Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Biscuits with Isaac

I'm always surprised at how much we underestimate little children's ability to engage in complex activities. I have now found that with Isaac, who is still only two years old, when we make biscuits all I have to do is turn the oven on, get the ingredients and measure them out, he does all the rest!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Remembrance Sunday

As a life long pacifist I am always in two minds when it comes to war related events, but it is undeniable that many (too many) people suffered during the two world wars and remembering those who died during this time is not something I can criticise. And of course, from a historical point of view it is very important for the boys to find out about these wars and the effects they have on us today. I took them to the d-day landing beaches in Normandy and it was a sobering and touching moment even though the boys are still very young.

Some background (thank you Wikipedia as usual):
In the United Kingdom, 'Remembrance Sunday' is held on the second Sunday in November, which is the Sunday nearest to 11 November Armistice Day, the anniversary of the end of hostilities in the First World War at 11 a.m. in 1918. Remembrance Sunday is held "to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts".
In the United Kingdom, Remembrance Sunday is marked by ceremonies at local war memorials in most cities, towns and villages, attended by civic dignitaries, ex-servicemen and -women (principally members of the Royal British Legion), members of local armed forces regular and reserve units (Royal Navy and Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Marines and Royal Marines Reserve, Army and Territorial Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Auxiliary Air Force), military cadet forces (Sea Cadet Corps, Army Cadet Force and Air Training Corps as well as the Combined Cadet Force) and youth organisations (e.g. Scouts and Guides). Wreaths of remembrance poppies are laid on the memorials and two minutes silence is held at 11 a.m. Church bells are usually rung "half-muffled", creating a sombre effect.

For children to find out more and engage is some activities, the CBBC website has some good information, and for loads of crafts and activities go to iChild

Here's some other activities I came across:

Coffee filter poppy flower

Fingerprint poppy craft

Memorial day poppy project

Monday, 5 November 2012

Time Team History of Britain

I used to watch the Time Team TV programme when it first aired, I think it was about 17 years ago... With our recent interest in Archaeology, I came across this really great book by the team: The guide to the history of Britain, through its archaeological sites.

I bought it mainly for myself but something interesting happened last night. I was watching the TV programme that goes with it and Reuben not only was really interested in watching with me (we then went on to watch another...)  but he pulled out the book and was trying to follow the illustrations and photos of the sites. Not bad for a nearly 5 year old! He was particularly interested in the Mesolithic era and the hunter gatherers!
You can watch the programme here: The way we lived

The book is very useful in a home education environment as it is a great reference tool and relates to real places we can visit in the UK as well as being connected to the programmes we can then watch together.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

An afternoon at the museum

There was a photographic exhibition I wanted to see at the New Walk museum and gallery in Leicester and the boys love the interactive displays so we spent a rainy Saturday afternoon at the museum.

Reuben works the controls for the large wall display of marine dinosaurs
At the same time Isaac sees details of the featured dinosaur
Elements from the museum are represented in foam tiles that children can
play with on this wall display
Reuben and Isaac learn about marine dinosaurs
Flying model gliders in the park outside the museum
Sort by shape or colour?
The Autumn leaves are great for dramatic glider landings, Isaac is holding
his red dinosaur glider
The boys find out about evolution, Darwin and the tree of life. The museum
has an interactive programme and video narrated by David Attenborough

Friday, 2 November 2012

Paper Sculpture by James Cochrane

After seeing a really cute piece of papier mache on a friend's page, this gorgeous book came to mind: Paper Sculpture by James C. Cochrane.

The cute and quirky mentioned on the front cover is very very true! The projects are gorgeous, we did the fish you can see on the cover and the starfish project. The rest was a little too advanced for my boys but I would highly recommend it to adults and older children.

Cochrane is an artist and illustrator, his website is full of wonderful whimsical pictures and photos, well worth a look.

Luxury rice krispies cakes

I know that this is a staple child cookery recipe, but it always seemed so dull... every child under the sun had made some, and these things always taste a bit sweet and sickly... But we ran out of flour this morning and Reuben was determined to make some sort of cupcake. So we looked through the pantry and I came across a bag of very yummy and expensive fair trade Barry Callebaut chocolate, so I thought: why not? And they were very good indeed!

This is how we made them:
We used
225g good quality plain chocolate
50g butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
100g rice krispies

We melted the chocolate, butter and syrup (could use a saucepan or the microwave), then added the rice krispies and mixed it all together. We put 12 deep paper cases (the muffin ones) in a baking tray (the ones with shallow pans), filled them with the mixture and put the tray in the fridge for an hour. We kept them in the fridge until we were ready to eat them. Yummy!!!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Clay projects for children

When we ordered the potters wheel, as I know very little about clay and making things with it, I thought it would be a good idea to get a book on projects I could do with the children. So I ordered this very nice book by Monika Krumbach, a ceramicist who has been teaching pottery courses and running workshops for many years.

This book is filled with clay projects that can be done with children of all ages. They go from the simple to the more complex and are imaginative and fun to do. The book is aimed at the adult working with children but the projects do not require any previous pottery training on the part of the adult, a good reason for me to buy it! I went to Art school but was always very bad at anything three dimensional.
As Reuben was busy with the wheel, I set up a workspace for Isaac on the floor (we used air dry clay from the local craft shop), and here is what we did:

I bought a large plastic tablecloth to put on the floor for
messy activities, we used the book for inspiration but also
made whatever we could think of ourselves

Opening the clay

Our first attempt: palm trees

A joint Isaac/Mummy effort

My favourite: the sea monster

A dry and painted sea monster

Magic Town

Magic Town is a recent discovery for us. It's a website and app containing a virtual world of stories.

Reuben really likes the independence of reading virtual books, so this website is really nice for him. We only use the free version but you can upgrade to a paid subscription and get more stories. The free version has around 15 books and a new story each day. There is also a download section with free activity worksheets.

When you arrive in Magic Town, you’ll meet the guides Izzy and Max. They’re there to show you around. You’ll see lots of houses that hold the stories and games. And if you click on the big tree at the top of the landscape, you meet Louis the Storyteller. Louis is a wise old lion who has travelled the world, collecting stories that he’s brought to Magic Town. Click on Louis to get the free story of the day.

Some of the free books include: Elmer the elephant, Winnie the Witch, The little princess, and classics like Little red riding hood and The boy who cried wolf.

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