Learning Online and Lego

Monday saw Sam appear bright and early and, most surprisingly, dressed ready for his first online computer science lesson. All went well and he hung around chatting online for a while after.We didn’t really achieve as much as we should have done with the rest of the day and have paid the price for the rest of the week. I think the reason is he’s struggled far more with maths than I thought he would. Definitely need some revision of the basics.
We had a pleasant afternoon reading and weaving though.Tues was the second of our six week Lego Mindstorms course. The pace quickened a lot and session went much better than the week before. Afternoon was again a lot slower and less productive than ideal.

Going to skip over Weds as was trip day so a post in own right due. Today’s mental energy has gone on complaining about yesterday’s trip! We’ve plugged away though and done lots of table based work. Including having some fun with divisibility tests.

We did do some practical science but no photos to brighten up the post as was busy dropping balls 🙂

At which point he announces that he feels like he’s half way home from a trip to London having drank a gallon of coke. This was further clarified as ‘not immediately going to be sick but nor feeling too good’. Computer play and wrestling watching since then!

Curriculum 17/18

This seems an awful lot but well ‘aim high’ and if it’s too much we’ll adapt and change as we always do.


Had a serious think about whether we should have a change with the move to KS3 but then decided if something isn’t broken, don’t fix it.  So we continue to use Mathletics. Again I’ve allocated the topics – 15 or 16 this time- to weeks and linked online games to reinforce. There is a lot more explanation in the content this time, the format is different from the KS2 years. It still looks more varied than most resources in terms of activities. I also bought subscriptions to MathsWatch at KS3 and GCSE level for us to look at. I can’t see us making much use of it tbh but there for further support if we need it.


Made lots and lots of progress here last year. I am reasonably confident in the progress we’re making to feel positive about where we’re going with this.
We are starting Galore Park’s So You Really Want to Learn English series as our main English thread.
I used the junior series with J very suggessfully but felt Sam needed something different at the time but is now ready for this.
I think it needs a bit of supplementing though for comprehension and writing. So we will continue with Writing With Ease  (on the last level now) for narration/comprehension and dictation practice. I suspect he’s beyond it now abilitywise but it’s a style that has worked for us well over the years so we decided to keep going.  I bought them all second hand about 9 years ago so may as well 🙂
For Writing we’ll continue with the Collin’s Aiming For Level books. We are about halfway through Level 4 with 5 and 6 waiting in the wings. The unfussy style works for Sam.

We’ll try and read through the book from each chapter of the GP book. We also have this (more a treat for me I suspect) to offer up some poetry.


Really did find this difficult to plan. I’d actually bought the student book months and months ago but learning science by reading and answering questions alone sounds so dull and not how science should be so needed to turn it into a workable programme.
Unfortunately home educators can’t sign up for Kerboodle (OUPs online resource site) which makes a lot of the teacher’s book I invested in too pretty useless as all the resources for the lesson plans are on Kerboodle. It’s a real pity as it feels like it a good scheme.
So I’ve worked through the Teacher’s Book and Student Guide and for each topic covered I have planned activities from the teacher’s book (if usable), adapted ideas, found YouTube videos for things we can’t do at home, supplemented from Teachit Science and some resources we had at home (our anatomy colouring book should finally get used). I also linked BBC Bitesize clips for as many topics as possible.  Have a list of resources I still need to make (sorting cards and that sort of thing mainly).


I think the time has come to drop Latin, he’s not enjoying the grammar side. I will leave it on the shelf and up to him.  We’ll keep going with DuoLingo for Spanish, realistically he’s probably not going to study a language to GCSE or beyond, it’s not his thing and he’s unlikely to be a traveller. But we enjoy the competetiveness of both doing DuoLingo so we’ll keep it going for fun.


The textbook I bought last year because I couldn’t find any decent British Empire resources turned out to be so good that I bought the full set to use as a spine.
How much we’ll do the exercises in the books and how much we’ll just read and discuss is one to wait and see.
I’ve planned fortnightly trips to enhance up to half term and a pencilled in set of suggestions for the rest of the year.
We’ll read some non-fiction and as many suitable fiction books that we can fit in too.
Plus of course have lists of documentaries to watch. 
Looking forward to this one a lot, it’s a time period I never covered at school but have read quite a bit on. The religious and political history especially interests me and a few trips pencilled in that I am quite excited about.

 We’re also planning a year long project on America, combining history, geography, politics etc
Historywise we have a collection of biographies to read, a few American Horrible Histories, US History for Dummies (and may well end up with more from the series), and some fiction.  We will also work through some of the Evan Moor History Pockets.


Planning to take 2 paths through Geography this year. One is to simply work through this course.

The other is to work through the Trail Guide to US Geography.  We did the World one years ago and it was a bit of fun. We’ll do crafts and cooking alongside too.


This subject marks something new in our HE journey this year as he starts online lessons in Computer Science from LearnTec.  We’ll supplement with more work on Python. He is also booked on a 6 week Lego robotics course.  Waiting for this place to open properly and announce programme as he’s enjoyed the workshops he has done there this summer so hoping it will be something we can tap into regularly.


We are currently finishing off the Explore Arts Award . Planning to dedicate the summer term to the Bronze award. In between the two we will try some of the drawing courses on Jam plus one of our monthly Weds groups has a decidely arty lean. We will of course catch as many exhibitions that catch my eye as we can – there’s one at the Portrait Gallery I fancy, the Russian one at the Tate, and Impressionist one coming up, Cezanne…

Design & Technology

Planning to work through this book. There is surprisingly little practical as in making stuff with tools, it’s more about the design process. Working on arranging some workshops for the summer term to allow him to get some experience of the practical side.


Obviously this is something we cover all the time with discussion and life.
But we are going to work through this book (and read the story books we have for each religion).

The Christian chapter is quite short and falls in the run up to Christmas so hope to do some research on Christmas rituals.

Our Tues group will cover some Citizenship topics. This book is proving helpful with ideas.

Politics and philosophy will be touched on too.
We’ve so many resources and books here on the subjects, he reads the newspaper most days so this is something I am not planning for we’ll cover it because we’re interested. I am hoping we’ll find sometime to get involved in some volunteering/community project but not sure what diary can stretch to yet.

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 😉