Mamma's School

Home Education Adventure

Category: 30 Days Wild (Page 1 of 4)

Admiring Beautiful Butterflies on Mamma’s Day

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Today is Thursday, so it’s Mamma’s Day, and we only have 2 more of these left (after today) before our mini men finish pre-school, so I looked for somewhere for us to head off on a little adventure.  We headed over the Earnley Butterflies and Gardens, near Chichester, which promised butterflies, gardens, animals, reptiles, and ship wreck artifacts!  The photo above I have included as a rather random, but interesting fact (but I have noticed the spelling mistake!).  It is quite a small place, and we easily spent all morning taking everything in before heading into the play area for a picnic.

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First up we investigated the butterflies.  We were intrigued by the cocoon cupboard as there were several butterflies in various states of emergence and lots of variety too.  The butterflies were large and not intimidated by our presence.  We also managed to find some butterfly wings on the floor of previous occupants, which our little hoarder daughter collected up (not sure how long they will last), and the entire butterfly she found is now behind picture frame glass in her bedroom – not sure how long that will last either!

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Next we pottered into the aviary, where amongst some exotic birds, we met a very cheeky chappy, who rather liked nibbling flip flops!  I’m not sure it was the healthiest of diets for him, but he was most insistent.  Dadda came away with chunks missing from his, obviously very tasty, footwear.  They have a collection of mini gardens from Japanese to Seaside, and Urban to Rose, and whilst they were a little basic, we enjoyed meandering through them doing the children’s quiz.

We then went to check out the reptiles, who I felt rather sorry for as their accommodation was a bit bland and rundown, so we had a quick tour and headed back out to see the owls, guinea pigs, donkeys, rabbits, and tortoises, who were housed much better, but I felt the owls accommodation could be made a little more interesting.  A lot of the reptiles and animals they take on as unwanted pets, so at least they are getting a home.

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We found the ship wrecked artefacts in a building beside the play area and they were very interesting to look at.  There were some things that were in very good condition, considering they had been on the bottom of the seabed.  Plates, cutlery, medical syringes and equipment, shot balls, amongst other things.  We did enjoy our day, but even in our relaxed meandering style the whole trip only took just under 4 hours being there (and an hour of that was our little lady eating lunch!), so don’t plan to stay the whole day there as it is quite small.  I’m pleased we have visited, seen what is there, and now we can tick that off our list.

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Hunting for Fossils, Bones, and Sharks’ Teeth.

z41Today’s National Trust mission was to hunt for fossils and bones (and we added in sharks’ teeth – our area is known for them at low tide but we have never found one yet!).  So, with low tide at 0945 we set off and got there just after to make the most of the shingle spit that appears, which makes a good hunting ground.  We headed out onto it straight away, and the children were so delightful to listen too.  With their various seashore safari’s etc they have learnt to turn over rocks and discover what is underneath.  Our little lady reignited the mini men’s interest again by turning over several rocks revealing tiny crabs that the mini men loved.  So off they set to look themselves, being surprised and over the moon to discover their own little finds.  Mini man no.1 even found a tiny baby white shrimp, bit hard to see on the photo but it is there next to my finger, very good concentration and spotting to find that one.  He was very proud.

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All three are now very good at wanting to handle their specimens, especially crabs, so they can see them better, and are very good at being gentle and returning them back to their homes.  I just loved listening to their exclamations about their finds and getting their siblings to look.  They then returned to their original mission of looking for fossils, which we found some shell ones today, medium sized, but still some good finds, and one tiny bone.  We were as ever trying to find a shark’s tooth, but these do seem to elude us, so after a while we headed back to our stuff to eat and play.  Our little lady is a very patient individual when looking for treasure or trying to catch fish, so she headed back onto the spit after lunch while I looked after the boys, and was finally rewarded for her years of persistence with digging up a shark’s tooth!  She is extremely chuffed and it is now in her jewellery box with her finest silver 😉

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Although the day was quite nippy (she says having wrapped herself in the car blanket), as usual the children were keen to head into the sea.  Mini man no.1 scraped himself badly yesterday so his paddle was short lived as the salt water hit the scrapes and stung.  However, spurred on by big sister, mini man no.2 surprised us all by actually taking his body board into the water (never been wet before), and not only that, he then got on it and kicked around…and loved it!!  He was very pleased with himself.  All in all a very successful day.  We returned home and the National Trust books were completed for yesterday and today’s missions, and three hungry little bunnies are awaiting supper 🙂

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Lets Go Fly a Kite!

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Reach for the skies (or kite!)

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IMG_8786So we have decided to attack the National Trust’s 50 things to do list with great gusto, and we are looking forward to having a lot of fun doing it, during our last few months in the UK.  It will give us enforced breaks from the lists and packing too.  First up was to fly a kite.  This is actually something we do quite regularly living on the coast, but usually it’s part of our day.  Today we set out for a perfect, hilly, quiet, and windy spot, which also meant we could unspool the kite to its full length so it “could touch the clouds”, something we’d never done before.  On the beach there is the water for it to travel across (if they let go of it), the light aircraft taking off right over our heads, and too many other seaside goers to get entangled if we didn’t have it under a bit of control.  But the whole feeling of kite flying is the letting go, and the freedom of flying and just being.  I have a great flying pocket kite that is kept in (as Princess Evie would say) my rucksack of really useful things.  I carry around the tiniest of rucksacks, but it seems to hold a lot, and we are never without it.  In fact I often think it’s like a Mary Poppins bag…it’s a tiny Dakine thing but in there we have; spare pants (not mine!), 4 pairs of sunglasses, Anthisan, hand cleaner, a carrier bag to sit dry bottoms on wet ground on, dog poo bags, small mirror, plasters, resus mask, herbal teabags, £1 coin for various lockers and trolleys, tissues, wet wipes, pens, geocaching swaps, eye cream, and of course a kite 🙂 (plus my wallet and phone).  I have digressed somewhat!!  Off we headed on our purely kite flying hour or so!

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find the tiny dot of a kite!

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They all took turns having a fantastic fly, and many times over.  They learnt how a small jerk of their hand could have such a dramatic diving effect on the kite, and giggled at the moves they were making with it.  They loved unspooling the whole length of cord, and thought I was living very daringly (which says a lot about me unfortunately!!).  It was a great afternoon, and I lay on my back in the long grass watching the kite, listening to their giggles and advice sharing, whilst the birds sang.  If they got bored of waiting to fly the kite, they just seemed to take themselves off down the hill and back up again for a couple of grid sprints – mad children!  We then pottered home to fill out our National Trust books….

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Making Plans.

IMG_9210I have the hugest tick list of places to visit, that grew substantially longer once our little lady came out of school.  When I came back from Sweden, I set about making one for the immediate surrounding area that we would be living in (as if I needed an extra reason to make another list!!).  I thought I’d tackle a more countrywide list once I’d been in the country a while and familiarised myself with the immediate area first, taking baby steps so as not to get too overwhelmed (plus an international move on top).  However, I did want to see that there were things to get excited about doing with the children.  So, during our visit last week, I raided the city’s tourist information for any relevant information and maps (I did accidentally come away with something in Polish which is proving a bit of a challenge to wade through!), and they definitely came up trumps.

IMG_9213I already have a whole page worth of places to go and see, and things to do, from nature reserves and beaches, to submarine museums and stone age rock drawings.  Tourist information was a massive source of information, and when I picked up one of the publications I had got for free I was gobsmacked as to what I had in my hand.  It was simply called the Blekinge Excursion Guide, so I thought it just had adverts for trips and places.  When I opened it up I was surprised they didn’t charge for this publication.  It was a book that detailed 43 walking/cycling routes in the great outdoors (just in the one county), and had short titles and descriptions of another 60!  There is quite a detailed mini route map for each route, an information box on how to reach the area, facilities, and who owns the land.  There is also a good descriptive narrative about the route detailing what you can expect to see, both in terms of wildlife and landmarks, and the history behind it.  I couldn’t believe I had picked this up for no charge, and quickly realised this was going to be our bible for getting out and hiking round the great outdoors of the county we’ll be living in.  In Sweden, they have a law called  Allemansrätten:   It is a right based on practice and it has medieval traditions. It dates back to the time when travelling could be a big and dangerous experience. Between the villages there were vast areas of forests that didn’t really belong to anyone and there was almost no forestry.   Sometimes people had to travel through the forest, and so they had the right to collect what they needed for survival during the journey, for example, nuts, acorns, wood, grass for the horse and timber for repairing a broken carriage.  The Every Man’s Right today is the right for everyone to use the nature for recreation and tourism, after it was a way to survive from the beginning.  However, it isn’t just a right of freedom to roam and forage over land that may be owned by others, it’s a matter of responsibility too.

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The other recent exciting publication addition to my collection is the Handbook of Nature Study, that will compliment our year long curriculum about nature.  It’s quite a hefty and large publication, so I am expecting to learn a lot, and teach a lot to my trio over an awful lot of years!! 🙂

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Day 30-Clouds and Dreaming.

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I have always had a fascination with clouds.  Their floaty, light, no responsibility freedom, drifting across the sky.  I find them hypnotising.image

It first started when I was revising as a teenager.  I would look out of the window in front of me over the green hills in Cheltenham, and get absorbed in the calmness of the clouds drifting by.  I find them very relaxing, and now I love lying on my back watching them drift over.  It’s one of the few things that makes me truly switch off.  Clouds allow us to use our imagination, young or old, to find pictures in the sky.  You also can learn from them, something I am looking forward to doing in the not so distant future with my trio.  A whole day learning about clouds…..lying on our backs on the beach 😉

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imageWe have had a fantastic time doing the 30 days wild challenge, and I hope you have enjoyed following us.  Those of you who know us, realise that our daily nature experiences, that are at the centre of our home education journey, will continue 🙂  It’s been a crazy month; going on one big Mamma’s School adventure with our trio, going from south to north on an adventure for a wedding, and losing our fur-baby who enjoyed our days in nature with us, as much as we did.  It’ll be strange continuing our journey without him, but we have  many more adventures planned.

Day 29-Nature is my Therapy.

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With the children clamouring to go “treasure hunting” again (geocaching), and having not been outside since forest school on Friday (apart from the awful trip to the vets, and a brief walk last night when I didn’t know where to put my hands with not having to hold a dog), I knew it was time to save my own sanity and head outside into nature.  Nature is after all therapy for the mind.  Nature is known to induce calm and decrease stress, as well as increasing happiness.  Nature is food for our minds, like food and water are for our bodies.  This is because the natural environment places no demands on us, yet it remains engaging.  It gets our attention in different ways.  It can promote calmness and well being due to being a low stress environment.

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Nature can help increase our happiness levels, which mine could do with at the moment!  The breathing in of fresh air, combined with taking exercise with a nice view, all helps to put your mind into a happier place.  Nature makes us healthier.  It increases our exposure to natural light, which in turn helps increase our vitamin D levels.  This helps prevent some health problems, but also being outdoors helps improve sleep, decreases stress, and increase energy…something else I’ve been lacking in.  When we are outdoors together, with no distractions such as housework, jobs, or work, we are all sharing an activity and creating memories that again gives therapy to our minds.  The children are reaping the benefits too.  My trio are always happier in big open spaces, running free.  It gives them a sense of freedom that you don’t get from being indoors.  It impacts their health too, helping prevent health conditions, a big one in their generation being obesity.  It also helps children focus more after being outdoors, which in turn can increase learning (even better if the learning is in the outdoors environment).  It helps increase their confidence.  After being outdoors for three hours this morning walking and looking for caches in the summer weather of wind and rain, they were quite happy to play with the play dough this afternoon for over two hours at the kitchen table.

IMG_8789If you are lucky too, you will be rewarded with a very quiet lunch preparing half hour 😉 as they all stripped their waterproofs and wellies off, and plonked themselves on the sofa, asking for stories on the CD player!!

 

 

 

Whilst, I’m not naive enough to think that all of my troubles, or anyone else’s, will be washed away by a walk in nature, immersing oneself in it for a few hours certainly made me feel more like myself.  Our little lady commented on the way back how much Jack would have enjoyed that as it was such a long walk…although last week when geocaching with him, he did get a little confused as to why we disappeared into bushes for such long periods of time!!! 🙂

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Our Jack in his first few days with us 12.5 years ago xxxx

 

Day 28-Play, Play, Play!

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_28It’s short and sweet today, due to me feeling a little more than just down in the dumps!  The children have had one of those amazing completely unstructured days that sees them use every scrap of paper, sellotape, and string that exists in the craft supplies, tell stories to each other in the pop up campervan tent, beat off the baddies with sticks away from their campfires in the garden, and finish the day by bouncing in a heavy downpour on their trampoline 🙂  After an emotional rollercoaster ride since Saturday morning, it was just the kind of day they needed.  So, their random act of wild, was embracing the outdoors we have in our back garden, using their imaginations within that space, and completely enjoying whatever the elements threw at them with the sort of abandonment that only children have, and us adults are very jealous of.

 

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Day 26-Climbing Trees & One Last Family Outing.

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IMG_8728With our furry friend and companion now not eating and mainly sleeping, we decided to take one final family outing to one of his favourite spots, the beach.  This required some creativity with his transport method, as he now hadn’t moved himself for at least 24 hours.  We dug out the twins buggy that we’d hung onto for last weekends wedding, and took the bottom seat off.  This meant the top one could lie completely flat (something we’d never done having had a twin sat underneath it!), loaded it up with towels, and Jack fitted rather cosily into it.  The back of the buggy is completely open, which allowed him lovely views with which to watch the world go by, feel the fresh air, and smell the sea.  He was settled and comfortable, and enjoyed his outing.

On the outing our trio found a lovely climbable tree that they spent a long time investigating, having fun and getting their random act of wild in 🙂 A bit of fun and sunshine in an otherwise emotionally intense day.

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Day 25-Looking after our not so Wild Nature.

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It’s been a tough one today, getting up to find our 12 and a half year old Border Collie, Jack, suddenly couldn’t walk anymore.  So we’ve not been out in wild nature today, just chilling and looking after our own little bit of nature back in the home, giving lots of TLC and cuddles.

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Jack has always been slightly unique, in that I’ve never known a dog to have so many things go wrong, but not only that, just really random things.  He wouldn’t eat as a young puppy and adolescent, he’s had tonsillitis, he’s stood on one end of a stick and the other end has sprung up slicing through fur, skin, and muscle, needing surgery, and he’s had a broken leg from putting his foot in a rabbit hole, to name a few.  This time last year, we noticed he had started shuffling his back feet, and losing his balance occasionally.  He was then diagnosed with the doggy version of MS.  However, his degeneration has been very slow, and only recently he has been falling over more.  So although we knew this would happen one day, to go from trotting out for his evening business one night happy, to not being able to walk the next morning and too tired to bother about anything, was a great shock to us.  He hasn’t been able to move all day, so we’ve been feeding him some treats (yes, sausage and ice cream were up there, but even those he only had a few mouthfuls of), the children have joined me in pipetting water into his mouth, and we’ve all spent the day doing our activities around him in the kitchen, whether that’s Lego, cuddles, or just cooking.  Tomorrow we plan to try and get him into the bike trailer comfortably and push him down to the beach, a favourite spot of his, to give him a change of scenery and some fresh air, and one last family trip, before Monday morning arrives with, what I fear, will be a very hard decision we will have to make 🙁

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Day 24-Forest School & Meadow Sweeping.

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We have had another fantastic morning at Forest School, learnt new things, and even squeezed in a couple of sneaky geocache finds!  This morning we started in the meadow, and did some meadow sweeping.  This was fabulously easy for little people, yielding plentiful results, thus keeping their attention and interest, which in turn meant more learning.  It’s as easy as waving a net over or through long grass, and then tapping the residents into a bug pot for a bit of a closer inspection.  We had lots of various willing participants, and the children could use the laminated reference cards to see exactly what they had caught.  Not only in general terms, for example, a cricket, but in more specific terms finding out what type of cricket.  We had a lovely little juvenile cricket that was happy to wander around on our hands for ages, meaning we could get a really good look at him, and he would happily be passed into the children’s hands so the could feel the tiny tickle of his feet and get a real close up look of him.  In fact we had to put him on a plant in the end, as he wouldn’t hop off!

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After some sustenance of hot chocolates and biscuits, it was time to try the craft of making recycled paper with flowers and leaves in.  Shredded waste paper had been soaked in water, some white, some pink, and some green.  Flowers were place onto a grill with the gooey mash on top.  Water was then pressed, squeezed, and rolled out, to eventually reveal some very pretty paper.  It was hung up to dry while we headed off for our campfire.

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IMG_8693On today’s campfire menu it was toast.  The hazel stick ends were peeled, then bread threaded through the end.  This was held in the flames until toasted nicely, at which point children could add various toppings to their feast.

We also took a cheeky look at our new geocache app, and were delighted to see two, 300m each way of the parking place, that we could hunt for.  This was the boys first experience too, and it was a good one with both caches containing swap items.  They were also much easier than yesterdays for the children to spot, and we didn’t look like we’d just been dunked in a river!!  I also let them fill out the geocaching challenge in the National Trust book of 50 things to do before you are 11 3/4, as all three had now done it.  So, for day 24 lots of wild experiences….new mini beast hunting skills were learnt, new nature craft skills were learnt, new outdoor cooking skills were learnt, and our new skills of geocaching were practised and the twins were introduced to it 🙂

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