Category Archives: Maths

Having a crisis!!

We’ve had a busy few weeks, with lots of social stuff, groups going on etc.  I decided we needed a project for the week.  I needed to see that we had achieved something…yes this was all me, no child-directed learning at all.  Bad idea!

I decided we could all learn to tell the time.  Something H had been doing from a digital clock, but we had never looked at analogue clocks before.  We had some friends coming over and I thought it would be ‘fun’ to cut out some cardboard circles to make into clocks, write the numbers on, attach hands etc.  H and her friend took one look at this and decided it did not look fun at all, and scarpered! E was interested, so our other friend sat down with her mum and we made the clocks and started to use them to look at some o’clock times.  It was about this time that E had enough and was about to launch the whole lot at me, so I asked her if she had a better idea for doing this.  She of course did!

E came back with a handful of marshmallows and some spaghetti.  She connected them together so there was a bit of marshmallow over every number on her clock, and hands made from spaghetti with marshmallows on the ends.  We had a go at making different o’clock and half-past times, using some Usbourne flashcards to give us some examples. That was as far as we got that day.

I kept some of the flashcards in my bag, and brought them out a couple of times during the week when we had a bored moment, and E got them with a bit of prompting.

Today, a week later, I thought we could all have a go with our clocks, and used E’s idea of marshmallows.  E couldn’t even do any o’clock times. I thought it would be good to bring H up to speed, and explained o’clock times, no problem, then half-pasts, again no problem, then went on to quarter-past’s and quarter-to’s, again no problem.  H could then do a mix of times from each of these 4.

E is now beside herself as H, who is 4, can read a clock, and she, who is 7, can’t.  I don’t know why this is.  It’s just the way they are.  H just absorbs everything like a sponge, she already knew all the terms, but she just hadn’t seen them on a clock.  E can’t absorb anything she hasn’t decided she’s ready to learn. It is very frustrating.  All her learning is self-directed.  This is great in some respects, we’ve learned some amazing things just by following the path of her interests.  Unfortunately she has never shown any interest in reading or doing much maths at all.  If I ever mention anything about reading, E just picks up her Peter and Jane book 1a, and reads it beautifully, then with a satisfied nod feels that the reading box is ticked!

The problem is getting worse, now H is getting older, and their differences in learning strategies are becoming more obvious.  Reading is not going to be a problem for H, she is already doing amazing things all by herself. She is always either looking at books, or asking me to read books for her.

I need a new strategy.

I also need a stiff drink and a cake or three.

All ideas welcomed!

1 Comment

Posted by on November 13, 2011 in Home Education, Literacy, Maths, tantrums


Tags: , , , , ,

Many wondrous things!

Yesterday was busy, non-stop, exhausting.  After getting up stupidly early, we had to drop B off at the station, waving him off for the week 😦  We went home to get dressed and have breakfast!  E decided on the way home that we needed to have pancakes, so pancakes we had! Or more precisely, drop scones.  Yum!

We went off out to the library to return our overdue books, and stock up on new ones. I also picked up one I’d reserved: Stray Sock Sewing – fun, fun!

Home for lunch and the enacting of our new rules.  Worked a treat!

After lunch we went to our local market stall and stocked up on fruit and veg.  They also had loads of gourds and mini-squashes as well as indian corn.  E chose several to make an autumn display for our newly clean and tidy table, it looks fab – must take a pic!  Then a customary look at the fish – a wander round the aquarium shop next-door.  Then back to the library to drop off the Tudors box of books we borrowed from the Library Education Service, and on to Tesco for a few bits and pieces.

On the way we managed to add more to my little notebook, including a conversation about eating poisonous things which resulted in ‘what would happen if you ate a raw potato?’, and ‘would you be ill if you licked the outside of a conker, or would you actually have to eat it to get ill?’.  There was another conversation about drinking rainwater, which after a quick synopsis of the water cycle, and me advising that it might not be advisable to drink lots of it, but it can be cleaned.  E now wants to find out how water can be cleaned for drinking.  That should keep us busy for a bit.

E did some random cooking involving herbs from the garden, spices from our kitchen collection, breadcrumbs collected from the bread board and her favourite implement, the pestle and mortar.  She then roasted them in the oven and I had to do the taste test!

Recently E has been asking to do maths, so we’ve been doing some maths games from my new book, I bought her a year 2 workbook last week which she’s been doing, we’ve been doing some online games I found from the Toy Theater and we’ve talked about numbers non-stop, so she now knows her 2 times table, without realising it, understands number bonds, and has been using stickle bricks to demonstrate her understanding of these ideas and also some extra demonstrations of comparison lengths etc.

Last night she announced, as she climbed up to her bunk bed, that she is going to get a learn to read book from the library every time she goes so she doesn’t have to go to school. I haven’t said anything about going to school!!  She reeled off a load of reasons why HE is way more fun than school!  Finally.

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 26, 2010 in cooking, Home Education, Literacy, Maths


Tags: , , , ,

Zip it!

I’m trying a new method of organising myself and making the most of E’s random questions.  Most of the time when we’re out and about, she’ll ask something out of the blue (today’s was ‘how do zips work?’), and usually I don’t know the answer, and am somewhere with no way of answering.  I also have a habit of completely forgetting about her questions by the time I get home, and so does she.

To try and combat this, I have purchased myself a notepad and pen to keep in my bag at all times.  This has mostly been used for noting down things the girls decide they want on their christmas/birthday lists (because I refuse to buy them!), but gradually its filling with useful questions.  The main flaw comes when they ask something when I’m driving…!

So far we have had:

  • what does shark’s skin feel like? (as we watched a reef shark swim over our heads at the aquarium on Tuesday)
  • what does dinosaur skin feel like? (and the pretend skin in our local city museum doesn’t count, says E)
  • what are shark’s teeth like?
  • how do zip’s work? (as E sat in the car zipping and unzipping a pocket on her trousers)
  • what bones are in our wrists and what do they look like?

I’m slowly cultivating a shelf of useful books to refer to when we get home in order to answer these questions!  Internet searches are useful to me, but generally don’t have enough pictures to keep E happy!  The shark questions were easily answered by fishing out this funky little book on sharks we picked up for 5p at a car boot sale a couple of months ago.  Apparently shark skin has the texture of sandpaper, and was used as such in the past.  Many species of shark have several rows of teeth, and regularly shed teeth as they feed, apparently.

The zip question was laid to rest after a delve into my ancient edition of The Way Things Work which I begged my parents to get me when I was about 10 and we’d used it at school.  Its finally coming into its own 😉   E has now explained to B how zips work, and I apologise to anyone else who puts up with E’s zip demonstrations!

Still to work on wrist bones and dinosaur skin!

I’ve also been on a spending spree on Amazon, after getting a dose of inspiration – its catching this time of year, don’t you think?!!  Here are my new library additions:

I am now in love with Amazon Marketplace!  Unfortunately I paid more in postage than I did for the books!  I’ve also downloaded the toolbar, so I am collecting nectar points for every yahoo search I make online.  All going towards my Amazon habit…!

1 Comment

Posted by on September 23, 2010 in Home Education, Literacy, Maths


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

She knows you know

After my small breakdown yesterday…ahem…today has been much better.  Always the way!

I packed H off for her gym class with my friend, so I could go shopping to refill the very empty cupboards.  Poor kids had spent the last couple of days frantically searching for something to eat, and not happy with the random assortment of leftovers gracing the shelves!  Pay day is good – thanks B!!!  This gave E and I some nice time to ourselves, where she felt in charge of things as she knows the supermarket well, and could help find everything while I stopped L trying to wriggle and dive out of the trolley!

I’m all for bribery to get kids round supermarkets, so it was quite easy to say ‘yes’ to most requests from E this time.  Then half way down the fruit and veg aisle she started doing numbers on her fingers.  Look mummy, this is 6 (five fingers on one hand, and one on the other).  This is 7, this is 8, this is 9, and this is 10.  I asked her what she was adding each time to get the next number (just checking!!), and she said one more finger, so I confirmed she was adding 1 each time.  Then, just to test her I asked her if she had 5 fingers, how many more would she need to make 10.  She said, 5 more of course!  Oh my goodness, the girl actually gets it.  I nearly lay down in the aisle with shock!

Later on during tea she finishing her baked beans, and she said ‘look mum, I have 4 left, 2 there and 2 there.  2 and 2 make 4’.  Not a workbook in sight!  Oh yeah baby!!

Maths – tick.

This evening she was examining her new tube of toothpaste and asked if all the writing on the back was the ingredients.  I had a look and read it all out to her: directions for use, blurb about how to look after your teeth, active ingredients, ingredients, list of trademarks and logos.  The picture on the front of a blob of toothpaste with a face on was a Nurdle apparently.  Anyway, so looked at the picture, then ran her finger over the word underneath.  I told her it said ‘Lilly’, which looks similar to H’s name, and told her that often when words look alike, they sound alike, like fox and box etc. She then moved onto the words underneath ‘Little Teeth’.  I pointed out the ‘Li’ was the same sound as in ‘Lilly’, so with that, and the ‘tle’ she got the ‘little’ quite easily.  She couldn’t get ‘teeth’ at all.  The nearest she got was ‘teach’ or ‘teech’ I guess!  I told her what sound the ‘th’ makes, and once I’d said that she got it straight away, and was very chuffed with herself!  I asked her what she thought the word t-h-e would say, and she got that!  I went to find a book with ‘the’ in the title, and came back with The Snowman.  She read ‘The Sno…with?’, and I realised she knew what the title should be, but was stumbling over the word.  S-n-o is snow, but w-m-a-n makes not sense!  Her brain is working overtime!

We’ve been through these sounds before, but they’ve never made any sense to her, as she’s never been interested in looking at the words before.  I can see she’s suddenly making all these connections, its absolutely amazing to watch!

Literacy – tick.

We’ve also managed to cram in nice chunk of socialising, painting, drawing, playdough, mr potato head, duplo, playing on the internet, blowing bubbles and making balloons using a funky little kit.


Tags: , , ,

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!!


Tags: , , ,


Today has been an up and down day.  As long as E has had something to do, its generally been ok!  So far this has included playing with playdough (H’s idea), making safari animals from a craft kit I bought the other day (E’s idea), playing on the Wii (E’s idea), mixing up random concoctions in the kitchen from flour, water and anything else she could find (E’s idea again), reading books (H’s idea), doing maths (E’s idea – but didn’t go to plan…), filling the paddling pool (E’s idea), dressing up (H’s idea), making a picnic, which included getting the ancient picnic basket out of the garage which E had obviously spied on a recent garage excavation…and probably lots of other things that I’ve completely forgotten!

I’ve only recently come across the idea of strewing, and have found it a useful way to get E to find things on her own, not just stuff I think she’d enjoy, but that she can not only find on her own, choosing herself, but can also play/discover independently then either involve the rest of us, or just come and show us what she’s done afterwards.  If she had to wait for me to find her, then work out something to do with her every time, she would be a very bored individual!

Today, E and I were talking about HE, as she generally considers herself to be a school girl who doesn’t go to school…which is quite frustrating!  We’ve been talking about who to invite to her birthday party which is suddenly looming, and she just reels off a list of people she went to school with, who she hasn’t really seen for over a year, and if I mention any of her friends she sees weekly at HE meets, she says they’re not her friends.  I think this is down to my social ineptitude, because they don’t physically come to our house, apparently they are not her friends, socially-speaking.

After talking about us, Home Education, and everything (apparently it was her idea to Home Ed, not ours), and her saying she would like to go to school, because our next door neighbour won a beautiful ring from her school fete.  E then said that another neighbour had teased her for not being able to do some maths sum (he is at least 2 yrs older than her), and she should go to school!!  Grrr…I hate school kids!  It was adding up two 2-digit numbers, so we sat and added up some numbers using our fingers, then I wrote down two 2-digit numbers, one above the other, and was going to show E how to add them together, so she put her fingers in her ears, and closed her eyes…why is everything so hard?!!  So…how do you ‘strew’ maths?!  I got a book from the library a while ago, which had caught my eye in the children’s section…I can’t remember what it was called exactly, but it was something like ‘How to teach your child maths’.  It turned out not to be as preachy as it sounds, and worked through what maths was from the earliest age, and how maths in everyday life changes, and how to introduce simple ideas and concepts while giving all the supporting information on why anyone would want or need to know it.  I tested the first couple of chapters out on H, and she could do whatever it was e.g. if you have 2 apples on a table, then put them in a cup and ask how many there are now, below a certain age they will have to count them to check, but after a certain age, they will automatically know that the number of apples doesn’t change, just because you’ve moved them from the table to the cup, iyswim! I think I’m going to see if I can find it again, as it gave me a bit of confidence at least!!  Its really annoying how small things can really knock your confidence.  It took me sitting down and relaying all this to B, to realise that yes, in a couple of years E will be able to add up 2, 3 or 4 digit numbers.  In the 18mths we have HE’d, E has changed so much, grown up so much, and learned so much, without stepping inside a school.  I need to keep telling myself these things.


Tags: , , ,