Thursday, 28 February 2013

Full of Beans

While LG was at playgroup this morning we looked at our beans and seeds again.  We compared the beans and seeds that had soaked overnight with the dried ones left from the packet:

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The beans had swollen a lot but the seeds hadn’t changed.  We talked about why this was and then cut open a few of the beans and seeds to look inside.  It was really easy to see the different parts of the bean.  The boys were particularly fascinated by the seed coat and how the inside of the bean was actually quite a different colour.  This is the best diagram I have found online so far:


And these are our beans:


I found this website to be particularly helpful with lots of worksheets, resources and ideas which we’ll be using soon.

We didn’t have a lot of time as we had to scoot off to collect LG from playgroup and then off to the Hatton Gallery again for the Home Ed art session they run there.  It was another great one.  This time we looked at the work of Ed Ruscha and an exhibition they have on loan from the Tate.  We looked particularly at his picture “Pay Nothing Until April” and then created our own collages:

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I must be honest modern art like this doesn’t really float my boat but the kids really seem to get so much from it.  I wondered if it was because the style seems so much more accessible.  Whatever the reason they were disappointed at first that the Mary Webb pictures had gone and had remembered far more than me about her work!  As you can see they got very involved in their artwork and continued to work on it after we left.  I used some of the bargain folders I bought in Asda and created an art folder for each of them so that we have somewhere to store and display their work – otherwise it just seems to so easily get lost.  I’ve also printed out some information on some of the artists we’ve looked at.  They were so inspired by remembering the Mary Webb pictures they did some more of those too :)

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

After a Break

To paraphrase Ross from Friends (showing my age) we’ve been on a break.

Meltdowns had reached such spectacular proportions that I just stopped.  Well we didn’t stop doing things altogether but we did stop worksheets, trips out and the like.  I just couldn’t face the objections.  I was poorly and we had a few nights where LG came into our bed at night to wretch and cough.  So tired too.  Not a good combo!

Over half term all three children took part in a crash course in swimming at our local pool.  It was enjoyed a great deal and all three of them got a lot out of it.  It was a welcome break from our normal activities and has really encouraged them all.

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Then we had a few days with only half a houseful.  LG went to stay with my mum on Friday morning, coming back on Saturday at teatime (because she missed me.)  Then the boys disappeared on Sunday for two whole days.  It was very quiet here!

So today was our first day of normality and getting back into our studying.  Our topic is (loosely) “Plants” (it being Spring and all).  We started this morning by looking at a variety of seeds and beans (being a vegetarian came in handy!).  We talked about the difference between living things and non-living things and what things we need in order to live.  LB1 had already covered a lot of this stuff as he is that little bit older so he was packed off to work on the laptop to find info in the biggest seeds and the smallest seeds and type up a factsheet.  He did a good job!  I haven’t quite worked out how to paste it in here yet but I will find out for tomorrow.  While he was busy LB2 and LG drew pictures of plants and LB2 labelled the parts of the plants.

We had a look at poppy seeds under the microscope:


Quite fascinating given how teeny tiny they are.

And then soaked some of our seeds and beans in water over night before we pop them into our jam jar in the morning.

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We had a busy afternoon.  First to Asda to buy cress seeds and while there we happened upon some nice cheap display books which looked as though they would do a nice job of collecting all the random pieces of paper we have lying around.  I think I’ll be back for more!  Then to Enjoy-a-ball.  It was v quiet today so for the first time LG got the chance to join in (normally they have to be 5 to take part).  She LOVED it and they had such fun.  Then ballet and we rounded the day off with a trip to the softplay to meet up with some friends from school.  Phew!  By 6pm I had three very tired children.

Another busy day tomorrow :)

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Deep Breaths

Oh our Monday meltdowns led to a quite spectacular Tuesday meltdown.  Only this time it was me melting down…

I have been really struggling with LB1’s manner.  He is so very grumpy a great deal of the time and my patience had been worn very, very thin.  To cut a long story short I ended up being called into work and Daddy showed me this when I got home:

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The “sort of” comment amused me a great deal.  That is so very like him.  Though I am not expecting perfect behaviour.  Just a little self restraint so he’s pausing to think before expressing every emotion he has.  I also need him to cheer up a bit as he can be so very negative.  He does seem to have got the message so here’s hoping.

I also had another worry about doing enough and thought perhaps a schedule would help LB1 as he likes things to be ordered and structured.  I did attempt a schedule today but it all dissolved as we became engrossed in our maths and wanted to finish our work.  But at least that has taught me another idea – that perhaps it’s ok to work on one subject for a couple of hours at a time.  I had been worried about concentration levels but actually we seem to work better this way.  So I’m going to have another look at our free time and schedule subjects for longer periods once or twice a week.

I’ve also been thinking of more ways I can involve LG.  She is 4 and not actually supposed to be at school yet but she does not like feeling left out.  So I have started by printing her a few workbooks from sparklebox so she can do numbers when letters when we are working too.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Adventure Friday

We’ve worked really hard this week and the boys in particular seem to be coming round to the idea that if we get our work done we can be out and about enjoying ourselves too.  This week has been great with swimming, Enjoy-a-ball and our art session at the Hatton.

So we decided to have an adventure today.  Our first stop was the new chinese supermarket in town.  But sadly it didn’t open until 11am and we were forced to press our noses against the window watching them prepare delicious looking desserts!  But onwards and upwards.

We then got back on the metro and headed to the South Tyneside Pre-school Learning Alliance shop.  A long name for a teeeeeeny little shop.  But what a treasure trove!  We bought all kinds: exercise books, stencils, beautiful jewels, scrapbooks, special handwriting pens for our best writing,  giant die (because you really neeeed one!) – oh so many things.  I can highly recommend it.

Then back on the metro and off to to the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens:

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We got home at 5pm and had pizza and hotdogs for tea.  Great day :D

Thursday, 7 February 2013

A New Perspective

We filled our morning with maths whilst LG was at playgroup as we were off to the art session for Home Ed children at the Hatton this afternoon.  It was excellent.

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There is an exhibition on at the Hatton at the moment called Journeys In Colour by Mary Webb.  She is an abstract artist which is not usually my thing, but Hazel, who runs the Home Ed group did an excellent job of explaining her work and made it very accessible.  The kids then had a chance to experiment with their own interpretation of Mary’s style and produced quite a few pictures.  LB1 in particular seemed quite buoyed by seeing a style of art that it seemed simple enough for him to emulate.  They were talking about it all afternoon!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Wifi art thou…

No internet.  How did anyone home educate before the internet?!  So not able to do all of the things we planned today.  Instead we read, did our maths workbooks, and made a list of things to ask Mr Google when he’s feeling better ;-)  Then Enjoy-a-ball and ballet.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013


Hurrah things went to plan today!  LG went off to playgroup with her friend and the boys and I went swimming.  No hiccups.  Parking spaces found. All costumes and towels present and correct. Yeh!  We had a good time.  The boys were very brave and went into the men’s changing room on their own (LB1 is 7 now and a bit big really).  We had a good swim and a small treat afterwards:

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And I feel better because along with Enjoy-a-ball tomorrow, that’s our exercise taken care of.

Then we came home for lunch and, because it has started snowing again (ugh), hot chocolate.  Yum.  The boys then watched David Attenborough’s Africa while I made tea and tidied up the lunch things.  LB1 is very much into wildlife so this was quite a treat.

Then we started on Chapter 3 of our snowman story which you will find below.  It is getting quite exciting!


Chapter 3: Who did it?

The footprints led them all the way to the shopping centre and then stopped.
“Which way to go now?” muttered J.

“There’s no snow inside the shopping centre.” said L “So no more footprints.”

“Why don’t we split up and see who we can find?” replied E.

“Yeah, good idea.” said S “Mummy, you take L and E and look round by the post office. J, you come with me and look in Sainsburys’ and the cafe.”

J turned and marched into the shopping centre “Why are we wasting time?” he called “Let’s go!”

J and S searched the shopping centre, looking in each shop for a group of teenagers but there were none to be found.

“Let’s look outside,” J said eventually “and then go to the post office to find Mummy, L and E.”

“Good idea” said S. “I don’t think we’re going to find them.”

Just then, a group of about five teenagers pushed rudely past J and S. Before J had a chance to get cross, S grabbed his arm.

“It’s them!” he hissed “Look at the floor.” J glanced down and saw a perfect set of wet, muddy footprints leading to the group of teenagers as they strode away.

“They match!” J exclaimed with a muffled cry. The boys watched. The teenagers were talking loudly.

“Ha, ha, that stupid snowman looks better now!” said the largest boy “I’d like to see the look on that kid’s face when he comes back looking for his snowman.”

J and S looked at each other. They started to smile as a plan formed in their brains.

“Keep your head down.” said J “Walk past as quickly as you can and let’s get outside. I’ve got an idea.”

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” asked S.

“Snowballs?” said J.

“Oh yes.” said S. And both boys made their way unobtrusively outside.

Back in the post office, Mummy, L and E were getting worried.

“I hope the boys are alright” said L.

“ Yes” said Mummy “Let’s go outside and see if we can find them.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Getting in the Swing of Things

Well last night I sat and thought about planning what we were going to do this week.  Until now I haven’t planned anything particularly – mostly because I didn’t really know where to start.  But it’s February now and I feel we should be More Organised.  So I sat down and made a plan:

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Ok it looks very disorganised it’s really just an idea of things I’d like to cover this week.  No idea yet how long it will all take but that’s because I don’t know how involved we’ll get in everything.  But it’s a Place To Start.

My first idea was to link things around the book we’re reading at the moment, Framed. (You may remember I mentioned it here.) The boys are really enjoying it and have quite surprised me by how much they have remembered and understood.  It’s aimed at children a little older than them I think (they are 7 and almost 6).  I found that the National Gallery have an area of their website devoted to the book with links to all of the pictures that the people see.  This was very exciting as it made looking them up so much easier.  I copied and printed out the pictures we have read about so far and have stuck them on our notice board:

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This has given us quite a lot to talk about in itself and is really bringing the book to life.  I have various activities planned around the book.  LB2 has just finished a picture of Manod, the village in the story.  It is described a lot in the book so it has been useful to think about the different things we might see in Manod:

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Next I want to find out where Manod is (Geography - it’s a real place – I checked!), see how we can find out (ICT), what it actually looks like (Google Earth), perhaps LB1 could learn how to copy and insert pictures from the internet and produce a factsheet. Also where Gumbi is (in the book the children are writing to children at a school in Gumbi). Then perhaps we could think about writing our own letters to Gumbi about where we live.

I also want to make an extended time line for the top of the board (History - that’s my job for tonight) so that we can see when the paintings in the book were created and help LB2 in particular understand the timescales involved.

Ideally I’d like a visit to the National Gallery too but I’m not sure if I can pull that one off!

LB1 has made a list of words describing how people speak (other than “he said”) by looking through books and listening to the story and I’ve made him a worksheet to write them on.  This is to help us finish our snowman story:

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We’re going to write it out neatly on a bigger sheet later in the week.  And this time we’ll use speech marks and punctuation!  He spent a long time this morning telling me how he knew “All that” but then didn’t use any of it…

Later, LB1 and I measured the temperature of hot water this afternoon as a quick experiment to decide just how hot “hot” water actually was. We got hot water out of the tap and it started off at 38 degrees and we decided that “hand hot” must be around 40 degrees.

Our other “topic” is winter. So for other stuff this week I thought that as we are writing our snowman story we could link it in with some other things we’ve been learning about recently such as the solar system to find out why it is cold in winter (some Maths in there too as it will involve working out areas). Also where are the coldest places, where are the hottest places and again how we can find out (which I’m hoping will link into Encyclopaedias, indexes, contents and all that stuff as well as ICT and some nice Maths to work out the differences!). We can also find and learn the French words for the seasons and other wintery things (will I run out of wall space? Yes probably!).

Finally it’s Chinese New Year on Sunday. There are lots of nice things to do around that topic and a parade in town on Sunday. Swimming tomorrow, Enjoy-a-ball and ballet on Wednesday and an art session at the Hatton on Thursday. We’re going to be busy this week :)

PS:  There is still moaning and complaining from LB1 but as he seems hugely against going back to school again he is coming round. After doing almost nothing today (again) I got a bit cross and explained to him our plans for the week.  It got to Friday and I told him quite firmly that if all our work was done Friday would be spent doing something nice for example visiting the Winter Gardens or the Center for Life.  And if we hadn’t done our work it would be spent at the kitchen table.  He suddenly became very industrious!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Daddy’s Birthday

Ok so I probably a bit optimistic thinking that we’d get any work done today.  I did ask the boys to do some maths while I was cooking but that only caused arguments with LB1.  He is still very resistant to doing anything and is sneaking around trying everything he can think of to avoid doing any work.  I’m not sure yet if this is “Unschooling” as everyone describes it.  Or just bone idleness!

Anyway we had a lovely day.  Daddy arrived home at lunchtime and we trooped off to the softplay.  Then had homemade pizza for tea and ice cream sundaes.  Yum!

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I am studying all weekend again :)