Archive for November, 2010

Advent 2010

November 30, 2010

Possum is 4 years 7 months

Bandicoot is 2 years 5 months

Today we are moving on to our new study theme:  Advent and Christmas.  This is planned to carry us through to the Epiphany.

For our Christmas countdown (December 1-25) we are using these books:

We are using this for our morning devotions

Then each evening we are using this book:

This is a gorgeous book!  We have the accompanying Advent Calendar, too, the one that Benjamin Bear opens each night with his mother in the book.  We have been using this one since Possum was 1 1/2.


Some Other Garden Games

November 24, 2010

Possum is 4 years 6 months

Bandicoot is 2 years 4 months

Here are a few of the miscellaneous activities we have had with the garden unit.  They aren’t really tied to a particular book or week, but are some that the boys have enjoyed.

These are pasta flower math mats.   The idea is to take turns rolling the die and you get to put that many "flowers" on the stems on your mat.

I struck a few problems with this:

  • I couldn’t find fiori pasta anywhere!  What gives?  Eventually I found some wheel shaped pasta.
  • I forgot the pasta while I was tinting it, so it all went soft. (Oops.)
  • The timbales where a little big, making it a bit awkward for little fingers to place them on the mat, as there wasn’t much room in between the stems.

All those problems, of course, could be solved by using something else for the flowers (pictures, buttons etc).

  • There are a LOT of stems on a page for Possum, and ridiculously too many for Bandicoot’s attention span.  (Solved by having them complete a sheet together.)
  • Oh, and Bandicoot can’t count, but he still had fun.

These are flower attribute cards.  They can be sorted by colour or by flower size.  I found them here.

Or of course, you could plant them in playdough and make a beautiful flower garden.

More posts will be coming…

November 22, 2010

Just to let you know that there are more posts coming…  This pregnancy has been a little more taxing than we hoped.  We have still been doing lots of activities here, but my blogging has been slow.

Keep watching!

Handa’s Surprise

November 17, 2010

Possum is 4 years and 6 months

Bandicoot is 2 years and 4 months

The next book we read in our garden series was another Handa book.  It isn’t exactly a gardening book, but it is all about fruit.

In this book, Handa takes a basket of fruit as a gift to her friend Akeyo.  There are various goings-on around her on the way, involving many local animals, all told in the pictures.  Needless to say, when she reaches Akeyo’s village there is a surprise for both of them.

This got us talking about fruit.  We also went a little crazy in the fruit and vegetable department so that we could come home and try all sorts of different fruit.  It was delicious and the boys had a great time eating it all.

We also dug out the wooden fruit and veges to play with again.  It surprises me how much fun they continue to have with them.  They are also very impressed with the felt strawberrries I made.

And we revisited these books again:

"Flowers" "Vegetables" "Fruit"

I cannot praise them highly enough.  The boys love them and they have learnt so much from them.  They are definitely firm favourites here.

Now what could we possibly do for a craft activity?  Hmm.  Boys who love mess…  boys who love paint…  Ah!  I know!  Fruit stamping!

Bandicoot could not get enough of this.  He kept making more and more beautiful pictures.  Once he realised he could stamp and leave an impression on the paper he was hooked.  The colours completely appealed to him as well.  He just kept climbing back up to the (outside) table and doing more.

And as for Possum… well he really isn’t into stamping, but he loved the effect of the fruit juice mixing with the paint.  He really is a whole lot more into colour and texture than form.

We also worked on these dot painting sheets.  We didn’t get through them all, but the boys had fun with the ones that they did.  (They are not so keen on such prescribed activities, especially when it comes to artwork.)  Still, paint is paint!


November 10, 2010

Possum is 4 years and 6 months

Bandicoot is 2 years and 4 months


Martinmas is on 11th of November.  It is the traditional thanksgiving festival in Europe.  We don’t live in Europe, but I thought it would be a nice occasion to celebrate.

There was no way I was going to do a Lantern Walk with the boys – not in our lovely long days of daylight savings, but we did make these beautiful lumieres out of milk bottles.

Even this was under much duress as the it was such good bike riding weather and the boys were not happy about sitting still!

(Yes, that is Bandicoot crawling down the stairs on his stomach…)

In the few moments that they were actually still, I told them to story of St Martin and we discussed some things that we were thankful for.  That night at dinner, by the light of our lumieres, we added those things to our grace.

My Pumpkin Pie Recipe

November 8, 2010

Here is my Pumpkin Pie recipe.  It is a hybrid of several recipes that I found on the internet.  It was shown in these posts – here and here.


2 eggs

55 g (1/4 cup) brown sugar

2 tablespoons maple syrup

250 g (1 cup) cooked mashed pumpkin (about 350g uncooked) <- I always roast my big chunk of pumpkin whole, wrapped in foil, in a slow oven until very soft.  Then I scoop out the seeds.  The flesh is nice and mushy, like mashed pumpkin only yummier!

125 ml (1/2 cup) cream

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon of ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon salt <- I can’t remember if I added this or not


I used a Pampas pastry case, thawed.

Blind bake the pastry case for about 10 minutes – I didn’t even put any weights in it.

To make the filling, beat eggs, sugar and maple syrup in a small bowl with electric beaters until thick. Stir in the pumpkin, cream and spices.

Pour filling into pastry case; bake in moderate oven for about 40 minutes or until filling is set; cool.

I served this with "Maple Cream" – cream and a slurp of maple syrup, whipped together.  Yum, yum.

Mortimer’s First Garden

November 7, 2010

Possum is 4 years and 6 months

Bandicoot is 2 years and 4 months


Sorting seeds…


Tallying seeds…


IMG_9224 Counting seeds…

Counting seeds into pots…  IMG_9222


A really great fun game of feeding sunflower seeds to the Crow (oh no!)


Flowers and bees colour match game.  Always a favourite.


Planting seeds…

IMG_9111 IMG_9102 IMG_9103 IMG_9104 IMG_9105    IMG_9109 IMG_9110


And just ‘cos it is pretty darn cute!


More Harvesting and Sowing

November 7, 2010

Possum is 4 years and 6 months

Bandicoot is 2 years and 4 months

Yay!  Time to harvest more goodies from our vege patch!

We harvested the last of the potatoes and broad beans.

The carrots were ready, too. 

Apparently, they were sweet and delicious.  I wouldn’t know.  The boys ate them all!

We planted tomato seedlings and strawberries, too.  We haven’t had much luck with either – the strawberries are not enjoying the wet weather and some critter (I am guessing something small and furry) has eaten all our tomatoes before they ripened!

Do you know what these seeds are?

They have been carefully planted…

They are radish seeds!  They are supposed to take 6 weeks to maturity, but we will see – everything seems to take a lot longer in our garden.

And here is a gratuitous cute shot of Bandicoot.

Eddie’s Garden

November 6, 2010

Possum is 4 years 6 months

Bandicoot is 2 years 4 months

Reading "Eddie’s Garden" by Sarah Garland with the boys gave us a great opportunity to get out of the house again – always a nice thing to do as the weather warms up in the Spring time.

This is quite a long book with a complex story line, especially for Bandicoot, and it had been suggested to me that we could read it almost as a chapter book over a few days.  However, the boys were not having that!  They wanted it read to them complete and more than once, too.

It is the lovely story of a boy, his little sister and his Mum planting a garden.  They discuss what to grow, purchase the items they need, prepare and plant, tend the garden, harvest and have a picnic in the yard.  The pictures are a lot like real life, too – dirt, random diggings, immature plants dug up etc.  I think the boys could really relate to the goings-on in the book.

And, this followed quite nicely from "Pumpkin Day", too, as Eddie’s little sister, with a great lesson in patience, grows a pumpkin which the family make into a pumpkin pie for their picnic.

Another lovely thing that the children in the story did was build a bean tee-pee.  They planted beans in a circle, leaving a space for an entrance and staked the planted to join in the middle, making a tent. I thought that this would be a fun thing to do, perhaps with sunflowers…

But in the meantime, it was time to return to one of our favourite play things –SEEDS!  We had lots of new activities this time.



First we sorted different kinds of seeds into ice cube trays…






The idea had been to use tweezers to do this…





…but fingers were a bit easier (I love this picture of Bandicoot’s fingers!)





Actually sorting the the seeds was a bit too much for Bandicoot, but he enjoyed transferring them back and forth.



It was a different matter for Possum:

He even enjoyed discussing the different seeds – identifying them, discussing their attributes and those of the plants into which they grow.  I was very impressed!  It was interesting that evening when DH came home and stepped on a rogue seed on the floor.  "What’s this?" he asked.  "A beetroot seed, Daddy" answered Possum.  DH laughed but indeed it was.  (And if you are interested, that seed in the second compartment from the left is a betroot seed.)

After we finished sorting seeds, Possum extended the activity by counting the different ones on a 10 x 10 grid.  (Apparently this does all sorts of things like introducing base 10, working on fine motor skills, developing concentration etc etc.  Or you might just consider it fun…)

And then, once you are finished playing with all those seeds, what do you do to keep them from making a terrible mess from then after?  COLLAGE!!!

Possum decided to make a dinosaur, and he used puffy paint for the legs and spikes.

When we went out into the garden, we did a fun, quiet time activity.  I didn’t anticipate how hard it would be to get the boys engaged in it, but once they were, they really enjoyed it.

First we sat very quietly with our eyes closed and listened.  We discussed what sounds we could hear – insects, traffic, a lawn mower, the wind in the trees…

Then we lay on our backs and looked up to see what we could see – clouds, blue sky, aeroplane, trees, birds…

Then we used magnifying glasses to look into the grass.  We looked at the different blades of grass, at the creatures living in the grass, at the weeds, at the dirt (yeah, that bit was a hit!)

After that we went and drew some nature journal pictures.  They didn’t complete the sheets quite the way I had planned, but they completed them in their own spirit of the activity, so that is enough for this teacher.

This is Possum’s.  He drew a big gum tree.  The roots go all the way down into the ground to drink the water.  He also drew a rain storm (it had been raining a lot just before we did this activity.)  Finally he drew a butterfly.

This is Bandicoot’s.  He drew lots of grass and lots of rain.  Then he asked me to draw him an ant, a bee and a butterfly.  He coloured in the butterfly, but was content to leave the others.

Finally, as an extra activity, I pulled out this game.

It is a perennial favourite around here.  The boys will play it over and over again, and they love playing it together, too, which is always a bonus.


November 6, 2010

Possum is 4 years and 6 months

Bandicoot is 2 years and 4 months

We have some close friends who live in the Hunter Valley.  They are close enough that the menfolk have served in each other’s bridal parties and the kids call the respective parents, "Uncle" and "Aunty".

We were invited to spend the weekend at their place.  Unfortunately, this coincided with my pregnancy being at a rather taxing point, so I was unsure if I would be able to manage the trip, especially with the men planning to attend a local beer festival for about half a day.  However, L, my female friend, suggested taking all the kids (her son included) for a walk while I rested.  This sounded like bliss to me except for one minor glitch – my kids will not go to anyone.  ANYONE.

Somehow, L worked a bit of magic.  Another friend of hers was away, and she was looking after their chickens.  She said to the boys, "Come on, let’s go and feed the chickens" and off they went!  They were a little concerned at leaving me behind, but when we told them there was a hill and Mummy couldn’t walk up big hills anymore until after the baby came, they trotted off and had the time of their lives!  In fact, they had so much fun, that they couldn’t wait until the next day to go again.

Unfortunately, all the best footage is video, but this is them at the gate to the chicken pen.

They came back full of stories about chickens and eggs, and the colours of eggs and finding them, and chicken feed and filling water bowls…  An absolute wealth of information.  It is magic to see them so excited about something new.

So when we got home, it seemed like an appropriate time to dig out this book:

It had been lent to me, but we had not yet had the chance to read it.  It is a delightful counting book (not that you would realise it is a counting book) about a little African girl named Handa.  Every morning she feeds her grandmother’s hen, but one morning she cannot find her.  It is about the adventure of Handa and her friend Akeyo as they search for the hen with a nice surprise at the end.

The boys really, really loved this book.  It was great to read it while the chicken adventure was still fresh in their minds.