Nature Discovery Walk

31 03 2012

LBM’s Dad is home for the weekend (he’s working away during the week and only home at weekends) so doing something as a family was always on the cards. BJJ’s suggested going to the park. Twice. No interest on the part of LBM. Mmm, how to get him out of the house? A Nature Discovery Walk. Within seconds of the suggestion he was sorting out his magnifying glass, tweezers and a bag to carry it all in. Getting the rest of us together took longer. One of the activities in my Easter discovery box included a nature palette which could be used to search for different coloured signs of spring whilst out and about. I added that to the bag and we were off. Collecting things on a walk like this does involve trying to encourage a recently turned four year old not to pull up flowers. It doesn’t always work hence the daffodil we collected for yellow. On the whole though he picked up fallen twigs and leaves as well as flower heads that had fallen off already. He loves using his magnifying glass (which he held against his eye as he walked along. Very Sherlock Holmes) so we spent a lot our our walk looking at nature up close and searching for ants. They weren’t out in the cold weather so we had to make do with just finding plant life.

When we got home LBM and I sorted our find. I left out matching colours of paper and let him choose how he sorted things. The daffodil was originally sorted onto the green page because it had a green stalk but when he reviewed how many things were on the yellow page he changed his mind. As we were discovering things we tried to name everything we had found (many items were called hyacinth by LBM who’s obviously paying attention to the spring flowers on offer!) My knowledge of exactly what we’d picked up was a bit limited on some things so I decided that would could become botanists and name the collected parts by ourselves. It’s amazing what children can come out with when you start discussing what something looks like in shape and texture. “Pip Pipes” does explain the stamens on blossom incredibly well as does the more unusual “Octopus Bims” for the individual flower heads found on a hyacinth. “Loony Moon” described the tiny craters visible on a piece of lichen.

My eldest son is a much more investigative, creative child so getting him out into the park did involve something a little bit more interesting than the swings and slides. The park is no problem for BBL though who has recently taught himself to go down slides backwards (he’s 14 months). He decided head first on the big slide was just as cool today. Glad Daddy was there to catch him. I can only hope that BBL finds a Nature Discovery Walk as attractive in the future. I suspect though that I’ll be having to deal with him finding the only poisonous plant in the area.



























Easter Discovery Box

27 03 2012

Easter is coming and I’m getting fat. Well actually I’m not as I’ve been walking to and from school and preschool three times a day so it means I can eat the children’s Easter eggs without any guilt and during the brighter lighter evenings we’ve been having! Brilliant.

I thought this was another opportunity to get all the Easter things out and put them into the Discovery box for LBM and BBL to explore. The Easter books aren’t read much the rest of the year so it’s great to have them all in one place and make sure they do get read – they include ones about bunnies, eggs, spring and farms as well as the Easter Story and a factual book about Easter and it’s traditions. It’s sort of combined with spring too as there are some activities to do that include making or doing things for the outside. This box includes:

A Djeco egg and chicken memory game

A recipe for bird’s nest cakes which will use up the desiccated coconut in the cupboard

A nature palette where we can go and look for spring colours on our walks as the daffodils and blossom start showing their colours.

Some seeds and grass to grow including vegetables and flowers.

Easter decorations including signs, tree ornaments and an egg shaped lampshade.

Chocolate because I like Easter egg chocolate more than any other. I think it’s the thickness I find so appealing.

Nesting material for birds which we will put into a netted bag and hang up in the Grandad or Grandpa’s garden for them to decorate their new nests.

And finally – the ingredients for an egg sensory box. I had looked into imitation grass but the one I could find was rather pungent and would have been an overpowering and unpleasant sensory experience. In the end I found some wool in the Tiger shop and we cut it up into smallish pieces and put it in the box with some coloured eggs from Poundland. Inside each egg was either a small chick or an animal candle and BBL had such a great time learning how to pop the eggs open and find out what was inside. He ended up loving one yellow chicken so much it started to get misshapen and greasy with all his fingering. At the moment there are no plans to take him to a farm to meet the real thing because I fear they wouldn’t enjoy the experience as much as him!

I really love this idea of putting everything together in one place. It creates an ever changing set of things to look at and brings a range of activities, toys, puzzles and games together in one place. It also means it’s much easier to find the chocolate when I want it…


Superhero Party

19 03 2012

LBM has reached the grand old Big Boy age of 4. That makes him capable of so many more things (so he tells me!). For a while he didn’t want to to turn four and decided being 3 was better so we had to make sure his birthday party made turning four a good thing. About a week before his party he decided he wanted a superhero theme and I’d been working towards a Cars theme. I suddenly felt like a fairy godmother and his wish came true (and we were in France for the two days before his party so that added to the pressure before his party!)

Food was nice and simple with each plate of party food being given a superhero status. I managed to find some ghost shape crisps in France which children were encouraged to destroy which they gladly did. Each child was sent on three missions instead of standard party games and had them printed out. The first mission involved finding small superheroes in a dark den (no photo’s because they just don’t come out properly.) For some of our party guests this was their first experience of the dark den and they loved it and wouldn’t get out. Glowsticks are currently a £1 for 20 in Poundland.

The second mission was to disarm a bomb. It was a more active version of pass the parcel with less mess. They had to throw the bomb from child to child until an adult shouted bang. Whoever was holding it at the time had to sit down and were out (softened by being given a Milky Way to eat). I liked this game because 8 under 5 year olds had a great time and practised their catching and throwing skills and there was no paper to clear up!

The final mission was the messiest one though as it involved throwing sponges at aliens while the bubble machine blew asteroids. This was one of those games where no-one was a winner or a loser and everyone had fun. One guest enjoyed the game so much he was there for about 10 minutes just throwing his sponges into the bath!

After all the party games we had cake and I’d been given some candles that burnt with different coloured flames. An excellent superhero touch to the mini cupcakes. And almost immediately after LBM decided to hand out his party bag superhero kits which included sweets, superhero disguise masks, a packet of Kool Aid each to make rocket fuel (parents. you’re welcome!) and a glowstick to act as a Positronic Laser (name courtesy of The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man which is LBM’s favourite birthday present book). I think everyone enjoyed themselves – especially me but I’m glad all my kids birthday parties are now out of the way until January next year. They’re so stressful!!


Octonauts Alphabet

19 02 2012

LBM seems to be like every other child who’s three and really likes the Octonauts. I’m all for building on this interest because it’s one of the best TV programmes for his age group and means he can identify exactly what kind of sea creature it is – “No mummy it’s not a shark. It’s a Lemon Shark”. Admittedly none of us can pronounce Humuhumunukunukuapua’a but we’re working on it! A long time ago I started to develop picture and word alphabets that were linked to a theme and things that children are interested in. A personalised alphabet helps with letter recognition, vocabulary and makes learning relevant. I’ve made alphabets in the past for other children including a Star Wars and a Cars one. I love how films frequently have characters with names that begin with the tricky letters – searching around to find characters beginning with V, Q X and Z are so easy it’s almost as if the creative team behind every film approach character naming by going through the alphabet. Handy!

Anyway – I have created an Octonauts alphabet for LBM to help develop his vocabulary and learn his letters. Some of them aren’t strictly linked to the letter (like the Gups but he wanted to include all of the Gups and I couldn’t fit them all in the box for G.) So far we’ve just used them to talk about the pictures and link the sounds to letters i.e.” B is for…? Barnacles. Can you hear the B at the beginning? “kind of thing. I’ve hopefully attached the links here so you can print them off yourself and share them with any Octonauts fans. If anyone also knows which episodes have Peso playing his xylophone please let me know so I can get a screen shot of it. Finding the image in one of the original books was the best I could get!

It’s Snowing!

5 02 2012

It’s finally started snowing in the UK – and now LBM thinks it snows every year. It has done since he was born and he’s going to have memories of snow filled winters and wonder why it’s not the same when he grows up. I struggled to get him out of the house this morning as he told me it was going to be too cold. Great knowledge and understanding of snow but it made no difference to me! After layering him into lots of clothes and getting him into his new dragon boots (with flashing lights – bought because Grandma thought converse were inappropriate footwear for the forecast snow) we finally left the house. Two squeezy bottles filled with green food colouring and water were our first mark making tools. Green is the colour du jour and we squeezed it everywhere. LBM walked up and down trailing it,  he squeezed it over the snow, he flicked it and spun round holding the bottle. For a child who had decided it was all too cold I couldn’t get him to stop once he started. The only reason he stopped was because both bottles were used up.

We then moved on to throwing our water balloons – again filled with food colouring and water. They were soooo hard to fill this morning that I almost didn’t want to smash them into the snow! I’d recommend getting water balloons that understand their purpose and actually fill up with water. Mine didn’t like the idea but we got there in the end with me getting splashed several times with the occasional broken one. They didn’t smash straight away either and bounced and rolled about which was just as much fun as they kept slipping out of mittened hands. Eventually we resorted to throwing them on the floor and jumping on them until they popped. The snow looks lovely with bright colours all over it and makes an excellent canvas for making big messy art. Let’s hope the neighbours like it too because it’s all over their snow…