Noticing the changes that Autumn brings

I love the summer, but Autumn is such a beautiful follow up. We decided to head out on an Autumn walk and see what we could notice. It took Squidge a short while to warm up to noticing what was around her on our walk. I may be to blame for this as many times when we are out walking we’re on our way somewhere, so we whizz past all the wonders that nature has offered us. However, with a few yells of “Wow what’s this?” and “Ou what can you see over there?”, she soon got into the swing.

After we’d found a few acorns and added them to our collection bag, Squidge spotted some orange berries. We had a talk about their colour and what/who might eat them. Next she had a go at one of my favourite Autumn activities, crunching through the leaves. The top layer made a lovely crunching sound, but Squidge noticed that the layer underneath was all ‘Soggy and squelchy’. Good job she’d worn her wellies!

Just around the corner from where we live we found a single, magnificent conker tree. The delight of finding those little spiky balls could be seen on Squidge’s face, and I won’t lie even I still find myself getting excited. Possibly the teacher in me, or maybe I’m still just a big kid. We found a few and added them to our collection, along with a variety of different leaves.

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Once home we tipped out our wares and put the best of it together with some of our logs. I decided to leave the berries out of the display, just incase Boo found them too tempting whilst unattended.

Squidge recalled where we’d found most of the objects and began to compare what we had, “Look at this leaf Mummy, it’s longer and it’s yellow”, “This conker is the biggest”, “We have lots of leaves but we didn’t find a lot of sticks did we?”

Simply noticing things on a short walk had sparked so much talk already.

 

Later I added some magnifying lenses, a mini telescope and a prism viewer. This gave Squidge an opportunity to take a closer look and notice things from a different perspective. The lenses we got from the local scrap store, which I’ve raved about to you before. Seriously, have you been yet?

 

img_6671I had a few ideas in mind to follow up our Autumn walk. After talking to Squidge about the different colours we’d noticed on our walk, I added crayons to the leaves we’d collected with some paper so the girls could have a go at leaf rubbing. This unfortunately wasn’t their idea of fun, I was left colouring all on my own! Oh well, this happens. I didn’t push it and decided to leave the colours and paper out incase they changed their minds or wanted to explore in their own way. Boo was the most eager to do this and revisited the Autumn collection and drew often.

Another activity which I’ve seen on Pinterest in various forms, also linked well to the colours we had noticed. I knew as it was messy they’d both love it and it would make a lovely piece to add to our display. We made an Autumn tree. All you need for this is large paper, paint in various colours and something to stamp with, we used corks (another scrap store find).

Both girls really enjoyed this activity and it is one we’ll definitely do again. I’ve seen a mini version using cotton buds which looks like it’d be great fun to try, a test of perseverance and good fine motor practice. It also inspired the next actovity.

img_6633Our button tree. Now I know not everyone has a huge collection of buttons in their cupboards, but I do, I love buttons. There are other ways you could make this activity yourselves at home, you could try using pom poms, felt or foam shapes, or paper leaves would work as I suggested over on my Instagram. You’ll have to be sensible in your choices if you have a little one who’s still mouthing things.

For the tree itself I drew on the back of a place mat with a felt tip. I love the different texture it offers and it’s a bit more sturdy than paper. I’m planning to reuse the tree with different colours come Springtime. I may also try some of the ideas I suggested above.

Both Squidge and Boo had a go at this one. I wasn’t sure how long they’d persevere with it, but they both spent a good length of time adding buttons. I supervised closely to begin with, but felt it could be left out for them to play with and revisit. The magic moment that came from this activity was when Squidge dragged all the buttons to the bottom and exclaimed “Look all the leaves are falling down off the tree!”. If this had been a glue and stick it activity she may not have had the same chance to explore and play. All our talk about Autumn must be sinking in!

Have you been on a noticing walk? What did you find? What activities did in inspire?

You may have noticed I have mentioned noticing a lot in this post ;). This is one of the learning behaviours of Building Learning Power (BLP). This philosophy is something I worked on with students whilst working in my last school and I believe it to be a very powerful way of helping children to become successful learners. It’s all about how we learn. It’s something I have adopted at home to help my own children engage in learning. I’m hoping to link a few of my posts to BLP, exploring the different behaviours and how these can be developed from an early age.

Our fairy garden

If you’ve read some of my previous blogposts you’ll already know that this summer’s project has been our garden. It’s been a long, but rewarding task. We had a general plan in mind when starting, but as with many projects some things have evolved along the way. When relaying our patio we had planned to have the path curve and lay grass right up to our existing driveway. However, much as hubby tried with the cutter he had, he could not cut through the slabs straight, let alone on a curve. We had to re think the plan.

We put forward various solutions and asked family, that visited in the interim, what they thought. We agreed ending with a straight edge would look neater. That left us with a small, awkward triangle on a bit of a hill. The whole point of renovating the garden was to take out the trip hazards so we decided we’d turn it into a flower bed so the girls would need to walk around.

Here we were with this extra flower bed to fill and I’m no gardener, there’s not even a tinge of green in my fingers. However, I am pretty creative and I have seen so many gorgeous little fairy and sensory gardens on my late night Pinterest trawls. Plus Squidge loves all things small and she is role playing more and more.

First off we needed a trip to the garden centre. I wanted to choose plants that offered variety from a sensory point of view. I’d tell you the names of the plants I chose if I knew them all, but I’m afraid I don’t. I did warn you I’m not a gardener. The first in the series of photos is a rockery plant and a ground spreader. If it manages to flower they will be a gorgeous shade of blue. I chose this one as I think it has the best chance of living in a shallow bed plus the leaves have quite a rubbery texture. The next one is my ‘show stopper’ huge yellow blooms against dark green leaves- it attracted Boo instantly. She keeps attempting to pull all the petals off and you can see her below imitating Mummy ‘Noooo’. Perhaps I need to retire the pointy finger?!

There’s lavender and rosemary, both there to add scent. We may use some of the rosemary to cook with and I’m almost certain you can add either of these to play dough for extra sensory fun. The little conifer has spiky leaves and is meant to smell like lemon, though I’m yet to be convinced. I love that this is a miniature version of a larger tree. I will be tracking down tiny baubles at Christmas.

With all the plants in pots I did what I have seen real gardeners do (my parents included) and I placed them around the flower bed, I moved them a few times – trying to get a balance of colours and heights. When I was happy with the layout I planted them all, making sure to split up the roots so they could bed in well. I gave them a good watering when I’d finished too.

Whole levelling the garden we cand across an assortment of pebbles and I kept them to one side. I chose the largest, best shaped ones to use as little fairy houses. I painted them using poster paints. It took a few coats particularly for some of the lighter colours and for adding the details. Onice they were dry I coated them with a PVA/Water mix as a varnish. I’m not sure they will last in our delightful English weather, but it won’t be terribly upsetting if it washes off. We can try again with acrylics and I should probably let Squidge have a go!

I placed the houses and remaining pebbles around the garden. This looked ok, but there was definitely something missing. We had some left over pebbles from filling in the side of the patio, I decided these would make a perfect little path between the houses. I also raided one of my vases for the glass beads in the bottom, knowing they would male a perfect fairy pool.

Boo was straight in! She loves the glass beads and has been transporting them all over the garden ever since they went in. She also likes to remove all the pebbles around the edge. I don’t mind as the whole idea of this little patch is that the girls are allowed to play with it. Nothing in it is irreplaceable.

As the days have passed we’ve added a couple of other bits, mini solar lights, which I have placed along the paths. A little wooden flower windmill which also fascinates Boo, the spinner and the little beads underneath. I certainly think we’ll keep adding to our fairy garden, whether it’s bits we buy or things we make – I’ve already started hoarding lolly sticks with grand plans of mini fences and benches.

I’m really pleased with the result and the girls have definitely been making the most of it, both in their individual ways. Boo mostly moving pieces and touching and feeling the plants. Squidge with little role play sessions using small world characters and the spare pebbles. She has also been helping to water the flowers and noticed that one of them has flowered.

Please do me know what you think, or feel free to send me a picture or links to your own fairy gardens!

Lots of love Cat, Squidge and Boo xxx

Pinterest-fairy-garden

 

Pinterest worthy? If you think so, add this (or any of the other images) to your board. Thank you x

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Caterpillars!

We moved to our ‘Family Home’ a little over a year ago now. We used to live in a chocolate box, 1900’s stone built cottage, wedged along a cobbled street. It was tiny. Beautiful, a perfect starter home but far too small for a family of four. So small in fact, that when people came to view it, we had to hide most of the kids toys in our cars and park them a street away, but shhh!

We’ve done various projects in the new house throughout the first year, but for the past couple of months we’ve been renovating the garden. The ‘before’ consisted mostly of low red brick walls, pebbles, paving slabs at varying levels with steps and corners everywhere. I’d say a toddler nightmare, but they were quite happy – it was me that was in a nightmare. I was following them around franticly saying “Careful”, “steady”, my arms outstretched ready to catch them. All the while envisaging hospital trips where they had chunks missing from their little heads where they’d inevitably fallen and hit a corner.

Our aim in the revamp was to have a level-ish garden, with no deadly corners or serious trip hazards. This has meant a lot of digging, three skips full worth of digging. I have regularly blasted out the Gnomes’ theme from Ben & Holly “Dig, dig, dig, in a garden blah blah blah” (Ok, so I don’t know ALL the words). The point to this whole tale is that with all the time and hard work it’s taken, I’m very proud of the each part of the garden as we finish it. So imagine my horror as I see one of the plants in my new flowerbed has been devoured almost overnight.

I was furious and began my hunt for the horrid little beasts that had been so greedy. Exactly how many slugs and snails was I going to have to get rid of?! My mood changed the minute I spotted them….

Squidge was almost as excited as me. She observed them closely for quite some time. She kept finding more and more and pointing them out to me. We talked about the story ‘The very hungry caterpillar’ and how these caterpillars definitely were very hungry because they’d eaten so many leaves and were still munching!

Eventually Squidge plucked up the courage to gently pick one from the plant. She put him in her palm and watched carefully as he crawled around. She didn’t want him to get hungry so she pulled off a leaf for him to eat. She wanted to go get him a drink from the kitchen, so I explained how they got everything they needed from the plant (I didn’t want a drowning on my hands, or caterpillars in my kitchen to be honest).

Squidge got more and more confident handling the caterpillars and before long she had several in her hands at once. We counted them carefully and this prompted Squidge to sing a new version of one of her favourite number rhymes “Five little caterpillars jumping on the bed….”.

At one point one of the caterpillars did indeed fall off (there are no confirmed reports as to whether he bumped his head). Squidge was very dramatic and exclaimed “The birds will eat him, I can’t watch”. This has sprung from previous conversations as to why worms might like to hide under the soil and why we should put them back in a safe place after we’ve handled them. They really do listen to everything we say – even when we think they’re not paying attention.

Squidge spent the majority of the afternoon playing with the caterpillars. It was wonderful to see her be so gentle and nurturing towards these tiny creatures. Her face in the pictures say it all. Before bed that night she chose to read both copies of ‘The very hungry caterpillar’ by Eric Carle. The original and the finger puppet book.

To follow up from this I’d like to do some fruit printing linked to Eric Carle’s book. I’ll definitely try get some counting out of it, but won’t let it dictate or distract from the fun of printing. If the weather stays nice we’ll go for the big roll of paper in the garden, or the new easel. We’ll also keep observing the caterpillars and see if we can see them making their cocoons. Exciting times at Squidge and Boo!

Thanks for reading,

Love Cat & Squidge xx

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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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