Monthly Archives: February 2015

Fight Club

The following thoughts have been floating around in my mind for some time now, and so rather than my usual learning focussed post I thought I’d share my views on siblings fighting.  You see in our house (as in many others) we seem to go through phases where we have a lot of screaming, shouting, squabbling, whining, stomping off… I could go on with many more terms but you get the idea!

There is very little physical fighting, aside from the odd tug of war over a toy, the occasional scratch from little L,  but I have slowly come to the conclusion that all this confrontation is a good thing.  That isn’t a ‘typo’, I really have.   Those who know me know that I do always try to see the positive in a situation (and equally, I know that this can be annoying to some!) so perhaps I am looking at this with my usual optimism but I think these ‘fights’ are symbolic.  Here’s why…

When my boys are fighting it means they are not sitting passively, they are engaging with one another and the argument has usually ensued because they are trying to move forward in their play.  It may be that there has been a disagreement over how the play is unfolding; should the blue guys be on the horses or on foot whilst defending the castle for example.  What way should the chairs face when turning the dining chairs into a plane?  My favourite was the argument over whether the crash landing had happened in the sea or on land, consequently what the correct rescue plan should be… These things matter!  It is so easy for us as parents to get cross or get involved but if we can bear the ‘shoutiness’ they usually find a solution.  They develop the skills to compromise, resolve, negotiate.  Skills they would not develop if I was having a quieter life!

When there is a heated disagreement it means they are comfortable to explore and express their true feelings.  It means I have created a safe environment in which they can do this.  This, in turn is good for their self esteem and means that they will be able to deal with conflict outside of the home in a slightly less dramatic way, having experienced the effects of their emotional reactions in the safety of their own home.

So when my boys are fighting I have to remind myself of the skills and emotional literacy they are acquiring.  I am now trying, when they come to me, to steer them back to one another.  To face one another and explain what was upsetting rather than expect me to solve the problem.  This restorative technique is key to conflict resolution:  Explaining your feelings and the impact of the actions of another on your own feelings, without sounding accusing.  Difficult for adults, so especially difficult for a 4 and a 7 year old.

When they are fighting I am now trying to remember that this will lead to them having self-awareness, a recognition of their own feelings and in time they will know how to manage them.  They will, I am sure develop the ability to stay calm when angered, they will develop empathy, and eventually employ self-discipline in order to harness their seemingly out of control emotions.

When my boys are fighting I have to remember the same level of self awareness and self discipline.  You didn’t think that first paragraph was just describing the boys did you?!

Harry Potter Week

Harry Potter Week didn’t really start out as Harry Potter week.  Until Wednesday I had never even seen any Harry Potter films and yet somehow most of the week here at missmummy has been all about the wizardry!

We started as planned.  We made our lava lamp as per our list of science challenges to explore.  This was very exciting, leading to gasps of “wow” as the mixture fizzed. Once the the mixture had been made he wired up a bulb to provide the light.  My little guest blogger has returned and below you can read how to make this yourself at home, take heed of his warning at the end:

HOW TO MAKE A LAVA LAMP

You will need : an empty water bottle,

Vegetable oil,

Water,

Food colouring,

Alka seltzer tablet

INSTRUCTIONS

First fill the bottle 3/4 full with vegetable oil, then top it off with water and about 10 drops of food colouring (or enough to make the solution appear fairly dark).      

Next, cut an alka seltzer tablet in to pieces, put it in to the bottle, put the cap on and tip back and forth.  The oil dos not mix with water what do you think will happen…     

Finally, put a strong light underneath.                   

MY TOP TIP

DON’T use a bulb thru 4 batteries   

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our lava lamp instructions came from our set of Dyson challenge cards
our lava lamp instructions came from our set of Dyson challenge cards

More ‘inventing’ has been happening in a very ad hoc way.  I daren’t let on that most of these things have in fact already been invented.  It’s wonderful to watch him trying out his ideas on the circuit board and evaluate his findings.  He now knows, from above, that if you have too much power running to a small bulb it will blow and is so confident in his new skills that when I explained we needed to put a new battery in the doorbell he asked if I want him to fix it by checking the circuit!

The week’s learning changed direction dramatically after a Harry Potter themed day at our HE group and then at Beavers the same evening.  You guessed it… The dressing up excuse.  C only remembered at tea time that he was allowed to dress up at Beavers and so began frantically researching costume ideas.  I was quietly impressed by his googling skills as he thought to type in ‘Harry Potter home made costumes’ as his search.  A fun evening enjoyed at Beavers subsequently led to his being dressed up for the remainder of the week.  Should I admit that I am writing this on Thursday night and he still has his lightning scar? Should I admit that my son washes his face day and night, baths every night and has managed to actually wash around this patch on his forehead?  We sat and watched the first film on Wednesday evening which inspired me, not to dress up but to create some maths learning around Hogwarts house points and spells.

Last week I had identified a need to recap finding the difference as a method for subtraction.  This one is often tricky, but necessary, for younger children to visualise what it is they are doing when subtracting by working out the difference between 2 numbers.  C keeps telling me he “doesn’t like maths” and so I am trying to think more creatively about IMG_7047how we teach it; my solution for this was to incorporate ‘finding the difference’ into some play with the Scaletrix.  We  had timed races and when the timer was up, calculated how many laps we had each done by recording along a blank number line.  This enabled him to draw out the jumps, for example from 32 (no. of laps left) to 45 (the total no. of laps on the dial).  Our Scaletrix dials countdown from 45 so you can easily see how many laps are remaining:  It’s not so easy to see how many you have completed.  To follow on from this the next day, I stuck up some envelopes containing house points for the Hogwarts houses.  With these he had to work out the differences between the different houses and the winners.  We started together, with me modelling how Dumbledore would have mentally calculated how many more points were needed to put Gryffindor into the lead and then I left him to do a few more calculations independently.  This has all served to be successful scaffolding.  We started practically, followed up on paper with support and then gradually took away the support.  He’s got it!  And very pleased he is with himself too!

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Upon leaving for Nursery one day this week we discovered a letter on the mat from Dumbledore himself, giving ideas for us muggles to make potions. IMG_7062 Once the letter was read and digested we set about, the three of us, creating some pretty disgusting tasting potions (recording and adding up the quantities as we went along).  The boys are convinced they made it snow with these as sudden snowstorm began while they syringed and mixed apple juice, lemonade and milk, yuk!  And of course, our crazy L loved it – drinking a fair bit until I insisted he stop before he was sick!

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I have been so lucky with our HE community here.  Our lovely group organiser set up an online HP quiz for us all to take part in.  C has thoroughly enjoyed re calling his (limited) HP knowledge from his one film viewing and attempted all 6 rounds with very little help from me.  So good multi media comprehension there from him.   Some amusing, some random guesses, Professor Spinach instead of Sprout was my favourite I think.

To end this week, here he is sketching a portrait of Harry Potter, obsessed?   Who him?!

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harry potter maths download