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…
There was an Easter egg hunt in the Easter Gardens….
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)…
There was even sheep racing…
And Squiggles favourite, cuddles from the characters…
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…
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.
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
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.
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!
We made gluten free, dairy free, soya free and egg free pancakes for dinner, to celebrate Shrove Tuesday. This was partly based on family diet restrictions (both mine and Squiggle’s) and partly because we decided to rise to the challenge of using what we had available in the kitchen without taking a trip to a supermarket!
1. 250g gluten free flour
2. 600ml alternative dairy free milk (we used almond milk)
3. Egg replacer
4. Mix together
5. Fry in sunflower oil or alternative (we used rapeseed oil)
6. Flip or toss the pancakes
And here is Squiggle enjoying the finished product….
We started this week back in Weymouth to revisit the Sealife Centre as we found it so relaxing and therapeutic last month. We often find it helpful to return to places of interest quite soon after the previous visit, especially when something specific has captured her attention, because subsequent visits often add a new dimension to the place visited. We find the familiarity of the environment provides her with security and confidence (but yet at this stage the place is still ‘new’ enough that her expectations aren’t too rigid) so she is able to build on the previous experience and add even more value to it, by allowing her to extend her interests further and encouraging new interests at the same time.
Highlights of this visit were playing in the water (yes, even at this time of year!), going on the seal ride, watching and discussing the various fish, different types of turtles, studying the corals and anenomes, observing the seals again and alot of laughter!
Later in the week we visited a local park on Thursday, attended a home education group visit to KIDS playground on Friday, went to a home education information session on Saturday (which mainly turned into an excuse to play in another local park with her friend most of time!) and then finished the week by going to a family- friendly disco with another friend on Sunday. She also enjoyed time at home drawing, playing and caring for her pet bunnies.
Here is a small snippet of some of last week’s activities…
Activities at home this week included water play (sensory activity), studying a particularly friendly ladybug, discussion about the weather (with myself as well as our cat obviously!), drawing lots of different pictures including a cat character and Igglepiggle (as well as many others), making a decorated model house for her seal, sorting beads and inventing her own target games using a set of foil containers she found in the cupboard. In additon, our egg experiment can be found here. We also met up with friends at a local soft play centre.