And so it is, well several, anyhow, weeks into this hazy, flowery, crash-bang, lollies-in-the-garden summer holiday. A very little handful of tough days aside, it has been good. Here follows a few special games.

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During the course of one of our pain au chocolat and satsuma breakfast picnics (a new tradition), Louis made a ‘bird’s’ nest in Joppa Quarry Park, working out position, how it would be supported in the tree, and exploring materials and textures. I find these sorts of activities touching. It is something to do with a high energy boy’s lightness of touch in these situations, his care and precision, and the beauty of natural materials blessed by sunlight.

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I have been trying to do more drawing and painting with the children, adults too, as part of our days and in reflecting on our days. The tiger followed a zoo trip, with stripes first, then a head and a finger-knitted tail, I think achievable in part due to loom bands practice.

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The ice excavation game begins like this; you are an explorer and you find creatures or bones or fossils trapped in ice, they are very delicate and your job is to remove them with great care. The child is given salt, water and a variety of implements. I borrowed this from Lemon Lime  Adventures, using toy animals and loom band dinosaur eggs. Both boys loved this and enjoyed finding more things to freeze. Rowan expanded this in to the creation of salt flats where dinosaur remains could be found.

I am not very experienced in modelling; I would like to try more techniques.  Our previous explorations with clay have been a bit unsatisfying. The boys have favoured shaping heavy lumps, and attaching these together poorly, so while they have enjoyed the process much clay is used and the creation falls apart when dry. This time we tried dinosaur teeth and claws which worked beautifully, because you work with a small amount of clay and towards a shape achievable by little ones. We also tried newspaper and masking tape gannets at the Scottish Seabird Centre, now painted and proudly hung by wool. Not modelling but tactile at least; Alice has begun to enjoy playdough and sand, lovely to watch her explore, and Rowan, my ideas boy, my own-agenda child, has after years of refusal wanted to work bread dough with me.

School and nursery, it seems, de-skill the hands-on parent in structuring a full day to meet the needs of all of his or her children. I feel I am learning again.

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