Reading

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E (age 6) and I are doing Five in a Row again. I’m tired, so it’s an easier way to manage, just like when Astrid was new. We started this week with The Story of Ferdinand and so far we’ve been doing the topics through conversation, which is working fine for her. She’s a very switched-on, thoughtful, articulate child, really. The selfish little horror. I think she’s got about the perfect balance for Being Six Years Old. She’s a delight.

As long as you don’t try to read her reading books while she’s using them to teach herself to read. If you do it FOR her you are HINDERING her ability to LEARN how to do it FOR HERSELF. YOU HAS BEEN WARNED.

I got L (age 8) the Beyond Five in a Row set and she has read almost the whole curriculum manual already – in three days – and most of The Boxcar Children and she and E made a Lego boxcar today and acted out the book very carefully – L read the book, said to E “And now you say ‘must be five blueberries’” and E said “Must be five blueberries,” and L said “‘Or even ten’” and E said “Or even ten,” all very obediently. Never works for me.

A hasn’t been in hospital or seen by paramedics for over a week. Her last one was mild concussion from jumping on the bed. She likes jumping.

We have loads of stargates in our house: they are in the children’s eyes

We went stargazing this evening. The eight-year-old wouldn’t keep quiet so we could point stuff out to the six-year-old, because Vega emits some hundred many times light more than the sun — five hundred? I wasn’t listening, because I was trying to show the 6yo the Big Dipper — and she thinks Altair is a really romantic name for a star.

We actually went out to show off the fig tree we planted yesterday. When we dug the old dead weeds out of the pot, we found an ants’ nest inside, and spent a little while watching them carrying eggs around (“Nah, I’ve seen ant eggs before, Mu-um,” “LARVAE, Mum, LARVAE,”) before emptying the soil out and replacing it with freshish compost. I think the ants will be able to rebuild their civilization in the old soil’s new location. Except for the ones which crawled onto us as we dig and met a sudden and untimely end.

Today

went incredibly badly and I spent much of the day in other people’s foul tempers and some of it in my own. But towards the end, after I had read FOUR CHAPTERS of the scintillating intellectual treat that is £$%^& Noddy and eaten most of the chocolate cherry flan on my own because only one child wanted to help me, the 6yo started repairing a stool she picked up at the side of the road on Friday, and I forgave them almost everything.

I was glad to go stargazing though. A little enthusiasm after a day of negativity goes a long way.

And I have no idea at all what happened with the formatting for this post. Whu?

We were supposed to go to the hospital for a tedious checkup thing today, and I was going to enliven it with a visit to the Museum of English Rural Life again, but the toddler has possible chicken pox so that was out. I cancelled my appointment, the sun suddenly came out, and this happened:

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Digging up our Grow Your Own Potatoes bag.

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Finding a recipe…

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… and following it…

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… and finally, serving it to their adoring and hungry mother. It was delish, actually, and there’s more dressing left over for later.

I was so impressed and pleased that I decided to dig out their corner and make it nice again:
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Dishwasher maths – what’s nine and nine and three? Ten and ten minus one-and-one plus three… EIGHTEEN!

Checking up on the peas, carrots, mange tout, and berries – they are growing, hurrah!

Weeding with a hoe.

Playing in ever-changing groups of children aged under one to over eight.

Shopping for food.

Making toad in the hole.

Pronouncing de-sigh-zhuns, and other words which are interesting to read.

Running around yelling like mad.

Climbing.

Sliding.

Drawing.

Checking the post and using limited reading skills to hand it to the right recipients.

It’s been a busy day.

I’ve abandoned all my principles and it’s working. After the most awful week we’ve ever had, I think, I drew up checklists for the girls – make bed, brush hair, clean teeth, get dressed, do some literacy stuff, do some maths stuff – and made a 30-minute screen session conditional on a completed column of ticks.

And it’s working. And I’ve learned something.

Spelling isn’t awful or miserable for the seveneight-year-old (Oh my GAWD she’s EIGHT!) if I don’t combine it with writing. So if we use Bananagrams letters, it’s much easier. And if we use words that combine and form other words, it’s exciting and interesting. And if she chooses every second word, that’s good too. I haven’t worked out the limits yet, but we’ve had eel-heel-wheel, ape-cape-escape, and quick and queen, and pocket, paleontology, packet, polycarbonate, rocket, and things like that. I’m hoping that working on spelling will translate into reading more accurately, too, which will help her pronunciation of words like polycarbonate and paleontology so I’ll know what she means before she writes them down.

She’s extremely keen to play Settlers of Catan again and we’re going to do it as soon as she has cleared a space on the dining table and set up the board. Hopefully it will take less than two hours this time.

My own ticklist makes me take my pills and eat my meals, so that’s good too.

We’re trying to get up a pattern of painting on Mondays. We had three other children in yesterday, and one of mine and two of the visitors painted, so that was lovely. I might need a better source of very cheap canvas and boards or this could get expensive quickly. Any suggestions?

We played a game of Settlers of Catan today, with the seven-year-old, me, and the five-year-old teamed up with her daddy. The children grasped it pretty quickly and enjoyed it quite a lot. It took a long time, because we hadn’t played it in about eight years and the children had never played it before, but it went well and we want to do it again.

We also did some spellings with Bananagrams tiles, which worked much better than doing them with handwriting; handwriting is complicated enough for the seven-year-old that it’s no fun to add another thing to the mix.

The five-year-old read to me from the Reading Eggs books we got in a package, and tackled one she wasn’t totally confident with and got it all right. She won’t usually tackle reading she’s not sure she knows.

And it turns out that the seven-year-old can quickly, in her head, work out fractions of an hour. I had no idea and it will be really useful.

And the 21-month-old can breathe, which is brilliant, and count to two, and recite to five sometimes.

It has been a satisfying day.

Reading

Got tired of reading aloud. Shoved kids off onto Reading Eggs. Older kids read to younger kids. I recovered, read aloud some more.

Felt like I did nothing today, but doing nothing involved about a dozen books. So.

Roll on summer. I feel about all done with miserable weather.

Well,the 5yo decided that five to eight this evening was the time to start reading. She started trying on a jigsaw, so I got a Peter and Jane book and she rattled through the first 20 pages — up to page 42, with every other page an illustration — before she started making more errors than not.I think she’s going to take off as a reader soon. Peter and Jane are really useful for building confidence. She might be ready for Oxford Reading Tree too.

It’s here. Which is frankly weird, because it’s JANUARY, hello? But nonetheless…We had a busy morning, in that not very busy way; it was low key and unrushed, but people seemed to be getting a lot done.

Reading maths puzzle books. I like that they don’t need to be written in, so we can hand them on or lend them to others.
Using acrylic paint to colour air-drying clay. I have no idea what the shapes are supposed to represent.
Pick up that green shovel and DIG, woman!

So I pottered around the garden recording signs of spring.

No idea what’s going to surface here. Tulips and daffodils and crocuses and things. The thing is, it’s JANUARY and the place is bursting with little green shoots.
Fuzzy buds on the apple tree.
And on the fruit bushes. Fruit twigs, really.
JuniperJasmine berries. Wasn’t that a Body Shop fragrance?
House!
I say again, January.

Honestly.

I’d like, after the slog of illness, Christmas, New Year, more illness, DIY, etc, to get back into blogging.

I thought I’d start by getting a little more up to date.

This week, we started Monday by doing Bananagrams before breakfast; the seven-year-old (L) mainly sees words I don’t, and vice versa, and the five-year-old (E) was fascinated by how many words she could make by going through the alphabet and sticking each letter in front of AT. It all petered out before I won, which was good.

We did some sewing. It turns out that E is a natural at cross-stitch. She also made a dress for a wooden spoon doll, hemmed and all. I sewed a sort of dreadful buttonhole around the neckhole, which may or may not stop it from fraying. I can’t tell. I’m not a good sewer (er…)

We made a menu for their café, where they priced things very oddly, especially E. Thirty cupcakes for the cost of one piece of cake, whole raw peppers on the menu, that sort of thing. But it depended on what we had in the play food baskets, apparently, and that was that.

In the afternoon E invited N from two doors down over to play, and they played separately but in the same room for a longish time. Meanwhile L was doing jigsaws – she’s sticking to really, really easy ones, and I’m not sure what she’s doing with them, but it involves telling stories. L has grandiose animation feature film plans. We Shall See; she has roped an adult friend in to help, so you never know what could happen.

Today we got up and tidied frantically, which ended up being great. E got breakfast out for us, which was lovely because looking at the kitchen before I tidied it made me feel completely stopped. The children made lunch (potato salad and tuna sandwiches) and sort of cleared up afterwards. They got out the air-drying clay to make iceberg models (?!) and later did a lot with Lego. There was reading. And writing. I can’t remember which day they spent ages with L teaching E how to write “POO-BUMS” but it took ages and the lesson, well, stuck.

Part of our evening pickup involves gathering all the piles of paper, sorting them into used and unused, and returning the unused to the paper drawer. I’m not sure how long this will continue before I get completely tired of it. We did find E’s map of the Pacific ring, so that was nice.

And the 18-month-old (almost)? She’s fab. She’s talking, more and more, though I don’t think many people other than me and the other two children understand her, most of the time. She dances. She hides and makes jokes. She’s very good at stacking toys and shapesorters. She, like her sisters before her, likes to be naked and takes all her clothes off at every opportunity, leading to… well, I’m glad we replaced the carpets with laminate. Very glad.

And I’m still learning huge amounts. If I could learn how to go to bed at a sensible time and get enough sleep, instead of Internet FOREVER, I’d be golden.

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