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

Badgeres class

A gift from last year’s Badgers given to the girls on our home visit

After our first introduction day at school last week was spent at home whilst we had our home visit, apparently it’s a government decision and although it was lovely to meet the teachers; Mts T (for Teacher) and Miss A (for Assistant) I still feel the time needed to cover a class of home visits could be used differently. I suppose in the ‘old days’ all of the information given out would have been done with an assembly.

My visit kicked off over an hour early which caught me out as I was using my time to get work done on Mari’s World and planned to spend the half hour prior to their arrival, putting away my huge pile of ironing, brushing the girls hair and asking them to help me tidy up all the toys strewn over the floor. I wanted to spend five minutes with the girls reminding them to be on their best behaviour, explaining what I expected of them during this visit and basically laying down the law – my law.

So that went out of the window and the ladies found me unprepared and more to the point, I hadn’t been able to speak to the girls…

Mrs T sat down with me and we went through various letters from the school, all very interesting. In the meantime Miss A spoke with the girls.

  • I have the opportunity to eat a school lunch with them one day but sadly I can’t as I’m at an event that day
  • I have the opportunity to join in three workshops, one on Phonics, one on Reading and the last on maths. Luckily I can make two out of three.
  • I’m invited to a coffee morning to find out more about the school PTA

Mrs T also explained the children will be taught cursive writing from the word go, she left me with two laminated cards with the various letters on them more or less in the order they will be learnt to help with practise at home. We talked about reading, they will be bringing a book home to read so there is no need for me to invest in the Oxford set or any others I may have been contemplating.

cursive alphabet

I was handed the Home School Agreement to sign which is a ‘contract’ saying what you can expect from the school with regards to looking after your children and what we must promise as our side of the bargain

  • Ensure my child attends regularly and on time
  • Encourage them to do their best
  • Inform the school if anything happens at home that might affect them at school
  • Help my child with homework activities
  • Work with the school to support my child if any concerns arise with their learning or behaviour
  • and a couple of others but you get the picture
school information leaflets

There is an attendance leaflet, I was disappointed to see that any day off sick, which let’s face it is bound to happen at some point will mean they won’t get their 100% attendance. Paul and I have already decided to not take them out of school for any holidays, that’s why we have invested in a caravan to make the most of school holidays ;)

Interestingly there is a leaflet on guidance using cameras and videos with some brilliant points made. I am currently making a video using a Panasonic HD camcorder of their journey into Big School so very helpful information.

school leaflets useful info

For some reason the girls went a little mad on me; running up and down the lounge and playing cushion fights, totally unexpected. Where I was trying to listen to Mrs T the situation was getting a bit out of order. I asked them to stop on a few occasions but they weren’t listening and I didn’t want to shout at them as I normally would, so quite frustrating.

Do the teachers want to see me shout at them to stop? Use a naughty step? Are they watching my parenting skills? If so I’m not sure I gave the right impression.

The girls were left with a green paper cutout leaf each, we are to write something on each leaf which each child wants to get better at.The leaves will be placed on a tree in the classroom and will be a point of discussion over the next few weeks and they were given a lovely welcome gift from last year’s badgers, see top photo ;)

In my humble opinion I think the government can do away with home visits and just crack on with settling the children into schooling on a regular basis

Practising holding a pencil exercises

Killing time and waiting for our first day at school