Sunday, 31 August 2014

Camping and stargazing weekend

We spent the last two nights in a lovely wooden wigwam at Herding Hill Farm in Northumberland. We have had a very busy and fun August and will be getting back into our normal routine from Monday.

This was pretty luxurious and easy compared to tent camping - the wigwam had lights plus a kettle, toaster and microwave! We were also next door to another family from our NCT group with similar age children, who all enjoyed playing together. It was nice to catch up with our friends before their son goes back to school. We try to see friends from our NCT group in school holidays as the older children all enjoy this and there are several younger siblings now too.

The inside had a seating area that turned into the beds at night. 

We had booked this weekend after camping at the farm in July. This was a special stargazing weekend as the site is in the middle of a protected 'dark skies' area, meaning that conditions for stargazing are optimal. There were several experts with a variety of telescopes. They gave a talk each night with pictures and videos and then we had a chance to use the telescopes. There was also a special solar telescope that allowed us to view the sun in great detail, including solar flares coming off it. We also saw double stars and the atmosphere of a dying star during the night time viewings. Harry stayed up until 10pm each night as it wasn't really dark enough until then for good viewing, so needless to say it has been a tired afternoon at home, but it was well worth it for the experience. 

The site was near to Allan Banks, a National Trust site, so we visited there on Saturday and enjoyed a woodland walk, followed by playing in the river.

We also took part in rocket launching at the site, using water and air pressure, which the children all loved! 

The site is a really good one for children with a very nice play area and I think we will be visiting again. They can even deliver home made pizzas to your tent in a golf buggy. We need to go again just to try that out! 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

A homeschool day

We didn't have plans today so I thought we would have a full 'normal' homeschool day and it has been lovely. Harry has had a productive couple of days with poems, writing and swimming yesterday. I am looking forward to next week when we will be fully returned to routine! 

We played games first this morning: Ladybirds (Peter's choice), Top Trumps (Harry's choice) and matching pairs. Peter can recognise all the numbers on dice now and it's really fun playing games together as he can join in properly and concentrate for the whole game.

Harry read his fifth Summer Reading Challenge book and started his final one.

I read The Magic Paintbrush by Julia Donaldson which we all enjoyed. We talked about the difference between needing and wanting things, which is a theme in the story. Peter asked for this book at bedtime too.

Harry also did a Conquer Maths lesson on addition strategy and we looked through the lessons he will be doing this term. I am hoping he will finish year 2 by Christmas and then we will start year 3, alongside the Galore Park textbook. I might also start some reception level lessons on Conquer Maths with Peter when he is 4 in January. 

After lunch we went out on bikes for a couple of hours. We are lucky to have a long cycle track close by which links several play areas.

It was sunny and warm and the fresh air and exercise did us all good. The boys had baths at home before tea and built some special Lego models to take in to play with. 

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Getting back into routine with poems and park

I am trying to get back into a routine this week after our very busy and exciting August. We have had sports camps, family visits, a Beavers sleepover and a wedding. We have one more trip planned this weekend but I thought it would do us all good to ease back into work mode slowly for a few days first.

Harry and Peter chose a couple of poetry books on our last visit to the library, so we have been reading these, together with our own poetry books. We love poems and the boys often ask for the same ones to be repeated, especially if they are silly or rude! There are always one or two poetry books on the bookshelf.

They liked some of the limericks a lot and we have been devising our own at the kitchen table during mealtimes. We read sections of the 'How To' book relating to the rules of limericks and also about narrative poems. We talked about the rhyming in Julia Donaldson books and how these could be narrative poems, and read Stick Man and The Gruffalo.

Harry wrote his own magic poem after reading this book. He hasn't done much writing over the summer but he did well. We also watched some Michael Rosen performances on YouTube. They especially liked Chocolate Cake.

We have been exploring Richardson Dees park with Stuart, which we have only recently discovered and love!

The allotment sweetcorn is flourishing and I can't wait to harvest it. It will soon be time to have a clean up and start preparing for next year.

Harry and Peter both did a Reading Eggs lesson this morning. Peter was working on recognising 'the'. Harry only has ten lessons to go before he finishes the programme. Harry has also started reading Billionaire Boy by David Walliams. 

Harry had another swimming lesson this afternoon. He will be having weekly lessons now as he really likes the teacher and has made great progress so far.

A big wedding!

We had a great weekend at a wedding, as my mum finally married her long-term partner!

I went to Harrogate on Thursday night and we all spent Friday preparing my sister's house, where the reception was held. Lots of people helped and it was a long and tiring day, but everything looked great.

The wedding day itself was wonderful and even the downpours of rain, that forced the BBQ into the garage, couldn't ruin it. 

Harry and Peter were delighted to have so many people to play with - my dad and Stuart's parents were there too. They were very good and I was really pleased that several people commented on this.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Wallington, swimming lessons and more

We had a trip to Wallington at the weekend as both boys were grumpy and needed lots of space to let off steam. They enjoyed den building and exploring. They decorated their den with lots of early fallen horse chestnuts, then brought them home. I love the early signs of Autumn emerging! We also saw wild blackberries.

Impressive climbing by Peter to a very high slide! 

Harry and Peter have both had swimming lessons every day this week. Harry is really enjoying it, which is great, as he wasn't enjoying his last course of group lessons. This time his lesson is 1:1 and the teacher is in the water with him. I think he made more progress in half an hour than in a whole term in the previous lessons! He is working really hard and it's an intense lesson so he has been very tired.

We have been doing lots of reading. Harry has been reading his Summer Reading Challenge books and I have been reading The Hobbit. We just finished it tonight and I am bereft! I had never read it before and it has gone straight into my top five books I have read. We all loved it! We have been talking about our favourite parts too and will continue to do so I suspect. The next read aloud book will have to work hard to top this; I think we will go for something completely different.

They have also been playing in the garden with outdoor chalk.

We spent an afternoon in a park we had never visited before with some friends and had a great time. We are looking forward to visiting in term time as it was very busy and I had to look for Peter quite a lot.

We have been very busy getting things ready for my mums wedding on Saturday too! We have been making decorations, shoe shopping, card decorating and packing. We are all very excited about it and I am going in advance to help set everything up, so I need to leave comprehensive lists for Stuart too, to make sure that everything important makes its way there on Saturday! 

Friday, 15 August 2014

Climbing and Summer Reading Challenge

Today started with a haircut for Peter and it was the first one he accepted without any complaining, hurray! 

Harry enjoyed another coached session at the climbing wall.

And we visited the library, where Harry chose the next two books for his Summer Reading Challenge. He has always liked non-fiction books and started reading the fire one at bedtime. He also likes plays on words and 'Pig and Small' is a play on 'Big and Small' in the other book he chose.

The boys have been playing with Lego and in the garden this afternoon and we have also played board games; Trilemma and Incy Wincy Spider. 

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Rainy Gibside

We met one of our NCT friends at Gibside today. The day started off very sunny in the playground and we walked into the woods to toast some marshmallows too.

This was Peter's pretend fire with marshmallow stick.

While we were in the woods, a torrential rain shower caused everyone to run for cover! Even the dens eventually provided no protection and the little boys were not too happy so we headed back. The big boys loved running down the river in the path though.

Poor soggy Peter fell asleep in the Gibside buggy, which I am really pleased we borrowed as he would never have made it back on foot in the heavy rain! It was fun in the rain, but nice to get dried off and warm at home.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Gibside and Beaver camp

It's been a very busy few days since Harry and Peter's cousins left. We spent the weekend playing lots of board games, harvesting and clearing old plants at the allotment and going to the cinema to see Planes 2, which we all really enjoyed. Peter especially loves board games at the moment! 

Stuart took the boys to Gibside for the day on Monday, while I had a lovely and relaxing day at a spa with my mum, her friend and my sister. It was very much needed by us all and I think we decided to make it an annual trip!

Harry was very excited about going to his Beavers sleepover yesterday morning!

We walked to Whitburn beach, explored some rock pools and had ice cream before walking back to do some archery. Unfortunately, Harry was sick shortly after this (he did look a bit pale and unwell!) so I brought him home for the night instead of sleeping over there in the bunk rooms. He fell asleep on the way home and didn't wake up until this morning, when he felt fine. We had a relaxing morning then went back to join in the Beaver afternoon activities. Harry has baked cakes, tied knots, played rounders and learned about putting up a tent. Peter came too as Stuart had to work and he did really well joining in and listening. We told him he is a Beaver In Training! Harry loved it, despite the unexpected trip home and he has earned fitness and camp craft badges.