Monday, January 30, 2012

Practical Chinese Lesson!

You can't teach a boy Chinese, and not teach him to use chopsticks! I always give him his 'sticks' when we have Chinese food (mostly because I use some and he demands his own) and this video is fairly typical of how he uses them... right up until the last couple of seconds!

It's not just me, right. You did see the food get picked up and eaten from the chopsticks, right? I'm sooo PROUD!

Excuse the panting - he has a cold, again, and can't breathe through his nose. If anyone knows if I can turn the video around so you can watch it properly, please, please, please let me know!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mummy's House

Today, for the first time ever, Nikki showed a real interest in building with his bricks. Usually, after a few minutes of putting a couple of blocks together and then throwing them around the room, he gives up. Today, he was a master architect! This is the house he built for me:

The First Tower is Complete...

Peeking out from behind his very own Tower of Piza...

I can reach... just one more...

I helped only build the base layer (2 bricks high) so that there would be something for the towers to stand on! When I tried helping with the towers, I was told that I was doing it wrong! I was allowed to hold the towers to stop them falling over as he added the high bricks, though.

Independent Breakfast

Nicholas now makes his own breakfast (when he has cereal, anyway).

First, he carefully scoops the cereal into his bowl:

 Then, he pours his milk from a little jug. I always tell him he might not want it all, and he always ignores me and pours in the lot!

Look how pleased with himself he is!

I love how his toes are peeking out under the highchair! Notice the sudden bib appearence? I got so caught up in taking photos that I forgot about the bib! Nikki was also distracted - he rarely spills anything, but was so busy posing that both cereal and milk ended up on the table.

Monday, January 23, 2012

On Our Shelves

This week, I have finally removed all the Christmas Toy Excess and whittled down a select few things to go on Nikki's shelves this week.

As always, he has his bells. He loves to play with them, and although the initial interest has waned (thank goodness!) he still plays for a few minutes every day. I name the notes every time he lets me ring them, so it also works as a kind of music lesson.

From C to C, Nikki's handbells are so colourful (and labelled)!

For sequencing practice, he has his Ded Moroz dolls - he just can't give them up! He doesn't seem too interested in lining them up at the moment, though!

Russian dolls with Grandfather Frost (Dedushka Moroz)

He has a bowl of buttons and felt numbers to learn quantity: He really needs help with this one, because although he is good at counting, he still doesn't really associate the numbers with the quantities. He does enjoy playing with the buttons and 'helping' me to count by guiding my finger to touch each button.

Quantities using buttons and felt numbers

I have set up a shortened version of the fantastic marble run he had for Christmas. This is fine motor for the most part, but he also has to line up the final piece if he knocks it. He really loved it when Uncle Harry set up the whole run for him, but within five minutes it was knocked over and both boys were upset (it took about half an hour to set up!) so now we just have a really simple setup which I hope Nikki will learn to fix on his own.
Mini marble run

I have a set of colour flashcards to remind him that not everything is blue or green! We simply name the colours together in English and Russian. The perfectionist in me is annoyed that none of the sets of kids coloured paper I had (or have seen) include red paper, so I had to use some of my craft paper which was a different size...
A5 colour flashcards (with words on the back)

 And finally, his Bible, to read together in the mornings.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Messy Church

Once every couple of months, our village church does a 'Messy Church' craft afternoon for kids. I have never taken Nikki before, as it is not really for toddlers and he simply hasn't been into crafts in the same way. Now that he would rather stick glue on the paper (and not his finger down the glue stick) I thought we would give it a try.

It turned out to be a really fun afternoon. The theme was The Creation, which I felt was appropriate for a first session. There were seven activity stations in the church, one for each day.

At the first station, we removed a sheet of black paper from our poster (the creation of light).
Then, we coloured in sea, earth and sky (the creation of heaven).
The third station supplied us with some trees, flowers and seeds to stick on to the earth.
At the fourth station, we stuck on pictures of the sun, moon and stars.
The fifth station provided stickers of fish.
The sixth day was split between two stations - first we stuck on all sorts of animals and people to our collage. Then we went off to decorate a gingerbread Adam or Eve (there wasn't time or icing enough to decorate two biscuits per child, so it was generally boys making Adams and girls making Eves. Our Adam had green icing legs and rather disproportionate smartie eyes...).
The seventh station had a picture of a bed to stick on (God rested)!

This was all done in a rather manic 30 minutes, followed by a couple of songs and prayers and dinner! It was nothing fancy - sandwiches, sausages, crisps etc. but the children all loved it!

Our "Seven Days of Creation" Poster

Guess which colour crayon Mummy used! We were using a pew as a table, so I made a lovely wood rubbing, too! Nikki did all the blue crayon, most of the stickers and a lot of glue. I suspect most of the picture has traces of glue on it! If we had more time, he would have done all the sticking.

When we got home, I decided it was a really good time to introduce Bible reading. Nikki wasn't interested until I called it a church book. He loves the church and its bells... So, we read the first story in our Children's Bible - The Creation. I might even read him the rest of the book!

Spring Playdough

Ok, so maybe I'm being hopeful with the 'Spring' theme...

Nikki helped me make some new playdough today. He poured the ingredients from the measuring cups and very carefully stirred them together.

Nikki stirring the dough mix before cooking.

 Then, once I had cooked it and kneaded it, and it was quite cool, Nikki helped to add the colour! I use the gel colours which are expensive, but they last forever and are soooo much cleaner to mix in to doughs. I dip a cocktail stick (or spoon handle or chopstick...) into the gel and the amount left on when I take it out is usually enough.

To knead it in cleanly, flatten your dough ball and wipe the gel across the top, then fold the dough before kneading. This keeps the messy gel on the inside and the colour which bleeds through is no longer pure gel so doesn't usually stain hands. Keep kneading until you get a smooth colour.

Nikki took one part with the blue gel in had great fun squeezing it until he could see blue!

Squeeze, squeeze - it's turning blue!
 And the final result: sunny yellow, sky blue and spring green:

Our spring playdough.

Christmas Night

Ok, so it's a month late, but can you guess where we were Christmas night?

Nicholas was wheezing Christmas day, and got progressively worse. In the end, we had an adventure - I spoke to a nurse on NHS Direct and she was worried enough to tell us to get an ambulance into hospital to get checked out. He was not very impressed, especially with the breathing mask and the sats monitor (a clip on his toe, completely painless!) but completely ignored the two heel-prick blood tests. Silly boy. It turned out to be a nasty-sounding but relatively harmless viral chest infection, so we didn't even need medication. We didn't find this out until 4am, though! At least we got to keep the face mask...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Holiday Over!

I have taken a little holdiay from blogging the last couple of weeks. We were ill between Christmas and New Year, and I have only just got Nicholas back into going to his room to sleep at bedtime, as well as going back to his bed when he comes to my room at 2am. Now that my evenings are mostly baby-free and I am sleeping almost enough to feel that I have some energy in the day,  my brain is functioning enough for me to write in complete sentences again!

The last week I have been really lazy. Nikki has a new favourite Russian DVD: Русский с Хрюшей or Russian with Hrusha, a series teaching the alphabet and reading with some very old-style puppets. I didn't intend to show it to him for a while (if at all) because the sound can be a bit muffled and I'd rather something with actual children, but Nikki has been demanding it hour after hour, and I have been that desperate to get some sleep that I have allowed it!

Amazingly, he has started speaking a lot more Russian with the constant dvd exposure (especially since he went through a couple of weeks refusing to acknowledge me speaking Russian or speak Russian to me afterehis father visited) and now if I ignore his request to carry him when we are out for a walk, he will say 'cuddle' in Russian because he knows I won't ignore his linguistic progress! Cheeky monster!

I have been working hard on my 2012 Russian/English curriculum for Nicholas. I plan to do a lot more 'school' with him this year, as he is very interested in letters and counting at the moment and has developed a longer attention span. I have started planning pre-reading games and activities in both languages, as well as writing a story-based program (like our Chinese books, but more intense) to teach Russian language from zero, which will hopefully progress him to understanding and speaking in proper sentences. I am hoping that by introducing a gradual progression of new vocabulary and grammar, he will become more comfortable (and vocal) with his Russian.

At the moment, although he listens to dvds and audio books in Russian, he doesn't like to sit and listen to me reading Russian stories that are longer than a few simple phrases. I think this is because he doesn't have the same vocabulary, and most childrens books are written in fairy-tale language which is quite unlike the day-to-day conversational language. It might also be because I am rubbish at reading said fairy-tale Russian.

Unfortunately, a lack of sleep also led to a distinct lack of housework and as much as I would like to write the many posts I've been planning over the last month, I must go and wage war on my kitchen...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I've been away for a little while. Sorry about that! Before Christmas Nikki's father visited for a week (a 12/10 on my stressometer) and left days before the chaos that is Christmas. Then we've both been ill with nasty coughs for the last week and with the couple of hours that I'm sleeping (rather than coughing/caring for sick baby) I've not really been up to blogging.