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Theme Week: Earth

You know how these things work.  The first week you're full of enthusiasm and do tons of stuff, and the second week... yeah.  Not quite so much.  It's not that we haven't done things, it's just that many of them weren't related to the theme.  So we made ice lollies, played with friends, took the car to the garage (not an expensive fix, fortunately), and occasionally squeezed in a few earth-related activities too.

Since I may have less to write about, I'll take a moment to mention my two main mayhem-reducing tools for the summer.

The first is a whiteboard, on which to delineate our day's activities.  The intentions being a) I'm forced to come up with at least a few things to do each morning; b) Toby has some idea what's going on in advance; c) Toby improves his reading skills.  We haven't used it every day, but I think it's achieved those goals when we have.

He's also been improving his writing; that says "car" in case you can't tell.
 
The other is a set of cards which I prepared in advance (get me!), showing things to do and places to go.  They're colour-coded into outings, outdoor activities and indoor activities, and Toby can pick one from the appropriate category (edited as necessary to the ones I'm actually prepared to do on any given day).  He really seems to enjoy that, and it's useful both when we're planning the day and during those moments when we've run out of things to do.  And it's so much easier than coming up with something myself, when my mind's a blank and all I really want to do is hide under the duvet.

So, back to Earth...

Activities

1. Papier mache
Believe it or not, there's actually a whole website devoted to papier mache, and I probably should have read their tutorial first.  We were aiming to make a globe using a balloon mould, but it's taken a long time to dry and sagged a bit at the bottom.  Looking at the instructions, I should have diluted the PVA glue less, and put on fewer layers.  Also, I should not have given Toby a bath before trying this activity.  You live, you learn.  Maybe we'll paint some rough approximations of continents on it one day.

No good taking photos when your hands are covered in glue, so this is the aftermath.
Drying in the garden

2. Chalk target game
This just sounded easy and fun, and you know, chalk's from the earth and we were drawing on the ground, so I shoehorned it into the earth theme.  The only thing I had to do in advance was buy some cheap sponges, but beanbags would be great too, if you had any.  We dipped the sponges in water to give them some weight - and besides, wet sponges are way more exciting.

My super-artistic target
Actually I think he may have been dropping the chalks in the water, which wasn't the idea at all.

Outings

1. Sharpe's Pottery Museum
A few miles away in the town of Swadlincote, there was once a thriving industry making... toilets.  And sewage pipes.  Oh yes.  The excitement never ends.  But the museum is free, child friendly, and has a cheap cafe serving rather yummy cake, if you can face that kind of thing after learning all about toilets.  We met some friends there and spent more time sipping coffee than studying sanitaryware, but that can't be a bad thing, can it?

2. Arbor Low Stone Circle


Not in the original plan, but Graham was looking for a place to walk this Saturday, and discovered that the Peak District has its very own version of Stonehenge!  Big rocks!  Earthworks!  Hills!  Beautiful fit with the theme, thank you.  Also it's very close to the top end of the Tissington Trail, which gave Toby a chance to whizz along on his balance bike, Graham and I a chance to have a decent stroll, and Theo a chance to snooze.

None of the stones are still standing, unfortunately
There's a circular bank, a ditch, and the ring of stones within that.
 
Theo, taken by Toby

Food

Well, it's got to be Mississippi Mud Pie, hasn't it?



9" pie crust (we used pastry but a biscuit / graham cracker base is an alternative)
4 oz / 1 stick butter
3 oz / 100g dark chocolate
3 eggs
8 oz / 1 cup sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup / corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla

Melt the butter and chocolate together.  Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and stir in the sugar, syrup and vanilla.  Pour the melted chocolate mixture in and stir to mix.  Pour into the uncooked pie crust.  Bake at 180°C / 350°F for about 45 minutes until set.  Serve warm.

Eat with ice cream and a big smile

And I almost forgot to mention - this is my two hundredth published post!

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