Learning Online and Lego

Monday saw Sam appear bright and early and, most surprisingly, dressed ready for his first online computer science lesson. All went well and he hung around chatting online for a while after.We didn’t really achieve as much as we should have done with the rest of the day and have paid the price for the rest of the week. I think the reason is he’s struggled far more with maths than I thought he would. Definitely need some revision of the basics.
We had a pleasant afternoon reading and weaving though.Tues was the second of our six week Lego Mindstorms course. The pace quickened a lot and session went much better than the week before. Afternoon was again a lot slower and less productive than ideal.

Going to skip over Weds as was trip day so a post in own right due. Today’s mental energy has gone on complaining about yesterday’s trip! We’ve plugged away though and done lots of table based work. Including having some fun with divisibility tests.

We did do some practical science but no photos to brighten up the post as was busy dropping balls 🙂

At which point he announces that he feels like he’s half way home from a trip to London having drank a gallon of coke. This was further clarified as ‘not immediately going to be sick but nor feeling too good’. Computer play and wrestling watching since then!

Getting to Grips

New challenges are coming thick and fast. On Monday he starts online tutorials so a good period of time on Thurs was given over to making sure we have everything installed and can working and logging in to a trial lesson (one to check we could log in!) He’s quite excited and looking forward to it so touch wood it might well be something we explore more of in future.

Thursday was mainly a quiet day at home. Lots of time spent reading aloud from Oliver Twist. The problem with a more textbook focussed, structured way of working is it’s not so interesting to blog about.

There was maths, I had a reminder that mistakes need to be very sensitively dealt with! Tough one! Moving on to English and I let him chose his own writing assignment based on the topic of ‘hunger’. He chose to write a report explaining what a Trash Cafe is and why he thinks they are a good idea. We’re yet to make it to our local one (run by a local home eder) but both taken with the idea. We’ll manage it one day. Science was planning an investigation and geography was some mapping work on Massachuessetts. Also started our first History Pocket looking at the Colonial America.

Friday was much more hands on. After maths and some spelling work we did the science investigation that he planned yesterday. It was looking at how temperature effected the amount of salt that could be dissolved in water but really the point was the process of investigation (importance of control variables, fair test etc).
Then we did some marbling. Inks were a bit rubbish so not pleased with result but he enjoyed the process. Then we tried this and failed completely.

We still had quite a bit to do but I was feeling fidgetty and given the choice Sam opted for having some ‘homework’ for the weekend and so we went out. Picked up a magazine each and read them over lunch in Costa before a quick trip the local gallery for their Royal Navy in the time of Jane Austen exhibition. Was a good choice as a lovely few hours.

New Routines

It’s been a hugely busy few days. We’re getting used to new materials and new styles of working. Definitely can feel the increase in structure and amount of writing, he’s got a good attitude though and I’m pleased and impressed with what he’s managed.

At the weekend we finally managed to put our flat traveller through the laminator and into the post.And took our visiting one down the beach.We are into researching things and answering textbook questions in exercise books. 
In English we’ve been looking at extracts from Oliver Twist and non fiction works on hunger. Science we’ve been looking at how to think and investigate scientifically. I messed up and we may have had a false start and done some work on cells (which we’ll get to properly in a few weeks).
Maths it’s the usual revision of place value and addition. History we’ve been looking at early humans in Britain as part of a brief pre 1066 overview.Project wise we are looking at Maine and reading about lobsters and lumber. Tues morning saw us at our new group for the first in a 6 week block of Lego Mindstorms sessions. Sam enjoyed it. I had to leave the room as struggled with the way it was presented. Hopefully teething issues though. In contrast the lady providing our Saxon archaeology workshop this afternoon was excellent, so good with them. Definitely need to do more. We’ve also been reading lots – an Anglo Saxon non-fiction book, an adaption of Beowulf by Rosemary Sutcliffe (love Sutcliffe’s books for bringing history to life) and Oliver Twist.  Started watching In Search of the Dark Ages by a very young Michael Wood. From the clothes and hair I doubt I could have been much more than 5 when it was filmed.

 

Heritage Days

It’s Heritage weekend! We are a bit too tired and soggy to make the most of it. Although we did finally make it to the ARP bunker in Alverstoke.  Supposedly the only remaining ARP bunker in the country. Been past it loads and always miss it. Interesting place.

We started the day with breakfast in a cafe and a long overdue catchup with an old friend, a bit of stone collecting and Pokemon hunting on the beach Soaked to the skin by then we decided that any plans to pop into other heritage events were best shelved in favour of home, bath and pjs.

Sam spent some of the afternoon programming an art project in Python and then submitting it for his Art Award.

This arrived in the post today too. American Horrible Histories 😀
Pete’s away so it’s pizza, wine and Sherlock to mark the end of the first week of term.

Romsey Abbey

We began our look at Saxon Britain with a trip to Romsey Abbey. Actually our whole project on this was based on a workshop I fancied here. In the end we didn’t have enough interest and I cancelled the workshop! But I decided to take Sam and a couple of friends for a self guided visit.

Good call as we had a lovely day and the Abbey proved fascinating. The website had some interesting looking resources that I printed (and read on the train 😉 ).

The Abbey can be traced back to 907AD and it was believed there was a wooden church on the site as early as 600/700AD. It’s believed that King Edward the Elder (son of Alfred the Great) settled nuns here as a home for his daughter Elflaeda, who became abbess and was canonised and become one of the two patron saints of the site.

The current building is very early Norman c1120-1140 but there is a surprising amout of Saxon history still visible. The building was bought from Henry VIII in 1544 by local people as a parish church (you can see the deeds) which is presumably how it survived the Reformation.

We started with a trail outside.
Saxon wall Civil War musket ball damage. Some weird bird that looks like it was made on Terraria. Tiring work! A Saxon rood. A rood is just the name for a place to pray (I asked!) Part of the original Saxon church.Then it was inside to see Saxon hair – really. Story of it is here. The Saxon foundations. Since it was there it was a pity not to nip into the museum opposite (at the very least it was likely they would have toilets). It’s very small and not much to it and some frightening dummies so not high on our favourite places. Although there were some fabulous capes for dressing up, very HP or Jedi. They do seem to have an interesting schools programme and the coffee shop that we managed to get stuck in getting in the staff’s way looked nice and the garden was worthy of more than the glance we gave it. We were rushing off so we had time to make it to Romsey Rapids/ Rapids and slide closed (as expected) but still huge amounts of fun had and 3 happy. tired children on way home.

Curriculum 17/18

This seems an awful lot but well ‘aim high’ and if it’s too much we’ll adapt and change as we always do.

Maths

Had a serious think about whether we should have a change with the move to KS3 but then decided if something isn’t broken, don’t fix it.  So we continue to use Mathletics. Again I’ve allocated the topics – 15 or 16 this time- to weeks and linked online games to reinforce. There is a lot more explanation in the content this time, the format is different from the KS2 years. It still looks more varied than most resources in terms of activities. I also bought subscriptions to MathsWatch at KS3 and GCSE level for us to look at. I can’t see us making much use of it tbh but there for further support if we need it.

English

Made lots and lots of progress here last year. I am reasonably confident in the progress we’re making to feel positive about where we’re going with this.
We are starting Galore Park’s So You Really Want to Learn English series as our main English thread.
I used the junior series with J very suggessfully but felt Sam needed something different at the time but is now ready for this.
I think it needs a bit of supplementing though for comprehension and writing. So we will continue with Writing With Ease  (on the last level now) for narration/comprehension and dictation practice. I suspect he’s beyond it now abilitywise but it’s a style that has worked for us well over the years so we decided to keep going.  I bought them all second hand about 9 years ago so may as well 🙂
For Writing we’ll continue with the Collin’s Aiming For Level books. We are about halfway through Level 4 with 5 and 6 waiting in the wings. The unfussy style works for Sam.

We’ll try and read through the book from each chapter of the GP book. We also have this (more a treat for me I suspect) to offer up some poetry.

Science

Really did find this difficult to plan. I’d actually bought the student book months and months ago but learning science by reading and answering questions alone sounds so dull and not how science should be so needed to turn it into a workable programme.
Unfortunately home educators can’t sign up for Kerboodle (OUPs online resource site) which makes a lot of the teacher’s book I invested in too pretty useless as all the resources for the lesson plans are on Kerboodle. It’s a real pity as it feels like it a good scheme.
So I’ve worked through the Teacher’s Book and Student Guide and for each topic covered I have planned activities from the teacher’s book (if usable), adapted ideas, found YouTube videos for things we can’t do at home, supplemented from Teachit Science and some resources we had at home (our anatomy colouring book should finally get used). I also linked BBC Bitesize clips for as many topics as possible.  Have a list of resources I still need to make (sorting cards and that sort of thing mainly).

Languages

I think the time has come to drop Latin, he’s not enjoying the grammar side. I will leave it on the shelf and up to him.  We’ll keep going with DuoLingo for Spanish, realistically he’s probably not going to study a language to GCSE or beyond, it’s not his thing and he’s unlikely to be a traveller. But we enjoy the competetiveness of both doing DuoLingo so we’ll keep it going for fun.

History

The textbook I bought last year because I couldn’t find any decent British Empire resources turned out to be so good that I bought the full set to use as a spine.
How much we’ll do the exercises in the books and how much we’ll just read and discuss is one to wait and see.
I’ve planned fortnightly trips to enhance up to half term and a pencilled in set of suggestions for the rest of the year.
We’ll read some non-fiction and as many suitable fiction books that we can fit in too.
Plus of course have lists of documentaries to watch. 
Looking forward to this one a lot, it’s a time period I never covered at school but have read quite a bit on. The religious and political history especially interests me and a few trips pencilled in that I am quite excited about.

 We’re also planning a year long project on America, combining history, geography, politics etc
Historywise we have a collection of biographies to read, a few American Horrible Histories, US History for Dummies (and may well end up with more from the series), and some fiction.  We will also work through some of the Evan Moor History Pockets.

Geography

Planning to take 2 paths through Geography this year. One is to simply work through this course.

The other is to work through the Trail Guide to US Geography.  We did the World one years ago and it was a bit of fun. We’ll do crafts and cooking alongside too.

Computing

This subject marks something new in our HE journey this year as he starts online lessons in Computer Science from LearnTec.  We’ll supplement with more work on Python. He is also booked on a 6 week Lego robotics course.  Waiting for this place to open properly and announce programme as he’s enjoyed the workshops he has done there this summer so hoping it will be something we can tap into regularly.

Art

We are currently finishing off the Explore Arts Award . Planning to dedicate the summer term to the Bronze award. In between the two we will try some of the drawing courses on Jam plus one of our monthly Weds groups has a decidely arty lean. We will of course catch as many exhibitions that catch my eye as we can – there’s one at the Portrait Gallery I fancy, the Russian one at the Tate, and Impressionist one coming up, Cezanne…

Design & Technology

Planning to work through this book. There is surprisingly little practical as in making stuff with tools, it’s more about the design process. Working on arranging some workshops for the summer term to allow him to get some experience of the practical side.

Citizenship

Obviously this is something we cover all the time with discussion and life.
But we are going to work through this book (and read the story books we have for each religion).

The Christian chapter is quite short and falls in the run up to Christmas so hope to do some research on Christmas rituals.

Our Tues group will cover some Citizenship topics. This book is proving helpful with ideas.

Politics and philosophy will be touched on too.
We’ve so many resources and books here on the subjects, he reads the newspaper most days so this is something I am not planning for we’ll cover it because we’re interested. I am hoping we’ll find sometime to get involved in some volunteering/community project but not sure what diary can stretch to yet.

Revolution and Illustration

I may have used the words ‘I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier’ yesterday and that was before we met Lucy Worsley :D. Looking down on original medieval documents and books will do that to me.  For a history geek with a love of books, yesterday was as good as it gets. Sam was very good natured and rustled up enough enthusiasm and interest to let me indulge.

The day started with a trip to the British Library for their Russian Revolution exhibition.  Was very well done, interesting, spacy and cool (BM could learn a lesson or two).


After a trip around the corner for lunch in what I think of as a proper London ‘caff’, the sort I’d have breakfast in to mop up the hangover 20 years ago, we went back to the British Library for a general look about.
We stayed about an hour exploring their Treasures of the British Library exhibition before deciding there was a real danger of never leaving. Bit like the Land of the Lotus Eaters that place 🙂  We’re back in October for the Harry Potter exhibition and can’t wait.  Need a general no agenda potter just to absorb the place too.

We walked over to Kings Cross to visit the House of Illustration instead. With a pause to goggle at the wonder of the St Pancras Hotel.
 Then a much, much longer pause to get very wet (no change of clothes this time – oops). House of Illustration, I would have been disappointed in if it had been our main agenda for the day. For a diversion while in the area it was enjoyed by all. I’ve spent years telling Sam he’d like anime, he’s finally convinced.

As an unexpected bonus the walk back to the bus took us past the Youtube offices and the very nice security guard let the kids go up and have a quick gander at the offices.  No guesses where they want to work now 🙂 There was a shop too full of ‘Youtuber’ tat.  I feel very, very old as I really don’t get the whole ‘youtuber’ thing :S

Summer Days

Blogging definite slipped way down list of priorities. Probably should be when I should try and make the effort to blog more really when we go more relaxed and unschooly as I miss recording exactly how much can be learnt this way. I no longer feel the need to though, I am happy with what we covered this year, he’s entitled to a rest and a holiday and if he was learning nothing for a month or so would it be an issue – no. In reality you can’t stop a child learning, he’s like a sponge, I just feel no inclination to analyse and document it.

What have we been up to practically since the last post?

We had a day’s home ed trip learning about Victorians and riding steam trains on the Watercress Line.
It was my Dad’s birthday last week so we spent some time with him on Thursday at Titchfield Abbey, playing with Nerf guns and treating him to lunch out. Sam very patiently spent a good deal of time helping a random toddler fire a small nerf gun (was scary to watch!) He is like the Pied Piper, collects small children about him whereever we go it seems.

Thurs afternoon was spent making vast quantities of playdough as Friday was the last under 10’s group of term.  Lovely session, 5 new families along and a lot of mess to clear up.  I do love playdough. 

Sam spent the time I was at the group shopping for a birthday present for my Dad and hiding out in Costa. We had lunch and shopping and a leisurely afternoon as Sam had bought Sim City for his DS.

Weekend was normal pottering (aka kindle/computer/ds play) with the exception of popping to see Grandad with cake and presents (birthday was Sat).

Plans for this week went by the wayside. We had a home ed session booked on bushcraft on Monday and plans to go geocaching yesterday.  Eczema flare up meant poorly cracked skin and swollen feet though and didn’t want to take risk of infection (we do get them).
Monday was spent finishing off cartoon strip for the HE comic we’re getting published, reading (History of the Russian Revolution in prep for tomorrow) and then computer play really.

Yesterday after starting off the day with a horrendous sick head ache I managed to make it out to see a hall for potential group meets with a friend and we followed up with tea and a chat while kids played Lego and Pokemon. Afternoon went in board games and then when Scratch wasn’t working he agreed to try a Python project. He ‘wants’ to do Python but wants to do it immediately and gets frustrated so needs coaxing. After a bit of a hiccup we did get it working to draw a robot though.

Today was my last Home Ed group session for rhe academic year. After an early morning BP check up Sam spent the morning programming a art project on Scratch based on Kandinsky’s Circles. Group was a  bit of a manic one (you can tell by the fact that my coffee was so cold I didn’t even attempt to drink it) but a lot of fun and messy children.

End of Term

Heat is severely curtailing blogging. Too hot to be downstairs of an evening and I have had quite a nasty cold type bug that I can’t shake (might well be hayfever back to try and finish me off just when I thought it was easing).
We had a lovely last ‘Social group’. Children ran fete style stalls and raised loads of money for the venue we hire (4 times more than I was hoping for!)  I have no photos from it although I think there are a fair few knocking about of me since Sam’s stall was charging people to throw wet sponges at me.
At home we have been finishing off our looking at the Industrial Revolution with a look at electricity, here’s an electromagnet.  We also got out the combustion engine kit that has been in the cupboard for about 5 years.  It was missing some parts so we are waiting on spares (a reply within 5 mins offering to order them and send them out from the company was impressive).We finished our look at Asia by reading about Korean holidays. He’s bowing!
We finished watching Full Steam Ahead, finished reading Street Child and working through the chapter in his history text book.  Trip tomorrow to round off ou Victorian project.
English (apart from our Summer Story Walk – we’ll fit it in somewhere) and Maths finished too and ceremoniously thrown in the recycling bin!

Boiling Alive

Is how I feel, pretty much.

On the home ed front things are going well. I have planned well and keeping up with what little I’ve allocated us isn’t proving hard.

Yesterday we’d easily finished by 11 so heading in to town, picked up lunch and a friend’s daughter and went over to laser quest. Despite the heat 18 children went in and had the usual fun. My plan on hiding out in the shade didn’t quite work out thanks to a cute 5yo who wanted to play – kickboxing in that heat was a mistake though.

Could have spent day on the top deck of the ferry, was nice and breezy. Sam had sun tan lotion in the eye hence the squint.

 Today started early as I went to view a hall with a friend for a group activity. Sam stayed home and got on with work. When I got back all that was needed was grammar, writing, science and some history reading.  
Telephones and telegraphs were the focus of science.
Sam made a circuit so we could do morse code with a bulb.
After that Sam experimented with the electical bits for a couple of hours with a quick detour into researching answers to questions I couldn’t answer.
At some point he decided to show me what a peg blutacked on to a motor felt like against your head. Unfortunately I had my back to him when I said yes to ‘can I show you something?’ so couldn’t point out the flaw with that. He quickly realised the problem and there was a lot of apologising as he spent 20 mins helping remove lots of knots, blutack and a motor from my hair. It was scissors job in the end.  Had to see funny side.