Tag Archives: arts and crafts

Mud glorious mud

The unschooling diaries: week thirteen

This week, we have finally managed to start sorting the garden out for summer.

It’s not an especially big space, and because our house is essentially built into the cliff face it’s on three different levels – and has no grass. So over the wet, windy Devon winter it really does start to look quite sorry for itself, and I start yearning for a house with a proper garden with room to run and explore.

I’ve realised, though, that there is actually an awful lot we can do with the space we have. Rather than bemoan the lack of lawn, I’ve decided instead to focus on what an interesting space it is, and its huge potential as an outdoor classroom. So, with Arthur taking the lead of course, we’ve been exploring exactly what that might look like – and having lots of messy fun in the process.

We started with some digging and pulling up of weeds in our raised beds. Arthur was very keen to get involved, and was fascinated by the bugs we came across along the way. We found snails, slugs, earthworms, a centipede, woodlice and a caterpillar – and had a good chat about each of them before getting on with our work.

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We also got the tuff spot out into the garden, creating a mud-filled paradise for Arthur’s beloved diggers, made even more fun when we added water to the equation.

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We managed to work some arts and crafts in there too. When we were in Lanzarote we’d talked about how Cesar Manrique had used volcanic ash in his paintings – Arthur had been quite intrigued by the unusual textures it created. So, inspired by the puddle that formed after some overnight rainfall, we decided to try some mud art.

We started with some puddle painting, using oil and food colouring to create colourful swirls on the water. This didn’t work brilliantly as Arthur got a bit over excited with the amount of oil he added, but it was still lots of fun!

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Especially fun was, of course, stamping in the oily puddle – and seeing how much Arthur was enjoying making footsteps on the deck I decided to give him a bit of a canvas.

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Then, after a slight diversion to make a magic potion, we got properly stuck in and covered a large sheet of paper with pva glue before pouring on the muddy concoction and mixing it up with anything else that took our fancy…

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There was more focused preparation too, with Arthur climbing inside the raised beds to get the earth ready for planting (and make some mud castles).

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It was all so much fun! And tidying up was even more so: Arthur was super keen to use the hosepipe, and I in my infinite wisdom let him. It was going great until he accidentally splashed me whilst I was holding the tuff spot, and I yelped, and he laughed, and… well, let’s just say we both got very wet!

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All in all it’s made me very excited about our little garden, and the fun and learning that is going to happen there in the weeks and months to come. There is something about being outdoors that just can’t be beat.

 



Encouraging creativity

One of my goals at the beginning of this year was to try to carve out the time and space in Arthur’s routine for him get creative – and for me to work out how to give him more opportunities to enjoy arts and crafts. My mum was brilliant at all that when I was growing up. She is an artist, so I suppose on one level it came naturally to her, but I remember always being surrounded by interesting ideas and projects and materials to just have a go.

This week, I’ve finally got round to setting up a corner of the kitchen as a dedicated space for him to unleash his creativity – and to store the various bits and pieces I’ve been accumulating. My parents bought him an easel for Christmas which has centre stage, and with a bit of reorganising I’ve freed up a shelving unit. I’m certainly inspired – though I doubt I’ll be able to keep it looking this tidy!

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We’ve been making some tentative steps into exploring different materials over the past month or so. Stickers and glitter are definitely Arthur’s favourites, but I think he’s gradually starting to get over his fear of paint.

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As he creates his little masterpieces, we’re adding them to a gallery in the hallway. He’s really enjoying seeing his creations on display, and he loves putting new pieces up when he finishes them!

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I’ve had the niggling feeling, though, that we’re only just scratching the surface of what we could be doing. I’ve been seeking out inspiration online and in a couple of great books I’ve found, but what I’ve really been hankering after is somewhere Arthur can go and get involved in creative play with other kids, where I can see some new ideas in action and discuss logistics with other mums, and where I don’t need to worry quite so much about the mess!

So when I heard a local mummy friend of mine was setting up science-inspired arts and craft workshops for toddlers and preschoolers in Brixham I couldn’t wait to go and have a look.

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Our first visit to Craftivity Lab was on Wednesday, and we loved it. The workshop was held in a lovely bright, airy space split into different zones for exploring, experimenting and getting messy. Whilst everything had clearly been very carefully planned (this week around the theme of weather), Amanda was keen to let the children take the lead and interpret her activities as they saw fit – with guidance if they needed it of course.

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Arthur loved the sensory tray, and was especially keen on throwing the cotton ball clouds (or were they snowballs?) up into the air. I made a mental note to get some extra ones for home to satisfy his urge to throw – even he can’t cause any damage with cotton wool…

He was soon drawn towards the painting, and although he’s still not utterly convinced he hasn’t stopped talking about rainbows since.

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He wasn’t so interested in the chromatography, but it took me right back to early science experiments at school! I reckon it’s definitely one to try again when he’s a bit older…

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What I think is particularly exciting about Craftivity Lab is how closely Amanda is observing the children playing and learning and creating to inform her planning for future sessions. She couldn’t help but notice Arthur’s love of throwing (to be fair, he wasn’t the only one…), and is going to build that in with some more physical activities next week. I’m already looking forward to it!

I feel like I’m finally making headway with encouraging Arthur’s creativity, and now that we’re a bit more organised I think there should be plenty more opportunities for arts and crafts fun. I’m definitely still on the look out for more ideas though – so if you can think of anything Arthur might enjoy then please let me know!

 

My word of the week this week is creativity.

The Reading Residence