Bb for buttons

Letter of the week

It’s Monday today and week two of teaching Sam, so we have a new letter of the week ‘Bb’. I’ve decided to teach the upper and lower case letters alongside each other. I’ve also decided to teach the alphabet in alphabetical order. I did debate doing it in different ways-upper case letters first then lower (or vice-a-versa), or letters he knows first, or English letters that have the same phonetic pronunciation as Welsh ones, or in letter families etc. I’m sure all of those would have worked and all have advantages and disadvantages but I think it is simpler to teach upper and lower case letters alongside each other and in alphabetical order. I also think it will be easier for me to keep track of what we have done and where Sam is at with his learning etc.

I’ve started to get in to letter of the week now and have more ‘creative’ ideas for what we can do this week and how I can expand on these and link them to other areas like maths etc. Today we did ‘Bb’ for buttons. I drew and cut out a ‘B’ shape in card and packed it on to another piece of card to make it stronger. Sam then used craft glue to stick on different buttons. He loved it. It’s just dried and it also looks pretty cool on display. We then sorted the remaining buttons in to different colours and shades ‘light/dark blue’ and I asked Samuel to guess whether the button piles had more/less than other colours. I then got him to count the buttons to check whether he was right or not. He really enjoyed the tasks especially sticking and sorting his buttons! We then followed this up by reading a book called ‘Moomin and the birthday buttons’ with me pointing out all the words in the story beginning with a ‘b’ sound.

I also wanted to reinforce the letter ‘a’ sound so during the afternoon (a for afternoon hehe) I pointed out words beginning with the sound around the house, on our walk, at the dentist etc. Sam seemed to get the idea and before bed (most likely a clever and effective ploy to stay up later) he was asking me ‘c for…’ etc and I was asking him in return. He correctly made suggestions for letters we had covered, so ‘a’ and ‘b’, as well as correctly suggesting ‘m for mouse’ which I gave him loads of positive praise for and was actually genuinely very pleased and impressed about #proudmummoment.

I’ve got a rough idea of other tasks we are going to do so ‘Bb’ for: bubbles (with blowing and popping bubbles and either counting the bubbles or suggesting things that begin with ‘b’ as we pop them); banana (with a banana snack and find the banana game-I’m going to draw and hide 10 banana pictures around the house for him to count and find-perhaps the banana snack will be the ‘prize’); balloons (I’m going to blow up and write the letter ‘B’ in upper case on half the balloons and  lower case ‘b’ on half and ask Samuel to sort them in to upper and lower case. We might both do it as a race to make it in to a game and then count the piles to see who is the ‘winner’). All of this alongside practising forming the letter correctly in upper and lower case, identifying it, playing phonic eye spy, counting and working on number recognition etc.


I’ve decided to focus on Sam’s counting this week as he tends to get excited/lose concentration so count one (or two) too many/less. So, I tried to show him with the counting buttons today that we stop after we have counted them all and that we have to count (and point at this stage) to each one individually and that counts as one-not more or less. I’ve also decided to stick to number recognition of 0-10 for another week as Sam still gets 2, 3 and 5 confused (although I’ve definitely seen an improvement in the past week).


I’m really enjoying doing the little learning activities with Sam or ‘craft’ as he calls it. A lot of it is preschool stuff that I probably should have done with him sooner but when I was working and stressed it’s just not something I felt able to do-physically or emotionally, but I am glad that I am doing it now and that we have this time together. And I am so proud of him for trying,enjoying learning and progressing. I’ve also realised just how creative and imaginative he .is and how much we both enjoy doing things together.


Some other fun things we tried this week/weekend:

Roll & Pound Math Game for Preschool. This was so much fun and Sam loved it! (Great way to recycle the ‘pound-a-peg’ toy which to be honest was no longer played with and almost on it’s way to the charity shop!). There’s also a phonics version if you search the site.

Roll & Pound Math Game For Preschool

Number line scavenger hunt. We did 0-10 and leaves for an autumn theme. Again he loved it! Will be playing it again when we cover 0-20. It’s also by ‘no time for flash cards’. I love the site and it has brilliant, simple ideas for both at home and in a nursery/school set up. I really rate it.

Shamrock Number Line Scavenger Hunt

Batman activity pack. We haven’t actually done this one yet but it looks like Sam would really enjoy it (and it links to the letter of the week-extra bonus). The pack is a free to download and print off. I’m not sure if some of the activities are a bit’young’ for Sam but I think I could easily adapt them. It looks great for preschool kids who are superhero fans!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading (I enjoyed writing). Will blog again soon (hopefully with photos!). Bye for now.


Giant telephone

So, I thought I would do a midweek post about what we have been up to so far this week.

Letter of the week

Our letter of the week this week is the letter ‘a’ so we been practising correctly forming this letter in upper and lower case with Samuel either joining dots, tracing it or writing it himself. Each day we focus on one word beginning with the ‘a’ sound too and do a related craft or activity. So a colouring sheet or something similar. Today we did ‘a’ is for ants, we practised writing the letter and then made ant pictures. We did this by cutting out black circles and gluing them down to make the body, we then add two feelers and six legs with a black pen (I originally wanted to make finger print ants, check out pinterest, but we didn’t have any black paint).

Yesterday we did ‘a’ is for apple and did apple stamping. Tomorrow we are going to do ‘a’ is for asteroids, aliens and astronauts (lots of writing ‘a’ practice there!). We are going to draw and cut out an asteroid and then add the  aliens and astronauts (as stickers) which I think Sam will enjoy.

Numbers 0-10

We have done a mixture of number activities so far. Today we did a number sorting activity where Sam had to correctly sort and stick numbers in to the right section of paper (I divided A4 paper in to four). I chose some numbers he can do easily and some he struggles with (he puts/writes ‘5’ and ‘3’ upside down). It seemed to really help him as he had to concentrate on putting the numbers the correct way round. He did get a little bored and discouraged at one point (despite my enthusiasm and praise) but I made it in to a game by getting him to stick the numbers above each other so they looked like a tall tower on the paper and he started to enjoy it again then.

I have a few more maths activities planned for the rest of the week. I’m particularly looking forward to Friday we have a book called ‘Market Day’ to read and then we are going to either go to the market and/or set up a market stall. We are going to price up the toy fruit and veg with ‘price stickers’ (between 1-10p) and then we can take it in turns to be shop keeper and customer. The customer will use real pennies to pay for the toy fruit and veg and the shop keeper will have to check they give the correct amount. Although, we often play shop it will be the first time with real money, price stickers (handmade just to clarify) and a toy till (I recently found one in a charity shop). Sam loves imaginary games and playing shop so I know he is going to love this activity!

Giant Telephone

Anyway, my main reason for blogging today is to tell you about the giant telephone we made yesterday and that Sam has played with about a million times already (slight exaggeration). Here is a picture of the front and back (‘glittery phone cover’) …



So, as you can see it is a giant 2d drawing of telephone/mobile phone but Sam absolutely loves it. I drew the phone and cut it out and then backed it on to the glittery red paper to make it look like a phone case. I penciled in the numbers and symbols on the keypad and them Sam stuck the foam number stickers on. I let him draw his own display picture, just like a real phone, and gave him the option to colour on it (he declined).

I then gave him telephone numbers to ring so I either said numbers allowed and he then ‘dialled’ them, or wrote them down for him to dial. I did about six-eleven numbers each time (but obviously he dialled them one by one) to make it more like a real phone. He then made the ringing sound and I pretended to answer my mobile phone and we had little conversations (it was very sweet).

We then went through how and when to dial ‘999’ for the emergency services. This is when things got interesting! I asked him questions like ‘what is your emergency?’, ‘what service do you require?’, ‘what is your address?’, ‘what is your name?’ etc and he answered them (very well I might add). I then used this as a spring board to discuss what to do in an emergency. First, we discussed a fire and we talked about what to do if you see a fire/hear the alarm. And then Sam being ‘health and safety executive’ made us test the fire alarm and do mock evacuations through both the front and back door. While repeating Fireman Sam’s ‘get out, get the fire brigade out and stay out‘ motto. We also talked about where the back door key was and how Samuel could reach the latch on the front door if there was fire, I also briefly covered evacuation from upstairs (if the stairs were blocked off by a fire) and about crawling on the floor if there was a lot of smoke.

Next, we talked about what to do if something happened to me-say I fell or was unconscious. It probably sounds like a strange thing to discuss with a four year old but I would rather he know what to do, just incase, and because we are a single parent family with just Sam and myself at home so we have to look out for each other. We went through how to dial ‘999’ and what to ask for/say and what he might be asked/told. Then we covered what to do if he couldn’t dial ‘999’ e.g my phone was locked (to stop the 167 photos of the floor, his left nostril, my big toe etc he takes almost daily if it’s not locked), out of reach, no battery  and so on. I told him to pull the curtain and net curtain out of the way and to bang on the window and shout ‘help my mummy is hurt’ until someone helps. I considered telling him to open the door and go next door for help but I didn’t because it’s probably safer for him to be in the house (it’s a bit different to a fire where he would be safer out of the house, if that makes sense). Plus, my house goes straight on to the street/road with no front garden so it’s likely someone would see/hear him relatively quickly.

Finally, we discussed why we only would do these things in an emergency etc. I was so impressed with Sam’s take on the whole thing, suggestions and how seriously he took it, that I made him a little certificate for ‘knowing what to do in an emergency’ which he was chuffed with and has proudly put on display.

Hopefully, we never need to use any of these emergency plans but it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry, isn’t it?


So, I have decided to focus on two things with Sam this week: his number recognition of 0-10 and two letters ‘a’ and ‘b’. It’s pretty basic preschool stuff and I’m pretty sure that he can already do the number recognition in both English and Welsh, but I have decided to start at the beginning and revise those before moving on to 0-20 next week. With the letters it’s a little more difficult, his letter recognition is good but he hasn’t made a link between the letter sound and words that begin with that sound e.g ‘a’ is for ‘apple’ so I’m hoping to build on that-although I’m not entirely sure how to help him make the connection (suggestions welcome!).

I’ve also decided to start with things that he already knows to build his confidence and because he has been very tired since starting full time school. My main aim is to get him in to a routine before we start work that will be more challenging for him.So, today he came home, had a snack, watched some cartoons and then we did ‘fun stuff’ before dinner.

First of all, we made ‘number monsters’ this is an adaption of ‘letter monsters’ that I saw on the ‘no time for flash cards’ website. Here is the link if anyone is interested-it’s a fab site (


I prepped the monsters while Sam had his snack and I brought some cheap foam numbers for the monsters to ‘eat’ while he was at school. He really enjoyed ‘feeding’ the monsters the numbers. I gave him the option to add googly eyes (he declined) but just thought I would mention it in case anybody else wants to replicate it and their kids might like to add them. He enjoyed the task and even made ’10’ by putting ‘1’ and ‘0’ together unprompted. He got a bit silly towards the end and kept deliberately putting numbers upside down, but I told him it would give the monsters an upset tummy and he stopped. He kept pretending that they were telephone monsters which gave me the idea for tomorrow’s maths task (make a giant mobile phone).

His reading book from school this week was a bilingual book (Welsh-English) about an airport so I had him colour in an ‘a for air plane’ worksheet I found online (I’m not sure where-sorry!) and then we read the book (in English) with Sam pointing out all the letter a’s that he could see. We also made up a story using the pictures as it was more of a vocab book then story book. I’m thinking of doing an ‘a for apple’ worksheet tomorrow and maybe some apple stamping (if I have time to buy apples tomorrow!).

Full time school

Hi, I’m ‘Mam Samuel’ (or ‘Samuel’s mum’ in English) and I live in North Wales with my son Samuel (who has recently decided that he prefers to be called ‘Sam’). He started full time school last week  and this blog is about my attempts to teach him to read, write and count in English at home.

Sam is being taught in Welsh at school and learning English at home, having studied Linguistics at university I understand the advantages of being bilingual and learning two (or more) languages at a young age. The advantages of being bilingual include: improved cognitive skills (ranging from working memory to the ability to switch between tasks), delay in cognitive damage (it can help delay the onset of dementia) and learning foreign languages (once a child learns more than one language, it’s fairly common for him or her to pick up another one with ease). I also believe it will give Sam a sense of identity and culture, living in Wales and having been born here. Plus, it will definitely open up more opportunities to him if we stay in the area, with everything from making friends to finding work in the (very distant) future.

I’m hoping that teaching Sam, English at home will help him both on an academic and personal level. I’m also excited that it will give us regular quality time together and give us a chance to have fun and try new things (yup, that’s right I said fun! I believe learning can be fun and doesn’t always have to take place behind a desk). I’m also hoping this can help improve  mine and Sam’s relationship and bond (I’m sure I will go in to this in more detail at a later time but let’s just say things haven’t been easy). I’m also hoping that I might pick up some Welsh from Sam. I’ve lived here for almost 10 years and found it extremely difficult to learn the language despite investing a lot of time and effort in to lessons and study (see, it’s definitely better to learn a second language while your’re young. Or before puberty if you want to get all scientific).

But, where do I begin with teaching Sam English at home? I figured I should start with what he already knows.

Spoken English

Well, Sam can already speak English fluently (well, as fluently as any four year old can!) and it’s definitely his first language. It’s also my native language and the language that we use at home.

Spelling, reading and writing

He can recognise and write most of the English alphabet and knows phonics for most of the letters (he still gets some of the tricky letters, like ‘b’ and ‘d’ etc, confused when identifying them or writing them). He can confidently read and write two words, his name ‘Sam’ and (rather randomly) ‘zoo’.

Counting/Mathematical Concepts

Sam can recognise and read most of his numbers and name them in English. He can also count in English. He can name shapes, colours and mathematical terms in English.

What next?

Although, I have a degree in Linguistics and I am a qualified teacher (for adults!), I wasn’t really sure where to start. I will happily admit that although I love language and it fascinates me, it is not something that comes naturally to me. I couldn’t read or write until I was seven years old, I’m also almost definitely dyslexic (my dad has severe dyslexia and it was suggested several times during my post-compulsory education that I should be tested for the condition. The most prominent suggestion was when I wrote a whole essay about how first world war soldiers felt ‘quilty’ instead of ‘guilty’), I struggle with phonetics and syntax (grammar) and I find it extremely difficult to learn any additional languages. But he is  in his first year of full time school and I am confident that I can confidently teach him English at this level at home. It’s also something that interests me and that I know I will enjoy planning and doing with Sam.

So, while Samuel has been at full time school this week I have been researching, reading and planning activities to help him learn and develop his English skills at home.