Playing With Coins

I found this ‘think challenge‘ blog the other day, and decided to give it a try with my kids. I thought it would appeal to Leon because he loves to problem solve, and to Maya because she just loves to build and create things.

This week the challenge was to build something with coins.

Well, there wasn’t too much building going on…

Maya devised a game called ‘copy cat’, where I had to copy exactly as she did when building a tower of coins. It seemed to be an excellent way of getting her used to recognising Swedish coins.

Whereas Leon stuck to a more traditional sorting the coins, and adding up the total.

Despite the original intention, they both enjoyed themselves, and learnt a little maths to boot!

The Technology Museum : Stockholm

Yes. Yet another fantastic museum!

We’ve visited this museum many times, but this is the first time since the new ‘Sport’ exhibition has been installed. It lies within a large area called ‘Tecknorama’, where there are three ‘discover and play’ rooms, catering for many different things. It also includes a fantastic workshop where people can go and build with a specific construction toy in peace and quiet.

We spent most of our time in the ‘Sport’ room…

...balancing...

...jumping...

...running...

...rowing...

...ski-ing...

...spinning....

Dancing, reaction, pulse and movement were also on the cards! Plus an area for smaller children where they could climb, slide, crawl, play with bricks, etc, which Alfie enjoyed.

The actual museum has so much to do, and so many exhibitions. Other than the three large play areas and workshop mentioned above, there was a space exhibition, a machine room, a mine, a model railway, a robot workshop, a 3D cinema and some smaller exhibitions.

But we’ll have to save those for another time….!

15 Things I Love About Sweden

Most Friday mornings I take Maya and Alfie to the local swimming pool, and this is the sight we saw on the way…

It made me think about the things I love about Sweden…

  1. The outstandingly beautiful colour of the sky when the sun comes up or goes down on a cold day.
  2. The sight of everything covered in thick white glistening snow, especially the fir trees.
  3. Being able to go sledging, ski-ing or ice skating in the nature, completely free.
  4. Watching the different wild birds come and eat on the veranda, from the warmth of the kitchen.
  5. The fantastic forests and beautiful lakes, all within a walk, or a short driving distance away.
  6. Being able to pick wild strawberries or raspberries, or blueberries and cranberries in the wild, without spending a penny.
  7. Being able to pick wild mushrooms in autumn without spending a penny.
  8. Being able to go on a bus journey (with a pushchair) absolutely free.
  9. Being paid to have my children at home with me until they start school – NOT including child benefit.
  10. The fact that my children don’t officially have to start school until they are  7 years old.
  11. The fact that my husband gets 6 weeks paid holiday a year – NOT including national holidays.
  12. The fact that my husband gets over 100 ‘daddy free’ days off work, per child.
  13. The fact that my children can take a bus on their own, or play in the local area alone or with friends, and that you know they will be safe.
  14. The fact that for 3 months of the year the sun stays up until very very late, and almost never goes down.
  15. The many wonderful child friendly museums, mostly encouraging hands-on play, and often free for under 7s.

A Thought About Jesus

Another classic comment from our daughter!

We were discussing a picture Maya had made with hearts on it. I suggested it could be a Valentines card for Pappa, but as I suggested this her thoughts went off on a tangent …

Maya : “Do you think Alfie understands about Valentines and why we have it? I don’t think he does.”

Me : “No, and he probably doesn’t understand that people believe Christmas was Jesus’ birthday, or Easter was when he died, or Alfie’s own birthday was the date that he was born”.

Maya : “So my birthday is right in between when Jesus was born, and when he died!”

She thought for a moment.

“Hmmmm. Jesus didn’t live for very long did he?”.

We Are Drowning In Snow!

No, really, we are!

All day yesterday it snowed, and all of last night, and yet it continues to snow. It’s not often that people in Sweden are stopped from getting to work in the snow, but this morning our neighbour spent some hours trying to dig out other neighbours, their son couldn’t get to school, and on these little roads we couldn’t even get far with the sledge!

A fun game that was discovered was to jump off the frame of the trampoline and land in a huge pile of the soft stuff…

Unfortunately Alfie wasn’t too impressed – the snow came over his waist, and I think he just found it a bit too freaky!

The miracle is, Richard managed to get himself to work and Leon to school. But how on earth will they get home?!

All About Mittens

Well, to keep in with the season, and to encourage my soon six year old in her enthusiasm for wanting to learn to read and write (she won’t begin to learn this for another year and a half here in Sweden), we have started trying to read ‘The Mitten‘. A simple and repetitive tale about some animals hiding in a mitten!

I have been a bit ‘schooly’, and have set up an area with the book, a word wall, and some play activities relating to the book.

Firstly, of course, a little role play.

We didn’t have all the animals in the book, so changed ours, and later Maya also changed the story a little – to a rather scary crocodile eating up all the animals!

Next, a tray of salt to make ‘tracks’ with the animals (and other added objects). I decided against using real snow because it has the problem of melting so quickly…! We are always looking out for animal, bird and people tracks in the snow, so this is an activity the kids are used to. Nice to have a little role play with it this time too!

Our final activity is with mittens! Well, we have so many in this cold country, we may as well make it into a matching activity!

The following mitten matching activity was printed out from Kidsoup – I thought it would be too easy for Maya, but I was pleasantly surprised! The sheer amount of mittens with similar colours and patterns sometimes confused her, plus she loved pegging them on the line.

I love book related activities. Kids learn so much from them, and there are so many learning routes that can be taken. Plus I love the fact that different age groups can benefit from them. Just great!

The Science Of Playdough

It started off as a “mixture” and ended up as play-dough!

Maya asked to make a mixture. It started off with what she told me was “eight metres” of water (millilitres I think she meant), to which she added a teaspoon of vanilla powder, a teaspoon of brown sugar, a tablespoon  of baking powder, and then the same of bicarbonate of soda with a lid full of vinegar. Then there was a sprinkling of garlic powder (disgusting!), and a drop of peppermint essence and blue food colouring. And a tablespoon of oil.

It was then cooked over a low heat – and thus became play-dough.

The entire experiment was “concocted” by herself. She added flour when she wanted it to be more doughy, and less sticky. She added oil when she didn’t want it to stick to the pan. She noticed that the sugar disappeared into the water (“all the bits break up”), and that the baking powder was heavy and sank to the bottom, creating a “sunshine like pattern” on the bottom of the bowl. She commented that when she got rid of half the water, and poured in the flour, the smell of garlic started to disappear a little. And that the flour did not break into small bits and dissolve, but instead stayed in separate clumps on the top, partly dry, partly wet, until it was manually mixed in.

Simple chemistry from a 5 year old. It amazes me how much we, as adults, think we can teach and tell children how things work, when sometimes just standing back, listening and observing helps us to realise how much they are able to teach themselves, and how observant they continuously are.

It’s just amazing! And now we have play-dough…