Thursday, 27 September 2012

All Learning Together

A friend of mine and I were talking the other day about how we both learned to bake when we were children, and how that love of baking progressed naturally into cooking.  So I was really pleased when my boys decided that they wanted to make their own pizza for tea!  In fact we made it for lunch today because I thought if I'd left it until 4 o'clock to start cooking, they'd be tired & a bit less happy to share, take turns etc.  The recipe - from the Usborne Cookbook for Boys  was for one large pizza, but it was much easier for the boys to make their own smaller individual ones and each add their own topping.  I doubled the amount of dough, as it looked like they were going to be too small, but then happily, each pizza turned out so big that there was enough left over for teatime later - yum :)

two of our pizzas...

In fact, most of the day's learning was done together today, not just the baking...  Most days I'm a bit like a pinball, bouncing happily from one child to another, one activity to another, with the odd activity done together, but I really enjoyed all the playing & learning together today!  This morning we made a game of Body Bingo, downloaded from one of my favourite websites for HE resources, Ellen McHenry's Basement Workshop.  First we coloured in the pictures of the various body parts - helping Youngest where needed - then we cut them up and stuck them onto our individual bingo-boards, which we also coloured in so that they were all different.  (one of those sentences you never think you will hear yourself say: "have you all thrown away the body parts that you don't need any more?").  Then the sheets were laminated - having put all that effort into making them, we really didn't want them to get ruined straight away!  We didn't have enough counters to play there and then, but as the boys were really keen I decided that we could play with chocolate buttons instead (the boys were very happy with that plan!).  The clue questions provided came in three levels, level one being easier and level three being harder, but we stuck mostly to level one as that was a good balance between Eldest and Middle's ability.  We let Youngest guess first (gave him clues), then Middle, then Eldest - but regardless of who got the right answer, everyone got a chocolate button if they had the appropriate body part on their card.  It was just a lovely activity, and we all learned plenty while playing it.  Our favourite bit was when I asked them the name of the tube that goes from our mouth to our stomach, and an over-excited Eldest shouted out "ooh, ooh, I know... asparagus! (instead of oesophagus)", and I totally had a fit of the giggles.  The boys were delighted to see Mummy so tickled, and we all ended up laughing for ages - happy times :)

Our other main activities for the day were building funny people out of a new playdough set that Youngest was given for his birthday (see below) - practicing their sharing and negotiation skills.  And later we planted some spring bulbs in the garden - there was a bare bit of border next to a fence that always looks a bit miserable, and I fancied seeing some colour there in the spring, so we planted a mixture of snowdrops, tulips and narcissi.  Eldest was mildly interested, but preferred to play on Reading Eggspress, where he's found a quest game that he really likes (the only part of the day where the boys ended up doing different things).  Youngest started digging very enthusiastically, but did get tired, then he found the watering can and spent the remaining time hopping about exictedly waiting for me to say he could water the planted bulbs.  Middle turned out to be very keen, and enjoyed talking to me about the bulbs, which ones would grow first, how deep to plant them etc - he may well have inherited the green-fingered gene from my side of the family (which seems to have skipped a generation when it came to myself).  Anyway, just knowing that the bulbs are under the ground there has made that bare stip of soil already seem brighter and more cheerful to Middle and me - we're looking forward to seeing the first shoots emerge next year!  Oh, and the bulbs were most thoroughly watered by Youngest when I finally gave him the go-ahead :)

Finally we had a spot of collaborative story-telling - the boys usually love taking it in turns to make up stories anyway, and they were keen to use our tape recorder to record themselves telling it, particularly enjoying hearing their voices replayed afterwards and laughing hard at their own contributions.  Story transcribed below, but beware, it is very clearly a boyish story ;)

Once upon a time there was a sheep called Mary who lived in a sheep-house.  It ran into a giant bullfrog, and the giant bullfrog ate him and got covered in mucus, and started to feel rather sick, so he went home to tell his Mummy that he had tummy-ache, and his Mummy said "what have you been eating?", and the giant bullfrog said "I ate a sheep".  Mummy said "you will have to go to hospital and eat some cookies to make you better.  Then the bullfrog ate one thousand, eight hundred and ninety-nine sheep.  Because he forgot to eat the cookies he puked all the sheep back up again and then the sheep died.  Then the bullfrog ate the Eiffel tower, and because the Eiffel tower was so big, the bullfrog changed shape and got shaped into the Eiffel tower, so he had a very pointy head and four legs that stuck out at the bottom.  Then he just died, but then he came back alive again and found one thousand eight hundred and ninety-nine humongous bullfrogs, and one of them ate him, then another then another then another - and so on.  Then the biggest one exploded from eating too many frogs and the world was covered in frog guts.  The End.

I love the way the story ends up being about something completely different to the opening sentence - and I wonder if they ate too much pizza at lunchtime?  Hmmmm...


  1. I'm so impressed with how much you manage to do each day - and blogging about it too, something that I am really struggling with!! I love the Ellen McHenry website too, such a huge wealth of resources there!

    1. Thanks Rachel :) two things that have really helped since the holidays have been getting into a housework routine (that the boys help with too) - getting washing on & kitchen clean before we do much else, and then the 'no TV (boys) or laptop (me) before lunch' guideline. It's a little thing, but has really freed us up to focus on having fun, being creative & learning together in the mornings - and then the afternoons tend to be a bit more chilled - if the boys are happy watching TV/ playing by themselves I sometimes blog then - or we can carry on doing stuff together, but either way, it seems to be helping us all to find our rhythm :) xx

    2. oh, and we make time for the boys to tidy their rooms before they go to bed too... it's all about finding what works for you - and routine really seems to work for us :)

    3. Ahh, yes, getting J to tidy up after himself really would be the icing on the cake, he just doesn't seem to see the chaos he creates!

    4. LOL, I totally know what you mean! None of my boys seem to notice their mess. It's taken years of training for my 10yo to be able to tidy on his own (although it still takes him all day to do not very much sometimes) - but the younger two (6 & 4) - well, there's no chance of them doing it unless I sit there & coach them through what to do next - ie "what can you pick up next? where does it belong?"... tedious, but least I'm showing them it's their mess to tidy, not mine... well, that's the theory...

  2. I just read your boys' story out to Teddy and she thought it was hilarious! :D