Planning — Special Days

April 21st — Earth Day — Junk mod­el­ling, make a pledge, planting

April 28th — Beltane? or ANZAC day — tie in to WW1, bake biscuits

May 5th — Children’s Day — Origami, games, make kites.

May 12th — Wesak (Bud­dism) — find stuff from Guides.  Yoga.  Stories.

May 19th — Share a Story — Char­lie and the Choc Fac­tory — design and make sweets, Oompa Lumpa pup­pet?  Sort­ing nuts…?


May 26th — Half term


June 2nd — Heart Rhythm Week — model of heart, look at work­ings, test pulse resting/activity.

June 9th — World Ocean’s Day — beach clean up?  Rock pool­ing, crafts.

June 16th — Inter­na­tional Day of the African Child

June 23rd — National Insect Week

June 30th — Canada Day?  July 4th?

July 7th — Water Week

July 14th — St Swithen’s

July 21st — Archaeology.

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One of the essentials of childhood…

…don­key rides :)  Oh how I loved rid­ing don­keys.  Horses meh, they have a ten­dency to bite me, but don­keys I love.

20140417_36 20140417_41 He looked absolutely pet­ri­fied when they first moved.

Staunton was heav­ing and we largely kept to the shade and qui­eter parts but we did get to see baby lambs.

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And a fan­tas­tic pea­cock display.

20140417_34A lovely day catch­ing up with friends.

20140417_33Show me the way to go home,

I’m tired and I want to go to bed,

I had a lit­tle drink about an hour ago

and it’s gone right to my head, hey!





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In praise of Jack

Over the last year or so I am aware that I spend a lot more time talk­ing about Sam than Jack.  Mainly because this is a record of our home edu­cat­ing jour­ney and for Jack that jour­ney has come to an end, but also as they get older I am more try­ing to be more mind­ful of their privacy.

But feel the urge to be embar­rass­ing mum.  My old­est boy turned 12 today, next year a teenager.  He is grow­ing up so quickly and already there seems lit­tle ‘child’ left and get a real sense of the man he may become.  His Eng­lish teacher is already talk­ing about the pos­si­bil­ity of him mak­ing a liv­ing from writing :).

I haven’t always done the best I could as a mother and have def­i­nitely made mis­takes but more by luck than judge­ment he’s turn­ing out rather well and he’s given me sev­eral rea­sons this hol­i­day to realise how pleased and proud of him I am.

Of course there is a sense of pride in what he achieves.  Recent parent’s evening all we heard was praise but don’t think we were the eas­i­est of par­ents.  Not inter­ested in arbi­trary lev­els or how he com­pares to oth­ers.  But I hope and believe we have a bright, intel­li­gent boy who is will­ing to have a go and try hard at things which aren’t his nat­ural skills (and can cope with a bit of rib­bing about them not being his skills ;) ).

Last week was Gang Show and 6 three hour shows over 4 days.  He per­formed well, stood up on stage in front of 100’s of peo­ple day after day with a self con­fi­dence way beyond mine.  But it was way more than that.  It was putting life on hold for 7 days of hard work and very late nights.  Months of rehearsals, los­ing an evening and a day every week, even show­ing up the weeks he had com­pletely lost his voice, with lots of being moaned at and hav­ing things chopped and changed.  Mid week he was given an award for, in his words, “some­thing along the lines of ‘not being any­thing spe­cial but being the back­bone of Gang­Show’ “.  Gave us a bit of a laugh but did please me to see his effort, atti­tude,  and  gen­eral good natured­ness acknowledged.

He’s got more life skills and self con­fi­dence than many way beyond him in years.  I won’t say I don’t worry about him (he’s my son it’s my job) but he’s doing me proud.  I can ask him to rus­tle up a meal if I’m busy, leave him home and not worry, let him go out with a be home at such and such, only thing stop­ping him head­ing into town on the bus is wait­ing for friends to do it with.  He’s proved him­self able to deal with prob­lems with com­mon sense.

As well as all that he is also devel­op­ing an aware­ness of oth­ers that I take for granted.  Out in town on Mon­day I was com­ple­mented on the boys man­ners and told I was bring­ing them up well on 3 sep­a­rate occa­sions, I laughed it off but actu­ally I have a nearly teenager who offers his seat on the bus (believe me this is quite a rare being), who auto­mat­i­cally picks up the shop­ping in the super­mar­ket to help, who is con­cerned over fam­ily bud­gets, who instinc­tively say please and thank you (to me as well as strangers), none of them mas­sive things and all things I take for granted but obvi­ously there are enough about who don’t to make peo­ple com­ment that mine do.

He seems to make friends eas­ily but also ene­mies as he seems to have inher­ited the fam­ily trait of not suf­fer­ing fools gladly which is not so good. But I think he’s proved a gen­er­ous, loyal friend to those that mat­ter to him on a few occa­sions this year and I think those that mat­ter to him are the sort that are worth it :)  He really does have a nice bunch of friends.

I am happy and proud that my son is turn­ing out to be smart, reli­able, a doer (school coun­cil, Scout com­pe­ti­tions — happy to sign him­self up for any­thing) and may I add an incred­i­bly sharp wit who is very good com­pany.  He is also devel­op­ing a mature sense of him­self and an abil­ity to see the funny side and laugh off or along with teas­ing.  I have to say not only do I love my son but I gen­uinely like him too.

There you go gush­ing over, I’ll have to keep close eye open for the next pot hole on the par­ent­ing road, must be due a trip down one very soon after that smugfest.

I will also add in bal­ance that he is a slob and the state of his room dri­ves me to distraction!!!

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One of those times when the day was saved by Pete’s amaz­ing abil­ity to absorb and recall facts and my slightly com­pul­sive ten­dency to hoard craft supplies.

The day began with a brain­storm­ing of what we could come up with of inter­est to do with Bed­ford­shire.  Hav­ing dis­counted planes as we had focused on them recently, I was at the stage of plan­ning how we could build a model air­ship when Pete came out with Luton FC are called the Hatters!

A quick Google search dis­cov­ered that accord­ing to Wikipedia “The hat mak­ing indus­try began in the 17th cen­tury and became syn­ony­mous with the town. By the 18th cen­tury the indus­try dom­i­nated the town. Hats are still pro­duced in the town but on a much smaller scale”.  Since this was the last Geog­ra­phy group of term what else could we do but Easter bon­nets :)


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What’s in a name…

One fre­quent con­ver­sa­tion we have tends to go a bit like this…

No school today?’

I don’t go to school’

Quizzi­cal look at me.

I teach him myself!’

Spec­tac­u­lar mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of our day to day lives but is an answer most peo­ple can understand.

The other day I was think­ing a bit about the label ‘home edu­ca­tion’.  Labels make me laugh (or some­times cringe) they never ade­quately seem to cover our lives.

In this instance the thing that amused me was is I was think­ing how lit­tle of our edu­ca­tion actu­ally hap­pens at home.

Last Mon­day we cov­ered PE and PSHE at the local soft play.  Eco­nom­ics and maths in the super­mar­ket (shop­ping for Guides always involves lots of mul­ti­pli­ca­tion and price comparisons).

Tues­day we headed to Lon­don for a talk on Super­hero Sci­ence at the Royal Insti­tu­tion and to explore their Michael Fara­day museum.

20140402_39 20140402_40 20140402_43 So that was sci­ence!  Every trip to Lon­don also has some ele­ment of His­tory — we walked up past Buck­ing­ham Palace and through Green Park and there­fore dis­cus­sions over the old park gates and the his­tory of the royal parks, Cul­ture — the flag over the Palace, we went past the Ritz which led to dis­cus­sions on after­noon tea, Nature — pigeons are fas­ci­nat­ing! and map read­ing.  Besides the prac­ti­cal aspect of using the map in town, a por­tion of the train jour­ney was spent explor­ing the A-Z and locat­ing ran­dom places.

20140402_38Train jour­neys cov­ered, from mem­ory, endan­gered ani­mals, def­i­n­i­tions of what makes a coun­try a coun­try, cre­ativ­ity (Minecraft), logic and strat­egy (chess), map read­ing, maths (time).

Thurs­day; local his­tory in a local museum, sci­ence and nature look­ing at sea crea­tures, in tanks and through the micro­scope, else­where in the museum, his­tory in the the­atre watch­ing a play about WW1 fol­low­ing with lots of dis­cus­sion over lunch.  Fol­low­ing lunch more economics/maths and dis­cus­sions about dif­fer­ent hand­i­crafts with a trip to hobbycraft.

This Mon­day we went to Titch­field Abbey and cov­ered His­tory, both the his­tory of the Abbey with a detour into Tudors and reli­gion with the dis­so­lu­tion and con­sol­i­dat­ing WW1 with reen­act­ing bat­tles.  There was PE, foot­ball and lots of run­ning about.  We also vis­ited the gar­den cen­tre for a bit of sci­ence and nature, com­par­ing dif­fer­ent plants and dis­cussing how they grow.

152 153 154 155

Even our most sit down round the table days (Wednes­days) are not nec­es­sar­ily what peo­ple imag­ine when they hear ‘home edu­ca­tion’ we are home but the rest of the peo­ple around the table aren’t as we are joined by others.

When the boys were younger we had a lovely t-shirt that I hope is still doing the rounds through the local group some­where — it said ‘The world’s my play­ground, I’m home educated’.

I’d take it fur­ther than that, for us and so many home edu­ca­tors I know ‘the world is our class­room’.  There are some things school does bet­ter, some things I can’t repli­cate in terms of resources and expe­ri­ences but there is so much that I can pro­vide with a bit of plan­ning and research. There will be a time when our edu­ca­tion will become more home based as exams and teach­ing to tests rears it’s head, a case of needs must.  But until then we will con­tinue to make as much use as we can of the world and peo­ple around us — edu­ca­tion with­out bound­aries :)

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Wednes­day really didn’t go as expected.  That isn’t really a bad thing. Although in real­ity we did end up being quite close to the plan despite my will­ing­ness to aban­don it com­pletely, rather thanks to the stub­born­ness of a 6 year old girl.  But when they are keen roll with it :)

Ill­ness and work com­mit­ments depleted num­bers so I can­celled Span­ish.  When friend showed up late I ran out to meet her, while the kids were still in the car to give her the option to head to Pauls­grove instead.  Kids had other ideas…so in they came to play :)

While they were eat­ing lunch I picked up some craft stuff for them to do with the view that we’d save the ‘les­son’ for a week until the oth­ers were back.  No my orig­i­nal plans sounded more fun appar­ently!  Well had to go with it.

After the short­age of ideas last week for Hert­ford­shire there was so much we could do for Buck­ing­hamshire.  In the end know­ing I had this in the cup­board we set­tled on Bletch­ley Park and a day of codes and ciphers.


We made an Enigma machine and coded their names.

Sem­a­phore could have gone on all after­noon!  This is Sam spelling SAM :)

124 125 126

Jack had cre­ated a pic­ture code for them.


And we fin­ished with some key­word ciphers.  Sam decoded a nice mes­sage invit­ing him to a party and send one say­ing …‘my bum stinks’… sigh! Such a boy!



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Bugs, Books, Busyness and Birthdays

Unfor­tu­nately not talk­ing the fun sort of bugs that seem to be pop­ping up on my Face­book feed, talk­ing colds and coughs :(

Despite them been a busy weekend.

Thurs­day, we met his best friend in the park for an hour or so, before we retreated for hot drinks (was nippy!).

Then I took the boys to a work­shop on cam­era obscuras at Cum­ber­land House, Portsmouth.  Despite hav­ing some doubts about leav­ing the house (think feel­ing poorly) Sam really enjoyed it and is still talk­ing about it four days later so had to be good.

On the way home we picked up a box set of Hor­ri­ble Sci­ence books.  He has been read­ing the His­tory and Geog­ra­phy ver­sions for years but has always said the Sci­ence was too nasty.  In an attempt to add some oomph into our sci­ence learn­ing I per­suaded him to give them a go and he took about 8 out of the library, they were a hit as expected so we bought the box of 20.

Fri­day was sick day!  Jack was off school and Sam and I were both decid­edly under par too.  We all curled up and read in my bed until lunch time when we got up and spent the after­noon in front of Percy Jackson.

Sat­ur­day was peace­ful, Jack was away stay­ing at a friend’s so it was a morn­ing for run­ning errands, a sport and sewing after­noon and lots of read­ing with Sam in the evening.

Sun­day, passed in bit of a blur. Work, house­hold chores, bit of work with Sam to allow for a busy week filled the day. Jack passed through late morn­ing to change and col­lect food before head­ing out again for Gang Show rehearsal.

Mon­day was a friend of Sam’s birth­day so it was an early start to get maths and Eng­lish done before head­ing out for some jobs for Guides and to meet friends at a local soft play.  Lovely morn­ing.  After­noon went in var­i­ous attempts at the Guide activ­ity for that night …luck­ily it was all alright on the night ;)

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Hertfordshire and film making

Geog­ra­phy group has reached as far as Hertfordshire.

My research led me to dis­cover that Hert­ford­shire is incred­i­bly dull!  Briefly toyed with some sort of New Town/Garden City design project pos­si­bly draw­ing on Minecraft but decided my group are more Lego minded.  So decided that we would use the fact that the county was home to the Elstree (Star Wars/Eastenders) and Leaves­den (Harry Pot­ter) stu­dios to do a bit of film making.

My web­cam wouldn’t install prop­erly so these are very slip­shod, cob­bled together efforts I’m afraid (from the tech­ni­cal aspect obvi­ously the kids were bril­liant :) )

A lot of Tues­day dis­ap­peared in try­ing to get soft­ware and web­cam oper­a­tional, so here is Sam’s test.

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St Patrick’s Day and Chemical Reactions

Not really con­nected but we had two ‘spe­cial days’ to look at this Monday.

St Patrick’s Day shaped our food choices for the day.

We made barm brack

20140318_21and sup­per was Beef in Guin­ness with soda bread and pink lemonade.

We are also ‘cel­e­brat­ing’ National Sci­ence Week in our usual way — mak­ing a mess ;)

Men­tos in fizzy drinks

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Elephant’s tooth­paste

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Vol­cano (and mak­ing a lovely sludgy mess afterwards)

20140318_14 20140318_19

And slime.


We then had Jack’s first senior school par­ents evening.  Lot of waf­fle about lev­els, I find it hard to care about them, actu­ally impos­si­ble!  But gen­eral gist is he is doing well and behav­ing so that is okay.  And his Eng­lish teacher loves him :)

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The Mist

We woke up yes­ter­day to the sound of foghorns.  Rush­ing through Maths and Eng­lish we headed out for an eerie walk along the seafront.  Vis­i­bil­ity was very low and the Isle of Wight and Southamp­ton and the New For­est were com­pletely invisible.

Gosport-20140314-01169We did some beach comb­ing (I have a bag full of rope)

Gosport-20140314-01173He man­aged to drag this for a fair dis­tance before I man­aged to per­suade him to leave it!

Down to the park


Isle of Wight-20140314-01184 Gosport-20140314-01179 Gosport-20140314-01180 IMG-20140314-01182 IMG-20140314-01183 Gosport-20140314-01185

One of the things I love about chil­dren is how the sim­plest things spark curios­ity and learn­ing.  We man­aged to cover coastal defences and homo­phones while hang­ing about in the park.

IMG-20140314-01181Then through the vil­lage and home via sec­ond park.


Being Yer­tle the Tur­tle King of all he can see!

Gosport-20140314-01189 Cov­er­ing fric­tion and rust — the round­about isn’t turn­ing :( Gosport-20140314-01192Spent the rest of the day watch­ing a doc­u­men­tary about the First World War and read­ing Percy Jack­son and play­ing with bubbles.

Feel a bit like I am look­ing through the mist at life at the moment — in Percy Jack­son the mist obscures mortal’s views so they inter­pret mon­sters and events dif­fer­ently, they try to make sense and inter­pret things to fit with their under­stand­ing of the world.

Oh and here are our pot­tery pieces from last week now they are fired.

Gosport-20140314-01193My moth­ers day present from Sam — the beach at sun­set.  And my present to myself, out­side we have the sky with birds, inside the sun. Need a stead­ier hand!

Gosport-20140314-01195 Gosport-20140314-01194


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