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Tag: Home Education (Page 1 of 34)

Ales Stones – A Megalithic Monument

The last stop on our day’s adventure to Skåne, was Ales Stones.  This is an acient monument that dates back to the Iron Age.  Ales Stones is made up of 59 huge stones, that are placed in a 67 metre long outline of a ship.  They are located in a beautiful setting, 32 metres above sea level, overlooking the Baltic Sea and Österlen’s hilly landscape.  The vista is amazing once you have completed the climb up to the monument.  It is Sweden’s best preserved ship tumulus and was built around 1400 years ago.

This was our last stop of a long and exciting day.  The children were tired, but it still did not stop them competing against each other to get to the top.  The weather was now starting to get very windy and more chilly, so I think they were spurred on by the need to keep warm!  The walk up was not too long, but very steep, and the views back down to the harbour as we climbed up were nothing short of stunning.  As is so often the case here in Sweden there was no charge for the privilege of seeing this wonderful piece of history, and no barriers either.  This meant that once we had reached the top, the children could touch, feel, and move in amongst the large boulders, really gaining a sense of perspective of how big it all was.  There are sheep and cattle grazing in amongst the monument too, adding a sense of calm and tranquillity to the area.  I realise perhaps these monuments in Sweden are not as busy as some back in the UK (I think we all know of a similar one I am referring to), but to not have to pay extortionate entry fees, and to be able to wander freely amongst the monument whilst respecting it, is a very lovely thing.

So what are Ales Stones?  Some think it is a burial monument, while others think they were an astronomical clock.  They are placed so that the sun sets on the northwestern stone in the summer, and the sunrises on the exact opposite stone in the winter.  They are erected in a ship formation (67m long and 19m wide at the widest point), and it is believed to originate from the early Iron Age (500-1000 AD).  The views from the top were also stunning, and very large!

It was such a lovely place to be, so it was a shame it felt like we were in a bit of a rush.  However, the wind was really picking up, and temperatures were starting to fall quite quickly, and the children were tired after a lovely, but long day in the outdoors and fresh air (not to mention a LOT of walking/running).  So we descended down with the eldest having to get a piggy back from Dadda, as a stumble made her shed tears of tiredness, and got back to the car.  We strapped everyone in, and started the 2.5 hour journey back home through the Swedish countryside.  It was very quiet from the trio, and Dadda and I were left to admire the Swedish landscape.  Another time, it would be nice to dawdle at the top, and then enjoy the fresh fish restaurants at the bottom, but I think that is more a summer experience!!

Ales Stones, Ales Stenar, Iron Age Sweden, Sweden Monument, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

Grow Your Own Stalactite – A Step By Step Guide.

Our little lady has a fascination with all things sparkly, crystal like, and remotely scientific.  So, one day she came to me with a picture and asked if we could grow our own stalactite.  Here is our step by step guide of how to do it.

First of all you will need:  2 jam jars/glasses about the same size, baking soda, string, warm tap water, ruler, 2 weighted objects (we used random screws we had), and a small dish.  You can also use some food colouring, but this is optional.  We used red.

1.  Measure and write down the height of one of the jars in cm.

2.  Fill both jars 75% full of very warm water.

3.  Add one teaspoon of baking soda to a jar and stir until it is dissolved.  Add again and keep repeating until the stirring does not dissolve the soda anymore.  Make sure you count how many teaspoons you used, and add the same to the other jar.  Stir until dissolved.

4. At this point we added food colouring into the mixture.

5.  Multiply the height of the jar by 2, and add 20cm onto that.  Then measure a piece of string to this length and cut.  Tie the screws onto each end.

6.  Wet the string with clean very warm water and place into the water, one end in each jar.

7.  Place a small dish between the jars and place somewhere where they won’t be disturbed.  It is important not to touch the stalactite crystals while they are growing or you might disturb their growth and break them.

Stalactites are found in caves.  Ground water carrying dissolved calcium carbonate and other minerals seeps through rock cracks and into the underground caves.  As the water travels over the ceiling to the cave, it reaches a low point where it drips.  As it drips the minerals and calcium carbonate are deposited onto the ceiling.  These build up and harden over time, creating the spike like structure hanging down called the stalactite.

As with any true science experiment, it doesn’t always go to plan!!  Our crystals grew along our string but didn’t do any significant growing downwards.  However, when we pulled the string out of the jars, we had beautiful crystals that had developed around the ends!!  This little experiment is very simple to do, so perfect for little people wanting to make and watch the formation of their own stalactites, or in our case just some sort of crystals!!!

Grow your own stalactite - a step by step guide, stalactite, crystals, science www.mammasschool.co.uk

Flower Pounding – Nature’s Art

flower pounding, nature's art, art with nature, outdoor art, flower art, www.mammasschool.co.ukFlower pounding is a very effective way of doing art with nature.  My trio love doing this because it so easy and very effective.  We also love seeing how our results change over the course of the four seasons.

 

 

 

 

So what supplies are required for flower pounding?

Very few?!  Any shape or size of cotton based material…plain is better as your results will be more visible.  You need to bear in mind that whatever you choose, the material needs to be large enough to place the flowers on one side and then fold in half.  You then need to pick a good selection of flowers and leaves.  When we pick our leaves for flower pounding we look for ones that would make good patterns.  For example, bracken with their fronds are good, or something similar.  With the flowers anything with a good solid colour will work well.  Then you just need a hammer.

Now you are all set to go….

Place your material flat, and start laying your leaves and flowers onto one half of the material.  You can either do this randomly, or think about the end result you would like and put more thought it into it.  My trio are all about the colours and patterns at the moment, so lay them out randomly.  You then need to fold the other half of the material over the top so the foliage is covered by the material.

 

Now you tap, tap, tap very gently with your hammer.  Too hard or fast and the hammer will shred the material.  Make sure you are firm enough though to see the colour coming through the material.  Go over all the edges of the leaves and flowers to get the best definition results.  You also need to do this on a firm surface.  As you can see we have chosen our garage floor, rather than the lawn (too squishy with all the moss!), or the decking (didn’t want hammer shaped dents all over it!!).  Once you think you have finished, open the material up and brush off the “crumbs” of the foliage, and you will be left with a lovely colourful pattern.  One of ours turned out very much like a butterfly but this was completely accidental!!  Nevertheless the children were very happy it did 🙂

 

 

 

Kiviksgraven – A Bronze Age Monument

Kiviksgraven, kungagraven, bronze age grave, Skane bronze age www.mammasschool.co.ukOn our recent trip to Kivik, we decided to visit Kiviksgraven.  This is a large Bronze Age grave monument, and one of the most remarkable bronze age monuments in Sweden.  There is a very large cairn on the top of the ground, marking the grave’s location, that is 75m across.  Underneath there is a burial chamber, with a passage leading into it.  In the centre of this burial chamber are 8 slabs.  It had always been thought that an important person or king was buried in there.  In the early 1930’s there was archaeological work done inside the grave, and although they thought they had found the king’s remains, it turned out they were probably several teenagers buried in there throughout a period of 600 years.

The Kiviksgraven is situated where people had lived 6,000 years ago, living off what the forest and sea gave them.  Then 3,500 years ago, the place took on some sort of spiritual significance and the Kiviksgraven was built.  The stone slabs inside the grave are adorned with bronze age drawings of ships, horses, and people.  There are now a lot of other burial mounds and standing stones too in the area.  The Kiviksgraven was discovered when back in the 18th century workers started using the stones for construction purposes.  Whilst doing this 2 men fell down into the chamber and the grave was discovered.

We paid our 25 sek (£2.50) for each adult to enter (children were free) and headed on in.  We thought this was a bargain considering the expense going anywhere with all 5 of us usually entails.  Plus you could get right up to the stones, and look at them properly.  This is a lot nicer for children who are not much good at looking at stones from a distance!  The drawings were in really good condition and the whole tomb was a little surreal to be inside.  After visiting inside the tomb, we walked round the whole of the outside. We had some difficulty trying to keep the trio off the cairn as it resembled one giant fun play area in their eyes, but eventually they understood.

These monuments don’t take that long to visit, and after a 2 hour drive to get to it, we needed a little refreshment before we continued on our tour, so we headed inside to the very Swedish and very lovely wooden hut cafe.  The children also had a little play in the garden area.

This was such an amazing piece of history to see, and really well preserved.  It was lovely to be able to get so close to it as well 🙂

Imaginative Play – Let Them Learn Their Way.

So, it is Wednesday morning in our home, our little lady has trotted up the road to school, and it’s me and the boys home alone.  Usually, after I have sorted the washing (I swear there are people living in secret with us, the amount of socks that come out!), and done some housework, it is time for a little more formal literacy and maths with the mini men.  However, by the time I got to them this morning, there was a mountain climbing, chicken healing, spider man requiring mission in full swing!  It took me all of 1 second to decide to ditch the workbooks in favour of this imaginative play game.  Why?  Am I being lazy?  Am I shirking my responsibilities to keep up their English language skills living in a foreign country?  No, I am letting them learn the best way possible, their own way. But as an added bonus, what mummy won’t take the opportunity of calm to get things done ;-).  One of the many reasons we uprooted the family to Sweden was to embrace and be part of their culture of letting children be children, and the importance they place on child’s play.

There was a great deal of planning involved in this game, which in itself is an important life skill to learn.  Outfits had to be chosen, and today it was necessary to be wearing football shin pads and ballet shoes.  Food and drink were required, so paper sausages and drinks bottles made from paper and old bottle tops.  Torches (push up ice cream bases), light sabres (toy screwdriver handles), rope (old string), and homemade telephones were all packed, and they headed off into the wilderness (our upstairs!).  The baddies were in our room, whilst the nursing and feeding of a poorly chicken took place in the spare room.  Extra superhero powers were required in the form of spider man.  For three hours this game was played, changed, and progressed, and the whole time they were busy learning some very important things.

So what has this session, like any other of imaginative play, been teaching them apart from planning?  It has taught them a variety of skills, the first one today being dressing themselves (not necessarily to my taste!!).  They have sorted their own outfits as were required, they have done their own undressing and dressing to accommodate the story line.  They have made hundreds of decisions throughout the morning, developing their decision making skills, but this has also had a big impact on increasing their social skills at the same time.  There has been A LOT of co-operation (trust me we are not the perfect family, they hit and kick each other out of frustration at times too and scream at each other, but today they learnt the benefit of staying calm and using words to communicate so the game was enjoyed…it was just a really good morning for them today).  There has also been sharing, negotiations that would be fit for running a country, taking turns, and a lot of self restraint from the pair of them.  Very often they can be quick to lose their self restraint, and it’s hard being a twin in each others pockets all the time, but when they can hold it, and see the benefits, it reinforces that it is a beneficial way to behave.  Imaginative play, by nature, is role play or acting out some sort of experience.  This is the way little people are able to make sense of the big bad world around them.

During imaginative play there is a lot of emotional development occurring, as it is a very safe place and time to express their feelings, and try and sort them out.  Their thoughts, feelings, wishes, and fears can all be processed through their play.  As was shown in today’s game, they can learn about empathy and caring too.  Their self esteem can increase because they can be ANYTHING they want to be, there is nothing holding them back, anything goes 🙂 I might have given the formal literacy a miss but they have been busy developing their communication skills, both verbally and non verbally.  During imaginative play they can experiment and mistakes don’t matter, but are there to still be learnt from.

So next time you feel guilty about leaving your little ones to play while you sneak a peaceful 5 minutes, or more realistically work through your “to do” list, DON’T!  They don’t need our grown up interaction all of the time.  Their own imaginative play without us is just as important to their development.  Sometimes, their games may require you as part of them, but be careful you leave all your grown up ideas at the door to the room…this is their game and it is played their way!

Imaginative play-Let them Play their way, play important, role play, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

Dear Bear and Beany

Dandelion Cookies – The Flowery Biscuit!

Our garden is a little bit of a dandelion farm, so it got me thinking, what could I make with these golden flowers, other than fairy potions and posies!!  So we tried to make biscuits with them, and it worked!  This recipe makes 12-15 dandelion cookies, and as usual I have had to make three batches (having three children), so have a plentiful supply!! If the thought of eating dandelions makes you feel a little eugh, you only need to consider their health benefits and you might be swayed.  Bear in mind these are the health benefits for only the flowers, the rest of the plant has even more health benefits to it!  They are a great source of antioxidants, they can help relieve aches and pains (more specifically from headaches, backaches, and menstruation), the can help tummy aches, they contain vitamin A and B12, and have antibacterial effects in the pollen 🙂

 

So what ingredients do you need for your dandelion biscuits?

Pick 15 dandelion flower heads.

100g butter

80g sugar

1 egg

1 lemon, zest and juice

150g plain flour

20g cornflour

and a pinch of baking powder.

Wash the dandelion heads, and then pluck off all the petals into a bowl

Cream the butter and sugar together

Add in the egg, stirring well

Add the plain flour, the cornflour, and the baking powder

Add the zest of the lemon, the juice of the lemon, and the dandelion petals and stir well

Place overloaded teaspoon sized dollops onto baking paper, and spread out well.

Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 12-15 mins

…..then tuck into your dandelion cookies!!!

Dandelion Cookies, foraged food, cooking with dandelions, dandelion food, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

3 Little Buttons
Two Tiny Hands

Learning to Use a Compass – Teaching the Basics.

Learning to Use a compass-teaching the basics, compass, navigation, orienteering, map reading www.mammasschool.co.ukToday’s hike had an ulterior motive behind it…to get the trio learning more about the basics of using their compasses.  We have had these out before for a little walk, and a brief lesson about finding north, but I felt it was now time to learn a little more about direction.  My trio definitely learn best in the great outdoors, and with a practical skill such as compass use, it suits us better to be doing it outside, rather than sat indoors.  I remember at school doing the theory indoors and then heading outdoors for the practical, but not really taking anything in until we were outdoors.  Therefore, I aim to teach as much as I can out on the ground, and less splitting it into definite theory and practical elements for them, as they find it much harder to relate the theory to anything!

We left the car in the car park, and had gone 20m when we came across a style, and our first stand off of the hike.  My double trouble are very into competing against each other.  It ranges from who is first everywhere, to who was last in through the door so has to shut the door (the back door is open flapping letting cold air in for ages while they argue who shuts it), and today it seemed no one wanted to be first down the steps the other side, although both had reached the top together in a race!!  My little lady and I were stuck behind them trying to get them to shift so we could get on with the yomp!  Oh the joys of hiking with little people.  The trio were quite grumpy on this particular afternoon, so I decided we’d hike to our designated fire pit for the afternoon, have our cooked treat and a play, and then hopefully they would be in better spirits for the return leg, and a bit of a compass lesson.  No point teaching them in this mood as nothing will go in and they will not be receptive.  Sometimes, I’ll carry on the plans with whoever is receptive, but with all three behaving like it was a bad day, there was little point!!  It was a lovely spring day so I was determined we would make the most of it.

We arrived at where the fire pit should have been, but there wasn’t one we could find…very unusual here in Sweden.  So we retraced our steps a bit to a large rock and gathered some stones into a circle and created our own fire pit.  It was good for the children to learn why I wasn’t just happy to place a fire any old place in the woods, and then how to build one, so all was not lost!  I had also bought a new piece of equipment, a raised grill shelf on legs, that I wanted to try out too.  The fire pits here are great, but it isn’t until you reach somewhere that you find out whether you have a grill over it or not.  Not everything we cook needs it, but there are some things I prefer not to place directly on the flames, and today I was using a saucepan so it was a perfect chance to try it out.  We lit our fire, we cooked our food (see outdoor cooking for the campfire posts, as recipe in another blog post), and the children played happily….well until there was screaming to be heard!  The trio had found a tree to climb that was infested with the hugest red ant colony.  Instead of then staying away from it, they felt it was a challenge of who could get up and down it without getting bitten, but also they were curious to watch them.  Very soon someone had been nipped (twin 1) and he was yelling at the top of his lungs (he has big strong lungs!!).  Luckily I carry Anthisan, so it was calmed down quite quickly and another lesson was learnt!

Apart from the ant nip, everyone was in much better spirits so we each got our compasses out.  We started by learning the main four directions of the compass…north, south, east, and west.  Looking at the letter with the little ones, and working out what that would then stand for.  We then lined north up, to work out which way we were walking.  Luckily this was quite simple at first as the path followed an east direction.  Very soon though my little lady announced that “Mamma it is in the middle of north and east now”.  At this point we then sat down and looked at the other letters on the compass (NE, SE, SW, and SE).  Once we had learnt to listen to the sound of those letters (for the twins) to then work out what they stood for (the little lady was a little bit easier to teach as she can work it out quicker), we then were able to stop at regular intervals and say in which direction we were walking.  That was more than enough for them to take on board today, and I think we will be just practising that skill for a little while yet before we introduce anything else new, but they enjoyed it, and the accomplishment of understanding what the compass was saying.

All three did eventually admit they had loved their little hike, despite the wobbly start.  Once I had got over twin 1’s insistence that he didn’t need to use the compass because he wasn’t lost, they also loved being able to use the compass and work out what it was saying!  It was a close shave at the start of the walk, but eventually it became a successful and sunny afternoon out!

 

 

Blowing Dandelion Bubbles – Nature’s Bubble Blower.

Blowing dandelion bubbles - Nature's bubble blower, nature bubbles www.mammasschool.co.ukWe have just had a lovely afternoon blowing dandelion bubbles through the plant’s stem 🙂 The trio loved making these and then experimenting with them also.

It’s a really easy activity to prepare, and because it’s outside all mess is outdoors too…bonus!  So what do you need for blowing dandelion bubbles?

Washing up liquid

Water

Bowl for mixing

Scissors

and of course….dandelions!!

Here is what you do:

Make up some soapy water

Cut the flower head off

Trim the other end of the stalk too

Swirl around one end in the soapy water (not the end you want to put up to your mouth!!).

Then gently blow through the stem, and you should see your bubble 🙂

My trio loved blowing dandelion bubbles, and then experimenting with different lengths of stem, different diameters of stem, variations of puffing, and who could make the biggest dandelion bubbles.  It was such a lovely, but chilly day, they stayed there for a good while.  Afterwards the chalks came out for drawing, and even a small potion was whipped up with the newly flowering plants.

 

 

Country Kids

Seed Bombs – The Gardening Grenade!

Seed Bombs-The gardening grenade, children gardening, gardening, seeds, wildflowers www.mammasschool.co.ukSeed bombs are a great way to introduce colour, flowers, and therefore wildlife, into corners where nobody seems to care….just go for a walk, and lob one of these creations into a place that is dull and boring and then return in the summer to see if it has worked.  They are great for brightening up places you feel are uncared for, but full of sunshine with grass or bare soil.  We had an ulterior motive though here in our Swedish garden.  It is HUGE…..I’m not boasting, as that is just the way where we live, but it’s 3 hours of lawn mowing & strimming a week huge.  Gardens here are very different from back in the UK.  Forget a lot of plants that you would have in the UK, as they won’t survive the winter.  Then there are the deer and elk that like to nibble the lovely blooms, not to mention the stony wild areas that just need to be left the way nature intended.  You need to work with the wild, and tame it where you can.  It is a whole new experience of gardening out here.  I have left a very small UK garden although it was bursting with very typical English cottage style flower beds and climbing roses, to learn very rapidly that I can’t do that here (or maintain it even if I could!).  So, we have a few “wild” areas of our own, that would benefit from the gardener’s hand grenade that is the seed bomb.

So what do you need?

1 cup of air drying clay

1 cup of compost

2 packets of seeds

(we have multiplied this to cater for the fact that I have three children doing it, and a lot of space to cover!!  However, having said that, once we had put out the supplies, the boys decided they weren’t participating today!)

So how do you make them?

Break the clay into small pieces and put into a bucket or bowl

Add the compost

Rub the 2 together

Sprinkle in your seeds and gently stir.

Roll into small balls and place on a tray to dry out (1-2 days).

 

Choose your designated area and head out for a garden grenade throwing session 🙂

 

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway – Window on the Past

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway is nestled running through the magnificent rolling countryside of the Cotswolds.  The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR), is a heritage railway using part of the Great Western Railway’s old line.  There is a choice of steam or diesel trains running from Cheltenham Racecourse and Laverton, and it is a very beautiful trip.  There are huge views over towards the Malvern Hills, glorious yellow fields, and lots of small newborn lambs.  Eventually the railway will extend all the way to Broadway.  The railway is run by volunteers.

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway runs both steam and diesel locomotives so you need to check the timetable if you want to catch a specific one.  We were aiming for steam and started from the Cheltenham end of the line.

We boarded the train and got underway.  The train stopped at Gotherington, and Winchcombe, before arriving at our planned destination of Toddington.  We got off at Toddington to enjoy a picnic in the sunshine, a hot drink from the restaurant, and a run around the well placed play area.  The stations are very beautiful, lots of flower beds around the old signal boxes, old milk churns, and plenty of other historical artefacts around the throw back station areas.  When we got off the train, we were treated to such a special spectacle.  We watched the steam engine detach from the carriages, and go up the line, before it tooted, and then we could see the signal man in the box, drop the signal changing the line and watch the engine come back down the line towards the other end of the carriages.  Before it reconnected back up, we watched the drivers go about their housework chores.  First we watched the train being filled up with water, and also coal being shovelled forwards towards the fire.  The children could get close enough to the engine to see this all going on very well.  We then watched the engine manoeuvre into position, and they did a few more jobs before leaving the station. My trio were fascinated.

We headed off for our picnic and play (and of course an ice cream) relaxing in the spring sunshine, before returning back on the steam train.  We had such a lovely laid back day, and all three were fascinated by the steam engine.  You could get up really close to see what was going on which they really appreciated.  It was a big learning curve for all of them, and a great day out 🙂

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway GWSR Steam Trains Steam Engines railways www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

 

Plutonium Sox

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