Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Take 5, Maria style

In theory, Maria would have started full time school last year. In practice we felt that, at only just over 4, she wasn't ready for it and we kept her out of full time education. She still went to her pre-school for a couple of sessions a week, and it worked beautifully for her. In fact, it worked so beautifully that, come this year, we questioned why we would change anything. I should say, we're very happy with our local school, Venetia is settled there and enjoys it. But Maria has flourished over the last year from not being in school. Having said that, she enjoyed her sessions at pre-school and the interaction with the other children there. Fortunately, the school is very flexible and open to working with parents, so after lots of deliberating we decided this year that Maria would do half and half - half the week at school and half at home.

I think it's a bit too early to be sure that it's going to work. There have been times when I've felt that maybe she's not getting the best of either world, but also times when I've felt we are doing the right thing. And if we get to a point when we decide it isn't working, then we can always change it either way.

So basically, in our half of the week at home Maria and I have been getting up to lots of fun things. My plan is not to be sitting down trying to 'teach' her in this time, I don't feel she needs that at the moment still. We're trying to spend time outside, see friends who also aren't at school, make time for Maria's own independent play and, of course, encourage lots of creativity.

So there have been trips to parks...

A very relaxing swing!

Walks to enjoy our beautiful surroundings...

And all the seasonal nature around us...

As well as time spent in the garden

I cleared out quite a few ancient pots of spices - some of mine and some I inherited from my parents and Maria has loved making potions and soups with them.

And quiet time inside.

This is a 'Spot the differences' game that Maria decided to make for me.
Children are such incredible, little explorers and Maria constantly amazes me. But, I've now gone on for ages already explaining what we're doing, and the point of this post was actually just that I seem to have a collection of activities from our time together that might be perfect for a 'Take 5' Maria style. So...

1) Cooking is a favourite activity - lunches, tea preparations, flapjacks, cookies... but the clear winner, in Maria's eyes over these last few weeks might have to be chocolate hedgehog cakes with prickles made from flakes!

I spotted this cake on Pinterest originally to inspire these.

2) Fabric painting is still extremely popular. After seeing this Apple Bunting, we decided to make our own version:

We used halved apples for printing on to the fabric, then Maria drew on the stalks and leaves. I sewed them up into squares and we just used little craft pegs to hang them from garden twine.

The sight of these new potatoes set us off with some potato printing too.

 They looked perfect for fish to us.


I'm hoping I might turn this into a mini quilt, as a present for Maria to give to Theo, of all people. He half hankers after keeping fish as pets, so I'm thinking if I add a black border or maybe just thick black binding and some quilting detail, this might look a little like a fish tank up on his wall?! Maria likes the idea anyway! And she's considering what else she might paint as presents for other family members.

3) After enjoying a giant spiders' web between trees at our nearby RHS gardens, we decided to create our own in the woods next to us. We just took some bright green garden string and wound it around a couple of likely trees for a quick and easy version.

Maria kindly took a picture of me attempting to climb through too!

4) We've been planting lots of bulbs.

Some for us, for instance in our new lawn seed spreader, plant trough!

But lots in pots as Christmas presents for family and friends too.

A pot of hyacinths always fills a room with such a gorgeous scent, I think they make lovely presents. We've got some going for us in a glass pot with glass beads and water too, so Maria will be able to see the roots growing.

5) I bought a few cheap bags of large wooden beads in a charity shop recently. And we've been enjoying drawing funny faces on them and turning them into little dangly people.

With a 'belly button' as well, of course!
I've also seen a lovely idea for drawing and painting faces of family on to wooden beads - here - we might both of us try this.

In fact, half a week really isn't enough!



  1. Sounds like a wonderful balance. So nice that you have that option. Looks like you are filling your days with good things. Love those little hedge hogs, they are pretty cute, and I bet tasted amazing!

    Did Maria get a haircut? It looks super cute.

  2. Amazing! All looks so much fun! Great that your school is supportive of your plans. X

  3. That sounds like a really great balance and she certainly looks like she's thriving - love some of the ideas too, I can think of a couple of girls who might enjoy some fabric painting if only it would stop raining long enough to go outside!

  4. Special time you will always treasure!!!

  5. Wow, what wonderful projects Maria has been working on with you...it looks like she is flourishing! I think it's wonderful that you have given her such room and opportunity for creative growth. Oh, and I love her hair.

  6. So full of love, imagination and creativity Sally, how can she not thrive! Wonderful :)


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