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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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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:

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Mermaid’s Purses

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

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

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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!

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Pile of sharks

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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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Wow a vacant laptop, I can update my blog!

I had a flash of inspiration earlier, so thought I would use the moment to nudge me into updating my blog for once!

Today we have made a second trip to a new Home Ed group in our area.  This was yet another opportunity to have a picnic (we’ve been having them daily for the last week or so) and enjoy the fantastic sunshine we have at the moment.  As well as running round with sticks (L), drawing beautiful pictures of rainbows and snails (E), and making up complex role play games with friends (H), we had a fun time playing with some ‘squishy circuits’, which if you haven’t heard of, then you need to have a go! The main details and ingredients can be found here, there is also a pdf ‘classroom guide’ under the ‘publications’ section which is well worth printing out as an easy to follow guide. You essentially make 2 types of playdough, one with lots of salt, and one made with sugar and distilled water. One is a conductor, one an insulator. You then alternate your playdoughs to create your circuit structure, add a battery, some LEDs or a motor, and off you go. Very simple, cheap and easy.:And if you’re H, you can just play with the playdough…

I then had to rush home, and walk the puppy with L.  Well, I meant to rush the walk to as we were meant to be meeting B at Ikea, but L will not be rushed.  He came armed with a bowl of snails (his sisters had been racing them earlier), which HAD to come on our walk with us. After they had fallen out of the bowl at least 3 times, I managed to rehome them into a happy looking hedge to save them from any further trauma. L was mortified when he realised what I’d done, but I distracted him by looking for tadpoles in the ponds. We recently hatched and raised a batch of frogspawn, which we returned to our local pond as froglets a couple of weeks ago, so we go and check on them regularly. Armed with his bowl, L scooped up some water and was delighted to catch several tadpoles (obviously a bit behind developmentally from the ones we released), and prodded them, examined some water snails, and puzzled over little whizzing insects he also scooped. The bowl was emptied and refilled several times, examined and oooh-ed over, before I made him hurry along. L then spent the rest of the walk gathering stones and other exciting finds in his bowl all the way home.  That bowl turned out to be a brilliant thing to bring on our walk…though the snails probably didn’t think so.

Girls racing their snails yesterday

We then bundled ourselves into the car and dashed to Ikea. We’ve decided to buy a double bed for H and L to share. We’ve tried bunk beds and midi-sleepers, and no bed arrangement has so far worked for these two. E has her own room and bed. L still co-sleeps with us, but we are all for encouraging him out of our bed 😉 H sleeps in her bed sometimes, sometimes wanders into ours in the middle of the night. She claims she needs company. They both sleep beautifully in our bed together, but I would like to sleep in our bed too! So we’ve invested in a double bed in the hope we can get them to sleep together in their own bed, in their own room. Its always good to have goals and aspirations right?!

It’s not often that L gets to spend time with us all on his own, so he was quite spoiled this evening. We bribed him round Ikea, letting him choose a toy from the children’s area as we passed through. We then went to pizza hut, which he thought was the best thing ever: “Me love pee-ba” says L. I have a fab photo of L eating ice cream covered in sweeties, with a huge grin on his face! Will have to add it in later.  Ah, found it:

L (Buzz) enjoying his ice cream without sibling interference!

H is at a friend’s house for a sleepover, E has a friend here for a sleepover, so while they’ve sorted themselves out watching Springwatch and having a bath, I’ve painted H’s room ready for her new bed to be installed. I’d forgotten how quick it was to paint a wall without small children wanting to ‘help’ me!!

Typical Home Ed day huh?!

 

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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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When did this all happen?

Amazing stuff has been happening here over the last few weeks.  E continues to read more and more. She’s using Ladybird’s Peter and Jane books, ORT Biff and Kipper books, and anything else she can get her hands on…I found her deep in concentration sitting on the front door mat yesterday, trying to read a leaflet that had come through the door!

The biggest change is with H. Back in April I remember my Mum visiting, and expressing concern that H couldn’t hold a pencil and wasn’t interested in writing or drawing at all. Since then she has suddenly started drawing, starting with colourful scribbles, but these have now changed into complex drawings of people, creatures, family, friends. You name it, she draws it! She has worked out how to hold a pen properly, changing from her fist-grip she did have, and perfected the writing of her own name a few weeks ago. I noticed baby L’s name drawn on the wall shortly after, and realised it wasn’t E’s writing.  I suppose I should have been cross…but realising that H had worked out how to write her brother’s name without any direction from me, was such a fantastic moment! We now have paper and writing implements in every room, to try and protect our walls from more harm, and H continues to write.  She can now write the name of everyone in our family, and is now moving onto her friend’s names! I now don’t have to spell out any of these words, or show her how to form the letters if she asks, it’s all her own work. She is fab!  We are currently all wearing name badges she has written!

 

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2011 in Literacy

 

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The day of rest??

It’s Sunday. We are in mid-tidying frenzy as I am determined to get our kitchen reorganised and the hallway clear in anticipation of the arrival of a large Essentials delivery. Scary scary. In between tidying and directing, we have been very busy today.

We finally dug our potato council potatoes up. Got a fab haul is year, really pleased with our efforts, and having a roast chicken with beautiful, fresh, boiled potatoes to celebrate!!  We didn’t quite the timings right, so can’t enter our results in 😦 Will try harder next year!

E and H are into baking at the moment, so asked if they could make some biscuits. Not best timing when mid-kitchen mayhem, but we managed it. E couldn’t cope with the stickiness of the dough, so H and I followed the recipe directions, which said to put the dough between a folded sheet of greaseproof paper and roll away. This worked really well, and will be definitely using this method in future! H and I cut out all our shapes, H rolling her own dough and doing her own shape cutting, then piled them in the oven. Recipe was for 30 but we seem to have made double that using small cutters, so all good!

E then decided to make the hairy caterpillar from her Rainbows handbook. I bought the bits to do this about a year ago, and she finally decided to do it today…probably to do with clearing out the hallway and finding the stash! Required a pair of stockings, elastic bands, sawdust, grass seeds, decorations to make a face. E mixed the saw dust and seeds (we didn’t have any grass seeds, so hoping cress and mustard seed will work??!) then spooned mixture into one of the stockings. she then tied the end with an elastic band, then 3 more bands along the length to make a series of caterpillarish bulges. She then drew a face on the front with permanent marker and put it in an old ice cream tub and covered in water. Will see how it grows!!

L took the remaining sawdust mixture and happily sat spooning it backwards and forwards between two bowls.

It’s E’s birthday next week, and we are planning an outdoor mini-celebration with hopefully lots of bubble-blowing. I’ve been gathering bubble blowing ideas from Pinterest, and tried out one of the ideas today. We bent a pipe cleaner so it had a heart-shaped loop at the top, then dipped in fairy liquid and water mixture. It blew lovely big bubbles. Here are a few more of my bubble-blowing ideas!

Right got more washing to put on, and a dishwasher to empty. Oh and must get dressed…it is nearly 2pm after all!

Later update…ended up going on a nature walk this afternoon, we’ve found our local ponds (very newly made) are finally teeming with life.  We saw loads of different butterflies, beautiful dragonflies, watersnails, and lots and lots of frogs!

 

E catching frogs

 

 

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