Tuesday, 23 October 2012


Yep, there's a lot of it about this year.
Enjoying the empty veggie bed!
We are very lucky to have quite a big garden, and the boys are very lucky to have parents who are not avid gardeners (...yet- I hope I may one day inherit my mum's green fingers!) So although I have occasionally gone into melt down when they've trampled over some spring flowers on their way to a hideout in the shrubs, they are mostly allowed to muck about at will, since there is little chance of damaging any prize winning dahlias or the like.

My other half built the boys a large sandpit, which saw lots of action when they were younger, but now apparently mud is much more appealing. Infact we've just decommissioned the sandpit, which was always in danger of turning into a giant cat litter tray, and officially given over a patch of soil under the lilac tree to be the boys digging space.

Scoop looking mildly traumatised!

I guess I thought that kids and mud meant mud pies, but they're a whole lot more inventive than that, in fact I can't actually  remember them ever making mud pies, but Danny did have lots of fun making some kind of mud soup once:

Road building.

Loading the dump truck.

Zac's favourite use of mud is for all kinds of construction. He has created numerous building sites and having watched a Bob the Builder "roads and bridges" dvd, still regularly constructs roads, following each step carefully.

Building a skate park.

Danny is a little more random in his enjoyment of the mucky stuff!

Re-decorating the house with mudballs!
Making  a "Mud-pool" for the ducks.

Both boys spend quite a lot of time digging holes. Zac went through a phase where he was obsessed with volcanoes, and spent a lot of time digging down to "find the mantle." Unsurprisingly he didn't manage to hit lava, but we did use the enormous mound of earth he created whilst digging to make a model volcano and erupted it using vinegar coloured with  red food colouring and sprinkled with baking powder. It never really erupts with much force but seeing the "lava" oozing down the sides of his mud heap seemed to be entertainment enough!                        

Danny is more of a treasure hunter. He's easily distracted, it's possible to drop "treasure" into a hole he's working on without him noticing, so that he's truly astonished when he finds a 2p coin, or occasionally some chocolate money at the bottom!
Brilliant- it's all boggy.

Of course, mud play doesn't have to take place in the garden. After all the rain we've had this winter the boys love nothing more than to put on their wellies and go for a thoroughly muddy walk, squelching through it and trying not(!?) to get their wellies stuck in the mud.

So, it turns out mud is a great way into some really imaginative play, plus you can experiment with how the world works, make an almost-real building site and develop your language skills whilst describing just how sticky, oozy,  squelchy it is.

Danny having a lie down in Zac's hole?!
As I've commented before, my boys are rarely clean. In the summer they don't wear much so it doesn't really matter- a dive into the paddling pool or a squirt with the hose sorts them out. The rest of the time they're dressed in clothes that are in no way precious, and I guess our washing machine just has to lump it!

I love this post about why it's great to let children play in mud, check it out!
Here's another about International Mud Day, with more unusual ways to investigate the mucky stuff:

Thursday, 18 October 2012


It's that time of year again. CONKERS! Apparently, small boys can't resist stuffing their pockets absolutely full of them, and to be honest neither can I! There's something about their shiny perfection, the french-polished swirls, the sensation you get when you put your foot on a prickly case and gently crack it open to see if you've "found a WHOPPER!"

The trouble is, after a few conker hunting expeditions your house can get pretty full of the pesky things, and they soon lose their lustre.
My husband heard a radio program which claimed that if you put a conker in a corner of every room in your house you'll never have cobwebs again. Apparently they exude something spiders can't stand and the arachnids all move out. NOT TRUE. Our house is conclusive proof that no matter how many conkers you conceal about the place the spiders will still festoon the ceiling with cobwebs.

I'd be the first to join the anti-health-and-safety-lobby. Banning the game of conkers seems nuts. However although watching Daddy drilling holes in a good handful of them and helping mummy thread them onto strings, was good fun, whacking yourself around the head with a conker is less entertaining.

As we discovered, small children can't play conkers. They swing them around their heads like some kind of medieval mace, clobbering themselves and anyone who comes within string's length, which makes it quite difficult to disarm a sibling hell-bent on causing serious injury. So we came up with a more creative and less violent use for them:

Conker Art!
Conker sunflowers
We started simply, making pictures that involved lines of conkers embellished with other things we'd picked up. (Great opportunity for counting practice and size comparisons too.)

Conker snail with the cases for his body.

And progressed to bigger projects...
I did an outline of Danny and he filled it in- corn-on-the-cob mouth and hair, sunflower seed shoes, fircone shorts,"With an acorn underneath to be my willy."
This year Zac's pictures have got a bit more advanced, due to his absolute obsession with combines!

It's all good fun and gets the conkers and the kids out of the house.