Mamma's School

Home Education Adventure

Tag: Sweden

Ronneby Naturum – A Nature Based Learning Haven

Ronneby Naturum is set inside Ronneby Brunnspark – a huge outdoor nature area, with many walks, woods, play parks, ponds, and a swimming pool.  The nature centre itself literally took our breath away.  It is filled with fantastic exhibitions for both young and old, but what grabbed our attention and made it so great for the trio, was that it is so interactive, hands on, and there is nothing out of bounds to little fingers that like touching everything!  We have been to Ronneby Naturum a few times now, and one rainy afternoon we spent the entire time in there together with our nature journals, merrily sketching away.

As you enter Ronneby Naturum you immediately come across a very striking and visual exhibition (see the photo!) about lynx in Sweden.  My three just stood their gawping!  We have moved to a country with wildlife that really grabs their imaginations; bears, wolves, wild boar, älg (moose), and lynx are just some of what is here.  However, these are all very hard to see in real life, especially with three young children who give the wildlife plenty of warning that they are approaching, with their noise levels 🙂  So, to walk in and see this life sized lynx was fantastic, and really brought it home to them what is lurking out there.  We spent some time learning about them and looking at the areas where they live around and near us before being drawn further into the centre.

Another favourite was a transparent operational bee hive, which had an entrance/exit to the outdoors.  This was so good for the children to watch the bees so close up.  The emphasis is very much on being able to interact with exhibits.  This may take the form of sticking your hand into a container “blind” to work out what’s in there with just a written clue, feeding the fish in the tanks, pressing buttons to hear various animal/bird sounds (twin 1 can never resist a button so he was in his element), or just picking up and handling various exhibits that are laid out.

In our county (Blekinge), we are surrounded by water, with islands everywhere making up the archipelago we live on.  So, naturally there is a big exhibition about the coast and the marine life around our area.  The older ones can learn more about the geology, the biodiversity, why it is such a sensitive area of nature, and how we can fish or sail whilst protecting it.  Part of this exhibition is a sail boat which the children can board and pretend to sail the high seas.  It has moving parts to handle, sails to move, and benches to lift, under which reside very cute and fluffy cuddly mice and seals.  This was a revelation to us being allowed to climb on board such an exhibit, and when the staff saw my good old English reservation about children clambering over exhibits, they came and said the children must climb all over it!

The “lab” is another highlight of Ronneby Naturum.  This is a separate little room that you can lose yourself in for a good few hours!  It is full of stuffed wild animals from the forests, and exhibits you can pick up and handle.  Anything from snake skins, to stag beetles, to animal bones, animal antlers, and a whole heap of samples you can examine under one of the microscopes in there.  There are also a couple of aquariums in there.  It is such a lovely place, with so much to see, and it is also very cosy!

I thoroughly recommend a visit to Ronneby Naturum (but check the opening times first as they alter drastically day to day, and season to season).  You can easily spend a day in the park, with a visit to the naturum as part of it.  You can wander the woods blueberry picking in the early autumn, have lunch on one of the fire pits, and feed the ducks also.  There is also an ice cream kiosk serving delicious tasty treats too 🙂  Plus there is no charge for the park or its naturum.  Ronneby Naturum is a place we will be returning to many many more times.

Ronneby Naturum, Ronneby Brunnspark, Nature based learning, nature, home education, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

Sweden – 15 Things I Have Learnt Living Here

We have lived in Sweden for 1 year now, and throughout that year I have been on a very steep learning curve.  I thought I would share with you the 15 main things I have learnt along the way so far 🙂

1. Everything takes time:  The Swedes are very laid back and they rarely hurry.  This might be over a break at work (fika at work is very important), or installing a phone line and wi-fi (I think this took around 3-4 months after we moved in).  So, to avoid frustration, adapt quickly, chill out, and go with the flow….it’ll happen one day.

2. You can’t buy Marmite or spray furniture polish here:  Plan in advance and get visitors flying out to see you to bring it, in bulk preferably, whether you need it or not.  Then you can guarantee an ongoing supply.

3. All food is delicious, but you will eat your own body weight in cinnamon buns within weeks of arriving here, and you will still want more.

4. Candy:  This is very important here in Sweden, especially on a Saturday (lördagsgodis).  To integrate fully here you need to take a bag at the pick and mix, and fill it every Saturday.

5. The seasons are all amazing, but they can change rapidly – overnight!  One day you will be wearing your shorts, the next day autumn will have arrived, with no gradual run up to it.

6. The people are really friendly.  They want to help you, and you will need their help too in order to navigate some of the systems in Sweden.  For example, booking a doctor’s appointment or how to repaint your wooden home.

7. EVERYONE speaks English.  This is good when you are struggling with Swedish, but hard to learn if you are a little lazy.  They speak it very well too, but will apologise for not finding one word in a sentence, when I can’t even remember what I was going to say at all in English!!  They are very good at it.

8. Google translate will be your best friend.  You will have the app on your phone to read parking signs, help with the grocery shopping, and so that you stand a chance at doing your child’s reading homework.  You will use it on your computer to translate all the school emails, and other emails that come your way from various places.

9. Predictive text will become your enemy, as your phone doesn’t know what the hell you are trying to write, and what language you are trying to type in. Until, that is, it starts memorising Swedish words along the way (no one wants to type out “Försäkringskassan” or “Länsförsäkringar” more than necessary!).

10. Hard cash is surplus to requirements (unless you need a trolley – 10 SEK coin, or a swim locker – 10 SEK coin).  EVERYTHING is done either by card or phone.  There is none of this 50p charge for under £5.  If you by a 1 SEK sweet (about 10p) you don’t need cash.

11. Hot dogs (korv med bröd) are a staple in your diet in Sweden.  Sunny day on the beach?  You make hot dogs.  End of school term?  You meet and cook hot dogs.  The Prime Minister visits the island?  Free hot dogs. You go out on a hike? You cook hot dogs.  You get the idea?!!  You always need an emergency stash in the freezer, it’s prevented me being caught out a few times now!

12. You need to bulk buy your alcohol.  The state run off licenses, Systembolaget, (the only place you can purchase it) are only in certain places (our nearest is about 20km away) so there is no “just popping out for a bottle of wine”.  They’re also closed a lot, especially at weekends and holidays….so stock up, or as I do, make your own!

13. Send all your children’s clothes to school (and more!).  They will need standard clothes for the day, they will need outdoor gear (I mean proper stuff, like full sets of waterproofs, or complete snow gear etc).  They WILL be going outdoors – both for play and lessons.  There are dryer cupboards, but it is helpful for them to have complete spare sets too…..and I mean complete…gloves (they get very wet through in the winter, even ski gloves with little people), socks….you get the picture! You will be taking a lot of clothes backwards and forwards, oh and boots!!

14. Fika:  This is very important in Sweden.  It’s a chance to just enjoy each other’s company, but does usually involve coffee and a sweet treat.

15. Throughout December it is perfectly fine and normal to drink mulled wine (glögg) and eat thin ginger biscuits (pepparkakor) every day…..perfect and my idea of a cosy December!!

I hope you have enjoyed those facts, and learning a little more about Sweden 🙂

Sweden-15 Things I Have Learnt Living Here, Living in Sweden, Swedish habits, Swedish customs, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

Living In Sweden – A Year After Our Dream Move

Today sees us celebrating one year since I flew all three children, myself, 3 car seats, and four overweight suitcases, over to join Dadda to start our new lives together living in Sweden.  It seems a good time as any to weigh up the pros and cons of this move, and to look at whether we feel we are here for good (hopefully, barring any silly Brexit shenanigans!).

First off, living in Sweden, we gained 4 seasons!!  The photos depict us losing/gaining various layers as the year progresses!  We love being outdoors, and immersed in nature, and now we have the chance to experience all the seasons fully.  It also makes you appreciate the summer quite a bit more.  When the cold and snow came, life needed a little more planning (like digging the car out), but living in Sweden it does continue (unlike back in the UK where it stops just because it “might” snow!).  The children have embraced everything that has been thrown at them weather wise, and we live with the motto “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”….we have a whole outdoor shop’s supply of outdoor gear now 🙂

The great outdoors, and the Swedish ethos of outdoor living, was a huge attraction for us and for living in Sweden.  Don’t get me wrong, we did live in a beautiful part of the UK, but over here it is all much more natural, wild, and rugged.  Being a larger country, with fewer people in, the natural spaces and wildlife are left well alone and thrive without such a heavy presence of mankind.  There is wildlife and space all around you.  You know that while you are sleeping, the local älg (moose) are checking out the golf course up the road, or the deer are stealing the carrots from your children’s snowmen in the garden!  The public right of access allows everyone to roam freely, as long as they respect the land and nature. We have got to grips with outdoor fires, and enjoy using the regularly placed outdoor fire pits on our hikes.  The beautiful landscapes, the freedom to roam where we want to adventure, and the provision of fire pits in the wild, have definitely fulfilled this reason for moving here.  I think it is fair to say we have been taking full advantage of it all so far!

Let children be children!!  I need to let them run, climb, and explore.  In the UK, this got me a lot of frowns (especially in parks) when I deliberately made a choice not to helicopter parent any of them, as well as letting them use apparatus how they wanted to (provided no one else was affected!).  Plus in the UK there are a lot of expectations of how children should behave, often making them suppress a lot of their childhood instinctive behaviours, and in turn dampen down their spirit, curiosity, and excitement about life.  Over here it is a lot different.  Children are expected to want to make a noise, run around, and climb.  It’s quite common for my little lady to climb the trees in her playground, or twin 2 to be found dangling upside down precariously from a high bar, whereas in the UK those were a definite no no.  They are outdoors in all weathers, not cooped up because of some wind and rain.  The Swedes have clocked onto the fact that children don’t want to, and won’t sit still like statues, but instead they expect them to be moving.  The best bit….no one’s looking at your parenting skills or your child and seeming to be criticising them, when children are just being children.

Living in Sweden we have all left lovely close friends behind.  Only yesterday I opened a lovely parcel for the family from some close friends in the UK that made me a little weepy…..of the happy sort!  A year on though and we have met some very special people here who have helped us to settle in and go out of their way to help us.  They have become very good friends.  Also, our summer was very busy with close friends from the UK visiting, and the whole year has seen many friends and family coming.  There are five more sets of visitors booked for the next four months already!  It was hard leaving family and friends behind, and we do miss them a lot, but we are so grateful for those who have offered us friendship here  in Sweden 🙂

Having left a pressure cooker education system behind that has children exhausted, in tears, and feeling a failure, we are more than happy to embrace the Swedish positive approach to learning.  School is important to us here as a place for the children to meet others their age and learn the language, coming from an English speaking household, so it serves us well too.  It’s such a lovely environment….oh, apart from the no shoes indoors policy….I have to keep a better eye out for the holes in the socks situation!  But on the flip side they love running and sliding down the corridors 🙂  The lovely island school has turned out to be just what we wanted for our trio, and more.

With three children, life can easily start feeling like a hectic race from the moment you get out of bed, until the moment you collapse into it at the end of the day.  A huge reason for moving here was to slow right down, and commit to a much simpler way of living.  It just seems a lot easier to do here.  We have moved to a small island community, you can’t just pop to the shops to spend frivolously (the nearest are about a 30 minute drive), and there are no other material distractions, so life is lived at a more leisurely pace.  We’re no longer sucked into things like a weekend chocca full of children’s parties, activities, or shopping.  Instead it is full of family time, hiking, exploring, and lots of play!

The language is another harder aspect of living abroad.  Our trio are now immersed in it during the week at school, but they are still on a very steep learning curve.  Dadda and I are trying to teach ourselves.  We are making a little headway, understand a lot more than we used to, and can make ourselves understood…albeit with a lot of gesticulation too.  It’s hard learning a new language, but we try and at least begin to speak to the locals in Swedish (we’re lucky that so many are great at speaking English).  The trouble starts when people then respond in Swedish, and we sometimes lose the thread of the conversation, but at least we have made some baby steps.  With this comes other things that are very hard…school homework, when it does come home, takes twice as long as we have to understand it before we can help her with it.  Everything takes longer due to translating along the way (very slowly) and sometimes this can be very frustrating.  Something that is usually an easy task can seem to take forever.

Learning to drive on the other side of the road, in a car set up the opposite way, was another challenge too.  You’d think a year on we’d be OK, but the other night I drove about 500m on the wrong side before realising, so some habits are hard to kick.

There has been a huge downside though, and that is the lack of grown up time for Dadda and I.  There are no baby sitters here (yet, cross my fingers!), and we have moved abroad knowing there would be no one-night escapes to get a yearly lie in, or no time alone without the presence of our three cheeky monkeys.  As much as I know the younger years fly past in the blink of an eye, I wouldn’t ever say no to some peaceful calm time together, enjoying something as a couple outside of our four home walls.  However, for now, we will have to take the evenings collapsed on the sofa once we’ve tucked the trio up in bed.

If this family adventure does end up with us returning to the UK, at least there will be no “what ifs”, and so no regrets.  We will have tried living in Sweden, and given it a go.  The children will have experienced the world classroom, and a different culture, language, and lifestyle.  Although I really hope we are here to stay now, as this was how we planned it.  I think we have all adapted pretty well so far.  We seem to be integrating a little.  I can’t say enough though about how much we love living here, and I feel that maybe we have found our place in the world that we can call home 🙂

living in sweden, living abroad, moving to sweden, moving abroad, Sweden, www,mammasschool.co.uk

Scout Bomb – A Tasty Scouting Treat

A few weeks ago my little lady returned from her day away on her sjöscout island bursting with lots of enthusiasm over the day, but mainly for the food that they had prepared and eaten. In particular, a dish called the “scout bomb”.  She had been dying to cook this for us all on the fire, so this week I made sure we had all the ingredients, and on our weekly fire pit meal she prepared, she cooked, and she did a great job…..the fact that she cooked a meal all three children ate without a complaint is something I very rarely achieve!

Ingredients:

Potatoes (diced, and I worked on 2  small potatoes per person).

A leek.

Cream cheese.

A knob of butter per person.

A huge sausage (excuse the supermarket photo of said sausage, but I forgot to include it in the proper photo and by the time I remembered it was in our tummies!!).

Instructions:

Dice the potato and sausage.

Peel off a leek leaf and make into a rectangle to hold a portion (it’s your plate).

Place the mixed up diced potato and sausage onto the leek leaf.

On top of the potato and sausage place the knob of butter and a few teaspoons of cream cheese.

Wrap the whole bundle in tin foil….and there is your scout bomb ready to cook.

To cook your scout bomb place it onto the fire for at least 15 mins.  Once that is finished, carefully lift it off onto a plate and unwrap the scout bomb.  The leek “plate” will have infused the rest of the meal with flavour, and the butter and cream cheese melted to coat the meal in a delicious sauce.

You can eat your scout bomb straight off the leaf, but my three are quite adverse to the known presence of leek in their meals (even though it was the choice of one of them to cook with it!), so we scraped it all off onto a plate….it was very delicious, and very welcome on a very wet day!

Scout bomb, scout, campfire food, outdoor cooking, scout camp, scout food www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

Wild Camping with Children in Sweden.

Wild camping….with three little people….I think Dadda might have thought I was a bit daft, but he agreed we should try so we did!  Here in Sweden, we have this fantastic thing called “allemansrätten”:  this is the right of public access to roam freely almost anywhere in the countryside.  There are a few responsibilities that come with this; you take care of nature and wildlife, respect landowners and others enjoying the countryside, respect the land and leave no trace you have been there, don’t disturb and don’t destroy.

I had really wanted to get the children away for wild camping, and with the summer now slipping away from us fast, we felt it was now or never for this year.  I had taken them away for 2 nights on my own somewhere over the summer holidays, but it was on a campsite.  It suited our needs well, especially as I was on my own with them, but it was noisy, cramped, and expensive!!  I wanted a closer experience to nature for them, and a more basic, less commercialised one as well.  Where else can you play in trees and swim in freezing sea, all before breakfast?!

I have written a lot in the past about the benefits of the great outdoors and nature play.  You can take a peek at the following posts to go into those in more depth;

http://mammasschool.co.uk/parenting/outdoor-play-children-natures-sanity/

http://mammasschool.co.uk/parenting/take-a-risk-explore-inside-a-tree/

http://mammasschool.co.uk/parenting/balanced-barefoot-importance-unrestricted-outdoor-play/

There were a lot of those reasons involved in our decision to get our children out for a night of wild camping.  Being outdoors and in nature, supports all forms of development, there is more adventure to be had, there are more challenges (and mine up the ante with these by competing, for example who can climb the highest in the tree), and there is more creativity at work.  They love to explore and there is much more to explore in the outdoors, teaching them to adapt to their environment and take risks.  It increases their teamwork as well as their confidence, both very evident in how they helped and persuaded each other during little excursions into the woods during both the daylight and the dark, while we cooked and cleared away.  They taught each other little things too.  However, our decision to take them wild camping was not just about the children.  It is also about looking after nature and there are benefits to us grown ups too.  Our children will not grow up wanting to protect, respect, and look after nature unless they have experienced it, spent a lot of time immersed in it, and been allowed to enjoy it.  This will increase their desire to conserve it.  Also, while I will be the first to raise my hand and say any camping is hard work for the grown ups, before you even make it wild, we too benefit from being outdoors and in nature.  We are getting our fresh air and vitamin D and N, our moods are better (although I have to say the weather does have the potential to alter this!), and our blood pressure should 😉 be lower!

We headed off on our wild camping trip to a place west of us called Gö.  It’s a delightful little peninsula, and whilst here in Sweden you don’t have to go far from any car park to be in the middle of nature and away from people. Plus it was really accessible for us with three small children, and I knew it would be relatively easy to pitch our tent.  We were on our own surrounded by beautiful nature, and it was very peaceful too.  The children learnt a lot of new things as well on this trip.  They helped with the tent pitching, the fire building and lighting, how to toilet, cooking, we star gazed which initiated a whole torrent of questions, and during the night a lost young deer could be heard calling for its mother.  They learnt a lot about looking after themselves, from the importance of insect repellent, to getting over the confusion about sleeping in their clothes, and how to not traipse all the sand and dirt into the sleeping areas.  We watched the sun set, before we laid on our backs and watched the stars come out.  Then in the morning, we had a very freezing dip in the sea after they had been climbing trees!

So, after returning very tired (between them, their sleep talking was constant!), very smelly, and needing a decent loo, are we pleased we did this mini adventure?  Too right we are.  It was a break from the norm for everyone, and for that reason it has provided everyone with a very memorable experience.  The children loved the increased freedom (although they enjoy quite a lot of freedom here in Sweden anyway, they were allowed to wonder into the woods and explore the cove on their own….we could hear them before you panic!).  It was back to basics, with no distractions, bonding time together as a family and as siblings, and lots of fun had with nature play.  I would definitely recommend this to any family (but as we did, go for the easier option of a dry period!!).  Good luck and I really hope you’ll step out of your comfort zone (as we did) and give it a go.  You’ll be seriously pooped but left wanting to do it again…..maybe in another year 🙂

Wild camping, kids camping, children camping, nature, outdoors, sweden, camping, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Our First Summer in Sweden-The Blog Returns :-)

Good morning!!!  So the loony trio have returned back to school in Sweden, full of smiles and giggles…..the little lady at the age of 9 heads into year 3, and her first proper start of the swedish school year, and the mini men start their förskola klass which is 5 mornings a week….I feel like I don’t whats hit me after nearly six years of 24/7 double trouble!

This dangerous few free hours every morning has allowed me to think, in which direction I wanted to head with my blog.  I have come to the conclusion that it will return, but on very different terms. My terms, not the numbers game terms of “getting you blog out there”, and everything associated with that.  Life here in Sweden, and our big move here to Sweden, was all about adopting their way of living, and their slower paced, more nature loving way of living.  I felt my work on the blog was contradicting this and I was drifting away from the original reasons I started it, and I do love writing it when the reasons for doing so are right.  The blog is supposed to be all about trying to inspire people to reach for your dreams, get outside in nature, and educating children outside the box.  So, with that in mind, I will now be posting just twice a week, on a Tuesday and Thursday.  However, over on instagram we are making full use of the insta stories function almost on a daily basis and doing daily “mini blogs” with our photos….so head over to https://www.instagram.com/mammasschool/to follow us on our one big Swedish adventure and see what we get up to.  The stories only stay on there for 24 hours. We will also still share our instagram photos over on the facebook page too, so you can follow there as well https://www.facebook.com/Mammas-School-1078629212158924/

We’ve had an amazing 10 weeks of summer holidays here in Sweden, exploring our new home.  We have camped, visited outdoor viking museums, had many boat trips around our archipelago (including one with a friend we have made on the island, in his own boat).  We’ve hiked loads, eaten lots of smokey fire pit food, geocached, hidden our own geocache, made LOTS of various fruit wines (and food), been to our first music festival, taken a trip up the west coast, finally managed to stop the ice cream van (those that visited and live here will know what a challenge that is), I’ve repainted our cabin (a whole new lesson and steep learning curve in maintaining wooden living areas), grown, foraged, and picked lots of food, and celebrated midsummer’s in great style!  We have been fortunate enough to see the coming and going of four sets of visitors too, and spent some really treasured times with these family and close friends.  We hope they will return again.  So, adieu until Tuesday, and I will leave you with “Our Summer in Photos”….enjoy 🙂

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