About me and my blog

jueves, 29 de noviembre de 2012

What's new: adverbs everywhere

We've been quite busy doing Christmas related activities and baking as of late. Time goes by real fast and I don't know how much time we have until baby's arrival. I feel it closer these days, but who knows, the due date is Dec., 15th.
The figure of the gingerman has been ever present since I introduced it to M. She likes it so much we have it on a t-shirt, we make gingerbread cookies, use the cookie cutter to play with the play dough, and I have even made a gingerman hand puppet. Unfortunately this photo is the only one to share... I will try to make some pictures of the results of our activities but it turns out that M gets distracted by the camera if I want to photograph her while she is working so I have ended up taking very few pictures. Concentration is something we value highly around here.
We have rushed up our Christmas decorations this year and our house is already filled with toddler's art, just in case M's brother arrives and we don't have time for that. We hung up the Advent's calendar I made last year, made salt dough Christmas decoration painted with glitter, and filled the shelves with Christmasy things. The three finger puppets we got last year (Rulphus, the reindeer, Snowman, and Santa) are among M's favorites.
Hearing M talk is amazing these days. She speaks mostly Catalan, although she addresses me in English with very few exceptions. Most of the time she describes what is happening here, there and everywhere, sometimes mixing events from the past but never forgetting to sprinkle her sentences with adverbs. She has started using frequency adverbs, which is quite fun since they are not exactly "properly" used. When she repeats what she is told, you can get the impression she knows what "yesterday" or "tomorrow" means as in "Clara is coming tomorrow", but other times it is clear that she is adding the adverb just to make the sentence sound better, longer, or the like. She places them in the right position, though. Her use of connectors is also something. She can use the "because" to connect two sentences that have nothing to do one with the other. However, the more she uses it, the closer she gets to the correct use of it.
It is amazing how language is acquired through experience and repetition. In my opinion it is highly valuable to engage in one's children's language acquisition, since the more verbal they are, the less probabilities there are for tantrums.This is just my opinion, I repeat. However, I often see children whose inability to express what they want lead them to throw tantrums. These children's caretakers often can't understand what is going on.
Well, I feel I really need 1) to get some sleep, and 2) to devote some time to writing opinion articles... but for both I need time and I don't know where I am going to get it from...
Good night!!

viernes, 16 de noviembre de 2012

Play dough

M concentrated on decorating the play dough with marbles, pipe cleaners and string
It's been some time now since we first started making our own play dough. At the beginning, about half a year ago, M was not interested at all and the dough would remain in a basket on the shelves until it dried out. However, I decided to give it a go before Halloween and this time it has certainly been a success. We made it for a weekly play date and the other girl enjoyed it very much as well.
Something that has surprised me this time around is that the dough gets better and better the more used it is. M asks to play with it everyday and it has become soft and resilient at the same time that it's kept the cinnamon flavor. We are very happy about the recipe we are using, so I've thought I would share it.
That's the 2 of us making the dough

2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of salt
2 tablespoons of oil
2 tablespoons of cream of tartar
1 cup of boiling water
food coloring for color
essence, spices, or essential oils for flavor

We mix all the ingredients in this order and then knead until the dough looks all right.
We could make some balls to give as play-date favors out of this batch
This recipe contained a little bit of orange food coloring for color and cinnamon to give it a scent that would evoke the season. Another batch we've made had a little red coloring to make it pink and strawberry scent. My husband pointed out that it really looks like chewing gum and it is true.
With a little bit of black construction paper and a short piece of green pipe cleaner, we turned one of the balls into a small Halloween pumpkin for decoration. But this is of course an activity for older children...

miércoles, 14 de noviembre de 2012

Rainbow activities

Colors were the first topic we worked on when we started this school year. After some activities that reinforced the notions of basic colors M already had, I decided to widen the scope to secondary colors and what better than the rainbow to work on seven colors?
The first activity I left next to the window just as a suggestion was a foam rainbow together with a bowl of water. M knew well that those foam pieces stick to the glass if soaked in water and the moment she saw the invitation, she set to work. Once she had been working for a while, I took the opportunity to review the colors with her and sing the rainbow song a couple of times. 
Foam rainbow and a bowl full of water
It took M less than a week to learn these seven colors, after all only four of them were more or less new but it made 14 words, since she learned them both in English and Catalan. 
Among the rainbow activities featured also our home-made crayons, which were quite used for a while.
Something else we made was a painted rainbow to use for matching activities and these have engaged her several times since we made them around the second week of September for the first time. Had I been thinking of posting this, I would have used tempera or acrylic paint but since I thought it would be an activity for a while I used crayons. It would have looked neater...

M matching painted clothes pegs to the rainbow

Matching colored feathers to the rainbow

martes, 13 de noviembre de 2012

Home-made watercolors

M really likes painting, coloring, and experimenting with paint, so the other day I set up an activity that cost me close to nothing and that turned out really successful. 
We made home-made watercolors. We had never tried it before and it was really simple. First, I gave M a dropper full of water and a plastic egg box. She experimented with the dropper a little bit, then accepted my help. We would otherwise have had way too much water in each hole.
We then added a little bit of cinnamon, orange and green food coloring, turmeric, and curry, and we had nice watercolors to paint with!

Do you have any favorite home-made paint recipes or painting ideas? I would really like to hear!!

lunes, 12 de noviembre de 2012

Button snake

I had never shared a video before and I don't think I will do it often, but this time I've considered it the clearest way of showing our latest creation.
I was inspired by Counting coconuts to make this button snake, and well, it was actually my mother who helped me with the sewing. Well, she has more time than I do and is much better and faster with the needle. It was not our first button activity but it was more age appropriate than the one I made before. I had not planned to introduce the button snake to M yet but the other day, while moving some boxes, the snake fell to the floor and I thought "why not" present it on a tray, just as an invitation to play.
The button snake is a nice invitation to learn buttoning and it turned out to be a real hit. Not only did M get the button through the buttonhole but she spent considerable time in a state of concentration that I love to observe. She enjoyed the activity so much that we took it to the car, where it is always a bit difficult to find interesting things that she can do while seating.
The snake is really easy to make. You only need a string of cloth that you can cut out from remnants, a button -I chose a big one, like the ones winter coats usually have-, several squares with a button hole in the middle -I used felt for those- and you have the toy. Simple, cheap, and nice. And a nice way to learn how to button up.

martes, 6 de noviembre de 2012

What's new: nursing teddies

Halloween came and went and although we had done some related activities, namely pumpkin play dough with cinnamon flavor, small pumpkin boxes recycling egg cartons, and a pumpkin costume, I now realize I took pictures of none of these activities. There is here a tradition called "castanyada", where people gather to eat toasted chestnuts and small cookies called "panallets" and that's what we celebrated in the end. My husband and M made panallets and we invited some friends over for the weekend. The girls were very excited to spend together longer time than is usual.
My dear girl turned 22 months on the 22nd of October and I can tell she has really grown in maturity lately. She is able to express much of her feelings and I think this enables her to feel more at ease and confident about life in general. Not that she is suddenly a bold girl, but she dares to talk to some people and yesterday, for instance, in the supermarket she greeted an unknown boy with a "hello boy" after they had stared at each other for some seconds. And even when she has been shy and silent in a situation, she is able to relate it with humor, as if she had been chatting and taking part of it. This really amazes me.
She has started talking to herself a lot as of late and it is not strange to hear her up and down the house describing what she is doing or what she is going to do, or talking to her teddy. Today I have heard her asking the teddy if he wanted some milk. He must have answered positively because she has proceeded to nurse him and afterwards she has asked him if he wanted to get some sleep. This nursing teddies is something new. Although "we" weaned when she was 17 months, we have never stopped talking about how there will be milk when the baby is born, and she has seen in many instances friends of hers or babies nursing. I love how she incorporates nursing as one more natural aspect of life.
In terms of language, her structures are getting more and more complex and she can now relate quite long sentences with connectors. I find it really funny, though, that despite using "because" apparently well, the sentences she connects often have nothing to do with one another. Another amusing mistake occurs sometimes now that she has incorporated the verb to be in simple sentences as well as in the present continuous/progressive form. Thus, she often says things like "are you cold", to express that she is cold. I love it because while you can see that she is learning to speak really fast, the way she uses language is a very clever imitation of what she hears. It is amazing that children who start talking under the age of 2 or so often invert the personal pronouns. My husband mocks us 'cause some mornings our conversations sound a bit crazy with M saying "good morning Marina" and me answering "good morning mama". It is also incredible how fast she grasps all she hears and this reminds me we have to be extra careful in the way we say things. This evening she was telling me "the baby is kicking me". She must have heard me saying this some time and it has made me think I should speak appropriately all the time. It is not easy, though. Plus our English has so many interferences and, be it as it may, M uses Catalan most of the time. She has picked up the costume of translating and she uses Catalan with everyone around even if the person has addressed her in English. It is as if English were only mum's language...
I haven't mentioned  the baby in my updates but he is growing nice and healthy -I believe- and is due to be born in a month. Having him in mind, I have kept my mother pretty busy as of late... and this is some of what she has made. Apart from a Gobbi mobile I am still trying to assemble. As you see, knitting is one of her crafts -not mine. I am lucky enough to have her to make my designs come true.
Interlocking knitted rings. Thinking ahead of time... just in case we don't have time later on. 

Well... this is a snail for M, who adores snails. My mother had the not so good idea of attaching the knitted snail to a piece of paper. Surprisingly, the paper house has remained nearly intact after much handling.