May Weekend With Scouts

Another wonderful scouting weekend – with amazing weather. Not many photos – but lots of fun with some fantastic kids! 😉
The tent – 14 kids and 3 adults slept here…

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Many activities were enjoyed – here are just a few (and really only a few!) of them.
Nature memory..

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Following the trail…

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Waiting in the forest for the kids to find me…

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Here come the first ones…

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Making dandelion chains…

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…and garlands…

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Creating a zip-line for cuddly toys (after riding the big one built for scouts..)…

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Experimenting with a homemade sundial..

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Making pizza…

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Creating a theatre piece…

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…and as always, a campfire….

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Just a few of the things we did. 🙂

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Make Ice Cream In A Bag!

After making ice cream in a machine, we decided to make ice cream in a bag….

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First you need to put 1 cup of milk and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a plastic bag, let out the air, and close..

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Next, fill a slightly larger plastic bag with ice cubes….

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Add 1/4 cup of salt to the ice cubes…

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Next, put the smaller sealed plastic bag containing the milk and sugar, inside the larger plastic bag containing the ice cubes and salt, and seal shut..

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Lastly, put the bag in a towel, and then put the towel (containing the bag), in a bigger plastic shopping bag – and seal shut…

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And then shake, shake, shake the bag for around 15 or 20 minutes….

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Finally, take the smallest bag containing the milk out of the other bags, rinse off the salt….

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…and you have ice cream…

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Enjoy! 🙂

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Bridge Building At Scouts

Yesterday evening at scouts our task was to build a bridge – Maya wasn’t in my specific group – but I wanted to share with you the task, because it was just so much fun!
The scouts were shown how to tie, in several ways, two branches together to make a basis for a bridge – and then, after a big box of thin rope pieces was brought out – they were told to go off and make a bridge for the stream.
Yes, real stream. Real water!

Collecting of the branches took a while – the kids had to drag heavy branches from various areas around the forest, and think of ways to get them over to their bridge area.
The kids were amazing! They organised a way of working together to transport the branches – one dragging them from the pile and throwing them across, in to the stream, and another two dragging up the branches from the stream, and transporting them to others who were at the place of building the bridge.

They also used their initiative to tie some rope between two trees as a ‘handle’ to help themselves across another part of the stream….

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Of course, the risk of falling in the water made it even more exciting….

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And yes – we had quite a few who got wet feet! 😉
But in the end, after over an hours work, most kids got together a bridge that was crossable..!

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There are two things that I found fascinating about this task….
1) That the kids (mine was a group of 5 boys, between 8 – 10 years old), were able to work together, organise themselves, come up with ideas, and succeed, in a task that was potentially quite difficult – all on their own! I made sure to mostly just observe, and only help when really necessary.
2) That we allowed the kids to do some ‘heavy’ work, over a real stream, at huge risk of falling in – and it all turned out ok. I wonder how many children get this chance to take such risks these days? And you know, the kids loved it!

I think the fact that the kids had time and space to wonder about, and complete this task, without an adult standing over them and telling them exactly what to do, and without anyone telling them to be careful, and not to do this or do that, made it such a successful evening….Again, how often do we make time for such risk taking, problem solving tasks, without constantly worrying and warning children about the risks? Just a thought. 🙂

Slugs And Snails..

Ted and I went on a nature walk after dropping off Alfie in school…

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There was lots of squishing in mud…

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(and splashing in puddles too), but mostly there was observation of those creatures who come out when it’s wet, but not too cold…

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Of course, on the way to school, when Alfie saw the snails, he couldn’t wait until after school to collect some and ‘let the walk around the table’….which is what we did…..

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We put them on black paper so we could see their trails…

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…and we collected dandelion leaves and dandelions and wild flowers for them to eat…

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..plus we took out the mirror for some interesting reflections…

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Alfie, in particular, was intrigued. He asked so many questions and had so many ideas about why they behaved in certain ways. Leon found a book for him….

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We discovered that our snails were not in fact ordinary garden snails, but ‘Roman snails’, the kind of snails people like to eat. They live in cooler areas of Europe, but have recently been transported over to Asia, and gardened there, for their tasty qualities!

We learnt that snails move around on a ‘belly foot’ (can you guess why it’s called this?), and that they are molluscs, ‘shelled’ creatures, of which there are two kinds – those with a single shell (such as a snail or a crab), and those with double shells (such as clams or mussels). Snails are also relatives of octopuses and squids! And did you know that a great white shark and a snail have something in common? They both have several rows of teeth in their mouths, ready to tear apart their food!
We learnt so much more – and now Alfie has decided he has a new pet, and has made them a mollusc hotel…

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🙂

Experimenting With Mirrors (The First Time)….and other thoughts…

I found a mirror in a charity shop the other day, and decided to bring it home for some experimental play.

Lately I’ve seen lots of ‘mirror play’, based on Emilio Reggio education – and it made me curious…

So I set up some curved rainbow blocks, and some rainbow bamboo blocks, to see what would happen…..

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As an adult, I found the mirror with the blocks, fascinating, and relaxing to play around with. The children? They ignored it! All, funnily enough, except Leon (almost 13), who, like myself, found it fascinating and relaxing, to mess about with….

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In fact, because of Ted opening a tin of brightly coloured craft items nearby, these became part of the ‘play’, and made it even more fascinating…. Leon amused himself, and me, by making up a ‘land’ of different scenarios…

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It was lovely to see Leon enter this world of make believe – even if just to see him re-enter a piece of childhood he has almost left behind – and even if he was just having a little bit of silly fun, telling a silly story, about a teddybears’ picnic with over-sized grapes, a crab and a strange looking snowman, and a hairdressers with an advert outside, etc… 🙂

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However, what I wondered to myself was, why did the younger children, specifically Ted, ignore it? Perhaps it was the wrong time of day – after school, the mad rush of kids coming home, and dinner being made (interestingly Leon hadn’t been in school this day) – or perhaps it was exactly that they had been in a ‘busy’ atmosphere, and this makes it more difficult to ‘relax’ and ‘let go’? Or perhaps it just didn’t look interesting enough?!

I often see wonderful and visually appealing activities set out for kids, usually with natural objects, such as pinecones, coloured glass disks, and wooden pieces. I love them. And so do many adults. There’s a sense of ‘peace’ in them.

But what about the children? Are these just activities we ‘set up’ because they appeal to us, and help us get away from that feeling of ‘too much’ and ‘plastic’ and ‘video games’ – and general ‘over stimulus’ that we worry children suffer from nowadays (and too many do) ?

Or are they activities that appeal to certain children at certain ages? I felt sure that Maya, and even Alfie, both who have enjoyed (and still do enjoy) creating fantasy worlds, and playing with small, unusual items would have at least pondered over this. Ted, on the other hand, may just not be this kind of person – he needs to move, and likes to be outside, and have lots of messy sensory play – or perhaps it’s just a little too ‘early’ for him? But Leon was a surprise! 😉 Perhaps it was the sense of relaxation that drew him to it – in this time of copious testing in schools (don’t believe what they say about Swedish schools not testing children – it’s not true!) – rather like an adult’s need to ‘lose themselves’.

Then again, I wonder to myself, is it because it was set up by an adult? You see, I’m all for playing with open-ended ‘toys’ – my kids have spent many many hours playing with stones, sticks, tiny pieces of coloured glass, can pulls, etc, etc – but the difference is – they invent this play themselves – it’s their world, their play, and it means something to them – it’s not ‘invented FOR them’. After all, children are born with the most amazing imaginations, and unquenchable creativity – why do we then try to ‘provide’ them with it? I’m not criticising – I’m merely fascinated….why do we do this? Does it help us, as adults, or them, as children?

I, like many other adults, love the look of these set ups, and enjoy setting them up – and I will continue to do so – mainly, in fact, because I am fascinated to see what the children will do – the very thing that attracts me to education, particularly in the early years, before they become ‘moulded’ by convention.

Who knows? Perhaps it just wasn’t the right moment? 🙂

The Photography Course

Leon has had an interest in photography – particularly nature photography – for a while now. I decided to take him on a 4 hour nature photography ‘course’ in our local national park, Tyresta.

The course was actually for adults, but it was basic, and Leon really enjoyed it, and said he learned a lot.

So here are some photos that I took – as memories for this blog – but hopefully I could put some of Leon’s up in a later post…

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As you can see, I had fun too – but if I’m honest, I like the photos of Leon taking photos best! 😉

Two Little Boys

To use the title from Rolf Harris’ song seems most inappropriate at this time, but it’s the song I’ve always sung when I have the two boys together, and we’re sharing a good moment, and it’s the song that Ted has picked up on when he’s enjoying that moment.

To say that my two small boys have always had fun together, enjoyed each other’s company, shared laughs and games, would be a blatant lie! Quite the opposite in fact – it’s been a relationship built on sibling rivalry and frustration – and lots of fighting over mummy!

But I think we may have got over that… In the last week it seems Alfie has discovered that Ted can actually make a good playmate, and of course, having a big brother who accepts you in his play is just great, thinks Ted. There have been laughs and jokes and giggles galore…….

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Yep! I think we may be on to a good thing!

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Did I mention how happy I was? 🙂

The Day The Tree Came Down

We had a couple of huge birch trees in our garden – and now we have just one.

The one nearest the house, the leaning one, was rendered dangerous, and with the strong winds we’ve been having these days, we were advised to have it taken down.

Of course, this became a very exciting event….

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….and before long, it was gone!
Thank you tree, for our time with us…
I do hope there weren’t any birds living in your branches?