Family Field Trip: Cape Palliser Lighthouse

With the last few days of Mr Oh Waily’s summer break we went on another family outing.  This time we headed out to Cape Palliser.  Not sure where that is?  Here’s a map for you.

At the end of a mix of gravel roads and tar seal we arrived at the first of our stops for the day, the Cape Palliser Lighthouse.   It was first lit in 1897 and was manned for 99 years before being automated.  As you can see, it has a very prominent position.

Cape Palliser Lighthouse

Getting up to the lighthouse involves a bit of courage for those with a fear of heights.

The steps

Roughly 250 steps later you are rewarded with far-reaching views.

The View

I highly recommend getting the stillest day you possibly can as it is exposed and the gusts can be extremely strong. Even on this loveliest of days the wind was gusting quite hard. Not for the feint hearted.

The Oh Waily kids had a good look around the flat platform area, including the rusty old winch.

Exploring the old technology

After we had been blown about a bit and had taken a few photographs, we slowly headed back down the stairs. Our next stop was the beach you can see in the photograph above, to look for seals, walk around the rock pools and see what the locals were wading in to get off the rocks.

Our next adventure is seeing seals.

Two peas in a pod

Like many young children, the Oh Waily kids are not that fond of green veges.  This is especially true of the humble pea.  So you should have seen the wrinkled up noses on our gardening day when I said that the seeds I had for planting out were peas.

Here is what we started out with:
Starting Items

The two halves of coke bottles are leftovers from another unrelated craft project that will eventually turn up here at the Patch.  But while I was browsing gardening and nature ideas on Pinterest it occurred to me that they would be a perfect solution to see-through containers for this little experiment.

So our first step was to fill the containers with the potting mix.

Soil scooping

Then we placed three peas in each container, as close to the side and as unobstructed by potting mix as possible.

Pea Placement

After they were covered over with another few centimetres of potting mix we watered them and set them up on a window ledge in our living room.

We then went on to spread a bunch of daisy seeds into another, larger container.  This time I did the hard work of filling the container and the kids finished off with  sprinkling seed and watering them with a small spray bottle.

Daisy Seeds
Tiny little seeds they were, especially when compared to the peas we had just planted.

Then both the littlies took turns in spraying the tiny seeds to get them started.

And finally, they all came to rest on our window ledge.
Shelf Sitters

I’ll post a follow-up on the growth of our little plants a bit later in the week.


No, we are not talking about me.  That would be the last adjective I would apply to myself.

What it does apply to is the beauty of home education.  Today was a glorious day in Wellington.  Bright sunshine, light winds and the promise of summer.   What that meant for the Oh Waily children was an impromptu beach visit.

For them it involves buckets and spades, sand, waves and picnics.  For me I slip in discussions about our five senses (which is my planned topic for November) and what we see, feel, hear, smell and, their favourite, taste.

Today we watched a tern* diving into the surf for its lunch, repeatedly.  We also saw a regular gull dropping a shell of some sort on the beach, repeatedly.  I guess his lunch was taking a bit more effort to get.  Lots of wildlife on the go today.   We watched and were able to see, close up, the skill of the seagulls as they hovered and came to a landing spot next to our picnic table, repeatedly.  Such control and hovering and glide.  Even if they are pushy and greedy, it was lovely to watch.

We talked about the colour of the ocean and why it is dark in some parts and light in others.  We saw the different colours of the ocean and discussed why we shouldn’t take the “short cut” to the beach through the plants and possibly the penguin nesting areas.  We learned to balance on the rocks that make up the protection along the roadside edge of the beach and we enjoyed some time in a park refining our climbing, balancing and swinging skills.

To cap it all off we indulged in a little taste therapy before heading home.  There isn’t anything quite like hokey pokey ice cream.  Yummo.

Here’s to the flexibility to get out and enjoy nature, when nature is happy and welcoming.  And thanks to the local birdlife for putting on a brief, but interesting show for us today.  It was great fun.

* probably one of this variety

Grass People Update

As part of a gardening day last week we started out with a short back and sides for our two grass people.  It was a great chance for the kids to take a close up look at all the shoot and roots that had sprouted out, and gave them a fine motor control exercise in the process.  Here are the kids in action.

Snippers 1

Ahh, watch and learn younger brother, watch and learn…
And as for the final result, pretty well done I thought.

Finished Head 1

Then the lad took to the scissors. He had a bit of trouble with holding and snipping, so apologies for the quality of the photograph as I was holding the camera with one hand and the Grass Person with the other.

Snipper Boy

And here they are, all cosied up again in their watering container.

Cosied Up

I should really show you the photograph I took of the back of them. They are like the grass version of Robin Williams. Hairy back anyone? Grow a grass person.

There will be more from Gardening Day shortly, presuming anything sprouts.

So, how do you combine educational activities with fun and fine motor development?  I’m always interested in new ideas.

Family Fun: Fishing

If you are of the vegetarian or vegan persuasion you may prefer to move on to tomorrow’s post without stopping here.  The title should be the giveaway.

Mr Oh Waily has been wanting to take the little Oh Wailys fishing for some time now.  He is finally home, mostly, and the weather is improving, mostly.  It is not possible for this to be a solo Dad and Son or Dad and Daughter trip because as the old saying goes, “there’s no show without Punch” in this household.
To that end the entire Oh Waily clan headed out to one of our small local wharves.  Ostensibly Ms Oh Waily’s role in all this was to keep small hands from fiddling with hooks and falling over the side.  A role I can definitely get my teeth into.

The day was windy and wild, the waves were whipping up and I spent a great deal of mental energy seeing us all being blown over the side*.  So I was vigilant with wind and children while Mr Oh Waily set up the rods one by one.  Miss Oh Waily was the first to get her hands on one and with my help we started the patience teaching lesson that is fishing.   Lots of nibbles and bites but no one wanted to hang on.

A few minutes later Master Oh Waily got his hands on a rod and I absolutely kid you not, his Dad had only just lowered the line out and the little fella had put his hands on the rod when they got a bite.  A proper bite.  The sort that sticks.
With only some instruction about winding the line in, and a bit of a steadying hand, Master Oh Waily landed his first fish with his first cast on his first day of fishing.   Can you say “beginner’s luck”?

When the line was wound in, it was in fact two fish.  A little one and a larger one.  Mr Oh Waily released the littlest one before it occurred to either of us that we should be taking photographs of this, so here is the Little Fisherman with his one “large” fish.  It would have been as long as his forearm at least, so not so small for a small person.

Little Fisherman

By my non-fisherman reckoning this might have been a female Spotty (original name, I know) or Paketi. Any real fishermen out there, feel free to correct my identification.  Before unhooking and releasing said Spotty back to whence she came, Mr Oh Waily held her long enough to show the kids some of her interesting features – especially the little needle teeth.  Small but vicious I’m sure.

The only other fish caught that day was by myself while I held one rod after children had grown bored and Mr Oh Waily reeled in the other and removed its array of hooks for storage.  Roughly the size, or slightly smaller than Master Oh Waily’s fish.  Score one for Mother and Son.

We then went out a few days later, to another of our local wharves, in the hopes of letting Miss Oh Waily catch herself a fish.  For this event Mr Oh Waily went and invested in a rod just for her.  Can you guess what colour?  Hmmm.  Yes.

So, off to Petone wharf we toddled.  And the roles were reversed on this trip.  Master Oh went fishless while Miss Oh caught her first fish.  Again it was a duo – the very first was tiny and thrown back straight away, followed up with a reasonable sized second.

Miss Fisher

Again, the fish was probably as long as her forearm, perhaps a little longer.  And as you can probably work out from the photograph, she was happy to catch it but not so happy to hold it close, hence I’m holding the line and she’s holding me.  The flicking and wriggling was quite off-putting to her.  So no kiss for this fish before it headed back to the sea below.

Despite the wriggling and floundering of the fish both kids seem keen to go again, so this may turn into a semi-regular, weather permitting, family fun trip out.

Have you taken your kids on a family adventure lately?  If so, what did you do?

*  yes, I know I have a thing about falling from heights.  Live with it.  But in my defence, I’ve lived in Wellington for two years now and on at least one occasion I have thought that I was going to be blown onto the road in front of oncoming traffic (and was only saved by the fact that I had stood some feet back from the curb).   Yes.  The wind gusts here.  I mean GUSTS.  Not some nancy gust but a full, throaty, intentional GUST.

Grass People

So I’ve been working on some planning of activities stuff*.  Once again, Jo’s course has been a great help in keeping me focused on what matters.  As part of my newly acquired ideas around the planning process, I had dubbed October as “gardening month”.

What this has been translating into, is more time in the garden and an array of small planned activities.  The first of which was a piece of Pinterest inspiration.

Grass People.

Naturally there are many ways and means to create these ever-growing grass heads, but we went with the feet of stockings, cotton wool balls, grass seed, coloured rubber bands and some googly eyes.
Mr Oh Waily did the work of creating the people with the help of two small pairs of hands, while I supplied the hot glue gun to attach the eyes.

Here is what they looked like at the start, bald and currently sightless.

Bald Grass Head

Here they are about a couple of weeks later.  Don’t they just look like a pair of wild-eyed, gurning champions?  Perhaps we should have added something approaching a mouth to help them out in the looks department.

Grass Heads

A haircut is due and will been administered by small hands in the next few days or so.  I will give you an update on the child’s version of a short back and sides in due course.

As I came to the planning side a little late in October I think we will be extending our gardening activities in to November, running them alongside the activities and topic that I have already chosen for that month.  So more greenish thumbed things to do with children coming up.

What sort of nature-oriented things do you do with your children?

* Another piece of useful advice (and an array of printables) from My Organized Chaos