Thursday, October 12, 2006

Autumn Watching

I'm not sure where the week has gone, but I've just realised that I've not blogged since the weekend.

Sunday, we put the shed up at the bottom of the garden. It was easy, actually, but certainly painful - the panels felt a lot heavier with already tired muscles!

Over the week we've gradually been picking things out of the garage and finding homes for them, but we don't seem to have made much of an impression on the pile..

Tuesday saw the first of the Science Workshops, using our SEA from SETNET, that I'd organised. As usual with me, whilst I'm happy to organise things, on the day I get serious cold feet and I spent the morning in a major panic. Liz came early to help me set up, and did a fabulous job of looking after the little ones that came, in a separate room. We had a total of 32 children turn up (discounting toddlers)! The SEA did two experiments, Ernest the balancing Bear (demonstrating gravity, centre of gravity, balance etc) and the Jump Rocket (showing air pressure, vacuum, etc). Most of the kids got the chance to participate in one or the other of the demos.

I'm now collating feedback, and we'll sort out how to run future ones. I think we will need to split down the ages and make sure that we get more "hands on" in the future. Still, at least we didn't seem to put off the guy, so that's good!

The boys have been heavily into all things to do with nature this week. Every evening we've watched Autumn Watch, and William has followed it up on the CBeebies site too. They have also all designed their own wildlife park (yes, even William!), on the CBBC Roar game.

The revamp of the BBC Schools section seems to be going ahead. I noticed that the games are now easier to find all from one place.

Today we continued our nature theme, with another walk in the Footscray Meadows. We saw loads of exciting things. We are positive we saw a red squirrel, even though they are not known there. It definately was not a grey one. We were all really excited as none of us have seen a red squirrel before - though our garden is full of grey ones. We used to have 3 cob nut trees in our garden so I grew up amongst the squirrels!

We printed out the Seed Collector envelopes from the BBC Breathing Places site, and had fun trying to find things to go into it. We found a weird seed, that we have no idea what it is. The tree looked like a sycamore, but the seeds - on the outside - looked like conker spikey cases. Inside they had a little soft nut. Any ideas?! We also found a cluster of chestnut trees, so we collected a few handfuls to try and roast for the boys to taste. If they like them, we'll go back for more.

Things we learnt this week, amongst all the nature, is an easy way to see if a tree is ancient - if it takes at leaste 3 of you to hug the tree, it is at least 300 years old! The tree we had our lunch under today would have taken 7 of us, we worked out, to hug! We also found out about coppicing.

We had fun amongst the ancient woodland on the site, looking for traces of the old eighteenth century Footscray Place estate buildings, which burned down in 1949. We also examined various trees, saw a hummingbird moth, lost count of the number of parakeets we saw and heard, amongst other birds.

All that was in Roarke's 3 1/2 hr break that he has had each day on this shift, which was very pleasant.

Afterwards I did some more gf baking, this time fish cakes for dinner which, even though I say so myself, turned out quite well, as well as another cheese loaf for the boys.

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