Monday, August 15, 2011

Facebook Snippets

Some Facebook status updates from July and August, for the benefit of those of you not on Facebook and for my online archiving:

  • Snippets of my morning ... "Look! I drew a centipede with its makeup" ... "Don't put the bag on the dead moth!" ... "I wish I hadn't let Star use my toothbrush, it's all icky now" ... "I'd feel safer if you put your unicorn down while we are in the car".
  • Now I know why we got a large screen computer. It was so that one daughter can watch CBeebies on one side of the screen while another uses Facebook on the other.
  • Girls playing a game which starts "Repeat after me: I went to the graveyard ...". Cherub's variation, "I went to the gravy farm ..."
  • Went to IKEA this morning with Cherub, who wanted to go on the "skater thingies". Skater thingies? Turned out to be escalators.
  • Have discovered predictive text thinks marmite and nutella should be marmots and nigella.
  • Now knows how to get an entire cup of chocolate milk out of a carpet. White vinegar, hot water and bicarbonate of soda.
  • Woken up at twenty past five this morning by Cherub complaining that Star kept pushing her out of bed. Pointed out that if she had stayed in her own bed in the first place this would not be a problem! Beginning to fantasise about how wonderful it would be to have an undisturbed night and sleep until I woke naturally in the morning.
  • Did not pick the best day for a BBQ at Wendover Woods. At least the torrential rain has stopped, and the emergency gazebo we bought for £13.50 at Argos on the way here helped (despite being missing a couple of bits). If I stand by the BBQ for long enough, will my jeans dry?
  • Cannot believe that I have got home freezing cold and sopping wet from Wendover to find that here (15 or so miles away?) it is a lovely sunny afternoon with not a drop of rain in sight and several degrees warmer. What????
  • According to Cherub "Mummies don't play, Mummies work and knit and shop"!
  • Last night's absent minded parenting fail - told Cherub "go and do your Facebook" when I meant "go and do your teeth". Oops!
  • Have just identified strange burning smell in the bathroom as fried moth. Seems it got a little too close to the light.
  • Revenge of the moths - was relaxing peacefully in bed yesterday when a giant moth dive bombed my iPad and then thwacked me on the head. Not my fault his friend / relative came to a sizzling end.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Virtual Montessori

I mentioned the other day that Cherub is having a lot of fun with Montessori iPad apps. I love the idea of Montessori education for young children, but have never quite been able to justify the expense of buying the classic Montessori materials. Looking for apps that Cherub might enjoy I stumbled across a Montessori style hundred board - designed to look like the real thing, but you touch the numbers to move them to the board instead of picking them up. From the hundred board we moved onto geography - continents, countries of the United Kingdom, and now (big hit!) flags.

All the apps we have tried so far come from one developer, Rantek, which turns out to be a family business led by an experienced Montessori teacher. Their website, Mobile Montessori, explains their thinking about translating the tactile Montessori material into touchscreen apps:

At first, the idea of using a digital device to reproduce the Montessori concepts seemed like a conflict of interest! After all, without the concrete experiences of touching and holding the various Montessori materials, could children really learn from these activities? Our concensus was, these iPad and iPhone applications could never become replacements of the physical materials, however, for children enrolled in the Montessori curriculum, they could provide a supplement to their education, and for children who do not have the opportunity to attend Montessori school, a partial introduction and exposure to this time tested method of educating. Activities, such as the Hundred Board, helping children with their counting from 1 to 100, seemed like perfect activities to translate into applications for the iPad. Our goal was to create exact replicas of the physical materials in the app itself. We were very pleased with the final product and, to our pleasant surprise, so were our customers!

And yes, pleased customer here. Montessori translates to iPad better than I would have expected, I think because it is still tactile in its own way. It also retains the independent exploration, with its own built in control (touch the wrong thing and it won't work!). I can't see a way to rotate this screen shot on the iPad but it gives the idea - touch the red button to hear the country name, and the green button to be shown the location. Once the child is familiar with the flags and countries they move on to placing them on the map themselves - Cherub is a long way off that, but seems fascinated by the flags.

Next up I think we will be exploring the moveable alphabet and the geometric cabinet. I have also downloaded another Montessori app from a different developer, Montessori Place Value from Montessori Tech, but haven't shown it to Cherub yet.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

This Week

The weather... variable! A nice bright morning today, but on Sunday we went for a BBQ in the woods and got soaked by torrential rain, despite stopping on the way to buy a cheap emergency gazebo to protect us from the forecast showers. Showers? If those were showers, what do they count as rain? At home - maybe 15 miles away? - it was bright and sunny until late afternoon, and several degrees warmer.

I am wearing... black and white pyjamas. (It is beginning to sound as though I live in pyjamas! In reality, I just tend to blog first thing in the morning before I get up.

I am reading... finally on the last chapter of When the Lights Went Out, which despite ploughing through it so slowly I have enjoyed. It has given me a much better understanding of the first decade I remember politically (I first voted in 1979 when Margaret Thatcher was elected).

I am creating... self striping socks and a Jordan vest top with some bargain yarn (ten balls of discontinued Jaeger Trinity for about £12).

I am hearing... Cherub playing with the iPad

I am watching... a new series of Who Do You Think You Are? starts this week. Right up my street! And a wonderful advert for genealogy - over the past few years the programme has dramatically increased the number of people using archives and genealogy websites.

I am enjoying ... an unlimited data plan and iPad / iPhone tethering on the train (which is where I am writing this blog post).

I am planning ... time! Juggling work and school holidays - it is working out fine, but I have to plan ahead who is where when and who is in charge of Cherub.

Learning notes ... Cherub is having fun playing with Montessori iPad apps.

Cherub ... is such a very girly little girl - will only wear dresses or skirts, and loves fairies, princesses and anything pink and sparkly. Makes for variety as neither of the others were like this. In fact Star was the opposite - liked dinosaurs and Horrid Henry and refused to wear anything with even the tiniest bit of frill.

On the calendar ... a quieter week this week. I am hoping to meet up with an old school friend on Wednesday (must phone her!) and it is Star's thirteenth birthday on Saturday.

On the menu... summer holiday season has kicked in and my menu planning attempts have fallen by the wayside. Happens every summer. I will get back on track in September.

A picture from last week... summer BBQ British style. We stuck it out for about 3 hours - and it did stop raining for an hour in the middle - but in the end we had to concede defeat.

Sunday, August 07, 2011


... is buying not just one Rainbow Fairy book for Cherub, not just one set of seven, but forty two of the things.

The Book People are selling the entire collection for £20, and given Cherub's prediliction for fairies and fairy books I succumbed. Now I am stuck reading them to her - hopefully she will be reading them to herself well before book forty two! Not that they are terrible books, just easy readers with rather limited vocabulary and plot. I remember Star loving them at around six, but at that time there was just the original Rainbow Fairies set of seven books.
Since then they have multiplied, with Jewel Fairies, Weather Fairies, and all sorts of other fairies. Can I stand the suspense of having to wait until tomorrow to find out how the rainbow fairies get colour back to fairyland after being banished by Jack Frost? Somehow I think I just might!

Another fairy book new to our collection is The Dolls House Fairy by Jane Ray, one of my favourite picture book illustrators. I love her chirpy, crisp eating fairy Thistle, and a Dad who is prepared to believe in fairies. Very high up on Cherub's favourite books list, this one.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Canal Festival

A few pictures from the the local canal festival Tevye, Cherub and I went to on Saturday.

Morris dancers

Clog dancers

And a rather impressive drummer

Rural crafts

And narrow boats

I took a couple of short videos of the folk dance group, English Miscellany - the camera on my phone was doing battle with the sun, so the lighting isn't great. This first clip of the morris dancing was cut short by Star phoning me to say she had a stomach ache and felt sick. Fortunately that was as bad as it got!

This second clip was of the finale, with both men and women dancers.

This Week: 1st August 2011

A day late this week ...

The weather ... hot and sunny, then hot and sticky, now damp and sticky.

I am wearing ... cropped summer pyjama bottoms and a grey vest top.

I am reading ... back to the book about politics in the 1970s. Some streak of stubbornness insists that I finish it before starting something else.

I am creating ... started a new pair of socks which wasn't going well so ripped out the half a sock I had done. Now starting another pair with self-striping yarn.

I am hearing ... Tevye talking to Cherub; voices and traffic outside.

I am watching ... a new series of Dragons Den. How do people manage to come up with such strange business ideas?

I am enjoying ... work!

I am planning ... packing lists for our holiday in Spain later in August. The older girls and Tevye sort themselves, but I end up being responsible for all the communal bits and bobs as well as my own and Cherub's stuff.

Learning notes ... Angel is procrastinating over the summer tasks she is supposed to complete before starting her A level courses in September. I suspect she will end up cramming them into the week between getting back from holiday and going back to school.

Cherub ... is suddenly being very "five". Definitely a bit more sure of herself and confident than when she was four.

On the calendar ...
Monday - went with all three girls to the local Pick Your Own farm and came home with raspberries and peas in the pod. Used some of the raspberries to make this raspberry cake.
Thursday - taking Star to buy some new pointe shoes. Family tradition is that we go out afterwards for a mother-daughter meal.
Sunday - meeting Tevye's sister and her family for a BBQ in the woods (another family summer tradition).

On the menu ...
Monday - turkey stir fry
Tuesday - picnic from the supermarket salad bar
Wednesday - chunky haddock fingers, potato wedges and peas
Thursday - Star and I eating out, not sure about the rest of the family yet!
Friday - sun-dried tomato and olive chicken
Saturday - ???
Sunday - BBQ

A picture from last week ... Cherub waiting patiently to feed the bears at the zoo. (Minnie Mouse stayed rather longer than intended and is waiting to be collected from lost property!)