Friday, 28 November 2014

The Little Match Girl theatre production

Today we went to see The Little Match Girl at Birmingham hippodrome. It was a dance adaptation to the classic Hans Christian Anderson story. I loved the music, which was done entirely, and very cleverly, by just one musician. I wasn't sure how we'd get on with having Asher with us, he's only 2.5 and sitting still for any length of time is rarely on his agenda, plus all week we've been telling him to stop shouting, he's suddenly got very noisy! Not the ideal scenario for a theatre show. We thought feeding him might keep him quiet, so I'd brought along snacks that would take a while for him to munch through. But on sitting down we discovered we weren't allowed food in the theatre. It was a pleasant surprise that he sat through the whole thing, and was really quiet, putting his finger to his mouth and going 'shhh'. He was definitely quieter than the school children around us ;) It probably helped that he hadn't napped and was feeling tired. But mostly, he was really interested in the show, taking it all in. Right from the start the big moon lit up in the background caught his attention. I think the fact that the story was told through dance and music, not words, meant that he could 'keep up' and kept his interest, rather than him losing the plotline and becoming disinterested. I was very proud of him. Eden enjoyed it too, she was as good as gold as usual :) We didn't get around to it today, but tomorrow we'll read the original story together. 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Outdoors time

Much of our outdoors time over the last month has involved taking our 7 month old puppy on walks over the fields by our house. He has a lot of energy at the moment that needs burning off! The kids enjoy these walks too. I am missing some variety though.

Often I don't 'plan' our outdoors time specifically into our day, instead it just kind of happens. Today, we took the scooters to the park for an impromptu trip following dropping the car off at the garage. Then at lunch time Asher *really* wanted to go out in the garden, we ended up spending most of the afternoon out there. 

The weather may be changing, but I'm hoping that won't dampen mine or the kids' desire to get outside over the winter. 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Birthday fun in Birmingham

Yesterday was my birthday and we broke from our normal weekday routine being home in the morning, to catch the train into Birmingham. We love going to the city centre so I thought it would be a fun way to spend my birthday. 

Usually when we head into Birmingham we stop by Daddy's office to say hi, today we just waved at him at his window, which is on Victoria Square. The German Market opened last week, so on our way to the museum we walked through it looking at the decorations and enjoyed the festive spirit that has started there. 

Usually when we visit Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery we head straight to the top floor for the hands-on 'Birmingham History' exhibition, the kids love the interactive areas within it. Today I thought it would be a nice change to explore some of the galleries, we walked through a couple of rooms picking our favourite painting in each room. 

The kids were excited about seeing some 'real treasure' that had been found, so we visited the new Staffordshire Hoard exhibition, which was a little busy for us, filled with noisy school kids. Next time we'll time the visit for the afternoon. 

A conversation about mummification while walking through ancient Egypt, and a quick wander through the birmingham history exhibition at the kids' request, and it was time for us to make a move. 

Nest stop was the library - I wanted to go up to the secret garden to view the ice rink and big wheel that have been set up below. Unfortunately the secret garden was closed, but we did manage to still view it from the outdoor terrace on level 3 instead. 

Lunch beckoned and as a special treat we went for lunch at Jimmy Spices, a round-the-world all you can eat buffet. I was a little worried about taking the kids on my own, but we were seated near the serving area so they were in my sight while I was getting plates of food, and were well behaved, so I needn't have worried. We had a lovely chat to the lady on the table next to us about home education and she commented on how well behaved and happy the kids were (and what good eaters they were!) 

Back home, we had a quiet afternoon watching a movie together. It was a lovely birthday filled with fun with the kids. 

Thursday, 13 November 2014

All Things Wild Nature Centre, Honeybourne

We had a great time today on our second visit to All Things Wild in Worcestershire. The centre has so much to do and see, and since our last visit in spring, they have added even more, with the addition of a new 2 level dinosaur barn, and a lovely indoor beach area for seaside play.

We started the day on the stamp trail, a short walk around the farm looking for the stamp boxes along the way. Eden was so excited about this as she'd remembered it from our last visit. We then headed over to the dinosaur field stopping by the go karts on the way.. 
Luke and I had a turn too and they were zippy, good fun! 

Before the dinosaur field we discovered another new addition - a helicopter to explore. Both kids took a turn pretending to be pilot! 
When we visited last in the spring I think Asher was a little too young to fully appreciate the dinosaurs here - this time he wouldn't stop talking about them all the way around the field, they really captured his attention. I'm looking forward to following up this new interest with some dinosaur books and activities at home over the next few days. Viking enjoyed the dinosaur field too! 
On our way around this field we completed another sheet we'd been given on arrival identifying and naming dinosaurs. One of them was particularly tricky to identify, and not wanting to admit defeat, Luke went back 3 times to try to find it (and was correct!) 

Perhaps the wrong time of year, but the kids were keen to do pond dipping, as they'd really enjoyed this on our last visit in the spring. 
We visited the new dinosaur barn, got close to the animals in animal encounters, played in the play area. Indoors, there's a craft room, a tractor ride on area, and 2 soft play areas, as well as more animals to see. 

All Things Wild is such a great value day out. The variety of activities on offer, from beaches to the ice age, dinosaurs to degus, cute fluffy rabbits to armadillos and bugs, active play to craft and puzzles, there is something to appeal to everyone. 

Week 11 of home education

Week 11 of home education and our days have flown by. We've naturally fallen into a loose routine that seems to work for us, of being home in the morning, then out and about in the afternoons. This works well for us, as since stopping nursery school runs Asher is far more settled in a pattern of a 2 hour nap at home in the morning - the timing of which is a little odd as he's 2.5 and sleeps through 11 hours at night, but he still asks to go back to bed at 10am after Mr Tumble has finished! During this time Eden does 20 minutes each of reading and maths. The rest of our morning time is spent playing, doing craft or baking, looking after the animals, writing, as Eden loves to write, or time spent outside in the garden. 

After lunch we'll go out somewhere. Sometimes if we're having a 'home' day we'll go for a walk over the fields by our house, taking our guide dog puppy Viking with us. The kids love these walks, seeing Viking leaping around freely as puppies do, and I love to watch them running along together, happy and free as children should be and enjoying nature around them. 
Other times in the afternoon we'll go to a home education group, or see friends or grandparents, go to a soft play centre, or visit the library, or take the bikes to the park. This year we have national trust and English heritage membership, so far we've been too busy to fit in using our pass as much as I would've liked to, but hopefully it will get more use over the winter. 

There are also special one-off events that we've been to over the past 11 weeks - we've been to the seaside for a short break, gone bowling, taken part in the National Harvest Service, been to the cinema as part of film fest and gone along to various organised home ed events, such as not back to school picnics and home ed days at local places of interest. There's so much to do, every day is varied and different. 

The kids have so much to learn from the world around them and the people they meet in the process. They are simply 'doing life' and we are all having an absolute blast in the process.