Rocks, fossils & dinosaurs

Just as it takes time for children to learn hand dominance, it also takes time for them to understand their preferred learning style, for example, sometimes ‘unwanted behaviour’ is apparent because a child cannot learn by listening alone but are a strong kinaesthetic learner, they learn by ‘doing’ by ‘muscle memory’, this is why, when I plan lessons for children or even activitives for my own children, I try to include a 3D approach, involving visuals, listening opportunities and doing, this way every child will take something from what you’re teaching.

As a parent you are ‘teaching’ and ‘educating’ your child with out even realising it, from behaviours to social skills etc. Always remember that.

I always acknowledge what topics school are teaching my children, then turn it into a fun 3D approach at the weekends (gauging their enthusiasm for the topic obviously!)

This week my daughter’s loved learning about rocks, fossils and dinosaurs, so this weekend was a busy one……

We started with an archeological excavation breakfast !

Set some fossils, shells and dinosaurs on the table. Provided tools: magnifying glass, tongs, knife & fork.
Layers of a full English covering toy dinosaurs.
Excavated dinosaurs 😆

Now on to our next project, learning about different types of rocks-always fun when sweets are involved, whatever your learning style!!

We unwrapped 3 sweets of each colour and cut them into quarters, we squeezed one set together softly to represent sedimentary rock.
We then used pressure and heat from our own bodies to mould the sweets together in more of a playdough texture, to represent metamorphic rock.
We then moulded the last few sweets together and put in the microwave for a few seconds, it was hot and runny but dried hard to make igneous rock.

My daughter was inquisitive about, what would happen if we put it in the microwave longer, so we tried that too! And as you can see, it changed colour, and was bubbling with the heat, it was far too hot to touch just like real life magma!!!

Time for more excavating…..

I squeezed, and I mean squeezed toy dinosaurs into balloons, filled them with water and put them in the freezer over night.

And squeeeeeeeeze!!

Once frozen I took them out the freezer and took the balloons off.

Then, supervised, I gave my daughter a hammer and screw driver and she chiselled away at the dinosaur ‘eggs’.

Now time for a spot of lunch!

We then did a bit of research on caves, stalactites and stalagmites, we wondered how they formed, so…..

⚠️ if you do the following experiment ALWAYS wear gloves⚠️

2 cups Epsom salts, 2 cups hot water, mix thoroughly then split between 2 jars.

Soak a piece of wool in the mixture, tie a paperclip to each end and put one end in each jar.

After an hour the stalactite will start forming, this photo is after 24 hours, we can’t wait to see what happens over the next few days……

Now time to learn about rock erosion.

We discussed what erosion meant and the different ways this may happen.

Annabel didn’t think water or ice could damage rocks, because rocks are so hard, so we did a freeze/thaw experiment.

We collected a range of different types of rocks, counted them, put them in a container and took a photo of their positioning. We covered them with water and put them in the freezer.

After just 24 hours, you can see there is not much change, so we will continue to freeze and thaw for several days…..

Now time for the choc-chip cookie erosion test. Once again, always a winner when food is involved! We used toothpicks to represent human activity and water to represent weathering.

We put one cookie in a glass of water and one on a paper plater, which we prodded using the toothpick.

We prodded continuously for 1 minute, then observed the differences.

Then repeated up to 4 minutes. Annabel observed from the experiment that weathering is quicker at eroding rocks than human activity.

And now to eat a couple of cookies 😋😋.

And for the grand finale of our busy, science weekend. The volcano.

We spent Friday evening, papermache-ing around a plastic bottle, shaping our volcano.

Once dried, Annabel painted it.

Now, with plenty of baking soda, white vinegar and red food colouring, we are ready to erupt!

Wow! What a busy weekend we’ve had! So much learning, but more than that, so much fun!! We observed, questioned, experimented, talked and laughed together, this blog is a mere snippet of what went on!

Great fun!! Together time!

Elderberry Cordial

Lockdown has taught us many things. What has it taught you?

For me it’s that life’s too short, it doesn’t matter if plans go out the window, live for the moment and learn from every opportunity.

My daughter and I went for a bike ride, she saw a blackberry bush and asked if we could pick them. The old me would’ve said, “we haven’t got time, it’s nearly bed time’’.

The new me said “yes, lets’’, I’m so glad we did! We had so much fun! We collected enough backberries for a crumble then continued our bike ride.

We then came to tree with some, what looked like blackcurrents on, my daughter being Miss inquisitive wondered what they were, so I used the ‘picture this’ app to clarify, what on earth did we do before technology!! They were elderberries.

We decided to collect some of them in our baskets too. When we returned home we googled some ideas for elderberry recipes, we could make jam, syrup, gin or cordial. (Once again thank heavens for the internet!!).

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not brilliant in the kitchen, but we decided to give the cordial a go, since it was the one thing all four of us like. Plus, what did we have to loose, we either make a great cordial, or it goes a bit wrong, either outcome will give us a learning opportunity.

We started removing all the berries off their stalks. Using a fork made this a little easier, however, it was still time consuming and I did wonder why I’d even agreed to this! Ha!

Eventually, they were all stalk free and washed. We had 550g worth!

Other ingredients 1lt water, 350g castor sugar and 2 tbsp lemon juice.

We put the berries into a pan with some lemon rind and the litre of water. We simmered them on a low heat for half an hour.

We then strained the juice through a colander which was lined with fabric (you could use a muslin cloth or an old pillow case.).

Press the berries gently to extract the juice.

We then return the juice to the pan with the sugar and lemon juice. We heated it until all the sugar dissolved.

Once cooled I poured it into a decanter, we diluted it with lemonade (for the 11yr old) and water (for the 7yr old) to have with our lunch, it was definitely a winner all round!! Absolutely delicious, with water or lemonade!

I will certainly be making this again, by turning an easy ‘no we haven’t got time’ to a ‘well let’s see……’, we learnt so much and had so much fun together too!

Tooth fairy magic 🎉

Today my daughter’s tooth fell out, quite unexpectedly, mightily unprepared mum right here.

‘Bluebell’ couldn’t find her report cards she printed a few years back -put them in a safe place 🙄!. She no longer owns a printer to print more 🙄.

‘Bluebell’ quickly located some card and in tiny writing wrote a note and a report card.

Kitty is a friend of my daughter, who said her tooth fairy is called Bluebell!

It’s an ongoing tradition that many parents keep baby teeth, personally I find this quite disgusting to keep them in the house, but I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away either, so when my eldest first tooth fell out, I decided to start a fairy garden.

2 mini jam jars sit in the fairy garden, one for each child’s teeth.

Every time, my children loose a tooth, Bluebell delivers the expected coin, leaving a trail of fairy dust everywhere, puts the tooth in the jar and something new magically appears in the fairy garden. This time it was a little phone box

So cute!

Some of the fairy garden is getting weathered now, as it’s been growing for about 6 years, but Bluebell and her friends are still happy to live there.

Secondary School! (🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿)

Eeek! With just over a week to go before we find out our children’s places….

Choosing a child’s secondary school is difficult, there’s good and bad in every school and so much depends on the child’s character themselves.

Our son is a bright lad and could’ve taken an entrance exam to a higher academic school, however, HE chose not to and he didn’t want to travel the distance either, we were not going to force this. Many friends and family questioned why we didn’t ‘make him just try’. Our priority as parents is to ensure our children’s happiness, if we are enforcing such big decisions at this age, making them take exams or go to church (whatever they need to get into these schools) etc, will they end up resenting US for it if they struggle? or if they’re bullied? as I said there is good and bad in every school whatever their academic status, exam results or OFSTED, and their resentment consequently could result in negative behaviours, communication and relationship breakdowns.

First and foremost children need to be happy, and parents need to guide and advise them, no pressure needed.

I cannot emphasis enough the importance of visiting all potential schools, even if you’re not interested in one, which you may be allocated because it’s your nearest, the feel of a school is more powerful than any rumours that surround it! Visit it anyway!

Don’t just visit on their open evenings when staff and students are ready for you, but during the school day too, phone up and book an appointment, then you can not just see it in action, but feel it too!

Ensure your child visits the school with you, it’s no good them sitting at home, it’s them that’s got to feel it, it’s them that’s got to be there for the rest of their education. They need to be happy with the school. Them not visiting the school, could cause greater anxieties later on. Preparation and discussion are the key!

The only 2 pieces of advice I gave my son when we were looking round were:

1- Don’t just choose a school because your friends are going there. (you can always keep in touch with them)

2- Really get a feeling from the school & visualise yourself being there.

I was so proud of how my son embraced the visits, his own little pros and cons, what he liked and what he didn’t like. He read through the perspectus’ and initiated many conversations and questions with the teachers even the head teacher, despite his nerves, he came across confident.

He was 100% involved in this decision making, of course he’s still nervous for next week (finding out) and most definitely for September! But I’m confident that his decision making will provide him with greater self esteem, particularly in those early days!!

This, gets me to my initial reason for writing this blog. School uniform and the expense! Most local uniform is generic, black trousers, white shirts etc. So, since changing my job, financially things are different, I’m having to think more about the pennies and I was looking at ways to spread the cost.

As the basics are generic I compared prices of our local shops and was quite suprised at the findings….

Next is almost double the cost!!! Why?? If you know please tell me, because personally I wouldn’t have said the quality is any better???

The costs are based on age 12-13yrs. Most of TU was out of stock and Tesco-couldn’t find an on-line range.

Anyway, I thought I’d share, it may be useful to you or maybe you have other tips of ways to spread the cost. Please share!

Good luck to fellow parents in this waiting game, I sincerely hope you get your child’s desired school.

And remember, happiness and self-esteem go hand in hand. Our children’s happiness is what counts!

Storm Dennis

The storm is rapidly approaching, what’s everyone up to?

The perfect weather for getting your children’s imaginations going…..

Get out the crafts or playdough, bake together or maybe a puppet show, or just let them lead the way…………

…..I was busy doing mum-stuff, when my daughter said ‘mum, come and visit my animal sanctuary’, her bedroom had been taken over by all her stuffed animals

They were everywhere! I replied ‘I can’t visit without a ticket and I don’t know where it is-you may need some signs’ and so she did, spent all morning together designing posters and tickets for the sanctuary.

I paid 50p for my ticket, which in turn promoted money and maths descussion, how much change? Etc.

Come lunch time, I just made my daughter a lunch suitable for her animals too, she ate the lot 😊, or maybe it was her furry friends 🤔

Sometimes mum-stuff doesn’t matter, but quality time with our children does!

Spend your storm Dennis time wisely, create your own storm of imaginitive play!

kind hands, kind words, kind heart

Some think it’s over commercialised, some love it!

Either way it’s a great day, to share love with our friends and family, and the perfect opportunity to teach our children to be kind.

I put love heart post-it on the children’s bedroom door, with things I love about them.

I decorated the table and made heart shaped pancakes for breakfast with lots of special toppings.

My daughter made a valentines card out of recycled materials….

And she wanted to gift all her class with a pack of love hearts so she wrote in the card saying ‘kind hands, kind words, kind hearts’ A strong message for everone! 💗

The 3 W’s

Today it suddenly hit me how my parenting has evolved over the years, no, I’m not even sure it was such a slow process of evolution, more of a step, yes it was quite a steep step! My children are growing up they are beginning to make their own choices and decisions but mostly and more excitingly they are becoming themselves.

My parenting has always been central to my life, (through choice), I’ve rarely let my children out of my sight, not extreme attachment theory, but I just never felt the need to get a babysitter (or even grandparents) so I can go out or get my hair done, or have ‘me’ time etc.

‘Your children will never be this age again’-is definitely my parenting motto! Every weekend, every holiday we go on, it is always planned around my children’s interests, their needs and their thirst for learning, I’ve embraced it, ran with it and provided them with experiences and memories that will stay with them forever.

It’s like I’ve been driving their childhood on this journey, while they admire the views, safely at arms reach, strapped in the back, their straps loosening with each stage of development.

Today a realisation. The next parenting phase. The 3 W’s.

Waiting. Watching. Worrying.

Whilst the 10 year old is getting Scuba ready……..

the 6 year old is getting party ready….

She doesn’t want me to stay with her at the party and I can’t be scuba-ing with my son.

I go home.

Get a cuppa.

We’ve always been so busy, had a house full of friends and children, I don’t think I can recall both of my children being out of the house at the same time before without myself or my husband accompanying one or the other of them.

No other children to look after, just me, a cup of tea and an empty, quiet house.

Waiting.Watching.Worrying.

Yes, of course, from the moment we hold our babies in our womb, we are always alert with worry, especially whenever our children are away from us, but this worry was different. Very different.

This worry, was one that had been planted because my children had made their own decisions, because they are becoming independent, because they are becoming their beautiful selves, because they are moving on to learner drivers, driving into the next phase of their lives, I now take a passenger seat while they make decisions about where to go at the next junction, occasionally taking hold of the steering wheel to guide them.

Relying on a combination of other adults to protect them and themselves taking responsibility to make their own decisions to keep themselves safe in the outside world.

The tables are turning rapidly and as much as I’m sitting here alone, drinking a cup of tea, in peace-every parents dream, I’m still waiting, clock watching and worrying; are they having a good time? Are they safe? Have I educated them enough to make safe decisions? And so on!

I’m more than proud of my children and I love every milestone not only that they achieve, but we as parents do too, and today was no different, just daunting! Every day is an opportunity to learn more about our children, support and guide them, as well as managing our own emotions about their next steps, their decisions and such.

Although, I do feel like I’m in training for the teenage years ahead as the cliches are rapidly becoming visible.

-The bank of mum and dad

-Mum and dad’s taxi

And so on!

Love everyday, your child is only this age once.

Slime Saturday

When your plans change or the weather’s bad, simply make some slime, an open ended malleable product which lets your children’s imagination flow, and their fine motor skills develop!

I haven’t made it for a while, so today was perfect, my children then added various small-world toys to the mix such as Lego etc, oh my, they have had hours of fun!

img_5250img_5251img_5276.jpgLego men being fossilised apparently 😁

If you wish to make some the ingredients are below, adult supervision is highly recommended!

3floz of Elmer’s glue

Food colouring

Tsp baking soda

Mix thoroughly then gradually add

Optrex, mixing and kneading until you have the perfect consistency. Store in an airtight container and it will last for a while! 👍🏻😁

To make the rainbow 🌈 slime, you’ll need 6 lots of this recipe! My preferred food colouring to use is paste rather than gels or liquids as they are more vibrant.

                           

Anti-bullying

First day of term and the breakfast table conversations are about reflecting on last term, what we hope to achieve this term, and our behaviours which influence our social circles.

I gave the children a plain piece of paper and told them to screw it up, I then asked them to flatten it out as much as they could…..we spoke about how the paper creases would not go away, similar to if we hurt our peers, as much as we can say sorry, the memories and scars will always be there.

I then gave them a toothpaste tube each and told them to squeeze as much out as they could……then, I gave them a spoon and told them to put the toothpaste back in the tube…..obviously they couldn’t. We compared this to the things we say, if we say unkind words, we cannot un-say them or take them back.

I do this every term with my children to reiterate the impact of our actions and words on our social circles.

Please share to support anti-bullying!

The Little Red Hen

Shorter days, dark evenings, orange leaves, can only mean one thing-Autumn! 

With Autumn, comes Harvest! How many of your children are learning about Harvest at school? Generally Harvest is about thanking the lord for crops and so forth, however, I am not religious, but I do see it as a good opportunity to teach my children about counting their blessings and recognising all things good in our lives! 

Anyway…..

For Miss 4, we read The Little Red Hen (lots!), we have a couple of versions with different endings, our favourite being the one where the Little Red Hen shares her bread with the baker and the miller as they helped her, thus showing kind morals. 

This year I decided to really ‘topic’ it in our family home and yes, it started with a tub-time! A little bit of red food colouring in the water to emphasise the colour.

Foam letters are brilliant for story titles & repeatitive refrains, supporting early literacy skills, if you don’t have any, craft foam is amazing! A couple of bunches of corn to add effect, and to add a sensory approach. 

Laminated copies of relevant pages, enough to prompt the story sequence. A few Schleich figures of the animals from the story, so Miss 4 can retell the story. Laminated story characters (an alternative to Schleich figures) and of course, the book. 

Needless to say, little Miss 4 did not want to get out the bath!! 

We then took a family trip to Bircham Windmill in Norfolk.


 A lovely, family run windmill, with tea rooms, shop, farm animals, 


dairy, interactive museum, not to mention the scrumptious smell in the bakery!! 


But the main reason for us visiting, is the opportunity for children to bake their own loaf of bread, a great, realistic experience for a 4year old to understand that bread and cakes, and milk and cheese do not just come from Tesco’s! 

A fantastic, educational but fun day out and quality time together as a family!! 

Our bedtime read that night, you guessed it, was the Little Red Hen. 

Having a daughter, that is very much into her drama, the laminated characters I used for Miss 4’s bath previously, I then backed with a lollipop stick to turn them into puppets, low and behold, being one of our favourite stories, little Miss 4 was able to retell the story using her puppets. She made us tickets from scrap paper and we even had to ‘buy’ popcorn! 

Laminated puppet theatre-Such a simple, yet effective way, for children to develop their attention and recall skills! 

I then found a simple bread recipe, (with pictures so Miss 4 could follow the directions)

 and together we baked some bread rolls for her friends at school, as it just so happens to be the book they are reading at school for Harvest too!

I love little Miss 4’s enjoyment when we bake together, measuring the ingredients, mixing & kneading, so much learning, whilst having great fun, not to mention dancing to the radio! 

Huge, huge learning opportunities from just one story! 

Many of my posts mention learning and development aspects, I am by no means a ‘pushy’ parent, I strongly believe children learn from the interactions their environment presents to them, as a parent you have so much control over this and I merely aim to show you how easy it is to make it fun, so children don’t even realise they are learning! In the process you have fun too! 

Children are sponges so feed them as much as you can whilst they are still little. It’s not about them being the cleverest in their class, it’s about them recognising their abilities, consequently gaining confidence to explore, make mistakes and find their ‘niche’.