Monday, 30 April 2012


I have been for my first run in around 2 years! I did a 10k run shortly before becoming pregnant with Peter and that was the end of that. It was hard, as expected, but I have missed it. Running has always been the best way I have found to clear my head, relieve stress and of course keep fit - too many pancakes and too much chocolate of late has left me feeling a fair bit of wobble and lethargy, so it's time to do something about it!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Loan box - Romans

The topic of our museum loan box session today was Romans. We borrowed some good books from the library around this subject but had not managed to read them much in advance due to Harry and Peter being ill for the last couple of weeks, so I will continue the topic over the coming weeks instead. We have been meaning to visit Segedunum Roman fort so this will be an ideal time to do it.

Harry was particularly interested in the wax writing tablet and one of our books includes a craft to make a writing tablet using clay so we will do this. He also liked the drop weight spindle, which included some wool to spin on it - we managed to work it out thanks to one of the dads who came along today with his family!

The coins depicting the image of the Emperor led us to some interesting discussions about the difference between an Emperor and our Queen.

Harry liked the statues of Mercury and the Cockerel. He is very interested in hearing myths and stories of the Gods since reading some of the Greek myths.

We held a stone roof tile, which was very heavy and I pointed out that we have tiles on our roof but that they are made from slate. Harry knew that the slate would have come from a quarry and wondered how it was made into tiles. Unfortunately my knowledge of tile making ended there so we will have to look into that further! As a boy who loves construction, Harry was amazed that the Romans invented concrete and I am sure we will be looking more at the building aspect of the Roman Empire.

This appears to have been a topic that will allow us a lot of further exploration, so hopefully more will follow in the near future.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Poorly crafts

It has been a difficult week! Illness for Harry and Peter has meant lots of DVD watching and not much activity. I am hopeful that normal life can resume again very soon. 

We have managed a few new crafts. I was inspired by this post by our friend Claire at Still Raising the Next Generation to create some flags for sandcastles. This also helped us to forget the rather cold grey weather and think of days to come on the beach. We decorated card and then cut out the flags which are now stuck to straws awaiting transport to the sandy oasis of Tynemouth!

Harry enjoyed painting some mini canvases and put good thought into what he wanted to paint before actually starting. He has always really enjoyed the process of painting and doesn't usually shown much concern with the end product so it is nice to see him take an interest in creating something when he does decide to.

We also used letter sponges to paint his name, which he then decorated with more paint. I quite like the effects!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Bonjour Lingotot!

We went to our first Lingotot French session today. Harry has been interested and adept at picking up new French words since we tried out a taster session of the class and we have also been working through this book. 

I am finding it really interesting too, having struggled with French at school due to only having one half an hour lesson per week (I was split into the German language half of my year) - I think I have actually learned more in the last few weeks than ever at school!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Our potatoes

The recent bouts of rain and sun seem to have done our potato plants good. They filled the containers with healthy green leaves so we have covered them over again with soil for the first time. Harry is looking forward to spotting the shoots poking through again!

Space exploration

I love the library! We own a lot of books but we also borrow a lot of books - we often have 15 or so at any one time and library books are usually the reading material of choice for Harry. A huge interest in the solar system has been sparked by this library book
The little girl wonders where the moon goes during the day and the final line of the book questions "where on earth is space?". This has led us to discussions and reading about space shuttles and space travel, the International Space Station and the solar system and Harry has decided (for now) that he wants to be an astronaut.

He has been making satellites from lego.

We used parts of an astronaut pack from Homeschool Creations to do some writing and letter practice.

Harry sorted rockets by size and pictures into groups of planets/not planets.

We used this book to help us create a picture showing the order of the planets, together with a collage of Earth, using pieces of card Harry had cut up. He remembered that we needed white for the North and South Poles.

Harry's interest shows no sign of abating, so we will be continuing to read around this topic and see what else we can all learn! 

Thursday, 12 April 2012

What is a quiet day?

We had a quiet day today after several long outdoor trips in the last week and I thought I would share what this means to us. I try to have one car-free day per week and this naturally ties into a quiet day. I also tend to follow the same structure, which works best for my early waking children, of activities in the house in the morning, followed by lunch, resting time (which is a nap or quiet sit down activities for Harry) and then out for fresh air in the afternoon.

I try to have some ideas in mind to suggest but am often led by what Harry finds to do. He shows great imaginative and creative play ideas given the opportunity. We usually incorporate some craft and/or baking, which can go on for as long as needs be if we have nowhere we need to go. Although I call them quiet days because we spend them on our own, we are usually very productive and cover a lot of ground!

Today he started cutting up sheets of coloured card, with no particular motive other than that he likes cutting, so I suggested we use them to make a collage picture of the Earth to tie into his current interest in space. We then moved onto mixing some papier mache paste and covering a balloon. Peter scribbled with pens while we did this and noticed for the first time that he was making marks - he was delighted!

We have been reading Wind In The Willows and spent the next hour playing a role play game instigated by Harry based on parts of the story, with an unopened pack of 9 toilet rolls forming Ratty's boat to cross the river (I think the toilet rolls may be squashed flat now!). Some sort of role play imagination game usually forms part of any day we spend at home, the most common ones being firemen, police chases, rescue ropes over the stairs and re-enactment of fairy tales. 

There are a few activities that are hard to do when Peter is around - mainly small things like beads, jigsaws and meccano as Peter likes to scatter them everywhere, so Harry and I enjoy choosing what to do when Peter has a nap. Today we made a hama bead pattern and I was really pleased that Harry chose the colours as it is the first time he has made a true pattern rather than using all the colours in no particular order. 

We headed out to our local playground this afternoon and the sun came out so we went straight into the garden at home to colour with outdoor chalk, check on our potatoes and eat ice lollies!

The playroom usually looks something like this after a quiet day :-) Peter was rolling biscuit cutters down the garage ramp and Harry was building lego walls to protect something from bears.

I love this type of day, although I find once a week is enough as they are both at quite intense ages! It gives us chance to catch up, regroup, rediscover things we like doing at home and follow our own agenda. I will definitely continue trying to plan our quiet days into our life.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Ponds and bugs

We had a great time at the Washington Wetland Centre today. It was our regular Tuesday visit with our home ed friends, so we had a lovely walk around, fed the geese and played in the playground, but we also participated in some of the Easter holiday activities.

We were around the pond area at just the right time for some pond dipping first, under the guidance of two great Wetland Centre volunteers. Harry was very engaged and was scooping various creatures out of his tray to look at in the magnifying pot.  Another boy caught a very large beetle which we watched swimming around and Harry really wanted to catch something similarly impressive, but it seems they had all gone into hiding! 

We also joined in the indoor activities, where Harry chose to make a bug hotel filled with various insect-friendly materials such as shredded paper, bark and hay which we will hang in a tree in the garden. I am not overly keen on insects so hopefully he will be proactive in checking for inhabitants! 

Monday, 9 April 2012

Reading progress

I have mentioned previously about wanting to use some printed reading material in addition to Reading Eggs. We have started to use this book, which has worked really well so far.

Harry has read the first two stories. We are covering a small amount almost every day as he finds it hard work so around 2-3 pages at a time is enjoyable for us both and then he starts to look for ways to escape and I don't want to make it a chore!

I have also borrowed some longer fiction books from the library for me to read to him, which have been a big hit. We have some of the Shoo Rayner Olympia series and I am delighted that Harry liked this 50 page version of Wind In The Willows, which is one of my absolute favourite books, so I can't wait to read the full one with him. I think we could start now as we easily read the short version in one sitting.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Easter Sunday traditions

We have broadly enjoyed the same Easter Sunday activities in our family for four years, so I think I can say we now have a tradition. We are keen to create traditions for our children, which hopefully will be remembered fondly by all of us and give us reference points. We are not a religious family - we have beliefs but we do not worship under the umbrella of a particular religion so we do not, therefore, celebrate all of the religious aspects of the Christian calendar but we do mark them as being special times that we can spend together as a family.

For the last four years, Stuart has run the North Tyneside 10k road race, which follows a scenic route from Wallsend along the North Shields seafront to St Mary's Lighthouse. This year my sister and her fiance came to visit and we all went to the finish line to cheer him on. He ran his best time for a 10k, of 41m15s and was very pleased.

Following lunch and a rest at home, we headed out to the Spanish City Easter funfair in Whitley Bay, which has a really nice feel during the day (albeit a high decibel level!), with a lot of young families and a good range of attractions for small children. Peter was amazed by all the moving colours and enjoyed tripping a few people up as he pottered around! Harry loved the helter skelter and inflatable slide.

He also drove a bumper boat, which looked great - I have never seen them anywhere before.

A lovely day had by all :-)

Friday, 6 April 2012

National Trust Easter trail

We have had a lovely family day at Wallington, one of our favourite National Trust properties, where we took part in the Easter activities.

We played in the courtyard with frisbees, space hoppers, balls and hoops.

We followed the Easter trail, collecting clues to earn a chocolate egg for Harry, which he kindly shared (voluntarily!) with Peter.

We played in the den area of the playground for a long while with large sticks.

Harry made a pretend fire area in one of the dens and cooked us 'salad bark soup' served on bark plates.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Clay craft

We opened our first tub of air drying clay this week and had fun making a variety of creatures. We have borrowed a clay modelling book from the library so we copied an elephant from there (which we stuck feathers in to make it a carnival elephant) and then Harry made some aliens to protect the International Space Station from baddies (he is very into space at the moment - more to follow on this).

We had some free time today so Harry added some paint now that the models have dried. 

We both really enjoyed playing with the clay - I think there will be more of it in our future!

We also finished off our Easter cards just in time to send, with some nice felt flower stickers. Peter loved the feel of the stickers and kept attaching it to his leg then peeling it off!

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Theatre - Chris and Pui Roadshow

Harry and I enjoyed a show at City Hall in Newcastle today - Chris and Pui Roadshow. 

Chris and Pui present Show Me Show Me on Cbeebies, which is one of the better children's TV offerings in my opinion and one that Harry has always enjoyed watching. The live roadshow was fairly relaxed (for a theatre full of pre-schoolers!) and included lots of nursery rhyme singing which was right up our street. Harry even joined in some dancing in the aisle and at the front with the other children. We had a lovely time!