Friday, November 23, 2012

What Have We Done All Week? (School Wrap-Up)

I. is now 4 yrs and 2 months old.
I. are acum 4 ani si 2 luni.

We've been trying to spend more time outdoors, while the good autumn weather still lasts. It is not too cold yet, so we've been going on walks in the parks and that was well appreciated by my daughter. She loves being out in nature, to explore new places, to look for sticks, leaves, pebbles or whatever she stumbles across.


What else we did?
  • Worked on a few printables from the Shelf Elf Pack from

We used small playdough balls to press into the circles, instead of our Dot Markers - a very good fine motor practice!

  •  Practiced reading on the iPad. This is the free Bitsboard app from GrasshopperApps. It's an incredible tool, with lots of options, free flashcards sets, very useful for us! As you can see at the beginning of the video, she sometimes tends to rush and 'guess' the ending of a word -but when she reads again, she'll say it right :)
  •  Read lots of books everyday, in English and in French. She's been asking me to record her while she 'reads' books to herself (reading from memory and looking at the pictures, that is), so here she is - reading 'Doctor Dora' in English.

And in French, a story called 'Nina au Musee', from 'Histoires pour les Petits' - a story about a little girl, Nina, who goes visit a museum for the first time, with her parents.

We did other stuff, of course, but that's all I managed to capture on camera.
How was your week?

Some great collections I may be linking to:

See Vanessa CraftTot School

Saturday, November 17, 2012

French Learning Update

So, it's been ... 8 months now since we started learning French. That is - me, trying to brush up the French I've learned in school and to build up on it, so I can read and talk to her - and my daughter (who's 4 years old now) taking in and learning more than I would have imagined when I started all this French adventure.

Si ... au trecut 8 luni de cand ne-am apucat de franceza. Eu a trebuit sa-mi amintesc, alaturi de ea, ceea ce am invatat la scoala, iar ea, a invatat mai multe decat m-as fi asteptat eu, cand am inceput aceasta aventura a invatare a limbii franceza.

How did we do it? We started gently, with simple picture books, nursery rhymes in French and some cartoons I've found on youtube (For some resources, check our French Learning page).
Luckily, she loves music, so she's been listening to lots of comptimes on CDs and on Youtube as well. She's learned several songs by herself - such as 'La Mere Michel', below :)

Cum am procedat? Am inceput usor, cu carticele simple, cantece de copii si desene animate simple pe youtube (gasiti cateva idei pe pagina noastra de French Learning) .
Din fericire, I. iubeste muzica, asa ca a ascultat si inca asculta cu multa placere multe comptimes pe CD-uri sau pe Youtube. A si invatat multe cantecele, de una singura, cum e si 'La Mere Michel', mai jos.

She also loves books. Surprisingly (for me), she's been listening carefully to stories in French (and enjoying them!) just as much as she enjoys the books in English. If you're wondering how we read - when I'm introducing a new book to her and I know there are unfamiliar words in it, I would read each phrase and then translate it into Romanian. Then, the second time I read that book to her, I don't translate anymore - I kind of let her pick the unfamiliar words by herself. I rather point to the images and discuss the unfamiliar words in French, rather than translating.
Here she is, retelling some parts of an histoire she enjoys listening to (it's from the Histoires pour les petits magazine, that come with an audio CD as well). The story is called 'Un piege our le Pere Noel' and she's trying to tell it just the way she heard it on the CD.

De asemenea, I.-nei ii plac mult cartile. Spre surprinderea mea, a fost doritoare de la inceput sa citim impreuna povesti si in franceza, asa cum citeam in engleza. Daca va intrebati despre felul in care citim - cand ii citesc o poveste noua, de obicei ii traduc, mai ales cand stiu ca sunt cuvinte necunoscute ei, ii traduc in romana. Cand recitim cartea, nu ii mai traduc - prefer sa deduca ea singura cuvintele din context, din imagini etc, sau discutam ce inseamna, insa fara traducere.
Mai jos - povesteste dintr-o poveste de Craciun pe care o asculta des pe CD (din revista Histoires pour les petits), si incearca sa povesteasca exact asa cum aude pe CD:)

Cum mergem mai departe, pe partea de franceza? Cu muzica, carti si conversatie. Pe viitor, probabil ca va merge la ateliere si cursuri/scoli de vara la Centrul Cultural Francez pentru a mentine si imbunatati limba franceza. Va fi nevoie permamenta de continuitate, altfel va uita, si nu imi doresc aceasta. 

Cum ne descurcam intre romana, engleza si franceza? Buna intrebare. In general, dialogul intre mine si ea e in primul rand in engleza, apoi in franceza. Cu restul lumii, in romana. Stie ce limba trebuie sa vorbeasca cu cine, de exemplu, daca i se adreseaza cineva in engleza, va raspunde in engleza, daca o intreba cineva ceva in franceza, va raspunde in franceza.

Voi, ii invatati franceza pe copiii vostri? Mi-ar place sa aud despre experienta voastra, va astept sa ne povestiti despre felul in care invatati voi!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Our Week in Pictures (School Wrap-Up)

I. is now 4 yrs and 1 month old.
I. are acum 4 ani si 1 luna.

Our week, in pictures:
Iata o parte din activitatile din aceasta saptamana:

Gingerbread (from Homeschool Creations) and Candy Theme (from 1+1+1=1)

Since last week we read some great Gingerbread Man books, both in English and French, I've chosen some printables to go along with them - from the Gingerbread Baby pack (Homeschool Creations) and from the Candy Preschool Pack (1+1+1=1). Needless to say, she loved this theme!

Here are some pictures:

Choosing the beginning sound.
Gluing only the images that begin with the 'F' sound.
The Candy Preschool Pack printables, a huge hit with us!
She loved the counting game
Placing a cube on the one that's different.
Gluing Candy vs. Fruit
Proud of her work!
Other activities:

Working with our spelling set to make short CVC words.
Necklace making - with cute beads (from Kaufland)
The books we read this week (the English books are on sale at Libris. ro, that's where I got these from):

Choosing more books - those are the shelves holding our books in Romanian.

She played a lot this week. Here she is playing doctors - giving poor Winnie a shot...

And then one day she pulled out all our train sets and then played like crazy with them, for the rest of the week!
She loves the Thomas train set!
Yeah, all the trains were going at the same time ... it was crazy!
How was your week?

Some great collections I may be linking to:

Tot School

Montessori MondaySee Vanessa Craft

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Speekee Review

When my 4 yr old daughter asked me to teach her Spanish, I was at a loss. After all, Spanish would be her 4th language, after Romanian, English and French - would she be able to learn without confusing them? And then, I was by far NOT fluent in Spanish. I would understand most of it, but I'm not able to speak it (as I was with English and eventually French), to help her master Spanish, as well.
So, I began to look online for resources - language video lessons for kids, songs, stories, and any kind of information that would help me (the non-Spanish speaking mom), to introduce Spanish language to my child and learn along with her.
And so I came across Speekee.
It looked like just what we needed. And when I found out we would be able to review it, I was thrilled!

Here's a bit of information to get you started.
Speekee is an immersion-based program that teaches Spanish for children aged 2-11. You can get it on DVD, or view it online at Speekee TV, for a really affordable fee. You will have 10 episodes, each with a different theme, with lots of songs and animations.Children learn at their own pace, and they have fun while learning!
Speekee uses the immersion method - meaning that everything is being said in Spanish only, the words are carefully introduced and thoroughly repeated several times throughout the lessons.
Each week you get by email a lesson from the Fast Track program, with lots of ideas and lesson plans to complement and reinforce the lessons introduced by the Speekee videos. You also have access to download free activity sheets and flashcards.
Speekee works particularly well for homeschoolers - read this article on Speekee's blog, for more information on that .

What I liked best about Speekee? I liked the way the lessons are structured each on a theme, the way vocabulary was gently introduced and repeated though music and fun. We both learned a lot by watching it together and going over some practice as suggested in the weekly Fast Track emails.
Other that the content that was just perfect for my daughter's age and way of learning, I appreciated the fact that we could access Speekee TV anytime and from various devices. After we've been through all the videos, I set Speekee up on the iPad for my daughter so she would select the lesson and songs she liked best.

And my daughter? My daughter simply loved Speekee. She enjoyed the videos a lot, and liked the sock puppets in particular. Here's a video of her - playing with her 2 mittens :) that are supposed to be our puppets:)

Did she pick up some Spanish, after a month of Speekee? She did, a LOT! Not only she learned all the songs (she's singing them all day long), she also learned to speak in short sentences and she's very intent on conversing with me in Spanish, as well (besides English and French). She would say 'Mommy, we speak Spanish now' - so I have to play along and speak the little Spanish I know.
Here's another video, we're looking at an English book for babies and reviewing the words in Spanish.

So, yes, I'm very happy with what she learned from Speekee and I recommend it to all the parents who want to introduce Spanish in a fun and gentle way to their children. I am grateful for being offered the opportunity to review Speekee and learn so much from it! Thank you, Speekee and we're looking forward to the next lessons!

Friday, November 9, 2012

French books, reading and more on our Weekly School Wrap-Up

Ok, it looks like all we did this week was READ! Read, read, read and read again, especially in French! I've got a great set of books and magazines from the French Cultural Center and also bought kids French magazines from the newspapers stands, so, yes, we had quite a bunch of French stuff to read and enjoy!

The books and magazines in French we read this week
She liked the Histoires pour les Petits magazine a lot. I thought the French level would be too difficult for her, but she asked for it each night, all of it! About 60 pages worth of stories - and then once finished, she wants Picoti (all of it) and so on! If we could read each night for at least an hour, she would be so happy!
The big book that you can see is a French version of the Gingerbread man - here's a link on the Amazon for it. We loved this 'Le bonhomme en pain d'epices'! First of all, it is HUGE - see below how it looks, compared to a pocket-size version. Then, each page has 3 section, where the story is being told for 3 yr olds, 4 yr olds and 5 yr olds - gradually rising in difficulty. First I read the easiest version for a couple of times, but when my girl heard the medium (4 yr) version on the CD (yes, it comes with a CD with all 3 versions on it!), she wanted me to read the more complicated version! We just fell in love with the books and I'm definetely planning a Gingerbread man theme for the next week!

Gingerbread man books, in En and Fr
My little girl loves books. I've always made sure she has easy access to books - we have a few book baskets around the house with books she can easily see and flip through. Here she is in her 'reading corner' - before going to bed - looking at books and then choosing what she wants me to read.
The reading nook, with the English books basket

We also have a French books basket, with some of our books and magazines (not borrowed). I try to rotate the books from time to time and she's always happy to discover the books she hadn't seen for a while.
Our French books basket

Except for the French books, we practiced reading short words in English each day, using some fun ideas to practice reading.
Word family flip book
Word slides
We worked on the Pink Series that we purchased from the Montessori Print Shop. You can download a free document that is part of the series. And, if you're looking for something free, the Helpful Garden blog has an excellent Pink Series for free!

Matching words to pictures
This is what we're at now, as far as reading goes.

And little girl made a bracelet out of bead bears. And one of Cheerios cereals, too, no picture for that one!

I hope you all had a great week!

Some great collections I may be linking to:
Tot School

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fun Ideas to Practise Reading Word Families

I've recently stumbled upon some fun reading ideas for kids on Pinterest - I like the Word Families Flip Books and the Word Slides a lot!
[Am gasit recent pe Pinterest idei pentru exersarea familiilor de cuvinte, mi-au placut mult Word Families Flip Books si Word Slides]

So, inspired from the Word Families Flip Books post, I made a flip book myself, only for the '-at' word family to begin with. The beginning letter sheet ar mobile, while the '-at' stays the same.
[Am incercat si eu sa fac un astfel de carnetel, am taiat foile dupa cum vedeti mai jos, si am scris mai multe litere de inceput pe foile mobile, cred ca se intelege din imagini].

And then I printed and used the '-at' word slide from School Sparks.
[Si am mai printat un astfel de joc de la School Sparks - foaia cu litera de inceput trece prin cele doua fante taiate si copilul o misca in sus sau in jos incet, citind pe rand cuvintele.]

And we used the '-AT' Family Word game on Starfall.
[Si am folosit jocul pe acceasi tema de pe Starfall.]
We liked all these ideas - they help increase the speed of reading, by recognizing the '-at' ending.