Cadbury World

The motivation for and the highlight of last week’s project was a coach trip to Cadbury World.  Was a long day, and I thought it was a bit rubbish, but the boys really enjoyed themselves and that is the most important thing.

After a 3 1/2 hr coach ride and the boys first ever visit to a motorway service station we finally arrived, had some lunch and burnt some energy in the African themed playground.


Then it was our turn in the exhibition and we went into an Aztec forest and met some conquistadors. 

Before arriving in a Georgian Town Square for a video presentation.


Then after a tour of the packing area we queued up for the Cadabra ride – over 20 mins!  We had no idea what it was but Sam wanted to see.


It consisted of sitting in a little car (imagine Noddy) and going around a track for 5 mins past models of cocoa beans with faces.  Boys were not impressed.  I was immensely amused at the kitschness of it and that through a marvellous feat of marketing (all they tell you is the name and along the queuing area are little plaques telling you the estimated queueing time from there – which start at 40mins). they were able to get even groups of adults to queue for up to 40 mins…

More factory and some tasting.


Then a walk through a ‘chocolate street’ with videos of old adverts and into a games section.                               

Finally to a separate exhibition this time about Dairy Milk, with more tasting.  This time they got to add a ‘topping’ (biscuits for them, wine gums for me).


And finally it was time to go home.  But not until they’d spent the pocket money they’d been saving in the largest Cadbury Shop in the World.





Last week was school half term and it’s always a bit of an issue about whether these are normal workdays to us or not.  Up until the last couple of years it didn’t matter really, when Jack was younger we did much less structured work and there wasn’t the distinction between the days so much.  Now he’s older we are much more ‘schooly’ and it seems unfair to be asking him to work when he has friends knocking at the door wanting him to go out.

If I’m honest it was me who needed the break this time.  I’ve been ill since Christmas it seems, nothing awful, just non stop headaches, sinus pain in the eyes, wobbly legs and coughs and colds.  We’ve kept up with workbooks but I haven’t had the energy to do any of the more fun stuff with them, project work, crafts, cooking, experiments, going out etc and everything was feeling a bit dry.

On the other hand they have had a fidgety spell, struggling with concentration and a completely left to their own devices week was likely to be a disaster.  We’ve been letting them play and watch more X-box and TV while we’ve been unwell (Pete has been poorly too) and the deterioration in their behaviour (Jack’s in particular) is incredibly noticeable.  Pete and I commented yesterday that at one point you could almost see the brain matter leaking out of their ears.  There is a lot more I can say about this issue, but this was supposed to be a ‘photoblog’ post so I’ll come back to it when I have more time.

Anyway since it was too cold to be out playing much anyway I decided that the best course of action to balance the lack of focus and my need for a rest was abandoning regular workbooks and working through a self contained project.  A fun one too – Chocolate.

Because of my lack of energy we used a download from Hands of a Child.  Remembered how drab their stuff is though – years since we’ve done one.

They also did a Cadbury’s activity book each

 Which included this brilliant Aztec mask.

We also spent a lot of time in the kitchen

chocolate cakes
chocolate truffles
lemon and chocolate fondant whirls
chocolate fudge - LOTS of really yummy chocolate fudge

*Top tip – if you make fudge with cream cheese, try the new Philadelpia with Dairy Milk.  Sounds disgusting and can’t say I’d fancy it on a bagel, but makes really scrummy chocolate fudge.


Hands of a child lapbook

Pa Pa Paa




Royal Marines Museum

Last Friday (or possibly the Friday before last by now- I lose track) we had a home ed group trip to the Royal Marines Museum in Southsea.

We started with a 20 min walk along the seafront in sub-zero temperatures and then had to hang around outside for 15 mins waiting for others.  We were rather chilly by that point and keen to get inside, but no such luck, the session started with 20mins military ‘drill’.

Must admit I had visions of the session going to pot at this point, with crying, refusing to participate children.   This was so far removed from what they are used to and he was very brusque and sarcastic.   But not one whimper of complaint, all instinctively sensing it was ‘role-play’, if anything they all seemed to rather enjoy it.  We mums didn’t, by this point we had huddled into a penguin formation in a desperate attempt to stay warm and shelter a baby, the announcement that we were going in was greeted with an enthusiastic cheer 🙂

Inside the children were given some background into who the Royal Marines were.

Then we moved upstairs to the World War 2 gallery for a bit of background into the war.  While this was going on us parents were amused by a ‘home front’ display, which had this cheesy, slightly sleazy looking man

…returning home to this…

She really doesn’t look pleased to see him 🙂

Into the education room, the children coloured a map of Portsmouth plotting likely bombing targets.

Then some of the children were dressed in Royal Marines uniforms (although not the green beret!).  Jack was dressed as a commando

…and taught to fire a gun (which apparently was very heavy).

After lunch.  We went around the museum itself, which is large and well worth a trip.  The favourite bits were the bunks

and the training area with a tunnel that was very popular.

Sam’s favourite part was an icy den.

A cold but good day out.


Hmm started this post 10 days ago, have a backlog of saved draft posts.  Aim for the weekend is to catch up!

This project has been rumbling along for too long so with the motivation that Jack had brought something home for a ‘World Faiths’ badge from Cubs, we dug in and finished it.

Cover page with the symbolic crescent and star
Notebooking pages looking at the prophet Mohammed
Finding out about the 5 Pillars of Islam
Information about mosques and a sand art mosque
Designed a prayer mat


And to finish off we looked in depth at the Qu'ran



The notebooking and pillar page I made myself. At some point they will make on to Activity Village but I suspect not for quite a while, we just have too much to do.

The mosque came from Baker Ross, they have a few Islamic inspired crafts.  Worth looking at Yellow Moon to see if they come in smaller packs if you only want a couple.

Prayer mat came from here

The Qu’ran stuff was a 5 week unit from Planbee


Islam by Trevor Barnes  (Book People set)

Islamic Stories by Anita Ganeri (another Book People set)

What I Believe by Andew Langley 

And every book on the subject in the library but I forgot to list them.







Yesterday was a day out of the routine.

They had a wonderful time at their friend Oscar’s party at a soft play centre in Portsmouth.  Ages since we’ve been to one and I thought Jack might be a bit meh.  But he loved running around.

Then my baby started Beavers and loved it 🙂

Rest and Recuperation

Still far from top form so we have had an easy weekend.

We decorated shop bought gingerbread people

Wayne Rooney apparently 🙂

In the New Year sales I picked up several science kits.  We put together a doodling robot, that very unusually for these sort of things, actually worked.

They made up dances with soft toys to songs on the french cd

Did jigsaws

Played with wooden bricks

Making mazes with brinks and toy figures.

And lots of X-box.


Keeper by Mal Peet is a book about a great goal keeper called El Gato who tells us the story of how he came from a poor loggers son to the winner of the world cup and the European cup. It is the first one of the Paul Faustino novels.

In it Gato tells the story of how he was always rubbish at football until he quit at thirteen. When he had quit football he started to go out into the woods to fill his afternoons. One day he meets the mysterious Keeper who starts to teach him football. When Gato is 16 he is really good at being in goal. His father makes him start working at the logging workshop. On Saturdays the logging teams have a football match and Gato is put on the team.

He shows so much skill in the logging team that he is picked up by an official football club called DSJ. After that he is taken by italy where he wins the European Cup. Then he comes into the Final for the world cup and wins. Gato tells Paul to write a book about him and the Keeper.

I really liked this book and what made it even better was that I love playing football and goalie is my favourite position on the field.

I would definetly recomend this for anyone.

Southern Pro Musica Concert

Every year since Jack was 4 we have attended a classical music concert at Portsmouth Guildhall at this time of year.  We love it, adds some structure to the seasons and is one of the highlights of the year.

It was a bit (lot!) of an effort to get up and go based on how I’d felt on Monday but definitely worth it.

We started off in Victoria Park where we managed 20 mins play, lunch in the cafe and then some other hardy souls from the local home-ed group joined us for another 15 mins in the park. It was really cold!

Then it was to the concert.  This was the programme.

Overture ‘Ruslan and Lyudmila’ – Glinka
Meet The Orchestra – Jonathon Willcocks (he is also the orchestra’s conductor)
The Arrival Of The Queen Of Sheba -Handel
Tubby The Tuba – Kleinsinger
Waltz From Swan Lake – Tchaikovsky
Trumpet Concerto (Finale) – Hummel
Hornpipe – arr. Hentry Wood
Tritsch-Tratsch Polka -J Strauss
Wigwam – Jonathon Willcocks

Sam doesn’t like things too loud (neither does Jack but he’s getting better with age) so I manufactured a muffling device from a scarf.

The final song is always an audience participation one and this is the first year that they both joined in with enthusiasm.  I think they liked the ‘terrible disaster’ action…