Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Dawn chorus

During the working week, our alarm sounds at 0615, but we're used to Elizabeth waking up at 0600 precisely - and weekends are no different. Usually she starts the day with some gentle burbling, and only starts getting grumpy if she gets bored.

Sometimes, her burbling takes the form of what we've taken to calling "singing". And so it was on Saturday morning:

[descending scale] Da da, da da, da da, da;
[repeat scale] Da da, da da, da
da, kye.

Suddenly I realised, that's "Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star"!
She's done it a couple of times since, and at breakfast on Monday I was able to make out the words "little star" as well. We've probably been a little remiss in singing nursery rhymes to her (though we sometimes play CDs in the car), but I guess the nursery have been teaching her.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Colour section

A couple of months ago, while on holiday, I tried to introduce Elizabeth to the concept of colour. For props, I had several tubs of Play-Doh in different colours, with some duplicates. I thought I'd keep it simple and use just two colours - blue and purple. I was particularly careful to avoid orange, since that would just be confusing - she knows what "orange" means, and she eats them all the time.

So, the conversation went something like this:

Daddy [indicating the tub lid] "This is blue,"
Daddy [indicating the tub contents] "and this is blue,"
Daddy [indicating a second tub lid] "and this is blue,"
Daddy [indicating a third tub lid] "and this is purple."
Daddy [indicating the third (purple) tub lid] "What's this?"
Elizabeth "Purple."
Daddy [indicating the first (blue) tub lid] "What's this?"
Elizabeth "Purple."

Repeat with "blue" and "purple" interchanged.

Fast-forward two months, and she still thinks Play-Doh is called "purple". So yesterday I tried again, this time with three colours, and emphasising the idea of colour as a modifier: "This is blue Play-Doh, and this is purple Play-Doh, and this is green Play-Doh." But she was still convinced that they were all called "purple".

Today we were visiting Gran's, and she was playing with a pair of shoes. Not just any pair of shoes, though. These were plastic toy "glass slipper" type shoes, which Elizabeth, without prompting, and correctly, described as "purple". By Jove, I think she's got it!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Just growing

All of my few previous posts have marked specific events in Elizabeth's development - the first word, first steps, that kind of thing. Her progress in the past couple of months has been dramatic, but in a slow, relentless kind of way - there have been few occasions that I could point to as the first of anything.

Her vocabulary has expanded enormously, but you have to know her well to be able to discriminate between some words. "Daddy" is almost indistinguishable from "dirty"; "Mummy" is indistinguishable from "monkey". Last week, her first attempt (that I've heard) at pronouncing her own name came out as "Izabizef".

She's becoming very independent, and determined to do things for herself. Last week, after a nappy change at her Gran's house, she spent half an hour trying to put her trousers on, and screaming bloody murder if anybody tried to help. A couple of days later, she was equally determined to put her own nappy on. And last night, Helen cooked up an excellent stir-fry for us all, and Elizabeth wanted chopsticks. As luck would have it, we recently picked up a big bag of those chopsticks that come in pairs cut from a single piece of wood, to be broken apart before use. We gave her a new pair, still stuck together, and she proved surprisingly adept at using them as a fork, scooping up noodles and spearing chicken pieces.

Over the past couple of months Elizabeth's been playing with a couple of what the Early Learning Centre calls "liftout puzzles". My sister Elaine had given us a few of these things (or do I mean lent, with Poppy getting older and another on the way). Elizabeth's getting good at them, so good that I thought we ought to try her on a new one. So I nipped upstairs and got one that she'd never seen before (unless they have the same one at nursery). She took all of the pieces out and put them back in again, without hesitation. So I went upstairs and got the last one - but took all of the pieces out before she saw it. This one was a lot more difficult because all of the pieces were small, similar and nearly symmetric, but even so, and unseen, she rapidly put about 3/4 of them in place before she lost interest.

We've been to Finlaystone a couple of times recently. Elizabeth loves the swings and the chutes, the forts and pirate ship, and the little obstacles, like the 4-inch wide beams set a foot or two off the ground with occasional steps up or down. Of course, she needs a bit of hand-holding to negotiate some of these hazards, but she could do them all day, and doesn't ever want to stop.