We set ourselves a big challenge today: to build the whole alphabet out of Lego!
It's not something I would have necessarily done myself, but Simon is conscious to keep on top of Jenson's literacy skills and for all of school's pitfalls it did give Jenson a good grounding in reading and writing. I'm caught between a rock and a hard place. Jenson ain't going to grow up unable to read and write whether he learns it now or when he's older and I don't want to force him. Saying that, I can fully understand why Simon doesn't want to let that good knowledge slip away. It seems a pity for him to forget it all.
And so that's how we ended up doing what we did today and goodness was it painful at times. Even the power of Lego failed to enthuse this anti-academic child. If Jenson gets the slightest sniff of school in any activity we do it gets his back up. He considers tasks such as reading and writing as boring jobs, so you can see the massive hill I had to climb faced with this mammoth literacy challenge!
I had hoped to flirt around the fact he was being asked to spell and perform letter recognition but even with Lego as my ally, Jenson smelled a rat! The boy isn't daft and although he started off sprightly enough, after just a couple of letters his concentration started to wane.
It was a big ask to make all 26 letters in one go, I know, and perhaps we could have spaced the activity out over a day or two, but, as my family know, when I start something I like to get the job done!
Of course, the day hadn't all been Lego focused. We gave our bodies a good work out first thing by going for a run and even Wren joined us on her first ever outing! We started with stretches in the garden, which Jenson had requested, before departing. It was at school run time so we inevitably bumped into friends, which made us all chuckle!
When we returned we all freshened up and began our challenge. I started by writing the alphabet down for Jenson in both upper and lower case. He was then able to pick and choose which letters he wanted to make and correctly named each of them.
It became quickly apparent that the main Lego components we needed were twos, fours, sixes and eights. As we made more and more letters so we had to dig deeper into Jenson's extensive Lego collection. It was inevitable that by the end of the day every square inch of floor was covered with Lego! It took us nearly six hours to build the alphabet and another six to tidy up. We were exhausted by the end!
The actual task of building our Lego letters was okay. I wouldn't go so far as to say enjoyable, because Jenson for the most part was pretty put out at being made to do a 'boring job'. However, he did get into it enough to build half of the letters, with me making up the other half.
Obviously his favourite was the letter J!
This is what the entire alphabet looks like in Lego!
The next day we followed the activity up with some spelling and word combos. I did a bit of homework the night before and must admit to having to look up the definition of a noun, verb, adjective and adverb! I'm glad I did though because for the twenty minutes or so that we spent constructing words and sorting them into word groups it was the best twenty minutes of the whole week. It felt very satisfying indeed.
By far, the easiest word Jenson can spell is TEN. I guess it sounds as it's spelt but he just got it that time we were on the beach in the Devon and he easily spelt it again today.
We then looked at nouns, which I explained to Jenson are naming words. I gave him an example such as CAT and then he correctly reeled off BOAT, CAR and BALL. We were a little limited to words that didn't use more than one of the same letter, however, Jenson's enthusiasm for the task was a lot better than it was yesterday and so he very willingly made another L for the word BALL and even colour coordinated it in blue and yellow. It just goes to show that not only can he do these activities but actually really enjoys them too if in the right mood.
We were able to explore the concept of upper and lower case letters with the word BALL, after Jenson had made his B lower case and I had made mine upper case. I explained the reasons why we use capital letters and gave examples. What we talked about obviously stuck on some level because at the weekend he asked my sister about upper and lower case letters. I was pleased!
Next we moved on to verbs, which I explained to Jenson are action or doing words. I gave him an example and then he came up with the word WALK. He would correctly identify and pick out the letters we needed and then I helped him to construct the word.
We moved on to adjectives, which I explained are describing words. As an example, I asked him what he thought about Wren. I waited with baited breath anticipating words such as annoying but instead he said she was fun! He picked the letters he needed and together we built the word.
As another example I asked him what he thought about Mummy. He told me I was kind. That made me smile.
Finally we looked at adverbs, which I explained are words that describes how something is done. As an example, I asked Jenson if he tidied up fast or slow. He replied fast! It made me chuckle!
By our standards, the morning was pretty academic and so we countered it in the afternoon by free play in the garden. The children adore our vintage Mini Glen caravan and spent hours out there in the sunshine.
Jenson also helped to clean out Daddy's car while Wren helped me to dig in our potatoes.
All in all, I can take a lot of positives from the last few days. Yes they have their lows but they also have real highs. When Jenson engages in a task he really does show great passion, enthusiasm and determination to try his best at it; all really encouraging stuff. He does struggle a lot with his concentration levels but that will come in time, I'm sure. Over the coming months, I might slowly introduce a little more structured academic time in the mornings so that come September, when he would be moving up to year 2 at school, we can perhaps look at doing it on a more regular basis.