Not really sure where this last week has gone. It has not been either restful or productive. One to write off.
Generally lost my mojo and feeling irritated with the world.  Actually not the world, just certain aspects of dealing with Home ed group stuff. 
Work hasn’t gone smoothly, struggled with motivation and found a big problem that can only be blamed on me which, while I think the worst is fixed now, didn’t help mood.

What have we done?

We wrapped up our human body project by reading about death and thinking how evolution might take humans in future.
We built Kinect bridges with friends.
We went in to town to run errands.

There has been baking.  It was my birthday mid week so Sam made a cake.

Lots and lots of DS play after he bought a strategy game for it.
New How It Works Magazine has been devoured and discussed.
There was an animal handling session at the local home ed group.
An afternoon with grandad.

Plus some slumped in front of the tv time watching documentaries about castles and archaeology.

Puberty is Done!

Part of me would love to completely unschool I completely and utterly embrace the idea that children learn what they are interested in.  However, ignoring the fact that both Sam and I are creatures of habit and life is a lot happier when we have a ood routine, I major reason for not totally embracing the whole unschooling thing is a lack of faith they will learn everything they need to this way and a feeling that waiting for children to show an interest is limiting to them.  Sam has embraced many things that aren’t his natural interests and he probably wouldn’t have got to on his own but by presenting something to him in the right way to grab his attention it has sunk in.
The reason for this is that I have been waiting for ever for Sam to ask ‘those questions’ I don’t believe in the birds and the bees talk I believe in answering questions when asked to the level they can understand and need to know.  Only child number 2 has been flatly refusing to ask questions about things he probably needs the answer too in the not too distant future.
Hence opting to do a human body project for science this year as a route in.  Normally I let Sam choose the projects but I felt this one needed doing.
So we’ve read books and answered questions from scientific point. I expect more questions but at least it is now planted in his mind.  This is the book we have – highly recommend – they have a girls version too.
Dealing with reproduction from a scientific perspective meant that we spent a lot of time discussing dominant and recessive genes.  I have a lot of recessive genes and Sam has a lot of dominant ones! 
I learned the name for the lump some people have on their ear – it is called Darwin’s Ear Point. I love how much HE teaches me. Sorry for sideways photo.

In a not really anything to do with home ed more a pointless pottering thing to do, we filled a balloon with water beads.  It is great fun to squish. 


If I was off the boil yesterday today I didn’t reach simmering point.
Never mind!  We got through most of we wanted of a fashion.

Lots of interesting discussion as we were looking at diseases and medicine.  Love just sitting and talking days.  We covered the development of vaccines and penicillan. Talked about how cancer develops, how in spreads and why some are easier to treat and also why it seems much more prevalent now (better diagnosis and less things to kill you first).  We touched on HIV and I explained the whole moral panic of the 1980’s. Malaria and how it spreads.  Pandemics and inparticular the Spanish Flu of 1918 was of interest.  Slightly worried that I will find him awake at midnight stressing, never know with Sam but he’s currently on Plague Inc trying to set up his own pandemic.

We did revise a bit of basic first aid too.

After an early lunch we did Flip Out and wore him out.
At home we finshed off the puppets we were making to retell the Chinese Zodiac story and he did a short performance.  A case of lucky to get anything out of him. 


We were both out of sorts today.  Not sure what is up with Sam, emotions a bit close to the surface. I have an issue with my eye which is causing discomfort, headaches and knock on bad mood. I got as close to throwing an irrational strop at lunch time as I have been for years, I am pretty good at calmly going with the flow but today it was a bit much.  Lip wobbled but we had a break and carried on and had a nice afternoon.

Sam insisted all work must be done near the fire this morning. The prospect of a hands on maths lesson caused an emotional outburst, which since he usually loves that sort of thing suggests some bug is brewing. We simply swapped it for tomorrow’s worksheet based lesson.

Wsn’t the best day for a very hands on science project in hindsight but in the end fun was had.  We were looking at circulation.  He compared the colour of his hands after holding one up for a minute. We had a go at being a heart.  Seeing how many times we could transfer water from one bowl to the other in a minute.  Sam managed 20 ‘beats’, me a couple more, certainly not the 60 odd we aimed for. We made a model heart. Then blood, using white and red waterbeads as blood cells and pieces of red foam as platelets. We also read about the endocrine and urinary systems.  On the subject of how toxins are removed we made Sam’s hand sweat by taping a bag around it. A lot of the rest of the day was spent playing with the waterbeads.  They have been transferred to increasingly big containers as the day has gone on.  Bit worried they will have overflowed by morning.  I read aloud from “My Story: The Workhouse” while he played.  Sam and I can’t walk past the tub of beads without a play.  Jack spent a good while with them when he got home. We settled down for a rest and sewing/playing on the Kindle watched the discussion in the House of Commons about Trump.  Gave rise to interesting discussion and a laugh when he was asking Pete about Facism and said ‘an angry old man said’, which was all the description Pete needed to identify Dennis Skinner 🙂

As the syringes were out he fulfilled one of his recent ‘must do’ plans this evening by injecting an apple with water… and a banana and a pear and a grape and a potato and any other fruit an veg he could find.  Tesco came this morning so he was busy for some time!

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.


Burning Energy

It hit me yesterday that Sam had been in pjs (different ones, I did force him to wash sometimes) since Christmas Eve! As such it might be time to leave the house. Sudden mood to go geocaching struck, and friends were up for it too.
Unfortunately an hour or so after I’d finalised the arrangements to meet up, Sam got up looking full of cold and white as a sheet.  By half ten he was slumped over the table and it looked like plans would go out of the window and we’d be on the sofa for the rest of the day.
Thought we’d try a bit of science and see if that picked him up.  It did, amazing what a bit of setting fire to things can do 🙂
We were looking at nutrition and what we need/should eat.  Sam made an ‘eatwell’ plate and we did some reading. 

We also tested food for energy content.  Well we did a version shall we say.  It wasn’t a time to be rigorous on the fair test it was fun and an idea that we wanted.  Turns out finding foods that catch fire is surprisingly hard, cereals and rice cakes were the order. 
We put 20ml of water into the test tube and measured the temperature.  Put some food on a skewer and set it on fire. Held the test tube over the food for 90 secs or until the food burnt out and meaured the temperature change.  We tried for roughly same size pieces of food.  When we’d tested everything we could get to stay alight we ranked them by which had the biggest temperature rise and then compared them to the energy content and they tallied.

He had his spark back after that so lunch was rushed off and out we went.

3 caches looked for 3 found.  Was a lovely afternoon.  Been a couple of years since we’ve had a go but we have the bug again.

In the evenng a couple of boxes containing late Christmas presents showed up so Sam has been having a go with Qixels.  He’s been eyeing them up from adverts in the Beano for a while, I dismissed it as buying in to marketing hype but he was hugely excited and went to bed saying how much he liked them 🙂

A good day 🙂


Stimulating the Senses

Morning started with finishing off Sam’s patterns and algebra unit with a game of pairs.  Also the week of his Writing With Ease – although this week’s naration book has gone on to the kindle and he’s reading the series This is why I love using WWE he’s gone on to read so many books we’d never have encountered otherwise.

The rest of the day was dedicated to science as we had two week’s worth to cover and I may have got a but over enthusiastic with the planning so after a trip to the shop for supplies, post office to get last of Christmas posting done, a chapter of the History of India and lunch, we squished what we could into the afternoon.
Pretty much everything took so much longer than anticipated, even the reading as we got distracted by visual illusions.  But that was due to Sam’s enthusiasm so can’t complain.
The spoon trick to pick up the vibrations worked really, really well!

Showing an upside down image with the help of a magnifying glass.
Trying to see changes in pupils due to light/dark.
Testing range of vision
And looking through colour paddles
Identifying where sounds come from.
Hearing the vibrations come up the strings when the spoon is tapped.
Cup and string telephone.
Balance. Turns out standing on one leg on a cushion without a blindfold was hard enough.
Smell and taste tests
Trying to identify by touch through thick gloves.

Evening was spent writing Christmas cards, reading and drawing.

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. 

Brainy Boy

We’re definitely cocooning at the moment.  The big question on Sam’s lips all of the time is ‘are we going out tomorrow?’  He starts asking about tea time, has to check another few times before bed and then it is the first thing he asks when he gets up.

For me it’s more that I have so much to do at home that there are places and things I really want to do (and know Sam would enjoy once he was out) and no time to fit them in.  Need to get us out more, I suspect we’ll both feel better for it.  Need a proper big day out, a ride on a train.

Anyway at home we are getting jobs done. Yesterday we even managed an activity that has been on my mental todo list for at least 6 years!

Here is a bear practicing Latin.  He finished off the last of his multiplication and division unit. Come so far with this in the last 18 months I’m really pleased.


In science we moved on from nerves to the brain. This involved a lot of reading. I left him to the lift the flaps one on his own 🙂  The idea of right and left side of the brain having different skills interested him a lot.



Every now and again you spot an activity that you think – I must do that – one day…  The Ellen McHenry Brain Hat was one such, may have taken me over 6 years since first thinking it looked good but we got there in the end.


The other big activity of the day was a bit of long overdue art work.  Inspired by O’Keeffe’s bone landscapes.  We really need to pull together his Art Award stuff.  I think I am going to be sensible though and say we’ll do it over Christmas not get it done by Christmas.


  Here’s one last (very blurry) photo, from Saturday evening actually.  We attended the light switch on in town with friends.  I was sure there was a lantern parade so we hurriedly made some in the car on the 10 min ride there.  Of course we couldn’t find any parade when we got there so we held our own 🙂 Not the best parade ever but Vicki’s lit up hat made up for a lot 😉



Division, Nerves and Roblox

They were the themes of Tuesday.

Sam isn’t finding the maths we’re doing particularly easy but he’s working at it and doing really well at grasping the concepts.  Same can be said of the writing course we’re working through.  He’s never going to sit and write stories or poems for fun, but he’d made huge inroads into being able to structure, summarise and add description.  Generally on pleased mum here.

Besides the basics most of the morning went on Science.  We were looking at nerves.  We did some reading, tested reflexes and made a neuron. The greatest fun came in testing reaction times.  I dropped a ruler through his fingers for him to catch and we could measure how many centimetres it took.  Then we took a poster tube and taped a piece of card to the bottom so we had time when you could see the balls.  Then we dropped coloured balls down the tube with the idea that you caught green and blue and left pink and yellow.  Surpisingly tricky.

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After another episode of Empire over lunch, we did an activity from his Asia unit, looking at identifying locations of different countries.

The rest of the afternoon was spent making a game and then playing on Roblox while I worked.