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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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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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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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