A Great Pottery Throwdown

We watch a programme called The Great Pottery Throwdown, which we love and one week on the latest series, they made tiles. We decided we wanted to have a go at making them. So we bought some air drying clay (as we don’t have a kiln 🙂 ) and used the tools we had already from our old playdough days.

First we had to warm the clay up to make it easier to roll out.  We then rolled it out until it was about 3 or 4mm thick then we cut a square ish shape out of it.

We then used different tools to make indents and marks into it, we added clay to make the clay more 3d.  The results were good.

     

We left them about a week on the window sill to dry, then we painted them.

 

The final result was really good. We’re pleased.

Swimming Fun!

We go swimming twice a week. One is lessons and one is free swim.

In our lessons Anna has recently gone up to stage five. I am in stage six and helping Anna with a few tips and tricks. I taught her how to breath in dolphin stroke and how to do a tumble turn.

I have learned a new stroke recently called corkscrew, it is were you do opposite arms and turn over from front to back continuously.

We go swimming at two different pools.

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Cupcake Decorating

We have been cupcake decorating at a local cafe a couple of times. There we have made Christmas themed cupcakes and most recently, Harry Potter themed cupcakes.

For the Christmas themed cupcakes we made a wreath, a polar bear, a Christmas pudding, a Christmas tree, a snow flake and a poinsettia (a festive flower).

For the Harry Potter Themed cupcakes we made Hedwig (Harry’s owl), Ron’s jumper, a house scarf (Anna and I are both Hufflepuff), a potion scene, a golden snitch and the sorting hat.

We used buttercream and fondant to make the decorations.  The lady told us how to make the decorations.  They looked really good when we’d finished.  (They tasted nice too).

It’s great fun and we hope to go again soon.

If you know a nearby cafe that does cupcake decorating I fully suggest it.

Famous Artists – Bob Ross

We learn about a variety of artists and another different one we decided to take a look at was an American T.V. artist called Bob Ross .

He had a show in the 80’s and 90’s called The Joy of Painting where he showed you in real time how to paint a landscape picture.  So using one of his tutorials and using watercolour paint, we painted a mountain range with trees and a river.

He has the most calming voice and made it simple to follow. It was fun and the results were good. I’d like to do another of his tutorials one day..

 

Matryoshka Nesting Dolls

As part of our Russia topic, the girls found out information on traditional Matryoshka Nesting Dolls and with that they decided they’d like to make some.

We decided that it may be too difficult to make a whole set out of wood, so chose to sew some out of felt instead.  We found a picture online and roughly copied what they looked like.

They didn’t take too long to do and they look really good.

Mono Printing

One day while Elsa was busy elsewhere, Anna and I wondered around our local City and came across a craft fair offering free activities for those who attended.  Anna tried several of the activities including Monoprinting.  Monoprinting is where you place black ink on a plastic sheet then place a plain piece of paper on top of it then you score in a picture.

In this case Anna traced a floral design which was already there.  Once she had finished she picked up her piece of paper and turned it over.  There she could see the results. Where she had scored was a print. It’s a really effective and easy to do.

Famous Artists – Jackson Pollock

We hadn’t done any work on artists for a while, so I asked if the girls fancied learning about someone else. Of course they did because what we do is we chat about the artist, find out some information about them along with a few interesting facts and the we have a go at their style of art. This time it was Jackson Pollock who is well known for his drip painting style.

The girls added water to the paint so it was runnier than usual and either dripped or flicked the paint onto the canvas sheets we had. This was messy and fun (so they tell me).

The finished products

Jackson Pollock’s style of art is interesting. The big black blob on Anna’s picture was an accident, but she decided that she wanted to make sure it had lots of blobs of other colours on it so when it dried it would be ‘more colourful’.

Pizza Making

We went to Pizza Express to make pizzas. First, we had to push the dough to the edge of the pan to give it a crust. Next, we put one scoop of the tomato sauce on our pizza base, which we had to shake to spread around. Finally, we decorated the pizzas. I decorated my pizza with olives, ham, onion and cheese. Anna decorated her pizza with pepperoni, onion, ham and cheese. Luke told us to put between 30 and 40 bits of mozzarella on the pizza. Anna put on exactly 30 pieces. The pizzas were put into a massive oven to cook for 4 minutes. While they where cooking we tried some different toppings. There was artichoke, capers, 3 different types of chilli and raisins. Anna tried all of them, I tried some of them. We got handed a certificate for making pizzas. Next we went to the park and we ate our pizzas there.

 

Do we need school to learn?

At the beginning of every September, I ask the girls if they have anything they would like to achieve by the end of July.  Anna (who was 5) said she’d like to learn to read.

I helped with this by teaching her blending sounds and split digraphs which we worked on until Christmas last year.  This was to give her the basics.  She already knew that letters have a sound and a name (ay or a, bee or b, etc).

After this, we started reading simple books. moving on to reading programs such as Oxford Reading Tree which we bought, but also got different ones from the library (one of our favourite places to go).   By July she was on Level 5 books.

I have no idea the ‘comparison’ with schooled children, but this child has pretty much taught herself to read fluently.  As of now (August) she is reading Liz Pichon (Tom Gates) and Andy Griffith (13 Storey Treehouse Stories).

To continue with her gaining confidence in reading alone, we now all read for half an hour a day (or more if you want to).  So far I have found that instead of picking up a gadget or putting on the television, they have been picking up books to read.

My conclusion after this year, is that if a child wants to learn something they can do it anywhere, given the right encouragement and facility to do so. 🙂

Making our own soap

This year we wanted to make our own gifts for families and one of things we decided to do was make our own soap.

I found this video and thought we’d use this one but amend it a bit.

We bought some goat’s milk soap base and chopped it into cubes ready to melt. We grated some lemons to get the rind.

  

We melted the soap base over a pan of simmering water. This took quite a while.

  

We then mixed in a few drops of  both lavender and lemon essential oils.

We poured the mixture into our moulds and let them set. removed them from the mould to let the other side set.

Finally, we wrapped them in cling film to prevent them from being affected by the air and then in brown paper with a ribbon.

These looked and smelled lovely and worked perfectly. We will be doing this again.