Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Just pottering

We've been pottering around doing bits and pieces, finishing off topics, reading and craft making at our leisure. Makes for a much more settled home I find. The rain has finally eased off, although we still seem to get a huge cloud burst at least once a day. The veggies have grown lots during our tropical period. We've noticed mini peppers beginning to emerge on the two pepper plants and some tomatoes are appearing.

Ben has been reading some Dr. Seuss books he'd borrowed from the library and then wrote this little dittie:

The hill in Saint Pill was the biggest of all
And one day a man went to the big little mountain
and had a big fall.
He fell in the pond where a ducked lived, named Nat,
Nat said "why did you do that?
Now my head feels just like a slurpy cow pat!"

Katie is preparing for a forthcoming model horse show. She busy making and mending tack for her models and ensuring riders' clothes are clean and correct. She's also getting ready for a week's stay at her grandparents' home and very much looking forward to a possible three riding lessons, through the woods, during her visit! With the terrible weather, and other things getting in the way, it seems an age since she last had a lesson and she's desperate to get back into the saddle.

Our HE group had an end of term get together last Friday. We were hoping to have a BBQ and sports party at one of the parks but, obviously, the rain decided to spoil things. Luckily, the playcentre we use for our sessions has an outdoor area sheltered from bad weather so the parents braved the wind and rain to BBQ as the children had fun, indoors to start with, on a mini obstacle course, space hoppers and circus equipment and then later outdoors in the pouring rain having a water fight! Lots of dripping wet kiddies by the end of the afternoon, but all had lots of fun. Looking forward to next "term" as we have lots of activities and sessions planned for all to enjoy and learn from.

Couldn't resist taking some up-to-date piccies of "our" ducklings fast turning into young ducks.

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This little one no longer has a high pitched squeak but a fully fledged quack.

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"Bottoms up!" You can see that they've all grown nearly as big as mum (on the far right). Their wings are still small though and their heads are smaller than the adult duck. They look so sweet when they are resting as they lay slightly on their sides and stick a leg out behind them!

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

"Damn fine cherry pie"

... quote from Twin Peaks if anyone remembers that rather weird programme on TV many moons ago.

Lots of baking this week thanks to our wonderful neighbour popping in with rhubarb and the most fantastic cherries from his garden.

No piccie of the rhubarb (the photo looked a little like a dog's dinner, but honestly the crumble was fabulous) but piccies of cherry crumble, lemon drizzle cake (which got a big thumbs up from the inlaws) and home made pizza garnished with home grown mixed salad leaves (I like these, they are the cut and come again variety, very simple to grow).

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And still the rains pours ...

our thoughts are with those caught up in the terrible recent floods. We've been horrified watching the photos and films on the news these last two days.
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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Oh dear, I'm way behind on blogging. No excuses, just ready to sit down with a cuppa in the evenings rather than sit at the PC. How times have changed for me since our move!

We've been to three great sessions with the local HE group since my last post. One session, run by one of the dads, was on the subject of kinetic art and cars. Kinetic meaning movement, therefore kinetic art is any form of art that moves whether it's a mobile dancing in the wind or a customised car that moves along on its wheels (or any other fabulous it may have been designed to move of course). Katie, Ben and I studied the history of cars, customising cars and the future of motor vehicles (which naturally lead to the future of our environment and how we can help improve things) in the week leading up to this session. We especially liked viewing pictures of custom built cars on the internet and having fun playing a couple car games too! Discovery channel site provided us with lots of info for this subject. We all made drawing "boards" on the kind of cars we'd like to drive in the future including exterior and interior design and any weird and wonderful features we could think up like Ben's seats that have zips to convert to sleeping bags!
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Ben and Katie's junk modelling cars. I liked Ben's idea of using clay to stabilse the wheels and Katie's use of cellophane for lots of windows.

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Using toy car bases, Katie and Ben used clay and cellophane to make model cars.

The group also met up at Flag Fen Bronze Age Centre and had a great day with a group leader who provided a wonderful child friendly commentary for us all as well as some interesting hands on work which included working out the age of some archaeological finds ranging from Bronze Age through to Victorian, making Roman or Celtic style clay pots and learning the differences between the well known cow parsley and the rather deadly hemlock plant which look extremely similar except for some purple splodges on the stem of the hemlock. The children had the chance to dress up as either Romans or Celtics before walking round the reconstructed Bronze Age huts.

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The huts were brilliant and although we didn't experience it on our visit, they have central fires which are often lit therefore we had an authentic smell of burnt embers when wandering around looking at artifacts like weaving and clay pots used during this era.

On Friday the group ran a session at Sacrewell Farm using their newly built "school" room to do a couple of hours of arts and crafts on animals and farming before seeing all the farm animals. Children were able to make pom poms or woolly sheep, butter from cream (not totally successful for all who participated in this, but some children managed to exchange their, what seemed like, an hour's worth of vigorous shaking of cream into a pat of butter. For most, the cream went to a very thick creamy state and refused to form a lump in the end). There were a few animal/farm based games as well as understanding food chains, and Katie took along her woolly horses with information on shires and farming which she'd compiled herself. Luckily we only had a couple of showers during our walk around the farm. Katie and her friends spent most of this time with the shire horses and shire foal which was born in April this year.
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Katie's pom pom - this activity certainly kept people busy for quite some time.

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Lucky "Lotte", the shire foal, getting lots of attention.

Other things we've been up to:

* Katie's had a couple of parties recently which have included sleepovers. She went along to Spymasters in Cambridge for one party and had a brilliant time.

* Ben has finally got into reading in a big way. He finds a book and reads before bed without any prompting and is eager to tell me what he's read about.

* Ben's piano learning is coming on well too and he enjoys tinkering on the keyboard and making up his own tunes.

* We've started to learn basic Spanish using books from the library, a wonderful tourist book which states you can learn the language in just 10 minutes a day and this website which the kids like using.

* Using Ben's magnet set, we've been following some fun experiments to learn all about them.

* Ben's been doing some science experiments of his own, making tornados was one of them.
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* We continue to watch the four ducklings. It's amazing how much they change in just 24 hours. They are nearly as tall as mum now and are beginning to get some colour in their feathers.
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I know there's more, but learning often mingles into every day situations so it's impossible to remember it all!
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Sunday, July 01, 2007


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I've been meaning to put this on the blog for a while now. We picked up a leaflet from the library some time ago (and it's still seems to be available) about BBC's RaW "Max and Lara's Amazing Travelling Space Circus" which is an activity book designed to help adults read with young children (states 3 - 8 years). I phoned up and ordered a copy for Ben to use for his literacy, he started looking through it last week and is really into it, in fact he couldn't put it down.

There's a fun story, which he's reading himself and tasks to complete on each page which warrant a sticker that can be stuck onto a wall poster. It's all very appealing to youngesters, bright pages, fun story, stickers and weird and wonderful alien style characters.

Here's the link to tell you all about it. Well worth it, and it's free too!

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