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.

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.

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!  

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.

 

Flashcards!

Had a bit of an insight into how life could have been the last few days. Jack is off school with a bug. He’s not retire to bed ill, absence is more about not spreading germs far and wide. So we have been taking the opportunity to work through various science topics making revision flashcards and checking understanding and trying some exam questions. Plus playing online maths games.

So I have been splitting myself between the two in a way I don’t normally have to. A reminder about how much easier the education side is when only have one at home.

Another huge lack of photos post as life is very reading, discussion and documentary heavy at the moment. There have been things like weaving projects on the go but I miss photos as usually reading while he’s crafting.

I did get one photo of the last couple of days. Sam’s Python etch-a-sketch. Took Pete to find an error in the code that Sam and I spent most of Monday afternoon looking for. Other wise we have looked at comprehension exercise in English. Continue to read Oliver Twist. Lowest Common multiples and Pascal’s triangle in maths. New York state and global problems in Geography. Have finished of our In Search of the Dark Ages dvd.

He’s also had his 4th Lego Mindstorms session. A friend kindly took him so I could stay in with Jack. But I am told they did fun things with sensors.

I put Animal Farm on his Kindle last night and he’s loving it. Currently now working on building a Communist Russia on one of his computer games.

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.

New Routines

It’s been a hugely busy few days. We’re getting used to new materials and new styles of working. Definitely can feel the increase in structure and amount of writing, he’s got a good attitude though and I’m pleased and impressed with what he’s managed.

At the weekend we finally managed to put our flat traveller through the laminator and into the post.And took our visiting one down the beach.We are into researching things and answering textbook questions in exercise books. 
In English we’ve been looking at extracts from Oliver Twist and non fiction works on hunger. Science we’ve been looking at how to think and investigate scientifically. I messed up and we may have had a false start and done some work on cells (which we’ll get to properly in a few weeks).
Maths it’s the usual revision of place value and addition. History we’ve been looking at early humans in Britain as part of a brief pre 1066 overview.Project wise we are looking at Maine and reading about lobsters and lumber. Tues morning saw us at our new group for the first in a 6 week block of Lego Mindstorms sessions. Sam enjoyed it. I had to leave the room as struggled with the way it was presented. Hopefully teething issues though. In contrast the lady providing our Saxon archaeology workshop this afternoon was excellent, so good with them. Definitely need to do more. We’ve also been reading lots – an Anglo Saxon non-fiction book, an adaption of Beowulf by Rosemary Sutcliffe (love Sutcliffe’s books for bringing history to life) and Oliver Twist.  Started watching In Search of the Dark Ages by a very young Michael Wood. From the clothes and hair I doubt I could have been much more than 5 when it was filmed.

 

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.

Over the Hill

We were watching a documentary yesterday that featured a ride downhill on a gravity powered train (on the Blaenau FFestiniog railway actually 🙂 ) and that is what we feel like we’re on now, a downward slope to the summer break.
Sam had a bad night’s sleep and ended up napping on the sofa until quite late.  Despite that maths was done, English too including lots of making up of silly stories, Latin and Spanish.  We finished the last of the My Story books we’ve been reading for History and watched an episode of Full Steam Ahead. Finished the last of our Asia unit study and the book we’ve been looking at about Japan. We watched some youtube videos on Japanese theatre and kendo, tried counting in Japanese and drew some Pokemon.
Day ended with some rare Minecraft playing on a Harry Potter server and then finishing off the latest Trials of Apollo.