Dog Shows, Fetes and Fun Days

We have been to various fetes, fun days and dog shows this year. We really enjoy going to these events, not only as a fun family day out, but because they are educational and excellent social opportunities too.

For example, dog shows might seem like an odd place to hang out if (like us) you are not a dog owner but we find they are a brilliant way for Squiggle to initiate social interactions in a relaxed, spontaneous situation. She loves dogs but she knows not to stroke them without first checking with the owner, so she has been learning to judge the situation to decide if it seems a sensible time, then asks the owner’s permission before petting the dog. She sometimes then chats to the owner further, asking questions such as the name of the dog, breed, age etc… Great for building her confidence!

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Oaklands Doggy Day
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Dog event in Hemel Hempstead- June
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Donkey sanctuary fun day (dogs, horse grooming and inflatables)
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Dog show at a local school (play area, dog competitions, dog agility, games)
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Highfield Charity Dog Show- Sept
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Highfield fete (dog agility, assault course, inflatables)

Oaklands Summer Fete in July had a huge range of activities and events going on. This one was a big hit!

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Oaklands Summer Fete (morris dancing, funfair, inflatables, coordination/ fine motor skill games, bricklaying demonstration, birds of prey, chainsaw sculpture demonstration and loads more...)
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At Oaklands Summer Fete we also watched a horseball game, which was very unusual!

St Albans Country Show relocated at the last minute from Aldenham to Highfield Park. This was another lovely event with plenty to do.

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St Albans Country Show (animals)
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St Albans County Show (dog competitions)
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St Albans County Show (circus skills- Squiggle was SO excited!!!)
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St Albans Country Show (Squiggle LOVED this inflatable slide because there was a choice of which slide to go down!)

These events also inspire her, capture her imagination, bring out her creativeness and motivate her to write. Her are some of the activities she has chosen to do at home after our days out…

Squiggle designed her own dog activity worksheets.

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The first picture says 'Which dog do you think has the waggiest tail? Colours Dog or Circus Dog.' The second picture is a colouring in that says 'eyes red, nose yellow, ears pink, smile biro.'

She made herself an animal colouring in book.

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Title page 'Colour in the animals' Page 1 'golden retreiver...Cute' Page 2 'dalmation.... Milu Cute Littlesea' Page 3 'poodle...Oodle the Poodle' Page 4 'harbour seals' Page 5 'cat...Littlesea' Page 6 'tigre tiger...Rory' Page 7 'walrus (on ice)' Page 8 'bunny'

She acted out the dog agility.

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Dog agility

Squiggle’s book of dog breeds.

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Dog Breed Book. Page 1 'Dalmations' Page 2 'Poodles' Page 3 'Bull dogs. Playing games- lick bone, chase, fetch' Page 4 'Golden Retrievers' Page 5 'Huskies' Page 6 'Spaniels' (Below most dogs she has written 'with a tickly tummy' plus their name and/ or a description by them too).

July Activities

As well as the previous blog posts I have already written about some of our days out, here are some of the other activities Squiggle enjoyed in July…

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June: Activities at Home

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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
sylvanian school game 5-11-14
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!
Playing at home with sylvanians 29.11.14
Sylvanians are playing by the water

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Sylvanian games 21.11.14
Dressing up sylvanians
Sylvanians 19.11.14
Sylvanians at a restaurant
Sylvanians 19.11.14
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
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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.

 

Our Week in Pictures

sylvanian skiing aug 14
Imaginative play- skiing
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Face painting Fluffy. She sounded out ‘flufe’
garden balancing aug 14
Balancing on the logs with Gingerbread, our cat.
pick your own in garden aug 14
Picking fruit from our garden, lots of blackberries and a few apples too.
person collage aug 14
Collage person.
art group aug 14
Art group, using different tools for painting.
connect four models aug 14
Using connect four counters to make models. She made a 2D dog and a plane, plus a well balanced 3D tower.
designing parachutes and exploring gravity aug 14
Learning about gravity and designing parachutes for her seals. She compared which fell fastest and we talked about why. She then modified her design several times to try to improve it’s effectiveness.
acting out park aug 14
Design and technology, plus imaginative play. She built a park out of duplo for some of her toys. She also designed and made paper clothes for them to wear.
paradise park aug 14
Paradise Wildlife Park
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A friend’s birthday party.

Wipe Clean Books

I must admit I am not a huge fan of the concept of wipe clean books, in my opinion they are too prescriptive and therefore have the potential to be very restrictive, limiting the child’s creative thinking, and have limited appeal. To be honest, I fully expected the novelty of them to be very short-lived.

However, they have actually proven to be quite the opposite in our experience at home. Squiggle finds unique and interesting ways to interact with them, coming up with ideas that, to be perfectly honest, I never could have imagined. They reveal her creative side and imagination beautifully and show off her wonderful ability to really think outside the box.

She has spent entire days recently making up stories about the characters from the books, combining a range of media to do so. Here is just one example of this…

Note: this is not the whole story, the actual version went on for several days!

She decided to draw the characters from the wipe clean book having a birthday party.
She decided to draw the characters from the wipe clean book having a birthday party.
The rabbit character from the wipe clean book opened a present. It was a mosaic activity.
The rabbit character from the wipe clean book opened a present. It was a mosaic activity.
She then drew a picture of them singing happy birthday.
She then drew a picture of them singing happy birthday.

Next she drew the same characters having the party buffet then watching fireworks.
Next she drew the same characters having the party buffet then watching fireworks.

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The next day they went to the beach.

The cuddly toy version of the rabbit character in the wipe clean book also became part of the game.
The cuddly toy version of the rabbit character in the wipe clean book also became part of the game.
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“They went to the funfair at night, before going to bed.”
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She wrote the names of all of the characters.

As well as doing detailed storytelling, drawing illustrations and role-playing inspired by these books, she also enjoys using them in other ways…

She enjoys writing her own ideas in the book.
She enjoys writing her own ideas in the book.
Completing the wordseach (upside down to make it more challenging!)
Completing the word search (upside down to make it more challenging!)
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Practising letter formation

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

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.

Latest Highlights: Our Fortnight in Pictures

These are the highlights of our week fortnight in pictures…

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Playing in the woods with friends
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Whipsnade zoo.
Squiggle particularly enjoyed comparing her hand to an adult foot and elephant foot, driving along the ‘Passage through Asia’ and seeing baby Mara, as well as playing in the outdoor adventure play area ‘Hullabazoo’. She also loved the penguins and of course the sealions. One of the sealions spent much of the time sunbathing, which she found especially fascinating and hilarious. She was also able to view them underwater (for sealion cuddles!) and watched a member of staff carry out their health checks and enrichment activities, which she found both intriguing and entertaining. Later two of the sealions enjoyed playing under the spray of a water hose, which she was also lucky enough to observe.
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Playing at home.
A few of her self- chosen activities recently include making outfits for her toys, drawing and writing, practising her letter formation, reading books to her toy baby, making mosaic pictures and hosting an imaginary bring and share lunch with toys. Lifting and carrying shopping is a fantastic sensory activity!
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Making magnets using plaster in moulds
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Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington has lots of sensory activities.
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Art group/ Meet up and play
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Local park (with friends, just not pictured!)
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Woodside Farm.
Squiggle loved spending time with family members, playing inside and outside, feeding the rabbits and guinea pigs, and seeing other various animals including goats (including a baby kid less than a fortnight old). llamas, lemurs, ducks and geese.
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This begun has Squiggle wanting to make a zip wire for her toys but turned into an excellent learning opportunity when the ribbon she used broke repeatedly because it rubbed against the other ribbon as it moved. This led to a discussion about friction, investigating how much friction different materials produce and then also a discussion about making fire by rubbing sticks together as well. She decided to use the smooth side of a belt to make the zip wire as it would create least friction out of the items she had available.
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Playing in the garden
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Longacres park