Amble around Hamble

Some days seem marked as good days before they even start and yesterday was one of those.  Sun was shining and mood was light.  Whatever we had done I think we were in the mood to enjoy.
What we did was finish off our river project.  I’d picked a book about a local river so we did the exercises on Friday and read the rest today on the bus.  Then we took a trip to the river.  An hours easy bus ride away.  We paused in Warsash to look at the river and point out features we knew.  Then took the cutest little pink ferry across to the village on the other side of the river.
This was somewhere I’d never been so we explored the very quaint village and the edge of the common.  Sam says’s it’s like Wales without hills!  There was a cafe on the river side with a roof garden for a lovely view over lunch.
The plan was to walk up alongside the river to Bursledon (or maybe further) and bus home from there.  However all the marinas meant walking along the river itself was not possible and about 1 1/2 mile out of the village the road got nasty, no pavement and too many bends and fast going cars for my liking.  So when we spotted a footpath across the road I decided to accept we’d got all the learning about rivers we were going to out of the day and we’d take a route that kept us alive.

So we walked along the edge of the old air field (I think!). Sam kept his eyes open for bits of broken Spitfires as they were tested from the airfield, no joy.  We did find a stream, friendly horses, blossom and bluebells though.  Back in the village we stopped at a little playpark and took the time to visit the Norman church.

We ended the visit with an ice cream.  I have never seen Sam enjoy one more. He normally likes the idea of ice cream more than the reality.  The raspberry and white chocolate was very nice apparently.

Lots of pictures of sparkly water below.






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Full Friday

We have finally found the playground on the Alver Valley!  Not that we had actually looked for it before, we tend to head for the old Motte and Bailey site for climbing and don’t drift that far east.  But we came into the park from the east for a change and there was the playground.  Definitely our favourite local playground now.  Just needs the zip wire fixed and less flies and it would be near perfect for us.

Anyway Friday started early with a quick run through of maths and English.  By coincidence his writing, grammar and vocab work have all focussed on synonyms this week, which considering they are 3 distinct curricula is odd but good.  Maths we’re on decimals, this seems to be one of those things that he has mastered instinctively so we motor through just to check.


We were then off to Fareham as I had the under 10’s HE group to run.  The plan of Pete having Friday off hasn’t worked so far.  It doesn’t matter though, I enjoy the opportunity to chat to parents I may not see otherwise and the test on my creativity of coming up with activities for the younger ones.  Sam takes his kindle and takes himself off to the cafe for a treat.  I would never plan that into my life but Pete and I both agree it is a good thing.

After the group we caught the bus down to the east side of the Alver Valley.  We picnicked in the playground.  This may be my favourite climbing frame ever.

20160506_13 20160506_15 20160506_cSuddenly seems to be getting a ‘dare devil’ he was happy(ish) to swing above my head (quite a big step).  Then even started jumping off!  We spent a long time doing that.
20160506_17It bounces and spins but I suspect it needs more people to get it working well.
20160506_19Then we started walking in the direction of home for our real reason to be on the valley – the river!  Which of course was flooded.  Normally I am in wellies but having been into town first it was a shoes off and paddling job.

20160506_27Our first job was trying to measure the river flow.  The idea was that we’d throw an orange into the water and time it’s journey over a set distance.  The reasons for an orange is that it should sit below the water line and catch the flow better and that it would biodegrade.
There was no flow!  Plus the obvious thing if I’d thought about it happened.  Throw something into the river at Apple Dumpling Bridge and a dog jumps in to retrieve it for you 🙂  Only dogs don’t like oranges it seems so they spit it straight out! They also don’t learn from other dogs or their own experiences, about 4 different dogs tried to retrieve our orange, most tried several times 🙂  Was very funny to watch.
20160506_28 We had some tests to test the nitrate and phosphate levels in the water.  First attempt was a failure but second saved the day.20160506_30

20160506_b We walked home through the country park and I just had time for coffee and ironing new Scout/Explorer shirts before taking Jack for a frustrating medical appointment.  Nothing annoys me more than being treated like an idiot!

Home with Subway for tea.  I did a ‘supermum’ and rustled up brownies.  Microwave brownies are one of the big positives to take from my guiding years.  10 mins from idea to plate from stuff I usually have in.

Then it was time to take Sam for his first session at Scouts and Jack to Explorers.  All change here.  10pm before we were all in and settled.  A busy but (annoying nurse aside) good day.


Enjoying being a child

I was intending to title this post ‘rivers and recycled art’ as that is what we have been learning about.  While the purpose of the blog is keeping track of that learning so it doesn’t all get lost in the business of living, in light of the news stories this week and my determination to enjoy the small stuff it is life we’ll focus on.

Our parcel showed up mid morning on Weds so we finished up the mornings work and headed out.  Not for the big adventure I am itching for but for a pleasant day enjoying what is on our own doorstep.
Picnic on the beach.

20160504_115322There was a lot of this unusually.  He doesn’t normally do slides but played for an hour happily on his own going up and down (well a collection of much younger children were entertained by pushing him down so not that on his own 🙂 ).  He was in slippery clothes too, got some pace up!

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When he’d exhausted that we stopped for a Penguin mixed ice cream (whipped strawberry and vanilla in a spiral).t3Then spent some time in the arcade.  Penny falls, air hockey and then one video game is the rule 🙂t4

20160504_133801 20160504_134515 Skate park.20160504_135117

Home for a long overdue haircut.  I am mum of many talents.  Even the teenager prefers me to the barber!  Although please don’t judge me on Sam’s fringe it was a bit of an oops.  I don’t have an after pic.


Thursday we had another parcel due and Sam wanted to stay in and do the science planned as it’sounded fun’.  It was too!  We tried to create a river in a tray.  It did work surprisingly.  It wouldn’t do the fancy things with meanders like in the book but then we were using a wooden tray from Wilkos and a jug rather than the properly home built ‘storm tray’ 4 times the size of ours and rigged up to a hose pipe.  So happy with what we did get which was the basic idea and a lot of fun.

We lined a large flat tray with a plastic bin liner, filled with sand and levelled it.  We raised one end so it was on a slope.  Sam then gently but steadily poured water in from the top.  We watched a channel form and eventually a delta.  Then Sam spent a good while creating a flood of biblical proportions and a right mess.  He had a lot of fun doing it!


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We then did this weeks art based on Rauschenberg’s Retroactive.  He had his sketchbook a couple of newspapers and Sunday supplements and the brief to make a collage based on news stories.  Love the result.  I love being able to take a subject he thinks he isn’t interested in and doesn’t enjoy and turn it so he doesn’t notice he is doing it. I’ve had very few misses he always enjoys the art activities so much and he’d never do them if down entirely to him.


We’d been efficient and it was still only lunch time.  So we had lunch and went to vote.20160506_2

Then collected Grandad and went to the park to use the exercise machines and get my sparkly water soul lift.  Unfortunately I forgot about all the INSET days for the election so we didn’t stay that long as park was far too busy.  We did find someone to show us one of the model electric boats they’d built.  It was nearly big enough for Sam and pretty impressive.

20160506_7Home and there was time for some coding while I had a bath and dragged myself off to Jack’s school for a meeting about an exchange he is going on.

Pleasant few days; lots of park time and work has been cutting and sticking and sand and water play 🙂

Catching up, chilling, coding, cake and camp

That pretty much sums up the week 😉

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 🙁  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 😉  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 🙂

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 🙂20160430_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.


River Meon Estuary Walk

We made up for not going to Titchfield Haven on Weds by heading over there with my Dad on Thursday.
We were aiming to look more at the river this time and walked along the west bank and the ‘Scrapes’ for the first time.  These are wetlands reclaimed from the Titchfield canal.

We had a bit of a walk back to the visitor centre to pay (sad at expiration of Culture All pass) and found a nice viewing area and some bluebells.

20160421_16 20160421_19 We bought some duck food and stopped to feed them.  Always feels odd ducks on the sea 🙂20160421_24 20160421_27 20160421_30 20160421_32 20160421_35 Over at the Scrapes we found a seagull nesting ground.  Never heard such noise from birds before.  I did record a video, it is on the facebook page as struggle with videos on here.20160421_36 20160421_38 We stopped in the hide and watched for a while before heading off for a walk.
20160421_46 20160421_47 20160421_48 20160421_51 20160421_54 Sam was fascinated by the green stuff on the stream. 20160421_61 Testing new wellies.
20160421_65Bit of sea wall balancing 🙂
20160421_67This must be one of our favourite places for a walk.

Finding the Right Words

Is so important in home ed and parenting in general.  The right words can make a complex idea click or a chore into a game.

I chanced upon exactly the right choice of words on Friday that took him from edge of melt down defiance to excited embracing of a project and flowing with ideas.  I’d love to say it was a well thought out plan and there wasn’t months of cajoling and resistance beforehand but heyho.

I have tried everything to interest Sam in creative writing and failed.  He’s never going to write for fun like Jack but I think we’ve reached the point where a bit of basic skills are needed.  I don’t think he’ll be interested in going to Seniors next year but like doors to be open and this is probably our big gap.  I’ve laid the building blocks and he can be very creative at times but he finds it hard and shuts down.  We have spent all the academic year working on bits relating to writing fantasy stories, a couple of sentences here, character out line there, very small short steps.  We’re now at the point of trying to pull it all together, it is all there.  He thinks he can’t do it though and therefore won’t try.

The frustrating thing is he has spent hours this week describing plans for imaginative computer games, so I know he can be creative.  Inspiration hit!  ‘Don’t think of it as a story think of it as describing the route through a computer game; the quest you need do to win, the magic items etc’.  Never seen such a rapid change, suddenly there was a file with a detailed plot line ready to expand on,

It was bucketing down and Jack was home ill so it was a day for catching up with stuff at home.

We looked at rivers and marked some of the most famous ones on a map.  We talked about the importance of rivers to humans and how so many important settlements are on rivers.  I made cards which listed some of the world’s capital cities and matching cards with their rivers and he used an atlas to help match them.

20160415_180315 20160415_111424 We moved on in science to looking at weathering.  We had quite a bit of reading to do and I made the mistake of reading denudation as de-nude-ation which caused much hilarity.  We froze a very full glass of water with a plate and weight on top and saw how the ice expanded and pushed the plate up.  We also took too wet lumps of clay and froze one.  Comparing them today.  Photo doesn’t show clearly but the frozen one was cracked.

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We’re sticking with Pop Art for art I think there is a lot more fun to be had here.  We looked at Jasper Johns Map.  After some discussion we decided Sam’s take would be flood filling on paintshop a European map.

jaspar johns

Rest of the day went to play, baking and work.