Now the girls are happily settled into school and I have all this time on my hands, often throughout the day my thoughts drift to wondering what are they doing?

I can’t hide that I have been just as excited as them this past month. I think starting school is an enormous step in their lives, a step when they begin to construct their own world outside of the home. They will choose their own friends, start making their own decisions and learn lots of wonderful things every day.

On asking my children after school ‘What did you do today?’ I repeatedly hear ‘I can’t remember.’ So when our school held an Open Classroom a couple of weeks ago it was the perfect opportunity to stalk my own kids and find out what they’d been doing with their time.

self portraits - Alice and Bessie aged 4

Just so you know who we are talking about, here are the two protagonists of today’s post as seen by themselves, pictures I will never tire of seeing  – can’t wait to see how they do mum!

Mrs T (for teacher) explained that a lot of their time is play time, most of the learning activities are centered around games and we have a fabulous outdoor area which is also covered so much of their time is spent outdoors in the fresh air.

Inside classwork will take the form of colouring, painting, cutting and a lot of creativity so children enjoy whilst they’re learning.

Me, Myself and I

Term 1 has been focused on Myself, this has included parts of the body. Bessie showed me her fist one evening and very proudly informed me

‘These are knuckles mummy.’

Myself has also included lots of work on how we are feeling and this also has brought home some interesting conversation, like when I called the girls upstairs for a bath one evening and heard Alice in her best moany voice (as she didn’t want to be dragged away from CBeeBies)

‘Mummy, you’re hurting my feelings.’

children's art work 'our bodies' reception class

Of course school wouldn’t be school if we didn’t spend time learning our alphabet and our numbers and here are the first signs of writing the satpin letters.

cursive writing in reception class

I think t for teeth has to be my favourite

Numbers play a good part and I discovered they use number lines, basically a strip of teddy bears or another object, each with a number on a laminated strip starting with 0 and ending with 10. The children are taught to use two fingers so they place the left hand finger on number 1 for example and add two (count two spaces) with the right finger. This introduces adding and further down the line taking away in a simple method that sticks.

Myself has also been recently extended to family and below is Bessie’s work as she portrays her sister on a stone. I love it and find it even more endearing as Alice was off sick whilst this task was being done.

sister

Last night’s first ever parent’s evening was fabulous, a ten minute chat about each child where I was told they had both settled in well, that after an initial separation anxiety when groups went off to do separate work (The girls have been split into different groups and it’s more Alice than Bessie who struggled with her sister leaving the classroom) they can now work very well individually. They are happy girls always smiling and although their personal organisation needs working on said Mrs T, they are very good and fun to work with.

I will take the blame for the personal organisation as hopefully other twin mum’s will, but when you’ve got two to prepare and get out of the house it’s so much easier to do everything for them rather than wait for them to do it. I’ll have to hold back and let them get on with it from now

Half Term homework

  • Practise using scissors as they’re not very good
  • Practise drawing lines (I have a roll of very long paper and we’re going to draw roads for the cars)
  • Practise shapes as Alice loves them
  • Reading, counting and letter writing

IF they will do it with me because one thing I have noticed is they will do anything Mrs T sets them but when I, at home suggest letters or numbers I am greeted with groans and moans, maybe it’s my teaching technique?

number puppy 6I must admit to great excitement in the house when it is our turn to have a number puppy for the night.

Today’s post is based on Number puppy 6, a puppy with a penchant for the number 6, the colour purple and the hexagon shape. Number puppy 6 is one of ten puppies who will travel around the class visiting our homes throughout the course of reception year. Friendly fellows who come in their own special bag containing a story book and an exercise book.

Children run out of class at 3pm smiling gleefully if they are one of the lucky chosen 10 and their parents have that smile-on-the-face-dread-in-the-heart expression as they wonder how they’re going to fit that too into the evening routine. You can see them mentally judging time routines and hoping the puppies’ shape is one easily found in the house.

It can also become a means of competition amongst the mummies – who produces the best homework :)

THAT is all I need right now so I plod on and try my best to keep it simple and achievable leaving the bigger and best to the others.

So purple loving Number Puppy 6 who is in fact pink, a beautiful shocking pink at that, loves the shape hexagon (How many sides does that one have?) Thank goodness the puppy is kind enough to remind us mummies it’s 6 – yep Number Puppy 6, there was a clue in his name.

Hexagon?

Number Puppy 6 has already visited two homes from the class, lucky Emily used 50 pence pieces – her mummy’s not silly and Liam’s scooter had a hexagon light on the front so we had to dig deeper.

number puppy 6

The biscuit cutter box came up trumps with two hexagon shaped cutters – one per twin because even if it is officially Bessie’s number puppy Alice still has a go too. So we drew round the biscuit cutters in the book, added an initial B to some of them (A,M,D to the last 3 – Alice Mummy Daddy) and wrote a line of 6’s, where I forced myself not to comment on how some of them were dreadful. Mummy then added a few lines mentioning we might make hexagon shaped biscuits the next day – that was Friday and nope they’re still not done but we might get round to doing them at some point.

number puppy 7

Last weekend Alice brought home number puppy 7, he was orange and liked ovals, he got eggs from the fridge and a trip to Broadstairs because Saturday was a nice day, we took a photo of him on the beach which is going to infuriate the competitive mums but hey ho…a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Could this be the start of puppy rage?

cursive alphabetWhat a great school the girls are in! All parents have been invited to three workshops last week to enable us to help our children get to grips with the learning system our school are using with our children and I am so pleased they are encouraging parents to take part and help them help our kids learn.

One of the most important messages they’re sending us is they cannot stress enough how important it is for parents to take an active role in their children’s learning and this imput doesn’t have to take up hours of a busy parents time, for example five minutes alone reading time and games played around the house all help the child memorise and utilise what they’ve been learning in class.

The main point being raised at the moment is our children are learning mostly through play, games in the classroom, lots of outdoor activity – even when it’s raining as we have a sheltered playground and a game may cover three of four different parts of the education syllabus.

Phonics for foundation stage

Phonics is a method for teaching reading and writing the English language by developing learners’ phonemic awareness—the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate phonemes—in order to teach the correspondence between these sounds and the spelling patterns (graphemes) that represent them. – Wikipedia

The above jargon explained in ‘proper’ English means our children will learn the sounds that make words and although there are some ‘tricky’ words that will have to be memorised as they don’t follow the phonics rule it is proven by following this method of teaching, children learn quicker. There’s even a video on You Tube to help parents recognise the sounds

Another rule they will be following is learning to use cursive writing from the start. The teachers say they have seen excellent results already with previous years that have used the method and they will also encourage the children to recognise letters in many different fonts. In fact how can we as parents help?

Well, think of the logos, and fonts used in every day life from store names to cereal packets to comics and basically anything that has the written word on it. Encourage the children to recognise the letters.

Play games which encourage children to think about the word they’re saying ‘what sound does cat start with?’ c would be the answer (see video for correct pronunciation)

This morning at breakfast I asked ‘Who wants some ‘te’ for toast?’ followed by ‘Would you like ‘ge’ for jam or huh for honey?’ I’m not sure I’m spelling those phonics correctly but you get the point and what’s more the girls loved it.

We’ve been given lots of sites where we can play games with the children that I’d like to pass on to you too and also note down for myself in case I lose the piece of paper!

  • www.phonicsplay.co.uk click on games but also printables available
  • www.ictgames.co.uk – Phonic and numeracy games
  • Kent ITC games – Phonic and numeracy games
  • Starfall – American site
  • Crickweb – variety of games
  • CBeebies – alphablocks
  • Letters and Sounds – printable games

Reading foundation stage workshop

Our second workshop was to help children learn to read and to assist their learning we are encouraged to spend 5 minutes a day listening to them, even if it’s just a picture and they are telling you what is going on in that picture. To ask questions like “What happened next?’ How did it end? so they get a notion of beginning , middle and end of story.

Preschoolers reading a book

We shall be receiving books home next week with a special contact book to write each child’s progress and it’s not important they finish the book in one go but concentrate on one/ two pages at a time and get them right. Make sure the child understands what they are reading.

Useful sties include

Maths foundation stage workshop

Lastly today our maths workshop. Most games played outside will include a numeracy aspect or shapes, mass, size, weight, and proportion. children will learn to recognise numbers 1 – 20 and know which number comes next and before. Our role is to let them help us measure when we cook, show them numbers around the house, ie on the remote control, telephone, clock and so forth. Get them to recognise the numbers on number plates and ask them to add one on to a number to get the notion of one more.

John crane High Tea Shape sorter, number

some helpful websites are

So I’m sure you agree we have plenty of resources to help our little ones learn easily over the next year

17th September

Today I have accompanied the girls to school for their first real day of school, I say day but they’re only staying till midday this week – which is better than nothing!

They were both VERY excited. I had reminded them after reading last night and Bessie came bounding in at 6.45am raring to go! Alice had to be woken at 7am which is the time I’ve set our alarm for to get ready and walk up the road to school.

Bessie has been very dependent recently and this morning was no different. On asking the girls to brush their teeth she asked me to do it for her. Wanting to get into a ‘system’ where they start doing more and more for themselves I refused and this brought on moans and tantrums to which I put my foot down = tears.

Alice quietly got on and brushed her teeth like a little angel.

I have been encouraging the girls all summer to undress themselves and start dressing themselves too. Bessie can’t be bothered to do this either. ‘I want you to do it.’ she says. For the second time I put my foot down and insisted she start helping herself as she’s now going to Big School and she’s not a preschooler anymore = more tears and bigger tantrum.

Alice very quietly manages to undress herself and start dressing herself too needing help to turn her top round as it was on back to front.

Daddy comes up to see what all the commotion is about and adds his tuppence worth very much along the lines of what I’ve been saying and Bessie throws herself on the floor and sobs, her cheeks now becoming blotchy and red.

‘Is this how my days are going to be from hereon?’ I wonder

I scoop her up and decide to try the cuddle tactics, they work and she settles down, thumb in mouth and little teddy in her tight grip.

school uniform

On their induction day last week I made the mistake of doing their hair exactly the same (to avoid arguments) and of course in their uniform the teachers had no idea who was who. So this morning I decided to do their hair differently. Bessie in bunches (B) and Alice with a pony tail.

More tears from Bessie when she realised her hair was different to her sisters, this time I whipped out their brand new school shoes from Clarks – both with flashing lights on the sides which they adore and the tantrum was blocked with this my distraction technique.

Shoes on, photo taken, bags on shoulders and off we go by foot to school. It’s 8.30 and gate shuts at 8.55.

The girls will spend their reception year in Badgers class and have to be accompanied to the door and collected every day whereas as of year one they can be left on the school playground.

And so we start our school journey, bring it on!

panasonic v700 hd camcorder

Panasonic HD camcorder (HC-V700)

Panasonic contacted me early in September asking if I’d like to review one of their top of the range camcorders, it wasn’t going to be mine to keep, just to trial.

I’d like to say a few things as I really fell in love with this camera and if you were thinking of buying one I’d thoroughly recommend it as I am so reluctant to let it go.

Panasonic have 7 cameras in this range and the HC-V700 model is 3rd from the top, the two higher models are aimed at semi-pros so I think we can safely say this is top of the family range.

There is no need to be a techno geek to use this model as it has iA – intelligent auto installed. What does this mean? It has automatic face detection, meaning it will detect the face and box it switching to portrait mode or to landscape mode as necessary

A big advantage is the lens on this camera, it is barrel shaped with an optical zoom of 38 giving a much better quality. That means 38 pure magnification and 46 x whilst still giving high definition.

The camera takes into account whilst you’re walking around smoothing out your bumps and jolts making the final product easier to view, it uses the same system as shock absorbers on a car!

This model is compatible with a 3D lens too which can be bought as an accessory online

Whilst in playback mode you can edit the footage you have taken there and then, there are plenty of tutorials on the PanasonicUK You Tube channel but you can add music to them and connect a days footage into one film.

Top tips for this Panasonic HD camcorder (HC-V700)

  • Use iA mode
  • OIS or Optical Image Stabiliser (the smoothing out bit I was telling you about) use this!
  • See the whole scene and then do a zoom

Disclosure – I was sent a Panasonic HD camcorder (HC-V700) on trial to review, I loved it I wished I didn’t have to send it back as there is so much more to learn and so many more memories to record. If you can, buy one – you won’t regret it. RRP from £369.99 to £399.00