RSS

Category Archives: Nature

There’s No Place Like Space

We’ve spent the day having a fantastic time with friends at a soft play centre. Definitely got our money’s worth with over 4 hours racing up obstacles to zoom down slides.

Sadly this led to sleeping in the car on the way home, and children who are up far too late – how dare they?!!!

We are meant to be bringing our project on Oceans to our Home Ed group tomorrow. E has done hers, not sure it will make much sense when she tries to explain it to others, but she’s done lots of work thinking about it!

H has refused point blank to even think about it. We had a group trip to Weston Super Mare’s SeaQuarium on Monday in order to spark some inspiration. We learned loads about rays:

20130208-004734.jpg

Mermaid’s Purses

20130208-004840.jpg

Up close and personal with Mermaid’s Purse (Ray Egg)

20130208-004848.jpg

Newly arrived (at SeaQuarium) baby rays – 1 yr old approx.

20130208-004911.jpg

Adult Ray (thornback?) – approx 10yrs old

and saw lots of other creatures that sparked lots of questions, including a pile of sharks who were not waking up for anyone!

20130208-004757.jpg

Pile of sharks

20130208-004807.jpg

Fascinating close-up of sleeping shark’s teeth!

H decided last night that her project was going to be on rays, so we looked at google images of them. She was amazed at the different shapes, sizes and patterns of them.

Earlier in the day, we were at our weekly Home Ed social meet, playing with playdough, when H announced that she wanted to make all the planets out of playdough. She carried on thinking about what colour she would have to make to create Saturn, and then how she was going to make the rings.

Today, after our exertions, I was hoping for an easy night. No such luck! She chose a current favourite to read at bedtime: Dr Seuss’ ‘There’s no place like space!’. Every page provoked more questions, and I could see an easy bedtime slipping away! She decided that the planets needed to be renamed after their characteristics. The Earth is now ‘Spinny’, Mars is ‘Sneezy’ because of the dust etc. She understood that the ring on Saturn was made up of rocks and ice, and that you could stand on it, but not on Saturn itself (it’s made of gas, and light enough to float on water), but she wanted to know if you could pick up the ring and throw it. I explained briefly about centripetal forces (compared it to Roald Dahl’s Enormous Crocodile being spun round and round in a circle until it became a blur), and that it wasn’t a solid thing.

We then moved onto the sun being a star, and had to run to the window to see if we could see any stars. L grasping the fact that the tiny stars were big hot suns, just very far away. He thought this was quite funny!

We talked about the moon, and H was eager to know why people used to say it was made of cheese! I had no idea?!

We talked about rockets, and how we know so much about the moon because we are close to it and have been able to land there and learn more about it. Whereas Pluto, in the book, is described as being ‘thought to be covered in ice’. H wanted to know why we didn’t know for sure.

I then escaped, hoping her barrage of questions would lead to deep sleep. Nope. She followed me down, after I’d just had a lightbulb moment.

Maybe there was a way to link the Ocean’s project we need to contribute to tomorrow, and satiate this fascination with space and the solar system. The moon. Ocean tides. Google led us here and it did good:

She watched it. Fascinated. Then I had to explain what a pickled onion was! She then decided to use google to find out more about the sea. She looked at some images of odd sea creatures, until she got grossed out. Then found a video of fishermen at sea, being bashed about by the waves. She asked about floods, and the big floods. I asked if she meant Tsunamis. Turned out she did! She started telling me all about a CBBC programme where they set up a demo of what damage a Tsunami could do, involving a bag of water held by a crane over a shed. The water dropped, the shed was smashed to smithereens. H explained it much better! We talked about Earthquakes, plates rubbing and how these led to Tsunamis.

We then watched the lunar tide video again!

I need sleep, got to be up early to find a chocolate cookie, a smartie, a piece of blue string, an orange and a golf ball before 10am!

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Westonbirt Arboretum

We recently took out membership at Westonbirt Arboretum which is a fab place for families. They have extensive grounds, and several fantastic play trails. Yesterday we spent the afternoon there with three other families, and explored the Silk Wood, and found their play area made of criss-crossed logs covering a large dip, and a huge slide made of a hollowed out tree trunk. Last time we went it had rained continuously, so it was a mud bath. This time it hadn’t rained for about a fortnight, so was lovely and dry! We found lots of exciting things to explore, and the puppy loved it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There is an Old Arboretum, with a more condensed play trail, which the kids love. There is den building, a series of tree stumps connected with planks, totem poles to climb, and a troll bridge to hide underneath.

They only really have two main rules: don’t pick anything from a tree or plant – if it’s still attached, the plant still needs it; don’t climb on any branch smaller than your wrist.  Good rules to go with!

I can recommend a visit!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 2, 2012 in Home Education, Nature

 

Tags: , , ,

50 things to do before you’re 11 and 3/4

The National Trust recently launched their list of the coolest 50 outdoor things to do before you’re 11 3/4 with an interactive website where kids can add photos of themselves doing each of the activities with any comments they want to add.  This list has been apparently supported by research which shows that a third of children have never climbed a tree :-O

Usually lists like these drive me crazy (who should tell me what we should or shouldn’t be doing??!) but actually this list of things IS pretty cool.  I did a quick count the other day and worked out we’ve done at least 35 of the 50 things already, and the ones we haven’t done were already on our ‘to do’ list.

National Trust list of 50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4 (from the Daily Mail)

I’ve been doing my best to take photos wherever we are, so I have actually got some evidence we’ve done them! I haven’t quite got to grips with the website though which I am finding quite annoying! So rather than filling it in there, I’ll post our photos here 🙂

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There are a lot more we’ve done but have no photographic evidence. I will work on that!! Has anybody else joined the 50 things site? How have you got on?

 
2 Comments

Posted by on June 2, 2012 in Home Education, Nature

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Happy Birthday Mum :-)

Think this is what I would be doing to you today if you were a bit nearer!!

I was going to sit the kids down and make a birthday day card for you and take a picture and email it you.  Obviously I failed, instead we did this:

Balancing on tree trunks

Examined stone carvings of scary creatures

learned about Gothic architecture

This was on a visit to Woodchester Mansion, an unfinished Gothic Mansion in deepest, darkest Stroud. Home to large colonies of Lesser and Greater Horseshoe bats too, which we got to see on infrared cameras. It also involved a mile walk through woods to get there. All in the continued, beautiful sunshine we are enjoying at the moment.
If I had the forethought to produce our birthday works of art yesterday, I would have failed too. As we were doing this:

Skating in the ‘snow’

Attempting to ice skate at the pretend ice rink at our local leisure centre. I could have done with having those little penguin things when I was little!!

L with his penguin

E with her penguin

H in the ‘snow’

Even the morning was taken up doing this to the poor puppy:

Before

then…

After – a shadow of his former, hairy state!

Tomorrow though, I have pencilled in for art and craft activities, so fingers crossed we’ll have something for you then 🙂
Hope you have a fantastic day today xxxxx
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 30, 2012 in history, Home Education, Nature

 

Tags: , , ,

Wow a vacant laptop, I can update my blog!

I had a flash of inspiration earlier, so thought I would use the moment to nudge me into updating my blog for once!

Today we have made a second trip to a new Home Ed group in our area.  This was yet another opportunity to have a picnic (we’ve been having them daily for the last week or so) and enjoy the fantastic sunshine we have at the moment.  As well as running round with sticks (L), drawing beautiful pictures of rainbows and snails (E), and making up complex role play games with friends (H), we had a fun time playing with some ‘squishy circuits’, which if you haven’t heard of, then you need to have a go! The main details and ingredients can be found here, there is also a pdf ‘classroom guide’ under the ‘publications’ section which is well worth printing out as an easy to follow guide. You essentially make 2 types of playdough, one with lots of salt, and one made with sugar and distilled water. One is a conductor, one an insulator. You then alternate your playdoughs to create your circuit structure, add a battery, some LEDs or a motor, and off you go. Very simple, cheap and easy.:And if you’re H, you can just play with the playdough…

I then had to rush home, and walk the puppy with L.  Well, I meant to rush the walk to as we were meant to be meeting B at Ikea, but L will not be rushed.  He came armed with a bowl of snails (his sisters had been racing them earlier), which HAD to come on our walk with us. After they had fallen out of the bowl at least 3 times, I managed to rehome them into a happy looking hedge to save them from any further trauma. L was mortified when he realised what I’d done, but I distracted him by looking for tadpoles in the ponds. We recently hatched and raised a batch of frogspawn, which we returned to our local pond as froglets a couple of weeks ago, so we go and check on them regularly. Armed with his bowl, L scooped up some water and was delighted to catch several tadpoles (obviously a bit behind developmentally from the ones we released), and prodded them, examined some water snails, and puzzled over little whizzing insects he also scooped. The bowl was emptied and refilled several times, examined and oooh-ed over, before I made him hurry along. L then spent the rest of the walk gathering stones and other exciting finds in his bowl all the way home.  That bowl turned out to be a brilliant thing to bring on our walk…though the snails probably didn’t think so.

Girls racing their snails yesterday

We then bundled ourselves into the car and dashed to Ikea. We’ve decided to buy a double bed for H and L to share. We’ve tried bunk beds and midi-sleepers, and no bed arrangement has so far worked for these two. E has her own room and bed. L still co-sleeps with us, but we are all for encouraging him out of our bed 😉 H sleeps in her bed sometimes, sometimes wanders into ours in the middle of the night. She claims she needs company. They both sleep beautifully in our bed together, but I would like to sleep in our bed too! So we’ve invested in a double bed in the hope we can get them to sleep together in their own bed, in their own room. Its always good to have goals and aspirations right?!

It’s not often that L gets to spend time with us all on his own, so he was quite spoiled this evening. We bribed him round Ikea, letting him choose a toy from the children’s area as we passed through. We then went to pizza hut, which he thought was the best thing ever: “Me love pee-ba” says L. I have a fab photo of L eating ice cream covered in sweeties, with a huge grin on his face! Will have to add it in later.  Ah, found it:

L (Buzz) enjoying his ice cream without sibling interference!

H is at a friend’s house for a sleepover, E has a friend here for a sleepover, so while they’ve sorted themselves out watching Springwatch and having a bath, I’ve painted H’s room ready for her new bed to be installed. I’d forgotten how quick it was to paint a wall without small children wanting to ‘help’ me!!

Typical Home Ed day huh?!

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The day of rest??

It’s Sunday. We are in mid-tidying frenzy as I am determined to get our kitchen reorganised and the hallway clear in anticipation of the arrival of a large Essentials delivery. Scary scary. In between tidying and directing, we have been very busy today.

We finally dug our potato council potatoes up. Got a fab haul is year, really pleased with our efforts, and having a roast chicken with beautiful, fresh, boiled potatoes to celebrate!!  We didn’t quite the timings right, so can’t enter our results in 😦 Will try harder next year!

E and H are into baking at the moment, so asked if they could make some biscuits. Not best timing when mid-kitchen mayhem, but we managed it. E couldn’t cope with the stickiness of the dough, so H and I followed the recipe directions, which said to put the dough between a folded sheet of greaseproof paper and roll away. This worked really well, and will be definitely using this method in future! H and I cut out all our shapes, H rolling her own dough and doing her own shape cutting, then piled them in the oven. Recipe was for 30 but we seem to have made double that using small cutters, so all good!

E then decided to make the hairy caterpillar from her Rainbows handbook. I bought the bits to do this about a year ago, and she finally decided to do it today…probably to do with clearing out the hallway and finding the stash! Required a pair of stockings, elastic bands, sawdust, grass seeds, decorations to make a face. E mixed the saw dust and seeds (we didn’t have any grass seeds, so hoping cress and mustard seed will work??!) then spooned mixture into one of the stockings. she then tied the end with an elastic band, then 3 more bands along the length to make a series of caterpillarish bulges. She then drew a face on the front with permanent marker and put it in an old ice cream tub and covered in water. Will see how it grows!!

L took the remaining sawdust mixture and happily sat spooning it backwards and forwards between two bowls.

It’s E’s birthday next week, and we are planning an outdoor mini-celebration with hopefully lots of bubble-blowing. I’ve been gathering bubble blowing ideas from Pinterest, and tried out one of the ideas today. We bent a pipe cleaner so it had a heart-shaped loop at the top, then dipped in fairy liquid and water mixture. It blew lovely big bubbles. Here are a few more of my bubble-blowing ideas!

Right got more washing to put on, and a dishwasher to empty. Oh and must get dressed…it is nearly 2pm after all!

Later update…ended up going on a nature walk this afternoon, we’ve found our local ponds (very newly made) are finally teeming with life.  We saw loads of different butterflies, beautiful dragonflies, watersnails, and lots and lots of frogs!

 

E catching frogs

 

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Dog days

Today has been a bit of a special day, as we were adopting a dog for a day.  Radley is the Dad of the puppy we are hopefully bringing home to be part of our family towards the end of this year 🙂 B and I got up stupidly early (i.e. before 9am!) to tidy up the downstairs bits, not having had a dog before, we weren’t sure what Radley’d make of the array of buttons, barbies, fridge magnets etc. that are normally scattered all over our floor, and certainly were this morning!

Only E was awake so she made a sign to go on the front door saying: ‘Don’t ring the bell, knock on the door’, so the little ones didn’t wake up when Radley got here!  By the time Radley arrived at 8.45am we were ready!  E then got to spend some time playing with him on her own: following him round the garden, round the kitchen, round the dining rm, up and down the stairs (we swore we weren’t going to let him upstairs…!).  We got a running commentary of his every move!

When H woke up finally, she got a lovely surprise, and had fun joining in the Radley-adoration-club! L was a bit more shocked by Radley’s appearance, but once he’d woken up properly he loved him being here too.

We made some communal rounds of toast for breakfast, and then we all went out for a walk with Radley at about 10am. This led to a session at our local playground, then an introduction to the downside of having a dog…cleaning up after it (bleurrggghhh!), not my favourite bit!  This a big pet hate of mine – people not clearing up after their dogs – so kids were well up on what was needed, we had nappy bags with us, and E found us a red dog bin too.

Back home and friends came over to admire Radley and see if they could still visit us with a dog in situ!! Radley was beautifully behaved, and loved the increased attention! The small girls disappeared off to play, and E dug out a find from a nearly new sale we’d been to at the weekend, a Crayola Illumination Station and we figured out how to get it to work, and replaced the batteries!  E then set to work on her creations! That was her set till lunchtime, which is a pretty impressive concentration span for her 🙂

After lunch we set the kids up with playdough, and B and E took Radley out for another walk.  When they came back, L took Radley out into the garden to show him his sandpit, and generally mess around in the dirt with him!

Our friends went home, and we set to work converting a punnet of strawberries we picked yesterday into Strawberry ice cream using this recipe! I’m leaving out the vanilla bit, and just sticking with the strawberry bit!  E cut up and measured all the strawberries, blitzed and sieved them.  I separated the yolks and creamed them with the sugar, but she poured the cream in and stirred on the hob.  She then stirred it all together, and sieved it into the tub we had ready for it. It’s now in the freezer and I’ve got to remember to stir it every half an hour!!

Radley is now fast asleep.  We’ve exhausted him!  We’ve just made some popcorn and covered it in icing sugar. It has now been mostly scoffed, and the kids all have icing sugar all over their faces! We’ve sat down to watch H’s Angelina Ballerina DVD, and having some down time. Phew!

Radley will be going home soon, and we’ve had an absolutely fantastic day with him.  We’re really pleased with how he’s fitted in with our family and really looking forward to meeting his puppy progeny in a few months time!