Tag Archives: outdoors

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“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2016.”

This weekend, whilst I was getting off getting inspired at the first ever National Lido Conference, Arthur and Leigh went to Dadfest: a weekend of camping and outdoorsy events for Dads and their kids.

It was a pretty intense experience by all accounts, but Arthur was full of excitement when I saw him last night.

Most exciting of all he got to try archery, which is one of his current favourite things. Just look at the concentration on that little face…

Linking up with Jodi at Practising Simplicity for The 52 Project. 

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“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2016.”

A moment of calm in the midst of racing around the headland on his balance bike.

He didn’t know I was watching, and just stopped and sat down: playing with the grass and contemplating the world.

Minutes later he was off again, but there is something about the quiet contentment of this picture that I love.

 

Linking up with Jodi at Practising Simplicity for The 52 Project. 

An icy experiment

The unschooling diaries: week thirty-one

A new book arrived in the post last week, and it’s been inspiring Arthur since he first set eyes on it. He has been particularly keen to try the ‘icy orbs’ – balloons, ice, food colouring, what’s not to love?

He reminded me of this again over dinner the other day. I filled a balloon with water, put it in a bowl inside the freezer, and the next morning we had a ball of ice all ready to be unwrapped…

Even at this stage Arthur was fascinated. We talked about how there seemed to be steam coming off the ice, and how it was sticky when he touched it (and also very, very c-c-c-cold).

More for my sake than his, we went through the motions of the activity in the book. Arthur sprinkled on some salt, and then we added food colouring, watching it trickle down the pits in the ice and the cracks that reached down into its depths. He was fairly interested in this, especially when we got a torch out to shine against it, but he was more intrigued to see what would happen if he drove vehicles across the surface of the now textured and colourful orb…

Driving vehicles soon progressed to tapping with a spoon… And then banging… And at that point we moved proceedings outside. He had more space to examine it there too, insisting on taking with him his goggles and a magnifying glass.

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Then followed squeals of delight as he banged away, and fragments of ice flew off across the deck.

This all escalated quite quickly, and he was soon smashing away at the orb and insisting that I joined in, watching as the sphere split and we could examine the passage of the coloured streams within.

He then wanted to know what would happen if we put hot water on it… So we did… And as the pieces of ice got smaller he threw them up into the air and watched as they broke to pieces on impact with the ground, fragments skitting away.

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Finally, he could not resist but out a piece of ice into his mouth. I’d been reluctant when it had been covered in salt and food colouring (and then who knows what else in the garden!), but decided that the pieces left after the outside layers had been melted away were probably innocuous enough.

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All in all it was a very satisfying hour or so of experimentation. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what we learnt, but that’s mainly because there are so many things to choose from.

Most important of all though was the joy Arthur found in making discoveries for himself. And if he continues to be this enthusiastic about seeking out inspiration I predict many more hours of spontaneous discovery to come!

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“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2016.”

Such an perfect week away with this little man: almost every second spent outdoors, exploring and playing and learning and socialising.

And in between it all quiet moments like this where I savoured him looking so self-assured, so content.

Love summer, love our campervan, and cannot wait for our next adventure.

 

Linking up with Jodi at Practising Simplicity for The 52 Project. 

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“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2016.”

At Arthur’s forest school, the entrance to the woodland classroom is marked by Mr Magic Tree. He stands tall over the children as they learn and play, guardian and protector, and a symbol of the respect for the natural world that forest school nurtures and encourages.

We have decided recently that we should nominate a Mr Magic Tree in the woods by my parents’ house, and this one is a strong contender.

It might be a while before Arthur can climb up there on his own though…

Linking up with Jodi at Practising Simplicity for The 52 Project. 

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“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2016.”

Arthur has been fascinated by the remnants of charcoal in our outdoor fire, so I thought he might like to have a go at drawing with it… If you’re going to make a mess it might as well be a beautiful one, right?

Linking up with Jodi at Practising Simplicity for The 52 Project. 

Very hungry caterpillars

The unschooling diaries: week twenty-five

After the success of our tadpole project, I’ve been on the lookout for another opportunity to explore metamorphosis in action. A couple of weeks ago one appeared, in the shape of several very hungry caterpillars eating their way through our lettuces.

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We picked out two, and created a little habitat for them in the fishtank, complete with the remains of one of the lettuces they had been munching so that they could continue to prepare for their transformation.

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They were already pretty big when we found them, and it wasn’t long at all before they each settled into a crevice in their new home and began to spin a web of silk around themselves.

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This was fascinating to watch, as was the way their bright green bodies slowly went brown and hard as they pupated.

Whilst we waited for them to hatch, we read up about the process – Usbourne Beginners ‘Caterpillars and Butterflies’ had lots of interesting facts, and of course we re-read Eric Carle’s classic. I also did a bit of googling to try to find out what sort of butterflies we might expect, and discovered that actually the silk cocoons suggested that we were more likely going to be welcoming moths.

And indeed about ten days later first one then the other broke out and spread their wings.

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We watched them for a couple more days, and when we were sure that their wings were strong enough Arthur reluctantly agreed to let them go.

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Once they had flown away, he was keen to have a closer look at the empty cocoons. He felt the sticky silk, and prodded at the shell of the pupa within.

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And after that, whilst I attempted to tidy up our overgrown veg patch, he even washed out the tank, ready for his next pets.

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As it happened, he didn’t have to wait very long. I had a feeling that the latticed spinach and calendula might be hiding some more little creatures and, in fact, it was teeming with them.

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It made for some very interesting conversation, around how these bugs are interesting to watch and study but are also pests, especially when they’re competing for our vegetables! We transferred some of the caterpillars we found to another part of the garden, but because they looked different to the first ones we’d found we decided to keep a few back so we could observe the metamorphosis process again and see if we noticed any changes.

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After this lot I think we’ll be done though, at least till next year…

Anyone have any ideas how we can make the remains of our crops slightly less attractive to the very hungry caterpillars? After all, it would be quite nice to be able to enjoy some of our vegetables too!