Maths Marathon

Friday followed the trend of the rest of the week with plans going belly up.  In this case my own fault, Friday is ‘Grandad day’ but I’d been distracted and not emailed him with a suggestion of plans on Thurs which apparently I usually do (obviously by habit not design) and I’d confused my Dad into thinking Pete had the day off so he never phoned.  I phoned him as normal only I must have dialled the number wrong!  Hour and several phone calls later (hitting redial!) I was rather worried but trying not to be.  Opted to take a walk to the village to drop off some stuff in the charity shop and pop in to check on him.

Anyway the short version of that is I’m an idiot and we ended up having a walk to the village instead of proper day out.  Luckily for me the village is a lovely place and beach, arcade, cafe lunch, ice cream and new Asterix and Dandy books from the charity shop made a very passable day.

20150627_420150627_3 Maths has dominated the weekend.  He started Friday with about 40 activities to do to complete the ‘year’ on Mathletics, now has one.  He got a bit obsessive and was there at 9.30 last two nights.

I did do one of the games for him in the end as he was getting frustrated at making small errors.  Wouldn’t normally but the questions were of the ilk of it is Monday 12.37 am what time will it be in 197 hrs and 23 mins!  When are you ever, ever going to have to do that?  Working out what time a plane lands, a train arrives or a film will finish yes but I’m not going to sit through a 197 hr film!

Anyway he’s also been playing with the calculator and we’ve discussed standard notation and imaginary numbers.

Plus this arrived in the post today and has become the book of choice (he loves Basher we have loads!)

20150628_2Love these self motivated periods.

Best laid plans …

I’ve been trying to kickstart myself again by making plans for our days this week.  Not complicated or stressful plans just something to stop this doggy paddling feeling, the feeling of standing still.

Things have been conspiring against me these last 2 days  though and all plans have fallen through.  Despite this, or perhaps because of this as I’ve been determined to make the best of things and had a bit more ‘pep’ than usual, we’ve not had a bad couple of days.

The plan on Weds was a walk along the seafront from the Hard to Southsea Castle.  However Sam slept in late and while I was waiting I got stuck into a work project.  By the time Sam got up we’d already missed one bus.  He was also not in the mood to go further than a shop selling the Beano and I was in a work frame of mind.

So we pottered the day away.  Sam read, built and generally entertained himself.  I worked.  Sam helped a bit, doing a good observational sketch of a shoe sole.  20150624_6

We did spend a lot of time outdoors.  I’d been promising that the next time we went to the village we’d take the polystyrene gliders so we did.

20150625_3This gave rise to discussion about air resistance and the forces of flight building on nicely from the previous day.

While we were in the village we bought a toy parachute and a hang glider.  After lunch Sam built a marshmallow and spaghetti tower (Cubs science badge).   Activity that never grows old.

20150624_9  We spent some time down a very warm park discussing forces and playing with the parachute and hang glider.

20150624_16 20150624_15 20150624_11Back home to help Pete who had come home to drop car and collect bag before going to London with work.  Jack arrived home and the boys played electronic devices while I worked.

Then as still very hot we went back outdoors for the evening.  Burgers and cakes cooked in orange skins on the fire.

20150624_17 20150624_19 20150624_20 20150624_23Some random digging (kept him happy for a surprisingly long time).

20150625_5And a water fight.  As ever I took the brunt.

20150624_24Ended the evening with a bath and Dr Who.  Definitely had worse days.

Today’s plans weren’t so messed up.  Sam’s friend who was due to visit couldn’t.  Rather than stay at home with a disappointed boy I decided to take him to the pottery painting place and invited a different friend to join us.  Lovely morning, time to chat which we don’t seem to have had lately.



We all headed back to ours as the boys had Spanish.

Set up another experiment for the Cubs badge.

20150625_6This to show how flowers take in water though the stems.

Afternoon drifted away.  I worked and Sam built a big stone keep as part of a concentric castle on Minecraft.

Had a bit of a scare when Jack was over an hour late home from school.  He was very hot and bothered and covered in oil as he’d been trying to help a friend with a bike problem.

So it was tea, more Dr Who and a bit of sporcling to fill the evening.

Oh we made a catapult too


Relaxed, productive days.


Pottering and Planning

I’ve reached the time of year where definitely just pottering towards summer.  Feels like it’s a time for tying up loose ends and planning for the future.  Plans are still in infancy so won’t go into them yet.

Weekend went by fast.  Not sure what we did; chores, errands, clothes shopping, visiting family, sewing, FutureLearn courses, work … that type of thing.  Board games are having a bit of a revival as is Sporcle.  I managed to get out of Monopoly though, Cluedo I can live with.

Monday was very non-eventful.  Timez Attack is still proving flavour of the month and lots of the morning went there.  We watched a Castles documentary.  Took a rainy scoot to the village.


Messed around in the back garden with tracking symbols.20150622_7Built a wooden Motte and Bailey castle on Minecraft

20150622_6Tuesday was a science day.  I had completely forgotten to confirm that anyone was coming but was an easy session to grab everything for when they did show up.

Friction was the focus.  We recreated Galileo’s famous Pisa experiment using the climbing frame in the park.

20150624_9We also rolled a lego car down the slide over different surfaces (card, fabric) to look at the effects of friction.  Differences were too slight to spot though so we moved to pushing the car along different surfaces in the park (grass, tarmac, bumpy metal…) to see how far they travelled.

After a play in the park we left friends and went home for lunch.  For a number of reasons Sam has missed a few weeks at Cubs and I’d agreed with his leader we’d work on a badge at home in the meantime.  We had a look at them and he picked Science and chose his activities from the list.

The task chosen for the afternoon was building a wormery (I happened to have a kit picked up from a charity shop a year or so ago to hand).  Sam got on with it while I had another attempt at getting swingball far enough in the ground that is doesn’t wobble.  It is defeating me!  Sam had more joy.  Took us a long time to collect worms though!

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Finally Sam helped me with some crafts for work – disguises 🙂

20150623_3Then the day drifted away in Minecraft, cooking, baths, reading … the way days do.


That’s what it feels like I’ve been wading though this week.  I’m not sure why as on paper we’ve achieved a lot but just found lots of minor irks, decisions of what to do being hard to reach, energy lacking (even for things I want to do)…

Looking at what we have achieved.

Sam has finished his handwriting and grammar books.  Decided to leave the new ones for September.  He has also completed the final level in Timez Attack which means theoretically he knows all his tables.  Since that was the big ‘aim’ for this half term that has to be a big tick in the box.

I found myself setting up a new national support group for people who home educate and have children in school.  Not sure how that came about but hey ho, I mustn’t let myself get bored now.

I managed to accidentally book a Guide holiday, that I’m going to have to cancel or rearrange as arrangements are impractical :S  But I suppose I’ve done what I meant to do in researching costs and how you go about booking.  It’s easy – too easy 🙂

Besides the usual over the last 3 days we’ve;

diversified languages – been playing with the French and German versions of DuoLingo.

built a ‘gravity motor’


planted a butterfly garden

20150618_5Spent time in the playground

Gosport-20150618-02289 Spotted bugs

Gosport-20150618-02290 Been to the library and swimming

Spent some time bird watching at a local nature reserve

20150619_36 20150619_33   20150619_35 20150619_3120150619_32 20150619_2320150619_29 20150619_25  20150619_21 20150619_20 20150619_19 20150619_12 20150619_18 20150619_1020150619_8 20150619_220150619_7 20150619_6 20150619_5 20150619_4

Really not sure why it feels like a bad week it hasn’t been really.  I just don’t like being hot!

Alver Valley

We are so lucky in where we live. The beach is 5 mins walk in one direction, country park with meadows, river and woodlands 10 mins walk the other direction.  Unfortunately nature hates me and a trip to the country park usually needs a cold bath and very early night due to puffy, sour eyes (7pm early!) so have to pick our moments when we go.  Do like it up there though, just in the pollen season can only go when we have no evening plans.

The main purpose was a bit of butterfly spotting for our 30 Days Wild.  Very tricky to photograph butterflies.
20150616_2320150616_1 20150616_8 Did get these noisy characters though20150616_12I’d posted we were going on the home ed group so others joined us for a picnic and play in the woods.

20150616_4 This is an old motte (so we were doing castles too 🙂 )20150616_7   Always fun watching dogs swim in the river.20150616_13 20150616_20 On the home front, Timez Attack is back in favour and he’s come on so far and gained so much confidence with his tables.

More Quiet Days

Really have started to slip into a more relaxed mode.

We’ve had nearly a week now that we’ve not left the village.  It’s been lovely.

Weekend was spent mostly catching up on work (me) and doing ‘stuff’ (boys).  Not sure what stuff was but they were happy and quiet.  We watched a film (Wreck It Ralph – appalling), played games, researched possible reading matter and made holiday plans.

Sam and I made a butterfly feeder.  So we managed to keep up with 30 Days Wild over the weekend.

20150614_220150614_120150614_4 20150614_3 Monday we did Maths, English, Latin and Spanish first.  Read a book on siege warfare and castles.  I wanted to go for a walk to spot butterflies, Sam didn’t!  We compromised, went to the park and stick collecting instead.

267 266268 265 269 270 Sam then used elastic bands to make things with the sticks.  A sword (looks better than photo makes it )
272Stickman271 And a parachute for stickman,273We marked the anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta with the Horrible Histories special.

By then Jack was home to play with and I got busy with Guide prep.  Some nights it just happens, others it’s a full time job.  If ever I wanted to run away I could pack all my stuff and tell the males of the house I was off to Guides, they’d buy it.



Slowing Down

After a busy, busy few weeks it is time time to slow down and enjoy the quiet pace of life for a while.  We’ve exciting plans for work and I’d like to give that a bit of focus.  Being self employed and in control of your hours is lovely, but when life is busy it’s the first thing to slip and I love my job.

Also time to relax and spend a bit more time enjoying all the joys our local area has to offer.  This is the view I got to sit and enjoy on Friday while Sam played at the skate park.


We’re filling our time by catching up on ‘core work’, chores like hair cuts (Dad and Sam – if I ever need a career change I could do barber, had enough practice) and getting outdoors as much as possible.

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20150612_8 20150612_10 20150612_15Yesterday’s 30 Days Wild was a bit of whittling at home, day had run away with me.  On Friday we had a beach walk and collected seaweed to dry and press for pictures.

Here are before and after photos of the results of Friday afternoons labours.  Always looks so much older after a haircut 🙁

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Home is Good

Had a pleasant day at home today.

Despite having to wake Sam his core work happened very quickly and efficiently.  Found an area of maths I thought he’d understood which he obviously hasn’t but this being HE we’ll just have another look tomorrow and if that doesn’t work we’ll leave it a week and try again and if that doesn’t work his brain isn’t ready to grasp it.  We’ll leave alone for a while and come back to it at some point, probably to find that by then he has processed and knows it.

After the core work we went to have a look at our pit trap from last night.  It was empty but Sam had a bit of a bug hunt.

20150611_4 20150611_5 We found some blackberry flowers and start of berries.20150611_6 20150611_7

Sam’s friend then showed up for some Xbox time and I caught up on some housework which had slipped while I’ve not felt well.

As we were eating lunch more friends showed up for Spanish.  So more chat, play and Spanish tutorial.

After Spanish when everone had left we tried to capitalise on the strength of the sun and build a solar oven.

It’s a shoebox lines with black paper sitting in at larger box packed with newspaper.  The flaps of the box are cut narrower before being taped into place.  Once the food was added we taped clingfilm over the top.  We rested an old picture frame with foil around it to reflect more sun into the box.

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We tried baking cakes.  Limited success.  They definitely rose and started cooking but then I think the sun moved.  I think we needed to start earlier and site the oven in a better spot.

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Sam spent some time trying to set fire to a piece of paper using a magnifying glass, but fortunately lost interest.

18 months after first getting it I finally (with not a little difficulty in the hole making department) set up the swing ball.  For Jack to spend an hour trying to kill me with it!  The boy is lethal.

20150611_14 I had put some of the cakes in the oven so the boys decorated them.

20150611_17Jack and I played cards, Sam and Pete played something to do with Dragons.  Then Sam built some foam gliders.  Plan is to take them to the field tomorrow.  I was trying to get him concentrating as he pokes out his tongue and looks cute.



Science of Siege Engines

In the last few years I’ve seen this workshop arranged a couple of times by others in the local group but for various reasons it has never worked for us to attend.  However with a science topic of forces and a history topic of castles this half term we had to have a go.  I wasn’t sure we’d manage to get a big enough group with it having been done a few times recently but we did comfortably.

20150610_17The workshop was based in one of the Palmerston Forts built in Victorian times to defend Portsmouth from the French.  You can’t go anywhere locally without falling over these things.  Fort Nelson has been converted to a museum and houses some of the Royal Armouries guns and cannons collection.  For good measure it also has a breathtaking view over Portsmouth Harbour.



In the workshop itself the children were split into groups and they had an introduction to siege weapons and identified the various sites of push and pull on a catapult.  Then in their groups they designed and built their own catapult.

20150610_6Then they had some attempts at firing it.  Firstly investigating how tight they needed to twist it and secondly the effects of different sizes and shapes of items being fired.

20150610_9Then we got to go outside and fire the trebuchet.

20150610_10 20150610_11Sam was relieved to find it considerably smaller than the one at Warwick :).

We didn’t really stay and explore as I’m still battling the lurgy and I’d left my Dad and oldest child (inset day) hanging about waiting for us.  But here are 2 of the impressive guns.

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At home there was lots of TV – Story of the Castle and Merlin to carry on the theme.  Wallowing in the bath.  Plus building an insect trap in the back garden for the 30 Days Wild challenge.

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Today was the last proper trip I’ve arranged before the summer break this year.  I’ve had the common sense to realise that I don’t need the stress when we’re hayfevery and woefully lacking in sleep.  I’ve learned the hard way not to rely on getting Sam out of the door.

I’ve organised more trips than ever this year.  They’ve been stressful at times but that has always been because of issues with the organisers not home educators.  I’ve joked before about the ‘herding cats’ analogy but some how this year on all but 1 trip I’ve had everyone turn up or apologise beforehand and pretty much everyone on time.  I’ve not had one trip I’ve ended up out of pocket on, after a few blips at the start of the year not had problems collecting money.  Children and adults have behaved well on every trip.  Not one trip has left me thinking ‘never again’ or even ‘never taking them again’  (had quite a few of them over the years).  I’d like to think I’ve finally nailed it but think luck and a truly lovely, huge bunch of local home eders are the key.

Small Things

It is about this time of year when we’ve done a number of big trips that I tend to write a post about praising staying near to home.  This is the one 🙂

Monday was an enjoyable day.  We picked up regular work again which went smoothly.  Then we headed into Gosport to do some shopping for Guides.  We went to the library and hung out there for a while before heading to the park.  The park has out door gym equipment and I think I have as much fun as Sam.

20150609_5 20150609_8 20150609_920150609_6 20150609_10We had fun watching them clean the pond.  Explains why it stinks when it gets warm if they don’t clean it regularly enough.

20150609_4 20150609_11Afternoon went in baking for Guides and the boys played together on Minecraft.

I had a really bad night last night so wasn’t sure whether to go ahead with today’s plans but glad we did.  It was a good day.

“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”
? L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

Friends showed up for science a lot earlier than expected.  So kids played (actually they all joined in with maths for a while :)) and we drank coffee.

Science was the start of our forces project and we were looking at Newton’s laws of motion.

We investigated the First Law by dropping a tennis ball onto a larger bouncing ball.  We then retrieved the tennis ball from next door and put the experiment to one side to take to the park 😀

Second Law we dropped different size and mass of balls into trays filled with flour with a spread of cocoa on top.  Then compared the craters made.  The cocoa powder showed how far that spread.


Then it was to the park to retry the First Law.

20150609_2 Third law, plan had been to launch water rockets but it failed dismally due to a loose valve.  Yes we did take a spade and bit of masonry to the park!

20150609_3So I threw the water at the kids and we retired to playground.

Friends had to be elsewhere in the afternoon, so waved them off and home for lunch.

After lunch we headed out to meet more friends at the beach who despite being the nearest home eders to us and one being one of my Guides we don’t manage to see often.  Sun had sadly vanished so opted to stay on dry land.  We played with the ball for oooh 2 minutes before it opted for a trip to the IOW.

20150609_4 So the kids threw stones into the sea20150609_5 Decorated pebbles20150609_6 …and dead jellyfish :/20150609_7Adults chatted 🙂

Home tea and then Sam had the excitement of a speedboat ride along the Solent with Cubs.

Despite feeling physically rotten it has been lovely few days.