Tag Archives: Home Education

Another visit to the Ecology Centre

Yesterday afternoon we went back to Sutton Ecology Centre for a wander around while it was a little quieter. We had such a lovely time on Saturday at the BioBlitz event that the kids were keen to go again and knew just where they wanted to look and what they wanted to find.

When we arrived they spent a bit of time playing in the teepee frame and jumping from log to log before we walked towards the meadow, stopping at the log circle to hunt for toads and newts.Ecology Centre 1We found lots of toads, both small and large but only one small newt. Thomas looked under one of the carpet tiles and found a rather large slow worm, which we were all pleased with as we didn’t see any the day before.

We walked through the meadow and saw lots of butterflies, did some minibeast hunting in the woodland, and then walked over to the pond and the kids enjoyed peering in and trying to catch things with their hands!ecology centre 2Jasmine wanted to find more grasshoppers – her latest favourite animal! – so she went off to the long grass and the boys enjoyed a run around the gardens. While the kids were occupying themselves I managed to get a couple of nice photos of a Gatekeeper butterfly.ecology centre 3As we were getting ready to leave, our friends from Caterpillar Tales arrived! They had brought nets with them so the kids enjoyed a bit of pond dipping before it was time for us to walk home. I say walk, but Thomas and Jasmine somehow managed to run almost all the way home with me struggling to keep up with them! (I had taken a buggy for Ben, knowing he wouldn’t manage the walk there and back.) I don’t know where they get their energy from, but sometimes I wish they could pass some over to me!

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Sutton Bioblitz

Today we took part in the Sutton Bioblitz at the local ecology centre.

We arrived around 11.30am and collected our recording sheets and activity booklets for the kids. The area had been split into three zones, aqua, amber and jade. As you recorded in each zone the kids got a stamp in their booklet and once you’d been to all three zones you got a free garden wildlife calender.

We started off in the aqua zone, where they were pond dipping.

As I was on my own with the kids today I decided against looking in the main pond – see here for what happened last time – so we got our nets and looked in the smaller raised ponds.

We spent quite a long time pond dipping and found lots of different animals including damselfly larvae, lesser water boatman, a whirligig beetle, a ramshorn snail, a pond snail and mosquito larvae. We were so engrossed in finding and identifying that I completely forgot to take any photographs! But I did get this one after we had put the nets away and I was trying to convince Jasmine to move on to something else.

Bioblitz 1Once I had convinced all the children we should stop looking in the pond and do the next activity we moved into the amber zone to look for bugs. We didn’t really find many today, just the odd woodlouse and snail; I imagine because all the logs had been turned over several times previously!

On the volunteers table however, we did see thisBioblitz 2Eurycantha, or New Guinea Spiny Stick Insect.

Pretty scary looking if you ask me, but both Thomas and Jasmine were very keen to hold it.

So, after holding the giant stick insect and finding no minibeasts, we headed over to the meadow to complete the final activity and collect our last stamp.

In the meadow we did some butterfly catching with nets and discovered how hard it is to catch, and then keep the butterfly in the net! I did most of the catching and got a few butterflies in the net but took a long time to work out how to keep them there! The only one I managed was a ringlet butterfly. While we were there though someone caught a small blue butterfly, the first one of the day.

As i was trying to catch butterflies, Jasmine and Thomas had found a volunteer turning over logs looking for toads. He found a couple and then as I was chatting to him all 3 kids began their own toad hunt. They did well and Jasmine brought over a small toad and Thomas found a newt.bioblitz 3It was now almost 2pm and we still hadn’t had any lunch. We went to get our calenders and wrote comments on the event tree. Thomas wrote “I found a newt” and Jasmine wrote “I found a toad”! While Thomas was writing Jasmine did a spot more bug catching and managed to catch a couple of grasshoppers by herself! Her eye for spotting and her ability to catch almost any small bug astounds everyone and the volunteers nearby were very impressed with her patience!

But then it was time to leave. I don’t think any of the kids had thought about how hungry they were while we were there because they were having so much fun. But I bought them all a cake on the way out and suggested we go to Macdonalds for some chips, and I didn’t have too many problems getting them back to the car!

We had a really great time today and each time we do something like this I see the kids enthusiasm grow and grow. We’re so lucky to have such a wonderful place nearby!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Making Soup

For several days now Jasmine has been asking me if she can have soup for lunch, soup with vegetables in. I know she actually meant Heinz Vegetable Soup but as we had rather a lot of peas and some carrots left over from our PYO trip to Garsons Farm I decided it would be much nicer to make our own.

Yesterday morning we spent a long time shelling all the peas and I made Pea Soup with half of them. In the afternoon we went shopping and bought some green beans and broccoli and then this morning, with Gordon around to play with Ben, Jasmine and I (with a little help from Thomas) made our own vegetable soup.

I got all the ingredients together and put everything on the table with a chopping board, a knife, a vegetable peeler and several bowls. Jasmine started by chopping the green beans into small pieces and placed them in a bowl. She pulled some “small trees” off the broccoli and these went in another bowl. I peeled a couple of potatoes (I wasn’t brave enough to let her do this!) and she chopped them into cubes. Lastly, she got to use the peeler and she peeled and chopped the carrots. Thomas appeared while we were doing the carrots so he had a turn peeling and chopping as well.Soup 1They both really enjoyed preparing the vegetables and were really sensible with both the knife and peeler. This is what has always worried me about letting them prep veg because they do have a tendency to become a little silly as kids do! When I am on my own with all 3 kids I know I would find an activity like this very stressful, but today with Ben distracted and both Jasmine and Thomas really keen I was so impressed with them. Jasmine told me that chopping the veg with a knife was just like using the saw at Forest School! She also said a couple of times how much she enjoyed “learning how to chop things because when I have my own house when I am bigger I need to know”!!!

Once everything was prepared I put it all in a pan with about half of the remaining peas from yesterday, a couple of handfuls of small pasta bows and a jug of vegetable stock. I simmered this over a low heat for around 40 minutes.

I then ladled out about half of the soup into a bowl and blended this until it was smooth. I added the blended soup back into the pan and mixed it well, to give a lovely final  soup with vegetables in, just as requested.

I knew the biggest test would be when it came to eating it for lunch. Jasmine usually doesn’t like mixing her foods and everything on her plate has to be separate, so I was a little concerned that even though she had helped plan and prepare the soup, she wouldn’t actually eat it! She well and truly proved me wrong though and she loved it! Ben took a while to start, but eventually he ate his. Thomas had pea soup and he enjoyed this as well!

And my opinion.. it is delicious and I think we did a good job!

soup 2

 

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A picnic and fruit picking

Yesterday we spent a lovely day at Claremont Landscape Gardens and Garsons PYO Farm.

We started off at Claremont, arriving at lunch time and enjoying a delicious picnic in the shade by the lake.

Once everyone had eaten we set off round the lake to discover and explore. The kids and Gordon walked up the hill, all the way to the top, and ran back down again! Then we headed over to the woodland, explored a ditch, hunted for grasshoppers and found a cherry tree with some delicious cherries growing on it that Gordon and Ben enjoying tasting!Claremont 1As were walked round the grassy area and woodland we counted butterflies and recorded our results with the Big Butterfly Count. We saw lots of Ringlets and Small Whites and a Gatekeeper.

We continued round the lake, watching the fish jump out of the water to catch flies and the dragonflies zipping around. At one point we stopped to watch a dragonfly flying around the edge of the water and Jasmine noticed a Southern Hawker Dragonfly laying eggs in the bank right below where we were standing! We watched  it for quite a long time, having never been that close to a dragonfly before we were all amazed by how big it was!Southern Hawker DragonflyWe walked round the lake and back to the car park, and then drove the 5 minutes to Garsons Farm.

We have only been to Garsons once so far this year, for the asparagus picking, so there was lots we wanted to get today! We started with gooseberries and raspberries then went to the redcurrant field. Next was carrots, peas, mange tout and finally cucumber.Garsons PYOWhile the kids do enjoy picking the fruit and vegetables, they also enjoy taste testing what they can! I don’t mind them eating a few, however I try and make sure most of what they pick goes into the punnets!

It was so late by the time we’d finished at the farm that we decided to eat out at Pizza Hut, the kids favourite! After dinner of pizza and ice cream we went home, well past the kids normal bedtime but well worth the late night as we’d had such a lovely day.

Once all 3 kids were tucked up and asleep, Gordon and I started the long process of removing the redcurrants from the stems, ready for me to make jam today.

And that is where I must go now, The fruit was stewed and the juice strained over night. Now to begin my first jam of the year.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Sports Day in the Park

This time of year is the traditional time for kids to take part in Sports Day. This afternoon we went to the park with our home education group and had our own races, including Egg & Spoon, running and an obstacle race involving water pistols!

We met later than normal to try and take advantage of the cooler weather so we all took a picnic and enjoyed the whole late afternoon/early evening at the park.Sports Day 1After some races we sat down and enjoyed our picnic tea, before a couple more races and a game of Rounders.sports day 2The kids all did really well today and joined in with all the races, and even had a go at Rounders. It was really nice to see them joining in, listening, taking turns and enjoying the organised activities. It makes me realise how much they have changed in this last year and how their confidence is building every day. They had their moments of course – Thomas ran off with the hula-hoop batting circle during rounders and Jasmine didn’t join in with the first running race as she hadn’t listened properly to how it was being done (we did it in ages) – but generally they were really good and we didn’t even have any tantrums about not winning (although I think the “taking part sweets” may have had a role to play in that!)

All in all it was a very sucessful Sports Day and a really lovely afternoon spent with friends.

We ended the day with some giant bubbles!sports day 3We were having such a good time we didn’t leave the park until 7.30pm – the time my kids are normally heading off to bed! Sadly the combination of heat, excitement and tiredness meant that Ben was sick in the car on the way home. My poor little one was very good though and didn’t complain once bless him. By the time I had cleaned the car and car seat and showered Ben, it was so late Jasmine actually asked to go to bed! 

We are trialling a new Dance class tomorrow morning so I really hope that, after the success of today, Thomas and Jasmine aren’t too tired to join in..

watch this space!

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Hottest day of the year

So today has been the hottest day of the year so far.

And it really has been hot. Too hot if I am honest.

This morning the kids wanted to do some sticker books and drawing so we all sat at the table and did some mazes, doodling and stickers.hot day 1This afternoon we went in the garden and used water to cool us down again!

We got the water slide out for the first time. The kids quite liked it but weren’t keen on using it as a slide, preferring to just run and splash around. It kept everyone cool though, so achieved the aim!hot day 2We also finally got ice today. I have completely failed to make any ice cubes yet but we really needed some today so I did the very lazy thing and bought some! Bought ice cubes.. frozen water. Can you believe it! I paid money for something I can do at home in seconds! But it was so hot we really needed some. This was proved by Ben, who enjoyed eating them!hot day 3And now it is raining. It is still boiling hot, but raining. I might go and stand in the garden for a while!

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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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An afternoon in the river

This afternoon we met up with our local home education group and went to a local park. Beddington Park is only a five minute drive from our house and we drive past it often. We have talked about going there often too, but for some reason we never have. So when it was mentioned as somewhere to go today I was quite pleased!

I was told there was a place in the river where the kids can paddle and fish. What a perfect activity! So I loaded us up with spare clothes and beach shoes for paddling in, but I was determined to get there on time so I forgot the fishing nets! Luckily someone else had remembered theirs!

We had a brilliant time! Somehow all 6 families arrived at almost exactly the same time so we all walked through the park together. The kids played in the sprinklers for a while, and enjoyed exploring the park with their friends.Beddington ParkBut the best part of the afternoon was the paddling! All 3 kids had been looking forward to going in the river so at the first opportunity they took their trainers and socks off, put beach shoes on and were straight in! Beddington Park 2I didn’t go in myself but apparently the water was very cold! Ben’s paddling adventure didn’t last long and he decided it was better to stay on dry land. But Thomas and Jasmine were so busy playing and exploring they didn’t notice the temperature.

Jasmine spent the entire time we were there fishing. She caught water louse and shrimp, lots of shrimp! Thomas did some shrimp catching too but he also had great fun wading over to a small island, walking down the river to help build a bridge with some of the other kids, splashing around. He got soaked and he loved it!Beddington Park 3For a large part of the afternoon Jasmine stayed close to the side of the river but she kept running out of shrimp to catch! I explained that if she stayed in the same place all the shrimp would run and hide so she would need to move and eventually she did venture further out. She even went on to the island in the end.

They had such a fantastic time I’m sure they would have stayed all day if it was possible!

But we couldn’t stay all day and so to coax them out of the water we got the bubble wands and bubble mixture out and blew some giant bubbles. Giant bubbles are great fun and I am sure all the adults enjoy them just as much as the kids. Well, I know I do!Beddington Park 4But then it was time for us to get dried off and walk back to the car because Jasmine goes to Rainbows on Wednesdays, meaning an early dinner is needed. We said goodbye to all our friends as they went to the cafe for ice cream and as I was packing all the wet clothes in a bag Thomas had a go on the rope swing. He hadn’t been on it all afternoon but as soon as everyone had left he was straight on! He did really well too. He is getting much more confident in his abilities and its really lovely to see.

The kids also found a great tree to explore on the way back to the car.Beddington Park 5Now I know how much fun there is to be had at Beddington Park we will definitely be going back. I still can’t believe I didn’t know what a wonderful place it is, and right on our doorstep!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Pond dipping and perfume making

I was beginning to worry this week that I’d never get a #countrykids post written. Our week so far has been pretty boring really!

But then today we had our Home Education group get together and we all met at the home of a family who live on a smallholding. So this afternoon there was plenty of wonderful outdoor stuff happening!

As soon as we arrived Jasmine headed for the pond. They have a wonderful pond in the garden full of tadpoles, frogs, fish, newts and (to Jasmine’s delight) pond skaters! A large part of the afternoon was taken up pond dipping. Pond dippingThe pond does have a “no net” rule at the moment because it has been over-pond-dipped by the kids, so today it was buckets and hands only. Not that that stopped anyone and they were still catching tadpoles, frogs and newts. At one point there was a frog in a watering can and a newt in the underseat compartment of a ride-on toy train!

Whilst Jasmine was busy at the pond, Thomas did some digging and ran over the obstacle course that had been built.ThomasThe other activity that was planned for this afternoon was perfume making, using herbs and petals from the garden. All the kids loved doing this and gave special thought into what they wanted to put in to their mix. Thomas chose to use just mint leaves, whereas Jasmine and Ben both used a combination of different herbs and petals. Once they had selected the ingredients, we added a little water and used a pestle to crush it all together. Making perfumeWe have brought the perfume home and Thomas has asked for a squirty bottle to keep his in! I think I’ll be hunting three out tomorrow!

The final thing we did before heading home was to collect the eggs from the chickens.Chickens

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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The Craziest Costume

The title of today’s post is because of this:Dressing up

So, who is your winner of the craziest costume? Personally, I think Jasmine is the clear winner, Halloween bat costume, reindeer hat and googly eye glasses.. yep, definitely crazy!

Once they’d done a spot of dressing up, Thomas got one of the Wipe Clean activity books out and asked for the pen. The other two soon joined in and we all spent some time sitting together writing and drawing.Wipe Clean BooksI love these books as they have loads of fun activities for the kids to do and can be used time and time again. The most used books are the Usborne dot-to-dot and mazes books, but we also have a few Priddy books and they all got used today. Ben particularly liked the Priddy Books “Things that go” with all its diggers and cars! He did some really great counting and pattern recognition.

After lunch we needed to go into town to do some shopping. I wanted to nip into WHSmiths quickly to get a magazine and while I did get it, we also got these because of course we need more Lego!Lego activity booksAfter dinner this evening the kids built their figures and we read the story from Thomas’ book – Big City Life.Lego FiguresThe two other important things for me to remember about today are the silkworms shed skin (they are huge now so I’m hoping it won’t be too long until they pupate) and Thomas went in the rabbit run and was really sensible amd stroked both rabbits.

All in all, a rather good day!

 

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