Saturday, 13 July 2013

Gnome Party

 There’s no quilt yet, I haven’t given up hope it’s going to be finished in time for tomorrow, I think it might be a late night though!
And I had a late night yesterday with these.

It’s been Maria’s party today (I know it’s a while since her actual birthday, weekends have been too full recently). She had a ‘Forest School’ Party in the woods, with a bit of a gnome theme.

Do you like my blackboard behind? It's actually there because I needed to hide all glimpses you might otherwise get of my kitchen, which had turned into a complete bomb site, even by my standards!
(Gnomes from Wee Folk Art website remember - see earlier post for details)

 It was a scorching hot day today but the woods were beautifully shaded and cool and it was a really, magical afternoon there. Our School’s old 'Forest School' teacher runs parties now and he’s wonderful with the children. We started off with some team den building and some different activities around the woods. Abseiling down a mini bank on a rope was a great hit and so was creating clay faces on the trees.

After toasting marshmallows we made some little houses and dens in the roots of trees for the gnomes. The children (and parents!) were brilliant at this and seemed to love it. The woodland floor was covered with leaf debris, tiny pine cones, twigs, a few stones … perfect building material for the gnomes. The creations were all so different and imaginative– bark roof, leaf roof, 2 storey living, tunnels, bridges, conservatory, slide in the garden, washing line… I could go on and on.

They were wonderful to see, and especially lovely to see the children (and parents!) so intent on them. It was my favourite part of the afternoon. Then while the children went off (some very reluctantly, since they still had finishing touches to put on their houses) through the woods to find some bears and read a story (Wake Up, Bear – with water squirting, acorns, a tickly squirrel tail and deer antlers for the actions!) the gnomes moved in to the new Gnome city. Everyone was very excited as they walked back through the woods and found gnomes in residence! (can’t believe I didn’t take any pictures here)
We still had time for food, a torn treasure map lost in the leaves to find and put together to track down the cake – in a real treasure chest and some wooden badge necklaces dangling from a tree.
The treasure chest
The Gnome Cake
And then, when we went back to take one last peek at the gnome houses, we found they’d left some gnome packs as party bags to say thank you for all the wonderful building. It was a really special party. I think the best children’s books are often the ones grown ups love too and maybe it’s the same with parties, I’ve been to a few of these Forest School parties now and the grown ups always love them almost as much as the children.
I thought I’d show you the party bags I made (a brilliant idea from a very good friend who is always full of brilliant party ideas). I’m not a fan of party bags generally, I know children love them, but they’re generally filled with – to be completely brutal – cheap, plastic rubbish that gets thrown away after a couple of days! Sorry, I’m just not a fan! So I always try and think of something slightly different – last year I made some fairy wings for everyone to find, and another year I gave everyone a chocolate cookie mix with a small bowl and wooden spoon, anything to avoid the plastic really! So this year it was gnome packs, just with a piece of cake, balloon and a little folky ocarina in each (and of course they each had their wooden gnomes to take home and hopefully build new homes for in their gardens).
They were very basic and easy to make – a stick, a circle of fabric (I knew those old curtains would be good for something eventually!) and some garden string.

I cut the fabric with pinking shears and then folded it up and cut small holes near the outer edge (a bit like when you’re making paper snowflakes). Then I just threaded the string in and out of the holes, popped the goodies in and tied the string back round the pack neatly and then onto the stick. Very easy but something a bit different.

There is a lovely blog, full of magical experiences for children, called "The Magic Onions",  they run an amazing "Fairy Garden" contest each Summer that I'm hoping we're going to join in with once we get into the holidays, and they also have a feature each Friday called "Friday's Nature Table". It's always full of wonderful ideas for things to do with your children outside. I'm going to link this post up with it, if you have a moment take a look at some of the other ideas on there (and have a peek at the amazing Fairy Gardens already made):

Right, I really must go and finish that quilt now. Hope you’re all having a lovely weekend and I’ll be back on Monday – probably, hopefully, maybe with a finished quilt, Sally.

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