Thursday, 20 January 2011

A winning formula for reading

Buddy is still pale, lack-lustre and sofa-bound. I'm thankful he's got the attention span for a feature film or two, and that he's old enough to enjoy a board game without tears, or too much of me fixing the outcome in his favour.

In particular we've been enjoying playing Grand Prix, pictured above, which Buddy got for his last birthday. I remember he wasn't particularly keen on learning to read at the time, but this dice game tapped into his obsession with all things Formula One. And brilliantly, it kick-started his desire to try reading non-book text independently. It's a lovely twist on classic snakes and ladder game-play with hazards like oil leak, miss a turn and engine full out, move to 57.

I remember being so encouraged by this that I made him his very own Formula One Bingo game, pictured below.

I used a mixture of high frequency words, phonetic spellings and specialist racing terminology to get him practising a range of reading strategies within a fun bingo game context; you have to complete the chequered flag to win!

Playing these games with Buddy again after a few months, even with him feeling unwell, I can see how his reading skills have come on in leaps and bounds. He is now an enthusiastic reader of everything, everywhere, and so I'll always be pleased we found a winning formula with Formula One.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

We love lid-potatoes

Buddy has been off school all week with a terrible cold, earache and upset tummy. He's barely eaten for days - most unlike him - so today, to help him find his appetite again, we made one of his favourite meals: jacket potatoes.

He didn't really fancy eating anything to be honest; he certainly couldn't make a decision about the filling for his potato. It was then that I remembered good old Milly Molly Mandy. We often refer to our storybooks for inspiration about all kinds of play, craft and cooking, and the classics have a certain cosy appeal extremely suitable for poorly boys and girls. Jane Brocket writes brilliantly about this in one of my favourite books in the world ever, Ripping Things To Do.

So we read Chapter 6: Milly Molly Mandy Enjoys a Visit where she and little-friend-Susan eat yummy lid-potatoes. Buddy was immediately tempted to eat (and help make) a lid-potato, just like in the story.

As Joyce Lankester Brisley writes, 'First Mother took two well-baked potatoes out of the oven. Then she nearly cut the tops off them - but not quite. Then she scooped all the potato out of the skins and mashed it up with a little salt and a little pepper and a lot of butter. And then she pushed it back into the two potato-skins, and shut the tops like little lids.

Then Milly Molly Mandy and little-friend-Susan were given a mug of milk and a plate of bread-and-butter, and one of the nice warm lid-potatoes. And they opened the potato-lids and ate out of them with little spoons.

They did enjoy their suppers.'

And so, thank goodness, did Buddy.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Living room leap

The season of birthday parties is upon us; we went to two today. There was a bouncy castle at the first, and the second had a huge soft-play area with slides, ropes and a ball pit. You'd think with so much bouncing, climbing, sliding and let's not forget all that consuming of sugar, my children would have been totally wiped out by teatime. But they were not.

Surprisingly, they still needed to work off some excess energy; luckily Saturday television favourite Total Wipe-out inspired them. They spent an entire hour arranging our cushions, footstool, chairs, the sofa and pouffe into a living room obstacle course for their own show. They took it in turns to spectacularly leap and swim, climb and fall (in slow motion of course) just like the contestants on the TV programme.

I think they would have carried on playing this game until midnight - still on their party-high - but I could see they were totally shattered. The only way I could get them up upstairs in the vague direction of bed was by the promise of an award ceremony, just like on the show.

As trophies were presented, previously made thank goodness, I could see them winding down fast - crashing down really. Daisy told me as she flopped into bed that it had all been good practice for when she's going to be on Total Wipe-out when she's a grown up. And Buddy didn't say anything. I suspect he was already asleep. That's what I call a total wipe-out.