Saturday, 25 June 2011

Magnetic Letters and Fridge Magnets

Sooner or later it happens to us all.  We fall off the wagon and stop doing something which we had been doing all the time.  It may be the exercise classes, the grocery budget, the toddler group which is great but just a little too far away from home, with me it has been blogging.  We have had an interesting last few months which have involved moving the kids and me back from Germany to the UK and therefore starting a new school and this in itself could be why the blogging has taken a back seat but in reality it was that my laptop broke.  B decided that the keyboard was thirsty and poured apple juice into it; the resulting gunge under the keys meant that the laptop thought the semi-colon key and the F4 key were being pressed and either booted up to the password window and didn't recognise the password or thought that I had wanted to go into system recovery instead of Windows.  Add the this the dodgy number pad where OH dropped his laptop on mine and the fact that the monthly Internet allowance for Broadband of 15GB was used by R and A in four days (thanks UTube!  Germany and the Netherlands have unlimited broadband for a monthly fee - a much better system than the UK) and so I couldn't download anything at all even when it did decide that it was going to work today.  OH kindly bought and fitted a new keyboard for me this weekend so now I have no excuse!
A and R are also struggling to get back on their own wagons; in their case reading scheme books for school.  They both love books - we have what is jokingly called "the library" on the landing outside their rooms but lets face it reading scheme books can be books for the sake of learning the words rather than books which are a good story.  The school they are at now is much more committed to raising the standards of its students and gives a certificate at the Celebration Assembly for any child who has done reading at home three times during the week - A was really disappointed not to get one this week so hopefully next week will be a different story.

Meanwhile B continues to lose interest in any activity that seems to be learning based ("No Counting!") and so I decided that we needed a set of magnet letters like these ones for him to play with to build everyday familiarity. These simple things have conquered the globe to become a bog standard image of early childhood learning but they are about £8 a set in the UK (WH Smith prices) and you need a lower case set and an uppercase set.  It is also difficult to use them to spell more than simple words as you generally only get one of each letter.  

I decided that it might be more interesting to make our own letters.  A local supermarket was selling tumbled stones - normally used to flower arrangements I think- at ridiculously cheap prices and "buy one get one free".  Add to this a paint pen in gold and a strip of cut to size self adhesive magnet strip (like this one Flexible Adhesive Magnetic Tape (1/2"x 30" Roll)) and this is what you get.  
Much more tactile than bits of  plastic and B who is a sucker for stones like most toddlers has been stealing them to play with before the magnets are even stuck on most of them.  R immediately fell in love with the gold pen and we also decorated some to just look pretty for our fridge.  
Right off to make a "Reading for School" chart to help with other wagons!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Gross Motor Skills:Trampoline

We finally took the plunge and invested in a  6ft trampoline to fit in our postage stamp sized garden.  (Ours was from bought ours because it is good fun and in moving back to the UK we have moved away from both a fantastic park but also a massive soft-play place which is in a converted factory  in Hengelo NL and had its own trampolines.
Did you know that trampolining is also great for exercising the eye muscles?  Two of our friends got theirs after it was suggested as helping "lazy-eyes" because the eyes have to constantly minutely adjust as you bounce up and down.  Horse-riding is also good for the same reason.  It is so good that one of our friends was told the only hope for her son was an operation by one consultant and when she got a second opinion and tried the trampoline for a year the improvement was such that he doesn't need the op anymore.
Took an afternoon to fit together and is a huge hit.