4th July

So with 4th of July approaching, as part of our Exploring World Celebrations, we have been busy crafting and learning about the American celebration. Today we made decorations for the house in the famous red, white and blue colours, we discussed what the 4th of July is all about and we even made some traditional American food, Corn Dogs and Cornbread!

For the decorations we made rosette wheels, a wreath and a banner with stars. I have included step by step photos below, in case you want to make your own.

To make each rosette wheel, we cut three A4 sheets of card into strips (one red, one white and one blue). We then curled them in half and used a stapler to create loops. Once all the strips had been made into loops we used the stapler to secure them into wheels. If you don’t have a stapler, glue will work just as well, you will just need to make sure the glue has fully dried between each step!

To make the wreath we used six toilet roll holders and three sheets of A4 coloured card. We cut each sheet in half longways and then glued them around the holders (cutting off the excess card and putting it to the side). Leaving them to the side to dry we cut the left over card into strips of three and used the scissors to slightly curl them. Next we glued them onto the toilet roll holders, leaving over half of the strip overhanging, and left them to fully dry. Finally we used some florest wire to loop through the tubes and create our wreath.

To make the banner we used three more sheets of coloured A4 card and cut them into triangles (and strips). We then used gold sticky back paper to cut out stars and stick to each piece. Finally we hung our decorations up.

I have wanted to try Corn Dogs for so long, so this was the perfect excuse and with the leftover batter we made a small bit of Cornbread to try. We’re not sure on the Corn Dogs, so even more of an excuse to go to America at some point to try some more authentic ones, but the Cornbread was really good!

Homeschooling – Week 2, days 8-12

So this week was my birthday week, plus my laptop charger broke, so for those reasons we have been a little quiet online. My new lead finally arrived today though so I thought I would let you all know how our week went. Our activites ran over days so I’m going to upload it all into one post.

Each day followed the same structures as last week, with similar books, always with one relating to feelings and behaviour and another that I read to them, along with their own to read themselves. We have also contiuned daily journaling, even at the weekends, this will provide a lovely record for the boys to look back on in years to come.

This week our topic was Ancient Egypt (absoluelty love this era, and one that we havn’t done before).

 

Monday 

Today we watched some really fun videos for children teaching facts about Ancient Egypt;  Ancient Egypt for Kids, History Video Lesson!, Ancient Egyptian Adventure – History for Kids and Ancient Egypt: The Pharaoh Civilisation.

We also made some Pharaoh masks using watered down PVA glue, newspaper, tissue paper and a bowl. First we wrapped two bowls in newspaper on one side, using cellotape to hold down (this is to stop the tissue paper from sticking directly to the bowl. Once secured we started dipping shreds of tissue paper in the glue/water mixture and covered the bowl. Once we had a few layers of tissue paper built up, we spread some glue over the top to flateen on the paper down. We then left these to dry over night.

We got making after this and begun making our cheesecake for my birthday the next day.

 

Tuesday 

Now the masks were dry we removed them from the bowl and trimmed around the overlapping newspaper, finally we painted them in one colour to hide the tissue paper. We used emulsion we had lying around as it offers thicker coverage than poster paints, but a couple of coats of poster paints will do just fine.  We again left these to dry over night.

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Then we finished making our cheesecake. Noah said he wanted to make me a unicorn one for my birthday, so we used pureed fruit for the horn and added edible glitter.

Hey, we tried!

 

Wednesday 

Today the boys practiced colouring Pharaoh masks in with some colour by numbers, they also cut and stuck their own pyramids.

Finally the boys painted their designs onto their masks, I cut out the eyes and the boys put them on to play.

 

Thursday 

We read more about Pyramids, Pharaohs and mummies. Going over things we’d learnt throughout the week. Afterwards we used a kit the boys got at Christmas to make slime.

 

Friday 

Today I downloaded and printed out some awsome packs on Ancient Egypt from 123homeschool4me. The pack contained 71 sheets, but I didn’t need all of them for the boys, so I went through and selected the ones I wanted to print and made up their own booklets from them. I thought these packs would give them something quick to do each day over their Easter break, however they finished them all in one day as they loved the activities so much!

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The boys will be coming into work with me over the next couple of weeks, then I’m not sure how often (or if I will be at all) in work. So we will plan our homeschooling around that once I know more. I hope everyone is giving themselves atleast a couple of weeks chill time from all of this now. Have a fabolous break (well as fabulous as can be under the circumstances)!

Weekend activities

We have had a very chilled weekend, we are still adapting to the isolation. I am not back at work for over another week, the boys will be coming with me, but until then we are cooped up in the house or our back garden. We are very active and outdoors, we love an adventure so we are struggling with the confinement. Especially so as the boys don’t understand what is going on or why. I am trying to keep them busy and enteratained as much as possible but it can be difficult. Something I had been wanted to do with the boys for ages is make forest potions, without a forest within walking distance I decided to see what we could find in our back garden!

We found:

  • Mud
  • Grass
  • Flowers
  • Leaves
  • Moss
  • Sticks
  • Bark
  • Pebbles

We then added our mixture to some old glass sequin jars we had in the craft cupboard.

We also decorated some pine cones (we have loads of these around the house, as every Autumn walk we went on last year Noah collected them). I tied some twine around them so they were ready to hang, and the boys painted the bottoms with poster paint and glitter. They are now hanging in the boys bedroom window.

Finally, as we couldn’t get to a woodland for a walk, we thought about different creatures that live there. We then created pictures of these animals using finger painting.

We have not only been being crafty, we have also made smoothies, turned the front room into a cinema and scoffed lots of snacks whilst watching Disney and Marvel films!

Homeschooling – Day 5

Today we spent alot of time learning in the boys room (which is finally nearly finihsed), it is heavily Waldorf inspired and creates a lovely, relaxing envoriment to learn in. We used wooden blocks to count, build and learn about different shapes as well as width and length. I gave the boys an equal amount of the same size and shape blocks for them to count, I then challenged them to see who could make the tallest tower and then the widest. We discussed the shape of each block and looked at the difference between 2D and 3D shapes.

We enjoyed a short music lesson with our instruments and sung our favourite nursery rhymes.

We also played one of our matching games, and practiced sounding out the letters and words writting on them.

We ended our school week with a fire in the garden and roasted marshmallows!

Homeschooling – Day 4

Today, along with our normal routine, we explored our fossil collection and learnt a little bit more about them. They boys love playing with them and cleaning them with their brushes. They have a magnifying glass to look up close, plus it’s a really good sensory activity, espeically now we have a lovely sand paper mat down in the tray – the type used in bird cages.

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Homeschooling – Day 3

Today we stuck to the same routine as previous days and will continue to stick to this throughout our home schooling experience. We are completeing written work to stick to the national cirriculum, however I am a great lover of Waldorf and I try to incorperate this learning style as much as possible. Our daily schedule is as follows: Super Movers, Phonics and Writing, Break and Snack, Yoga, Art/History, Lunch, Maths, Reading, Zen Den, Story Telling and finally Daily Journal. We play educational games throughout the day (we really love Orchard Toys games).

For Art/History we continued learning about our prehistoric ancistors and cave paintings, particulalry looking at mythological creatures. We found the following videos excellent and the boys really enjoyed watching them: Prehistory: Educational Video for Children  and 25 Mythical Creatures and Their Origins. The boys then designed their own Mythical Creatures on tea stained paper to add to their ‘Cave’.

We took a more realxed apporach to numbers today and enjoyed colouring in some colour by number sheets and completed some dot-to-dots that I downloaded and printed.

Homeschooling – Day 2

Today we started much the same with Super Movers, then moving swiftly onto phonics and writing. After practising our sounds and writing we listened to Jolly Phonics Phase Two and Phonics Digraphs Phase 3. We stopped again for a break and snack (these breaks are extremely important), the boys then played outside with some chalk for five minutes whilst I hung some washing out. When we came back in we completed Cosmic Kids Yoga before starting our History/Art lesson. We continued learning about early Humans and started looking at Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens, for which we created our own cave wall hand painting. After we made our own woolly mammoths from play dough, we also made our own Jomon pots – there were the first pots made by hunter-gathers, they were made in Japan. After lunch we spent some more time in the garden playing on the trampoline and chalks, then when we came back in we played the Shopping List game (we absolutely love this one!) before starting our maths and finished of with another episode each of Numberblocks and Numberjacks. Next we went onto reading again – the books pretty much the same as yesterday, except Noah read Tim’s Din and we read our Agents of Feels – Feeling Scared. Last of all we played a game of our Word Jenga to conclude our reading lesson and then returned to Cosmic Kids for an episode of Zen Den. After our mindfulness we went onto Pebble 365 to look at todays photo, Noah didn’t like it so we searched backwards until we found one that he did. We found one with a dog sticking his nose out of his house at the bottom of a tree, we discussed what was happening and what might happen next before the boys filled out their Story Telling Comic Sheets. Noahs story was very creative and goes as follows: He sticking his tongue out (title) ‘Bonjour’ Toby said to Mummy. (drawing of Toby sticking his nose out of his house.) Come out, Mummy thinks. (drawing of Mummy thinking.) ‘Lets do and experiment.’ Mummy said to Toby. (drawing of Mummy and Toby outside of his house.) ‘Make you disappear.’ (drawing of Mummy talking to Toby.) Toby was sad. ‘This ice will work.’ It melts and Mummy adds some food colouring. (drawing of Mummy holding ice.) POOOOF! Toby disappears. (drawing of Mummy throwing ice at Toby.) Finally, we finished off our day with some Journaling, reflecting and recording what we done today. I’m super proud of both the boys today, they have worked really hard!
Download this image to print at home, I’m happy to email the original file if there’s any problems, just get in touch!

Homeschooling – Day 1

We started our day with Super Movers , before jumping into phonics and writing. Noah picked a couple of sounds from his word mat to practice and then used them in short sentences and Tommy practised writing his name.
Our written work from today.
We had a quick break for a snack and some yoga, Noah absolutely loves Cosmic Kids and does this a lot at home. After this we started are History/Art lesson and learnt about early humans, ‘Cave men’. We began by pretending our cardboard house was a cave and drew some cave drawings, the boys enjoyed drawing stick people and animals in their house. After that we used tissue paper to create a fire on the wall, we also thought about the food our early ancestors would have eaten. The boys had fun drawing a plate of food that included: Berries, nuts, seeds, leaves, grass, snails, fish, meat and eggs. This is definitely an era I would love to re-enact in full with the boys sometime. After lunch we done some maths. Tommy drew some shapes in his book and Noah completed some Number Block questions, he practised using a ruler to draw lines and create squares. Then they watched one episode of Number Blocks and one episode of Number Jacks. Next we moved onto reading, Noah read Sid’s Pit to me whilst Tommy looked at his dinosaur book. After we read one of our Agents of Feels books (excellent books to talk about emotions with little ones) and then we spoke about how we feel today, filling out some of our How are you feeling today? activity book. Finally, I read the boys a few more pages of Romeo and Juliet (from the Shakespeare children’s collection). After reading we returned to Cosmic Kids, but this time for Zen den. Then we logged onto Pobble365 to look at today’s picture, we discussed what we could see in the photo and then Noah drew a picture for story telling. He told me what was happening in the picture and I scribed on top, he came up with a story about an Ice Monster who couldn’t reach the nuts from a nut tree. Tommy continued looking at books. Finally, both boys wrote in their daily journals and drew a picture about what they had done today. I wrote out some words in Tommy’s book for him to trace over and then he drew a picture of shapes and said ‘I done my shapes today’. Noah wrote that we have learnt about humans and that our house was a cave, he also drew some lovely images to go with it. After all our fun, the boys had time on their tablets, playing Number blocks, NumBots and Teach Your Monster to Read.

Rainbows in the window

We decided to get involved with the trending rainbows in the window (in response to COVID-19), as seen on groups such as #windowontheworld. However, with Easter approaching we decided to add a little twist and use our rainbow colours to create rabbits and eggs for our display.

Our finished rainbow bunnies and eggs in our window for our neighbours to see.

To start, we got some cardboard we had ready for recycling and cut out our bunny shapes. We cut the whole in their tummies very carefully so we could use that piece for the eggs. I drew out the templates in pencil before cutting, you can design yours how you like.

Once the pieces were all cut out we painted them, once they were dry we done a second coat.

Whilst the paint dried we moved on to making the rabbits tummies. We cut a piece of A4 coloured card in half, then carefully folding it in half (without creasing it) we cut lines across, leaving a 2 cm gap along the edge. Then taking more coloured card, we cut them into strips or equal width. We then carefully weaved the strips through the card, alternating each side to create a pattern.

Once we had created our weaves, we stuck them to the back of the bunnies with cello-tape. Once secured we trimmed the edges so none of the card overlapped.

Next, we finished painting our eggs by adding patterns. Finally we drew eyes, a nose and mouth on each of our bunnies.

Last of all we stuck our finished creations in our window, in the hope we will bring a smile to some passers by. We are thinking of adding a bear now to get involved with the bear hunt.

We would love to see your window displays if you are taking part!

Lapland – my once in a lifetime!

Around the Apukka Resort – Rovaniemi

Anyone that knows me, knows that taking the boys to Lapland was literally my ultimate lifetime goal! I’m obsessed with anything Christmas and the magic of Lapland was something I dreamt about us experiencing together.

Last year I sat down and wrote out my life goals, Lapland of course was on there as a once in a lifetime trip (lets face it, it’s not cheap). I became consumed with research, research, research, determined to find a way to afford the trip of our dreams! I mean as I have already said, this was a once in a lifetime trip for us and I wanted everything to be exactly as I wanted, even if it made the experience even more expensive. I knew I wanted to take the boys whilst they were young enough that they still fully believed in the the man in red, so I decided that 2020 was the best year so not to interrupt with schooling too much.

I started looking at packages to go for December 2020, with the intention of putting a deposit down in December 2019. I knew I wanted to meet Santa, to stay in a glass roof cabin near a lake (with the best chances of seeing the Northern Lights), to go snowmobiling, Husky sledding and on a Reindeer sleigh ride. The quotes I received were in the region of £6000+. There was no way I could afford that and I wasn’t prepared to let go of anything on my list, if I was spending thousands it had to be perfect. I had joined a Lapland holidays Facebook group and had seen a few people talking about going DIY (removing the travel agencies and building the package yourself, albeit stressful but definitely doable).

With my attentions turned to DIY I spent weeks scrolling the internet, looking at different sites to book flights, accommodation, transfers and excursions. I managed to get the price down to around £4500 for December 2020. I sat down to work out money and affordability, as I still had to think of clothing and spending money. I then returned to the Facebook group for other money saving tips to see if there was anyway I could reduce the cost further, it was then I saw some conversations about last minute bookings for January 2020 . This got me thinking, I returned to google to search last minute, DIY deals. This was it, I managed to reduce my entire trip to half the price I was originally quoted:

  • I booked flights with easyJet leaving 12th January, returning 15th January 2020 for £668.90 (this included £7.50 bistro vouchers each on both flights, selected seats and 2 x 15kg hold luggage).
  • Our flight going left at 6:30 am, so with living approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes away from the airport I decided it made sense to stay at Gatwick the night before. For parking at the airport and a nights stay at the Airport Inn Gatwick, it cost £76.50 (+ £7 payable at the hotel for their overnight parking).
  • I used Expedia (think Nectar points and Expedia points) to book the accommodation. We got three nights at the Apukka Resort in one of their glass roof Aurora Cabins for £900.97 including breakfast. I also paid the hotel 60 Euros directly for transfers to and from the Airport.
  • I bought all of our thermal tops, leggings and socks and snowsuits, gloves and boots from Mountain Warehouse during a massive Black Friday sale. With everything half price or more I got everything we needed for £289.11!

I booked all of our excursions through TripAdvisor (I’ll tell you more about them below and obviously prices change regularly):

I had heard that Finland is expensive (which it is. 5.50 Euros for a 500ml bottle of Pepsi!), so for the four days I took 600 Euros. But because our excursions all included food and drinks, and our hotel included breakfast, I actually came home with 330 Euros! So including Diesel and the Dartford tunnel crossing the trip all in cost less than £3000.

Aurora Hunt, Barbeque and Photos

Photo taken by Alex at Record Travel

This was our first excursion, as we landed in Rovaniemi around lunchtime, I booked this for our first night. From start to finish the guide Alex was amazing! He made such an effort with my boys to make it really fun for them and to ensure they enjoyed it too, which they really did! Alex and his team picked us up from our hotel and took us out to a lake with other tourists. They had a fire in a wooden Kota going to keep us warm, which is also where they barbequed our sausages and served us the famous hot berry drink! They explained the phenomenon that is the Northern Lights and went around taking photos of us throughout the evening. Unfortunately we didn’t see the lights, not that night or for the rest of our trip, but hey that’s just an excuse to go back. We did get some lovely photos of us, and I loved watching the boys speak to and learn about different cultures. Lapland is unlike any other place I have visited in terms of mixed nationalities of tourists. On every excursion we met so many different people from different places all around the world, it was fantastic!

Happy Trail morning Husky Safari

I booked this in for our first full day there as I thought the boys would still be tired from the day before travelling and the late night Aurora hunt. We got picked up from our hotel along with other tourists around Rovaniemi and taken to the Bearhill Husky farm. Like on the Aurora hunt the staff were amazing with the boys, so patient with us taking our time getting changed into their suits, and Tommy being a pickle of wearing something that wasn’t his. Once suited up we got onto a sleigh and enjoyed roughly 45 minutes on a sled pulled by a beautiful team of their dogs. As the dogs started pulling Tommy looked round at me with pure joy, love and wonder mixed into one, and all I could hear was Noah repeatedly saying ‘I love it’. They stopped half way to allow for photos and the views were literally incredible. After the Husky ride, we were taken into another Kota to warm up around a fire, given gingerbread biscuits, sausages and more hot berry juice! Finally we were taken back to our hotel to rest.

Arctic Delight – Visit to Santa’s Village and Snowmobiling to Reindeer farm

I booked this excursion for our last full day as this was the excursion with the most going on. It started by us being picked up from our hotel in the morning and taken to the Safartica office in the city centre, there we met others on our excursion and were taken to The Santa Claus Village. We had a few hours there to look around, we started off by seeing Santa and having our picture and video taken with him. After that we took a stroll around, played in a park and picked up some souvenirs. We met back up with our guide Rachel and the rest of our group for lunch and was taken to a hotel in the village for a buffet (included in the tour price). After lunch we were picked up and driven to another office where they keep their snowmobiles. From there we were suited up, the boys then got on a sleigh pulled by a guide and I got on the back of a snowmobile with another tourist driving. Half way we stopped (the scenery was breathtaking) and we took photos and then switched drivers, driving that snowmobile was definitely the highlight of my trip and a memory that I will cherish, it was AMAZING! The boys clearly loved it too as I was told by another in the group that they could hear both boys in the back of the sleigh shouting ‘Go faster!’. We then continued onto the Reindeer farm where we were taken into a Kota for a traditional arctic crossing ceremony. After, we were taken on a sleigh pulled by a Reindeer and had the opportunity to take pictures before being taken inside for a fire, cinnamon rolls and (you guessed it) more hot berry juice. We received our Reindeer driving licenses (which apparently expire after five years) and were told more about Lapland and Reindeers. Finally we drove the snowmobiles back to the office (I drove all the way as the woman I was with said I was the better driver) and we got changed, to then be taken back to their main office to receive our arctic crossing certificates and be taken back to our hotel. Rachel was also fantastic and Tommy fell in love with her! Such friendly people out there.

This trip taught me a number of things:

  1. My children obviously only get on my nerves, everyone kept telling me how amazing they were and well behaved, so I must be doing something right.
  2. I’m seriously lucky to have such awesome little dudes, they literally loved every second of it and didn’t complain once. I did worry they might find it a bit much being so young still, but they were fantastic and would have stayed outside in the snow all day if I’d have let them. I realise taking a 3 and 4 year old might not work for every family, a lot of children would have moaned, but my little troopers made the most of it and didn’t waste a second of fun.
  3. I worried about the flight for no reason, again they were as good as gold.
  4. I’ve realised how important it is and how much I want to travel with the boys so they can experience different cultures.
  5. It was worth every single penny! We have come home with the most amazing memories and photos that we will cherish forever.

The only thing I got wrong was thinking this was ever going to be a once in a lifetime trip, TAKE ME BACK! I literally have fallen in love this year, and it was with that magical place. We can’t wait to go back, obviously we need to renew our Reindeer driving licences as well!