Oxbow Farm is my favourite place for field trips. The guides are wonderfully entertaining and keep the kids motivated with songs, movement, challenges and a fast paced, hands-on journey through the farm.
The children learn about the farm plants and have an opportunity to investigate, pick and taste everything, whilst being shown respect for the plants and their environment.
They eat leafy plants being careful not to stand on the plants.
They eat seeds, learning about where the seeds come from, how they are spread and dried out in the greenhouse.
They eat stems. We found tiny celery sticks to try.
They eat flowers. We ate small yellow flowers that tasted like licquorice.
They eat fruit. We ate juicy apples from the tree and found the seeds inside them.
They eat roots. We pulled salad turnips and carrots from the ground, washed them and ate them.
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The girls are totally hooked on the television survival series Alone and eager to go out into the woods and test out their skills. My 6-year-old can often be found attempting to whittle a stick with a pair of blunt ended scissors. It worried me that she didn’t have the correct tools to do this properly and I felt it may be more dangerous to whittle with scissors than with a suitable knife.
My husband bought my eldest a knife when she was younger, so we discussed when might be a suitable time to introduce the younger girls to knife skills. I always believe that when children show a strong interest in learning a skill, then the time is right to introduce them to the appropriate tools. My youngest has very strong motor skills and co-ordination and follows instructions well. The girls are able to peel vegetables with a peeler and have practised chopping fruit and vegetables with a small kitchen knife. With this in mind, we decided the time was right to buy the girls their first knives.
My husband researched the knives used by a local wilderness school and decided on the morakniv fixed blade outdoor knife. The knives are the perfect size for little hands. They have a grip handle, sharp blade and a sheath with a clip belt. They come in a variety of colours. We chose neon colours, so they would be able to see them easily.
The first lesson was how to get the knife out of its sheath. They were a little frightened at first but soon got the hang of it. These knives have a bump at the side to remind the children of the correct way to face the knife when removing it from the sheath.
The children have to follow the following rules and guidelines:-
They are only to use the knives under adult supervision
Always put the knife back in its sheath when not in use.
The knives are to be stored in a special drawer and always put away after use.
Never cut towards their hands (they’ve seen what happens if this rule is broken on Alone).
Always sit down when using the knife
Always keep their eyes on what they are doing. If they need to look away, put the knife away first.
The girls loved whittling sticks and were desperate to try other projects. I bought them a book on whittling, The Little Book of Whittling. Some of the projects were difficult with their knives because the blade was too long. On our camping trip this summer, we bought them a multi tool with a smaller knife. With this, they were able carve more successfully and new skills were learned. They learned how to fold it safely and we only had one small accident when my youngest closed it a little to close to her hand. This made the girls more careful in future.
Whittling has been the favourite pastime of the summer. I had to spend a lot of time supervising them, and my garden is littered with bits of wood and splinters but they have had so much fun and learned a lot.
One of my favourite projects, was sharpening sticks to put in the ground and make a playground. They added string to join pieces together and made a zip wire, slide, climbing frame and monkey bars.
They spent a lot of time stripping bark from sticks. Some they used for tent pegs, some they sharpened to make arrows and sometimes they simply whittled the sticks for fun.
They also learned to split pieces of wood with a knife. They used a thick stick as a hammer to push the knife through the wood.
They attempted to make a spoon, like one of the contestants on Alone, but hollowing out wood was a little tricky with their knives. They found it much easier with the multi tool.
They came up with all kinds of imaginative projects,some more successful than others. In the video my daughter demonstrates how she is making a rain collector. The large stick on the floor is the one they used as a hammer, to split sticks. You can clearly see the difficulty the girls had with hollowing sticks. This project remained unfinished, which is just as well considering we haven’t had any rain this summer!
I can’t wait to see what they achieve as they become more skilled.
clear plastic or sheet of glass from a photo frame
bowl of water
I bought sun sensitive paper for my girls as a gift, but today was our first trial. We set out to find objects to place on the paper. Our first attempt used loose parts.
1. Create your designs inside, away from sunlight and put the paper on cardboard or a tray to help carry it outside.
2. Cover the picture with glass to stop it blowing away and keep it flat and place in the sun for 3-5 minutes. The paper will turn white.
3. Remove the glass and the objects. Place the paper in a bowl of water for 1 minute, to stop the chemical reaction.
4. Remove the pictures and leave to dry.
As you can see, one of the pictures came out clearly, whereas the other had only faint prints. The girls discussed why this might be.
Why did mine work better? I thought mine was in the sun longer but the other one was definitely in the sun for longer, so I don’t know.
It wasn’t because my things were heavier because I used sequins too. Maybe it wasn’t pressed on as hard?
I suggested they try another, to see if they could work it out. This time we searched the garden for natural materials. Usually, I only let the girls use natural things from the ground, but this time I gave them permission to pick flowers and leaves. They searched the flower bed and found things they hadn’t seen before, climbed the tree to reach leaves and lichen and we found that even weeds could have interesting shapes.
They chose their favourites to make a design.
And left them in the sun to develop
This batch was both successful.
I love the detail of the smaller leaf. The girls reflected on the success of these pictures.
I think it worked better this time because we laid the leaves really flat before we started, or perhaps it is because we left it in the water for longer? But I don’t think that would make a difference.
Even the little sequins came out this time.
We saved a few sheets for their big sister to try, it will be interesting to see what she will create. I also ordered bigger sheets because some of the bigger leaves didn’t fit on the 5×7 paper.
I recently cleaned out the linen cupboard and gave the kids a huge bag of old sheets to play with. They like to make-up stories and turn them into royal capes or build dens with them. In amongst them was a white sheet. I thought it could be used to build a shadow puppet theatre in the garden. We have a swing set that isn’t safe to use, so I removed one of the swings and fastened the sheet to the frame.
The children and I made puppets from cardboard. The children chose characters and I helped them draw them in silhouette. They collected sticks from the garden, whittled them to smooth them out and stuck the cardboard characters on with tape.
I also found images of hand shadows. I printed and laminated them and stuck them on the swing set frame for reference.
We had to do a bit of work cutting back the tree branches to make a clear screen, but soon it was ready. The magical stories they have created have been wonderful. I think this would be a great resource for a school or pre-school to encourage story telling and build the foundations of story writing. You could build it outdoors or inside with a light source behind.
Videoing the story showed the children where they needed to improve. They saw that sometimes you couldn’t see the characters well because they were too low or placed at an angle. They also noticed that the size of the puppet changed according to how close to the screen it was.
I love the way my daughter played with accents and voices. It particularly love the voice of the bird and banana man in the land of the forgotten.
Disclaimer: Links to the book title are Amazon affiliate links. This means if you purchase the book from my recommendation I will receive a small financial incentive.
The Queen is Coming to Tea by Linda Ravin Lodding, is a sweet book that children who love to play at tea parties will adore. My girls love to grab a blanket, turning it into a royal cloak and lay out all their cuddly friends for tea parties. As such, they loved this story about a little girl travelling around the world to gather essential items for the Queen’s tea.
Ellie finds out the Queen is coming to tea and with her best friend, Langley the Elephant, travels to Paris, China, Italy, and New York to make sure they have everything they need for tea with the Queen. But will the Queen patiently wait? And what exactly will be waiting for the Queen?
I love the bright colourful illustrations by Constance Von Kitzing, but they may be a little too pink for some boys to enjoy. The illustration of Ellie’s playroom gives clues as to where Ellie’s ideas about gathering items from around the world came from. I liked this insight into the child’s imagination.
The Queen is Coming to Tea would be a great book to read aloud and inspire play and learning.
Bake cakes, or traditional British teatime treats like scones, biscuits and cucumber sandwiches and prepare a tea party or picnic.
Watch footage of real royal events like the Queen’s coronation or a royal wedding and plan your own pretend street party. You could make flags and bunting, make posters or invitations, play games or have races and dance to music.
Taste or smell different types of tea. Which country do they come from? Which is your favourite? How do the leaves turn into a drink? investigate with loose leaf tea, tea bags, warm water and tea strainers.
Make a graph or tally chart of the children’s favourite types of tea.
Could you make tea from herbs or leaves you find in your garden? These could be real or pretend.
Give the children tulle, paper and plastic bags and scraps of material. Can they design an outfit fit for tea with the Queen.
Are there any people from your community who have been invited to tea with the Queen? Perhaps recipients of MBE’s or OBE’s. Invite them to come and talk to the children.
Further investigate some of the places featured in the story – perhaps some of the children have visited them.
Practice squeezing lemons or perhaps try this fruit tea recipe
Peach Mango White Iced Tea RecipeIngredients:
4 Cups Water
3 White Tea Bags
½ Cup Chopped Frozen Mango
1 tbsp sugar plus Sugar to TasteInstructions:
Boil the 6 cups of water; remove from heat
Steep the tea bags about 5 minutes; remove bags and allow tea to cool to room temperature
Add chopped peaches and mango to a mixing bowl and mix with sugar; let fruit soften
Place fruit in pitcher and pour cooled tea on top; add sugar to taste and stir
For a chance to win a copy of The Queen is Coming to Tea and a porcelain tea set enter the giveaway below. The closing date is August 6 2017.
Whether you’re on a camping trip and staying up late, or it is winter and there aren’t many daylight hours in which to play, the children won’t be able to wait to get out in the dark with these fun play activities. They could also help children who are afraid of the dark discover that darkness can be fun; give them a head torch or flashlight, hold their hand and venture out together.
We find head torches work particularly well for my daughter with poor eyesight.
Taking torches/flashlights outside is also a great way to observe the weather. Mist looks really eerie under a flashlight and you can watch raindrops in in the light rays.
Games to play
1. Flashlight/torch tag
The children run around, one child has a flashlight/torch and has to tag the other children by shining a light beam at them.
2. Grandmothers footsteps
The children quietly sneak up to the grandmother and if she hears footsteps she shines her flashlight/torch at the culprit and they return to the start. The object is to steal a piece of treasure she has at her side (we’ve used glow in the dark balls or glow sticks) and get back to the start with them without being caught.
3. Hide and Seek
My children love to play hide and seek so this is a real favourite. Hiding in the dark means you can find so many more great hiding places. The seeker uses their flashlight to find those who are hiding.
4. Glow in the dark water play
We added glow in the dark paint to water in our water table (a bowl or bucket would also work) .Drop in some glowing stars and moons, water beads and a variety of containers. Have fun making ‘star soup’.
Fill plastic Easter eggs with mini battery operated lights – you can also add water beads for an extra effect. Hide them around the garden and look out for where the lights are shining. My girls also enjoy hiding the eggs inside their clothes.
6. Glow in the dark sensory play
Add glow in the dark paint or pigment powder to goop (corn starch and water), water beads, play dough, shaving foam, or play dough. Make sure to charge it in the light first.
7. Glow in the dark painting
Paint on black paper with glow in the dark paint – you could put a large sheet on the fence or alternatively, mix the paint with corn-starch and a little water and paint directly onto the ground. It washes away really easily in the rain. We’ve used this to paint hopscotch on the driveway and used glow in the dark balls as markers.
8. Shadow play
Children love to play with shadows. Use flashlights or outdoor lights to cast shadows onto white walls or even better erect a white sheet between fences or trees and get the children to stand against it making shadows and shapes.
9. Light tables
We made a homemade light table from a translucent plastic box with a black lid. Turn the box upside down and place inside battery operated lights and /or fairy light There are all kinds of activities you can do with a light table . You can place natural materials, glass beads, buttons or candy wrappers on top to make patterns, spread sand or rice on top to make marks or use interesting coloured containers.
10. Look at the stars.
On a clear night what could be better than looking at the stars? We printed out a map of the stars but just to look up into the night sky can be awe inspiring.
11. Use glow in the dark balls or light up balloons to play catch or volleyball.
12. Swing glow sticks to see what patterns they can make or build constructions with glow sticks.