Summer Days

Blogging definite slipped way down list of priorities. Probably should be when I should try and make the effort to blog more really when we go more relaxed and unschooly as I miss recording exactly how much can be learnt this way. I no longer feel the need to though, I am happy with what we covered this year, he’s entitled to a rest and a holiday and if he was learning nothing for a month or so would it be an issue – no. In reality you can’t stop a child learning, he’s like a sponge, I just feel no inclination to analyse and document it.

What have we been up to practically since the last post?

We had a day’s home ed trip learning about Victorians and riding steam trains on the Watercress Line.
It was my Dad’s birthday last week so we spent some time with him on Thursday at Titchfield Abbey, playing with Nerf guns and treating him to lunch out. Sam very patiently spent a good deal of time helping a random toddler fire a small nerf gun (was scary to watch!) He is like the Pied Piper, collects small children about him whereever we go it seems.

Thurs afternoon was spent making vast quantities of playdough as Friday was the last under 10’s group of term.  Lovely session, 5 new families along and a lot of mess to clear up.  I do love playdough. 

Sam spent the time I was at the group shopping for a birthday present for my Dad and hiding out in Costa. We had lunch and shopping and a leisurely afternoon as Sam had bought Sim City for his DS.

Weekend was normal pottering (aka kindle/computer/ds play) with the exception of popping to see Grandad with cake and presents (birthday was Sat).

Plans for this week went by the wayside. We had a home ed session booked on bushcraft on Monday and plans to go geocaching yesterday.  Eczema flare up meant poorly cracked skin and swollen feet though and didn’t want to take risk of infection (we do get them).
Monday was spent finishing off cartoon strip for the HE comic we’re getting published, reading (History of the Russian Revolution in prep for tomorrow) and then computer play really.

Yesterday after starting off the day with a horrendous sick head ache I managed to make it out to see a hall for potential group meets with a friend and we followed up with tea and a chat while kids played Lego and Pokemon. Afternoon went in board games and then when Scratch wasn’t working he agreed to try a Python project. He ‘wants’ to do Python but wants to do it immediately and gets frustrated so needs coaxing. After a bit of a hiccup we did get it working to draw a robot though.

Today was my last Home Ed group session for rhe academic year. After an early morning BP check up Sam spent the morning programming a art project on Scratch based on Kandinsky’s Circles. Group was a  bit of a manic one (you can tell by the fact that my coffee was so cold I didn’t even attempt to drink it) but a lot of fun and messy children.

Bristol

We couldn’t look at the industrial revolution without a trip to Bristol to explore the works of Brunel.
We had a very wet day exploring the docklands and SS Great Britain, a very windy day at the Clifton Suspension Bridge (and visitor centre) and a quite pleasant day pottering around the old city. 

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.



Steam and Explosions

I’m angry, really bloody angry.

The last few days have shown the worst side of home ed, the flakiness and the lack of awareness of others that some home educators show. 

I am generally quite laid back about things now, I do get irritated by persistant unreliability and in particular lack of communication, it is so easy to head off potential worry and problems. Also a lot easier to be accommodating if you know there are issues such as social anxiety, chronic health problems.  Communication really does solve most things and avoid ruffled feathers.

Generally I can’t complain with trips I run. I jokingly say I scare people but maybe I do.  What has annoyed me is seeing over 50% of people cancel on the last minute on a friend. Definitely far, far more annoyed watching it happen to someone else.

It’s like people don’t consider that even though there might be no costs setting up the trip was still a lot of work to do in organising. They don’t seem aware that low numbers can put a trip at risk or make it not work as well for those who do show because some things do benefit from a critical mass of children or just frankly just be embarrassing. They seem blissfully unaware that we all contribute to the reputation home educators have and the effect that has on venues offering activities or the willingness of other home educators to organise activities.

Anyway it has also shown some of the best sides of home educators too as I do have a cracking bunch of friends to moan and grumble with.

And in the case of one to try and stop an explosion with!  Today’s Weds outing saw us near to home doing a town trail in local town solving clues. Great fun and really makes you look at things you don’t normally notice. We only managed half before rain and ill child (not mine) stopped play, so another hour or so still to do 🙂

At home we read and discussed growth of factories, steam powered machines and the effect on the growth of towns.
Looked at religions in Asia.
Finished a handwriting book and he was pleased to see the improvement.
Did some more on shapes; terminolgy and drawing regular polygons.

Borrowed Time

We had a very productive start to the term even if I was still sketching out a plan for science this morning! After Easter productive days are usually on the scarce side so every good day is always a welcome surprise.  The fact that Sam’s alarm clock went wrong and got him up before 7 might have been a big factor.

His online Maths required some quite complicated mental arithmetic and took way longer than usual but he did well. Luckily this was balanced by his written maths involving no written maths and instead following some instructions for origami using vacabulary such as parallel, perpendicular.

This is how science is done. For English Sam made a map of an imaginary place to use for story telling. I read aloud from a My Story book, Mill Girl whil Sam made the map. Then we read from a history textbook and did some of the questions verbally.  It’s a KS3 book as the only thing I could find that covered what I wanted in the level of detail we wanted.  Planning to use the whole scheme in future as we do seem to be drifting towards being more book based.

We rounded off history with a documentary about the Industrial Revolution over lunch.  Afternoon was science based with looking at tunnels. We made a syphon.  Which worked impressively but I was too busy trying to stop the living room getting soaked to manage a photo.  Next job was a steam powered turbine. I wsn’t so convinced this one was a likely success and I was right.  Maybe US origami paper is different to Uk version as lets just say ours didn’t like steam 🙂
Aquifers and looking at groundwater pollution came next with more success. Final bit of science was more a bit of fun. We had been reading about the Channel Tunnel and how they dug from either side and met.  I gave Sam measurements to place his sticker on one side of the card and reversed them for me.  Then poked a pin through the centre of mine to see if we’d managed to match up.  No where near! Our tunnel was heading for the Netherlands we think 😉

Roblox, work (for me), more politics chat and a game of Risk saw out the day.

Red House Museum

We needed a change of scene on Friday. While it is nice having regular groups, we do like to go places and don’t seem to have had the time lately. Well I like to go places and Sam enjoys it when he is there!

As we’re up in London twice in the next 10 days decided to go somewhere completely different. So we went to Christchurch.  The main motivation was that the museum (Red House) was an old workhouse. However there is also a ruined Norman Castle there which I expected Sam to enjoy more and I was expecting a quaint market town and we love those.

Mixed reactions.  The castle and Norman house were interesting and we should have loved them.  However there was graffiti and loads of litter that rather spoiled them and we moved on quickly. The back streets we walked down were definitely quaint and we even found a replica dunking stool.

The edges of the main area of town had quite a few interesting independent stores and we liked it.  The main town area though had an air of neglect and scummyness that I wasn’t expecting.

Negatives aside we really liked the museum.  Small, friendly and lots to do.  We focused on the Victorian area downstairs but did go up to the prehistory area too.  Spent a surprising amount of time in the fashion gallery too.  I suspect because it is something I know about I can tell hime stuff beyond the cards and in a way that builds links to things he knows.
The gardens would be lovely on a nicer day.  We were a bit taken aback to find dinosaurs among the trees.

We then wandered around the Priory.Before some lunch and window shopping.

A very good day.

Small Pleasures

Been a lovely quiet peaceful day. 

Latin provided fun as he was working out roots of words.  Maths was easier than he expected producing glee.  English showed what huge inroads he has made into writing as he wrote a very competent advert.  And all done by 10.15.

We read for an hour, discussing in detail as we did, from a non-fiction book about the Victorians.  While I did a job about the house Sam read about and wrote a profile on Dr Barnado.  Then read some more about Victorian schools and gave me a verbal narration to summarise.  We got out the slate and he had a go and writing Victorian script and did some extra sums.

We dug out some more Victorian replica bits for a look and then watched Victorian Bakers over lunch.

We then got distracted by looking at my sewing and sharing stories about the different monarchs.We moved on to Sketch Tuesday whichthis week was feathers.  I got into awful trouble for not emailling off last week’s st today’s has already gone! I drew a peacock while Sam did an eagle.  We did print photos to copy.

Sam then programmed one of those touch the wire games on his Microbit.

Finally we read a report about the child we sponsor and checked out where he is.  Then it was over to Roblox and work.

A Schooly Looking Day

I was exhausted today.  Hands on fun stuff was beyond me so it was a catch up on quieter stuff.  Nice to have balance but a low photo post and not an exciting one, more a list of what we did.

So we did;

a dictation exercise from Writing With Ease 3 about Laura Ingalls Wilder
a writing exercise from his Collins book encouraging use of personal details to bring authenticity
a review and activities verbally on quotations mark
a lesson on finding percentages of numbers
a couple of Mathletics games
Spanish practice
Latin verbs
reading and a worksheet on children’s work in Victorian times
read some of a My Story book on a Sweep’s Boy
watched last episode on Victorian Slum
a couple of comprehension style exercises about natural resources in Asia
drawing for Sketch Tuesday

Coins, Cardiff, and Coal

Looking at my diary a couple of weeks ago I realised that this week we didn’t have our regular Mon or Weds activities so took the opportunity to go to stay with my Father in Law in Wales for a few days.

We travelled over Monday morning and spent Monday afternoon touring the Royal Mint.  Little gem of a place, I thought we’d really enjoyed the Bank of England Museum but this was far better (despite the tour guide being adamant that Isaac Newton was Chancellor of the Exchequer!).  Sam struck a new £1 coin.  Couldn’t take photos in the Mint these are just the exhibition after.  If you don’t know the story of the 1933 Penny look it up it’s interesting.  In my usual not observant state I hadn’t noticed the coins now make up the Royal Coat of Arms when placed together.  Interesting to hear about the countfeiting prevention in the new coin – holograms and UV among others.  If in the area definitely worth a trip.

 On the Tuesday my Father in Law had plans so Sam and I headed down to Cardiff Bay for the day.  We caught the waterbus from the City down to Techniquest.  It was horrendously full of school children when we arrived but after about 20 mins they all disappeared off to workshops/shows and we had a peaceful hour, leaving as they started flooding back.  After lunch we visited the Pierhead Building a magnificent piece of Victorian architecture from the heyday of Cardiff docks.  We also stopped at the little Norwegian Church where Roald Dahl was christened.  Before heading back to the City for Lego.

Weds was St David’s Day and we couldn’t have spent it in a more Welsh way.  We headed up the Valleys to the Rhondda Heritage Park.  To be honest it was a bit of a disappointment, lots of work being done for the new season but meant lots of things closed off or not working and all felt a bit builder’s yard and unloved at the moment.  It was a pleasant enough morning though and I think it was still the better option than heading further away and going down a real mine (this was a reconstruction above ground) as don’t think my joints or Sam would have liked going down properly.  Being St David’s Day did stop for a lunch of cawl and welsh cakes.

We did manage to get through a bit of our usual English and Maths in quiet minutes too.  Plus more bridge building.  Love the flexibility of home ed.

 

Charles Dickens House and The Foundling Museum

After a quiet start to the month itchy feet hit and we were ready to add some flesh to watching and reading we are doing on the Victorians.  So we headed to London to explore Charles Dickens House and The Foundling Museum.
Both were lovely places if not the most child friendly. My friend’s 8 yo wasn’t really engaged by much of it but the older two really seemed to enjoy it.  I think the ability to read the displays and trails helped plus of course familiarity with the Dickens’ stories. 
The lady behind the desk in the Dickens Museum was really lovely.
The things that stick out were the tokens in the Foundling Museum, we found one engraved to a ‘Stephen Large’ had to wonder if an ancestor.  The names given to some of the children caused much amusement.  There was a William Shakespeare, a Julius Caesar, Francis Drake and even a Robin Hood and a Little John.
Mis Havisham’s wedding dress and a hedgehog in the kitchen stick out at the Dickens’ house.  The contrast between Dickens’ huge writing desk and the tiny writing table used by Jane Austen was striking.