Monthly Archives: June 2011


We managed to get this photo, sorry it’s a bit blurry but you can get an idea of what the creature looked like.
So today we spotted this interesting little creature, it was outside, walking along a wall. We’d never seen one before, and weren’t sure what it was. I can only describe it as a fluffy white woodlouse.
After a bit of googling, (oh for the power of the internet!) I think it’s a mealy bug. The RHS site has some good information about mealybugs.
The only thing I’m not sure about is why it was walking about outside, everything I read seemed to suggest they are more often seen inside or in greenhouses. Although I guess it has been warm here in the UK for months now. I’m thinking there must have been some plants in the area it liked, although where we saw it, there wasn’t much foliage around actually!
So what do you all think, is it a mealybug? Have you ever seen one outside before too? 

The Victorians

On Friday it was Victorian day at school. The children got to dress up as a Victorian. I didn’t really want to buy something specific for it, so we looked through what we already had, and put together a chimney sweep outfit. We made the brush out of an old broom handle, and used old blind material, which we opened into a circle, and rubbed with charcoal, to blacken it. Then we stuck it on top of the handle with black masking tape.
They had a fantastic day, complete with a Punch and Judy show. Once home the interest that had been sparked carried on.
So a Punch and Judy show was made, complete with paper characters which were attached to pencils. We looked up about Punch and Judy on wikipedia to help with making the characters.
Then we had a puppet show!
We also found a couple of good BBC resources about Victorians BBC Primary History Victorian Britain, contains a lot of written information, covering different topics within Victorian Britain, such as children at play, children at work, leisure, and more. The information is simply and clearly explained and there are some good black and white photos too. 
Also this BBC site has some great radio clips we enjoyed listening too. Although it says KS2, we found them perfectly fine and very informative for our children who are KS1. As we had already discussed chimney sweeps, the children enjoyed listening to the clips about Charlie the chimney sweep. We started with the first, which had them hooked, and then they wanted to listen to the other episodes. They are acted out with different voices for the characters, and sound effects and this added to the appeal, and hooked their interest. 
We have also been reading
We also have it on audio book, and we find it useful to have both, as the children seem to pick up different things from both formats. The book they dip in and out of, reading different bits at different times, and the audio book they like to sit and listen to while doing something else, like play with lego etc. It would also be good to listen to in the car. 

It does cover a lot of history, and appeals to children, as it tells it how its is warts and all. Be warned, some parents however may find it a little bit too much, well it’s not called Horrible Histories for nothing. But if it gets children interested, and therefore absorbing information you may have to overcome your own reservations! All I can say is Horrible histories has suddenly got my 7 year old hooked on history, and as far as I’m concerned that can only be a good thing. Our audio book is a combination of Vile Victorians and Terrible Tudors in one box, which I can’t find on Amazon now. The Vile Victorians CD audio book they have now is this one.

A friend also recommended a Sparks book – Chimney Charlie, which I can only find on amazon as a collection of three Victorian stories together in one book. It’s aimed at KS2, and apparently it is a bit sad, so if you have sensitive children it may not be suitable younger. Then again it’s supposed to be a true depiction of Victorian life, which was in real a bit sad, and hard for some.

So that’s my outline of what we have been covering about the Victorian period, does anybody else have any other suggestions for books, or resources for this period of history?

The Observatory Science Centre at Herstmonceux

A few of the domes

In half term the children were taken to the observatory science centre in Herstmonceux by their grandparents and had a fantastic day out. It’s a hidden treasure, it was actually quieter than expected for such a great place during school holidays.

They found everything about it good, parking was easy, they visited the shop, and the cafe. They only used the cafe for coffee and ice creams, as they had a picnic lunch with them, but they found it friendly, clean, and the coffee was nice. They arrived shortly after 10am and didn’t leave until 4.30pm, so it’s easy to spend the whole day there, as there is plenty to do.

Inside a Dome – at the telescope talk
There’s a variety of things at the centre, including a science show, which the children got to participate in. The one they went to was about inventions, and they discussed, looked at, and tested out velcro and kevlar.

They also went to a talk about the telescopes, which mine found interesting, but not quite as much as the show. Their grandparents felt this might be more suited to slightly older children. Although the children still found it interesting, and have remembered facts about the telescopes.
Also there were some great hands on exhibits, both inside and out, which they thoroughly enjoyed, and picked up lots of new information. Inside, their favourite things were the vacuum cleaner seat, which made them go up high, and a lever you turned that powered a model train around the ceiling. They also liked the art area.
Water Planet Area
Outside there was a water area, a pond, and a great, large scale interactive science ‘playground’
The reviews from the children were that it was a great place, and they have asked to go back and visit again at some point.
My daughter who’s 6 says “I liked all of it, because it was all magnificent.”
And my son who’s 7 says “ I thought it was awesome and my favourite thing was the colour splodge game and my favourite thing of all was matching pictures.”
Prior to their visit I think we had underestimated how much there was to do at the observatory science centre, making it very good value for money. So if you live nearby, or are visiting the area it’s definitely worth a visit.

Dragons and Kinghts

Inspired by our visit to Arundel Castle, we have been busy with hama beads and books. Actually the children have been busy with the hama beads, and I’ve been busy with the iron! It’s the only time the iron comes out of it’s box! 
We have this dragon set of hama beads. 

The dragon is made using a dragon shaped board, and you can make bats and castles on the square boards. Although mine have never made the bats, creating their own knights instead. Making things on the square boards tends to be slightly harder, because you don’t have the outline to follow, but there is a picture sheet included in the set that you can copy, or you can create your own designs.

Hama bead dragons, knights and castle

They have also re visited a book we had on the shelf. It’s quite an old book now, but they still find it good to look through. It’s also very relevant to the Arundel castle visit, as the special event we went to was 14th/15th century based, and so is this book. It’s Stephen Biesty’s cross-sections castle, see inside an amazing 14th century castle. There is lots to look at on each page, and each double page covers a separate subject, like building the castle, food, trades, entertainment. We all like the way the book is set out, and how much information it contains.