30 September 2010

Farm Animals

Old Macdonald is once again a firm favourite in our house and if I hear e-i-e-i-o once more...

Anyway, it reminded me that I blogged before about learning about farm animals so I won't repeat myself - but thought it was worth sharing these finger puppets with you. Hope your little ones enjoy making them as much as mine.

We have also had fun playing Old MacDonald Lotto; a game which encourages you to make lots of noises and actions as you find the farm cards to match the pictures on your playing board.

Altogether now... Old MacDonald had a farm, e-i-e-i-o!

19 September 2010

Talk Like A Pirate Day

Today is 'Talk Like a Pirate Day' so whilst it isn't a real "Jobs People Do" it is one that a lot young children wold say they want to do when they grow up - so I thought that it was worth a post.

Maybe you could have a pirate learning day?

Here are some ideas:
  • make maps (art skills plus try coordinates)
  • counting treasure (either make simple circles of gold card or practice real money skills)
  • treasure hunts (writing, reading and solving clues)
  • singing pirate songs
  • reading pirate books

17 September 2010

Today's Target: Reading High Frequency Key Words

Over the last week we have continued to work our way through the learning to read high frequency words... here are the top five ways we have practiced reading them:
  1. Reading books together and seeing which ones we can spot
  2. Matching pairs (using two sets of word flashcards - read as you turn over)
  3. Find the word (we printed a sheet with them on in a wall arrangement and coloured the bricks)
  4. Fishing (a paper clip added to the word flashcard and a magnet on a string for a rod) - read the word when you pull it out)
  5. Quick reading lists - list ten-twenty of the words in a list, how fast can you read them all correctly
How have you been practicing these words?

We have started learning to spell them too - look out for a post on that next week!

16 September 2010

Special Offer: Half Price Numberball

Does your child have the target of learning their times tables? If so this special offer is just for you!

A HALF PRICE Numberball: a great aid for learning basic multiplication.

The set includes two giant tactile eight-sided dice, as well as counters, number grids and timer.

Numberball is a fun and colourful way to help memorise the basic multiplication tables - the colour coded Numberballs and chart make finding the answer easy, and remembering it too!

There are many different ways to use Numberball; playing 4-in-a-row, using the timer, filling in the blank chart, or placing counters on the squares all of which help children remember the times tables. Suitable for 1 to 4 players.

10 September 2010

Today's Target: High Frequency Key Words

Children in Reception / Year 1 and Year 2 have a list of high frequency words that they need to learn to read and spell. Our eldest has been given the challenge of ensuring that he can read and spell them and he is very excited about ticking them all of his list! So over the next few weeks that is what we will be doing and I will blog about the different ways we do this. If you have any great ideas please let me know!

First of all we have dug out the set of Magnetic Reception High Frequency Words and they are stuck on the fridge so we can check the reading of them by making sentences - I will leave some there for the boys to read in the morning.

I think he can read all of these and probably spell most of them but it makes sense to start with checking the reception words before tackling the list of Year 1 & 2 ones.

07 September 2010

Fairy Tales for Boys?

Over the holidays we went to Warwick Castle and went into the Princess Tower. They have warning signs that it is "not for boys" but boy #2 wanted to go in the Princess Tower so we did.

The story goes that Princess Tower is home to Warwick Castle’s very own fairytale princess, Princess Arabella and that preparations are underway for her wedding. Children go into one of the castle rooms and meet a princess who tells them all about Princess Arabella's forthcoming wedding to Prince Toby and along the way she shows the children various things from other fair tales. So they meet a frog (who she kisses to see if it will turn into a prince), Sleeping Beauty's spinning wheel, the bed from the Princess and the Pea, one of Cinderella's old ragged dresses and help to chose the fairy tale outfit to go with Princess Arabella's dress. Then they go into another room and dress as princesses (with boys dressing as knights as a bit of an afterthought) before going onto the room of wishes where they write their wish in the book.

All in all it would seem a great introduction for children to fairy tales - so why then is it all "pink" and why are they discouraging boys from getting involved?

Surely, all children need to know traditional tales not just girls? and is it any wonder that boys are not achieving the same results in literacy if they are not being given encouragement at even this most basic level.?

06 September 2010

Back to School

I had been meaning to write a post about starting school and transitions - but I had written about that before in these posts about starting school and transitions and I couldn't really think of much to add. I had plans for blog posts that didn't work out for various reasons but today we are "Back to School".

Tara's prompt for this week's Gallery is Back to School - and here are my two big boys going back to school.

For Littlesheep Learning this "Back to School" means a few less children at home during the day, more time to focus on the business and a new year with new plans - watch this space!

05 September 2010

Autumn Fair

Today I went to the Autumn Fair to see what new things my old suppliers have and see if there are any new suppliers that have nice things I want to stock at Littlesheep Learning.

As usual I came away a bit overwhelmed with lots of catalogues and ideas. Now the hard work starts trying to choose what to add to our range. Lots of planning to be done over the next few weeks.

When I have blogged about it before I have managed to meet up with some other mums in business but sadly that wasn't the case this weekend - maybe next time!

01 September 2010

Incidental Learning – But I didn’t teach them that!

How often does your child demonstrate their knowledge and you sit there thinking – how on earth does he know that, I’ve not taught him it? I know it happens a lot in our house. We don’t sit around all day with colour, letter and number flashcards (although we do have some that they play with from time to time!) yet somehow; maybe through osmosis, children seem to manage to learn this and so much more.

So how do children learn acquire general knowledge? The answer is simply by their observational skills and being given the opportunities to see things, ask questions and have information shared with them. All of this learning is incidental so they don’t realise they are doing it, as far as they see it they are going to the supermarket, watching television, having a bath or sharing a book but in reality they are doing so much more.

This post gives some ideas of how you can incorporate these incidental learning opportunities into your day.

First, make use of clocks! When your children wake for the day show them the time it is – talk about the big hand being on the (whatever) and the small hand being on the (whatever – preferably after seven!) or read the numbers on a digital clock. You’ve immediately started teaching telling the time / number recognition and you are still all in your pyjamas! You can repeat this activity throughout the day pointing out lunch time, bath time, bed time etc and telling them that at certain times things will be happening.

Breakfast and getting dressed give a whole host of opportunities. Labelling foods and clothes, colours, counting as you do up buttons, reading labels on food packaging plus developing the self-help skills related to eating and dressing.

Moving onto the household chores; sorting washing is great for learning colours – and the sooner you can get your child to pair up the clean socks the sooner it’s one job you can pass on! Tidying toys is an excellent opportunity to teach categories – all the animals in one box, musical instruments in another and the cars in a third. Cooking is a fantastic activity for incidental learning. Not only is your child learning the culinary skills, they are also reading (following recipes), measuring and counting, developing fine motor control – stirring, rolling, spooning, cutting etc, plus increasing their general knowledge by talking about food labels, where ingredients come from, plus all the describing words for example; dry, powdery, wet, lumpy, hot, cold, smooth or my son’s favourite ‘gungy’! Again a trip to the supermarket has a whole host of possibilities; colours, labels, counting, writing and reading lists (very small children can use picture lists) and money skills.

Of course children’s toys all have educational potential too. Whilst building with blocks talk about their shapes and colours. You can count the carriages on the train when playing with train sets and talk about where the people are going. Dressing up activities provide opportunity to explore topics such as people who help us through talking to your children about what they do, where they work, the vehicles they use etc, and role play with pretend food and plates / cutlery means you can talk about sharing, counting and even meal planning and healthy eating.
Games can teach turn taking, matching, counting and many other skills.

Then at the end of the day, counting the stairs to get upstairs reinforces counting and bath time provides another great learning opportunity, the simplest of bath toys – a set of stacking cups is a brilliant for learning colours, sizes, measuring volume and pouring. Lastly bedtime is a lovely time to share books snuggled up together – rhyming books help with phonic development, counting books are good for teaching numbers and all books provide the opportunity for learning to read simple words, talking about the plot, the characters, predicting what comes next and a whole host of other things.

Lastly, there are lots of reports about television being ‘bad’ for children – but a few well chosen programmes can enhance their knowledge base (and yours!). For example, at three my son was telling me about the sewage treatment process thanks to
Come Outside and Something Special has taught us all lots of signs and helped the children with their language development. Again, programmes such as the Numberjacks, Fun with Phonics and Alphablocks introduce numeracy and literacy skills without children really thinking about them.

So, in answer to the question – how did they learn that – the answer is you probably taught them without even thinking about it, what you see as a simple discussion about the weather will stick in a child’s head and before you know it they are telling you about the seasons, or even the water cycle!