Mysteries at Milestones

Wednesday saw us braving a trip to Milestones in half-term! There was a special event on and we’d run out of time to fit it in before half term so it was now or never.  It wasn’t too busy.

I’ve never been particularly impressed by Milestones.  It’s an okay place but not worth a trip to Basingstoke for normally.  Some of their special events are good though and this one really was.  The children had to work their way around the reconsturcted Victorian streets to find out who had kidnapped Queen Victoria and where she was hidden.

Sam Holmes and Grace Watson ran off (humming Sherlock theme and complaining at lack of a deerstalker) and I followed in their wake.  It really was very well done.  The clues were proper clues rather than the usual find letters etc. Plus Sam and Grace make a very good team at this sort of thing, well matched in terms of brightness, complementary in skills and interests, so it is a team effort.

20161029_1 20161029_4 20161029_5 20161029_12 20161029_16 20161029_19 20161029_23 20161029_24 20161029_25 20161029_27We spent some time exploring the 1930/40’s area with a trip to sweet shop for rations.
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20161029_42 20161029_44 After lunch, where we upset Sam by singing to the jukebox. It was time for the highlight, we’d booked a slot in the escape room.  Sam had needed a lot of reassurance before we left the house that we wouldn’t really be locked in for an hour.  He absolutely loved the reality though as I knew he would.
Took us about 30mins and we were guided round by a member of staff while they solved clues to locate the kidnapper from the earlier mystery.

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A bit of time in the Victorian arcade before leaving.  Despite Sam’s worries that morning it was a really good day out.

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Halloween Fun

Yesterday was the home ed group’s Halloween session.  Being not at all prepared I was up by 5am and had made a prototype sock cat by 6.30.  The rest of the morning vanished in packing and craft prototypes and making up certificates for a pumpkin decorating competition.

With around 40 children expected and potential for a few more last minute I must admit there was a certain element of ‘oh dear what have I let myself in for’ about it.  In the end we had 36 children and it didn’t feel crowded, loud (apart from balloons popping) or manic at all.  Children all kept busy doing there own things while adults did the crafts I’d prepared for the children 😉  In the end I opened the doors because the adults were struggling with the heat, considerably over an hour in and not one child had asked when I was opening the door.

Reassuring to know how well the hall copes when I think how many Christmas will probably bring.  Need to find my whistle though for attention grabbing I think.

Sam carved his own pumpkin before we went and did as good a job as I do.  So wahay that is that part of my life done with.  Plus the day ended on a positive note workwise so a very good day overall.

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First Day of School

Actually not really.  But yesterday Sam did a full day workshop at a local theatre on a Hogwarts theme.  While not the first time he has been away from me that long (he’s a scout who happily goes off camping) it was a new sort of set up for him. He was nervous in the morning I could tell and as such I spent all day hanging around Portsmouth as promised not to go far.  He’s never really shown any interest in this sort of thing but he was going with a friend and that swung it.

He seems to have enjoyed it though, talked to people, was a bit miffed at getting sorted into Hufflepuff.  I only got a vague outline of what he did but he did bring home this lovely wand.

img_1381I enjoyed the day less.  Portsmouth is a really appalling place away from the Dockyard (although quite like Southsea seafront).  For a city with the historical and cultural links (birthplace of Brunel and Dickens) it does have it, really doesn’t capitalise on them.  Hey ho – managed to have the haircut I have been putting off since August and start a bit of Christmas shopping.

All Things Considered…

We managed a decent amount last week.  Thinned down to the basics but looking at my plan for the term there is nothing really hanging over that will stop us picking up next half term’s plan and just cracking on.
It was the crafty, art, sciency stuff that went by the wayside this week as home ed has been very, very sofa based.

We did manage to do the reading for this week’s science though, rather than the experiments though we settled on the easier job of rooting through the lego box to find connectors and seeing if we could link them to human joint types.

20161022_14  20161022_18I am now refusing to let him have games installed on the new computer as it is work one so Civilization 3 and 4 arrived on cd-rom for the laptop.  Sam installed it yesterday afternoon and is now lost to us – last I heard he was establishing Buddism and fighting Russia.

Luckily we have a few plans to get out and about this coming week so a quiet weekend recovering strength and then some good excuses to leave the screen and help deal with my fidgets.  I like quiet days but have been a bit too housebound this week for my taste.

Cheering up with Cake

I so so wanted to say yes to taking Sam trampolining yesterday but I knew it was such a bad idea.  In the end he agreed while not happily, without tears and fuss as he could see that he is far too chesty for it to be practical.

We settled on going out to pick up the Beano and have cake and hot chocolate instead.

In terms of education, Sam spent the morning doing Latin and Spanish while I spent most of the morning planning and ordering supplies for a home ed group activity next week.

Day just sort of vanished into nothingness really.  Don’t have many days that do that so I can only assume we needed it.


Halloween Science Workshop

Yesterday I’d organised a couple of Halloween themed science workshops for the group. They were so popular that I booked two to allow more to take part. I could probably have filled a third too if time had allowed us to squash another in.

Sam while not on top form (doing a good ghost impression), was able to cope with a structured (no running about) short session with the added advantage of being near home.

I had to be there for 1pm because of having the two workshops but Sam kept himself busy with Lego and Kindle and a friend came early deliberately to keep him company until his workshop started at 3.

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The workshops as ever were fantastic.  They were run by a lady I’ve come across in several roles over the years but she’s now running her own outfit Natural Selection Learning.

The session started with feely bags.

20161019_45Then moved on to working round activities.  I have lots of photos of other children (a friend’s 5 yo who I was watching in particular 😉 ) not so many of Sam though so lets see.

Lots of creepy crawlies to explore under microscopes and shine UV light on.

Skull drawing with chalk on black paper.


Making up spells by having to identify items such as spider’s legs and dragonfly wings.


There were also fossils to identify and link to ‘old wives tales’ about them from before people knew what they were.  Plus some bones to handle and read about.  I think the favourite may have been assemble (and disassemble) the skeleton.

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Down but not out

I say it time and time again but one of the real pluses of HE is the ability to absorb sick days.  Sam has been properly ill this week (demonstrated by being sick the minute we sat down to tea on Mon). Would have definitely been no school.  It was also clear that wrapping up in a blanket and carrying on HE as normal (without the going out bit) like we often can, wasn’t on the agenda either; boy was white as a sheet, drained and headachy.

So we’ve had a very pleasant few days in the circumstances of documentaries (Queen Victoria’s Children), reading (Story of India and The BFG), Spanish practice competitions and maths puzzles and games.  We’d finished a topic so the plan for this week was ‘enrichment tasks’ anyway and he loves those.  He’s now grumbling that we didn’t teach him algebra as a toddler as he’d find it easy by now if we had :/

City of Zombies as ever is the maths game of choice.  We’ve had it nearly two years now and me, Pete and my Dad enjoy it as much as Sam.  one of the best board games we have never mind how brilliant it is as a maths tool.  Very, very, very highly recommend!
20161019_5He’d recovered enough by yesterday afternoon to spend the afternoon on Scratch.  Touch wood we’re over the worst as things to do!

Computer Challenges

A rare no photo day!

My input education wise lasted about an hour; long enough to do some maths, English, Latin and Spanish and finish off our Queen Victoria biography.

Then Pete and Sam spent the day trying to work out the problem with the old computer. Still a work in progress.  Definitely educational though.

I had the joy of a trip to the bank and digging through old paperwork in search of a certificate.

Sam had a scout hike in the evening.

On the Up

After the trials of the last couple of weeks yesterday, yesterday it felt like we finally swept aside the hassle and can now get back to normal.
It was a day of errands. Plumber came and finally sorted leak, we made it out to buy Jack a new bike, go to the library (overdue books) and have Sam’s flu jab, plus I think I finally am there with everything on the computer.
We managed the usual maths, English, Latin and Spanish, did some work on the geography and climate zones of India.


I read aloud from our biography of Queen Victoria while Sam drew (and hid when camera came out). Sam sumerised the chapter for his blog.

20161014_6Then we watched an episode of a documentary on monsoons that with very good timing has been on this week.
Grandad arrived and Sam’s last geography task was to explain about monsoons to Grandad.  We had a play with the story discs we’d made earlier in the week. Not the best choices for things on the discs for a coherant story – but I knew that.
My dad then decided to teach Sam poker.  Sam loved it but doesn’t approve of folding so could get ver poor very quickly.
After errands and a chip shop tea it was an evening of gang show rehearsals.

Air Ambulance

Yesterday we had a lady from the county air ambulance come out to give a presentation to the children at our home ed group session.  She was really good with them, it was very interactive and role playing based. Spot on for a mixed age bunch of home ed kids.

20161012_5 20161012_6 20161012_20 20161012_22 20161012_24It was a lovely session all round.  I’d printed off some of their sheets to keep the children busy while we waited for the lady to be ready to start and they threw themselves into it.  Some fabulous pictures of zombie apocolypses and giant reptiles breathing fire at helicopters.  After the presentation it was out into the garden with bats and balls and free play and chat.

It was a good day overall which considering I physically feel very meh with an ear infection was nice.  We finally got a job ticked off our todo list that has been there too long, by finishing our story discs.  Sam’s ideas were too complicated for pictures (unless we were going to spend days on it) so we settled for writing the words on the discs.

20161012_2We managed maths, English, Latin and Spanish and half an hour cuddled up reading biography of Queen Victoria.

When we got home I put the new Rick Riordan book on the kindle for him.  So there went the afternoon and most of evening.  Although a lot of the evening was spent discussing how to go about fixing the old computer and then reading another new book on the working of computers.