Tuesday, 26 September 2017

The Rise of Outdoor Playgroups.

Ever since Violet was around 6 weeks old, we've been to mother and toddler groups. You name it, we've tried it. Honestly, I don't love a general "parent and toddler" group, they're amazing places for new mums but they can be really overwhelming. I find that a more structured group forces you to speak to other people and everyone tends to be in a similar boat. 

As Violet has got older, it's become more obvious on the types of groups she enjoys and the ones that don't work as well for us. And by that I mean, V has no spatial awareness and is fiercely independent, which isn't great in small spaces, around small babies! However more recently I've found some amazing groups that really work well for little miss Bear Grylls. 

Forest schools and outdoor groups are becoming more and more accessible, which is really amazing if you have a toddler like mine. Violet is never happier than when she's exploring outside, but still getting to interact with other children. Outdoor play is so good for little ones and it's great to get a bit of fresh air yourself. It provides the perfect way to let off a little steam and tire those cheeky monkeys out! 

We first tried a proper "forest school" back in August. The whole set up was brilliant and Jonathan and I were really impressed. We really were in the midst of a forest, which was the perfect playground for Violet. Our second encounter with outdoor playgroups was at the Whitworth Art Gallery and their Toddler Outdoor Club. This is free and not quite as exciting as being in an actual forest but Violet enjoyed herself none the less. There both a little further than we would regularly travel, but since I've discovered one much closer to home. 

Our local group is Nature Tots and takes part twice a week in a park. The area in which the sessions take place is owned by the Wildlife Trust and is opened specifically for these sessions. The space has allotments, green houses, a mud kitchen, outdoor instruments and even a space for a camp fire. It's really amazing and so much fun for the little ones. This week we planted potatoes that'll be ready for Christmas and some spinach to take home. I really feel like Violet is learning as well as playing!

I really love seeing her little face enjoying the outdoors and to quote one of the mums at the session, a "Nature Tots Nap" after the group is amazing!

Katie xx

Katie Atkinson
Lifestyle blogger


Thursday, 14 September 2017

Montessori: Following the Child's Interests.

I think one of the hardest but also easiest part of Montessori is "following the child". We try so hard to give Violet pretty much free reign, when it's safe to do so and more often than not, she will lead the way with whatever activity we're doing. It can be difficult at times, as obviously Violet doesn't understand dangers and can get quite upset when she is unable to wander off and do her own thing. However, when we're somewhere safe, it's easily my favourite part of Montessori. 
I often sit back and watch what Violet is playing with or doing with her toys and other miscellaneous items. For example, the last few weeks she's enjoyed putting things in baskets and transferring items from one basket to another. So we've developed this a little more this week and provided her with a few different types of bowls, baskets and bags to transfer her things. 

I'm loving that she's become a bit of a bookworm lately too. She will bring me books from her shelf several times a day and we will read them together, with her turning the pages when she's ready. Or she will sit on the floor or sofa and open and close the books and look at the pictures and photos. I did a whole post on Montessori-friendly books, here
But more than anything, Violet loves dogs. It was one of her first words, despite us not having a dog. I assume it's from spending lots of time at the park and on walks where we see dogs. I've been following this interest and set up a little station with different breeds of dog toys and some dog-themed books. She seems to have enjoyed exploring the different kinds of dogs and we've had fun reading about pooches too! Violet will correctly point and say "dog" whenever we see one, although she does tend to call most animals dog at the moment. 
I'm really enjoying allowing Violet to take the lead on her own play and learning and I can't wait to see what other interests she has as she's getting older. But I know secretly my hubby is hoping the dog interest is just a phase, I don't think we will be getting a puppy any time soon!

Katie xx

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Sony A6000 Hybrid Camera.

Sadly my Olympus Pen camera died on me suddenly a few weeks back. We've been coping just shooting away on our iPhones but last week we finally bit the bullet and picked up another camera. 

After a lot of discussion and a few recommendations we went with the Sony A6000 and I'm so please we did! We're both still getting to grips with the camera itself but I think we've mastered getting a pretty decent up-close photo of Violet. I've featured a few of my recent snaps in this post, so you can get an idea of the quality of the camera. 

I don't know a great deal about cameras, but I love that this has an eyepiece, unlike my Olympus Pen. Of course, you can still you the screen to take a photo too, but it is nice to take a photo the "traditional" way. It's really easy to change the size of lens too and I'm currently loving it around 45mm to get really great photos of Violet. 

I'm so happy we went with this camera. It takes amazing photos and is still stylish and compact, which is something we were looking for. Definitely a good choice for beginners too! 

If you have any tips and tricks for getting started with a new camera or if you have this one, I'd love to know more!

Katie xx
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