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We love getting out and about in the great outdoors, so on holiday, we love nothing more than to go on a forest walk. I like to give the children something to focus on, so this time I decided we should do a Gruffalo hunt.
We were to look for all the creatures featured in the Gruffalo story, the owl, the mouse, the snake, the fox and of course, the Gruffalo.
The first thing we came across were several ‘dens’ that had previously been made by other kids (or could have been made by adults, as they were rather good). They were made out of sticks and foliage against a tree. We suggested to the children that these could be the Gruffalo’s den. Then we found ‘scratch’ marks on the trees (actually, just sprayed, marked trees, presumably marked by the forestry commission, as trees to be cut down). These, we thought were the Gruffalo’s scratch marks to tell everyone to ‘keep out!’
Next we found a feather on the floor, which could have been from the owl.
We also found a hole burrowed into the ground which we thought could be the Fox’s den.
We found a pile of logs, for the snakes log pile house.
And lastly, we found a small opening at the bottom of a tree for the mouse to live.
This was one of the best walks we have done, the children enjoyed it so much. It brought the Gruffalo story to life, increased their imagination and allowed them to use their memory skills to recall the story. All at the same time as getting out and about as a family in the fresh air with nature. You really can’t beat that!
As a family we love getting out and about, walking, getting fresh air, experiencing what nature has to offer. Last week on holiday was no different. We absolutely love walking along the cliff tops looking at the sea, the boats, the birds whilst overlooking the Isle Of Wight, and the Needles.
It always amazes me how far my children walk. They frequently walk miles without complaining. When I think about other children I see, so much older than my kids still being pushed around in a buggy, I am so happy that we have ditched our buggy.
Last week, we walked along the cliff tops into Milford On Sea, which is probably about 3 miles. We stopped there for an ice cream and a play in the playground, before embarking on our return walk. We decided to walk back through the woods for a change of scene. We had been a couple of times before with my parents, so thought it would be fine.
We walked by a stream with several bridges along the way, where the children kept looking for trolls. We even found a geocache (though it turned out to be just a bridge, so a bit disappointing). The children seemed to be enjoying themselves looking for different leaves, bugs, animals, and feathers were quite popular too. It was all going too well.
Then, the scenery appeared to be different from how we remembered it before. We kept walking and walking, before we came to the conclusion…….we were…. a bit………lost! Oh dear, lost in the woods! Funnily enough, sat nav doesn’t really work in the woods without roads?! We had to just keep walking, until we eventually came out onto a road, where we could then navigate back to the caravan site.
When we finally got to the caravan site, I must admit the children were definitely flagging, but I can’t blame them it was a long walk for little legs. The worst part was, even when we got onto the site, it is such an enormous caravan site we once again, had no idea where our caravan was! We had to walk all the way through to the other end before we could finally sit down and relax. We must have walked about 8 miles or more!
This may seem like a complete disaster of a day to some, but to us it was great family time, where we had to support each other to keep motivated as well as enjoying our surroundings. It really brought it home to me how fantastic my children are at walking and not complaining, but actually enjoying it.
One of the items on my summer holiday sanity list, was to do a sports day with my children. BB did have a sports day at school, but there were no true races, no winners, it was just about taking part in various sporting activities for x amount of time. My girls were due to take part in sports day at preschool, but it happened to fall on a day they were not normally there and right at school pick up time, so were unable to take part.
For this reason, I thought it might be nice to give them all a taste of doing some races together and have some fun. So, during a visit to my parents house, where there is a huge garden, I took the opportunity to set up a mini sorts day for them.
First, we did a bean bag toss. The child to throw the most number of bean bags into the hoop wins. They all did well, but Boo came out the winner, with 3 bean bags in the hoop.
This was followed by the sack race, where BB managed to jump out in front and beat the other two.
Next, came the space hopper race. This was great fun and brought about many laughs. It was a close run race, but BB just managed to hop ahead.
All three children did really well and had loads of fun together. It was great to see them racing, and not minding if they didn’t win. At the finish, we made them all a medal saying well done and got them to stand on the winning podium with their medal. They thought it was great!
I did try to persuade the Twinlife daddy, grandad and uncle, they should do a dads race, but they didn’t seem too keen, maybe next time?!
That’s another item ticked off my summer holiday sanity list. I think the children are enjoying the list, but still got lots more to do
Outside space is really important to me. It allows us all to get out, get some fresh air and for the kids to run around and burn off some energy. When the children are at preschool and school, I also feel it is my personal, peaceful, more tranquil space where I can breathe and try to unwind. Lately, I have been taking the laptop outside to blog, it’s been great.
We are very lucky to have this outside space, but it has got very tatty looking, the shed too small and the tree/bush too overgrown with lots of weeds. The decking is very slippery when wet and the children get lots of splinters from it. We decided it was about time we gave the garden a bit of a makeover.
Operation ‘garden makeover began’. Last weekend, we cut down the very overgrown tree/bush and weeds, it took all day and many blisters and scratches later, it was down. All we had to look at, at the end of the day, was a huge pile of sticks and leaves to get rid of. The children loved helping us take the sticks to the hippo bag. They had a great time.
A new shed was delivered on Tuesday. So we literally demolished the old, battered metal shed and started increasing the size of the base, ready for the larger shed to go on. This felt really good, as I hated the look of the old shed. The kids loved playing in the earth we removed (just as if it was a sandpit), they even found a centipede!
At the weekend, my parents came to help us build the new shed. It was a lot of work and the children loved helping (?!). It was definitely a whole family affair!
By the end of the weekend, we had a new shed, no tree/weeds/bush and all the rubbish had gone, it’s great!
Stage one of operation garden makeover is now complete I love it, especially, the fact that we all got involved.
The second stage begins on Thursday, but luckily, we have resorted to hiring someone else to complete this stage, of decking removal and patio laying. I am really looking forward to that bit!
It is so important for kids to be active, run around, climb, swing, scoot etc. It hopefully encourages them to continue living a healthy, active lifestyle in adulthood. It is also great fun and allows them to burn off lots of energy, at the same time as teaching them all their very important physical developmental skills.
I believe there are two very important physical skills children need to learn, one is swimming and the other is riding a bike. Swimming is an essential life skill, as it could save their life one day. BB is currently having swimming lessons and my other 2 will also have lessons at a later date.
Riding a bike, I feel is also a great skill to have. It teaches them about balance and coordination. From the age of 2, BB had a balance bike, which he got on with brilliantly. He could scoot along on it really fast, so I knew he had balancing skills. Recently, he got a pedal bike, as I felt it was time for him to start riding a bike properly.
Last week, he went out on it for the first time (no stabilizers). At first it was a little difficult, he kept riding into the wall. I ran along beside him holding on. It wasn’t long before I could start to let go and by the time we got to the park he was able to ride around the grass all by himself! He did fantastically well. We are not quite there yet though, as the starting off he still finds very difficult, but I think now it is just a matter of building up his confidence.
I am really happy he is riding a bike, it was lovely to see him laugh and smile, so pleased with himself, when he was riding on two wheels.
I don’t know whether he got on so well with riding his bike, because of previously having a balance bike or not, but I do think it must have helped. However, My girls are different. I have tried them with the balance bike, but they just don’t get on with it, they hate it. So I have had to resort to bikes with stabilizers for them. It will be interesting to see if they get on as well, when their stabilizers are removed (but that won’t be for a while yet).
These two skills BB is developing, is great. He is having fun, being active, burning off energy and learning all at the same time. It is definitely worth putting in the time and energy to help with these essential skills.
Simple fun maths games for early years
When trying to help little children learn to count and do simple maths, it is important to make it fun. Children learn best through play. Here are a few very easy but fun ways to get little children counting and adding/subtracting.
Egg box game
What you need:
- 1 egg box (6 or 12, depending on how difficult you want to make it)
- 1 pen
- 20 coins or beans
- 2 players
Before you start playing, you need to write a number in every hole of the egg box.
How to play:
- Divide the coins/beans between the two players
- Place the egg box a distance away from both players
- Take it in turns to throw 2 coins/beans into the egg box, youngest player first
- See what numbers the coins/beans land on, then the player who threw them has to add the two numbers together. If they get it right, they keep the coins/beans, if they get it wrong, they are given to the other player.
- If a coin/bean misses the egg box, they are given to the other player
- The person with the most coins/beans at the end is the winner
You can increase the numbers in the egg box as the children get better.
You can also use the game to teach subtraction the same way. Just subtracting the two numbers instead of adding.
You could also decorate the box nicely to make it more appealing to little ones.
BB loved this game, we played several rounds of it.
What you need:
- 1 pen
- Colouring pencils/pens
- 1 or 2 dice
Before you play, you need to draw a simple picture in pen. I drew a large ice cream as that is very simple to draw, then divide the picture into 6 or 12 sections (depending on how many dice you are using). Number each section.
How to play
- Player 1 rolls the dice
- They then have to count the number on each dice and add the numbers together
- They then colour in the corresponding number on their picture
- Player 2 does the same
- Player 1 rolls the dice again and so on
- If they have already coloured in that corresponding number, play is passed to the next player
- The first player to colour in the whole picture wins
For younger players, you can use just one dice, and only 6 sections on the picture. This helps little ones with counting the dots on the dice and recognising their numbers, before learning to add.
All three of my children enjoyed playing these games and we will be playing again.
I love fetes, especially now I have children. Watching them enjoy all that goes on at a fete is wonderful.
My favourite type of fete has to be a village fete. Now, I was brought up in a village, but unfortunately I don’t live there any more. My parents are still living in the village and they now, almost single-handedly, (with a bit of help from other committee members of course) organise and run their local village fete. It is such hard work for them and they do an amazing job. The fete really promotes the feeling of local community spirit.
Each year we head back to the village to help with the fete. This year was no exception. Twin life daddy was there on the village green, at 7am, with my dad, marking out all the pitches and putting up gazebos etc. It is hard work, but a local villager often brings out, all the helpers a bacon butty to refuel them.
We all came and helped the setting up of stalls, including my mums paint your own moulds and hook the duck game. It is good fun and BB loved watching the man set up the train roundabout, he did not leave his side til it was done, he was absolutely fascinated (I think he may be an engineer in the making, like his daddy).
Every year there is a scarecrow competition. This year, it was to be in the theme of children’s characters. My mum made Mr Strong, which the children were very impressed with. The day before the fete, we scooted round the village on a scarecrow hunt, looking for all the scarecrows. We found a gruffalo, the tin man (my kids wouldn’t stop calling him Mr Can for some reason), another Mr Strong, the BFG and another one I have not heard of before. My mum didn’t win, but I think they were all amazing. We brought Mr Strong to sit by our stall for everyone to see.
There were lots of stalls and games. BB had a go at the coconut shy, desperate to try a coconut. He did manage to hit one, but unfortunately didn’t have the strength to knock it off, while daddy twin life didn’t even hit it, beaten by his 5 yr old son!!
I was really impressed that BB entered the children’s races. I didn’t think he would do it, but not only did he enter, he actually won the egg and spoon race! One very proud mummy and daddy!
Pinky and Boo loved painting a hello kitty mould and making it into a necklace.
There was a tug of war at the end of the fete, children versus the adults, and can you believe who won?? Yes, the children won!! I couldn’t believe it. Some of the adults got so carried away though, they nearly ended up in my mums stall, knocking over a chair and the splat the rat.
It was a really great fete, fun had by all. It truely brings a wonderful community feel. At one point, I felt like I could have been standing on the set for ‘the vicar of Dibley’. My dad should be really proud of what he achieves organising it. He didn’t get back home until 8pm for a very well-earned rest!
A nature scavenger hunt for little ones
With all this lovely weather we are having, I am desperate to make the most of it. So last week I decided to do a nature scavenger hunt with Pinky and Boo. I thought it would be nice doing something special with my three yr olds on their own.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to make my own scavenger hunt, as the children, being only three, would need pictures rather than words, which would take time. So I searched my favourite place for ideas…Pinterest! There I found a great scavenger hunt from thebirdfeedernyc.com. I printed off a copy for each of them, then found a cutting board each and some clips, to make them both a clip board.
I am very lucky to have Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre just round the corner from us. It is a great place for walking and discovering nature. So we packed up a picnic, got our clipboards ready and off we went.
Pinky and Boo were loving walking around the beautiful lake with their clipboards tucked under their arms, ready to tick off their findings. They were so excited to have their first sighting of something from their list, they squealed with delight! They got their pencil and ticked off ‘bird’. Being a lake, there were many different types, from ducks to geese to small birds. I think birds got ticked off many times over!
We found ants, flying bugs, green leaves, brown leaves, flowers, sticks in the shape of a Y and many more things. We found a log to walk along and jump from, as well as tree roots to balance on. We all had a fantastic time hunting for nature and really looking at what goes on in our real natural world, that we often don’t notice.
We can all take nature for granted sometimes. Doing this activity, made me realise how little I teach my children about nature. We are often going for walks in the forest, on a beach etc, but it hadn’t occurred to me, I don’t always explain what we see, to them. I just took it for granted, they would know what a tree root was, but they didn’t. So we had lots of fun discovering the many tree roots around the lake.
Our nature scavenger hunt was a very basic one, which I felt was appropriate for their age, but as they get older, I will do more complex hunts for them, finding specific birds, flowers etc. But in the mean time, we had great fun looking for basic stuff, as well as looking for ‘trolls’ under the bridge.
We didn’t manage to find all of the things on our list, even the one thing I thought, would have been a given, ‘cloud’. There was not a cloud in the sky. Never mind, it just shows how changeable nature is and gives us the incentive to go and do another hunt later in the summer. I would also like to do a scavenger hunt in each of the seasons, as there are so many different things to see in spring, summer, autumn and winter.
We enjoyed our picnic by the lake, followed by a play in the playground. It was so nice to spend some special time with my three-year olds alone, whilst getting out in the gorgeous sunshine at such a beautiful, natural, quiet location. We all loved it!
Last weekend saw some wonderful hot, sunny weather for the first time this year. So to celebrate, we, like thousands of other people in the country, spent the day in the garden, got the paddling pool out and had a BBQ.
One of my most favourite things, is watching the children play and have fun, so what better way to do this, than to get friends round. The children had their friends to play and splash about in the padding pool. Everyone got wet, there was water everywhere, but who cares, when it’s so gorgeously warm!
The slide even got put into the paddling pool, which was such good fun, sliding down into the water and making an enormous splash! The children ran around giggling, laughing and splashing together. To me this is what childhood is all about.
I got bubble blowing mixture out for everyone and the children all tried to see who could blow the biggest bubbles.
We followed the afternoon off with a lovely BBQ, courtesy of Twinlife daddy’s cooking. We had trouble keeping the children away from the BBQ, so I laid two long lengths of wood around the area and told them they were not to cross it. To my amazement, this worked brilliantly and no one crossed! That is definitely a tip worth remembering for future.
The BBQ was lovely, especially the Pimms!
We all had a really lovely spontaneous day outside on a gorgeous summers day!
This ticks an activity off my things to do in the summer holidays list. Looking forward to doing lots more.
One of the most important things I believe I can do as a parent for my children, is to be an inspiration, a good role model. Children often replicate what they see, so, if I try to be the best person I can, I am hoping my children will do the same.
Last weekend was a great example of this. I play the tenor horn in Cold Ash Brass. On Sunday (yes, one of the hottest days of the year so far!), I played a concert in our local park, on the bandstand.
It was a great afternoon, despite being incredibly hot, dressed all in black, trousers and long-sleeved shirt and despite missing the legendary Wimbledon tennis. The children came to watch and listen to me play, whilst they scooted around on their scooters and kicked a ball about. They had loads of fun playing and watching. They even got to have an ice cream in the interval to cool down too.
To my amazement, this appears to have really inspired my children. As soon as they got home from the concert, they went straight to their musical drawer and pulled out every instrument going. The piano, recorders, percussion etc, everything! They also got the written music out and tried to read it. Then said to me “where are the words?”. I had never thought of that before…. no words, just dots on a page. I tried to explain a little to them.
They then proceeded to give us a concert, which was great to see, but as you can imagine, not great on the ears! BB now says he wants to learn music. I have said I will teach him the recorder if that is what he wants to do. I think he is still a little too young to learn a proper instrument yet, but I have promised him, if he still wants to when he is a bit older, he can. But for now I am more than happy to teach recorder to start him off, though my ears may not be thinking that after a while! (What have I let myself in for?)
I want to inspire my children to try new things and encourage them to pursue their interests. If that interest is music, that’s great, if they choose something else, that’s great too.