Tag Archives: pond dipping

Pond dipping and playing with trains

We are lucky to have some brilliant places to visit within walking distance from our house.  Two weeks ago, when daddy’s cousin and her son were staying with us for a few days, we had a lovely afternoon out in our local area.  We walked to the Ecology Centre first, where the children did some pond dipping.

Pond dipping 1

They really enjoyed spending time with their big cousin, and also with our friends from Three Kids and a Gluestick who were there too.

Pond dipping 2

There was a lot of leaning over into the water, but this time Tiddler managed not to fall in!

Pond dipping 3

When we had finished pond dipping we explored the grounds some more and found some big stepping stones and a den.

Ecology Centre

We then moved on to the small museum next door, where all the children started by playing with the trains.  Some of them explored the museum further, but Owl and Tiddler were having such a good time at the train table that they didn’t move until it was time to go.

Museum 1

The museum looks out over the ponds and it is very peaceful and relaxing.

Museum 2

At the end of the afternoon we went to the park.  The children had fun testing out the outdoor gym equipment, before finishing with a quick play in the playground.

Pond and playground

It was a lovely afternoon and looking back on it now makes me realise how lucky we are with our friends, our family and the area where we live.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Odds and ends

I’ve lost track of the many things I’ve been meaning to blog but haven’t had time recently, and I’m feeling the need of a random post to download stuff from my brain (and camera), so here it is.

Sunday 16th

The children made pizzas for lunch after church.

Afternoon tea and trains in the garden of a church family.

Monday 17th

Quiet day at home.  Children very busy and creative.  Owl did some measuring with water, and then Monkey decided to do some floating and sinking, and Rabbit and Tiddler joined in.


Tuesday 18th

Granny (my mum) here, children had lots of attention, nice peaceful day.  Owl and Monkey had swimming lessons.

Wednesday 19th

Our home ed group’s “Not back to school picnic.”  Perfect weather, happy children, a lovely day.  Monkey went to Beavers in the evening.

Thursday 20th

The arrival of Supergirl (see my last post.)

Friday 21st – Saturday 22nd

Owl, Monkey and I went on a sleepover for Beavers and Cubs, and we had a really good time.  On Friday we went on a night hike and some of us saw bats (unfortunately Owl and Monkey didn’t and were quite disappointed, so I had to play down the fact that I had seen two!)  We also saw rabbits, beetles, spiders, slugs, snails and some very interesting fungi.  On Saturday we went pond dipping and identified trees.



After the sleepover, we visited a market stall outside the local deli.  We bought chutney, olives, spiced sausage and smoked garlic.  In the evening we picked some of our apples.


Sunday 23rd

After church, a very wet walk to pick brambles, and bizarrely some tomatoes which appeared to be growing in the wild.

And in the evening, a visit from a lovely family with their beautiful new baby boy.

Monday 24th

Monkey and Owl had piano lessons, some friends came over later, and in the evening, thanks to Supergirl babysitting, Suburban Dad and I were able to go to choir together for the first time in a long time.

Tuesday 25th

In the morning I took Rabbit and Tiddler to Toddler Group, while the big boys stayed at home with Supergirl.  This afternoon we had lots of fun with Fimo.  This was the first time we have tried it, and we love it.  It deserves a separate blog post I think, so I will try to do that tomorrow.  Have a look here if you want to buy some!  After that, I took Owl and Monkey to their swimming lessons, while Supergirl took Rabbit to Dramabuds with Tiddler in tow.  The crazy schedule is much more manageable with an extra person around, and Supergirl is certainly living up to her nickname.

More pond dipping…can’t get enough of it

Today we went pond dipping again, this time as part of a larger group of home educators.  It was a 40 minute journey which I found quite stressful as I was tired after a sleepless night, but it was a very successful day and well worth the effort.  To call it pond dipping is an understatement, as it was not a pond but a large lake in a beautiful park which I would love to explore more of in the future – especially when I am not on my own with all four children!  I was a little on edge to start with as I arrived to find the buggy was not in fact in the back of the car, and after Tiddler’s interpretation of pond dipping last time being “dip yourself in the pond” I would have preferred not to have him on the loose all the time.  However, he was very sensible this time and did pretty much what he was told, so he had a good opportunity to catch a few “wiggly fings” (as he joyfully shouted at regular intervals!)

The other three enjoyed having a lot of independence as I couldn’t leave Tiddler for a second, and they all caught some interesting creatures.  At the very last minute, Owl caught a dragonfly nymph skin which is causing great excitement as he has been allowed to bring it home.  I’m not sure I can remember everything but among other things we found water boatmen, leeches, bloodworms, pond snails, water scorpions, newt tadpoles, water hog lice, water spiders, some tiny fish, and larvae of various insects (mosquito and mayfly among others.)  We also saw some damselflies and heard a very noisy marsh frog

We were able to examine our finds more closely back in the classroom, and we looked at a couple of tiny ones using a video microscope which was a wonderful experience.  The children were amazed to see so much detail on the screen and then to look at the creatures themselves which were just tiny dots you could barely see.  We looked at a ramshorn snail and a water flea, and could see their hearts beating.  Then we looked at the dragonfly nymph skin and could even see tiny creatures crawling over its eye.

After the session finished we had our lunch in the outdoor picnic area and the children played for a while, and then we headed back to the carpark, seeing some rabbits on the way.  It started to rain just as we were leaving, and the journey back took much longer than it should as I got lost, mainly because I was so tired.  I feel thoroughly exhausted now but also that good feeling of having learnt stuff, had lots of fresh air and a successful day out with the children.


Dragonfly nymph skin

Ecology Centre visit

On Wednesday afternoon we went to the local Ecology Centre with our Home Ed group.  Owl was in London with Granny and Grandpa, so I only had the younger three children with me.  However many children you have, it always feels a little easier with one less person to organise to get out of the house, although there were moments when I could have done with my biggest helper.  Anyway, we gathered an assortment of fishing nets, buckets, pond life and butterfly identification books, raincoats… and suncream as an afterthought.  We also took our butterflies as we had decided to show them to the group before releasing them in the grounds of the Ecology Centre, which is a perfect butterfly habitat.

We took about 25 minutes to walk there and we met up with the others at the pond.  All the children were very keen to start fishing, and were generally good about sharing nets and were being quite sensible.  To begin with Tiddler was in his buggy, but of course that didn’t last as he was determined to get out and join in.  So I let him, and the consequence was that within 5 minutes, he had fallen in the pond!  Luckily I was holding on to the handle on the back of his Little Life backpack (highly recommended) so I was able to haul him out straight away.  No harm done, but even though he had been in the water for barely a second he was of course thoroughly soaked from head to toe (vest, nappy, trousers, socks and boots completely unusable for the rest of the afternoon) and covered in pond weed.  He was a little bewildered but not too upset.  Now, if this had happened to my first baby, I would of course have had an enormous change bag full of alternative outfits, but he is my fourth.  So he was carrying his own spare nappies in the aforementioned backpack, and that was it.  Luckily the nappies hadn’t got wet, and the sun came out so we made do with a quick clean up, an application of suncream which I hadn’t expected to need and a clean dry nappy.  He ran around very happily in the sunshine for the rest of the afternoon, although his feet did get a bit scratched.

The children had a lovely time fishing, exploring and bug hunting.  We had some amazing close encounters with pond skaters, sticklebacks, pond snails, a leech, newts, frogs, toads, a slow worm, a moorhen and chick, dragonflies and damselflies… and we released our butterflies, who were not at all in a hurry to leave us, so we got a really close look at them. My highlight of the afternoon was watching one of the butterflies sipping nectar from clover, seeing the proboscis uncurled so close up was amazing. I have to admit that the sight of Tiddler covered in pond weed came a close second (bad mummy!)

Where to start?

The last couple of weeks have been so busy that I have been struggling to process any of it enough to write about it here.  I am now sitting on the sofa watching the football, and almost falling asleep, but I really want to write something.  I have no idea where to start, but I thought I would just jump right in and see how it goes.  It may not be the most coherent post ever…

Half term went very fast, with the long weekend at Granny and Grandpa’s house, extended because daddy was working nearby on the Wednesday, a spy-themed afternoon at a local home-ed group on the Thursday and a couple of reasonably quiet days at home catching up on the washing – we must have done other things as well, but I can’t remember much.  We didn’t make it to Dramabuds or football on Saturday, but Owl went to choir and Monkey and Rabbit went to ballet, where there was a guest appearance by Angelina Ballerina herself (which was a little bewildering to say the least).

After some frantic unpacking and repacking we went back to Granny’s house again, visiting RHS Wisley on the way.  We spent three days at Granny’s while Suburban Dad was away at a conference.  We got quite a lot of work done, had our new friend over to play again, played stuck-in-the-mud, grandmother’s footsteps and Lego, Lego, Lego…  We arrived home late on Wednesday night, and I spent Thursday at home with my four and an extra two-year old while my friend had a hospital appointment.  The boys got some work done, the children all played nicely and the small visitor built a very tall Duplo tower and was extremely proud of himself.

This weekend we have had a wonderful time at a family wedding, and we were extremely lucky to be able to stay with friends of the bride and groom for two nights – accommodation for the 6 of us is very hard to come by.  The wedding was lovely, the bride was beautiful; Rabbit was a flower girl and she was beautiful too, and very good.  We went to the reception and had a very enjoyable evening catching up with all the family, and I remember saying many times, we will stay as long as the children are good.  At about half past ten, we thought it was probably time to go back as our hosts had already left!  The following day we returned to the reception venue which was at a farm and they were having an open day.  We spent some more time with the family, and had a lovely and unexpected afternoon of learning and fun.

Highlights of the farm day:

  • watching the sheep shearing
  • looking at the puppies, ferrets and chickens
  • seeing live bees and buying honey (Monkey was very interested in this)
  • making bread and eating it (Rabbit particularly enjoyed this)
  • watching a working blacksmith (who allowed Owl to have a go)
  • chatting to a man making a fence
  • seeing some people making baskets
  • playing with farm toys
  • colouring lots of pictures (Tiddler)
  • collecting wool, feathers, straw, flowers and grasses and using them to decorate sticks

Finally we left the farm rather late in the day, and we had to stop at a service station for supper.  As we set off for home at 7pm, the car broke down, so we ended up making use of the facilities for a further two hours while waiting for the AA.  It could have been worse, I suppose.  If you have to break down, a safe place with toilets, coffee and a play area is ideal!  In the end we were towed home which rounded off the children’s weekend perfectly.

Another thing I have forgotten to blog about is our painted lady caterpillars which arrived about ten days ago.  It has been fascinating to see how quickly they grow, and the children are loving it.  I’m wishing I’d been organised enough to take photos of them at different stages because they have changed a lot already.  Well, it is such a popular activity that I expect we’ll be doing it again next year, so perhaps we’ll do some better recording then.  For now, we are just enjoying observing them.

In the last couple of days, we have done a fair bit of Maths, a little Geography and History and some drawing and writing about our weekend, and this afternoon we went to the local Ecology Centre with another home educating family.  We did pond dipping and bug hunting, and explored the sensory garden (we may have eaten rather a lot of the mint and chives), before an urgent need for the toilet forced us to repair to the pub across the road.  I am sorry for the disturbance we caused with our seven children aged 2 to 8, and I’m not sure the six pounds we spent on a pot of tea and two packets of crisps was quite enough to compensate but that was more or less all the money we had with us!  We then walked home to meet Granny who was taking Monkey on the train to London.   They are spending the night at the flat with Grandpa and going to the National Gallery tomorrow.  (Note to self: get Monkey to blog his Gallery visit when he comes home!)