Celebrating summer

June is here! And so (although I’m currently looking out of the window at rain) I’m declaring it summer in our home.

To celebrate summer over the next few weeks and months we will be:

  • Spending time outside. Hanging out in parks, exploring woods, running through commons, dipping in ponds, paddling in streams and pools, or just pottering around in the garden. I see huge value in returning to local outdoor spaces regularly, so that Frida can see the weekly and seasonal changes to the wildlife, and so we have a few spots which we visit often.
  • Eating (and making) healthy “ice cream” lollies. Anyone who follows me on Instagram (come and say hello!) will know Frida is a big fan of these. I tend to use a mix of whatever fruit / yoghurt / nut butter I have knocking about. Banana, cacao, vanilla, coconut milk, and avocado all make good additions. Great for breakfast when it’s hot, and perfect for snacks. For extra excitement layer two fillings. 
  • Making the most of the abundant flowers all around us. I’m talking flower arranging, making garden soup, using our beloved flower cards, flower petal “princess baths”, watching as buds open and bloom, and visiting some formal gardens.
  • Reading some of our favourite summery books. You can find out more about what we’re currently reading here. 
  • Rockpooling! I am really excited to do this with Frida, as we haven’t taken her yet.
  • Swimming. I will admit – I don’t take Frida swimming very often. I’m determined to give her more swimming opportunities, and summer is a good season to get motivated!
  • Eating picnics. Of course. A great practical life activity too – picnic food is often perfect for toddlers to prepare, washing fruit, chopping vegetables, making simple dips, and filling drinks bottles.
  • Growing berries. We’re currently growing a few strawberries and raspberries, and Frida loves going out every morning to check what has ripened and water the plants.
  • Taking regular trips to the seaside for ice-cream, paddling, and seeing friends and family.
  • Camping. I’m not sure if we will get round to doing this this summer, but I would really like to get away for a night or two and take Frida somewhere local to camp, maybe with friends or family.
  • Learning about Italy, before a family holiday at the end of summer. Reading books about Italy, making pizza together, talking about the wildlife, and learning a few words of Italian (and maybe a Campari or two for me…)
  • Taking it slow. Summer for me is not a time for rushing around! Long mornings spent reading books under a tree, painting in the garden, cool afternoon baths, supper in the garden, wandering from park to cafe to paddling pool – that’s pretty much my summer plan.

What about you? What will your summer look like?

What we’re reading: June 

I’ve done some book rotation, including some books with a summer / seaside / bugs theme. I often just show you a small selection of the books we have out, so I thought I would show you the whole of Frida’s book shelves.

Because it’s June, I’ve updated the seasonal books on the shelf in Frida’s room.

On her shelf she has: Summer / Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature / Summer (from The Nursery Collection) / Flower Fairies of the Summer

When rotating books, I usually try to ensure a balance of current favourites and books we haven’t read for a while, reality-based books and books with an element of fantasy, easy books and ones which are a little more challenging (either because they are longer or deal with more complex topics).

Top shelf: Dogger (MF) / Paddington in the Garden / When We Were Very Young  (MF) / Wild Animals (also published as British Animals) MF) / Out and About: A First Book of Poems (MF) / The Story Orchestra: Four Seasons in One Day (MF although there are accompanying sounds)

Middle shelf: 199 Things Under the Sea (MF) / Tiddler / Meg at Sea / The Storm Whale (semi-MF) / British Seashore (MF) / The Blue Whale (MF)

Bottom shelf: Bee: Nature’s tiny miracle (MF) / First Facts Bugs (MF) / 1001 Bugs to Spot (MF) / Look Inside: Your Body (MF) / Summer  (MF) / Eating the Alphabet (MF)

MF = Montessori-friendly, ie. reality based

We also have a basket of library books in our sitting room. I do try to keep these separate just for ease, but in the shelves above I have included a couple of library books. Again, when we go to the library, I usually try to strike a balance when choosing what to borrow (and of course Frida has an opinion too!)

We have also recently started listening to some audio books together, mostly Mog books (by Judith Kerr) and Alfie stories by Shirley Hughes. I would love your recommendations for pre-school age audio books.

Celebrating spring 

Ok, so I know that technically spring does not start for another twenty days, but I am impatient and I can’t wait that long! Our winter shelf has had me itching for change since the shoots and flowers of early spring started to appear, and our focus outside has shifted from frost and pinecones to buds and bulbs.

I wanted to share with you a few of the ways in which we will be celebrating spring and using it as inspiration for our activities.

Every season I update this shelf in Frida’s room. Because we have a (very active and inquisitive!) cat, we can’t set up a proper nature table, so this shelf is my compromise.

On Frida’s spring shelf I have put:

We have already spent the last few weeks looking at crocuses, daffodils, blossom, and the buds which are starting to appear on the trees. Although winter is still here (and at times it really feels like it!), spring proper is definitely not far away.

To celebrate spring over the next few weeks and months we will be:

  • Reading seasonal books together.  I’ve put away our winter books and swapped in a few spring ones. I’ll keep adding to our collection though so I would love your recommendations!
  • Going outside, playing outside, eating outside. Puddle jumping, mud squelching, water splashing. Enjoying the flowers that are starting to pop up, continuing our regular trips to the park to see what has sprung up since our last visit a few days ago, eagerly watching as new flowers peek through each time we visit. Going outside a lot is something we do all year round but in spring this is especially magical.
  • Talking of flowers, I’d quite like to do some flower-pressing with Frida, and I’m planning on setting up some simple flower arranging for her too as she’s expressed an interest in doing so.
  • Using these fantastic Usborne flower cards to expand Frida’s knowledge and vocabulary around flowers. I’ve only just given them to her and they are already proving to be a hit.
  • Doing some simple gardening. Planting a few bulbs and planting a few seeds together, so Frida can learn first-hand how plants grow. This book by Gerda Muller looks like it will be a wonderful companion.
  • Visiting city farms more regularly again. The city farms tend to be quieter over the winter (and the ones near us close their cafes which I find very offputting) but spring is a perfect time to visit farms. Hopefully Frida will see some chicks!
  • Dipping for frogspawn, and learning about the frog life cycle.
  • Making and giving May Day posies.
  • Celebrating Frida’s second birthday in April, and my 29th in May.
  • Painting eggs.
  • Easter baking. Buns, breads. Yum.
  • Visiting bluebell woods as a family, and generally planning lots of outdoor day trips to some of the beautiful nature reserves, woods, forests, and outdoor spaces we are lucky to live near.

Whilst Frida is still young I think we will be going by calendar seasons as it makes it a bit easier for her to remember them.

I’m sure I will add lots to this list over the coming weeks, and I’ve just ordered this brilliant looking book which I am certain will provide lots of inspiration for years to come! How are you planning on celebrating spring?

Making simple Valentine’s cards 

This year Frida made a few simple Valentine’s cards to send. It was a very lovely activity to do together. 

Last week we prepared some paper to use. Frida made a glittery collage (crayons, glitter glue, pink hole-punch litter) and painted some water colours to use as a base for the cards. Whilst painting she spilled some watercolour, so I used that as an opportunity to show her basic printing – pat paper down onto the spill then lift it off and see the colour! 

I then prepared some very basic cards made of folded white card, and cut out backgrounds and hearts from her decorated paper. 

Frida applied the glue to the back of the cut-out paper and helped to stick them on. 

Frida then decided who each card would be sent to (a few friends her age she sees regularly, her daddy, her cousin, and her grandparents) and she “wrote” a message inside each one. 

Whilst Frida napped I made simple envelopes, and then she proudly carried her cards carefully to the post-box at the end of our street to post them.

We missed last post (oops) so our cards will arrive at least a day late, but I’m hoping that it’s the thought that counts! 

Her finished cards below (minus one which we hand-delivered). 

Leith Hill

The weather yesterday was GLORIOUS. Beautiful bright sunshine, cool air, a gorgeous day where both autumn and winter were jostling for space. 

We decided to make the most of a day with no plans and visit Leith Hill, a national trust spot in Surrey. It was so beautiful! I would really recommend it to anyone who lives locally. The light, the trees, the views, the many dogs for Frida to meet, the hot chocolate and fruitcake which met us at the Leith Hill Tower…  

I hope you’ll forgive my indulgence in sharing a few photos with you! 

What’s under our tree? 

For Christmas / Chanukah (we are not religious but will be celebrating both as my family celebrates Christmas and my husband’s celebrates Chanukah), we have bought Frida:

  • Four books
  • Two wooden animals 
  • A Schleich horse family 
  • A felt playmat 
  • Some simple figures 
  • Stickers 

Frida will be 20 months at the time. We had also ordered her a balance bike, but it looks like it won’t be here in time for Christmas (insert annoyed face emoticon here) so she’ll have to wait for it, which is no bad thing as we’re worried about her being a bit overwhelmed by all the new things. 

She will be getting a stocking on Christmas morning, which you can read about here

We haven’t decided yet if we’re going to give her everything at once, or if we’ll spread her gifts out over the eight days of Chanukah, which happens to start on Christmas Eve this year. 

For a closer look at the items we bought, keep reading! 

Panda & polar bear book + Holztiger panda and polar bear 

I thought this would make a fun story set. Frida’s Holztiger collection is growing and I think she will get use out of them for years to come. 

Brilliant birds

Frida already has “Wild Animals” (sometimes published as British Animals) and “Animals” in the same series. I feel confident that she will love this book – it’s so big and packed with wonderful drawings.

Schleich horse family 

Frida adores her Schleich farm animals, especially her sheep family – she really enjoys that there is a daddy, mummy, and baby. I thought these would make a happy addition to her collection, and my guess is that this will be her favourite gift. 

The story orchestra 

We don’t tend to buy electronic toys, but this book is the one exception to the rule. It has a short clip from Vivaldi’s four seasons on each, beautifully illustrated, page. 

Felt play mat

This is much smaller than perhaps it looks – around 30cm long. Frida is really getting into imaginative play, and I hope this will make a nice backdrop for her animals and figures.

199 things under the sea

Yes, another animal book! This looks brilliant for expanding her vocabulary (and mine)! 

Simple figures

As Frida enters into more and more imaginary play, we thought these would make a sweet addition to her toy rotation, and to her seasonal displays. They are small so perfect for taking with us when we go on a journey.

Stickers

Frida enjoys stickers, and I liked that these have a seasonal theme. 

So that’s it! I’m almost finished wrapping too (everything is being wrapped in newspaper – easy to tear and no waste!). I’m really looking forward to the festive season this year, as I think Frida is old enough to kind of get it, and my sister in law is getting married a few days after Christmas, so I think the whole week is going to feel very lovely. 

In Frida’s stocking…

I have just put together Frida’s “stocking” for Christmas. I say stocking, but actually we’re using one of her socks! I figured she’s only small, and the temptation of a big stocking would be to fill it… so an 18-24 month size navy sock it is!

I didn’t have a stocking growing up, but I think the idea of her having something to open and play with in the morning is a nice idea. I would never buy something purely as a stocking filler, though – these are all things I’ve carefully selected and know she will love. 

In her stocking I have put:

  • Holztiger mouse (here)
  • Holztiger gull (here)
  • Plan Toys whale whistle (here)
  • Mineral pieces from the Natural History Museum (some here but I bought them in person)
  • Chocolate coins

And that’s it! I’ll pop a piece of fruit in the night before too.

I’m just waiting for her main “under the tree” present to arrive and then I’ll share her full selection of Christmas / Chanukah gifts with you too, before I wrap them!