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.

Clock Change Hang Over

Neither of us cope well with the clock change and spring time.  Sleep patterns go mad, headaches are virtually permanent and we get really moody.  Could feel the switch today, getting any form of concentration out of Sam was hard and every time I let my attention wander from him he was gone.  Feeling exhausted myself and the smell of the grass when I opened the door to tesco triggered a pounding headache and irritated throat, so it has been a real internal battle to keep a lid on my impatience. I think I managed it.  We’ve ended (or close to) the first Monday of the clocks change without anyone crying at any point so that is an improvement on other years.

Been a pottering at home day.  Sam made a story jar and wrote a retelling of the Atlas legend.

We read about health care in ancient China and did some Tai Chi.

Sam played with bubble wrap.  I would have if he’d have shared ūüėČ
Then he programmed his microbit to act as a Magic 8 ball.Researching hw to use his Skylanders on the DS and playing on the computer took up the rest of the day.

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.

End of the Week

Today feels like the end of a long week.  I think it was we were tail chasing after being away.  Not so much in terms of ‘school work’ but housework, admin  and spending time with family and friends.

Today started off with Sam drawing flags and quizing me on them.  I got open mocking when I failed to recognise the flag Japan used in the Second World War … really!

The aim was to get all the jobs on the planner wrapped op and over with as soon as possible despite the flag induced late start.  However for reasons I can not quite remember Sam spent about an hour making a comic strip of our day out yesterday.  I think it was supposed to be making collage pictures on cards to tell a memory but neither of us fancied collage so idea went to drawing and then from cards to comics for ease.

We spent a lot of the morning keeping track of our survey results for maths.  He’d asked a question on my Fb timeline and our local group about favourite chocolate and we had our required 100 responses in a couple of hours and they are still coming :/

After English, Maths, Spanish and Latin we got out the Microbit and had our first proper look at it since the day he opened the box.

Ran out of steam by this point so Science was left and Sam spent the afternoon installing and playing a new computer game, Hearts of Iron 3.

Computer Challenges

A rare no photo day!

My input education wise lasted about an hour; long enough to do some maths, English, Latin and Spanish and finish off our Queen Victoria biography.

Then Pete and Sam spent the day trying to work out the problem with the old computer. Still a work in progress.  Definitely educational though.

I had the joy of a trip to the bank and digging through old paperwork in search of a certificate.

Sam had a scout hike in the evening.

Bursledon Windmill

Weds started with a panic when I woke up to still no hot water, a sick Jack and an email saying that my new computer was coming that day and I had a home ed trip arranged where I was watching others children.

A cup of coffee, deep breath and a few phone calls and I had Jack to the Doctors first thing, my dad installed on our sofa to wait on computer and plumber called to come that afternoon and was all ready to go out by 9.45 (just!)

Windmill was a very pleasant way to spend the morning.¬† Not sure there was that much learnt from it but it is a lovely place with lovely company and always nice to be out feeling, seeing, touching things.¬† Sam’s favourite bit was definitely the winnowing.¬† I think the adults were more interested in bits than the kids particularly the links the language and phrases, separating the wheat from the chaff and threshold leap to mind.


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Sea in the distance from the windmill balcony.  I love living here!
20161007_51We got home and spent most of the rest of the day setting up the computer.  Not surprisingly Sam has been loving this and asking loads of questions.

I did take a break for more chess.

I’m a Royal Marine

Well I’m not obviously. ¬†It was however the title of the workshop Sam did at the first Home Educator Day that was run by the RM museum. ¬†We’ve done a few workshops here over the years and they have always been creative, engaging and informative. ¬†This one was no exception.

The theme was surviving in the jungle. ¬†Like all RM workshops we’ve done it started with ‘drill’ before moving inside having to cross stepping stones over the river as a nice touch. ¬†A slide show, q&a sort of session followed. ¬†Then they coloured maps to show areas of rainforest.

Back outside they had to assemble a mosquito tent.

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Inside they worked around 4 bases; making bugs, matching animal tracks, trying on uniform and looking at ration packs.

20160914_25 20160914_27 20160914_30 20160914_32 20160914_34 20160914_36 20160914_37 We ended the workshop with a trip into the museum to look at their jungle galleries.



We spent some time before and after on the assault course.  20160914_9 20160914_11 20160914_41

The Pokemon bug is still going strong and is proving a great way of keeping him happy when we’re out.

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After the museum we popped in to Southsea shops to take advantage of cheap embroidery threads and then went to Argos in Gosport to collect a broken computer for Sam to dismantle. I had to send him to have a bath before tea in order to stop him taking ‘just one more bit off’. ¬†Let him go at after we’d eaten.


PJs, Preparing and Youtube

We have declared Tuesday our sacred, pyjama day for this academic year. ¬†We really do need a day at home (local parks etc not really counting as out) every week and the only way to to keep that is to be really hardline. ¬†Unless it is a friend’s birthday that is the only thing we will go out for.

We’re in a bit of a transition phase this week. ¬†We’ve a few big days out planned so I decided that we wouldn’t start ‘work’ properly until next week. ¬†This week is about making sure we are practically and psychologically ready for next week, breaking the bad habits we slip into over the summer and stoking enthusiasm.

Sam was slow to get up (one of the bad habits to break) so we started the morning browsing the offerings of this year’s Into Film festival. ¬†Signed up to 3 this year; BFG, latest Ice Age (on his birthday) and the Jungle Book. ¬†Sensible amount and good choices I think. ¬†Had the realisation that we first saw Ice Age 2 as part of the forerunner to this festival! ¬†Old!

We spent much of the morning setting Sam up a private blog for him to put any computer based work he does in one place.
sam's blogAfter lunch Sam made ginger shortbread to take out with us tomorrow.

20160906_11 20160906_14 20160906_18As you all probably know, lots of our ‘work’ actually is just reading so we made some bookmarks as we have a few longer books planned this year. ¬†I was taken with the Gruffalo one I made for the under 10’s group I run so we went down that path.
20160901_3¬† I’d love to say these were my idea but I saw them on Red Ted Art’s Youtube channel when I was checking the basic folds for a corner bookmark.

20160906_13 20160906_17 The excitement of the day was that while he was being slow about getting up I bought and installed some screen capture software. ¬†He’s spent a fair chunk of the afternoon working out how it works, how to edit videos and add sound and how to upload stuff to Youtube. ¬†Happy boy, rocking the new specs ūüôā ¬†20160906_19

Catching up, chilling, coding, cake and camp

That pretty much sums up the week ūüėČ

First an update on our never ending catalogue of physical woes. ¬†The asthma attack of the weekend thankfully was a one off, still a bit sniffy and wheezy but not a hindrance. I’ve an infected toe, which is fine without shoes but turns into a painful bleeding mess when I wear shoes so that has definitely been a hindrance. ¬†We’ve made it to groups but not managed the walks I had wanted to, think they might be out for this week too ūüôĀ ¬†Jack seems to have ‘grown in to’ asthma unfortunately and is suffering badly so have had him off school one day to make a start on getting a formal diagnosis and treatment sorted.

With Pete home one day and Jack another besides maths and english other things slipped by the wayside. ¬†Taken time to relax and read, watch tv, code…

Sam still spends as much time as he can on Scratch (we found a book on Scratch games in the library last week and he is workingalthough he is enjoying Code Combat too.  I am plodding through the FutureLearn app course.  Outside my comfort zone by a long way but still trying.

We made it to code club on Tuesday. ¬†I have no idea how Sam got on to be honest. ¬†I left him to it and worked with the younger ones. ¬†We need that separation sometimes. ¬†We headed straight home after as my toe was a mess, I had next day’s group to prepare and it kept doing this.

20160426_114400 20160426_114404Snow and hail!

Weds was our ‘Great Home Ed Bake Off’.


So Sam spent Weds morning baking. ¬†He had a plan to adapt a brownie recipe to make ‘golden crown jewel brownies’. ¬†The event had a royal birthday theme. ¬†Unfortunately they didn’t quite come off and while not as unpleasant cooked as they looked raw they weren’t nice.

20160430_1 20160430_4 20160430_7 20160430_10¬†It didn’t matter. ¬†We had a lovely group session, made play dough cakes, modelled balloons, coloured, crafted, played with friends and ate cakes.
Here are some of the entries courtesy of a better photographer than me! I can model balloons though which I was too busy doing to get photographs ūüėČ ¬†The future is bright for cake eating at home ed events, the judging was tough!

13055039_225557371149028_933336636397604658_o 13055657_225557601149005_776524829201811593_o 13062888_225557254482373_5782605926534337976_o 13063232_225557267815705_237205071637193580_o 13071849_225557607815671_4613430398818304236_o 13072664_225557264482372_5902510056852363243_o 13087007_225557351149030_3470581774470422577_oThink this will be a regular event.

Thursday was supposed to be an at home day but turned into a take Jack to doctors day and then no idea what happened with the rest of it really.  There was cleaning and camp prep.

Friday started with more camp prep – edible brownies. ¬†Camp tradition now,¬†I always send brownies to camp. ¬†Jack reckons he never sees them after they get there so the leaders must eat them. ¬†I have pointed out that they will keep them separate as they know they are okay for Sam to eat but he’s not convinced ūüôā

20160430_50¬† We spent most of the day catching up on all the hands on project stuff we haven’t got round to the last 2 weeks.

For science we continued looking at weathering and slopes in particular.
Angles of rest and failure.

We tipped jugs of different materials to compare¬†the steepness of the slopes that they made. 20160430_14 20160430_19Then mixed the materials together for a small sensory tub 10 minute play ūüôā20160430_17For the angle of failure we rolled a jar half full of flour to see the moment the slope slipped.

20160430_23 We did more investigating of cliffs by making a playdough slope, covering it with sand and then spraying the sand so it got wet.  Very wet!20160430_25 20160430_26 20160430_27 20160430_33

We looked at binding agents and compared the strength of sand castles made with distilled water or salt water. 20160430_20 20160430_2220160430_60   We moved on to rivers and looked for our local rivers on a map.20160430_49Then we talked about how rivers form and permeability.  We made a funnel from a plastic bottle and buried it and timed how quickly 500ml drained through.20160430_37 We then compared different soils.  We cut the top off plastic bottles, covered the end with dishcloth held in place by an elastic band.  Stood the top of the bottle in the base and filled with soil.  Then poured through 300ml of water and watched which drained quickest.
20160430_46 Exploring what happens if you put the cloth over the end of the tap.


We finished off the work with art.

Sandwich sculptures from cleaning cloths inspired by Claes Oldenberg’s BLT

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Plus another look at Jasper Johns.  This time at his Flag artwork.  I was aiming for a bit of discussion can flags be art but the answer is yes apparently.

I asked Sam to use bleeding tissue paper to make a flag.  Really pleased with result.20160430_53 20160430_55 20160430_57 20160430_66

Then it was off for a weekend camping with the Cubs.  Luckily the huge downpour that hit had stopped by the time they got there and it has been sunny but cold since.


Weekend Woes

The blog and Facebook memories app remind me that this seems to be a particularly tough time of year for us.  Week before May bank holiday and Cub camp seems to be a period of illness and high pollen count.

Two years ago the two things combined to give Sam the worse asthma attack I have ever seen.  Took blue lights, 4 nebulisers and about 4 hours to stabilise him.  He was fine within a few hours.  Gave me a hell of a scare though.

Friday night saw the worst attack since then. ¬†Luckily we managed to get it under control ourselves using inhaler and the plan they’d given me at the hospital. ¬†By morning he was a bit peaky and a little wheezy but attack was long over. ¬†Made for a sleepless scary night and a weekend spent mostly resting. ¬†We were both asleep before 9pm despite having a teenage sleepover going on.

Today had a relaxed chilled air.  Pete was about having got home from a few days away on Sunday evening.

Sam wrote a letter to a friend.  We started fractions in maths and as extension work got out the pattern blocks.  Then wasted a fair amount of time making patterns and discussing area.

20160425_7 20160425_10 20160425_11  There was Mathletics, Manga High and Timez Attack.  The last two we have not used for a while and there was big disappointment that you can no longer subscribe to paid version of Timez Attack (I had promised to for 3 months from May for the period motivation really wanes).  Manga High has also updated and is not as good as we remembered.

After lunch he read and watched me have a go with the FL mobile app course – I can now make my phone turn green and have a ball that bounces off the sides of the screen ūüôā ¬†Feeling quite accomplished!

Then we subscribed Sam to Code Combat – where he spent most of the rest of the afternoon.