Monday, October 22, 2012

Russian Immersion

For the last two weeks, it has once more been Russian immersion in our home. Pretty much all structured learning went out the window while Nikki spent time with his father, practising his second language.

He has made another massive leap forward in his speaking and comprehension skills. He has learnt loads of new vocabulary and uses it. He now can speak in sentences, though he often needs prompts to make him do so.

I wish it were possible for me to keep up the same level of Russian by myself. I have determined that I won't let him lose the knowledge and confidence he has gained, and will try to be more consistent with actively teaching him new things. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Music and Our Calendar

Nikki still loves his calendar. We haven't done it very much the last couple of weeks because he's been in Russian Immersion while his dad visits.

I thought I'd show a bit more of how we practice our music.

Every day we choose a musical note to practice. Today was G.

Nicholas rings his 'g' bell (I forgot to take a picture of that!) and we sing the note. At the moment, I lay out the necessary cards and he finds the 'so' or the piano key card and sticks it on the board. For every note, we have the solfege and letter cards, the position on the keyboard and staff, and our Soft Mozart solfege prompt. They are all colour coded to the scheme we are using with Little Musician

Later, I'm going to make him find the right notes for himself, starting with 2 options and building to all 7.

We then sing the song we are learning in Solfege. I still plan to change this weekly, but its been a hectic couple of weeks and so I decided to wait until our routine is back to normal. Nikki still enjoys singing Twinkle Twinkle, despite having memorized it three weeks ago!

I print off a large staff and draw on the notes in our Little Musician colour code. This is a big help for musically-illiterate me! When we sing, I point to all the notes - Nikki is usually busy dancing or standing ready to hit the last three himself... 

Monday, October 8, 2012


A while ago, I saw this great way of organizing toddler books using magazine files and had to have it in my house!

So, I planned a day trip to Ikea (where you can get 5 boxes for less than the usual price of one) and slipped 5 packs into my trolley...

I have now sorted most of Nikki's story books and the top of my shelving unit looks much more organized! Instead of wobbly piles (and piles and piles...) of books, we have this:

What I hadn't counted on was the number of of books that were just too big for the files. Seriously, the majority that didn't fit were less than half a centimetre too big! Frustrating, but they stacked up nicely under the board books at the end of the shelf:

It might be no easier to find some of the generic story-books but the general themes make finding non-fiction books a doddle.

Linking up to Montessori Monday

Friday, October 5, 2012

Writing Numbers

Off to Africa...

Nikki is a huge fan of Andy's Wild Adventures on cbeebies. He doesn't get much TV, since I avoid most of the nonsense programs they seem to think toddlers enjoy and stick to dvds - often in other languages.

This program, despite the annoying theme music and humour, is usually watched multiple times every day. The core 5-7 minutes is a very informative nature program with real footage of the animals in their natural habitat. Nikki can't get enough.

Recently, he has been going to Africa in his car (my laundry basket) several times a day. He put an empty loo roll tube on his wrist for the 'gizmo' Andy uses, which we later decorated with a couple of bits of coloured paper to give it a screen and a button. We turned another empty tube into a telescope.

His imagination has been going wild - he has spent a lot of time swimming with hippos, watching elephants, playing with baboons...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Rest Time

Today, I managed to convince Nikki to have a rest in his room. Not sure how, but he agreed!

It was great! We set 1 hour on his timer and I put the timer just out of reach on the other side of his gate, so he could see (but not adjust) it.

Amazingly, he stayed in his room the whole time! This coming from the child who has done everything to avoid resting in the afternoon for 12 months or more! I don't know if he slept, since he shut the door, but he was silent for all but the last ten minutes, where he made a lovely house for his donkey.

Fingers crossed this will become a regular feature of our day - this afternoon has been so much calmer...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Learning Moments

Today, we had one of those moments where learning just seems to happen.

We went for a walk and Nikki was carrying his toy 'telescope' (a large cardboard tube with the bottom removed and a hole in the lid) when he stopped, looked and started telling me about how the baby elephants were playing on the grass across the road. He said they were splashing in the mud, and we ended up discussing how elephants use mud instead of sunscreen.

A little further on, we passed a fence covered in graffiti and Nikki decided to give me a phonics lesson. 'Look - P puh puh puh and S ssssssssss' and so on. It was a lovely moment, though was thankful that he isn't sounding out words yet as the graffiti wasn't very polite.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Making Materials: Music Manipulatives

Our Little Musician program teaches colour-coded notes, so I decided to make him some colour-coded notes and a staff to put them on!

I bought some mounting boards (I wanted something sturdy and cheap for the staff) and wooden disks for the notes. I was intending to string several boards together to make a super-long staff, but unfortunately, I was picturing the disks in inches and not centimetres  so they are a lot smaller than I intended and will soon be replaced by nice big ones!

For the smaller notes, I used just the one board to make a mini-staff. I simply drew on lines around an inch apart (the width of my ruler). The space between the upper and lower staff has a faint smudge where I turned the ruler over to double the gap, but this works as a nice subtle reminder of where to put middle C.

The notes are simply painted wooden disks.

do = red   re=orange  mi=yellow  fa=green  so=blue  la=purple  ti=pink

I also made some chord cubes. These can either be placed on the staff or stacked to make the chords we are learning (in the picture there is do-mi-so, fa-la-do and so-ti-re). I had ten blocks, so seven are one colour and the rest have a different colour on each face.

Staff with moveable notes and chord cubes

Linking to Montessori Mondays