Category Archives: nature

Time to do what you like

R has been thoroughly engrossed in Minecraft over the weekend, hours and hours of it. Sometimes it worries me, sometimes I can’t stop myself from getting her to take a break from the screen to eat and drink and move around… but letting her have a really good chunk of time to do what she wants has really shown her passions. She has built an entire hunger games land… this was only a small project she set herself. Now she is onto a serious project which she says could take a really long time … even a year (I’m not totally convinced it will take that long… we’ll see!) R is building a massive kitchen (possibly whole house) … not a normal size minecraft house…. this is REALLY big, the kitchen is half done, with sink and taps that work with levers and switches, cupboards, fridge and freezer… with food inside, microwave, cooker, etc….. The design is excellent and is all from inside her head. Not a copied kitchen. A designed kitchen. She is proud of it. She doesn’t say that much… so she must be really proud.

Having had unrestricted Minecraft time, R was then much more engaged when I suggested other things. We’re in a transitional stage I think, R very much knows her own mind, but I’m not totally convinced that she will widen her interests without a bit of steering / guidance, so there is a bit of negotiation going on at the moment. I know some of it is my own problem not hers, but I also am often right about things she might enjoy if she tries them. Really lovely to see such passion though, with her really delving into mod design, YouTube videos etc. Some very valuable skills, and fun too!!

Here’s R’s YouTube Channel

In between the minecrafting all weekend and part of yesterday and a bit early this morning, we have also read the whole of ‘Fortunately the Milk’ by Neil Gaiman which we both enjoyed, we both read bits and finished it in one sitting!!

We also watched some excellent logic puzzles on YouTube which R has then repeated word for word to ask people we’ve seen….

The prisoner hat riddle for one, along with others by Alex Gendler.

Today R has been at a friend’s house, for lego, forest outing and cake making. She had a great time. I basically blitzed the house!!! And did some painting too (art, not decorating :-))

Then Woodcraft this evening for R, L and S for their planning meeting for the term.

L has been back at school for two days, she bounced in and bounced home. She definitely needs to jabber away at us constantly when she gets in, but it is lovely to hear about what she’s been doing all day.

 

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Days out

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

We went to The New Forest Wildlife Park:

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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. 🙁

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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!

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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!!!

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Choosing to stay at home

Today we had all sorts of nice possibilities …. I had researched a trip to the beach by train as it was yet another warm day. The Hat fair was on in Winchester which we do usually go to with the local home ed group, we could have met with friends, gone for a cycle ride, or many other options….

We talked for quite a while about it and R was adamant that she wanted to stay at home and have time in the garden.. Although I was up for going out it would probably have wiped me out for the weekend, so I was happy to chill at home too.

We had a lovely day. We sat and read together… I read some more of The King’s Curse by Phillipa Gregory out loud to R and she read some Secret Seven to me. She laid in the newly decorated hammock I was in my comfy camping chair… in our lovely shady garden, with the guinea pig in her run by us. It was great.

We had discussions about Henry Tudor and the goings on around 1500.

We then chatted more about elements and atoms and molecules and listened again to the Periodic Table song …The Periodic Table Song which we listened to ages ago and R remembered an impressive amount of! We talked about ionic bonding and covalent bonds. We then watched a couple of videos of the alkali metals reacting with water, and chatted about some science sessions R had been to quite a while ago and how they connected.

It was then time for some art, R started a minecraft style picture of herself, which is going well. I especially like the small squares that are her eyelashes.

R went off to play some minecraft and I got my paints out, sat with my feet in a bucket of water in the shade in the garden and got lost in some painting which was lovely.

R then went to a friend’s house and is staying for a sleepover, so some time with L this evening which was good too.

See also: What do you do when you are totally free to choose?

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Magna Carta

A fantastic trip to Salisbury to see the Magna Carta.

It was a glorious day and we went on the train, which was a lovely trip. Salisbury is such a lovely place anyway and we went via the park and river in the sunshine, with plenty of wildlife about

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We wandered around the cathedral first, looking at the points of interest on the leaflet, there is a lot there and it is a beautiful building.

view from the cloisters
view from the cloisters

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The World's oldest working mechanical clock (1386)
The World’s oldest working mechanical clock (1386)

This mechanical clock has ticked more than 4.4 billion times since it was built.

We also saw lots of statues and tombs which were really interesting. We saw the tomb of William Longspee (1226) who was the first person to be buried in the Cathedral, he was the half-brother of King John, and his advisor at the 1215 Magna Carta negotiations.

After a good look round the Cathedral we then had a go at writing with a quill and ink and making a seal (with soft modelling clay)

Writing with a quill
Writing with a quill
An Original King John Seal
An Original King John Seal

We then got to see the Magna Carta display, which included a draw containing this above. We couldn’t believe how neat and small the writing was.

It was then time for the big event, which was seeing the Magna Carta itself, which is surprising small and took over 50 hours to write out.

The Magna Carta
The Magna Carta

There was a full transcript on the wall with some very interesting bits. There was also more information about how the Magna Carta was used and renewed at various points in history and how it was used in the English Civil War against King Charles I.

Also how it was used by the Suffragettes.

We finished will an ice-cream and a paddle in the stream which was fab.

See also: LiberTea and cake

Some very good resources here about it all:

British Library Magna Carta Resources

See here for more history

Oodles of History

 

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Grandparents, Badminton and First Ever Parents’ Evening

R went to Granny and Grandpa’s today – they book to play badminton each week and R is getting very good, she really makes Granny run around now, and Granny is a very good player. They spent the afternoon in Granny’s garden, watching tadpoles and fish, gardening and playing games.

I had L’s first ever parents’ evening at school (we’d met her tutor before but not the rest of her teachers…. and as expected they do all look very young!) There were 5 min slots with whoever your child managed to book with. We saw English, Maths, Science, History, Geography and Spanish teachers.

They were all very pleased with her, some didn’t know that she’d been home educated up till now and said I’d obviously done a very good job, which was nice to hear. Sounds like L will be moved up sets in possibly everything as they were slightly cautious with her set planning I think as she didn’t have official SATS results and school reports…. but she has had some super teachers this year and has settled in very happily so we’ve been happy with that. She has friends in the other sets though, and would be changing teachers anyway, so moving up in September would be good.

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Talk, talk and talk

Today has consisted of a lot of talking. We watched a bit of a documentary about Rainforests… it is a long one so we’ll save the rest for another day… then we had long talks about why areas of rainforest get cleared, types of sustainable wood, why the forest would take so long to grow back and the stages it would go through first before returning to anything like its original state.

We watched a few ASAP science videos, again with plenty of discussion… I love the ideas that R comes up with, so thoughtful and innovative.

We watched: The 6 craziest extinctions ever

Along with a few others… it is hard to stop at one because there is always another one lined up that’s looks interesting.

Some will not be suitable for younger children…. but that is usually clear from the title.

We talk so much about everything. I’m sure that this is one of our most effective educational tools. We take time to talk about things as they come up, and we look up things together, often heading off at a tangent. It doesn’t feel like learning, it is just living and having fun… and as a side effect of that we all seem to learn a lot too!

You may also like: Taking the Struggle out of Education

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