Mamma's School

Home Education Adventure

Springtime and Seeds.

springtime and seeds gardening children gardening www.mammasschool.co.ukThe snow has melted, (it’s forecast again for tomorrow night, but we will ignore that!!), the first few spring flowers are peppering our lawn, (although the snowdrops are still hiding!), and the temperature has risen to +2 degrees…..springtime is coming!  Or I am trying to pretend it is, and search out the signs that soon we may be able to leave home with gloves and hats in our bags, rather than permanently on our hands and heads!  Being the start of March I felt it was about time I got my skates on and set about planting some seeds.

Back in the UK I have left a very small garden, but one that is literally bursting full of colour for three seasons of the year.  We currently have a very unsuspecting tenant in there, unaware of what is about to happen, as before we left I had trimmed everything back for winter.  When we moved in over 6 years ago, there was not one flowering plant in the garden, so I was fairly proud of my colourful riot of a jungle 🙂  In Sweden now, I have a huge garden and I need to be careful I don’t go for the jam packed look again, or else I will not be able to manage it at all (I already need a goat for the grass!).

I plan to have similar things in the garden here.  We need some fruit trees (we had apple and plum in the UK), we need to start a herb garden, we always grow some fruit and veg, and then I need flower colour to brighten our days.  Some pips/seeds we have saved from what we have eaten, and others I bought in the shops.  The wild seed mixes I am leaving until I can put them straight outside.  Today we have planted chives, rosemary, tomatoes, french beans, peas, carrots, rhubarb, small poppies, large poppies, chillies, pumpkins, melons, peppers, pear, and ….there’s one other but I can’t remember what it is so that’ll be a nice surprise when it appears!  This will hopefully keep my costs down a bit when I head to the garden centre a bit later in spring, having started a lot from seed.  I want to get some roses, blueberries, lavender, and a few more herbs from plant for starters.  A few weeks ago we planted some of our apple pips, and we have got six sturdy looking seedlings sprouting, so I am crossing my fingers about those working out.

Springtime seed planting is a bit of a ritual in this home, very much centred around the children being able to let their inner mud loving gardener free!!  Our little lady has been diligently planting seeds for years, and has enjoyed it.  Our mad twinnies though have always planted one seed and pottered off in search of more wild adventures.  However, today, they seem to have decided this was fun, and for the first time ever, they will be able to see the results of growing from seed (fingers crossed).  They even helped to delicately transfer the apple seedling into larger pots.  I was really pleased with the help and interest.

So with our springtime seeds planted, our house now resembles a garden centre until the weather warms up!!  Lets hope they survive with three children dashing around…I wonder how many times they will be knocked over?!  Each pot has more than one seed in too, so plenty of gardening to keep us busy in the next few months!

Springtime and seeds gardening with children www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

Våffeldagen – A Whole Day Dedicated to Eating Waffles!

Våffeldagen is a whole day in Sweden dedicated to eating waffles….nom nom!  Saturday 25th March was the day this year.  It is another way of celebrating the start of spring after the cold dark winter here in Sweden.  The name originally comes from “Vårfrudagen” meaning our lady’s day, which is on the same day, but said in a poorly articulated way , can be mistaken for Våffeldagen.

On Våffeldagen you make waffles and serve them with fruit jams, cream, cheese, or fresh fruit.  We have a special Scandinavian heart shaped waffle iron to make ours, and here is our recipe we use:

3 dl plain flour

2 x eggs

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

3 tsp butter

1 tsp cardamom

3 dl milk

We then serve them up while still warm.  Coffee is very good with them, but due to the time of day we were eating ours, it was wine o’clock!!

våffeldagen in Sweden, waffle day, living in Sweden, Sweden www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

Spring Equinox Picnic-Celebrating the Vernal Equinox

The Spring Equinox Vernal Equinox www.mammasschool.co.ukThis week it has been the spring equinox, otherwise called the vernal equinox.  So, we deviated away from our nature curriculum to have a closer look and some fun with this instead.  So what is it?  It is technically when spring starts.  It is termed an equinox, as all over the globe day and night is roughly equal in length, being 12 hours each.  We are in the northern hemisphere so have the spring equinox, whilst in the southern hemisphere they are experiencing the autumnal equinox.  The day and night length is not an exact science, and it has a lot more to do with marking key times in the astronomical cycle of the earth.  In a year we have two equinoxes (autumn and spring), and two solstices (winter and summer).  There is a lot of other detail I could go in to, but I’m keeping this at the level I am teaching my trio 🙂  The spring equinox has for a long time been celebrated as a time of rebirth, and there are many lovely festivals experienced around the world to celebrate it.  So we decided to have our own little celebration, a picnic!

The trio and I thought it would be a lovely idea to head over to the west side of the island to watch the sun set.  It’s now setting at about 6pm (bang on its twelve hour day/night cycle), and would be one of the last times the children would see the sunset until the autumn.  I love my children dearly, but I equally love their bedtimes as I am exhausted by 7pm, when the house falls calm and quiet!!  There will no doubt be the odd time between now and the autumn where they will stay up, but I wanted to be sure they definitely caught this sunset.  We knew there was a well positioned fire pit, so we packed up some food to cook, and headed over.

The weather was not totally on our side though.  It was a very blustery (and cold as usual!) spring evening, with quite a bit of cloud around.  When we arrived though, the sun was peeping through the clouds and the wind dropped a little.  We lit the fire, and I got cooking, while the children got playing.  This was going to work well being a family too, as Dadda’s bus has a stop on the island a 5 minute walk from where we were.  So, I messaged him, and he said he’d join us, getting off at that bus stop on the way back from work.  We enjoyed the hot food, followed by a dessert of toasted marshmallows, and then the wind really picked up!  Once the wind picked up, we ended up hiding behind a boat hut to protect us a bit as it was very strong!

There’s a girl in there somewhere!

We waited until the sun had set, peeping out from behind the hut to watch it, then packed up our things and headed home before we blew off!!!

 

Country Kids

Spring Crafts-9 Sunny Spring Craft Ideas.

Spring crafts 9 sunny spring craft ideas spring equinox www.mammasschool.co.ukHaving had the spring equinox on Monday 20th March, we have used this as our theme this week.  So all our crafting has been spring crafts.  Lots of lovely fun sunny spring craft ideas, to make us feel that we are finally saying goodbye to our long winter (and hat wearing).

 

 

 

The first of our spring crafts is a finger painted garden.  You first need to do the background.  A band of green on the bottom, a thin band of yellow above, and a wider band of blue above that for the sky with fingerprints.  You can then add thumbprints in a variety of colours for flower heads.  We have also added some dots of contrasting colour in the centre of some of ours, as well as a few random stems.  All our smaller dots were done with cotton buds.

Next up we have fork flowers!  My trio loved doing this, as they love using anything but brushes to paint with.  We painted some green stems with brushes, and then added different coloured flower heads with forks dipped in paint.  Sometimes I think these crafts are quite simple for our little lady who is 9.  However, she loves doing them, and that is the main thing.  She is learning to think outside the box a little, and then she stays on at the table being creative more at her level with everything she has just learned.

Our third craft is a very effective hand print tree.  We brushed our hands in brown paint (created by mixing red and green as we don’t have brown!).  We then did a hand print on the paper that served as the branches and tree trunk.  Next we used ear cleaners to make the blossom effect.

 

 

 

Continuing with the blossom theme, it is spring after all, our next piece was similar but using a different technique.  This time we painted a brown branch.  Then we used the bottom of a fizzy pop bottle, dipped in paint, to make the blossom print marks.  This was the first time we had used pop bottles to paint, and it was very effective.

 

 

We then went onto some spring mini beasts. We cut a leaf from green card, that we had drawn on.  We then stuck pom poms onto the leaf to make our very own hungry caterpillar.

 

 

They enjoyed making a caterpillar so much, we stuck with that mini beast, and created one from a paper plate.  We cut a section of paper plate rim and decorated it.  The trio then styled a face/antennae to their fancy, and stuck it onto the front of the plate.

 

Naturally, having done caterpillars, they wanted to move onto butterflies, so we did just one today (lots and lots of ideas!!).  My trio each drew a butterfly shape on card.  They then cut this out.  They painted one side and folded it in half to make the pattern across all of the wings.  We then sliced the top portion of a bendy straw, to pull apart for antennae, and glued the rest of the straw into the middle of the wings.

The penultimate idea for spring crafts was an egg carton flower.  We cut a four section of cups from the carton, each painting theirs to their own tastes.  We stuck a bright pom pom in the centre, and a straw as the stem.  Easy peasy!

 

 

 

The last of our spring crafts ideas was to actually use a little bit of nature itself and do some nature threading.  We collected various items from around the garden, and used a needle and thread to thread them together.  The trio made their various creations, and then we used them to decorate their bedrooms for a few days.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about our spring crafts, and have as much fun doing them as we did 🙂

Spring Crafts 9 sunny spring craft ideas spring art fun www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

Thimble and Twig

Spring Rainbow Science-Science Fun with the Colours of the Rainbow.

Spring Equinox Spring rainbow science Spring Science Rainbow Science www.mammasschool.co.ukThis week our theme is the Spring Equinox.  With that theme in mind I wanted the trio to have some fun with spring rainbow science, for our science topic of the week.  Our little lady is rainbow obsessed, so naturally the mini men have a huge interest in them, and I’ve grown to admire them with a renewed passion since having the trio around. So, out of a huge choice of experiments, I eventually plumped on 6 that the trio could do.  I’ve stayed away from the concept of light for this topic for now, as we can do that another time.  We are using other concepts to make our rainbows 🙂

First up was chromatography. We took four coffee filters and drew a thick band of colour with a marker around the narrow end.  We then placed them into shot glasses of water and watched the magic.  Big hint:  Make sure you include black and brown in your selection of colours.  The original colour will separate out into all the component colours it is made up from.  This teaches my trio that one colour can be made from several colours.  It can also be used in many other situations to separate out different components that are present in one substance.

Our next experiment was to look at how plants used water for nutrition.  We took some leaves from the garden, and placed them in water with red food colouring in.  We then returned to them a few hours later to see what had happened.  The children could see the route the water had taken by looking at the red colouring throughout the leaves’ veins, and we discussed for a while the process around this occurring.

 

The third experiment was using the same principles as the second, but to a different effect.  Our local shop didn’t have any white flowers, so I bought light pink instead, confident the colour would still allow for any colour change to be seen.  We cut the stems and placed them in water coloured with blue food colouring.  If you have several food colours, you could try one in each to make a rainbow of colours.  You can also slice the stem of the flower vertically, into a y shape (leaving a large portion not divided at the top), and place half a stem in one colour, and half a stem in another.  We did try this but our flowers were too long, and snapped 🙁  However, we did get a good lovely blue edging effect from our stems in the blue dye.  The children were amazed and have learnt a lot about how flowers use water.

Our next spring rainbow science experiment, perhaps produced the quickest and the biggest wow factor for the trio.  They arranged some Skittles in a circle around a plate, and then in the dip in the centre, gently placed some water.  Fairly fast the children could watch the colours in the sweets coating being drawn out into the water.  The were actually speechless and quiet…that’s a result in my books!!

The fourth spring rainbow science experiment is a very hard one to get right, but if it’s managed, can be very effective.  You take as many water solutions, as you’ve got different food colourings to put into them.  Add one food colour into each glass.  In the first glass don’t put any sugar, in the second 2 teaspoons, the third one 4, etc.  until you have finished all your colours.  Then slowly pipette a layer of the solution with the most sugar into a clean glass.  Slowly add a layer of solution with the next most sugar in, and keep going, until you finally add the solution with no sugar in.  The children were learning about density and which solution is heavier, and what happens to them.  As you can see from the photo, ours wasn’t totally successful (we should have had 5 colours in stripes, but we only had 3), but the children learnt a lot and went onto just playing with the different solutions and mixing and experimenting themselves…which is learning at its best 🙂

The last spring rainbow science experiment is called the walking rainbow.  This needs to be left a few days to see its effect fully.  Take six glass jars.  Fill three with water just over half way, and put red colour in one, yellow in another, and blue in another.  Then place the empty jars alternately in between them.  Next roll up 6 pieces of kitchen towel, and place each one between a jar with coloured water, and one without.  Carry on round the circle of jars doing this, so each jar should have two different ends of kitchen towel in them.  Over the next few days the rainbow will walk and the children will learn about absorption and colour mixing.  By the end of the experiment you should have 6 jars with the following colours; red, yellow, green, purple, orange, and blue 🙂

I then tried to tidy up, but my little lady commandeered the supplies.  She had no particular idea in mind, but imagination and creativity led her to spend a happy hour producing world flags with the left over coloured solutions.  She used a mixture of techniques, dipping and using pipettes.  I was happy to leave the tidying as she was being very industrious.

Spring rainbow science experiments spring science experiments rainbow science experiments www.mammasschool.co.uk6 Spring rainbow science experiments spring science rainbow science www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

Thimble and Twig
Dear Bear and Beany

Chocolate Orange Brownies-A Fire Pit Addiction!

Chocolate Orange Brownies fire pit cooking outdoor cooking www.mammasschool.co.ukThese chocolate orange brownies are delicious!  It’s not just that I think this way because I was sat outdoors in 2 degrees, on a windy beach, but I have the approval of 3 fairly picky eaters!  They are chocolatey, orangery, with just the right amount of goo left in the centre 🙂

 

 

 

The supply list for chocolate orange brownies is not set in stone, as long as the method is followed you should get the same result.  I have pointed this out, as I live in Sweden, so not everyone will be able to access the same supplies as me.

Chocolate cake mix:  The main thing is you use some sort of ready made chocolate cake mix.  Keep it really simple, so that you only need water or milk to add it (you don’t want to start carting eggs, butter, and sugar around).  I was lucky that I found a mug cake mix.

Milk:  We needed a small amount of milk for ours.

Oranges:  You need 1 per person.

Don’t forget any utensils you need or tin foil.

Slice the tops off the oranges.

Scoop out the flesh (which can be eaten whilst waiting for the chocolate orange brownies to cook).

Then mix up the chocolate cake mix.

Spoon the mixture into the oranges, wrap in tin foil, and place on the fire.

Ours took about ten minutes to cook.

Unwrap the oranges from the tin foil, and what you have is a chocolate cake infused with the flavour and smell from the inside of the orange…hence chocolate orange brownies.  As they are cooked on the fire, the heat is inevitably a bit hit and miss, and in this situation it can leave you with the sponge having a lovely gooey centre 🙂  Tuck in and enjoy!!

 

Thimble and Twig

Outdoor Play For Children and Nature’s Sanity!

Outdoor play is slowly being realised for the prominent factor that it plays in child development.  However, there is still a long way to go in places, to rectify the damage that has been done in placing emphasis on conventional teaching and grades, at the expense of the children’s outdoor time.  Us grown ups are very slowly coming to the realisation that we could have caused a lot more harm than good, sacrificing playground time, in the pursuit of better performance and increased knowledge base.  I am here to run through the tip of the iceberg with regard to why play, and specifically outdoor play, is so important to children’s development.

First of all we need to look at the reasons why children’s outdoor play time has diminished so much.  It isn’t just down to schools being under pressure to perform better, and produce improved results.  There are other factors too.  Rightly or wrongly, there is the perceived threat of stranger danger.  A few generations ago children could explore for hours, even whole days, going quite far from their family home into areas, that as parents today, we wouldn’t let them go into alone.  I am thinking of places such as forests and woods.  Places that are natural playgrounds.  Parents are working more hours now, and in a lot of cases it is both parents, through necessity.  This leads to relying on other childcare options, instead of having a parent at home ready to supervise outdoor play.  Screens are a big thing in most households too. It’s the way technology and living has gone, but have we embraced their presence so much, that it’s now impinging on children actually wanting to get out into the great outdoors?  They can be a distraction to the more important job of play.  Then there are all the health and safety issues that surround other people (such as schools) that look after our children.  We have made them so fearful or litigation if one of our little people gets hurt, that there are now a huge amount of restrictions placed on outdoor play when it does happen.

Unfortunately, due the the factors mentioned, our children our facing a “nature deficit disorder”.  This is termed a disorder because they need nature and the outdoors to develop normally and healthily.  Play in the great outdoors supports development emotionally, intellectually, socially, and physically.  It’s not something to be lightly dismissed. So, how is outdoor play more enriching than indoor play?  Anything that can be done indoors, once taken into the great outdoors becomes more of an adventure, so naturally more fun to do, and ultimately they remember the experience more.  The outdoors inspires them and challenges them to be more creative.  With fewer rules, the children are freer to let their imaginations take over.  They can challenge themselves more as well…..who doesn’t find climbing a tree a little thrilling and challenging (after all every tree is different).  From this kind of play you then get all the advantages of taking risks (see a previous post on the advantages of children taking risks http://mammasschool.co.uk/parenting/take-a-risk-explore-inside-a-tree/ ), as well as creativity, learning to adapt to their environment, and to go at their own pace.  The great outdoors provides the perfectly balanced sensory environment that at the same time has a calming effect (on the grown ups too – I am often able to cope better and be more patient outdoors with a trio who are less frustrated with each other, as there is the space to escape a situation if required).  Outdoor play is also naturally more unstructured, and this in turn lends itself to more curiosity and exploration.

Exposure to outdoor play is vital for children’s health and development, and a lack of it can lead to increased emotional problems, increased health problems, and a lack of concentration.  Recently, general awareness of children needing be outdoors has started to increase.  However, it still needs a bit more of a push.  You may or may not be aware of https://outdoorclassroomday.com/.  They try and help give schools that extra impetus to get outdoors for the day and experience for themselves the theory in practice.  They describe it as

“Outdoor Classroom Day is a day to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning and play. On Thursday 18 May 2017, thousands of schools around the world will take lessons outside and prioritise playtime.”

So, if you are a teacher, use that day to try it out.  If you are a parent, make them aware of the date and offer support to help them provide this valuable resource for your child.  Visit their website for more details on the when, where, and why fores 🙂  The effort of getting the children outdoors might sometimes seem like a step too far if they put up resistance or if we as parents are tired, but the rewards once you are out there are limitless.  I urge you to go for it and experience for yourself what the outdoors can do for your children, and you as parents.  I don’t mean you need to climb Mt. Everest, what I do mean is children need an outdoor space to play in, and if possible, left to their own devices for a good chunk of time!

Outdoor play why children need outdoor play importance of outdoor play www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

Tiny Trolls Of Norway – There is No Such Thing As Bad Weather, Just Poor Clothing.

Tiny Trolls of Norway children's outdoor clothing www.mammasschool.co.ukTiny Trolls of Norway is a high quality children’s outdoor clothing company for ages 1-8 years.  The main aim of the business is to motivate and encourage families and their children out into the great outdoors. So, you can see similarities between my blog ethos and their’s already!  Our trio spend a huge amount of time in the great outdoors, and living in Sweden, this is pretty much in every kind of weather there is!  When Tiny Trolls of Norway contacted me and asked if my twins would like to put some of their clothing to the test, we felt we could certainly put it through its paces in our normal everyday life.  Not only is this the type of clothing we need for our lifestyle, this is the sort of clothing my double act need to turn up to förskola in to ensure they are dressed appropriately for that too.

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Aspö Adventure – Exploring Our Archipelago.

The beautiful island of Aspö is just over the water from our own little island, and we often look at it as we go on our hikes.  In the summer months there is a boat that can take foot passengers and cyclist, directly between the 2 islands.  However, unlike our island, it is cut off from the mainland, and can only be reached by ferry.  All year round there is a free car ferry that takes around 25 minutes, from Karlskrona (a 20 minute drive for us).  In the summer this is very popular.  There are a lot of ferries in the summertime, sailing between many more of the archipelago’s islands, making exploring the area a lot easier.  This one sails all year round, meaning that we could set out exploring the archipelago that we have moved to a little.  The forecast was sunny, with no wind, and temperatures just nudging into the plus!!  The adventure was on 🙂

The first part of our trip to Aspö was an adventure in itself for the children.  Driving the car onto the ferry, and then sitting in it for the crossing.  These types of ferries are very common across Scandinavia (it’s made up of so many islands!).  They go across fjords and either cut journey times (by making it unnecessary to drive all the way round the end of a fjord), or connect totally isolated islands, such as Aspö.  The children thought this was amazing fun, and sat and ate their packed lunches while enjoying the view out over the totally calm and flat fjord.

Aspö Adventure Exploring Sweden Island travel Sweden www.mammsschool.co.ukThe plan for our day on Aspö was to visit their castle first, and have a wander around that, and then head out on a hike.  The best way to explore Aspö is on foot or by bike.  Lots of countryside and not many roads, and only small ones at that.  We had packed our supper between 5 rucksacks, and we were planning to cook it on an open fire.  Drottningskär Citadel was built in the 17th Century, and is very unique in that it remains undamaged and unchanged, since it has never been attacked.  Its main purpose was, together with Kungsholm Fortress on an island opposite, to defend Karlskrona’s sea approach.  Karlskrona being the new home (back then) of the Swedish navy.  It is a beautiful place.  You can wander around all of it (for free), and there is also a very formal dining restaurant in part of it.  The children loved running through the long upstairs living quarters, going up and down the dark and wonky tunnelled steps to discover the different parts of the castle, and going round the ramparts at the top (with no railings we had a firm grasp of our fast moving, always tripping over each other twins!!).  It was lovely and peaceful, calming, and the views were stunning.

After our castle visit, it was time to head off exploring the island on foot for a hike.  We decided to head through the forest on the north west side of the island.  The views, as usual, were stunning, and we walked 3km before emerging out onto a rocky view point overlooking the sea back towards our island one way, and Karlskrona city the other way.

Some thoughtful soul, had even placed tree stump stools, so you can sit and enjoy the view!  This was the mid point on our hike (the return leg would be going back along the way we came), so it was here I was hoping to find a fire pit, and I was not disappointed.  Dadda set about getting a fire going, while I sorted out the food. The supper menu was hot dogs, corn on the cobs, and tortilla chips, followed up by our fire cones (marshmallows, banana, and chocolate in waffle ice cream cones) and I had remembered the tin foil this time!!  We had taken flasks of hot squash and hot chocolate with us.  While we were cooking, the children had an abundance of trees to climb, and set about trying to conquer as many as they could.

The return leg of the hike was done a bit quicker, due to the fact that tummies were full, and also Dadda and I had our eyes on the clock, aware that if we missed the 6pm ferry we’d have an hour’s wait until the next one at 7pm, with three tired little people!  We’d had a really good adventure, and all three little people had loved it too.  We managed to catch the 6pm ferry and enjoyed the sun setting over the fjord while it sailed back.  I can’t wait for the summer season when more ferries start up and we get to explore more of our own archipelago.  The boat from our island will allow us to go for a cycling adventure over on Aspö too, which will be fun.

 

Aspö Explore Sweden www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

Country Kids

Fruit Kebabs to Ensure Happy Hikers!

outdoor cooking fruit kebabs campfire cooking tasty treat www.mammasschool.co.ukFruit kebabs are very easy to make, and make a very enjoyable treat when out hiking or camping.  Little people can happily beaver away making them on their own too from the supply provision.  Before you can start, you might need to hunt around for some long sticks (if like me you left the bamboo kebab sticks in the cupboard at home!).  Nature helped me out here quite rapidly and the trio found three sturdy, thin, long sticks for their fruit kebabs quite rapidly.

 

So, what do you need?  Sticks!!  Then basically, anything goes, as long as you have the marshmallows on there.  I would have liked to have used strawberries as well, but they were not in the shops yet.  We settled for bananas.  Thread bananas slices onto the stick, alternating with a marshmallow.  Then you need to toast over the fire until the marshmallows are cooked/cremated to your personal satisfaction.  Then sit back and relax, enjoying the warmth of the fire, and indulge in your fruit kebab 🙂

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