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Having a Fun Summer Without Breaking the Bank

Even if you are not going on holiday, creating a summer holiday that will leave great memories and happy children can, quickly, become expensive. A trip to the cinema, an outing to the zoo, a day out at a theme park- these cost a lot of money. But, a great summer does not have to cost the earth to create. One outlay I have made was to purchase Historic Scotland membership. This gives us all free entry into all the Historic Scotland sites. And since many of them are within an easy drive we can have lots of days out, at a fraction of the cost that it would be to pay entry into each one individually. There are other organisations that have membership schemes that provide free entry into their properties. The National Trust is another favourite with many families. Family membership is also something relatives could give as a family Christmas present. Obvious places to go for outings is the beach, forests, botanical gardens, hillwalking and parks. These can be the sources of many adventures. Consider building a camp fire, toasting marshmallows and having an evening picnic. By inviting friends to join you, then their is the perfect recipe for fun and great memories. It goes without saying that you first make sure you light any fires in a place where they are permitted, and do so safely, especially if it has been very dry. Or what about a disposable BBQ on the beach? For wet days many museums and art galleries are free. You can also have a movie day, or a baking day. Also look out for special summer holiday deals on swimming pools. More and more local authorities are offering free child swimming over the holidays. Local councils often have free sports activities as well, it is worth phoning a few leisure centres to see if there is anything on offer. Many churches also offer holiday clubs for a week of the school holidays. All my children (besides Thomas, who has not yet been old enough) have loved attending a local church club. Throughout the years our family have had some wonderful happy days through the summer. The days which have left the best memories have been the free days. My children still talk about building a camp fire in a wood with friends; playing in a burn (small stream) in the hills, on a very hot day (yes, they do sometimes happen in Scotland); and an unplanned trip to a beach. We also save money by doing lots of picnics. Each child has...

Finger Knit a Flower for Kids

With Armistice Day upon us we wanted to make our own poppies in honour of those fallen soldiers who gave their lives. I had seen a while ago a finger knitting craft on Red Ted Art so we decided to use it to create our own poppy’s to wear, I know the red wool we have used is totally the wrong shade :)! Needed to Make a Poppy Red Wool Black Felt Broach pin Finger knit to the length of around 30cm, then tie the ends together to make a loop. Then shape the loop into a flower shape, and use some of the wool to tie it in place. Use glue to stick a round piece of felt as the flower centre. Sew the broach pin to the back to the poppy. Alternatively you could make you length of knitting using French knitting. Although we were making these flowers to commemorate Remembrance Day, you could use different coloured wool to make gifts for friends, or to sew a flower onto a hat or scarf as decoration. Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

Autumn Craft Fun

We are most definitely in the throws of autumn, and is there any season that calls us to the forest more that autumn? As the leaves flutter from the trees and the last of the migrating geese can be heard it’s time to put on the wellies and get out into the woods! Here are the autumn inspired activities we have been up to lately! Get Into the Wood Walk in the wood and collect leaves, nuts, twigs etc to use in crafts later. Take a leaf identification chart and learn the names of trees. The Woodland Trust Nature Detectives have lots of great ideas and printables that can be used in the wood! Make hedgehogs Cut out hedgehog shapes and use the leaves to cover the body. The leaves will look like the hedgehog spines. Autumn is a good time to teach about hedgehogs, as they are preparing to go into hibernation. Laminate Leaves We placed some interesting leaves in laminator sheets. The laminated leaves were then stuck onto a window. The light shining through them is really pretty. Leaf painting Cut out leaf shapes and paint them the colours of autumn. This is a great craft for younger children. You can then cut out a large tree shape to make an autumn display on the wall. Leaf Printing Take collected leaves, and use them to print with. Fungi Nature Study For older children you can look at the different fungi growing in the wood. We sketched some of the different mushrooms we found in the wood, then painted them with watercolours. For safety we didn’t pick any. We used a field guide book to identify them, this also provided the opportunity to teach how dangerous wild mushrooms can be. Have fun this autumn! Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

Adventures with Paper Mâché!

After nearly 9 years of motherhood I have only recently plucked up the courage to do paper mâché! This year we have started to use the Ann Voksamp book “A Child’s Geography” (would highly recommend this book!) and one of the first activities is to make a paper mâché globe. Yes, it is very messy. What surprised me was the boys were the least impressed with this activity, they did not enjoy the sensation of the paste. The Girl thought it a bit yucky, but persevered and worked hard on her globe. We made a flour based paste, this is the cheapest and is quite easy to clean up afterwards. I can see some children loving the activity, enjoying the sensory experience. Paper Mâché Recipe 1 cup flour 5 cups water (1 cold and 4 boiling) Mix the flour and one cup of cold water in a saucepan, so it forms a thick paste. Stir in the remaining 4 cups of boiling water. Simmer the mixture for a few minutes, then allow to cool. Use torn up strips of old newspaper, about an inch thick. Soak the newspaper in the paste, and remove the excess paste with your fingers. Cover a balloon with the strips. To make a good strong ball shape you will need about three layers of newspaper. Each layer has to dry first. In our Scottish late summer climate I found this took 24 hours. If you had a warm drying room, of a hot dry climate it could take a few hours. Once the layers are all dry you are ready to paint your ball as you wish! Although I do not think we will be rushing to repeat this craft activity, the time taken over it did produce a real sense of achievement. And the globes we have made are really strong… the toddler has vigorously tested their potential as footballs! Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

Free Days Out in Edinburgh With Children

Four children does not equate to cheap days out. The zoo alone would cost us as a family £60- for one day. However, we have found out and about round Edinburgh there are many great places to go with children, that will not cost a penny (well perhaps parking- Edinburgh council doesn’t seem to like visitors, so charge a small fortune to park- but that’s a rant for another day!) 1. Botanical Gardens The Botanics are great for walking, running and picnicing. They are free, except the glasshouses. Parking is free on the streets outside at the weekend. Keep an eye on their website (or Like them on Facebook) as they often have activities for children in the John Hope Gateway building. Last time we were there they had free storytelling sessions, inside a Bedouin Tent. I am a fan of anywhere the boys can run about, without fear of them running onto roads, so the Botanics fits the bill. There is also a duck pond. Note, dogs are not allowed in the park. 2. Arthurs Seat Edinburgh’s very own mini-mountain, the extinct volcano Arthur’s Seat is great for children. There are various places to park around the hill. You can easily loose yourself on the gentle slopes, and have lots of adventures. If you are feeling fit, it is a small enough hill that even young children can hike to the summit- something that fills a child with a sense of achievement. 3. Edinburgh’s Museums The National Museum of Scotland has recently reopened after an extensive refurbishment, and it is stunning. There are hands on activities and displays for children. The space if open and inviting. It is well worth a visit. The only negative is parking- or the lack of it! Also near by is the Museum of Childhood, on the historic Royal Mile. I remember loving it as a child, however the old building it is housed in does not lend itself to buggies. 4. Cramond Parking at old Cramond Kirk and walk down to the sea front. There is a lovely promenade to walk along, and a beach. Check the notice board for tide times, as at low tide you can walk the half mile out to Cramond Island. 5. Gorgie City Farm This is a fantastic inner city project. This small farm allows easy access to farm animals and vegetable growing to children from the city. It is a charity project, so a donation would be gratefully received. The farm has sheep, pigs, chickens, and a pet corner. There is also a play area...

How to encourage learning through the summer?

Here in Scotland summer holiday’s tend to be around 6 weeks. Some think that is too long not to be learning. I have fond memories of the long summer break. And as a homeschooler I find the summer break refreshing, as well as needed to prepare for the year ahead! However, I also think it beneficial that young minds still do some work! The challenge is to provide learning opportunities that do not feel like “school”. Here are a few ideas: 1. A Summer Journal I bought cheap notebooks, covered them with blank paper. The children decorated them, and they can write about things they have done through the summer, that they have enjoyed. I find writing exercises that involve them writing about themselves are always a bit of a hit! 2. Summer Reading Challenge Libraries often run these through the summer. Children are encouraged to read 6 books over the summer months. If your library does not run one you can devise your own family reading challenge, with sticker charts and certificates at the end. 3. Summer Art Projects With spare time, this is a good idea for a wet day. Consider looking at an artist, or a art style. We had a look at Vincent Van Gough, then drew a flower picture along that theme. I like we website Art Projects for Kids for inspiration (art is not my strong point!) 4. Go on a mini-beast hunt! This can be done in the garden, a local park, or near by wood. The nature detectives website offers a free mini-beast hunt sheet to print off. 5. Educational Trips Trips to castles, museums, farms, etc are all fun family activities in the summer, but all have an educational element to them. 6. Learn a new craft Again with time to spare this could be a good time to teach a new craft, like sewing, knitting, or woodcraft. Learning a useful skill can provide a child with hours of fun, and entertainment, and may lead to a more serious hobby. But above all, education is about instilling a love of learning. Play and adventure is learning. So although a long break may not look like learning, children are learning all the time. And it is so important there are times of play and good simple fun! Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...
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