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!

Harry Potter-the understair cupboard

My boy used to read Harry Potter, but wasn’t really into it for long, now it’s hitting our household 2nd time around faster than you can say Accio …..

My daughter is about to turn 7 and has suggested to start reading Harry Potter together, but she’s a bit nervous incase it’s too scary. I think she’ll actually be ok with it, we shall see, any thoughts gratfully received! Is she too young??? What age did your children start reading it?

We started The Philosopher’s Stone just 2 days ago, with a view that if she doesn’t like it, we’ll stop but oh my she’s loving it, embracing it (only on page 77)! To the point our house is being magically transformed, we no longer have shoes in our understair cupboard, but a bedroom, her bedroom.

Simple props, such as this sign, takes seconds to make, but the memories last a lifetime.
A few fairy lights, spells on the wall. An obligatory owl!
A Spell book-just a book covered in brown paper.
A beanbag for comfort

They both slept in the understair cupboard last night and this morning recieved a few letters…

I’m not sure how long this Harry Potter phase will last, just enjoying the moment, making memories.

Feel free to share your Harry Potter ideas and activities.

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!

Jack and the beanstalk

Today we woke up to a letter from the giant:

Little Miss 5 was so excited, the letter was huge, from floor to ceiling , her face was a picture.

This is how it came together:

I filled mini bags with jelly beans and simply printed a label that said ‘edible magic beans’, I did enough for all her friends at school as Jack and the Beanstalk is their current core story.

I had bought new gardening tools for her, as well as beans to plant and pots-I put dots on the beans which corresponds to the numbers I put on the pots I made golden eggs by painting foam eggs I bought from a craft store, I found the paint went on easier if I papier-mâchéd them first, I also papier-mâchéd a ballon too for a large golden egg-which cracked dramatically under the great British heat we’ve had over the last few days! Luckily I managed to patch it up!

I had purchased a plastic ivy plant from Amazon, plastic golden coins as well as chocolate coins (I couldn’t resist), made a harp & large footprints out of cardboard, there you have it!

So we set to work on the giants requests straight away, as the magic bean treasure was irresistible!

we planted the beans.

we had an outdoor puppet show, where little miss 5 was able to retell the story-we used the same props. She even wanted to make us tickets

Little Miss 5, then measured her toys against the giants foot prints

There is so much home learning that can be done, just by knowing what core story your child is reading at school, and it’s not ‘boring’ or ‘homework’ as such, just quality learning experiences, in a fun way, but mostly it’s about spending quality time together!

Needless to say, we ended the day with a Jack and the Beanstalk tub-time and quite simply moved the props to the bathroom! Obviously reading the story several times too!

Little Miss 5 has a splashing time!

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.

                           

Digesting headlines

How much attention do your children pay to the news?

Do you think it’s important?

Growing up, I was never really interested in what was going on in the world, but as a parent I think it’s important that some news stories are relevant for our young ones.

My son has been receiving The Week Junior, for about a year now, it really simplifies news for them and great if your child is into fascinating facts! It is easy to read with plenty of pictures and entertaining headlines too.

This was our favourite article this week so to celebrate this great discovery we made Oreo penguins!-so simple (although ever so unhealthy)

1) dunk your Oreo in melted chocolate

2) stick on a large white button for its tummy, some edible eyes & half a skittle for it’s beak.

3) place in the fridge to set

4) Eat & enjoy!!

Making news fun……….and digestible!

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’. 

School’s Out

So, I’m back! After a crazy term & a huge confidence knock, I’ve been reluctant to post. 

But now, it’s the holidays, I’m here again and boy, I have missed this!

So if you’re in the U.K., school’s out for summer. What are we all doing with our children?? 

I organised a walking bus from school to our house, where I provided; water bombs, lots of cardboard boxes for bases & some cheap pound-shop Nerfs. Oh my, I never seen a bunch of 8year olds have so much fun, I could’ve of easily sat back with a cuppa & let them entertain themselves, but, no way, being the biggest kid of the bunch, I joined in too! 

Then for tea, it was pizzas & moctails, ice cream factory & milkshakes. 

When the children are running past you screaming ‘this is the best party ever’! & ‘can we do it again soon’! You know it was a successful evening!!
Another £1 shop purchase was a game called mumbo jumbo, a children’s version of Big Mouth! This also went down a treat, needless to say, endless laughter and hopefully lots of happy memories!

We finished off the evening with a film and popcorn! 

It just goes to show, you don’t need to spend a fortune for a good time! 

Three Little Pigs

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A few days at home together, and the children begged to go to the library, we returned with a themed selection of books Miss 4 chose.

 

 

So, the next couple of days we had lots of 3 Little Pig related fun.  How a simple, traditional fairytale can be brought to life.

We began by lunch: sticks, straw, bricks and cement, aka; Pepperami, cheese strings, thins and butter and jam. Not by any means suggesting we play with our food, but it was fun!

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Tub time, consisted of pink water, foam pigs and wolf on the tiles, a straw house made of drinking straws, a stick house made of lolly sticks and a brick house made of lego, not forgetting laminated parts of the story, to support  Miss 4 in story sequencing.

Needless to say, Little Miss 4 had a whale of a time, as I read the story while she bathed. She then used the story sequencing cards and put them in order. Then rein-acted the whole story herself, huffing and puffing at the houses!

Tub-times in our house are so much fun!

This morning greeted Little Miss 4 with a word hunt, I chose 9 words that were familiar in the Three Little Pigs story, and wrote out each word 3 or 4 times on post-its which I hid around the house, Miss 4 had to find them and read them aloud (if she could), before placing them on her clip board.  Little Miss 4, is ready for this literacy challenge and is quite good at sight reading, however you could always do picture, phonics or number hunts too.

 

Being such a glorious day, the afternoon found us in the garden, trying to build the pigs’ houses out of straw, sticks and bricks.  It was interesting watching little Miss 4 struggle to actually ‘build’ with straw and lift the heavy bricks and so on. I think this experience really brought the story story to life and enhanced Miss 4s understanding of the properties of different materials.

We then came back inside for some snacks, whilst Little Miss 4 performed the Three Little Pigs puppet show.IMG_9175IMG_9177IMG_9178

 

I must say, we’ve had a truly fabulous couple of days making memories together.  Sharing books is such a lovely warming experience in itself, bringing them to life is something else entirely!