swimming certificatesWow, didn’t that first term of school go quickly?

There I was waiting for school to start and complaining of the long induction process and boom – it’s Christmas, the girls can read and recognise letters and have even started the add one concept.

They have weekly PE lessons, weekly trips to the library and they have school dinners on a Friday otherwise packed lunches.

They love school and have a good set of friends, it seems the class has bonded well and they all get on which is really nice. We’re already invited to 4 different birthday parties and that’s January alone.

We’ve had 4 number puppies home this term 5,6,7 and 8 which are good fun but can be quite time consuming.

We’ve been sent home an exercise book to write up ‘What we did during the holidays’ we shall be starting this today and finishing off our thank you notes too.

number puppy

Each day I pick the girls up with their scooters which have proven to be invaluable; at the end of the day they are very tired and often irritable, by scooting home tears are avoided and it’s a quick run home.

What needs more practise?

Dressing and undressing – I will take the blame for them being less independent as it’s quicker when I do it so most days I resort to taking over and I must stop doing this.

alice princess

Scissor practise – They have got better at managing a pair of scissors but practise makes perfect and will help them in so many projects they do at school

Organising themselves – At school the teacher cannot focus on each child individually so everyone is expected to be able ‘to look after themselves’. Bessie has lost two pairs of gloves this term thanks to her forgetfulness and Alice didn’t return with her wellington boots at the end of term which again is partly my fault as I was late taking them in and forgot to name them *sigh* I need to get better at this!

bessie and daddy christmas 12

Reading and writing – you can’t get enough practise at this early stage and luckily for me both girls like to sit and ‘write’ they will practise their letters and copy various words. I found Magnetic reception year words on Amazon and they like reading them on the fridge and moving them around.

They both wrote their own Christmas cards out even though Bessie did get a bit creative towards the end of her pack and started to write Happy or Christmas rather than her name.

writing cards

Numbers – they count well to 20 and they can also write them. They have started the concept of add one and thanks to the advent calendar are beginning to understand the numbers over ten asking me each morning in December ‘Which numbers make 21 mummy?’

After school activities

Gymnastics – Monday after school at 4pm for an hour. They have passed level 1 back at half term and we’re still waiting for the medals to come through, there were tests for level 2 just before the end of term but neither made it through which is fine because they are really enjoying the class. They can now do roly polies and try to stand on their heads or do crabs but can’t quite make it yet :)

Swimming – Saturday at 8am for half an hour, which is my only gripe. I’d happily move this to an after school activity as getting out of bed on a Saturday morning at 6.30am to get to the lesson on time is hard work but Daddy is happy to take them along and it’s his special time with them, they all enjoy it. The girls got their level 2 certificates earlier this month and are really confident in the water.

I’m keeping the activities down to two for now as any more and they get too tired.

General chit chat

Favourite toys this Christmas have been the Disney dolls with different clothes to change them into, the marble run and the Leap Pads which have been an enormous hit, I shall be looking into new apps soon

Britax Kidfix SICT in carA guest post by the lovely people at Britax who want you to be safe on the roads this Christmas.

Travelling in the car over the Christmas holiday period to visit friends and family can be unpredictable.  The weather may be rubbish, traffic can be heavier and the darker mornings and early nights can make driving a little trickier.  Safety is important in the cold winter months and travelling on long journeys with children you also have to think about how to keep them amused, how to stop sibling fights and what to do when you hear ‘MUMMY I need a wee wee’ or ‘MUMMY I feel sick…’ Britax has developed some ‘Top Tips’ to make sure your Christmas journey is a little more stress free…

Getting your family ready

  • Make sure your car seats are fitted correctly so that your children will be as safe and comfortable as possible.  Check that the harness and headrest is at the right height for your child.  Visit www.britax.co.uk to see how.
  • Pack the car the night before so in the morning you just have to pop in the kids, the change bag and the favourite teddy bears.
  • Make sure you have extra drinks for the children and a flask of hot coffee / tea for unexpected delays.
  • Make sure your mobile is fully charged.
  • Have an empty plastic bag to store rubbish – think banana skins, chocolate wrappers, used baby wipes.  Also handy if there is an unexpected bout of travel sickness.
  • Best in-car munchies? Dried fruit, cheese sticks and the more chewy, less crumbly of the cereal bars.
  • Make sure you have a good collection of DVD’s that suit all the children for when they are allowed screen time!
  • If you have boys, make sure you have a couple of empty bottles if they need an emergency wee!
  • Have plenty of baby wipes for in-car nappy changes, dirty hands and chocolate faces.
  • Store a few surprises in the front seat for those un-timely fractious moments, such as pens and papers for extra games, some interactive books and a couple of little animal toys.
  • Try and plan your driving time around sleep times.  Sometimes letting the little ones run wild all morning lends itself to a more relaxed afternoon drive. Travelling at night may be preferable so they all sleep – although you need to make sure you aren’t too tired and settling a little one into a new environment late at night can sometimes be a bit testing.
  • Divide and conquer.  Keep as much space as possible between siblings in the back – the closer they are, the feistier they can get. Try a physical boundary like a pillow between them.
  • Pack some blankets and have hats and gloves ready should you need them at a moments notice.

Plan your route

  • If going on a journey that is likely to last longer than two hours, make sure you plan a stop as newborn babies should not be in car seats for longer than two hours at any one time.
  • Check online before you set off for any major delays or accidents and have in mind key service stations to stop at. Moto service stations have Baby Feeding Stations with free Organix babyfood, bowls, spoons, steribottles, nappies, bibs and wipes, plus high chairs.
  • Check out play facilities at www.motorwayservices.info where Britain’s service stations are reviewed and rated.  When you stop, try to allow enough time for your toddler or older child to have a run around before herding them back into the car. Having the chance to burn off steam helps to minimise squabbling and boisterousness when you set off again.

Britax Kidfix SICT in car

Getting your car ready

  • It is always important that your car is ready to hit the road when travelling in cold conditions.  Make sure you have an ice scraper or de-icer, some extra windscreen washer fluid and plenty of fuel in the car!  There is nothing worse than stopping 10 minutes into your journey with children to fill the car up, especially if you are travelling at night.  Give your car a small maintenance check, looking at tyre pressure, windscreen washer fluid, water and oil levels.  Make sure these are all topped up before you start your journey.
  • For more information on making sure your car is fit for the road and what to do if you breakdown on the motorway, visit: http://www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/breakdown_advice/general.html

Whilst on the move

  • It is no myth, when children hit a certain age, rather than simply cry, they constantly moan ‘are we nearly there yet?’  Keep a mental note of some good ‘in car’ games to while away the boredom that always hits on long car journeys.  A few of BRITAX’s favourite ones are;
  • Chocolate or cheese:  Each person takes turns to ask the question “If you had to choose between the following, which one would you choose?” For example, chocolate or cheese, or perhaps being able to fly or become invisible!
  • Granny’s Knickers:  Everyone asks one person a question to which they have to respond with the answer “Granny’s Knickers” regardless of the question, without giggling! (For example “What’s your favourite ice-cream flavour?”)
  • Guess the Animal: Someone thinks of an animal, others ask questions about that animal – can it fly? is it wild? To which the person can only answer yes or no. Or the person describes the animal and everyone else has to guess what it is.
  • The Yes or No Game: You ask one person questions to which they can answer anything except yes or no. If they say yes or no they are out and it’s someone else’s turn. (What’s your name? Anna. Are you sure?)
  • Rhyming game – start with a word (i.e. cat, love, chair) and see how many rhyming words they can come up with.

I feel sick….’ Whose heart doesn’t sink when their child utters those three little words? Especially when there’s no chance of stopping. Nausea is triggered by conflicting information being sent to the brain – i.e. while the inner ear detects lots of swishy motion, the eyes don’t. That’s why it helps to look out, especially at the horizon, or at least something in the far distance – rather than at a book.  Breathing slowly and deeply can help too, and opening a window might buy you enough time to pull over safely. If the worst happens, stop when it’s safe so your child can stretch their legs and rehydrate with sips of water.

and when you get there….

Just when you thought it was all over… Do remember that the children will probably fall out of the car when you arrive, either full of energy, sugar and thoroughly over excited, or groggy, car sick and nervous. Either way, plan for some transitional activity – whether that’s running up and down stairs or sitting quietly in the corner reading a book.

HAPPY DRIVING! AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

britax mumbassador

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?

School disco

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?