Wednesday, 22 March 2017

What to take on a bug hunt adventure


Getting out on a bug hunt adventure can be one of the most exciting outdoor activities to do with children. 

Bug hunts not only help children appreciate and learn about the environment, minibeasts and plants, but also gives them opportunities to develop valuable planning and enquiry skills.

Bug hunts can be as simple or as adventurous as you want to make them. Ranging from exploring your back garden to venturing into a new and unexplored part of your local area. 

While children can often be happy exploring using purely their eyes and hands. There are a few resources and products I would highly recommend gathering together to make the experience as fun and educational as possible (Links to recommended products will be shown at the bottom of this post)

One sunny, bright afternoon the children and I set about planning and preparing for our very own bug hunt adventure.

Planning the exploration
Giving the children a chance to take part in the planning process for an experience like this is a valuable opportunity for nurturing their enquiry and critical thinking skills. Through giving them a series of open ended questions, such as - What if it's muddy... how will we protect out feet and clothes? How will we carry our equipment? If we come to a river, what could we use to catch bugs living in the water? What if they are too small to see, how could we make them look bigger? etc

Here is the plan we drew up before gathering what we needed. The children helped to find the bits and pieces we needed and we checked them off the plan once we had found them.


As you can see, we went well equiped! 

Our kit list was as follows:

Scavengar hunt checklist
Camera
Magnifying glass
Small empty boxes
binoculars
twezers
cup catcher scissors
butterfly nets
magnifying pots
pencil
snacks and water
Backpacks

(links to recommended items at the bottom of the post)



Giving children pitcures of insects/plants and items to spot while they are out is a great way to keep them focused. These sheets I found from the following website:

www.thelittleactivitychest.com

However, if you google nature scavenger hunt there are loads and loads of ideas out there!




We were all set! We didn't actually know where we would go for our bug hunt, so I drove to a local nature reserve and they pointed to where they thought would be a good place to start.


We walked and explored the forest, stopping to look closely at fallen objects or leaves and comparing them with our lists.

We found a beautiful brook where they fished for tadpoles and other water creatures. Sadly no luck!



Chick 2 mostly just watched the older two with fascination and made a few attempts at fishing a few rocks.


The bug hunt was very much led by the children. They decided which direction we should choose to go in each time there was a fork in the path.


After a few hours of exploring we stopped for a bite to eat and some refreshing drinks. 


Finally after lots more searching we came accross a baby frog in one of the marshier areas of the forest. The children were absolutely fascinated (chick 2 was disgusted).



We talked about the life cycle of a frog. The children asked if we could take it home, at which point we had a discussion about looking after wildlife and how creatures can be looked at and observed but then we need to put them back where we found them.



 

The creatures we managed to find included spiders, woodlouse and beetles.


We also kept our eyes peeled for animal tracks and signs of nesting or rabbit holes.


After a day of exploring and adventuring, the heavens opened and it was time to head back for the car!



Bug hunts can be a truly wonderful adventure for both children and adults. There are so many wonderful learning opportunities to be gained from it.

Here are the products I'd highly recommend purchasing. Even if it were just one or two items, they can really help enhance the whole experience.

Happy hunting!!



















Sunday, 19 March 2017

and you are good enough


Nine months getting fatter 
and fatter. 
so fat, no covcievable position 
will allow you to sleep comfortably

Sickness, aches, discomfort
feeling so utterly terrified
not knowing what the future holds
and yet
total adoration for a tiny person 
you've never met.

Wondering how your body
the one that you've looked at
a thousand times before
and seen with all it's flaws
is now creating something
so miraculous
so spectacularly amazing
it's hard to comprehend it.

Labour
like going into battle,
but with no preparation
no idea when the end will come, 
moments of calm and clarity
but mostly moments of pure agony and fear 
then you dig in deep to be braver
stronger than you thought you could ever be

just when you think you can't do it anymore
it's over
but really
it's only just beginning. 

In the dead of the night
I am there, pacing up and down
singing softly
sometimes crying along with my babe.

"I can't do this!"
"I don't know what to do!"

Hopelessness grips 
but nobody sees it. 

Nobody will know because 
to everyone else 
we look like a mum in control
a mother who knows.

Then daylight comes,
bringing sunlight into the dark 
I see their tiny hands, feet and nose
I marvel at the slightest movement in their face
I press their velvet skin against my cheek 
and all is right again.

A series of moments flash by
unseen events in time, 
ones with no tiara or reward badge attached.

Wiping bottoms, a thousand times a day
quietly throwing out the 10th babygrow 
and wishing you'd bought everything 
in the colour yellow

picking up cereal
or scraping it off the floor because it's been cemented there 
from 3 days ago.

reaching out with cupped hands to catch the sick
before it reaches the floor

being cross
even though you promised yourself 
you'd be more patient today
saying you are sorry
and promising yourself again 
and again to be better tomorrow.

Falling asleep in a tiny bed 
then trying to untangle your body
from the child that's woken
at 11pm
1:17am
3:34am
then wondering if there is any point
getting ready for bed.

kissing scraped knees
owie fingers
and bumped heads
racing to the hospital
dreading the questioning suspicious look
as you tell the doctor why your child is in A&E
again

"up please"
"down please"
"no no no"
"more please"
"I don't want it!"
"I want it"

forcing the child into a chair 
that is more rigid
than a plank of wood

playing the music so loud
you nearly can't hear them cry 
all the way home

Washing clothes
drying clothes
folding clothes
not ironing them
watching it pile high for a week
and wondering why it never gets any smaller.

Throwing an odd sock away
only to find it's pair a week later.

Feeling guilt 
for not going 'back to work'

and feeling it again when you do.

Promising not to cry the day 
you leave your baby for the first time
but weeping the whole way to work.

Thinking about them the whole day
and wishing for the moment you can pick them up again.

Feeling both guilt and freedom
when you feel a piece of you
is back again. 
when it's just you they see
not 'that kids mum'

Getting to the end of a day at work
looking in the mirror 
and realising
there is dry snot all over your shoulder.

Feeling broken and proud
as you watch them cross the threshold 
of a school classroom
a new chapter in their life
your life
where they need you less
but you feel like you need them more.

Racing to school 
realising as you reach the door
a minute to spare 
they are wearing a pair of trousers
meant for their 2 year old brother. 

Feelings of guilt
that their 'World book day' costume 
is shop bought and not home made.

Feelings of pride
after seeing them wearing the costume
you spent all night making
but seceretly promising 
to just buy it again next year.

Doing your best
but not always feeling like you measure up

Then they cry in the night
and in the day
and you wish someone else could give them
the cuddle that will get them back to sleep
but then you realise

all they want is you.

No one else can give them what they need

because you are theirs 

and they are yours

and you are good enough.










Thursday, 2 March 2017

World Book Day 2017 - Narnia Theme

After last years very quick and easy fancy dress attempt for World Book Day, I decided that 2017's costumes required a little more thought and preparation.

This year I actually had a chat with the kids about what they thought they'd like to dress up as. They are very into Harry Potter and Narnia at the moment so there were a few comments about witches and kings. Then Chick 6 chimed in with "I think I could be a lion - I want to be Aslan".

Out of which was born our 2017 costumes...



Aslan the Lion -

Headpiece made from cardboard, painted and decorated with fur.
T-shirt - Primark (£3)
Leggings - Primark, pre-owned
Handmade wrist and ankle cuffs(thanks Mamgu for your help!)  - 1/4m Material from Hobbycraft (£2.50)
Tail - Wool from Hobbycraft (£4)

Mr Bever

Gruffalo onsie - M&S

Peter the Magnificent

Sword and shield - Old toys covered in tin foil
Knight Costume -  Amazon (it was on sale when we bought it for his birthday last year)

Joggers - Pre-owned
Crown - Cardboard covered with foil
Belt - Primark (£1.50)

White Witch

White dress - Old hand made (thanks again Mamgu)
Gloves - Claires Accessories (£3.50)
Pearls - Tesco, Pre-owned
White Dolly Shoes - Primark, Pre-owned
Crown, wand - Pre-owned (thanks chick 6!)
Sparkle Hair spray - Claires Accessories (£4)
Fur Jacket - Charity shop (£3.50)


So there you have it!!

Chick 6 was thrilled to win best costume out of her year group and got a £5 book token for WH Smiths!

The children in my own reception class were very curious about my costume (most of them didn't have a clue who i was "A white princess??!"
I ended up going on a risk assessment trip with my collegue in a forest that afternoon. We got some highly amusing odd looks from several dog walkers. We even bumped into the Gruffalo!



Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Valentines Chocolate Playdough Recipe




It's been ages since I made a fresh batch of playdough. Today, I figured it'd be good to make something with a Valentines theme. What could be any better than chocolate?!

The following recipe was really easy and ready to play with in about 15 minutes.

Ingredients:
2 cups of water
1 1/2 cups of plain flour
1/2 cup of cocoa
1 cup of salt
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons of cream of tartar
Stir up all the ingredients in a saucepan, over a low heat, until the dough forms. Allow the playdough to cool and then you’re ready to play.
This makes  a dark chocolate coloured playdough with a great smell. If you’d like to make it milder just use more flour and less cocoa, making sure you use 2 cups of the flour/cocoa combination in total. The playdough looks and smells good enough to eat, but of course it isn’t, Chick 2 learnt this the hard way before I'd had a chance to explain it wasn't to eat!!
I had a few empty chocolate boxes left after Christmas. So I showed Chick 2 how to roll the playdough into balls and he spent the morning coming up with games around making chocolates and biscuits for friends and family (I wont go into the bit where he started saying it was 'poo!')



Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Rainbow sensory box


I'm a real fan of low budget, easy to set up activities for my kids. One that allows me to get on with my to-do list safe in the knowledge that my little monkey is happily occupied doing something I know he is enjoying but not un-doing any work I may have just carried out!! 

One of his firm favourites is the rainbow rice box. All I put in were some random colourful 'spare part' bits - lolly sticks, bottle tops, Grimm's wooden rainbow and some scoops. 



The lovely thing about open ended activities like this is that they can go in so many different directions.

Imaginary play:
He used the sticks as little people hoping down the bottle top path. You could also look at making different shapes and pictures using the resources.



Maths:
I encouraged him to count the sticks and bottle tops. Moving them around and seeing the same quantity in different arrangements. Then there were lots of colour language opportunities where we matched the coloured sticks, tops and scoops.
Measure: The other wonderful thing about rice, is the way children automatically want to scoop and fill things with it. So we added a few objects - a bottle and tube which he spent ages filling and emptying.


Here are some super links for some more rice play ideas:

Colouring rice at Happy Hooligans
10 Super Ideas for rice bins at Little Bins for Little Hands
Old Macdonald sensory bin at Learning4Kids



Wednesday, 1 February 2017

sea-theme water beads play


Water beads are a brand new discovery I made this month with Chick 2. I'd never used them before, but was really excited to see what they were like after seeing several ideas online. 

What are water beads? Essentially, they are a bouncy, squishy sensory resource that can be used with children of all ages.

Where can I get them? You can find them in a few shops, but the easiest way to get hold of them is by looking on places like ebay and amazon which is where I got ours. See HERE.

I decided to choose a few aqua colour beads into a medium sized clear storage box with a couple of pints of water.

It takes a little while for the beads to expand as they absorb the water. 


It was a great way of helping promote Chick 2's observation, enquiry and patience. He was fascinated watching them go from tiny little hard beads to these large bouncy, squishy balls.




He loved running his hand up and down in the water letting the balls glide through his fingers. Then trying to use the Orca toy to catch the beads in its mouth.


We added a few extra tubs and scoops in the end and he really loved catching them and filling and emptying his box.



When Chick 6 came home from school, the first thing she wanted to do was put her feet into them!! I'd never have thought to do that! I love the way kids think :)



For more ideas on water bead fun have a look at Teaching Mama's blog post - 10 ways to play with water beads.

And even more ideas HERE

Monday, 30 January 2017

quotes for January


















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