Full Week

The lack of blog posts this week is down to dodgy internet.

It’s been a busy week and with so much to cover there is little time for reflection so expect lists!
We have managed recorder, breathing and poetry every morning!
Monday, we also practised his poem for a short perfomance he was giving at his oracy group and watched a video looking at permance poetry. Online Mathletics came next followed by his skype Computer Science tutorial.
English, maths and some US geography filled the rest of the morning. We had Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech on in the background since it was his birthday. We listen to it every year (that I notice the date anyway), lots of discussion followed. The poems in his book that he is reading aloud from all had a race/civil rights theme this week, I suspect not coincidentally so discussion has been ongoing. I seem to recal there was a poster drawn to recruit people for the Crusades too.
In the afternoon we met other home educators for a stroll on the beach and a play in the arcade. After that is was back to watch a documentary about architecture of churches (shows it sinks in, we were in Chichester cathedral later in the week and he pointed out something to me as English perpendicular style 🙂 )

Tuesday started with our introduction to oracy and debating group. The children all read a poem or did a small speech. They were brilliant, not just at having the confidence to perform but at the listening and supporting one another, we couldn’t have asked for more they are a fabulous little group.
At home we watched an episode of Saints and Sinners (medieval religion thing going on!) and did maths, English and a quick look at the Crusades.

Weds we went to Chichester to visit the Cathedral.  A friend joined us with her eldest and I took a couple of friend’s kids. Definitely proving a nice idea to take just the older ones sometimes.
Lunch in a freezing cold park (the boy was rolling down the hill, coat is a disgrace) was followed by an afternoon sketching around Pallant House Art Gallery. What the gallery lacked in decent art works (there were some okay stuff but the main visiting exhibition left me cold) it made up for by being a lovely building with some fabulous pieces of furniture and staff/volunteers who were incredibly welcoming and lovely with the kids.

Thursday was our home pj day. I thought our plans would be forgotten for the day since we had no internet and our planner is online. The internet actually came on by the time we needed to check anything. We decided to do some swapping about of plans anyway. The storm had woken me up at 12.30 and I hadn’t really slept since which led to not being in the mood for science practicals. We shifted the more hands on stuff to Friday on the planner and opted to do two days worth of Maths and Writing with Ease instead as they were table jobs and we felt lazy.
He had a long play on live Mathletics. We then did some Geography looking at the weather of the UK and then migration. The discussion of migration led to watching the American episode of The Incredible Human Journey. The afternoon was spent working on activities from his history pocket looking at school in Colonial America. He made a quill and tried handwriting and then did some colouring while I read aloud from King of Shadows.

Today was a very pottering sort of day. English was finished off for the week including a book review, so was US geography and the school history pocket. For the pocket he made a horn book and compared his daily routine with one for a child from that time. Definitely prefered his.
Much of the day went on a frustrating python project that none of us (not even Pete) to get to work.
We couldn’t be bothered with some of the hands on stuff for science after that as mood had gone but it was rehash of stuff we had done before anyway. We did set up some crystal growing with copper sulphate solution. Once I had got him to stop playing with the bag of copper sulphate, for some reason tipping the bag about and fiddling with it has taken up a lot of attention today.

King of Shadows

King Of Shadows is a book about an american boy called Nat Feild who goes to London to perform Midsummer’s Night Dream at the Globe Theatre, while he is there he gets sent back in time to Elizabethan London where he is to peform Midsummer’s Night Dream with Shakespeare himself.

Despite the book not being as action packed as many I still liked this book because it got you wondering what would happen next.  I also liked the detail when it came to describing Elizabethan London and the way the people talked back then. Although I enjoyed it I imagine many people would not like it as it was a bit slow to get to the really interesting bits.

Plans are only a safety net

We’ve been at home the last two days, 3 days of social activities takes it’s toll and we need some home time.

Been a lovely mix of ticking things off the planner but lots of making it up as we go. I always say my plans are only ever a safety net and self led direction is the ideal. It’s been a few days of taking a basic idea on the plan and changing it into what he wanted to do, which is fair enough.

The suggestion for English on Thurs was to rewrite one of Shakespeare’s love sonnets that we had been looking at all week. Sam doesn’t do lovey stuff though so unprompted he sat down and wrote his own sonnet – about the Battle of Agincourt!

Also on Thurs we remembered the breathing exercises, did some algebra, read about life as a nun, made a collage of seasonal foods in Colonial America, looked and the particle model interms of states of matter – there were even worksheets!

In the afternoon Grandad was round and there was playing with Lego Mindstorms (video on the fb page) and board games. Pete is off on a Friday again so the day has a much more go with the flow feel rather than the routines we have fallen into when it is just me and Sam. A lot of the morning went on recorder practice. He was googling techniques and tunes so left him to it. We managed more algebra, dictation and spelling practice.

This week’s copy of ‘This Week’ arrived and was read and discussed.

We were looking at the parts that make up the UK and the differences between things like UK and British Isles.  The usual discussion about the flag came up (he is put out Wales isn’t included) so having shown him St David’s cross he redesigned the Union Flag. 

We finally finished putting together the history pocket on Daily Life in Colonial America.

While we did I read aloud from this. We are enjoying it very much.

Sam read about the Normans over lunch.

Afternoon was given over to computers. Python coding and a long play on Crusader Kings.


Today we were at one of our monthly groups and it was a lovely session. I had 35 children cooking over naked flames, with the help of HE parents (which as anyone who has run a group knows can be worse than unsupervised) and nothing bad happened!

We were making bird feeders. I managed to sort out vegetarian (very nearly vegan) bird feeders that were completely safe for those with nut allergies. That was quite a challenge in the first place 😀

We started off by cooking popcorn in foil containers over tealights.
The birdfeeders were made by threading popcorn, fruit and cereal on to wire and twisting to make shapes.

Afterwards the sun was out and they disappeared to play outdoors. It really is lovely to see how well this group works. Even with a big increase in numbers this time the nice atmosphere we get at the group was still there.

Before hand we managed the breathing exercises for the 3rd day on the trot. More algebra, dictation and a bit of work on one of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Some exercise on US Geog and started a new section of our main geography on Britain. We read about the life of a medieval monk and considered why people may have chosen that path and he coloured an illuminated letter S while I read. A history fiction book that I’d meant to read last term while we were on castles so we are a bit late but decided we fancied it. Do love a bit of Rosemary Sutcliffe for historical fiction.
Evening has been spent hanging out with J watching wrestling.

Back to Reality

After all too short a Christmas break it is back to business this week.

The New Year seemed a good time to make practising Sam’s breathing exercises every day a priority. 2 days in to term and we managed them both days! We have some exercises, a set of horns and a bit of recorder practice and then we use A Poem for Every Night of the Year to read aloud from and practice breathing in speech.

On Monday after the breathing exercises there was time for some online Mathletics before his Skype Computer Science tutorial. After this it was Maths, quick recap of basic algebra, and English, narration and a short piece of writing describing a play/programme/film using some of the given vocab. He chose to do it on a scene from Peter Pan Goes Wrong which was rewatched a few times over Christmas. I have promised a trip to the Comedy About a Bank Robbery this summer and he’s already on can’t wait mode. I think we’ll probably end up going in the Easter holidays instead 🙂

Sam did 10 minutes on his US geography project and then made a fake sampler as part of our look at colonial America.

After a quick lunch we headed to the park and he spent an hour playing with a friend. The cold put every one else off. I think there is something up with my temperature control as after walking up I had to take off coat and jumper as was sweltering. So not looking forward to summer.

Home for an episode of Sam Willis’s Castles documentary before evening drifted away.

This morning (after breathing exercises) it was off to our new block of Tuesday morning sessions which this half term is an introduction to debating and oracy.
I was alternating between popping up to be classroom assistant with pens, card etc and trying to work using my phone so wasn’t really on the ball with what was going on but a good time was had.
This I did get, this was practising giving and following verbal instructions with mixed success, not something Sam excelled at.
Another episode of Sam Willis’s Castles when we got home. We’ve moved on to Chemistry in science and looked at the particle model. We began a look at the role of the church in Medieval England with a think about a Priest’s role and then we looked at doom paintings. Sam drew his own while I read. The second man is hanging by his tongue (he read a C14th description of hell it isn’t his imagination). Little nod to musical tastes with Stairway to Heaven and Highway to Hell featuring.  The fiction book we are currently enjoying is Susan Cooper’s King of Shadows about a boy who time travels back to Shakespeare’s Globe. Loving it 🙂

  Despite a couple of very relaxed and enjoyable days I can’t shake off a bit of a jaded feeling. I think it’s a combinating of GCSEs looming up with J and the fact I think I have just been doing home ed group stuff for so long now it feels like a job and not one I am particularly enjoying at present.

Goodbye 2017

Overall another very good year. We have definitely had some fantastic trips, lovely home ed groups, productive times at home and lots of more relaxed meets chilling with friends.
Been a year of change too, there is definitely a far more grown up Sam. Home ed has become more book based as we have moved to KS3, socialising has seen a move towards the kids spending time together with less adults as Sam and his friends gallop towards their teens.
Politics and history have become the main interests.
Noticed a definite drop in productivity in the last two months of the year as Sam seemed to be constantly under the weather without being able to pinpoint anything, so here’s hoping for a healthier 2018.

Me – I smashed my book challenge by reading 58 books from a challenge of 52. Possibly might manage one more if I go to bed early enough.
Activity Village went subscriber and has taken up far more of my time but mainly in a good way as I do love my work.
8 cross stitch pictures finished but still not taught (retaught?) myself to crochet. Can not see the crochet happening soon, I love stitching too much and have too many projects in the cupboard ready to start.
I had a break at the start of the year when videos wouldn’t work on my Kindle but couldn’t avoid be tempted back when the problem fixed itself and in the end completed 13 FutureLearn courses.

January – Had so many photos to chose from as we were into a very practical human body project, having fun with friends on a combined construction project and learning about Dickens and the Victorians with various trips. This is from a trip to the Foundling Museum and Charles Dickens’ House.
February – Another busy month as all of January’s projects continued. Home ed groups were thriving, this is a game of ‘chair football’ after one activity.
March – A very eclectic month starting with a St David’s Day trip to Wales. Lots of hands on experiments on bridges and tunnels, a trip to Christchurch and a home ed architecture workshop in Winchester.
April – Some Easter science, Hamlet, a trip to the Geffrye, Kidzania again, some lovely spring days out Pokemon hunting, lots of board games and our second Great Home Ed Bake Off.
May – Treasure Trails were our ‘thing’ of the month. It was a busy month for being out, Sam discovered a taste for sushi as we studied Japan, we were in London at the Olympic Park and walking a Jack the Ripper tour, Winchester for Jane Austen exhibition and lots of time with friends at home.
June – Was hot! I think this is the memory of the year, the kids playing in the sprinklers outside the QE2 Centre in 34 degree heat after a trip to Westminster Abbey. We also had an absolutely brilliant if soggy few days in Bristol, a lot of fun with creative writing at home and at a workshop and some fun with catapults at home ed group even if the ammo (marshmallows) melted 🙂
July – the month started with a fabulous day out at the British Library, a day out on the Watercress Line to round off our Victorian project and some tie dye at home ed group. Half the month was spent in Pembrokeshire.
August – the month was spent quietly chilling as a family, this is a day out with Grandad at Little Woodham.
September – marked a big shift in how we work at home becoming much more curriculum focused, Saxons were the main theme and we took trips to Romsey Abbey and Butser Farm and had a workshop at the hall. Fun was also had with a block of Lego Robotics sessions.
October – We marked the move from Saxons to Normans in our studies with a brilliant few days in Hastings and Battle. Productive time at home. We also managed a trip to Winchester for an Alfred the Great workshop and the History of Magic exhibition at the British Library and some Halloween fun with friends.
November – illness was definitely slowing us down but we had a trip to the Tower of London and some days with friends at a new park. Lots of reading and documentary watching and plodding on with stuff really.
December – there was a definite fizzling out as the year drew to a close but we had some lovely times with friends. A trip to the Globe and Tate, the Festival of Christmas, a chocolate session and some lovely Christmas wreath making as well as Christmas shopping with friends, a trip to Santa with some younger friends and a family panto trip followed by a lovely relaxed Christmas.


Feeling Christmassy at long last.
Medical appointments done and dusted until first week of Jan and house nearly clean and tidy. Tomorrow is decorations day.
Today though was a trip out to see Santa at a Narnia themed experience. Okay we’re long past the believing stage but the advantage of home ed is we have friends who are a lot smaller and do, so having come out of the ‘too old’ mindset in to wanting to enjoy it all again and happy to play along with the younger ones off we went.
It was really well done actually, the forest especcially felt really magical.

Christmas Chores

Christmas chores have been order of the week here. Weds involved card writing and then off to home ed group where we made wreaths. Absolutely lovely afternoon.
Thursday was hectic. Sam stayed in and worked through his maths and English while I went for a blood test and ran errands like posting the Christmas presents and picking up pottery.
Home and went through history, science and geography with Sam. Then he watched a documentary while I tidied up and put away a supermarket shop.
My dad came round and we chatted over hama beads and making a mess. We had some packing noodles and I had the idea of making an igloo with them. We got them a bit wet though and ended up with something that resembled mashed potato.Today was finishing off bits off work and lots and lots of tidying up.
We managed to get rid of 4 boxes/bags of craft stuff by dropping it over to a fellow home eder who runs a local ‘Trash Cafe’. I have promised Sam we will go back to eat when it stops raining for long enough for the river not to be flooded. It’s a nice walk over the country park but the river tends to flood and cut off our route.
Tidying up turned in to playing with knex and reading Beanos 🙂

Machine Gunners review

The Machine Gunners is a book set in WW2 Britain about a group of kids  who find a German machine gun. They build a fortress in the garden of bombed house and use the machine gun to try and shoot down German planes. when a German plane is shot down the rear gunner lands and is found by the children. He is captured and he helps them build up the fortress. When a technical glitch in the home guards systems send the message the invasion has started the children head to the fortress and the German tries to escape on a boat. It turns out the invasion was a false alarm and the German returns but is shot. So the the children stop seeing each other and the story ends.

I liked this book a lot as it had a good storyline and interesting characters. The way it was portrayed made it seem like it was a proper community. All in all a very good book.

Contrasting Home Days

We  have had 2 days at home so far this week, two very different days.
Monday was an at home pj day. Efficient though, lots covered. Mainly from the sofa or by the fire as we read and watched documentaries. Today, by contrast, the only work done was sorting out our visiting flat travellers travel journal to send him home. 
Our Citizenship group officially finished last week but we met up today at our house to blow the remainder of the kitty on chocolate. 13 children making things out of chocolate in my living room, I sometimes wonder if I am mad or at the very least I am thankful for forgiving neighbours :D.
They came out really well. We acually got through 2kg of Maltesers on these puds, not a lot got eaten.

One child got left behind (on purpose 😉 ) so they could spend the afternoon on Roblox while I tidied and wrapped.