Matisse – Cold and Warm Colours

Our final two weeks of looking at Matisse took us away from cut outs and back in time to paintings.

First one we looked at was The Dance.  We did this individually as we’d not had time to get it done as a group after the Ten Pieces show.

Having worked our way through the ‘that’s disgusting’ reaction (Sam does not see beauty on the human form :D), we talked about the warmness of the figures being highlighted by the coldness of the background.

We looked briefly at the sister piece ‘Music’.  Then Sam chose another hobby and drew his own version with oil pastels.  This is ‘Reading’.  Note the strategically placed book :D.


The final session we managed was a look at ‘the Green Line’ or ‘Portrait of Madame Matisse’.

We painted colour wheels.  Starting with the primary colours, then the secondary and ending with the shades in between.

20141016_4Talked about what the different colours made us feel and where we would draw the line between warm and cold.  Then we looked back at Madame Matisse and discussed how the green line almost divided the page in two with one side warm and one cold.  Finally we decorated masks so that on one side were cold colours and the other warm.

20141016_3 Happy with the way art group is working.  Nice bunch of kids.  Giving us the motivation to include art in our week but in quite a relaxed way (dropped one session due to illness with no disruption).  I think I’ll not do the observation element with the group next half term but will find time in our week.  Think Sam will get more out of it that way and we’ll have more time for the practical element.

20141031_5 20141031_4Matisse was definitely a good place to start.  On to Monet now in contrast.  Monet plan

Halloween Science


The final part of our half terms Science project led us to look at solutions and mixtures.  The experiments in the book were not inspiring though so we opted to detour from the path and have some fun with some Halloween inspired potions and science.

We made microwave puffy paint pumpkins

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Glow in the dark putty.  We used glow in the dark paint and borax for the putty which I know others don’t like – I had some left over from about 5 years ago or I’d have tried the liquid starch version.  Here’s some recipes for borax free versions   I’m told Aldi laundry detergent is the best.

20141021_61 We finished with fake wounds.  Skin was petroleum jelly, cornflour and cocoa powder to colour, blood was washing up liquid (start with purple or clear) and food colouring.

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The Happy Scientist has some free Halloween science videos available.

That brought our study of matter to a fun end.


Science of Gases

Still very much in catch up mode!

Our tour through science of matter arrived on gases several weeks ago.

To illustrate the presence of gas (specifically oxygen) we stood a lit candle in a bowl of water and placed a jar over the top.  When the oxygen was burnt up the candle went out and the water in the jar rose.  I was expecting it to rise slowly as the oxygen burned but it suddenly goes up as the candle extinguished.


We showed how gas could be made through chemical reactions by mixing baking soda and Kool-aid (contains citric acid).  You can of course use vinegar but this smells better.


We then looked at the effect of heat on gas.  By microwaving marshmallows for different time periods and watching them expand.

We then had a bit of fun creating marshmallow faces.20141007_45 20141007_46

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We finished up the group by making hovercrafts.  Inflate a balloon and slip it over the top of a sports drink bottle lid (with the lid closed).  Attach the lid to the middle of a cd with sticky tack.  When you open the lid the air from the balloon rushes out through the centre of the cd and it slides across the table on a cushion of air.

20141007_49Final trick of the week was just playing in the kitchen later in the week.  Full glass of water with a piece of card on top.  Turn the glass over and take away hand and due to the air pressure from below, the card and all the water in the glass stay in place.  Was very pleased it worked as I would have been rather soggy had it not.



Spinnaker Tower

It’s nearly two weeks since this trip which is a bit of a disgrace in blogging terms.

The Spinnaker Tower is big local touristy thing to do.  Sitting on Portsmouth waterside the tower is a feature that dominates the local skyline.  We go roughly every couple of years.  Really they just like to play on the glass floor 😉

Our motivation for going this time was simply that they had a special offer on schools rate for a couple of months so I booked a group trip.  I organised a mapping activity to tick the education content but really it was about playing on the glass floor with his best friend for Sam.  For me I like the views, it was a really windy day too (could feel the tower rocking) and the other families on the trip were either new or ones I don’t get to see very often so nice to catch up.

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Had time to potter in a few shops in Gunwharf and buy the most fantastic slippers ever.


And thanks to missing to bus time to sit and watch the boats, or run about and climb depending on what you wanted.


Catching Up

Not just with the blog.  It has been a busy few weeks with lots of my evening time spent catching up on Guiding stuff and starting a new course through FutureLearn, plus Scout and Cub stuff has been taking up a bit of time hence the lack of blogging.  But as I mentioned a few weeks ago we have been struggling with the pace I’d set for ‘school work’ this year and I felt we needed time to stop, draw breath and reconnect with the fun side and catch up with some of the projects that were slipping by the wayside a bit.

Last week, therefore, we abandoned those things I claim are our ‘essentials’ at least in the usual approach.

Maths, we took a concept that for some reason hadn’t clicked and dedicated our Maths time this week to it.  Sam is usually quite quick to grasp visual topics so why ordinal numbers and in particular identifying if a person is 5th in line for example how many people were before them was problematic I have no idea.  Aim of the week was to make the idea as visual and fun as possible.


We played with the cars I’d made , having races. Link is to Activity Village where they are available for download.

Did some colouring, looking for patterns.


We made a bus and played bus queues with Blue Nose Friends.


English, we spent the week looking at extracts from scary stories and identifying stylistic patterns.  I’d bought a set of books to help inspire creative writing (not Mr Literal’s strongpoint).  They come with a cd-rom and we read through the extracts and used the cd for the activities.

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We finished up to the end of the stone age on our timeline.  We added the postcards of different human species that we’d bought at the NHM and photos we’d taken of some of the important finds (Boxgrove, Happisburgh and Paviland) as well as some dinosaur pictures and a representation of the birth of the sun – just because.

20141007_21Got up to date with art and science worksheets and his nature book.


Carried on studying liquids.  Testing floating and sinking in water and salt solution.20141007_22We also managed Spanish group.  Here’s a photo for once.


Which was followed by some random body art.  We’d missed art due to going to see the BBC’s Ten Pieces at the cinema.  It was fantastic and is on iPlayer for another couple of weeks.  Home educators can apply for the dvd.

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We also managed science group, a home ed group trip up the Spinnaker and a morning of Minecraft and Simms with friends.  Oh and a wet nature walk in the most fungi free bit of woodland imaginable.

20141007_54I did get to test out the wellies though.



Does HE ever stop?

I’ve started the 100 Home Ed days photo challenge and I was faced with the decision of whether to include weekends.

The whole premise behind autonomous education is that children are always learning.  We tend to be fairly structured but I do believe that children can learn a lot when left to their own devices.  I just have my doubts that mine will learn everything I feel they need to have the opportunities I want them to have if left to it entirely autonomously.

Our structure tends to come in the form that I allocate 8.30 – 3 every day as time to be doing ‘stuff’.  Some of it is recognisably like school, much of it isn’t.  I have no doubt that learning carries on outside that time,  The other day we had an impromptu day off following a long day in London.  He spent his time acting out scenes from the stone age, building a stone age village on Minecraft, watching a stone age documentary – spot a theme here.  He was very clearly consolidating the information of the previous day.

Sometimes learning is obvious like in the example just given or at Cub activities.  Often it is still going on but on a much more subtle level we just need to look for it.  This is why I opted to keep my 100 home ed days to just week days.  I don’t want to look for it.  He might be always learning but I don’t want to be always analysing and looking for examples or evidence.  On a weekday I try and be actively involved in his learning and I see a lot happen even when we take the foot off the pedal or get distracted by a chore I can usually identify some sort of learning or practice in any activity.  On an evening and weekend and school holiday (we follow them with J being about) I need to be just Mum not a home educating mum and let him be and myself unwind.

I’d love to be more relaxed about everything and be able to go with the flow the entire time and never feel the need to look for evidence of his learning but I am who I am and this is as laid back as I get.

Touching Base

Life is busy.  Too busy really, fitting it all in just isn’t happening at the moment.

The week went by in a blur of Maths, English, Latin and Spanish.  All of which are going well.

20141003_8History just isn’t really happening beyond reading our novel which may well be enough but I hope for more.

Science, I am persevering with making time for so that is good.  Lots of discussion about why the experiments that we tried on Monday didn’t work!  How you can fail with something as basic as floating and sinking I don’t know.  Really has felt like that sort of week.



Sam has got into a book and making up elaborate games with playdough which have not helped productivity as I tend to leave him if he is actively engaged as believe in the value of play and just being.  However, does mean all these fun ways I wanted to cover history and music and PE isn’t happening.  He’s also had a couple of late starts, I tend to let him wake in his own time unless we have to be out, which haven’t helped.


We’ve spent a lovely afternoon at the Dockyard with friends.  Our Thursday trip was less fun than usual as we had a trip to the Cardio clinic.  A small valve in Sam’s heart didn’t close after birth like normal, doesn’t really cause any problem we just have to be aware of the risks of endocarditis as he will always have a slightly higher risk.  News was all good in terms of appointments getting further apart and staff were lovely.

Sam got given a copy of his ECG and they were trialling a new scanner and as Sam was lying very, very still I think they took advantage to test the machine more and we had a really, really good look at Sam’s heart with lots of commentary of what we were seeing (room full of drs and technicians).

20141004_5 Possibly had the most positive response ever to HE.  I have seldom had a negative possibly because I have an air of don’t engage, curiosity often and happy to answer questions and a lot of nice comments on how bright and well-mannered boys  which are nice but this nurse obviously ‘got’ home ed immediately.  Doing the ECG she asked about school, Sam said home educated, response was ‘lucky you, bet you get lots of days out, where’s your favourite place to visit?’.

We spent Thursday evening at the Gang Show open evening where both boys signed up this year.  So there goes our lives until April!  Sam seems to be ready to spread his wings a bit more which is good.  I moan about Gang Show but it really has been good for Jack so hope Sam settles in too (just wish they had the same rehearsal times).

Friday was spent with Minecrafting with friends after work had been done.  Not sure where afternoon went.  Might be those gaps I need to capitalise on to help with productivity!





Large Decoration with Masks

Art group this week continued with Matisse.  We finished our look at his cut outs with a look at Large Decoration with Masks.

We started off with a look at the natural shapes and talked about examples we had seen from these in recent weeks.  We then highlighted the symmetrical nature.

Using mirrors (I have mirrored tiles for  symmetry work – no frames) we produced pictures inspired by Matisse.

As you can see Amelia went down the natural route while Sam did the masks.  I love how from the same starting point it goes in such different directions.  Like Matisse we were focusing on symmetry of patterns rather than symmetry of colour.

20141003_16 Large Decoration with Masks was made on ceramics so we painted our tiles.  The brief was just symmetry, results were varied as ever 🙂

20141002_2Sam’s 2, a cyclops and not sure. 20141002_1