Freestyle Crafting

Morning was a procrastinating type of morning but Maths, English, Latin and Spanish did get done eventually.  We also read more about Dicken’s life and the Shang Dynasty and watched an episode of Victorian Pharmacy.
After lunch we had our first DIY group of the year, working on the skill ‘Cardboarder
We provided scissors, tape, string, other various bits, photos for ideas and lots and lots of cardboard, the instruction to make a piece of art, a sculpture (of an animal if they wanted it for the skill) or a toy.
Sam made a rocket (it started as modern art).

The rocket improved, with what I think is a sword.  There were a lot of weapons made!I asked what this was and was told it was a ‘collaborative project’ which wasn’t that helpful but nice to hear.  Think plane or kite as they were trying to fly it in the garden.

I had a go with one of the art techniques.Was a good session.  It is nice to do more structured projects, learning new skills like the screen printing sometimes.  However lovely to see free flow creativity in action too.  They kept going with the modelling for about 1.5 hrs which I thought was quite some concentration and absorbtion levels.
Board games still having a resurgence in appeal in the house so we spent much of the evening playing Carcassonne, before he indulged in a solitary game of Risk.  Risk hurts my brain – that is a dad game 😉

Play Day

Whatever Jack was complaining of yesterday took us both this morning, just a trace of a cold I think but unpleasant headache with it.  Anyway it was a day for shifting the original plans for the afternoon (a very messy science project) to another day.  I replaced with reading (more Dickens and the history of the Shang Dynasty) and tv watching (Victorian Pharmacy) instead.  We’d finished by 1 so spent the afternoon playing games.
Days are always what you make of them 🙂

Spinny Chair Fun

I had a big work project come to a pinacle at the weekend meaning there was a lot of sitting at the computer.  Made me realise how uncomfortable it was using a dining chair at the computer, add in the fact I realised yesterday that I had 7 children at our house this afternoon for an activity and only 6 chairs.  So it was a make use of Argos quick delivery to get a spinny chair delivered this morning.
The excitement of the chair meant that Sam was up washed, dressed and breakfasted a good half hour earlier than usual 🙂 Maths, English, Latin and Spanish were easily finished by 10 am.  So we set to work building.  Well I tightened screws, Sam is quite capable of following the instructions now.  I have trained him well.  Also took the opportunity to lower the seat on the trip trap chair to make it usable by 11yo.
Then he span – a lot. With time to spare before lunch I read an adaptation of Bleak House aloud while Sam made something from the Qixels.

After lunch a small group of friends joined us for some science.  We are hoping eventually to work on the Crest awards but for now it’s a bit of fun and getting them used to the group work needed.  Only taken us 4 months to sort out actually meeting.
We with welding with chocolate to test girders.  The first job was to devise a way to hold the joints as they set from what they could find in the conservatory.  Most built a lego contraption.

The dodgy looking one (the boys) held nearly 700g, the next 5kg and the next two held the 5kg and stayed in tact.  So we tried lightest person – unsuccessfully.   Given knex to build a bridge they decided on towers, cars, glue guns, anything but, however they had fun.
Jack arrived home, just after everyone had left, complaining of feeling rotten.  Spinning about and using my chair for transport claiming he was Davros did seem to cheer him up though 🙂

Bounce until you drop

Sam’s first words on getting up were ‘Are we going out today?’, knew he was desperately hoping the answer was no.  However the answer was trampolining which was better than no 🙂
He was still looking (and sounding – asthma rattle very evident) decidedly peaky but was in the mood to make an effort.  I sneakily swapped around the jobs on our plan for the week so anything vagually active fell today and tomorrow’s work is mainly reading, in other words we can retreat to bed if we want.
Maths was quite active (tired me out anyway) we were jumping, estimating how far and measuring.   There was also measuring different body parts and comparing them.  He’s surprisingly knowledgeable about the Golden Ratio ) Many moons ago I bought this book.  I have largely trained myself out of buying books that ‘might come in useful one day’ and have got rid of many that were cluttering up the shelves.  However I do have a small but excellent collection of ‘books I will make sure I work it so we have a reason to use even if that takes years’.  This is one of those!  Our first project was looking at architecture, we talked about feng shui, read about the Great Wall and made a Mongol yurt.  Mainly from cocktail sticks and marshmallows.

 Then it was an hour and a half of bouncing.  He dropped then, pretty much fell asleep in the car.  We got dropped off in the village so we could collect prescriptions and walked home via library to collect the huge pile I’d reserved.
What I do now when we start a topic is go through Amazon and identify good books (love the look inside feature) stick them in the basket, then go through the library catalogue and reserve the ones they have, removing them from Amazon as I go.  If there are any left I decide if I really do need them and if so order.  Working well as a routine and the library staff like to guess my plans 🙂
He slumped in a heap of books on the sofa when we got home until he had an urge to make a very red cake!

Burning Energy

It hit me yesterday that Sam had been in pjs (different ones, I did force him to wash sometimes) since Christmas Eve! As such it might be time to leave the house. Sudden mood to go geocaching struck, and friends were up for it too.
Unfortunately an hour or so after I’d finalised the arrangements to meet up, Sam got up looking full of cold and white as a sheet.  By half ten he was slumped over the table and it looked like plans would go out of the window and we’d be on the sofa for the rest of the day.
Thought we’d try a bit of science and see if that picked him up.  It did, amazing what a bit of setting fire to things can do 🙂
We were looking at nutrition and what we need/should eat.  Sam made an ‘eatwell’ plate and we did some reading. 

We also tested food for energy content.  Well we did a version shall we say.  It wasn’t a time to be rigorous on the fair test it was fun and an idea that we wanted.  Turns out finding foods that catch fire is surprisingly hard, cereals and rice cakes were the order. 
We put 20ml of water into the test tube and measured the temperature.  Put some food on a skewer and set it on fire. Held the test tube over the food for 90 secs or until the food burnt out and meaured the temperature change.  We tried for roughly same size pieces of food.  When we’d tested everything we could get to stay alight we ranked them by which had the biggest temperature rise and then compared them to the energy content and they tallied.

He had his spark back after that so lunch was rushed off and out we went.

3 caches looked for 3 found.  Was a lovely afternoon.  Been a couple of years since we’ve had a go but we have the bug again.

In the evenng a couple of boxes containing late Christmas presents showed up so Sam has been having a go with Qixels.  He’s been eyeing them up from adverts in the Beano for a while, I dismissed it as buying in to marketing hype but he was hugely excited and went to bed saying how much he liked them 🙂

A good day 🙂


Back to it!

Ok we weren’t champing at the bit to get started this morning.  I got distracted by work and Sam fell asleep after his alarm and then decided to have a very long bath!

We did okay though.  Maths was measuring and very hands on which helped us get back in the swing.

Seeing how my foot compares to a foot.

We started looking at China by locating it and then making a factfile.  Diverged into Asia properly with an introduction to the physical features.  Then watched the first episode of Michael Foot’sStory of China over lunch.
We didn’t feel like history so we spent some time on CodeAcademy before Sam went on to Roblox and I sat down to work (and procrastinate – that sort of afternoon.Off to see if he wants to do history now (reading an adaption of Oliver Twist) and rais the question of leaving the house tomorrow.  We’ve taken root I think and outside isn’t appealing – there are people 😉


Can I admit that 2016 was a good year? Enjoyable and productive, full of family, friends and fun.

Personally I end the year over a stone lighter (even allowing for Christmas) than I was back in May and feeling better for it.  I managed 9 big sewing projects. Ones below were my favourite.  I met my Goodreads challenge of 52 books (probably will make it 53 before the night is out) and used the challenge from Modern Mrs Darcy as motivation to read some different choices/ones that have sat on the shelf for years.   I even managed War and Peace and quite a decent quota of Shakespeare (still too many I don’t kno as well as I’d like).  I managed 30 – yes 30!!! – FutureLearn courses.  To be honest that was too many and made it in to work, there was a few more I didn’t finish/left.  That said there were some really, really good ones in there – Shakespeare in his World, Teaching Literacy through Film and A Royal History of Food and Feasting stick out.

As far as HE goes we’ve had some fantastic trips and lots of making use of what is on our door step, lots of fun project work and chilling at home too and regular HE groups that work well for us.

January – Romans were the order of the month and we seemed to be out a lot! This time in Wales.
February – I could have picked from loads of photos of hands on projects to show us being busy and productive at home, brilliant geology project but St Paul’s was the stand out trip of the year I think.
March – 2016 was the year I finally found a venue that I could run the HE group I have always wanted from. Here was an Easter session.
April – lots of time out but we were having huge fun in with lots of geology experiments and Surrealism themed art projects.

May – Spring had sprung and lots of photos of us hanging out by, in and on rivers for our geography project and in lots and lots of parks just because we could.
June- with our Dockyard pass due to expire we ended up there lots! Just as the’d put in an indoor assualt course (we bought a new pass!)
July – Summer meant work was set aside and the beach (and dockyard) embraced. The second half of the month was spent in Wales enjoying the peace.
August -bought many more days on the beach. My oldest friend visited so we had fun showing them about.
September – New academic year and new projects – lots of making food related models of human body parts.
October – Studying Queeen Victoria and having fun with friends seems to be the order of the month.
November – One of the real hits this academic year has been adopting a day that is pj day every week. We’re both thriving on it.

December – HE groups have gone from strength to strength this year. Lot of fun making bath bombs.

Posh Shopping, Fond Farewell and Christmas Lights

Yesterday we had tickets for a bus tour of London to see the lights.  Jack’s off now so had both boys with me.  Having mused on the idea of wha else to do while we were there we settled on Harrods. Spent an hour or so browsing food halls and treated ourselves to some Christmas spiced tea and coffee.

After a restorative hot chocolate (Harrods was busy!) we decided that since we were on the right road we had to go and say goodbye to Dippy.  We only had 40 mins to spare so it was a quick whip round the dinosaurs for old times sake.

I will never stop being amazed at how marvellous and how detailed this building is.  Think I love the building more than the exhibits.
Then it was to Victoria for an open topped bus tour of the ity to take in the lights.

Fabulous day, even allowing for our Harrod’s carrier bag ending up full of vomit on the journey home.

Christmassy Creativity and Bouncing

Very late I am starting to catch the Christmassy vibe at long last.  I know lots of people were grumbling in Nov at the decorations but it really does kill the festive season for me having it in your face for so long, it’s hard to be excited about it when it goes on so long. 
Anyway I started the day playing with making snowflakes.
We had a few activities to finish from Sam’s creative writing scheme.  We started with Stories from our Neighbourhood.  Sam made a collage of a street and added details.  Later in the day he wrote a small story about it.  I like the flying shark!
The second activity was our Christmas Story Walk.  I had intended to just walk round the local streets enjoying the lights one evening but all but 1 of my neighbours seem to have gone discreet and tasteful this year.  So we roped Grandad in for a trip to Keydells, a nursery about 1/2 hr away where they have a Christmas Woodland Walk.  This is a staple visit for many friends but without the car we’ve never been.  Probably a good thing as with his dummy/auton phobia it would not have gone down well when he was younger, we were both a bit freaked at some of the figures now.  Definitely Christmas with a sinister twist.  He took my camera and had a whale of a time though.

After the walk we had a brief look around the nursery, nearly fainted at what they were charging for decorations.  We were going to have lunch in the cafe but crikey it was loud, full of oung children, just being young children but in a small space so we headed to the Tesco opposite trampolining.
Trampolining was quiet thanks to huge numbers of the group being at the panto but it was lovely, a chance to play and chat with people that we don’t normally.

Manipulatives and Bath Bombs

We’ve finished Maths for the year so Weds was a bit of playing with investigative maths which quickly turned into playing with cubes.

The morning pretty much floated away from us that way.  We did manage some reading curled up in bed.
The afternoon had us at the hall for our group, where we were making bath bombs.  Loving this group, the children are all of an age they can work in groups and it’s a lovely bunch and gives me scope to do things that need more adult leading or cooperative work.

We made two types of bathbomb, citrus stars and chocolate mint cakes, plus an awful lot of mess. A lot of mess. 

After they had a choice of paper crafts or garden. Garden won!

Evening was spent playing a board game that is a simple version of chess, drawing and watching a documentary about C17th London.  Catch up isn’t working on Virgin so we are working through things I’d recorded and we’ve not got round to watching yet.