Flowing, Fizzing and France

Can tell I’m feeling more myself when the alliterative blog titles are back.

Weds was a rare day in (although one with deliveries and boiler servicing to work around) and a day for hands on learning.  We sped through Maths and Languages to get on to project work.

In science we were looking at lava flows.  We started by looking at viscosity by pouring a tablespoon each of various liquids onto paper and watching the flow and comparing the area they spread over.

20151111_41Contrast could be very clearly seen between water and treacle.  We talked about what type of volcano each would form.  Oh and discovered that you can write with treacle 🙂

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Sam made minibooks about different types of volcano and one to show how a caldera is formed.


It doesn’t matter how often we do this activity we can’t do volcanoes and not model the formation of a stratovolcano.  Start with a cone of playdough with a chamber and crater.  Set off a vinegar and baking soda explosion and cover the the tracks where the ‘lava’ runs with more playdough and repeat.  Great fun 🙂

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We finished up with modelling volcano plugs with cakes and chocolate.  Making a hole in the middle of a fairy cake and filling it with melted chocolate, then ‘eroding’ the cake (soft rock) when the plug had hardened.

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We’re at the perking up our Europe project stage by starting to try and look at a country a week.  This week is France.  We started with a lunch of French onion soup (no one will eat it besides me so while I love home made it just wasn’t worth the time this was a horrible packet mix to get Sam to taste it), baguette and brie.


Then we spend a ridiculous amount of time, effort and thought on constructing a model of the Eiffel Tower from spaghetti and marshmallows.



Intermittent Signal

Nearly there with the finding the mojo thing but not quite.  Mentally have come out the funk I hope but practical stuff like unreliable internet signal and putting my knee out have hampered.

We have made the best of things and spent a lot of time reading together which is nice,  Aesop’s Fables, Enid Blyton’s Nature Book, Children’s Bible, various non-fiction relating to volcanoes and I managed to find a book about the Gunpowder plot suitable for Sam (everything else seemed to be written for 5 yos).  He also read a book of folk tales to himself inspired by the story from Writing With Ease this week – he’s gone on to read a few books following on from these exerts now.  He tells me he’s reading Lord of the Flies too and enjoying it :/

Maths has moved on to addition and subtraction and we’ve had fun with some games.  Still using the printable activities and online versions of Mathletics hand in hand and it’s working well, the playful/puzzle element works well for Sam.

English, as mentioned he’s been inspired to read the book from this week’s WWE Andrew Lang’s The Crimson Fairy Book, not something I’d have expected to appeal to him so always pleased when he tries something different.  We’ve had fun recapping adjectives in grammar.  In creative writing he designed a kingdom.

20151107_1  Have managed some practical stuff.  Pressure and volcanoes in other words mentos and cheap cola and lemonade.  I managed to end up dripping :/  Volcano jam tarts, but we didn’t make the main vents big enough so they exploded out of the sides.20151104_9 20151104_4 20151104_520151104_11Weather has really not been good (which hasn’t helped the knee) so there has been kinect and table tennis to burn energy, with Grandad and Jack respectively.20151107_2 20151107_3

By the end of the week I was a bit stir crazy but couldn’t think of anywhere that was inside, I could sit down and we both fanicied.  Then inspiration struck.  I spent Friday morning sitting on a friend’s sofa with cups of tea while Sam played Lego and Magic with his friends.

Weekend was productive.  I managed some work, lots of Futurelearn study and a thorough house clean as well as time spent relaxing with boys.  Bit of a Dr Who marathon.

Sam caught up with Art and started our Cezanne study by looking at the ‘Portrait of the Artist’s Son’.

He then drew a picture of Pete. Sorry for bad photo.

20151107_4Sam is still loving DIY.org and made a character cake for his baker patch pretty much independently.

20151107_7 20151107_8 20151107_12 Then of course they were both on parade for Remembrance, first time in many years I haven’t been with them.


Missed lots like our Geography and RE projects but no photos to jog me and trying to recall too much for one post.  Lots of planning of days out and activities going on too.  Here’s too better internet signal and more regular blogging.


If ever Sam is put on the spot baking soda volcanoes are the activity of choice so we rounded of the term with some volcano fun.  Also I picked up a book from a charity shop that was begging to be turned into a project, full of information and hands on projects.  We didn’t do as much as I wanted and never even really made it to earthquakes but it ran it’s course and I’m trying hard at the recognising when enough is enough thing.

Where we went

Short of an actual volcano to visit we settled for a trip to the Earth galleries of the Natural History Museum.

Touching the Eath's inner core and saying ouch - a lot!
Touching the Eath’s inner core and saying ouch – a lot!


What we did

We made a lap book!  Have a bit of a love/hate relationship with them.  Hate the cutting out and the lack of engagement needed to complete many of them but fancied producing a finished product – nice to have something keepable sometimes.

I was going to get around some of the negatives by producing my own bits to stick in but ran out of steam. So it is a cobbled together mix of home produced stuff, a Hands of a Child download which I had forgotten about and really he’d outgrown and free printables from HomeSchoolShare

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We played about with thick pieces of card on oobleck, investigating the movement of tectonic plates and pushing the card together to see the plate boundaries.

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Home made jigsaw of the tectonic plates.


We investigated how magma forces it’s way through cracks to the surface.



Making a playdough volcano.  Exploding vinegar and baking powder in the crater.  Sticking on more playdough to cover where the ‘lava’ ran to show how the volcano changes shape over time.

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Volcano art – using pipettes to drop vinegar coloured with food colouring onto a tray of baking powder to make mini coloured explosions.

20140714_20Julius Caesar with his blood flowing out (he’s sideways if it helps).
Investigating new ways of making volcanoes.  A tray of baking powder mixed with a couple of sachets of koolaid (contains citric acid).


Spray with water.20140714_30I will never use vinegar and food colouring again.  This was so much easier and cleaner and nicer smelling.

Making the lapbook cover by dripping paint (lava) with pipettes.


We read

(pics are links to Amazon)







Can’t find the last one on Amazon but this is by the same author so may well be a reissue from the sound of it.


We watched

20140730_21We played



Cramming it all in

Felt a bit like we have been against the clock this week counting down to Jack finishing school yesterday.

After Monday’s get things done day, Tuesday was a day to catch up with friends.  This often goes by wayside in school holidays as more difficult to get about with a grumpy preteen in tow.  On the plus side I think we’ve passed the worst of it as preteen is generally happy and old enough to be trusted to do his own thing, plus I like his friends so if I’m taking Sam out for the day to meet friends, will just take preteens enmass – less trouble to take 2 or 3 than 1.

Anyway back to Tuesday and we had a pleasant morning drinking coffee, gossiping and playing iPad at a friend’s before meeting another friend at the Dockyard for picnic and Action Stations.  Think we’ve long since exhausted any educational benefit but to the boys it is a large playground and they love it.

Wednesday we rounded off our Volcano project with a trip to the Earth galleries at the Natural History Museum.

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One of the things I love most about visiting London is all the discussion and debate that arises, can barely walk 10 yards in London without coming across something interesting and if we can we always walk or bus if possible so we can see stuff.  Weds had us walking an hour through Belgravia looking at the big houses, landscaped squares, playing spot the embassy and discussing the potential pitfalls of socialism and why communist systems haven’t really worked.  Should have only taken half hour but I got distracted by Sam explaining how he would radically reshape the political systems of this world by dissolving all country boundaries and having a large, central, elected, representative council to make decisions.  Bit of a radical socialist my younger son!

Did have a laugh on the way there.  I was reading about volcanoes and obsidian came up, so I asked Sam if he knew that volcanoes made obsidian.  His answer was ‘yes, of course’ followed by explanation on the use of obsidian in Aztec culture.  The lady he was sitting next to sat there looking at him open mouthed  😀

Thursday we had a group trip to a local church where they have a recently reconditioned organ that had been played by Handel.

Information about the church.

Was a lovely trip, opportunity to do something different.

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They also had a chance to go inside the organ to see all the pipework.

Friday, we worked on Sam’s volcano lapbook before he went to a friend’s house and I took the opportunity to crack on with the big end of year clear out.  Far from tidy yet.

Wonderwoman mode (minus a few brain cells)

Today has been fantastically productive day.

I have –

    • Made vats of jelly for my Guides to play Mr Plod the Policeman.  With lots of cleaning up after I stupidly washed and reused the cups from last week’s water session, which were full of needle holes! Took me longer than it should to work out where all the spillage was coming from.


  • Drew and painted an owl for ‘pin the beak on the…’
  • Dealt with 100 queries from Guide parents.  Well okay exaggeration but my phone has been none stop today.
  • Printed off a gazillion forms for Guides.
  • Made a demonstration volcano for Sam to see how lava forces it’s way up via cracks.20140714_18
  • Did some volcano art – squeezing droppers of coloured vinegar on a tray of baking soda.  It is the assignation of Julius Caesar apparently.20140714_20 20140714_22
  • And then experimented with making volcanoes from koolaid, baking powder and water – definitely the way of the future.  They worked really well, no smell of vinegar (cherries instead) and pick a red one and no need for food colouring. 20140714_27 20140714_30 20140714_3920140714_40
  •  Then he had great fun mixing it all together and I had a big mess to clear up again 🙂
  • I booked his Art Award sessions for Sept.  More on that later in the week.
  • I booked tickets for Matisse exhibition at the Tate after a lot of chasing on home ed rates.
  • I booked tickets to go the Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story exhibition at the NHM.  No chasing on rates this time.  Simple phone call was all it took to get schools rate.  Even had all my details from the last time I booked an exhibition – 7 years ago!
  • I booked a trip up the Spinnaker for the home ed group.
  • After a lot of tooing and froing I also provisionally pencilled in a workshop at SEARCH.  Also on Britain’s prehistory.
  • Researched a few more trip options for the Prehistoric Britain project.
  • Tracked down links and ordered some free resources for farming/safety projects.
  • Got sucked into lapbooking with Sam for his volcano project.
  • Made arrangements to catch up with friends tomorrow.

In planning and clean up mode.  Jack finishes lunch time on Friday 🙂

20140714_43While I was sorting Guide paperwork Sam turned his bed into a boat.  The paper is an anchor.


Wading through Oobleck

Probably best sums up yesterday 😉

We got through ‘the essentials’ in the morning but only just (usually finished around 10.30).  There was a lot of procrastinating from both of us.  Work wasn’t difficult, no upsets, just on a go slow and felt like wading through oobleck.

Afternoon was a real wading through oobleck experience – trail from the conservatory to the kitchen.

We started watching by watching the volcano episode of Earth, Power of the Planets 

Then we moved on to playing with thick card (tectonic plates) on oobleck (magma) and seeing how as the card was pulled apart the oobleck moved up in between, and how when the card was wet and you pushed them together the card folded and made ‘mountains’.

And then there was mess making 🙂



We followed up by making a jigsaw of the tectonic plates