April 2015

Ok, since I have gotten lazy about blogging lately here is April all rolled into one…

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Spring walks
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Highfield Park, including some of the tree trail with friends
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Growing our own food
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Science experiment- celery in food colouring
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Sand and water play
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Problem solving- how to patch up a leak with resources available
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Art group- foam marbling
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General garden fun
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Squiggle designed a carrier bag kite and parachute
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Quality time with our cats
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Observing and discussing the sky above- including clouds, rainbows, sunrise and sunset
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Playdate at home
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Writing
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Princess Diana Playground, Kensington
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Aldenham SEN playground
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Designing own games and activities
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Art and crafts
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Fun at a park
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Physical games- cone activities
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More playground fun- with grandad
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Butterfly World
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New 'Music Meadow' at Butterfly World
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Seaside- yes, she did steal daddys cardigan for a short while!
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Art group
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Art group- butterfly symmetry painting
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Art and Science! Put a few drops of food colouring into milk. Then put some washing liquid on a cotton bud, dip it in and let the colours disperse. Makes an interesting 'painting'
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Exploring instruments- lots of singing and dancing too!
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Park with a friend

We also did lots of Easter activities, which I blogged about separately, and have been to music class but haven’t got any photos of that! Last but not least, we did various circus themed activities, but that needs it’s own post!

Eco- Energy City

Today Squiggle and I spent the majority of the day building an ‘Eco- Energy City’. It was such an interesting project and sparked lots of educational discussion, such as renewable energy sources, transfer of energy and different ways energy is used. She was really focused throughout and loved the finished product too- a big thumbs up from us!

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Getting started
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Circuits
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Wiring the water wheel
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Finishing touches
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And it works! The 'city' gets energy via the solar panel and hand generator, which can be stored and then used to power the windmill, turn the water wheel and light up the street light and house light.
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Experimenting with the switches
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Sylvanians came to visit the city and learn about it too!

Sylvanian Families

I spotted an article this morning, written a few weeks ago, about Sylvanian Families. Squiggle loves them and they have been a great investment for her; encourages imaginative play, acting out social situations, retelling stories/ recreating events, creative play (she makes things for them) and creates topics for discussion. Here are some pictures of Squiggle playing with her collection…

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Acting out a trip to the seaside
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Possibly inspired by the idea of a roof rack?!
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Tree-house adventures
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Pulling a giant cracker!
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Acting out Apsley Marina including bridge, canal boat, play area and outdoor eating
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Cafe inspired by the Sylvanian catalogue
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I love how she has represented water coming out of the tap!
Caravan holiday
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Inspired by the catalogue, Squiggle builds her Sylvanian families a boat
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Acting out a playground she visited
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Pretending they are going on a cruise
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Limbo fun!
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Improvising, its a boat
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Having soup
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They are at a social group
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Climbing the mountain
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Canal boat
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Inside the canal boat
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Not sure what is going on, but its busy!
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Water and sand play
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Ice creams and gardening
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A day at school
sylvanian skiing aug 14
Skiing

 

Playing at home with sylvanians 29.11.14
Playing at home with sylvanians 29.11.14
Playing at home with sylvanians 29.11.14
I love that she has the baby in a wrap and one of the characters are wearing ear defenders like she does!
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Sylvanians are playing by the water

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Sylvanian games 21.11.14
Dressing up sylvanians
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Sylvanians at a restaurant
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Sylvanians 19.11.14
Sylvanians 19.11.14
Sylvanians decorating their Christmas tree
Imaginary play and construction 18.11.14
Imaginary play and construction 18.11.14
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Writing for a purpose, inspired by sylvanians

 

Father Christmas sylvanians
Father Christmas sylvanians
Rowing
Rowing
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Different types of boats in the water, including the ferry she built

 

Playing with Sylvanians 17.11.14
Sylvanians at the zoo watching the penguins

 

The article is here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November: Part One

These are some of the things we have been doing so far this month…

character drawings 01.11.14
Drawing various characters she has created in a variety of outfits 01.11.14
fishing 01-11-14
Fishing for coins in the bath- a game she designed herself 01.11.14
water scales 01-11-14
Squiggle started off using her balance scales to compare volumes of water. This then led to a discussion about measurements of solids and liquids, and the units they are measured in. She then decided to experiment with comparing the ducks and water combined. She observed that when the water was the same volume each side and therefore balanced, that the two ducks did not weigh the same. This was not what she predicted because they look the same and are the same size, but she the concluded one of them must have water inside adding to the weight. She then tried to push the duck down into the water and was amused that it popped back up again so we discussed why this happens. She also noticed the water level rises as she did so, which also led to a discussion on water displacement. 01.11.14
white water rafting 01.11.14
We went to watch white water rafting at Lee Valley. 01.11.14
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Caldecotte lake 02.11.14
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Watching watersports on the lake 02.11.14
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Photos at the lake 02.11.14
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One of my favourite photographs of Caldecotte lake 02.11.14
cuddly toy cat game 3-11-14
Cuddly toy cat game 03.11.14
paradise park play area 4-11-14
Paradise park 04.11.14 physical exercise and a spot of map reading too
paradise park animals 4-11-14
A few of the animals at Paradise park 04.11.14
paradise park monkey 4-11-14
We were lucky enough to spot a two day old newborn baby gibbon clinging to mum 04.11.14
sylvanian school game 5-11-14
Squiggle used her Sylvanian families to act out a day at school. This led to some very interesting questions, such as why do the children need to wear a school uniform, who decides what it should be etc… We then had a very balanced discussion about the differences between school and home education. She was able to articulate very well why she personally feels home ed is much better suited to her needs. 05.11.14
southend 6-11-14
Southend beach 06.11.14
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We found this great resource at the beach playground, it is simple explanation of the weather cycle. Squiggle enjoyed learning how clouds form and how it rains. This led to further discussion about weather, the sun and also how stars form too 06.11.14
southend boats 6-11-14
Boats at Southend 06.11.14
southend more photography 6-11-14
Some of my favourite photos from our trip to Southend 06.11.14
southend photography 6-11-14
Scenic photos of Southend 06.11.14
fireworks fleetville 7.11.14
Local fireworks display 07.11.14
fireworks crabtree 8.11.14
Watching fireworks with a friend 08.11.14
fashion garden 9.11.14
Playing in the garden 09.11.14
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Picnic in the garden 09.11.14
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Fun at Bopping Babes disco 09.11.14
sylvanian imagination 10.11.14
Small world imaginary play 10.11.14
sylvanian ayletts christmas display 11.11.14
Acting out Ayletts Christmas display from last year 11.11.14
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We then visited Ayletts garden centre to see this year’s display 11.11.14
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Notcutts garden centre 11.11.14
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Squiggle made her own Christmas sticker book 12.11.14
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Sylvanian family decorating for Christmas (wearing clothes she made for them for winter) 12.11.14
duplo treehouse 13.11.14
Duplo construction (tree house playground) 13.11.14
clarence park 13.11.14
Clarence park 13.11.14
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Squiggle designed a multi pack of cat treats 14.11.14
cats 14.11.14
Squiggle then asked the next day to go to the pet shop to buy the cats a treat 15.11.14
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Chilling together
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Van Hage garden centre 16.11.14
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We popped to Stanborough lake briefly on the way home 16.11.14

 

In addition to these activities, we also practised estimating (time mainly) and discussed the difference between a guess and an estimate. We have also played a game several times that she invented whereby we try to recall what we were doing x number of days ago. This proved to be a fun memory game and we enjoyed talking about past events, as well as doing the maths to work out how many weeks, months and sometimes years ago the day was. I also discovered she didn’t know what a typewriter was when she found a miniature toy one (then again, why would she know!) So we discussed technology and how it has progressed, which she found very interesting.

 

Embracing Unexpected Learning Opportunities

This morning Squiggle was awoken by the sound of a loud noise coming from outside. She was clearly anxious but I reassured her it was nothing to worry about and went to investigate so I could tell her more about it. It turned out our neighbours were having their trees cut back by some professional tree cutters. I realised this was something we could either try not to ignore, whilst Squiggle got more and more distressed by the noise, or I could see what I could do to turn it into a positive experience for her. So I excitedly called her to the window and enthusiastically explained what they were doing, then invited her to watch for as long as she wanted. Thankfully, this successfully turned it around and not only relieved her anxiety about the unexpected noise disruption but it sparked lots of interest and discussion about nature, uses for wood and recycling, then led to some lovely role-play with her toys too. It was great how something she was initially ‘on edge’ about and therefore could have caused alot of stress, ended up being a really positive learning experience.

 

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Lowering down a large log with their rope pulley.
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Chopping the logs using chainsaws
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The wood chipper
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Squiggle role playing using her toys
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She enjoyed recreating the events she observed

Why Do Nettles Exist?

Whilst we were sat outside on a bench at KIDS playground yesterday, Squiggle asked ‘why do nettles exist?’ She said she was curious because she knows they sting people but do they have a purpose as well, are they useful in any way? And do they sting other animals or just people? What about insects? When we got home, we did some research together to answer her questions. She was interested to discover that nettles can be used as a medicine, as well as food and drink. Insects don’t get stung as they move between the spines without activating the sting. Animals do get stung in theory but only if it touches their skin, so often their fur protects them. This was a useful website for our research www.nettles.org.uk. Squiggle then suggested that maybe stinging nettles are also a way of teaching people to be careful of plants and be more aware of where they are walking.

 

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This is just one example of how natural curiosity leads to discussion and learning. And what better way to foster a child’s natural curiosity and interest in the world around us than simply to be out in it, surrounded by things to wonder about? To me, this is what education is all about!

 

The Beauty of Interest-Led Discussions

Today so far we have discussed the following, all entirely led by Squiggle (and it’s only lunchtime!)…

Odd and even numbers

Times tables (she specifically asked about counting in twos, threes, six, tens, elevens, hundreds and ten thousands). This also led to a discussion about how larger numbers are written.

Why people can’t fly and how gravity works. This led her to demonstrate and explain it to me herself in her own words while jumping around flapping her arms.

Why our cat is called a half Norwegian Forest cat, what we mean by ‘half’ and where the rest of the name in general comes from.

The weather forecast for today and how people predict the weather. This led to discussion over recent weather, climate and seasons.

How paper is made.