Thursday, 29 March 2012

Loan Box - Vikings

The latest museum loan box we explored today contained objects relating to the Vikings. This was good timing as we have been reading this very good book borrowed from the library recently.

We took the book along with us and compared the replica Viking clothes in the box to the pictures in the book. The box also contained wooden swords and Harry tried to wear them in the same way as the Vikings. He liked the coins, and we pretended to use one to buy a new sword from the blacksmith, as the coin had a picture of a sword on it. 

I am thinking of ways to introduce a simple historical timeline now that we have looked at a few different events and periods, which will at least give us a reference guide for the order in which things have happened.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Digging brothers

Peter has been admitted to Harry's digging patch in the garden for the first time today - they had a lovely time filling buckets and moving soil and Peter seems to have as much enthusiasm for sticks and soil as Harry so I will have to keep my washing machine tuned up. Hopefully a taste of the many years of playing together to come!

Our potatoes

The first shoots are poking through in our potato tubs! It has renewed Harry's interest in them and he is very keen to water them every day now.

We also looked at a picture of a potato plant and labelled the different parts.

Harry seemed really interested, as he generally is with farming related topics, so we talked about harvesting, watched some potato harvesting on YouTube and read this book, which is one of my favourites (although I am a fan of barefoot books generally).

There is a good section in the back which gives facts about a variety of vegetables.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012


Harry received a nice colouring book for his birthday and it included stickers to match to the alphabet. I have been confident that he knows all the letters and sounds for a few weeks, so I asked him to say all the sounds when he had finished doing the stickers. I was right and he knows them very confidently, so I am sure that putting letters and sounds together to form words will start to come naturally to him over the next few months.

Potions and water play

We spent a lovely warm afternoon in the garden yesterday using up the contents of a 'potion box' I have been collecting - bicarbonate of soda, flours, food colouring, shaving foam, herbs, rice pops and of course copious amounts of water! It was hugely popular - I will have to start restocking the potion ingredients.

Harry then created a 'sewage works' by having a variety of cups which started off filled with gloopy potion mix and finished up with clean water.

They both ended the afternoon with some good old fashioned water play.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Felt cake

If only it were real.... I enjoyed making my first felt cake this afternoon at the lovely Celebrate the Seasons, but looking at it is really making me want some proper cake! 

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Center Parcs

We had a family break to Center Parcs last week. I am not sure if parents or children were more tired yesterday but it was altogether superb fun and lovely spring weather helped.

We made a den at the back of our lodge

We went swimming lots, which is amazing for us, as last year Harry was a child who had to be persuaded to go near a swimming pool. We bought him a big ring which he floated around on, even in the big pool. We were very proud of him! Peter turned out to be a water baby too!

We made bird feeders and a squirrel graced us with his presence to taste our nut strings

We all enjoyed the play areas

Harry and Peter seem to have really enjoyed each others company while we were away. Peter made sure he was involved in everything Harry was doing and Harry was very tolerant.

We have loved the outdoor time and the time together. Can't wait until we go again!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

How To Make An Apple Pie and See The World

It has been quite a difficult week for structured work as Harry has been under the weather, tired and difficult so we have not done as much as planned. This has been our Five in a Row book this week and it worked out quite well that it is a fun one!
An apple pie is easy to make...if the market is open. But if the market is closed, the world becomes your grocery store. This deliciously silly recipe for apple pie takes readers around the globe to gather ingredients. First hop a steamboat to Italy for the finest semolina wheat. Then hitch a ride to England and hijack a cow for the freshest possible milk. And, oh yes! Don't forget to go apple picking in Vermont! A simple recipe for apple pie is included. 

We have been meaning to make a new batch of playdough for a while so we used some apple related playdough activities. I am always amazed how an unpromising pan of gloop turns into playdough after a few minutes on the hob! Harry remembered most of the ingredients we needed and enjoyed adding them all and stirring well.

He used playdough mats to create the letter 'a' and some apples on a tree.

I also asked him to find the word 'apple' on the front cover of the book, which he did immediately and then to make the word from his playdough letter cutters.

We looked at the life cycle of an apple using some nice Montessori resources. After reading a library book about plant life cycles, we put apple life cycle pictures into the right order. Harry put them in a straight line at first and couldn't decide whether to put the seed at the beginning or end, so we talked about why it is both the beginning and end. I then cut off the words and asked Harry to match them to the correct picture. He did this really well - I suspect he mainly uses the first letter of the word to work out what it is as he found 'seed' and 'seedling' more difficult!

Finally, we spent time over a couple of days creating a street art work, after looking at the picture of the street in the book where the market is located and all the buildings are very close together.

Firstly, we looked through some magazines and Harry cut out pictures that could represent various types of shop, including a bakery, toy shop and cafe. He painted a large piece of card blue for the sky and we tore up some stone coloured paper to use for the street. We then stuck the magazine pictures to luggage tags and lined them up to create our street.

Spring craft

I received my first (I am sure it won't be the last) order from the wonderful Baker Ross today. Harry and I were very excited to unpack the box.

We will be doing some marbling and using new acrylic paint on canvas and air drying clay. I also ordered some stickers and shapes to help us make spring themed pictures and cards, which Harry made a start on this afternoon.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Fun in a tent

Harry and Peter have had some great fun together in the play tent. Harry was trying to have a rest and Peter was very determined to poke him out with his long tube. Lovely interaction!

Monday, 12 March 2012


We went back to a playgroup today that we started when Harry was around Peter's age and attended for almost 2 years. We stopped going as I felt that Harry had outgrown it and he just wanted to race around with the wheeled toys, knocking over small toddlers in his wake! As he is a year older and Peter is now more independent, I thought we would try it out for a term. It was interesting to see how Harry has developed. He plays very differently now compared to a year ago, becoming much more involved and staying in one place for longer and we spent most of the time in the small room with the kitchen, garage, paint and playdoh (and no large wheeled toys thankfully!). Peter spent most of the time walking around shrieking with joy and excitement so I think we will continue after the Easter holiday and it will be a nice session to start the week - I have always felt a bit grumpy when we didn't have something organised for a Monday morning!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Our potatoes

What a wonderful day! We had a morning at Freeman Park, where Harry rode his bike and Peter joined in collecting sticks and going down the slide, followed by an afternoon in the garden planting potatoes in containers and summer bulbs in the front.

My mum had brought us some seed potatoes last week so we set about planting them today in two big containers. Harry kindly donated some soil from his digging patch :-) and then placed the potatoes before covering them with soil and compost from our own compost bin. We talked about the growing process and I think Harry will be able to do most of it on his own - it should be a really interesting medium term project (hopefully they will survive his digging urges!). 

Peter had a great time out exploring the garden toys - I feel that the back garden will be heavily used in spring/summer! 

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

We rowed one of Harry's favourite books this week and really enjoyed the activities. Review

Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel Mary Anne make quite a team. The inseparable duo digs the great canals for the big boats to travel through, cuts through the large mountains so that the trains could pass and hollows out the deep cellars for the great skyscrapers in the city. But the introduction of gasoline, electric and diesel shovels means big trouble for Mike and Mary Anne. No one wants an old-fashioned steam shovel like Mary Anne when a modern shovel can do the digging in half the time! Forced to travel far out of the city to look for work, Mike and Mary Anne find themselves in the little town of Popperville. Mike and Mary Anne make a bid to dig the cellar for the new town hall, promising the town that if they can't dig the cellar in just one day then no payment for the job is required. Will Mike and Mary Anne be able to complete the job? The whole town of Popperville turns out to watch. Virginia Lee Burton, author of such classic children's books as The Little House and Katy and the Big Snow, offers a touching portrait of love and dedication while commenting on the modernization that continuously shapes our lives. Hamilton's wonderful crayon drawings bring Mike and the indomitable Mary Anne to life.

The blog post below, which inspired our kitchen/science activity, tied in very well with the fact that it is Stuart's birthday today, so we had a birthday cake ready too!

We re-created the neat and square cake with a cut-out cellar and Harry found a digger toy to go in the cellar as Mary-Anne. He did really well remembering what ingredients we would need for a basic cake, breaking and whisking the eggs and dusting the icing sugar.

We looked more at squares. Firstly we took two paper squares and folded them to see how they made rectangles and triangles.

I had drawn a series of squares and cut out shapes to fill the squares. Harry fitted the shapes into the squares so we could see how a variety of straight sided shapes can make a square. We talked about why circles could never make a square and Harry asked me to cut some so he could check.

We used this template from Kids Craft Weekly to make a digger with moving parts - Moving digger craft

I had envisaged this being a bit more involved than it actually was. Harry just wanted to colour it with his new twisty crayons, but he was quite impressed with it and took it away to play a game with!

We watched some videos on YouTube of steam shovels and talked about why the steam shovels were replaced by diesel machines. Harry had some sensible ideas - he thought that the diesel machines might be able to dig more in one day. I think we will cover the age of steam in much more detail another time. We also found this great animation of the story, which enthralled both Harry and Peter when we watched at snack time.

We may well be playing that video again!