Fun in the Maize

Another rainy day yesterday where we didn’t really do much. The kids played, watched TV and we all read some library books. Jasmine read two books to me (Sea Anemones and Earthworms), Thomas read some of the Magnetism book and a bit from the Space Vehicles book and I even got Ben reading the book I chose for him (because it has his name in it!) And both Thomas and I ready Wacky Wednesday out loud to everyone. The kids love that one!

Today was much nicer weather-wise, so we had a much needed day out. We went to Tulley’s Farm Puzzle Park and Maize Maze. We’ve never been before but I had heard good things about it and it isn’t very expensive or too far from us. And I knew the kids would be keen when I told them there was a maze as they do love a good maze!

We had a great day :-) We spent around an hour and a half in the maze! The kids had little challenge booklets to collect stamps from around the maze and Thomas took charge first. He did quite well and we collected a couple of stamps, but he soon decided it was too hard and we were just walking round in circles. To be honest that is exactly how it felt to me too! However Gordon assured us we weren’t and as soon as he took over leading we had collected a couple more stamps and found our way into the little refreshment stand in the middle :-) We are very lucky that he has such a good sense of direction!Tulleys1After an ice cream and a rest we set off once again and found a couple more stamps fairly easily. However the last two were trickier and after spending what seemed like another half an hour (but was probably only 10/15 minutes!) searching for one we decided enough was enough and it was time to admit defeat! On talking to staff afterwards though 6 out of 7 stamps is pretty good going so I think we can be proud of that :-)

The rest of the time there was spent in the puzzle park. We raced ducks in a water game, wore ourselves out on pedal go-karts and then recovered while enjoying a leisurely tractor ride. The kids went on a barrel train thing, climbed and crawled through straw bales and went on the trampolines. We walked through the Secret Forest and found our fortune, and then went on the go-karts again!

Tulleys2 Tulleys3We really did have a great day! There was loads we didn’t do today (frisbee golf anyone?!) so it will definitely be added on to our “places to go” list for the future :-)

Rainy Days

It has been rather wet here for the last couple of days! Now I know it was forecast, but what I hadn’t realised was just how much rain would fall! Particularly yesterday, when I think we got a whole years worth in about an hour 😉

Yesterday therefore was an indoor day. Saying that, I did actually get out for a walk in the morning before the rain really started, but the kids didn’t go out at all. There was some Lego play, and cars seem to be the toy of choice at the moment too. Everyone did some reading; Jasmine read Slug (library book) to me and Thomas read From Egg to Spider (also from the library). I also read Slug and Yertle the Turtle to Ben. This completes the six books they all have to read for the Library Summer Reading Challenge.

In the afternoon I did a typical rainy day activity .. browse Twinkl and print off loads of worksheets and activities! There is just something about a cold, wet day that encourages me to do that! I also spent a good hour or more laminating both fact and challenge cards for the kids chosen mini geography project of The UK and Maps. As I was laminating, Thomas was reading them and doing the challenges!

Today started off much nicer weather wise and we even saw the sun try to make an appearance. We took the opportunity to go to the library to get the final stickers and medal for the Reading Challenge, return some books and borrow more. I was determined not to get too many as we are going away in two weeks but, surprise surprise, we came home with many more than taken back! All the kids chose several factual books each but I managed to encourage them to get a couple of story ones too. Jasmine has found a series of early reader animal fact books that she really enjoys. She found five today and we just had to borrow them all! She has read at least two already! I just love how much it is boosting her confidence :-) Thomas chose a book on coral reefs, an electricity and magnetism book, one on space machines and one called Creatures of the Deep. He also got a Scout and Ace comic style story from a collection he has enjoyed before, and a football story book (I’ll be interested to see if he actually reads that one!). Ben’s choice today was books on Reptiles, a couple of Dr Seuss ones and two Thomas the Tank Engine stories. I also chose three books on the seaside and rock pools – well, we are going on holiday to the coast!

This afternoon we had a last minute visit from some friends. The bigger ones did some playing and some crafting and the little two played with trains. After they had gone home we made English Muffin pizza for dinner, which the kids thoroughly enjoyed – both making and eating!


Meal Planning Monday 24th August 2014

I thought I’d better blog my meal plan this week since I have missed the last two weeks! It’s a pretty basic one though as it is the end of the month 😉 But we are making English Muffin pizzas on Tuesday .. something I have never done with the kids before so I hope they enjoy them!

Monday – Sausage casserole, polenta chips/rice

Tuesday – English Muffin homemade pizza

Wednesday – Fajitas

Thursday – Bean Stew

Friday – Pasta Crumble

Saturday – Bean Stew

Sunday – Spaghetti veggie carbonara, quorn hotdogsmrsm

Headley Heath and the Horniman Museum

I had anticipated Saturday being a pretty lazy day after our Night Safari on Friday night, but neither Jasmine and Thomas seemed overly tired at all.

When we woke up and came downstairs we were thrilled to see eleven butterflies in our net! As I said here one had emerged on Thursday morning but there was no more by Friday night so we thought we were going to have to let that one go before the rest had even emerged. But then sometime between midnight on Friday and 8am on Saturday, ten more decided to join in! It was very exciting! So Saturday morning’s job was to release them as the weather was perfect and from Sunday onwards rain was forecast (being less than ideal butterfly release weather!)Butterflies After lunch we decided to go for some fresh air over on Headley Heath. We took our ultrasonic detector as well, to see if we could pick up any crickets or grasshoppers on it. We only went for a short walk, about half the lizard trail I think, but it was enough to blow some cobwebs away. The ultrasonic detector worked really well and everyone had a turn listening to the sounds of nature.

Headley1As we got further along the trail Gordon decided to look for Geocaches and we discovered we were less than 200 metres from one! So we went searching, and found it! The ease with which we found it really encouraged the kids and they were keen to find another. Unfortunately there weren’t any we could get to in the direction and time we had left but we let Thomas use my phone compass to guide us back to the car park, which he enjoyed. Maybe next time to go we’ll look for some more.Headley2Today (Sunday) we woke to the final six butterflies in the net :-) We released them straight away as it is forecast rain now for a couple of days and I wasn’t sure I wanted responsibility for them until the sun decided to make an appearance again 😉

Once they were all safely released we quickly made a packed lunch and drove over to the Horniman Museum for a few hours of fun! My main aim for going today was to visit the Plantastic exhibition.. releasing the final butterflies and visiting this exhibition seems a lovely way to end our life cycle project. We bought the combined ticket to go into the aquarium as well .. we’d never get away with a visit to the Horniman Museum without going in the aquarium!

We started in the aquarium, predictably! It is only small but its really well set out and has enough exhibits to entertain and keep the kids happy. Today we all really loved seeing the Atlantic Sea Nettles. I don’t think they had them a few months ago when we went, and they were really beautiful and made for amazing photographs!

H1After a stop for lunch we went into the Plantastic exhibition. I had heard very good things about it from different people so was looking forward to seeing what was there and I wasn’t disappointed. It is brilliant! If you haven’t been and have the chance to visit then you really must! It is on for another few weeks. The kids loved it and we were in there for probably around an hour and a half! Thomas did his usual, whizzing around as soon as we got in but didn’t really look at anything, but they all settled down quite quickly and worked their way round all the different exhibits. It is designed perfectly with kids in mind. Everything is interactive, there are lots of different games and quizzes to do and I think we could easily have stayed longer if we had time! I think there may even have been a little bit of learning going on 😉

H2We ended our visit with a quick walk round the Natural History gallery. Today’s favourite animal was the Dodo but it is such a wonderful collection the kids are fascinated with something new every time we go!

Back home there was time to watch another episode of Thunderbirds and then after dinner we all watched the  BBC Big Blue Live.


Night Safari at WWT London Wetland Centre

Yesterday was a day the kids have been looking forward to for a while. In the morning a good friend who they don’t see very often came over to play and in the evening I took Jasmine and Thomas to WWT London Wetland Centre for a Night Safari.

The morning/early afternoon playdate was really good. We’ve known the family since Jasmine and Thomas were babies and L (their friend) is only a few months older than them. When they arrived the kids all went upstairs to play while the adults enjoyed coffee and a chat! After about an hour we all went over to the local park – kids on scooters – and had a good hours play and scoot.

After lunch was more play, inside and in the garden. Our friends left mid-afternoon so Jasmine and Thomas could relax quietly for a while before the Night Safari. So the rest of the afternoon until dinner time was spent watching Thunderbirds on TV.


At 6pm we set off to the Wetland Centre, for a 7pm start. I was anticipating traffic to be bad as it was rush hour but we got there in thirty minutes so were rather early! Luckily they opened the doors early too and we weren’t the only people already there!

Thomas was over the moon when he saw that his favourite member of staff was there.. Paul, a guy we’ve seen several times before and who has chatted to Thomas about space and astronomy. One of the other members of staff was one we’ve seen lots of times on events too (Victor) and the kids really like him too, so the evening started off well :-)

The first activity was a craft.. making a bat badge. Both Jasmine and Thomas really enjoyed this. They then moved on to some ice breaker games, designed to get the kids talking and learning each others names. And then it was over to the lodge for den building and stories. The den building was brilliant and both Jasmine and Thomas loved it.

WWT1WWT2After a couple of stories it was time to go on the walk. At first the kids were all allowed torches and we looked for insects, spiders and amphibians. We managed to see lots of slugs and spiders, but we didn’t catch sight of any frogs. After a few minutes we had reached the bench in the wildside and it was time to turn torches off, get the bat detectors out and walk through the summer route looking and listening for bats. We did see a couple sweeping past but to be honest, not as many as I had hoped. We did, however, hear lots on the detectors. And as we made sure we were walking at the front with Paul we knew which bats we were listening too all the time as well! We heard common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle, noctule and Daubenton’s bats.. I think that was all but there was so much going on I might have forgotten!

After the bat walk (I have no photos as I didn’t want to have any light from the camera) we stopped on the bridge by the Wildside Hide and managed to do some star gazing. It was a beautiful night for it and the cloud cleared so we saw lots of stars. Paul had set his telescope up looking at the moon so all the kids got to look through it. We also saw Saturn, which made Thomas’ night!

The final part of the night was back over towards the lodge, where one of the volunteers had set up a camp fire and seats. They had whittled sticks and all the kids got one, and a huge marshmallow to put on it and toast over the fire! It was a perfect end to a really magical night!

We left at about 10.15pm and within about 5 minutes of being in the car Thomas was asleep! jasmine managed to stay awake all the way home but she was very quiet so was obviously tired, although she won’t admit it!
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Boredom, plans and butterflies

We’ve definitely got the End of the Holidays feeling at the moment. The kids have been asking when their regular activities are starting again, which is making me think they are getting a bit bored at home! I had loads of plans of things to do this summer holidays but we hardly seem to have done anything really. We have been to a few places, but these are places we’d visit in term time or on a regular basis. We still haven’t managed to get to Arundel Wetland Centre, or even Garsons PYO Farm where we went about once a week last summer! I know it is partly weather related – I mean where is the sun?! – and partly cashflow related, but I am going to try and get out more in the next two weeks. We WILL get to Arundel, and a friend reminded me of the Plantastic exhibition currently at the Horniman Museum, which will tie in really nicely with our Life Cycle project, so that is now also on my list.

But other than that..

Yesterday was a pretty good day. The kids played nicely and got on well for most of the day. Jasmine and Thomas did a game and a couple of worksheets on pollination and reproduction of plants in the morning, and the afternoon was spent playing with Lego, sticklebricks and playing in the garden. Thomas also spent quite a lot of time reading facts from various children’s encyclopaedias, and Jasmine found a Design an Outfit worksheet that I printed recently (because it had squared paper that I wanted to use for something else) so she spent ages planning and designing a summer and winter outfit.

1908Today began with Jasmine and Thomas playing Lego upstairs while Ben did a lesson on Reading Eggs. One of his tasks this morning was to identify the word “am” in a game and I noticed that he is really recognising whole words much better now, whereas before he was looking at individual letters and not really linking them into words. On that subject actually, I have just been reminded of a moment yesterday when he asked me where the sticklebricks were but before I could get them for him he had “read” the word on the correct box and got them down himself :-) I assume he looked at and blended the first few letters, but it is a huge leap forward for him :-)

Just before lunch today there was a bit of junk modelling and Jasmine and Thomas both made boats, and then this afternoon we went to a park with a few people from home education group. It was a lovely afternoon of chatting and playing. The kids had a great time and as it was quite a small group it was really nice seeing them all play together.

The most exciting thing to happen today however was the emergence of our first butterfly! A female Large White made her appearance just before 11am this morning. I suspected one would emerge as you could see the colour change in the chrysalis as the wings started to become visible, and then from about 10.30am onwards the chrysalis got very active! It is weird seeing it wiggle around so much! We took turns watching and at 10.59am Thomas shouted with excitement and we all moved over to watch her come out!


Tents, reptiles and lost teeth

Yes, as you can see from the title of this post Jasmine’s tooth has finally fallen out! It wasn’t without drama however.. it spent two days hanging on for dear life and not wanting to budge. Two days of her wanting it out but saying it hurt any time anyone tried to move it. And then finally today, as we were out collecting a parcel from a local shop she told me it was bleeding and on inspection it really was. The time had come! After a few seconds persuasion to put her hands away from her mouth so I could look I had it out in a second! And she scooted the whole way home grinning at everyone that passed her to show them her gap! She is very proud! I do hope the tooth fairy remembers to visit tonight 😉tooth

Yesterday morning Gordon took Ben out with him to take the car to the garage (again). While they were gone Jasmine and Thomas played upstairs for a but while I got on with some housework and then Thomas did Reading Eggspress. After he had finished his lesson I got him to read to me. He loves the lessons, earning eggs, spending his eggs and doing the quote quests but I can’t remember the last time he went in the library and read a book! He chose one called “Man of Steel” and read all 5 chapters. I notice when he is reading to me that his brain works quicker than his mouth and he often shortens sentences but keeps the meaning of the story (something I do as well!). I never know whether I should be getting him to read the correct words or whether it doesn’t matter, and I therefore tend to be fairly inconsistent in whether I ask him to repeat it or not. But I figure as long as he is getting the meaning of the book it doesn’t matter really? Right?

In the afternoon Gordon and I put the new tent up in the back garden to make sure it was all there (Ebay purchase). I wasn’t sure it would fit, and also wasn’t sure Gordon was right in trying to do it without instructions! Turns out I was right on one count and wrong on the other.. he managed to get it up but it didn’t fit in the garden! The best news is that, other than the one snapped elastic which we knew about, it is all there and in very good condition too. Looks like we got a good deal :-)

tent2Today we arranged to meet a friend at the Ecology Centre to do some pond dipping. When we arrived we found there was an organised event on, so pond dipping was out! We decided to join the event.. a reptile day! At £3 per child it was a complete success! They had reptile handling, a trail to follow with questions to answer and a prize at the end, reptile themed crafts and snacks too. So perfect for both us and our friend and her children :-)

We started with some snake handling and then did the trail, followed by more reptile stroking and snake craft. The kids fell in love with the tortoise! I don’t think they’ve ever seen one so close or stroked one before so it was the “new” animal to them and they loved it!

ReptilesThe rest of the day was spent scooting to the shops (when the tooth fell out) and watching Thunderbirds on TV.. Gordon has really got them in to it and they love it!

The weekend including Eastbourne Airshow

Friday must have been so exciting for us I can’t remember a thing we did! No, actually I do remember we went in to town for a few bits, including getting the kids feet measured in Clarks.. Ben has gone up half a size and both Jasmine and Thomas have gone up a full size! They always seem to do that, not grow for ages them go up full sizes (and normally at this time of year too!)

Yesterday was altogether different, and very memorable! We went to Eastbourne and watched the Airbourne Airshow on the beach, It was amazing! It was the kids first experience of an airshow too.. the older two really enjoyed it but, while Ben did enjoy parts of it it was too long for him really and about three-quarters of the way through Gordon had to take him back to his mum’s (Granny’s) house as he had had enough (Ben that is, not Gordon!)  Jasmine and Thomas lasted the whole four hours though; they were determined to stay to the end to watch the Red Arrows! Their other favourites were the Typhoon and the Vulcan :-)

A1A2A3Today started quietly. The kids played Lego upstairs and Gordon and I got on with some baking and housework. We harvested some of the salad veggies from the garden and rehomed some caterpillars from the radishes to the nasturtiums!  This afternoon we decided to get the tram into Croydon and look at sleeping bags and possibly other camping equipment in a couple of outdoor shops. The kids love going on any sort of public transport so they were excited about that, and we had a successful trip as we got the two sleeping bags we needed plus a larger day sack for our trips out.


We ended today with a weird BBQ. It started drizzling so we brought the BBQ on to the patio and ate inside! Oh and Jasmine’s tooth is still refusing to come out.. it is literally hanging on by a thread now but still refuses to budge. Fingers crossed for tomorrow!

Library Trip and Life Cycle Learning

Who else had rain (lots of rain?) today? We were supposed to be meeting up with our HE group at a local park as the hut we normally meet in is unavailable for a couple of weeks, but after discussion on Facebook it was agreed that it was too wet to be enjoyable so most people, us included, decided not to go.

But it turned out all right as we went round to a friends house instead and the kids got to play while I got to chat :-)

Yesterday afternoon we went to the library again, this time for the Lego session, but we also returned 4 books and borrowed 5 more.. not too bad I didn’t think! Thomas also read a Pokemon book while we were there. and the boys both had a quick game on the computer.


Both yesterday morning and this morning we’ve been doing “work” at the table. The kids have been really keen on the Life Cycle topic and yesterday we did a couple more simple life cycle diagrams and also worked on symmetry (linking in to butterflies!), while today I used the Schofield & Sims KS2 Animals and Plants workbook and did the plant reproduction section with Jasmine and Thomas. I have to admit I am re-learning all this as well so am finding it as interesting as they are :-)

I have also printed out some worksheets from Twinkl but was struggling to find anything on the site that explained the parts of a flower well, so even I would struggle to answer some of the questions on their worksheets! The Schofield & Sims workbook, and an Usborne book we got from the library, have explained it really well and in a way we all understand so now we’ve done that first I will use the Twinkl sheets as revision in a few days.

While Jasmine and Thomas were doing their work, Ben went on Reading Eggs. He hasn’t done any reading for months now but he has definitely picked up a lot recently and is much better at letters and sounds now so I tried him on the Map 1 quiz (he has completed all the Map 1 lessons twice but last time we were doing it, it didn’t seem to be clicking with him). Well, today I was right in that he has come on in leaps and bounds recently and he got 15 out of 15! He did really well with the reading parts of the quiz too and didn’t once use the “I can’t read” excuse 😉

Finally, our ultrasonic detector (bat detector) finally arrived today. We ordered it about 10 days ago so it has taken its time but we finally got to try it out late this afternoon. While we couldn’t test it on any bats (!) we took it in the garden and listened to some bees and flies, caterpillars walking and leaves rustling. It was fascinating and I can’t wait to test it out on our next night walk!


Topic work and fresh air

Yesterday was another much needed quiet day at home. The kids played Lego in the morning and played in the garden for a lot of the afternoon. I managed to tidy the house downstairs and changed our display board finally for our new topic.. Life cycles, to tie in with our caterpillars. I knew it was time to get it done because our first caterpillar made the change to a pupa yesterday!

The boys started their project books by making a butterfly life cycle spin wheel and Jasmine did a lesson on Reading Eggs (first time any of them have asked to go on it in ages!)

Today has been a bit busier but not much. We had another late start to the day and my goal of going to Morden Hall Park before lunch failed! The kids didn’t even get dressed until just before midday as they were busy playing upstairs! Once dressed however they came down and saw me making their folders up for their topic work, so they were all keen to sit at the table and do some more work :-) We made frog life cycle spin wheels and read one of the library books all about frogs. They then spotted a symmetry worksheet I had printed from Twinkl and all wanted to do that. They did a great job of drawing the second half of the butterfly picture and Jasmine and Thomas coloured theirs in symmetrically as well, however in the thirty seconds I took  my eyes off Ben he coloured in the top wings different colours! I explained symmetry to him again but he said it wasn’t fair because he wanted them different colours! Can’t argue with that really can I! So we agreed that he could keep today’s picture in his drawer but he’d do another for his topic folder!

This afternoon we finally got out to Morden Hall Park. We took scooters and the kids scooted from the park to Deen City Farm (less then a mile walk). The plan was to buy an ice cream at the farm, look at some of the animals and then scoot back, but they hardly had any ice creams left by the time we got there so we just spent a few minutes looking at the animals and the scooted back to Morden Hall Park and got an ice cream there instead.

DCFBack at home afterwards and we discivered we now have 7 caterpillars in cocoons :-)

Thomas did a lesson on Reading Eggspress and Jasmine read half of a Dr Seuss book from the library – which reminds me I must write it on her Summer Reading Challenge record sheet.