Friday, 16 November 2012

Craftboxes and Cocktails...

I may have gone overboard a little yesterday, so today I will refrain from mentioning the spiky creatures today (but they're doing very well, thank you for asking).

As I was saying in yesterday's blog, it feels like we're returning to our version of 'normal' this week -having lots of fun together, with the pace slowing back down to a more bearable one.

The boys have been making some lovely wintry collages - Youngest's was inspired by a piece of corrugated card that he found, & things just progressed from there.  This in turn inspired Eldest to make his own wintry collage, and then Middle just got all enthusiastic about the contents of the Craft Box, making a colourful piece of experimental art out of silver card and cellophane.  By the way, the Craft Box is given capital letters because of its near-hallowed status... we all love delving into it to see what it contains, and what we can make out of its contents.  However, I have observed in myself a curious phenomenon, and I wonder if others might identify (I hope so, otherwise I am exposing myself as a total freak-show).  I call it craft box stinginess.  I love craft; the boys love craft.  I find lovely things online in shops, in catalogues, and buy lovely things to put in the craft box, imagining all the beautiful things that can be made out of them at a later date.  And then when the boys find them and want to use them, do I enjoy the process?  To be honest, not entirely, no.  I get all twitchy, thinking "don't waste it!"  I mean, come on!  What is the point of buying craft stuff for the craft box if not to be used for craft...?  I'm not generally a stingy person I don't think, but when the boys get excited & enthused about things they can make, I really have to bite my lip to stop myself from saying "don't use it all/ don't ruin it"!  For goodness sake - it just makes no sense.  I am trying to train myself to encourage them to use as much as they like (as long as they tidy up afterwards: big Craft Box issue!).  Case in point: yesterday Eldest found the pipe cleaners - we have a bag of at least a hundred. He promptly got creative & made some kind of headwear incorporating jutting-out-things that looked like antennae but were actually lasers, so I was reliably informed.  Did I enjoy his creativity?  No, I asked him how many he had used!!! (I know, I am embarrassed to admit it)  Maybe it's a throw-back from the classroom where we had to make things last, or give each child an equal share.  Whatever, it's an alarming characteristic that I would like gone.  I mean, why on earth would I need to hoard multi-coloured pipecleaners???  If he uses them all we'll get some more - or something else.  I bought them for craft - he used them for craft: that was a lovely bit of D&T with imaginative play thrown in, I reckon.  Sometimes I could really gag myself! Anyway, enough stupidity on my part - here is the lovely art...

"Antarctica" by Youngest

"Snowman" by Eldest

"Art" by Middle

Now I know TV isn't everyone's cup of tea, so if that includes you, feel free to scroll down a bit.  Here, although the thought of no television at all has a genuine appeal, we've never gone as far as throwing it out (especially since we were generously given a lovely big HD one).  As I mentioned some weeks ago, while I was reading Ross Mountney's new book, "A Funny Kind of Education" one of the tips I picked up there was to check out the BBC's school programmes schedule.  It's easy enough to do, you can find it online here.  The primary programmes air at 5am, Tuesday - Friday on BBC2, so I have been setting our sky box to record them - and boy, have we been enriched by them!  So far, amongst other things we have learned lots about space - planets & stars, the Bloodhound (designed and expected to be the world's fastest car), we've 'visited' London, Somerset & the Scilly Isles with a mouse called William Whiskerson, and we've learned about how wool, paper and glass are made with Curious Cat.  Also, not in the 'Learning Zone' programming, but still inspiring, is Junior Masterchef (currently on CBBC).  The boys love it, especially Eldest.  Today it helped to build a learning moment that was initially prompted by my ongoing efforts to get the boys to eat enough fruit.  Remembering how they loved making "cocktails" a while ago, so I bought some cartons of different fresh juices, and today we had our own Cocktail Hour, just before lunch.  First we poured each juice into a cup and all had a taste (getting Youngest to try new things is often an up-hill struggle, but in this case 'hooray' for his brothers' enthusiasm that carried hm along).  The boys all gave the juice a score of 0-5 to show how nice they thought it was.  They were unanimous on disliking pink grapefruit, but enjoyed the others...

Next the boys made up their own blends of different juices and we all had a try (the lemon slices in the photo below are an essential part of Cocktail Hour - and they also squeezed some fresh lemon into their cocktails)  Eldest even experimented with putting the pink grapefruit in a drink to see if other juices might make it taste better.  After that we mixed them up and had a "Junior Masterchef" taste test to see if we could tell which fruit juices were in each cocktail.

Finally they tipped the remaining juices into one glass, and decided that Mummy could finish it off.  They (and I) had all had quite a lot of juice by that point, so I was happy to oblige.

Educational, tasty and healthy!  Happy Mummy!

So generally, like I said, it's been a lovely week.  We've had friends over to share the delights of Slimy Slugs with, and enjoyed a lovely woodland walk with them too (even if we didn't find the cones we were after and had to go home too soon); we've played a Christmas game together (at a moment where things were getting crazy and I needed to calm them down - out came the first Christmas game of the year).  Some of the questions and answers got a bit surreal and giggly (You may have thought the virgin Mary had a baby called Jesus, but according to my lot she had a mammoth called Pete?); we've played on Reading Eggs (and printed off some of the 'collectors cards' that Eldest has earned on Reading Eggspress); we've been on GridClub and all enjoyed the 'reduced' version of Frankenstien, as well as watching Michael Rosen playing with words... oh, and finally today we did a spot of baking as well - I'm saying nothing about the theme...


  1. So understand the craft stinginess! I am like it with stickers - we have a huge box of stickers and my instinct is always - 'don't use the best stickers'!!

    1. Haha, thanks Stella - glad I'm not the only nutty one :) I have to keep reminding myself that if my boys don't use them now, I'll end up giving them to others when mine have outgrown them - either that or I'll take up pipecleaner sculpting in my 'empty nest' days... :) x

  2. Ha! Yes, I found myself doing precisely that when I looked after my niece and nephew recently. My craft box hadn't been touched for years (my ds is still too young), so I gave myself a stern talking to!