Happy Tracks in the Snow

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Recipe: Credit Crunch July 23, 2008

Filed under: utterly random posts — paulabrown @ 9:19 pm
technically this should be called Chocolate Credit Crunch but it doesn’t have the same ring to it…

Serves: Makes 12-15

Prep: 15 min, plus setting
Cook: 5 min


50g Butter
100g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
5 tbsp golden syrup
80g cornflakes


Earth plate shifts July 22, 2008

Filed under: environment — paulabrown @ 9:00 pm


Kung Fu July 21, 2008

Filed under: utterly random posts — paulabrown @ 7:54 pm

So we went to see Kung Fu Panda last week which was great, the boys all came out kicking and throwing themselves around and seemed to get some of the basic elements of chinese martial arts when we bored them to death with it. Nige and I both dabbled in the ancient art, him more recently and me in my I-love-everything-chinese phase (born in Hong Kong, studied mandarin at university as a night class, martial arts, nearly did a Masters in Beijing but met Nige instead, aah).

I definitely want to train again (classes will be packed with parents wanting to impress their offspring…?) and Nige and I have been doing some Tai Chi Push Hands (martial side of Tai Chi) in our front room! The thing I loved about these types of martial arts is that they use a soft energy rather than physical strength: Wing Chun Kung Fu was developed by shaolin nuns travelling across China and they needed a defense system to protect them from attack that didn’t rely on brute force. Using the opponents strength and your own softness and go-with-the-flow-ness, you can absorb their attack and thrust it back on them (Po the Panda uses his enormous belly to help him absorb the force and wobble it back out).

My week has been a bit crazy to say the least, finalising my ad for Tatty Bumpkin in the Yellow Pages, getting ready to take Tatty to Trowbridge Pump Festival (great folk festival), last week of school with teacher presents etc, playgroups and the like having parties and inviting Tatty to entertain them etc. I have a tendency to hit these things head-on rather than with a softness any self-respecting martial arts master would be proud of. Po the Panda (and indeed the Tao of Pooh / Te of Piglet if you ever get a chance to read them) could teach me a thing or two…


Great song

Filed under: utterly random posts — paulabrown @ 7:37 pm

Early-years writing lessons ‘do no good’ July 18, 2008

Filed under: educational stuff — paulabrown @ 7:28 pm
Education: Early-years writing lessons 'do no good'

· Research runs counter to ministers' curriculum plan
· Report is inconclusive, says government

Polly Curtis, education editor
Monday July 14, 2008
The Guardian 

Teaching children as young as three to write short sentences and use
punctuation has little effect on their literacy skills later on, according
to research which raises new questions about the government's plan for a
curriculum for the under-fives.
Tutoring children in nurseries to read using basic phonics and write simple
sentences does not improve their success once they start school, but
encouraging them to talk and communicate does, the unpublished government
research has found.

The research was released under a Freedom of Information Act request by the
Liberal Democrats, who last night questioned why the government had
previously chosen not to release the findings, which run counter to its
plans for an early-years curriculum.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families insisted it had published
more substantial and conclusive evidence to back up its policy.

The research, commissioned from academics at the Institute of Education,
University of London, compares how children score in the early learning
goals, which from September become compulsory, with how they score in
literacy and numeracy tests once they reach school.

Controversy has surrounded two of the goals, which suggest that children
should attempt to read using phonics to break down the words by their sounds
and to write "simple sentences" including some basic punctuation. Childcare
experts have argued it is rushing children into formal learning too soon.

The research says that these two goals "did not seem crucial" to high
performance once children arrive at school.

Instead it suggests that "language, communication and thinking" skills are
strong predictors of a child's ability to read and write early on.

"Overall the data suggest use of spoken language is important to becoming an
accomplished writer," it says. Children's disposition, attitudes and social
development are also important predictors, it adds.

The documents were not published because they were deemed "inconclusive",
according to the letter accompanying the research to the Liberal Democrats
from the National Assessment Agency, which oversees national testing on
behalf of the government.

Annette Brooke, Liberal Democrat spokeswoman for children, said: "It is
clear and very different from other research by the government in that it
shows that making all children learn what is effectively reading and writing
hasn't produced benefits once they start school."

A DCSF spokeswoman said the report was a "very small-scale piece of internal
analysis" which had looked at only six schools and was not conclusive.

Last week, the children's minister, Beverley Hughes, announced that the two
goals in question would be subject to a review of the primary curriculum
being conducted by Sir Jim Rose.

They will still be made compulsory from September while they are reviewed.
Parents will also be allowed to vote to let their nursery opt out of the
curriculum in a move designed to allow some freedoms for Steiner and
Montessori settings, which emphasise learning through play.

And she’s back… July 13, 2008

Filed under: General — paulabrown @ 9:05 pm

Above Glastonbury…

The blog is back and what a long 4 months it’s been. We went to Spain in April and climbing a mountain and lived there for a few days in a yurt (the kids loved it though Jude kept asking where the bath / TV / toys were – honestly what a City Boy). We visited my parents which was great, lots of beach time and reading and kids mooching about.

We’ve relaunched the Bristol Storytelling Cafe night at La Ruca which has been great, lots of opportunity to practice stories which are coming along nicely for both adults and kids. We did a fundraising night for the Precious Drops (breast milk bank for neonatal babies) – stories and music which was great and of course the Pirate Convention which was a jigging, sea shanty singing, ale swishing kind of night with spectacular costumes and a great pirate punk band, the Surfin’ Turnips. Loads of storytelling project ideas on the go too…

The kids are great and coming to the end of Reception and pre-preschool year. We went to Glastonbury which they loved and did Tatty Bumpkin sessions there, we attempted to go to Sunrise but got towed out by a tractor through the mud :o(. Tatty Bumpkin has gone from strength to strength but more of that anon. Nige is doing some environmental play ranger work which he’s enjoying.


Amazing street art…

Filed under: environment — paulabrown @ 8:55 pm