Moving…

I’ve just moved this blog to self-hosted. All the previous content is the same, but the address now starts with childledchaos.me.uk instead of childledchaos.wordpress.com.

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Thank-you for reading, and I hope you’ll come with me to my new home 🙂

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Fiction Fridays #32: My Daddy

FF#32
My Daddy: Curtis Jobling (2004)

Sophie and Sue and Molly (that’s me), we like to go to the park.

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Extra Info:
It’s Father’s Day on Sunday, so a book about dads is essential. And a book about little girls and their daddy even more so in this household.

Molly and Sophie and Sue like to go to the park. Sophie and Sue talk and talk making up bigger and bigger fibs to impress each other, while Molly just listens. But in the end, Molly’s truth seems more outlandish than Sophie and Sue’s one-up-manship because her daddy really is the best in the universe.

Curtis Jobling is well known for being the designer of Bob the Builder, Raa Raa the Noisy Lion and Frankenstein’s Cat. He’s now also the author of a series of were novels (which I really must read!) but amongst all that, he also found time to produce some lovely picture books.

My Daddy is a lovely book celebrating the hero-worship small children have for their daddies. The pastel-looking art is just strokeable and the images alternate between the reality of playing in the park to the girls’ imaginations: “My daddy got bored with taming sharks,” says Sophie. “Now he tames DINOSAURS…”

Cute, funny and silly, this is a great book for little ones (girls or boys) to share with daddy (or to talk about daddy…) We love it.

Learning by Rote

There has been lots of talk in the news at the moment about primary curriculum changes, two mentioned recently include children as young as five should recite poetry and children also will be expected to know their 12 times table by the age of nine in order to “restore rigour”.

According to WikipediaBy definition, rote learning eschews comprehension, so by itself it is an ineffective tool in mastering any complex subject at an advanced level.

Also according to Wikipedia: [Rigourous instruction] is instruction that requires students to construct meaning for themselves, [..] and apply what they learn in more than one context and to unpredictable situations.

Hmmm…

I’ve nothing against memorisation, but I think it needs to be done when the interest is there. It can be easier if you have number bonds and times tables in your head to call on when required but not knowing them or being unable to memorise them by a particular age has no bearing on future success. If a child has an innate need to memorise because of their interest, it will happen a lot more easily than being forced.

I also disagree with targets by a certain age, because all children are different. Average doesn’t mean that everyone should be at that point. Average means that half of children will be below that level and half will be above so by definition any targets based on averages will classify half of children as failures when they’re not… I know I’m simplifying the reality of levels and targets but I don’t believe they add anything to education so will complain about them at will!

On reciting poetry, I know I’m not from a ‘deprived’ area but most children I know could recite poetry before they could speak! Humming the rhythm of nursery rhymes, then picking up some of the words, then learning them all… My three year old can certainly ‘recite’ several poems: Twinkle Twinkle; Horsey Horsey; The Grand Old Duke of York… But only because she’s interested and has chosen to do so. Children being told to learn a specific poem that they don’t want to learn will only cause friction and tension and turn a child away from the love of learning that they’re born with.

Memorisation happens through use and re-use, through interest being grasped and held, through various methods depending on each child. The child who knows their times tables by age seven is no more advanced than the one who takes until age twelve, or the one who never memorises but has a grasp on the concepts so can quickly calculate when they need to…

Dear Government, please leave teachers to teach; parents to parent (and teach); children to learn (and teach each other!) Those who need help will ask if they’ve not been scared off by targets and labels of failure.

Please share your thoughts, I love to discuss and learn ideas that I’d not considered – because my love of learning is still alive despite my school years 😉

Number Bonds to 10

It’s been six months since my High Frequency Words post, and I had planned to do more printables but that just hasn’t happened. MG has got through many more key words without the printables, but I do plan to update the word lists for download at some point…

I spent a little time going through various PDF files I’ve either purchased or found free online from various places and I couldn’t find what I wanted to give MG a hands-on method for learning number bonds, so I’ve made a printable to share.

This printable includes tiles to make half of the number bonds to 10 so you can either print two copies, or swap the numbers round to show that, for example, 9 + 1 is the same as 1 + 9.

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The files come in three colour schemes: to match the colours of Cuisenaire Rods; to match the colours of Montessori Bead Materials; and plain for practice without colour-coding. I don’t think number bonds are particularly Montessori, but I’m following what’s used in school as that’s the education route that we’ve currently chosen for our daughters. Some people combine approaches, so the download might be useful.

I’ve chosen to give MG Cuisenaire Rods for number bond learning initially, therefore this is the colour scheme I’ve printed out.

I’ve changed the green in the Cuisenaire file since printing the set in the picture because I didn’t think the original green was light enough.

There are several stages to be taken to cover number bonds, but I can miss many of them because of what MG has learnt in school. For our home use with these unfamiliar materials I wanted to cover two things first:
1. Experimenting with the different ways any two rods exactly match the length of one orange rod
2. Matching the number tiles to the relevant rods

MG can already read up to two-digit numbers and knows the plus and equals operator symbols. Since making these, MG hasn’t shown an interest so I haven’t tested them but instead of keeping this post in draft for any more weeks, I’ll update on how we used them in a later post – or please let me know if they’re useful in the comments!

Books, Books, Books

I may have mentioned my minor addiction to books… I’ve tried cataloguing them several times, but get lost and bored of writing them down! Now I’m starting to review regularly, I’m making yet another attempt to list every (children’s) book we have on our shelves, starting with picture books. There are a lot. It really is an addition. Oops…

I’m probably about a quarter of the way through. Or 20% ish. It’s hard to tell 😆

Go have a nose at the page called Too Many Books? Books are mainly included on a page by both author and illustrator. Each author/illustrator page also has links to any online presence for the author/illustrator or their characters that I’ve managed to find.

I’m open to any additions for websites I’ve missed, and any other author/illustrator blogs not listed there or on the Book Blogs page. In due course, there should be a page for every author/illustrator on the Book Blogs page (and many more besides!)

Fiction Fridays #31: Ouch I Need A Plaster

FF#31
Ouch I Need A Plaster: Nick Sharratt (2009)

Ness the nurse has a nice, kind face.

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This book came in one of the Bookstart packs, MG’s toddler pack, and although it’s a board book I can’t bear to ‘retire’ it as MG loved it so much. I have already mentioned that MG has always (and still does) taken a liking to Nick Sharratt’s art. It’s one of the reasons she’s loved the Tracy Beaker TV shows for so long, as she didn’t understand most of it when she first discovered it (and probably still doesn’t…) but she loves the animated parts!

Ouch I Need a Plaster goes through a variety of children as they each get a plaster from Ness the Nurse for various scrapes and bumps, while at the top of each page the plasters are shown in a line disappearing as each one is used. For some reason “one, two, three for poor old Lee” has always been a favourite part!

The rhyming text and colourful pictures make this a perfect book for toddlers and it also subtly introduces counting backwards from ten as each plaster is used. But don’t despair, Ness has kept one last plaster just in case you need it.

A perfect gem of a book, especially for when toddlers get the inevitable bumps and scrapes that they pick up on an hourly basis… I think everyone in the Chaos house can recite this one from start to finish and it’s not been grown out of quite yet 🙂

It looks like you can only get this book pre-loved, and only in board format, but I still recommend trying to get a copy if possible if you have babies or young toddlers.

Budkins Dolls and London Bus

With it being a very London-centric year, I thought a review of this gorgeous bus from Budkins might be apt. I bought the bus for DG’s Christmas present as she’s always loved playing with vehicles and is drawn to buses in particular. We’ve not got a traditional dolls’ house but we have a Sylvanian Families house and wooden farm set which more than replace any ‘need’ for one!

The Budkins dolls are just… gorgeous. Sized for most traditional wooden dolls’ houses, they also fit reasonably with Sylvanian Families (although are a bit larger) and the Plan Toys wooden farm sets (which also warrant their own review at some point), not to mention the over-size Kinderkram Noah’s Ark / Pirate Ship (another review?!) and probably much more. Besides which, they don’t need any special playsets, just a child’s imagination…

There are a huge variety of Budkins Dolls to choose from, to fit any child’s interests. From the traditional horror trio of Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and the Mummy (on my wish list); to historical figures; to pirates, knights, princesses and fairies; to almost everything in between. One negative I have is there is too much gender stereotyping in the roles for my liking (female cleaner, male mechanic, female nurse, male doctor etc) but as they’re sold individually (as well as in sets of three) that can be avoided as much as possible!

The London Bus is a wooden bus. It doesn’t make sounds, it doesn’t have an engine. What it is, is beautiful, and very big. The roof and top deck lift out so that you can put the passengers in the bus. Because the roof lifts off, you immediately have a tourist open-top bus as well as the traditional double decker. It seats up to 11 passengers – be they Budkins or, also in our case, Sylvanian Families animals. It may seat up to 11, but it’s amazing how many my children can fit in…

It comes with one figure, the bus driver / conductor, to start you off. The paint does wear off the corners with use, but I’ve yet to find a painted wooden toy that doesn’t (or at least one that can withstand the affections of my daughters!)

There is lots of play value in this bus, and it’s a beautiful object too. Learning-wise it covers a whole realm of areas from imaginative play, to talking about London or transport in general, to one-to-one correspondence (people to seats), to addition/subtraction (getting on/off bus), to… pretty much anything the children show an interest in inspired by their play.

Budkins dolls cost about £6 each or £15 for sets of three; the bus £45. The bus would be a lovely special present for a transport-mad child and Budkins characters are great to collect over time for all sorts of imaginative play.

Disclaimer: I was not sent any Budkins by PlayMerrily for review but I have had a discount account with PlayMerrily since August 2011 and therefore paid a reduced price for these products. All my reviews have been written because I loved the products and are for items I freely chose to buy for my daughters, unless otherwise stated. I choose to review for PlayMerrily because of their fantastic and friendly service.