How Many Steps Do You Take In One Day?

Being a child with a love of mathematics, it’s not surprising that some of the things Leon wanted for his birthday, were of a mathematical influence – and one of these was a pedometer!

Yesterday was the first day he used it, from the minute he got out of bed, to when he got back into bed in the evening – and during the day he took 7692 steps!

Today is day 2 of the step taking experiment – and we have even managed to make a computer based graph to support it….

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Birka : A Viking Village

Our friends from England left today, and we have been busy the last few days doing some trips. Yesterday was a particularly good one, and one which we had never before done with the kids – Birka, the viking village.

One of our friends from England is currently being home educated, and is doing a project on the vikings, so it seemed like a fantastic chance for him – and all the kids had a great time.

Getting the boat from Stockholm took almost 2 hours, upon which was an English (and Swedish) narrator, who told us about the history of ‘Birka’, and about some of the historical events which happened on the surrounding sea and it’s islands. The island itself housed a fantastic museum, life-sized reconstructions of viking buildings and viking boats, and in the summer months it also has viking crafts and guided tours available (some especially for children).

The kids enjoyed playing in an old rowing boat when we first got off the boat...

The museum housed many fantastic model viking villages, as well as treasures found, and a film for children about archaeology...

... and viking shields, spears and swords...

The reconstruction of a (life sized) village was great fun to look at...

... as were the viking boats...

Dressed up characters gave guided tours and talked about their lives in viking times...

... some more ghastly than others....

You could have a lesson in archery (Leon succeeded in 'shooting' the middle three times!)...

... or make a viking coin...

Alternatively, watch a viking preparing her skins at the 'market'....

...or see the blacksmith at work...

And if all else fails, there's a little beach where the kids enjoyed a swim (and Alfie enjoyed a sleep!) before the boat came in to pick us up...

A wonderful place to visit on a warm summers’ day !

Number 9

Happy Birthday Leon!

I can’t believe it! Nine years old today!

Leon enjoyed a lovely day with his family and friends from England, cake and sparkling apple juice, a visit to the ice-cream parlour, and some wonderful presents!

The party we hope to have in a few weeks…..

My Favourite Island : Utö

Yesterday our friends arrived from England, and shall be staying with us for a week, and so today we were off to show them ‘ Utö ‘, one of the larger archipelago islands off the Swedish east coast, just a half hour boat ride from the Årsta harbour.

I love this island. Why? Because when you get off the boat and walk through the village of old red wooden houses, you get to the edge of a little forest, and when you walk through the little forest, you get to a small but steep glacial rock, and when you climb to the top of the rock, you get the most beautiful view of smooth grey-white glacial rocks, mixed with green desert like pine trees, and red brown plants, overlooking a never ending sea, which goes all the way to Russia.

On the path through the forest...

..picking flowers and blueberries on the way....

...at the top of the rock, you can see the sea...

... look at the view....

...climb some rocks...

...throw some rocks...

...or use them to make a rainbow...

...discover a secret lake...

...have a picnic...

.... and enjoy....!

Homemade Instruments (& Flower Pot Bells)

Maya decided to make her own musical instruments…

Two kinds of 'drum', a shaker, and two interesting wood/metal instruments...

My favourite ones were these…

The top instrument included a screw which could be scraped with the building ‘key’,thus working like a scraper of course, and the bottom instrument you played the nails with a piece of wire, thus sounding rather like a thumb piano!

I loved the fact that these upper two inventions really worked as instruments – and were thought of, and built, completely by Maya alone.

I then decided to join her in her instrument making, with some flower pot bells…

All you need are some clay flower pots of different sizes (for different tones), some strong string, and some large wooden beads.

The string needs to be threaded through the top hole in each flower pot, and then knotted to enable the flower pot to hang. Then, inside, the string and beads should look like this…

One wooden bead (which is larger than the top hole in the flower pot) should be threaded, and knotted at the top, to secure the string, and a second wooden bead should be threaded, and knotted, by the rim of the pot – this becomes the inside of the ‘bell’ which makes the sound. Leave a long piece of string hanging down for a handle to move the ‘bell’ bead.

You could hang these from a tree branch, but I decided to hang them over an old wooden broom handle, using trees as supports…

It’s in an area of the garden which Maya, in particular, loves to play – where we have the teepee, some of her fairy houses, some tree stumps, and some porcelain garden ‘creatures’. I’m hoping she will discover it tomorrow and have some more musical fun!

Coca-Cola Experience Center

Ok. So I can’t stand the stuff.

And I definitely avoid my children drinking it at all costs.

But if there’s a ‘Coca-Cola’ factory within ten minutes drive, and they’re opening up the factory for a free tour, showing you how it’s made – wouldn’t you go?

Richard took Leon and Maya this afternoon – unfortunately no photos were allowed in the actual factory, but the kids enjoyed seeing all the machines that made the drinks, and how everything worked, and at the end there was an interactive quiz based on your senses – and of course they got to taste “the real thing”!

If you happen to be in the area, and your kids are over 7 years of age (Maya is actually only 6, and didn’t enjoy it as much as Leon), and want to visit, it’s open until the 12th August – but NOT at weekends (despite what the website says!).

Enjoy!

(Gosh, this is beginning to sound a little like a tourist site…!)

Sweden’s First Natural Swimming Pool

In these long hot days of summer we have been swimming nearly every day – mostly in lakes and at beaches, and in only one swimming pool. However, today that changed….. kind of ……We went to ‘Midgårdsbadet’ in Märsta with farmor (Swedish grandmother). I say ‘ kind of ‘, because it isn’t like most other swimming pools. It’s natural. No chemicals. Cleaned through the use of plants…. algae I guess!

It looks kind of green…. like a pond…. but it’s clean, fresh, and environmentally friendly. I had never heard of them before, but you can read about these natural swimming pools here. The pool itself was a lot of fun, with a slide, a cave with a waterfall, shallow and deeper areas resembling lagoons, a diving area, and a little stream area for the younger kids. A little bit too much concrete perhaps, but if it’s environmental, quite frankly, who cares? And if you happen to be near Märsta on a sunny day you should definitely pop in for a swim!

(On a more negative note I’m afraid I took no photos – Alfie turned out to be unwell and I spent two hours with him sleeping on my lap while the others swam – and we left early…)

‘Långholmen’

Today we went to ‘Långholmen’ – a little island on the southern side of Stockholm – and a special place for Richard and I, being the first place we ever lived together!

We enjoyed a lovely walk along the islands’ edge, admiring the trees, the rocks, and the beautiful flowers in the allotments, going on to having a quick dip in the sea by the beach, and finally enjoying an ice-cream at the ‘prison cafe’.

No end of places to throw stones...

...to enjoy watching the boats go by..

...explore the banks...

...find some treasure...

...have a swim, or play in the sand...

...or eat an ice cream...

... in exercise yard number 3!

(The ‘Långholmen’ prison is now a museum, which also houses a cafe in the exercise yards).

Jelly Boats

While we were in Egypt, Leon tasted jelly (or ‘Jello’ as it is known in the U.S.) for the first time – and loved it! Since then he has been asking to make some, and so yesterday we did….

Ingredients :

3 oranges

260 ml of fresh fruit juice

9g gelatine

2 tbsp hot water

The first step is to cut the oranges in half, and then to scoop out as much flesh and pith as possible. Leave the juice for later (the kids really enjoyed using the juice squeezer – but do this gently or your orange skin may split!). Dissolve the gelatin in the hot water, stirring until the granules have gone. Leave to cool a little, and then stir in the fruit juice.  Then, pour the jelly mixture in to the orange halves, and leave in the fridge to set (we left ours overnight).

When set, half each orange half again, and add a little mast! Leon also decided to add some of the (few) ripe raspberries from our garden to decorate (we were going to put them in the jelly but there just weren’t enough!).