Tower and Tate

Yesterday we were up in London to visit the Tower as our history course moves on to the Normans and castles. We’ve been a few times now and the Tower is so cheap to get in to (wahay for HE rates) that luckily the fact that the Tower was probably the worst part of the day didn’t dampen day. We walked there and back along the Thames (a long walk, we clocked up over 8 miles) and great fun was had was on the way there. The Tower is actually an amazing place and well worth a visit, home education families can book as a school group making it fantastic value. For some reason it didn’t capture Grace and Ronnie’s interest and while it definitely did engage Sam about 1/2 way round the White Tower he did his trick of suddenly going grey and feeling very ill. An hour of sitting outside while the others explored and some vomiting later and he picked up but we all were ready to go by then!

Sam picked up so much on the walk back that we decided to chance the One, Two, Three Swing exhibition at the Tate Modern. They loved it, we loved it, he didn’t vomit so all good 🙂

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.

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.

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.

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.

Small Pleasures

Been a lovely quiet peaceful day. 

Latin provided fun as he was working out roots of words.  Maths was easier than he expected producing glee.  English showed what huge inroads he has made into writing as he wrote a very competent advert.  And all done by 10.15.

We read for an hour, discussing in detail as we did, from a non-fiction book about the Victorians.  While I did a job about the house Sam read about and wrote a profile on Dr Barnado.  Then read some more about Victorian schools and gave me a verbal narration to summarise.  We got out the slate and he had a go and writing Victorian script and did some extra sums.

We dug out some more Victorian replica bits for a look and then watched Victorian Bakers over lunch.

We then got distracted by looking at my sewing and sharing stories about the different monarchs.We moved on to Sketch Tuesday whichthis week was feathers.  I got into awful trouble for not emailling off last week’s st today’s has already gone! I drew a peacock while Sam did an eagle.  We did print photos to copy.

Sam then programmed one of those touch the wire games on his Microbit.

Finally we read a report about the child we sponsor and checked out where he is.  Then it was over to Roblox and work.

A Schooly Looking Day

I was exhausted today.  Hands on fun stuff was beyond me so it was a catch up on quieter stuff.  Nice to have balance but a low photo post and not an exciting one, more a list of what we did.

So we did;

a dictation exercise from Writing With Ease 3 about Laura Ingalls Wilder
a writing exercise from his Collins book encouraging use of personal details to bring authenticity
a review and activities verbally on quotations mark
a lesson on finding percentages of numbers
a couple of Mathletics games
Spanish practice
Latin verbs
reading and a worksheet on children’s work in Victorian times
read some of a My Story book on a Sweep’s Boy
watched last episode on Victorian Slum
a couple of comprehension style exercises about natural resources in Asia
drawing for Sketch Tuesday

Changes of Plan

It has been a few days of having to adapt plans while battling a cold (Sam) or aches and pains (me).  We’ve done well though.

We’ve managed loads of sit down at the table stuff.  Great strides through maths.  Move to a new Latin curriculum is going well.

Tuesday morning was a peaceful work and reading and documentary watching.  My Dad popped by of the afternoon since we’re out on Thurs (usually Grandad day) and we chatted over structure building from natural resources.

Trying to kick start art again we have picked up Sketch Tuesday again. Today was a panic as the people running the afternoon’s group for us cancelled so it was trying to let people know what was happening, deal with Sam who was reluctant to go (until they finally cancelled completely he was happy enough with my plans). 

Anyway we did some teamworking games and challenges, made costumes from newspaper and held a fashion show and played games.  All good fun.

Water, Water Everywhere and a bit of Indian Culture

We’re in mopping up mode, finishing off units and wrapping up projects.  After some maths and English Monday morning was mostly sppent playing with water colours.

Sam painted spots over the paper and we left it outside in the rain (amazing how few rainy days we’ve been home – this one has been on the list for a while).  Produced a good effect.  The line is him dropping a pencil on it while it was drying.

Sam also painted a reflection with an oilpastel cityscape

And we both did a water silhouette – paint a simple outline then fill in with water and add splodges.

There was even more art work as Sam worked on his penguin scratch art while I read aloud from our Story of India book.

The afternoon was dedicated to Indian culture, we read info and stories, listened to sitar music, watched Bollywood videos, coloured in costumes and played snakes and ladders and ludo.

Brainy Boy

We’re definitely cocooning at the moment.  The big question on Sam’s lips all of the time is ‘are we going out tomorrow?’  He starts asking about tea time, has to check another few times before bed and then it is the first thing he asks when he gets up.

For me it’s more that I have so much to do at home that there are places and things I really want to do (and know Sam would enjoy once he was out) and no time to fit them in.  Need to get us out more, I suspect we’ll both feel better for it.  Need a proper big day out, a ride on a train.

Anyway at home we are getting jobs done. Yesterday we even managed an activity that has been on my mental todo list for at least 6 years!

Here is a bear practicing Latin.  He finished off the last of his multiplication and division unit. Come so far with this in the last 18 months I’m really pleased.

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In science we moved on from nerves to the brain. This involved a lot of reading. I left him to the lift the flaps one on his own 🙂  The idea of right and left side of the brain having different skills interested him a lot.

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Every now and again you spot an activity that you think – I must do that – one day…  The Ellen McHenry Brain Hat was one such, may have taken me over 6 years since first thinking it looked good but we got there in the end.

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The other big activity of the day was a bit of long overdue art work.  Inspired by O’Keeffe’s bone landscapes.  We really need to pull together his Art Award stuff.  I think I am going to be sensible though and say we’ll do it over Christmas not get it done by Christmas.

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  Here’s one last (very blurry) photo, from Saturday evening actually.  We attended the light switch on in town with friends.  I was sure there was a lantern parade so we hurriedly made some in the car on the 10 min ride there.  Of course we couldn’t find any parade when we got there so we held our own 🙂 Not the best parade ever but Vicki’s lit up hat made up for a lot 😉

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