Eggcellent end to a Smashing Project

Sorry ūüėÄ

We have had really good fun with our farming project even though illness managed to scupper the end and our bread week never came off. ¬†Our egg theme actually¬†ended up taking¬†3 weeks as we have been taking things very easy and are now in holiday mode but it was Easter so – can’t have enough eggs at Easter.

We looked at different eggs. These are duck, chestnut maran and bluebell aurancana.

20150414_15 Did some baking and cooking with the eggs.

20150412_2620150412_24Made mosaic pictures with the shells. 20150414_14And a spring flower wreath with the boxes.20150414_3We watched the videos on the EatHappy site and did the activities on egg formation and maths that were linked.

20150414_18We tested eggs for freshness


We had a go at turning an egg inside out. ¬†It failed but we hadn’t used sellotape.
20150412_16  Showing weight distribution by standing on eggs was more successful.

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We had fun with a charity shop kit for building egg towers. It held the egg for¬†about 1 1/2 seconds ūüôā


20150412_2120150412_23Easter wise, boys had an easter egg obviously but only one smallish one. we opt to make rest of our treats.

Nests  20150412_7 Brownies20150404_9

Creme egg spring animals with fondant icing.

20150406_15Sam wove a basket from card and raffia for some decorated eggs.  We have Dennis the Menace and Voldemort.
20150404_520150404_6We brought our farm project to a (rough) close with a collage farm.  I say rough as still watching Edwardian Farm and dabbling in farm based stuff for work.


The moon is made of green cheese

Or it might be for all we saw of it this morning.

Eclipse happened behind solid cloud cover.  Only sign was a freezing wind.  So much for my prep buying glasses.

Sam was happy with an early morning play in the park though.

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After a trip to the shops and a bit of a rest (boy not quite right and energy levels keep dropping) it was on with the dairy topic.

We churned our ice cream.  It is lush, possibly the nicest vanilla ice cream I have ever tasted.  Faff to make though!

20150320_15We then mixed up some arm pit fudge so he could do the mixing bit while he did a bit of Mathletics.


Lunch was a cheesy picnic on the living room floor watching War Time Farm. ¬†We taste tested various cheeses (regional British ones). ¬†I’d written down the description from the package so he could guess which was which. ¬†We then tried to describe the sticky toffee cheese I’d foolishly been unable to resist – vile about covered it.

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After lunch we had another go at making butter and it worked brilliantly. ¬†Lots of fun shaking and rolling it while we finished the week’s English.

20150320_27 20150320_2620150320_28We also watched the Tesco online field trip on making cheese.  Then made our own following the instructions in their lesson plan.  Perhaps not authentic but quick and easy and gave the idea.


We also made some non-armpit fudge.  This is my standard recipe that goes on camps a lot using chocolate Philidelphia.  We were adaptable today and made a half batch and used white choc (needs must from what was in cupboard), bit too sweet for me but suspect boys will like it.  Plus used up the last of the full fat milk which no one wanted to drink with some surface tension experimenting.


Then there was milkshake, chess and Minecraft. ¬†He’s trying to look drunk.


Jack came home from school and went running ūüėÄ ¬†I only laughed a bit.

This evening¬†while Jack’s at Scouts and Pete is ‘socialising’¬†he has been serenading me while I’ve been doing a bit of work and typing this.





Milking it and the Mona Lisa

By late Weds¬†evening both Sam and I were looking rough and feeling it too. ¬†Day on the farm was lovely but triggered allergies and hay fever. ¬†Yesterday morning we were left with the hangover feeling. ¬†I know Sam was definitely feeling rough as his first words to me were “I don’t want to do art group today”. ¬†So I cancelled it. ¬†He rallied a bit during the day but didn’t go to Gang Show – having friends over for short time for Spanish drained him.

Soon became obvious we needed a day off routine, but no where near ill enough for complete abandonment. ¬†So morning started curled up on the sofa watching War Time Farm, we’re loving the local aspect of it.

20150319_2We then carried on with our milk theme. ¬†Earlier in the week we’d watched the online field trip from Tesco’s Eat Happy project and looked at this cd-rom.


We’d also done some taste tasting of various types. ¬†Rice milk is vile!


and looked into pasteurisation.  He wrote a diary entry from the perspective of Louis Pasteur.


Yesterday was therefore about using milk.  Inspired by the farm ice cream on Tuesday we made vanilla custard, which has been chilling overnight ready to be frozen and churned today.

20150319_3¬†We also made ice cream in a bag. ¬†It did freeze but didn’t taste great. ¬†Provided fun though.

20150319_7 20150319_8With the left over egg whites from the custard and some manky looking bananas discovered at the bottom of the fruit basket we made cake.  May have started eating it before remembering to photograph.

20150319_9 20150319_10 While cake cooked we looked at homogenisation and testing knowledge with a quick crossword.20150320_4¬†After lunch and Spanish group we decided to do art just us. ¬†Mona Lisa was the order of the day. ¬†We talked about the idea of a ‘sitting’ and how models would pose day after day, how in the days before cameras this is how people had their likenesses recorded. ¬†We also focused on the background and how this was an ‘imaginary landscape’.

So here is me with an ‘imaginary landscape’ – being shot by a space ship :S ¬†Oil on canvas. ¬†Haven’t used oils for ages forgot what a pain clean up is.

20150319_12Realised I never mention the worksheets we do on them. ¬†We start off with a picture study in the Charlotte Mason tradition. ¬†Look at the picture for a while and then draw from memory adding in as many details as we can. ¬†We also do a fact worksheet recording the medium, date etc and most importantly looking at developing opinions on what he likes and doesn’t. ¬†Here are the Vitruvian Man sheets – detailed art criticism is a work in progress.

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Day on the Farm

A proper Spring day in the countryside today as we visited a localish dairy farm. ¬†Making sure the photo for the link is a cute one. ¬†This calf was less than 4 hours old ūüôā

20150318_23We observed where they made their own ice-cream, the milking parlour and the behind the scenes operations – explaining how they keep track of which cows are pregnant and when calves are due.

20150318_1320150318_1520150318_16Then of course there were cows.  Big ones, some very big as very pregnant.  Small ones, some very small as hours old.

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Then there were chickens, geese and ducks to feed and eggs to collect.

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After lunch while we watched a video about the farm we got to try some of the farm-made ice cream.


Then there was time for a tractor ride around the fields and village. ¬†Here’s some of the views.20150318_48

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Lovely old village church I’d like to go and nose around.20150318_50


Been an up and down week. ¬†Home ed though seems to be about the only thing going right at the moment though. ¬†Not achieved as much as I’d hoped to project wise but other things were draining my mental and physical resources. ¬†Try not to let ‘my stuff’ get in the way but it inevitably does at times particularly when I’m feeling below par. ¬†One of the reasons for keeping a blog is to force me to reflect and consider on whether I’m getting the balance right between home ed and life. ¬†Looking at this last week we may not have done as much as I wanted in some areas but we happy we did enough.

As already covered we’ve had art and Spanish groups, some fun with Maths and finished Writing With Ease 1.

We’ve also had our monthly Laser Quest session, this remains the highlight of Sam’s month and attended a concert by the Southbank Gamelan Players.

We’ve done a bit of work on the idea of different areas having different styles of farming, mostly through looking at maps and discussion. ¬†We went to a local Farmer’s Market over the weekend and Sam used the farmers market cookbook we’d picked up to make a cheese and apple panini from local supplies.

20150309_1020150309_14Beans are sprouting and being observed.  Our bum cress is also growing (I wanted to do his name!).



We had a flash of more autonomous style when he decided to teach himself piano through youtube videos and sat there for 3 solid hours completely engrossed.

20150315_1Lots of reading going on as we’ve had trips to library and charity shops and a box arrive from the Book People. ¬†Some old Beano annuals and other Beano related books, a couple more Murderous Maths (bedtime reading of choice atm) and a twaddlish diary of a pig have all been read already. ¬†Other books are more longer term resources (bought because I will read and I suspect Pete will too, so not a waste if not used) or more summer time as we ease off as tend to find it hard to keep up with anything too structured¬†once hayfever season arrives and need something new and fun to grab us.

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At some point without me Sam managed a home-made keyring and card. ¬†Jack also managed to surprise me this morning with not only a card but a big box of chocolates and a very fetching leopard print onesie. ¬†They’re good boys. ¬†I always find Mother’s Day a bit hard, it may be nearly 12 years but will never stop missing my own mum. ¬†I’d hate a big fuss¬†but a home made card means the world.


Notice the not found storage for new books yet!


Beans means …


Our look at food and farming last week led us on to preserving. ¬†We’d watched them preserving food on Victorian Farm and the concept of preserving is not new as we always make jams. ¬†So we used the Tesco online field trip Saucy Baked Beans to look at canning.

We started off with a quiz to see what we knew about baked beans (not a lot!)

20150308_24We read about the history of food preservation

20150308_28And discussed advantages of canning



Maths on Friday was to make a can.  Concepts covered were 2D and 3D shapes, nets, diameter and circumference of a circle and Sam was very happy as got to use his calculator for real maths.  This really has to be my focus after Easter making maths more practical and engaging.

20150305_7 We researched some of the different canned food that you can buy around the world. ¬†We also looked at labels and the information included on them, such as cooking instructions, nutrition… ¬†Then Sam made a label for his can of ‘smoked rattlesnake’.

20150305_9 We used the photopack from Tesco to look at different beans

and used a variety of dried ones to make a mosaic.

20150305_11We considered beans as seeds and after soaking to soften a bit dissected some to see if we could see the plants inside.
20150308_1020150308_620150308_1720150308_7Then we planted some so we can watch them sprout.20150308_19We also had a go at making our own baked beans entirely unsuccessfully; beans refused to soften, sauce was nasty and even the camera ate the photos.

Down to Earth Farm Trip

A very, very early start this morning as we had to be in Southampton (a bus ride away from the station!) by 9.20. ¬†I very seldom do home ed trips outside the immediate area now (unless I’ve organised it myself to tie into a project) but this one sounded lovely, was such a perfect fit for our term topic and was being run by an old friend that I only ever seem to manage Facebook contact with. ¬†We actually left the house before 7 as we were ready early.

Sun shone and it was a full and fun day.  My camera unfortunately is playing up and keeps deleting photos and blurring.   It is the one I decided was no longer good enough for work.  Think I need to bite the bullet and buy myself a camera for personal use so I have one that lives at home solely for work.

But here’s a taste of what my camera will let you see that we did.

We started in the small animal room

We met some sugar gliders and degus rats, stroked a hedgehog and a bantam chick


20150306_6Then we were lucky enough to see Dr John the tortoise wake from hibernation – climbed out the box – so they got to help bath him.20150306_14 We saw geckos but unfortunately Oscar the corn snake stayed locked up and asleep.20150306_16The bearded dragons stayed locked up too but were too lovely not to get a photo.20150306_8After the small animal room we got a tour of the barn yard.

Only got a poor photo of the sheep as think camera ate the only other one I tried to take and I was too busy chatting to one of the home ed dads about a future trip that we are probably far more excited about than the kids will be.

20150306_17We learnt about the pigs and then Sam got to go in the pen.20150306_1920150306_22I don’t appear to have any photos of the chickens and egg collecting which was Sam’s favourite part of the day but here’s a turkey20150306_21And some slightly mad geese


We also saw the goats and cow.

20150306_31 20150306_30 20150306_29 20150306_27After lunch, we went to the shop where we bought a magnet (as we do every trip), this one is of Oscar the corn snake.


And a Hobbit hole! ¬†Couldn’t resist, Sam has just finished reading it.20150306_38


Then it was time for some crafting. ¬†They made felt and decorated a sheep, mainly Sam and one other boy it has to be said but that was at the expense of felting. ¬†But then we’ve felted before and will again and you don’t get to decorate a sheep every day.

20150306_4020150306_43Final activity was goat grooming.

20150306_44To wrap up some of the beautiful spring flowers that were showing their face.

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Butser Ancient Farm

Our book on farming through time is yet to arrive annoyingly.  However we are really enjoying Victorian Farm (apart from the brawn Рeurgh) so work on history of farming progresses.

Yesterday with the sun out we took a trip up to Butser Ancient Farm to go even further back. ¬†Been on my agenda for a long time but not an easy journey by public transport. ¬†My Dad though has been really keen to go as that is the period of history that interests him. ¬†I am glad we waited to go by car as have to say I wasn’t hugely taken with it and we only lasted an hour. ¬†Part of the issue was the number of schools in though, plus I find it hard to muster up enthusiasm for any more Roman ruins¬†(seen a few!) but we have a pass so will go back, hopefully when it is quieter.¬† Lovely bit of countryside anyway.

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Farming Project – Planning

I have perhaps gone too far the other way from maps and this one may be too field trip heavy.

Plan to look at 2 main areas

History of Farming

We have a book on order ‘A Farm through Time‘, another book on request from the library on changes in modern farming.

We plan to work our way through the dvds of

Tudor Monastery Farm

Victorian Farm

Edwardian Farm

and Wartime Farm

We’ll no doubt have a visit to Manor Farm too

Where our food comes from

Using the Tesco Eat Happy project as a base the idea is to look at different aspects of how our food is produced by focusing on a different area every week. ¬†We’ve also found a series of books (like this one) which we have borrowed/requested from the library.

Week 1 – Strawberries

Tesco Farm to Fork visit

History of local strawberry farming at Westbury Manor

Online field trip

Tesco resources

Milkshake and planting

Week 2 – Preserving food

Baked Beans field trip

Supporting resources

Grow bean (in diff conditions?), dissect beans, bean mosiacs

Warhol Campbells Soup

Cylinders – nets and volume

Visit to Urban Farm

Week 3 – Local Farming

Attend local farmers market

Cooking with local produce

Look at maps of main farming types, discuss reasons

Farm animal crafts

Week 4 – Dairy

We have a Cd-rom of a Dairy Farm visit

Trip to a Dairy Farm

Make ice cream

Milk online field trip

Milk resources

Cheese online field trip

Cheese resources

Week 5 – Bread/Grain

Resources from the Grain Chain

Bread online Field trip

Tesco resources


Mill visit?

Week 6 – Eggs

Eggs online field trip

Eggs resources

Manor Farm with chicken book?

Easter crafts


General resources

Farm behind the fork

Farming and countryside education

Eat Happy Project

Minecraft – he is building and maintaining a farm

Farming simulator on tablet

All’s well that ends well

I felt totally unprepared for this last week. ¬†Half term¬†did not feel like a break at all, too many other things took priority over home ed planning. ¬†I have a few little niggles about¬†things that aren’t working for me, which I need to sort out but they involve others and a need to be sensitive to avoid upset and I know I’m not the most sensitive particularly when tired. ¬†But trying hard to mentally shake myself off and by the end of the week thanks to a bit of mood lifting sunshine, everything looks better and problems look very minor.

Maths, English, Spanish and Latin plod along. ¬†Spanish has had a resurgence in enthusiasm since we moved to using the Duolingo app. ¬†Means we both have accounts and he has the motivation of trying to stay ahead of me ūüėČ

Maths is where I had hoped to manage some planning. ¬†Relying heavily on Mathletics at the moment and it is starting to bore. ¬†He’s learning from it still so we’ll plod on until Easter and then hopefully inject a bit of umphh into things.

Monday and Tuesday were mostly about ticking stuff off.

Inspired by our visit to Southampton Art Gallery last week we made a wire sculpture and wrapped it in modroc.  Not exactly sure what it is.  Sam kept changing his mind.  Will have to see when it is painted. Bit of very messy fun.


We started off our farm project with the first episode of Victorian Farm over lunch.  Afternoon was spent doing a bit of Cub badge work and expending some energy on Kinect Sports.

Tuesday was another day near to home. ¬†Besides the usual core work we had a walk to the village to do a couple of errands and back via library. ¬†More Cub badge work followed. ¬†Aiming to fill the blanket at Cubs since the Scout badges are pretty much impossible. ¬†Then we had friends for the afternoon. ¬†Four boys disappeared into the conservatory to play Lego for the afternoon. ¬†I played with my friend’s 5 year old daughter for a while, indulging in some ‘girly stuff’. ¬†Until she found the knights which were far more interesting and I was tasked with making her some¬†bracelets by myself :).

Weds was home ed trip day. ¬†Tesco’s Farm to Fork trail. ¬†Bit of a nightmare to organise this one but ended in a nice morning.


Afternoon plans were torpedoed when the museum was closed (opening hours changed on Monday!).  We had planned to go and at the strawberry farming display.  Instead we picked up a bit of shopping and went home.  I spent the rest of the afternoon on HE group admin while Sam built a farm on Minecraft.

Thursday was home day.  Corework, a bit of strawberry stuff for our project, art group, Spanish tutor and another episode of Victorian Farm.

Friday and the sun burst through and outdoors was calling. ¬†We started off with core work and were done and dusted by 10am. ¬†So we headed out with my Dad to Titchfield Abbey for an explore in the sunshine. ¬†Titchfield Abbey is one of my favourite local places, one of the Abbeys gifted by Henry VIII to his supporters as a private home it has fascinating history yet is now a ruin. ¬†It isn’t staffed and is completely open to the public, a favourite place for locals to walk dogs it is a brilliant place for climbing, exploring and playing. ¬†My Dad fell in love with it too so suspect it will become a frequent haunt now we have car use.

20150227_19 20150227_16 20150227_6 20150227_1 20150227_17 20150227_11 20150227_8 20150227_4 20150227_2We headed up to Garsons Garden Centre from there.  Looked at the fish and reptiles, played in the park and explored the farm shop before heading home for lunch.

After lunch it was out again for a scoot to the village for a few ingredients for our afternoon topic plans.

20150228_23Back home we watched the online field trip about Strawberries from Tesco and completed some of the activities connected to it.


We then had a go at planting some strawberries from seed!  And herbs.


After that we greeted the arrival of Jack home from school with homemade strawberry milkshake.20150227_2320150227_31 Jack had scouts so Sam and I cuddled down with the first of the Hobbit movies.  I celebrated finishing our work on strawberries with a treat for me for a change.