Birdfeeders

Today we were at one of our monthly groups and it was a lovely session. I had 35 children cooking over naked flames, with the help of HE parents (which as anyone who has run a group knows can be worse than unsupervised) and nothing bad happened!

We were making bird feeders. I managed to sort out vegetarian (very nearly vegan) bird feeders that were completely safe for those with nut allergies. That was quite a challenge in the first place 😀

We started off by cooking popcorn in foil containers over tealights.
The birdfeeders were made by threading popcorn, fruit and cereal on to wire and twisting to make shapes.

Afterwards the sun was out and they disappeared to play outdoors. It really is lovely to see how well this group works. Even with a big increase in numbers this time the nice atmosphere we get at the group was still there.

Before hand we managed the breathing exercises for the 3rd day on the trot. More algebra, dictation and a bit of work on one of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Some exercise on US Geog and started a new section of our main geography on Britain. We read about the life of a medieval monk and considered why people may have chosen that path and he coloured an illuminated letter S while I read. A history fiction book that I’d meant to read last term while we were on castles so we are a bit late but decided we fancied it. Do love a bit of Rosemary Sutcliffe for historical fiction.
Evening has been spent hanging out with J watching wrestling.

Contrasting Home Days

We  have had 2 days at home so far this week, two very different days.
Monday was an at home pj day. Efficient though, lots covered. Mainly from the sofa or by the fire as we read and watched documentaries. Today, by contrast, the only work done was sorting out our visiting flat travellers travel journal to send him home. 
Our Citizenship group officially finished last week but we met up today at our house to blow the remainder of the kitty on chocolate. 13 children making things out of chocolate in my living room, I sometimes wonder if I am mad or at the very least I am thankful for forgiving neighbours :D.
They came out really well. We acually got through 2kg of Maltesers on these puds, not a lot got eaten.

One child got left behind (on purpose 😉 ) so they could spend the afternoon on Roblox while I tidied and wrapped.

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 😀

The White Stuff

The story of this week has been dominated by a non-stop battle to try and clear up cornflour. I made 24 batches of a white clay for a group activity which took some clearing up after!
Late afternoon sun came out on Weds to allow us a lovely group session playing with the clay and charging about in the garden.
The rest of the week has been spent at home mostly reading and discussing stuff so no photos. We have looked at decimals, adjectives, mapping, grid references, contour lines and OS symbols, the feudal system (and I’m pleased he made a link with a poster he’d seen at the Russian Revolution exhibition back in the summer and compare it to the neat and tidy pyramid in the book), daily life in Colonial America, human reproduction, started rewatching Secrets of the Castle and began reading The Machine Gunners. Pandemic and Hearts of Iron IV (one of his military computer based games) have featured highly.

For those who worry about the writing side, Sam hardly wrote from the ages of 7-10/11, said it hurt. All I asked him to write was maths and some handwriting practice, everything else I scribed or we did verbally. Weds morning he knocked this out while I was getting dressed so 10 mins tops. Yes it’s not his neatest writing, yes he’s missed paragraphs and punctuation. But I know he can do all those things so I trust it will come together, more happy and pleased that he’s keen to get his thoughts on paper.

 

Boo and Busy

The last few days have all been about adapting to changing plans and inevitably Halloween.

Monday felt like it was our one chance this week to be productive home ed work wise and never really got into our stride. I was having trouble with printing too (trying to prepare for Tues group) just one of those collating going to pot times really. Multitasking never turns out well. I know this so why I keep attempting to do it who knows.

We did manage lots of Maths, plus English , his online Computer Science tutorial, some geography and an activity in preparation for the group that we had on Tuesday. Plus painted some pumpkin tealight holders.

Then it was time for him to suit up in Halloween gear to go to a party with friends.
Tuesday was all go! At the weekend I’d discovered that I needed to use our voucher to get our new Dockyard pass by end of Oct so had to squash in a quick dockyard trip. Then having persuaded Sam that we wouldn’t do Trick or Treating this year a friend messaged me in the morning to say she’d told her kids they were coming with us, so trick or treating needed fitting in too 😀

The day started at our ‘Citizenship’ group. It’s a 6 week block of activities put together by a group of us, replacing the Mindstorm sessions. We talked about communities and groups that they felt part to. Briefly touching on what makes a community. We did some physical sorting of themselves by certain factors about their identity. Then they had a go at filling in a census form. 

We compared the sort of information on the form to what they’d included on collages that they had made about themselves.

We then used a list of things that could be used to define identity and prioritised them.
Finally as we had a birthday in the group it was cake, singing and ending with a few group games.

A friend kindly dropped us at the ferry so it was time to nip over to the Dockyard, pick up pass, quick snack and play at Action Stations and then back to Gosport for a pumkin hunt. I had ordered some with the groceries but hadn’t come. Supermarkets had removed them in favour of Christmas stock but greengrocers in the village had some.

Home, bath and then a bit of carving, decorating and then Sam painted my face before we headed out with friends (group had grown) for some trick or treating. Lovely evening as local community really goes in for it now.

Not my house I should say. A more enthusiastic neighbour!

 

 

Coding Challenges and Cramming

We’re going away for the rest of the week on a history focussed trip so the week so far has been mainly cramming in a week’s worth of Maths and English into 2 days and rewatching a documentary about 1066.
Lots of time was spent on weather related discussion thanks to weird coloured skies and downed planes which left Pete stuck in Ireland. Discovered that Sam seems very knowledgeable about Armageddon theories.
We had the last of the block of Lego robotics sessions today.  Also as it was spreadsheet day some time was spent making a spreadsheet of Sam’s Beano annual collection so we can keep track of the gaps.
Definitely coming down with a cold which does not bode well for the next few days so another short post.

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.

On the Trail of Alfred the Great

I have had a fair few stresses around HE workshops of late that have been making me think time for a break. Today’s though was brilliant so has restored my faith somewhat. It had it’s herding cats moments as ever. Booking and arranging the workshop was so easy though. The education officer really, really seemed to know her stuff and passionate about it too.
I found it hugely interesting and learned lots too.
We started with a tour of Winchester Cathedral, looking at evidence of the earlier Saxon cathedral and influence it might have had and differences.
We then had a workshop tied in to King Alfred’s push to exband liteacy; where they painted an illuminated letter, made a brooch and translated runes.
A few of us stopped in at the museum on the way home too.
Lovely day with a nice balance of old friends and some lovely new people, the two best things about home ed.

Soldiering On

I have had a headache that really would not shift this last week hence the lack of posts.
We’ve got through it okay though. The week was mainly saved by me accepting on Weds that making it to London on Fri for the New Scientist Live event was a non-starter and using the money saved from not buying tickets/train fare to buy a proper microscope. It’s a learner model and I wasn’t expecting much really but very pleasantly surprised and impressed with it. Sam is quite taken and his interest in it took pressure off me.
We did start off the week trying to get by with our pocket microscope and it was nowhere near good enough to see clearly but just good enough to spark enough interest to make me think splashing out a bit was worth it.
In other stuff we continue to work through Python book, watch In Search of the Dark Ages and read Oliver Twist.Not forgetting still on USA project. 

The difficulties he was having with maths last week passed and we were on to squares and indices (one of his interests) and factors. English we had some fun with different noun types.


Tues was Lego Minstorms course. I missed any photos of the robot but did get the kits playing after.
Weds was the first of our groups for senior school age children and turn out was very good.  They were making stencils with glue guns.

We’ve also had time to play board games, spend some time with Grandad and make it in to town for lunch and a potter about (starting to hatch birthday plans).

Oh and I can firmly say that Kidzania are now my worst place ever to deal with and have the most stupid (and frequently changing) policies known to humankind. Too much time this week has been spent musing over how I could run it better. Pity as it’s a fantastic space but I’ve well and truly burnt my bridges for organising trips there in future!

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.