Friday, 11 November 2011

Absent friends

Hello all

Not seen you for a while. We started a new school and my son and I have had whooping cough!

I know what you're thinking,  no-one outside a Dickens novel gets whooping cough any more.
I wish you were right. There are now so many people in the UK that don't get vaccinated that occasionally the disease creeps through the net.  We were vaccinated but the nasty little bug has gotten clever and is stalking unsuspecting folk like us.
So, sorry to have abandoned you..... back soon, germ free and raring to go!

Oh yes...soap box moment.....
Get your kids vaccinations done and keep them up to date.
The tear on your child's face after being jabbed is nothing compared to what the disease could do.

See you soon,
Heli x 

Monday, 12 September 2011

Sea Creatures

Right...here we go.... straight in this week!

We will make sea creatures and monsters from paper card and scraps. No drawing required just cutting and sticking. You can use almost anything, from coloured paper to old birthday cards, sparkly sweet wrappers to magazine pages.
The creatures might be fish, octopi, crabs and lobsters, jelly fish or just made up beasties!

This is what we're aiming for....




You will need.......



Supervised scissors
Glue
Sticky tape or cheap masking tape
Split pins are a useful luxury if you can buy them cheaply at a stationery store, a stapler is also handy but only for older kids and grown-ups.
Coloured scraps of card or paper
Shiny bits and sparkles
Pipe cleaners and strings or little ribbons, wool does nicely
And maybe a bit of string to hang them up.

Here's how to do it....

1.   The children will have lots of ideas but the easiest way to start is to glue a strip of card into a loop.

2.   Add as many legs as your creature needs.  The best way is to use sticky tape as the legs tend to fall off before glue has time to dry. Don't worry about how many legs the creature is meant to have.....I think the best sea monsters have lots and lots of different coloured legs!

3.   Now leave the kids to decourate madly adding fins, tentacles, tails, faces, teeth, pincers and scales.

4.   Hang the creature up with a piece of string once the glue has dried......best to hang it where it will give granny a nasty shock!





All done and well done!

And that's that....a really easy one but the children will go on to make endless variations, especially if we encourage them by making one or two of our own.



If you need inspiration there is a great book with fabulous pictures called "Fidgety Fish"
It's by Paul Bright and Ruth Galloway. You can get it in most British libraries, high street book stores and from Amazon. It's been one of our bedtime favourites for years. It has lots of sea creature pictures to feed the imagination.
(Dear Paul and Ruth, I hope you don't mind a free plug for your book!)



These simple models are great for developing the children's making skills but are even better for exercising their imaginations. If you ask questions like, "What does this one eat?" or  "Can this one creep out of the water?" or "He looks like a friendly chap, where are his friends?", the children will quickly make up stories to tell about them.
Slightly older children might record their stories in words or pictures, or even by video.

Having said that, you may just find that they use them as puppets and chase their little brother round the house with them, making, what I was assured were squid noises!
What noise does a squid make?.....perhaps I'm happier not knowing!

See you next week for pirate fun!

love
Heli x

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Phew!

Hello again!

All back to normal now...or at least the current version of normal!
We've had a wonderful summer holiday, camping in the rain in Devon. Lots of fish and chips and walks on the hills. The kids have been great fun and are now installed in their new school classes for the coming term.

My son has started at senior school and happily trotted through the school gate in new shiny shoes and uniform with lots of growing room. It was great to see him and his mates going in together comparing the latest sports scores and giggling over their new term haircuts.

It was a far cry from the tender days when we first dropped the kids at infant school, tightly clutching little sweating hands and shoving in our pockets all the tiny toys and plastic animals which had stowed away hoping to visit the reception class. At the time we forced our brave smiles and uttered encouragements and then ran, sniffing audibly, to the local coffee shop to console each other whilst our little ones had an outrageously good time. Now, 7 years on, it still tugs at the heart strings but their confidence and joy is self evident and I ran home to get the washing on and run the hoover round!

It's really tough letting them go the first time, but with a few exceptions, it gets easier and then after a short while they start to organise you. The friends I made in those early days at the school gate and sniffed with at the coffee shop are still the best friends I have. We've seen each other through a lot .If dropping your child is much more difficult than this do ask for help. The teacher, classroom assistant,  your friends and even your own mum will be quick to help. Lots of folk go through it and it's often the mum that finds it harder than the child. The school will call you if the child has a problem....get yourself wrapped round a cup of tea and have a nice chat.

Just to hop on my soap box briefly...if you spot a mum sniffing at the school gate by herself, do have a chat or offer her a cuppa. Apart from doing a good deed, you'll gain a friend for life!

Parental sanity may now creep back although the usual cries of "Mum, I need a new sweatshirt/ rugby boots/ pencil case/ hair tie/ book money......" have kept this week at a frantic pace.
There should be some sort of vitamin supplement for super strength for parents and grandparents to get us through the first week of the school year. I always have the same glamorous thought that when they go back to school I'll languish in a hot bath with a relaxing book for a whole luxurious hour but every year it's the same scramble to establish any kind of civilized order!

How to ensure your kids run quickly into school an the first day back.......
stand by the car and wave whilst shouting "Bye darlings...love you!".........Don't do it!......Not cool!


Posting of fun activities will resume on Monday with a lovely sea creature activity. Save up any bits of card and coloured paper, any shiny bits and decorative sparkles. We'll be using glue and scissors.

Love Heli x

Monday, 15 August 2011

What a week !

Not managed the activity this week......what a week it's been!

School hols are my favourite times in the year. I actually love having the kids home. We play, we bake and we create carefully orchestrated havoc. It's great!

This week has seen son going on kayaking trips (courtesy of the local scout group), packing and delivering daughter to a weeks summer camp, a hundred miles away, (local church group),  group visits for the kids and friends to the cinema (mum's taxi service), reunion and suppers with old friends (thanks to facebook), quality time with brother and his family (this was the best bit) before their return to sunny Taiwan  and now the endless washing after the kayaking and camping!
And ...oh yes...normal life too!
Truly tired but happy and glad to see them all happy too. It is definitely worth being a mum. (most days!)

This week has also witnessed rioting in our capital city and around England.
It has been frightening and saddening that our youngsters should come to this. Much blame has been laid at the doors of idle youth, poor parenting, poverty, media fuelled dissatisfaction with life, politics, social action failure and community break down. It may be some or all of the above.

It is hard to be a youngster in the modern world and harder still to be a parent.
To govern such a diverse social structure is verging on impossible but look at what has followed this week's events. Through the same social networks sites that were used to orchestrate chaos, people of all ages have come together to make a stand for their neighbourhoods. Youngsters have organised clean-ups gangs and peace rallies. Funds have been raised to support those who experienced loss. Eyes have turned again towards youth schemes that teach kids to respect and believe in themselves.  Politicians must look again to supporting these ventures and raising the hopes and expectations of our communities.
Perhaps , good can from all the anguish.

So, as parents and carers what on earth can we do?
Two things....."Be there and go there".

"Be there" for our own children. Listen and guide, teach them not only rights but responsibilities. Create environments in our own homes where the kids can bring their friends home. ( We may have to turn the odd deaf ear but at least we'll know where they are.) Train our children to interact with peers and elders. Praise them for their successes and self respect and frankly, be firm about crossing the line.

And "Go there"... go the extra mile. If our neighbour is tired and overwhelmed, take her kids to the park for an hour.  Talk with other parents, agree on common boundaries and safe places to play.  Get involved with local groups and community events, hold coffee mornings, homework clubs and anything that gives the kids a sense of belonging.
It's not much but it's a start.
I have a deep belief in the inherent goodness of people.....it can be done.

Oooops ! it seems I've been standing on my soap box....Still...perhaps we all should!
New activity soon...watch this space!

Heli x



Thursday, 4 August 2011

Quick change of name.

I've made a quick name change to the blog to help people find it more easily. Pass it on to your friends for me.
regards
Heli  x

Water play

Hello again and welcome to new followers in New Zealand and the Netherlands!

This week we are playing with water, paddling, splashing and generally keeping cool in our mini heat wave.
No summer holiday is complete without it so we are having that river or seaside moment at home in the back garden. Water play is a really helpful part of childrens learning. It forms part of their early exploring of their environment. It's basically science lessons without the boring physics teacher and the blackboard!

So let's find a way to make a mini water park for the day. Be aware of safety...always watch over water play with little ones, especially if it's a paddling pool big enough to get into. Be careful of surfaces that become slippery when wet and if you live in a flat watch out that your little one isn't pouring water over the balcony onto Mrs Jones below.  Also watch out for little ones getting suddenly cold when they're sopping wet and run out of energy.

Having said that, this is the most clean fun anyone can have and on a hot day the grown ups love to dip their feet too.

This is what we're aiming for....



You will need....






A bucket or box. My mum uses an old baby bath for the grandchildren very successfully.
Half a box of water.(Warm if you've got tiny children or big softies!)
A towel on standby.
Some bath toys.

You may also like to use......





Little boats, or make paper boats.
Empty squeezy bottles for squirting water.
Plant pots for draining water through.
Things that float and things that sink. 
Bubble mixture.
Spray bottles.
Food colouring
Glitter
Pots and cups for pouring and filling......and so on.
Don't go buying things, just scout around the house and collect things up.





Enjoy !
You can make your water play even more exciting by adding a few drops of food colouring or a dash of glitter to make the water shiny. Bubble bath is also fun but only add a splash or your child will disappear into a cloud of foam.

There are a couple of things that I have found useful. I have the luxury of a garden so we paddle outside but that means my kitchen floor gets flooded by little wet feet going in and out, so I lay old towels on the floor to soak it up. I also put a box of water by the kitchen door to use as a foot wash before the kids come in which reduces the amount of wet grass clippings walked through the house.  In fairness to the kids I should mention that Daddy is the biggest paddler here and leaves the biggest wet footprints in the world!

Don't forget sun cream and hats if your'e splashing in the sunshine.

Once we've got the water play going it tends to be around all summer. 
The children love it and it's great for entertaining their various friends too. 
So whether its a box on the balcony or a bath in the garden have a lovely splash.

See you soon.
Heli  x

Monday, 25 July 2011

Camping at Home !

Camping at Home.

Here in the UK the school summer holidays have begun.  Hoorah!
After the world wide credit crunch lots of people are not going on holiday this summer, so we have a few ideas for "holidays at home" over the next few weeks.
This week we are having a camping holiday at home.  We often do this, even in the winter.  It takes a bit of imagination but the kids have always loved it.  Sometimes the children sleep in sleeping bags on their own beds and sometimes they go the whole hog and sleep out in the back garden in tents.
Depends on the temperature.  However, the absolute best thing is building our own tents.

This is what we're aiming for.....




 This is what you'll need for starters.....

  

Blankets.
Old curtains.
Old sheets.
Clothes pegs...as many as you can find.

You may also use.......


Chairs, sticks, string, clothes airers, cushions.....anything that comes to hand and lots of imagination.

Here's what to do....

1.   Indoors or outdoors, find a space or gap to build a camp in.  Find a place where it can be left up for a while and won't be in the way.

2.   Lay down a blanket or mat to be a floor.

3.   Spread a cloth or curtain over the nearby chairs or clothes rack to make a roof.  Use the pegs to secure the cloth. Now my kids are older they use drawing pins too but I would not recommend them for little kids.

4.   Use lots of imagination to customise your camp.  Add teddies and toys, treasures and books.


5.   Play all day!

Didn't take long for the cat to move in!

Camp in a gap in the living room.

Palatial camp built by son.

All's done and well done!

Tents are so much fun, whether it's under the laundry rack or built together outside, the fun lasts for days.
The children like to have their supper in their tents or for you to squeeze in with them.  However tiny the interior of the tent is, the kids are great at giving guided tours to the adults and cats who come to visit. 
Little children often then love to fill their camps with everything they can find.  Entire bedrooms have been known to disappear into their tents, with the children sitting outside because they've run out of space for humans!
Go with the flow...it's good clean fun and it can all get put back tomorrow.
  
This is so good for their imaginations and, if you enter into the swing off it, your tent will be
for a jungle explorer today and for having tea with the queen tomorrow!

Have fun, see you next week,
Heli  x