It’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas

Drawing population graphs

I am cold and sparkly, the advent calendars are up and we spent this afternoon at the Dockyard’s Festival of Christmas, all big signs that it is nearly Christmas.

Thursday was a quiet day at home, productive too. Lots of reading done and jobs ticked off list. Nothing exciting done really though.

Today was a busy one. I had my under 10’s group in Fareham this morning so we were off there to get all glittery. Sam went Christmas shopping while I was there.
Then it was to Portsmouth to catch up with friends for our annual pilgrimage to the Festival of Christmas. Think this may well be last year as it gets worse every year and it was impossible to imagine how they can justify charging entrance any longer, on show was all the entertainment on offer out of the tavern. It was a pleasant enough afternoon though even if Sam did take one of his colour draining sick turns. We also have a fridgeful of nice cheese! 
Oscar’s sleeping over. They voluntarily took themselves to bed at 8.30 with books 😀

Online Advent Calendars

Sam has been asking if we can do the Norad advent calendar again this year. 
Reminded me I promised to share some of the online advent calendars I know. 
When Sam was younger I found we could pretty much cover everything with advent calendars. Found them perfect for helping maintain a feeling of ‘doing something’ and focus when excitement, a packed calendar and the inevitable seasonal bugs turn normal routines on their head. Or for those who could benefit from a spell of deschooling but don’t want to let go of all structure.

Haven’t found a good one of literacy but we have so many Christmas story  and poety books it’s always been easy to tick that box.

I’ve only include ones that look like they are up and working this year. Suspect more will come on line in the next week so worth watching Fb pages of sites of interest.


Primary Maths

Secondary Maths

Christmas Science hand on


RI usually do a video one, can’t find one for 2017 yet but looks like 2016 and 2015 still work.


Liverpool Museums



Project Britain – learn about Christmas in a different country everyday


Exploring Nature with Children – link takes you to supply list, calendar will be blog posts


Explore works from the Tate collections


This is an app , has a piece of classical music every day.


Norad advent calendar – games

Ones to Print

Random Acts of Kindness

I can’t miss these colouring ones as they have been such a big part of my life for years. Have to be a member now for them now. Activity Village colouring calendars.

Now Sam is 12

In a year’s time Sam will be a teenager! Find it very hard to imagine Sam as a teenager even now. Jack at 12 was very much on the cusp of teenagerdom, Sam is far too happy and mellow to feel teenager like.

Day has been a peaceful one. He’s been under the weather this weekend so when he preferred not to go to HE group this morning it seemed wise. We did send cake though and got a video rendition of Happy Birthday back 🙂

We spent the morning reading (3 out of 4 new books devoured!) and playing Pandemic board game.

Afternoon was about setting up gadgets. A new phone and a new laptop with a decent enough graphics card for the games he likes were the main presents. Pete and I had totally forgotten that Sam had a game that the old laptop hadn’t been able to play, Sam had obviously been brooding on it though as it was almost the first thing he said when he worked out what the box contained. The rest of the afternoon was spent failing to conquer Europe.
He’s just told us after a Subway and chocolate cake tea that he has had a very good day 😀 Lost track of the amount of times he has said thank you for the laptap. It’s about 5 times as much as we have ever spent on a present so not something he’d have dreamed of asking for. However, is something that I suspect will definitely get money’s worth from.

End of the Week

Work got left on Thurs morning in favour of colouring.


We did do some but not what was intended but hey ho it’s December and I’ve reached the don’t care phase.
Thurs afternoon was spent trampolining.  I had intended to do some mopping up of work when we got home but the journey took an hour instead of 20 mins and my back was killing after that length of car journey.  I don’t know what I’ve done but it is causing a huge amount of pain and hassle at the moment.  I can’t stand for more than an hour or sleep for more than 3.  Another 1/2 stone of weightloss to go before I go to doctor and demand they take me seriously.

Friday was our monthly under 10’s home ed group.  While I made snowmen, Sam went to get his Christmas shopping. I love the independence this time gives him, it’s a nice routine.


We had the Costa lunch we’d intended to have on Weds but didn’t since we had sick Jack.  Treat so I could indulge in a gingerbread latte 🙂  We walked over the station to meet FiL who is visiting for the weekend.


In the evening it was the local light switch on, when a good proportion of the village comes together for carols around the Christmas tree, there’s a market, reindeers and a live nativity, kids activities and lots of community groups and nice smelling food stuff. One of my high points of the year.

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It’s that time of year again. We can spend half the day on advent stuff.

This year we’ve moved our colouring in to book form and I have one too :). Can still download the pictures from Activity Village day by day.


We do have a soft spot fo online advent calendars though and there are some good ones below.


NRich Primary Maths Advent Calendar

NRich Secondary Maths Advent Calendar


London British Science Association

Royal Institution – new video every day based on thermodynamics

Complete a different Science themed activity every day


Liverpool Museums

Fitzwilliam Museum – Cambridge


Project Britain – learn about Christmas in differnt countries


26 Stories – not strictly an advent calendar but set up like one 26 Illustrated Christmas stories (for older children/adults)


Exploring Nature,


Shape – every day is an artwork based on a shape

For Fun


Crafting fun from Red Ted Art

Games every day from the wonderful Norad Santa tracker

Last but not least by any means (you can have no idea how much work goes in to this every year!) an advent colouring page and more every day from Activity Village


We’re also intending to do a reverse advent calendar where you pack an item a day for our local foodbank.

Can’t forget the chocolate! Homemade calendars still going strong. I need to source more Santas as Jack’s isn’t symmetrical and that upsets him.


P.S. We did do stuff on Tuesday! Proper work too of the making notes for a writing project and making a powerpoint presentation sort of work. The sort of thing even none home eders would look and think – that’s education.  Doesn’t lend itself nicely to blogging though.  Sam did bake biscuits though.



Thanksgiving Home Ed Group

Yesterday was our monthly social home ed group.  Work and bed (suffering from one of those colds where everything aches) have taken priority this week so all the prep I’d done beforehand was brainstorm and shop for two activities.  I hadn’t tested the activities or even opened the box to check that I had the right stuff.  Luckily it all came good in the end.

The younger children made Native American headdresses and had their face painted.  There were totem poles and dream catchers to make.  As usual Sam opted to sit with and draw all session.  I got to sit and make woven bead bracelets with the older children.  That was a huge hit with parents as well, quite a moorish activity.



If the adults were taken with the beadweaving then I think it was the edible teepees we did as a group that grabbed the children (and coated them in chocolate).



20161123_151303Lovely afternoon and I was tucked up in bed with cold and achy legs and a good book by 7pm.


Wednesday wasn’t the day I’d planned.  The intention had been to go to London to see the Colour and Vision exhibition at the NHM.  Been in the diary since August.  However with feeling under the weather I’d held off buying tickets until the day before.  With Jack ill though we waved the idea goodbye.  Sorry not to see exhibition but life is like that sometimes.  I think it was probably for the best for my health too as feel back on my feet now.  Will do the Natural History Museum in a couple of weeks I think anyway just to do the galleries as it’s been a while.

What we did instead was a bit of Maths, English, Latin and Spanish and then had a bit of fun with some Diwali activities.

We started of course with reading the story.  We have a lovely version from Barefoot Books that we’ve had since Jack was tiny and read many times over the years.

Years ago I bought a pack of Diwali activities for Rainbows thinking it was group size, which I suppose it was for a very small group – 6 of things.  I’d thrown it in the cupboard for us to use one day.  It wasn’t great, really poor pictures.  We did make some decorated elephants and coloured some masks.  I meant to do something with the masks but the day ran away.

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Sam drew a rangoli pattern on the path and we mixed up paints from food colouring, flour and water.  Last time we did this (well it was a young Jack) it was still greeting me on my front doorstep well over a year later so back garden this time.

20161102_220161102_3 20161102_5 20161102_6Sam decided that he wanted to use the rest of the paint up like Jackson Pollock.  Impressed he could remember the name as must be at least 2 years since we’ve touched on him, who was I to stand in the way of mess?
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As the sun was out we finally grabbed the opportunity to use some solar reactive paper that i have had in forever to make solar prints.  We used elephant and diya templates from the Diwali kit and some pebbles and leaves.

20161102_13 20161102_15 20161102_18Jack had perked up so in celebration of Bhaiya-Dooj, the fifth day of Diwali which is a celebration of siblings, they came up with recipes for the ‘perfect brother’.  Turns out they didn’t describe each other 😀

20161102_20Sam decorated the saltdough diya that he’d made the day before.  With lightsaber fights as you do.
20161102_19I then curled up with Jack to catch up on Class (Doctor Who spin off) and Sam played Roblox – new obsession.

In the evening he finally got around to opening the magazine that had come in the post.  I’d subscribed him to the How It Works magazine as part of an offer on Little Bird that I think was no cheaper than the publisher offer actually.  Bit of a punt, I’ve waved it in front of him a few times in Smiths thinking he’d love it, to be met with no interest.  Things arriving by post are different though.  Good call – he absolutely loved it.

20161102_25  Ended up coming to mine and Pete’s bed so he could keep asking questions and sharing facts long after I was drifting off.

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.

I really am! Have to love an Anne Shirley quote too.

The last day of October really was a good one too.  Determined to try to shake of the lethargy and start the half term off well I decided getting us out was the best option.  The weather obliged with a really warm sunny day.

The premise for getting out was the idea of an ‘Autumn story walk’.  The idea being that we’d go for a walk with the camera and take a few photos that we could use as prompts for a story or creative writing piece.

The walk didn’t start well when deciding I needed the toilet 1 minute before the bus was due, I thought better not risk it but I could last the 8 minute bus journey and there are public toilets right there.  Public toilets that were closed!  We pottered into the woods.  Not brave enough to use the bushes as too many dog walkers and children on INSET days and not enough foliag,e we went to the local hotel.  Toilets were locked though presumably to stop people like me walking in.  I was at the level that a coffee and hot chocolate were well worth the price of asking for the key by now.  Over 5 minutes later and a lot of loud throat clearing and wandering about into various rooms (some we probably shouldn’t have been in) and we had completely failed to locate another human being, nevermind one with a toilet key.  Bit panicky by now we abandoned the plan and ran (literally – I can when necessary) down the beach to the public toilets by the sailing club.

Feeling a lot happier about life now (well I was anyway) we hung out in the park where  Sam adopted a stray toddler for a while. Then we headed back for a lovely stroll through the wood.  The positive side of my earlier uncomfortable position is the day after Mr ‘I don’t like creative writing’ wrote a really lovely atmospheric description on an abandoned hotel in the woods.

20161031_36 20161031_38 20161031_41 20161031_42 20161031_43 20161031_45 20161031_48 20161031_53 20161031_55 20161031_56 20161031_57 20161031_60 20161031_62 20161031_65 20161031_71 20161031_73Being the last day of October was of course Halloween.  I’d invited friends who live in the centre of town to join us as it’s a nice area.  I’d meant to throw open a wider invitation but having retired to bed for several days the week before I just sort of never got around to it and arrangements were left very vague. In the end a couple of families joined us just for trick or treating which worked very nicely, no work for still sickly me and company for Sam.  One of the small downsides of HE is while they don’t exactly go short of friends you don’t have the same thing of friends being concentrated in a small local community like you do with school.

We spent the afternoon on some Halloween crafting and carving a new pumpkin after the first one went mouldy.  Plus a random detour to Bonfire Night poetry as I was doing some work while Sam crafted.

Once again it was a lovely evening out on the streets, lovely community feel to Halloween locally.  Jack even bothered to put on a mask to dish out our sweets at home.

Ended the day watching Scream with Jack, reliving my teenage years.

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String of pearls day

“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”
? L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

This is one of my favourite Anne quotes (there are many!) and a idea I completely subscribe to.  Our best days are full of little joys.  Yesterday was that sort of day.

A productive start meant everything of the ‘school work’ description was done by quarter past 10 so we had a day to fill.  The need for it to be a ‘recover from cold day’ meant there was no temptation to go far.  So we discussed our options which we narrowed down to

  1. a Winnie the Pooh themed baking session.  I’d discovered in the early hours of the morning it was Winnie the Pooh day and where as a walk and Pooh sticks would have been nice the cold hangover ruled it out.
  2. Computer focussed animation/coding sort of day
  3. Curl up in bed with book supply.

All had a lot going for them so we decided to just work down the list.  We had to go to the shop for ingredients so had a walk and a chat about lots of things, some important, most trivial quite surreal mind wandering drivel.  Seems our period of slight seclusion is over and Sam is keen to get back out socialising more so need to up my game there again.

A pleasant late morning/afternoon followed pottering in the kitchen, watching more Richard Hammond (run out of Blast Lab so back on Wild Weather), working on some of the animation course and making a stopframe motion video, (I got sent to clean the kitchen, know my place 😉  ), Scratch, computer play, family tea and an episode of People Like Us (some of it perhaps not entirely appropriate for Sam but hey ho), everyone else retired to bed about 7.30ish with books and I had a peaceful hour working before managing very early night with a book myself.

Dorset honey cake, honey flapjacks and Winnie, Piglet and Eeyore biscuits.
Dorset honey cake, honey flapjacks and Winnie, Piglet and Eeyore biscuits.

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BTW if any one is looking for a Chinese New Year craft can I recommend our toilet roll monkey, he might be my favourite thing we’ve made for quite a while 🙂  Love Chinese New Year!

Party time

It was a weekend bookended by parties.  Teenagers, from which I was banished upstairs, on Friday.  Then some home ed friends on Monday.

There was a big group party that day but it was just too tricky to face on public transport.  At Halloween we’d been invited to a local friend’s with a couple of mutual friends and we all decided that we should do Christmas too.  After a lot of discussion about whether we should throw it open and have a bigger party, we gave up on finding a venue (very hard locally unfortunately) and ended up the 4 families at mine.  I shouldn’t but I always feel guilty about not inviting people, I’ve spent too long in the home ed scene feeling on the fringes that I overly worry about doing that to others.  That said my house is small and 8 kids and 5 adults was just about right.

We did have a lovely time.  To be honest it is the adults who are friends more than the kids I think and make a good team for this sort of thing.  Although the kids all get on well and are a nice balance too.

They started by decorating pots for goodies.  I had a plan for Santa style pots but ended up just throwing them some stickers.  Sometimes easy option is definitely the way to go!


One of the other parents had made a really lovely game with a quiz and little handmade personalised stockings.
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Next game was blocks of ice with counters frozen in.  They melted the ice with warm water and pippets and swapped the counters for plastic tat prizes.20151221_182925 20151221_182933 Stick the nose on the reindeer.20151221_184519

I’d made play dough from cornflour and shaving foam (highly recommend it, I had fun mixing it – will do with the kids mixing another time).  They had buttons and sticks to make snowmen.20151221_192635 20151221_192819 Food time.20151221_193518 Making and decorating human Christmas trees.
20151221_194318 20151221_195034 20151221_195331 A fun evening.  Even if I did spend a lot of time (for the second time in 4 days) hoovering up Pringle crumbs after.  20151221_200324