All posts by Boots

Life long learner, home educator, education innovator

Break from technology

We have been away in Tenerife for two weeks… sunshine and relaxation… and no gadgets, no television… no phone.. only a basic kindle & books…. great to have a break from so much technology!

Playa de la Arena
Playa de la Arena
Playa de la Arena
Playa de la Arena
Loro Parque
Loro Parque
Siam Park
Siam Park
Jardin Botanico
Jardin Botanico

It has been really lovely, and although we’ve now been back from holiday a while, it has left me wanting to not dive straight back in with computers. Not here on my website / blog particularly… I have been thinking about things I’d like to write about… the biggest joy to be away from has been Facebook! It has also been good not constantly seeing news all the time.

We have read so much and played card games and chatted and swam and lazed…. the first really relaxing holiday we’ve had since having kids…. not that we haven’t relaxed a bit before, but both girls really appreciated chilling out too.

So it is a gentle start to September, at least I’m trying for it to be…. I came back to over 400 e-mails and a council decision to close (unless community groups step forward) local libraries. So now it is back to campaigning. Not what I’d hoped for.

We had our Not-Back-To-School Picnic / Sports Day with our home ed group yesterday, it was lovely to catch up with so many people, and the weather was fairly kind, if slightly chilly… but good fun. L got to come too which was good… as she had an inset day.

 

L went back to school today.. she was excited about going.. unfortunately there was incredibly sad news about her friend’s sister, so there were tears after school.

R and I had a gentle day, we chatted a lot about things we want to do this term (it feels more term like with L at school!)

We created some weird and wacky Alice in Wonderland clocks for an event coming up….

We played with the guinea pig, and picked lots of blackberries. Rose made a blackberry smoothy with lunch.

Then we carried on reading ‘The Outsiders’ by Michelle Paver which is taking us a while but we are enjoying. We like the point of view of the dolphin and also bits about Ancient Greece. R read a page for every chapter I read…. it is a pretty wordy read and she did really well.

Share this page...

Days out

More days out, which have been really lovely, despite the changeable weather!!!

We went to The New Forest Wildlife Park:

2015-08-04 13.22.20

?????????????
?????????????

?????????????

We were having such a great time that I forgot to take many pictures!! Great play area there too. We decided our only criticism was the lack of toilet inside the park… and how easy it would be to open a bit of fence to make the toilets accessible from elsewhere in the park!! They did have a couple of porta loos at the play area but they were out of action. Great place to visit though.

The following day we went to Milford-On-Sea and took our new friend from Taiwan.

 

 

2015-08-05 13.39.27

2015-08-05 14.09.10

We played a stone bouncing game and also went crabbing, which kept us all amused for hours and was very sociable with other holiday makers all comparing bait and catches!!

We caught larger crabs with dried Spanish ham we think. Smaller crabs went for the bacon!

A really great few days.

 

Share this page...

Portchester Castle

Portchester Castle is a medieval castle built within a former Roman fort at Portchester to the east of Fareham in the English county of Hampshire. It is located at the northern end of Portsmouth Harbour. That’s what Google says.

It is a great place for a run around too, as well as a good place to look for crabs on the shore, and to skim stones too. R was extremely pleased when she finally managed to skim some stones. We found quite a few crabs too by lifting up bits of seaweed and looking underneath.

2015-08-03 13.00.05

2015-08-03 13.19.39

 

We had a lovely day catching up with friends and just chilling out. We’d been having such a lovely time, we didn’t even get round to going in the actual castle bit, so it ended up being a totally free day out too!

 

Share this page...

Painting

Just a quiet day. Time for some painting. R was pleased with the result. I love it. It is even better in reality.. when you can see the texture etc.

2015-08-02 16.14.26

Share this page...

Holiday recovery and campaign build up

Having had a wet and windy camp on the Isle of Wight, along with a lot of fun too, we have come back pretty tired, so we’ve had some friends round, but mostly stayed in… catching up on washing for a fair part of the last few days!

The girls spent a day with Granny and Grandpa and Auntie J, badminton and lego in the garden and lots of chattering about the holiday.

Then lots of play at home and with friends round.

I had a library meeting today, as we are heading towards the Council’s decision about the future of our local library and others in the city. The further I delve into politics, unfortunately the more cynical I become… and I am not a cynical person by nature. The decision has been put back to August… so lots of people will be away, also, it seems the council can make the decision in a Cabinet meeting, without bringing it to full council, which just seems wrong to me… for such an important decision. Especially as the consultation had the biggest response ever I think. It doesn’t bode well as it feels like they are trying to slip it under the radar.

A whole afternoon followed of the kids luckily having friends round to play happily… as I spent the whole afternoon writing up the meeting and then writing to Cllrs about the library decision. We have learned so much about the workings of politics as a family, through this campaign… R is so indignant and will be a force to be reckoned with if the decision goes against us… I wouldn’t like to be in the Council when R finds out!!! 🙂

R did some YouTube videos today, with her friend F appearing as a guest: Minecraft Tutorials with Guest

Aiming for a quiet day tomorrow to rest up (bloomin’ M.E. as usual) then we are catching up with other friends on Monday and Tuesday… hopefully to go out somewhere nice. I’ll aim for a quiet end of the week to recover!

The summer is going far too fast already. Really enjoying having L around full-time, and L and R seem to have settled back in to getting on much better again. They are more niggly when L is at school, so it is nice they have bonded back together again.

Share this page...

It is all about the attitude.

We’ve had a wet and windy camping trip this last week. We went with friends, as we have done since the kids were small. When we first went ours were 1 and 3, theirs 2 and 4, now 10 and 12 and 11 and 13!

It is a different experience now that they are all older, we don’t have to be immediately involved in everything they do, and we now find that breakfast has been collected from the shop and often they are reminding us about ice-blocks and things like that. It is all rather chilled out.

This week it was very fortunate that things are so chilled out…..

The weather really wasn’t great, but we made the most of it… and went to the cinema to see ‘Minions’ which we all enjoyed, then out for a nice pub meal, happy to be inside while the wind and rain were lashing down.

We headed back to the camp site about 7.30pm to find a bath sized puddle in the centre of our friends’ sagging tent. 🙁

2015-07-24 20.36.09

The material had held and so, the whole thing had sagged down in the middle. We carried buckets of water out of the middle until we could get in underneath to the bedroom sections and rescue clothes and bedding, which were amazingly still mostly dry!!!

The kids were all a bit upset, but all the adults got on with rescuing the kit and getting the kids to help. We also had another couple with us, so luckily as we all have tents larger than we need, we were able to home our friends and all their stuff for the rest of the week (it happened on day 2!!!

Because everyone just mucked in, and the sense of humour really kicked in, what could have been really awful, turned out to be a brief blip in the holiday. Luckily our friends were going to replace that tent anyway for next year, so no great disaster. I was so proud of how everyone dealt with it. R cried quite a lot when it happened, and kept saying ‘it’s such a shock’ but with everyone else’s reactions she came round and was fine. The other kids were amazing.

I think the attitude may have slipped slightly if it had happened while they were asleep, or if all the bedding and clothing had got wet, but thankfully it was all manageable.

Not the driest holiday we’ve ever had, and it was pretty windy too, so some wakeful nights with the tent sounding like it would take off! But still a lovely break on the Isle of Wight, we went to Robin Hill, day time and for one of the evening lit up woodlands, illusionist, samba dancing and owl flights by twilight!!

Sandown pier for miniature golf, slot machines and hot chocolate!

Lazy days reading / swimming (even in the chilliness)!

Amazon World where there were some lovely penguins and we also liked the armadillos. Sad to see that the lovely Fairtrade shop that had been there was now shut.

Singsongs in the tent with L playing the Ukulele, a mix of Woodcraft, Scout, Guides and pop songs, while it was hammering down outside.

We also had a whole evening entertainment from the four kids, with advertising poster beforehand, program, and intervals. They wrote the script and rehearsed all week. It was not quite as long as some previous productions and was more comprehensible! Though our friend M struggled to keep up with the plot, but that may have been the Pimms.

So overall a mixed week but still a fun holiday with great friends. The Pimms and chocolate also helped!

Share this page...

Why Weymouth Sand Almost isn’t Sand

What a lovely day out, we went to Weymouth, R, with me and my friend A. It’s a reasonable trip on the train, but it is a nice route, and it is always good to have chance to chat. We also all did some drawing and games too.

It was warm but cloudy with a bit of a breeze, which was actually just right for us. It was lovely being able to sit and build lots with the amazing sand at Weymouth.

2015-07-17 12.04.35

2015-07-17 12.09.00

 

A guinea pig (of course!)

We went and saw some of the sand sculptures too, which were, despite having been vandalised 🙁 still excellent. My photos weren’t very good unfortunately. We’ll go to the Sand Sculpture place next time.. near the Sea life centre apparently.

We read that the sand at Weymouth is incredibly fine and if it was ever so slightly finer it would actually be classified as silt and not sand. That was definitely one of the good facts of the day!

We also saw quite a few jelly fish on the beach (dead), which were fascinating, and rather big! We’ll definitely be researching more about them soon.

Jellyfish on the beach
Jellyfish on the beach

Unfortunately our new friend K from Taiwan couldn’t come today… we’d invited her in the hope we could introduce her to some seriously British things… including fish and chips, but she wasn’t available … but the thought was already there, so fish and chips it was. Mmmm.

Also saw donkies on the beach. I didn’t realise Weymouth had them, so R had a ride as A’s treat…

2015-07-17 14.10.43

2015-07-17 11.41.45

What a fantastic place, and a great day. We’ll be going back another time! And the train station is so near to the beach!!

Share this page...

Awards and Film Watching at School

Awards and film watching plus drama and art

L has had a good week for awards. She had a presentation evening at school for being in the Netball team. S went and said there was a lot of high achieving sports, but also the yr 7 netball team, because although they hadn’t won any cups or awards… they had worked very hard and improved, and been reliable too. L was really pleased with her certificate and badge.

L also came home beaming yesterday with a green badge with G on it… which apparently you get if you are put forward by 3 different teachers as gifted in their subjects. She was put forward in Maths, Science and Spanish, and as talented in Metal work.

I am obviously very proud of her (though I don’t need a badge and certificate to make me proud of her.. or to tell me she’s doing very well), and I wasn’t sure about this whole gifted thing at school…. but apparently it is seen as something you work for each year (or term), it isn’t a permanent label, seen as unmoving, which did reassure me. L is certainly working hard, because she wants to and enjoys what she is doing… but she isn’t stressed, or over working… perhaps because she sees it less as work and more as something she has chosen to do.

I was labelled as gifted at school and personally it seemed like an unwelcome pressure. If you do well it is just expected, if you don’t do as well then it is a disappointment…. Not a pressure from parents particularly, just a general feeling.

Read this article recently: Pushing kids to be gifted

The wind down to the summer holidays is well truly under way at school, there are lots of nice things going on and L is having a fab time. The only thing that has bugged me this week is that some teachers are showing the first bit of a film in class as a treat (Ice Age) knowing that there won’t be time to watch the end, with no intention of letting the class see the end on another day. This would bug me! Wouldn’t it bug you? Other teachers have managed to show a whole film over two lessons, or have picked a shorter programme that fits into one lesson… makes more sense to me!!

R is having a good week too. I think she is pleased with the maths we have done this week, especially as L brought home her maths exam paper and R looked through and could do quite a lot of it. (Though she did say that she’d be worried about reading and understanding what the question says. If I read it to her then she totally understood the maths side of it. Such a shame exams don’t allow for this (I haven’t researched this enough… I know some people can get extra time if diagnosed with dyslexia, and possibly a scribe sometimes.. but I’m not sure if you can have someone read the question out loud… it isn’t something I’ve heard of.)

R had her drama performance of ‘Where the Wild Things Are’. It was great, all the kids did really well, you could hear them all clearly, and they were all confident, even the usually more quiet and shy ones. It was on a proper stage, with lighting, back drop with pictures from the book and well chosen music too, with some groovy dancing to ‘Wild Thing’ R loved every minute of it. S came too and also our friend A, with lots of other parents too. Really enjoyed it.

We even did some more maths when we got home…. then R needed a nice break because her brain started melting!!! 🙂

I’ve done some painting today, good relaxation for me.

2015-07-16 17.30.47

 

R has been over to see Granny and Grandpa and Auntie J and Auntie M, she’s played badminton, running Granny round like a mad thing. Then she wrote out care instructions for Auntie M who is having R’s guinea pig when we go away soon.

 

Share this page...

Learning in Chunks

A sociable Saturday with visitors and an anniversary party.

A chunk of gardening and woodwork

Then we had S’s parents and Auntie J round on Sunday to help clear a load of bits in the garden so we can move our old shed and put up a new one. We achieved loads, especially the clearance of a particularly large buddleia. L and R came out in the garden too and helped clip up the pieces into more manageable sizes. R decided that when the new shed is up, there will be room for a den behind it… so she is keen to build it. There were some pieces of wood with lots of nails in them, so Grandpa showed R the easiest way to remove them and L helped too, so they both spent ages sorting out the pieces of wood, ready for den building.

A chunk of games

The last library session of the term yesterday, with board games and card games, we had an excellent laser board brought it, with puzzles to solve of sending the laser round different ways using different mirrors. Someone else brought a Bakugan board which was popular, most of the kids played Tsuro,

2015-07-14 17.08.57

which is up to 8 players and most ages can cope with it. We also had Happy Families. So, a good session. There were also judges there looking at the library borders, which our group had planted some of the bulbs for.

Friends round in the afternoon to play playmobil, and out in the garden too.

 A chunk of Maths, Spanish, Art and Molecules.

Today has been a very constructive day with a huge chunk of maths, we looked at Straight line graphs, distance-time graphs and real life graphs. Videos on MathsWatch VLE.

Further Algebraic simplification… Multiplication and Division.Expanding brackets. Also videos and questions on MathsWatchVLE. R was really enjoying it, we only stopped when her numbers started to be written backwards which usually shows she needs a break.

We then had a chunk of Art, R is designing mythical creatures and lands,

 

2015-07-14 17.09.34

and we had a Learning Spanish CD on while she was drawing. A Michel Thomas CD, who is absolutely brilliant for learning how to speak various languages. Worth getting out from the library if you can. R moved on to playing with the molecule kit we have, but still wanted the Spanish on, and must have listened for a couple of hours (in amongst chatting over some of it… ) not full concentration, but she was obviously getting something out of it. We also managed a chat about the structure of diamond.

This isn’t an average day, we have some much less ‘formal educational’ days, but when R is interested and chooses to she picks up an incredible amount…. and takes in far more than if we had a lot of days of forced learning without her being engaged. She is excited about Algebra, so we can carry it on as much as she likes… and she is really understanding it. We definitely work learning in chunks, and we can adapt the size of each chunk of each thing on each day to suit the circumstances. So sometimes a five minute chunk of maths is all that is needed, other times it is twenty minutes, today it was an hour and a half solid. Other days nothing. It is all valuable. 🙂

 

Share this page...

New Forest

We went out with friends to visit other home ed friends who have moved out into the New Forest, their house and garden are lovely and the garden backs onto forest, so the 5 children went off to play in the forest, building dens and being free for hours and hours, so nice to give them chance to play without adults breathing down their necks (the rule being they stay together and within sight of the fence… so within shouting distance… but it is still right in the forest!)

They came back occasionally for drinks or food or to show us how muddy they were, or to show us the bite from a wasp type bug, but not a wasp… which we managed to google and find out is a deer fly, which is part of the horsefly family.

Deer Fly

We also had one of the children had a woodlouse on her hand and the kids all watched it ‘give birth’, we had to look up whether woodlice lay eggs… which they do, but they keep them in a pouch and when they hatch it does look like they are giving birth to little white woodlice babies, which is exactly what the children described.

Woodlouse

There was bike riding, paddling pool and general play, with boys and girls of mixed ages from 7-11, and a chance for parents to sit in the sunshine with cups of tea. What a fantastic home ed day!

I was so chilled out I didn’t even take any photos!!!

Share this page...