Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Introducing Elmer (ish)!!!!

My littlest girl spent the night being sick so I had to cancel my mindees today. Although we're both tired, we've had a lovely day at home together just the three of us. I had wondered what we'd do but after we played this Elmer colours bingo (see it on the middle shelf of the book cart behind Faith!) it just flowed that we made this paper Elmer from scrunched up newspaper and paper packing tape that needs to be wetted on one side to activate the glue. It isn't going to be as durable as paper mache but it's less messy and faster. He is getting plenty of love already and he isn't even painted yet (that's on tomorrow's flight plan!). Just a note about the bingo game....... it comes with the colours written in words to match to the colours but I printed out extra sheets of the cards and cut the colours out to match colours to colours for my non-readers. I made this last night for one of my little mindees who is really into matching games at the moment..... she can try it out on Monday!!

We don't actually have any Elmer books...... I think a library trip tomorrow is in order!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Playing Christmas!

I have been resisting the 'C' word as hard as possible for weeks. I don't like that the commercial side of it is thrust down our throats for so long, but last Wednesday I could resist no longer as the children were playing 'Christmas Shopping' furtively, worried that I would tell them to stop! I mellowed and provided gift bags that I had stored - for them to put their 'gifts' in once wrapped. They were delighted and it made for hours of happy and imaginative play (and lots of opportunity for counting in fives and tens, and working with money, and writing receipts and signs etc etc). The evil anti-early-Christmas in me found great satisfaction from the amount of learning that took place! This week I am adding in jiffy bags for posting gifts and am going to transform a corner into a post office using some of these resources here, as well as these, whilst I am waiting for the resource pack offered by the Post Office, available here. Now just wondering if we have a box big enough to make a suitable post box?

Here is the post office ready to go, and here are the girls who were so excited they wanted to view it before they went to bed - it met with their approval!! We are going to see if the real post office will let us have some forms and labels and other goodies to plump out the stocks a bit!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Lost in the Snow?

No I'm not lost in the snow..... just trying to balance the various aspects of my life and writing blog posts has come up pitifully short I'm afraid. I am now in possession of a rather snazzy laptop and am writing this from the comfort of my sofa with a cuppa within easy reach! No more banishing myself to the frosty realms of the box room!! I am hoping that it will enable me to make use of little snippets of time that I find.

I would like to thank those of you that have left such kind comments on the blog recently.... you have probably been checking in more regularly than I have!!

Things have been moving along with Eve's home-ed. I'm still trialling new things and have found a couple of things that really work for her recently. I will try to post separately about that soon and add a few links. I'm toying with the idea of using the laptop to play some online maths and phonics games but as it is sometimes a battle to engage her in 'work' in the first place, I am a little fearful that she will love the laptop too much and be even more resistant about the other approaches!

It is bitterly cold here at the moment.... not that it stopped the children leaping around the woodland like spring lambs this afternoon.... we went for a short blast of fresh air and spent an hour and a half there!Ii forgot my camera so didn't catch any of the beautifully frosted trees unfortunately but I can't see them defrosting overnight so not too dreadful!!

Much love, Jenni

Friday, 5 November 2010

November's Mission - The Garage!

Mission of the Month

As you can see from these pictures, the garage needs a lot of sorting out. We periodically sort it out and then it ultimately becomes a dumping ground again!

Re-organising this mess is the lynch pin to my plans to be able to introduce some Montessori shelves for the little ones that i child mind every week and make both my outside area and my working day flow a little easier!

It also means that my husband can reclaim the end with the red shelves (as they will move up) ready to house the surprise birthday present that I would like to give him in December!!

It will require throwing away, giving away, re-purposing, selling and a whole lot of mess before it is done!

I made a start tonight with 20 minutes of de-cluttering to kick things off!

Wish me luck.... this is a biggie!!

October Mission Accomplished!

Mission Accomplished

I am happy to say that I have achieved October's mission and had a lot of fun along the way which was the whole point of it really.... for me to enjoy Christmas preparations again!!

So we all made a pile of cards together at the beginning of the month and they lie stamped and addressed ready to go in December.

I have purchased and wrapped all of my gifts, labelled and some parcelled up ready to go to their recipients.

My beloved brother and sister-in-law's gifts are somewhere on the ocean on their way to Cold Lake in Canada. I love what I have got for them.... more catering for Lorri that John but hey ho!!

There was a rolling programme of pudding making one day when lots of people came to make theirs too!

And after my poor unfortunate cake accidentally got incinerated, a good friend offered to make a replacement!

I sent ideas e-mails to people that asked for them.

And just Christmas to wait for and enjoy now!!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Christmas Puddings!!

As per my October mission I have made Christmas puddings today.  I have vivid childhood memories of making puddings with my mother, with all the ingredients spread out across the dining room table, my mother measuring and us tipping and stirring!! I re-created that today for my own children and had friends come round too to share in the fun.  We did two rounds of pudding making and everyone went home happily clutching their pudding basin!! I was especially touched by one friend who had never made puddings as a child and never made them for herself as an adult.  She was so delighted to be making them, possibly more excited than the children!!

The recipe that we used is as follows:
  •  225g/8oz golden caster sugar
  • 225g/8oz vegetarian suet
  • 340g/12oz sultanas
  • 340g/12oz raisins
  • 225g/8oz currants
  • 110g/4oz candied peel
  • 110g/4oz plain flour
  • 110g/4oz fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 55g/20z flaked almonds
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 150 ml/5 fl oz brandy or rum.
  • I also put in a bag of pecans as I love them in my pudding!
Mix together all the dry ingredients then stir in the beaten eggs and brandy well. Grease your pudding basins and spoon in the mix. Cover with baking parchment and foil (creased in the middle to allow for steam) and tie round with string/wool firmly. Steam for 5-6 hours.  I don't have a steamer so I put an up-turned bowl in the bottom of my soup pan and sit the pudding basin on top before filling to halfway up the pudding bowl and simmering for 5-6 hours as above. Cool the puddings then cover with fresh parchment and store in a cool cupboard until Christmas day! (recipe from BBC good food site originally but I can no longer find this particular one to link to)

Each of the children took a turn at stirring the pudding mix as we all said the 'pudding poem'......

Into the basin put the plums
Stir about, stir about, stir about!
Next the good white flour comes
Stir about, stir about, stir about!
Sugar and peel and eggs and spice
Stir about, stir about, stir about!
Mix them and fix them and cook them twice
Stir about, stir about, stir about!
(traditional poem)

Then each child (and adult!!) closed their eyes and made a wish as they stirred. it was so sweet to see the little ones squeeeeezing their eyes tight shut!!

I am pleased to have this done and we enjoyed doing it together. I had to set my alarm for 2am to turn the second pudding off which wasn't so fun but he house smelled divine!!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Apple Playdough

I make fresh play dough around every six weeks and this week made some apple scented dough.  I bought apple essential oil from the Internet and added it with the liquid and colouring before mixing and cooking it. The girls had a wonderful time creating various cakes with the dough.

The recipe that I use is:
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 cups of water
  • splash of oil
  • Food colouring/ scent/ spices/ glitter/ sand etc.

Marrow Boats!

We picked the last of the marrows and the early pumpkins from the veg plot, then washed them in the builder's tray with paintbrushes and sponges.  Once squeaky clean Dewi cut them in half and scored them then let the children loose with a spoon each to scoop out the flesh. The little one whose hands are featured above had  lovely time emptying and refilling her marrow over and over again, relishing in the feel of the flesh and the seeds in her hands!

Once scooped out they could only be used as boats of course!

Monday, 4 October 2010

October's Mission of the Month - Christmas!

Mission of the Month
Every Year I find that come December, life takes on a frenetic pace, I become very stressed and all the things that I should find joyful, become a chore that I dread. So this year I am going to do all of the things that might become a chore well ahead of time in order that I can enjoy them and take the pleasure in them that I should be able to. I'm giggling a little because I always scoff at all the shops that start stocking Christmas items in September and here I am joining in but...... October is going to be 'Christmas Month'!!!!

I plan to:
  • Buy, wrap, parcel up and address gifts ready to give and send.
  • Make Pudding and Cake in good time (capital letters as they are so important to our Christmas traditions here!).
  • Make, write, put photos of the children in, seal, address and stamp Christmas cards.
It is the cards that I particularly want to take time over, to write individual letters to cherished people that I don't make enough time for through the busy months of the year!  I love doing the gift shopping, I find it fun and I take a lot of pleasure in giving gifts that people will really like.  I don't buy for the sake of it, or spend a certain amount on certain people.  I buy what I think that they will like!

Then roll on December when I will have time to spend with my family without feeling stressed out and can help my daughter make all the presents that she is planning to give to people!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Mission Accomplished!

Mission Accomplished

I am considering that I have achieved September's mission, which was to have all of my daughter's curriculum planned out in writing and posted on the blog.  Now here come the slight twists..... I realised that doing a formally planned cultural curriculum just isn't workable at the moment given my time commitments so I have shelved all my lovely ideas for reconsideration in February when I will magically have two days just for Eve!...... I also realised that although I would love to post my plans and resources for others to use, that isn't possible at present either due to time, knowledge and software limitations so I am shelving that plan until next year also..... perhaps I could make it a 'Mama's mission' to get it up and running!!!!

I already posted all my work on the blue series of Montessori (see August archives) and the list of maths abilities that i would like to have worked through by the end of the year.  I have done myself a 'skeleton plan' from which to work and that is 'good enough'.  I also consider this a triumph over my perfectionist self that often ends up doing nothing just because it isn't perfect!

Homemade produce

I have always wanted to be the kind of woman/wife/mummy that makes homemade goodies from seasonal produce.  For years I have put by jars and bottles for 'when I make jam' or for 'when we make wine'.  Well this was the year that we made them!! The picture is of my husband siphoning off his first attempt at wine-making into a clean demi-john before decanting into a motley selection of bottles!!  It is made from red grapes that were grown by the Grandfather of one of the children that I care for during the week.  To our surprise it is rose rather than red and tastes very light and refreshing with just enough of a kick to know that it fermented a little first!  It has been very exciting to take a step into the dark and enjoy the process together, made especially sweet by using my late Granddad's demi-johns (that he always called 'winchesters' by the way). Granddad was a very keen wine-maker but production had halted before I was old enough to enjoy it!

I have also been busy in the kitchen making:
  • Green tomato and apple chutney (needs more spice next time, it's a bit sweet!)
  • Rhubarb and ginger jam (yummy)
  • Ice cream sauce from the damsons left over from making.......
  • Damson gin (Sloe gin is my favourite winter warmer but I couldn't find sloes!)
  • Cake mixes to freeze ready for when we 'need' warm 'just-baked' cake one day!
I am happy with my first season's attempts..... we just need room to store them all now!! I'm looking forwards to sharing the goods with friends and family.  I love to give gifts.  My friend Nat calls me 'the Earth mother' because I bake and make, but I know from reading other blogs that I have a ways to go yet before I can own that title!!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Busy Hands

This came about as we were snuggled up reading a book about going to school (slightly bizarre as we home-educate but never mind!!).  One of the activities that the teacher does with the children is make mini clothes lines.  The girls asked if we could do that so we did!! It filled a busy half an hour of sketching, cutting and pegging and used up some of the tiny craft pegs that I bought in a jumbo pack years ago!!  The girls were so thrilled that we had done it together and it reminded me how special it is sitting and 'doing' with them and that I probably haven't been 'doing' enough lately. As they get older and more competent I am far too inclined to set something up and leave them to get on with it instead of sit down and enjoy the chatter and the fun! A timely reminder I think!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Harvesting Sunflower Seeds Montessori Style!

 I love sunflowers as they look so unpromising just the little stripey seed, then they don't grow very tall sometimes (like this year!) but then produce flower heads the size of plates and look absolutely beautiful!  We had ten or so heads and the seeds needed to come out so set Faith at them with a pair of tweezers!! In the picture below you can see more of the tray showing the very simple set up!  For the toddlers, I just put some heads in an empty deep tray and they sat for a long time picking them out by hand.  Faith learned that she really couldn't cut corners and get two or three seeds at once with the tweezers..... she did have to be patient!!

As the toddlers emptied the seed heads I put them on one side as I thought that they might be interesting to print with.  later on I couldn't find them until I looked at the nature table and one of my little ones had very carefully carried all the seed heads in and arranged them there.  I was so touched at her thought and care.... she isn't quite two yet!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Recharging batteries on the Beach!

We spent the weekend in Wales with my parents-in-law.  They live a five minute walk from the beach and that is where we invariably head as soon as is practically possible! The beach is pretty rocky due to the sea defences having been upgraded last year.  After all the earth movement and the importing of huge lumps of rock, I think that the beach has settled well, and the grading of pebbles from small at the top of the shore to large at the bottom has re-established itself.  The tide was out and that made for lots of small pools just perfect for rooting out unsuspecting crabs..........

Our little dog Poppy loves the beach too and runs round like a lunatic!  Here she was taking a breather and surveying the stunning view - this is her 'no-eyed' side so she could see the same part of the beach that you can see behind her in the photo!

Faith loves all God's creatures great and small..... she was particularly taken with the patterns that the little snails made all over the rocks!

We beach combed for hours, finding all sorts of things interesting for the girls such as a decaying fish with very large teeth that begged a good old poke with a stick, lots of pieces of large red crab shells and pincers to try and fit back together, many birds to watch (Cormorant, Sandpiper, Oyster Catchers and Gulls) and of course driftwood, shells, pebbles, seaweed....... we have returned home very refreshed and ready for the week ahead!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Woodland Twig People!

This was the woodland wonderland I built to greet the girls ready for Autumn.  It lasted as it was for 20 minutes then I was asked "Mummy.... is it OK if I move some of the things?" I answered that of course it was so she set to work.  She was talking to herself and I moved a bit closer to hear "Such a mess, all these leaves everywhere, I must tidy this up".  It made me smile!
This is Faith intent on adding a face to her twig person.  We made these people by taking short lengths of branch about 1/2" thick and whittling a flat section off for the face.  We then cut clothes from scraps of fabric and secured them to the twigs by 'ruching' them up around the twig and putting an elastic band around a few times to hold the fabric before tying ribbon around to hide the elastic.  We made them in Autumnal colours of oranges, browns, greens, yellows, reds and pinks.  The girls were enraptured with this and spent an hour and a half creating people!
This is the completed Woodland King surveying his Kingdom!!!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Friday's Favourites!

There is no photograph this Friday as although there have been lots of beautiful images this week, I have made a conscious decision not to take my camera out with me and just to enjoy being with the children!  it was the last week of summer holidays here and we spent our last day all together in the woods and at the park, playing! We tumbled home 5 1/2 hours later; dirty, sandy, sweaty, tired and just a little caught by the sun..... and very happy!  It was a lovely last day and we rounded it off with ice creams in the shade!

Bad luck is said to come in threes and we have had two rounds of it in the last few weeks!! Our luck has finally turned this week and our broken little car that I was fully expecting to cost us a new engine, has come up trumps once again with a total garage bill of £125.... I have never paid a bill with so much pleasure before!

I'm really looking forwards to having our 'weekday family' back to normal next week but with a twist to the daily routine as we will be picking one of the little one's big sister up after school.  It is such a peaceful day with the four of them... they know each other so well and it is harmonious and happy (most of the time!!).  Having four children will seem like a rest after the school hols!

Here are this weeks favourites!
  • I will definitely be making this story sack for Dog's Colourful Day from My Montessori Journey, faith loves the book and she will love the story sack!
  • This Autumn sensory tub and play dough from Counting Coconuts is fabulous..... I will so be making apple pie dough now!
  • I love Eric Carle books and these ideas from Totally Tots to go with The Mixed up Chameleon are wonderful!
  • This outdoor place to play that Tonya from Plain and Joyful Living has created for her children is beautiful.... I love the sophistication of the tablecloth!
  • For some Autumn beauty, spend time browsing through rhythm of the home's Autumn e-zine.
Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Bows and Arrows.........

I was unwell last week and whilst sleeping it off, Daddy made bows and arrows for the girls.  He was a bit sheepish about it as he thought that I would disapprove but quite the reverse in fact!!

I thoroughly APPROVE!!

There are certain things in childhood that are rites of passage like camping for instance, playing on the beach, making camp fires, climbing trees.  I consider home made bows and arrows to be part of this essential kit list, along with catapults and pen knives.... I think that they encourage children to be responsible, to assess risk, but at the same time to experience the thrill of a powerful force and the excitement of just a little twinge of danger.  They were issued with ground rules along the lines of 'no pointing them at eachother', 'no using them when the childminding children are here'........ and the best bit about them? Daddy made them!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Introducing Incy Wincy's Wives.....

We had a very wet walk home from the children's centre last week and one of the children began to sing 'Incy Wincy spider'..... at the second verse I chimed in with a silly ending and set the tone for the rest of the walk home!! Poor Incy was subjected to more and more ridiculous situations with a good dose of 'toilet humour' thrown in I'm afraid (and not all of it from the children!!).  We were in fits of giggles all the way.... I just love to hear a group of children giggling uncontrollably, it's so infectious!  It probably took us longer to walk because of the silliness but it certainly seemed a short walk! The children were brilliant at rhyming though! 

After we had shed wet coats and shoes and dried off a bit, we sat down to make some spiders for ourselves.... I accidentally erased the 'in the making' pictures, but we made them from sections of egg box with eight holes pierced round the base and lengths of pipe cleaner pushed in and folded inside to keep them in place.  Once legs were in we added red glitter to black paint and painted them all over.  Whilst they dried we made a web for them by stringing wool around a hoop and looping it backwards and forwards. 

The children decided that their spiders were called 'Wetsy Betsy' instead of Incy Wincy!!
Find some more spider activities linked to through this post

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Tackling maths planning.

Well, as is becoming typical of me, after looking at several options for a maths curriculum, none seemed to fit my daughter better than the Montessori method that I am training in, but I took a look at what the National Curriculum expects of children in Year One. It made interesting reading because I had two versions to compare; the original curriculum from 1998 and the revised edition from 2008.  To my surprise, two thirds of what used to be expected of Year 2(6-7) children has been added to the Year 1(5-6yrs) syllabus!  It makes for a very long list and here it is..... my intention is to link back to this list as the year goes by so that in the future this post will contain links to 'how to' posts and resources lists for you to use.  I will be using my Montessori files, making my own resources and hopefully making use of some offerings from the Internet too, although we don't do a lot of paper based learning at the present time!

Be familiar with numbers 11-20
Extend to counting to 100 and beyond
Read an write numbers 1-20 then 100+
Position numbers 0-20 in sequence
Order one and two-digit numbers on a number line and square.
recognise place value (0 as the place holder)

Recognise sequences of odd and even numbers to 30+
Know patterns of multiples 2, 5 and 10.
Number patterns (+ and -), predicting the next number.

Doubling and halving numbers as an inverse relationship
Know number bonds to ten
know two and ten times table.
Know doubles of numbers to ten
Know halves of even numbers to twenty

Addition and Subtraction
+ done in any order
- can mean 'take away' or 'the difference between'
- the inverse of +
use = sign

Record calculations in number sentences
Solve 'missing number' problems
Understand x as repeated +
Mental methods for working out ten plus a single digit
+/- multiples of ten within two digit numbers
Choose a calculation method to solve whole number problems (money, measures etc)

Use lists/tables/charts to sort and classify information
Discuss it and explain results.

Describe mathematical features of 2D and 3D shapes (triangles/rectangles/circles/cubes/cuboids/hexagons/pentagons/cylinders/pyramids/cones/spheres)
Create 2D and 3D shapes

Reflective symmetry in 2D shapes and patterns
Recognise translations and rotations.
Recognise right angles
Understand angle as a measure of turn using whole turns, half turns and quarter turns.

Observe, visualise and describe positions, directions and movements using common words.

Estimate size of objects and order them by comparison.
Put events in chronological order
Compare and measure objects using standard and non-standard units of measurement.
Compare durations of events using standard measurements of time.
Estimate, measure and weigh objects.

Monday, 30 August 2010

'Sense'ational Woodland!

I deliberately didn't take my camera with me today when I took my girls to the woods, as I sometimes get a little too taken up with getting nice shots and lose the essence of what we are enjoying!  We went to Dudmaston Dingle near Bridgnorth, it is an absolute treasure of a woodland valley and we were totally absorbed for a happy two hours! 

Later on I reflected on what we had done and realised that all five senses had a good workout whilst we were there:
  • Sound - we listened to the birds, heard a mouse scurry away, heard the steam trains.  We also tapped logs with sticks (OK we whacked them!) to listen to the sound to see whether the wood was healthy or rotten and used pine cones as instruments to rake down the edges of cut logs and across bark. We threw pebbles into the water and listened to the splashes.
  • Sight - we collected different specimens of lichen on fallen twigs, we identified some trees by their leaves and bark and learned some new ones, observing the shape of the leaves. We dug through rotting wood to find bugs and looked at the shapes, sizes and colours of fungi. We watched the patterns of the sun dancing through the canopy of trees and twinkling off the lake.
  • Touch - we felt healthy wood, crumbled rotting wood, touched leaves, insects, berries, water, rocks, grasses, we felt the wind through our hair and the sun warm on our faces
  • Smell - we collected pine cones full of delicious smelling sap to take home.
  • Taste - we picked and ate juicy blackberries!!
All this and more.... we observed wood in various stages of the rotting process, we looked at how a once tiny sapling had grown into a mature tree and split a rock apart as it grew, we peered down a freshly dug badger set and looked at the footprints left outside, and the girls ran and balanced and jumped and climbed and pushed and pulled and sang and laughed and.... didn't fall of the stepping stones over the stream!!!

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Late Summer Goodness!

At the end of a long week of an almost (but not quite) comical number of breakdowns, difficulties and illnesses, I have found tranquility in picking and eating the bountiful plums in our garden.....

making butternut squash soup for lunch......

And adding plums to my favourite tray bake recipe (delicious).  We followed it up with a long walk down the canal with Poppy (our dog) and then I indulged in a steaming bath with candles, hair treatment and face mask and reflected on all the good things in our life (they far outweigh the breakdowns, difficulties and illnesses!!).  Not least the generosity and love shown by our family and friends in helping us out during the tough times!

Friday, 27 August 2010

Friday's Favourite's!

This is my favourite photograph this week..... Mum and I returned from a short trip out to find my Dad and his Grand daughters engaged in a thoroughly modern role-play of Little Red Riding Hood, including 'camel and coriander soup with humps in (rather than lumps!!!!)

I've found some really inspiring activities from amongst my blog roll this week:
They are all on a theme as my mind is on planning for the new 'school year at home' that begins here on the 6th September.  I'm excited to get back into it.... I've got that 'New Year' feeling, and a goal now that I've joined in with Mama Jenn's mission of the month!!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

September's Mission of the Month!

Mission of the Month
I am joining in with Mama Jenn's idea of setting a mission to be accomplished by the end of the month...... hmmmmm...... but what to choose from my mahoosive to-do list??!!
There's de-cluttering, re-organising, re-decorating, I already know what October's mission will be, but what for September?  Alright.... I know..... for the first time I am putting together curriculum ideas for my daughter.  I would love to share them but I also have a tendency to be perfectionist and therefore get nothing done, so my mission of the month for September will be to.....
Organise my curriculum plans and post them on here, along with a rolling plan for how to make and gather the materials that I need.  I already made a start with my blue series word lists but need to complete that, finalise my maths planning and Fix my ideas for her cultural curriculum.
There we go..... mission set (here's hoping that I can use the mission accomplished tag at the end of September!!!

Woodland Fairies....

We went to a local farm that is open to look around a few animals and took a pathway out of the back and found this wonderful woodland glade..... with an enormous Beech tree at it's centre.

Somehow the game evolved into woodland fairies and we had Rose hip fairy, Acorn fairy, Blackberry fairy, Conker fairy etc.  The children had woodland fairy tasks to complete such as collecting 3 beech nuts, four red leaves (a few have begun to turn), two pebbles, five twigs and so on.  I was the woodland queen granting wishes for unicorns, fairy wands and dragons amongst other more mundane requests (much to the amusement of dog walkers passing by!!!!) 

As usual we took our lunch with us and after a picnic in a big hollow bush (where else??!!) we made fairy house from twigs and leaves....

These are the roots of the beautiful big Beech tree.... all the hollows contained a magical pool of water......

by Cicely Mary Barker.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Please Take Your Seats....

Last week one of the older children introduced Eve to the idea of putting on a show.... between us we conjured up a little theatre made from the hollow wooden blocks, and then they were off..... after a bit of practice Eve felt confident enough to strike out on her own..... this was the show she put on for her Grandparents on Saturday!

"Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, please take your seats, the show is about to begin!"
We all took our seats and waited for the curtain to go up!

There followed a wonderful story about all the characters (lots of them) and a robber that crept in in the night..... cue some hysterically funny pantomime lines like
"Where is that robber?"
"He's behind you"
"Oh, no he isn't"
Oh, yes he is!"

We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves..... I suggested an interval after a while and provided ice creams.  Eve was so entrenched in the world of make believe by then that she didn't realise that I was actually offering REAL ice creams!!
When she announced that there were five parts to the show in total I muttered something to my dad about the length and it was compared to Macbeth.... my Dad said "Act 1, Scene 2" and Faith replied "That makes three"..... cue more laughter..... it was laughter that was good for the soul!
I'm really delighted that Eve is exploring dramatic play in this way..... It's not an area that I'm entirely comfortable with.... I never was at school and I'm definitely not now, so it's great to see her emjoying it so much and it has emboldened me to try some more dramatic play idea, especially as all of my childminding 'holiday family' seem to be into shows too!!
The book Supporting Creativity and Imagination in the Early Years by Bernadette Duffy has some fantastic and interesting ideas for dramatic play, not the cheapest book but well worth it as it is one to dip into again and again!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

An Underwater Adventure!

We went to the beach a couple of weeks ago and I followed it up with some split-pin sea creatures.
The girls spent a long time painting the creatures then got their hands on my laminator....

The next job was to cut them out..... I was pretty impressed with Faith's scissor skills!

After the cutting out came the assembly with split pins through carefully punched holes (I used a fine tipped knife on a piece of carpet)

And then it was time to play!! We used some blue and yellow net and fabric that we bought the other day at Birmingham's rag market, and it re-vamped the sofa into a watery world for the crab, octopus, clown fish, whale, sea turtle and dolphin that we made!

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Autumn Planning!

OK now I can here some of you saying wooooaaahh..... summmer isn't over yet!! But I LOVE Autumn and after planning on a monthly basis last year and finding that I had too many different things scheduled in and the children would rather stick with seasonal delights, that is what I am doing!  For me Autumn begins in September and will run through to the end of November probably!!  These activities and ideas represent some tried and tested favourites, some things I found too late to do last year, and some ideas from a friend who shared her planning with me (thanks Hayley!!)

Songs and Poems - I have copied some of these Autumnal poems and songs onto big shapes of leaves, apples and pumpkins and laminated them before cutting them out, hole-punching and threading them with ribbon. They will hang on the book shelf.

Trips out always have an important place in our weekly plans, as I find that the children thrive on being outdoors and experiencing things first hand.  I love to take along an activity to do 'in situ'.  On the list for this Autumn are:

Attingham Park - fabulous woodland perfect for collecting Autumn leaves.... they have HUGE ones all the colours that Autumn leaves should be, as well as copious amounts of beech nut cases, acorns and conkers!! An activity that I will do again there this Autumn is fabric printing with found items - take squares of felt and two colours of paint and some brushes, then use collected objects to print with on the felt - they looked lovely and we collected a few more children too!  I will also try Autumn weaving there too this year, as well as another tried and tested favourite - woolly pinecones - for these I buy fluffly autumn coloured wool and the children wrap lengths around collected pinecones of different sizes - they looked great in a dish as a table centrepiece!!.  Looks like lots of visits to Attingham then!!

Essington Fruit Farm - to explore their gigantic pumpkin patch!!  I will buy them from somewhere cheaper though and we will make pumpkin pie and pumpkin soup.  Last year we had a fabulous collection or ornamental gourds from Lidl i think, and they became involved in lots of small world play!! I will mix some colours of paint to match the colours in the gourds and put them out together for the children to paint representation of them.  I don't usually direct the children's artwork but I tried this in Spring with hyacinth bulbs and mixed paints and the results were beautiful as well as providing a different approach to normal for them.  Scooping the pumpkin seeds out is always a popular and absorbing activity too, before drying them and gluing them down again!!

Apple Picking - I've picked out Clives Fruit Farm because they do apple pressing on site and I'm hoping that I can arrange for the children to watch it and chuck apples in! As well as picking the apples we will make crumble and pie and chutney and make apple prints with them!

Autumn Leaves - painting them with modge podge after pressing to preserve the colours and feel of the leaves, printing with them, drawing on them, making woodland crowns out of them, matching them to leaf shapes in the leaf cabinet, ordering them by size, identifying them.

Artistic Options - Corncob printing, woodland animals made from clay, rolling acorn paintings and making autumn paints from spices.

Books to Enjoy - Nuts to You by Lois Ehlert, Why do leaves change colour? by Betsy Maestro, Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper, Autumn by Gerda Muller, Autumn: an Alphabet Acrostic by Steven Schnur