Half term, House Stuff and Halloween

I really don’t know where half-term went.  I seem to have blinked and missed it :/  I vaguely recall watching Dr Who with Jack at one point – otherwise he’s been away on camp or out with friends for much of it (or they’ve been here en mass).

There was some ‘work’.  Finishing off of stuff from our lazy few weeks before half-term.  Caught up with all the multiplication games on Mathletics and spent some time playing Timez Attack for fun.  He wasn’t hard to convince to do our last pencilled in Science activity for the half term as it was demonstrating plate movements and boundaries using ryvita on oobleck.  Have to love oobleck!


The other big finishing up job was our Van Gogh unit which finished with Self Portrait at the Easel.

He painted his own version with oil paint.20151029_120151030_3The rest of the week seems to have vanished in work on the house.  The boys had new windows and we have had both doors replaced.  Means we took the opportunity for a sort out and  lots of flat pack furniture building.  Still have to decorate!

There was time for library and Lego.  Old interest reignited.


Plus it’s been Halloween!

We’ve made fancy food.


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Had a lovely party with friends mid week.

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He is still stained from that fake blood 5 days later!

Decorated pumpkins and made soup.20151101_7Had fun with more decorating.  Didn’t get many photos as the living room was taken over by teenagers watching films.  Jack too old to trick or treat which makes me feel old!

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Sam not too old to trick or treat though 🙂  Love the local atmosphere.


Down but not out

I think this might be one of the longest breaks from blogging in quite a while.  Nearly a fortnight to catch up on!

It’s been a meh one really.  Had Jack home for 3 days last week ill and then Sam was full of cold.  I’ve very much felt like I’m going through the motions and not up for things that require a lot of energy and drive from me.

We’re on target with Maths and English though.  Not so good with reading, Latin and Spanish.  We do seem to be making very good progress on the English and Maths front though so will take the success and be happy.  He’s starting to embrace creative writing and the drawing of comic strips has restarted.


Science we’ve looked at tectonic plates, nothing exciting to report as not really doing anything new.  We have been watching Rise of the Continents which is really good!

Finished off our look at the origins of the Bible with some drawing, thinking of the images and emotions displayed in the Bible.  This is the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve being banished.

20151023_1In art inspired by Van Gogh’s Prisoners Exercising we looked at light and shadow.We went out and sketched a tree looking at the light through the branches and the shadows on the ground.

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We’ve moved on from Spies to Europe as a project.  At the moment we’re mainly plodding through worksheets from a study pack but actually they are working well for us in current frame of mind.

Other things we’ve done is start to get in the Halloween spirit.  He made a costume for the cubs party.

20151020_5 We had laser quest with a huge turn out.  While we were at the Dockyard we visited the WWI ship M33.20151020_1

We’ve also nipped in to the new exhibition at Gosport Gallery about the evolution of dinosaurs to birds (something that was a pet subject of Jack’s) and had quite a few trips into various libraries.  Lots of books read.  We did manage a big trip to Kidzania in London but that one is worth a post of it’s own.

Glad half term is upon us.  I need to find my mojo again.

Blowing away the cobwebs and knuckling back down

Took a long time to recover from the coldy bug that was afflicting us.  Definitely was still affecting patience and mood up to the end of last week.

On Thursday, the sun shone.  Things were slow to start and I could feel my patience fraying early on, so as we weren’t expecting Sam’s friend round for usual play and I didn’t really feel up to swimming or gym, I made the snap decision to make some use of our Culture All pass and rang my Dad to suggest a day out at Staunton Country Park.  Sam changed his mind while I was on the phone and we had strop and tears (really was that sort of week).  Glad I pushed on though as once there he absolutely loved being out and the October sunshine really worked it’s magic.  Sometimes Mum really does know best!

Playing in the maze.  He beat me through it nearly every time.  He said every but there was some debate at what constituted the end of the race 😉

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Walled garden and glass house.

20151009_4 20151009_5 20151009_3 Autumn colours and a little bit of the Enchanted Wood.

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Didn’t bother hugely with the animals, but couldn’t avoid the peahens, miss the donkeys or pass up the opportunity to see piglets about 12hrs old.

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Plus just enjoying being outside 🙂

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Cold was finally going on Friday.  A very procrastinating start did unfortunately snap my frayed temper first thing.  To the level I had to send Sam upstairs for 5 mins and ‘start the day again’.  Never pleased with myself when I shout and I don’t often.  We did however manage to put that behind us and have a fantastically productive day.

All core activities managed for the first time that week (Spanish and Latin had got a bit put by the wayside).  English involved writing an application to be a ‘fantasy hero’.


Maths involved looking at ‘split strategy’ for multiplication.  I am still unsure what I think about the teaching of lots of different ways of doing the same thing (this is the first year that we’ve ever really done anything so tied to NC).  I like the idea there is no right way of doing something and as long as you can show how you are getting there great, means that if you don’t get it one way you can try another.  However, think there is a very high risk of muddying the waters and losing some kids completely in a school set up.


In science we looked at the the magnetism of the Earth.  Made a compass.

20151009_22 Demonstrated lines of magnetic field with iron filings and a bar magnet under the paper.20151009_25

Then had fun collecting the iron filings.  Getting them off the magnet was harder.20151009_28

We looked at how the bible in English is a translation and listened to a clip of some of the reading in Hebrew, unfortunately the end of the first sentence sounded very like a swear word and things rather degenerated in to giggling (I have a juvenile sense of humour).  We then looked at different Children’s versions of the story of creation and discussed how they were different.  The Brick Bible was a hit.

We then watched an interesting documentary about William Tyndale.

After lunch we caught up on art.  We did some refreshing of ideas about perspective and vanishing points.  Then we looked at a colour wheel and the idea of complementary colours (colours opposite each other on the colour wheel).

The picture was Van Gogh’s Cafe terrace.  The idea was a collage with pastel highlights but definitely more pastel than collage.

20151009_32 20151009_33We finished off by rounding off Sam’s spy project by designing a spy watch.

20151012_1We looked at Enigma and made a mini enigma machine from a kit we’ve had for years.20151012_2Then completed two more Cryptographer challenges on DIY.org to earn master level.  He encrypted and sent a message in morse code and with the help of Pete who was home learnt a bit about and decoded a message in Base 64 (please don’t as me).


Making it up as we go

I’m sure if you don’t know us and read this blog I actually look like I’ve got it all sorted and we’re working to a time table or something.  Really not the case though.  I woke up today, as I do most mornings we don’t have a group activity, having no plans besides just over an hour or so of Maths/English/Latin and Spanish.

This is where my summer planning really comes off.  All of that is set up so all we do is follow the books/spreadsheet/programme.  I’ve set a really reasonable amount and finishing in an hour is doable most mornings.

After that I glanced at the plans I’d drafted back in summer and it told me we didn’t have the stuff in I wanted for Science so that wasn’t happening but that at some point this week I’d wanted to do something based on Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles.  Today seemed as good a time as ever so I dug out a box and some cardboard and he made a model.

20150923_7We compared the 3D and 2D versions, talked about perspective and vanishing points and then played about on some isometric paper.


The need to run down fridge before the arrival of yesterday’s new one led to shortage of suitable food for lunch, we needed an orange for Science and as Weds is known in this house as Beano day into the village we walked/scooted.  As a bit of a maths/budgeting activity I gave Sam the list of requests from the local foodbank and £5 and sent him off to spend the money as wisely as he could.  Doesn’t go far in the Co-op unfortunately but they do have a collection box there.  Think we’ll try and do that as a habit.

After lunch and reading the Beano to be honest I was starting to droop after getting up far too early.  But I realised that the rest of the week is filling up with plans and I want some time to work on Friday as losing time to a home ed activity on the weekend.  So we read this week’s Science about the size of the Earth, how it was measured and how maps are made and how they distort.

Sam drew the countries on an orange and then we peeled it and tried to flatten it.

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Then we cut the top off a 2l plastic bottle and the bottle top bit off so we had a sort of plastic hemisphere.  I drew of lines of longitude and latitude on, when you shined a torch through you could see how the lines projected out over a sheet of tracing paper.  We then rolled the tracing paper into a cylinder around the plastic and saw the effects on the projection then and finally made a cone from tracing paper, popped it over the plastic and shone the torch inside.

We finished the afternoon with a chapter of Alice in Wonderland and some Animal Jam/online shopping (food, books, craft supplies).

We did as a random activity while tea was cooking, pop some celery in coloured water.  Feeling guilty as I said we’d do the science badge for Cubs back in the summer as they had a couple of weeks that really weren’t Sam friendly and I agreed with his leader we’d do our own thing instead.  We did as well but seemed to have a few fails and never got around to pulling it together.

Autumn Days

We are definitely being flexible this week to fit around the weather.

On the to do list for the week was a sundial for Science.  There was some sun on Thurs morning.  It was coming and going though.  We were lazy and just divided the circle into 12.  As my neighbour pointed out (ex navy!) we have 24 hr days and thanks to latitude adjusting angles of the lines is necessary.  But time was not on our side so I settled for something that would show the sun was moving which it did well enough.

20150917_1 We had fun playing ‘place value mastermind’ for maths.  I remembered why I hate playing Mastermind against Sam, he has a habit of giving me the wrong clues.

20150917_9  We looked at creating scary characters as part of creative writing.
After that we managed to look at how the bible fits in to history and translate a ‘biblical’ document (code on a piece of tea stained burnt paper).

20150917_23We fizzled out then as I got distracted by Tesco not bringing the right shopping!

After lunch it was time to head out for some exercise.  Sam is not the most active of children and team sports will never be his thing so I feel the need to schedule something in (also for me as I’m on a health drive).  He’s vetoed all group and club options I’ve put to him, apart from Laser Quest and bowling but we need more.  We’ve settled for booking my Dad to drive us up to the leisure centre once a week to swim.  If skin is bad (we’re both prone to eczema and infections) I’ll try and book table tennis instead.  After Weds downpour it felt a pity to be indoors on a sunny afternoon though.  Instead we headed into Gosport where the park has gym equipment.  I love it, it’s a playground for grown ups!

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Interesting visitor.  Think it’s a little egret.20150917_15 20150917_17 20150917_18 20150917_19 20150917_22Took a long time to build up confidence for this but he loved it when he did.20150917_2020150917_21 We stopped at the library on the way back so Sam spent the rest of the afternoon reading while I sorted out paying for a big HE trip.

Today had a leisurely start.  Well it did for Sam, I was up before 5 and working at just after 6!  But by our 4 day week we’d finished the planned ‘core work’ so I let the boy sleep in.

With no real plans for the day we filled it quite well.  While Sam was getting ready I dyed some pasta and rice for craft projects and got very messy!


The sun was coming and going so we braved going out.  This is a tiny local lake full of giant fish.  We have to stop when we happen to pass.20150918_3

It was beautiful on the front.20150918_5 20150918_6

We walked up to Browndown for probably last blackberrying of this year (bit squishy). 20150918_7 20150918_9 Few smears of juice on the lps there 😉20150918_10 20150918_11 20150918_12We walked back along the beach to the village in beautiful sunny weather.  Stopped in the arcade for a treat.

20150918_15 20150918_16 After a lunch stop we went to the local pottery painting place as by a complicated but boring scenario I had a £10 voucher that needed using.  Lets ignore the other 3 things we ended up painting 😉20150918_1820150918_19 20150918_20While there the weather changed completely and the rain came.

At home we looked at our art project for this week. Van Gogh’s Starry Night.  We focussed on the swirls.  We marbled the background using shaving foam.
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When the background was dry, he drew on a silhouette landscape.
20150918_30 20150918_31 Bit of tidying up including adding some lovely bright flowers.20150918_33 Plus the blackberry crumble that the morning’s work allowed.20150918_35Lovely couple of days.

Slowly does it (Start of Term Lurgies)

There was a definite taking it slow about Wednesday.  Sam got up late, complaining of sore eye and with a very noticeable case of the sniffles.  I was feeling rather sluggish too.  Seems Jack’s ‘back to school lurgy’ has spread.  A day to take our time over things and accept any thing done as a bonus – pressure in this situation will only result in tears from someone.

Sam did some Duolingo while I set up a maths game, I’d sneaked ahead on the leader board and that needed fixing.

We then played the maths game.  Numbers 1-50 on cards and a base card (or scribbled piece of paper) each with numbers 1-6 down the side and space for a card next to each.  We drew a card and had to place it on the paper.  The idea was to fill your card with numbers in ascending order.  Once a card was down though you couldn’t move it.  Winner was the first to fill their card.  After a few goes, we each wrote 10 numbers between 500 and 1000 on cards and played with them.

20150909_63 20150909_64We then had some fun on Mathletics with Roman numerals (well I thought it was fun!).  English consisted of copywork, spelling and starting memorising a poem.


Which he illustrated – with vomit :/

Rest of morning disappeared in playing on Live Mathletics, Reading Eggspress and reading from Enid Blyton’s Nature Lovers Book.  If you are even slightly interested in the Charlotte Mason approach I can not recommend that book enough.  For every month of the year it has two stories describing nature walks.

I was expecting us to fizzle out after lunch but Sam picked up.  So we introduced our artist of the half term – Van Gogh.  Again another huge recommendation for the Anholt’s Artists picture books!


Sam then spent nearly an hour in the conservatory painting his own sunflowers.  He used cotton buds to dab on the paint for a more textured look (standard poster paint thickened with pva for more texture).


20150909_71 By this point in the day I was flagging and had got distracted trying to get our membership of DIY.org sorted.  We joined well over a year ago but have never actually used it and log in details were long forgotten.  Think we may have a go at some this year.

While I was pottering on there Sam read through an introduction to our spy topic.


Then we started working through one of our computer coding books.  It is nearly identical to the kids version with Carol Vorderman on the cover.  Hadn’t realised that when I bought it, but sold on the other one now.   He’s comfortable with Scratch so nothing new really just adding a bit of structure and logical progression.

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After doing the project I left him playing on it.

A lot better day than the start suggested 🙂