Discovering New Paths

Tuesday’s nature group for various reasons ended up being just me and Sam.  It was one of those times where afternoon could have gone badly.  Sam was disappointed and I was irritable (wasn’t feeling well and had had to get Pete to take afternoon off work to wait in for gas man so we could go).

But irritability only lasted a minute or so as the point of these trips are they are relaxed not something people book, there was no definite arrangement with anyone but friends I knew were sick.  It was the moments irritability of having not wanted to go myself but fresh air as ever proved the way to go.  Sam’s disappointment lasted a bit longer.  However that was soon forgotten in the excitement of unexplored paths.

We found the remains on a Norman castle and a very pleasant afternoon was spent in climbing, pretend games and playing with the camera.

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Home and there was potion making in the back garden with collected ingredients.

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Science and Nature

Home education is a huge learning curve for me as well as the boy.

One of the biggest things I took from the last academic year was if we struggle to find time to fit in a subject area than the best approach to help with both our levels of motivation is to study alongside others.

The other major lesson is I find structured groups don’t work for larger numbers or for a big range in ages.  Actually I will clarify that they don’t work the way I need the group to work.  If we are studying something with a group it is probably at the expense of doing it privately (only so much time available).  Therefore I need it to have a logical flow and ideally a plan, be pitched at right level for Sam, he needs to ‘learn’ from it rather than just be there to have fun with friends (not that that isn’t important but times and places) and be a pleasant place.  Kids need to all get on and adults need compatible objectives and expectations.  I use the word compatible because I don’t think two people will ever have the exact same viewpoint.

Anyway on Tuesday we started a fortnightly Science group.  Just a couple of families – 6 children, 5 of them very close in age.

First session went well.  We are looking at matter.  The children will be producing project folders at the end but the aim is to do the reading and consolidating ourselves on non-group weeks and the messy hands on stuff together.

We started with some basic questions, then gave them all some cards to sort.  Any unsure ones were opened up for discussion.

20140910_10 We then looked more closely at solids and tested the hardness of different materials and ordered them.20140910_11 We moved on to look at how you measure density of non-regular shaped solids by making shapes out of a certain weight of plasticine, dropping them in water and seeing how much water was displaced.   My seal on the spout was not watertight so our findings were unreliable but fun was had, particularly with wet, sludgy playdough.

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We finished off with testing melting points.  I learned another valuable lesson – clean the testtubes before you go out.  I have a table top hop incase you are wondering.  I wanted something the children could gather around and see.  Kitchen hob was awkward and can’t really cable up  a bunsen burner in the middle of my dining room so this was my solution ( and a good one it seems).

20140910_16 After science we have set up a nature group opened up to everyone.  Nature walks and play are one of those things that work well across the ages and the more the merrier and no size constraints of venue.  The Alver Valley Country Park is on my door step so we headed there for a wildflower walk.  Nothing too organised just a group of families with spotters guides.  I can recommend this one as sorts by colour and is incredibly clear (if anyone can tell me where I can get the fungi one at a sensible price I would be grateful)

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Here is Sam’s nature diary record (can’t promise the names are all right).

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Despite the relatively nice weather the river was flooded so shoes came off and there was wading.  Ducks were happy enough.20140910_20We also saw a few different types of caterpillar which took me by surprise for the time of year.
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Back to routine

With Pete back to work and Jack back to school, Tuesday was time to establish a bit of routine again.

20140422_58Maths was working on adding groups of numbers (i.e more than 2 at a time) and little tricks to make things easier like grouping into sets of 10 or pairs that he finds easy to remember.  This is one of the places where I really see a difference between the boys, Sam treats these little tricks like they are exciting magical secrets and takes them on board, to Jack it is interfering and he knows better, if he stares at it long enough the answer will appear to him (and it usually does with no idea how).

This little gem was hugely pleasing 🙂

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We are adding map drill to our ‘essentials’ (another post there).  To add a bit of interest opted to do it online, old-fashioned skills using modern technology.  This site is probably one of my absolute favourites, the games aren’t fancy but they are simple and the kids learn from it, unfortunately I tend to forget about it.  We are starting out with basics and labelling continents and oceans.

Our focus on the mechanics of writing are paying off.  His handwriting, spelling and punctuation have taken a massive leap forward this year.  What I need to add to the mix is some work on conveying his own ideas in writing.  A while ago we dabbled a bit with this having used the next one up with Jack.  He wasn’t ready at the time or it was just too much work with the other thing we were doing, whatever the reason it didn’t work at the time.  Now the start at least is probably too simple but I know for Sam he needs this for confidence building.

We wound up ‘table work’ around 11am and needing some groceries for lunch headed out for a walk, we took a detour and walked over the Alver Valley looking for wildflowers with a spotters sheet from Nature Detectives.

At home we added some photos and a pressed bluebell (from the front garden not promoting picking wildflowers!)

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Before some bible stories and crafts to top up our Spring display.

20140422_52 20140422_53Before heading to Cubs for some map reading (required him to tell me about coordinates in great detail on the way home – loves stuff like that).