Parliament

Friday saw us back in London.  This time with friends, we managed to nearly fill a carriage as there were 20 of us on our train (and to Sam’s delight, although vastly outnumbered he did have male company).
The venue this time was a video introduction to and a tour of Parliament.

We’d done a tour last year and it was completely different, I knew they varied depending on what was going on that day but it didn’t overlap at all.  The big difference was that the House’s weren’t sitting so we were able to go onto the floor of the Commons (might rank as one of the most exciting things ever for me 🙂 ).

We saw the old debating chamber full of statues of ex-prime ministers and the Members Library and one of the Division lobbys as well as the Commons chamber.  Not allowed to sit down or take photos in the chamber unfortunately. So here are a few in the debating chamber and Westminster hall.

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I had vague plans to try and go to the O’Keeffe exhibition after but we were a lot later out than I expected so it was picnic, park and catch the train home with friends.

A lovely end to a fabulous week.

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Other Stuff 15/16

All the bits not worthy of their own post

Music

Last year’s plans didn’t really come to anything at all.  The ukulele was a flash in the pan interest.  Even our classical concert was cancelled – we did make it to a Gamelan one which sent me to sleep.  I’m not going to make any attempt to ‘teach’ music at all this year.  With only limited time available to cover everything we want to it seems daft to waste time on stuff that neither of us find interesting or useful.

That aside he’s become much more interested in listening to music this year and I aim to set it up so we can have music on in the background while we do work.  From time to time he’ll sit there with youtube piano tutorials and teach himself to play a few lines of a song he likes.  Will leave it at that though.

Nature Study

Just read my plans for last year and laughed out loud.  They were very ambitious for us.  We’re not nature lovers, we like being outside but too many allergies to enjoy anywhere with plants for much of the year and we hate being hot.  More jumping in puddles and home for hot choc by the fire sort of people.

Plan to take a more or less completely unplanned approach this year.  We’ve loads of spotters guides (good ones) and activity ideas books.  Whenever time, weather, health and mood allow we’ll try and get out.  We’ve lots of nice walks on our doorstep.

Will include readings from our Enid Blyton’s Nature Lovers book and her Hedgerow, Woodland and Country Tales in our reading basket.  Curled up on the sofa with a book is our sort of nature study 🙂

 Religious Education and Festivals

Plan to try and address this more this year.  We’ll include some of our collections of religious stories in our reading basket – I have a few 🙂  Also have the Usborne Encyclopaedia of World Religions to read though.

However I have a set of lesson plans bought from Planbee that I will try to build into our week.  Until we get some routine established I don’t know how realistic this is.  If it works we’ll start with looking at Christianity, where the Bible came from, stories from the Bible,  running up to Christmas.

I’ve been adding dates of random holidays and events to the calendar to draw on if we have time to fill 😉

Computer Programming

Sam has been dabbling with this for a while but looking for an ordered approach this year.  We have these to work through.

20150827_3In case any one else falls for it, the one on the right is not identical to the Computer Coding for Kids with Carol Vorderman on the cover but close.  But it has the advantage of not having Carol Vorderman on the cover so we’ll use this one and pass on the other 😉

Philosophy

I have had the IF Odyssey sat on my Kindle for about 18 months.  I am hoping to set up a monthly group to work through this.  Ideally 4-6 children of similar age to Sam.  Thinking that debating ideas with his peer group will add something different to just talking with me.

PE

Organised sports are not Sam.  Thinking one afternoon a week for Laser Quest/Bowling?/Out door Gym/Long walk.  Then if my Dad will provide transport another afternoon for either swimming or table tennis (we’ll chop and change week by week as mood takes us).  This is work in progress!

Reading Basket

I’d like to get into the habit of reading aloud more again.  I’m thinking we’ll start the day with reading on 4 day rotation from the basket which will have;

Nature Stories (Enid Blyton’s as mentioned above)

Aesops Fables

Year of Poetry

Children’s Bible

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We’ll also hopefully keep a longer story on the go.  Probably some sort of fantasy book to tie in to creative writing.  Going to start with Alice in Wonderland.

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Social

From wanting to see someone (ideally at our house) nearly every day setting us on a social whirlwind that nearly finished me off, he’s had an about turn.  He’s happy to go out a couple of days a week but wants to stay home the rest which works well for me.

We’re planning on attending one of the adventure playgrounds every week.  Plus laser quest monthly.  Working on monthly bowling and philosophy plans and if they come off will probably suggest a walk/soft play the other week.  That’s 2 group events a week possibly.

Looking around at who’s signing up for things I think numbers for trips might be an issue so will not bother with much trip booking this year I think.  Days out with family and friends instead.

We’ll continue to have friends round as we’ve fallen into routines.  Cubs obviously too.

Will also try and get things set up so he can skype etc.  I do a lot of my socialising through the computer I think I need to accept that that will suit Sam too.

Stay at home Tuesday (not going far Weds)

We’re struggling even more this week than last time I complained, the old hayfever nightmare.  You name it we try it, alternative and regular therapies.  At best they take the edge off.  Sam spent Monday night in my bed whimpering every time I got near to dropping off because his throat is so sore, bless him.  Last night was better but not much.  My throat hurts too and have a muzzy, sinus blocked, sleep deprived head.  I’m not a fan of summer.

It’s a tricky time of year.  We could do with school holidays starting now, with the necessary change in routine Jack being about brings, the hiatus from home ed activities and other clubs and ideally a prolonged break away.  We could down tools and have a break at home but in reality I know that it would lead to too long a break and cause more problems in the long run than it solves in the short term.  Voice of experience here!  The ideal would be a half way house, that Sam would get completely engaged in a project of his own interest and we’d just go with that.  But he’s completely unmotivated.

We’ll muddle through, we always do.  Hopefully a few weeks of a few trips away from home will help rejuvenate us (assuming of course plans aren’t scuppered by rail strike). Looking for positives I don’t get a crisis of confidence any more.  I know full well that it is external factors upsetting our balance and by September we’ll be cruising again.  I also know what doesn’t work for us when we hit this block (well lots of things that don’t work, I’m sure there are more to discover) and am getting better at finding what does.

General grumble aside, the days aren’t a total right off.  There are always rays of sunshine.

Sam has spent a lot of time this last week or so on live Mathletics.  In the past he has always stuck to the first couple of levels which were well with in his comfort zone.  He has however with encouragement gone up to level 3 which is probably about right – 3/4 being his level.  Today he has been playing level 5 and actually doing a very competent job.  But it was the change in attitude from a year ago or even a month that astounded me.  He tells me that he’s addicted to level 5 as it is “a proper challenge and sometimes he even gets two wrong and it is not like level 2 where he only makes mistakes from trying to type too fast!” Wonder where my little perfectionist who would wobble and strop when he didn’t get 100% and refuse to try again went?

I’m doing a FutureLearn course on Propaganda and Ideology which is really interesting.  Motivated by that and current politics I dug out a book on Human Rights I’d bought a while ago.  It’s a real beauty, covers the articles of the UN Declaration of Human Rights as a picture book illustrated by famous illustrators.  Gave rise to lots of discussion.  Will hopefully find the motivation to follow up (I’ve put a post full of links on the FB page if anyone is interested).

20150519_50 20150519_52 20150519_53 20150519_55Thought this one was worth noting.20150519_54

We’ve also been doing some more hands on maths but the camera appears to have gone awol (presumably it is in Jack’s room) so something to come back to.  A bit of charity shop, skate park, seeing Grandad pottering.  I’ve tried to interest him in some computer programming with only limited success.  We continue on the Rainforest reading.

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Politics, Pavement Painting, Passion fruit and Pools

Been a much needed at home few days.  Hayfever is kicking in and the boy is struggling with mornings and evenings which causes all sorts of problems.  Change of routine needed I think, I’d hoped to make it to June without having to slip into summer mode but not looking likely.

Days blur a bit so two days in one.

Politics have obviously been on the agenda.  We’ve read through the wonderful Who’s In Charge.  I had the shocking realisation that I bought it last General Election for Jack and by the time the next election rolls around he’ll be eligible to vote!  Where does time go?

We looked at manifestos and party political broadcasts.

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And wrote their own (Jack wanted a go when he got home)20150508_20We’ve done lots more work from the create your own country book we started a couple of weeks ago.  The end result is our United States of Smiley Faces Factfile.  Fabulous project.  Sam was also very taken with the notion of Cyber Yugoslavia.

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Sam read The Accidental Prime Minister.  Lots of discussions have been had; suffragettes, secret ballots, class systems, feudalism, Peasants Revolt, Marie Antoinette, immigration, racism, slavery and so on…  We’ve been and voted (well I did) and watched a lot of news coverage.

Art this week was The Star by Degas.  We read this lovely picture book that tells the story of the life of Anna Pavlova illustrated by Degas’ artwork.

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Then using an activity from My Art Book we had a go at pavement painting.

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Ours didn’t look like theirs 😀  It was still drying at this point did come up really white.  The paint is cornflour, water and food colouring.

20150508_220150508_4Since the chalks were out the rest of the garden got decorated too.

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Rainforest project went on the back burner really but we did manage a fruit salad made from ingredients grown in rainforest regions.  We kept the head of the pineapple to plant.

20150508_14 20150508_16Finally we’ve managed to scratch out some time for regular swimming again 🙂

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The United States of Smiley Faces

20150428_2By the end of last week it was evident that Sam was ready to return to a bit more structure.  It is hard to explain it but without it he gets a bit out of sorts, mood is quicker to rise to temper or tears and although he’s doing exactly what he wants most of the time he is less happy than when I’m there getting him involved in other stuff.

So we were back to our core work.  English was handwriting, Writing With Ease and grammar.

Latin, he’s building up his word base.  I found Minimus as part of our big tidy up, may give that another go soon for a change.  Found out they publish some books like Asterix and Cat in the Hat in Latin so building a wishlist.

Spanish, as we’ve not done Duolingo for a month strength bars had faded so it was back to basics (for me too).

Maths we are not following a curriculum this term and focusing on times tables as a confidence boost.  He did some Timez Attack, I upgraded it to the paid account over Easter after months of pestering and he loves it as a game rather than work.  They do 20% HE discount if you email and ask.  We then played Dude Dice and some of the bump games from here which were great fun, particularly as my Dad happened to be here so we had a third player which probably added to the ‘bumping’ and the fun.

The weather is supposed to be iffy this week so we took our opportunity mid morning when the sun was out for a trip to the park.  We’ve 3 nice parks all in easy walk of the house and all with something a bit different to offer.  Very lucky!

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We also started investigating this book.

20150428_3Bought as a bit of a punt as a potentially fun way to look a bit at politics in the run up to the election.  Generally not fans of anything too gimicky or that tries to read too chatty (HATE the ‘for dummies’ books and SotW for these reasons). This though is good, so good Pete wanted to join in.

So far he’s claimed his land (our living room), named his country ‘United States of Smiley Faces’ and designed a flag.

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Houses of Parliament

Yesterday was one of those remember for a long time/for ever trips.

Pottered up to London for a stroll on Southbank, coffee in the shadow of Westminster Abbey and then an educational visit to Parliament.

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We toured Houses of Commons and Lords and sat in the galleries while they were in session, saw the old parts where the court sat that sentenced Charles the 1st, stopped in Central Lobby a few times which was amazing!

We spotted some famous faces such as Floella Benjamin in the Lords.  The most famous person we saw though would happen to be my least favourite politician ever – Ed Balls!  Unfortunately I was too busy worrying about getting on the escalator (bit of a phobia of down escalators usually avoid at all costs, I can just about cope if no one is behind me and I don’t feel rushed and who was behind me but Ed Balls!) to turn round and kick him in the shin.

Photos not allowed not surprisingly in main area.  But here’s one of the old hall.

20150324_8After the tours we did a voting workshop, which turned out to be a lot more relaxed and fun than anticipated.

20150324_9 20150324_10We then had a question and answer session with my local MP.  I actually like her a lot more now as she coped valiantly with the fact that a lot of the kids lived out of constituency and didn’t know or care who she was, she instead got to listen to a story about cats pooing on someone’s lawn but it was okay as the owners moved a few weeks ago so they don’t need the MP to go and talk to them anymore.  Then it just degenerated into what the kids would do in power, lots of very worthy suggestions and lots of discussion on the practicalities of giving everyone a hamster!

They also supplied us with a load of fabulous free resources.

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I’d worked myself up into a state of worry the day before most unlike me.  In the end my worry over the number of adults going in and them even expecting us was put to rest early morning.  We ended up in the wrong place but that was their instructions and most groups do the same apparently!  All went fine until we got back to Fareham and I ended up with one vomiting child and one desperate for the toilet with no working toilets on the station – in my doomsday imaginings I’ll take that as an acceptable low point on an otherwise fantastic day.

Oh and here’s our Southbank sight of the day (love Southbank always throws up the weird and wonderful).  He was giving it everything, wiggling and singing and you can’t see the random plastic animals.

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