Sunday, 27 April 2014

Bean Bags from my other Blog

I've said many times before, that where homeschool ends and the rest of life begins is a very had place to find, and in fact, I now think that such a place doesn't exist, so not surprisingly, a post I put on my craft blog, Camberwell Crafts, could just as equally have started its life here: 

Bean Bags

I've seen sewing machines on American blogs which are aimed at kids size-wise but still operate much the same as an adult's machine and have looked for something similar in the UK over the last couple of years with no success.  A few months ago however, I came across this at a newly opened John Lewis store not far from where we live:

It was just what I've been looking for for Pinky and Perky and at £49.99 was something we could get them as a special shared present :-)
It comes in various colours - I've seen red, pink and purple in the store but other colours online as well.  I chose the white one as I found the other colours in the store quite dark and as it doesn't have a built in light, I wanted it to reflect as much light as possible onto the fabric.  It has a variety of stitches and 9 needle thread tensions, two needle positions and a reverse.
Very generously I was given a £10 Waitrose voucher by my mum a while back and as that can be used in John Lewis too, it brought the price down yet further, so without another thought, a sewing machine was purchased instead of Easter eggs and it was opened with much gusto last Sunday.  It will far outlast any chocolate!
As the forecast for today was rain, rain and more rain I decided this was the day to have a go with the sewing machine, so Pinky and Perky took it out of its box and they chose some fabric which had been very generously given to them by my sister-in-law, and to her in turn by her mother-in-law (I can see a bit of a generational thing coming on here!).  We looked at the instructions a lot and set it up without too many problems and then they made beanbags!  Pinky in particular was absolutely thrilled with what she had achieved.  And I was pleased we'd kept the out of date beans over the past years which I always knew would come in handy one day!
Cutting out templates.

The new machine ready for action!

Cutting fabric - child hands+adult scissors=hard work!

Placing the template on the fabric.

Ready to go!

Hand sewing the hole after turning right side out and filling with beans.

Perky showing side 1.

Perky showing side 2.

And here is Perky's beanbag ...

... in all its technicolour glory!

Pinky with side 1.

Pinky with side 2.

And a happy pink version ...

... for a very happy little girl!

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Local Nature Reserve

Living in the countryside, we haven't had much of an urge to explore our local nature reserves as it often feels like we live in one already!  However, when a homeschool trip came up to a local nature reserve we knew straight away this was going to be just our kind of thing.  Mainly, because pond dipping was mentioned!  I would kind of like a pond in the garden, and so would the girls, but I think the dog would keep drinking all the water and probably eating any wildlife in it so have resisted so far.  This doesn't seem to have stopped frogs, toads and even lizards visiting our garden though :-)
The local trip we went on was to Vinters Valley Nature Reserve in Maidstone, just off Junction 7 of the M20.  It was a brilliant afternoon, the highlight for me, being the discovery of this toad:

The reserve warden was great with the kids and very knowledgeable.  We kept a record of birds seen and heard and his ability to recognise birdsong has sparked off a determination in dd1 and dd2 to be able to do this themselves.  We have a CD of birdsong which came free with a newspaper a long time ago - I'm going to dig it out and see if we can learn some ourselves. 

I think the highlight for dd1 and dd2 was doing the pond dipping.  The element of danger of falling into the pond only added to their enjoyment!  An amazing array of tiny pondlife were discovered and (mostly!) identified using identification charts, and finding empty frogspawn and tadpoles was the bee's knees!

Maybe you have a nature reserve near to you that you could visit ...

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Schooling with the Weather

I know I've said this before, but the flexibility of homeschooling is one of my favourite things about it.  Today we have stunning weather, so out we went!  We tried to identify some wild flowers, some bird song, some birds and some insects.  We came home and made some notes in our nature journals.  Happy days!
Wood anemone

Bluebell in foreground, celandines and wood anemone in background

Wood anemone



What we did when we got back!

The books you can see on the table above are: The Country Diary of and Edwardian Lady, (I got a copy for pennies secondhand) Collins Complete British Wildlife Photo Guide, Keeping a Nature Journal (I waited a long time to get this - eventually finding a second hand copy for sale on eBay) and our read aloud, Tales From The Odyssey Part Two from our Ancient Greeks project.