Tuesday, 13 September 2016

WOW what a summer!!

This summer was our first proper summer holiday, 6 weeks of no school or nursery, just stays with grandparents whilst I was at work.  Working in retail a lot of the time over many holidays from half terms, to the full summer holiday I hear the words "I can't wait till you go back to school!" barked at stressed out parents trying to finish their food shopping.  I know a lot of the time it is just the stress of the situation they are in, but I also know that it can also be a result of having bored, whiny children over a long period of time.  For these reasons I was apprehensive about our first summer, would I end up saying those same words?? Would I be tearing my hair out?? Would I be running from the school gates on the first day back shouting "FREEEEDOOOOM!"

We managed to fill the whole six weeks with lots of day trips rather than any long trips away, we had a few days visiting the beach, usually trying to arrive first thing in the morning for breakfast whilst the beaches are still empty.  Cornwall is a beautiful place to live so it is easy for us to have a 'staycation', and being so close to Dartmoor we also had many a day trip visiting different parts of the more, we searched for specific landmarks using a book called Dartmoor 365, which gave the AJ's the opportunity to try and have a go at map reading and using a compass.

We also are fortunate that our family own a field, and within that field they have built a cabin, which meant we could have shelter to camp out overnight on two separate occasions watching the sun go down and the stars come up, which they enjoyed spotting with the use of a small book of stars.  All this plus day trips out locally meant our summer holiday seemed to be over far too quickly for my liking! And I may not  be saying this closer to the time, but I am actually looking forward to their next school holiday, talking of which it's impossible to believe that the first week back is over already, and that (naughty me!) I haven't managed to write anything for nearly a year!! Sooo here's hoping I do many more activities with the children and share them on here more regularly instead of constantly forgetting. 

Thursday, 8 October 2015

family microadventure!!

For a birthday present recently I was given a book called Microadventures by Alastair Humpreys, and one of the microadventures highlights the adventure in exploring your own area, rather than feeling the need to travel far and wide for adventure.  I love the idea of looking for adventures closer to home, creating a sense of exploration and looking at familiar things in a different way.  So when we had family to stay at the weekend, and they suggested walking to another village, before catching a train home, I thought fantastic, why not!! I'd never done it before with both,  I always afraid that it was too far (2.5 miles approx), I had done it once with a friend whilst Arthur was small enough to be in a baby carrier, but never when they were both walking. 

So off we went heading in a large group of people, children and dogs, along the windy country roads and me dreading the first hill and cries of "carry me!!" Luckily Arthur was full of energy and practically ran up the hill, fuelled on by the speed of the dogs at the front, whilst Alyssa walked slowly with the back of the group. We did meet a few cars on the road, but not a huge amount, and one horse, which delighted the children.  It was definitely interesting looking a t a route we have taken many times by car, at a slower more relaxed pace.  There were beautiful houses that we passed that would of gone unnoticed by car, a stable with a horse as well as others in a field.  And also we found some 'elf hats' on the road which Alyssa loved. 

Then we hit the BIG hill, Arthur ran on ahead, and occasionally back down to check up on everyone, then back up again (I need to bottle up some of his energy!!) Alyssa immediately wanted carrying, so poor daddy had extra weight to carry up the hill.  From the top of the hill it was all down hill, to our destination, the sun dappled through the tree canopy, and soon the viaduct was in sight, signalling the end of our journey, the pub! Were a play in the park and a bowl of chips were the reward for the kids, and a refreshing drink for the adults, before we headed back up the hill to catch the train home.

At the station, daddy led the children across the tracks (on the path!) to the car park on the other side so they could wave to us and then back again whilst we waited.  Alyssa then had the job of spotting the train coming across the viaduct and alerting everyone it was on it's way, she wants to be the fat controller when she grows up, so she loved this idea!

The train journey back was short, but lovely views on such a beautiful sunny October day, and the children loved looking out the window and seeing bits of our walk, Alyssa of course was very happy with the chance to ride on the train.  We really need to go on the train more often with the kids as it's something so simple but so enjoyable to them, and I will definitely be doing that walk again! We may even venture in the over direction and walk to villages I have never been to before, as Charles Muntz says in the film UP "Adventure is out there!"

Off on an adventure!

Elf hats!!

Tired little lady

Heading back down into the valley again

We are almost there, Oh there's the train!

We made it!

Time to refuel

Crossing the tracks on the path with daddy

The train is coming!

Almost here

One excited little lady

Beautiful views from the train

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Roald Dahl Day 2015

This week is Arthur's first week at school, so for the first time ever I have a large amount of one on one time with Alyssa, I've never really managed to have lots of time with Alyssa as generally Arthur has been around as well, so I was keen to get the most out of it and do lots of things with her.  The 13th of September is Roald Dahl's birthday, so I decided to start things off with a week of Roald Dahl themed activities.  

On the Monday, after we had dropped a very excited Arthur off to school, we sat snuggled up on the sofa just the two of us and watched 'Fantastic Mr Fox.'  Then I drew some simple fox and badger faces onto some card for Alyssa to colour in, whilst I fetched the pop up tunnels so we could play at digging and crawling through tunnels.  Once the masks were made Alyssa wanted to have a go at cutting and wanted more masks made, so I went with it and let her try cutting, before she did more colouring, and before long it was time to pick Arthur up from school.  (He really enjoyed it and came running up to me saying "Mummy I had a great day!!")

On the Tuesday we snuggled again on the bean bags in our cosy corner, and I read "The giraffe and pelly and me," from beginning to end,  Alyssa did get a bit fidgety as it was a good 45minutes long, but was very happy to stay and listen, have a little snack and drink, and look at all the illustrations.  Then after this I drew some giraffes and let Alyssa loose with yellow, brown and orange paint.  I had done this as a finger painting activity, as I had done it with Arthur when he was only about a year old, but Alyssa insisted on using a paintbrush, which was fine with me. 

The next day we had a workman in knocking down plaster off a wall, so due to the dust being created we were confined to the front room, so I decided to drown out the drilling and banging by watching 'Matilda', which Alyssa enjoyed, and then I put on the original 'Charlie and the chocolate factory.' Alyssa loved this and danced to the Umpa Lumpas and found them funny.  Whilst this was on we coloured in 'Lollipops' and I wrapped tissue paper in old sweet wrappers so we could set up a pretend sweet shop when Arthur got home.  The two of them had a wonderful time playing sweet shops, Arthur wanted to be the shop keeper, and play soon digressed and they were pretending to cook the sweets to deliver to the sweet shop in their play kitchens which was brilliant to watch, and I didn't want to ruin it by telling them you don't put chocolates in the oven to make them.

On the Thursday we decided to do a little bit of baking,  so I thought we would go back to the Fantastic Mr Fox theme and make Mrs Bean's famous nutmeg ginger apple snaps, unfortunately as this was an almost last minute idea, I didn't have any ginger, but we went ahead and made the biscuits with what we had, unfortunately the ginger was really needed and the biscuits didn't taste bad, but also didn't taste amazing! But Alyssa had a great time making them and licking the bowl without having to fight over it with her brother.  Whilst they were cooking Alyssa settled down at the kitchen table making more chocolates, this time out of play dough, using an old chocolate box and various cutting tools, occasionally pretending to feed them to me whilst I washed the baking dishes.

Concentrating on keeping in the lines

Painting away happily

Checking the scales in the sweet shop

Cooking the chocolates

Play dough chocolate fun

Apple snaps

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Vehicle fun!

This week we were looking at vehicles and doing a variety of activities on this theme.  At the  beginning of the week we talked about all the different types of vehicles there are, then I made some paper aeroplanes and we had some races. Once we finished I showed them step by step how to make a paper boat (with a bit more hands on help for Alyssa!) and we talked about if it would float or sink before testing it in the sink.  We then embraced Arthur's love of Lego, which he plays with everyday now, and they made boats out of Lego to test in the bath.

Another day, another activity, and this time I thought we could practice our shapes whilst creating an art project, so I cut various shapes out of paper and spread some sticky-back plastic on the floor and after doing a quick example of a boat and a car, let them go and create.  Arthur decided to make a car, boat and a space rocket, whilst Alyssa made "an awesome thing!" (her words not mine!) whilst they were creating their art I pointed to shapes and asked questions as to what shape they were using to make wheels etc.

Any excuse to bake!! I found some transport related cookie cutters in my cupboards to we visited granny and got baking, making and icing some yummy vanilla biscuits....before eating them! Can we pretend shape recognition made this a useful addition to our activities this week? Or just admit that I really fancied some biscuits, especially as they didn't look much like their intended shapes once they came out the oven.

A visit to the mechanics.  Whilst in the garden having a picnic, Arthur decided to use the blanket to pretend to be a mechanic and look under our car, I explained the dangers of this and told him never to do it again without an adult and make sure the car is switched off etc.  We live practically next door to a mechanics garage, so I decided to take them for a little field trip to watch them mechanics from the doorway.  They were very excited to see the car lift, lifting up a car for them to work under, and looked in a bonnet of a car to see an engine being worked on, and learned the names of a couple of tools used.  Then it was time to head home, where a game of mechanics continued, along with Arthur's tool box.  

And to finish off the week we got a bit physical and went to the park to practice riding our bikes, as they are obviously a form of transport, and there should always be an excuse to get outside and get some exercise.  And this excuse was an amazingly proud moment for daddy and I as we watched Arthur use his pedals and cycle for the first time, usually he would shuffle his feet along the floor! After months of trying and showing him what to do, something just clicked and of he went, he normal isn't bothered by his bike and barely wants to be on it, but this time he kept going and going saying "i'm doing it, I'm doing it!"  And he keeps asking to go on his bike again and again now!

Our paper boat!

Testing the Lego boats.

Ahhh! It's sinking...

Sticking shapes fun

Arthur makes a boat

Space rocket

Alyssa's super awesome thing!!


More blobs than vehicles...but just as yummy!

Playing mechanics

Wheels in motion

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

fairy house mini garden

We were asked by Alyssa's nursery to create a miniture garden for a local show, so I thought I would work on our previous attempt of using a broken plant pot to create a fairy house garden.  Our last attempt ended in the mud sliding out of the pot and basically collapsing, but it was fun for the afternoon that Alyssa used it.

So my first task was to create some kind of retaining walls, and layer up the pot in three areas, I used some cardboard as I thought it would be flexible enough to create the same curve as the pot.  So as I held each layer in place Alyssa filled the area with the mud.  Then she decorated the middle layer with some glass bead paving stones and a little tree made from a christmas decoration.  I then attatched fabric sunflowers to cocktail sticks for her which she prodded into the first layer.  We then went on a little hunt around the garden for some moss and various sized and coloured ivy leaves. 

Once back inside, I covered a small plant pot in double sided sticky tape and let her loose with small fabric flowers and the ivy, I originally thought we would use the ivy on the sides and the flowers on the top like little tiles, but Alyssa started sticking them all over and it looked great!! All that was left to do then was for me to use super strong glue to attatch the moss to cover the retaining walls, and 'tadah!!' one fairy house miniture garden, job well done!

Hopefully it will survive the trip to the show and back, and possibly win?? (fingers crossed!) then we can pop it in the garden for the fairies to move in! :D

Getting there

Materials for the fairy house

Concentrating hard

Such precision


Tadah!! All finished!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Fairy hunting!!

Alyssa has a lovely book, given to her by a relative, about a girl who visits her Granny and gets taken on a fairy hunt in the woods.  The book has over 100 fairies hidden all over the pages, but the Granny and girl never find them, but still have an amazing adventure looking.  I was reading this book to the AJ's the other day, when I felt inspired to take them on a fairy hunt myself through some local woods.  Our car was having an M.O.T so I thought why not explore locally a bit more, and I am so glad I did as I have found a lovely new route to walk!!

After looking on the internet for ideas to make our fairy hunt a bit more magical, and more than just any old walk in the woods, I found a fairy hunt sheet on the Woodland trust website as well as a fairy tea party sheet.  These were wonderful for helping me get the children to slow down and look for plants in a new and interesting way, even If we only found a few items, Alyssa still shouts and points when she sees the 'trumpets.'

When we got to the woods it was great to see Alyssa gasp in suprise and say "faiwees" pointing towards where some sunlight was coming through some trees, and making bugs glisten and shimmer as the fluttered about.  From a distance they did look like they could have been teeny little fairies flying about. (maybe they were!! ;D ) They also got excited looking along the groung for some nut shells for the fairies to use as cups, and finding a ladder, a rattle and some bells!  We found some spiders webs which I told the were used as thread by the fairies as well, it is so lovely to see the awe on their faces.

We soon reached the end for the first part of the walk, and we started the next stage along the river, I was hoping this bit would be relatively short before heading to another part more in the direction of home....note the word hoping!! I really should stop saying to Arthur "do you want to keep heading this way? Or start heading back towards home?" I never plan very adventurous long trips, or really anywhere that I haven't already been.  But in my defence I am alone with two small children and a bag, and do not wish to be stuck in the middle of nowhere, especially with two tired children who want to be carried!! But then again if I never asked that question we wouldn't discover new places and have such great adventures! 

By carrying on up the hill we discovered an old mine, and a route that actually circled round and came to a place I knew anyway that led down hill (thankfully!!!!)  to home.  Although I am tempted to go there again on day and see where we end up if we go left instead of right.  I am always amazed by how far Arthur can walk, he recently walked 6 miles around an event with granny and granddad.  Alyssa though started to fade as we got towards the hill, I don't blame her I was too, so she went in the carrier for the rest of the way.

Just before we left the woods we used our little nut shells on a tree root filled with some water, and a little leaf 'salad' we made as a little gift for the fairies.  All that is left for me to do now is create some more fairy items to be left in the garden as a thank you!

Can you spot the fairies??



Racing on ahead as usual

Tree climbing

Snack time by the river

What's this we've spotted in the distance?

Exploring for a closer look

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Lego mini figure scales!

Whenever I ask Arthur what he would like to do at the moment, the answer is "play Lego!!" so I decided to try and incorporate Lego into our play a little bit, and with the help of Pinterest, found ways to make it sneakily educational too! So I attempted to add a bit of maths to our play a while back (apologies for the lack of recent postings, combination of computer in constant use/laziness/extra working hours/ toddler refusing to go to sleep!)

I took a spare coat hanger and attached two plastic cups to them to create a set of scales, then asked Arthur to collect a few small items, and some of his mini figures whilst I created a simple chart.   I then explained what we were doing and hung the "scales" to the door handle, popped the first item into one cup, and asked the children to guess how many mini figures they thought it would weigh.  I wrote the number down, then asked Arthur to copy it to practice it to practice his writing skills.  We then put the mini figures in the other cup, counting as we went until it balanced.

We did this a few times, before they both started to loose interest in the writing and counting and just wanted to put things in the cups and play, so at that point I left them to their weighing fun.  Arthur enjoyed it very much though and insisted on taking the 'scales' to nursery to show everyone and weigh things there!

Little does he know he practiced some maths!! ;D

The scales!!

Weighing Alyssa's hairbrush

the chart (note Arthur's lack of interest in writing lol)

Just hanging out!