Monday, July 21, 2014

Zero Waste

Recently we've been trying to reduce the waste we send to landfill each week from our household. We've been looking at ways to reduce, reuse and recycle.  Our girls are really enjoying getting involved with this and together they made this video to show what and why we're doing it!





I'm impressed at how they made this video by themselves - learning to use Windows Movie Maker. They had lots of fun and I'm sure will be making more movies in the future!

Meanwhile - this one they're hoping to get shown at school to encourage their classmates to reduce, reuse and recycle more!

Jill

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Colouring competitions

Do your kids ever enter colouring in competitions? Did you when you were a kid? Ever win anything?
When I was a kid I won third prize in the local supermarket colouring competition and my brother won second. He got a big cuddly Gnu (yes a Gnu!) and I won a big cuddly panda.  I was always very proud of that win, but when I was older, my mum told me that only 3 people entered the competition, which I have to say crushed my colouring in pride significantly!

However, now that I am a parent myself, I can see that it was probably true!

Our local library hosts colouring in competitions each school holidays to win cinema tickets. My girls both like colouring in, and have been entering these competitions for a few years now. Most of the time they win tickets!  This time my youngest won the grand prize too which was a swingball set!

Both girls also won a double cinema pass to see Rio 2, so we had a family trip to the movies too.

I don't think there are many kids enter these competitions. Maybe kids prefer playing on their computers and tablets to colouring in.

It just goes to show it's always worth giving things a try. You've got to be in it to win it!

What competitions have your kids entered? Have they won anything?

Jill

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Catching Fire - what age is it suitable for?

The second book in the Hunger Games Trilogy - Catching Fire.  Our eldest daughter (age 11) read all three books recently, and then our youngest who is 9, picked up the first one from the school library and read that.  She really enjoyed it and launched into the second book straight afterwards.  Unfortunately she didn't get very far with the second book, saying it was boring.  Often when she says something is boring, it means it's too tricky, or she doesn't understand and she consequently gives up!

So - to encourage her to try again, we hired the first movie and all watched that together.  She enjoyed it and wants to see the second one but is still reluctant to read the second book.

What I've done now is to start reading it with her. We take turns reading a chapter each day. We're only just at the beginning of the book, and it is quite slow to get going into the story.  There are also quite a few words that she's asking about the meaning of.  I think this is definitely the way to read this book. I enjoy reading with her, and it's good for her to practice her reading aloud as well.  With the incentive of the second movie to watch at the end of the book, that will keep her going until the book gets into it's 'groove' so to speak.

I tried to look up what age The Hunger Games series is recommended for, and most sites seem to say around 10 or 11 as the youngest age. At 9, I think our daughter is ready for this book and it is challenging for her.  However, I also think that reading it together with me is the best way for her to read it as she has plenty of questions to ask for each chapter, so I can help her understand the story more fully.

I think having read the first book of the series, the content of the story isn't a problem for her. It's just the vocabulary and the tone of the book is just a little older than she is. It's always good to have an achievable challenge!

Have you or your kids read The Hunger Games?  

Jill

Disclaimer: the picture and link for this book takes you to The Book Depository which is an affiliate link. This means that if you purchase a book from them through that link, I get a commission.  All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Elimination












During a spring clean of our cupboards in last week's school holidays, I found a few games that we have never played before. 

So I decided that we should get them out and give them a go.

Yesterday my younger daughter and I played 'Elimination'.

This game is very simple. The board has 10 numbered grooves with a marble to sit in each one.  You then roll 2 dice and can remove the marbles from the corresponding numbers on the dice. Either the individual numbers or the sum of the two.  So for example in the picture above, I removed the 5 and 3 marbles, but could have removed the 8 marble instead.

You then simply take turns rolling the dice and removing the marbles. The person who removes the last marble wins!

Simple!

For younger kids it would be a fun game for number recognition and adding two single digit numbers together.
We just enjoyed it as a fun, simple game!

Do you have any games in your cupboard that you never, or hardly ever play?

Jill

Monday, July 14, 2014

Learning chess as an adult

This year, our younger daughter joined the chess club at school.  Both our girls like to play chess sometimes, and as I wrote here a few years ago, it's a great game to play for improving your mind and all sorts of skills!

Since joining the chess club and participating in a few tournaments, I think our daughter's interest in chess is waning.  She sometimes comes out of the 'lessons' saying it was boring - which means really that she didn't understand what was going on. It does appear that some of the teachers are better at explaining things than others, but when she has a 'boring' lesson, it really does put her off wanting to play chess.

Personally I've never really enjoyed playing chess, but I always try to encourage our kids in whatever they do, and do things with them so they get plenty of practice, improve and so enjoy doing them more. 

Everyone enjoys doing things more when they are better at them!

So, seeing our daughter's interest in chess waning, I decided that I'd try to play chess with her to try and encourage her some more. I don't want our kids to just give up on things they find tricky, so me learning chess will hopefully set a good example!

We've got books out of the library to help. The very basic book is for me..

Plenty of pictures and simple explanations!

Then a slightly more advanced, but still a kids book for my daughter (she's 9):

So - let's see how we go. My daughter is happy to teach me as we play - hopefully this will help her understand the moves more as she explains them. I also hope this will pick her interest back up in the game.

How do you encourage your kids to stick at something if you yourself aren't interested in it?  Have you ever learnt to play a game or sport to encourage your kids to play?

Jill

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Chip packet bracelet


Have you ever made a bracelet like this before?  I hadn't but had fun trying it out with my girls at the weekend.

Just now, we're being extra careful and learning about what we can recycle, reuse and not put in landfill.  Chip packets were one thing that as yet we haven't found anywhere to take them for recycling here, so we looked for something we could upcycle them to instead.

Using this tutorial we cut up the chip packets we had and folded them into the mini chain links, tucking them together to make this cute shiny bracelet.





The girls decided to give this bracelet to their friend who loves crafting herself.  She was really happy to get the gift, and the next day sent them a picture of another bracelet she'd made the same way (we showed her how).

Not a bad way to use up those shiny chip packets.  You could make a whole set of jewellery with them, or bags... So many possibilities




Have you ever done this kind of weaving with chip packets or junk mail - or anything else for that matter. I'd love some more ideas and inspiration for this!

Jill

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Teaching Kids General Knowledge


Is General Knowledge something that can be taught? or is it something that grows with age and experience?




I believe that both are true. The more information and experiences we can expose our kids to, the greater their general knowledge is likely to become. The way we can 'teach' general knowledge is by providing the experiences and contexts for our kids to learn about the world; and also sharing our own general knowledge with our kids.

What got me thinking about all of this was something we've been doing with our girls from the book - "The New First Aid in English".
It has a whole list of 259 general knowledge questions in it that we've been going through after dinner in the evenings. the girls are enjoying the challenge of seeing what they know and learning more trivia. They both have little trivia books that they love reading and telling us lots of 'useful' facts from!

There have been some questions that we've been surprised the girls don't know the answers too - but equally the odd one we've been unsure of! I have to admit I didn't know what an 'ackee' was! (it's a kind of tree with a red pear shaped fruit!).

There are plenty of games to play that help to increase general knowledge. From board games like Trivial Pursuits and card games like Top Trumps; to car journey games like taking turns to name countries of cities beginning with every letter of the alphabet.

Reading magazines, books and newspapers, listening to music, the radio and watching TV; playing outside, playing computer games - pretty much everything we do increases our general knowledge in some way as we learn about the world around us.

Quizzes are a fun way to see what you know - just as we have trivia nights as adults - kids enjoy this kind of thing too. We'll definitely be doing more quizzes with our girls!

Do you have any quiz sources or games to recommend?

Jill
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