Nature can be invasive

This week we have been looking closely at the natural world around us. We have been learning about different species of tree, lichen, how to harvest sunflower seeds and that invasive species can be harmful.

On a walk around Callendar Park we looked at the Chestnut trees around us. We talked about the differences between Sweet Chestnut and Horse Chestnut trees and Beanster thought the Sweet Chestnut resembled a snitch. We opened a few conkers to see how ready they were. We decided they weren’t quite ready enough to pick so we will come back in a couple of weeks to check again.

20180902_110209

In Zetland we made an important ecological discovery. We found an invasive species of ladybird, the Harlequin Ladybird. In fact, it is the most invasive species in the UK and it has helped us to better understand the process of invasion. The main reason Harlequin Ladybirds pose a threat to our native species is that they have such voracious appetites that they easily out-compete native ladybirds for food. It is almost certainly why our Two-Spot Ladybird is so scarce. In talking to one of our friends we learned that Harlequins should be reported when found so we did just that. We now have our very own record in the Harlequin Ladybird sighting database!

20180901_163822

After that find we were on the lookout for more interesting finds. We discovered lots of lichens, which Moo particularly enjoyed touching and describing.

20180901_163949

We found a few animal holes to look at and we had fun talking about what animals we thought lived inside them based on the size.

20180901_164117

20180901_164125

Back at home we wanted to know more about the structure of sunflower heads and whether the seeds were ready to harvest from our plot at the allotment. Beanster set about dissecting one. The seeds are nearly there, but not quite so we will leave the allotment ones to die back a little before we harvest the seeds for the birds.

20180901_183950

20180901_184311

20180901_184111

Advertisements

Developing coordination and confidence

This week we have been out and about on our bikes, even in the rain. Beanster is an expert on her scooter but is not so confident on her bike. She has now reached a stage where she is nearly ready to have her pedals put back on to turn it from a balance bike to one she can pedal independently.

Moo has suddenly developed the confidence to give her balance bike a go. She did really well, pushing herself along at a slow but steady pace, but she has obviously grown since she last gave it a go and needs her seat put up.

20180901_153109

20180901_153401

20180901_153911

We have also been out and about with friends and Beanster and Moo particularly enjoyed a wee day out with pals A and K to Callendar Park.

Confidence was developed on the flying fox and natural climbing equipment.

20180902_111921

20180902_112157

20180902_125229

Different types of water play

Last week the girls found water almost everywhere they went and they had a lot of fun with it.

We went to Blackness Beach (setting for parts of Outlander) and we acquired a temporary doggy friend. We built sand volcanoes and bridges, identified different types of shell, collected see glass and other ‘treasures’, identified animal skeletons and of course played in the water. We needed to work out how to improve the stability of our sand structures as they kept collapsing but we got there in the end.

2018-08-31_09-46-52

20180825_125339

20180825_125951

20180825_132041

20180825_133052

20180825_133308

20180825_134307

20180825_135015

20180825_140251

In a trip to the local garden centre the girls discovered the sprinklers were switched on for watering. They thought they had been switched on specifically for children to have fun so one hour later they went home drenched and i left with nothing that i had gone in to buy!

20180825_152649

20180825_153304

On Sunday we went to Nature Club with Jess of Under the Trees. It was picnic with Pooh, but of course it rained! Not that that stops anything. We had our picnic and stories under tarpaulin and then cooked some bread on the campfire. Moo later turned the mini golf area into her own personal playpark.

20180826_114220

20180826_114543

2018-08-31_09-56-12

20180826_115813

20180826_121555

20180826_130429(0)

Monday was back to swimming lessons. It was Moo’s first swimming lesson and she skipped her way in.

20180827_160017

She is on the first level of the Mighty Swimmers course so is a clownfish. Beanster is at the start of Seal level. Both girls did really well. I think Moo will be a natural swimmer.

Today we went for a walk with Granny along the canal. We foraged for brambles, talked about the depth of the water, spotted places of interest, visited the new cat statue and doocot, looked at some narrowboats and meandered through the streets on our way back to Granny and Grandpa’s house. The cat statue is newly erected in memory of a lady, Liz Burrows. She did a lot of work with Burgh Beautiful, raising money for and planting flowers around Linlithgow. Dudley was her beloved cat.

20180831_145747

20180831_144411

20180831_144436

20180831_144641

20180831_145802

20180831_150139

20180831_150241

20180831_150250

20180831_152025

Tonight Beanster and I went for an hour to the allotment. She made a special drink whilst i watered some plants and checked on squash and pumpkin progress. We picked the remaining pea pods and some spinach and beans for dinner this week.

20180831_194043

20180831_192305

20180831_192511

20180831_193059

Water is all around us. Go out and play in it, get drenched by it, walk along it, swim in it, give plants a drink with it, observe it and most of all make memories with it…we certainly do.

Busy Girls, Growing Brains

Our girls keep us and themselves busy. They have always been keen to know about the world, to build and create using whatever is around them and to generally play an active part in everything that goes on around them. In fact quite often they shape their own day. They know what they want to do and how to go about doing it and today was a good example of them doing just that.

Today we were supposed to go to Burnt Island Beach with some of our home educating friends but the heavens opened and the rain was set to continue all day. We all quickly went off the idea and instead the girls set about creating their own day.

Beanster did Reading Eggs first. This wasn’t strictly part of her own planning but she did want to get it out of the way early on. Today she was focussing on ‘an’ words and did really well.

20180823_082318

A game of Paw Patrol happened next and a campsite was created.

20180823_103207

I only took a photo of it at the start. It later had a toilet block, campfire, entertainment area with playpark and a shop.

The shop idea then developed into a Shopkins supermarket with Paw Patrol and My Little Pony figures visiting and buying different goods.

20180823_105559

Moo then announced that it was time to bake so that is what we did.

20180823_112539

Whilst our cakes were baking Beanster decided it was time to draw and they frantically set about creating two totally different works of Art. Beanster created a drawing of a tree lined street with traffic lights which she promptly moved cars up and down.

20180823_114858

Moo drew a monster.

20180823_114914

2018-08-23_10-48-00

She was so proud of it that she sent a photo of it to Mama by Whats App.

When i said we really needed to fit shopping for dinner in somewhere Beanster said they would count their pocket money from their ‘spend’ jar and take it with them to buy something. She did not mean for dinner I might add! A my little pony and a blind bag were purchased.

20180823_113718

Back at home Moo played with her My Little Ponies…

20180823_160545

…and Beanster wanted to independently follow an instruction leaflet to build a Lego model.

20180823_163021

20180823_224128

The cakes were then decorated before Beanster went out to play with some friends for a couple of hours, popping her head in briefly every once in a while to ask for something that was needed.

20180823_153817

Before bed I was asked to print off some colouring sheets and the girls diligently sat colouring.

20180823_210608

Bedtime involved reading about Ancient Egypt. This seems to be a topic the girls (well mainly the eldest) are interested in at the moment. Mummy is learning along with them (not a topic I know anything about)!

20180823_223908

And that is how our home educated girls shape their own day.

In other news from the last two days..

This is how our tie dye t-shirts turned out

20180822_143720

Beanster taught cousin H how to play Dobble.

20180822_112255

Our story cards have been used.

20180822_115916

Moo has done some brilliant drawings.

20180822_085830

Beanster is back at ballet. And more jam has been made.

20180822_195557

Edinburgh Book Festival, eating, art and hiding

This weekend we headed out to see one of our favourite singers, Nick Cope at the Edinburgh Book Festival (he has illustrated book versions of his songs).

20180819_133632

Famous for wonderful songs such as ‘The baby’s done a poo’ and ‘Nicola’s Nits’, his show did not disappoint. It was full of silly little songs to sing-a-long to. Even Beanster sang some of them and she is not one for doing audience participation. Moo was a little star struck and couldn’t quite get her head around the fact that the man who sings on her favourite CD was actually singing in front of her live.

After Nick we went to have a late lunch/early tea at Wagamamas. The girls love Wagamamas. Whilst waiting on their food Moo did some colouring whilst Beanster tackled the wordsearch. She was very proud of the fact that she can now do these and took great delight in finding the words.

20180819_150727

20180819_150857

The girls love using the chopsticks to eat their food although Moo still needs a bit of help to get started.

20180819_152346

20180819_152405

The black on Beanster’s cheek in the photo is from the face paint she applied to herself before going to see Nick Cope!

This last few days the girls have been very arty. There has been a lot of drawing from Beanster.

20180819_172908

20180820_214439

(fish swimming underwater with hats on)

And Moo has developed a love of colouring in (especially My Little Pony pictures).

Both requested to do tie dyeing so we learned how to make some t-shirts this weekend. First we needed to wash the blank tshirts and whilst they were washing Beanster did some inadvertent division work with the elastic bands required for the process.

20180820_221355

Mama showed the girls the different effects that would be produced if they twisted their tshirts in different ways.

20180820_220459

Then it was time to start dyeing.

20180819_191507

20180819_192845

20180819_192058

20180819_195451

We are just waiting on them drying so we will let you see how they have turned out once they do.

Today they did some chalk drawings with Grandpa.

20180820_155610

20180820_155615

After a busy few days both girls decided they needed some time away from the world (or rather each other) and they decided this was how to do it. A very peaceful journey home it was too!

20180820_220619

Locally grown food and new recipes

We are getting tired of the same meals. We also want to improve our diet through eating less processed meat so yesterday Mama sat with the girls and they selected some new recipes to try.

20180817_092536

This was the recipe for part of tonight’s meal. We needed to buy some accompanying veg and as I had promised the girls we would go fruit picking before the end of the Summer we headed to Craigie’s Farm near Kirkliston to kill two birds with one stone.

20180817_114309

Strawberries and raspberries were in abundance so we got straight to work and picked a few punnets worth. Moo was in her element as she is now tall enough to reach and pick the dangling strawberries.

20180817_211817

We also picked some runner beans for our dinner. We actually went home with about 6 times as many beans as we needed due to Beanster’s ‘efficient’ method of picking being to pull the whole branch off.

20180817_121438

After all that work we needed some food and a play in the farm play park.

20180817_124245

20180817_130328

20180817_130419

20180817_131013

True to form Beanster made a wee friend and whilst playing they discussed pocket money and budgeting. Moo decided to play My Little Pony.

Later we made Lego vehicles and tested how well they worked down different slopes.

20180817_150102

Beanster went to see a friend and we learned about galaxies and how astronauts go to the toilet in space.

20180817_202310

20180817_202359

And how did our new dinner recipe taste…

20180817_183901

…’absolutely yuck,’ apparently! Oh well, you win some, you lose some and on this occasion it was an absolute fail.

Often the best teachers are… children!

There are many advantages to home education but one of the great things is your children get to mix with people of all ages. They are not confined to a classroom with 30 children of the same age. Through observing and mimicking older children, younger ones develop necessary life skills. Older children develop patience and empathy from being around younger ones. I have witnessed children teaching each other a lot over the last two days and all whilst playing together.

There is a park near us which has painted roads on the concrete and proper road signs. This is an ideal place for children to learn about road safety. It is a popular place for children to take their bikes and scooters to and now that Moo can ride her scooter better we headed there on Wednesday. We took cousin H with us.

At first the girls all scooted about to their hearts content.

20180815_124148

20180815_124152

20180815_124310

After a while Beanster began to teach H and Moo how to brake properly on a scooter. It was lovely to watch. Beanster herself took a long time to master this so she knew just how difficult it is. Throughout the time we were there she kept reshowing cousin H how to do it.

20180815_123649

When we go out we carry drawing pads and pens with us. After lunch the girls decided to get them out.

20180815_142305

Moo has enjoyed watching her older sister and cousin drawing in their pads and it has helped give her the confidence to draw independently and describe what she has drawn.

20180815_142425

At Thursday’s home ed club she sat amongst the older girls at a table and drew with them. She sat and watched them as they drew and she diligently tried to copy what one of them was doing.

20180816_155842

20180816_141609

Beanster also sat with the girls and she was inspired to practise writing because her big friend P started to write a story. Another friend checked her spelling for her.

20180816_155853

20180816_155839

A lovely interaction today between Beanster and Moo happened over Hama Beads. Beanster has decided she is going to have a stall where she sells some of her handmade products. At the moment she is making Hama pendants which she will make into necklaces. Moo has wanted to make some Hama products herself to join in this venture. Moo was about to give up on her doggie pot stand when Beanster encouraged her to carry on. With a bit of a hand and some kind words from her big sis Moo finished her dog and was, quite rightly, very proud of herself.

20180816_125235

20180817_001135

So, never underestimate children. They often make the best teachers.