Aunt Amelia by Rebecca Cobb

Aunt Amelia by Rebecca Cobb‘We were in a bad mood. Aunt Amelia was coming to look after us. We didn’t know who Aunt Amelia was and we didn’t want looking after.’

Aunt Amelia by Rebecca Cobb

One of my favourite books to read with Little Pea is Aunt Amelia by Rebecca Cobb. We borrowed it from the library and read it so many times that I bought it as soon as we had to return it.

Two grumpy children are told that their Aunt Amelia will be coming to look after them. Their parents tell them that they met her once when they were very small… When Aunt Amelia arrives, she is something of a crocodile-lizard hybrid dressed in a Mary Poppins’ style Victorian frock. The children’s parents provide her with a list to help her look after the children and as soon as the parents are out of sight, she takes them out to exploit every loop-hole and break every rule on the list in the pursuit of pure unadulterated fun.

Aunt Amelia CarouselIt’s important to me that Little Pea understands as much as possible of the books that we read and the songs that we sing, so I always try to link them to concrete concepts. Most of the activities that the children undertake in Aunt Amelia were ones that she was familiar with, but when I saw the double spread page of the carousel I knew that we had to go and find one. I’m glad we did, she loved it and is even more excited when we come to the page in Aunt Amelia now.

When she’s a bit older we might have to have a full-blown day of Aunt Amelia style chaos ourselves. In the meantime, we love vicariously enjoying the siblings cheeky fun with their very special auntie through the parents’ earnest list and Rebecca Cobb’s charming illustrations.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Cress Planter

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Little Pea and I love The Very Hungry Caterpillar, though reading it has not been without risk. At ten months old her chubby little fingers were exactly the right size to get their little tips caught in the holes the caterpillar has nibbled through his five-a-day when she flicked through the book by herself.

Back in May, Little Pea was watching with fascination as I sowed seeds for our raised beds in seed trays and directly into the soil, and I thought it would be lovely for us to make her a little garden of her very own that would show fairly instant results. She probably won’t remember any of it when she’s older, but it was a lovely thing for us to do in the here and now and we can revisit it next year, and the year after, and the year after that… after all, who’s ever grown tired of the greedy little fiend?

collage

To make our planter we used an old egg box cut in half and some cornflour paint coloured with green Wilton food colouring. I usually use yogurt with food colouring mixed in, but wanted something with a bit more staying power since it would be getting watered regularly. The cornflour paint did the job, giving great coverage and drying to almost a plastic finish. As you can see, she loved smearing the paint everywhere with a variety of brushes and sponges. She seemed to love the slimy texture, and by the time she had finished she’d painted the egg box, the blanket, the grass, her baby grow, her hat and her Mammy. Amazingly none of this stained.

When the caterpillar’s body had dried, I cut a head out of red cardboard and drew a face on it. Little Pea was very excited to see the caterpillar had escaped from her book and watched in fascination as I filled him with cotton wool balls soaked in water (tip: I added green food colouring and this allows you to see if the cotton wool is drying out very easily) then sprinkled some cress seeds on each ball.

We inspected the caterpillar every morning watching the seeds germinate and grow into tiny cress plants. I’m not sure how much she understood what was going on but she seemed very enthusiastic about the ritual and she was delighted when the cress had grown enough for her to help (well, she was trying to be helpful) picking it.

hungry caterpillar 029

She then enjoyed the cress snipped up on her scrambled eggs. Great encouragement to try some new food.