This is Life Schooling…

A few weeks ago we went on a trip to CBeebies Land with some of our absolutely favourite people. Archie was sat in the back of the car with one of his besties who he has grown up with, who does go to school. P asked Archie if he could count in twos and his automatic response was “No”. P was a little surprised that he couldn’t, so she told us about it.

It wasn’t until I gave Archie an example of counting in twos, that he realised he could in fact do that and also he could count in tens, it’s just that he has learnt it so naturally, that he didn’t know that this skill had a particular name!

This happened a couple more times that day when they were having their little chats in the back of the car and their conversations were so sweet to hear!

Fast forward a couple of weeks to yesterday when we were sat at dinner and a conversation came up about numbers. I thought I would take the opportunity to ask Archie a couple of questions. I started with “Do you know what double 3 is Archie”, to which answered “yes, 6!” We went through many other doubles which he loved and answered all of them correctly, only having to use his fingers to work out one of them.

This may seem normal for a boy of 5, but the thing is, I have never…and I really mean NEVER sat him down and taught him how to double numbers, or what a double is. It has ALL come through play and natural learning opportunities that have arisen in our daily lives. I have a feeling that his recent love for the game Shut the Box has helped too!

Fast forward again to today and Rocco, our 2 year old turned to me and correctly told me “This is my right hand and this is my left hand!” He showed me his right and left hand as he said it. I thought it was a fluke, but every time I asked him which was his right or left hand throughout the day, he got it right. Now, I’m sure you will all know by now, that I have never sat him down to teach him about his left and right either, but again, he has learnt through practical application and every day experiences. This particular piece of knowledge, he picked up when he was feeling particularly grumpy in the woods and Rex was telling him which way we would need to go next. He told him ONCE which hand was which, to help him know which way to go and it stuck!

It amazes me daily how much knowledge and skill these boys soak up every day. They don’t even realise they are learning most of the time! One day, Archie may need to know that it is called ‘counting in twos’, or whatever else it is he needs to know, but at least then, he will already know what to do and it will just be a fancy name to give to all of his many different skills and pockets of knowledge!

This is life schooling. Learning through the every day. The mundane. The adventure. The daily problem solving. The play. And do you know what?…It’s working!

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Learning to imagine and be free…


Fighting dragons, talking to bears, battling villains, saving the world, climbing aboard pirate ships. The possibilities were endless.

Imaginary adventures and jumping into role were the norm. The ability to lead the play, or follow the lead of someone else. Using voices and expression to make our characters come to life. A plethora of imaginary friends.

It was play.

It was adventure.

It was FUN.

Then, something unexpected happened. Our adventurous, creative, bold little boy with a big imagination endured a complete emotional turmoil through 6 months of school. As mentioned in previous posts, he developed some anxieties and became a shadow of himself. Read more about this by clicking HERE.

Since we have had him back at home he has been reluctant to say the least. Unwilling to suspend his disbelief, not wanting to ‘look silly’ or get it wrong and boisterously trying to manipulate the play to follow and fit into certain rules set by himself.

This came as a bit of a shock to us, as we both have a drama and performance background and have always encouraged him in this area. To play, to imagine, to create and to dream.

Our 2 year old has an incredible imagination and his play often amazes us; how much he understands and how accurately he conveys emotions through his role play. This has caused issues between the two boys whilst engaging in play together and many times it has ended in raised voices and tears.

Fast forward 3 months of home education and I am so happy to say that we are beginning to see glimmers of his imagination bubbling up and returning. Pretending, initiating play and talking to puppets as if they are real. He even went to Asda a few days ago caped up as a superhero and didn’t even think twice about anyone looking at him.


This may sound small and may even be the norm for you and your children, but for us, this is a huge turning point.

I remember one particularly cold day at school where he didn’t want to wear a bobble hat in case the grown ups looked at him. Non-uniform days caused him to panic and the Christmas play brought on so much stress and worry. He wanted to blend in. To be unseen. To hide.

I just pray that this courageous, adventure seeking, imaginative side to his personality sticks around now that he is shaking off the feeling of being watched and ridding himself of a self-consciousness I wouldn’t wish upon anyone, let alone a four year old. I hope it grows again like a watered seed inside his soul, allowing him to feel free, to be creative and to PLAY!

I have written this because I know we can’t be the only ones and I want to offer hope to anyone in the same boat. There were days when I wept for him. When I could see the inner turmoil written all over his face in a mellow sadness. But here we are, rejoicing in the small moments and seeing our little boy growing in confidence and learning to be free.


Not every day is easy or perfect and we still have our moments when he expresses his feelings through certain challenging behaviours, but we are getting there and we are hopeful.

If any of this resonates with you, please do get in touch. I’d love to hear from you!

Lucy x


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The Butterfly Bath

A few days ago, I was tagged in a post about a beautiful butterfly watering station. I’d really love to make one with the boys for our garden, as we have been seeing a few butterflies fluttering around whilst we have been out playing in the sunny weather.

I was telling Archie about it and trying to suggest that we make a ‘butterfly bath’ for our garden, but Archie got the wrong end of the stick and excitedly started talking about a butterfly bath that he was going to have… so we ran with it.

I remembered that I had popped some water beads away in the cupboard a while back, waiting for the perfect opportunity to use them, so I soaked them for a few hours, before adding a colander, slotted spoons, shiny beads, a magnifying glass and of course some foam butterflies.


The boys love any messy, sensory or water play activities and I have mentioned before that 95% of the time they end up fully in the tray, generally naked, so bath play is a total winner!

The boys hopped straight in and started exploring the different items in the bath. Archie started to scoop water beads into the colander and soon discovered that he needed to lift it out of the water if he didn’t want the beads to float away again. When he lifted the colander out of the water, he noticed that he could make a brilliant shower as the water fell through the holes!


Rocco spent some time picking up individual water beads and squishing them in between his thumb and fore finger…super fine motor development! He also discovered half way through the bath that the foam shape butterflies that I had popped into the bath would actually stick like stickers to the flat surface of the bath and tiles. This was a bit of a fluke on my part, but he spent a long time sticking them on, taking them off and sticking them on again somewhere else!


We recently bought a colour changing light bulb, so I took the lamp into the bathroom (keep it away from the water folks!) This added something extra to the bath time, as I was able to change the colour of the bulb in order to show the boys which colour butterflies they should scoop and rescue next. This was great for consolidating Rocco’s colours, which he is pretty clued up on now, but they also loved the game regardless!


The boys also enjoyed having the magnifying glass in the tub with them and explored the shiny stones, water beads and butterflies through it.

They discovered that the water beads were pretty bouncy and had lots of fun bouncing the beads off each other’s heads, whizzing them around in the colander before they all bounced out…all over the bathroom, throwing them at the side of the bath to make them bounce off and dropping them from a height to see if they could make them splash!


All in all this was a great success and I would recommend the activity to anyone who has children that enjoy water play, but be warned…lots of water beads got squished in the bath, between fingers and under bottoms, so it was a pretty lengthy clean up with trying to scoop out the broken bits whilst not letting any down the drain!

What are your go to water play activities? I’d love to hear from you!

Lucy x

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Our favourite Minibeast activities so far…

If you are a follower of my Instagram page (@thelifeschoolers for anyone who isn’t yet, but would like to), you will have noticed that we have been doing lots of activities and play based learning around the theme of Minibeasts! We took a little break for some farm fun over Easter, but have picked it back up again, so I thought I would do a summary of some of our super simple bug activities so far. Funnily enough, the stomach bug Archie picked up did NOT make it onto the list!

I have been trying to set up a few invitations to play each evening before I go to bed, so there is something to capture the boys’ interests when they first come downstairs and we are caught up in the business of breakfast etc. This means that this list of activities so far is a real mix of independent play activities and ones that I have facilitated a bit more to extend the play further.

So here they are…Our favourite bug activities so far…


Archie (age 4) really loves any activity involving number, so I set up this little number bond challenge for him. He successfully completed all of the ladybird number bonds to 10 and then decided to do his own sums too (40 + 65 for example!) In the photograph, there are a few which he did not draw the spots on. This is because he decided to use some mini counting cubes to place on the ladybirds instead.

Rocco (age 2) enjoyed exploring dots and spots and how to make them with his felt tip pens. He experimented with pressure and speed and noticed the difference between the spots that he had made on the ladybirds.



I have discovered that any little hunt lists are a really good way to encourage reluctant readers. Archie stopped reading to me a few months ago when he was still at school. I think he really felt the pressure to get it right, even though we never piled the pressure on him and I am sure school didn’t either. However, with reading, it can be very obvious to a child whether they are getting it right or not! We have been finding new ways to use words in our day to day lives to encourage him with his reading, but without the pressure that a book can bring. This list worked a treat, as I was able to differentiate the activity for both of the boys to enjoy.

Rocco had to hunt for the matching picture and Archie read the word, in order to work out which minibeast he had to hunt for. This was such a simple activity to set up and one that they both enjoyed together.



This is one of the few activities that we have sat down together to ‘learn’, but the boys, particularly Rocco, did enjoy creating their life cycles together. We looked the the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and watched a YouTube video showing a hyper lapse of the life of a caterpillar from egg to butterfly to learn more before completing this activity. We then discussed what we had noticed, learned the big word ‘metamorphosis’ and created some lovely life cycle pictures together during our discussion. The boys are really proud of the life cycles displayed on the wall in our Family Room!



The boys both really love drawing and colouring at the moment, so I left this super simple activity on their drawing table, with some key vocabulary to encourage Archie’s reading and a book for inspiration. Archie absolutely loved this activity and had designed all of his bugs before I had even made it downstairs!



This was supposed to be an activity for the boys to complete together, but Rocco enjoyed it so much that he ended up doing lots of it with Daddy. Archie asked to do a black and red ladybird after, as he was a bit miffed about the butterfly. This is another simple activity, that kept Rocco focused for an extended period of time and encouraged lots of talk about colour, shape, position and butterflies. The finished result is so pretty and Rocco was really chuffed to see it up on the wall when he had finished.



The scented play dough that I made at Easter was such a hit and was still going strong, so I set up a little bug making invitation to play. The boys loved making all sorts of bugs, including worms, spiders, caterpillars and some of their very own designs. We love play dough activities, as so much learning goes on and yet the boys are having so much fun together!



This lovely little fine motor activity was so quick to set up, but the boys loved it! Threading cheerios onto their caterpillars and then sneakily eating them all off again. This activity encouraged fine motor development, hand eye coordination and lots of discussion and talk around length and quantity.


Of course we have spent lots of time outside finding lots of real minibeasts – particularly worms, centipedes, milipedes, bees and wasps, but this is a list of invitations to play that will hopefully be helpful to others! What are your favourite minibeast activities?


We will be designing and building a Minibeast Hotel (Watch this space!)

I will also be publishing a full list of minibeast inspired activities, songs and books on this blog after a poll on my Instagram received a 100% positive feedback saying you would love to see my lists of theme related activities!

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