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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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Moo drew a monster.

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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.

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Back at home Moo played with her My Little Ponies…

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

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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.

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

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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)!

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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

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Beanster taught cousin H how to play Dobble.

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Our story cards have been used.

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Moo has done some brilliant drawings.

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

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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).

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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.

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

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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.

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(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.

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

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Then it was time to start dyeing.

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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.

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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!

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Edinburgh Book Festival

We have had a VERY busy Summer so much so we have forgotten to blog! Oops. We are going to try to get back to it as it really is a very good way for us to keep a record of what we get up to.

Today we headed out in the rain to the Edinburgh Book Festival. We had tickets to see Harriet Muncaster, the author of the hugely popular Isadora Moon Vampire-Fairy books.

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Harriet was brilliant. She read some excerpts from her books and taught the children to draw some of her characters.

Here are the girls drawing one of the characters and Moo’s version. She was probably the youngest there but she sat and diligently tried to copy what Harriet did.

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Harriet explained the journey she took to becoming a famous author and illustrator and then asked the audience for suggestions to help her make a new character. Beanster suggested she should draw the character with long, curly hair. Here is a photo of Harriet drawing Beanster’s suggestion.

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Harriet has always liked to make little models. She brought along one of her favourites. We loved it too. Well done Harriet.

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After the event we went outside to jump in puddles and have a look in some shops before heading home to dry off.

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All choked up

Beanster has been all choked up and running a temperature the last few days so has not been able to do much. Mama became doctor to the ailing one whilst I took Moo out and about on Saturday.

We always love a trip to Hopetoun Garden Centre. It is not a garden centre to a young child. It is a place where you can observe and listen to wildlife, see works of art, run about, hide amongst the trees and nooks and crannies and you may just encounter a fairy or two.

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Afterwards we went shopping to get Beanster a present to cheer her up. Moo chose well.

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We paid a wee visit to Granny and Grandpa before coming home to check on how our Spring flowers were doing now that the snow has gone.

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A wee delivery had come which will help the girls with their reading, but at the moment Moo enjoyed pulling the pups apart and combining different colours.

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We also enjoyed playing a couple of games and making up stories with these story cards.

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Beanster was feeling up to starting her minecraft lego.

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Later the girls and Mama had an early night as all were now feeling the effects of the cold so i took part in Earth Hour and tidied by candlelight.

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The candles had been made by the girls during our last powercut so i decided to make a few more to replace them.

Hopefully everyone will be back to full health soon as neither girl enjoys sitting for long and they are already bored of the bugs.

Harry Potter and STEM club

One of the great things about Home Ed is the freedom to sit in your pyjamas, eating your breakfast, as you have your favourite books read to you and on Monday that is just what we did. Moo chose a book about Amelia Earhart written for children and Beanster wanted more of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets read. She is currently loving acting out her favourite bits of the book which usually feature herself as Hermione Granger. We love looking at the pictures in the illustrated hardbacks. Beanster has been particularly excited about getting to the one below and learning all about the diary of Tom Riddle.

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After some more of the novel Beanster did some of her own reading practise using the Teach your Monster to Read app whilst Moo had her Amelia Earhart book. Later there were some mysterious Hogwarts riddles and potion recipes made…

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before we headed out to STEM club (dressed up in witch costume in Beanster’s case!). Today we were learning about acids and alkalis, testing the ph of different types of water and how to record our results.

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After club the girls like to go into the garden with their friends to play and to explore. They let their imaginations go wild as they invent intricate games, learn to share, to take turns and resolve arguments. Moo set up her own little house whilst Beanster played witches and wizards with the boys.

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Before swimming lesson we looked for signs of Spring at Granny and Grandpa’s.

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Afterwards Beanster was very excited to get home and show Mama her latest findings in Minecraft. I am clueless on all things Minecraft so it all goes over my head!

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