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.

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.

Birdfeeders

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.

Opportunities

Someone on my local group wanted a word to sum up home ed; I decided that I wanted a change from freedom so plumped for opportunity. The last few days have been a perfect summary of how that works in practice.
On Thursday we had tickets for a free Winter Concert at the Globe. This is a community concert of songs and poetry, schools, nurseries, staff of Borough Market and all sorts of community groups. We went last year and this year despite getting drenched on the way there and being in the Yard (aka standing outdoors) it was another lovely experience. An opportunity we can seize being home educated and also make the most of in ways that you can’t with 30 children in tow (hot dog and chips shelting by a van on Southbank and hot lattes from Starbucks to warm up after).

With no need to be back by a certain time and our newly purchased Art Fund cards begging to be used we went to the Tate Modern for a while. First stop was the swing installation again. 

Then we visited the Red Star Over Russia exhibition.


Then we went back to the swings until they came and chucked us out. There you go home ed gives you the opportunity to get chucked out of art galleries 😀 A brilliant day.

Today we were tired.  So we took the opportunity for a pj clad relaxed day. I unfortunately was wide awake at 3.30 so took the opportunity to do some reading and sewing. Sam slept in until 9.30. We still managed maths, English, geography, science – inc setting up an experiment to test factors that can affect germination, reading and a history documentary before I retired to soak in the bath and do some of a Future Learn course and Sam played on the computer.

Perhaps not the best trip ever

Wednesday is our group event/day trip day usually. Today we went to … the doctors. Wahoo!

On the positive, I now have an even heavier handbag to carry about as Doctor’s given us some bits to try to lessen the symptoms/impact of these sudden bouts of stomach ache/sickness/headaches Sam has been getting and we ruled out any real physical problem.

That set us back by what we could achieve today but did still manage to look at more percentages (one of his favourite bits of maths as they are very easy, do some dictation and work on adverbs, do a mapping activity for Florida and look at the need for new housing in Britain and some of the issues that surrounds it. Sam had the idea of developing the Falkland Islands more to provide jobs and shelter for the homeless and others if Britain gets to cramped. He’d also train everyone who went over with guns in case Argentina invades.

We watched another episode of Secrets of the Castle. Science has moved on to reproduction in plants. A lot more comfortable a topic. He watched some videos, read the chapter and verbally did the exercises and then he dissected a flower. Then he retreived my vase and dissected most of the bunch…
I bribed him with Norad games to try and come up with a Christmas list!  Well he put on four books which he could easily buy with the voucher he has but won’t use.  Christmas and Birthdays shouldn’t be so hard!  

Discussion and Conversation

Is the way Sam learns best and we are doing loads of it. Doesn’t make for pretty blog posts full of interesting photos though. More just lists of things we’ve talked about and other bits and bobs we’ve done. Which these last two days has been more decimals, continuing reading and using the Machine Gunners as our English text, he drafted a letter to a newspaper about why WW2 should be taught in schools which then went into him detailing what he wants to know about the war and asking lots of questions that I really didn’t have a clue about so first chance we get I spot a big order at Amazon coming. Science was fertilization and growth of a fetus – he was slightly appalled – the microsope is him looking at sperm and eggs. History all we have done is watch a couple of episodes of Secrets of the Castle. Geography we have moved on to why and how settlements grow and factors that affect where they are placed.

Today was our Citizenship group. We were looking at what makes some one a good and active citizen and what sort of actions they could take and planning some actions for next week.

The White Stuff

The story of this week has been dominated by a non-stop battle to try and clear up cornflour. I made 24 batches of a white clay for a group activity which took some clearing up after!
Late afternoon sun came out on Weds to allow us a lovely group session playing with the clay and charging about in the garden.
The rest of the week has been spent at home mostly reading and discussing stuff so no photos. We have looked at decimals, adjectives, mapping, grid references, contour lines and OS symbols, the feudal system (and I’m pleased he made a link with a poster he’d seen at the Russian Revolution exhibition back in the summer and compare it to the neat and tidy pyramid in the book), daily life in Colonial America, human reproduction, started rewatching Secrets of the Castle and began reading The Machine Gunners. Pandemic and Hearts of Iron IV (one of his military computer based games) have featured highly.

For those who worry about the writing side, Sam hardly wrote from the ages of 7-10/11, said it hurt. All I asked him to write was maths and some handwriting practice, everything else I scribed or we did verbally. Weds morning he knocked this out while I was getting dressed so 10 mins tops. Yes it’s not his neatest writing, yes he’s missed paragraphs and punctuation. But I know he can do all those things so I trust it will come together, more happy and pleased that he’s keen to get his thoughts on paper.

 

Taxes, Adolescence, Map Scales and more

Just some of the things we have covered over the last few days.
Monday is what I hope is our productive day in the week. We have fallen into the habit of trying to cover maths (currently decimals) before his computer science tutorial and then English and world geography after before lunch. We also managed to finish off the Just So stories  and he wrote a quick review while I made lunch.
Somewhere in the day we also slotted in some science on the subject of adolescence, we went in to quite a bit of depth on this last year as was concerning me how uncurious he was so we skimmed it really. Geography was also something we’d covered in depth before; map references so we did the unit in the book quick and verbally as a revision exercise.
History took longer as we spent quite a long time debating whether various sources could be believed and the rationality behing why William the Conqueror might have done things one way. A lot of thought goes in to the best strategies to seize and maintain power in this house!
Tuesday was a quick maths and some English before we had our Citizenship group where we were looking at funding of public services, what taxes we pay and where it goes. I do not want to get old if that lot are in charge!
They then organised themselves in to games for a while.
At home we finished English and looked at map scales, then cuddled down for more reading aloud. Really enjoying Anglo Saxon Boy by Tony Bradman.

Test of Strength

I’ve been getting a bit overwhelmed and losing the plot lately with trying to keep all the balls in the air; got behind on where I wanted us to be HE wise, holidays and events coming thick and faster than could keep on top of workwise, one HE/school event after another and the house disintergrating about me.
A quiet week HE wise with a few days off and skipping all groups (although did meet friends for a lovely afternoon in the park), and slowing down in the non-stop holiday calendar that need content for work, plus Sam having his own computer has giving me the break I needed to pause and get back in control of it all.

We’ve nearly caught back up with our reading home ed wise having complete Melusine, spent a long time reading Anglo Saxon Boy (on the list to check for more in series we’re enjoying it) and the Just So stories have been a huge hit. We have had a fun few days looking at the working of joints and muscles and ‘playing’ with a set of Newton scales. A ‘pocket’ of our US history project completed on colonial villages and houses. Plus we finally made it to our new park to meet up with friends on a glorious sunny winter afternoon. One of those afternoons that showcase the best of HE, where you get to sit in the sun chatting watching an eclectic mix of kids play happily. Totally managed to miss all photo opportunities so you’ll have to take my word for it.