Twin time – 1st term of Big School

It’s time for a catch up on the twins very nicely prompted by Fiona at Coombe Mill who you must nip over and see as she owns and runs a fabulous farm guest house in North Cornwall, the perfect holiday spot for families who want to get close to the animals. Fiona is holding the next #MultipleMayhem carnival on 3rd December.

twins aged 4 and a bit

We have successfully completed our first half term and enjoyed our first half term break although there was a little confusion as to why we weren’t going to school and misunderstandings about going on a school trip (?)

The girls are really coming into their own now and although Alice remains the shier of the two girls she is getting more and more confident.

twins 4 and a bit

I have the feeling Alice is a bit of a worrier as she doesn’t shout out her answers as loudly and clearly as her sister but mumbles them almost as if she’s afraid she’s getting them wrong at times. If I prompt her too vigorously it makes her even more quieter than she was before so I have to use a gentle coaxing method with her with lots of kind prompting, on the other hand Bessie is the opposite, often interrupting and answering her sister’s questions and upsetting her at the same time!

The girls get on very well together and 99% of the time life is sweet but we do have the odd occasion, sometimes when one of them is just feeling the desire to wind up her sister to see how far she can take it – very annoying. On occasions they will get tearful, moany and irritable, not the best combination to deal with but I find good old CBeebies is marvellous at helping me out and calming them down.

learning to write

We have played games on the laptop which they love, they like playing with their Nintendo DS and are getting the hang of the games slowly and they also adore playing with their fairies or princesses. For Christmas this year Paul and I have bought them a Leappad 2 each. I am hoping this will help them learn to read as I want to add on some books. Count, add up and subtract with a cartridge game and learn their way around using a tablet. I’ve heard different views on this product, some parents wish they’d never bought it as their child hasn’t taken to it at all and others love them saying they are constantly running out of batteries! Luckily for me the Leappad 2 has a battery charger.

Out of school activities include swimming lessons on a Saturday morning and gymnastics on a Tuesday evening. I did take them to street dance lessons last half term on a Monday evening but it was all a bit too much so for the moment we’ve dropped dance.

halloween costumes

I love the way they are learning without realising it, last night as we had bath time they ran me through all the opposites they could think of (the theme for developing their social, emotional and behavioural skills this term ‘ Getting on and falling out.’) Big – small, long – short and so on. We are sent home reading books to read every night, right now they are picture books and I get each one to tell me the story as we turn the pages, all three of us snug on the sofa.

Last term we learnt the letters s,a,t,p,i,n and this term the letters will be m,d,g,o,c,k,ck then I imagine we’ll start to see words cropping up. I find this very exciting and love watching how they absorb everything so easily. Next update due around Christmas time thanks for reading.

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Multiples Mayhem from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Reception: What’s the classroom like?

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 6 – learning your numbers

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?

Moosicology – turbo boost your child’s development

Music engages practically all areas of the brain.

Research by Schlaug et al (1995) showed that music learning before the age of 7 boosted the connection between the two sides of the brain.

Music learning tends to produce more intelligent and creative children.

Moosicology is the first and only home education package for children (0-7) that teaches them real music skills using specially designed songs, stories and illustrations. It is a 64 track CD with an accompanying educational book and a Grown Ups Guide. This innovation in music teaches skills that have been scientifically proven to boost brain development.

How does Moosicology work?

It teaches children skills in rhythm, melody, listening and music reading which in turn

  • boost intelligence and IQ,
  • improve literacy (accelerating children’s reading rates when compared to children without music learning) and developing language skills
  • Develop better skills in mathematics than children without music skills
  • Enjoy better emotional and social well being

But music lessons are very costly and time consuming so Liisa Henrikson, a classically trained pianist and songwriter put together Moosicology for parents to use at home. the package draws on the Montessori method which shows that children learn best at their own pace and through fun.

Moosicology

How do I use Moosicology?

The beauty of this product is it can be used anytime, anywhere with or without parental guidance and research shows that the earlier children are exposed to music the better.

What does the Moosicology package include?

Four separate phases

  1. The story dramatizes the musical concept to get the child thinking about it
  2. The 1st song demonstrates the musical concept with an imaginative song
  3. The activation track defines the concept just heard in a song, this time on it’s own and in comparison to another music concept
  4. The 2nd song is a ‘jingle’ about the music concept – it describes it in song form to help the child understand and remember without even realising
moosicology lesson 1

What do I think of Moosicology?

When I first read the email asking me to review this product, I jumped at the chance, after all anything that can help my girls learn to read, write and be confident in Maths has to be a no-brainer, right?

I particularly liked the fact that they didn’t necessarily need me present whilst they were listening so I put the CD on in the lounge and went back to the pc to ‘work’ whilst secretly watching them from the table. It could have gone two ways, they could have completely ignored it or listened and they listened.

They listened for ages which surprised me and they started to dance and take note of the various rhythms proposed, they loved it!

moosicology notes

My trouble is not having a set routine, during the induction school process I kept forgetting to follow up with another ‘session’ but I liked their first reaction, I can’t tell you whether their brains are developing faster than other kids as it’s very early days at school but I can say that during our home visit with Mrs T, I showed her the product and asked her thoughts and she said some teachers from school, herself included, had been on recent workshops to learn more about this theory and to introduce it in their school programmes. She thought it was well worth following up and using at home.

That was enough for me to know it was a good product and now I am slowly working it into our weekly routine, along with dancing, gymnastics and swimming lessons, only this ‘lesson’ they wear their princess dresses and do as they please so it’s a fun time. Only 15 mins approx at a time so they don’t get bored and when I can we open the book that accompanies the CD and talk about what we see.

Moosicology costs £67 and is available from the Moosicology website

School home visit – what’s it all about?

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