He’s growing up too fast…I blame Italy!

I thought my 4 year old was never going to emerge from his toddlerhood. Totally immersed in hitting everything conceivable with a stick, and charging around shouting ‘Raaaahhhh!’ all the time. He is dragged to all sorts of Home Ed related activities, but is also quite often left behind with a very sad face when we are going to do workshops or some other thing that doesn’t require a small boy hitting everything with a stick and shouting ‘Raaahhh’.

Something has suddenly changed. I’ve lost count of the number of times recently somebody who hasn’t seen him for a few weeks says his face looks different.  He suddenly looks less like the small boy he was a couple of months ago, and more a much bigger, grown up small boy.

He recently begged to come along to a home ed group where we were meeting to share our knowledge of Roman’s and do some fun activities together. He loved it. More recently we have been doing a project on Italy. I was expecting his sisters to produce something, instead it was L who sat down with me for an hour and produced this:

Italy by L

Italy by L

This came from a rambling conversation, starting with where Italy was on our globe, leading to finding that picture of a map of Italy.  We talked about famous buildings in Italy, including the Colosseum in Rome. He chose the picture of Gladiators fighting a lion inside it, rather than a picture of the outside! He then found a picture of a Roman soldier Lego mini figure, he was in seventh heaven! He then asked if they have dogs in Italy, which is exactly the same question H asked me when going to see Pompeii Live. Rather than picking a picture of a live dog, L chose this picture of a dog statue. We then talked about food we eat regularly that originally comes from Italy: pizza, ice cream (gelato) and pasta!

I thought that would be the end of it. But no. He has shown his powerpoint picture to everyone who has come in the house in the last couple of weeks, talked endlessly about all the pictures. Almost daily I’ve heard an excited squeak accompanied by arm flapping, as he makes a connection between something he has just seen and our recent project. The other day it was from watching Cars 2. A character on there is an Italian car, painted in the flag colours which L recognised, but more exciting than that, there was a superimposed picture of the Roman Colosseum in the background that had him jumping out of the chair! Today it was a visit to the Fairford Air Tattoo, which had him arm flapping again when he saw this:

Italian Flight Display Team RIAT 2013

Italian Flight Display Team RIAT 2013

The Italian flag colours again. I can almost hear the synapses popping together.

Yesterday he begged me to take him to the library on his own (i.e. minus the sisters). Usually I’m presented with a pile of picture books. This time was different. He found books on Gladiators, Romans, Grizzly Bears (HE friends had talked about animals found in Italy, which included Bears) and Fighter Planes (imminent visit to RIAT to blame).

It’s lucky he’s still hitting things with sticks and shouting ‘Raaaahh!’ otherwise I might wonder where my little boy has gone!

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Posted by on July 22, 2013 in history, Home Education


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Romans – Pompeii Live

We’ve been doing quite a lot on the Romans recently.  This has mostly been fuelled by the eldest and her interests, but also by lots of visits that have been organised recently by local home ed community. We’ve been to Chedworth Roman Villa and explored mosaics, every day Roman life, and how their houses are laid out; Carleon Roman Legion Museum, Baths and Amphitheatre near Newport, Wales (incidentally one of the best museums we’ve ever been to) where we met a Roman Doctor, learned all about Legions, Centurions, and barrack rooms, as well as played for ages in the huge amphitheatre; we met Caroline Lawrence at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, we’ve borrowed a loan box of Roman artefacts from our local museum (Gloucester Folk Museum), so we learned all about strigils, wax tablets and stylii, oil lamps, face pots etc.; We’ve been to the heritage open days and seen the original Roman gate towers around Gloucester City Centre, hidden underneath the bustling street at the Eastgate Viewing Chamber. We’ve made roman shields, created mosaics and dressed up in togas.

This week I booked us to see the British Museums’s Pompeii Live schools event showing at our local Cineworld cinema. It was aimed at KS2 children, and I initially booked thinking I’d take my eldest daughter E along, who would be coming to the end of yr4, and has so far expressed all the interest in the Romans.

This is where Home Ed plays tricks. I dismiss the younger ones (aged 6 and 4), thinking they’re not ready for any formal learning, but they’ve come along to the visits, taken part in all the activities.

This day, E announced that she had no interest whatsoever in going to Pompeii Live, and only wanted to go the new sports group running at the same time. Grrr. 6 yr old H pipes up, asking whether Romans had dogs. Did they wear collars and have leads? Question after question, after question. The plans changed! H accompanied me to the Pompeii Live showing:

The countdown screen at Pompeii Live

It turns out when I’d been dragging her along to all these Roman-related activities, information had been invisibly seeping in to that busy brain of hers. She knew all about strigils, and the bathing activities of Romans, what they used to write with, and their love of fish sauce.

If they bring out a DVD of Pompeii Live, or in some other format, get it! It will be a brilliant resource. It brought together all our learning about the period, and put it into context and it explained it all far better than I could. A lot of it we already knew, but we learned lots of new things, like what a dormouse actually looked like (they’re really big!!), and the different types of volcanic eruption complete with fantastic live experiments to demonstrate. We loved the Ketchup King, and the reaction of the school kids when he tried to put his fish sauce on their nice Pizza Express reward for doing his taste testing experiment! We loved Ed Petrie and his enthusiasm at the experiments done brilliantly by Volcanologists Jon Stone, Jenni Barclay and Anna Hicks.  We loved Andrew Wallace-Hadrill and his introduction to archaeology, and of course Caroline Lawrence as a scary Roman teacher!

I asked H if she’d learned anything new. “Yes!” she said, “I didn’t know about the volcano before”. So I’d managed to miss telling them anything about Pompeii before! Fail…

We’ve now downloaded the Pompeii Live app and it is fantastic.  With it’s interactive map, event timeline and exhibit descriptions. We’re going to enjoy coming back to it again and again. Only thing left is to plan a visit to the British Museum itself!

Just been through my photos and picked a few out of our recent Roman-related escapades:

Playing Tabula – Roman board game

H did a presentation on the uses of wee in Roman times🙂

L dressed as a Roman soldier

Centurion at Carleon

I realised that Pompeii Live had been aimed at 7-11 yr olds, and covered almost everything we have in recent months. I think I can give myself a pat on the back for managing to do the same when E is only 8 and H is 6. Home Ed rocks!!!
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Posted by on June 21, 2013 in history, Home Education


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There’s No Place Like Space

We’ve spent the day having a fantastic time with friends at a soft play centre. Definitely got our money’s worth with over 4 hours racing up obstacles to zoom down slides.

Sadly this led to sleeping in the car on the way home, and children who are up far too late – how dare they?!!!

We are meant to be bringing our project on Oceans to our Home Ed group tomorrow. E has done hers, not sure it will make much sense when she tries to explain it to others, but she’s done lots of work thinking about it!

H has refused point blank to even think about it. We had a group trip to Weston Super Mare’s SeaQuarium on Monday in order to spark some inspiration. We learned loads about rays:


Mermaid’s Purses


Up close and personal with Mermaid’s Purse (Ray Egg)


Newly arrived (at SeaQuarium) baby rays – 1 yr old approx.


Adult Ray (thornback?) – approx 10yrs old

and saw lots of other creatures that sparked lots of questions, including a pile of sharks who were not waking up for anyone!


Pile of sharks


Fascinating close-up of sleeping shark’s teeth!

H decided last night that her project was going to be on rays, so we looked at google images of them. She was amazed at the different shapes, sizes and patterns of them.

Earlier in the day, we were at our weekly Home Ed social meet, playing with playdough, when H announced that she wanted to make all the planets out of playdough. She carried on thinking about what colour she would have to make to create Saturn, and then how she was going to make the rings.

Today, after our exertions, I was hoping for an easy night. No such luck! She chose a current favourite to read at bedtime: Dr Seuss’ ‘There’s no place like space!’. Every page provoked more questions, and I could see an easy bedtime slipping away! She decided that the planets needed to be renamed after their characteristics. The Earth is now ‘Spinny’, Mars is ‘Sneezy’ because of the dust etc. She understood that the ring on Saturn was made up of rocks and ice, and that you could stand on it, but not on Saturn itself (it’s made of gas, and light enough to float on water), but she wanted to know if you could pick up the ring and throw it. I explained briefly about centripetal forces (compared it to Roald Dahl’s Enormous Crocodile being spun round and round in a circle until it became a blur), and that it wasn’t a solid thing.

We then moved onto the sun being a star, and had to run to the window to see if we could see any stars. L grasping the fact that the tiny stars were big hot suns, just very far away. He thought this was quite funny!

We talked about the moon, and H was eager to know why people used to say it was made of cheese! I had no idea?!

We talked about rockets, and how we know so much about the moon because we are close to it and have been able to land there and learn more about it. Whereas Pluto, in the book, is described as being ‘thought to be covered in ice’. H wanted to know why we didn’t know for sure.

I then escaped, hoping her barrage of questions would lead to deep sleep. Nope. She followed me down, after I’d just had a lightbulb moment.

Maybe there was a way to link the Ocean’s project we need to contribute to tomorrow, and satiate this fascination with space and the solar system. The moon. Ocean tides. Google led us here and it did good:

She watched it. Fascinated. Then I had to explain what a pickled onion was! She then decided to use google to find out more about the sea. She looked at some images of odd sea creatures, until she got grossed out. Then found a video of fishermen at sea, being bashed about by the waves. She asked about floods, and the big floods. I asked if she meant Tsunamis. Turned out she did! She started telling me all about a CBBC programme where they set up a demo of what damage a Tsunami could do, involving a bag of water held by a crane over a shed. The water dropped, the shed was smashed to smithereens. H explained it much better! We talked about Earthquakes, plates rubbing and how these led to Tsunamis.

We then watched the lunar tide video again!

I need sleep, got to be up early to find a chocolate cookie, a smartie, a piece of blue string, an orange and a golf ball before 10am!


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We get by with a little help from our friends

For Marnie

Today we have had an absolutely amazing day. I think this is mostly due to you, and the amazing things you have introduced our family to.

I’ve noticed some amazing changes in E over the last few weeks. I’d noticed that when we’ve been baking recently, she’s figured out how to use our digital scales. Up until now, I’ve had to stand close by checking she doesn’t go over the required amount. Suddenly she’s able to do it all herself.

Today, after a couple of false starts, she requested worksheets to do! Unheard of in our house! I’ve stopped keeping workbooks, they take up space, can only be used once, and never seem to have the kind of exercises that grab their attention. Attempts at this kind of structured work invariably ends in tears for both of us, so I was treading carefully. Yesterday we had tried out this one which was a free download, and involved doing some simple addition to discover the colour it needed to be coloured, which E enjoyed,but wanted something more interesting, with less colouring!

While perusing Pinterest recently, I followed a couple of links to Teachers Notebook so together we had a look to see what they had to grab her attention. We found this pack. It contained some fun things, some ideas I knew I hadn’t introduced before, and practised some things we’ve done before that we could maybe extend. It wasn’t free, but was about $3, and I could pay using paypal. Bonus!


We started off doing skip counting in 10s, then 5’s, then 2’s. Filling in missing numbers, and using a hundred chart to work things out. I took a deep breath, and started to explain about place value, Tens and Units. I’ve tried before, but she wasn’t interested. This time was different🙂 We played the game in the pack, and we moved Cheerios around our kebab sticks! Then I thought I’d push my luck and introduce Hundreds. The game was to identify the number of hundreds in a series of numbers. We did a couple with a puzzled look on her face. Suddenly she said “ooooh! Do you mean the first number of the hundred, like three hundred and fifty two has 3 hundreds in it. I know this, I can do it in thousands too”. My jaw was on the floor! She then read the whole page of numbers perfectly. Concepts I’d tried, and failed to introduce had all clicked together in her head. My wonderful friend, Marnie, who had played some games with her with maths cubes had cemented her understanding, while I built parachutes for eggs downstairs with her boys!


It all suddenly clicked. How she was so comfortable with new concepts, eager to learn new ones, and being able to translate these skills into everyday life with reading digital scales. I can’t thank you, Marnie, enough!

Not only that, we then went on to talk about odd and even numbers, comparing numbers using <. > and =, and then a game with cards that had a number to find eg three hundreds four tens and five ones. Then you search in your cards for 345 after working out what you’re searching for! Reading AND maths. The written number 8 was an interesting stumbling block!

Then H wandered in, and wanted a piece of the action!


If that wasn’t enough, I took E to a new club this evening. She has recently given up all clubs and groups, which I was happy with, she had always made the most of things until they’ve come to a point where she is not enjoying them anymore. She stopped doing gymnastics class and swimming lessons a few months ago. They just weren’t working for her, even though she loves gymnastics and swimming! She is hard to understand sometimes🙂 At the time she was thinking about stopping swimming lessons we looked into other extensions of swimming that might be more fun.

We regularly go swimming at a local pool with several other home ed families, and have a fantastic time, each and every time. Diving has become a brilliant fun skill that they’ve all learned during these sessions thanks to Marnie who has taken the time to show them how to do it, and then given them the encouragement to try out the dive pool, and the scarily high boards (I don’t think I could even attempt the 1m!!). We found that there is a club that meets at the pool that trains kids in waterpolo, synchronised swimming and diving. I approached them about synchronised swimming all those months ago, and they were full😦 Last week I received an email out of the blue, saying they had a space for E🙂 The thinking was it combined swimming, diving and gymnastics. It was worth a go!

So I kept my fingers firmly crossed and hoped for the best. Thankfully she absolutely loved it, and can’t wait until the next session in a week’s time! I can’t believe the stuff they just expected her to do, sink or swim (literally!).

Thank you for our awesome day. I hope I can repay the favour very soon🙂

A x

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Posted by on January 30, 2013 in Home Education


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Riding the waves

We’ve had a lovely chilled out few weeks over Christmas. No activities, no plans, just hanging, playing with friends, making up games, playing with our new toys, walking the dog, reorganising the house. You know, just doing life. January has heralded frantic activity and enthusiasm in our local home ed community, there are trips and groups and activities being organised daily. Fantastic opportunities are being offered by lovely people! We have been making the most of everything, while still being in a chilled out mood while at home. I’ve been loving it.

I’ve often found during our 4 years home educating, that there are peaks and troughs in our lives. Seemingly weeks of laid-back-ness will suddenly be replaced with frenetic activity. This is exactly what has happened this week.

My 6 yr old, non-reading, lives in a dreamworld of barbies and my little ponies, came to me with a piece of paper at the weekend covered in numbers. Numbers with lots of zeros. We worked out how to read them in millions. Then she wrote 1000, and we worked out what that was. Then she wrote 200 and told me what that said. Then I asked if she could write 100, which she could.

Last night, I left her colouring a doodle book, and was then called through with “what comes after J?”. At the bottom of her colouring page she had decided to write the alphabet! I got out our stash of magnetic letters and found the giant tin of colouring pencils she was using was magnetic, and she started laying out the alphabet. She was singing the alphabet song to herself as she did it. Magic.

I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store next!

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Posted by on January 22, 2013 in Home Education



A lovely slow start to the year, but enjoying each others company, exploring new learning opportunities all around us and having fun as often as possible!








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Posted by on January 11, 2013 in Home Education


September in pictures







Paralympics and London sightseeing:




Sitting Volleyball


fencing museum after watching Wheelchair Fencing Men’s final


Happy spectators!


Buck Pal – avoid at all costs, worst tourist experience of my life!!!



Gloucester History Festival and the Heritage Open Days:


Roman fort under Gloucester’s Eastgate St


L putting on a puppet show at Gloucester’s Folk Museum







Home ed projects:


E making lipgloss from Vaseline and Kool Aid






L cutting up cherries for his cupcakes, but with suspiciously full mouth!



20120921-192538.jpg H’s project for our Home Ed group on her Favourite Food!

Nature Experiences:




Trip to Westonbirt Arboretum and L found their shark infested mud!



Our local heron, rubbish photo though, must do better!



At WWT Slimbridge



Whose burrow is this?


Found the zipwire at the Play trail! (National Trust’s Woodchester Park)





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Posted by on September 21, 2012 in Home Education