Tag 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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Garsons Farm and Claremont Landscape Garden

After another very lazy morning this morning – I hardly saw the big 2 as they were playing LEGO upstairs – we had an afternoon outdoors at our local Pick Your Own farm and then Claremont Landscape Garden, another National Trust property, 5 minutes away from the farm. I say local, but Garsons Farm is around 30 minutes away from us by car.  I love it there though so try and go as regularly as possible during the time it is open. It opened, for the first time this year, last Friday for Asparagus picking and I have been more than keen to go but after only 2 days, the fields were closed again for regrowth. They opened them again today and I didn’t want to miss out this time! The fruit and veg we have picked in the last 2 years has always been delicious and there is nothing better than field to plate in just a few hours!

Initially the kids weren’t keen on picking the asparagus, which is why I said we’d go to Claremont afterwards, but once we got there they loved it and I’m sure we picked far more asparagus than we needed!Asparagus

Once we had our asparagus we drove over to Claremont.  I knew it would be beautiful at this time of year and I wasn’t disappointed. The bluebells are stunning and the Rhododendrons are starting to open in places. It is also teeming with new life and as we walked round the lake we saw goslings, ducklings and coot chicks. We also saw a Tufted Duck, a Shelduck and the resident Black Swan.Animals

While I was busy taking pictures (!) the kids had a great time exploring. They ran up and rolled down the mound, collected feathers and sticks, found a “secret cave” in the bushes and splashed in puddles. They loved seeing all the baby animals but weren’t that keen on the hissing geese when they got too close!  Exploring ClaremontFinally we walked round to the play area, which is also fantastic! Inspired by the history of Claremont the play area offers a modern take on several features of the garden and includes a castle with ladders, a climbing wall and slide, a playhouse and a bridge. The kids loved it!Playing at ClaremontToday we only walked around the lake and I know there is much more to discover at Claremont. Thomas declared it his “favourite place” as we walked back to the car! We will definitely be going back soon.Claremont Landscape Garden

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Pooh Sticks, Scary Beasts and Daisy Chains

I had two ideas of things to do today. The first was go into London and meet some home educating families and the other was to go to Claremont Landscape Gardens for a stroll around. With Gordon at work and rain threatened I decided against London (one day I will brave it on my own with the kids!), and then Claremont was postponed for another day as well when we decided instead to go to Morden Hall Park and meet up with Caterpillar Tales to complete some of our National Trust 50 Things challenges.

So after a lazy morning and lunch we put on our waterproofs and headed out, late of course!

We started off by walking through the Rose Garden, playing Pooh Sticks as we crossed the little bridge to reach the other side of the garden. The Rose Garden is beautiful and such a wonderful place to spot all sorts of plants and animals.WildlifeIn the Rose Garden we made daisy chains and found a great tree to explore. It was hollow at the bottom and the kids enjoyed squeezing inside it!50 Things #16 and #22As we headed back to the path, the kids saw a fallen tree that was just waiting to be explored. Actually it has been on the ground for some time and is in several pieces, and we have explored it several times before, but that doesn’t stop them! We looked inside the largest bit and lifted any other piece we could to see what was underneath. We had a very successful bug hunt today and found woodlice, centipedes, worms, slugs, beetles, earwigs and spiders. Jasmine was chief bug catcher for everyone. She really is getting to be quite the expert these days!Bug HuntingOnce we were all explored out we made our way to the natural playground where Jasmine formed a secret club in the bushes, Ben jumped and ran and Thomas climbed and swung. We ended the afternoon with one last go at Pooh Sticks before it was time to go home.

Playing at Morden Hall

Today we completed the following 50 things challenges:

16. Make a daisy chain
19. Play pooh sticks
22. Explore inside a tree
30. Hold a scary beast (although in all honestly my kids do this daily!)
31. Hunt for bugs (again, we do this daily!)

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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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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