Category Archives: Learning Through Play

Painting in the garden

Following on from Thursday when we painted handprint caterpillars at Twins Club, today we got the paints out at home to create some more animals, flowers and general art work.

I wanted each of the kids to have their own art space so I got the easel out for Thomas and Jasmine, and used the tuff spot for Ben. This was important because I wanted to see what the big two would do and they were keen to actually paint something, whereas Ben is still in the “paint everything one colour then smear round with hands” stage, and he usually does this all over their work.

I set out the paints and a selection of brushes, sponges and old toothbrushes to paint with. The kids loved the idea of painting with toothbrushes and a lot of the first paintings were done using these. Ben had a wonderful time with the orange and black paint and some toothbrushes! Thomas painted a sunflower growing in a garden and Jasmine painted some flowers and a person.Painting 1aOnce they had all filled one piece of paper I mentioned painting with their hands. Ben got stuck right in and was soon covered in black paint! He did lots of handprints in different colours. Thomas added a handprint spider to his sunflower painting and then painted more bugs on a new sheet. I showed him how to paint a handprint butterfly and he also did some worms and another spider. Jasmine created lots of multicoloured hand-angels and she did her own butterfly, which I was very impressed with as she did it with no help from me.Painting 2When they started painting with their hands I had filled the sandpit lid with water so the could rinse the paint off when they wanted to use different colours. Both boys, but especially Ben, had just as much fun washing their hands as they did painting!

Finally, for their last painting of the day I added shaving foam as an option. I gave them all a tupperware container with some in and showed them how to mix some paint into it. None of the kids have ever been keen on using shaving foam in their messy play so I was interested to see how they would work with it. Having already had paint on their hands I was hoping this would encourage them to get the foam on their hands as well.

They all started off using the brushes and sponges to paint it on to the paper but Ben soon got his hands involved and was happily hand printing with the foamy painty mixture. This encouraged Thomas and he joined in, creating some wonderful “fireworks” on his paper.Painting 3Then, just as I was getting the boys clean and starting to tidy bits away, I turned round and Jasmine had covered her hands in the shaving foamy paint as well! This is a big thing for Jasmine and she always takes a long time to come round to getting her hands really messy (which is strange because she is quite happy to play in mud all day!)Painting 4All in all, we had a very successful painting session today. Now, I just need to find somewhere to display all the pictures!
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Fun at Magna Science Adventure Centre

Today we went to Magna Science Adventure Centre. We went for the first time in January (you can read about it here) and the entry ticket is valid for a year, so being back in Sheffield again the kids were keen to go.

When we got there we were told about the new exhibition, all about sound. We went to look round this first and had fun making different sounds with different instruments.Magna 1After the sound exhibition we went into the main centre and went into the Earth Pavilion. The kids had been talking about this for days and were really looking forward to using the diggers and blasting the rocks again! We spent a good 45 minutes working in the quarry!Magna 2After a picnic lunch outside, we went back in and had a look round the Water pavilion. This had changed slightly since we were there in January and they now have a water cycle display, which I thought was really good but I don’t think the kids even looked at! The kids had a great time playing in the water.Magna 3After indoor water play we headed outside to Aqua-Tek and Sci-Tek. These outdoor areas were closed in January so we had left plenty of time for the kids to play today.

Thomas went straight into Aqua-Tek and had a wonderful time splashing, running and jumping through the water and spraying water cannons. Ben went in for a few minutes but he had spotted a sand pit in Sci-Tek, so this is where he wanted to be! Jasmine didn’t want to get wet today so she played in the sand as well. Ben also explored some of the climbing frames and slides.Magna 4When Thomas had finished in Aqua-Tek we all went further down the playground in Sci-Tek and found more to explore. Even Gordon had a go at some of the climbing!Magna 5We had a great day at Magna again today, and especially liked the outdoors areas. I can see it becoming a regular place to visit when we are in Sheffield!

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Planting Weeds, Catching Flies and Building Ramps

We started today with a little bit of painting. Can you guess what we were painting? White paintingMore on that in a few days!

After a few coats of white paint had been applied we went out into the garden for the rest of the day.

Gordon wanted to finish the rabbit run today. It is very nearly finished with just one half of the roof still to do. We have been putting the rabbits in it and covering the half with no roof with a towel. Random, but it works!

Now the rabbits can get into the run we are trying to get them used to being handled again. We were told that they were friendly and used to being stroked, but they hadn’t been handled much over the winter, but we have found them very nervous. Gordon has been in the run a couple of times, just sitting and letting the rabbits come to him when they felt comfortable and today we let Jasmine go in as well.

We have agreed that until they are happy to be stroked we are only going to let Jasmine go in with them. The boys are too excitable and I know they would scare the rabbits if we let them go in, which in turn may lead to the rabbits scratching or even biting. Jasmine is very calm and happy to sit and watch. It paid off today and she got to stroke both Star and Chocolate! She was over the moon!Jasmine with the rabbitsI know this is a little unfair on the boys so we do make sure they get to stroke one of the rabbits occasionally whilst Gordon is moving them from the run to the hutch.

Once the rabbit encounter was finished I started some weeding in the veg border and Thomas came over to help me. Very soon I had both boys and they were happily pulling up weeds, and doing a really good job too! Eventually though they wanted to plant something. I suggested they could plant some of the weeds in their mud patch but they didn’t want to do this, they wanted pots to plant in. So we got them a couple of pots and all 3 kids chose a weed to plant!

I was also pulling up Nasturtiums that have grown from last years seeds and moving them to the wall baskets and the other border. As there were several plants that needed moving Jasmine and Ben got one of these each as well. Thomas chose not to have a Nasturtium because he “only wants weeds”!

The kids all filled their own plant pots with compost and planted their chosen plants. They watered them and placed them in the sun to grow.Planting weedsWhile I carried on weeding the kids all moved off to play.

Jasmine went over to the mud kitchen and busied herself catching flies in jam jars as usual! She has also made herself a little garden in a seed tray and any worm, centipede, ant or such like that she catches gets moved in here! Most of her bugs don’t stay for long but I think some of the worms stay and today she also found two spiders had moved in!Jasmine's bug homesThe boys got out some old draining pipes and cars and made ramps for the cars to speed down. The draining pipe was also used as a seesaw and a balance beam, but mostly it was used for cars!Boys rampAnd that was our day today. Making the most of the garden while the dry weather remains.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Let Them Play

While Gordon and I have been busy redecorating Ben’s bedroom, the kids have been happily playing in the garden.

Yesterday morning while the last bits of plastering were being done I tried again with the paint-bombing. I got some great ideas from people leaving comments on here and on Facebook and I decided to try dropping them from the climbing frame. I also found a sports cap bottle that made filling the balloons much easier too, as the end of the balloon fitted nicely over the spout.Paint Bombs part 2We got better results doing it this way that we got on Saturday, but the kids aim still meant that a good few paint-bombs burst on the grass! Thomas was definitely the most accurate and the most successful and he burst most of the balloons himself in the end. I love the final art work we created and in fact I have used some of it in Ben’s new bedroom!

After paint-bombing I had a tray full of black paint that had leaked out when I was filling the balloons. Rather than waste it (or spend a long time trying to get it back in the paint bottle) I decided to use it for some feet painting down the garden. I unrolled some more lining paper as a “road” and the kids stepped into the tray of paint and onto the road! I had also placed a bowl of water at the other end so when they had enough they could wash their feet.

When I initially mentioned painting with feet to Thomas he wasn’t sure at all. But he changed his mind as soon as he saw the piece of paper and the water at the end and was first in! Jasmine, who I did think might not join in at all, was straight in after Thomas, closely followed by Ben. They loved it, slipping round the paint tray and running round the paper leaving paint-y footprints. Of course, the paint being slippery meant that the boys fell in and didn’t just end up with paint-y feet!Paint RoadPoor Thomas did end up taking one tumble to many though and the activity ended with him in tears. Hopefully it hasn’t put him off and next time I will put the paint straight on the paper rather than inside a slippery plastic tray!

Today we spent the morning in the park with some local twin families. I love meeting up with other twin mums and I had a lovely chat while the kids played.

This afternoon they went in the garden again.

Jasmine began by finding a spider and insisted on catching it in a jar! Her bug obsession is getting bigger and bigger! I should be happy because it means she can now remove any spiders from near me when Gordon isn’t around, but when she comes and shows me a large spider I am not so keen!

I got the water table out for them this afternoon. I also filled up the top of the sandpit with water, coloured some water blue and put this in a bowl and put another large bowl of shaving foam out and told them they could use it as soap to wash their toys. They’ve never been keen on using shaving foam as a messy play material, so I thought that using it with water in this way would encourage them to play with it, knowing they could wash it off with more water at any time.

They spent all afternoon playing with the water; washing toys and rinsing them with their watering cans, making whirlpools, visiting the deep blue sea and lots of other things as well. They had a great time, were occupied for ages and were thoroughly soaked by dinner time!Water playWe’ve had a great couple of days in the garden and it looks like the sun is going to stick around for another day or so, so I imagine we’ll be out there again over the next few days.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Hama Beads and DIY

Since we got the rabbits the kids are very keen to get dressed in the morning. They love coming out and helping me give Chocolate and Star their fresh food, water and hay, and they usually add a few dandelion leaves to the hutch as well! Its a good job the garden is full of them! We’ve been using this time to handle the rabbits as well as they are still quite nervous, which makes the kids even keener to help!Watching the rabbitsOnce all animal duties had been completed this morning we got Hama Beads out. Jasmine has been asking to do Hama Beads for a few days but we’ve been out and about quite a lot so we hadn’t managed to get them out. Today we had no plans to go anywhere other then B&Q after lunch, so we had the whole morning to design and create.

I joined in with the kids today and made my own Hama picture. I am hoping that if they see me doing this it will develop their own ideas about what they can design. I explained what I was doing and Thomas said he wanted to make a Lightning McQueen picture. He started off using the red, but didn’t really understand what to do. He actually ended up making a rather brilliant red square with the letters T and J in – and I even let him use my glow-in-the-dark beads for the letters! He worked really methodically, putting the beads in line by line and making the letter shape with no help at all.

Jasmine began using the flower peg board and designed a pretty flower. She then also wanted to use a square board to “write letters”, although I am pretty certain this was because she knew I’d let her do the letters in glow-in-the-dark beads! She made a square with a patterned border and flowers dotted around the inside.

Ben did really well with the Maxi beads today. It is only the last 2 times we’ve done Hama Beads that he has really shown an interest in competing a design. Today he did 3 boards entirely by himself! He sat for ages placing beads on the peg boards, talking about colours and what he was making. It is lovely that he joins in with us now, and makes Hama Beading a lot easier knowing he won’t tip them all over the floor when he has had enough!Hama Beads 31May Maxi Hama Beads 31MayThis afternoon we did go to B&Q. We are currently decorating Ben’s bedroom as part of a competition (more on that in a day or 2!) so we needed wood and a few other bits. Once we got back Jasmine and Ben went into the garden and started a bug hunt and Thomas went to help Gordon do some plastering upstairs. He has helped a couple of times now and is getting quite good at it!PlasteringOnce he’d finished he joined the others in the garden and they spent the rest of the day digging in their mud, looking for worms and other bugs and collecting them in seed tray gardens!Bug Hunting




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Making Mud Pie

I really wish the weather would make its mind up. Friday was wet, windy and very cold. Yesterday was warm-ish when the sun came out, but a little chilly when it hid behind the rather large clouds. Today has been gloriously hot and sunny with hardly a cloud in the sky!Blue skyToday has been a garden day. We went out before Gordon left for work this morning and finished the kids digging/mud kitchen area. I am really pleased with how it has turned out and it has made the end of the garden look much tidier, which is strange as all we have done is create a patch of mud and put a couple of paving slabs down!

As soon as it was finished and I got the “kitchen” out, the kids were keen to get started. We had to hunt down the pans and spoons but they were found in the sandpit – of course! I got the Yeominis tools out and filled a couple of squeezy bottles with water. The kitchen was open for business!

The big 2 started by putting mud in their pan and adding a little water. I suggested they could collect some flowers and add those too, which they did. They took their pans into the playhouse to “set” the pie on the cooker before bringing them outside and transferring it into a bowl.

Ben, on the other hand, put a little bit of mud in his pan and added a lot of water! As he was trying to carry his pan around it was slopping out everywhere, so I did ask him to tip some of the water out and add more mud!Mud PieMud Pie making kept the kids happy and occupied all morning. There was lots of talk of cooking, stirring and mixing. The bottles of water became vinegar and ginger (??), the cooker was used to “cook” and “set” the pies. The boys were covered in mud by the time they’d finished but somehow Jasmine had remained quite clean!

I thought they would go back to the same activity after lunch but actually they didn’t. The mud pies they made in the morning were left out to “dry” and the kids played in the sand pit, on the slide, with bubbles and on their bikes. When I went to tidy up at the end of the day the pies were still there, and still very very wet! I think maybe next time we won’t need to add water at all as the mud is already wet enough!

The other thing I was asked today was if they could wash the playhouse. We do usually give it a quick wash in the spring so I said they could but then time ran away from us and we never got round to it in the end. I think that will be tomorrows job, assuming the weather doesn’t change its mind again and pour with rain – again!

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An afternoon stroll around Chatsworth

We are currently in Sheffield, staying at my mum’s house for a few days. Tomorrow is my Nana’s funeral.

This afternoon the sun appeared so we headed to Chatsworth Park for a walk around the grounds. I have driven through Chatsworth a few times but never stopped before so we parked in the main car park and headed down towards the river. The views are stunning.

Chatsworth ParkAs we walked down the kids found sticks, of course! Sticks are good for poking in tree stumps, measuring how deep puddles are, using as a walking stick and several other things as well.SticksWe walked along the river for a bit, climbed into and over trees and tree stumps. We sat and watched ducks and other birds as we had a drink and a snack. We collected several other “treasures” including more sticks, feathers and some wool. Then we moved away from the river and the kids found lots of puddles to splash about in.Exploring at ChatsworthWe headed up hill slightly, towards some trees and the kids all enjoyed running around. Then we just had time to go back to something we’d seen as we arrived and wanted to end our walk with. I’m not really sure what it is; Gordon described it as a “sort of fort” It is steps up and over a small pond, with what looks like a courtyard at the top overlooking the pond. We got some good photos of us all though, and even managed one of all of us together by using the timer on the camera!Us at ChatsworthWe had a lovely afternoon walking around Chatsworth Park and the sun shone for the whole time we were there. We’ll definitely be going back and exploring more next time we come to Sheffield.Chatsworth House

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Unnoticed Learning

Meal times, with everyone sitting round the table, are a popular place to learn in our house. We talk about everything; numbers, letters, space, the ocean,  Star Wars, all the popular topics! It usually starts with one of either Thomas or Jasmine asking a question, “What is 4 plus 5?”, “Is sweetcorn a compound word?”, “What is a Sith?”, or they tell us something they know and discussion starts and topics are explored.

Recently counting in 2s has been popular. I introduced it a while ago and they have been exploring the idea ever since. Thomas can confidently count in 2s, starting at any number, as far as he has the patience for but today after breakfast it was Jasmine who wanted to demonstrate what she knew. She stood by the number chart and pointed out all the “counting in 2s” numbers starting at 2 and starting at 1. This led to a discussion about odd and even numbers and they loved this. They both saw the pattern on the number chart and pointed to each number in turn shouting “odd, even, odd, even, odd, even…” you get the idea!Numbers

Jasmine then wanted to count in 10s so she did this, then of course Thomas wanted a go and I asked him if he could count in 10s starting at 4. I wasn’t sure he would know how to use the number chart to do this because I have never shown him, but he did it all the way to 94 and then told me that the next number would be 104! They are both amazing me with their number/maths ability at the moment.

Maths is one of those subjects that I do worry about because I don’t do anything formal or structured with them. They do Reading Eggs for reading so I don’t have to worry about that(!) but we don’t have anything for maths. Recently however they have shown me (once again) that I don’t need to worry.

I signed up for a free trial of the new Mathseeds programme that the makers of Reading Eggs are bringing out. It says it is for ages 4 to 6 so I was hopeful that we could find it useful. Thomas and Jasmine took the placement test a few days ago to see what level they should start at and it turns out they know all the current available content so we must be doing something right! Jasmine especially surprised me with her knowledge and how quick she answered some of the addition questions. With no physical objects to count she answered “What is 2 more than 5?” and “what is 5 plus 4 more?” She loves addition at the moment and frequently will ask herself a simple addition sum and then answer it!

The other thing both Jasmine and Thomas are enjoying at the moment is “spelling using words” Ever since the kids learned to sound out words Gordon and I have used the police alphabet (alpha, bravo, charlie etc) to spell things we don’t want them to hear, such as whether we should have ice cream for pudding! But they picked up on it the other day so we had to explain and now they will spend ages doing it themselves! Obviously they don’t use the police alphabet but use other words instead and its great listening to what they come up with! A few days ago Daddy was Dug Apple Dirty Dark Yuk!

All this learning has happened recently while no one has noticed and I just love that. We have spent our days like this

Enjoying the garden

and yet have learned so much!

Its great isn’t it!

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Flour Fight in the Garden

After we had blown our bubbles to the sky for Matilda Mae this afternoon I got the Tuff Spot out and gave the kids some cornflour and water to play with. It seemed fitting today to do some messy play in the Tuff Spot.

Last time we did cornflour and water I mixed it into gloop for them to play with but this time I simply gave them the ingredients and let them experiment.

Thomas immediately knew what it would make and set about making himself some gloop.  Ben copied his brother and also mixed all his ingredients together, although he told me he was making slime!

At first they didn’t have enough water so the mixture was far too hard for them to do anything with. They asked for more water so I got some and suggested that if they did want to make gloop they might want to add the water a little at a time to get the right consistency. Boys will be boys however and they both poured in all the additional water straight away!

They soon had bowls and a Tuff Spot full of runny gloopy slime!

GloopJasmine wasn’t so sure about the “messy” bit of the play so I gave her a gravel tray to put some cornflour in with no water. She was happy with this and spent time sprinkling the cornflour from a bowl to the tray, writing letters in the flour and burying things under flour in the bowl.

CornflourAs it got close to the time I needed to start tidying everything away for dinner I nipped in to the kitchen to turn the oven on and when I looked back outside the play had moved on.. to all 3 kids having a flour fight!Flour Fight

They looked like they were having so much fun I left them to it for a while longer than I had planned and the last photo you can see is of Thomas getting a face full of flour, including in his eyes.. oops. So play ended quite quickly after that as they all came inside to be cleaned (they were covered from head to foot in flour!) and put into pyjamas for dinner.

Despite the flour in eyes incident the flour fight was a huge success and was messy play at its best.. child initiated and filled with giggles! Watching them have so much fun was the highlight of my week so far!

Edspire  Messy Play

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Painting Rocks and Playing with Friends

Another day of sunshine and another day outdoors.

(I’m getting a little worried that you will be bored of me writing about lovely weather and playing outside soon!)

This morning the kids spent a lot of time playing “Star Wars”, which seemed to involve them running around pretending to be various different characters, visiting different planets in the Galaxy. Jasmine even drew a map on a piece of paper so they knew where they were going!

After running around the house a few times, they moved into the garden and continued the game outside.

When “Star Wars” had ended they came asking for something else to do so I suggested we start painting some of the rocks we collected from the beach last week.

I gave them gold, green and pink paint (gold because Jasmine asked for it and green and pink because they were on the top of the paint box!) and they choose the rocks they wanted and started painting.

Rock Painting

The rock painting will be an ongoing project I think!

This afternoon we met up with some other home educating families in a local park. The kids had a great time playing with their friends while us adults chatted (or tried to while keeping half an eye on the small ones!) One of the mums had brought along some bubbles so she was centre of attention for quite a long time! Bubbles are a definite winner every time!

Jasmine also managed to fit in some bug hunting while we were there. She found a beetle, lots of ants and an earwig. The earwig was very exciting because it is the first one she had caught this year!

Then it was back to Caterpillar Tales house for a quick pizza dinner before the girls headed off to Rainbows again.

It has been another busy Wednesday, but we had a really nice time in the park and Jasmine is loving Rainbows so (apart from one major meltdown from Ben when he suddenly realised he was hot, tired and hungry after leaving the park) it has been a good day!





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