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.

Other Priorities

10 days since my last post.  That is a long time on recent form.

Those who know what I do workwise might guess the cause 😉 It’s been a month where my head has been full with other concerns and priorities.  Home ed has plodded on successfully, albeit with a bit more home time. Although hard to tell how much that is down to work and how much is Sam having a heavy, wheezy cold all month and me watching the pennies. Having the energy and time to blog though hasn’t happened.

Anyway this is a catch up post.  Trying to recal what we have done.

Maths has been area, lengths and perimeters. 
English, Latin and Spanish just progressed on with no dramas.

History has been lots of reading of abridged versions of Dickens, trying to source more as he’s loved them.  We’ve also watched Victorian Pharmacy.

Geography we’ve continued to look at Asia and China.  He’s written diaries of an Everest climb and we have continued to explore inventions from China, designing a house to Feng Shui rules and making paper from egg boxes.  We’ve also continued to read about the Shang Dynasty and watch Michael Wood’s Story of China.

Science and we continued to look at the human body.  Digestion was good fun. 
We soaked cloths stained with ketchup in different washing powders to see the affects of enzymes. Broke down fats.
Modelled the digestive system with a bit too runny results. Started off with too much sauce in the beans.

Week after was the turn of the lungs.  We burnt up oxygen, measured breath temperature, demonstrated there was moisture in breath and made a model where one lung worked.

Socially we’ve had trampolining. We tried out a venue for a potential social meet.  Don’t think we’ll be going back, it was a cafe with a play centre attached thought it would be good place for mixed age gatherings but crikey it was loud and Sam and the other older ones weren’t too impressed.  Will leave it to the younger ones I think.
We did find this gem on our walk home though.
On Weds last week we were supposed to have an animal handling workshop but it got cancelled on the morning due to illness so we lost the morning to making sure everyone knew, telling the venue and trying to sort new plans.  New plans were geocaching.  Very successful and icy outing.

The last two Fridays have focussed on getting me new glasses as my eyesight has been causing issues for a while.  We had a long time in Game after my test so he could spend Christmas vouchers.  Lots of practical maths as we were price comparing with Amazon (where he also had vouchers).  This week we collected the glasses and spent some time in the local museum.  We’d been talking about the workhouse scandal at Fareham so that was where we headed but ended up hanging out for a while.

At home we continue to spend lots of time on board games.
Plus Sam eventually finished Christmas Lego.


Spinny Chair Fun

I had a big work project come to a pinacle at the weekend meaning there was a lot of sitting at the computer.  Made me realise how uncomfortable it was using a dining chair at the computer, add in the fact I realised yesterday that I had 7 children at our house this afternoon for an activity and only 6 chairs.  So it was a make use of Argos quick delivery to get a spinny chair delivered this morning.
The excitement of the chair meant that Sam was up washed, dressed and breakfasted a good half hour earlier than usual 🙂 Maths, English, Latin and Spanish were easily finished by 10 am.  So we set to work building.  Well I tightened screws, Sam is quite capable of following the instructions now.  I have trained him well.  Also took the opportunity to lower the seat on the trip trap chair to make it usable by 11yo.
Then he span – a lot. With time to spare before lunch I read an adaptation of Bleak House aloud while Sam made something from the Qixels.

After lunch a small group of friends joined us for some science.  We are hoping eventually to work on the Crest awards but for now it’s a bit of fun and getting them used to the group work needed.  Only taken us 4 months to sort out actually meeting.
We with welding with chocolate to test girders.  The first job was to devise a way to hold the joints as they set from what they could find in the conservatory.  Most built a lego contraption.

The dodgy looking one (the boys) held nearly 700g, the next 5kg and the next two held the 5kg and stayed in tact.  So we tried lightest person – unsuccessfully.   Given knex to build a bridge they decided on towers, cars, glue guns, anything but, however they had fun.
Jack arrived home, just after everyone had left, complaining of feeling rotten.  Spinning about and using my chair for transport claiming he was Davros did seem to cheer him up though 🙂