Heritage Days 2014

When the Her­itage Days started book­ing up I gave Sam the local list­ings and let him pick a few to do.  Pos­si­bly choices were slightly odd for 8yo boy (local ceme­tery, and then an hour and a halves guided walk around a nearby area) but actu­ally nei­ther are com­pletely new to us and built on prior knowl­edge. On both Sam was only child and did me proud at lis­ten­ing and being interested.

Def­i­nitely pre­ferred the grave­yard tour as the per­son giv­ing it was heav­ily involved in the restora­tion and was a real local with lots of per­sonal con­nec­tions and sto­ries to share.  The Stokes Bay tour was given by peo­ple who had researched it (well!) but with­out the per­sonal touch lacked the pizazz.

Didn’t take any pho­tos in the ceme­tery as didn’t feel right.  But we had a chance to nip in to Cres­cent Gar­dens first.


If you are local I highly rec­om­mend tak­ing a walk around the Anglesey/Alverstoke area, really inter­est­ing his­tory.  There were efforts to turn part of it to be known as Angle­seyville (after Mar­quis of Angle­sey).  There was the Cres­cent (exact same design as Bath’s but money ran out so only half got built), a hotel, bath house, race course on the beach and the church of St Marks.

Some read­ing for any­one interested.






We then walked up over Work­house Lake, to Gosport Park for a play and conker collecting.

20140913_12 20140913_13 20140913_16 20140913_18 20140913_21 20140913_22Sunday’s walk was called Secrets of Stokes Bay West.  Quite a lot was fairly famil­iar as we’ve done fair amount of local his­tory stuff but still enough to inter­est us.  The big thing that we took from it I think is a desire to go hunt­ing for pre­his­toric arrow­heads at low tide.  I sup­pose the parts that inter­ested me most were the his­tory of Bay House and Alver­bank as this is what I knew least about.  Also sur­prised to learn about brick­works in Stan­ley Park.  Sam liked the sto­ries of the tank train­ing not surprisingly.







The bay

The bay

Battery No. 2

Bat­tery No. 2

Bay House (now Jack's school)

Bay House (now Jack’s school)

Alverbank Hotel

Alver­bank Hotel

Stanley Park

Stan­ley Park

Badger Sett

Bad­ger Sett


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Arty week

Mak­ing a big effort to recon­nect with my crafty mojo at the moment and bring more hands on stuff into our education.

Weds was the first of our new art group ses­sions.  3 other fam­i­lies, 4 chil­dren plus lit­tle sib­lings as laid back as groups get.

We started off with a story

20140916_5Before mov­ing on to look at and colour ‘The Snail’.


We ended with sketch­ing out­lines of ani­mals and cre­at­ing a ripped up paper col­lage version.


Michael’s Giraffe

Sam's T Rex

Sam’s T Rex


Amelia’s much tidier interpretation.

On Fri­day we began Art Award lessons.  Unfor­tu­nately there were not enough chil­dren to run the classes so it has been post­poned while they try and recruit more chil­dren.  But it did mean that Sam and his friend Michael had the really rather lovely teacher to them­selves.  She really just seems to have let them loose with a choice of mate­ri­als and they really had fun.  Two chil­dren pro­duced really dif­fer­ent work out of the same ses­sion.  Here is Sam’s.


Colour mix­ing


Lino print­ing


Start­ing a sketch book

Colour wheel

Colour wheel

If any­one local is inter­ested please ring the Ashcroft and sign up.

We have also had an autumny craft burst.  Pri­mar­ily for work but lots of fun all the same.  Mak­ing our own paints from berries, grass and mud I think has to have been the messi­est and most fun.  Par­tic­u­larly when you take them out­side after­wards to mix up and get messy.

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Love work­ing with Autumn colours.

20140913_74Dis­play so far.  Very tree focused at present but plans to diversify.




Posted in Art, Art Award, Curriculum, Matisse | Tagged | Leave a comment

Science and Nature

Home edu­ca­tion is a huge learn­ing curve for me as well as the boy.

One of the biggest things I took from the last aca­d­e­mic year was if we strug­gle to find time to fit in a sub­ject area than the best approach to help with both our lev­els of moti­va­tion is to study along­side others.

The other major les­son is I find struc­tured groups don’t work for larger num­bers or for a big range in ages.  Actu­ally I will clar­ify that they don’t work the way I need the group to work.  If we are study­ing some­thing with a group it is prob­a­bly at the expense of doing it pri­vately (only so much time avail­able).  There­fore I need it to have a log­i­cal flow and ide­ally a plan, be pitched at right level for Sam, he needs to ‘learn’ from it rather than just be there to have fun with friends (not that that isn’t impor­tant but times and places) and be a pleas­ant place.  Kids need to all get on and adults need com­pat­i­ble objec­tives and expec­ta­tions.  I use the word com­pat­i­ble because I don’t think two peo­ple will ever have the exact same viewpoint.

Any­way on Tues­day we started a fort­nightly Sci­ence group.  Just a cou­ple of fam­i­lies — 6 chil­dren, 5 of them very close in age.

First ses­sion went well.  We are look­ing at mat­ter.  The chil­dren will be pro­duc­ing project fold­ers at the end but the aim is to do the read­ing and con­sol­i­dat­ing our­selves on non-group weeks and the messy hands on stuff together.

We started with some basic ques­tions, then gave them all some cards to sort.  Any unsure ones were opened up for discussion.

20140910_10 We then looked more closely at solids and tested the hard­ness of dif­fer­ent mate­ri­als and ordered them.20140910_11 We moved on to look at how you mea­sure den­sity of non-regular shaped solids by mak­ing shapes out of a cer­tain weight of plas­ticine, drop­ping them in water and see­ing how much water was dis­placed.   My seal on the spout was not water­tight so our find­ings were unre­li­able but fun was had, par­tic­u­larly with wet, sludgy playdough.


We fin­ished off with test­ing melt­ing points.  I learned another valu­able les­son — clean the test­tubes before you go out.  I have a table top hop incase you are won­der­ing.  I wanted some­thing the chil­dren could gather around and see.  Kitchen hob was awk­ward and can’t really cable up  a bun­sen burner in the mid­dle of my din­ing room so this was my solu­tion ( and a good one it seems).

20140910_16 After sci­ence we have set up a nature group opened up to every­one.  Nature walks and play are one of those things that work well across the ages and the more the mer­rier and no size con­straints of venue.  The Alver Val­ley Coun­try Park is on my door step so we headed there for a wild­flower walk.  Noth­ing too organ­ised just a group of fam­i­lies with spot­ters guides.  I can rec­om­mend this one as sorts by colour and is incred­i­bly clear (if any­one can tell me where I can get the fungi one at a sen­si­ble price I would be grateful)


Here is Sam’s nature diary record (can’t promise the names are all right).


Despite the rel­a­tively nice weather the river was flooded so shoes came off and there was wad­ing.  Ducks were happy enough.20140910_20We also saw a few dif­fer­ent types of cater­pil­lar which took me by sur­prise for the time of year.

Posted in Curriculum, Home Education Group, Matter, Nature Study, Science | Tagged | Leave a comment


It feels a bit like that is what we have been doing the last week — play­ing at school.  Not that things are going badly at all the oppo­site in fact, we’ve had lovely days out and ‘work’ is going quickly and effi­ciently.  It just feels a lit­tle new and forced, we are yet to estab­lish that relaxed rhythm.

I had the bright idea of doing 10 mins exer­cise before we start work.  Lasted one day using the activ­ity cards we had.  It all felt too much like a les­son, too fake and adult led.  Day 2 he cracked on with work while I washed up.  Sam seemed to enjoy it, it is me who baulks at com­ing across like a teacher as not the rela­tion­ship we have and not the rela­tion­ship I want us to have. Not giv­ing up the idea just need to find a more nat­ural way of doing it for us so it becomes habit.

Think we may have fixed that and moti­vated Sam to get dressed ear­lier — use the Kinect! That’s what comes of sit­ting on a blog post for sev­eral days.

We’ve been mak­ing use of some of the Maths resources that I made over the sum­mer.  Good obvi­ously but as some­one who just ‘got’ maths and found visual expla­na­tions just mud­died the waters, maths manip­u­la­tives always feel a bit false to me.  It works for Sam obvi­ously oth­er­wise wouldn’t do it, but demon­strat­ing some­thing in a way that is not my nat­ural way of see­ing the world always feels slightly odd.

20140910_4 Then there has been the var­i­ous new/slightly changed groups that we have started this week.  All good, all will work, all just need a cou­ple of weeks for every­one to set­tle into.  At the moment I’m organ­ised and planned ahead and in teacher mode as time goes on I will get more dis­or­gan­ised and it will be more a case of mud­dling by.

Happy with our start to term though.  Sure in a few weeks sum­mer break will be for­got­ten.  Seems to be for boy 1 who is find­ing the whole get­ting out early on to the bike a chore already :)

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Loud and Proud?

Won­der­ing lately about why I keep a blog, what pur­pose it serves, is it just atten­tion seek­ing really?

Home ed blogs seem to be get­ting shinier and more pro­fes­sional (almost mini busi­nesses), rather than the sim­ple warts and all unload­ing of the day.  Aware that I am slip­ping that way too a bit and not sure I want to.

I seem to have got a bit side­tracked lately.  Some­one asked about sub­scrib­ing so set that up but as an add on it tracks views etc.  As a bit of a sta­tis­tics nerd this inter­ests me and I realise I could get rather off course if I stray into writ­ing for an audience.

I am not a pro­fes­sional writer and if I am hon­est I am not even par­tic­u­larly good at it.  I read old posts and some­times cringe at the waf­fle and typos and basic gram­mat­i­cal errors.  But really when it comes down to it I write for myself.

This blog is a diary, a record of what we’ve done and our plans, it is a place where I can find records of good days when I need encour­age­ment, refresh my mem­ory of things we’ve covered/places we’ve been and see how far we’ve come.  If one day the LEA queried our pro­vi­sion they would get a link.  I’m in the lucky posi­tion of never feel­ing like we have to jus­tify our deci­sion to fam­ily, but they are inter­ested in what we get up to.  The main per­son to fol­low what we do though I sus­pect is Pete, off in his own world of work it’s easy to lose touch.  He sees the end results of projects, hears tid­bits of what we get up to in the day, but misses out on the process which is what mat­ters and this is what I try to record.

The rea­son why I use a pub­lic blog rather than a pri­vate diary is partly ease and habit, when I started about 7 years ago blog­ger was set up to do every­thing I wanted.  I never both­ered to make it pri­vate as to be frank I never really expected that any­one beyond fam­ily and some friends would be inter­ested.  Another part is to play a part in the large home eders blog­gers com­mu­nity out there, over the years we’ve built up con­nec­tions with other home eders around the world by mutu­ally fol­low­ing one another’s blogs and I’m still com­ing across new blogs to enjoy.  Please any blog­gers read­ing send me a link to yours.

Some­times I use as a place to brain­dump.  Home ed can be quite iso­lat­ing as an adult and it is nice to dump thoughts, moans, frus­tra­tions some­where.  It is like talk­ing through an idea with your­self, by typ­ing out opin­ions I feel like I am clar­i­fy­ing and analysing my own thoughts.  Also on forums I find the same ques­tions come up fre­quently and often find it is eas­ier to refer to a post than write a long reply that Face­book doesn’t really have space for.

Another thing the pro­gramme that enables sub­scribers does is post things auto­mat­i­cally to Face­book.  Regret­ting set­ting that bit up.  Not sure when I started with the post­ing links from the blog to Face­book, I just seem to have drifted into it as my time­line was clut­tered with oth­ers doing the same.  But realise that is rather tedious for non-home ed friends (and home ed friends) to be bom­barded with step by step break­down of our cur­ricu­lum so apolo­gies.  Also while I am obvi­ously very pos­i­tive about home edu­ca­tion and our choices, I know it is not for every­one.  I don’t want to come across as one of those ‘school is bad’ home edu­ca­tors, because I don’t think it is just for us it seemed a bet­ter option.  Any­way decided to keep my Face­book time­line clear­ish of home ed stuff in future.  This will be last blog link.  Have set up sep­a­rate page for this blog to auto­mat­i­cally post on (eas­ier than dis­abling fea­ture unbe­liev­ably) and for me to share links on (mostly for my own future ref­er­ence).  If any­one wishes to join you’ll find it here —   https://www.facebook.com/lifeloveandliteraturehomeed


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There is always more…

…that I would like to cover home ed wise than what can be neatly divided into the main school sub­jects.  There is way more to learn and dis­cover about the world than we have time to touch on, par­tic­u­larly as I firmly believe in time to just be and play.  All a bal­anc­ing act and who knows if we get it right.  Here are just some of the things I would like to fit into the fringes of our lives…


Big in the news at the moment with the idea of cod­ing for 5 year olds.

Plan to work on basic Office skills — Word/Excel mainly but will prob­a­bly have a play with Paint at some point.  I bought a cou­ple of books so long ago I have no mem­ory of doing it at all but thought it about time we used them.



Sure Sam will con­tinue to play with Scratch in his free time but hope to get a lit­tle more organ­ised about work­ing on cod­ing with him come the spring.  Have invested in these to read and digest before­hand.  Step­ping out of my com­fort zone, sus­pect this is an area where it will be a case of learn­ing side by side, although the boy has a head start.20140826_13 20140826_14

 Phys­i­cal Education

Sam has a ten­dency towards a seden­tary lifestyle com­bined with a not great diet (fuss pot).   We are hope­fully doing a project on farm­ing in the spring term to look at food and where it comes from to stoke inter­est.  Plan food wise is to involve him in cook­ing a lot more.

PE have given up all hope in per­suad­ing him into organ­ised sport­ing activ­i­ties.  With no car we walk a lot hope to try and do more walk­ing for fun rather than just from one place to another.

The plan is then to pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties for exercise/running about that he will enjoy ide­ally with oth­ers.  I have made a start on arrange­ments for monthly laser quest ses­sions with other home eders and will hope­fully go on to sort either geo­caching or skatepark meets monthly too to hope­fully coor­di­nate to work fortnightly.

The big new habit that I want to get us into (for my sake as well if not more than his) is start­ing most days with 10 mins exer­cise.  We got sent this for free over the sum­mer to use for ideas, but will do some catch­ing prac­tice, set up the swing­ball etc.



One I think that will have to go by the way­side this year.  We’ll read our book of bible sto­ries on and off I am sure.  I also have noted some dates on the blog cal­en­dar to observe if we get time.  Have a nice book Fes­ti­vals, Fam­ily and Food and a bril­liant Guid­ing resource to draw on.


We have an elec­tion within the next aca­d­e­mic year. I would love to do more on pol­i­tics.  I have been col­lect­ing safety resources.  I keep being sent links to green/charity projects for Guides that I would love to do with Sam but sus­pect most would work bet­ter as group projects.  I have a sketched plan for a weekly group ses­sion cov­er­ing themes in 6 week blocks and tak­ing in trips…  But can’t see a good time in either ours or the local groups sched­ules.  Decided to put on the back­burner until Christ­mas. I have ordered him a sub­scrip­tion to First News to encour­age some aware­ness of cur­rent events although he often watches the news and will ques­tion when we are dis­cussing things.


I think one of the biggest strengths of home edu­ca­tion is that you are not con­strained by the National Cur­ricu­lum.  How­ever, when you come to plan your cur­ricu­lum it can feel over­whelm­ing — there is just so much I want to cover and want to cover now.

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Cut Outs and Book Benches

First full day of term was a lovely one.

We headed up to Lon­don to catch the Matisse exhi­bi­tion at the Tate and see some of the book benches before they go.


Only spent about 45 mins in the exhi­bi­tion (these things are always too busy).  But we came out impressed, par­tic­u­larly with the larger, more detailed later works.   The scale of some of them was amaz­ing — can only assume the commissioner/purchaser had a much big­ger house than me ;)

Not allowed to take pho­tos in there so here’s a post­card of Sam’s favourite ‘The Para­keet and The Mermaid’.


Mag­net of sec­ond favourite ‘The Snail’.


Christ­mas cards of my favourite ‘Nuit de Noel’ or ‘Christ­mas Eve’.  Dis­played bril­liantly with lights behind the win­dow to show the colours and next to its maque­tte (scale model — my new word for the day).


We’d spent some of the train jour­ney read­ing about Matisse and intro­duc­ing his works.


Before hav­ing a lovely and pos­i­tive chat about home edu­ca­tion with the retired teacher sit­ting oppo­site.  No idea where peo­ple encounter all this neg­a­tiv­ity I read about, rarely have had any­thing but plain curios­ity or com­plete enthu­si­asm from strangers par­tic­u­larly ex teach­ers.  The only doubts expressed to me have been about the lack of mon­i­tor­ing but as I am actu­ally quite in favour of reg­is­tra­tion and mon­i­tor­ing if done right (the big stum­bling block) then that avenue quickly dries up.

Any way after the gallery and lunch we did the River­side book bench trail from the National Lit­er­acy Trust.   Pity they are going as would like to do the rest of the trails.  The Padding­ton one (or Dr Seuss) would be very wel­come addi­tions to my back gar­den should any­one want to buy me a present.

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Was a lovely after­noon walk­ing along the south bank of the Thames.  As much as I love the open air of the hills and coast, I do love Lon­don very much.  The con­trasts, the vital­ity, just stum­bling over history/culture all of the time.  These are just some of the things that caught our eye yesterday.

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We also man­aged walk around Bor­ough Mar­ket in the shadow of South­wark Cathe­dral and a trip into a small gallery under the Oxo Tower where they had a dis­play Map­ping Lon­don — I could have spent a lot longer in there, wish­ing I’d bought the exhi­bi­tion catalogue.

We still had time for a long play in Jubilee Gar­dens (one of our favourite parks) before head­ing home.

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Posted in Art, Curriculum, Days Out, Matisse | 2 Comments

Marbling with Shaving Foam

Can’t remem­ber where I saw this idea but as we love shav­ing foam crafts at the moment so we had to have a go.  End result wasn’t as bright as I’d hoped for.  May have another go as not short on shav­ing foam (Tesco — 26p a can­is­ter!) using paints instead of food colouring.

Tip — don’t use red food colour­ing.  That stuff is evil and sinks through the foam.


Start off with a tray of smooth­ish (as you can see from ours very ‘ish’ is fine).  We use cheap pet lit­ter trays.  They are fan­tas­tic for lots of craft pur­poses such as lim­it­ing the spread of glit­ter (only a small amount but every lit­tle helps).


Drip on dots of food colour­ing.  We started with drop­pers (Rain­bow Cre­ations best place to get them that I have found) but ended up just drip­ping from the bottle.


Gen­tly swirl the colour­ing around with a stick or fork.  Skew­ers would work well, we used the end of an old paint­brush.  Aim is to make pat­terns not mix the colours.


Care­fully place a piece of paper flat on top and tap down, so the paper is com­pletely cov­ered by shav­ing foam.  You will see the colours soak through.

Lift up the paper.  Scrape off the shav­ing foam.  We used thick card (flap of a box) and leave to dry.


Results looked bet­ter wet but a def­i­nitely a tech­nique to play with.  At the very least we love play­ing with shav­ing foam, won­der­ful texture.

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Hi Ho Hi Ho It’s back to work we go

20140903_8Jack was back to school today although with a very late start (the school gives the first years a cou­ple of hours induc­tion).  So Sam and I were back to something…

Def­i­nitely not a full throt­tle go for it day more a gen­tle dip­ping toe back in.  Could have been a dis­as­trous day with bro­ken boiler and toi­let, leak­ing pipe and a need to wait (and wait and wait…) on a par­cel.  But we ignored all that and had a lovely day.

Maths was play­ing Dude Dice - still tweak­ing the rules try­ing to get them spot on.

Eng­lish was writ­ing a post­card to a new penpal.




We made a start on two new geog­ra­phy projects.  Reac­ti­vat­ing our Post­cross­ing account and writ­ing and send­ing a post­card.  Plus we made up a jour­nal page and pre­pared and lam­i­nated our flat trav­eller before send­ing her on her way.

20140903_51Started his­tory project by watch­ing a His­tory of Ancient Britain.

We baked so melt in the mouth choco­late bis­cuits.  We also observed what had hap­pened to the gummy bears we’d soaked over night.  We also man­aged a trip to the park and shop for pic­nic supplies.



The big project of the day was mar­bling paper with food colour­ing and shav­ing foam.  Per­haps not the the best idea when the kitchen sink is out of action as very messy.


But great fun.  20140903_45Lots of pho­tos taken so prob­a­bly war­rants it’s own post but that is tomorrow’s job.



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Tudor House Museum

Mak­ing the most of the last few days of hav­ing both my boys around, on Sat­ur­day we took a trip to the Tudor House Museum.  Again another lit­tle gem.  The open­ing ‘ghost’ show was hilarious.

Lovely small museum, we took the audio guides which I think were worth it.

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