The sky was brilliant blue, the wind non existent, and the day’s temperatures looked promising for a second day of warm springtime. So, with some kitchen table learning done (and our doggie walked/scooted), we headed off for five hours of muddy wet fun at Mottisfont-and all by 1000 hrs in the morning 🙂 We were going to use our home educators membership for the first time (which would have paid for itself after the first National Trust visit). This lovely place is well thought out to allow the children to enjoy the great outdoors. The trees are so old and precarious, the National Trust asks children to not to climb them, but does provide a “climbing bog”. The rivers are lovely and inviting, but hazardous and fast, so they have a “pump and paddle” play area.
When we arrived at Mottisfont, a competitive Pooh Sticks games kick started the day though. To the point where one little man was trying to pull a tree root up for the largest stick! They played three games, luckily all winning one, or we might have been there a long time.
The “pump and paddle” play area is positioned right next to the river, and diverts off some of the water so it can be used to play with. There is a hand pump which adds water to wooden run offs, which then have little locks little hands can open, to control the flow of the water going out. The slatted wooden water runs have a drop at the “lock” point to the next water run. At the end there is a hollowed out log chopped in half, running the water back into the river. My trio spent over an hour and a half investigating this simple set up, and in true curious spirit, built a dam from wood at the bottom, to try and stop the water running back into the river, and build a pool of water in the last water trough. It is an amazing natural play area, and is also great for washing off the whole tub of strawberries I dropped on the muddy floor 🙂
The “climbing bog” uses logs and branches to create areas the children can balance, climb, and leap over. Wellies are an essential here, as it is truly boggy….mud up to the top of the wellies boggy!!!! However, at least they provide the water play to rinse off under 😉 My gang spent an hour climbing up wooden structures, and balancing along wooden uneven beams. All hovering over the boggy muddy pit. Everyone was covered with mud by the end.
There are many areas to explore around the grounds, and also the house. We stayed outside today, and after our play (and picnic) set off for a walk along the river and then through the meadows. After the walk, much needed ice creams were devoured, followed by some reading for the little men. Our little lady did some colouring in of continents and a geography word search. All three had enjoyed their adventure a little too much as the mini men more or less instantly fell asleep in the car driving home, guaranteeing a slightly less smooth bedtime!!
Today was about challenging our children physically. For the mini men it was more about learning the consequences from your actions. For example running on the wet wooden water troughs made you slip over….and again if you thought you would retest that theory for a second time! So they were learning the consequences of certain risks they undertook. Very important lessons for them as they launch themselves pretty much off anything or climb over everything. As for our little lady, it was more about pushing her into taking more risks. She is more risk adverse and cautious. She needs encouraging and practice at taking risks. Today did this for her with the balancing and climbing over the boggy pits. The whole day allowed them to explore freely without adult intervention and allow them to be self directed in what they discovered and did. They were able to immerse themselves in both mud and water, and fully embrace nature.