Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Sea (for me), woods, fun and games (for all)

Half way through May already.  The month started in a wonderful way for me - a trip with Zoe and her friends to the Isle of Wight, to celebrate her 40th birthday.  No kids, no partners, 6 women, and lots of fun!

I was away for 3 nights, and it was a real treat (thanks Rob!).

The day after I got back, we went on a trip to the Woolly Firs Environmental Education Centre, run by the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust.  It's a beautiful place.  We were in a group of about 30 children.  The education officer did a brilliant job of making the activities accessible to the whole age range (toddlers to 10 or so).

It was a workshop about animal super senses - a mole's sense of touch, fox's hearing, badger's sense of smell, sparrowhawk's vision.  

We started off doing a scavenger hunt through the woodland.

The kids had very cute mole masks to put on that covered their eyes, and they felt their way round the 'mole run'.  Betsy didn't want the mask on, Meg peeped out from time to time, and Fred loved going round not able to see anything.

After that we walked through a meadow, past a big bug hotel and a pond, to a field.
The kids played a fox and mouse game.  Two kids were foxes, and had a blindfold on.  The rest of the kids were mice, collecting pinecones to take back to their nests.  If the foxes heard a mouse they pointed at it, and the mouse was caught.  It was a fun game!
After lunch the kids had the opportunity to handle some interesting bugs, including ground beetle larvae.  They look a bit like caterpillars, and nothing like their final form.

Next was a smell activity.  Badgers sense of smell is 50 times more sensitive than that of humans.  The kids were given a beaker and a stick, and asked to make a smelly potion with the herbs and other plants in the garden.

Fred, Betsy and Meg really enjoyed this, and it was interesting to smell the differences in each potion.

Then we did a hunt the laminated mouse game.  The kids pretended to be sparrowhawks collecting mice for their babies in the nest.  Our team (us plus Billy and Zoe) were on top form and won!

The final activity was using our hearing to identify 7 different nocturnal animals.

Betsy and Meg also enjoyed looking at the display of skulls, nests and other interesting things.

It was a brilliant day.  I noticed that Fred really participated.  He was keen to answer questions, and didn't tell me he was bored when the education officer did a short talk at the beginning of the day.

The next day we spent at home (I needed to catch up on laundry!).

On Thursday we visited Amanda, Caden and Miles.  They played lots of hide and seek, in and out of the laundry basket.  Fred spent a long time in the kitchen chatting with me and Amanda.  Something quite fundamental is shifting in him at the moment.  It's wonderful to see him blossoming.

On Friday we met up with new friends from forest school, at Wendover Woods.  Fred really likes Sunny, but one of his friends came too, so Fred was left out a little.  It was ok for an hour, but then Fred did get rather bored and restless.  All 3 enjoyed the big muddy puddle as usual though.

On Saturday we went to mum's to celebrate Tom's birthday.  Fred kept the adults entertained for ages with a 'poop game', involving a spinning desk chair.  Don't ask!

Sunday was a home day, playing with the neighbours.

Yesterday we went to a home ed meet up at the local soft play centre.  Aylesbury home ed families!  It was fab.  Fred's friend Matthew was there, and Sunny.  Betsy and Meg had a blast.  I sat chatting with other home ed mums.  Seriously, it was wonderful.

Later at home, we had some exciting weather.  Thunder and hail.  Fred and Betsy ran outside to get pelted.

It's been a lovely couple of weeks.

On a sad note, Smokey the hamster died yesterday.  She will be laid to rest at the allotment next to Whitey.

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