Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Pirate Treasure Hunt

The boys had a treasure hunt on Sunday while I was out. It was lots of fun! I have included the clues so you know what is going on (please excuse the poor poetry - I had to write them very quickly before I left!)


Clue 1:
Clear the lunch things from the table,
Find the next clue if you're able.

Clue 2:
Autumn leaves fall from the tree,
Collect some in a bag for me.
When twenty leaves you have found,
Find the next clue on the ground.

Clue 3:
Go to the place we keep our supplies,
Make sure you're wearing a pirate disguise.
Look next to the box of self-raising flour,
You can't use the light - it has no power.

Clue 4:
Make sure that Sammy and Pepper are fed,
Then go to the place where you lay your head.

Clue 5:
Stop on your bed for some tickling fun
Then go to the place where the washing gets sun.
Dig in the dirt straight under the cross,
Help your brother to dig - be a kind boss.

4 year old pirate treasure - a matchbox plane!

Mr 4 enjoyed the pirate game so much that Franky helped him to make a pirate picture (complete with burnt edges for authenticity!).

My Little Drummer Boys

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Wind-catcher craft

This afternoon, the boys and I made a cool wind-catcher from simple craft materials. 

1. Use a hole-punch or a skewer to punch 4 holes around the top of a paper cup.

2. Decorate the cup (you could use paint, stickers, glitter, pencils, crayons, etc). We used oil pastels. Yes, Mr Sociable only coloured his black. Mr Fun coloured his green and brown, but then didn't want me to attach any strings to it!

3. Cut 4 lengths of fishing line (about 40cm each). 

4. Tie different craft materials onto the fishing line. We used sequins, feathers, bells, bows and a butterfly. 

5. Use a pipe cleaner to make a small hole in the base of the cup. Thread the ends of the pipe cleaner through to form a large loop for hanging your cup. Twist the pipe cleaner inside the cup to secure it. 

6. Hang on a hook. 

We have actually put ours in the dining room for the moment, so it doesn't get much wind. We had fun blowing on it and using the placemats to create "wind" to make the bells chime. Once it has been displayed for a few days, I am planning to move it to the boys' room, in front of the window.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Family Photos: Hannah Jayne Photography

We had a wonderful family photo session with Hannah Jayne Photography. I am so excited to share these photos with you!

My Little Drummer Boys

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Help me adjust to "Big School"!

We are going through a big period of adjustment in our family. This term, Mr Sociable started going to Prep 3 days a week. Somehow 3 days a week seems like so much more than the 2 days a week that he was going last term.

He's loving it - I can see him learning, growing, maturing. But I'm grieving - losing my little boy to the "big school boy" that he is becoming. I feel like I'm giving away part of my parenting role - having to trust the teacher with the heart and mind of my precious boy. When he comes home from school, he is so tired. He doesn't really want to talk; he just wants to blob in front of the TV. Last week, he fell asleep in the car on the way home! We eat dinner early and he is in bed by 6:30. I feel like I'm missing out on a big chunk of his life.

First day of Prep, Feb 2012
It makes me wonder what it will be like next year when he is at school 5 days a week. How will we find time to be together as a family? When will I have those precious hours with him, just hanging around at home - making cardboard firetrucks, playing lego, cooking muffins, driving matchbox cars?? When will we get to chat about God and life? How will I be able to shape his character and teach him godliness when he is hardly ever home? How will we fit in swimming lessons? And will there actually be time for him to start learning to play the piano?

So, I look to you, parents of older children.... How do you do it? How do you juggle school, extracurricular activities, church, family? How do you make sure you are still getting enough one-on-one time with your kids? And how do you let go of the grief of "losing" your little person?

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Early Numeracy: Counting songs

Mr Sociable is really interested in counting at the moment. I think they have been doing lots of counting and counting songs at Prep. The other day he randomly just started counting while he was playing with his drums and counted to 39! (He did leave out 15, but otherwise, he did pretty well).

Songs are a great way to practise early counting skills. Some songs teach counting forwards (eg Dr Knickerbocker), others count backwards (eg 10, 9, 8, God is Great!). I started making a list of all the kids counting songs I could think of. This is what I came up with:

Counting forwards
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Once I caught a fish alive
Dr Knickerbocker
One potato, two potato
This Old Man
1, 2 Buckle My Shoe
1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (Five Fingers on my Hand - Peter Combe)
One Grey Elephant Balancing

Counting Backwards
10, 9, 8, God is Great
10 in the bed
5 little speckled frogs
10 green bottles
5 little joeys/5 little monkeys
6 little ducks
Alice the Camel

Can you think of more? 

Ideas for teaching counting songs
1. Using puppets, toys or foam shapes to represent the characters in the song makes the song fun! It also allows kids to get involved in the "story" of the song and teaches them to represent numbers with objects. Mr Sociable played with some foam frogs and a stick today, singing 5 Speckled Frogs (he actually sang for us at the dinner table, while waiting for everyone else to finish).

2. Teaching kids to use their fingers while counting is good practise for addition and subtraction (eg take away one finger for each verse of 5 Speckled Frogs as the frogs jump off the log).

3. Reading books that illustrate these counting songs. Mr Fun loves to look at books while I sing. Mr Sociable likes to "read" this sort of book to Mr Fun too. If you don't have any of these books, you could write your own - just put one verse of the song on each page and draw a matching picture (or use foam shapes).

Do you remember singing these songs as a child? Do you sing them with your kids?

Friday, 18 May 2012

Yummy Low-fat Meatloaf (with hidden vegies)

Did you grow up eating meatloaf? Mum used to make it with sausage mince, which is apparently how Nana used to make it too. It was very yummy! (but, not very healthy...). This week, I set out to make a healthy meatloaf for dinner, with lots of hidden vegies. It was well-received by my family (even Franky, who was a bit dubious about meatloaf).

500g lean beef mince (eg heart smart mince)
500g lean pork mince
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 packet french onion soup mix
2 carrots, grated
2 zucchini, grated
2 cups fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs (whizz up stale bread with the food processor)
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 180˚C. Grease and line a loaf tin. Mix everything together in a large mixing bowl. Empty into the loaf tin and press down to smooth out the top.

Cook for 1 hour 15 minutes. Test to make sure it is cooked through by inserting a metal skewer into the centre for 3 seconds. Pull the skewer out and check to see if it is hot. If the skewer is hot, the meat it cooked through. If not, cook for longer.

Leave the meatloaf resting in the tin to cool a bit before slicing (this will stop the meatloaf from crumbling when you cut). A serrated knife makes cutting easier. Serve with steamed vegies and/or salad.

The meatloaf recipes, from which I drew inspiration:
* Vegie Smugglers: individual meat loaves
* Taste: healthy meatloaf
* Fab Food: Retro Classics (2002), p108

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Taronga Zoo family adventure

Mr Sociable being a gorilla
Delighted by the seal show

Mother and bubba gorilla
Photo of Mummy, taken by Mr Sociable

Watching the seals

"Riding" the tractor in the kids' zoo section
The kids loved feeding the animals
In the cable car - can you tell I am freaking out behind this smile?? ;)
My Little Drummer Boys
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