petals of flowers to make a landing stage. Books are a gateway to learning so much more about the world. It is this lively curiosity and joy of discovery that Why is the Sky Blue? celebrates.”

29 October 2010

Half Term Halloween Cooking

We are nearly at the end of half term - are you bored yet? If so you might want to try some Halloween Cooking ideas.

If those recipes are too complicated - try decorating your cupcakes for halloween by adding a spider to the top (a chocolate button with legs drawn with an icing pen) or a jelly worm - or just add green food colouring to the mixture before cooking to make green cakes!

22 October 2010

Parent's Evening

This week along with many other parents (judging by friends Facebook and Twitter statuses) we had parents evening. Thinking about parents evening reminded me of the poem "Parents' Evening" by Allan Ahlberg which describes a family and teacher waiting for parents' evening. I think this poem sums up parents evening for a lot of us.

We're waiting in the corridor,
My dad, my mum and me.
They're sitting there and talking;
I'm nervous as can be.
I wonder what she'll tell 'em.
I'll say I've got a pain!
I wish I'd got my spellings right.
I wish I had a brain.

We're waiting in the corridor,
My husband, son and me.
My son just stands there smiling;
I'm smiling, nervously 

I wonder what she'll tell us.
I hope it's not all bad.
He's such a good boy, really;
But dozy - like his dad.

We're waiting in the corridor
My wife, my boy and me.
My wife's as cool as cucumber;
I'm nervous as can be.
I hate these parents' evenings.
I feel just like a kid again
Who's gonna get the stick.

I'm waiting in the classroom.
It's nearly time to start.
I wish there was a way to stop
The pounding in my heart.
The parents in the corridor
Are chatting cheerfully;
And now I've got to face them;
And I'm nervous as can be.

Luckily our experiences this time weren't bad - our boys are meeting age related expectations, behave well and enjoy learning... we have been set more targets for them so look out for more posts about these and how we are supporting them with these at home.

21 October 2010

Favourite Toys

It was interesting to read this article today about a survey by World's Apart's Dreamtown website that says children only play with five per cent of the toys they own. According to the survey of 3,000 parents, the typical child owns 238 toys in total but play with just 12 'favourites' on a daily basis making up just five per cent of their toys.

Is this true of your children?

Sadly, I think it is true of mine...

I can think of toys my children own that stay (almost permanently) in the cupboard, those that come out intensively for a few days at a time (e.g. they get a jigsaw or board game bug and do them non-stop for a day or two and then they go back into the cupboard for a month or so) and those there are two that I would say are firm favourites that are out all the time.

1) wooden train track (we have lots of BigJigs Rail from PlayMerrily)
2) Duplo (and slowly moving onto Lego)

What are your children's firm favourites?

11 October 2010

Messy Play Learning

play academy
We have blogged in the past about messy play but saw that The Play Academy are looking for messy play posts for the end of October so thought we would write a new post on this theme.

Judging by the four year old's school uniform he has been doing a lot of it at school so I asked him about his five favourite messy play things and have added some learning!

1. Shaving foam
Very simple and very messy - squirt on the table and then spread out with the palms of your hand and draw shapes, patterns and pictures or write letters, numbers and even words. This is a great activity for children who don't really like writing as they are too busy drawing to realise they are practicing and developing these fine motor skills!

2. Paint
He likes paint (claims he hasn't done it this week but someone has because there was green paint on his school shoes this morning)... He then talked about rolling marbles in paint to make patterns and mixing colours.

3. Finding Buried Treasure
Hide coins in a sandpit (doesn't matter if the sand is wet or dry - wet is messier though) and dig for them - you can use spades or spoons, sieve for them or just find them with fingers.

4. Noodles
He still remembers this from Chinese New Year - a big tray of cooked noodles to stir, pick up with large tweezers (trying chopsticks if you are brave!)

5. Playdough
Probably one of every preschoolers favourites - blogged about before with recipes - lots of learning opportunities. This week they have been thinking about birthdays and have been making playdough cakes.

08 October 2010

Book Week

Ooops I nearly missed Children's Book Week - it seems to have passed our school by...

Children’s Book Week (the first full week in October) is an annual celebration of reading for pleasure for children of primary school age. Schools, libraries and bookshops all over the UK hold events and activities aimed at encouraging children to view reading as a source of pleasure, explore libraries and bookshops and even start writing themselves.

Have you taken part? What have your children been doing?