Bugs, Books, Busyness and Birthdays

Unfortunately not talking the fun sort of bugs that seem to be popping up on my Facebook feed, talking colds and coughs 🙁

Despite them been a busy weekend.

Thursday, we met his best friend in the park for an hour or so, before we retreated for hot drinks (was nippy!).

Then I took the boys to a workshop on camera obscuras at Cumberland House, Portsmouth.  Despite having some doubts about leaving the house (think feeling poorly) Sam really enjoyed it and is still talking about it four days later so had to be good.

On the way home we picked up a box set of Horrible Science books.  He has been reading the History and Geography versions for years but has always said the Science was too nasty.  In an attempt to add some oomph into our science learning I persuaded him to give them a go and he took about 8 out of the library, they were a hit as expected so we bought the box of 20.

Friday was sick day!  Jack was off school and Sam and I were both decidedly under par too.  We all curled up and read in my bed until lunch time when we got up and spent the afternoon in front of Percy Jackson.

Saturday was peaceful, Jack was away staying at a friend’s so it was a morning for running errands, a sport and sewing afternoon and lots of reading with Sam in the evening.

Sunday, passed in bit of a blur. Work, household chores, bit of work with Sam to allow for a busy week filled the day. Jack passed through late morning to change and collect food before heading out again for Gang Show rehearsal.

Monday was a friend of Sam’s birthday so it was an early start to get maths and English done before heading out for some jobs for Guides and to meet friends at a local soft play.  Lovely morning.  Afternoon went in various attempts at the Guide activity for that night …luckily it was all alright on the night 😉

Hertfordshire and film making

Geography group has reached as far as Hertfordshire.

My research led me to discover that Hertfordshire is incredibly dull!  Briefly toyed with some sort of New Town/Garden City design project possibly drawing on Minecraft but decided my group are more Lego minded.  So decided that we would use the fact that the county was home to the Elstree (Star Wars/Eastenders) and Leavesden (Harry Potter) studios to do a bit of film making.

My webcam wouldn’t install properly so these are very slipshod, cobbled together efforts I’m afraid (from the technical aspect obviously the kids were brilliant 🙂 )



A lot of Tuesday disappeared in trying to get software and webcam operational, so here is Sam’s test.


St Patrick’s Day and Chemical Reactions

Not really connected but we had two ‘special days’ to look at this Monday.

St Patrick’s Day shaped our food choices for the day.

We made barm brack

20140318_21and supper was Beef in Guinness with soda bread and pink lemonade.

We are also ‘celebrating’ National Science Week in our usual way – making a mess 😉

Mentos in fizzy drinks

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Elephant’s toothpaste

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Volcano (and making a lovely sludgy mess afterwards)

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And slime.


We then had Jack’s first senior school parents evening.  Lot of waffle about levels, I find it hard to care about them, actually impossible!  But general gist is he is doing well and behaving so that is okay.  And his English teacher loves him 🙂

The Mist

We woke up yesterday to the sound of foghorns.  Rushing through Maths and English we headed out for an eerie walk along the seafront.  Visibility was very low and the Isle of Wight and Southampton and the New Forest were completely invisible.

Gosport-20140314-01169We did some beach combing (I have a bag full of rope)

Gosport-20140314-01173He managed to drag this for a fair distance before I managed to persuade him to leave it!

Down to the park


Isle of Wight-20140314-01184 Gosport-20140314-01179 Gosport-20140314-01180 IMG-20140314-01182 IMG-20140314-01183 Gosport-20140314-01185

One of the things I love about children is how the simplest things spark curiosity and learning.  We managed to cover coastal defences and homophones while hanging about in the park.

IMG-20140314-01181Then through the village and home via second park.


Being Yertle the Turtle King of all he can see!

Gosport-20140314-01189 Covering friction and rust – the roundabout isn’t turning 🙁Gosport-20140314-01192Spent the rest of the day watching a documentary about the First World War and reading Percy Jackson and playing with bubbles.

Feel a bit like I am looking through the mist at life at the moment – in Percy Jackson the mist obscures mortal’s views so they interpret monsters and events differently, they try to make sense and interpret things to fit with their understanding of the world.

Oh and here are our pottery pieces from last week now they are fired.

Gosport-20140314-01193My mothers day present from Sam – the beach at sunset.  And my present to myself, outside we have the sky with birds, inside the sun. Need a steadier hand!

Gosport-20140314-01195 Gosport-20140314-01194


Under our noses

Often when we look for fieldtrips and days out I find myself forgetting places right on our doorstep.

I tend to think of Fareham as a chore, a bland identikit town which we go to because we need something.  And yes the main street and shopping centre are characterless and dull but around the edges the town has character and we love the museum.

So today after maths, english and writing a long shopping list from one of his experiment books we popped into town.

We spent an hour or so at the museum, exploring the temporary exhibition (dead birds!)

20140313_4 20140313_3Before a trip upstairs to the board game and dolls house

20140313_720140313_8We picked up some lunch, diced with death getting across the Quay Street junction and made our way under the railway arches to lunch down by the creek (must be at least 3 years since I last did it).

20140313_13Not a bad view to lunch by!20140313_16Played in the park.

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Walked up via the old part of town to the library and left with 18 books!  We have a batch at home too, had to make use of Jack’s card.


Walking down to the other park we discovered the Premiership trophy was in town for photos so…20140313_22

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Lovely day :). Even if I inevitably forgot the two things I had intended to pick up in town!

I must make the effort to make more of local towns/villages.  I have trail leaflets for a few and the treasure hunts come up on groupon sometimes.  In the sunshine anywhere can feel like a nice day out.

Tweak, Tweak

Following on from all my musing on the social aspect of HE at the weekend.  I have started re-examining our entire approach.  Again it feels like we are oh so nearly there but just a centimetre or so out of sync from where I would really like us to be.

Issues that I think we have:

Some of the resources we have been using are just not floating our boat and motivation for them is waning.  It feels like we have completely stalled in a few areas.

Being ‘semi-structured‘ works well for us when one or other of us is keen, when we’re both waning bad habits such as facebook in the day, tablets/xbox before 3.30 are sneaking in.  And the bad habits are impacting on general mood and behaviour.

I am just not being organised enough to have things to hand so we are wasting time sorting bits out or failing to do them at all.

Things that are working

Maths and English.  Very happy with the resources we’re using here, right balance of calm practice and more fun/rowdiness, and sensible amount being attempted each day.

Weds group – got that spot on.

Doing stuff hands on/discussion/reading/watching, happy with low levels of physical ‘output’ if that makes sense.

Tweaks to make

Set up more of a routine.  Work out what we do that is better on a weekly basis and pencil in days for them, and what is better looked at in ‘blocks’ i.e. projects that can be done and then we can move on.

Look at the resources we are struggling with, should we change what we use or just how we use them?

Be more organised!!!

Make a list of the trips I want us to make and schedule them in so I can build them into our studies and we can move on with stuff.

Work out our plans socially.


Will come back with the nitty gritty when I have figured it out!

Cambridgeshire and Onomatopoeia

Geography group moves on to Cambridgeshire, home of RAF Duxford, one on the first RAF bases in Britain.  So with the sun shining we made paper aeroplanes using some of the designs from this site

…then the kids all wandered off for 10 minutes while the adults got increasingly frustrated over some of the more complicated models ;)…

…then it was down to the park to test them.  Some worked really well 🙂

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After a play in the park and lunch it was English and a look at onomatopoeia.

We brainstormed some examples and then had a go at drawing word pictures inspired by some of the words.

20140312_3Then Spanish and time to play, lovely day 🙂


I can’t think of a polite title for this one…

…couple of puns come to mind but as I don’t use bad language (unless something really, really, really hurts or I am very, very, very annoyed) that is where they shall remain.

We had friends over on Monday for some early Science week fun.

We started with mechanical hands.


We followed the basic plan from here but simplified somewhat.  We used plastic straws taped into place for the bones and had 3 individual pieces for each finger, trimmed into points at each end so they didn’t catch as the fingers bent.

20140310_8We then looked at digestion

We started by mushing up food with a bit of washing liquid (saliva) to represent chewing.

20140311The food then travelled to the stomach where it was mixed with acid (vinegar) and churned.

20140310_3It then got squeezed through the intestines (pair of tights)

20140312And out

Gosport-20140310-01134Then I went to Guides and we made chocolate cow pats (chocolate, shredded wheat, marshmallows, raisins).

20140316I love grossing kids out 😀

Filling in the gaps

Last week sort of limped along really after the productivity of the week before.  I was struggling with bad stomach/back cramps and associated nausea and headaches for much of it.  We managed the essentials happily enough but everything else felt a struggle.

We did manage a fair amount of playing outdoors as the sun came out.



This is Sam’s effort from our writing group, more tongue twisters this time animal themed (the dolphin is fighting Kronos!).

002We spent an afternoon painting pottery

021 024He ALWAYS closes his eyes for photos!!!

Friday was a trip to Titchfield Haven for beachcombing, pond dipping and birdwatching.  Unfortunately I was really, really struggling with headache and nausea so gave up at lunch and left Sam there for a friend to bring back and walked home, took well over an hour but was all along the seafront and probably did more good than swallowing a tablet.




Last Wednesday’s Geography group took us to Norfolk.  So of course what else could we look at but the Broads.

Inspired by ‘Canal art‘ the traditional patterns of painting on canal barges we painted vases.

We took empty, clean tin cans, covered up the sharp edges around the rim with insulation tape and then painted the tins with acrylic paints.

Traditionally the designs would feature bunches of roses or medieval castles.  Sam’s features a red trident, the symbol of Poseidon, just in case you were wondering!

20140309_1And since I’d decided on vases that morning we had home made rhubarb and custard ice cream for lunch (using the contents of the tins 😉 ).