Picasso’s Blue Period

This week’s art ses­sion focused on express­ing moods and emo­tions through art and colour in particular.

Colours, like fea­tures, fol­low the changes of the emotions.

Pablo Picasso

We looked at an exam­ple of his blue period “Woman with crossed arms”, dis­cussed why Picasso was sad and how this came across in the pic­ture and fol­lowed up with this activ­ity.  Love the result :)


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Window on another life

One of the bits of advice I like to give out is; don’t waste time on doubt­ing past deci­sions, yes life would prob­a­bly be dif­fer­ent if you’d made dif­fer­ent choices, but would it be bet­ter, worse or just dif­fer­ent it is impos­si­ble to know.

Any­way where this comes from is Jack has been off a bit this week with ill­ness and inset days so I’ve had both boys around on what was effec­tively school days and a bit of a glimpse of life if both were home.  Usu­ally if Jack is off sick he spends most of his time in bed so we can keep some level of nor­mal­ity going.  Tues­day that was the case and I was feel­ing decid­edly below par too so things were quiet.  Wednes­day though he was fine but was still within 48hr sick­ness so we had a ‘home ed’ day.  Went over some maths, did a bit of story writ­ing for the 500 words com­pe­ti­tion, but mostly messed about with Scout badges.

Lot harder work hav­ing them both about.   Obvi­ously if Jack was home all the time we’d have rou­tines.  I take my hat off to those who home ed more than 2 though.  I can imag­ine it is one of those things that gets harder rather than eas­ier as they grow older and needs/interests diversify.

As far as Sam and home ed goes it has been a meh week.  Maths, Eng­lish, Span­ish and Latin com­pleted with no fuss.  We’ve done some project work but in a low key way using a pack printed off the OS.  Art/Spanish group was not one of our dis­rupted activ­i­ties.  We’ve done enough but feels like it’s been a bit box tick­ing, no real hands on stuff, no real trips.  Most exer­cise has been on the kinect.  No inter­est­ing pho­tos to show.

But with J about 3 days, my elderly neigh­bour not being well and me spend­ing 2 after­noons round there and then I had a meet­ing on Fri­day about access­ing fund­ing for home ed activ­i­ties.  I think I’ll take what we managed.

Our day out was Fri­day and actu­ally although it had no edu­ca­tional pur­pose in itself (but will hope­fully lead to some funded arts/drama activ­i­ties) it was a big step for­ward in the independence/growing up stakes.  I left Sam in town with Jack for an hour, while I had my meet­ing.  Mine and Pete’s birth­days are later this month so they went present shop­ping (and played on the playsta­tion in Game).   Grow­ing up!



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Simple things in life

Ear­lier in the week I had Sam plan a jour­ney that involved a change of bus.  Today we fol­lowed the route.  It led us to a beau­ti­ful walk along Hill Head beach where it felt warm enough to be spring but every­where was frozen solid.  Rarely had a pret­tier walk.  My Dad’s knees are improv­ing now he’s liv­ing down here and he joined us and man­aged the walk bet­ter than we’d hoped.  We spent a happy cou­ple of hours at Titch­field Haven walk­ing in the woods, watch­ing the river from the hide and hav­ing lunch.  Rub­bish on birds so won’t embarass myself by nam­ing them (swans and ducks I can do), but I will men­tion here is a marsh har­rier as it is rare enough that it had drawn a crowd so I had to ask.

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20150123_41 20150123_40 20150123_38 20150123_37 20150123_3620150123_30 20150123_27 20150123_25 20150123_24 20150123_23 20150123_22 20150123_20 20150123_18 20150123_16 20150123_13 20150123_12 20150123_10 20150123_8 20150123_7 20150123_3 20150123_2 20150123_1 20150123_46 20150123_43 20150123_5And home via the library for books by the fire.  Per­fect home ed day.  Even man­aged some study­ing myself — new Future­Learn course.


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Arty stuff

Started off the day with look­ing how our ice mobile worked.  Kind of is the best answer.  Think you need to live fur­ther north for this one.

20150122_10 We’d col­lected some nat­ural mate­ri­als and arranged them in shal­low con­tain­ers, filled with water and laid a rib­bon over the top before leav­ing in the gar­den overnight on a very cold night.


Art group was Picasso’s Girl with a Boat

20150122_18Started off as ever with pic­ture study.  Sam’s mem­ory is get­ting bet­ter, not sure if this sort of exer­cise is actu­ally help­ing but will plug on as obvi­ously not harming.

20150122_19We drew sim­ple faces on paper.

20150122_14Cut them up into lar­gish pieces.  Paint­ing the pieces in bright colours.

When the paint was dry, drew over the lines with black sharpies and glued the pieces to black poster paper.  We rotated some pieces, left gaps and in Sam’s case went com­pletely ran­dom as he dis­cov­ered that using dark paint over the pen­cil hadn’t been a good idea.

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Reasons to love home ed no. 567

Sam has a cold and his asthma is play­ing up.  He’s not par­tic­u­larly ill but he’s not com­pletely right either.  One of the rea­sons home ed has always worked so well with Sam is that it is so easy to tweak and adapt plans.  There is no ‘is he well enough for school’ dilem­mas, no guilt at send­ing him in when he’s below par because that is what you have to do, or has­sle from schools/ewos because you don’t and his atten­dance isn’t ‘good enough’.

There are very few days when it would be hard to find some evi­dence of edu­ca­tion tak­ing place — basi­cally only days spent sleep­ing or vom­it­ing.  On days where he may have been too sick for school often we can carry on more or less as nor­mal (per­haps in pjs and blan­ket as a treat) as we don’t have to worry about the going out in the cold, pass­ing on germs, energy lev­els last­ing the day.  Some­times when he’s really not great we end up retreat­ing under blan­kets on the sofa for books and documentaries.

Any­way back to yes­ter­day — the sneezes, wheezes and rain sim­ply meant that we opted for an indoor day rather than the pen­cilled in out­door one.

Eng­lish was done effi­ciently, includ­ing look­ing at story settings.

20150122_9Latin and he’s fin­ished Level 1 :)

Span­ish done curled up in bed.

Maths was some Timez Attack and Frac­tion pairs


We made a game to prac­tice giv­ing direc­tions (needs some work!)20150121_3Looked at route map­ping from bus maps.  I want the boys to be con­fi­dent using pub­lic trans­port, I think it gives them such a huge amount of inde­pen­dence and self reliance.  We planned the trip we’d intended to take with a view to doing it on Fri­day.  Look­ing up times on the timeta­bles as well.20150121_5

We then had a game of the Lon­don Game to prac­tice using the tube map.  Con­fi­dence nav­i­gat­ing Lon­don is another key aim for the boys, opens up so many opportunities.

20150122_1We finally got around to watch­ing the first of the RI Christ­mas lectures.

Then spent the after­noon in front of the fire read­ing.20150122_7 Look­ing up where some of the sto­ries were set.20150122_3Rest of the day passed in play­ing Minecraft with Jack, chess with Pete and an early night.

Not bad for a ‘sick day’.

P.S.  Sorry for all the pos­i­tive posts at what for most peo­ple is the hard­est point in the home ed year.  If it helps I will be mis­er­able from May to July (always am — heat and hayfever make me grumpy and Sam harder work too).


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Atoms and Molecules

Some­times, just some­times, it is pos­si­ble to hit on just the right way to put for­ward an idea as to make it seem so simple.

Chem­istry was not my strong point in school.  I was able to churn out what I needed for exams but as I’ve been read­ing with Sam I am aware I didn’t have the deep under­stand­ing.  So back to basics, a bit of read­ing, a bag of Amer­i­can hard gums, some marsh­mal­lows and cock­tail sticks and not only does Sam under­stand mol­e­c­u­lar bond­ing but so do I!

We started off recap­ping struc­ture of atoms.  Then took this a step fur­ther and looked at the arrange­ment of elec­trons into shells.  We made some paper plate mod­els by fold­ing the plate in half and trim­ming around the mid­dle mak­ing sure to leave it attached at the top and bot­tom.  For the atom with 2 shells we cut another ring into the outer sec­tion of the plate.  Then we glued pom­poms onto the plate for the par­ti­cles.  Red for pro­tons, green for neu­trons and pink/purple for elec­trons.  This table is very handy.




We then read the sec­tions in the book and ency­clopae­dia about molecules.

To show how the bonds were made we took an Amer­i­can hard gum to rep­re­sent an oxy­gen atom nucleus.   We broke a cock­tail stick on half and stuck the two pieces into the gum.  This was the first shell which can have a max­i­mum of 2 elec­trons.  We then stuck in 8 sticks for the sec­ond shell which can have max­i­mum 8 elec­trons.  We checked on the peri­odic table how many elec­trons oxy­gen has, 8, add added these (mini marsh­mal­lows) to the sticks fill­ing the first shell before start­ing on the second.

20150120_110Can clearly see the outer shell is miss­ing two elec­trons,  So we made two hydro­gen atoms.

20150120_67We then joined them together to show how the atoms share pairs of elec­trons.  A water molecule.


This was obvi­ously too much fun to only do 1.  So we made ammo­nia and car­bon diox­ide too.

20150120_7220150120_75We then decided we pre­ferred to eat the rest of the sweets.  So we looked at the chem­i­cal sym­bols for some com­mon mol­e­cules.  We sorted out some Lego to rep­re­sent come elements.


Then we built lime­stone, quick­lime, sodium bicar­bon­ate, water and a few oth­ers I’ve now forgotten.

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On a cold and frosty morning

The snif­fles and wheezes are back but every­one remains cheer­ful so life car­ries on as nor­mal.  We’ve had a few near to home, busy but relaxed days.  We’re man­ag­ing to keep tick­ing stuff off my rough guides while at the same time fol­low­ing ran­dom threads of interest.

Week­end had a relaxed Sat­ur­day.  Lots of com­puter time.

Sun­day was much fuller.  Started with lots of Sur­re­al­ist art — was Jack’s home­work but it sounded too fun for Sam to miss out.

20150118_4Games and air­fix also featured.

20150118_3 20150118_1Both boys had Gang Show rehearsals.  After­wards we had a rare evening in front of the tele­vi­sion.  Jack had dug out the Robin Hood dvds for a blast from the past.

Mon­day. Eng­lish was done very quickly and effi­ciently as was a bit of Math­let­ics.  But then we decided to look at shapes and the rest of the morn­ing van­ished in play­ing with tan­grams.  Turns out I strug­gle to solve my own designs.  Need to do solu­tions for the web­site I think.

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After lunch we got out­doors, although seem to have missed the sun­shine.  Then there were a cou­ple of teenagers in the skatepark ‘who might swear’, so Sam had to be coaxed in.  He insists on leav­ing places if he hears bad lan­guage and I’m still reminded about the time I swore (about 2 years ago!).  Not quite sure where it comes from, Pete and I very sel­dom swear — comes out when there are stubbed toes or cramp involved.  Just find it rather vul­gar, but aware in minor­ity.  Sam though is grossly offended!  Do won­der what it will mean for friend­ships in upcom­ing years as he and his friends reach teenager­dom and bound­aries get tested.  Think there will have to be low­er­ing of moral standards! :)

20150120_2020150120_22 We stopped in to see Grandad and then headed home for Minecraft.  While I was at Guides there was chess prac­tice, fin­ish­ing plane and read­ing about Romans apparently.


Tues­day and we knocked off Eng­lish.  We’ve moved on to char­ac­ter descrip­tions opposed to phys­i­cal descrip­tions.  Span­ish and Latin fol­lowed quickly.  Then deter­mined not to miss the sun this time we headed to the park.  Just one of the many, many rea­sons I love home ed.

Sam is def­i­nitely my child in many ways — hates the feel­ing of falling — means that slides, mon­key bars, fireman’s poles, going high on swings doesn’t hap­pen… usu­ally!  So attempt­ing and enjoy­ing the zip­wire (even such a small one) is a huge per­sonal mile­stone.  So please for­give the lots of park pho­tos but it was a lovely morning.

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We also had fun play­ing with icy pud­dles and col­lect­ing bits for an art idea.


Home, lunch, sci­ence (sep­a­rate post), City of Zom­bies for Maths and some play­ing with the cal­cu­la­tor, few chap­ters of Around the World in 80 days, Minecraft and First Aid ses­sion at Cubs made it a full day.

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The windy week that whizzed away

Week seems to have gone in the blink of an eye.

Besides the usual we’ve been explor­ing some new resources. There is a teacher that donates loads of good stuff to a local Oxfam, some­times I can get some really good stuff.

20150116_9In cre­ative writ­ing we’ve been work­ing on descriptions.20150116_13

Map­work has been writ­ing direc­tions and fol­low­ing them.
20150116_7Gosport-20150112-01918 Gosport-20150112-01916

There has been a fair amount of get­ting cold and wet.


We’ve received quite a few post­cards via post­cross­ing so we bought a new big map and have been track­ing them.


Maths wise we’ve been explor­ing a resource based on Maths comic strips.  We’ve played var­i­ous ver­sions of Maths pairs, City of Zom­bies and other games (inc awful Beano one).  Math­let­ics and Timez Attack have both fea­tured and he’s been reread­ing some of his Mur­der­ous Maths books.20150116_1There has also been a fair dis­cus­sion of finan­cial mat­ters as we had a day spent in banks deal­ing with new accounts (for boys), stand­ing orders and other bits.  Per­haps not a full day but con­sid­er­ably over an hour so it felt like a very long time.

We’ve had new resources to explore and plans to make.
20150116_2With the weather (and a new cold) keep­ing us indoors we’ve dug out the Kinect and had fun bowl­ing, box­ing and play­ing football.

Social wise there has been board games with Grandad,  lunch out with friends, laser quest, art and Span­ish and a friend over for X-box play as well as Cubs and Gang Show.

Posted in Curriculum, Maps, Maths | Leave a comment

Picasso — Girl Before the Mirror

We’re lov­ing doing Picasso.  It’s the colours.

We took the activ­ity directly from this blog

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Rethinking Maths

Maths was my thing at school, loved it!  When I went to uni­ver­sity it was to train as a Maths teacher.  Despite this Maths is the only sub­ject that I have always used an ‘off the peg’ cur­ricu­lum for.  Rea­sons being;

a) I believe Maths knowl­edge is very much like build­ing blocks.  If you come to try to add higher lev­els with­out firm foun­da­tions below then things will col­lapse.  It wor­ried me that I’d leave gaps.

b) As a child (or most adults actu­ally) you really don’t use a great deal of maths in every­day life.  Decent abil­ity to add/subtract/multiply and divide cov­ers most things.  How­ever, maths is inter­est­ing on a purely abstract level and if you stick to what you come across you miss out.  I believe Maths dif­fers from most sub­jects in that is eas­ier to learn and make sense of abstract con­cepts and then apply it to the real world rather than the other way around.  Most peo­ple with a decent ground­ing will eas­ily apply higher top­ics, the sort that peo­ple say they never use, with­out real­is­ing that they are.

Over the years I have tried a num­ber of cur­ric­ula with both boys.   I even­tu­ally set­tled on Saxon for Sam (although thinned down as it is rather long­winded) and it served us well for 15 months.  How­ever, a few months ago it started to seem a chore and he was com­plain­ing about not lik­ing Maths.  Well that sim­ply won’t do.  Maths should be enjoy­able.  Rou­tine and rep­e­ti­tion were get­ting to us both.  Chang­ing cur­ricu­lum didn’t feel like it would work.  At about the same time I came across this blog which inspired me to say we can do it.

My hope is that we’ll come back to using Saxon, maybe in a few months but if we stay ‘freerange’ for the rest of KS2 I don’t think it mat­ters, glanc­ing through the NC I am pretty con­fi­dent that any­thing on there can be built in eas­ily.  We don’t stick to the NC (and Saxon is Amer­i­can) but will do GCSE at some point so keep an eye on it.

First stage was to lit­ter the book shelves with books.  Sam likes learn­ing by read­ing to him­self.  A num­ber of Mur­der­ous Maths, Sir Cum­fer­ence books and the Num­ber Devil have ‘appeared’ and been read.

We then researched and tried out some online sites, set­tling on using Timez Attack (we have free ver­sion) more and a sub­scrip­tion to Math­let­ics.  Shine is going off the lat­ter though as I think we’ll prob­a­bly reduce use of com­puter.  It was a quick fix to grab his interest.

The stage stage was to add more games to our col­lec­tion.  I bought 3 vari­eties of Maths snap cards and a set of Maths board games.


We added City of Zom­bies at Christ­mas which is brilliant.

Maths for the last few months has been a bit of com­puter time and a game.  Not always one of the spe­cific maths games men­tioned above as we have loads of games the major­ity of which cover some maths.  Inter­est is wan­ing in com­puter based maths and we’re ready for bit more variety.

As we set­tle into the no cur­ricu­lum thing I am hop­ing to make use of more hands on ideas and puz­zles in some of the books we have.  Par­tic­u­larly Think of a Num­ber and How Maths Works.

Will also aim to intro­duce a bit of writ­ten maths again on an occa­sional basis using some of the many Math’s puz­zle and exten­sion down­loads I’ve bought from Scholastic’s Teacher Express over the years when they have their dol­lar deals.  Per­haps diverge into a bit of logic study as I’ve had this book lying around for a quite a while.

The idea is that we will incor­po­rate some maths every day into our sched­ule with­out really wor­ry­ing about what.  I’ll keep a men­tal (or blog) note of what we’re doing to make sure we’ve some vari­ety.  But main thing is to keep things fun and interesting.

We’ll just have to see how we go.

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