Tuesday, 22 April 2014


 (Goblin is 4 years old)
Hublet took us crabbing. Its something he did as a child, I'd never done it before and I have to say its AWESOME! 
Its so simple. All you need is a bit of string, a weight and a hook or mesh bag to attach bacon to. You lower the bacon into the water until its resting on the bottom. Then you wait a minute. It really doesn't take long at all which is perfect for little kids with short attention spans. 
When you gently pull the string up there will usually be one or two crabs attached to the bacon. You can shake them off into a bucket with water.
The first time Goblin went crabbing he was a bit nervous of the crabs and didn't want to pull the string up or touch the bucket with the crabs. But on the day I came too he was feeling brave and did the whole process himself including shaking the crabs into the bucket.
In 15 minutes we caught 38 crabs. This is the photo we took just before they righted themselves and scuttled back into the water.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Birds, birds and more birds!

(Goblin is 4 years old)

Sometimes outings lead to Goblin discovering a new interest - like a visit To Duxford Imperial War Museum which led to his fascination with WWII planes. Other times his interest leads us to seek out good outings to support the subject and build his knowledge.
Anyone who reads the blog regularly will know that Goblin loves the Octonauts. This has sparked an interest in sea creatures. However a recent episode about Pelicans has sent Goblin off on a different tangent - birds!
We have been looking for opportunities to support his bird interest. The zoo is an obvious place to start. They have a great penguin enclosure and a twice daily bird display. During the week we are sometimes the only people at the bird display, and we were lucky enough to be able to chat with one of the keepers about the barn owls. I think he was quite surprised by how many questions Goblin had.
We've also taken Goblin to the local nature reserve that has hydes for bird watching. We took a monocular for him and binoculars for us (Monoculars are easier for little kids to use). The more experienced bird watchers in the hides were very understanding of our rather loud and enthusiastic ornithologist. They helped point out interesting birds to look at - including a kestrel.
Near my parents there is a place called Bird World. I mentioned it to Goblin and of course he insisted we went there. It was a good opportunity to catch up with the Grandparents and Goblin could share his enthusiasm with them too.
Bird World has not one but two different types of penguins. Goblin has recently learned that there are 17 different types and he is interested in where they all live so it was cool that we had African and South American (Humboldt) ones. We even got to see the Humboldt's being fed.
As well as outings we have found puzzles, matching games, books and documentaries to support Goblin's recent interest. 

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Learning about the body

Goblin is 4 years old
This post contains Amazon affiliate links meaning if you click and buy something I receive some money. I only ever recommend products I use with Goblin. 

Goblin has shown sporadic interest in how his body works. I've been collecting various resources to help show him. My favourite is an excellent Usborne Flap Book 'See Inside Your Body' . This breaks down the different systems into bite sized chunks and as well as Goblin, I have learnt a lot from this book. 
Another recent acquisition is a Human Body model. One of my current 'go to' bloggers An Everyday Story has a much larger version for her kids which I covet. But the big version is extremely expensive and I didn't feel I could justify the spend so I settled on a cheap smaller version. Unfortunately it means that Goblin can't really use it on his own because the pieces are too fiddly to handle, but he likes to watch me put it together and tell me what the different organs are. 
I wanted to give him an opportunity to handle some 'organs' himself and put together a body. So I decided to make some organ coloured playdough. Between us we created our own model of the inside of a human complete with heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, stomach and intestines. We ignored scale incase you are concerned!
Once complete Goblin fetched his toy Octonauts and we sent them on an "InnerSpace" style journey through the digestive system (as well as through the respiratory system). Kwazi got stuck in the stomach and Captain Barnacles had to rescue him before he was melted in bile. Goblin thought it was hilarious when Kwazi reached the colon and we had to use peristalsis to poop him out.
I taught Goblin a little song to the tune of Frere Jaques, it goes

"Peristalsis, peristalsis, 
pushes food through, pushes food through, 
Pooping out the pieces, pooping out the pieces, 
in the loo, we did a poo".

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Quick and simple Imaginary play

Goblin decided that he wanted to make stew.
"I need ingredients" he declared. 

This was new. We'd done regular baking before but he hasn't done pretend cooking since he was about 2 years old. I love spotting changes in his play. I never know what it signifies but it intrigues me. 
Our kitchen is a treasure trove of ancient things that have been crystallising or gathering dust for decades, so I went off to find some fun ingredients for him. When I got back, Goblin has already found some for himself, including the star anis and cinnamon sticks we use with playdough, and some actual playdough. 
I offered the addition of some salt, sugar, bicarbonate of soda, curry sauce, bacon salt, the contents of a few (nasty) herbal tea bags, used coffee grounds, and an old tub of white pepper with a shaker attached (his favourite).
Goblin gleefully added all the random packets and jars, stirred enthusiastically and then fetched a jug of water to round it off. I also found some packets of cool aid in the back of the cupboard. When we added these they fizzed excitedly. We were both rather excited by this discovery.
Saying yes to this unexpected bout of imaginary play gave us a great opportunity to connect and have some simple fun. The only down side is that Goblin is so proud of his concoction he won't let me throw it away, and its very smelly!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Counting past ten

When Goblin was just a bit over 2 years old he learnt to count to 12. We'd been trying to teach him to count to ten and one day he lay on the changing mat and spontaneously counted to 12. "Whoop Whoop" we thought. Fast forward two years and Goblin can now count to .... wait for it .... 13! Yup, in two years he has learnt one more number. That's not entirely true. He knows the other numbers that come after it but always mixes up 14 and jumps to 16 and then just randomly dots around in the teens until we help him out.
So I wanted to provide more opportunities for Goblin to practice counting those big numbers. But he won't do anything unless he's interested. I can't just suggest we count pasta - his response would be "Er, no thanks!" So I needed to make up a game that would grab his interest.
His current obsession is Octonauts and the idea of helping them out would definitely capture his imagination. So I made up a sheet to encourage a bit of reading. It named a character and the sea creatures that character was counting. I asked Goblin to help his favourite character Peso to identify what each of the four characters were collecting, help the character collect them on their sticky back plastic "collection tank" and count them, and finally help Peso to write the correct number in the box.
The game provided opportunities for

  • letter identification/reading 
  • number writing practice
  • fine motor pincer grip (picking up the objects)
  • sorting
  • counting beyond 10

I used simple objects we already had: plastic sharks; sea shells; pompom sea urchins; and manta rays that I found on google images and printed off. Goblin stuck them to the plastic sheets provided and I helped him count them up.
When he'd arrived at the right number I wrote it down and he copied the number. We counted three of the four sets of objects and he wrote down two of them. That was pretty good going for us. We stopped because he got distracted when he discovered he could colour the inside of the sea shells with a felt tip pen!

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