Romans, Rainbows and Rocks

New term means new projects.

Romans are the humanities project of the half term.  Romans and ancient history has been a long time interest so it’s a good one for this time of year.  We’ve done a lot of the bigger days out and we’re not in the mood for anything too crafty as work is busy and we have a very hands on science project.  So basically we’re reading through the Usbourne Encyclopaedia of the Roman World.  Discussing ideas, reading things that tie in and following up some of the internet links as we go.  But basically keeping it very low key.  Might try and read the Eagle of the Ninth trilogy too.


This week we’ve focussed on early pre-Empire Rome, the founding and the Republic.  Covered 3 of Sam’s favourite stories Romulus and Remus, Spartacus and Caesar (that Caesar book was the first book he ever read I think and he must have read it hundreds if not thousands of times since).


Besides reading we’ve been researching Etruscans on the web, watching History of Ancient Britain; Celtic Britain (again 😉 ) and of course we visited the Celts exhibition at the British Museum.  I had hoped to make it to Butser Ancient Farm but weather, deliveries and the fact it was closed meant it didn’t happen!

We’re sticking with our ‘How the Earth Works’ theme in science but moving on to focus on rocks, fossils and soils this term.  The job for this week was to set up a rock collection.  I bought some samples using the list from this book as a guide (really good book btw).  We read about them and looked at the various samples with the magnifying glass.

20160108_6 20160108_7 20160108_8 20160108_9 It’s been a week for dodging some very heavy showers.  We have made it to the park a couple of times including the Adventure Playground for home ed session.  Where we saw a rainbow, got wet and muddy and made ‘relax bottles’ and ‘graditude jars/pots’.20160107_3 20160107_6 20160107_7 20160107_8


We’re looking at length and measurement in Maths and had a bit of fun estimating the length of broken matchmakers before eating them.

We’ve also started an animation course on FutureLearn, the first that Sam has joined in with.  Not got far but looks fun.  He started playing with the stop frame app and there is a video on the Facebook page.

Full and busy first week back, a nice mix of days out/social time and time in pjs 🙂

Prehistoric Britain

Felt we never really got the most from this topic. We petered out a bit as due to hospital appointments and Gang Show auditions and illness we lost out on a number of trips we’d planned – Stonehenge and Museum of the Iron Age the most looked forward to.  I’d hoped to do a lot more on Bronze and Iron Age than we managed but we’ve lingered on the topic long enough and interest has waned.

Where we went

20140918_5 Search-Hands on Centre for a workshop looking at Stone, Bronze and Iron Age

Boxgrove Man
Boxgrove Man

NHM London for their Britain:One Million Years of the Human Story Exhibition.

What we did


We made a timeline.  Included on it are postcards and photos of some of the items in the NHM exhibition and some of our crafts.

Cave art inspired chalk pictures
Cave art inspired chalk pictures
Clay beaker for the Beaker people
Clay beaker for the Beaker people
Chalk drawing of the Uffington White Horse
Chalk drawing of the Uffington White Horse
Torc - twisted wire ribbon with card glued on the ends.
Torc – twisted wire ribbon with card glued on the ends.
Celtic colouring
Celtic colouring
Collage roundhouse
Collage roundhouse
Iron Age dagger
Iron Age dagger

Sam also made models of Stonehenge after reading about the different parts of it.


Our final job was to add some important dates to our index card timeline.20141102_27

What we read

Here are the books we used.  Pictures link to Amazon.  The History Investigators I searched everywhere for as it was obviously written for the new NC topic ended up buying from the NHM.  I can not recommend Rosemary Sutcliff high enough for historical fiction.

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We watched

History of Ancient Britain

History of Celtic Britain

Catching Up

Not just with the blog.  It has been a busy few weeks with lots of my evening time spent catching up on Guiding stuff and starting a new course through FutureLearn, plus Scout and Cub stuff has been taking up a bit of time hence the lack of blogging.  But as I mentioned a few weeks ago we have been struggling with the pace I’d set for ‘school work’ this year and I felt we needed time to stop, draw breath and reconnect with the fun side and catch up with some of the projects that were slipping by the wayside a bit.

Last week, therefore, we abandoned those things I claim are our ‘essentials’ at least in the usual approach.

Maths, we took a concept that for some reason hadn’t clicked and dedicated our Maths time this week to it.  Sam is usually quite quick to grasp visual topics so why ordinal numbers and in particular identifying if a person is 5th in line for example how many people were before them was problematic I have no idea.  Aim of the week was to make the idea as visual and fun as possible.


We played with the cars I’d made , having races. Link is to Activity Village where they are available for download.

Did some colouring, looking for patterns.


We made a bus and played bus queues with Blue Nose Friends.


English, we spent the week looking at extracts from scary stories and identifying stylistic patterns.  I’d bought a set of books to help inspire creative writing (not Mr Literal’s strongpoint).  They come with a cd-rom and we read through the extracts and used the cd for the activities.

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We finished up to the end of the stone age on our timeline.  We added the postcards of different human species that we’d bought at the NHM and photos we’d taken of some of the important finds (Boxgrove, Happisburgh and Paviland) as well as some dinosaur pictures and a representation of the birth of the sun – just because.

20141007_21Got up to date with art and science worksheets and his nature book.


Carried on studying liquids.  Testing floating and sinking in water and salt solution.20141007_22We also managed Spanish group.  Here’s a photo for once.


Which was followed by some random body art.  We’d missed art due to going to see the BBC’s Ten Pieces at the cinema.  It was fantastic and is on iPlayer for another couple of weeks.  Home educators can apply for the dvd.

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We also managed science group, a home ed group trip up the Spinnaker and a morning of Minecraft and Simms with friends.  Oh and a wet nature walk in the most fungi free bit of woodland imaginable.

20141007_54I did get to test out the wellies though.



Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story Exhibition

This is the exhibition that was the focus of this half term’s project.  I saw very little publicity for the exhibition in the press at large however it was the best organised and best curated exhibition I may possibly have ever been to.  Definitely the most ‘wow’ since Tutenkhamen.  The organisers of the BM’s Vikings Exhibition could learn a lot!

The key things to me were the polite helpfulness of the staff, the exhibition wasn’t at all crowded with either people or displays, the exhibition told a story and every thing in the exhibition contributed something to that story and there was a feeling of ‘completeness’.  There were pieces there from all the major finds that we’d read about; the Happisburgh flints, Boxgrove Man, the Red Lady of Paviland and cannibalism at Gough’s Cave  and more.  It really was a case of taking what we’d read and seen on documentaries and making it real.

Sorry camera battery died so these were on my phone

Comparing skull shapes
Comparing skull shapes
Earliest evidence of human occupation in Britain from over 800,000 years ago
Boxgrove Man
Boxgrove Man
Tools found at Boxgrove
Tools found at Boxgrove
The Clacton Spear
The Clacton Spear
Seeing model spear
Seeing model spear
More Boxgrove finds
Red Lady of Paviland
Homo sapien
More tools
OMore tools

Oh and did I add booking us in as a school group was one simple phone call. So wonderfully accomodating to HEers too.

Stone, Bronze and Iron Age Workshop

In our local town we have a fantastic resource centre.  Upstairs they have model room sets where the children can wander through, touch items and dress up etc.  Downstairs are the science rooms, full of taxidermy and specimens of butterflies, bones, rocks, minerals and microscopes to explore them.  Due to the nature of the stuff in there unfortunately it is not a place to just wander around, the stuff is too fragile for too much/uncontrolled handling.

What they do is run a range of workshops.  From a home educators standpoint unfortunately they are quite restrictive.  Obviously they are written for schools so therefore are tied to the National Curriculum (of which I may have mentioned I am not a fan 😉 ) so only limited choice and on the same few subjects that we encounter elsewhere.  But they are done much better than most.  The lack of glass cases and the ability to touch definitely works well.

Anyway the change in the NC has led to new workshops.  We happened to be looking at Prehistoric Britain this term anyway to tie into a visit to the exhibition at the NHM so booked a group in to their new Stone, Bronze and Iron Age Workshop.

After a group introduction they picked items to write studies of.

20140918_3 Then in small groups they produced displays of a particular time period.

20140918_5 Writing display plates for them.20140918_6

We then looked around the other displays while some more activities were set up.20140918_9 20140918_11 20140918_13 20140918_14 20140918_20Jigsaw of the Uffington White Horse20140918_16Making copper rings.20140918_17Looking at which animals are native to Britain (opposed to coming over with Romans) 20140918_18Grinding wheat20140918_19Dressing up as Otzi the ice man.20140918_22Another really lovely workshop.


Hi Ho Hi Ho It’s back to work we go

20140903_8Jack was back to school today although with a very late start (the school gives the first years a couple of hours induction).  So Sam and I were back to something…

Definitely not a full throttle go for it day more a gentle dipping toe back in.  Could have been a disastrous day with broken boiler and toilet, leaking pipe and a need to wait (and wait and wait…) on a parcel.  But we ignored all that and had a lovely day.

Maths was playing Dude Dice – still tweaking the rules trying to get them spot on.

English was writing a postcard to a new penpal.




We made a start on two new geography projects.  Reactivating our Postcrossing account and writing and sending a postcard.  Plus we made up a journal page and prepared and laminated our flat traveller before sending her on her way.

20140903_51Started history project by watching a History of Ancient Britain.

We baked so melt in the mouth chocolate biscuits.  We also observed what had happened to the gummy bears we’d soaked over night.  We also managed a trip to the park and shop for picnic supplies.



The big project of the day was marbling paper with food colouring and shaving foam.  Perhaps not the the best idea when the kitchen sink is out of action as very messy.


But great fun.  20140903_45Lots of photos taken so probably warrants it’s own post but that is tomorrow’s job.