We’re going on a Bear Hunt

At the moment, the children really love “We’re going on a Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. It’s a great book – have you read it?

 

Today we decided to take our bear to the woods to give the story more meaning. We stopped for a snack of breadsticks and read the story.

As usual, the boys joined in with the repetitive phrases and were very concerned when the bear chased the family back to their house (especially when they forget to shut the front door!) Our bear however was very friendly, enjoyed a lovely stroll through Cuerden and was even allowed to share the boys’ breadsticks!

During our morning at Cuerden, we identified with lots of different scenes from the book:

 

Uh-oh – a forest! A deep dark forest! Stumble trip! Stumble trip!

 

Uh-oh – mud! Thick oozy mud! Squelch squerch! Squelch squerch!

 

Uh-oh – a river! A deep cold river! Splash splosh! Splash splosh!

 

Uh-oh – grass! Long wavy grass! Swishy swashy! Swishy swashy!

 

We also did LOTS of squelch squerching and splash sploshing ourselves!!!

 

And we found lots of seed heads, wild flowers and insects in the long wavy grass.

 

We had a great morning at Cuerden and now we have lots of pictures of our exploits so that we can make our own “Bear Hunt” picture book next week.

 

Recommended web links:

Watch Michael Rosen read his book on YouTube:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gyI6ykDwds

 

There is also a lovely animated version here:

          www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoSck00awAQ

Big Butterfly Count 2013 – Spotting

Our garden is full of butterflies this summer and the children have been encouraged to let everybody know when they spot one and then try to identify it from the Big Butterfly Count spotting card that is stuck to the fridge door.

 

We have seen lots of large, small and green-veined whites – although it is not so easy to tell them apart!

One of our best spots was a small tortoiseshell on the little trampoline:

 

Armed with our spotting cards, we set off for the morning to Brockholes Nature Reserve. Our plan was to take part in the Big Butterfly Count and note down how many of each type of butterfly we spotted in a fifteen minute time frame. Seriously – this was impossible as there were SO SO many!!!

 

Here are some of the different butterflies that we spotted:

a small white, a gatekeeper and one that was not on the spotting sheet

  

We also saw plenty of stripy cinnabar moth caterpillars on these yellow flowers:

As well as looking at hundreds of butterflies, we found fungi:

  

And the children spent a long time practising their balancing skills on these large stone slabs that we came across:

   

 

The Big Butterfly Count runs 20 July – 11 August this year. You can find more information and download your own spotting sheets from www.bigbutterflycount.org

Africa Day

25 May was Africa Day so we have incorporated some African elements into our recent activities.

 

At the library, we borrowed some non-fiction books showing life in Africa. We have been reading stories about African animals and playing with the wild animal box.

We have been making animal noises and pretending to be animals.

  

We have been listening and dancing to African music on YouTube.

 

And of course, our recent trip to Blackpool Zoo with toddler group couldn’t have taken place at a better time (although the weather in the morning left a lot to be desired!)

     

The boys managed to enjoy the rain as well as the animals…

Brockholes

Today the weather was glorious so we donned suncream and sunhats, packed a picnic and headed off to Brockholes Nature Reserve.

 

We studied some cows and had to work out how to get through a gate:

  

We noticed our shadows while we walked:

We found some mole hills:

And some spiky grass:

 

We stopped to pick up handfuls of gravel and let it slip through our fingers (J’s idea!)

We discussed why this large post had a chain attached to it. A (3y) thought that it might have been for tethering animals. F (36y) suggested that it was probably an old gate post and that the chain would have been used with a padlock to hold the gate shut.

 

It’s hungry work, this walking. Time to stop for something to eat:

The bluebells were amazing and there were plenty of tree trunks for J (18m) to try out his climbing skills on:

There were lots of very tall trees:

 

As we approached the playground, N was intrigued by this arrangement of stones and sticks:

By this time, J had fallen fast asleep and unfortunately, missed the playground experience.

  

  

As we left Brockholes, we saw one of the new hopefully vandal-proof metal hides being delivered. I find it very sad that this beautiful nature reserve, enjoyed by many, is also the target of thieves who have robbed the car park machines and vandals who have burnt down the wooden hides…

 

 

Astley Park

Today we went to Astley Park in Chorley. Walking into the park, we stopped to watch some tree surgeons removing a branch from a massive oak tree. A (3y) found this very exciting as the man was suspended from the tree with ropes and the one year olds were very intrigued by the sound of his chainsaw.

 

Inside the park, first stop was Pets Corner:

 

After washing our hands, a quick snack and onto the playground:

 

A leisurely amble towards the duck pond, interrupted by some marching along the white lines on the football pitch:

 

And of course, no trip to Astley Park would be complete without feeding the birds on the pond:

The mallards (and black headed gulls):

The swan (the black headed gulls remain poised, close by):

And one lone Mandarin duck (did I mention the black headed gulls?!):

We had a great morning. It was still a bit cold, mainly due to the wind. Can’t wait for the weather to warm up so that we can spend a lot more time outdoors.

 

 

In touch with Nature

Today, N (21m) and F (17m) spent a lovely morning at Cuerden Valley Park. Being outdoors is a great sensory experience and I always try to draw the children’s attention to the various sights, smells, sounds and textures that we encounter. Today we found:

 

A bright shiny padlock on a gate and some amazing trees. We enjoyed crunching on the fallen leaves and twigs and searched for creepy crawlies.

 

Unfortunately, there were no birds on the small pond that we reached so N and F insisted on sampling the crusts themselves! (No flies on them – they recognised that Warburtons bread packet in the buggy and were quite insistent – despite having already devoured a banana each minutes earlier!)

F found moss growing on a nobbly tree trunk.

He also picked up a few stones and beech husks from the ground and on the way back, was intrigued by the feel of some catkins on a bush that we passed.

 

The outdoors is a great learning environment for young children and so much of what they encounter is new to them. Hurry up sunshine so that those mittens can come off a bit more often!

Year of the Snake

This month we have been looking at Chinese New Year, which this year is the Year of the Snake. We have been looking at books about China and Chinese New Year – and we have also been looking at snakes! We have had lots of hissing from the 1 year olds and we also created some great snake pictures.

 

J (15m) enjoys dipping shoelaces, pipe cleaners and his favourite – plastic snakes – into the paint!

N (19m) concentrates hard on creating his snake picture. There was plenty of hissing to accompanying his drawing!

We even went to see a real snake at Pet’s Corner in Astley Park. The boys, however, were more interested in the rabbits, guinea pigs and other animals that were showing signs of life (ie. moving)! The boys were very keen to communicate with the animals, making lots of animal sounds – rabbits, fish, hens.

We went on to feed the ducks and geese, accompanied by N’s loud quacking noises…

J however decided that the crusts were wasted on the birds and was more interested in feeding himself!

 

 

Half Term Fun at Yarrow Valley Park

Today was the first day of the half term holidays and the kids decided that they wanted to go to Yarrow Valley Park so we wrapped up warm, donned waterproofs and wellies, packed a picnic and off we went. We had a great time. First stop was the adventure playground, which is a great space offering some unique play equipment. Thanks to the British weather, this was enhanced by some suitably muddy puddles which all made for a great experience.

 

After the five kids had exhausted the adventure playground (or maybe vice versa), we sat down for our picnic lunch before embarking on the walk around the lodge. I can honestly say that the landscape was truly amazing with all the trees in their autumn glory, reflected in the water. The photos really don’t do it justice. There were ducks on the lodge as well as two swans and their cygnets. This sparked a very interesting conversation about the (large) size of the “brown swans” and the children concluded that these cygnets must be “teenagers” rather than “toddlers”! We found some great webbed footprints in a patch of mud near the water’s edge and played the usual hide and seek among the trees.

 

What a great start to the school holidays! All three boys fell asleep in the car on the way home. L (7y) spent a good deal of the afternoon creating a lovely picture with the use of some paper, coloured pencils and a mirror, inspired by the scenery and the reflections in the water that she had seen.

 

Sunshine after the Rain

This morning, we were all set to go to toddler group but the skies were so blue on the school run that it seemed such a shame to waste one of the few nice days that we seem to be getting this autumn! So we changed plans and set off to Brockholes for the morning.

 

A (3y) took his balance bike. N (15m) took his puddle suit and J (11m) took his smile!

 

The boys noticed lots of interesting things along the way. In this picture, N is pointing at a snail on the stem of the plant in the foreground. He got quite enthusiastic about that! A bag was requested by A, who collected quite a lot of fallen leaves, sticks and bits from the ground. They are currently drying out to be used another day.

In general though, the boys just loved the chance to wander about without a care in the world and nobody saying, “Come on – hurry up!”

N well and truly put his puddle suit to the test! And his new wellies – they took a bit of getting used to. He had his shoes on for most of the walk and then the wellies came out for splashing!

J enjoyed the morning from the luxury of the buggy. He was very interested in the environment and A made sure that he gave him plenty of interesting bits of leaves and seed heads etc. to “examine” (aka “destroy”). After the walk, we spent some time in the playground – swinging, climbing, driving the tractor and simply sitting on the ground playing with the little stones.

Had the trip not been so spontaneous, it would have been nice to take a picnic because that was the only reason we left when we did – everyone was getting hungry!

Slugs at Brockholes

Today I “just” had my four and we took Grandad and Nannie C to Brockholes Nature Reserve. A fantastic time was had by all! We did the circular walk around the reserve, which is very buggy friendly. N (13m) is very steady on his feet now and toddled along a fair bit of the way. We were in no rush and he got a much more hands-on experience on his own two feet instead of being confined to the buggy the whole time.

 

L (nearly 7) was totally freaked out by the abundance of slugs on the paths, particularly those through the woods. N and A (nearly 3) on the other hand were very intrigued! N got brave and decided to stroke one – he had to lie down first to do it though. He was not impressed with its texture and quickly recoiled – as did the slug!

We had our picnic lunch in one of the hides, watching the swans and Canadian Geese. The grass to the sides of the path was very long and full of wild flowers, snails, butterflies and various creepy crawlies. Crouching down to A’s height gave me a real insight into the walk from his perspective – a positive jungle! The walk culminated at the children’s play area and we spent another hour there swinging, climbing and shovelling small pebbles. All in all, an excellent 4 hours. We will definitely be back again this summer.