Friday, 3 October 2014

Autumn Art

Life has whizzed past since Ted went back to school and I went back to work.
At this time of year (even when it is still 20+ degrees!), one of Ted's favourite activities is collecting conkers and leaves.
And leaves lend themselves to some very easy artwork........................

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

4 Hit the Lakes

This Summer Ted and I haven't been abroad for a holiday. Instead, when Finns #2 & #3 came to stay at the beginning of the holidays, we headed up to the Lake District, via Alton Towers.

So, here is a quick(ish) holiday blog.

Alton Towers is a few hours drive from us, so with a very, very full car, we set off early to ensure we were there before the rides openend. We got there and were greeted by a queue to join a queue simply to get on the monorail that gets you to the queues. However, once we got to the park everyone magically disappeared and we heaved a collective sigh of relief.
Finns #2 & #3 were sent off alone to the 'big & scary' rides, whilst Ted and I wandered off to CBeebies Land.
CBeebies Land was great - but a comparatively small area of Alton Towers and if I had spent vast anounts of money to get in just for that I would not have been happy. Interestingly, in the time we queued to go on the Postman Pat ride the Finns had done 3 of the 'big & scary' rides!

There are a good number of family friendly rides that everyone can go on together. All 3 boys loved the pirate ride - enjoying the challenge of shooting water at other boats, and the not so easy challenge of keeping dry. We failed and all got completely drenched!
 Having been advised to leave 'The Smiler' till the end of the day, we did just that, and in fact it was the only ride that the big boys had to queue more than a few minutes for. Ted and I sat around eating ice-creams and enjoying watching others terrify themselves!

So, thrills over it was time to head further North for a few Wi-Fi, TV free days, full of fresh air, exercise and er, torrential rain.
We stayed in a barn on a small working farm - a fantastic place to stay. It was in the middle of nowhere but handy for many Lake District tourist spots.
Tip of the month - ask Carol to make Cottage Pie for dinner - 'that was the best cottage pie I've ever had' (said a 13 year old). At £4 a head it was a great way to avoid looking for a pub in the torrential rain.
(this (minus the boy) was our view on waking & wandering)

 For Ted, the highlight of the trip was going to be a trip to The Rock Shop in Ambleside. .This is basically a shop selling all things gem & crystals with a couple of other things going on too. You can do a dinosaur trail, make jewellery, but all Ted was interested in doing was the gem pit.  You pay a small(ish) amount and the children can scrabble round the pit of gems filling a little bag with any they fancy. It was a lovely way to spend 20 minutes or so, and Ted and Finn #3 were happy with their treasures.

We also
Visited the Lakes Aquarium, went on the Lakeside & Haverthwaite steam train, walked up along a waterfall, found the Gruffalo in Grizedale Forest, visited the Beatrix Potter gallery in Hawkshead , cruised on Windermere, collected stones on Bardsea beach (an old childhood haunt of mine) and most importantly ate Cumberland sausages in a pub!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

What else would you do with an old Lego box?

Of course, make an easy peasy, eye catching caterpillar. All Ted & his friend's idea. 1 empty Lego box, 1 mug to draw round for circles, a pair of scissors, a felt tip and a googly eye, and hey presto, a groovy caterpillar!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Silent Sunday

Homework, good or bad?

Whoops, been away from blogging far too long........ now back with posts galore in my brain if not down on paper.

So, the subject of homework has been rearing it's head alot in my playground circles recently. Ted's school doesn't do much in the line of homework, for which I am grateful on a daily basis. My not much he has had 2 mini projects since September, a few phonics sheets and that is about it. Obviously they bring reading books home, but I don't class that as homework.

Homework seems to split people down the middle. Many want lots (clearly the adults, not the children), and others don't want any. I think Ted's school have it about right. In KS1 mainly no homework, in KS2 they get a little bit more - a small amount once a week.

After a discussion about this with a friend, and me making some comment that I was glad he doesn't get daily homework, she said, 'but I thought you were pro education'. Strange but true. I am completely for educating children. If Ted asks a question it is answered, if he asks something I don't know we look it up in a book, if he notices something whilst out and about we talk about it and so on.
I don't think that means he needs to spend his afterschool playtime doing school work.

But, and this is a big but. Ted struggles with all things mathematical, and so at home I do many & varied activities with him. The difference here is that I am doing this off my own back to support my child, and am doing it at a time that suits him and at a speed that suits him. And always doing things he enjoys. (He also reads to me - not just when his book is changed at school, but every day. And in turn I read to him every day too.)

I hope that this supports Ted, and that he has an easier time at school because of it.
But, with homework, I hope the school keep going as they are and don't buckle to pressure from parents and the government. The schools results are good, the children are happy, and the children are certainly less stressed.

So, a few fun ideas to help with maths & numeracy development.

1 - raid Granny's button box and sort into size, colour etc

2 - Play simple dice games.

3- Use Compare Bears and do some (fun) workbooks together. Ted loves these counting/sorting bears. Over the years as a nanny & Mum they have been well used.

4 - Play Bingo. Really, really good and (moderately for the adult) fun way of learning numbers.

5 - Play Monopoly or other games that need to count money, move counters and generally use basic maths skills. (Junior Monopoly is fairly quick and nowhere near as tedious as it's better known original version!).

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Easter Nests.

I have been making these Easter nests with work charges and more recently with Ted for years.
I am not an especially brand conscience person, but for these I make an exception!

You need
Cadburys chocolate
Cadburys mini eggs
Shredded wheat.

(and if you have a 6 yr old with you, some fluffy chicks too!)

Break up the shredded wheat into small stick like pieces, melt the chocolate, stir them together and spoon into cake cases. Add a few mini eggs to each.

Ta da.

They are delicious.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Mud, Mud, Magical Mud.

Inspired by a few tweets on Twitter, and having googled for several 'recipes', I, along with Ted & his cousins Pickle & Pop, set about making some very clean messy play!

Usually it seems this gloopy mess is called 'fairy mud', but for the sake of 3 cool & fairy doubtful boys, 'magical mud' is what it was.

1 bar of soap per child
1 large container per child
1 loo roll per child
1 bottle/cup of water per child.
A grater
Food colouring
A large space, patience, and no fear of mess.

First - give the children a loo roll each and ask them to get the paper off the roll. (expect mild hysteria - nothing is as funny as throwing loo roll round a garden!)

Then each child needs to grate the soap into a large bowl. We used Imperial Leather soap - I am sure any will do! Soap grates quite easily so the children could do most of it themselves.

When the soap is grated it is time to pour in the water and start making one very smelly, gooey mess. 
We coloured the water first.

and then slowly poured it into the soap, giving the slop a mixture between each addition of water. It was by now, quite repulsive.

When the soap is pretty much dissolved (I added some very hot water to help it), they then poured in the glittery stars.

And then, finally, the fun bit. Having ripped the loo roll into small pieces it was time to start adding it to the gunk. The aim is to have a mixture that can be modelled and squished, pummelled & poked.
It took a lot of loo roll, and a lot of stirring.

 But, eventually, we had 'magic mud'. Hoorah.

The boys verdicts?
Pickle asked me several times - 'Aunty, what is the point of this?' Good question, there isn't one.
Pop's eyes were rolling as he was in pure, soapy heaven.
Ted - loved making it, but hasn't played with it.

It was a great way to spend an hour, the boys had a great time, any neighbours that were watching will think I am mad (er than they thought anyway), and even the rabbit joined in.