Sunday, 17 October 2010

Wheat, Wool and Waterwheels

We started our week (which ended up stretching to a fortnight) by visiting Dunster Mill which is just gorgeous. 

James and Charlie were really interested in the waterwheel and mesmerised by the waterfall at the side of it. They weren't so fond of the creaky machinery inside the mill but I guess to them it was all pretty dull and dusty.

We bought some of the mill's own flour and then had a walk along the river a bit and into the gardens which are attached to the castle where there was also lots of flowing water to look at and lovely trees.  We (the grown ups) learnt that the river that the mill is on is called the River Avill and are beginning to realise how little we know about certain things in our own area!

So what did we do with the flour? Well, we did the obvious things first.  Baked some bread and cakes...

 ....but this really led onto a much more basic sensory experience of the flour as Charlie just wanted to put his hands in so we went with that,

then expanded it to add water and play with it wet.

We also made some papier mache, which both boys really got into at the beginning stage being actually allowed to rip up paper for once!

We made glue with our flour and made papier mache shapes by filling cookie cutters and pressing them out.  We may get around to painting them next week...

We also visited Coldharbour Mill which is a much bigger, industrial waterwheel where they spin yarns.  This has led to some interesting sensory experiences for the boys.  The lady kindly gave us some wool tops for them to hold but they were almost fearful of the feel to start with. Over the course of the visit they got used to it though and quite enjoyed the feel...for a while! 

They seemed to really enjoy looking at the waterwheel and machinery in action here.  There was also a felting exhibition going on which we thought they would like as it was big, bright coloured textures, but they didn't - we can never predict these things!

The other thing which really caught Charlie's eye was the chimney.  He loved looking up at it.  I think we may have to do some work on tall towers as he's shown an interest in this sort of thing previously.

I though I would buy some different bits of unspun wool and yarns in the shop to fill their sensory box but Granny already had a collection of different types to give us!  I couldn't resist buying this though - for myself. I've just learnt to knit socks!!

 I made up the sensory box with Granny's stash and it's been really hit and miss.  Sometimes we DO NOT want to touch it at all,

 other times, we don't just want to play with the sensory box, we want to BE the sensory box!!

I guess this tells us a lot about how sensory preferences don't have to be fixed.

I'm feeling slightly (only very slightly!) obliged to attempt some sort of literacy with the boys at the moment, so we made these woolly 'w's with the wool. I just used the back of a cereal box to draw a 'w' on and got them to spread the glue on and choose some bits out of the sensory box to stick on.

We also tried some bubble wrap felting.  I 'felt' they would be happy enough with this activity as it involves a lot of banging.  James did not like touching the wool but joined in with the banging and rolling happily.  Charlie was entranced by the whole process. It was impossible to take photos and do this at the same time as hands were everywhere, but here are the end results....

The greatest success of learning about waterwheels though has been after me suddenly noticing the night before we started this (I can be a bit slow off the mark sometimes!) that one of our 'Bob the Builder' books was about an old water mill, both James and Charlie have been willing to sit down and look at it with us and in fact have repeatedly asked for it to be read again and again.  Result!

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