Decopatch

Squiggle saw Decopatch at Living Crafts and was very interested in the technique. Therefore she was bought some Decopatch for her birthday (she got a starter kit from us and then got some more lovely items to decopatch from a very kind friend too). Here she is hard at work (and thoroughly enjoying it)…

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Our Week in Pictures

Here are some of our adventures this week….

Greenwood park
Greenwood park
Southend beach
Southend beach
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Squiggle made our pet cat a ‘pouch’ then set up a treasure hunt around the house so he could follow the picture clues (with her help of course!) to find the prize at the end.
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Painting in the garden
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Balancing in the garden
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Designing her own clothes
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Playing at Grandad’s house
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Fun at soft play

Bubble Art

Today for our home ed art group one of the lovely mums brought along bubble art…

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Learning how to prepare the paint mixture for blowing.

 

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Blowing bubbles (Squiggle was particularly enthusiastic about this as it reminded her of the glass blowing demonstration last weekend!)

 

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Her first attempt, she was really pleased ūüôā

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

Origami Seals

Inspired by Living Crafts at Hatfield house, Squiggle has spent this morning learning to make origami seals…

 

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First of all, Squiggle and her dad made one as a team to practise, then she followed his step by step demonstration to make one on her own.

 

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She watched him carefully and listened to his instructions.
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Her finished seal origami. She is so proud of herself!

Living Crafts (Hatfield House, Hertfordshire)

On Friday afternoon we went to Living Crafts held in the beautiful grounds of Hatfield House. This is an annual event, celebrating it’s 40th anniversary this year. Most of the workshops, demonstrations and stalls are in large marquees, which means the weather won’t spoil the fun. There was plenty to see (and do) of interest, way too much to list it all in fact! Just a few of our favourites included glass blowing demonstrations, origami workshop, soap carving, decopatch, watching maypole dancers and listening to steel drums. We actually had so much fun that we returned today for another visit, it is a fantastic educational experience and great for all ages too. We look forward to next year’s event already! For further details see¬†www.livingcrafts.co.uk

Here are just a few of the photos…

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Squiggle was really interested in the glass blowing demonstration.
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They demonstrated various glass blowing techniques and we watched the whole process of making this wine glass.
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Origami
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Squiggle learning origami.
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We will soon be doing some decopatching at home!
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We saw the paper making workshop so Squiggle wants to research more about how to make paper.

 

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Willow weaving.
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Shoe maker, Squiggle found this particularly entertaining.
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Pottery.
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Soap carving
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Squiggle doing some soap carving.
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Spinning.
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Old fashion wool machine.
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Weaving.
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A work in progress.
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Horseshoe dog sculpture.
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Steel drums.
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Squiggle dancing to the music.
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Maypole dancing.
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Living Crafts was a very educational event, we will remember it well!

 

 

Easter at Mead Open Farm

Having always found Mead Open Farm to be relatively quiet, even at weekends and holidays, and having found Willows somewhat less crowded than we had expected last weekend (previously we have always found Willows to be the busier of these two farms), we found we were in for a HUGE shock when we arrived at Mead Open Farm this afternoon. The car park was literally covering most of a massive field, one that we had never even experienced the need to ever use for parking on any previous visit, it looked PACKED. Caught in the unenviable position of choosing a meltdown over change of plans or meltdown from over-stimulation we decided the latter was preferable and proceeded as planned.

 

Luckily we had not been here during their Easter event specifically before so Squiggle held absolutely no expectation as to what it might be like, which did make the unexpected volume of people abit easier to manage. We decided to totally ignore the schedule of events and go with the flow, but we did manage to find the Easter Bunny for a cuddle and wandered over to the marquee to do an Easter hunt, which Squiggle really enjoyed. I did have a look at the schedule of activities earlier this evening, after we got home, and there seemed to be some nice Easter activities going on (more real animal encounter type activities than Willows but less in the way of shows) although I think at least some of the activities are regular ones, not exclusively for Easter, so I don’t feel we missed out on much.

 

The new natural play area has just opened so was very popular, both with Squiggle and clearly also with the majority of other children there today too. It has a great selection of equipment and is well designed to cater for a range of ages. Squiggle was happy she got to play for a while and was clearly very impressed with it but it was much too busy for her to fully make the most of it. We look forward to returning soon in term time though for a quieter play, as it is certainly worth revisiting.

 

Here are some photos of today…

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Easter bunny

 

The aim of the Easter hunt was to find 5 letters hidden in ‘Hoppy’s Hamlet’ and work out what Easter-related word they make (which Squiggle worked out independently) to claim a prize (a chocolate bunny lolly)…

Easter Hunt
Easter Hunt

 

The brand new natural play area…

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New play area
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New play area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few of the animals we saw today…

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Feeding sheep
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Lambs
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Baby bunnies

 

All things considered we are glad we went, it was worth the crowds for, and Squiggle had an absolutely wonderful time. A good Easter day out!

 

For more information about Mead Open Farm in general (although I have noticed that they don’t detail event schedules/ specific timings of activities on their website, which is a shame) see their website¬†www.meadopenfarm.co.uk

Easter at Willows

Today we went to Willows Farm for their Easter event. We were hesitant to go over the weekend in the middle of the Easter holidays as we know how busy it gets on weekdays during this popular event but Squiggle loves Willows (especially at Easter!) so we braved it anyway. And actually it wasn’t quite as packed as we might have imagined and all went smoothly so we are very glad we did, it was a lovely afternoon.

 

There were various Easter events and activities going on, as well as the usual facilities they have available, so a family could certainly easily fill an entire day there. There was far more to do than is possible to fit in just a few hours but we were prepared for that and prioritised the Easter events, having been a few weeks ago to enjoy the regular facilities anyway. They do however schedule shows and activities to be on twice a day, once in the morning and again in the afternoon, so it is entirely possible to only go for half a day and still make the most of what is on offer for Easter. The schedule is well organised to provide a natural flow to the visit at a reasonable pace for a young child without it becoming too much. We left just before closing feeling very happy with our visit indeed!

 

The farm itself is decorated in a spring/ Easter theme with lots of pretty displays throughout…

Easter
Easter hay bales
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Easter displays

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was an Easter egg hunt in the Easter Gardens….

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Collect a basket and find five different colour Easter eggs
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Search for the eggs hidden around the Easter Garden
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Keep searching!
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Once all five colour eggs have been collected they can be exchanged for five small chocolate eggs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were several different shows, including ‘Scarecrow and Friends’ (a lovely introduction to some of the farm animals via a simple game of guess the clues with some basic information about the animals and an action song at the end), ‘Bunny Hop’ (action songs with the Easter bunny on stage) and ‘Singalong with Curly’ (action songs with Curly the pig on stage)…

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Scarecrow and Friends
Bunny Hop
Bunny Hop
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Singalong with Curly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was even sheep racing…

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Sheepstakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Squiggles favourite, cuddles from the characters…

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Meeting the Easter bunny
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Cuddles with Woolly sheep

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also found time to fit in a couple of the regular activities including looking at the animals (there are lots of newborns and young babies to see at this time of year of course!), holding a guinea pig, sand and funfair rides…

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Funfair rides

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Baby goat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Guinea pig handling

The Value of Free Time to ‘Just’ Play

Yesterday we went to a birthday party somewhere new. Squiggle loves to act out new experiences, I think it helps her to process it fully so is really important she can do this. By the time we got home it was too late to spend much time doing this so we only had a chat about it before she went to bed. However, today we had a whole day free for us to just play at home, entirely self-directed by her. She spent literally all day acting out the event in great detail, for 7 hours solid (except eating!) It really reminded me how beneficial it is to keep a slow pace; it is essential to factor in plenty of respite between activities and keep entire days free regularly just for sustained free play. It holds so much value, this time is just too precious to give up.

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Here are the guests at the party. She made several cards, written independently for the birthday children and also wrapped up gifts herself for them.
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All guests need a wristband before entering the party!
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She spent a couple of hours making wristbands for guests, including cutting to size, colouring and writing on each one then carefully putting them on each guest.
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Using her fine motor skills to put wristbands on her guests- it was quite fiddly!
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Wristband says 'Partyman World' (sounded out and written independently)
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Rope swing/ zip wire in soft play at the party.
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Squiggle having a go of the pinata at the party.
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Acting out the pinata at the party.

Sapphire Gymnastics (Hemel Hempstead, Herts)

A couple of weeks ago we held a home education group at Sapphire gymnastics in Hemel Hempstead for the second time. It has a good variety of equipment to cater for a range of ages; facilities include balancing equipment, ropes, bars and rings, spring board and box, trampoline, soft play and bouncy castle. There are two sites, we have not been to the new Mark Road site yet but the pictures look very impressive so we are keen to visit this one sometime too. The following photos are of our home ed group held at the original Park Road site next to the sports centre. For more information see Sapphire Gymnastics website www.sapphiregymnastics.co.uk

 

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Balancing
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Balance beams
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Trampolining
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Swinging on ropes
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Bars
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Bouncy castle slide
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Soft play

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Fun at Sapphire Gymnastics
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