Gardener’s Marvellous Medicine

The dreaded black bean aphids. The busy ants that ‘farm’ the aphids for their sweet, sugary secretions by ‘tickling their tummies’; according to Zofia! This week it was time for them to go. We made a homemade ‘pesticide’ to ward these creatures off our bean arch.

The recipe included a few drops of orange oil, a handful of garlic cloves, some hot chilli powder and a squirt of washing up liquid mixed in with a jug of water. “It’s not George’s Marvellous Medicine, this is Gardener’s Marvellous Medicine!” Tancredi joked as we set about spraying the plants with our concoction. We were very careful not to spray onto any flowering plants as we didn’t want to discourage any pollinators such as bees!

We also had some recycled newspaper to use in the garden. Any suggestions as to what for? “For the plants to read the news!” … an imaginative offer but sadly no, it was in fact to be shredded and added to the compost bin! The microbes, which break down the material in our compost bin into rich organic matter, need a balanced diet just like us humans. They need nitrogen found in ‘green’ materials such as food waste from the kitchen and weeds from the beds and carbon found in ‘brown’ materials such as dead leaves and woodchips. Since we’ve been adding a lot more of the ‘green’ materials into the bin recently, we decided to use shredded newspaper to add more carbon.

Lastly in the garden but certainly not least, we had some lovely broad beans ready to harvest. Washed and peeled, the fresh beans were sweet and juicy. What a treat!

 

Make

In the kitchen we got to work on preparing a very green looking crostini. We didn’t have any asparagus in the garden as it takes a couple of years before harvesting but they had appeared in the supermarket recently. As it has a short window for picking we need to make the most of it.  Only eating green spears grown in the UK means that they are cherished and appreciated much more then eating the much sadder variety flown all the way from Peru during the rest of the year.

Asparagus is one of the best natural sources of folate. Adequate folate intake is extremely important during periods of rapid growth such as pregnancy, infancy and adolescence. However the strong taste is not something that children are going to immediately be drawn to. So we will need to box clever with this recipe. Last time I made this was the morning of our wedding this time last year and it worked on our guests so I was excited to try it on these guys.

Ingredients

Good bread (we used ciabatta)

Asparagus spears

Frozen peas (we also used a few broad beans from the garden)

A lemon

Olive oil

Sea salt

Honey

Abergavenny Goats Cheese (Many children don’t like stronger goats cheese but this one is very mild, soft and creamy)

Thyme

Mint

So we prepared the bread for the kids as that can be tricky. The children used peelers to grate the asparagus tips. We made sure they didn’t get confused and throw those away! Then having boiled some peas beforehand we smashed the peas with the back of a fork. Next to the cheese we added some lemon, a squeeze of honey, lemon thyme from the garden and mixed it all together. Now time to build the crostini. Spread the cheese mixture over the bread or toast if you prefer, a spoonful of crushed peas in the middle and the shaved asparagus on top.  On top add a drizzle of oil, a pinch of salt, mint (we have an abundance in the garden and its great to see the kids recognize it and really get a taste for using it) and a final squeeze of lemon.

The children love the artistry involved in crostini making and these guys put so much passion into their creations. We all ate our concoctions greedily outside as is our tradition now surrounded by the washes of green of their rooftop garden. One crostini wasn’t enough and for many they had made a new friend. Until next year asparagus. Make the most out of the asparagus at home and let us know how it goes.

 

For more information on Folate, visit Health Ambition’s site here

An Energetic Afternoon

Our Grow-Make-Eat! session started off today with a spot of detective work… what needs to be done in the garden? “Watering!”, as usual, since it’s been a dry and warm couple of days; “Weeding!” well spotted, there are a few things in the beds that we didn’t sow or plant! Some potatoes and watercress we missed from last year’s crop had sprouted so we pulled those up to make room for the plants we’re looking after this term.

We thinned out the carrots and put the strongest plants into a tub full of sandy compost. We learnt about how the carrots grow bigger in sandy soil as they are the roots of the plant, and the roots stretch out to search for more nutrition. If we planted them in rich compost they’d be happy where they are and stay small and stumpy!

What had changed in the garden since last week? The wildflowers are getting even bigger and look like they’re about to burst into flower any moment now! The cabbage had bolted (bad news!) and had sprouted an enormous stalk of pretty yellow flowers! But hang on, where did those pretty broad bean flowers go? Zofia knowledgeably suggested that they had turned into beans. We looked carefully and there the young bean pods were! All very exciting, hopefully we can eat them in the next couple of weeks.

We also planted some Charlotte potatoes, which will be great in salads. Some interesting reactions when planting them in; “The sprouts are disgusting!” and “They look like babies!” Hopefully they’ll look more appetizing once they’ve grown new tubers…

In the kitchen we made some raw balls as the kids had really made such a great effort with all our weird concoctions of late. Moving away from chocolate and indeed our popular flapjack balls we decided to try a peanut butter and banana ball. Now I mustn’t forget to write the ingredients because for some reason the children LOVED these!

Before we made them we had little chat about palm oil and deforestation due the fact we had sustainable palm oil in our Whole Earth peanut butter. Encouraging children to read labels and lead their own investigations about what they eat is very important.

You can read more about the subject here.

http://www.saynotopalmoil.com/Whats_the_issue.php

So as always we blend the hard ingredients first. We have a Magi Mix at school but any food processor will do. So this time it was cashew and dried bananas first then all the rest till blended and the dates are pureed. We left some bananas a bit chunky.

 

Ingredients:

A pack of unsalted cashews (or a nut like almond)

A pack of dried bananas (We like these fair-trade sulphur free ones)

A table spoon of peanut butter (the good stuff ideally)

A handful of pitted dates

Some raisins

A small squeeze of agave syrup or honey

A sprinkle of cinnamon

We used coconut oil but I would omit it next time as it all came out too greasy!

 

A great afternoon snack and is a meal in itself!

A Berry Nice Breakfast!

With this term’s Grow-Make-Eat! Club well under way, the roof garden is slowly looking more green thanks to the children’s efforts. The broad beans sown during our winter holiday club and planted out by the spring term club are flowering beautifully.

Speaking of flowers, we learnt about pollination in the garden today. The children were interested to hear that humans, as well as insects and the wind can help pollinate a plant and we did just that with our strawberry plants. “It’s like the strawberry plants are kissing!” Ginevra remarked rather sweetly! We planted them up in hanging baskets and lay down straw to protect the developing fruits from the soil.

In the kitchen we made a delicious alternative to your usual toast and cereal breakfast; a strawberry, pear and  bircher muesli. First we soaked some Dorset Cereal in some apple juice so that they soften while we prepped the fruit. It is really important that you check there is no extra sugar hiding in either the cereal or juice. We like Dorset because they use 3 different types of grain and nuts such as brazil and almond which we had a hard time naming!

So we next topped and quartered the juicy new season strawberries, grated some pear and mixed it in with the muesli and a couple of spoonfuls of yoghurt. We used soya yoghurt which provoked an interesting conversation about cows, milk, mothers, babies and just how much milk we should expect a mummy cow to provide a day. The best answer for me was “Enough for the cow, its babies and everyone on the farm!” Next we had to add some agave syrup (how much is a drizzle?), a sprinkle of cinnamon (let it fall like snow…not an avalanche!) and hey presto we had ourselves a mighty fine breakfast that seemed a real hit. One boy I won’t name was very sure he would make this concoction for his mother and bring it to her in bed. We look forward to hearing more of that promise!

That’s just one recipe but you can of course mix and match the fruits and nuts for a different bowl every day. When I asked for some ideas there was no shortage of offers; “blueberries, raspberries, apple…” Of course I had to spoil it… “Rhubarb?” …there were no takers there! What alien food was Justin talking about now. We decided that would be a a story for another day!

“Have you eaten a cabbage leaf the size of your face?”

Grow Make Eat has been exploding with new growth with all this lovely spring sun. Thanks to spring we are able to pluck the perfect amount of leaves from out large cabbage plant to make a rainbow Pick’n’Mix!!!

Understanding the characters of spring leads us all to understand the food we grow and why. To celebrate the new warmth of the season we planted Tomato seeds!!! This is a magical procedure which our GME team take great pride in as they are well experienced seed sewers now!

We encourage everyone to awaken all of their senses when conducting any great activity at Grow Make Eat. Some may not be fond of certain colours, textures nor flavours alas some find that they change there minds when 4 out of their 5 senses are loving it!!!!

 

Keep on GROWING!

Can you cook and sing at the same time?

Cooking, Dancing, Singing, Running, Planting. It’s all part of today’s programme!

!!GROW!!

!!MAKE!!

!!EAT!!

!!AFTERNOON TREAT!!

It is time to CELEBRATE!!! Our campers family and loved ones all came to enjoy the celebration. Amongst the incredible Recycle City the campers performed with pride their ~Hiding Places ~ Camp song.

 

How well can you see in the dark?

 

Wow wee another fabulous, bright and beautiful day, perfect for a trip to the Chislehurst Caves!

As the campers roll in we continue the motion with rolling right into make our Raw Coco and Fruit Balls!

We pack our bags with some delicious lunch and our freshly made healthy snack. Justin and our wonderful leaders Sia and Rachel sit with the campers and prepare them for our adventure ahead.

“The aim of the day is to enjoy ourselves! We have been learning about many forms of structures and hiding spaces alike the Chislehurst Caves! As you go about the important business of exploring the cave, we will need to care for our fellow camper mates. Let’s buddy up and get on the TRAIN to Chislehurst Caves!”

“To explore is to engage with our surroundings on our own terms. To discover what a place has to offer led by our own instinct and desire. When children are released from the four walls of their educational setting, out and about exploring and playing, they are in charge. They are instinctively making hundreds of decisions as they assess and determine the levels of risk they want to take, physically, emotionally and socially: mastering, day by day, an increasing repertoire of skills, adding to their bank of experience. ”  

Our hungry cave explorers dig into their Quinoa and Broad beans balls with basil tomato sauce, feta cubes & carrot batons!

Food plays a big part in what we do. In using ingredients that are seasonal, healthy and tasty we feel this effluences the way the campers value their meals. We encourage good eating habits through our passion, education and by letting the children roll up their sleeves and get stuck in whenever possible!

Back at base, Erica our talented craft leader has prepared the materials to develop the recycle city.

“Remember all of the towers we saw up the Monument? Let’s use this packaging to construct some interesting towers”

4:30 already, see you all tomorrow. Bring your singing voices!!

Natural Born Den Builders – Fryent Country Park, Wembley

It was a glorious and crisp Monday morning at Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill. One by one our campers roll in eager to meet their fellow adventurers. After a game of “Bug BINGO” we all took up a comfy spot on the sofa (as it is a holiday after all!). “Good Morning everyone welcome to this week’s camp ~ Hiding Places ~ this week we will explore some of the wonderful ways both people and nature can provide protection and shelter in the wintry weather. We will journey into the historic Chislehurst Caves, climb up the winding staircase of the Monument Tower, construct a Recycle City and today we are going to build a den!”

#gallery-18 {
margin: auto;
}
#gallery-18 .gallery-item {
float: left;
margin-top: 10px;
text-align: center;
width: 33%;
}
#gallery-18 img {
border: 2px solid #cfcfcf;
}
#gallery-18 .gallery-caption {
margin-left: 0;
}
/* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */

After a few ‘get to know you’ drama games that got everybody relaxed and smiling, we took the short walk over to Fryent Country Park where our den builders discover how animals shelter through the winter months and learn how to build their very own shelter in the woods.

#gallery-19 {
margin: auto;
}
#gallery-19 .gallery-item {
float: left;
margin-top: 10px;
text-align: center;
width: 33%;
}
#gallery-19 img {
border: 2px solid #cfcfcf;
}
#gallery-19 .gallery-caption {
margin-left: 0;
}
/* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */

Back at base it was time to wash the forest remains off our hands and get ready to make a feast fit for hungry explorers. Today’s menu is a tasty Crostini with avocado mash, sliced cucumber, red pepper and olives with a wild lettuce Pick’n’Mix (that’s our new word for ‘salad’) feta and sweet honey and lemon dressing. There were a few ummmms and arrhhhhhs and crinkled up noses at the sight of certain ingredients, although come time to eat their very own lunch their crostini were gobbled down without a peep.

#gallery-20 {
margin: auto;
}
#gallery-20 .gallery-item {
float: left;
margin-top: 10px;
text-align: center;
width: 33%;
}
#gallery-20 img {
border: 2px solid #cfcfcf;
}
#gallery-20 .gallery-caption {
margin-left: 0;
}
/* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */

Our wonderful craft master Erica prepared a stock pile of selected household materials for the campers to build their magical city. “Think about how different buildings are made out of different materials coming in all shapes and sizes.” There was a buzz of excitement as they each put forward their designs to their group.movie The Walk

#gallery-21 {
margin: auto;
}
#gallery-21 .gallery-item {
float: left;
margin-top: 10px;
text-align: center;
width: 33%;
}
#gallery-21 img {
border: 2px solid #cfcfcf;
}
#gallery-21 .gallery-caption {
margin-left: 0;
}
/* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */

Juice time!! Everyone really enjoyed making their own fresh juice. Watching the fruit go in whole and pure bright orange and green juice come out. It is the best energy potion one can give a child after a full day of adventure.

#gallery-22 {
margin: auto;
}
#gallery-22 .gallery-item {
float: left;
margin-top: 10px;
text-align: center;
width: 33%;
}
#gallery-22 img {
border: 2px solid #cfcfcf;
}
#gallery-22 .gallery-caption {
margin-left: 0;
}
/* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */

The day is not yet complete till our campers sing. We learnt the lyrics written especially for the Hiding Places camp, complete with actions and a whole lot of laughter!

#gallery-23 {
margin: auto;
}
#gallery-23 .gallery-item {
float: left;
margin-top: 10px;
text-align: center;
width: 33%;
}
#gallery-23 img {
border: 2px solid #cfcfcf;
}
#gallery-23 .gallery-caption {
margin-left: 0;
}
/* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */

What a fun day!!

This Year’s First Harvest

#gallery-19 {
margin: auto;
}
#gallery-19 .gallery-item {
float: left;
margin-top: 10px;
text-align: center;
width: 25%;
}
#gallery-19 img {
border: 2px solid #cfcfcf;
}
#gallery-19 .gallery-caption {
margin-left: 0;
}
/* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */

We were blessed with lovely sunshine today, and good thing too as it was the first time we could harvest something with this group! The children were really excited to pull up the (very) baby leeks that were grown from seed by last term’s club. We could sense everyone’s eagerness to get them into the kitchen. Since they were so little we could treat them much like spring onions, and sliced them finely to mix into our cooking today. John shared a suitable joke with us; “why don’t they like leeks on boats? …Because it makes them sink!!”

As well as pulling up the leeks, we sowed some carrot seeds. According to the packet, the carrot variety ‘Early Nantes’ “produces long, blunt-nosed roots which are well-coloured and have almost no core, so that the texture is light and crunchy, with a rich flavour that’s all a carrot should be.” I suppose the proof will be in the eating! We also inspected the turnip seedlings that have popped up since last week.Spectre streaming

In the kitchen, we made a delicious salad of quinoa, grated carrot, dried cranberries (which we soaked in orange juice), chickpeas and of course the fresher than fresh baby leeks. For the dressing, we first crushed some garlic, coriander and mint in a pestle and mortar, to which we added honey, cinnamon, lemon juice and olive oil. Add a bit of seasoning and voila, a delectable treat! Interestingly the younger kids couldn’t get enough of this one and kept asking for more, but the year 3s and 4s weren’t as enthusiastic… perhaps we will try again with our own carrots and see if they prefer that?

Spooky Immersive Theatre Camp In Richmond Park

Autumn Half Term

Week 1: The Cauldron

We were so excited to embark upon our second immersive theatre themed camp and no-one was left disappointed. The weather was quite cloudy for our trips to Richmond  park which added to the atmosphere and suspense.

No sooner had we stepped into Spankers Wood the adventure began as the children met poor Gretel frantically trying to escape the wicked witch and her curse. The children were caught straight up in the mystery as Gretel needed to find poor lost Hansel and required the children’s help to summon the good witches of the woods.

The sense of adventure ​was tangible as the children returned to the woods the next day to summon each witch​ by singing a newly learnt spooky song.  As each verse was sang the sound of a witch playing a different musical instrument could be heard. The children loved following the sound of the music to find each witch in their hiding place. Watching how the​ children​ responded to each witch was brilliant fun. A little trepidation, a lot of intrigue, b​ut a​lways keen to find out more to move the story on.

The real highpoint had to be Thursday’s conclusion to the story. Like ancient druids we encircled a cauldron in a clearing in the woods. We had foraged for horse and sweet chestnuts, haw berries and made a potion in the form of a bath bomb which we hoped would release Gretel from the wood sand find poor lost Hansel. ​The excitement reached a climax when a voice most cruel spoke up from behind the trees. The children were scared and rightly so ​to find out that it was the evil witch who had Hansel​ held captive​.

After the potion

After the potion

 watch full Bridge of Spies movie online

Our handmade cauldron

Our handmade cauldron

 watch full Bridge of Spies movie online

 watch full Bridge of Spies movie online

Luckily one of the ​good​ witches had a spell that,​ onc​e her tongue was loosened​ by some beetroot juice ​(​that Arthur ​just so ​happened to have​) ​she could utter​. “A poorly leaf a​nd a magpie feather will ​turn​ the witch to​ crow forever!” ​The children ​scurried​ off to find them and ​the ​next thing we kn​e​w we were chanting with the bath bomb fizzing away. (I’​m not sure what the park ranger would have said at that point!)Lo and behold the spell worked as squeels and squawks could be heard ​from the witch as she turned into a crow forever. ​Now we just needed to find Hansel and ​both characters ​could be set free with another spell and a final sing song..”Were going to make a potion, its going to be a bad one, what a treacherous night, drink it if you dare!”

We all agreed that if you dared to join in the fantasy The Cauldron was the most fun you could have on a holiday camp!

IMG_1923

Magical finds

How The Selfish Giant Inspired Kids Into Creative Learning

 

How did Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant transform learning into something more magically and wondrously creative?

The kids at the Fulham Palace day camp had already been read the tale of the giant accompanied by the gentle melodies of birdsong in the tree-lined grounds that surround the palace.

They had already, that morning, prepared lunch by themselves, to eat in the garden – which, naturally, was nominated as the Giants very own.

vlcsnap-2016-02-04-19h10m21s6

So with a delectable recipe of fresh bean crostini learned and assembled – learning to use the ever-handy and always fun pestle and mortar – they were all set to enter the Giant’s enchanting garden …

“The Giant! Look!” – Yes, amidst the running activities designed to encourage the children to interact and understand their surroundings, appeared the Giant, bellowing orders to banish the children from his lawns.

But the children knew better, having read and understood the moral of the story and the nature of the Giant.

So, instead, spontaneous activities with the Giant charmingly unfolded. Here was the beauty of the First Hand Experiences philosophy of hands-on, fun creative learning beautifully uncoiled.

vlcsnap-2016-02-04-19h17m43s249

They were living what they had learned, engaging with the tale amongst a garden where parakeets flashed their green livery across greying skies, reacting in real time with the Giant.

No matter how much the Giant feigned an icy heart, the children knew it was one that could be thawed. And so they did.

Curious children

The morals and lessons learned in the story were not measured by test. But by organic creative engagement conducted by Justin and Erica.

Later, this same physical embodiment of merry creative education was eaten (in both the crostini and chocolate balls recipe) dug up (in the carrots planted and used for recipes) hung on trees (in the creation of baubles hung in the giants gardens) and garbled (in the drama games designed to get the children to improvise and think about language).

vlcsnap-2016-02-04-19h25m10s75

So that’s how the Selfish Giant inspired creative learning. He leapt from the page of a book into the bird-thronged garden that he commanded. He stood as an emblem for a fun and active learning experience. And the children showed him what they had learned. Not in a test. But in action.

vlcsnap-2016-02-04-19h15m28s254