Sugar and spice and all things nice…

…that’s what Christmas cake is made from ūüôā

…and LOTS of alcohol!!!

A traditional brandy, fruit cake for my Dad and a whisky dundee cake for my Sister. ¬†They originally started off as Delia’s recipes but over the years have had a lot of tweaks.

House smells yummy.

Am I the first?

Mushroom prints

Here’s an idea I found on Homemade Mama’s¬†that we had to try.

Remove the stalks and lay your mushrooms an your paper or card, gill down

Cover (we used a casserole dish), leave overnight and voila … prints

Our week

I haven’t been able to shake my cold and have struggled this week. Despite that we’ve done okay.
Besides usual lessons…
Jack has been looking at life processes (here illustrated with a meerkat) and we’ve spent some time researching puberty [shudder].

Achilles and Pussy had a ride in the washing machine.

A box of books arrived and when I came down from getting dressed it had been opened and they were curled up with Jack reading the bible to Sam.

We found our bargain of the year 16 books in the series they have just started reading for £1.99!

Sam made an autumn tree.

The change of the season has prompted me to get out my needle.  A sock hedgehog!

And having been to the open evening on Thurs, Jack has decided to try out for the Gang Show this year.



No photos but a good busy weekend

We went into Portsmouth and Jack spent the book voucher he had won.

Jack started a new drama class at the Theatre Royal in Portsmouth. ¬†He seemed happy enough with it, and I had time to browse the fabric shop in my own time, I’d say bliss, but the shop is poor. ¬†Perhaps I should have signed him up for lessons in Havant although not sure I could sustain the damage weekly Hobbycraft visits would do to my bank balance!

Then it was straight home and to piano.

Boys went out to play with friends and then it was time for Dr Who.

Sunday and Jack went to a water fun day with cubs.  Which for him meant several goes on the kayaks, he loves kayaking.  Came home very wet, not sure what did more damage capsizing or a tremendous thunderstorm when they were on the way home.

Sam went over the road to play.  First time I had let him go without Jack.

Peaceful evening watching football and reading rounded off a good weekend.

Slow Lane Day

Difficult to tell with the productive week we had, but we’ve all had colds and aches this week. ¬†With a busy weekend ahead by Friday I needed a day off.

So we gave up on any ‘formal work’.

I got out the outgrown clothes in the cupboard, packed some up for a friend, chucked some, and put a ‘very small’ pile aside to wash for Sam.

Then there was some excitement as convinced I should have more clothes for Sam than that, we investigated the loft.  Cue two very excited boys.  Whereabouts of age 6-7 clothes remain a mystery though.

One of the things we did find was Jack’s old Beaver’s Uniform, which had to be tried on

Sam is a bit ambivalent about going to Beavers and Jack keeps trying to get him excited about it.  They spent some time looking at badges on the computer.

Then we started on the sewing kits that we bought on Thursday, still works in progress so photos to come.

After lunch we went to the post office and then they set up a restaurant with play food. ¬†Most of this toy food came from my sister’s two and the boys have had it and played with it lots for years. ¬†I’d got it out to pass it on, but they are not finished with it yet apparently.

Jack made a menu¬†¬†After tea they played Monopoly (and it didn’t end in shouting and tears as Pete and I predicted!)¬†A lovely chillin’ day


Seaside Project

One thing I am really keen for the boys to develop is group work skills, not just working alongside others. ¬†With a few friends I’ve been working on setting up a group for mid age kids, but we have been hampered by the lack of suitable venues.

In the mean time we decided that we’d make the most of the local environment and do a bit of a seaside project.

So on Thursday we met at Southsea library, where the children shared holiday photos and memorabilia.  We made a list of things the associate with the seaside and set out on a walk to see what we could see. 

Yachts at sea
The promenade
Ice cream ahead
Sharing a scooter is not the most effective means of transport
neither is reading as you walk (we found a stall selling lovely crafts and some second hand books )


We ended up at Cumberland House.

Hannah showing Sam some rock containing fossilised shells

It will be lovely if we manage to sort out the details and set up a workable group.  In the meantime the sun shone and we had a nice day out.  Although I did learn that the 1A bus does not go to the very and coming home from Southsea through Fareham instead of Gosport takes a LONG time!

Back to ‘school’

After the summer break we’re now ‘back to school’.

Jack cracked on with some maths, english and science.

Including this newspaper report

Sam did some of his workbooks

Sam’s reading focused on ‘ng’ digraph so we dug out;

how much he read and how much he can quote from memory I’m not sure.

They learned introductions and family titles in Latin

Geography, we looked at coastal landforms and made a beach in a tray to show how beaches are washed away.  We started off by making some rock pillars from playdough and put them down one end of the tray (cheap cat litter tray Рmy top tip Рanything involving glitter or paint or mess gets done in the tray).  Then we covered them completely in sand.  Poured water into the other end of the tray.  We then pushed a piece of card through the water to make waves.

French, we listened to the cds and the colours. They did their workbooks.

Then I made them some cards so they could play pairs.

We’ve spent time every day reading Goodnight Mr Tom, the book which forms the comprehension basis of Jack’s English this month.

Sam started some of the Ancient Greece pocket of his Ancient Civilization project.

Same also made a fossil cast of his hand. ¬†We had been planning to do it in mud in the backgarden but the heavens opened just after I’d started mixing the plaster of paris, so had to have an emergency rethink.

We filled a bowl with play sand and wet it.  Then Sam pressed in his hand.

We filled it with plaster of paris (I had hoped to do just the hand but there was a lot of overflow).Waited for it to dry and ta da.

Jack started his seaside project

We found some sand art pictures when I was tidying my Rainbow cupboard so they made them for inclusion in project.

There has also been time for baking.  Jack made a chocolate fudge cake all on his own, and very nice it was too.

And we all made shortbread (plain, choc chip and my favourite ginger and dark chocolate).


Making explosions by setting fire to paper caps

Plus Cubs, seeing friends and joining in with tiedyeing at Rainbows (I was too busy dyeing myself and the church wall to take photos).


Sam’s Curriculum 2011

For Sam focus remains on Maths and English, with everything else being mopped up with project work.

He will join Jack to study French and Latin.

I toyed with a more formal approach to Science but the book I bought looked boring so think we’ll stick to projects, joining in with Jack’s practical work and ad hoc investigations.


We’ll continue to work through a combination of Schofield and Sims and Heinemann.


We’ll continue with An Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading

We’ll use Schofield and SIms for handwriting, spelling and comprehension practice

And Developing Literacy worksheets for other aspects of English including creative writing


Both boys will be working together on Minimus.


These books are excellent because they work alongside each other.  The books address the same themes in the same order, but obviously the work in Book 1 is more in depth than that in the Elementary book.  This means we can study the main ideas and vocab together but boys can work at their own level.


I hope to do a bit of music appreciation using this


We will look at different artistic works and produce pieces inspired by them.

Project work

We will continue to work through Evan Moor’s Ancient Civilization History pockets

We also hope to look at


Ancient Greece (in more detail than the History pocket)


Ancient Rome (in more detail than the History pocket)

Human Body

British Monachy



But will go with the flow to some extent.

Jack’s Curriculum 2011

For once we begin the academic year with Jack working at the level he would be at school. ¬†We’ll ignore the fact that in some subjects this is our second or third curriculum.

The plan is to spend less time focusing on Maths, English and Science and introduce new subjects and do more project work.



Realistically I suspect that this is not enough to last the year but we will bulk out, with Maths puzzles, try some test papers and probably start on some KS3 Maths books we have, if necessary.


Last year I did a lot of work with Jack on writing for different purposes and audiences (everything he was writing sounded like it came from a Diary of a Wimpy Kid book) and it has definitely paid off.  However, he is a bit fed up of writing exercises so this year the aim is quality not quantity.  I hope to encourage him to start planning a bit more.

We have also time for reading built into our days so we aim to read the books linked to the comprehension exercises in to Jack’s English book.




Jack wanted to use these

I’m not impressed. ¬†So the plan is to take the themes from it and expand them into projects.

Plan is to look at;






These books form the core of our extension work


Both boys will be working together on Minimus.


These books are excellent because they work alongside each other.  The books address the same themes in the same order, but obviously the work in Book 1 is more in depth than that in the Elementary book.  This means we can study the main ideas and vocab together but boys can work at their own level.


Jack is doing drama lessons at New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth.


I hope to do a bit of music appreciation using this

Plus Jack has fortnightly piano lessons.


We will look at different artistic works and produce pieces inspired by them.

Project work

Jack is quite keen on the idea of these and as long as he remains so I will leave the entirely within his control.

He is starting with one about the seaside.



Annual Review 2011

With the boys never having gone to school we have never fallen under the LEA radar so don’t have formal checks. However, every August I like to stop and reflect on where we are and where we are going.

The big question I always ask, is simply are we all happy to continue home educating. ¬†The answer this year is a very clear yes. ¬†We’ve had wobbles in the past (turns out Jack wasn’t seeing his friends enough to keep him happy) and will probably view the local secondary when the time comes (although when he realises that he won’t be spending all day with his friends suspect that might lose it’s attraction).

Our attempt at introducing more structure into our work has definitely benefited us. ¬†The clear expectations and routine steadies Jack and frees me up to work with Sam. ¬†It was working so well that earlier in the year I started to produce schedules of work for Jack and they worked well as he can see what he is achieving and what I am expecting. ¬†We have stayed focused and suffered a lot less from ‘drift’ than we have in the past.

Academically wise Jack has galloped through his courses.  He has completed the first two books in his English and Science courses (equivalent of 2 years work).  History he has progressed well and written some lovely pieces of creative writing connected to it.

Maths, having finished off the CGP KS2 books he was working on we started on CGP KS3 and struggled. I don’t think it was the maths that was the problem but the change in layout of the course and he found the amount of questions on one page disheartening. ¬†So we opted for confidence boosting and bought the Galore Park Junior Maths, he has done the equivalent of yr 3 and yr4 since Christmas (we skipped vast amounts of it).

Project work, we have managed some when we used Cub badges as the focus but have otherwise fizzled out.

Can clearly see Jack’s tastes maturing this year, we have had some nice visits to places such as British Museum and he has developed a taste for Shakespeare and we’ve had several theatre trips.

He has enjoyed Cubs and Drama and come on well with piano lessons. ¬†We have been attending weekly home ed group sessions although a change of venue have meant that these aren’t working particularly well for us, as well as meeting up with others ad hoc.

Sam’s reading and Maths are coming on well. Learning the lessons from Jack I have opted to study two courses simultaneously with him. So for maths we alternate between Heinnekken and Schofield and Sims, this is to provide extra practice and reinforce ideas at the time, rather than finding ourselves in the position again of completing one course and not feeling ready to move on so starting a new one at that level from the beginning (3 KS2 maths courses from Jack!). ¬†English we have come off the boil and drifted from time to time with reading practice, but even so he continues to improve

We stuck with the book a week concept for a term but fizzled out. Like the idea but not for us as it was too structured and didn’t have the flexibility we need or inspire Sam’s interest enough. So although will still include stories where appropriate in our plans will not base course around them.

He continues to be entranced by anything relating to ancient history and we have enjoyed doing lapbooks and pocket books and plan to do more.

I’ve found the large scale home ed group trips I’ve organised this year quite stressful so think I will draw a line under those and say I’ve done my spell. ¬†Smaller scale ones which don’t involve lots of people I don’t know or go through the website yes, but nothing major.

So thoughts for this year – socialise in smaller groups, stick to structured approach, focus less on maths and english and increase range of subjects, more project work.