Friday, October 4, 2013

Growing Up

I haven't been posting so much lately as I am still adjusting to a having a full-time preschooler at home. I never seem to have more than 5 minutes to quickly check my emails, let alone time to plan and write blog posts, and spending time with Nikki will always come first.

I can't believe he is turning 4 in 10 days time! He is so grown up already! And all he is asking for is... a David Tennant Sonic Screwdriver and a Great Big Tardis Box. Yes, he's still Dr Who mad.

He does appreciate other things, though. I wanted to get a small teapot, since the one I have is massive, and so I asked Nikki what sort I should get. Orange, he said. Because I like orange.

I found a great 2-person tea set, with dainty cups, saucers, milk jug and sugar bowl to match the teapot in bright orange for less than the price of a new teapot on ebay, and Nikki loves it. Every day (often several times a day) he asks me if we can have tea. I am fairly sure he enjoys the process of serving tea for both of us more than the tea itself, since I allow him to pour the milk and tea all by himself.

I'll have to get a picture of him pouring the tea. There is only one teacup in the picture because orange teacups are, apparently, only for boys, and I have pretty pink flower ones that I must use. At least it decreases the chances of both getting broken if only one ever gets used...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sneaky Little Helper

After lunch today, when I was taking the dustpan full of breadcrumbs out to the bin, Nikki decided to help...

I'm not sure whether he cleaned more with his legs or the cloth, but I appreciate the thought, even if I had to re-clean the table once I pulled him off...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


When we came home, Nikki had a purple face and between our baskets were 2lbs of berries. The next day we made lots of lovely apple and blackberry jam. Yum.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Bunny Hop Addition

Recently, Nikki has fallen for the game Snakes and Ladders in a big way. Except we have to use bunny counters and hop to each space, rather than the boring counters the game came with. This is a great opportunity for us to work on two aspects of Maths: recognizing the numbers on dice, and addition.

We use two dice to play, and for every turn Nikki must add the sum of the two dice to figure out how far each player can move. Since he is still in the early stages of learning addition (he understand the concept of "some" and "some more" type problems but has yet to figure out about counting on from any number other than 0) I came up with a cunning plan to get him adding all by himself:

I made a number line 0-12 for a third bunny. Nikki has to identify the number on the first die and hop the bunny along to that number on the line, then he identifies the second number and hops the bunny along that many more spaces and the space the bunny lands on is our answer.

Bunny needs to hop on three more spaces to find the answer...

Simple and effective, we are slowly learning all the addition variations possible from 1+1 to 6+6 and having a laugh at the same time!

Linking up to Montessori Mondays

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Perfect Toy Car

This is Nikki's absolute favourite toy car. In case you hadn't guessed - the protractor is his steering wheel.

He buckles himself in, picks up his wheel, turns the key (to start the engine: broooom broooooooom) and takes off the handbreak. He puts on indicators to turn around corners (making clicking sound effects) and occasionally stalls the engine and needs to re-start the car. When he reverses he makes a beeping noise (like the big lorries) and when he parks he puts on the handbreak, turns off the engine and undoes his seatbelt.

Unfortunately, he gets shy and embarrassed when I try to video it. I'm working on it!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Our Pre-Reception Class Curriculum

Since Nikki is going to be home with me all year, I thought it would be best to make some plans about what we are going to do. Curriculum is quite a strong word for what we will be doing, but 'vague plan with a couple of textbooks' just doesn't sound very professional!

There are four key subjects that I want to cover this year: Maths, English, Russian and Music. I have not made any proper plans for any other subjects, though we will certainly be covering other subjects in an informal way. I want to keep the formal stuff for the mornings and have afternoons free for outdoor play, arts and crafts etc.

So, here's my plan for now:


I want to re-start our work with Saxon. I don't know how I really feel about this book, since it goes so painfully slowly and Nikki already knows a lot of the material, but since we can do a lesson in 5 minutes I thought it would be a nice pain-free way of including Maths into our daily routine.

I also have a collection of Montessori materials, board games and other Maths-related activities and hope to play at least one of them every day.


Reading: we haven't really made any progress with reading lately. Reading Eggs got too difficult (not reading-wise, but in terms of computer and coordination skills) and so we didn't pay for a subscription and haven't had much luck progressing beyond CVC words. For this year, I have bought a new book, designed for early readers, called The Reading Lesson. I am impressed with the format (despite American spelling) and it promises a second grade reading level in 20 lessons. The lessons should take around 5-10 minutes and be covered in 1-2 weeks each. So we might even finish it this year if Nikki can get over his fear of reading sentences!

Writing: We have our amazing writing course Write from the Start. I am completely in love with this program because it is completely focused on fine motor control in a fun way. The worksheets take literally a couple of minutes - I swear he takes longer choosing his pen colour than actually doing the work! We will practice letter forms separately (jumping straight into cursive) and I hope to get to the point of writing words this year, too!

Story time: The most time-consuming part of our Language curriculum! I am currently putting together theme packs of 5 books to do a Five in a Row type reading program. The plan is, simply, that I will read the same five books every day for a week and we will talk about the books and find more themes and deeper understanding over the course of the week. I will probably use these books to base our arts and crafts and science experiments on, too.


Nikki will be going to Russian school again this year. I also plan to make Russian lessons a part of our daily routine.

Reading and Writing: Use a combination of his school reading textbook and games to learn the letter sound and forms. I want to use last year's textbooks for daily Russian practice. His class is progressing to multi-syllable words this year, which means he might actually be reading fairly well in two languages by the end of the year! (Russian is much easier for learning to read because you just learn 33 letters - no funny rules or letter pairs making completely different sounds, there are only a very few exceptions)

Comprehension: Again, use games and his school language textbook to revise and get the topics into his active vocabulary.

Story time: Same as for English, except the goal is more to encourage understanding and narration than discussing themes, since someone is reluctant to actually speak in Russian.


This is our final set subject. Nikki is so musical that I really want to make it a daily lesson. We have our Little Musician lessons for theory and Soft Mozart for learning the piano. I have no goals other than to keep him loving music and getting familiar with the sounds of notes and instruments, and maybe learn a couple of musical terms.

Nikki is reluctant with piano lessons - he likes to play as if he's in a band, dancing to the music and pretending to play a tune. Very occasionally I can stop him for about 30 seconds of practicing "proper" playing techniques (finger exercise or note-recognition games). The best I can hope is that he picks up a couple of bars of Jingle Bells in time for Christmas!

The End.

So there's my vague plan / curriculum for this September. My goal is to do lessons in Maths, Reading, Writing, Russian and Music for at least 5 minutes every day. That is maybe half an hour plus story time before lunch - not too much for a nearly-4 year-old, I think. Story time will probably need a maximum time limit to fit everything into the morning, though...