unschool monday – self directed

This morning I was granted a little sleep in.

Bean goes to Tafe Mondays, so he doesn’t have to be out the door quite as early as other weekdays. Bean got up with the sproggets today & while I lay in bed dozing, he put some Cat Stevens on the stereo, changed Moe’s nappy & dressed him, left Sprout in her pyjamas at her request*, made them all some porridge for breakfast & then cleaned up. He let me know when he was almost ready to go so I could get up & do my morning ritual without any interruption because I was not the only parent at home & the sproggets had been catered for already, amazing!

Once Bean left I made a smoothie for myself & the sproggets. We sat together & drank our smoothies then the sproggets each did their own thing while I cleaned up the blender & glasses. Yes, you read that right… the sproggets each did their own thing.

Not only that though, they continued to do their own thing for quite some time after I’d finished cleaning the smoothie dishes. In that time of quiet, self directed play, I was able to do some study(!). I read (& understood) 3 pages of a chapter on the endocrine system without interruption(!!) & they were still playing when I finished.

In the end, I actually asked them to play with me. I was energised & in the mood for meaningful interaction, I was feeling able to make ammends for the times I’ve said,

“Not right now, I don’t want to/I can’t be bothered/I’m too tired/I’m too busy.”

I asked Sprout what she wanted to do & she told me she’d like to play with the playdough.

“Yes!” I said, “And we can do better than just playdough… we can do playdough & coloured pop-sticks & pipe cleaners & GOOGLY EYES!”

We played playdough together, on & off, all day. Interspersed with lots of scrummy snacks & more self-directed play. I’m amazed at the complete lack of input required from me today. I’m amazed at the relative harmony between Moe & Sprout, so few disagreements, so much co-operation. I’m amazed at how nicely the day flowed, both sproggets freely entertaining themselves for a whole gloriously easy day, with me even being able to get a bit of stress free reading done for college!


*Sprout stayed in her pyjamas all day, until we all went for a quick walk with Dave when Bean came home at 4pm. That’s the beauty of Mondays, our only full weekday at home, we can sloth about in our jarmies all day long & still learn heaps, laugh heaps & love heaps!


Unschool Monday is inspired by Owlet.

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unschool monday – paint for breakfast

Early this morning, right after drinking a breakfast smoothie we got out the craft box.

We started the day with paint. Distinct & separate blobs of colour on paper plates left over from a long ago party. The blobs didn’t stay separate for long, soon the plates were brown. Then bodies were a streaky, stripey, splotchy brown.

When the streaky, stripey, splotchy bodies appeared to have had enough of painting we packed away & had a warm shower.

Running around laughing, shrieking, whooping with delight as the clothes monster tried to dress the no longer streaky, stripey, or splotchy bodies.

Finally dressed.

Some more food. Food dictates the day, you know?

Some “reading” to each other.

Wrapping babies up in colourful play cloths.

A special lunch with Bean joining us at home because Mondays are Tafe days.

Some more baby wrapping after Bean left. Babies eventually abandoned on the bedroom floor.

Drawing with crayons & then textas over the top. Some writing demonstrations from me. Writing in colours I’m asked to use. Writing names, the alphabet in upper case, the alphabet in lower case, the names of the colours in the order they are naturally in a rainbow…

Some Playschool on iView while dishes were washed & vegetables cut for dinner.

Some stories read by me.

Bean came home.

The whole family went to the shop to buy some cous cous.

Dinner was ready when we returned.

We ate together.

The clothes monster chased the sproggets around a little more.

Ready for bed.


A lovely home day for sproggets who have the sniffles & coughs, and for a mother who is still a bit tired from the weekend’s gardening efforts.


Unschool Monday inspired by Owlet

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dancing bells

About a week ago I found a link to this post at the Childhood 101 Playopedia. I thought it was a pretty funky idea & told myself I should really do something like that one day.

Fast forward to Friday arvo, when I was at a craft store with the sproggets & I found a bargin bin with colourful ribbons in it.

“OH YEAH!” I thought, “I’ll do that dancing hoop thing…”

Sometime between selecting the ribbons and finding some hoops I decided I’d add some bells to them. I’ve been taking the sproggets to Rhyme Time at the local library & Babyman is really getting in to jingling the bells along with the rhymes & songs so I thought bells would be a good addition to dancing ribbons.

I have used brassed steel hoops, instead of the wooden hoops in the original post.

All the “ingredients” on the table

I made the sproggets two each, so they’d both have both hands full & hopefully not fight over them. So far they’ve argued a little bit but there are enough Dancing Bells to go around so any dramas are easily resolved.



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DIY Hairdressing

After lunch yesterday I brought the craft box out. While Babyman drew with coloured pencils, The Bubble was busy cutting up bits of paper with her op-shopped curvy scissors & a pair of regular straight cut scissors. Once they lost interest we packed the craft box up then while I was faffing about on the nerd & intermittently sweeping up the aforementioned bits of paper, The Bubble & Babyman were playing quietly in their playroom. I should have known! They were being too quiet…

Unbeknownst to me, The Bubble hadn’t put the scissors back in the craft box & she was cutting hair – hers & Babyman’s!

She cut herself a pretty funky fringe…

and hacked a fair bit off the back

Then she gave her little brother a mullet!

After their shower, when the food, snot & other grubbiness had been washed out of Babyman’s fuzzy, knotty curls I tidied his hair up. It’s a lot shorter now, I’ll get a picture in the next couple of days.

I’ve left The Bubble’s hair the way she cut it, she’s not done too bad a job of cutting a fringe for herself, it’s not terribly uneven on each side and her hair is so curly that it’s hard to make it “tidy” anyway. It’s going to be a pain while the fringe grows out, but that’s what hair clips are for!

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A natural learning wishlist

I’ve been thinking a little about things I’d like to get our family to facilitate some natural learning.

We’ve got an impressive craft drawer, to which I’d like to add some tempera paints (powdered paints) which would be good for mixing up paints & colouring home made playdough.

I’d also like to get annual passes to the Perth Zoo & Scitech, they’d get us into the zoo or Scitech an unlimited number of times each year. Imagine the fun we could have with those!

We have plenty of games, craft and toys to keep us occupied inside but there’s room for improvement in the outside toys department. Representatives of the outside toys department include a ride on car (yes, our hippy child really does have a BMW, my Mum bought it), a trike (Mum also bought that, thanks Mum), and one of those plastic baby swings. I’d really like to get some sports equipment too. Simple stuff like balls and rackets. I’d also like to get some garden tools that are an appropriate size for The Bubble now that we’ll be moving back to our old place and getting stuck into gardening again.

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Paper Flowers

Tonight I wanted to set up a quick and easy craft activity for The Bubble so I decided to show her how to make some paper flowers. I took the idea from a paper flower kit my sister bought her children recently. The kit had different coloured pieces of paper cut into different, loosely circular shapes with decorative edges with a hole through the centre to slide them onto a pipe cleaner. The flowers my niece and nephew made were sweet & I thought it’d be a good way to use up some of the many pipe cleaners in The Bubble’s craft box.

We used some Japanese paper that had been given to me by a friend before The Bubble was born. It’s thick tissue paper, almost like fabric, but easy to crinkle – perfect for making paper flowers! The paper ripped easily so I ripped very rough circles, ovals, rectangles, squares & triangles in varying sizes then we showed The Bubble how to push the paper onto the pipe cleaners. We didn’t bother to punch holes in the paper because the metal tips of the pipe cleaners punched through the paper very easily. When we had as many pieces of paper on the flowers as we liked we just doubled over the tip of the pipe cleaner to prevent the papers slipping off. We made a vase full of paper flowers for The Bubble’s room.

Really easy, and quite sweet.

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The Perth Upmarket

Today the Perth Upmarket was on at UWA so we (and just about everyone else in Perth) decided to go along for a look.

It was great! The crowd was a bit overwhelming but I tried to ignore that because there were some fantastic stalls. Ironically, my favourite stuff was to be found at Liam’s friend Karrie’s stall. We got a pair of cut pants each for the children and an awesome A-line skirt for me. The skirt is a dark purpley-maroon with 3 butterflies appliqued onto the front, it’s lined with the same fabric used for the applique. I love, love, love it.

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Whatever happened to the craft box?

I went to a UFO (unfinished objects) Monday at the Quilting Matters studio last night. It was nice to have a bit of an outlet after such an emotionally intense weekend. I got back into the quilt I’m making for The Bubble for the first time since before Babyman was born. I managed to make up another 5 finished blocks (6.5 inch squares) and 9 almost finished blocks 2 sides of the border left to do, I’ll be able to chain piece them together in no time, so I’m happy with that.

I’ll ask Liam to get some pictures of the blocks I’ve sewn so far. I worked out today that I’ll need to make 26 blocks of each of the 6 colours (pinks, oranges, yellows, greens, blues & purples) – 2 rows of 13 blocks – in order to make the queen sized quilt I’m planning to make. That will all make much more sense when I have pictures to share. Of the 156 blocks I need to make I’ve made 56 (excluding the almost finished blocks I made last night). Even though she’s only 3 I’ve decided to make a queen sized quilt because it’ll still fit over a single bed but she can use the quilt on a larger bed if she wants to keep using it as an older child or an adult.

So, now to the inspiration for the title of this post…

The contents of The Bubble's craft box on the lounge room floor...

We went to a fabric store today to buy a couple of new blades for my rotary cutter so I can keep cutting up blocks and to get a little bit more fabric for the quilt, while we were there The Bubble was talking about craft and I told her we’d play with her craft box when we got home. She had a fat time crafting and it didn’t take THAT long to clean up in the end, so it was worth it. We just had to make sure the chunky baby didn’t get too close lest he choke on googly eyes or eat pony beads…

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Compassion Caravan (before)

This weekend we’re going on a bus trip with 20 odd people (yes, we’re all very odd :P) from the Refugee Rights Action Network. An 850km bus trip to Leonora and back (1700km round trip) to visit families of asylum seekers being held in detention.

For info on the purpose of the caravan, see here.

We’ve been on a convergence with RRAN before, in 2005, a much longer one. We went to the Baxter Immigration Detention Centre in Port Augusta, South Australia. In 2005 we didn’t have children though. Actually, in 2005 we weren’t in a relationship either, Liam did sit next to me on the way there though…

So, given that we’re not childless, single people anymore, there is a lot more for us to consider this time around, it’s not as simple as packing our clothes/tent/snacks & hoping for the best. We’ve got a 3 year old child & a baby to entertain in the confines of a bus, a bus that we’re sharing with another 15-20 people.

Babyman doesn’t require much in the way of entertaining yet, he’s not really very mobile & basically as long as he has free access to boobs, cuddles & regular clean nappies he’s pretty happy. The Bubble on the other hand, she’s 3 & VERY high energy. I’ve thought a lot about what things we can do with her on the bus to keep her occupied for the 20 (or more?!) hours we’ll be bussing for.

I’ve bought her some new story books, which she was about due for anyway, because new is often more captivating when it comes to story books for 3 year olds. Her favourite of the new story books is her copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

I’ve made her a craft kit. I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet but it is AWESOME (toot toot toot)!

I’ve got a clear plastic box with 8 compartments and filled them with:

1. cotton wool balls

2. wooden dolly pegs

3. foam monster shaped stickers

4. colourful plastic pony beads with large, toddler friendly size holes

5. rainbow coloured popsticks

6. different size & shape fabric off-cuts from my quilting stash (yes, there is paisley in there)

7. different size & colour pom poms

8. craft ribbon & goggly eyes

I’ve also got a bag filled with things that didn’t fit in the box:

Sticker sheets with stickers of many different sizes, shapes & colours; multicoloured pipe cleaners; craft glue; scissors; a colouring book; coloured pencils & sharpener; large size, natural (non coloured) popsticks; a large ball of grey yarn for threading beads & other general crafty applications; a pad of scrap paper that Liam made at work to use as a drawing pad.

I’ve deliberately excluded things like glitter & paint because they’re a little too messy for the bus.

Tonight, once The Bubble was in bed Liam made some playdough to include in the activity bag, I suggested he mix lavender essential oil into it, hopefully it’ll act as a calming activity if/when The Bubble needs calming. We have already made 8 batches of playdough in the thermomix last night to give to the children in detention at Leonora. Liam made the playdough & I kneaded the colours & some essential oils into the batches by hand while he got started on each new batch, true production line styles. We made a playdough rainbow…

Red with rose oil, orange with tangerine oil, yellow with lemon oil, green with lime oil, blue with ylang ylang oil, indigo with patchouli oil, violent with lavender oil.

On top of all that stuff for activities we’ve packed about half the clothes they own, we’ll probably not need them, but if we don’t have extra clothes they’ll no doubt be needed. Better to have them in the bag & be able to put them back in the cupboard unused when we get home, than to leave them in the cupboard & curse when we run out of clean, dry kids clothes.

We’ve got awesome snacks for the trip so there’ll be no roadhouse stodge for us. I went to the little organic place just up the road from our house to get enough food for snacks & meals. I’m sure we’ll be rolling off the bus when we get to Kalgoorlie tomorrow night after eating hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, pistachios, dark chocolate covered cranberries, raw cacao nibs, goji berries, sultanas, roast veg salad, fresh fruit salad (kiwi fruit, red apple, banana, orange, pear), mushrooms, carrot sticks, celery sticks, spicy lentil dip, cold organic beef sausages, avocado, fresh honeycomb & popcorn!

I’ve also got a herbal first aid kit of sorts. I’m not feeling well & since I’d be taking herbs at home, I’ve decided to dispense myself some travel sized herbs. Tinctures of Echinacea, Olive Leaf & Golden Seal plus some essential oils, herbal lozenges for my sore throat & wholefood supplements (bee pollen, barley grass, spirulina etc.)

On that note, massive weekend begins in 8 hours, I need to rest now!

I’ll be taking notes & writing an update on the trip when we get home. Keep an eye on the RRAN website (www.rran.org) over the weekend for live updates.

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