Life isn’t dull at the moment. Lots of variety to what we’re up to and Sam has a renewed interest in whittling to scare the bejezzus out of me. I am very good I hope at not showing my extreme terror of my child wielding a lethal weapon and occasionally saying ‘it’s alright,  no blood!’

We’re still managing breathing exercises and poetry every morning.
Monday had the usual maths and English and skype tutorial for computer science. We also baked biscuits and decorated them as atoms.  Purely for fun we also did the colour running from Skittles experiment (video on fb).
As well as edible atoms we made edible molecules from winegums and marshmallows. Plus managed a game of Chemistry Fluxx. I like this one, definitely something different.

We ticked the social box and getting outside with a walk to the beach and a  couple of hours playing pool and in the arcade with friends.

Tues we managed some maths before it was time to go out to our last debating session for our ‘big debate’. I have no photos as I was ‘chair’, sufficient to say it all went really well and we had a good laugh.  It’s not ideal going out in the morning we struggle with the routine but the sessions and the group are exactly what we want.
Afternoon, we finished maths and watch a documentary about the book Revelations of Divine Love. Plan was to do some other ‘book work’ but I wasn’t in the mood and Sam immediately declared he wasn’t either and wanted to whittle. So he whittled and I read aloud and did not panic.

Weds saw us up in London to see the Impressionists at Tate Britain (via Parliament Square and a look at the statues) and the Currency under Communism exhibition and the Medieval Europe gallery at the British Museum.

We also detoured to see the Sutton Hoo helmet (they have original and a replica of what they think it would have looked like) Plus the clock gallery. We like the oddities.
Thursday he asked to lie in. At 9.30 I woke him up but got into bed with my coffee and read to him until about 11am. Lovely start to the morning. Managed Maths and English before lunch (including catching up on Tues), plus some US geography.
Afternoon was spent playing board games and chatting with Grandad who was visiting. Plus some history (medieval towns) and geography (wealth disparities in Britain).

Friday had lots of maths. Working on probability.
Plus by request Live Mathletics. I was drawing nice graphs while revising GCSE maths 🙂 English was done including spelling test. Lots more whittling while I finished reading Shadow of the Minotaur, then he wrote a book review.
After lunch he’d just started Science when the delivery man bought us a molecules kit with excellent timing. So we built some. The delivery included sandpaper so he went back to the figure he was whittling for a while before going on to computer to invade some nation or other.

Today had a session at the Makery and a chance to chat with some potential home educators.

Off Piste

We’ve had 2 days at home to end the week.
I would say work was done quickly and efficiently but I would be lying. The actual planned work has taken virtually no time at all the random exploring of other directions has take up our days quite well though. 
Plus we’ve had Pete and my Dad popping in and out at various times contributing to not in routine feel. But been a nice go with it few days. All I wanted done achieved and a lot more besides.

Much of Thursday morning went on a creative writing project. Coming up with a creature and writing a story about it.

Maths was very quickly polished off. Geography was a look at employment in the UK and defining different employment sectors. History a look at the social repercussions of the Crusades. I need to source some decent resources to learn more about Islam he’s keen on understanding more about the history and conflicts in the Middle East.

We looked at gas pressure in Science. We froze a balloon and a plastic bottle of air to see what happened as the air cooled. Bottle worked as expected.

Balloon has given much discussion and contemplation (to me and Pete too) about why nothing happened.

To show heat and expension on gas we did the balloon over the top of plastic bottle, pop bottle in hot water trick. You can see a video on the facebook page.

We then spent about an hour taking photos of Sam through the bowl and reading up on refraction. Then some more time recording what happened to the water when blew air from the ballon pump on it.

We fished some of the crystals out that we’ve been growing – still trying to cultivate the one on the string.

Sam got distracted by reading his How It Works magazine over lunch and I got distracted by working on ideas for a future block for our Tues group.
Pete and my Dad turned up and the afternoon was spent chatting and doodling zentangles. I seem to have lost them though 🙁
We finished the afternoon with the last episode of Saints and Sinners.

Today was a slow start, as J had an inset day but was going in a bit later than normal as had GCSE revision sessions. Pete was lurking about too.
We spent most of our morning on maths. Sam did the games asked on Mathletics but then spent well over an hour on Live Mathletics. Before sitting down to read and discuss the Times.  I spent the morning working through exercises in J’s GCSE Maths revision guide.

We did the end of chapter exercises in the science book. 
Sam read more of his Crusades book over lunch.
This afternoon we finished off the Work pocket in our project on Colonial America.
Then curled up and read the Shadow of the Minotaur.

Very pleasant few days.


Political Play

To be honest I’ve kind of lost track of what we’ve been up to this week. Mentally my mind has been on work as was really enjoying a piece, GCSE revision with number one, admin jobs with HE groups and a rather interesting FutureLearn course.  Sam hasn’t seem to notice or care, he’s in quite a self driven mood and getting reasonably independent at the stuff I do ask of him.

We’re keeping up with recorder practice and poetry reading every day.
Monday morning was spent mostly on computer watching oracy and debating videos, doing Mathletics and having a Computer Science tutorial.
We squashed in some written maths on a new topic ‘number planes’ which he’s sailing through.
The afternoon was spent at the Town Hall with the Mayor and her Consort as a follow up to our citizenship group last half term (we’d run out of time to get it in). We saw the council chamber and the Mayor’s Parlour.
They were fabulous with the kids. We learnt about the work of the Mayor and Council and the elections and the history of some of the paraphanalia.  They were trying to encouraging the kids into local politics while scaring me off. Something I fancy when I have a bit more free time but they didn’t make it sound appealing. But if you think things should change you can only change them by doing something and that is always easier from the inside, so maybe… one day.

No idea what happened to Tuesday! I had a headache so sent Sam to his debating group with a friend and stayed home and worked.
Afternoon was spent learning more about monks (watching Saints and Sinners) and reading our new novel ‘Shadow of the Minotaur‘. Sure other stuff was done but I forget.

Weds was Maths and English. Geography looking at population density around the UK and History looking at a timeline of the crusades. We were looking at diffusion in science, we tried timing how long the air freshner took to be smelt from across the room. Sam having a heavy cold meant this didn’t work too well and the house got very smelly. Lots of time was spent on the games on the Parliament education site.
The afternoon was spent at HE group. I have never known such a quiet session, they were engaged in drawing or playing in the cupboard. I say this after nearly every session but as much as I moan about the HE community (or lack of community) in general we do get lovely people at the groups I run, kids and adults.  I actually got to speak to people which is rare. Hence no photos or any idea what Sam did drawing wise oops! Think we need another go at home – they were drawing zentangles. 

A nod to some of what I was up to workwise this week 🙂

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.


Today we were at one of our monthly groups and it was a lovely session. I had 35 children cooking over naked flames, with the help of HE parents (which as anyone who has run a group knows can be worse than unsupervised) and nothing bad happened!

We were making bird feeders. I managed to sort out vegetarian (very nearly vegan) bird feeders that were completely safe for those with nut allergies. That was quite a challenge in the first place 😀

We started off by cooking popcorn in foil containers over tealights.
The birdfeeders were made by threading popcorn, fruit and cereal on to wire and twisting to make shapes.

Afterwards the sun was out and they disappeared to play outdoors. It really is lovely to see how well this group works. Even with a big increase in numbers this time the nice atmosphere we get at the group was still there.

Before hand we managed the breathing exercises for the 3rd day on the trot. More algebra, dictation and a bit of work on one of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Some exercise on US Geog and started a new section of our main geography on Britain. We read about the life of a medieval monk and considered why people may have chosen that path and he coloured an illuminated letter S while I read. A history fiction book that I’d meant to read last term while we were on castles so we are a bit late but decided we fancied it. Do love a bit of Rosemary Sutcliffe for historical fiction.
Evening has been spent hanging out with J watching wrestling.

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.

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.


Tower and Tate

Yesterday we were up in London to visit the Tower as our history course moves on to the Normans and castles. We’ve been a few times now and the Tower is so cheap to get in to (wahay for HE rates) that luckily the fact that the Tower was probably the worst part of the day didn’t dampen day. We walked there and back along the Thames (a long walk, we clocked up over 8 miles) and great fun was had was on the way there. The Tower is actually an amazing place and well worth a visit, home education families can book as a school group making it fantastic value. For some reason it didn’t capture Grace and Ronnie’s interest and while it definitely did engage Sam about 1/2 way round the White Tower he did his trick of suddenly going grey and feeling very ill. An hour of sitting outside while the others explored and some vomiting later and he picked up but we all were ready to go by then!

Sam picked up so much on the walk back that we decided to chance the One, Two, Three Swing exhibition at the Tate Modern. They loved it, we loved it, he didn’t vomit so all good 🙂

Battle and Hastings

When working on Julius Caesar for work over the weekend I came across this quote attributed to him – “Experience is the teacher of all things.” It’s one that I try to apply to our HE style. I do believe that lots can be learned from books but it’s experience, seeing and doing really adds context and helps that knowledge take root. Obviously there are somethings that it is impossible to experience – I can never take him back to the actual Battle of Hastings of course but we could go to the battlefield and see the layout with the hill where Harold mustered his army, the marshy valley bottom where the Norman had to fight upwards from, we can take what we’ve read about and stand there and imagine it all.

And go to Battle is what we did last week. It’s about 3 hours on the train from here so to allow us time to enjoy it fully we stayed in Hastings for a night either side to give us a full day in Battle.

We spent the first day exploring Hastings Castle

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playing in the park

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and having fun in the dark walking through Smugglers Caves.  We kept poking the walls as they looked like polystyrene but were definitely real stone.

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Day two took us to Battle Abbey. We started with a long play in a brilliantly designed park. They made the the play equipment look like things that would have been done in that little courtyard of the abbey.

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When the billions of school children had passed through at pace we then headed into the exhibition to explore.

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Before taking the long (and very muddy) route around the battlefield.

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After a snack and drink pitstop several hours were spent exploring the Abbey. Huge amount to see and do there. Might be the best EH visit we’ve done.

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A quick walk about Battle and a nose in the small local museum rounded too the day and we headed back to the hotel for food, baths and bed.

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Final day saw us exploring Hastings seafront, visiting a few tiny museums, walking through the fishing quarter, riding the Victorian cliff lift and having some ice cream and arcade fun.

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A lovely few days away and definitely need a return trip to Hastings when the summer season is in swing, Sam and I loved the place