Keep Calm and Carry On

Considering Sam and I have been really under the weather this week with colds, and in my case a humdinger of a sinus headache, we’ve been incredibly productive.
Maths has been fractions and English poetry.
We’ve read loads and caught up a bit with History and Geography that we’ve got behind on.
Science we’ve moved on to the human body. I used the fact that we were looking at breathing to get started with some breathing exercises we’ve been given to help Sam manage his asthma better. We’ve a ridiculously expensive set of horns from a therapy place (sure I could have bought it all from the party section of Wilkos much cheaper) so determined that must get money’s worth.

We’ve also looked at the skeleton and labelled some bones.Tuesday saw us at our Citizenship group where we wer looking at designing communities for inclusion.  The session finished off with them designing a home ed commune. Not sure they applied the spirit of what we’d been looking at to this one but they had great fun doing it.

Weds, Sam opted to stay home while I went to home ed group with out him (I had planned the activity so had to go). Was a very calm, chilled session. Sam made himself a paracord bracelet when I got home (I won’t say how many I’ve made the last few days, very addictive).
Thursday afternoon was spent playing games and messing about with my Dad before a bit of a stressful evening at a 6th Form Open Evening with Jack. Bit stressful in own right but they dug up a WW2 bomb on the local airfield which closed roads and combined with rush hour and the local firework display result in complete melt down of the local traffic situation meaning we lost Pete for hours which worried Sam who had stayed at home since we expected Pete any minute.  I was the awful parent who had to run out of meeting to take a phone call!

We’ve finally started reading through this one to go with Sam’s breathing exercises. He’s not happy to hve Anthem for Doomed Youth on his birthday 😀

Diffusion and Independence

Thursday and Friday were perfect home ed days, the ones where it all feels smooth, productive and almost effortless. We’ve been struggling to get that stride going this year but appear to be getting over the ‘back to school’ bugs at last and settling in to routines.
When I’d worked out our planner for the week I had forgotten about the group I run for younger home ed kids on the Friday, which meant getting it all done was always a stretch. 
Thurs morning went very efficiently though and the afternoon was given over to practical science and chatting to Grandad.
We made slides from cheek scrapings and onion cells.  Then set up some diffusion experiments. Gummy bears in different solutions and a bag of flour in an iodine solution. Done them all but they are good to repeat and the fact that the iodine worked really well last time and hasn’t this has given rise to discussion of why not and how some materials let things through and not others.
Then the ultimate diffusion activity – waterbeads. We spent the rest of the afternoon with me reading aloud while he played with them. They are now in the conservatory making Jack late for things as he finds it impossible not to stop and play with them as he passes.  Sam decided rather than finish the last bits of the week’s work off on Friday afternoon he would take himself off to the library to do some on Friday morning while I was at home ed group. He did a few bits in the library before popping to shops and then coming to check on me and taking himself off to finish off the rest over a smoothie in Costa. When you are home educating an 8 yo that you can’t even walk away from to put the washing out because that is all they take to lose concentration people with older kids tells you it gets to this point that you can set work and they do it and you don’t really believe them.

The examples for Friday’s home ed group.

Getting to Grips

New challenges are coming thick and fast. On Monday he starts online tutorials so a good period of time on Thurs was given over to making sure we have everything installed and can working and logging in to a trial lesson (one to check we could log in!) He’s quite excited and looking forward to it so touch wood it might well be something we explore more of in future.

Thursday was mainly a quiet day at home. Lots of time spent reading aloud from Oliver Twist. The problem with a more textbook focussed, structured way of working is it’s not so interesting to blog about.

There was maths, I had a reminder that mistakes need to be very sensitively dealt with! Tough one! Moving on to English and I let him chose his own writing assignment based on the topic of ‘hunger’. He chose to write a report explaining what a Trash Cafe is and why he thinks they are a good idea. We’re yet to make it to our local one (run by a local home eder) but both taken with the idea. We’ll manage it one day. Science was planning an investigation and geography was some mapping work on Massachuessetts. Also started our first History Pocket looking at the Colonial America.

Friday was much more hands on. After maths and some spelling work we did the science investigation that he planned yesterday. It was looking at how temperature effected the amount of salt that could be dissolved in water but really the point was the process of investigation (importance of control variables, fair test etc).
Then we did some marbling. Inks were a bit rubbish so not pleased with result but he enjoyed the process. Then we tried this and failed completely.

We still had quite a bit to do but I was feeling fidgetty and given the choice Sam opted for having some ‘homework’ for the weekend and so we went out. Picked up a magazine each and read them over lunch in Costa before a quick trip the local gallery for their Royal Navy in the time of Jane Austen exhibition. Was a good choice as a lovely few hours.

New Routines

It’s been a hugely busy few days. We’re getting used to new materials and new styles of working. Definitely can feel the increase in structure and amount of writing, he’s got a good attitude though and I’m pleased and impressed with what he’s managed.

At the weekend we finally managed to put our flat traveller through the laminator and into the post.And took our visiting one down the beach.We are into researching things and answering textbook questions in exercise books. 
In English we’ve been looking at extracts from Oliver Twist and non fiction works on hunger. Science we’ve been looking at how to think and investigate scientifically. I messed up and we may have had a false start and done some work on cells (which we’ll get to properly in a few weeks).
Maths it’s the usual revision of place value and addition. History we’ve been looking at early humans in Britain as part of a brief pre 1066 overview.Project wise we are looking at Maine and reading about lobsters and lumber. Tues morning saw us at our new group for the first in a 6 week block of Lego Mindstorms sessions. Sam enjoyed it. I had to leave the room as struggled with the way it was presented. Hopefully teething issues though. In contrast the lady providing our Saxon archaeology workshop this afternoon was excellent, so good with them. Definitely need to do more. We’ve also been reading lots – an Anglo Saxon non-fiction book, an adaption of Beowulf by Rosemary Sutcliffe (love Sutcliffe’s books for bringing history to life) and Oliver Twist.  Started watching In Search of the Dark Ages by a very young Michael Wood. From the clothes and hair I doubt I could have been much more than 5 when it was filmed.

 

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.

Maths

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.

English

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.

Science

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).

Languages

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.

History

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.

Geography

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.

Computing

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.

Art

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.

Citizenship

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.

Boiling Alive

Is how I feel, pretty much.

On the home ed front things are going well. I have planned well and keeping up with what little I’ve allocated us isn’t proving hard.

Yesterday we’d easily finished by 11 so heading in to town, picked up lunch and a friend’s daughter and went over to laser quest. Despite the heat 18 children went in and had the usual fun. My plan on hiding out in the shade didn’t quite work out thanks to a cute 5yo who wanted to play – kickboxing in that heat was a mistake though.

Could have spent day on the top deck of the ferry, was nice and breezy. Sam had sun tan lotion in the eye hence the squint.

 Today started early as I went to view a hall with a friend for a group activity. Sam stayed home and got on with work. When I got back all that was needed was grammar, writing, science and some history reading.  
Telephones and telegraphs were the focus of science.
Sam made a circuit so we could do morse code with a bulb.
After that Sam experimented with the electical bits for a couple of hours with a quick detour into researching answers to questions I couldn’t answer.
At some point he decided to show me what a peg blutacked on to a motor felt like against your head. Unfortunately I had my back to him when I said yes to ‘can I show you something?’ so couldn’t point out the flaw with that. He quickly realised the problem and there was a lot of apologising as he spent 20 mins helping remove lots of knots, blutack and a motor from my hair. It was scissors job in the end.  Had to see funny side.

Catapults

We had a catapult building day at our home ed group today.  After a morning spent constructing examples. 
We demonstrated the spring action by bouncing a ball on a parachute.
They then designed, refined and did 3 tests on the catapult. Frame of the session was based on this resource.
Finally with the help of an exercise band they fired waterbombs at me.

Games

When Pete asked Sam if he’d been playing games all day, he said yes, dumping me in it somewhat. He did clarify he’d been playing the metaphorical Game of Life, which made me laugh.  I’d hope life feels more like a game than work anyway.

This morning I let Sam sleep in.  Heat is not our friend he was pathering about until gone 1 am when he went to sleep in our bed, coincidentally helping end my sleep for the night (been a very long day!)  When he got up he did his maths and accidentally tomorrow’s too.  The extra activity involved laying a treasure hunt for Jack, unfortunately he told him the prize was an ice lolly which made the steps between start and freezer a bit pointless 😀 English, Latin and Science were polished off too.

Then we did some science. Sam made an arch dam.

We looked at water pressure, comparing the outflow from holes positioned at different heights. A small water fight followed.

Final bit of science was investigating tsunamis. The afternoon was a lovely home ed group session. I’d set up some story telling props to make. We’d made versions at home before though so Sam happily settled for an afternoon of comic strip drawing, some collaboratively before playing bulldog outside.

Finally at home it was games time. I missed the photo before the game started. He’d spent about 1/2 hr setting it up as a pretty faithful map of 1939 pre-WW2 Europe.

Bonds

I didn’t have the best morning! I’d somehow forgot to checkout when I amended my Tesco order last night meaning they only showed up with part of the order. Plus I have a seriously manky painful toe which is greatly impeding mobility and seems to act as a magnet for things to fall on.
Sam was a star though, he managed to do all his work, go to the shop for me and take over tidying the conservatory when I dropped marbles everywhere (they hit bad toe before going everywhere of course!).
The afternoon was our science group, thanks to trips and holidays the award they are looking at has gone on the back burner and all about fun.

Today we looked at chemical bonds and made plastic out of milk and vinegar.
Then good old oobleck which we used for two art activities; as a solid to paint on and a liquid to paint with (mixed with food colouring). All got very messy.  Both boys ended up in the bath (poor Jack bumped into the shed on his way home – oops).

 

Home Days

We’ve had a quiet few days at home ready for a busy second half of the week.
We’d expected a new home educator around yesterday but something came up last minute so Sam played with the Lego we’d got out and I booked home ed trips for Sep 🙂
Today I decided to be organised and get the stuff ready for science first thing before Sam was up properly as we’re reaching drifting stage with science, losing the hands on move.
With it set up we had fun with what we did; made canal locks in a tin and made a rubber duck sail through, tested materials to see if they were waterproof and made a hovercraft.
Then we spent a long time playing air hockey with the hovercraft 🙂
Taking it easy sort of day.