Category Archives: play

Finding our rhythm

We are settling back into home ed (we never left but it did feel like we were in limbo for a while as R thought about going to school). It now feels like we are back, fully submerged in the wonderful world of Home education.

We are seeing other families at Sign language, environmental management, drama and a few other things too. Wednesday this week was lovely, R had her new home ed drama group which was lovely, and I sat and chatted with other home ed mums, then environmental management where I again sat and chatted with other mums, play in the park & more chatting. My wobbles have lessened considerably and how lovely it is to be at the stage of being able to chat. It doesn’t seem that long ago that conversations were hard to have as one or two little people would need me a lot.

R and I have settled into a more comfortable pace of doing a few things together and then spending time doing our own things. She’s good company and likes doing her own thing with me around in the background doing mine. She’s creating a drawing of a whole community at the moment, so she stops occasionally to fill me in on how things work in her invented world. Love it. So much imagination and it also leads to political and philosophical chat too!

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To Wonderland and back again

Half term was a blur, the girls did a two day drama workshop with a performance at the end which was great. We caught up with friends, went to a birthday day in the forest, which was a good mix of old home ed friends, some who now have kids at school, others who are still home ed, and us with one of each!

Went to an Alice in Wonderland event which was fab,

The Red Queen and Alice
The Red Queen and Alice

Caught up with more friends, went out for a walk at Holly Hill.

Out trick or treating with my sister and her boys, what a treasure trove!!

The last day was spent in pj’s having a lazy day which we all needed I think!!

This week we started on Monday with an art session at the library, we made stain glass window pictures, which came out very well indeed. Using gold card and cutting out holes and sticky coloured see-through coloured sheets on the back.

Unicorn
Unicorn

We’ve done some reading. Having had a break R’s reading has yet again improved a lot. She has also had a go at some typing and her spelling is getting better… the attempts at words are much closer now.

More algebra, we both enjoy that using MathsWatchVLE videos. Today we covered Factorisation of some fairly tricky equations.

A local author has asked R to critique some of her new poems, which with the promise of a small recompense R is very excited about doing!! We had a look through, and commented on the first five poems today.

R also had a go at some 11+ Non verbal reasoning quizzes on Education Quizzes which is a great site with lots of different subjects and levels. Worth e-mailing them as they offer free access for teachers and also Home educators. You have to sign up for each subject separately, but well worth it.

I’ve been busy as ever with the local library … which looks like it may well end up closed by the end of March 2016, along with others in the city. We have now written to the Secretary of State asking for an inquiry, especially as all 5 libraries and the mobile library come out in the most deprived quartile of the poverty index. R challenged one of the Cllrs at the Alice in Wonderland event we went to at our local library. He actually blushed when she asked why certain options hadn’t been properly looked at!!

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The Reading Discussion

A lazy start, with R having a lovely long bath… a lovely thing to do when it is dark and pouring with rain outside on a Monday morning!

Today we watched some excellent Mathswatchvle videos on probability. There are some sample videos on YouTube. Otherwise you have to subscribe.

I find MathsWatchvle is a really excellent way of learning maths, and R seems to find that too. The clips aren’t too long and you can pause and have a go at questions as you go along, with full explanations after you’ve tried it.

We then had a Mario Kart game or two and lunch,  before a really good reading session.

We are now reading Wolf Princess, which so far seems pretty good. I read a chapter then R reads a page. Her reading is coming on so well, she still only wants to do a small amount and has an amazing way of arguing out of doing too much… I think we have covered human rights and the right to our own decisions rather too well sometimes!!

We usually reach some sort of compromise, else my throat really does give up if I read for so long! She has a total handle on the idea that she might be dyslexic though and I do genuinely think she tires very quickly if reading too much.

Instead of her reading some more of a chapter… which is not an easy book…. (though she does cope very well with it when she does read it) she agreed that she would look at the common word flash cards we haven’t used for ages. A year ago she would have got a fair number right but certainly not all. She breezed through them, which I think pleasantly surprised her…. I don’t think she always believes me when I say how well she is doing, and occasionally it is good to have it actually physically confirmed for her.

The girls both set up the train track yesterday and had a really lovely play together (which is happening slightly less now L especially is getting so grown up), R carried on with the game by herself today too. She talked about how her and L play less than they used to which she misses, but then it is harder now with L at school, and with them both changing as they get that much older. I am happy that they still do manage imagination play together at 12 and 10. I think it is getting less common in kids that age…. which is such a shame.

Poor L came in soaked after school, so a nice warm shower for her… ended up with two girls sat on the sofa watching ‘Friends’ and having their hair brushed through. Love family sofa time.

 

 

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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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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.

 

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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. 🙂

 

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Gentle days

We are enjoying having some gentle time at home more often recently. R and I have been making the most of sitting in the garden reading together, having water fights, doing art together and chatting. We’ve also carried on with more algebra related maths. It is a chilled out time and the days fly by. R has also been challenging herself to improve and gradually be able to do full chin-ups… she still can’t quite manage it yet, but she has improved with trying every day.

We had a student round this week. I met her at the library, she is here for a year from Taiwan to do a Masters degree and wanted to meet some non-students…. normal British people (I can’t help with the normal… but we are outside University life.) She came round for the afternoon and we chatted lots about all sorts of things, differences and similarities in culture, travel, families, education etc. R came and chatted with us for quite a while too. K has offered to cook some Taiwanese food for us another day, so we’ve got to decide on some English food to introduce her to as well.

Woodcraft was a walk around the old city walls, which the girls really enjoyed.

R had drama, which has one more rehearsal before the show next week and a play with friends here, they built another den in the front room.

L had a trip to Paulton’s Park with the school. She loved being able to go with her friends and not have to be with an adult.

Today has been a Granny and Grandpa day for R, which involved an hour of badminton and then a catch up with some Great Aunts.

I had some time to catch up on a few things and also do some painting in the garden which was lovely to lose myself in.

A twelfth birthday tea after school this evening with our “baby” group… we’ve met up pretty much every week since our oldest kids were babies and they’re all turning 12! Amazing. All so grown up and so lovely. 🙂

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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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Hot Wednesday

R went to drama this morning and carried on with rehearsals for ‘Where the Wild Things Are’, sounds like costumes are going to consist of dressing up in a mishmash of bright clothing…. the sort of costume that even I can cope with sourcing!!! (I wish I was the type of clever mum who quickly throws together some amazing creation… alas I am not!)

It was 25 degrees by 6am this morning, so apart from R going to drama, we stayed at home, with friends round to play in the afternoon. R and W and L got the water pistols out and J and I sat in the shade, though when it got really hot in the afternoon it was cooler in the house…  the advantage of a Victorian house. Sometimes I do wish it was lighter in the house, but it is perfect on hot summer days 🙂 we all moved into the house later in the afternoon and the kids played playmobil, we also got out the chemistry molecule set that J had brought round and had a go at building a few molecules, J and I also looked through some chemistry books, we regularly swap ideas of things to try. He has recently done some electrolysis experiments with W and L which have worked well… and would be worth a go at.

L came home very hot from school, though she said ICT and English had both been lovely and cool. Thankfully she didn’t have PE today. We got the bucket of water out to sit with feet in, which helped. S went out for a run! Bonkers!

We popped round to friends in the evening to deliver belated birthday presents, some of S’s photos on Canvas which our friend requested. Just took a while to sort. We bought some smaller ones for us too, which arrived today… one of London, one of the Golden Palace in Japan

Kinkaku-ji
Kinkaku-ji

 

and a Mount Fuji pic S took last year while we were on holiday in Japan and a Grand Canyon pic taken as we flew home from Los Angeles a few years ago. Now just to decide where to put them!!

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A whole week?

How does that happen? A whole week has gone by. I’m not very good at posting everyday, as if we have been out or done much then I am often wiped out for the evening with a brain that isn’t functioning well. The joys of M.E. 🙁

The week has whizzed by. R had a trip to Legoland with home ed friends, they had a fantastic time. Rose was the guide as her friends hadn’t been before. They also had a trip to Runnymede (the riverside site of the sealing of the Magna Carta) which was yet another addition to our Magna Carta knowledge! See more here: Magna Carta

Father’s day was a lovely relaxed affair, with just the four of us, Ticket to Ride Europe board game, the film Skyfall, and a barbeque.

We caught up with Home ed friends we hadn’t seen for a while.

I’ve managed some painting which I’ve really enjoyed and been pleased with.

painting
acrylics

Pizza making at Woodcraft.

Lots of Algebra, we’re now on around level 6 stuff on MathsWatchVLE as R wants to stick with algebra and keep working her way up before we start a different topic.

We’re reading another Michelle Paver book, The Outsiders, this time set in Ancient Greece, so some good conversations about that, and a book on ancient Greece out from the library.

I’ve read my first Bernard Cornwell book, Sword Song set in England in 885AD, which I enjoyed. Not a period I know much about, so I’ve learnt a lot and have chatted with L and R about it. L knows more about King Alfred than I do, so we’ve chatted about that and what I read in the book too.

Drama, they are starting rehearsing ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ which R is enjoying.

Auntie M came and had R for a day, they went fabric shopping and laid out the pieces for a shirt that Auntie M is going to make. R helped with the design.

I went to see ‘Curious incident of the Dog in the Night Time’ at the theatre which was fantastic. I had considered taking the girls, but wasn’t sure. In fact I think they probably would have enjoyed it. Maybe I will try reading the book with them first and go another time if it comes again.

Lots of other things went on, it has felt like a productive week. R and I also had a sort through resources and cleared some out and got on top of the house a bit…. One thing that is hard about home ed is keeping the house tidy and clean… or even approaching tidy! It is a constant flow of things moving around the house as games are played, craft is made, resources are used, with things left out to go back to… but I’d rather that than a tidy house with nothing going on!!

That’s a quick round up of this week!

It has been a good one. Hope yours has too.

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