Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter Eggs

WITH all intention of dyeing them and hanging them on an Easter tree, for days we had been diligently blowing eggs and carefully saving the shells. It didn't happen, but we discovered that crayons make an excellent substitute for dye to bring colour to Easter baskets. And azalea bushes make great hiding places for the eggs!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Little Nest Eggs

NESTS are fun to build but not nearly as easy as you'd think. We tried several different sets of materials, starting with grass and glue. It was tricky, so we changed tacks to create two-dimensional grass nests for our new hanging chickens. Of course they then needed eggs, which we made by watercolouring paper and covering them with crushed egg shells. Not quite the nest project I had envisaged, but fun nevertheless.

Stick nests were trickier still until we discovered vines. These are wonderfully pliable and can be woven through and around all the brittle sticks that insist on breaking. After a few attempts and genuine awe for birds who accomplish such a sculpture with only feet and a beak, this nest gradually took form and now has pride of place on our nature table.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mothering Sunday

THE European celebration known as 'Mothering Sunday' is now often called Mother's Day in the UK and elsewhere; however its origins differ from the American Mother's Day. Mothering Sunday is originally a Christian festival, which begun as far back as the sixteenth century, when parishioners returned to their 'mother church' on the fourth Sunday in Lent for worship. This inevitably developed into a time for family reunion, and later became the one day a year that young people in domestic service were given the day off. They would return home to visit their mothers, often bringing a simnel cake or flowers as a gift.

Sadly a visit home was not possible for us; however we had fun sifting through photos to create a photo calendar of extended family to send to three sets of grandparents. And we now have a lovely visual reminder of cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents across the sea.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Seed Pods

RECENTLY we've had fun observing and collecting some interesting seed pods. We discovered some large woody pods that produce a percussive rattle when shaken. When we used them as musical accompaniment at our circle time, we also discovered that if you shake them really wildly, they pop open like dragon mouths and spit out thousands of tiny seeds. This was the Empress Tree seed pod. Photo:

The Tulip Tree not only has leaves shaped like a tulip, but after most of its cone-shaped seed pod has fallen off, the tulip-shaped base remains. Photo:

Though the delicious underfoot crunch of Autumn is behind us, we found ourselves crunching on long woody seed pods on a hike the other day. We have not been able to identify this one, but the long bean-like shapes made great boats for a game of 'pooh sticks'.