Sunday Lunch In Galö

We live just 20 minutes drive from the coast of the Swedish archipelago, and this is where the little beach of Galö lies, and is where we had our Sunday lunch picnic today.

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Adventure Kids

Today is a big day for Leon and Maya!

Today Leon has set off on his first ever overnight Scout trip – a boat trip to an island called ‘Utö’ on the Stockholm archipelaego. He left early this morning, and will return tomorrow afternoon. They will sleep in a little cottage on the island, and have lots of adventures. My brave boy!

Rucksack ready and waiting...

Off he goes!

See that rucksack walking up the boat ramp? That's Leon!

Maya cried when he left – they are very close, and so used to being together. But tears were short lived as Maya remembered that today is also an important day for her – it is her first day of being part of ‘Mulle’. ‘Mulle’ is a very old Swedish nature group, where children go off into the forest, discovering how to identify plants and animals, learning how to live in and off the nature, perhaps being lucky enough to meet ‘Mulle’ himself, the forest troll.

And so a picnic was packed for Maya, in her own little rucksack, and she and her friend Ludwig went off to join the trolls in the forest….

St. Georges’ Day Initiation

I had all good intentions of doing a mini-project on England with the kids, it being St.George’s day and that – but as it is also Richard’s birthday, and we were busy baking cakes, swimming, and packing for Leon’s camping trip (see next post), we never got round to it…

However, Leon did have, as part of his Scout’s annual initiation, the ‘St Georges’ Day’ badge ceremony at the church. What it has to do with St.George I’m not really sure (perhaps Scouts are seen as Saints?!), but this is what it was called, so be it!

A beautiful church, with what can be described as a 'very cool' priest!

There Leon sits, second row, second on the left.

Swedish Scouts!

The Scout salute 'Alltid Redo' (Always Ready!)

Fun to see the priest (on the right) also doing the salute - once himself a Scout...

...And what could be termed a very dedicated old lady (on the left) - still dressed in uniform!

Are you ‘Always Ready’?!

Our Earth Day Project

Earth day was invented on the 22nd April 1970 to raise awareness and appreciation for our planet.

We started with a story….

“Once upon a time there was a beautiful lake, full of wonderful fish and plants,  where people liked to come and enjoy picnics. ..”

(We used a blue sheet and cut out paper fish)

“…but as time went on people would sometimes forget rubbish by the lake, and sometimes rubbish would be blown into the lake by the wind, and some fish started to die. More and more rubbish was left, and more and more rubbish was blown into the lake, and bit by bit all of the fish and lovely plants died. The lake was dirty and smelly and no-one visited anymore…”

(Rubbish from our recycling bins)

I asked the kids how we could clean up the lake and how we could keep it clean, and they helped me to sort the rubbish into the recycling bins, until all the fish came back again.

And then it was time for the real life rubbish! We took a picnic, a plastic bag, and some gloves, and on our walk from home to the lake we decided to see how much rubbish we could find. Wow, were we surprised at how MUCH there was….!

And after our picnic (CLEAN hands!), we were able to enjoy the picking of some Spring flowers on our walk home….

The classic moment being when, at home, I explained to Alfie that we needed to give the flowers a drink of water – and he literally dipped their heads into the water, one by one, and said “look, they’re drinking”…

Some related books which we have also read are…

The simple ‘Clifford’s Spring Clean-Up’ (Norman Bridwell) is about Emily and her giant dog Clifford and how they help to clean the house, clear the rubbish, plant flowers and other ‘Earth Day’ projects, and is much enjoyed by Maya and Alfie.

The more advanced, and absolutely excellent ‘The Global Garden’ (Kate Petty and Jennie Maizels) is a pop-up book about where our food comes from, and which materials we use come from which plants/trees. It is an ‘Eden Project’ book, absolutely loved by Leon, and I would highly recommend it!

Sticky Backed Plastic Fun

You may not believe it, and neither did I at 9am this morning, but today it started to snow again!

I abandoned all ideas of some outside play, and decided to think of a craft – which can be very difficult when you have a 6 year old, and a 2 year old. But the ‘sticky backed plastic’ craft is an old classic that serves both ages well!

Peel off a square (or other shape!) of sticky backed plastic, and tape it on to the table with masking tape, sticky side up. Have an array of exciting and colourful craft items available – sequins, coloured tisuue paper shapes, coloured matchsticks,  tiny pom poms – anything small, beautiful, exciting, and relatively flat!

Then just let the kids stick away…

Finally, cut out another piece of sticky backed plastic, and stick it over the original piece (sticky side down), then trim the edges. This bit can be tricky, so smooth the plastic on slowly and firmly to avoid getting air bubbles. Then you can stick them on the window, and let the sun shine through!

This is a great craft for different ages because the older children can design a pattern or a picture, while the little ones just enjoy picking out exciting and fun bits and bobs, and sticking them on with ease!

Sami Children

On Sunday we visited Stockholm’s ‘Etnologiska Museum’, which is a fascinating little museum about people around the world. They have some wonderful exhibitions about tribes and ‘people groups’. Maya and Leon loved it , particularly the exhibition about North American Indians. Today, however, we concentrated on the ‘Sami’ exhibition, which was interactive, and therefore also good for Alfie.

In Northern Scandinavia, parts of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia are made into the area of Lapland. Lapland belongs to the Sami, the original peoples of Scandinavia. These people are distantly related to North American Indians, and not only that, but to my own children (!), whose Swedish great grandparents were half Lapp.

Many Sami people still live traditionally, their trade being rearing reindeers, to sell for both meat and skins. They move with their reindeer herd according to the seasons, often building temporary homes called ‘kota’ as they move, and eating reindeer meat, smoked fish and bread cooked on an open fire. The Sami people have their own flag, their own language, and their own clothing (which they usually sew themselves, and are in the family colours). Often these days, the Sami will live in modern housing during the cold winter months, and the children will attend school, and a few are even earning a living through the tourist industry.

The exhibition was fairly basic, but  very good, enabling the children to watch a short film about the lives of Lapp reindeer herders, to ‘ride a reindeer’, to try on some Sami clothing, to make some Sami bread on an open fire, and to make a wool wristband using the colours of the Sami flag.I think it’s important to teach kids about their own culture, and of those around them, and this exhibition did the best of this!

“Look! I Can Draw With Wax!”

That was what Maya stated this morning after dipping a wooden kebab stick into some melted wax from a candle she had made, and drawing with it on paper. I then told her that, actually, crayons were made from wax, and thought of an activity we did many moons ago in California….

Take some old crayons, tear off paper and break into small pieces (I just happened to have saved some old slightly melted ones from that Californian sunshine!)...

Lay them into paper cake cases in a muffin tin (if you lay them in two layers, the crayon will be thicker and firmer)...

Put them in the oven for about 5 minutes, at 200 degrees C (400 F), taking care not to melt the wax completely or the colours will mix too much. When done, take out of oven, leave to cool, then remove paper cake cases carefully…

Voila! Beautiful crayons!

Perfect I must say, for a little two year olds' fingers!

Fun With Fractions

This morning Leon and Maya have been having fun playing this fraction game – homework from leon’s school.

Firstly, write out numbers 1 to 6 (for the dice numbers), and an instruction for each number :

1) Put on a 1/2

2) Put on a 1/4

3) Put on an 1/8

4) Put on a 1/3

5) Take off a piece

6) Put on a piece of your choice

Secondly, make game pieces to fit an A4 piece of paper.

2 x 1/2 pieces

3 x 1/3 pieces

4 x 1/4 pieces

8 x 1/8 pieces

Then using an A4 piece of paper for each player at a ‘board’, take turns rolling the dice to try to get enough correct pieces to fill up your board, rather like a jigsaw puzzle – and of course, the first one to fill up their board is the winner. Not always as easy as it sounds…

I thought this was a very clever and fun way for kids to learn about fractions!

Christmas Comes Early

Yesterday Maya decided she wanted to make a 3D Christmas tree from cardboard. Well, I guess what she really meant, was fir tree.

On Thursday, on a walk in the forest, she found a little silver painted hanging squirrel, which was very funny, because right now, her favourite song is ‘Ekorren satt i granan’, which directly translated, means ‘The squirrel sat in the christmas tree’.

And so much of the day was spent…

...cutting out tree shapes from cardboard, slotting them together, and either painting the sides, or covering them with green paper (to cover the adverts).

...decorating the tree with glass 'pearls' (which took ages because each side had to be held up while the glue dried to stop them from sliding off!)

And finally, the little squirrel was hung on the top…

In retrospect, with a little glittery glue and some sequins, this would probably make a lovely table top Christmas decoration!

But it’s April……

Good Times Ahead

You have no idea, after this long, hard, cold winter, with four months of deep snow, how happy the Swedes are to finally (FINALLY!) see the sun!

In this week that we have been back from Egypt, we have spend so much time outside…

...enjoying the flowers...

...playing in the garden...

...eating outside...

...having fun in the park...

Leon and Maya have spend most afternoons constructing obstacle courses for each other to ‘pass’, based on levels, and Alfie has rediscovered the joy of sand!

Ahhh, tis so good to know that we have months of sunshine and light ahead…