Lancaster. Middle of February. Miserable winter weather. Hattie Brown at home on a Wednesday evening, slumped on a cream, sagging sofa with felt tip marks scribbled on the arm rest and what she hoped was chocolate smeared into the upholstery. She stared past her ghastly neon pink ‘Mum in a Million’ slippers towards the end of the room, towards a full-on view of the small oak sideboard covered in inch thick dust, imprinted with tiny hand prints, and placed on it, a large flat screen television, smeared in something Hattie didn’t care to think about. To one side, under the huge bay window, an oak coffee table, hidden under a mound of Play Mobil characters, CBeebies magazines, several half-finished sippy cups of milk steadily turning into cottage cheese and a styling head doll covered in slimy play make up. Below it, the floor. Now, where was it? She hadn’t seen it for weeks. It was littered with tiny sequined shoes, a pink leotard, purple fairy wings, a wand looking worse for ware and piles and piles and piles of unopened mail, magazines, notebooks and to do lists. Yes, many to do lists. The fireplace, once a source of immense pride and beauty with its dazzling granite hearth, and polished oak surround, now yet another dust collector. The hearth, no longer gleaming but dirtied by heavy rain and hailstones tumbling through the filthy chimney like tiny pebbles dancing through a rain stick. And Hattie, hand deep down in the recesses of the sofa. The remote control, buried amongst crumbs, loose change, glittery hair clips and… something else… maybe a banana skin? Hattie wasn’t sure. With a huge sigh, she pulled the remote control out of it’s burial ground, pointed it in the optimum direction and switched the television on.
My daughter loves anything to do with pirates. One of her favourite programmes is called ‘Swashbuckle’ on CBeebies and she gets so excited when ‘Naughty Pirates’ comes on (her name for ‘Swashbuckle’). It’s so much fun watching her watch it as she gets really involved and loves shouting and pointing her finger at the TV saying, ‘Walk the plank! Walk the plank!’
One night as she was singing along to the theme tune as it started, “Hey! Ho! Swashbucklers Go! Take on the pirates, Yo Ho Ho!” I asked my daughter if she was hungry and if she’d like some tea, to which she replied in her fiercest pirate voice and throwing her arm across her chest, “Yes please, Captain Mummy!”
I couldn’t stop giggling!
Her vocabulary really is coming along in leaps an bounds at the moment as you would expect from a three and a half year old, but she does still have some adorable ways of saying some things:
Hula Hoop = Roopa Scoop
Photograph = Picturegraph (makes sense, really!)
And the names of some of her favourite films:
Happy Feet = White Penguin
Monster’s Inc = Green Bear, Blue Bear and Baby
Monster’s University = The Silly One
Cars = Lightning McQueen
Sweetpea Beauty = Pink Pea
Toy Story 2 = Woody, Jessie and Buzz
Toy Story 3 = The Train One
Dispicable Me = The Spitting One (??!?! I still can’t work that one out!)
My daughter loves playing with numbers, whether it’s singing counting songs, finding numbers on signs when we’re out and about or watching ‘NumTums’ on CBeebies! Her enjoyment in learning is something I want to encourage and never want her to lose, so any activity I do with her I always want it to be ‘child lead’. Although I have included here some ideas and activities I do with her as a way to engage her and start her off.
I sometimes use these large foam numbers with Mairi when playing these number activities, but you could also flash cards or just draw large colourful numbers on A4 paper.
We sing nursery rhyme songs such as ‘Five Little Ducks’ or ‘Five little speckled frogs’ and hold up each number as we sing.
Three little ducks went swimming one day…
Mairi likes to trace each of the numbers with her finger. This will help her when it’s time to start learning how to write the numbers.
I use objects around the room and ask her ‘How many cuddly bears can you see?’ then ask her to find the number. We have a huge celebration when she gets it right!
I’ve tried asking Mairi to put the numbers in order or ask questions such as, ‘What number comes after four?’ but it’s a bit too advanced for her just now. She’ll probably get it when she’s a bit older.
Obviously when playing with toddlers it never works out how you’ve intended. Mairi decided that it would be much more fun to kiss through the number holes!