Having fun

We’ve been so busy having fun I’ve forgotten to blog! We’ve done lots of baking and gardening, R made salt dough, moulded it, baked it and painted it. It was, of course, a Minecraft Creeper. We have become Minecraft crazy in this house, especially R and E. We also spent a lot of time playing with Hama Beads which is great for improving fine motor skills. It kept the children busy for about 2 hours one afternoon.

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We’ve learned about Troy and the story of the Trojan horse. We’ve learned about magnetism, what magnets stick to and what they don’t stick to. (This led to Nanny finding magnets everywhere from the side of the toaster to the garden.) We’ve read lots of books and enjoyed playing with numbers. We went to home ed club last week and learned to spin yarn and got to play with a spinning wheel. The girls had their swimming lessons, we’ve ridden bikes, been to soft play and played in parks. We’ve had friends round to play and enjoyed lunch together.

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Daddy and I had our 9th wedding anniversary and enjoyed a meal out and a walk around the city, while Granma and Granpa babysat. S turned 4 today and had an early morning visit from Nanny and Granddad. She got a new bike, colouring books, a necklace, a water gun and a few pennies of her own to spend. E got a new cabin bed where he can store all his toys, write and paint at his desk and enjoy hiding underneath too.

Planting Seeds

Learning is a lot about planting seeds. Trying something new, seeing if it takes and grows. We’ve been collecting lots of resources, so on Saturday I had a jig around with the shelves, books and boxes of crafty bits, cards, learning toys and activities. I also mixed up the posters dotted around the house to keep the children interested and added some new ones. One of the new posters is about seed dispersal that I got free from the Royal Horticultural Society. R and I had already discussed, in brief ,seed dispersal after she blew on a Dandelion head. An activity I think most children love to do with no thought to what it actually is. So at dinner we were all chatting away about different plants and how they spread their seeds. We were amazed that some plants grow where naturally occurring fires happen as they need the seed pods to be heated in order to spread.

My parents came round at the weekend and took the children to the park and popped into a local jumble sale where they picked a great book about natural herbal remedies. As a little girl I loved making potions from flowers, a hobby that once got me in trouble for destroying a prize winning gardens beautiful plants! I think my girls (and boy) will also love mixing up herbs, plants and leaves from our own garden to make ointments, tinctures, balms, scented oils and learning all about what they can be used for and they can help us. We can also learn what not to use as of course there are many plants than can be harmful to use. The book also talks about plants we can eat and what foods can aid good health and it has a recipe for stinging nettle soup and a dandelion salad recipe.

We all plant seeds we think may of interest to our children, some grow and flourish while others don’t. When the children turn 3 they start swimming lessons as we feel that it is an important life skill. E didn’t enjoy it particularly so has chosen not to continue, S enjoys her time there but it’s not her favourite activity but R loves it. At only 7 she is far better at butterfly than I am and her others strokes are excellent too. It was a seed that was planted in her and one that has grown and grown.

As a parent and an educator my role is to set up opportunities to try something, to plants seeds, and nourish those that need it. All the children have the same opportunities and activities available to them. They are all different and each one will focus on what they enjoy and what interests them, it gives them a chance to specialise in something that is important to them.

Daddy and E have taken up a new hobby together, collecting, building and painting Warhammer figures. While this may not seem educational to some it is fantastic for fine motor skills and therefore will help with handwriting. It is creative and a calming task for E to do, and it can lead to social activities as many people go on and get together to use their armies to battle tournaments.

Of course planting seeds can be just that, growing vegetables and fruits. We have been learning a lot about where our food comes from, growing our own, using it in cooking and trying new foods. We’ve looked at foods from around the world, been to farms and shops, with even more visits planned as the children all enjoy this topic. I except it will be ongoing throughout our education, even now as an adult I still enjoy growing food, watching it and tasting it.

 

Questions

Some days I think we don’t seem to have done much but then I look back at our week and see that we are always doing something. Even quiet days we talk a lot, which at this age is how they learn. They ask questions, so many questions! What’s this called? Why does that happen? What’s in there? Why? A lot of the time I know the answer but sometimes we have to look it up together. I’m learning all the time too.

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S and I went for a walk to the shop and every time we saw a plant she asked the name and I told her, the next time we saw it I’d ask her to see if she remembered. She loves being in the garden and helping, she loves plants and flowers. She enjoys sowing seeds and watching them grow, planting veggies that we can eat and putting new plants in the garden that she can watch turn into beautiful flowers.

 

E loves asking questions about cars and trucks, sharks and snakes, about things that go fast and things that are big. Every night Daddy or I read to E, non-fiction books full of facts because that’s what he loves. He loves finding things out, he soaks it all up and remembers every bit. How big is that Dad? How fast does it go? Is it poisonous?

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We’re always learning wherever we are. If we go for a walk, spend 4 hours running around in the woods or play in the park. When we’re at soft play with friends or out in the garden. When we go to the shops or visit grandparents, have a meal or bake cakes. When we look in a pond and ask “what’s that in there?”. When we’re painting, building with blocks or reading a book. All of these things and more we have done this past week. We love learning because learning is great.

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Easter holidays

The schools are all off for Easter and like many other home educators we’ve sort of gone into hibernation! Everywhere gets busy when the schools are closed so we haven’t done much out and about stuff. But this has given the children more chance to play with their schooled friends. We’ve all been struck with colds and I’m on antibiotics for an ear infection, a little rest is just what we all needed.

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Just before the holidays started E went for a sleepover at Nanny’s and then she took him to the Dinosaur Museum and Dorset County Museum. He thoroughly enjoyed his day and being spoiled my Nanny. Nanny said he whizzed round at top speed but despite this he seemed to learn loads as he came home and quizzed me on lots of dinosaur facts.

Daddy was off work for five days over the bank holiday weekend and we managed a little picnic in the park. We also had a lovely day at Nanny and Granddad’s playing in the garden in the sunshine with some of the cousins. Nanny treated the children to a McDonald’s too.

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Over the last 2 weeks we have done lots of playing, and of course with playing comes learning. S has been playing with her flashcards, matching letters to pictures, practicing letter sounds and blending. R has been doing reading and practicing sentence structure. We’ve played with Playdoh, making shapes, models, aliens, and R made an “old fashioned man” complete with lawyer wig and admiral hat. We’ve done lots of gardening and seed sowing. S is growing her own peas and we have a little bit of growth on our potatoes.

We have been to a home ed meetup at Butchers Coppice where the children were able to do an agility trail, play on trampolines and meet other home educated children. We have 2 or 3 more meetups planned for next week.

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One excitement in our house this past week has been the emerging of our Painted Lady Butterflies, the final one hatching as I type this. We have been surprised at how quickly they emerge from their chrysalis. Releasing them was lovely as we got to hold them and take pictures. We have had many questions about the life cycle of butterflies, including “do they sleep?”. It is lovely learning alongside the children and finding the answers to their questions together. (In case you don’t know the answer is No, butterflies don’t sleep they become quiescent or restful.)

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Life without school

It is exactly two months since we began our home education journey. Overall we are a much calmer household and everyone gets along easier. These past two months for me have been about learning what makes the children tick, how they best learn and just getting to know them better.

Let me start with R. I have discovered she enjoys history and would like to visit more stately homes and old churches. She enjoys using the pc and her skills navigating the computer and typing are improving. She is very physically active, enjoying cycling, swimming, rollerskating, scooting and trampolining. She loves cooking and baking and has recently been asking to try new foods. Her love of books is returning and she often asks to be read to and will read to the younger children. Her imaginative play has developed massively and she gets bored a lot less often than when she was at school.

E is a lot different to R. He loves stratigic games and is quite mathematically minded. Even in his small world play. He learns at speed, quick facts and conversations; he retains what he has learnt well. He loves to be read to, mostly non-fiction. He is very interested in animals, the deadlier the better!

S is my little sunshine. She loves to help everyone, she is kind and thoughtful. She loves reading and writing, something I hope to encourage and develop with her. She is a house full on her own with her laughter and bubbly nature.

Two months ago Little S barely said a word, now her speech has developed such a lot I understand most of what she says. She adores having her older siblings around her and greatly benefits from them being at home. Although, at not quite 2, she is not officially home educated she is learning all the time. She is a feisty little girl who stands her ground and she loves giving everyone cuddles.

Although it can be tiring and there are times when I want to lock myself in the bathroom for 5 minutes peace. I know that this is the best thing I could do for my children. They are happy, relaxed, learning all the time and enjoying life just the way they should be.

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Daddy had the day off yesterday so after watching the end of the eclipse (we missed the beginning due to cloud) we packed a picnic and headed off to Beaulieu. We started with a tour of cars used on Top Gear, then looked at some cars that had been used in films and on TV. After a play in the park and a little lunch we were off for a ride on the mono rail which the kids all loved.

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Next we went to look in the museum, the 1st car we found was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The kids all love this film and even little S was excited to see it and kept saying “Bang Bang”. We all enjoyed seeing the old cars and motorbikes, E loved to find out how fast the cars could go. We went on a history tour of how the car has developed over the years, this was a favourite of R’s. There was a section on tyres and we learnt and talked about the difference between solid and pneumatic tyres. We were amazed to find out some of the uses for recycled tyres including shoes and flooring for play parks.

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Although Daddy could have spent hours in the museum the children had had their fill and were ready for a ride on the old bus. The clouds had cleared, the sky was blue and the sun warm so we headed up to the open top deck of the bus. The ride was a bit bumpy but thoroughly enjoyable and we had the whole bus to ourselves.

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R wanted to go and look around the palace house and gardens next, so off we trotted. Inside the house we were greeted by the maid in costume dress who was lovely and answered all our questions. We went through to the dining room where there was an open fire which smelled gorgeous. The children looked at the old toys and talked about which one was their favourite. We went upstairs and saw paintings, pianos, old chairs, and lots of interesting things. There were stuffed ducks in glass cases, to which R responded that she “thought it was not very nice to kill them if you’re not going to eat them”. R asked lots of questions about the history and the previous owners. She really enjoyed the house and thinks her Granma and Granpa might like to take her to other stately homes where she can learn more about the olden days.

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We then walked round to the abbey for a brief look. R found it very interesting but the smaller children were getting tired having been walking round for almost 4 hours, so Daddy took them on the monorail back to the other side and we met them there for icecream. It was then time for home and dinner, we all had achey feet but had an amazing day.

Highs and lows

This week has seen some very lovely days and also a very sad one. Thursday the girls went to Nanny and Granddad’s for the day as E had an appointment at the dentist. A whole day with my little boy, after the dentist we popped to a cafe and had a walk around the shops, then we headed home for some lunch. After lunch I decided to neglect the housework, make a cuppa and snuggle up on the sofa with a blanket, and watch a dinosaur documentaIMAG4343ry with E. We also spent time baking and played cars together, it really was lovely.

Friday I took R and E on a IMAG4319Tesco Farm to Fork visit with some other home educating families. We talked about where our fruit and veg come from, looked at bread being made in the bakery, and talked about the fresh fish on the counters. After the tour we went upstairs to try some different foods, R tried  (and enjoyed) quite a bit.

Saturday we had a family fun day at my parents with my brother and his wife too. My parents don’t celebrate Christmas or birthdays so once a year we get together on date of our choosing to eat a meal together and exchange presents. TIMAG4351he children were spoilt rotten, and us grown ups got some lovely gifts too. The day had an “at the movies” theme so we all went in fancy dress and the house was decorated with balloons and banners.

Monday ended on a very sad note. Willow, my parents dog, the dog we got as a puppy when I was in my teens, had to be put down. She had become ill a couple of weeks ago and was discovered that she had an enlarged heart. Treatments didn’t work and it was kinder to let her go. She will be very much missed by all.

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Today has been a quiet day learning wise. The children are tired after getting over coughs and colds so we visited my parents to distract from mourning, then we when the my in laws and played, did puzzles and colouring. DaddyIMAG4366 joined us after work and I took R and S to their swimming lessons then back to Nannies for dinner and home to bed.

I have printed off some worksheets for tomorrow, we have addition, times tables, acrostic poems to write, and crosswords to do. I have also set R her 3rd reading challenge, this time she has to write a little sentence about the book too. We also hope to do some cookery together.

Spring is on the way

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With spring well on the way we have lots of new activities to try, there are potatoes chitting, seeds have been sown, we’ve begun digging in “the woodland” to make a wildlife pond and we even have some new house guests that we will raise, watch, study and set free. 5 little catepillars that will eventually become 5 painted lady butterflies.

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R has already completed her 2nd reading challenge. This brings her total books read since being home educated to 44! When she was at school it was such a struggle to get her to read, to see her wantng to read is wonderful. We have now started looking at poetry and rhymes. We also all made rainbow suncatchers to hang in the windows.

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Last week the children made their own bread rolls and beef burgers. We’ve been trying new foods with the children suggesting what they would like to try, sushi seems to be a popular choice for our next cooking session.

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Friday we are looking forward to a farm to fork trip to learn about food and we have lots of posters about farming and some wheat to learn about how it is processed.

Bliss!

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Our home ed journey is wonderful. Today we have done a science experiment, E wanted to do explosions so we made a Bi-carb and vinegar “bomb”. It took 3 attempts to get the bag to explode as the 1st time the bag sprung a leak and the 2nd time we decided didn’t have enough bi-carb in. Then the girls and I did some painting, after that the older 2 did some problem solving games on the pc. Little S went for a nap while I cleaned up and planted some bulbs in the garden.
There has barely been a cross word between the children today, they’ve been too happy playing and laughing together. I’ve actually had to ask them to laugh quieter! Tomorrow we are all looking forward to trying out a new softplay with a group of home ed families and then swimming in the afternoon.
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Friday I took the older girls to a roller disco which was a lot of fun, although after ten years of not really using my skates I did ache on Saturday!

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R is on her 2nd reading challenge after completing her 1st one. She is now asking to read and always takes a book to bed with her. Depending on the book it can lead to interesting questions. The other evening she was asking about medieval torture methods! She has also been asking to do maths and we have been learning times tables together.

S can now read all the level one Biff, Chip and Kipper books. Level 2 is still a little tricky for her though and has shown that we need to look at blending sounds more. I understand that she is only 3 but she is so keen to read so I am being lead by her enthusiasm.

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The house is so much calmer without the chaos of school runs, uniforms and homework. The children are happy again and we have so much to look forward to. I feel very blessed.

Half Term

IMAG4171So last week all the local children were on half term. That didn’t make a lot of difference to us except that everywhere was so busy! We were supposed to meet up with a couple of other home ed families at Moors Valley but it was so busy the car park was full and we were turned away. Instead the children and I decided to go to Avon Heath Country Park, even that was heaving but we managed to park down the road and walk in. The older girls loved playing with other children in the woods and making dens while E and little S played in the park. We had a lovely picnic and then headed to the visitor centre which has been redone since my last visit and was amazing. The children got see animals skulls, a stuffed owl, a stag beetle and lots of other things. There were buttons to press to listen to different bird song, a camera that they could move to look through the woods and at the bee hive, and also computers and puzzles. We had a really great time and will definitely be returning when other children are at school and it’s a little quieter.

We’ve also made a cardboard box castle, made a trampoline in the living room out of cushions and quilts, sown lots of seeds, been to the swing park, visited family and played with cousins, done maths and looked at the organs of the body. We spent a little time looking at space and the planets and with almost perfect timing both Mars and Venus were visible just below the moon one evening. We even got see Orion and the Big Dipper, the children would now like to take a closer look at the constellations.IMAG4188

I’ve come to the conclusion that any calories I may have burned off with all the extra running around I’m doing will be gained with all the cakes the children keep baking. R made a particularly nice ginger cake yesterday, S made some Peppa Pig cupcakes Monday and E wants to make a lemon cake. I’m hopeful that I can get them cooking more savoury foods before long.IMAG4219

Today we went to home ed club, which was all Dr Seuss themed. The children made Cat in the Hat cakes and played with Gloopey Gloop. They did knitting, played Minecraft on the Xbox, ran around (a lot) climbed trees, played cars and Duplo, did lots of socialising with children from 5 months to 14 years old and all this before lunch. Then it was home for a while before dinner and swimming lessons. S is 97% through stage 1 so should complete that next week and R’s front crawl is improving, her backstroke is magnificent and she is learning to dive.

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