Category Archives: history

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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Happy Birthday Mum :-)

Think this is what I would be doing to you today if you were a bit nearer!!

I was going to sit the kids down and make a birthday day card for you and take a picture and email it you.  Obviously I failed, instead we did this:

Balancing on tree trunks

Examined stone carvings of scary creatures

learned about Gothic architecture

This was on a visit to Woodchester Mansion, an unfinished Gothic Mansion in deepest, darkest Stroud. Home to large colonies of Lesser and Greater Horseshoe bats too, which we got to see on infrared cameras. It also involved a mile walk through woods to get there. All in the continued, beautiful sunshine we are enjoying at the moment.
If I had the forethought to produce our birthday works of art yesterday, I would have failed too. As we were doing this:

Skating in the ‘snow’

Attempting to ice skate at the pretend ice rink at our local leisure centre. I could have done with having those little penguin things when I was little!!

L with his penguin

E with her penguin

H in the ‘snow’

Even the morning was taken up doing this to the poor puppy:



After – a shadow of his former, hairy state!

Tomorrow though, I have pencilled in for art and craft activities, so fingers crossed we’ll have something for you then 🙂
Hope you have a fantastic day today xxxxx
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Posted by on May 30, 2012 in history, Home Education, Nature


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Time flies, particularly when you’re having fun!

I feel like we are so back on track at the moment, reading my last blog post has actually made me laugh, which  I guess is good, in a cleansing sort of a way!

Here’s today in pictures…awful, grainy pictures from my horrible phone, but at least they give an idea of what we’ve been up to 🙂 Actually, I say from today, they are all from this afternoon, as I spent the morning completely clearing this room and sweeping the floor :-O Then look what they did!

Toddler L painting his aquadraws - d'oh! After scattering magnetic letters everywhere :-S

L playing with his favourite toy, and H drawing beautiful pictures of her family with 'flowers in their hair'

We drew round L's hands and feet and turned the shapes into fish, birds, penguins, ghosts etc.

H's plate monster, with smile, letter H and necklace!

Inside the monster - shows his tongue, oesophagus down to its stomach!

E constructing her mummy case

The books and equipment required!

Constructing the mummy

E constructing her mummy from kitchen foil - look at the concentration required!

E has been very focussed on finding out all about Ancient Egypt for a while, and it has become an obsession over the last few weeks. We started with a ‘Read it Yourself’ ladybird book ‘Mummies’ which was simple, easy to understand, and provoked too many questions for the poor little book to answer. So we skipped to this amazing book: Egyptology – the search for the tomb of Osiris, which E bought for with birthday money last year, which answers many questions, but sidetracks you a lot! I also trawled Pinterest for ideas, and made a board of all the things I found. E particularly liked the paper dolls and we’ve printed these a few times now, for different eras. E also found this audiobook: There’s a Pharoah in Our Bath by Jeremy Strong, at our local library and found it hilarious 🙂

We also made a disastrous trip to Bristol Art Gallery and Muesum. Their newly refurbished Egypt exhibition housed some amazing exhibits, but they were poorly explained, and really hard to interact with – everything was accompanied with a touchscreen for ‘more information’ except they either didn’t work, or were appallingly slow. It did not engage E at all 😦

I’d also bought her the usborne ‘Egyptian things to make and do’ which led to the activity in the photos above. First she made the mummy case – cutting out the base shape, self-drawn, then using the base as a template for the lid, making the edges, and sticking it all together. Covering the whole lot in metallic-coloured tissue paper and pva glue. Then she wanted to make a mummy to go in the mummy case, luckily they have instructions for that too, so she constructed her mummy parts from silver foil, and wrapped them in strips of wet kitchen towel, dried them, then covered in pva glue too. Tomorrow she is all set to draw hieroglyphics all over the mummy case, ready for her ‘museum’.  After her rubbish museum trip, a lovely lady on twitter (@mamacrow) gave us the idea of making our own exhibition. This has totally gripped E’s imagination, and this will be the first exhibit! The intention is to create some canopic jars, some egyptian jewellery, and other ‘artefacts’. It’s all keeping her busy anyway!

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Posted by on February 22, 2012 in art and craft, history, Home Education, housework


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Cathedrals, trapezes and boats

Luckily it has been a pretty busy week.  B has been away since Saturday, just to make things a little bit easier :-S

Monday we went along for an ‘educational’ session at Gloucester Cathedral on ‘the Senses’.  It was absolutely fantastic, and something I think everyone living in or around the city should do.  We all learned so much, it was history, local information, architecture, and much more.  We go to the cathedral quite often, but we’ve obviously been going round the place with our eyes closed!  After spending an hour looking around the Cathedral itself, we then transferred to the Cathedral’s Educational building, were there was an array of activities to keep the kids busy: making tea light holders from clay, drawing symbols on stones like the stonemasons do on their work around the Cathedral, identifying a series of pots of herbs by smell, among others.  Definitely time well spent!

Later on, E brought me a piece of paper and said that she wanted me to help her write some words down to show her (schooled) friend, as apparently she’s been teasing her that E can’t read or write!  Tsk!  She was determined that she was going to show her that she could!!

On Tuesday we went to pick up a ballet outfit for E that I won on Ebay – I like bargains!  Then we went straight on to a Home Ed Circus Skills class at Cinderford’s Artspace for 2 hours of fun!  We did juggling, hula hooping, plate spinning, and the girls learned some new tricks on the trapeze to practise at home.  Its been about a year since we last went along to a session, and the girls have really changed in that time.  Last time I had them both clinging to me, refusing to do anything without me there by their sides.  This time, I made it clear I was watching from the sides and looking after baby L, so they had to get on with things on their own.  E went straight in and joined in with the warm up games and introduction ice-breakers, which she often doesn’t.  L was a complete nightmare.  He has turned into a whirlwind and doesn’t keep still for a second.  I had to take him out of the room when he was determined he wanted to bounce on the crash mats that were in use!  We walked up and down stairs and in and out of rooms, and then settled on the sofa in the reception.  I had just breathed a sigh of relief when he spotted his chance, and slalomed through the double doors, straight out into the road outside.   Man, I had a heart attack. Luckily no cars were passing at that moment.  I’ve decided some kind of cage is in order.  Or perhaps an extendable lead?  Do they produce these for toddlers?!!

We dashed back for E’s ballet lesson in her new outfit!  She seems to be really enjoying it, and we’ve weedled her into the older class as they put her in with one of her own age group, and she was twice the size of them!  She came out asking why everyone was so small!  Luckily the teacher let her try the next class up to see if she could cope, and has got on brilliantly, and no longer looks so out of place!

We’ve had a nice chilled out day today, after a stressful start!  We piled over to spend the day with 2 other families, supposedly to watch a lightship (don’t even know what one of these is?!) coming down the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal.  It bailed on us, but had a nice day sheltering from the pouring rain in our friend’s barge anyway.  Lots of kids for the girls to socialise with, and some thought provoking and fun conversation with the adults!

We trekked back along the tow path, waving to the passing boats and admiring a beautiful family of swans with 4 cygnets. On the way home we detoured to our favourite camping shop to purchase one of these that I’ve had my eye on since L was born, but now, with his recent antics, I got it in the hope of keeping him vaguely safe!

Back at home, E disappeared off to play with friends, and I got to work in the kitchen making fishcakes (from scratch!!!), and a sauce for the lasagne I’m planning to make tomorrow.  H decided to get out the marble run and soon turned the game into ‘look how many marbles I can stuff in my pockets and still be able to walk around without falling over’!  L enjoyed chasing the marbles too, and luckily didn’t eat any!

B is home tomorrow – yippee!!


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Post 101

We’ve had a busy old week.  We’ve managed to fit in a family birthday celebration, a short camping holiday, a mini-olympics for E, a home-ed meet, a gym session for H, and birthday party planning for E.  In between all this, there has been lots of learning going on!

We picked up our box of books on the Tudors from the Library Education Service this week.  It has a fab range of books, and also a DVD on Tudor Life produced by Channel 4.  E had this in the machine within seconds, and has watched it several times.  Her friend came over to play, and she excitedly told him that they could go and watch her new dvd on the tudors…he looked horrified!  Obviously not his idea of fun 😉

E has done her new reading trick again, and read a page or 2 of one of her favourite books to me, while double checking the words to match the word she was saying to the one on the page.  Definite progress!

She also had a writing moment, and wrote the name of the moment Lily Rose (H has decided she wants to change her name to this??), but spelt it: Lili Ruos.  And also her constant companion Crabbie was written as: Crabe, which I couldn’t really fault!

H is learning letters by the second, and has got her numbers pretty much taped.  I tested her on some numbered parking spaces while we were on holiday, and she can recognise all the digits 0-9 now.  She’s fab!

This week I’ve finally put up a clock in the kitchen that I bought ages ago which has o’clock, five past, ten past etc printed round the outside.  I’m going to have a go at getting the girls to learn how to tell the time…we’ll see how I get on!

Today E discovered an origami giftset that I bought for £1 (!!!) at a car boot sale a few weeks ago.  Luckily the instruction booklet is actually easy to follow, unlike many I’ve come across before, so she and I have spent many happy minutes constructing cat faces, dog faces, jumping frogs, beating hearts, flowers etc.  I love car boots!!

Tomorrow is E’s 6th Birthday :-O  Scary stuff, how did she get that old?!  She is VERY excited!!

We’ve had a couple of ‘moments’ today, where E and I were definitely not seeing eye to eye.  I went shopping this evening and came back to find that she had asked B if it was ok to use the hoover, and had cleaned the sitting room, including moving all the sofas out to clean round them.  Apparently she thought it might make me happy!  See she’s a softie really, underneath her argumentative, combatative exterior!!


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The peace is shattered

The girls are back from their weekend with B, visiting his family.  L and I have enjoyed the peace very much!  After their initial gushing, telling me all they had been up to, E came up and gave me a cuddle and said she’d loved being in her own home.  H, after giving L a bear hug, disappeared for ages into the playroom, reacquainting herself with all her toys.

They got home after 7pm, but E informed me she’d been stuck in a car ALL day, and needed to do something.   She started by pulling up our Potato Council potatoes.  We washed, dried and weighed them – I must remember to submit our results now!

Vale Emeralds on the left, Rockets on the right

She also picked some lettuce, and weighed that too!  She then moved onto painting the inside of an old ice cream tub…

Later on E was playing with her blackboard, she wanted to make a list of things she wanted to learn about – gasp!!!  I helped her spell:  Tudors, Hastings (battle of!), Charles I + II, and medsn (E’s own spelling, as she wants to know about medicine used during wars apparently… I don’t even  know where to start on that one!).  The blackboard writing then turned into a game of Hangman.  She came up with a couple of good words on her own, then she did one which was just a collection of letters!  She got frustrated and said she didn’t know any words.  I pointed out that she knew quite a few.  She had a few more goes with her name, H’s name, and daddy.  She did really well playing along with my words, and working out how to say them out loud at the end.


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