Monday, 31 March 2014

Badbury Rings

This education business never quite works out the way I expect. Today we spent nearly 6 hours at an Iron Age Hill Fort, so I was anticipating lots of history and perhaps geological questions. Instead, along with much hill rolling and kite flying, we found out about botany and entomology, and did some further (practical) investigation into construction, with some very elaborate den building! This will be a picture-heavy post, as the pictures say it all really.

Badbury Rings

Hill Rolling. Of course, Grace removed her
dark coat and jumper first to ensure
maximum grass stains on her light T-shirt!

Grace identifying gorse

Den Building

Frisbee with the teenagers

The name is unveiled - "Bug City"

I find it so interesting watching the children (and teenagers) organise themselves without any adult intervention. After watching the bigger children rolling down the hill, Jude clearly decided she wanted to have a go. Immediately, all the children fanned out, covering any points where there might be a dangerous drop or some brambles, and one of the teenagers rolled down with Jude in her arms. Jude was thrilled, and it was lovely to see the care and concern they have for each other; it's easy to assume when you have a wide age range that they might split into peer groups, but actually, they just enjoyed each other's company.

Jude was delighted to see
a real ladybird!

Peacock butterfly

Exciting beetle which was admired for some time!

One of the mums showing Jude how to
use a magnifying glass
We were able to tick off three new plants too, in our Nature Sticker Book; primroses, dog violets and gorse. When we got home, Grace pointed out that she had not had her "quota" of TV last night, as Nannie and Abbie were over, so we negotiated some TV time tomorrow morning. She is getting quite good at staying calm and presenting an argument now, rather than just saying "because I want to". 

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Mother's Day

We started off the morning with a bit of manic dancing to our Passover soundtrack, which the kids are listening to in preparation for Pesach in a couple of weeks time. Sunday mornings are always good for a bit of dancing - even I joined in a bit!

Jude's dancing consists of
spinning on the spot!
Afterwards we got stuck in to Mother's Day preparations, by making cards and posies from the garden for Nannie and Grandma. Both seemed very pleased with them! Jude did make cards, but unfortunately has developed a taste for paper, and ate half of them before I could rescue them! Grace's card shows Grandma's garden, with brightly coloured flowers and plums, and the paddling pool on the left, a plum tree in the middle, and a rabbit and windchimes on the right (Grandma doesn't have a rabbit. She does have a cat, which doesn't feature...)

Grandma's card and posy

Grace's handwritten card, in
"joined up small writing"
We gave Grandma her gifts during lunch at Grandad's, then came home for a mammoth baking session as we had invited Nannie and Abbie over for Afternoon Tea. Grace helped make all the cakes and cookies, and was very proud of the finished ensemble. 

Grace and all the cakes!

Nannie and Abbie enjoying Afternoon Tea

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Gardening Club and Creative Kids

We planned a chilled out day yesterday; our usual Home Ed Group was cancelled, and the kids both had (have) colds, so we had planned to keep things fairly laid back - then a notification of a new group popped up on my Facebook feed; a Home Ed Gardening Club - just for an hour in the morning. It sounded like the perfect opportunity to get the kids out in the fresh air for a while without wearing them (or me!) out too much. It was a really lovely experience. I was so impressed with the lady who ran it, who explained the three fairly simple tasks that the children were being asked to do, and then managed the session with a wonderfully light touch, allowing the children to choose which activity they wanted to do and how long they wanted to do it for, and knowing exactly when to step in to offer a little bit of assistance so that they didn't get frustrated and bored.

After the important task of choosing the right pair of gloves, Grace started off by helping to move a pile of rubble to waiting wheelbarrows.

Then she and several other children potted up some strawberry plants which had run rampant in one of the beds. She was very excited that she got to take a couple home (I am excited by the prospect of strawberries in the garden this year!)

Finally she really enjoyed watering all the pots, and the newly potted-up strawberry plants.

As is often the case, Jude took a while to warm up to a new environment, but once most of the children had moved on to other things, she really enjoyed using the wheelbarrow and watering the plants too.

Jude getting to grips with the
gardening gloves

She may not have transferred much water from the water bowl to the watering cups, but she was certainly tenacious! The two pots she watered were definitely very wet by the time she finished!

Watching and figuring it out....

Today Grace was keen to show off her writing - she has been practicing "small writing", so this is her normal style, with some small writing above it. She was very proud to have spelled all the words correctly by herself (it says "Abba + mum + Jude"), particularly as she sometimes struggles with "Jude". Luke also showed her how to write our surname, so she has been practicing that too.

We then headed into Boscombe to go to the free "Creative Kids" workshop. Jude enjoyed gluing and sticking, but Grace wasn't especially settled, and never really managed to settle all afternoon, culminating in needing to be carried back to the car because she kept running in the opposite direction. Nevertheless, some craft was done!

Even Luke got in on the act, making tissue paper flowers, which he and Grace then took across to the perfume shop opposite, so that they would smell "like real flowers" (aka the latest Dolce & Gabbana perfume!).

While they were busy, Jude had a sit in one of the ride-on machines (which thankfully, she hasn't yet realised, moves!)

We had a listless afternoon; many, many story books, but neither child really settling to anything, and Grace wandering around "being bored", until finally (after I suggested that bored kids might like to do some tidying up...) they immersed themselves in a makeshift puppet theatre which kept them fairly entertained for a while. 

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Natural Science and New Neighbours

We all started today with "bed-head", after a tough night with Jude, who spent a lot of the night hysterical and disorientated. She has a cold, and I think her breathing difficulties caused some nightmares. She was the only one who woke up with a physical manifestation of bed-head through!

Grace and I went to a Home Ed event at our local Natural Sciences Museum, looking at Rocks and Fossils this morning, and Luke took Jude to play with a friend's little girl, while she and her other daughter were at the event with us. Sadly, the event was a bit too old for Grace really; they normally aim their sessions at the 7+ age group, and had opened this one up to younger children, but an hour long lecture is still a little beyond Grace. There were, however, some great hands on parts which she did enjoy, and I'm still hoping it might spark some questions in the next few days. The first half of the session was the "rocks" section:

A salt crystal!

The second session was all about fossils:

After a tough morning of mostly sitting still for Grace, we went out to lunch with Grandma, at a cafe which luckily had a playpark right outside, where they could both let off some steam.

Co-operating with new friends

This afternoon we had some new neighbours move in, and Grace really wanted to do some baking, so we made them a batch of cookies and a card.

Raisin and white chocolate oatmeal cookies

All wrapped up and ready to take next door!
Grace spent some time this afternoon riding her bike and playing with her friend from over the road, so Jude got some uninterrupted time using the iPad. She really enjoys doing jigsaws on it, and also playing alphabet games (and getting a surprising number of letters correct!).

Yesterday's snuffles had turned into full-blown colds by this evening and both children are struggling to breathe easily, so we are planning a very quiet day tomorrow.