Mamma's School

Home Education Adventure

Category: Geocaching

Beautiful Puzzle Box Geocaches.

Today we returned to the beautiful Tromtö Nature Reserve to do 2 more of the puzzle geocache series.  The first 2 we did a few weeks ago, we had managed to figure out (just), but with the activity log saying that the puzzle boxes got harder, I made sure I was returning with Dadda to help me get into them with the children!  These would leave us 2 more to do another time, going a different way round the 5km circuit walk through the woods.

Off we set through the woods, and although each geocache was exactly where it was supposed to be, I’m not sure I would have found either, as they were very well hidden today, but our little lady was on a roll 🙂  The first one was indeed a much harder puzzle to crack and after the four of us usual suspects had admitted defeat, we handed it over to Dadda, who managed after a while to gain entry.

With the trio happy (it wouldn’t do to be failing at these boxes as the rest of the hike would be a nightmare!!), we set off in search of the second cache we planned for the day, and it was hidden very well, deep into a mossy hole.  This one was an imitation chocolate box, and although in the end it proved it had a simple solution, it took us quite a while to get into it.

The boxes are beautiful and we love doing them.  So much so that we plan to plant one with our little lady’s BFF in the summer, and I’m thinking a simple version would be a lovely thing to do.  However, in the Swedish winter weather, the boxes take a bit of a hit (even protected by plastic tubs), and so the wood has expanded somewhat, making it really hard to slide the bits that needed sliding.  We got there eventually though and were pleased we managed to get into both of the planned caches for the day.  It’s such a great activity to do with the little people as it gives them some direction for their hikes, and breaks them up a little.  Having said that though, I choose where we want to explore, and then check out the presence of geocaches in that location not the other way round!!  I use it as a means of encouraging them to get walking!!!

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Dummy Trees and Love Trees.

I am going to start doing things a little differently regarding home education, and the blog 🙂  Each week we have a theme we follow from the nature curriculum.  We have been doing this as well as independent maths, Swedish and English.  I am now going to try and incorporate everything, plus some art and craft under that week’s theme, and then write about them in separate categories (I have now given the blog a category menu as I had written so many posts, they needed splitting up a little).  Then the week will be finished off on the blog with a nature curriculum overview (similar to what I have been doing), going through what we have been doing in our journals and reading.  The hope is both lives and blog will flow a little better and be less disjointed.  There will be other adventures in between, but this just helps me get my head around everything I want to do for the children….there is so much out there as a home educator and wanting to explore a new country, it can become a little overwhelming sometimes (well daily, when adding in the general amount of work looking after three children in itself entails!!).

So, this week our topic is winter trees.  Today, due to swimming lessons late afternoon, our plan was to do our weekly exploring hike of a new area, and at the same time collect supplies for the winter tree activities in the week ahead.  I am discovering I need to bribe the children outdoors for a hike (the walks tend to be freezing and long for little legs), but once they are outdoors they have a blast.  So the bribe of choice every time at the moment is geocaches!  So, off we set to an island called Dragsö, which meant that we could head back to the swimming lessons without too much of a problem.

We were totally unsuccessful in our geocaching quest, but that doesn’t matter, and isn’t really the point!!  The main thing is that we had fun on the way and also learnt a thing or two.  The first geocache in the hunt was near a “pacifier tree”.  We came across these on our first forest walks shortly after moving to Sweden.  We were deep into some woods one day, when we came across a tree with hundreds of brightly coloured dummies hanging from it.  I thought it was a rather a strange thing to find in a wood, and carried on.  Then when we started investigating the woods which we live by, we discovered one in there too.  On researching this, this is the way Swedish parents encourage children to sensitively part with their dummies.  It becomes a special adventure for the child and family to say “goodbye” to their dummy, and the child hangs it onto the tree.  So, that is one Swedish tradition we now know about that we didn’t previously.  However, we couldn’t locate the geocache.  What did happen though, was that all three children found the ice over the sloping rocks made a fabulous slide!!  So we stopped and played a while 🙂

The second geocache site was where we found a love tree!  A special love tree sculpture (by Lars-Erik Sundin) has been placed at the top of the north west lookout point.  Here, couples in love, seal their love by attaching a padlock with their initials to the tree.  Tradition says you throw the key away so that the love is everlasting. I have also read that a lot of proposals happen here….thankfully today my three didn’t bulldoze their way through one of those!!  We had a good look at the tree and a chat (my trio aren’t quite ready to comprehend that romantic notion so were all rather puzzled by the whole idea!), and then some tree climbing ensued after not locating the second cache either!!

So 0/10 for cache finding, but 10/10 for nature’s playground opportunities and 10/10 for learning new things!  That made it a pretty successful hike.  We got loads of supplies for the week’s activities………oh, but we were late for swimming!!  You can’t have it all though when steering three children through the day!

Tromtö Nature Reserve and Puzzle Geocaches

Going along with the resolution of  exploring Sweden more, we headed off for our week’s hike through Tromtö Nature Reserve.  I had a peek on the map last night and there were quite a few geocaches round this route, so we took our loot and headed off.  This is a large nature reserve and it will take a few visits to explore it thoroughly.  Today we decided to walk the route that followed along the sea, but it can circle round through the woods (the loop is too big for my three in an afternoon, it’ll be a day’s trip).  Then there are loops, taking in an old manor house.  Stag beetles are in plentiful supply in these woods, but it’s a little bit chilly to see them at the moment.  We need to return at dusk in the summer to hear their drone like noise.  The footpaths were well marked, and the terrain was varied (sea or woods) with beautiful Swedish views to admire.


There are 6 basic geocaches throughout the reserve, and four multi caches.  So we ear marked 2 to do.  What we discovered was so lovely.  They were puzzle caches….in beautiful wooden puzzle boxes.  Luckily the 2 we chose I managed to get my ancient brain cranking away to work out how to open them.  This type of geocache container we have not come across before and they were so pretty.  Thank goodness we managed to get inside though, as children are less forgiving to fail at the last hurdle!!  I have already made a mental note to take Dadda back to do the other four as recent activity says they are harder to open.  They are official Swedish geocache containers though, and it does add an extra dimension of brain power to the treasure hunt!  We all really liked them and the idea (as long as we could open them!!).

Since getting back home I’ve come up with an idea for my little lady and one of her best friends.  Before we left the UK, they placed, in our local country park, a geocache called BFF.  I thought we could research how to place one here (that’s going to take a while in Swedish!) on our island as there are only three basic ones, 2 of which we have not found yet, and 2 multi caches.  Then, when her BFF comes out to visit, they can place it somewhere together 🙂

Bikes, Hikes, and a Surprise Geocache

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The mini men have been desperate to ride their new bikes all week, but due to them not being able to start off on their own, and being a bit unreliable, I’ve not braved taking them out on my own.  So, first thing this morning, before their gymnastics, we headed off to an open space for them to have a good ride, as well as accidental game of bumper bikes!  The next job of the day was to plant some apple seeds.  We have left a very small, but bursting with life garden back in the UK, full of roses, fruit trees, and a riot of colour for at least 8 months of the year.  I know we have arrived here in autumn, but there needs a little bit of input to create colour and attract more wildlife come the summer, other than reindeer.  Oddly, I will be more restrained and there will be less put in it than the UK garden, as the rest is sooooooo big and will take a lot of looking after.  So, in an attempt to get things started, we have planted 6 apple seeds indoors, to see how we are doing by the warmer springtime with them.

img_0676 img_0677 img_0678The afternoon saw us head out to explore the south west part of the island.  This is largely uninhabited, apart from the odd dwelling here or there, and is definitely, wild, rugged, and exposed to the elements.  It was certainly a very fresh walk, and as usual, extremely beautiful.  We set off with a rough idea of where we were going, but as usual footpaths appeared that weren’t marked, marked footpaths never occurred, and then I had a marvellous idea.  Turning on the geocache app, I remembered 1 of the 3 on the island was located down this end of the island.  We were only 450m from it (only…..for a little child’s legs, turned into there and back being 900m which is practically another km added onto their walk, but they were up for it, and we were rewarded with the view).  We popped out of a heavily wooded area, to be greeted with a wide view of the open sea, it was beautiful.  Not another soul in site added to its beauty as well.  It would have been even better had we been able to stay for the sunset as that was amazing, but we may not have made it out the woods again as it would have been extremely dark.

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We did indeed manage to locate the geocache and signed the log.  We were really pleased as the other 2 on the island have eluded us so far.  When we eventually turned round and had walked back home, we had been out for 2 hours and 45 minutes.  They had walked incredibly well and certainly enjoyed themselves, as well as getting the added bonus of a geocache.  I think though, by the time the log fire was lit with a couple of stories on the CD player while I made supper, the fresh air and exercise they had done hit them, as all three snuggled under a blanket on the sofa.  Another very lovely day as a family, very laid back, no rushing to activities that take up half the day (the boys gymnastics is 45 minutes total and just 100m from our doorstep), and lots of healthy outdoors life and views to be had 🙂

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Failed Geocaching, Terrariums, and Firework Painting.

We have three geocaches on our little island, all in areas we haven’t explored yet.  So today we set off to the north east corner of the island in the hope of finding 2 of these.  What I hadn’t bargained for was firstly, I couldn’t keep the phone out for directions in the heavy sleet pouring down.  Secondly, having not dug one out of a snowy area before, I’d not considered this extremely effective form of camouflage. And thirdly, there was no hurrying us up with the descriptions or hints as they were all in Swedish.  So we gave up at the first one, and returned home to try again tomorrow….in the nice weather, complete with translated descriptions!!

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img_0535When we got back home we decided to do all things messy and mucky instead!!  One of the extension activities from this week’s nature curriculum is to make a terrarium using moss.  All three loved making these little worlds, and whilst they may not look quite like a traditional terrarium, they have enjoyed learning and doing.  First into the jars was a layer of small stones (for drainage) kindly provided by our driveway.  Next in was a layer of deactivated charcoal to keep the terrarium healthy and prevent bacteria.  On top of that was soil that we’d got from the garden and defrosted while we had lunch!!  Then in went the moss.  We added a couple of small rubber characters, and the obligatory pink sparkles (glitter!).  They are very pleased with their efforts and have been carefully placed in their bedrooms.
img_0537A week or so ago, a lovely friend drew my attention to a post on Facebook about firework painting.  So, having missed the usual displays due to moving, we made some paintings instead.  We half chopped loo rolls to make a splayed out brush, dipped them in various paints, and then dabbed all over paper.  Then on top of the paint……sparkles were liberally added (yet more glitter!).  I think it’s safe to say, with December approaching the glitter will be out permanently and everything and everyone will have a sparkly sheen to them at all times.  Usually at this time of year it gets everywhere, including in the food somehow!

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We finished off the day feeling the need to practise the Swedish tradition of fika again, this time to accompany our daily Swedish lesson together 🙂

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Our First Geocaching Adventure in Sweden.

img_0093Last night I suddenly remembered about my geocaching app, and I wondered if there were any surrounding our stuga here.  When I got our location up, and the geocaches in the surrounding woods formed this pattern, I knew we just had to give some of them a try!!  Someone has worked really hard at this configuration, and it may even be a work in progress as the last part of the head is missing.  This was always going to be a bit hit and miss with no understanding of the directions or the hints. All we had to go on was the compass and map.

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So, off we set into the woods and very soon we were taken off the path and deep into the woods where we would spend the next 2 hours!  The terrain I’d say was hard, especially for little people, as hardly any path routes were used, but the geocaches were OK to spot, so at least the children got reward for their hunting.  They are all xs log book ones, and in these cute wooden boxes with a coloured heart on, and a screw cap.  The boys home education today was practising writing their names onto the log books!  As there were so many I was going to go for 9 (3 each for the children), but as the iPhone battery dwindled away fast, and the hours went by, we just did 6 (2 each plus one we didn’t find).  The iPhone was our way home too, as although I’d gone with the equivalent of the OS map, there were no paths marked on it (despite there being paths around) for us to navigate our way home on.  I didn’t fancy being lost deep in foreign woods I didn’t know, so we turned around and headed home.

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We spent just over 2 hours hunting through the undergrowth, and discovering lots of new poo types too – maybe deer poo and moose poo, but despite our trio wanting to see wildlife, there was never any chance as they just can not be quiet!  We are one big noise machine!!  At one point we stumbled out of the tree line into a clearing where our missing geocache should have been, to see a man in a wildlife spotting tower not too pleased with our appearance, no doubt scaring off every bird he’d quietly sat and waited for.  It was a slow and noisy retreat too, so I’m not sure he would have seen a lot for a good while after our departure.  We had fun though, had a lot of success, and explored more of the countryside around where our stuga is.

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While all this was going on, the lorry did indeed materialise at our UK address and everything was successfully loaded on.  That now makes its way up to us, by going across to France and driving up through Europe to Sweden.  It hopes to be with us by Wednesday – we hope it is with us by Wednesday as we move out of the stuga on that day, and have no contingency plan for our beds not arriving!

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This afternoon, we headed back into town for mini man no.1’s first Swedish ballet lesson.  He was so excited (even though he was mildly grumpy about his ballet shoes being in a box in the UK rather than in the suitcase so he could use them), but I was a little anxious.  He is only four, and I was about to drop him in a class with no other boys, a new teacher in a new place, and all Swedish speaking!  He was just as fab as his big sister was with scouts though, and marched in and came running out beaming, and saying, “but mamma, I really do need my ballet shoes next week”!!  He also decided he couldn’t remember what his new teacher was called, so he’d just call her Miss Natasha (his UK teacher’s name), as he seemed to think that was a self explanatory name for a dance teacher!  Another little person’s interests catered for and class found, and off into Swedish life he goes.

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Last night, Dadda’s task was to sort out the energy (electric) contract for our new home.  This proved to be a bit of an eye opener.  You can chose the source of your electricity, from various renewable tariffs, or a mix of renewable and non renewable.  Our options were; hydro, solar, or wind generated electricity.  We have gone for 100% renewable hydro power.  Quite a bit different from the UK options, and a lot more ecologically friendly, to go together with their elaborate rubbish sorting.  I’m liking this place that prioritises looking after its environment.  Tomorrow the plan is for the mini men to try out a gymnastics class, before heading over to the soon-to-be-ours house for a crash course in the heating and water systems, and various other aspects from the current owners.  It will also be the first peak inside for our little trio, so fingers crossed they like it!!

 

Hiking and a Geocache Haul.

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Another day and another removal man for a visit, and a surveyor for a nosy!!!  So, after that we headed out into the undergrowth heading back to Manor Farm where our little lady and I got such a great haul a month or so ago.  We had promised the mini men we would return there with them, and today seemed like a good time.

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All three are good at walking now, carrying their own little backpacks of food and essentials.  We had a fantastic three hours roaming the countryside and enjoying nature.  I do wonder what it takes though to wear out my three, as they did this hard walking and clambering, and then the mini men had their swimming lesson, and still had enough energy for a bounce on the trampoline at home and clamber all over Dadda!!  Tomorrow sees us heading off for our first camping adventure as a five some unit, and all three are fizzing with excitement….so fingers crossed we don’t wake the whole campsite at first light so they can make the most of their Sunday, by enjoying it for longer ;-)!!!

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Exploring, Geocaching, and Bringing our Dog Home.


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The first job for today was to head over to the vet to pick up our lovely collie dog after his cremation 🙁  When I grew up, we must have left one of our homes with about three dogs and two rabbits buried in the garden by my father.  This was fine, and as a child I remember liking having them close by once they were gone.  However, in our garden you can not dig very far down before you hit stuff that is too solid to dig through, plus our garden is very small, so when it came to Jack having to be put down, the only option I could think of at the time was cremation, and then work out what to do later.  The vet had been fantastic at the time of death too.  With everything happening so fast with Jack, I hadn’t really thought about options, so the vet dealt with it all, and when I turned up to pick him up, my anxiety of bringing him home (I had wondered if he’d just come back in a plastic box or similar, or even if it was actually him I’d get) was replaced with relief that he was coming back home, and relief it was actually my own pet I was receiving.  The whole process had been dealt with so sensitively and the way he has been returned to us is fitting of a very well loved family dog.  I now need to spend time thinking what we will do with him next, and keep him close by for a little longer, while we all still get our heads around what has happened (especially the mini men).  However, it was Mamma’s Day, and our little lady and I needed to go and immerse ourselves in nature having fun, after such an intense first job of the day.

IMG_8951So we headed off to Manor Farm Country Park, armed with our geocaching app, as it seemed quite a populated area with them.  Despite the woods not really allowing the GPS to get a proper position lock, we had a very successful time.  If you get close enough it sends you round in circles if it can’t pinpoint a position, so then you just need to search within that area, using the hint given.  I had only planned to be walking for an hour or so, but three hours later and 9 caches found, we reluctantly headed back to the car with rumbling tummies!!  I thought I knew the country park well having been walking different routes around it for the past 16 years, but I can honestly say that today the majority of walking was well away from the beaten track and in areas I had never ventured.  The caches were will hidden, but not frustrating to find, and best of all for our little lady, were of a larger size than we have been finding lately, with lots of goodies to swap inside.  The three hours of walking led us to really explore the area, scrambling up overgrown areas and seeing wildlife deep inside the woods.  It was fantastic.  Of course the great treasure finds kept our little lady happy as well, so there was no moaning about the hard physical exercise she was doing!!  She has also split her plunder three ways with her twin brothers (who were at preschool) making them extremely happy little men.

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After stopping off for hot chocolates and toasties on the way home, we set about making our nature journals for when we start the year in nature curriculum.  I had bought three notebooks with plain paper inside, and pIMG_8955ut on the front a piece of the recycled nature paper they had each made at forest school.  We all like the effect it has on the books, and their journals now look all set to go 🙂  I have since made my own nature paper too at home, and will insert it into my nature journal as my first entry.

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The find of the day for our little lady…a chunky frozen ring!

Day 23 – Geocaching.

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_23I have wanted to give this a go for a while now, since I saw it on the National Trust’s list of 50 things to do.  So for our random act of wild (very wild at times!) we downloaded the app, and headed off into the country park next to where we live.  Our little lady’s school friend was off school due to polling, so they came too, making a merry gaggle of 5 plus a wobbly dog. (Thursday is Mamma’s day so the twins were in nursery for the day).  My map reading is notoriously bad, so I was a little apprehensive we’d actually discover any of these, but I needn’t have worried so much about my orienteering skills, as the app is fantastic, more the undergrowth required to be beaten into submission to get to them!  Geocaching is an activity or pastime in which an item, or a container holding a number of items, is hidden at a particular location for GPS users to find by means of coordinates posted on the Internet.

IMG_8634There are different difficulties of routes that are graded on the app, and there are various types of caches, also annotated on the app.  We didn’t manage to look for any caches with contents in today, as they didn’t seem to be in the area we had chosen for our 2 hour bimble, but the three girls did seem to get addicted just by finding the log books in the couple we did locate, and I think it’s fair to say we were all hooked (except maybe the dog who was beginning to think we were bonkers, scrambling around in undergrowth in the same spot for ages, and making him walk through grasses taller than him where he totally disappeared!).  This image is of one of the caches, and the first one we found…we were amazed at the very real stone at the bottom of the blue barrel is in fact a fake, and hides a cache inside it!!  Steep learning curve as to how well these things are hidden.  The cache that we found hanging in the tree involved pushing on through long grasses (thigh height that wellies did nothing to prevent a soaking from, that then absorbed slowly down the trouser leg to the socks in the boots!!), followed by trying to wiggle in through brambles!  Despite all this discomfort, the girls did remain in high spirits, thoroughly enjoying this adventure 🙂

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We returned home after 2 hours of fresh air, time in nature, and outdoor play with a hint of adventure mixed in.  What could be more wild than being surrounded by undergrowth taller than you at 8 years old?!

IMG_8647You can just see the tops of the 8 year olds’ heads (there is a blonde one well camouflaged between myself and our little lady!) That’s how much in the undergrowth we were!

After a change of clothes, lunch, and some maths it was time to head off to our little lady’s extra dance classes in town, in preparation for her exams.  We got into town, and with a little time to spare, I turned the geocache app back on, and sure enough there were one or two within our range, so off we headed!!  We discovered a small one hidden behind some sort of telecom cabinet….no undergrowth or wet legs involved in this one.  To my little lady’s delight it was one with “things” in too, besides the cache log.  She spent a few moments investigating, signed the log, but decided not to swap anything, happy she’d made yet another discovery.  Tomorrow, we are going to try it all over again where we do forest school, so the mini men can have a go, and then I will let them all fill out their National Trust books with their findings 🙂

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