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August bank holiday weekend

Steam fair

August bank holiday weekend, and what a busy weekend it was! It started with a visit to the Great Dorset Steam Fair on Friday evening with friends. The children were all very excited to go on the rides. We started with the dodgems, but they were a little fierce and very noisy. We were lucky that we were able to find something suitable for each child, from 3 to 12. Little S enjoyed the “hook a duck” and won a little prize, she also found two little rides that were perfect for her.

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The older ones went on the helter skelter, trampolines, a scary spinning ride and the high swings. I got dragged onto the fun house which was a little embarrassing at the end when a gust of wind was blown up from under me, sending my skirt up to my ears and attracting a few looks from passers by!! It was a good evening but by the end E was struggling with the noise, lights and busyness.

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Saturday was spent at Nanny and Granddad’s with the cousins. Lots of playing, some cooking, puzzles, time at the park and a dog walk. Nanny treated all the children to a cheeky McDonald’s for dinner too. S, Little S and Little cousin E went with Nanny to help collect the food and keep Nanny company.

Sunday was a day at home playing with friends, gaming and gardening. We also helped some friends to rearrange their bedrooms, dismantling, moving and building beds. S stayed over at her friends house that night and E had two friends stay over. It was the first time he had had friends to stay overnight. 3 boys was quite an experience! Lots of silly talk and armpit farts at almost midnight before they finally fell asleep.

Beach

After a slow morning, the girls and I went off to the beach with a couple of friends. It was surprisingly quiet considering it was a nice bank holiday Monday. R was straight in the sea for a swim, she is such a water baby! The two little girls made sandcastles and collected shells, and I managed a little sunbathing. After a lovely couple of hours we packed up, said goodbye to our friends and went Granma and Granpa’s house for a BBQ.

Daddy, E and Poppy met us there. Poppy and Maisy the dogs had lots of fun playing together. There was lots of yummy food and lots to go around. We all left with full tummies and sleepy heads.

End of term

So it is now officially the summer holidays, our past week has been filled with end of term activities. Trips to the park, picnics and parties. We’ve met with lots of other home educating families and the children have made new friends as well as playing with old ones.

A few of us playing pass the parcel
A few of us playing pass the parcel

At our last home ed group of the school year on Tuesday, we had an end of term party with pass the parcel, musical chairs and pin the tail on the donkey. We enjoyed some party food together and had a water fight at the park. All the children received a party bag too.

Bubbles in the park
Bubbles in the park

Yesterday a very young baby bird fell from it’s nest landing behind us. The nest was too high to return the bird, and the bird was too young to leave so we took it home in the hope of hand-rearing it. We made it a nest out of hay and feathers, and with some advice managed to feed it but sadly it didn’t survive. Little S was devastated, although in many ways it was a great learning experience for all


the children.

R feeding the baby bird
R feeding the baby bird

Today we spent time at Granma’s having lunch and playing, afterwards we went food shopping. I genuinely enjoy shopping with the children (most of the time) they like to help read the shopping list, look for items, and hunt for bargains and special offers. They like to add up the value of various products and work out the savings on offers. We also enjoy looking for new foods to try and new ideas of ways to cook our favourite foods.

We’re looking forward to spending lots of time with schooled friends, exploring new places and trying new things over the next few weeks.

 

 

My top 5 home educating essentials

When I started home educating I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d need. I stocked up on various workbooks, a set of reading books, and lots of stationary.
As we enter into our ninth month I have discovered my essentials and realised which items I could probably do without.

My top five essentials are:

1. A season pass.
Ours is for Moors Valley Country Park but it can be for anywhere local that you all enjoy. I chose the quiet times pass which is valid for a year but only Monday to Friday during term time. It’s £25 for the year which I think is really good as it’s £9 for a days parking. It’s great for those times when we just need to get out of the house and I don’t want to spend a fortune. There’s loads to do, gets the kids active and we all love it there.

2. A laminater.
I didn’t buy this specifically for or because I’m home educating but it is certainly useful. I’ve used it when I’ve made games of pairs, letter matching games, to waterproof outdoor activities like scavenger hunt lists, and for making reusable wipe clean resources. It means that instead of going out and buying, sometimes costly, resources, I can print things off the PC and save some money.
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3. A craft box.
I use the term “box” quite loosely as I seem to have several craft boxes and other bits all over the house. All 3 of my girls love nothing better than covering things in glue and glitter. E will also join in sometimes if he deems crafty time “not too girly”! As well as helping them develop their creative side, craft time can help with their fine motor skills which in turn helps with handwriting. It can also help with mathematical skills when counting beads and creating a pattern.

4. Baking items.
We bake. A lot. Anything from cakes and biscuits to breads. I always have flour, butter and sugar in, and a good supply of sprinkles, icing sugar, colours and essences. We spend a lot of time together in the kitchen weighing, measuring and mixing. I encourage the children to read the recipes and follow them without help. Even little S, who is 2, likes to look at the instructions and can crack an egg. Cooking builds up so many skills, reading, maths and learning to become self sufficient. R can already cook herself a basic meal without assistance (although I do supervise.)

5. Books.
I have so many books. Books about the human body, books about space, gardening books, colouring books, encyclopedias and dictionaries. Workbooks, picture books and novels. No matter what sort of books you have, any book is good. Sometimes the children just look at the pictures, sometimes they read the words and sometimes they want to be read to. You can learn so much from a book and it’s not just about developing their literacy skills. Books are good for any age, baby to 100+. It’s great for children to see adults reading and enjoying books too.

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I love this quote and have it on the wall next to the book shelves.

Although these are my top 5, I would also recommend building a network with other home educating families both online and off. It’s essential to have the support of others and to be able to meet up with, socialise and enjoy the company of like minded people.

Do you home educate? What are your essentials?

I’m linking up with My Random Musings

My Random Musings

Super blood moon

Sunday night was the night of the super blood moon or lunar eclipse. The children and I had talked about it a few days before, what it was and how it happened. We looked at a lunar eclipse in an encyclopedia and found pictures of previous ones online.
As we had no reason to get up early on Monday I asked them if they’d like to get up to see it. All 3 older ones said yes, so we set our alarm for 3am. R awoke and came into our room at midnight to ask if the moon was red yet, I think she was excited!
When my alarm went off, we put on our coats and snuck quietly out the front door. The moon was big, round and a gorgeous red, and the sky was completely void of clouds so we had a magnificent view of the stars. There were literally billions of them, we could even make out the Milky Way. We are in the countryside and the street lamps go off at night, so there was no light pollution to ruin our view.

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Photo taken by Granpa

The children loved getting up in the middle of the night but we didn’t stay out long as it was quite chilly. We all went back to bed knowing that we could get up as late as we liked (or as late as the children allowed me to!)
It was a great educational experience and one I’m not sure we would have had if we had had to get up early for school on Monday morning.

Two weeks of “home school” bliss

What an amazing two weeks we’ve had. Picnics, pond dipping, days out, playing with friends, baking, craft, history, reading and much more! We’ve been so busy, learned loads and had fun too.

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We went to a “Not back to school” picnic last Monday, played in the park and splashed in the river, seeing old friends and making some new ones. Home ed club Tuesday, where we caught up friends we’ve not seen over the summer, did experimental baking and made lemonade.

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Wednesday saw us on an amazing trip to Longleat Safari Park.
We had a wonderful picnic in the park with Aunty A and baby N on Thursday, the children all took their scooters to the skate park.
We had lots of learning fun on Friday playing Monopoly, the shopping game and other games too.

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Saturday we headed out with friends to Wilton House. It was amazing, the adventure park there was something else. We loved walking through the water gardens and exploring all the secret paths. We also reviewed the Head over heels about Gymnastics books, and spent lots of time doing handstands and cartwheels.

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Monday we learned about Henry the 8th and his 6 wives (and their fates), what his children were like and their rules as monarchs. We then made a Tudor style house out of cardboard boxes, we painted the windows with glow in the dark paint so they looked lit up at night time. At 8 in the evening R was doing a science workbook learning about plant life.

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Tuesday we spent the morning perfecting our salt dough recipe. R made a Minecraft ornament and we made necklaces too. In the afternoon we went to Nanny’s house to play and then the girls had their swimming lessons.
Wednesday we decorated our baked salt dough ornaments, baked cakes and made ginger biscuits. The children are getting quite proficient at baking with minimal help now. In the afternoon C next door popped in to try the cakes and have a cup of tea. Then she took E back with her to play there for an hour.
On Thursday we went to see Granma and Granpa and have lunch there. As Granpa is normally at work when we go to their house it’s a real treat to see him and the children all love spending time with him, playing computer games, Lego or make believe games.
Friday we went Pond Dipping at Avon Heath Country Park with some other home educators.

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This weekend we’ve spent time with cousins, and friends, helped out in the garden painting fences and pruning trees, riding bikes, scooters and rollerskates.

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It’s been really lovely watching the children learning, having fun and enjoying their childhoods.

My Random Musings

Head over heels about Gymnastics

I was approached recently and asked to review Head over heels about Gymnastics Volumes 1 & 2. The books arrived Saturday and the girls were keen to get started straight away, they enlisted the help of two of their friends as well. They took it all very seriously, getting water bottles and iPods, and going for a 5 minute jog around the block to warm up.

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They then set about practicing shapes and jumps, handstands and cartwheels. The books are great as they stand on their own so are easy to read while practicing.

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We all went out in the afternoon and we continued to try out our new skills. (I may have shown of a little with my one handed cartwheels!) We are a little way off the pair and trio balances , although S and her friend M had a go at a few stands, but it gives us something to work on.

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The books are really easy to follow, the children managed it without help, and the pictures are really clear. At £11.99 rrp each they are well worth the money, there is also an available App at £3.99. You can buy Volume 1: Boys & Girls Floor Skills here and Volume 2: Pair and Trio Balances here.

Disclosure: I received these books free to review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

I am linking up with Random Musings

My Random Musings

Longleat

We kicked off our Autumn Term with a visit to Longleat Safari Park and what an amazing day it was. The children had been counting down the sleeps until our visit and were all very excited. On the morning I was up super early (for me!) showered, dressed and downstairs sorting the picnic and doing washing before the children even woke up. The guinea pigs were even woken up early to have a run around before we left.

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We arrived just after 10:00am, collected our tickets and went off to see what we could find. We saw the Otters, a Giant Anteater that was carrying her baby on her back, and Meercats having their breakfast of juicy live Meal worms.

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We rushed round to see what animals we could hold, on the way seeing parrots, goats, rabbits and tortoises. The first animal we held was a gorgeous Royal Python. She was only a small one, but we all fell in love. R loved holding her and Little S was smitten. Granma fell in love with a very large lizard.

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Next we did the Deadly 60 Challenge. As big Deadly 60 and Steve Backshall fans we thought this would be great. It was a little trickier than we expected and probably best suited for children 7 plus. We did have fun running around though and liked getting a certificate at the end. We then had a little look around the Postman Pat toy town.

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We had a ride on the train seeing Dinosaurs, Pelicans, Sea Lions and Nico the Gorilla on the way. Then we went for lunch at The Tropical Storm Cafe, the children all enjoyed a big piece of fish with chips and beans and Granma and I had a Jacket potato each. It was really good food and gave us plenty of energy to carry on our adventure.

After lunch we headed to back to hold more animals, this time there was a Corn Snake. S decided that of all the animals there she wanted hold it would be the one that she could hold everyday at home. That’s right, she wanted to hold a Guinea Pig! A very lovely member of staff got out a blond Guinea Pig called Elsa for the girls to hold, later this same member of staff would help us again.

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The children wanted to go and play in the castle, on the slide and in the soft play area. The older children absolutely loved the giant slides and could be heard giggling from the soft play. The soft play are has been redone since our last visit and the children loved the new balloon area.

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Cheeky little monkey

Little S started getting quite grouchy and tired so we decided to get an ice cream and head back to the car to do the Safari. Our favourite bit, as ever, was the Monkey enclosure. The children all thought it was very funny when the monkey jumped on the car, Little S was laughing hysterically. One female Lion walked right behind our car which was amazing and the wolves seemed to be playing chase.

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Me trying not to look terrified!

After the Safari we went back one last time to see what animals we could hold. R really wanted to hold a Tarantula, when we saw there wasn’t one out that lovely member of staff came to help again. She bought out a female Tarantula called Georgina. R held her first while we all looked on. Then, determined to overcome my fear of spiders, I had a hold! I couldn’t look as she was placed on my hands, she was heavier and softer than I had expected but sat still. I looked at her but not too closely. My heart was pounding but I am so glad and proud of myself for being able to do it. Even Granma had a quick hold.

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With less than an hour left before the park closed we headed off to see the bats. They are so cute, with beautiful little faces. Then last but not least we went on the Jungle Cruise. For the first time ever I saw the Hippos, who at first looked like two big grey rocks at the waters edge. The Sealions were very talkative and the Gorillas were all active. It was a fantastic way to end our day.

I’m linking with My Random Musings

My Random Musings

Phoenix

Last week I had the pleasure of hosting a Phoenix party. What is Phoenix? They sell greetings cards, stationary, giftwrap, games and more. It’s also a great excuse to get a few friends round for a natter.

I was really impressed with their products especially the range of educational resources on offer. I’d previously purchased a shopping game at a friends party, to play with kiddies. This time I have ordered a large map of the British Isles that the children can colour in and learn about where we live; a King and Queens poster to learn about the monarchy, as R is quite interested in history I thought this would be great for her. I also ordered the Cook’s Notes poster, this helps with converting weights, measurements and temperatures, and has instructions on how to boil an egg. This will be a great help in our cooking lessons as well as helping in maths when we learn about volume, length and weight. cooks notes

I really like the cards too, especially as most of them are blank inside to add your own message. They all have great designs and I definitely have a few favorites. There are some great cards for men, I always find buying cards for men difficult. They are all made to a really high spec. and if you buy 10 or more you get a discount. There are so many great products if I talked about them all, we’d be here for weeks!

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A great beard

Jess, who is my local representative for Phoenix, is really lovely and looking for special people to join her team this autumn. If you’re interested pop along to her website, it could be a really great job for a fellow home educator or parent as you could fit it in around the children.

My Random Musings

Not back to school

So the schools went back this week and everywhere suddenly went quiet. We had a very peaceful day at home Thursday. S asked to do some workbooks, a little maths and a little writing.

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We baked a cake and topped it with fresh strawberries. We played card games, and hide and seek, we read books, and ran around outside. It was a really lovely day.

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Over the last couple of weeks R achieved 2 certificates in swimming. Her 25 metre rainbow award and she completed stage 5 and has moved up a level. Her butterfly this week was particularly impressive.

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We enjoyed our first Not Back To School picnic with a local home ed group. We flew a kite, played, hunted for bugs and blew bubbles. A lovely way to settle back in to our after the summer break.

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Yesterday we went to Moors Valley for a “short” play and ended up staying over 4 hours! Poor Granma was exhausted. The children all made new friends on the adventure trail and didn’t want to leave.
All in all a lovely way to ease into the autumn term.

Growing in confidence

One thing I love about being a parent is watching my children grow in all aspects of their lives. Being with my children all day everyday I get to see all of it, from first word to first time they write their name. The moment they learn to ride a bike without stabilisers to when they begin to read independently.

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Daddy and I were discussing S this weekend. Her peers are all starting school next week and although academically she is more than ready, she suffers from separation anxiety from me. We left her at Nanny’s for a sleep over Friday and she was very excited but cried when I left. It reaffirmed to me that home educating is right for her. I couldn’t leave her every morning at the school gate crying for me.
Daddy asked me if I thought that her spending all her time with me would make her worse. Would she become a clingy child who never left my side?
No, I don’t think she will.
She will grow in confidence with me by her side helping her feel safe. She is not clingy now. She is adventurous and sociable. She loves to explore and says hello to everyone she meets both young and old. Her sunshiny nature beams for all to see, and she bubbles over with love and laughter. She may take a little longer to feel comfortable being away from me but when she is ready she will be happy to do so.
I was in the shower this morning and little S wanted to join me. So in she hopped and opened her arms for a cuddle. At first she was wary of the the water splashing down on her, turning away from it. Gradually, with gentle encouragement from me she began to put her hands under the water. Playing with it and feeling it run through her little hands. Then I slowly turned so the water ran down her back. Eventually I was able to wash her hair as she helped. By the end of the shower she was putting her face under the stream of warm water, mouth open and tongue out.
Her confidence grew not because I had put her in the shower and left her to it, but because I had been there with her every step of the way. She felt safe with me by her side.

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I want all of my children to grow in this way. From learning to read, to riding a bike. Eventually they will venture out into the wide world alone and they will feel safe because they’ve been there already with me by their side.

My Random Musings