Is there any lesson that can’t be enhanced by the use of jelly?

Jelly is one of my (and definitely Sam’s too) favourite teaching aids.  After last week’s skin layers this week’s science was spent on the internal components of body.  We read and watched some BrainPop videos (subscribed through the PopArt Fb group for a discount).   Then made an infographic of the elements that make up the human body.


We moved on to cells and cell processes which is where jelly came in.  We made a model of the human cell.  It was very tasty apparently 🙂

jelly = cytoplasm
bowl = plasma membrane
marshmallow = nucleus
ribbons = endoplasmic reticulum
snake = golgi body
laces = microtubules
red jelly beans = mitochondria
green jelly beans = lysosomes


After we talked about diffusion in cells and watched drops of food colouring diffuse through water.


We talked about how the protective layer let some things and out and demonstrated by putting a few spoons of cornflour (and enough water to make it sink) in a freezer bag in a solution of water an iodine tincture.


All the iodine had been soaked up through the bag into the cornflour. Finally we talked about osmosis and set up four gummy bears; a test, one in water, one in water with small amout of salt dissolved in, one with a saturated saline solution.


Bear in water absorbed water and grew, the saturated saline solution stayed the same or even shrank a little, the mild saline solution expanded.

Full hit of successes, everything doing what it should – rare but nice.

Rest of Thursday went in the usual maths, English, Latin and Spanish, chatting to my dad and more Civ5.

Pete was for the evening so the boys and I had a takeaway and film night. We watched Inception, Sam has been fascinated by workings of dreams lately, particularly lucid dreaming and dream with in a dream states.  I think we may be talking about themes in this film for some time.

Harvest Group

It seems ages since we’ve had a proper group meeting at the hall and yesterday’s was lovely. We’ve had a huge influx of newcomers, not all new to the local home ed scene but new to coming to this particular group.  We ended up with around 16 families and a true mix of tots to teens.  Sam at 10 was far from being the oldest probably only just made it into top half, that was nice as many more social activities do get dominated by the younger ones. Sun was out and the garden was usable for run round, play and tree climbing too 🙂

Activities on offer were straw weaving, apple printing, salt dough leaves, lanterns with jars and leaves and vegetable sculpting.

Sam decided to ignore all the activities and spend all his time at the colouring table with a few of his best friends drawing comic strips.  I am always keen to stress to people that the activities aren’t compulsory and as long as the kids are happy and engaged it’s fine it’s a social session, so couldn’t really complain 🙂

I did persuade him to come and do some of the vegetable sculpting at least.  He made a slug! Here it is with a mouse and hedgehog that were left behind.

20160928_5Luckily other children were more enthusiastic so my efforts (and vegetable chopping) did not go to waste.  Various pets I am sure also appreciated the leftovers and I learnt that chickens like broccoli 🙂


Here’s my trial straw weaving.

20160927_27Before we went we’d managed Maths, English, Spanish and Latin. Plus some geography; workbook page on locations in Asia, some mapwork on India and Sam created a profile of India on his blog.

20160928_1We both spent a bit of time practising drawing too.  Loving this book!
Appear to have lost it all though as he’s preferring loose sheets to sketch books.

Creative PJ Day

PJ Day is the best day of the week according to Sam!  I’ve got to admit I really value having a day at home a week too.

The day was all about creativity. After the usual maths, English, Latin and Spanish out came the craft supplies and he worked on natural sculpture and collage.


It was Sam’s idea to use clay.  I need to stick to my guns next time and remember Sam likes the idea of clay but hates the reality! It is okay to say no!

After lunch Sam wanted to build Lego.  He hasn’t been interested for ages but the Lego club magazine had come through the post and he actually picked it up and read it for the first time in probably a year. Then he dug out the Lego ideas book.


Seemed daft to quash the creative burst so he built and I read aloud from the History of India for much of the afternoon.

20160927_142405 20160927_142328We then had another attempt at ‘Civ5’ which fortunately worked. So Sam spent the rest of the afternoon honing his military strategy and I made salt dough for a home ed session we had today.

Autumn Walk

It actually felt autumny on Monday! We kept up our success rate of getting out for a walk on a Monday, although it was shorter than intended as left a sick Jack in bed so we caught a bus to the park where we were meeting friends. We had sun, we had rain, we had both at the same time – was lovely.

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20160927_7Motivation was leaf collecting for a group craft project – got quite a haul!


After finishing off maths and Spanish (had slotted in English and Latin before going out) we carried on watching Michael Wood’s Story of India, read some of his History of India book and did some work on his Ancient India lapbook.  Then he went on Civilization 5 to ‘be’ Ancient India and adopt a Buddist/Hindu (we’d been comparing religions) policy of non violence.

It crashed though and the day unravelled a bit. Recovered in the evening when he picked up a book on ancient weapons and forgot to be upset! Then the never ending questions started – not just weapons they go in seemingly random directions. He really is on fire with questions lately – the home educator in me smiles proudly, the parent in me screams ‘argh, slow down my brain hurts!’ and wishes once again that children came with off switches.

Community Support

Making your way in the world today 
Takes everything you've got; 
Taking a break from all your worries 
Sure would help a lot. 
Wouldn't you like to get away? 

Sometimes you want to go 
Where everybody knows your name, 
And they're always glad you came; 
You want to be where you can see, 
Our troubles are all the same; 
You want to be where everybody knows your name.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the value of belonging and community lately.  Various conversations on and off line have made me realise how important it is to have a place that you are accepted and comfortable.  Where people sympathise, advise and help when there are problems and are genuinely pleased and celebrate alongside you your successes.

I know how lucky I am to live in an area with a huge thriving local home education community where pretty much any activity you want is on offer and you can go to something most days.  A big community though may make things harder.  When I joined the home ed social scene there were only a couple of local activities on offer and if you wanted to meet people that is what you had to do and new people were relatively rare, everyone knew you were new and made an effort to welcome you.  That isn’t so easy now, not that people are less welcoming but new people don’t stick out the same way as there are so many more groups in the area with so many more people. Unfortunately means people can get missed. I am often unsure if someone is new or just I’ve just never crossed paths with them. The emphasis is more on newcomers to say I’m new and need help which I imagine is very daunting.

It is interesting how many of us (not just new home educators) admit to finding the socialising part of home ed very, very hard.  For me personally I’m great on social media, and always the first to go and chat and welcome new people, I find that part easy.  I am not good at normal conversation though, slightly deaf and generally lacking the knack.  I struggle with the 75% of people at groups that fall between genuine friends (just clicked with, the inner circle 😉 ) and complete strangers.  I tend to avoid the large playmeets that go on for hours unless with friends as find them painful.  Luckily there is enough on that I am comfortable at to keep Sam happy as that is the important bit.

I think what I am trying to say is please don’t let anxiety and nervousness hold you back.  There will be plenty of other nervous people there. It isn’t just home ed children who need friends (actually some don’t) it is the parents who do.  We all need somewhere where we can moan about a bad day and not be told ‘well if they were in school…’ or get ideas on how to help with a problem and not get ‘well if they were at school..’ or just some adult company and a good laugh.  The support is often practical too, I am not the only one to babysit for hospital appointments, watch children in workshops, lend resources etc.

I think social media and the move to Facebook is wonderful.  It makes groups more chatty.  For the cripplingly shy like me it helps make acquaintances into friends as you recognise kindred spirits, identify common interests away from home ed and children and get to know people better than constantly interrupted conversations allow.  I’ve Facebook friends that I’ve never met but we’ve chatted online in various forums and followed each others blogs for years.  My advice is to embrace it, post on groups local and national, reply and share stories, send friend requests to people (I am rubbish at this, starting to try to be more proactive but please feel free to add me).  Even if you can’t get there physically that community support is there and when you do make it you’ll ‘know’ people.

I’ve heard a few people say lately that they’ve found home ed lonely and it breaks my heart as it really shouldn’t be, be brave come join the village 🙂

I will just add we have done stuff the last two days; trampolining, Maths, English, Latin, Spanish, history (including most of today on Civilisation 5) but not really interesting blog stuff.  We did do a lot of drawing this morning including this pretty butterfly by me (every blog needs a photo 😉 )- always learning with him.


Pure Gold

Some days are just like pure gold and Weds was one of them.  We were up in London yet again and the day started with an early morning trip to Sam’s favourite park in hazy sunshine and had it blissfully to ourselves.

20160922_2 A walk and a sit on some of the rather bizarre benches that now adorn the Southbank followed.  Paused to recall visit to St Paul’s earlier in the year and spot where we’d climbed to.

20160922_9 Then we got to our destination! Finally got in to see this, wanted to since it opened.  No photos of course but it was wonderful, never enjoyed an exhibition more and considering a trip back minus the boy before it finishes.  He enjoyed it too, I’d picked up the audio guide to keep him entertained which did the trick, he isn’t a bad companion for this sort of thing (much better than Pete or Jack would be anyway).

20160922_10 View from balcony of the Tate.  Spent quite a while out here musing on computer animation. 20160922_13 In other words how they made this?

Having had my big treat (of the year!) I set about making it up to Sam.  Lunch at Pizza Express did it.  I wasn’t impressed but he loved it.  Look less manic I said!

20160922_15 After lunch we walked into the City.  Sam has been asking loads of questions about money, interest rates, inflation and exchange rates so we decided to take a trip to the Bank of England Museum.

Fabulous place.  Lots to explore hands on about trying to keep a steady economy.   Sam was so excited to touch real gold and feel how heavy it was.  Even did the trail!  Highly recommend a visit.

20160922_19 20160922_21 20160922_22 20160922_25 20160922_27 20160922_28 20160922_33 20160922_37 20160922_38 20160922_39 20160922_41 20160922_42 20160922_43 20160922_44 20160922_48 20160922_52After we appear to have misplaced 2 1/2 hours.  Slowly pottered back to the station via the park, at a very slow pace.  Caught a lot of Pokemon and visited a lot of Pokestops.  City and Southbank are teeming with them 🙂
Long discussion about ‘con artists’ in particular people dressed as Buddist monks who corner you when you can’t get past them under Southwark bridge and demand a donation of £20 for plastic tat that says peace on it and why Mum is not her usual polite self to such people!

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Productive PJ Day

Tuesday’s PJ record is still standing! Go us!

It doesn’t seem to harm productivity. Just the opposite in fact. In maths we motored through the computer side and moved on to some investigations; designing a number system and looking at Goldbach’s Conjecture.  We did a bit of English too.

We finished reading My Royal Story Victoria and followed up with a quick read about the House of Hanover in our Usborne Kings and Queens book and tried to put the uncles we’d been reading about in the My Story book into Victoria’s family tree.


Over lunch we watched The Mystery of Van Gogh’s Ear. It’s a subject I’ve read quite a lot about but still found really interesting and Sam did too.

Argh. Lost the nice photos I was uploading to post.  Oh well somehow managed to use 4 cameras so have a couple.

The afternoon was spent on science.  We were looking at skin, hair and nails.  At a workshop earlier in the year we used a microscope that attached to the pc and I was very impressed.  As they were cheaper in bulk I’d hoped to organise a group purchase with some friends.  However, summer has left me rather short of cash so thought we’d have to go without, but Ebay came up trumps and I managed to get one for £5.  So we spent a lot of time looking at everything (not just skin, hair and nails ;))

s20160920_0011 s20160920_0013This was Sam’s favourite trick.  The microscope trained on the computer showing an image of what the microscope was trained on.  Bit sickness inducing.

We talked about the sebum layer on the skin and tried to see the effect of removing it (surgical spirit) and then getting the hand wet.  Tested the strength of hair by attaching the hair to a bag to which we kept adding marbles.

Finally we made a ‘skin layer cake’. The marshmallows are the fat layer.  The jelly (with laces for nerve endings) is the dermis. The apple leather is the epidermis and cola pencils for hair.



Where Squirrels…

…throw conkers at you like weapons!

We went conker hunting yesterday, turns out we didn’t have much hunting to do.  There were squirrels in the tree who were opening up the shells, throwing them down, taking a couple of bites from the conker and then throwing them down too.  They were coming down with a lot of force too, felt a bit under siege under there.

Seriously never seen anything like it!

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When the squirrels got bored (or full) we retired to the playground. We’d been joined by 3 other home ed families, it is lovely to see how children who have never met each other before and who are very different ages can play so happily.
Sam is starting to pick up a fan club from among the younger children, he is generally very good with them too.

20160920_6 At home we had a go at making fruit leather.  It was lovely before it was cooked.  Cooking was tricky we ended up with still sloppy, then burnt but did manage a very small amount of edible fruit leather.
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Lazy Day

Straight from the off Friday had the air of a day where not much would happen.  The foot I hurt on Thursday was (is) painful to walk on.  Then when writing a work email I noticed the date as being my mum’s birthday.  Realised I’ve lived over 1/3 of my life without her now. Anyway I definitely wasn’t on top form physically or mentally so was resigned to a gentle day.

When I woke Sam he was really struggling with getting up so I went and grabbed some of our reading books and we spent most of the day curled up in my bed reading about Queen Victoria (Sam was playing on Kindle for a lot of it too).

We did make it downstairs for an hour to finish off the week’s maths and English, do a bit of Latin, research the flag of India and upload his wildlife photos to his blog.

Sam eventually got dressed about 6.30pm so he could go and practice fire lighting at Scouts.

As much as I love all the busy, social days and the active, productive ones, there’s definitely a place for lazy, restorative days too.



Home Schooling?

I hate how this term has come in to common use (even Sam uses it for heavens sake) real nails on a blackboard thing.  It just creates an image in my head of families sitting around a table with piles of national curriculum workbooks and a big planner on the wall.  I don’t know what the correct term should be but what we do doesn’t feel like school and we seem to seldom be at home.

With no trampolining this week (it’s fortnightly) I was thinking we’d try and stay in the routine of doing something active by going swimming.  As it was hot seemed daft to pay to use the pool and we went to Hillhead instead to swim in the sea.  I went in too so only one photo 😉


While we were there Sam found some burnt driftwood and had a go at drawing.

20160916_30We’d stopped at Titchfield Haven on the way there to work on our art project – wildlife photography.


At home we covered maths, English, played a lot of story cubes, dismantled more of the computer, read some of our Children’s History of India and did a lot of drawing.

He’s been practising perspective and shadows and is getting on well and really enjoying it.  Took me a while to see that the dark triangle was the pyramid’s shadow.

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Sounds a blissful day and if you ignore the pre going out tantrums, homework/state of bedroom arguments with teenager and the fact that I have either cut my foot or have something stuck in there and it really hurts and walking is a problem (wasn’t even on the beach, did it walking along prom with shoes on) I don’t suppose it was that bad 🙂