Tag Archives: DT

DT, Art, Reading and Botany!

I’ve slowed down on my blog posts, as you might have noticed.  Partly because I feel less ‘feverish’ about our HE life in general as we relax into it and partly because I’m trying to get a life!!  I actually bought a book this week.  A book!  I haven’t read a novel for well over a year and with our holiday in Northumberland coming up I thought now would be a good time to start.

So here’s a round up of what we’ve been up to recently:

With M’s request to do more DT, I did a bit of research on the kind of things she might like to make.  I’m finding at the moment that the sausages spend hours on Minecraft and then emerge at 6pm demanding something to do, which always takes me by surprise!  I figured I needed to be a bit more prepared so I put a list of DT ideas on the wall for M, which she has been referring to quite a bit!

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We had Aunty S here for a day last weekend and M decided she wanted to make a moving picture, and she came up with this idea all by herself!

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D liked it so much she made one too…

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We also made a rubber band cannon using instructions I found here

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And a dog made out of marshmallows and spaghetti (picture taken by M!)

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And the girls have gone crazy for pop-up cards since I found some templates here

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We’ve done quite a lot of art recently – We heated up large pebbles and melted crayons against them as per instructions I found here.

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We’ve borrowed some K’Nex from Aunty Sh who has some from when her boys were young.  The girls adore it and have made all sorts of fabulous constructions from it.

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D has gone art mad lately.  Recently she said she missed queuing up for the art room like she did at nursery so I have been setting up an art project in the kitchen and then leading her in when it’s all set up and ready – she’s pleased as punch with this idea.  Yesterday we watched a terrible school programme (terrible because I find the teacher so irritating) on CBeebies which showed the children drawing self portraits.  So afterwards I set up an art project with paints, a mirror and D’s art book so that she could do her own self portrait.  She loved this idea and it added a new dimension to her drawings: she tends to draw objects rather than people.

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She has also drawn a great ‘trilogy’ of the trampoline…

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And a gorgeous robin (that looks rather like a surprised duck)

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We’ve also been out on the bikes – M hasn’t ridden hers for months and she now looks far too big for hers.

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And D (inspired by J) has been creating her own obstacle courses in the garden…

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Knowing that we’re going away next week, I’ve been trying really hard to clear the piles of clutter that are taking over each room in the house.  I hate coming back to mess and clutter.  I’ve so far managed to do the kitchen and lounge but have yet to tackle the worst room in the house – the home ed/dining room!  Luckily, the girls love vacuuming and mopping so I’ve been getting quite a bit of help.  This is D doing our ‘once in a decade’ vacuum under the bed!

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M has also started the library’s summer reading challenge.  D decided she didn’t want to do it (I’m beginning to realise she has quite a fear of failure).  I could have offered to read the books to her but I felt that would then put M off reading hers so we will wait and see if she is ready to try next year.  M whizzed through her two books with a minimum of effort and it was lovely to se her reading in bed at night and I was able to join her to read on the sofa in the day.  I love this new reading phase as it’s also encouraging me to read too!

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I am beginning to realise I really need to write posts more frequently to avoid them reading like a list!  So my last and final news is that I finally got out my Ebay bargain microscope (£3!) last night and the girls were super excited.  Unfortunately the microscope itself is a pile of crap and is only fit for the bin but it came with lots of specimen pots, labels, a magnifying glass and a child-safe guillotine.  The girls (M in particular) had great fun searching the garden for ‘specimens’ to put in the pots, researching the name of the plant and writing a label on the pot.  M had the fantastic idea of writing the label so small you had to use the magnifying glass to read it 🙂

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I overheard M chatting to our neighbour over the fence and she offered M a dead viola flower with seeds for one of her pots – M was thrilled to bits!  She’s also very excited to plant the seeds.  She’s very proud that the only thing we’ve managed to grow from seed this year are her three sunflowers.  And here she is, tying the shoots to canes.

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And I thought we hadn’t been doing a lot lately…  It is lovely to see M enthused about quite a few things now – she’s even made herself a timetable of the different things she wants to do each day.  This morning she came downstairs with a big beam on her face 🙂

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Car gets sick and then M gets sick

We have had a very odd 10 days.  Last Monday, the car went into the garage for an MOT and didn’t come out again until Saturday morning, with a very hefty bill too.

We got to pottery ok in the afternoon, although we had quite a miserable wet walk from the tube station and back again, but we didn’t make it to ballet on Tuesday or swimming on Wednesday.  We’re really car-reliant and the thought of dragging the sausages along on long walks, do an hour of exercise and then a long walk home again was just a bit much for me to contemplate.

The main thing about last week was that each day the car was promised to us the following day, so I didn’t make alternative plans because I was thinking we’d have the car back – so we spent the entire week at home!  Actually, that turned out to be a good thing as by about Wednesday the girls started getting quite tired and their appetites dropped, and mine did too.  I did wonder if it was because we were all a bit mopey but it turned out we were all building up to a tummy bug.

THIS is when I am so happy that we HE because when the sausages have those in-between days where they’re not exactly ill but they’re not right either, you don’t feel you have to drag them into school.

By Friday we were all feeling a bit ropey.  We had already cancelled M’s archery class in Reading due to the lack of car but I had wondered about attending an HE sports day event in Crystal Palace.  However, because of our tummy bugs and the downpour outside we cancelled that too!. Then Saturday came and M had a full blown stomach upset but D and I recovered.  Poor M is only just managing to eat and stand up today (Tuesday).  And worst of all is that I booked a week-long course for her at All4Kids with her best friend and she’s missed half of it :(.  Poor M.

D has really missed her playmate and tonight sang a really heartfelt lullaby to M, which she had made up on the spot.  It was rather tear-inducing!

We have managed a few bits and bobs (though not very much, understandably) before the girls got too ill:

They had their last Judo class before summer and both girls have gone up a grade!

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M had another of her best friends (B) over for a little play after J spontaneously asked his Dad and him out for lunch.  M is showing B her Minecraft creations… speaking of which I need to do a separate post on what the girls have created in Minecraft as it really is incredible.

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They had a little DIY lesson from J:

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Recently I asked both girls if there is anything they miss about school or nursery and M said she missed DT, sports day and the Christmas fair.  D said she missed making pig masks and queuing up…

Luckily, all of these things are do-able in HE too.  We missed sports day but we can go to any school Christmas fair (I don’t think I can ever return to M’s old school, given how rude her head-teacher was to me, the same goes for D’s nursery, unfortunately).  I offered to help D make a pig mask but I think the moment had passed and she wasn’t interested anymore.  So the only thing left was DT.

I set M a challenge to wrap an egg in such a way that it wouldn’t crack when thrown out of an upstairs window.  She got really excited about it!  Goes to show how much she likes DT :).  The first attempt cracked but the second worked a treat.

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Then we made M’s ‘Cookie Cakes’ again.  She made the recipe up all by herself and they are really delicious!

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Then the girls did some cleaning.  They still argue over who gets to do the mopping, but it was M’s turn this time and D did the vacuuming.

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We’re off on a big family holiday to Northumberland in a couple of weeks and D has become fascinated by maps of the UK: spotting us in London, Grandma & Granddad in Nottingham and then trying to remember where Northumberland is.  I dug out an Usborne map of the UK sticker book which I bought ages ago and she has been happily doing that and asking questions about all the different landmarks.  She also adores this 150 piece jigsaw –

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Something else that has really sparked her interest is a sketch pad that I bought for them both a while ago with the intention of taking them with us when we go out to encourage them to draw more (I bought one for me too!).  We haven’t taken them out yet but D has been drawing and drawing and painting and painting since getting hers!  She absolutely loves it.

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One final word and then I’m gone.  Today D asked me to ask her some sums so I did and I discovered that she has worked out how to add tens by herself!  I was asking M a sum (who was weakly trying to join in) 20+30 and M answered 50.  Then D said “yes, that’s because 2 and 3 make 5 so 20 and 30 make 50”!!  I was astounded!  I thought I would test her theory out to check she really understood what she was saying and she really did – with very proud beams all over her face :).

Connections and Positiveness

I (or, we) have had a very positive couple of days.  Not a lot happened.  Just a few nudges here and there as M made a few signs to show she was open to more learning.

As you might expect, my heart leaps (though I retain my nonchalant composure) whenever M takes an interest in anything.  ANYTHING.  Anything at all will do.  This time the spark of interest was due to our weekly email of The Kid Should See This.  I cannot rate their email subscription highly enough – the variety of interesting videos is brilliant.  In last week’s email they had a clip of Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus.  The bit where he gets trapped in a lion’s cage.  I have to admit to never seeing a Chaplin film before and we both really enjoyed it.  M is still giggling about it now!  D loved looking at the air traffic visualisations and watched them over and over again – they’re stunning to look at.  We also watched a gorgeous film about polar bears on a quest for sea ice.

What else was positive?  Well, Lego was linked into a couple of games today.  First of all, M was playing on her Lego City app and she got quite excited when she realised that she had the same Lego as in the game she was playing.  She then got out her Lego City collection and began building it.  She generously shared some of it with D who loved playing with the bank robbers.

Also making a connection with Lego was D, who has recently changed from making her Lego tree-house over and over again to constructing a tree-house in Minecraft!  It’s getting very detailed and interesting.  Leading on from this, M began making a tree house out of junk modelling just before bed this evening!  I like the connections that are being made between the games and it goes to show that playing a game on a computer can be just as valid as playing with Lego!

I am also very pleased that I read Lori Pickert’s Mentoring Self Directed Learners as this was at the forefront of my mind when I sat down with M this evening while she made her tree house: I observed, helped her when she needed it, I didn’t jump in with solutions and I offered to make a note of a few things which she didn’t have time to do, which really eased her transition into bed!

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Other connections: At the weekend J took the girls to a local fair where they bought a number of books.  M has particularly enjoyed doing an Usborne Sticker Dressing Long Ago book.  Today she brought it with us to do in the David Lloyd café before swimming and she was completing a page on the Palace of Versailles.  We looked at the richness of their clothes, how the King was dressed compared to the other nobles and how they all had clothes similar to Captain Hook in Peter Pan (who had modelled himself on King James II).  Another example of how telly watching can also be a valid use of time :).

Next positive happening: M announced that she would like to write a story so I suggested she get out her little book and she could start writing.  She got as far as the title before stomping out of the room because she didn’t know how to start the story.  I left it for a bit, we did other things, and then a few hours later I asked her if she’d like me to do it with her.  And I got a ‘Yes!’.  So she dictated the story to me and I scribbled like mad for 10 minutes.  We haven’t finished yet but I’m so pleased that she wanted to continue.

One last connection that I just remembered: D was doing ‘spin art’ on our Snap Circuits and then decided she wanted to draw a colour wheel so we had a think about what the primary and tertiary colours are and she coloured in the various segments, put it back on the circuit and watched the colours merge into brown!  A great example of connecting art and science!

While we’re on the subject of connections, thanks to a tweet from Katie Pybus at The Gallivanters, I read this post by Sandra Dodd on connections and how learning works, it makes for a very interesting read if you have a spare 10 minutes.

Contrasting Days

The last two days couldn’t be more different: yesterday was decidedly lack-lustre and none of us could galvanise ourselves to do much.  Although saying that, we did have a trip to Tesco’s to get our holiday money, during which we managed to fit in a trip to the coffee shop…

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And then I discovered we had to return a load of books to the library so we had a trip to Wimbledon after lunch.  The devil had got inside D by this point and she was swinging/running/hiding all over the place and not really heeding my advice, resulting in the librarian telling her off (though in a kindly way), which she was quite miffed about.

Things picked up a little when we got back, we got the Spain lapbooks out with the intention of finishing them before our holiday, however D was really not in the mood and was squiggling rather than writing.  M spent about half an hour on hers and we watched bullfighting and running of the bulls videos on YouTube.

After a bit of telly, and while I was cooking dinner, they both decided to play with the craft sticks I bought recently:

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We tried to make a lolly stick chain reaction but this didn’t work so I Googled lolly stick crafts and found a lovely house to build which M immediately wanted to make.  She’s stuck at it for hours over yesterday and today. We’ve got quite a bit more to do but here’s what we’ve done so far:

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Today has been much much busier! J was at home in the morning getting a last bit of wallpaper stripping done before the plasterers arrive next week.

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And the girls were insistent upon a pyjama day, although I really don’t know why this holds the allure it still does now we’re home educating – it in no way means they are sitting around doing nothing!

M continued with her lolly stick house and also spent hours making an igloo out of sugar cubes and a cement mixture (made with egg whites and icing sugar):

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D also had a go with the sugar cubes but wasn’t all that interested.  However she loved continuing her writing on planets for her space lapbook.  Her space knowledge has gone up a notch: she is now making comments about ‘grabbity’ that show her level of understanding has increased (i.e. that Jupiter has higher gravity because it is larger) and was asking me intelligent questions about tides today (thank goodness for my moons course otherwise I wouldn’t have known how to answer!).

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They both had a play outside in the sunshine and ate their dinner under the climbing frame:

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They were still outside at 5.30pm, weeding their plots in their pyjamas and slippers!

 

A Colourful Afternoon and a Geodesic Dome

Over the weekend I finished the bug house and made a little allotment for me and the girls.  We’ll started planting our veg and flowers in a few weeks.

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On Sunday, J took the girls to Guildford Spectrum for the day – they went ice skating and swimming for 6 HOURS!!!  They were all shattered but happy on their return.

After such a busy Sunday neither girl wanted to get dressed or go out today so I shelved plans to go to Wimbledon and we had an activity filled day at home instead.

No day is complete without some sort of space work: D glittered her galaxy mini-book and did some lovely writing about planets too.  She knows so much about space now it is quite easy for her come up with facts to fill her lapbook up.  We then watched a recording of Channel 4’s ‘Live From Space’.  Even M watched it, although she is ‘definitely not interested in space’.

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While the girls were having lunch something popped up on my Facebook Newsfeed from Tinkerlab so I quickly put it together to entertain them while they ate:

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It was supposed to show light refraction but it didn’t work very well!  But the girls loved looking at how the colours mixed and it gave me an idea for another activity I had spotted on Tinkerlab earlier in the week: Snap Circuits spin art!

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It kept the girls entertained for most of the afternoon and we also had a go at a little chromatography experiment I saw on An Ordinary Life.  I find it best not to go into the science with M until she is thoroughly comfortable with doing the practical side first so I gave her the freedom to just get on with it without any ‘lesson’.

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The girls also managed to fit in a few films today: Matilda, Disney’s Robin Hood and, of course, Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  But just before bed we squeezed in one last activity – building M’s geodesic dome!  She is soooo happy with it and has lots of plans to paint it, put blankets on it and all the activities she can do inside it!

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HE in the Spring

How different HE seems when the sun comes out!

We have barely used our official HE room in the last few days (except for M who is still sneaking about making my Mothers’ Day card).  Instead we’ve been in the garden: playing, building, chasing, weeding and potion making.

Our builder friend, P was back again on Thursday and M helped him to rearrange the climbing frame to her design.  We’ve now got a much roomier frame and a steeper slide!

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M also made a ‘potion’ using sand and various herbs around the garden.  She adores strong smells and spicy tastes and spent a long time feeling and smelling the plants.  In fact, at dinner yesterday she actually ate a whole black peppercorn to found out what it tasted like!

M continued to de-stone our garden to prepare it for planting in a few weeks.  We also have some lovely large decorative pebbles which she washed clean too.

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Meanwhile, D asked me to build her a den which she sat inside and did some painting on our water mat and chalking on a little chalk board I found at the back of the toy cupboard.  She drew a lovely picture of Oberon and Titania – Uranus’ moons!  Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of it.  D continues to spend hours of her day deep in her imagination.  At the moment, the slide is upturned and has become her pirate ship: she can variously be found in the crow’s nest or swabbing the decks…

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J also took the day off on Thursday and he took them to the park, out to Wimbledon and chased them endlessly around the garden!

I decided on the spur of the moment to have one of our apple trees felled: we’ll be putting a garage up in the coming months and it would have been a bit too close to it.  Sounds a bit callous but the tree had seen better days.  So within an hour some tree surgeons had sawn it down.  We all had a little cry for our tree, particularly M who took it very hard.  However, it will mean that our other little apple tree will now have more chance to flourish.

I asked the tree surgeons to leave us some logs behind so that we can make a log pile house for bugs, bees and butterflies, and perhaps some space at the bottom for a hedgehog.

On Friday, M got started on making newspaper ‘poles’ for her geodesic dome.  I offered to do them but she insisted she wants to make it all herself (and then double checked with me that SHE would be the boss of the finished den, not D).  We came a bit unstuck with the design of it so we asked our friend Lisa over at An Ordinary Life for some help, and she kindly posted her instructions online yesterday!

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So that’s what M will be doing over the next few days.  She really loves construction, tinkering, fixing and building: she told me she wants to make a ferris wheel out of cocktail sticks and marshmallows next…

M has wanted to go ice skating for a long time now so we went back to Guildford Spectrum on Friday afternoon.  It is an utterly miserable time for poor D and I have to say it seemed a real shame to be going somewhere cold and dark on such a lovely day but M really loves it so I don’t mind going now and then.  I read Wonderwise books to keep D happy while M went round the rink – she skated for an hour before getting too tired to carry on!  Just to see the look on M’s face made it all worthwhile – she was beaming so widely it brought a tear to my eye!

We’ve only had one minor anger incident over the last 2 days and it didn’t last too long: I set the girls ‘life skills’ to accomplish, which are skills which they choose or skills that I feel they really NEED to learn.  D is making progress with hers, which is learning how to fasten her own seatbelt.  I haven’t set a task for M for a while so she asked if she could learn about the months of the year.  It was going well until there was a bit of melt-down.  I think it was a case of trying to take in too much at once.  So I just stopped immediately and packed her off for a bath – seemed to do the trick as she was chirpily chatting to D a few minutes later!  Phew!

I got an unschooling confidence boost yesterday as it seems D is teaching herself maths.  She voluntarily got her Arithmasticks out and wrote out some addition sums for herself to work out!  She was also beaming with pride when I wrote some subtractions out for her which she then got right.

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After the girls had got out of the bath I strangely started to get a stomach ache which became so bad I had to go to bed!  Very odd.  Anyway, the girls were gorgeous and were really excited at the prospect of doing all my jobs for me.  Adorable.

From Listening Comes Wisdom

This statement was in M’s fortune cookie – how apt is that for a new year in HE?!  D’s was ‘Keep your plans secret for now’ which is of course nonsense but hilarious as she is usually full of devious plots.

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So today we went to Chinatown in London.  The original plan was to meet J and have a meal there so the girls could sample some Chinese food.  This plan went a bit awry as J couldn’t spare enough time for a meal and the girls had the chance to try some at a family party last night and didn’t like it.  So in the end we visited a little shop and bought some fortune cookies then we admired the lanterns and the girls had fun with J (who can make a game out of anything, literally).  They posed for a photo with Charlie Chaplin and then ran in and out of the fountains in Leicester Square.

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In a few years time we’ll take them to see the actual Chinese New Year celebrations but I think they’re a little too small for it this year.

The past couple of days have been quite busy and I’ve felt mildly panicky about how much I’ve got to do before M’s birthday party on Sunday (why did I arrange to have flat-packed furniture delivered this week?!!).  Thursday morning saw the three of us banging a wine rack together.

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Then M put on a very lovely show with her Sylvanian Families and D and I were the audience.  It was all very well rehearsed but unfortunately M was standing in front of the stage for most of it!  I’m just so pleased that she’s using her imagination more, I think I have D’s influence to thank for that.

In the afternoon I carried on putting another bookcase up and trying to sort my faulty phone out while the girls did creative things at the kitchen table.  I have discovered that M has an almighty talent for copying pictures and font, and D made a fairy sized ‘throne’ out of two bits of furniture packaging.  We decided to give our regular Thursday group a miss, which was the girls decision although I was quite relieved as I felt I had too much to do!

This morning the creativity continued with the girls happily drawing and colouring.  I also got the girls hammering nails for the first time: m managed it completely on her own but I held the hammer with D, just in case.  M was in seventh heaven, she is such a little tinker.

January’s been a very ‘messy’ sort of a month what with Center Parcs, M’s birthday, Grandma & Granddad visiting and then M’s party.  I don’t feel we’ve really tackled much at all, at least not as much as we could have done in a normal month.  And there’s still so much I want to do!  There is so much STUFF out there to find out about!

We spent about 2 hours in Waterstone’s in Piccadilly today, the girls merrily colouring in and me trying very hard to reign myself in and not buy ALL the books in the children’s department.  As it was, I bought a GORGEOUS book of poetry called IF: A Treasury of Poems for Almost Every Possibility; An Usborne Young Readers book about WWI – I actually bought this for me in the hope that I can make some sense of it!; and an Usborne Young Readers book of A Midsummer Night’s Dream which I’m hoping will be a nice introduction to Shakespeare for the girls.  Plus quite a few more…

We got home around 4 o’clock and I quickly put a film on (before WWIII broke out) and made some dinner.  Then I quickly put our shelves into place and filled them up…. ta-da!  Not bad!  Now our HE books are accessible and we can display their work.

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We spent the evening under a blanket on the sofa reading one of today’s purchases: an enormous book about Disney Fairies.  Not my usual reading material but the girls adored it.  This then turned into a game of ‘let’s attack Mum’ before bedtime.  Happy and exhausted.