Tag Archives: play

Dressing up

The unschooling diaries: week forty-two

One of my very favourite things about Halloween this year was the week-long dress-up fest that preceded it.

Arthur had decided some time in advance that he wanted to be Luke Skywalker on the day. Not for any particularly special occasion you understand – we weren’t going to a party, or ‘trick or treat’ing – but just because it was Halloween, and so he could. Daddy was going to be Darth Vader, and I would be Princess Leia. Totally fine by me.

As Halloween approached, Arthur basically decided that he needed to be in fancy dress whenever we left the house (or even if we didn’t).

So he was a bat in the woods at Occombe farm…

IMG_1736.jpg

And a spaceman for an organised foraging walk we went on.

IMG_1820.jpg

(It was a particularly apt outfit for exploring the new adventure playground at Dartington when we were done).

This might not seem like too much of a big deal: three year old, any excuse for a costume, pretty standard. But it took AGES before he was even vaguely interested in fancy dress, and so it still has a certain novelty value.

More than that, too, his dress up games are now imbued with the wonderful imagination that is blossoming in him, and he embraces the characters he takes on with gusto.

The highlight of our Halloween adventures was a walk up to Berry Head – in costume of course. I had a meeting at the pool on Sunday morning, and Leigh and Arthur came to meet me there – in costume and clutching their lightsabers.

IMG_1726.jpg

(These lightsabers are worth an aside themselves. I made one for Arthur a while ago using a bubble wand, and whilst it was pretty cool it way no way nearly as awesome as the discovery he made whilst I was raiding our fancy dress boxes for other props… He found the ten-year-old pop up lightsabers with lights and sound that Leigh had bought for himself and his brother and squirrelled away for his future son. And boy was his son excited.)

IMG_1714.jpg

Arthur led us through the overgrown pathways up on the headland, taking his mission very seriously until we reached an open space. And then he took great delight in lightsaber duels with anyone who was interested (quite a few random kids as well as just his dad it turned out).

IMG_2062.jpg

By the time we headed for home, and lunch with Arthur’s best mate, he was brimming with excitement and adventure.

IMG_1725.jpg

Amazing how being in costume can transform your experience of well-trodden paths. And it’s Christmas soon, right? Cue all sorts of festive role-play…

41/52

IMG_1670.jpg

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

This one is so utterly bonkers it makes my heart sing.

We had a bit of a mission of a morning on Friday, getting the bus over to gymnastics which involves forty minutes of walking each way as well as the hour-long bus ride itself. Arthur did nap on the bus, but once we’d eventually made it home it was definitely time to chill and watch a movie.

Except, obviously, this was the position he wanted to adopt, just to get a bit of extra gymnastics practice in.

And he’s getting so tall!

But I’m trying not to think too much about that…

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

London calling

The unschooling diaries: week thirty-seven

I love our life in Devon, the sea swimming and beach exploring and cliff walking, but sometimes it is pretty awesome to switch our scenery around and hang out in the city.

The big smoke seems to be calling us a lot at the moment, and last week I had to make the trip up on my own with Arthur. It was a whistlestop visit, and I admit I was dreading it a little bit. But turning what could have been a chore into a bit of an adventure definitely helped.

He’s getting to be quite a seasoned little traveller, and insisted on picking up a magazine for the journey before we boarded the train. Not to read, you understand – but those little plastic toys are just so alluring…

IMG_1657.jpg

It was actually a really chilled out journey once we’d got comfy. We had a breakfast picnic, and Arthur was very happy to snuggle up with a movie whilst I caught up on some writing.

IMG_1655.jpg

When we got to town, we had a whole afternoon at our disposal before my appointment the next morning. I had in mind a very specific quest: to visit Kings Cross Pond before it closed forever. We missioned it across the city and set off into the forest of cranes and tower blocks – a highly unlikely setting for a natural swimming experience!

IMG_1644.jpg

But nestled between the building sites there was a little oasis of calm, and I relished the opportunity to have a dip – even if Arthur did decide it was a bit too cold.

IMG_1654.jpg

IMG_1643.jpg

After our swim we set off to meet a friend – no particular mission this time, just a couple of hours to meander and soak up what the city had to offer. Arthur was drawn to the fountains in Granary Square, made particularly alluring by the sound installation that accompanied them. He stood completely mesmerised before creeping closer until his head was almost up against one of the speakers.

IMG_1645.jpgIMG_1646.jpg

Unexpected public art was definitely a theme of this trip, and Arthur especially liked the swing we came across in the middle of the street. I’m sure the grown-ups love it too, but there was something pleasingly incongruous about watching Arthur going about the very serious business of swinging whilst everyone continued on their way around him.

IMG_1647.jpg

I’m pretty sure Arthur decided that the whole city was a playground to be honest – from random swings to balancing along water features whilst he raced leaf boats over the little waterfalls.

IMG_1658.jpg

And then, as if that wasn’t enough excitement for one day, I realised that we were just around the corner from The Railway Children at the Kings Cross theatre and couldn’t resist some last-minute discount tickets.

IMG_1659.jpg

It was already past Arthur’s bedtime, and as soon as we sat down he curled up on my knee for a power nap. Fifteen minutes later though he was woken by the sounds of steam trains and singing and sat completely rapt as the story played out in front of him. It was his first proper theatre experience and he was quite blown away by it all – especially when a real-life steam train pulled onto the stage!

The next day was a bit less exciting as I had a meeting to attend, leaving Arthur playing patiently with his hot wheels cars and chatting away to his toy dog, Merlin who he had insisted on bringing with him in a special doggy sling.

IMG_1661.jpg

We did manage to fit in a visit to one of his favourite actual playgrounds – we very rarely visit them in Devon, so it always feels like a bit of a treat. He’s been to this one on trips up to London before, but not since he was much smaller. As soon as we arrived he set his sights on the biggest of the three slides on offer, and circumnavigated it several times, trying unsuccessfully to clamber up the ropes to get to it. Then, though, he watched as a boy not much older than him approached it from a whole other angle – and of course he had to follow.

img_1650

img_1651

img_1652

After all of this adventuring Arthur was well and truly knackered by the time we began our long journey home – we both were!

IMG_1653.jpg

It was well worth the effort though. I am already looking forward to the corners of the city we will discover on our next trip…

39/52

IMG_1640.jpg

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

It has always struck me as a little odd, having a sandpit on a beach.

This beach is full of shingle though (despite, as Arthur pointed out, being called Blackpool Sands). It’s a beautiful spot, but sometimes a boy just wants to dig.

And swim: the waves were rolling in, but we were playing in the sea not long after this picture was taken.

Not bad for nearly the end of September.

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

34/52

IMG_1597.jpg

“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.

IMG_1590.jpg

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.

IMG_1594.jpg

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.

IMG_1595.jpg

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!