Surrealism and Socialising

I’d hoped to have finished our ‘blocks’ in maths and English last week so this week could be a leisurely finishing off projects week.  Things though never, ever go as planned and we needed the time off far more last week when we were ill.  Means we’ve had bits of maths and English to finish off this week and we’re a lot further behind in projects than I would have hoped.  Easily sorted though – Romans we’ll spend a bit of time consolidating and talking about today and tomorrow and then let go, Science will rework plan over half term.

So Monday and Tuesday were spent tying up loose ends before rushing off to catch up with friends.

Monday there was time for a bit of maths, English, Latin (finished book so must buy next one) and Spanish before we went into Gosport to have a chat with the library staff about using rooms/space there for HE activities.  We had a Subway that I’d promised him last week just before he was sick!  Then it was a very bobby ferry ride to Portsmouth for home ed laser quest session and a bit of time in Action Stations.  Pete is away a lot this week so it was a tea and TV evening with the boys.  They’ve got a taste for the animated films they enjoyed when they were really small so we watched one of the Ice Age films.

Tuesday, we had longer at home before needing to go out so we finished off the half terms English and Maths and did some Spanish.  We also finished off the half term’s art project on Surrealism.

Turn of ‘automatism’ and inspired by Joan Miro’s ‘The Great Carnivore’  we drew squiggles with black pen and then ‘turned them in to stuff’.

20160209_2 Fish and net by Sam20160209_4

Face by meSAM_2149

We also made a video of Sam ‘defining surrealism’ and submitted his projects to for the Surrealism skill.

There was some time to browse the post.  On first impressions this book seems really good.  I’ll update as/if we ever use it.

20160209_3  Tues afternoon was spent back in Action Stations we were there early enough for a play.

20160209_134802 Then it was a friend’s birthday party.  Laser quest again before heading over to a soft play centre for a few hours and tea.  A brilliant afternoon, thank you Kate and Mike.20160209_150448

That periodic reminder…

… of why I love home ed.  Oh there are many reasons of course; the more tailored education, the friends, the fun.  But perhaps the most obvious practical benefit comes when they are ill; no ‘are they well enough’ dilemmas, no one else to answer to, no ‘missing stuff’.

The Friday after we got home from Wales was an inset day so we had Jack at home.  We had a very pleasant day until about 3 ish when he started to feel ill.  9 days later he is still really suffering with a chesty cough and no appetite.  He had 3 days off school as was running a fever and could hardly move.  But after 2 days we were feeling like we should take him to the doctors for a sick note and perhaps antibiotics for the chest.  Really what he needs is time 🙁

By Monday it was spreading to us all mildly but Sam worked as normal.  Although only not much more than the bare essentials.
Did do some art though.  Looking at the ‘juxtaposition of unrelated articles’ in surrealism.  Created a collage inspired by Sir Roland Penrose’s Le Grande Jour.  Forgotten the title there was some pun about watching and sun ripened tomatoes.

20160201_2He also made a picture on Scratch inspired by Marcel Marien’s Star Dancer

This is ‘baseball bat’ 🙂

baseball bat
We’ve had a laptop for well over a year, the idea being that the desktop is mostly mine for work.  Hasn’t worked like that as the boys installed something that had a virus in the first few months and it got clogged up with programmes and dumped on a shelf.  But more and more what Sam wants to do with screens requires the computer rather than tablet/X box and has been really interfering with my working time over the last three months.  Pete and I have both worked hard on it and laptop is working.
20160201_1 Tuesday Jack was still really ill, Sam and I were slipping further into it.  I was supposed to be doing the activity at the home ed group meet in Portsmouth but had to cancel.  We covered Sam’s basics and then he spent most of the time until Cubs on Scratch.  I worked, caught up on some admin and watched TV with Jack.  I did make a St Brigid’s cross for Imbolc though.


Weds was Sam’s best friend’s birthday.  With both boys being ill plans shifted from a sleepover to going for the day to in the end going to a gaming cafe for a few hours.  Pete stayed home with Jack.  Sam loved the gaming cafe so planning a home ed meet there.  Good job we’d scaled back plans though, by the time we got off the ferry on the way home Sam was sick and I was developing a dreadful head cold.

Thursday was an out of it day (I can’t sleep when I get a cold).  Bath, sofa (and a 4 1/2 hr Horrible Histories marathon) and curling up with a book in bed were the order of the day.  Jack was back at school though if exhausted by it.

Friday was a bit more productive as I did a bit of housework and sat with Sam while he worked on some Scratch projects.  I even had a go myself and drew a spiral.

We’re both on the mend, I hope.  Which we need as although home ed does give us the flexibility to be ill we will make commitments to be places and we’ve the laser quest (the unmissable event on the month’s schedule) , another birthday and a trip I’ve organised in the next few days.

Sneezes and sleeplessness

Were the negative points of last week.  Sam’s sleep patterns seem all messed up, left to his own devices two days it was nearly 11am before he rose.  Means mornings are not starting as well as they should.  I’m of the mindset that pottering around at midnight is not healthy but on the other hand you can’t make someone sleep.  All I can do is encourage good habits and hope for the best.  That said I’m awake in the early hours most nights reading and seldom sleep beyond 5.30am whatever time I go to bed. so not exactly a role model in good sleep practices.

Boys have colds and are below par and I’ve a real streamer of a cold, really can’t stop sneezing.  As such it’s definitely been a quiet week, quite a few pj days.  I’ve discovered a flaw in my plan of a project based almost on reading – it requires me to have a voice!

But as ever there were lots of positives.  I’ve lost track of what we did do.  Photo checking time…

There was definitely length and perimeters maths work and we’ve been covering direct and indirect speech in English.

We had a quiet but enjoyable laser tag session.  Well Sam played laser tag, as usual I spent most of the time on a helicopter simulator with a very adorable 3 year old who never seems to get bored of crashing 🙂


Tuesday seems to have got lost.  I think it was a lots of time on the computer day.  Scratch and animation are high on the current agenda.  We had a go with flipbooks.  Sam found the physical act of flipping hrd so we found an app for the kindle that worked the same way.  Evening was science at Cubs.

Weds we had Jack home ill.  I let Sam sleep in as long as it took to wake up naturally and spent the morning working on monkey crafts for Activity Village.  When Sam got up we walked to the village for a few bits and the Beano.


We then spent the afternoon on the sofa watching the Wizard of Oz.  I don’t remember watching it with either boy although apparently it was one of Jack’s favourites and he had a very good recollection of what would happen next.  How soon we forget it seems.

A bit more work and then off to Jack’s school for options information evening.  Turns out he has hardly any and they really, really drag out the process.  I always thought that at least the range and ease of doing GCSEs was a plus for school.  I suspect that he’d probably have more choice from our local HE enxam centre as options are so tied by NC constraints.  It’s the amount of science he has to do which is the real negative for us and he’d prefer to drop all modern languages.  However at least one subject he wants would be difficult HE wise.   Anyway he has given it some thought and made sensible choices based on future career options and present enjoyment so I’m happy with him.

Thursday we had fun playing with photoshop trying to manipulate photos to represent ideas.  We started off from Dali’s The Persistence of Memory and melting clocks.  We talked about how he was trying to represent an idea about the nature of time.  We then ‘melted’ our own clock in photoshop.  Sam was inspired then to try different editing techniques. 20160114_15melting clock

staring daggers
staring daggers
the world
words can hurt

Then in the spirit of always learning, according to this game is called ‘exquisite corpse’ who knew – we’ve always referred to it as ‘that thing like consequences but you draw’.

We’ve discovered that DIY has surrealist, geologist and palaeontologist patches, so they’ve been added to the term’s plans.

We also baked brownies.  Perhaps the best legacy from my guiding years, a recipe for cheap, store cupboard, microwave brownies 🙂

20160114_17 20160114_18

To burn of a tiny amount of the brownies off we played on Kinect Sports for a while with my Dad.

Friday, and the cold was hitting hard.  We did some exploring of the rock collection.

Scratching various rocks with fingernails, paperclips and pennies to see how they fared on the Mohs scale.

20160117_1 20160117_2

Scratch test on the back of an old tile  to see the different colours of minerals in various rocks.

20160117_6 20160117_7

Testing for magnetism.20160117_10 Observing the effects of vinegar.

Then (because you may as well) we set up some shells and an egg in vinegar to observe.  By evening the smallest shell had a hole and 48 hrs there is little shell left.

20160117_17 20160117_27

We also looked at specific gravity (density relative to water).


There was more Richard Hammond’s Blast Lab DVD over lunch.  I’d planned to work during the afternoon but I was feeling full of cold and the internet went down.  So Sam played some empire building game on the computer (we’ll call that history 😉 ) and I had a bath.

We spent a fair amount of time playing with a balloon and cardboard tubes.

20160117_23 20160117_25

We made a lightsaber and a gun (it’s a specific type of gun but I’m not good on these things) from cardboard tubes for the DIY cardboarder patch.

20160115_153232 20160115_154129

Then with the internet still down I persuaded the now home teenager to watch Dr Who with me.  Early night and off to bed.  Where I have spent lots of the weekend.  On plus side I am 42% in to War and Peace and really enjoying it.  Not got round to watching last week’s episode though – rubbish at TV watching even when it’s something I want to see!

This is why I should try and blog daily.  I miss the small stuff, I’ve recollections of all sorts of things such as illegal logging in the rainforest, how and why people become homeless and practicalities behind running a charity being discussed.

Is it Art?

We had a trip to London on Weds.  The focus was an exhibition on Celts: Art and Identity.  I wasn’t able to take photos in there so you’ll have to settle for the programme and Sam’s entry into his Book of Centuries.   It was a fantastic exhibition, the intricate nature of some of the metalwork is breathtaking.


20160108_1We were accompanied by some friends and the children managed a very respectable level of concentration.  We decided not to push our luck and try for more of the British Museum, instead we took a long walk through the city down to the Tate Modern.

I’ve said before that the best thing about the Tate are the views back across the river to the city and the turbine hall.  I love the architecture and Sam loves to play there.
I haven’t changed my mind!  I just don’t get most of the exhibits, many look like randomly abandoned bits or children’s scribble, and then you get stuff like this…

SAM_2122It is supposed to represent exactly what it looks like apparently!  How is that art?

I’m not totally against modern art.  Sam and I are looking at Surrealism this half term and while not something I would put on my wall, I can see the artistic merit.

This week’s focus was on dreams.  We looked at Paul Nash’s Landscape from a Dream  and I gave Sam the task of a piece of artwork based on one of his own dreams using any medium he liked.  He chose sketchwork and coloured pencils,