Review of 2015/2016

I was reading through some of the other year reviews earlier and realised that this one is going to be very short in comparison.
The reason is I have nothing to say ‘well that didn’t work so…’ about – at least nothing big enough to matter.  The year has pretty much been a perfect home ed year.  After 10 years of doing this it all just clicked into place this year.

I’m not saying we didn’t have bad days or drop things from the plan, of course day to day there were plenty of hiccups and screw ups.  Over all it was a very, very successful year though.  Resources chosen have worked very well for us.  Time wise I got the planning of how much to do and when to allow breaks spot on!  Social wise we’ve been happy too.

Sam has grown massively in ability and confidence in himself.  I don’t feel like there are any big gaps in his abilities or what we’re covering that I need to look at plugging.  I am very happy with where we are at the moment so planning is very forward looking in the where do we want to go and what do we need to do to get there way.

For the first time ever he is truly engaging in the self led learning too, both in terms of researching and ‘teaching’ himself and in the saying to me ‘I want to cover this in history’, ‘can we make this?’  A perfect example of this was me saying to a friend the other day that I doubt we’d do English Lit GCSE as creative writing is like flogging a dead horse.  He wasn’t in the room at the time.  A day later he was pointing out resources to me for him to work on that might help him get better at creative writing, as he wants to as he thinks being able to tell stories will be relevant to something he wants to do.

Fingers crossed I’ve not just cursed us!



We were supposed to be working on our Summerologist patch from at the beach.  Big plans for BBQ and and lots of activities went out the window.  I used the excuse of the unpredictable weather but really I have just been busy and kind of forgot until the weekend and didn’t have much time this week.

Was a wise move in the end as all the sports stuff and even the catapult/water bomb launchers stayed in the bag as they simply played.

Sam did try and get away with claiming this was a sand sculpture of a ruined castle on a hill! Think we may have to work on this some more 🙂

20160713_8 We did make rafts though.  A child size one and ones for toy pirates.


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Fabulous end to the ‘school’ year.

50% Success rate

I think that is a fair summary of the last few days of last week!

Weds was simply one of those days where everything breaks, has dead batteries or is missing, other people haven’t done what they are supposed to; basically if it could go wrong it did.  Looking for positives in the day; we managed the start of some crafts for work (and to make a mess, messy crafts are the best!)


20160706_143751 and the charity shop provided these gems.  It could have provided many, many more but Sam dragged me out of there before I undid all my good work on the book clear out front.


Thursday should have been a good day.  We had a home ed trip to Little Woodham.  The plan had been to go over with my Dad and then spend the afternoon just hanging out with friends and walk home over the valley.  However tree pollen must be strong, I’ve been really sneezing and spluttering for a week now.  Just as I went to make lunch the sneezes started and didn’t stop for about 1/2 hr, by which time I was physically exhausted and only had time to grab a bag of crackers and a drink for Sam before it was time to go.  It is a lovely place and my Dad really likes it, Sam and I have been enough times to be a bit meh to be honest.  The volunteers who run it are brilliant and really know their stuff.  However they do get very stressy about coming over and telling you to watch the kids, which makes me stressy and I end up insisting Sam stays with me or my Dad which makes him grumpy, and it was a relief to leave.  The horrendous, hayfever headache didn’t help.
I’ve decided that one day I am going to find the time to get more into the research and possibly try and find the time to volunteer there.  They had a waistcoat that they had spun the wool, woven the cloth, dyed with traditional dyes and sewn up.  I would so, so love to get in to that sort of thing.  Been saying it for years but I’d like a spinning wheel one day!
Perhaps next time I’ll just do one of the open days with my Dad and leave Sam at home.

20160707_104745 - Copy 20160707_104756 - Copy 20160707_104950 - Copy 20160707_105227 - Copy 20160707_110548 - Copy 20160707_111603 20160707_112924 20160707_113110 20160707_114439 20160707_114901 20160707_120044 20160707_120436 20160707_121352Coming home for the afternoon meant I could get on with housework and finish off the crafts for work which cheered me up as had been getting more and more behind on both and I was suffering from that overwhelmed too much to do that you can’t face starting thing.

Friday was my Dad’s birthday so we baked a cake and he came round for the morning for chat and board games.
In the afternoon we finished off our work on the weather to draw a line under this year’s science.  Didn’t go too well – 50% success rate and a lot of water spillage on the experiment front.

We had success with seeing the condensing of air pressure when a plastic bottle half filled with hot water was rapidly cooled.
20160711_14And with demonstrating sky colours by shining a torch into a glass of watered down milk.20160711_18 Less success with the tornado in a bottle thing (water was green – no idea why it looks like sludge). 20160711_24 Making raindrops didn’t work with the water gun but did with the spray bottle.20160711_27 20160711_30 I’ll skip over the hour wasted failing to make a cloud in a bottle and the water fountain (dyed water too) that was the result of not having a watertight seal on my attempt to show convection.

Evening was Scouts and he made it to be invested 🙂

20160711_34 Weekend picked up and was far more positive than negative.  We managed to get out and catch up with friends and I found time to watch the tennis.  House is tidyish, Olympic offering pretty much finished off for work, bit of pre-holiday admin done, Futurelearn courses nearly up to date.  4.30 am starts though to fit it all in!


It’s a smiley face drawn with a water gun.

Thinking Time

We’ve slowed down a lot this week and it seems both of our brains have shifted into holiday and planning mode.  Mine is mostly focused on short term goals, particularly getting us ready for and fitting in everything I want to cover work and home wise before then.

Sam is obviously thinking longer term.  He’s been asking questions about different levels of qualifications and what he might need for the future.  Whether he might want to go to school (not likely) and how we can get him the qualifications he might need.  Talking about whether he’d prefer to specialise in hardware or software development. How he can build and customise his own computer, what graphics cards etc.  I am already rather out of my depth – my job is to research, facilitate and finance stuff.

Shorter term he’s been looking at coding books and online courses and trying to decide the best way forward with Python.  We’ve agreed the time is right for a Raspberry Pi so we’ll get one when we’re back from Wales.  He has a list of programming languages he wants to learn and an order he wants to do it in.  Minecraft mods and how to write them are also of great interest and helping to drive the interest in learning Python.  Servers are his starting point and another post holiday plan is for two servers, one for him to use in coding and testing mods and one to play on with friends.  He’s decided that the long term aim is an online server but has really, really impressed me with the amount of thought he has given to the potential difficulties of how to moderate it, both in terms of having practical (techy) solutions to some issues and recognising that he needs to be sure he can deal with the social/emotion side first.

There has also been a bit of discussion about the practicalities of what activities Sam wants to fit into our weeks, prompted by yet another Code Club cancellation and our Dockyard pass expiring.  Think we may have a plan but waiting to see if he changes his mind.

Which brings me to what we got up to on Tuesday.  Neither of us were too sorry to see Code Club cancelled really as it meant a more leisurely start to the day.  Sam wanted to go to the Dockyard even though we knew it would be busy with the strike so we ran some errands in Gosport and headed over.

We spent lots of time in Action Stations.  Typically on our last visit before the pass ran out Sam plucked up the courage for the rotating climbing wall (he doesn’t do heights at all!) and decided to chance the kick boxing again (he’s refused to do it for about 18 months for some unknown reason) and loved them both.

20160705_125714 20160705_131210 20160705_133143 20160705_133936 20160705_135454 20160705_135640 Pit stop for cream tea (I hadn’t realised I got two scones!)
20160705_142330 Chocolate cake for Sam.

20160705_142407We finished off with a trip to the Trafalgar Gallery.  I can still tie a good knot 🙂
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Chess and Clearing Out

It seems to be 10am before Sam is ready to function so days are all messed up as I am struggling to stay in bed beyond 4.30am. This means my best time of the day has been and gone before he gets up.  It is the hayfever which has messed us both up but we have the opposite reactions.  Sam really, really struggles to go to sleep while I wake up very early, completely muzzy headed, feeling sick and with no hope of going back to sleep.  Only been so bad since the weekend though so much better than previous few years!

Home ed in terms of me steering anything has ground to a halt.  Knew  it would though so all the stuff we follow a curriculum for is already done and dusted and we’re happily bouncing along taking what the days bring.

On Monday this was sorting out and selling on a load of books and resources.  Lots and lots of them!  Lots were put back too, have so many good books.  I have got much better at buying wisely over the years.  Sold a considerable proportion.

Interestingly can see a shift in what people want.  When I was starting out it was far more usual for those of us using structure to go for US homeschooling resources than the NC schools stuff and there was a decent market in second hand stuff, but there has been a definite change.  Means of course I have a load of US stuff on my hands and I want to shout at people – look this is really, really good stuff far better than the stuff you are buying.   The extra filler bits I’ve bought cheap sell on easily.  It is the main curriculum stuff I have.  Seems an awful shame not to see it used again, might have to brave ebay but not sure there is the call for it anywhere.

Anyway!  With a small gap appearing on the shelves Sam could see what was on there better and found his Chess for Kids book.  He spent the morning reading and the afternoon beating me (I’d like to say I let him win but I am just really, annoyingly bad at chess).  It is good for his self esteem apparently.

20160704_134239While I got back on with the book sort out, Sam moved on to reading about Minecraft (researching setting up a server) and then playing.

Annual Clearout

Listing these for locals who can ideally collect or get stuff passed on via mule train.  Please comment on the Fb link if you want anything.  Easiest way to keep track.
Pretty much everything we’ve used at KS2 level, except some of the more textbook type things which I’ve kept for a while so may be a bit of KS1.
Any questions on any of the resources particularly the US curriculum stuff please ask.
Many of the books are pretty much as new, where they are battered hopefully price reflects.  If it is important to you probably everything predates the NC changes of 2014.



Usborne Stories of Knights and Castles – £2


First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind level 2 – £3

Writing With Ease – Level 1 (all student pages there – I bought a pdf version and printed them)  £5

Writing With Ease Level 2 (all student pages there) £5

Usborne Improve your English – £2

Scholastic Writing Guides Fantasy Stories age 9-11 – £2

Scholastic Writing Guides Poetry – age 9-11 – £2

Scholastic Literacy Skills Spelling Year 6 – £2

Scholastic Literacy Skills Vocabulary Year 5 – £2

Collins Primary Focus Grammar and Punctuation book 3 – £2


How Much is a Million – £1

You Do the Maths Activity Books (4 books) – £3

Galore Park Junior Maths Book 1 – £3



How to Teach Primary Programming Using Scratch – this is a teacher’s book covering 7-11yo not something you can give to a child to follow on their own definitely a ‘teaching’ one.  Excellent but mostly too simple for Sam and doesn’t fit with way we work really.  You can get workbooks to sit alongside – £10


DK Rock and Fossil Hunter (stickers are unused)- £2

Totally Weird Natural Disasters – 50p

The Way Science Works – £3 this topped up with Pinterest and science story books was our science curriculum for a year the year before last.

Scholastic Create and Display Science – £1 – these are inspiration for classroom displays but I like the inspiration for hands on fun ideas.


The Danger Zone Avoid Being in a Medieval Dungeon – 50p

How to be a Knight – £3

Hands on History (4 books – Celts, Romans, Egyptians, Greeks) – £3 set

Spies and Spying – £2

The Spy Book – £3

Art – being ruthless.  Held on to much of this for years with view I may do a HE art group again 

I Dreamed I was a Ballerina – picture book about Anna Pavlova using Degas paintings – £2

Art Explorers Make it Pop! – £2

Craft and Cookery

200 Crochet Blocks – £2

Storyland Cross Stitch – £2

Low GI Vegetarian Cookbook – £1


My Spanish Sticker Dictionary – £1

Usborne Spanish for Beginners and First 1000 Words in Spanish (both looking battered but still very usable – £2

Singing Spanish – £1

Collins Very First Spanish Words – £2

Formar palabras – game making words in Spanish – £2


Galore Park So You Really Want to Learn French Book 1 and CD – £10 (this is KS3 level)

Scholastic Create and Display – Nature and the Environment – £1

Scholastic Create and Display – Performing Arts – £1

Belair Projects inspired by the Olympics – £1

D-Day Museum Colouring Book (and Mary Rose one too with 1 1/2 pages coloured) – 50p

Scenes of Wonder Colouring Book – 50p

London Underground Activity Book – £1


Saxon Math – tbh I am not sure exactly what I have.  Definitely the Teachers Guide for Math 3 (not sure what edition – 1994!) because we used that and various bits picked up second hand from 5/4 and 6/5.  Very old and battered versions (some marks too from owners before me).  Free to anyone who can make use of them.

Busy Doing Nothing

That summed up Thurs and Friday really.  I struggle to think what we did do.

The most notable thing was I had a bit of a parenting fail when I sent Sam to Scouts at the normal time only for it to have started 1/2 hr early.  Finished an hour early too so also failed to pick him up!  Luckily he had the common sense to send me a text and walked home himself.  The annoying thing about it was we’d prioritised not being too tired for Scouts (he’s really been struggling to settle with the change and timing) and not gone to the home ed group picnic, so there was no chance of him missing being invested.  Turns out he missed it because I am an idiot!  He was fine about it, will just do it next week.

The second thing of note was finishing Sam’s maths and English curricula for the year.  We’ve some review stuff left for maths but I think we’ll just dip in and out of that over next two weeks as mood strikes rather than work through systematically.

The days passed in Minecraft, working on Python, lots of reading aloud, long discussions on politics and economics.  Sam has been hoarding left over Euros from Pete’s trips away for years and we came to an exchange deal where I gave him some sterling for his stash as Jack is off to Holland with the school tomorrow and needs spending money.

I also took the opportunity to have a book shelf clear out.  Only got as far as making a pile but it is a start.  It is on the todo list to list them here tomorrow.


Sporty fun

Today was our last meeting at the hall for the summer.  It was the first one that the weather has written off the garden.  As it happens it proved a timely intervention as although the window is now fixed (and covered in bird stickers!) the area around it is still cordoned off in case of glass in the grass and to add to the potential danger they had found a wasps nest in the grass around the corner.

It didn’t spoil the fun though.  I really love this group, just has such a lovely chilled, relaxed atmosphere.  Even if I never get to drink a hot cup of coffee, I am always wanted for something! By the end of the session many of the people who had been in the room next door drifted in to have a look what was going on and smile at us as noise level had gone up in a kids having fun way.

I’d massively over planned and the kids were busy crafting for far longer than expected.  We made footballer finger puppets and football spinners, shuttlecocks and paper plate tennis rackets, sunglasses – which may not be sporty but I’d bought them for the group on Friday and cancelled that session so thought we may as well get some use, painted with golf balls and did colouring, kit design and puzzles.

We then made edible Olympic torches from ice cream cones, cakes, yellow icing and red and yellow sprinkles.

By the time we’d tidied up and done a bit of construction work there was only time for one of the games I’d planned.  Pool noodle javelin.

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Harbour Tour

Tuesday saw us returning Oscar who had spent a couple of nights at ours and then heading to the Dockyard for what I thought would be our last visit for a while but I ended up promising we’d go next week after Code Club.

We did the harbour tour as it was really hot and being out on the water felt like a good move.  Compared to previous tours there wasn’t really anything in dock of note.  Sad to see them stripping Illustrious.  The banana boats are always quite interesting, we see the Naval and the passenger ships a lot but I tend to think of Southampton being freight but 70% of the UK’s bananas come via Portsmouth.  Reminded me that they were supposed to be getting back to me about a group visit, think they said next month, about 4 years ago!

I really couldn’t see when I was taking photos because of the light but love the clouds.  Clouds were something a bit special that day, a beautiful sunny morning was starting to give to afternoon of heavy rain bursts.  Resting your head on the front felt nice apparently, it vibrated.


20160628_115720 20160628_115815 20160628_115852 20160628_120331 20160628_120453 20160628_121109 20160628_122244 We had lunch and a stop in Action Stations.  Where we found another 3 home ed families, quite often find someone there 🙂  Sam did the assault course for a while before a school group showed and home eders scarpered.  We played downstairs for a while and rode the simulator.

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We then spent some time in Gosport picking up some stuff for Jack’s exchange trip with the school and today’s HE group.


The Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl

I almost feel guilty writing this as I am going to be saying ‘it was fabulous you should go’ and it closes on Sunday.  It was though.  We had no idea what to expect and I’m still not sure how to describe it really.  This was how the website put it  “this multi-sensory journey takes you through seven immersive worlds each exploring a different aspect of Roald Dahl’s life, discovering the secrets of a writer beloved by gazillions of children along the way.”

Back in February a friend and I were walking along Southbank and saw a poster for it and said ‘ooh!’  Looked at the costs and it wasn’t cheap but if we had 12 of us (we were already 5) and I could get us a schools tour.  Turned out a lot of friends fancied it and we were actually 42 of us and needed 3 tours :).  Most of us traveled up together on the train too which was nice.

It was a guided tour and much of it was in the presentation rather than the actual sets.  We went through a room filled with cardboard boxes, more into it (not sure on the reason I think it was about archiving), into a school room to talk about his early life, the Libyan desert for his RAF days, a bedroom for dreams, a woodland to talk about some of his books, a library with a real hidden door in a bookcase and finally the inventing room.  At this point Sam decided to be sick!  Luckily we got out of the room and into the toilets first.  Was fine after so must have been the stuffiness.

Could only take photos in the inventing room unfortunately so you will just have to take my word for it being good.

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As we’d broken down already into groups and families we then spread out to do our own thing after.  For us that meant going for lunch with a couple of other families and then going to the park.  We then headed home on an early train as the boys (had Oscar, Sam’s best friend in tow) had Minecraft and DVD plans.   If you forget the vomiting it was a very pleasant day.

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