Towards the end of the Summer holidays we had a real problem with sibling rivalry, one which has been brewing really since baby F came along in April. Maybe it’s not so much sibling rivalry as vying for my attention, and after much thought I wondered if I was treating the older two as a unit rather than individuals, and increasing the competitive feelings as they tried to assert their own identity. Our themed picnic days were about trying to celebrate their individual interests as wll as share some special time with each child individually.
N loves all things fairy. Our special day together was inspired by her new fairy duvet cover and built around that – a fairy picnic / tea party right here in our lounge!
We set up a fairy den, using said fairy duvet cover, pink blankets, fluffy cushions and a pillow case carpet….
We dug out a princess castle cake stand from last year’s “Pirates and Princesses” birthday party, added a disney princess niniature teaset, just right for fairies…then set to work preparing our fairy feast.
This seemed to be N’s favourite part. She delighted in cutting tiny bits of food and using the tiny tea set to serve them, including placing a mini marshmallow and single blueberry very carefully in each cup!
We served bread and butter with fairy sprinkles (hundreds and thousands – surprisingly delicious – cut into heart shapes with a biscuit cutter. Pink marshmallow wafers, apple and cheese flowers (hurray for biscuit cutters!), fairy fruit, and strawberry angel delight mixed with edible glitter and pearls.
Then I climbed into the tent with N and we enjoyed our feast. She enjoyed listening to “Swan lake” in the background, since in her three year old world, ballerinas equal fairies. Somehow, the afternoon disappeared!
L’s turn came when his sister spent some special time with their auntie. Our special picnic / activity / indulgence was inspired by his magnifying glass bought as a souvenir from the zoo. That morning, I announced that we were going to be nature explorers for the day, and to prove it he wore camouflage shorts, a t-shirt he’d decorated in school with leaf outlines, and I presented him with an exercise book to record his discoveries, as well as a jar with holes in the lid and an ice cube tray for specimen collection.
I have to say I was impressed with our Nature Explorers’ laboratory, if I say so myself – since everything was improvised during a quick raid of the garage and not a single thing bought esepcially for this activity (I do love it when things are free as well as fun)… an old hamster cage doubled as a perfect minibeast habitat, once L had thought carefully about what insects live, and where he might find some, concluding that they like the dark and damp, and heading off to leave no stone unturned, literally.
We collected minibeasts of various kinds, identified them using our nature books, and drew pictures of them in our nature journal.
L began to ask a lot of questions about what other insects might live in our garden, and so we lay down on the grass very quietly, magnifying glass at hand, and looked for bugs in the grass – and successful we were too! An earthworm, millipede and grasshopper all came to visit within minutes, and L spent longer in quiet concentration than I’ve ever really seen! We spent ages describing what we could see under the magnifying glass and how it differed from what we normally see. And then spent some time being quiet and seeing what sounds we could notice in the garden when we slowed down and payed attentuion.
Baby F joined us on our expedition, and was no trouble. Although she didn’t meet many minibeasts, she did enjoy a doze in the sunshine, the feel of the grass between her fingers, and the way L’s magnifying glass caught the light… I love the fact that she can get something out of any activity at her own developmental level, with a bit of thought and attention to her needs.
The picnic proved to be secondary to the nature adventure in the end, but we had packed a rucksack of supplies to add to the authenticity of the experience, and we unwrapped sandwiches in brown greaseproof paper tied up with string, camping flasks of water (we would get thirsty in the jungle), snack packs of raisins and cereal bars for energy.
Since L was very keen to continue exploring after lunch, he set off with his bucket to find as many different kinds of leaves as possible in our garden, identify which plants they came from and discuss the different characteristics of the leaves. We took them back to the nature table where we sorted them by colour (shades of green / brown), shape, size etc…
The Nature Table remained a fea\ture of the greenhouse from that day to this!