Maths 14/15

Maths is an area that has come together at last.  One of those just keep going sub­jects from last year.  All I have needed to do is pho­to­copy, write out the prob­lems and pat­terns, and  make and gather resources.  Taken sev­eral days but all pre­pared until Feb­ru­ary — I hope!

We are using Saxon.

20140731_22It is expen­sive (we’ve bought sec­ond hand though) and Amer­i­can (deals in impe­r­ial mea­sure­ments, US money and annoy­ing scripts) and I think the level is con­sid­er­ably below that expected in the UK (do not expect Grade 3 to any­where near cover the UK yr 4).  Also the paper of the work­books is hor­ri­ble, thin and scratchy so I end up pho­to­copy­ing it all which is costly and takes ages. But for us all those neg­a­tives are out­weighed by the positives.

The grad­ual intro­duc­tion of ideas and rep­e­ti­tion works for Sam, the lower expec­ta­tions help his con­fi­dence as he is gen­er­ally within his com­fort zone and the hands on/short tasks work well as he doesn’t get frustrated/lose interest.

Each ses­sion starts with a ‘meet­ing’, where the date and tem­per­a­ture is recorded, prac­tice on read­ing the time, work­ing out pat­terns and skip count­ing and a ‘prob­lem of the day’ is cov­ered.  We don’t use the meet­ing book/strips that come with the course, we have a door!


Cal­en­dar and tem­per­a­ture charts.
20140730_7 Pat­terns are printed and in the maths folder.

20140731_16 Skip count­ing is done run­ning round in cir­cles (back­wards when count­ing back­wards obvi­ously).  Prob­lem of the day is writ­ten in a lit­tle box — I wrote 70 of them on Mon­day so they will def­i­nitely be used all the time this year. I got fed up of writ­ing them last year and we stopped using them but as they often intro­duce a new idea first I want to use them hence the mam­moth writ­ing session.

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After the meet­ing comes the les­son.  This is usu­ally only about 5 min­utes and usu­ally hands on.  I refuse to fol­low the script so I skim read and pick out the impor­tant bits.  Some­times we’ll skip alto­gether if he obvi­ously under­stands or it is not relevant/doable in some way (try get­ting gallon/half gal­lon con­tain­ers eas­ily and cheaply in the UK).

Have been mak­ing or print­ing the resources that we need for the lessons up until Feb­ru­ary,  Here’s just a selec­tion.  Really pleased with the ordi­nal cars :)


The lessons round off usu­ally with a prac­tice of some sim­ple Maths facts.  We use an online bomb timer for the fact sheets which appeals to Sam.

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Then there is a prac­tice sheet (we only do 1 the course has 2, one for later in the day) which brings together some of the things from pre­vi­ous lessons to prac­tice and jog memories.


Maths resources.

Over the years I have bought and got rid of a lot of resources, these are the ones we do use.


Pat­tern blocks — far and away the best ‘manip­u­la­tive’ I’ve bought.  Use­ful for maths (and used a lot in Saxon although we had them for a long time before) and great fun for mak­ing pic­tures and patterns.

Snap cubes - close sec­ond to the pat­tern blocks.  Fan­tas­tic for adding, mul­ti­ply­ing, vol­ume, area, perime­ter, build­ing guns.…



Bal­ance scales — lots of fun to be had com­par­ing weights that just can’t be had from stan­dard kitchen scales.


Base 10 — we don’t use much any more but Sam still likes to play with it and as the base 10 sys­tem is so impor­tant we’ve found them very use­ful for adding and car­ry­ing etc.


Geo­met­ric shapes — tbh these are mainly used for play­ing in the sink and mix­ing potions, but they are used a lot and we do talk about the shapes/edges/vertices some­times so I hope some uncon­scious learn­ing goes on ;)

20140731_4Newest addi­tion.  Not antic­i­pat­ing a great deal of play value from this but saw it on a blog and thought ‘more fun then flashcards’.



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Collecting Resources (Free Stuff)

With the new aca­d­e­mic year on the hori­zon I, like so many oth­ers I expect, keep get­ting dis­tracted by sparkly new resources.  How­ever, there is not much we actu­ally need.  We are still mid book with Maths and Eng­lish hav­ing started in Jan­u­ary with the cur­rent set of books, and hav­ing bought sev­eral years ahead when they have popped up sec­ond hand on the lists.

So I have dis­tracted myself by track­ing down free resources to sup­port project work (actu­ally got dis­tracted again and started look­ing at more…).  All the links below pro­vide free resources inc free delivery.




The British Legion pro­duce a fab­u­lous schools pack.  We received the 2013/14 pack but later in the year they sent through the 2014/15 pack off their own steam.

20140731_15Book­let from the OU.  One for older chil­dren probably.

Not received these yet as only ordered this morn­ing.  DVD’s from the Com­mon­wealth War Graves Com­mis­sion.



Teach­ing pack, posters and recipes on grain farming.

20140731_7Masses of resources ordered from var­i­ous places on the FACE web­site.


20140721_620140731_8 Posters and teach­ing pack from the RNLI


Posters and leaflets on road safety



Free sam­ple sto­rys­tarter kit from Lego Edu­ca­tion.



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If ever Sam is put on the spot bak­ing soda vol­ca­noes are the activ­ity of choice so we rounded of the term with some vol­cano fun.  Also I picked up a book from a char­ity shop that was beg­ging to be turned into a project, full of infor­ma­tion and hands on projects.  We didn’t do as much as I wanted and never even really made it to earth­quakes but it ran it’s course and I’m try­ing hard at the recog­nis­ing when enough is enough thing.

Where we went

Short of an actual vol­cano to visit we set­tled for a trip to the Earth gal­leries of the Nat­ural His­tory Museum.

Touching the Eath's inner core and saying ouch - a lot!

Touch­ing the Eath’s inner core and say­ing ouch — a lot!


What we did

We made a lap book!  Have a bit of a love/hate rela­tion­ship with them.  Hate the cut­ting out and the lack of engage­ment needed to com­plete many of them but fan­cied pro­duc­ing a fin­ished prod­uct — nice to have some­thing keep­able sometimes.

I was going to get around some of the neg­a­tives by pro­duc­ing my own bits to stick in but ran out of steam. So it is a cob­bled together mix of home pro­duced stuff, a Hands of a Child down­load which I had for­got­ten about and really he’d out­grown and free print­a­bles from Home­School­Share

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We played about with thick pieces of card on oobleck, inves­ti­gat­ing the move­ment of tec­tonic plates and push­ing the card together to see the plate boundaries.

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Home made jig­saw of the tec­tonic plates.


We inves­ti­gated how magma forces it’s way through cracks to the sur­face.



Mak­ing a play­dough vol­cano.  Explod­ing vine­gar and bak­ing pow­der in the crater.  Stick­ing on more play­dough to cover where the ‘lava’ ran to show how the vol­cano changes shape over time.

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Vol­cano art — using pipettes to drop vine­gar coloured with food colour­ing onto a tray of bak­ing pow­der to make mini coloured explosions.

20140714_20Julius Cae­sar with his blood flow­ing out (he’s side­ways if it helps).
Inves­ti­gat­ing new ways of mak­ing vol­ca­noes.  A tray of bak­ing pow­der mixed with a cou­ple of sachets of koolaid (con­tains cit­ric acid).


Spray with water.20140714_30I will never use vine­gar and food colour­ing again.  This was so much eas­ier and cleaner and nicer smelling.

Mak­ing the lap­book cover by drip­ping paint (lava) with pipettes.


We read

(pics are links to Amazon)







Can’t find the last one on Ama­zon but this is by the same author so may well be a reis­sue from the sound of it.


We watched

20140730_21We played



Posted in Science, Volcanoes and Earthquakes | Tagged | Leave a comment

Bubble Fun

Yes­ter­day was a glo­ri­ous noisy, messy, house full of kids, sum­mer day.

Jack and friend spent a while search­ing through the mas­sive pots of change we have in search of penny falls money before dis­ap­pear­ing for most of the day.  Return­ing when they were just too hot to the shade of Minecraft.

Sam and friends had an impromptu, loud music ses­sion before I sent the instru­ments, inc the annoy­ing plas­tic gui­tar that I have always hated, home with a friend.

After­noon was spent in a water fight, play­ing with tubs of shav­ing foam and whisk­ing up soap flakes, play­ing with touch­able bub­bles (which are fab if sticky), putting each other inside per­son size bub­bles and mak­ing cas­tles from sand clay. Lots of fun, noise and mess :)

20140723_1 20140723_2 20140723_3 20140723_8 20140723_10Bub­ble is actu­ally stuck to his head!


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End of Term

It is a week of ‘lasts’.

Last home ed group meet we will join in with for the sum­mer (there will be meets and we’ll see friends but we need the break).  Was a cof­fee morn­ing at the local scout hut.  We enjoyed it; nice peo­ple, kids enjoyed the activ­i­ties, venue suited well but a lot of peo­ple who said they were com­ing didn’t show and I ended up out of pocket so will be the last one unfortunately.

On the pos­i­tive got to see some won­der­ful cre­ative beach sculp­tures from the chil­dren and test mine (a very sweet 4yo was giv­ing my big eyes as she wanted a swan — I did refuse the fol­low up request for a cow!).

20140721_16Time to get home, tidy away every­thing from the morn­ing and sort out stuff for Guides.   Been a bit of a roller coaster year but glad I made the switch.  Waved my old­est two off and wel­comed four more.  We were doing the organ work­shop that I’d done with the home ed group the week before.  Nice end to term for me as all I had to do was turn up with forms and badges.

Being in Gosport though led to me hav­ing 1/2 hr to kill at the time all shops bar the super­mar­ket was closed.  Ended up in the library, leav­ing with 25 Geography/Weather/Ethics books.  Really good haul, but not help­ing with the clear out.

20140721_30Tues­day was a drag the boys out of bed very early for a 7.30 bus to the opti­cians (seemed a good idea when I booked it to just do it before the wait­ing room reached boil­ing tem­per­a­ture — less so on the morn­ing).  We got out in less than 2 hours with 4 pairs of glasses on order between us.  Sam still per­fect vision, Jack’s sta­ble, mine improv­ing — so good results.

We had Thorton’s ice cream as a treat after­wards.  Before pick­ing up some shop­ping and home for lunch.

20140723_2Jack headed out, Sam played Sky­lan­ders, I caught up with admin.  Then we walked over to a friend’s to deliver some books and toys, have a cup of tea and run around yelling a lot and bran­dish­ing weapons.  Home and more friends dropped in to col­lect books.

Busy day ended with Sam’s final Cubs of the sum­mer.  Laser tag and fire light­ing, happy boy.






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Summer Evenings

School is out, and Jack is about.  This is obvi­ously the year he is really spread­ing his wings as he is off down the beach swim­ming at any oppor­tu­nity and there are plans for bike rides and pic­nics.  Test of nerves as a par­ent, feel that I am not so much vol­un­tar­ily let­ting go of the strings as hav­ing them pulled away from me.  But am doing well at keep­ing my panic to myself and let­ting them go rather than des­per­ately grab­bing at them.  When it comes down to it he’s a sen­si­ble boy and I trust him.

Well Jack is rev­el­ling in it Sam and I are really strug­gling with the heat so stay­ing indoors out of the sun.  Seems sun­set is our going out time :)

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Cramming it all in

Felt a bit like we have been against the clock this week count­ing down to Jack fin­ish­ing school yesterday.

After Monday’s get things done day, Tues­day was a day to catch up with friends.  This often goes by way­side in school hol­i­days as more dif­fi­cult to get about with a grumpy pre­teen in tow.  On the plus side I think we’ve passed the worst of it as pre­teen is gen­er­ally happy and old enough to be trusted to do his own thing, plus I like his friends so if I’m tak­ing Sam out for the day to meet friends, will just take pre­teens enmass — less trou­ble to take 2 or 3 than 1.

Any­way back to Tues­day and we had a pleas­ant morn­ing drink­ing cof­fee, gos­sip­ing and play­ing iPad at a friend’s before meet­ing another friend at the Dock­yard for pic­nic and Action Sta­tions.  Think we’ve long since exhausted any edu­ca­tional ben­e­fit but to the boys it is a large play­ground and they love it.

Wednes­day we rounded off our Vol­cano project with a trip to the Earth gal­leries at the Nat­ural His­tory Museum.

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One of the things I love most about vis­it­ing Lon­don is all the dis­cus­sion and debate that arises, can barely walk 10 yards in Lon­don with­out com­ing across some­thing inter­est­ing and if we can we always walk or bus if pos­si­ble so we can see stuff.  Weds had us walk­ing an hour through Bel­gravia look­ing at the big houses, land­scaped squares, play­ing spot the embassy and dis­cussing the poten­tial pit­falls of social­ism and why com­mu­nist sys­tems haven’t really worked.  Should have only taken half hour but I got dis­tracted by Sam explain­ing how he would rad­i­cally reshape the polit­i­cal sys­tems of this world by dis­solv­ing all coun­try bound­aries and hav­ing a large, cen­tral, elected, rep­re­sen­ta­tive coun­cil to make deci­sions.  Bit of a rad­i­cal social­ist my younger son!

Did have a laugh on the way there.  I was read­ing about vol­ca­noes and obsid­ian came up, so I asked Sam if he knew that vol­ca­noes made obsid­ian.  His answer was ‘yes, of course’ fol­lowed by expla­na­tion on the use of obsid­ian in Aztec cul­ture.  The lady he was sit­ting next to sat there look­ing at him open mouthed  :D

Thurs­day we had a group trip to a local church where they have a recently recon­di­tioned organ that had been played by Handel.

Infor­ma­tion about the church.

Was a lovely trip, oppor­tu­nity to do some­thing different.

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They also had a chance to go inside the organ to see all the pipework.

Fri­day, we worked on Sam’s vol­cano lap­book before he went to a friend’s house and I took the oppor­tu­nity to crack on with the big end of year clear out.  Far from tidy yet.

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Clear Out

Time to declut­ter a bit — offer­ing these locally first to avoid postage issues.  May strug­gle to bring to cof­fee morn­ing as don’t drive and sus­pect my granny trol­ley will be full of the craft stuff.  But I only live around the cor­ner so can nip home and bring them to the park at lunch or you can drop around an col­lect on way home.  Any­one not com­ing Mon­day we can sort some­thing out.

Mix of KS1/2/3 level stuff plus some instru­ments and toys tagged on the end.

For Sale

All are used unless stated but in decent condition

Char­lotte Mason’s Ele­men­tary Geog­ra­phy — £2

Work­books brand new — KS1 — £3 for the 5 listed below

WH Smith’s Gram­mar and Punc­tu­a­tion book 2

WH Smith’s Hand­writ­ing book 2

Collins Hand­writ­ing Book 3 Age 5–7

Collins Times Tables book 3 — Age 5–7

Collins Mul­ti­pli­ca­tion and Divi­sion Prac­tice — Age 5–7

Work­books most new — KS2 

Collins Hand­writ­ing books 1, 2 and 3 — book 1 half used oth­ers new — £1 for the 3

Log­i­cal Learn­ing Num­ber Shape Magic Explorer - £1

Ris­ing Stars Study Guide Eng­lish Yr 6 — £1

Galore Park So You Really Want to Learn - KS3 Level these were all bought sec­ond hand for Jack before he went to school and are bit bat­tered and the sci­ence at least is quite an old ver­sion hence price

French Book 1 + CD — £8

Gen­eral Books

Spelling Made Easy Intro­duc­tory Level (word lists, dic­ta­tion, teach­ing points only A5 size) — £1

Collins Gram­mer and Punc­tu­a­tion Pupil Book 1 — £1

Whole World inc CD - £2

My Daddy is a Pret­zel - £1

Read and Won­der Ani­mals– 4 story books with info about Pen­guins, Pigs, Eels and sharks - £5

Fes­ti­vals, Fam­ily and Food — Guide to Sea­sonal Cel­e­bra­tion — As new con­di­tion except some of the pages have the top cut off, doesn’t inter­fere with con­tent and came like that — £5

How to Make a Uni­verse with 92 Ingre­di­ents — new, pages too busy and bright for us — more chunks of text peo­ple — £3


Space Lines — 3D Con­nect 4 basi­cally — ended with a dubli­cate copy — £1


Won­der Book of Would you Believe it

Nat­ural Disasters

Paper­jamz guitar





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Encouraging Reluctant Writers

Inspired by a thread on a forum.  I often find myself writ­ing a sim­i­lar response to ques­tions on the sub­ject which seem to arise quite fre­quently, seems that I am not the only one to expe­ri­ence reluc­tant writ­ers! So here’s my two pen­neth worth.

For what it is worth I believe writ­ing leg­i­bly and quickly is a pretty essen­tial skill in life and I feel I would be fail­ing my chil­dren if they don’t mas­ter it to an ade­quate level.  They will need it for exams, and what­ever my opin­ion of the sys­tem is, exams and the qual­i­fi­ca­tions can open doors to the future.  I will be doing my chil­dren a dis­ser­vice if I don’t help them gain the skills/keys to open those doors even if they choose not to.  Also life changes, often unex­pect­edly, there are a whole num­ber of rea­sons why a child might sud­denly end up in school and being able to cope with things like the level of writ­ing would obvi­ously ease the way.

Most of what I am talk­ing here relates to the actual prac­ti­cal putting pen to paper rather than being able to con­vey an idea in text which is obvi­ously still impor­tant but for it is the prac­ti­cal ele­ment that seems to cause most of the reluc­tance.  In a home ed envi­ron­ment I don’t think writ­ing really has much impor­tance until exam time or some sort of exter­nal course requires it.  If they aren’t in school there is less empha­sis on them hav­ing to use writ­ing as a method of demon­strat­ing their learn­ing — you can see it with your own eyes and hear with your own ears and you don’t need to demon­strate it to any­one else.  I firmly believe that chil­dren learn best when they are inspired and self-motivated and/or they see a point to it.  This is not always easy to achieve with regards writ­ing, telling an 8 yo that in 6 years time he will need to write a 3hr essay or a 10 yo who had a bad expe­ri­ence at school that he may decide to go back in 2 years, won’t wash.  There­fore I think this has to be one of those things where ‘Mum (or Dad) knows best’ like brush­ing teeth etc and our role as parent/teacher/facilitator is to make it as low stress as pos­si­ble by what­ever method it takes (not above bribery).

Early years (under 8’s)

  • Don’t stress about writ­ing at all at this age.   Push­ing before they are ready can only ever be counter productive.
  • Work on motor skills to improve hand mus­cles and fin­ger grip — use tweez­ers to pick up and sort items like pom­poms, pasta, beads and nat­ural mate­ri­als like acorns and conkers (muf­fin trays very use­ful for this);  thread­ing — beads, but­tons, lac­ing cards; scis­sor prac­tice — sim­ple col­lages, ran­dom cut­ting of paper or wool, try­ing to fol­low lines; hama beads (we went straight on to the midi at age 3/4 ).
  • Model writ­ing — chil­dren want to do what Mum (and Dad) does so let them see you writ­ing.  In this tech­no­log­i­cal age we com­mu­ni­cate by email, make shop­ping lists on phones, word process essays etc.  Try and get in the habit of pick­ing up a pen your­self to do some jobs.  Write a note with a card for exam­ple and encour­age the child to add their name/a note/a doo­dle.  Write shop­ping lists, chil­dren can write or draw their own — we have had many fun trips round the vil­lage shops try­ing to work out pic­ture lists :)  Leave notes around the house to one another.
  • Play lots of pen and paper games like hang­man (when their spelling won’t drive you doolally), squares, noughts and crosses… Peggy Kaye’s Games for Writing is an excel­lent source of ideas (for any­one local I have one to sell on)
  • Prac­tice pen­cil skills in other ways; trac­ing, dot to dots, colour­ing, and draw­ing; both free­hand and learn to draw books and print­a­bles, the lat­ter are a good way of intro­duc­ing the idea of fol­low­ing par­tic­u­lar shapes.
  • Make prac­tis­ing let­ters as fun and tac­tile as pos­si­ble. Use fin­ger or a blunt pen­cil to draw let­ters in flour, shav­ing foam, oobleck etc (buy cheap lit­ter trays — I love cheap lit­ter trays they are bril­liant for messy activ­i­ties), draw with a fin­ger on each oth­ers backs.  Use sand­pa­per let­ters, mag­nets and let­ters made from play dough to prac­tice form­ing words.
  • Encour­age them to hold the pen­cil cor­rectly.  Use grips and ergonomic pens/pencils to help.  Will mean that in the future they are unlikely to find that they are over grip­ping and the hand/wrist is tired.

Mid­dle years (roughly 8 — 11)

Prob­a­bly (hope­fully) the trick­i­est time.  This is where we are, per­fec­tion­ism and atti­tude I find are big issues now as they find inde­pen­dence and their own opin­ions, there is grum­bling and huff­ing and puff­ing when asked to pick up a pen.  We as par­ents start wor­ry­ing a bit when we see other children’s work, from school or on blogs and even though we hate our­selves for doing it we raise an eye­brow a lit­tle that even the 5 year olds seem to have neat joined up writ­ing.  And the big­ger pic­ture of future exams or pos­si­ble school atten­dance is so far off that is not a great moti­vat­ing fac­tor.  Things that appear to work for us.

    • Remove as much writ­ing from other areas of the cur­ricu­lum as pos­si­ble.  I believe a lot of the frus­tra­tion at this time arises from the fact that the brain works faster than the hand can write, and they have trou­ble express­ing their thoughts.  We are in the lucky posi­tion of being able to inter­act on a very per­sonal level, we can hear from their con­ver­sa­tion that they have under­stood.  If you want some­thing on paper, scrib­ing for them or typ­ing are options.
    • Keep the tech­ni­cal­i­ties of writ­ing sep­a­rate.  We use a com­bi­na­tion of hand­writ­ing prac­tice books, copy­work and dic­ta­tion.  In short bursts, we have a 10 minute timer and never go over this.  For this time it is focus­ing on the for­ma­tion of let­ters, spac­ing of words etc with­out the need to think on the content.
    • Don’t under­es­ti­mate the value of work­ing on motor skills in other ways, colour­ing, draw­ing, hama beads, knit­ting, loom­bands, Lego…
    • Cor­rect the grip, pos­ture… we have a tripp trapp chair to help with height, sta­bilo pens for grip, we tried and dis­counted a wedge — and I adopt a scheme of gen­tly remind­ing aka nag­ging in the nicest pos­si­ble way.
    • Encour­age writ­ing for plea­sure — mine love new note­books :) By not ask­ing them to write I am for­ever find­ing car­toon strips, notes, how to guides (Minecraft usu­ally, but we’ve had own­ers man­u­als for their brother for exam­ple) dot­ted about.  They both love blog­ging (okay this is typ­ing but all helps).  Keep mean­ing to find Sam a pen­pal, or pos­si­bly some­thing like post­pals.
    • Make use of tech­nol­ogy.  Sam has an app on his Kin­dle that reads back what you type.  Again not writ­ing but does help with spelling and punctuation.
    • Trust your gut. You are the best per­son to sense if the reluc­tance is due to neg­a­tive school expe­ri­ences, lazi­ness, being a boy of a cer­tain age (not that girls can’t be reluc­tant writ­ers of course), in other words some­thing time and patience will fix.  Or whether other fac­tors such as dys­graphia may be at play.  If you believe there is a prob­lem fight all the way for support.

Later years (roughly 11+)

Have to say I have no real expe­ri­ence and there­fore no truly use­ful advice.  Jack’s hand­writ­ing is the one area that really did improve when he went to school.  Now at 12 it isn’t the neat­est you will see by a long shot (but bet­ter than his Dad’s) but he can write quick, leg­i­ble cur­sive.  The key fac­tor in it all was he needed to be able to do it to keep up with the class and there­fore he had the moti­va­tion to really make an effort.  I’m hop­ing that at some point Sam will find his moti­va­tion, and we will man­age pass­able.  There is always bribery to fall back on ;)

If you want more use­ful advice then I would carry on with all the ear­lier strate­gies.  Seek help if think it is needed.  Stress the need for quick, leg­i­ble hand­writ­ing as a means to an end and try and encour­age self-motivation.

This is the age where they need to learn to struc­ture an essay.  I have a the­ory that you can pass any essay based exam with only the basics of sub­ject knowl­edge as long as you know how to struc­ture an essay, not well per­haps but base­line pass that knowl­edge will improve.  My plan is that at 11/12 we will move from project based/hands on learn­ing to more text­book based and grad­u­ally increase the writ­ten con­tent focus­ing very much on struc­tur­ing ideas.  In Eng­lish I am hop­ing we can move away from hand­writ­ing prac­tice (which is our big thing to crack), spelling and gram­mar (which are rea­son­able) to focus almost entirely on pro­duc­ing lit­er­ate pieces of writ­ing.  I plan to adopt a mod­el­ling approach — his ideas, I’ll help mind map them, then I’ll model the answer.  Grad­u­ally we’ll had over bit by bit things like con­clu­sion, dis­cussing best way to go about it.  Good sen­tence starters etc.  We have some books col­lected from Collins over the years that I expect to draw on Collins Easy Writ­ing and Collins Writ­ing Aim­ing For Level 4 (one of a series obvi­ously we will prob­a­bly move through).

An online friend has men­tioned that her reluc­tant writer 12 yo starts every day with writ­ing the alpha­bet to jog let­ter for­ma­tion.  I am antic­i­pat­ing this being some­thing we do for some con­sid­er­able time too.

This post was actu­ally began in early May, not so much reluc­tant as just short of time and con­cen­tra­tion here :)

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Posted in Curriculum, English, Musings | 7 Comments

Wonderwoman mode (minus a few brain cells)

Today has been fan­tas­ti­cally pro­duc­tive day.

I have -

    • Made vats of jelly for my Guides to play Mr Plod the Police­man.  With lots of clean­ing up after I stu­pidly washed and reused the cups from last week’s water ses­sion, which were full of nee­dle holes! Took me longer than it should to work out where all the spillage was com­ing from.


  • Drew and painted an owl for ‘pin the beak on the…‘
  • Dealt with 100 queries from Guide par­ents.  Well okay exag­ger­a­tion but my phone has been none stop today.
  • Printed off a gazil­lion forms for Guides.
  • Made a demon­stra­tion vol­cano for Sam to see how lava forces it’s way up via cracks.20140714_18
  • Did some vol­cano art — squeez­ing drop­pers of coloured vine­gar on a tray of bak­ing soda.  It is the assig­na­tion of Julius Cae­sar appar­ently.20140714_20 20140714_22
  • And then exper­i­mented with mak­ing vol­ca­noes from koolaid, bak­ing pow­der and water — def­i­nitely the way of the future.  They worked really well, no smell of vine­gar (cher­ries instead) and pick a red one and no need for food colour­ing. 20140714_27 20140714_30 20140714_3920140714_40
  •  Then he had great fun mix­ing it all together and I had a big mess to clear up again :)
  • I booked his Art Award ses­sions for Sept.  More on that later in the week.
  • I booked tick­ets for Matisse exhi­bi­tion at the Tate after a lot of chas­ing on home ed rates.
  • I booked tick­ets to go the Britain: One Mil­lion Years of the Human Story exhi­bi­tion at the NHM.  No chas­ing on rates this time.  Sim­ple phone call was all it took to get schools rate.  Even had all my details from the last time I booked an exhi­bi­tion — 7 years ago!
  • I booked a trip up the Spin­naker for the home ed group.
  • After a lot of too­ing and fro­ing I also pro­vi­sion­ally pen­cilled in a work­shop at SEARCH.  Also on Britain’s prehistory.
  • Researched a few more trip options for the Pre­his­toric Britain project.
  • Tracked down links and ordered some free resources for farming/safety projects.
  • Got sucked into lap­book­ing with Sam for his vol­cano project.
  • Made arrange­ments to catch up with friends tomorrow.

In plan­ning and clean up mode.  Jack fin­ishes lunch time on Fri­day :)

20140714_43While I was sort­ing Guide paper­work Sam turned his bed into a boat.  The paper is an anchor.


Posted in Family Life, Science, Volcanoes and Earthquakes | Leave a comment