Thursday, 28 February 2013

I've been crafting!

I do like to wind down gradually in the evenings once my 3 girls are in bed asleep.  I usually watch telly whilst tweeting and like to also do some crafting.  Given the weather has been driven by arctic blasts for the last few weeks I decided to crochet each of my 3 girls a cowl to keep their necks warm.  It has taken me 2 weeks to get them off them long enough to take a photo, eldest still wouldn't part with hers for a photo!  I used chunky wool and a large crochet hook and each cowl only took 1.5hrs so all 3 were completed over 3 evenings.

I crocheted a long foundation chain (measured to make sure it fitted over their heads), joined it to form the circle, chained 3 then crocheted a double crochet (US) or treble crochet (UK) into the second stitch from the hook then into each stitch in the foundation chain after that.  I crocheted about 10 rounds to make a nice thick cowl.   

I've also been doing some cross stitch projects and have finished one and have another WIP that I am working on.  I crocheted the edges of the finished cross stitch, and here it is:  

Apologies for not ironing it before taking pics
And here's my work in progress:

Again apologies for the wrinkled appearance, it lives in my satchel and I cart it around for when i get a spare minute.

What are your works in progress? Do you regularly craft?

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Easy Valentine's Craft - Paper Quilled Hearts

My 3 girls love crafting and came up with this super easy Valentine's craft before school one morning last week.

All you do is cut a heart out of cardboard or paper, cover it in glue then stick paper quills on to it.

To make the paper quills just cut a rectangle from thick paper about the size of a postcard.  Lay a pencil along the longest edge then roll up the paper around it.

Pull the pencil out and roll up the paper again as tightly as you can.  Cut the rolled up paper into slices.  You could cut small, thin spirals from green paper to make leaves if you wanted to.  

Cut a heart, or whatever shape you like out of paper or card.  Dip the bottom of each paper swirl into glue then press it on to the shape.  Alternatively, cover the shape in glue then press the swirls onto it.  Keep going until your shape is covered in paper swirls.  Attach a ribbon to hang it up or glue it to a card.  

This craft is so easy even really little ones can have a go, rolling the paper is fab for fine motor skill development, just make sure the scissors only cut the paper ;o)

Monday, 11 February 2013

How do you prepare for Half Term?

It is Half Term Week for us this week, I know others are look forward to having their Half Term Holiday next week.  It got me wondering, if/how you prepare for Half Term?

I love school holidays! No really I do.  I love not having to traipse to school and back twice a day, all the rushing about, homework and having to remember book bags/PE kits. 

I enjoy spending more time with my 3 girls, they are all growing up so fast it is brilliant just to spend time together doing what we feel like.  To make sure that we get the best out of Half Term Week there’s some preparation/organisation that we do beforehand. 

I like to make sure that the house is organised so we don’t have to traipse to the shops and we have enough craft goodies available for my girls to choose their own activities and be creative.  I try and limit trips to the shops as it saves us money, cuts down on pester power and whinges for treats and is much less stressful for all of us.

The week before Half Term I normally ask my girls if there is anything special that they would like to do.  We agree on a couple of activities and then I schedule them throughout week, so that we have a couple of at home, an outing, a couple of days at home (perhaps with friends over to play) and then a final outing before school starts back.

I find having a change of scenery every couple of days helps make sure that my 3 girls get along without getting too sick of each other.  I usually have a day or two at home at the beginning of the holidays, so everyone can get some rest to recover from the school term, then a couple of days at home at the end of the week so that they head back to school refreshed.  We try to get everything organised for back to school and ready over the weekend to avoid the “night before they go back to school rush to find stuff”.
Stock up on baking ingredients

With all my girls home and visitors coming and going we inevitably tend to go through more food than in term time.  My girls’ favourite activity in the holidays is baking/cooking which is useful as it keeps them amused and feeds them as well.  They all know to help clean up afterwards too which helps keep my stress levels down.  I include extra baking supplies, substantial lunches and snacks in my Meal Plan too.  

Here’s what I make sure I have in the pantry:

Flour – self raising, plain, bread
Sugar - caster, light soft brown, icing
Baking powder and bicarbonate of soda
Vanilla Extract and food colourings
Vegetable oil
Rolled oats or other cereal
Golden syrup
Mixed spice and mixed herbs

I also stock up on crafting goodies

I try and make this as inexpensive as possible.  I keep cereal boxes, egg cartons and some containers instead of putting them in the recycling so we have a range of materials for crafting.  The £1 shop is fab for cheap crafting materials too.  I make sure I have:

Drawing paper
Recycled boxes
Pipe cleaners
Paper plates and cups
Adhesive Tape
Glue – glue sticks and refill sticks for my hot glue gun
String/thin elastic
Do you do anything special to prepare for the school holidays?

Thursday, 7 February 2013

The Tooth Fairy

My 6yo reached a milestone the other day and lost her first tooth.  Apparently it happened when she was in maths, which was a bit boring so she was wiggling her lose tooth. LOL

She bought it home from school in a little brown envelope yesterday and left it on the kitchen table for the tooth fairy to come.  In our household, according to my Mum,  the toothfairy pays £1 per tooth.  We also sprinkle glitter along the path in the backyard and the coin is attached to glittery cardboard cut into a star or flower shape.

I must say it was rather chilly outside for the toothfairy that night, -2 with galeforce winds. Brrrr!

What does the toothfairy do when she visits your house?

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Are your kids bored at school?

I had a long chat with two of my daughters over the weekend.  They aren't as happy at school as they usually are and have been frustrated and at times angry.  Of course I wanted to get to the bottom of why they were unhappy and thought it may have been friendship issues or that they were struggling with the workload at school.  Instead it was the complete opposite, they are bored.

Both of my girls are making progress far over their age related expectations, they always have done.  They are frustrated that the work is too easy, they aren't being challenged and they are bored.  They school they go to is great at helping those children who are struggling and need extra help but once they hit the average expected it seems as if they are not actively encouraged to progress further.  

I've had a chat to quite a few other parents who have children throughout the school and they feel the same, I am a school governor which makes me take an even keener interest.  We were recently inspected by OFSTED who were rather scathing to say the least.

I have chatted to the teachers of both classes that my girls are in, and will also be bringing up the matter  at our Curriculum and Standards Committee meeting on Friday.  There appears to be not enough provision for Gifted and Talented pupils and kids are not encouraged to reach their potential, whatever their talent may be.  I am certainly not suggesting that kids are hothoused or badgered to progress but if they are keen and have potential then there should be a way for them to be challenged and keep them motivated to learn.  I think the problem is that the number of children working above age related expectations is relatively small.  It would probably be a much larger number of children if they were given the opportunity to progress further.

My youngest loves maths and reading and is currently doing Yr 2/3 work despite only starting in Yr 1 in September.  She can't get enough maths and reading time and we have to encourage her to do other things at home sometimes or she would do maths, read and nothing else.  We have been told that she cannot be constantly given more difficult maths work as she will progress too far for them to cope with.  I am annoyed that the school are basically stifling her progress because it is inconvenient for them.  We are quite willing and able to source resources for her to use at home but feel the school should encourage her too.  

My middle daughter is pretty much in the same boat, she is doing Yr 6/7 work but is in Yr 5.  We are being told that the school are reluctant to source Yr 7 resources as that is basically first year of high school level work.  Surely there are other kids that need these resources too, I wonder how other schools in the area cope.  It is frustrating for all of us.  It should be an interesting Curriculum and Standards Committee meeting.

Am I being unreasonable, should the school be doing more?