How to make a Paper Windmill

Alice has had her heart set on us making our own windmill/pinwheel for some time now. I’ve been putting it off thinking I would need to buy special materials to make it with but after a quick browse on the internet I realised how simple making one was. DSCN5761 DSCN5762 You will need Plain A4 sheet paper (or scrap book paper squares), Straw, Push pin, Ruler, Pencil, Scissors, Blue tac or glue. First you’ll need to make the A4 paper into a square by folding it diagonally across until the sides meet and then cutting the extra paper off.

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Once you’ve done that you have your square. Fold the square in half diagonally and then fold it again diagonally making a triangle. Open it up and mark the centre with the pencil. Then using your ruler draw four lines from each corner almost into the centre. Leave about 2cm gap from the centre. Cut along the lines.

DSCN5767 DSCN5770 Decorate both sides of the square to your hearts content.DSCN5772 DSCN5773 Add a small piece of blue tac to each corner. Fold each corner in turn up to the centre and push to stick (You can use glue instead of blue tac). Once you’ve done that take the push pin and push it first through the centre of the windmill and then attach that to the top of the straw.DSCN5800 DSCN5775 Very quick and easy! We went outside to test it out and it wasn’t windy enough. We used the fan inside to get the windmill spinning.

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Alice was very happy with her spinning windmill.
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Autumn Leaves

“Come little leaves”

said the Wind one day,

“Come to the meadows with me 

and play. Put on your dresses

of red and gold; for summer is

past, and the days grow cold”

George Cooper

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Some beautiful fallen leaves gathered during our Sunday walk to the local park.

We had a very quiet weekend. There is something about autumn that just makes me want to curl up like a cat beside a log fire and sleep. When the days become short and nights get colder and longer there is a greater temptation to stay indoors with a good book and a cup of tea. The girls fortunately have other ideas. We meandered down the streets to a local park and explored some areas we had not seen before. There is quite a large selection of different birds in the park and Alice is particularly fond of the pukekos. Their long skinny legs and giant feet make watching them walk on dry land quite amusing. Megan is more fond of the black swans, elegantly swimming on the water. The geese with their snowy white feathers, sturdy thick necks and pushy attitude, always make me laugh. The girls enjoyed peering into the water in search of the eels and I had to remind them not to lean too far over the edge. After a go on the swings and merry-go-round we headed home. By the time we arrived back at our front door our pockets were bursting with leaves and Meg had dragged a large branch with her all the way back.

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Designing an under the sea landscape
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I had fun painting too!

Alice painting some leaves. We decided that they look like little fish and Alice gave them names.

Grumpy fish reminds me of a sad plaice. There was also Easter Egg fish, Sparkly Green fish, Spotty fish and Happy Pink Faced fish! DSCN5729 DSCN5746

Grow your own crystals

Now we found this took a couple of attempts before we got the solution right! We started by using washing soda crystals dissolved in a pan of hot water. I didn’t really do any measurements which probably didn’t help matters! I knew we needed a saturated solution and I figured we had achieved that but we waited for three days and still no crystals formed. DSCN5670DSCN5676

The girls enjoyed making different shapes out of the pipe cleaners. Just had to remind them to make them small enough to come back out the opening of the glass container when the crystal had grown.

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Meg made a koru (spiral) and a love heart with her pipe cleaners.
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Alice helped tip the washing soda crystals into the pan of water.

Then we filled the glass containers with the hot solution and waited, and waited……..

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Waiting……. nothing happened! Must need a recipe and measure it out properly!!!

Then I mixed up a solution with borax powder. Hot water in a pan bring it to a simmer and add the powder. For one cup of water you need three tbsp of borax. Remember borax is poisonous so supervision is needed for young children. Multiply depending on volume of water needed for your glass containers. Add food colouring if you wish.

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Finally we have a result!

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The girls came home from school and were pretty happy to see the crystals.

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Sea glass mosiac/collage

Well we decided after a few suggestions to go with a mosaic for the butterfly. Alice wanted something she could have in her room so we’ve used the back of a picture frame to glue the sea glass onto.

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Transferring the butterfly was a little tricky

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Dyeing some shells blue and making a contrasting background.

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It was quite hard to create a background where the butterfly didn’t just fade into. We will see what it looks like once it’s grouted tomorrow.

Sea Glass Creations

My girls are like magpies collecting taonga (treasures) wherever they go exploring. I think they get this mainly from their Dad who is fond of collecting too. I am pleased they have this gathering trait as it lends itself well to art and craft creations. Perhaps I used to be like this when I was younger but since having children I glean great satisfaction from clearing surfaces in great swoops. I think this has something to do with having a busy mind and literally needing to de-clutter to keep my sanity! The girls and hubby get frustrated with me though, because I have been known to get carried away with the minimalist look, leaving them wondering where some treasures have gone! An organised craft area/bookshelf that can visually store little bits and pieces could be a good compromise.

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This is the sea glass collected by my 3 magpies.

I’ve been wondering what on earth to do with this collection of pretty glass. Whilst Alice had a nap this afternoon I decided to have a little play with the sea glass on the table.

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Much more fun to let Alice have a go…

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Alice wanted some help with the wings of her butterfly so I got a book that had some pretty pictures of butterflies in it for her to look at.

She was committed to alternating light and dark pieces of glass around the edge of the wings. A theme continued from previous pieces of art work. I was tempted to tell her that she should keep it dark all around the edge but I shut my mouth (which was hard) and let her do it her way.

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I did point out the antennae on the picture, which she added in her own unique way.

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Thinking about how to frame this so we can show it off. Any ideas would be welcome!

What can children learn from the garden?

Have you ever noticed how young children are drawn instinctively to nature and authentic experiences? Children are born with an innate  curiousity. They love to get their hands dirty and learn by doing and taking part. According to Pennie Brownlee, we all learn through our senses but young children learn exclusively through their senses. It is therefore so important for their development to have real rich experiences (Magic Places, 2004).

What better way to demonstrate cycles of life and the wonder of tiny miracles, than planting seeds and bulbs, weeding and repotting. We live in urban Auckland city and have a small postage stamp garden so we have in the past, used pots and trays to grow fruit and vegetables. The delight on my eldest daughters face when she grew, cared for, and picked her first strawberries was wonderful to watch. Now though, our garden is a mess and has been neglected so we need to have a weed and repot and plant some bulbs ready for the spring! Yes it is confusing (I’m a northern hemisphere girl by birth) we live in the southern hemisphere so we are currently enjoying our autumn!

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“Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them” A.A. Milne

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“To see a world in a grain of sand

And Heaven in a wild flower

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour”

William Blake

Painted Sticks

Our youngest is getting big enough to go for longer walks now and we’ve started taking advantage of this. I have never been into going to the gym or sports of any kind but walking that’s something I’ve always loved. I also think for young children fostering this love of getting out and exploring your local environment whether it be urban or rural is a vital part of their development. It seems that children increasingly spend longer and longer periods indoors on TV, lap tops, and phones or engaged in organised activities after school.  Their connection with nature and self directed play with other children is decreasing. Dr Peter Gray gives an interesting TED talk about the decline of creative thinking and the rise of narcissism in children over the decades since the 1950’s.

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Local walk with the whanau this Easter weekend.

His research carries a powerful message and as an early childhood teacher and a mum of two young children I wonder whether I allow my own children enough freedom throughout their days. I do like creative projects for this very reason and whilst they are organised, in the sense that I have offered the supplies to my children and presented it to them in an aesthetically pleasing way, the creativity, design, and imagination is left to them.

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Sticks collected by both my girls on our recent walks.

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Do share your thoughts!