Let’s go fly a kite

We’ve been having a great run of sunshine lately, which has meant lots of lovely fresh air and easy outdoor play for us.

When we woke up to yet another beautiful day at the weekend, we decided to head to the coast. I had visions of sandcastles and stretching out on the sand basking in the warmth… Despite the sunshine, however, when we got there it was both freezing cold and ridiculously windy!

We could see the waves racing along off shore and the kite surfers and wind surfers were out in packs, enjoying the blustery conditions. We marvelled at the kite surfers leaping into the air on their boards and had fun spotting all the colourful kites in the sky.

It was a bit too windy for us to venture onto the beach but, luckily, we had our own small kite with us, so we set off to a grassy area behind the sea road to fly it.

Little Miss A was so excited! We have done kite flying with her a couple of times before, but she lost interest very quickly. This time, she was fascinated by the whole set up process, ‘helping’ her Daddy and watching very carefully.

Kite preparation

Then came time to launch it. After one false start, it was soon soaring and looked gorgeous with its bright tail streaming against the blue sky.

Little Miss A took the string, her face a picture of delight and concentration! The husband had made a ‘safety’ string so we wouldn’t lose the kite if she let go but she kept a really tight hold.

kite flying

Her favourite bit was running along with the string in her hands, watching the kite swoshing and sweeping along with her.
There is something so joyful and exhilarating about watching a kite bounce along in the air and I couldn’t help but giggle along with Little Miss A.

kite flying

After we’d had a good play, the husband brought it down and packed it away, while Little Miss A amused herself pulling up some clumps of grass. She held her hand up experimentally, letting the blades go into the wind. We talked about what we could learn from watching the grass blow away, with Little Miss A telling me knowledgeably: “It tells us which way the wind is blowing.” I was impressed with her conclusion. Since I’ve become a mum, I am so often amazed at the natural instinct of children to experiment with their surroundings through their play – and how much they pick up from this.

Kite packed away, we headed to a nearby playpark which was in a bit more of a sheltered spot. This is a really great place: part of the small nature reserve, it contains several pieces of play equipment designed to look like some of the insects that can be found in the reserve.

Wolf spider slide

There are boards with information about each insect. Perhaps my favourite nugget was about the clouded yellow butterfly, whose creamy yellow colour supposedly gave rise to the name ‘butter-fly’. Whether it’s true or not, I love the idea of it!

caterpillar climber

Little Miss A had a brilliant time clambering, climbing, running, sliding. When we last visited, she was only eighteen months old so she was able to get so much more out of the equipment now she is nearly four. There was’t much that was suitable for Baby E but she enjoyed laying on the basket swing with her Daddy.

Spider web climbing

We rounded off the day by finding a small soft play off the seafront and then treated ourselves to some delicious ice cream, perched on the beach wall watching the last of the kitesurfers with the sunshine sparkling on the water. Just lovely!

Learning for Life

Playing at the science park

Hands-on science exploration, disguised as play!

Racing ducks

We were in Sussex over Easter, spending some time with my family. As usual, we had a jam-packed time, catching up with friends and enjoying family days out. I love taking Little Miss A to places I visited as a child but on Good Friday we discovered somewhere completely new to me, the Observatory Science Centre.

I didn’t know much about it beforehand but I’m so glad we ventured there as it is the sort of museum every area needs: a fully hands-on, interactive experience where kids (and grown ups!) can have a go at everything and not even realise that they are learning in the process.

The centre has indoor galleries, domes with huge telescopes (that you can visit on guided tours) plus a lovely outdoors space featuring a discovery park and a water zone.

Although it was a grey, drizzly day, we took advantage of a break in the rain to explore the outdoors areas first. Little Miss A couldn’t wait to get stuck in – and her Daddy was pretty excited too! In fact, there were times when I wasn’t sure who was having more fun…

We found a circuit powered by water, with wheels and pulleys and pumps and an Arcamedes screw transporting the water round. Little Miss A found this fascinating, watching our demonstrations carefully, before insisting on doing it all herself, heaving the wheels around to make the various parts work.

Water circuit

“I is having to work very hard to make this move, Daddy.”

Water circuit experiments

There was also a water table with several hands-on (or hands-in!) activities that Little Miss A loved exploring.

Water table

There were sections forĀ building dams, constructing waterways to race ducks, turning taps to make fountains work…

Water fountain

… Or just for enjoying getting your hands wet!

The discovery park was equally as enticing. Little Miss A was possibly on the younger end of the suitable age range for this section but it didn’t stop her running around from exhibit to exhibit to try her hand at each one.

Sound tubes

There was all sorts of equipment, including a giant ‘marble’ run, various sound tubes, a huge wobbly balance board and a fab climbing frame shaped like a DNA helix!

DNA climbing frame

Once we pried ourselves away from the outdoor fun, we headed to the indoors exhibits, which covered topics such as light, the solar system, forces and magnetics. While Little Miss A is still a bit young to understand the explanations that went with every experiment, she had so much fun pushing buttons, pulling levers, building, knocking down, peering through microscopes… It was a great way to introduce science and I can imagine that she would get something different out of it with every passing year, as her understanding grows.

Indoors at the science centre

Baby E wasn’t left out of the fun, either! She was absolutely fascinated with many of the exhibits, loving watching various items moving and swinging and changing colour.

We’ll be back in Sussex in the summer and are already tempted to add this to our list of places to visit then, as we just had such a brilliant time and could have easily spent longer there. It’s also inspired me to start collecting ideas (on Pinterest, of course) for simple science experiments that we can do in the garden at home, now that Little Miss A has a taste for it!

Learning for Life

A sunny week

We’ve had so much fun this week, playing outdoors and enjoying the beautiful spring sunshine.

It started while we were away on Easter Monday, meeting friends for a lovely, relaxed catch up at the park. The kids ran around and played (even together a little bit!) while we chatted and basked in the warmth after a chilly weekend. I was so totally unprepared that I even got a little burnt!

Back home, Tuesday saw us at our local park with some of my antenatal friends. Little Miss A has known this group since she was born, seeing them so often that they all now play together really nicely. After running around the play park, they settled into a game of collecting grass cuttings and making ‘birds nests’ to sit in! It was lovely to watch their imaginative play and listen to their conversations with each other. I stayed on a bit longer with my two and the nesting kept Little Miss A occupied for another 20 minutes or so while her sister slept. It’s always useful when it works out like that!

Making bird nests

Wednesday saw us venturing further afield for a proper day out… I’m slowly getting a bit braver, taking both girls out on my own to places other than the park and toddler groups and friends’ houses! It’s only taken six months or so to work up to it, haha.

We met a friend and her two children at a nearby animal and adventure park. I didn’t get any pictures as I was too busy watching Little Miss A like a hawk! She had so much fun running around, bouncing on trampolines, whizzing down giant slides, watching ducks racing (really – the ‘quacky races’ with comical looking Indian Runner ducks), feeding goats, spinning on roundabouts and more. It was exhausting but great to widen the scope of my days out with the girls.

On Thursday, we woke to yet more sunshine, hooray! We headed to our local park again to meet friends for a picnic. Their kiddies are a bit older so Little Miss A couldn’t quite keep up with their games – and had to stay closer to Mummy than they did! But she loved trying out their frisbees (I think we might need to get her one of her own) and she did some brilliant kicking and throwing of her little football, which she is starting to get really into now. Plus there was time for digging in the mud round the trees!

Under the tree

Back home, we spent the rest of the afternoon in our suntrap garden. Little Miss A made potions while Baby E cruised around our deck, peeping out at her sister every now and then. I’m looking forward to lot more chilled out afternoons like that over the coming months (well, as chilled as it gets with two littlies, anyway!).

Making potions

Today is Friday and amazingly there has been yet more sunshine. I decided to take the girls to a local farm shop that has a great outdoor play area, along with a few animals and a couple of short trails.

We picnicked first on some goodies bought at the shop (including delicious olive, pepper and feta foccacia – so bad for my diet but so good to eat!). Then I let Little Miss A loose on the play area, which has a ‘castle’ slide with small house underneath, a wiggly snake rope swing, some wooden climbing and balancing bits and pieces, and a tractor. It’s a really lovely space for outdoor play, especially now Little Miss A is older. Today, she spent most of her time on the tractor as the “farm girl who fixes it”. This involved taking handfuls of bark chippings and rubbing them on the wheels or stuffing them in the ‘engine’, and it occupied her for ages.

Tractor girl

Baby E was getting rather grumpy but it turned out she just wanted a go too, sitting happily on the wheels watching her sister playing.

Baby E on tractor

After I got fed up standing in the same spot for half an hour, we set off to explore one of the trails, which led to the small fishing lakes and bird hide. We haven’t done this before and, apart from me being slightly nervous that Little Miss A would dart off and fall in the lake, it was a good wind down activity as the spot was lovely and peaceful (until we arrived, anyway!).

Swan on lake

We peeped out of the bird hide and spotted some geese and a swan, with Little Miss A much more interested than I thought she would be. Next time, we’ll take some binoculars for a better look.

Peeping out of the bird hide

On our way back, we found some “alarmas” (or llamas…) and had just enough time for a few swings on the wiggly rope snake before heading home for teatime.

Llamas on the farm

Our week of sunshine has been fab and just what we needed to survive the Easter holidays, with no preschool to help with entertainment.

Fingers crossed there are many more sunny weeks to come now we’re in April!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall