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.

I Can’t Think of a Title

I intended to write a long post about home-educating when you feel low and anxious but mood has picked up during the day and time is running low. 

It was definitely a day for taking it easy.  Sam spent ages on Mathletics playing the problem solving games.  He then decided to start creating a Latin dictionary for himself.  He’s been doing French as well as Spanish on DuoLingo for the last few days. There was more microbit programming.  Sketch Tuesday was an aquarium theme so men getting eaten by giant sharks.  We watched 1900 House and Robot Wars, then chatted while Sam played Roblox and I stitched. 

Taking our Time

Friday was a much better day. 
It started with watching a documentary about conception, Sam was quite disgusted and Pete was sitting at the table cringing and asking if I was sure this was appropriate.  They do make me laugh 🙂
We quickly did English and Spanish.
Maths had us making and using timelines.  Rather than make one of his own life, since we have done that many times, we got down the What on Earth Wallbook and did a question and answer session.  We must be the only home eders to really not like these.  We find there is far too much info on them for us to absorb, neither of us do busy pages.  Looks good on display though but this is probably only the 3rd time we’ve used it in about 5 years.
We had two days worth of Latin to do so we revised every flashcard and then recycled them ready to start a different course after half term as this one isn’t working well any more.  The big pile is the right pile 🙂
It was now about 10 am and the day had reached a crossroads. So I gave Sam the choice, we only had one item left on the list for the day a ‘winter story walk’, which would involve going out, but we did have left over items from Thurs which could be done mostly from sofa.

He opted for out so we headed down the beach.  We talked about what we could see, hear, smell, taste and touch so he could do a descriptive piece when we got home.  We skimmed stones, built stone walls and watched the tide destroy them and paddled.

Sun came out while we were down there so we spent a bit of time geocaching (3 logged).

We were at the village by now so popped in to a couple of charity shops, had lunch in Subway and first ice cream of the year.

I managed to update Pokemon Go while Sam had his ice cream so we did some Pokemon hunting on the way home.

When we got home Sam wrote up his creative writing piece and then played on his kindle.
In the evening I managed to win at All The Kings Men (bit like chess)- twice!  First win ever I think.  After a very rare take away curry I settled down to watch a documentary on the history of archaeology while I did some sewing.  Sam went to bed but got up again (bit unsettled a night for some reason) and watched the documentary with me. 

Long, Busy but Good Day

Tuesday feels like a week’s worth of posts in one.
Sam embraced the handson Maths that he’d refused to do on Monday with enthusiasm.  We were estimating and weighing small items.

His creative writing project for the week had him making a theatre.  This turned into a lot bigger job than anticipated as he got in to the whole plan and it turned into a design and engineering challenge and took a lot of the morning. Architect has been added to the list of potential careers.

We just had time to test an idea for next week’s home ed group before lunch.  Pleased with it as icing isn’t my ‘thing’.
We didn’t manage to get any of our project work done before lunch with the distraction of theatre and biscuits.  We did watch more of Michael Foot’s Story of China over lunch though.
We wasted a good 10 mins looking for a book after lunch before given up.  Instead I read aloud from our book on Ancient Chinese inventions, this time about war and weapons.  Sam busied himself with a making a terracota warrior from clay.

We spent a bit of time curled up by the fire reading Stories for the Silk Road before Sam settled on to laptop to play and I got on with admin for future home ed group activities.
In the end it was a rush to get out on time for the evening activity.  Which was Stargazing Live, lots of cosmology activities run by Portsmouth Uni at the Dockyard.  I can’t tell you what most of the pictures are as it really doesn’t grab me at all.  Sam was interested though!

I then sat up until nearly midnight on HE group admin.  Exciting plans though 🙂

We Found Out Why I Had Wet Mud My Supply List

Back in August I wrote out my supply list of what we needed block by block of activities.  All well and good but that does mean I look at the list in January and think what on earth can we possibly want wet mud for for Maths of all things? 
Turns out we were drying it out and working out the volume of water removed.  We had to cheat as not a hot day and bake it in the oven.  No wonder Pete looks dubious at what he finds in the kitchen at times, think he’s scared of accidentally eating a science experiment!

More hands on maths (yesterday’s work to catch up on too!) when we looked at displacement.  Never stops being fun 🙂
Sam also made story stones.  We managed one sensible story about Thor (there was a man with a hammer) and Loci.  The second one had more stones added and ended up a lot more surreal with a carpenter becoming a mythical knight and battling Donald Trump. Who died and turned into a giant flying snake that got nucked by the Russians!

We did manage to catch up on all our ‘core’ work from yesterday.  After lunch and an episode of Victorian Farm we ran out of steam though and rather than do a very practical science session curled up and read one of the My Story books we’d picked up on the Victorians.  This one was on the Workhouse.

Slow Day

In the mood to take it quietly today.
Started with Latin and Spanish.
Sam got into a creative writing task so much I even managed to sit down and work.  We did even more creative story telling this time with shadow puppets (I’ve put some of the videos on Facebook page), I think his creative zeal had gone by this time.  
He liked the ‘den’ though and stayed in it for Maths.

Well until he wanted to use the centimetre cubes. For use substitute play with 😉 We then looked at education and Confucianism in ancient China.  Carved rubbers into moveable type using one of those pointy things from scratch art sets.  Was lying about and was perfect for the job.  Ink was mushed up berries run through a sieve. He stamped out the letters on to the paper we made last week.  I take full responsibility for the back to front S.We read more about the Shang dynasty (scary levels of human sacrifice) and watched more of Michael Wood’s Story of India.  Then some Code Academy and Sam made a cake.

Lost Sam to the laptop for the afternoon and I got distracted from work by booking HE trips.

Back to it!

Ok we weren’t champing at the bit to get started this morning.  I got distracted by work and Sam fell asleep after his alarm and then decided to have a very long bath!

We did okay though.  Maths was measuring and very hands on which helped us get back in the swing.

Seeing how my foot compares to a foot.

We started looking at China by locating it and then making a factfile.  Diverged into Asia properly with an introduction to the physical features.  Then watched the first episode of Michael Foot’sStory of China over lunch.
We didn’t feel like history so we spent some time on CodeAcademy before Sam went on to Roblox and I sat down to work (and procrastinate – that sort of afternoon.Off to see if he wants to do history now (reading an adaption of Oliver Twist) and rais the question of leaving the house tomorrow.  We’ve taken root I think and outside isn’t appealing – there are people 😉

Manipulatives and Bath Bombs

We’ve finished Maths for the year so Weds was a bit of playing with investigative maths which quickly turned into playing with cubes.

The morning pretty much floated away from us that way.  We did manage some reading curled up in bed.
The afternoon had us at the hall for our group, where we were making bath bombs.  Loving this group, the children are all of an age they can work in groups and it’s a lovely bunch and gives me scope to do things that need more adult leading or cooperative work.

We made two types of bathbomb, citrus stars and chocolate mint cakes, plus an awful lot of mess. A lot of mess. 

After they had a choice of paper crafts or garden. Garden won!

Evening was spent playing a board game that is a simple version of chess, drawing and watching a documentary about C17th London.  Catch up isn’t working on Virgin so we are working through things I’d recorded and we’ve not got round to watching yet.

Call in the Substitute

I jokingly said to a teacher friend this morning that I might have to resort to calling in my substitute teacher today (Pete and I have come down with what Jack had last week), the TV 🙂


We do love a good documentary and try to have one on the go tieing into our current topics.  We don’t have one at the moment though, I’d recorded something about the brain but on closer look it was about experimenta psychology and I could see it not going down well with Sam so in the end we settled on last years RI Christmas Lectures – obviously I’ve had a healthy year if we’ve not got around to these yet 😀

We’ve actually achieved a surprising amount considering how rotten I feel. Sam is going through a spell of self motivation and is happy working at ‘sit down at the table stuff’ rather than our usual more hands on approach.

He’s worked on story telling and started preparing a speech, started to get to grips with Latin grammar not just vocab, practiced Spanish, we’ve read lots on the jobs of the brain and worked though loads of memory games and activities (and improved his Scratch memory game), completed his unit study on countries of Asia, read lots of the History of Asia and had a lot of fun with maths. He’s looking at patterns and algebra and we’ve been doing investigations with Pascal’s Triangle and Fibonacci sequences – exactly the sort of maths that he loves.

Snotty nose, sore chest and almost no sleep in 3 nights aside, it hasn’t been a bad couple of days.