Coding Challenges and Cramming

We’re going away for the rest of the week on a history focussed trip so the week so far has been mainly cramming in a week’s worth of Maths and English into 2 days and rewatching a documentary about 1066.
Lots of time was spent on weather related discussion thanks to weird coloured skies and downed planes which left Pete stuck in Ireland. Discovered that Sam seems very knowledgeable about Armageddon theories.
We had the last of the block of Lego robotics sessions today.  Also as it was spreadsheet day some time was spent making a spreadsheet of Sam’s Beano annual collection so we can keep track of the gaps.
Definitely coming down with a cold which does not bode well for the next few days so another short post.

Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist starts off with a young boy called Oliver Twist being stuck in a workhouse when his mother died giving birth to him. One day he asks for more food at dinner and he gets locked in a room for a couple of days, he is then sold to a coffin maker. The coffin makers son insults his mother so he beats him up and after being locked away he runs away and flees to London. He meets a group of criminals but does not know they are criminals until he sees them steal a handkerchief. After he sees them steal a handkerchief he attempts to flee the seen but the man who was robbed sees him running and think he stole the handkerchief. He is chased, caught and taken to the police station. He is released and taken to a rich mans house after he is taken ill, he is looked after there and is happy. He goes to run an errend in London and is kidnapped by the robbers he fled. He is kept there and starts to fit in as he sees nobody else. He is involved in the robbery of a house but is shot when he is found by the house owners. he is left in a ditch by the two other robbers who were with him. He is taken in by the family he had to rob and is happy again. He meets the old family he was with and they decide to figure out his origins. They gain information from one of the criminals but she is killed when she is found out. The families find out more about Oliver when one of the criminals confesses, some of the criminals are chased and one dies after accidently hanging himself attempting to escape from police. the families find out Olivers origins and then reveal it with some criminals present and witnesses.

I really liked this book as it had an amazing storyline but it was a bit confusing at times.

A Quicky

It’s been a long old week for many reasons. Blogging mojo has gone and camera has stayed off mostly but so I don’t totally lose what we’ve done from my memory here’s a quick recap.

Maths and English passed off smoothly.
We finished watching Alfred and the AngloSaxons.
Science was looking at single celled organisms – microscope paying it’s way.
Two history pockets were finished in our look at Colonial America. 
We’ve ploughed through Oliver Twist and just about to settle down with the last few chapters.
Out of the house we have had Lego robotics session, our group on mycology and a trip to the pottery cafe in the village with other members of the HE group.

Diffusion and Independence

Thursday and Friday were perfect home ed days, the ones where it all feels smooth, productive and almost effortless. We’ve been struggling to get that stride going this year but appear to be getting over the ‘back to school’ bugs at last and settling in to routines.
When I’d worked out our planner for the week I had forgotten about the group I run for younger home ed kids on the Friday, which meant getting it all done was always a stretch. 
Thurs morning went very efficiently though and the afternoon was given over to practical science and chatting to Grandad.
We made slides from cheek scrapings and onion cells.  Then set up some diffusion experiments. Gummy bears in different solutions and a bag of flour in an iodine solution. Done them all but they are good to repeat and the fact that the iodine worked really well last time and hasn’t this has given rise to discussion of why not and how some materials let things through and not others.
Then the ultimate diffusion activity – waterbeads. We spent the rest of the afternoon with me reading aloud while he played with them. They are now in the conservatory making Jack late for things as he finds it impossible not to stop and play with them as he passes.  Sam decided rather than finish the last bits of the week’s work off on Friday afternoon he would take himself off to the library to do some on Friday morning while I was at home ed group. He did a few bits in the library before popping to shops and then coming to check on me and taking himself off to finish off the rest over a smoothie in Costa. When you are home educating an 8 yo that you can’t even walk away from to put the washing out because that is all they take to lose concentration people with older kids tells you it gets to this point that you can set work and they do it and you don’t really believe them.

The examples for Friday’s home ed group.

On the Trail of Alfred the Great

I have had a fair few stresses around HE workshops of late that have been making me think time for a break. Today’s though was brilliant so has restored my faith somewhat. It had it’s herding cats moments as ever. Booking and arranging the workshop was so easy though. The education officer really, really seemed to know her stuff and passionate about it too.
I found it hugely interesting and learned lots too.
We started with a tour of Winchester Cathedral, looking at evidence of the earlier Saxon cathedral and influence it might have had and differences.
We then had a workshop tied in to King Alfred’s push to exband liteacy; where they painted an illuminated letter, made a brooch and translated runes.
A few of us stopped in at the museum on the way home too.
Lovely day with a nice balance of old friends and some lovely new people, the two best things about home ed.


Had a bit of an insight into how life could have been the last few days. Jack is off school with a bug. He’s not retire to bed ill, absence is more about not spreading germs far and wide. So we have been taking the opportunity to work through various science topics making revision flashcards and checking understanding and trying some exam questions. Plus playing online maths games.

So I have been splitting myself between the two in a way I don’t normally have to. A reminder about how much easier the education side is when only have one at home.

Another huge lack of photos post as life is very reading, discussion and documentary heavy at the moment. There have been things like weaving projects on the go but I miss photos as usually reading while he’s crafting.

I did get one photo of the last couple of days. Sam’s Python etch-a-sketch. Took Pete to find an error in the code that Sam and I spent most of Monday afternoon looking for. Other wise we have looked at comprehension exercise in English. Continue to read Oliver Twist. Lowest Common multiples and Pascal’s triangle in maths. New York state and global problems in Geography. Have finished of our In Search of the Dark Ages dvd.

He’s also had his 4th Lego Mindstorms session. A friend kindly took him so I could stay in with Jack. But I am told they did fun things with sensors.

I put Animal Farm on his Kindle last night and he’s loving it. Currently now working on building a Communist Russia on one of his computer games.

Soldiering On

I have had a headache that really would not shift this last week hence the lack of posts.
We’ve got through it okay though. The week was mainly saved by me accepting on Weds that making it to London on Fri for the New Scientist Live event was a non-starter and using the money saved from not buying tickets/train fare to buy a proper microscope. It’s a learner model and I wasn’t expecting much really but very pleasantly surprised and impressed with it. Sam is quite taken and his interest in it took pressure off me.
We did start off the week trying to get by with our pocket microscope and it was nowhere near good enough to see clearly but just good enough to spark enough interest to make me think splashing out a bit was worth it.
In other stuff we continue to work through Python book, watch In Search of the Dark Ages and read Oliver Twist.Not forgetting still on USA project. 

The difficulties he was having with maths last week passed and we were on to squares and indices (one of his interests) and factors. English we had some fun with different noun types.

Tues was Lego Minstorms course. I missed any photos of the robot but did get the kits playing after.
Weds was the first of our groups for senior school age children and turn out was very good.  They were making stencils with glue guns.

We’ve also had time to play board games, spend some time with Grandad and make it in to town for lunch and a potter about (starting to hatch birthday plans).

Oh and I can firmly say that Kidzania are now my worst place ever to deal with and have the most stupid (and frequently changing) policies known to humankind. Too much time this week has been spent musing over how I could run it better. Pity as it’s a fantastic space but I’ve well and truly burnt my bridges for organising trips there in future!

Butser Farm – Saxon Workshop

Yesterday’s home ed trip was only the second I’ve ever felt the need to email and complain about. I suspect age has something to do with that, getting stroppy with age.
It feels odd complaining when my son did enjoy the day but when you’ve paid a lot of money you are looking for a bit of substance and the workshop was not well delivered, factually inaccurate at times (shockingly!) and really didn’t suit quite a few of the children. I checked my document trail this morning to know that I had informed them about SEN. Glad that Sam enjoyed it, but for once it’s a case of hoping that he wasn’t listening to the educational stuff rather than hoping he was.
Having about 6/7 school groups there so at times the group were merging as some of the activities were really close together really didn’t help. Never again and don’t recommend it as a trip. As a place though, if you ring ahead to check no schools in, it’s lovely.  Spent a very pleasant hour and a half there at the end with Sam and a couple of his friends, feeding goats and looking around.

Learning Online and Lego

Monday saw Sam appear bright and early and, most surprisingly, dressed ready for his first online computer science lesson. All went well and he hung around chatting online for a while after.We didn’t really achieve as much as we should have done with the rest of the day and have paid the price for the rest of the week. I think the reason is he’s struggled far more with maths than I thought he would. Definitely need some revision of the basics.
We had a pleasant afternoon reading and weaving though.Tues was the second of our six week Lego Mindstorms course. The pace quickened a lot and session went much better than the week before. Afternoon was again a lot slower and less productive than ideal.

Going to skip over Weds as was trip day so a post in own right due. Today’s mental energy has gone on complaining about yesterday’s trip! We’ve plugged away though and done lots of table based work. Including having some fun with divisibility tests.

We did do some practical science but no photos to brighten up the post as was busy dropping balls 🙂

At which point he announces that he feels like he’s half way home from a trip to London having drank a gallon of coke. This was further clarified as ‘not immediately going to be sick but nor feeling too good’. Computer play and wrestling watching since then!

Getting to Grips

New challenges are coming thick and fast. On Monday he starts online tutorials so a good period of time on Thurs was given over to making sure we have everything installed and can working and logging in to a trial lesson (one to check we could log in!) He’s quite excited and looking forward to it so touch wood it might well be something we explore more of in future.

Thursday was mainly a quiet day at home. Lots of time spent reading aloud from Oliver Twist. The problem with a more textbook focussed, structured way of working is it’s not so interesting to blog about.

There was maths, I had a reminder that mistakes need to be very sensitively dealt with! Tough one! Moving on to English and I let him chose his own writing assignment based on the topic of ‘hunger’. He chose to write a report explaining what a Trash Cafe is and why he thinks they are a good idea. We’re yet to make it to our local one (run by a local home eder) but both taken with the idea. We’ll manage it one day. Science was planning an investigation and geography was some mapping work on Massachuessetts. Also started our first History Pocket looking at the Colonial America.

Friday was much more hands on. After maths and some spelling work we did the science investigation that he planned yesterday. It was looking at how temperature effected the amount of salt that could be dissolved in water but really the point was the process of investigation (importance of control variables, fair test etc).
Then we did some marbling. Inks were a bit rubbish so not pleased with result but he enjoyed the process. Then we tried this and failed completely.

We still had quite a bit to do but I was feeling fidgetty and given the choice Sam opted for having some ‘homework’ for the weekend and so we went out. Picked up a magazine each and read them over lunch in Costa before a quick trip the local gallery for their Royal Navy in the time of Jane Austen exhibition. Was a good choice as a lovely few hours.