Sunday, 12 August 2012

Eggbox frenzy in the damp: treasure hunting for kids

I can't claim the idea was mine. Eggbox treasure hunts are a well used idea. But I can claim that, for an easy hour sipping tea while the kids rip flower heads off of your garden plants, this is it.

Take as many egg boxes as there are kids. Paint the egg holes different colours. Type a list of things to find. You can make out mine in a picture. Let them loose, with the instructions to avoid nettles, not rip the entire plant out, and, for the older ones, to get as close to the hue in the eggbox as possible. I left out a book with different types of wild flowers in it for the older ones, so they could label their finds afterwards. Kit yourself out with a jar for the snails, if you are crazy enough to put them on your list. For me this was a no brainer, as the sodding things are eating ALL my spinach, and I have the added bonus of introducing the concept of life (death) cycles to kids via getting them to fling the snack snails at the hens.  Do not put the jar in the kitchen, as I did, and forget about it for 24 hours, to wake in the morning to silvery trails. Get one magnifying glass.

Send them out into the wild. Let them get the stuff, run riot, argue over what is orange and what is yellow. Then, because I am mean, make them draw a picture of a close up, using the magnifying glass, of a snail, or whatever more sensible object you get them to put in the jar, and write a sentence about it. Education over. Feed them with sandwiches and the Haribo as prizes.

The real genius of this is that it kept 9 kids utterly occupied for nigh on 2 hours, and we mums could have a chat.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Things I made my kids do this week: 1 in a Summer series

I am a fully paid up member of the club that suggests that kids need to be bored once in a while to force their imaginations to work. I live in a DS, Nintendo, computer game free world at the mo, and the TV is strictly regulated. I fling them into the garden with buckets and waterproofs and leave them to it while I wash up. I deny them Pokemon on TV and hurl jigsaws at them. I refuse the advance of the DS and crack out the playdough. I open the doors to the kids on the street and let them all in, on the proviso they stay OUTSIDE and leave the chickens alone. But I can't leave them to fester in their own juices for the entire time, not least because as an ex-teacher I am entirely meddlesome and don't want them to forget the last years worth of learning. And so I am sly.

In the first week, we  nipped on the bus to the Ely Wilkinsons and stocked up on paint, glue and scrapbooks. I then force the kids to write a journal every other day about what their exploits, illustrate it, and stick in any treasures. This will be given to the teacher for a few weeks to see how their new pupil is rated on the levels, and then stored in my "Mum" box for me to weep over when they are 18. "I went to the beach and I sor some motorbikes. There was a Hyabusa". I love how he ignores the time spent in rockpools, the spelling of "saw", and his parents and sibling entirely, but details the best motorbike, and spells it correctly.

And then, I organise. I convened a meeting at the end of term of willing mums and invited kids to weekly activities. Yes, I know it's crazy to invite 12 kids into your house, but hey. This week was junk modelling. We spent an hour sticking and gluing in pairs, ate lunch, then an hour painting, then a few minutes describing our models on paper, to win sweets. And here they are. A Robot with 2 guns and big eyes, an alien dog, a fire engine, a car and a Hulk. They worked together, I bunged in some maths ( identifying shapes and comparing cylinders), they wrote about their creations, and ate a LOT. And then all the mums sneaked off and left me with the masterpices. No,wait, come back!

Next week is Treasure hunt week. Even if it rains.