Friday 25 May 2012

Paper, paper everywhere!

Firstly an update on my leg - a lot less pain thankfully! I'm still having to limp around, and I didn't feel safe to drive today. Thankfully hubby worked from home today so he could be around, I'm so grateful he's able to do that when it's needed. It makes such a difference. 

Originally, before I strained my calf muscle yesterday, we were going to go back to the beach this morning at low tide, this time taking buckets and spades we forgot yesterday. It was a lovely day weather wise again but we've had to postpone it until I can walk normally again.

So the children have been making the most of the weather in the garden again. They've been checking on the strawberries daily, watching the progress from flower to fruit. They can't wait till they turn red, and ready to eat. 

At one point today there was a busy period of making things out of paper. It's amazing to see how one activity feeds into another activity sometimes, and today both children fed off of one another too.

It started with one child trying to make a paper folded fortune teller, I remember making those when I was young too, do you? I say trying, as over a year ago we had a book detailing how to make them, and initially he couldn't quite remember what to do but after a few trial runs, he made one. 

Following this he remembered that the book also had animals in, and tried to make a snake, it somewhat resembled it, but not quite. It was this book we had
From that he cut off a piece of paper that he thought looked like a cat face, so that's what it became, followed by making a koala and an ant eater face.
Meanwhile daughter seeing what her brother was doing decided to join in making things out of paper, but she started making envelopes. Apparently they were for cards for her cuddly toys birthdays that were coming up. This resulted in a natural chat about months. How many days in each, the order, and who's birthdays were in which months. 

Today has also included some TV - a variety of cartoons, son loves old style tom and jerry atm. Plus Venom Island, which was on Eden, containing Komodos, son loves Komodos. For one of his birthdays a couple of years ago we took a trip to Chester zoo, to see their Komodos. Plus while resting with my leg up, I caught up on The Great British Menu, which the children enjoyed watching with me.

Plus lots more including, playing out with local children, gymnastics for daughter, a random chat about fractions as I was getting out the shower this morning, discussing how much porridge daughter had eaten! 

Beach highs and lows - pop goes the muscle!

It was beautiful weather again today, sunny, warm, just perfect for the beach. I checked the tide times, I always use this site, as it's quick to use, free, and you don't have to register. I wasn't sure how much sand there would still be, but we thought we would head down and see anyway. 

The tide was still quite a way out, and there was lots of sand. The beach was also pretty much deserted, apart from a couple of passing dog walkers and seagulls, we had the beach to ourselves. We are so lucky to live here.

The children entertained themselves with a variety of activities, paddling, jumping the waves, digging with their hands (we forgot the spades!) 

One of the last activities my daughter did was sprinting along the waters edge, I thought that looks fun and joined her! We went one way, and after a short break to get my breath, we set off back. I was halfway back when I felt a pop and a searing pain in my right calf, which stopped me. Somehow, including bottom shuffling up the shingle bank, and singing through the pain, we all made it back home. 

Thankfully it wasn't my achilles, it was further up my calf. I think it's a strained medial gastrocnemius, So I've spent the rest of the day with it elevated, regular icing, arnica, ibuprofen, paracetamol, and I found a tubigrip that I had from previous knee surgery so I've put that on the affected leg too. I did consider A&E but pretty sure they would have done nothing more except maybe give me a pair of crutches 

Still in quite some pain, hobbling around and hoping that tomorrow is another day and it will feel a lot better. Only time will tell. Despite the ending we all had a fab time at the beach, and enjoyed making more memories. 

Oh and I've learnt that being a bit overweight, unfit, in my late 30s I really shouldn't be trying to sprint with my daughter!! 

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Cardboard box fun in the sun

We've had a delivery of a computer component, to mend the broken pc. We're having one of those years so far in terms of things breaking, needing replacing, and repairing! Anyone else having one of those times too?

Anyway, I've digressed already! So this component came in a decent sized cardboard box, and  it was quickly claimed by the children. Even at the age of 7 and 8, great games and ideas can be had with a simple cardboard box.

It became a car, complete with drawn on detail which can't really be seen here.

It also became a den with a duvet over it, and a box for randomly sitting in to do other things in, such as eating. Somehow the simple cardboard box made everything else more exciting!

We are loving this gorgeous weather, enjoying our freedom, and the children are choosing to spend a lot of time outside. 

Unfortunately about a month ago we had some strong winds and our 'temporary' plastic cover and metal tubing greenhouse got picked up and dumped upside down! This is the second time this has happened and it's not repairable. We lost half the plants in there and seedlings that were just emerging. 

Anyway, us being us, let's just say we're not always the quickest to de-clutter stuff! So we hadn't put the parts away and they were piled up in the garden. The children decided the poles and corner pieces were perfect for building structures, like a larger version of construction toys you'd have inside and they've had hours of fun with it. Today it was an 'ice-cream shop' 

The ice creams were made from a mixture of herbs/flowers/ soil and water! 

Last week before this lovely weather arrived, they made it into a den in the garden, and sat in the reading and writing various stuff. 

Today a lot of our thoughts and time has been taken up with other circumstances, but I will post about that in a few days when I can access my old photos that are on the broken, but now being mended pc! 

Sunday 5 February 2012

Freaky Photo Splicing - comparing siblings

Just because, for no particular reason we decided to play around with photo splicing. We took photos of both our children's faces, and using photoshop we spliced them together.

The result was very interesting. I've actually always thought both my children were very similar in appearance, but looking at the spliced photo they actually have a lot of differences. Their main similarities seem to be hair colour, and type, and face shape. Apart from that, their lips, eyes, eyebrows, and nose, all the main features are quite different! We were all surprised by the results, including the children. 

Thursday 2 February 2012

Activities to Help Improve Children's Writing

If a child is having difficulties with writing, such as pen control, writing stamina, size and neatness of writing. The automatic thing that people often do is practise more writing, while this does have a place, practising more writing doesn't always resolve the problem.

It can also become boring for the child, which can result in tension between the parent and child. Thinking laterally, it's useful to break the skill of writing down and make sure the physical elements required for writing are present. Being able to write involves lots of different components, including fine and gross motor control. So rather than do more writing practise, try some other fun activities instead. Set up some play based activities, knowing that while being fun they may also help your child's writing. 

To be able to write you need to have body stability, the shoulder girdle needs to be stable so that the hand is controlled enough to write. Activities that involve some weight bearing through the arms develop this, have fun doing any of these activities....

  •  Wheelbarrow walking 
  •  Crab walking on all 4s 
  •  Using monkey bars.
  •  Crawling around on all fours! My children used to play lots of animal games, pretending to be dogs, cats, or even giraffes! Be warned that this activity also helps wear out knees on trousers too!

Once body stability is developed then it's time to work on fine motor control and there are lots of activities that can be done to help this. Activities that require using fingers to do small, detailed things, or activities that strengthen the fingers and thumb are both useful to help with writing. Below are some suggestions of different activities to try.

Threading sets - if you don't have a specific set you can make your own with string and pasta, start with bigger pasta tubes and then you can progress onto smaller macaroni. If you want a purpose to the activity making pasta necklaces is great, you can paint the pasta once you've made them too, metallic paint looks particularly good. However if you do want to buy something ready made this Galt Button Threading works well.
Air dry clay Christmas decorations
Playdough - kneading, rolling, shaping all involve using the hands, which will develop strength and manipulation. You can obviously use shop bought play dough if you have it, but it's also simple to make at home. On our main site we have a recipe for microwave play dough. If your children are a bit old for playdough try making things from Air Dry Modelling Clay instead.  

Tweezers - using tweezers like those in a stamp collectors kit, or just picking up different items with tweezers, transferring them from one place to another. The game operation is also very good for this, if you have a Toy Story fan this is great.

Toys – such as Lego, Playmobil, Polly Pocket, Sylvanian Family. Where playing involves small pieces to use, and manipulate.
Playing with playmobil space station

Wednesday 1 February 2012

Head Lice - up close and personal

Todays subject, head lice. Have you started scratching yet? 

But I'm going to approach this from a slightly different perspective. We had managed to escape ever having them until last weekend, when a hair wash and conditioner with a nitty gritty comb produced 'things' from my daughters hair. 

It was difficult to see what exactly I had got out my daughters hair, although I couldn't think of what else they could be?! Although I wasn't expecting it, as there was no scratching, no signs. I tried having a look with my son's hand held microscope but this didn't give a clear view. 

So yes we took photos! My husband has taken some great reverse lens macro photos before in a previous post. So he worked his magic, and we could then definitely confirm they were head lice. 

WARNING - The information and photo below may make a few of you go ewww. 

At this detail the head louse looked amazing, what turned out initially to be an annoyance, turned into a positive experience. 

Head Louse - reverse lens macro photo

We were all fascinated by the little creature that had been living in my daughters hair, even down to her blood it had been drinking that we could still see inside it. It sparked off great discussion and information finding about head lice.

After studying the head louse, attached to it as we had become, it was time to clear my daughter of the head lice. A combination of a nitty gritty comb and Hedrin worked well. The whole family got treated just in case they were inhabiting anyone else's head too! 

A surprising factor was how long they stay alive for! About an hour after removing it from my daughters head,  and after being submerged in water, they were still alive. So although it's often not cited as being necessary, I did hot wash all bedding, hats etc... items that had been in contact with the hair just to try and prevent any re infestation from those items. 

Sunday 29 January 2012

French Numbers

Spontaneously this morning one of the child started counting in French. This then resulted in both children counting in French, as they sparked each others interest. 

Unable to remember some of the numbers, the children went to find this book from their bookshelf. We have it from when they have shown a previous interest in French. It has a page with the numbers 1 to 20 on it. It also contains a lot of other French words with colourful pictures, the children like the format of it and they can easily dip in and out of it to find what they want. 

Once they got to twenty they wanted to count on further, and while we as parents are more than capable of counting with them, they wanted other resources.

We found this on Youtube,  which the children found useful and enjoyed watching. However I must admit as an adult I found it a little dry, but it wasn't for me so that didn't matter. It served its purpose and answered their question of what are the numbers after 20 in French.

After French numbers they moved onto playing something else, probably moshi monster related! That was it, a small bite sized amount of self directed French learning.