Monthly Archives: November 2011

High Frequency Words Learning Game

To commemorate over 1000 tweets and 250 followers on Twitter (wow!) I wanted to give something away. A physical something was never going to be an option, so I am sharing something I made for Mighty Girl’s “homework”.

Fortunately her school is not pushy with homework in Foundation Stage, and I’ve certainly not made her do anything but she has been getting small lists of ‘key words’ to learn by sight and sometimes she wants to move onto the next set of words so we work on them at home. She loves letter sounds and writing (see First Words) and I’d collected some Montessori materials from when I was planning to home ed so I combined the two to make a game to help cement the words in her head.

We have the small moveable alphabet, Sassoon font in red with blue vowels from Absorbent Minds Montessori and the key words from school were printed in Sassoon font too (it’s a good font for distinguishing b from d etc and easy to read). However, I expect that a wooden moveable alphabet isn’t something that most people own so I’ve modified the files slightly to include a printable moveable alphabet for the matching game. The size of the moveable alphabet and large word cards are to match the wooden small moveable alphabet (it’s not 100% accurate but very close.)

There are four files you can choose to download:
moveablealphabet.pdf – paper version of the moveable alphabet with red consonants and blue vowels. Usually there are 5 of each consonent and 10 of each vowel printed for a “complete” alphabet, to get this print the file 5 times (I’ve included y in red and blue as it can be both).
HFwords1.pdf – the first 22 high frequency “key words” that eldest has brought home from school to learn so far in large red and blue letters (can be flash cards, matching with moveable alphabet).
HFwords1wde.pdf – as above file, but the words are spaced out so that the paper moveable alphabet can be placed on top of the cards more easily.
HFwords1sml.pdf – the same 22 words in smaller black Sassoon font for more traditional “flash cards”, matching with the large word cards etc.

For durability, print onto card and laminate (and definitely don’t let your two year old drip water all over unlaminated paper copies :lol:) There are all sorts of games that can be played, the most obvious of which is probably matching the individual letters with the words. I usually set out three to five words and the exact letters needed for those words (to give “control of error” – there should be no letters left over when all are matched). MG knows almost all letter names and sounds so tries to read phonically for words she doesn’t know and can say the letter sounds as she matches.

The game MG made up that she likes to play is to have either the pile of small cards or big cards and give the other pile to whoever she’s playing with. We mix the cards up and see if we match. I add in questions like “What does yours say? What does mine say?” for words she knows or “You’ve got x and I’ve got y” if she’s not sure. If the “learning” bit is annoying her I stop it of course, it’s supposed to be fun! Seeing the words regularly, matching up different size word cards, creating words with the moveable alphabet and talking about the words (then recognising them in books when I’m reading to her) is cementing the words in her mind and she is happily memorising these words at her own pace.

For an idea of the Montessori method of introducing language, see Montessori Print Shop‘s Language Overview. MPS also offer lots of printables to support using the moveable alphabet, and their moveable alphabet file includes lesson plans, lower and upper case letters in three colour schemes and images of phonetic words to sound out. This file is also included in the MPS Montessori at Home materials bundle for an even more bargainous price, very useful if you want to follow some Montessori principles at home and get the Montessori At Home! book (which is fantastic!) No, I’m not on commission, I just like these 🙂

Montessori Monday

Share Your Birth Story

Actually MummyI wrote this when Destructo Girl was 2 days old, she was a much easier baby than her big sister so I had time to write. I might have written something for Mighty Girl when she was born, but I can’t find it off hand so will just do DG’s for now.

Mild contractions started around 8.30-9pm on Thursday evening, and after a few hours were lasting 30 seconds 3-5 minutes apart with lower back discomfort that was bearable but uncomfortable. As we’d been told we were likely to have a quick labour, I called the hospital who advised us to come in. We got there at 4am and I was measured as 3cm dilated at 5am and taken to a delivery room. The contractions were more painful but I could breathe through the pain. Then I shot from 3-10cm dilated in 90 minutes and Destructo Girl was born at 6.39am on Friday. Gas and Air is wonderful. The End!


On the evening of Thursday 21st, I thought I was having contractions as I was having bump tightening and lower back discomfort which started around 8.30-9pm but I’d had the feeling once or twice before (although I never really had Braxton Hicks) and it had previously disappeared within an hour at best so I tried not to get too excited but as these continued over a couple of hours (not really increasing but not dying down) I started to get excited although I was also trying not to get my hopes up and figured it was probably wishful thinking because I had wanted the baby to be born on 22nd of the month like big sister (even said that to my midwife on my check on the Monday.)

I didn’t go to bed but kept moving and monitoring how I was feeling and spent ages looking up the difference between Braxton Hicks and early contractions on Google and getting more convinced that I was actually in labour. Having been induced at 42 weeks for my first labour, I really didn’t know what to expect. I printed off the birth plan and put it in my maternity notes. At 1am DH went to bed but I said I wouldn’t and actually I couldn’t sleep at that point because the lower back discomfort was more uncomfortable and it was happening every 2-4 minutes so there wasn’t really a chance for me to get comfortable enough to sleep. It was bearable though and contractions lasting only 30 seconds so I thought it would probably die down then remembered that having a bath was a good way to find out if it was labour as a bath would ease fake contractions. So I went into a warm bath with lavender oil at 2am for 40 minutes and the contractions didn’t die down. At this point as I’d been having 30-40 second contractions every 3-5 minutes for over an hour so I thought it was an idea to phone the hospital and ask whether it was worth coming in as I’d been told that I was likely to have a very quick labour after only 7 hours active labour after induction with the first.

I phoned the delivery suite and they asked about how I was and I said the contractions were only 30 seconds and I could talk through them but about the previous labour but also no waters broken and no mucous plug and was 3 days before due date etc and they advised that we came in to be checked over to be on the safe side. So I woke DH (3am) and phoned his mum to look after MG and we got together last bits and pieces in case we did end up having the baby. MG was of course sound asleep but I kissed her goodbye and told her where we were going so that if she did hear me in her sleep she’d know! We got to the hospital at 4am by the time DH’s mum had managed to get to us and we’d driven there. At this time, the contractions were more painful but still quite bearable and I could still speak through them but they’d obviously progressed even though still only 30 seconds long, but every 2-4 minutes.

We were taken into an admission room and a midwife checked my urine, blood pressure and the baby etc plus there was waiting around to be seen and I was at the stage where I was having to breathe slowly through contractions (but still bearable!) and had taken to kneeling on a chair and leaning over the back of it to get more comfortable. I remember being checked when it was 5am and the midwife said I was 3cm dilated and we would go to the delivery room. Later she said she wasn’t sure whether I was in active labour at this point but it seemed likely so she went to set up a room and we walked to it. As we walked down the corridor I saw where we were going and said “Are we in room 10?!” as that was where we were heading and she said yes – which was the very room I had MG in!! So that was nice – same hospital, same room, I wore the same nightie, we put them in the same sleepsuit as their first outfit 🙂

In the delivery room I changed into my nice HUGE comfy nightie and the contractions got more painful very quickly. I was on my knees leaning over a beanbag and in about 20 minutes was no longer able to just breathe through the contractions but was on the gas and air too and clutching the mouthpiece as if my life depended on it! I was saying to DH I was a wimp with pain and he was asking if he should get the midwife to ask for the epidural. As we’d only been there such a short time I felt like it must be too soon but it was getting so painful so we called for her and she said she’d just been discussing me with the anaesthetist and a doctor had to come in to talk to me. Everything is a bit of a blur as it all happened so quickly and I was in a lot of pain! So around about 6am, a doctor came in and talked, the midwife set up the epidural stuff for the anaesthetist, I complained lots, had a cannula in my hand for fluids because of the epidural and they had just managed to put in the epidural line between my (very very painful) contractions when I felt myself “pop” and I mumbled “my water’s have broken” through the gas and air mouthpiece. (DH told me that was actually the only coherent thing I said and I said it quite calmly – before and after I was incoherent and I also possibly nearly broke his fingers I was squeezing so hard!!)

Then everything happened really quickly, within about a minute of the waters breaking I was in agony and started to scream “no no no!!!” They’d literally just put a tiny bit of drug in the epidural line which would take 20 minutes to take effect and I was in pain and all I knew was I didn’t have the pain relief and it all just hit me. I lay back on the bed, the midwife was trying to talk to me and saying “Anne-Marie, Anne-Marie, is it a contraction or are you wanting to push?” and through the fog of pain (and that utterly fuzzy gas-and-air feeling) I realised that I wanted to push so managed to grunt “push!” so she grabbed the mouthpiece from me and I guess several people got me lying down and I was incoherent with lots of “no no no”s because I didn’t have the epidural and was just in pain! Two pushes and she was out! I vaguely remember them saying it’s a girl, and I think I was sitting up because I remember seeing her lying there and she hadn’t started to cry but then she did and they cut the cord and whisked her to one side for a whiff of oxygen and put in the injection for the placenta (which I’d asked to avoid but she said afterwards that they had to do everything quickly so I didn’t mind!) I felt the placenta coming out (weird feeling) which with the epidural I didn’t even notice with MG!

So I went from 3-10cm dilated within 90 minutes! In retrospect, we’re not sure why I wasn’t examined before the epidural as there wasn’t enough time really but I guess they assumed that I couldn’t be that far gone so quickly. The midwife also said that she’d been back-to-back and came out looking upwards which was why it had been so painful in my lower back. Then things slowed down. DH cuddled DG while I was tidied up – the bed was like a scene from a horror movie as I’d been lying in my waters, DG had pooed on the way out, then there was the blood splatter!! This time I was injected with local anaesthetic before the internal stitches so felt all that, whereas with MG I’d had the epidural so just didn’t feel a thing. I had no problems getting up as the epidural had never really hit so I didn’t have numb legs and I wasn’t sick afterwards like I had been with MG. So directly after birth, I felt a lot healthier than I had with MG, despite being awake all night. I also managed to have a shower easily so was nicely refreshed by the time we got taken to a ward at 10.30am.

Annoyingly, despite me being perfectly healthy and despite DG being perfectly healthy (even though she had a whiff of oxygen, her Agpar scores were 9, 10, 10 the same as MG) as she’d passed meconium when she was being born she had to stay in to be observed in case she’d swallowed or inhaled any so we had to stay in until the next day. And we didn’t get discharged until 5pm the next day because she had to see the paediatrician before she could be discharged. So it was pretty dull andso hot in hospital I couldn’t really sleep either. It was lovely having lots of snuggle time with DG but by the time we got home I was completely shattered.

Silent Sunday

Photo © Ferny Films

Silent Sunday

Fiction Fridays #3: You Can’t Eat A Princess!

You Can't Eat A Princess!

“It’s nearly time for my party!” said Princess Spaghetti.

You Can’t Eat A Princess!: Gillian Rogerson & Sarah McIntyre (2010)

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I did try to get a picture of the book before the battery of my camera died, but that was the best I could do of the front cover. It’s not an easy book to extract from Destructo Girl! We borrowed this from the library 8 days ago and I have read it at least twice a day ever since. Both Mighty Girl and Destructo Girl choose it – MG finishes off the sentences and takes great pride in recognising some of the 3 letter words (all, the…) DG asks “Where’s Princess?”, point’s out King Cupcake’s crown and throws a tantrum when I refuse to read it for the third time in a row: “Again! Again!”
DG enjoying You Can't Eat A Princess!
I like this book because the princess is a strong willed character who isn’t afraid to go off to rescue her dad when no one else is willing to. Oh, and there’s lots of chocolate! And aliens! The pictures are fantastic, lots of details in there and everything looks good enough to eat. Sarah McIntyre and Gillian Rogerson are both on Twitter, and well worth following. Sarah McIntyre has loads of extras on her website for crafts and parties. I’ve only just found this today, and I know my girls will love this, especially MG who loves all sorts of crafts.

I’ve put both this book and its sequel, You Can’t Scare A Princess, on the girls’ Christmas wish list! It has been an instant hit and I think I’m going to need to keep this library copy for quite some time!

First Words

Mighty Girl (4yrs 9months) is definitely in a sensitive period for reading and writing. She is loving the phonics work at school and outside school is attempting to decode words wherever she sees them – menus, street names, books… She loves to play pretend cafe and takes food orders and writes them down – I’ve been trying to think of food that can be written phonically like “bun” but she tries everything. It is an exciting and interesting process to observe so I’m saving some of her early writing here for posterity, so she can look back at it later (and Destructo Girl’s when she gets to that sensitive period).

Cafe orders LHS: sausage and jacket potato; RHS: bun and ice cream

Apple; Teapot

Mummy (when she runs out of space, she writes the letters at the start or above); come to my [party]; from

Ice cream

Thank-you has been copied from a thank-you note, hence the different shaped letters to her usual style. “TK” was her first attempt, then she asked for something to copy from.

This was written entirely independently when at the craft station at school 🙂

Fiction Fridays #2: The Ghost Library

The Ghost Library - David MellingFF#2
The Ghost Library: David Melling (2004)

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Extra info:
I am a huge fan of David Melling and think we probably have most of his books! It was difficult to chose one to start with but The Ghost Library called to me this time. Yes, we have two copies of it. Actually, three copies. But two are for presents when the next birthday party invite comes along, I collect hardback picture books when I find them on offer to give for presents – books I we all like of course! 😉

The Ghost Library is a book about enjoying books and stories, and of making up your own stories. It involves effort on the part of the reader as there are two sections where the story is told in pictures so you have to make it up while you read it. There is one gigantic flap to show the tall tower where the library is (I would love to have that many book shelves!) and it’s like getting three stories in one with the stories within the story – these are drawn in different styles too so the book maintains interest on all sorts of levels – it has ghosts and witches and a little girl and books so is completely non gender-stereotyped too, in my opinion.

My girls love the books I’m choosing too, of course. Here we all are enjoying The Kiss That Missed trilogy when the girls were a bit younger:

My Daughters Like to Sit in Boxes

With the C-word less than 6 weeks in the future, there have been a few packages arriving at the house and therefore a few more boxes than usual. As one of my favourite picture books from my childhood is My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes (Eve Sutton & Lynley Dodd, see Six Books), this blog post just had to be…

The children next door like to play video games, but my daughters like to sit in boxes:

So-and-so’s cousin’s daughter is learning French, but my daughter likes to sit in boxes:

My big sister is tidying the play area, but I like to sit in boxes:
Mummy and Daddy are sitting on chairs, but I like to snuggle in boxes:
Expensive toys are all very well but my daughter likes to pretend this box is a boat:
You can tell the pictures taken by DH, they’re the good ones:
Other children have beds but my daughters like to put their duvets in boxes:
Mummy thinks it looks messy, but we love to play in boxes:

The boxes were boats, cars, trains, planes, beds etc but the girls were also quite happy just to snuggle up in them to watch TV too! I am ruining their fun by recycling the cardboard boxes – but not until they’ve been thoroughly coloured in and torn first – and filling up the plastic boxes. Mean mummy! There will always be an empty box somewhere though, even if they have to empty everything out of it first… 🙂

Fiction Fridays #1: Press Here

Press Here: Hervé Tullet (2011)

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Sorry, not part of the meme, but to see why this book is so fantastic, watch the trailer: