Home is Good

Had a pleasant day at home today.

Despite having to wake Sam his core work happened very quickly and efficiently.  Found an area of maths I thought he’d understood which he obviously hasn’t but this being HE we’ll just have another look tomorrow and if that doesn’t work we’ll leave it a week and try again and if that doesn’t work his brain isn’t ready to grasp it.  We’ll leave alone for a while and come back to it at some point, probably to find that by then he has processed and knows it.

After the core work we went to have a look at our pit trap from last night.  It was empty but Sam had a bit of a bug hunt.

20150611_4 20150611_5 We found some blackberry flowers and start of berries.20150611_6 20150611_7

Sam’s friend then showed up for some Xbox time and I caught up on some housework which had slipped while I’ve not felt well.

As we were eating lunch more friends showed up for Spanish.  So more chat, play and Spanish tutorial.

After Spanish when everone had left we tried to capitalise on the strength of the sun and build a solar oven.

It’s a shoebox lines with black paper sitting in at larger box packed with newspaper.  The flaps of the box are cut narrower before being taped into place.  Once the food was added we taped clingfilm over the top.  We rested an old picture frame with foil around it to reflect more sun into the box.

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We tried baking cakes.  Limited success.  They definitely rose and started cooking but then I think the sun moved.  I think we needed to start earlier and site the oven in a better spot.

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Sam spent some time trying to set fire to a piece of paper using a magnifying glass, but fortunately lost interest.

18 months after first getting it I finally (with not a little difficulty in the hole making department) set up the swing ball.  For Jack to spend an hour trying to kill me with it!  The boy is lethal.

20150611_14 I had put some of the cakes in the oven so the boys decorated them.

20150611_17Jack and I played cards, Sam and Pete played something to do with Dragons.  Then Sam built some foam gliders.  Plan is to take them to the field tomorrow.  I was trying to get him concentrating as he pokes out his tongue and looks cute.



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.


Filling in the Gaps

I have a habit, probably like most bloggers, of focusing on groups, trips and projects but so much more goes on. So here’s a brief summary of what else we managed this last week.


Mainly Mathletics, focusing on column addition and subtraction and some multiplication.  Supplemented with Timez Attack.


Handwriting was practised.  We use Getty Dubay.  Working on book C so starting to learn cursive.  Grammar was focusing on prefixes, in particular dis and un and how they change the word to mean the opposite.  We started Writing With Ease level 2 and he’s managing the leap up and dictation well.  Spellings never troubled him.


3 days of Duolingo practice and weekly Spanish tutorial with a native speaker.


Using “Latin’s Not So Tough” we started an level 1 which was far too easy, on level 2 now and introducing vocabulary.  Isn’t particularly inspiring but only takes a couple of minutes and the simplicity of it appeals to Sam.  Won’t turn him into a fluent Latin speaker/reader but we’ll keep plodding through as long as he’s happy as like the idea of a bit of basic Latin to support English and Spanish.  He is already spotting similarities.


We read through our science book on Monday to take us up to where we needed to be for Tuesday’s Science club.  It turns out I don’t really understand Electricity so well.  I’ve bought a dreaded lapbook that we’ll hopefully work through this week and next to help both of our understanding.  One of the big questions about home ed is what happens when you don’t know something – well this – you find out.  I identified my understanding was lacking so researched and found a resource that I think will give us both a better grasp of it.

At group we looked at electrolysis and circuit diagrams.  Made different circuits and investigated the effects on a bulbs brightness from different numbers of batteries and bulbs.  We also made our own switches.

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Friends round for Science and a play on Tues, off to another friend’s for the afternoon and then Cubs.  Weds was a group trip.  Thurs had friends for Spanish.  Friday was a play in the park with other home ed families while we failed to see the eclipse.  Love watching how good he is with younger kids and then he got to make a new friend as an old friend’s brother has joined the local home ed ranks.



I often cite flexibility as my favourite thing about home education.  Being able to retreat under a blanket on the sofa to watch documentaries when laden with germs, being able to go out at a moments notice to enjoy a rare sunny day, or studying by reading books on the train or bus on our way to a museum or afternoon with friends are my favourite things about home ed.

However, home ed also requires flexibility from our side too.  Best laid plans … and all that!  Been a week for having to change plans at short notice.  Luckily, we’re good at rolling with it by now.

Tuesday, our arrangements to meet friends at a museum were torpedoed by toothache (not ours fortunately).  We decided to save the Portsmouth Museum for another day and go to Fareham. All the local museums have WW1 exhibitions at the moment.

A look at the museum exhibition, a bit of spending of birthday money, a search of charity shops for rucksacks for the Rucksack Project and posh tea and cake, made a dud day into a lovely one.


He can’t look happy in any photo to do with the war.  It isn’t right apparently! 20141120_29


He actually wanted one of these balls as his main Christmas present.  I persuaded him to get one with his birthday money and rethink that (£1.50 from Wilkos 🙂 ).


Sugar tongs were a hit.  Cup of tea and Victoria sponge – ultimate treat 🙂20141120_3

Weds, I was caught on the hop when nipping to make lunch between Art and Spanish I found a text saying Spanish tutor couldn’t make it.  As all children were there we winged it.  Found out the last thing they had covered was clothes so got them to make paper dolls and label the clothes and colours in Spanish (we had dictionaries to help the adults not that the children needed them).  Then made Spanish Christmas cards for their lovely tutor.

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Today went exactly to plan (so far) which is a bit of a relief ;).

Languages 14/15

Another one that you get asked how you teach a lot.  For us the answer is finding decent resources and/or a tutor/native speaker.


We have a weekly, term time Spanish class.  By coming together with a small group 3/4 children they get the experience of being taught together, plus the motivation and enjoyment of working together.  But the group is small enough that they get a lot of individual attention and it is shaped to fit them.  As parents we get to split the cost!

Deciding that we needed some extra practice I spent lots of time last year dabbling with various online games/courses some free, some paid to supplement.  In the end I think Duolingo is the best one for us.  So we will get in as much practice there as we can.


This is one we are just playing with really.  I think a bit of basic knowledge of Latin helps with the understanding of English.  Plus we spend a lot of time looking at Ancient times…

We have been working on Latin’s Not So Tough.  It is a bit (actually a lot) slow and plodding but that suits us.  We’ll carry on plodding through for another year I think before we give Minimus another shot.

Cambridgeshire and Onomatopoeia

Geography group moves on to Cambridgeshire, home of RAF Duxford, one on the first RAF bases in Britain.  So with the sun shining we made paper aeroplanes using some of the designs from this site

…then the kids all wandered off for 10 minutes while the adults got increasingly frustrated over some of the more complicated models ;)…

…then it was down to the park to test them.  Some worked really well 🙂

Gosport-20140312-01141  Gosport-20140312-01140

After a play in the park and lunch it was English and a look at onomatopoeia.

We brainstormed some examples and then had a go at drawing word pictures inspired by some of the words.

20140312_3Then Spanish and time to play, lovely day 🙂


Branching Out

It has been a week of new group activities.

Following last week’s false start we began our first group Geography and Creative Writing ‘classes’ on Wednesday.  We have been doing a group Spanish class every Weds with a tutor and this is an expansion of that with the same kids.  Went well, we have five children a pretty eclectic mix but they all worked and played well together.  They cross paths away from here but not much so it was nice to see them all rubbing along nicely.

We are focussing on England in Geography so we began with an introduction to the UK.

Found and coloured it on a world map

20140161And then on a map of Europe

20140162Then we looked at a colouring map of the UK, talked about, identified and coloured some of the places they’d been.

20140163We rounded up Geography by making mini-books about where they live.

20140160Time for lunch and a play before Creative Writing.  Difficult to know how to pitch this one yet as some of the children are only just turning 7.  So we started simple with a fill in the blanks poem about Mum.  Quite like the poem even if it is a bit saccharine.  Was a right faff to anglicise it.  Think I need to get the writers of the family working on one for AV.

20140164  Then after a short break it was time for the tutor to take over for Spanish.

It was a long day and the children did really well over a long period, sure there will be off days but really happy with how it went.

Thursday, we did our work and went over to the new board game in Portsmouth.  Think I may have enjoyed myself more than Sam, I love playing games 😉 I did get in a right muddle playing a 3 player game with two Sam’s though!  Due to the day and the venue (it’s a fairly long way to go) I think we’ll only be occasional attendees.  But we enjoyed ourselves and when we’re free and I can tie it into other things over the harbour, to help offset time and cost, we’ll definitely be back.


Spanish and Stuff

We are just coming out of what I think of a bit as the wilderness years. The final year or so of Jack being home when his dog phobia was at it’s height making it difficult to go places and the fact that he’d decided that apart from the odd exception he wasn’t keen on home educated children (boys his age anyway of which we didn’t encounter many, and there was only so long a 10yo boy can play with 7yo girls) and refused to go to groups and the first year he was in school when I felt a bit lost, constrained a bit by school events and when I started to look about for stuff that Sam and I wanted to go to and found a big fat zilch.

Anyway we are definitely coming out of that phase.  Taken some effort but building up nice groups around us.

We have a weekly Spanish class now, before it started the only person coming that I knew was one with a 6yo girl, but it just seems to be gelling well.  Well all the mums get on – the kids are busy with the tutor.  I back myself to be able to cover most things (or assist in research) educationally wise but languages and music are plaes I will buy in support.  Ali who teaches them used to help me at Rainbows and not only is she brilliant with the kids she is also happy to be very flexible (and it works both ways) so everyone happy there.

Tuesdays we have started meeting friends round about the local area for walk and a play.  All very relaxed – I’ll be here if anyone wants to come thing, usually after we have finished ‘work’ for the day.  Few conker collecting trips and a very nice sunshine walk on the beach.

All good 🙂