Wednesday, 26 April 2017
Just like I did at her age, Daisy loves to learn. If she's not reading a book, she's writing one... or drawing pictures... or doing puzzles. She asks hundreds of questions every day and seems to remember everything. Random facts, song lyrics, things I've said (especially when I've promised her something and then forgotten about it ;)).
I have a lot of friends that are really anti-homework for younger children but Daisy loves it so I'm all for it. I like how sitting down to do school work together at home enables me to keep up to date with what she's learning in class, and to find out how she's coping with it. Being in Year 2 now, she has plenty; there's English and Maths homework every weekend, as well as reading, times tables and spellings during the week, and she often has a topic to research over the holidays too.
As I'm sure is the case with all children, Daisy excels in some subjects, but could do with a little help in others. We've been reviewing an online tool that helps in both instances; allowing us to move forward in the subjects Daisy is doing well in and giving us a chance to dedicate a bit of extra time to the subjects that need it - all the while being super fun and nothing at all like your usual school homework.
The Education Quizzes website does exactly what it says on the tin; it provides you with a whole heap of educational quizzes - written by teachers, using the school curriculum - to work through at your leisure. The website is easy for children (and grown ups) to navigate, with clear categories divided up into separate topics ranging from KS1 all the way up to GCSE level.
Daisy has been working through the KS1 quizzes on some subjects and making a start on the KS2 material in others. She enjoys them so much that she actually asks to do them when she gets home from school, and she gets a real kick out of getting questions right! I plan to look at the KS1 quizzes with Evie over the summer too; she starts in reception in September and I think it'll be a fun way to keep both girls entertained during the holidays - on road trips especially.
As well as the quizzes online, Daisy has also really enjoyed reading the website's daily blog, where a new fact filled post about nature is published every day, covering topics like animals and the weather.
Membership costs just £9.95 a month (it can be cancelled at any time), and this gives access to all quizzes across the different age groups. I think this is an amazing price, taking into account the extent of the material on offer.
Thank you to Education Quizzes for letting us trial their subscription service; we will definitely be signing up!
At the weekend, the girls and I had a wedding to go to, which meant new party dresses were in order! I've previously worked with, and purchased clothes from, Roco Clothing - and ever since I was introduced to them a couple of years ago they have officially become the first place I visit when looking for something special for the girls to wear.
As well as being beautifully made, and equally beautifully packaged, the thing that really sets these dresses apart from other similar brands is the price. They are seriously reasonable compared to other childrens' formal wear that's available on the high street.
As is always the way now, I let the girls choose their own dresses for our special occasion. Evie went for the Elsa dress in blue, while Daisy chose the Layla dress in champagne. Prices for each start at £34.99 and £29.99 respectively.
Evie's Elsa dress is a beautifully soft and lightweight, pale blue fabric. I love those ruffled sleeves and the fact it has a big bow on the back! It's the perfect party dress - especially as its a great spinner! Evie had lots of fun in it on the dance floor.
I think Daisy's Layla dress makes her look so grown up! The underdress is a champagne colour which really sets off the pretty white lace overlay. It also has lots of mesh underskirts to give it volume, which is what Daisy loved most about it.
Thanks so much to Roco Clothing for gifting the girls their outfits!
We were sent these dresses in exchange for this post. All words are entirely honest and my own, and all images are copyright. Please do not use them without my consent.
Tuesday, 25 April 2017
We packed up our camping gear, hired a canoe from the brilliant Whitewater the Canoe Centre in Shepperton, loaded everything into/on top of Tom's T5, and drove an hour up the road to the very pretty village of Sonning ready to hit the Thames and to do a spot of wild camping on an uninhabited island in the middle of it for a night.
Everyone we spoke to thought we were mad "Three kids and a canoe?" "What do you mean there won't be any toilets?!" "Why aren't you packing a tent!" but the girls and I couldn't wait for twenty four hours out in the elements. The fact I'd never been in a canoe, and the teeny tiny detail that I can't actually swim, didn't put me off in the slightest.
We hired an open (or Canadian) canoe from Whitewater which is a bit like a big, pointy rowing boat.* It had plenty of room for all our gear (although we did pack relatively light considering) and was made for four adults so took us two plus three littlies no problem. We were expecting it to take two trips to get all our stuff across to the island but we managed it in one and there was plenty of room to spare too. The kids sat in the middle of the canoe and enjoyed the ride, while Tom and I sat at either end and did the paddling.
*I think that's the technical term ;)
*I think that's the technical term ;)
My first experience of canoeing might have been hard work, but it was a great one - and the girls loved it too. I felt a lot safer in a big open boat than I imagine I'd have felt in a smaller kayak. We'd never visited this stretch of the Thames before and I had no idea just how beautiful it is, or how many little islands there are to explore - it really is a great part of the country to take kids on an adventure, even if it's just for a day.
We set up camp on an island about half an hours paddle from Sonning. We pitched a little two man tent for the kids so that they'd be lovely and toasty whatever the weather, but Tom and I stayed under a poncho which was lighter and easier to pack.
We didn't do anything out of the ordinary; it was just great to be on our first camping trip of the year! We made a fire and had sausages and smores. We all had an early night and then woke up to the dawn chorus. I loved the fact the girls had an entirely tech free weekend. Tom made them a swing to play on and carved them a 'magic wand' each out of twigs which they decorated with felt tips, they drew lots of pictures and collected artefacts for a little scrap book we made, they made potions and mud pies, did some fishing and of course they had a go of paddling the canoe. We paddled downstream to Shiplake Lock and watched the lock gates opening and all the big boats go through, and it happened to be the day of the Devizes to Westminster canoe race so the kids got to cheer on lots of other canoeists (ones that were working a lot harder than their parents!)
If you're interested in hiring an open canoe and are based in or near Surrey, definitely get in touch with Whitewater The Canoe Centre - they were brilliant from start to finish, can offer all the advice you need and can also recommend some really good routes along the Thames. It costs £45 per day to hire the open canoe which I think is a great price for a whole day of fun for a family of four or five. Half days and smaller kayaks are cheaper still - look here for a full list of options.
When it comes to wild camping, there are rules, so make sure you do your homework before you set off. Respect plantlife and wildlife, take all your rubbish home with you and make sure you aren't trespassing on privately owned land!
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