Children’s Activity Days Blog
see pictures in the gallery
August 3rd saw the mansion transported back 150 years in time to 1861, with lots of young ladies and gentlemen spending the day as Victorians.
They dutifully paid their penny to attend school which turned out to be a very different experience to schools of 2011. Our school mistress, Miss Cunningham, was strict and some children were surprised to be reprimanded for such minor misdemeanours as not sitting correctly. However the children recited the alphabet very nicely and wrote neatly with chalks. Drill, the Victorian version of PE seemed similar to Wake-n-Shake and chanting seemed like a good way to remember your tables. Writing with an ink pen dipped in ink was a bit messy though!
Wooden pegs provided the basis for dolls and soldiers, based on the 1838 Hans Christian Anderson story of the Steadfast Tin Soldier. Some people made lavender bags and other sewed samplers.
In the afternoon we all enjoyed singing games like ‘In and Out of the Dusty Bluebells’ and ‘Oranges and Lemons’ and soon it was time take off our costumes and get the bus back up the drive.
August 10th was the date for our first ever Great Outdoors Day.
Luckily a fine day dawned and lots of excited children turned up ready for some fun. Building the Den was the highlight of the day and everyone helped to design and build a fantastic construction which should provide a lasting attraction for all young visitors to the Mansion to enjoy.
The children had some brilliant ideas and our art activity, using only natural materials, resulted in an interesting installation hung between two trees. We’ve left materials so people can add to it and make it interactive. Bug hunting turned into a competition between the groups with the ‘greens’ coming out on top with 24 different bugs spotted. Some unusual ones included a green tiger beetle, a blackjack beetle, a leopard slug, a white lipped snail, a giant wood wasp. Well done to the red team for spotting five different butterfly species. Most people learnt to identify the ten tree species on the tree challenge and collected some colourful leaves.
What a great day – lots of fun for everyone including the grown-ups!
Aug 17th was to be our Amazing Creatures Day but a ‘spanner in the works’ meant that we couldn’t go inside the Mansion today. Undaunted, rapid rearrangements were made to provide activities outdoors on the picnic tables, probably a good place to work with clay. Imaginary creatures were made and some of them looked surprisingly similar to the Mansion carvings. We all had a good look round the outside carvings and discussed how the Mansion was built.
This wasn’t the day we had planned but nevertheless everyone enjoyed themselves and we were lucky again with the weather.
August 24th was, sadly, our last day for 2011 - the Mysterious Mansion. Lots of children turned up today and produced some great mini mansions. Pins could have been heard dropping such was the concentration as children and grown-ups cut, glued, coloured and finished off their masterpieces. We then explored some of the darker corners of the real Mansion, and even though there was much talk of ghosts there were none to be seen.
So we did the next best thing – we made our own little ghosts and these were soon flying around chasing their owners. To everyone’s delight a heavy rainstorm in the afternoon provided a dramatic demonstration of how the gargoyles work. Lots of puddles to splash in on the way home too – some people even took their shoes and socks off to paddle in the streams of water that were coming down the track!
A very successful summer of activities – over 120 children with assorted younger brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents took part and had lots of fun. People came mostly from the local area but some were on holiday. Thanks to all the volunteers who helped with the activities, drove the bus and tidied up.