Tag Archives: home education

DK’s Children Encyclopedia – A Review

As a home educator finding great resources is invaluable, so when we were offered the chance to review DK’s new Children’s Encyclopedia it sounded perfect. 240  topics and over 1500 facts, spread over 304 pages. Great for my children’s curious little minds. The book itself is beautiful. Bright, colourful and wonderfully presented. With everything in alphabetical order it makes it easy to find your subject. In an age when we all too often just say “let’s ask Google”, it’s easy to forget that books can be such a wonderful way of expanding our children’s knowledge.

I asked the children what they’d like to learn about. S thought that as we have an Elephant Hawk Moth cocoon in our kitchen, we should look at how a caterpillar becomes a moth. We found everything we needed to know under Metamorphosis, from the life cycle, to the meaning of the word. The “see also” box at the top of the page also refers you to other pages that may be of use, much like a link on a website but with the added fun of flicking through real pages.

We got out our moth cocoon and compared it to the chrysalis on the page. We used the information from the encyclopedia and combined it with internet research to find out more. Using the two together gave us a rounded view of our topic and enhanced our learning experience. The encyclopedia and the internet are the perfect combination for learning and complement each other well.

Flicking through the pages of the book we found lots of interesting ideas of what else we would like to learn more about. From the story of clothing, to the food chain, to how light works.  The DK Children’s Encyclopedia has it all. We love the double page ‘story’ spreads, investigating the subject from many different angles.

We love this book and it is a very welcome addition to our bookshelves. At £25 RRP, for a hardback book packed full of highly illustrated pages and 120’000 words, it really is “The book that explains everything”.

 

 

**We were given this book free of charge for the purpose of reviewing, all thoughts and opinions are our own.**

 

A day in our life, Autism and Home Education

I’ve not done a “day in our life” post for quite some time. I thought some of you might enjoy reading about our day today, autism and all! I was awoken at 6:20am by Little S, thankfully she’s happy to come into bed for a cuddle and a cup of milk. Daddy left for work at 7:45, the children and I slowly rose and started our day.

I gave the children breakfast and made myself a cup of tea and a teacake. I heard the distant sound of water running so I went upstairs to turn it off. In the bathroom I found Little S covered in purple face paint. I ran her a bath and in she hopped. 2 seconds later she was covered in bright pink lipstick! I have no idea where she found it.

During this time E repeatedly comes in asking if I can watch him play a game. Yes, not play with him, just watch (gotta love Autism). Once Little S is out of the bath and dressed I go to spend some time with E. He is playing a game called Doodle God, where he has to mix different elements and objects to create new ones. It’s quite good and gets his brain thinking.

Next I try to do a bit of washing up and put a load of washing on. I get interrupted because the children want to use a cardboard box to make a slide on the stairs. Once it’s done we have a go, zooming down the stairs onto a pile of cushions.

Yummy

R decides she wants to do some baking so she goes to the village shop to get some ingredients. Little S is playing small world with my little ponies upstairs and spills water everywhere. When R gets back she finds the recipe she wants to try and we bake some caramel slices together.

While the slices are cooling she sets upon a project she asked to do. She wants to learn how to prepare a whole fish and cook it for dinner. We had bought the fish yesterday after she chose the perfect one. First she learns to clean the fish, discovering that it’s a male fish. Next she beheads and bones the fish. She is very curious about the workings of the fish, taking time to examine the eyes and gills. Last she skins the fish, before poaching it and turning it into fish nuggets for dinner. S comes in to help make the fish nuggets too.

I prepare mine and daddy’s dinner and tidy the kitchen, then clean out the guinea pigs with help from S. The children eat their dinner, both E and R enjoy the fish nuggets but S isn’t so keen. Little is vegetarian so has Quorn nuggets instead. After dinner E gets upset and has a large meltdown. He turns his room upside-down, tossing the mattress off the bed. Neither he nor I seem to know what triggered it. Autism rarely makes sense.

Daddy gets home from work, but he doesn’t feel very well. Little S wets herself so needs cleaning up. All of a sudden the house plunges into darkness. We check the fuse boxes and see that they’ve tripped. Turning them on S exclaims that T.V. isn’t working. Little S pipes up “I put this (screwdriver) in back (of T.V.)!”

OH!

So now we have no T.V. as our 4 year old has blown it up.

I have my dinner then help E put his room back together. Poppy dog needs a walk, so torch in hand, we wander out into the darkness. When we get home it’s time to get everyone ready for bed. S complains of a tummy ache, then suddenly discovers why. Time for another clean up!

So now it’s 9pm and I’ve just sat down. I can’t remember the last time I had a cup of tea and I’m gasping. But no rest for me. E still needs settling which could take another 2 hours. I also need to tidy up before tomorrow, the children want to do some science experiements.

 

What is learning?

What is learning?

This is question that I have been thinking about a bit recently. R said to me, “I dont think I do any learning, should I go to school?”  E said that “learning is boring, it’s just sitting and writing.” So why do we have this view of learning. Are we only capable of learning whilst sat at a desk? Is school the only place that children can learn? I was recently approached by someone I know only in passing and was told that my children couldn’t read because they don’t go to school! (They can read. R actually taught herself once she came out of school,)

I am often asked by new home educators or people who do not home educate, “how do you get them to learn?” I find this rather odd. Learning is an in built need from the moment we are born. The need to learn to communicate, to walk, to feed ourselves. We don’t, at the age of 5, stop learning because we are not in a classroom. Learning happens all the time, and continues right through adulthood. Ever heard the phrase “you learn something new every day” ?

So how do my children learn?

We explore, constantly. We explore nature, playing outside, rummaging through woodlands, growing our own plants and food. We play with friends. Learning social skills is such an important part of growing up, especially for those on the Autistic spectrum like E. We read together, both fiction and non-fiction books are great learning tools.

Trips to museums are great fun and provide lots of hands on and on the go learning. Going swimming or to football lessons, climbing trees, playing at the park are all great for gross motor skills and fitness.

Learning about World War 2

We learn by going to the shops, learning about pricing, offers and money. Practicing all our maths skills. There is something to learn where ever we are.  R was recently admitted to hospital following a bad spell with her asthma. She found out lots about how our lungs work, and how asthmatics lungs are different. What medicines are used for asthma and why, as well as how a hospital runs, what nurses and doctors do and much, much more.

There are lots of opportunities to do “sit down” learning too if we wish. S recently renewed her subscription to Reading Eggs, adding Maths Seeds on too. She loves to practice, do the little tests and print off her certificates. Her reading age is where it “should” be and she went straight in at level 61 with her maths. This is despite never having been to school.

So how do your children learn? Do you take a more traditional route, are your children learning autonomously, or somewhere in between?

Following our interests, A visit to Sealife Weymouth

The way we home educate mostly involves us following the children’s interests. For E most of those interests revolve around fierce animals. Dinosaurs, Sharks, Monsters etc. We were given the opportunity to visit the Sealife Centre in Weymouth on Sunday. Sunday happened to coincide with the Ironman  competition, which did mean that Weymouth was very busy and the car park at the Sealife centre was closed. We were quite worried about how this would affect E, but he coped fantastically.

 

Hands on learning

On arrival we decided to have our picnic, E however, was so excited he didn’t want to eat. He rushed off to visit the seahorses, then the rock pool, then the seahorses, then the turtles! Are you beginning to see how our day went?! He must have visited every exhibit at least twice. Flitting between them, taking in all the sights, seeing all the different varieties of sea creature.

The girls enjoyed exploring and seeing everything, the also loved the play park with all it’s many twisty slides, and the splash area. Daddy and I had to take it in turns to follow E to his next target area. Occasionally we managed to visit an exhibit as a family, though we were rarely in one place for more than a couple of minutes. I liked that E had the space to roam and explore.

When we arrived at the ocean tunnel, E’s face was a picture. He soon spotted the sharks, his eyes lit up and he gasped with excitement. SHARKS! We spent a while there, watching them swim around. We even went back a bit later for another look.

 

At the end of the day we stopped off at The Royal Oak pub outside Blandford for dinner. The children were all in a great mood after a fun day although a bit tired. We enjoyed a really tasty meal and the pub was so child friendly with board games to keep the children entertained and a play area outside. It’s a day we shall look back with great memories.

Medieval Jousting at Old Sarum

Yesterday we met up with some friends at Old Sarum in Salisbury for a medieval jousting event. Unlike most British bank holidays the weather was fantastic, gorgeous sunshine, warmth and blue skies. We arrived a little after midday and first visited the souvenir shop so the children could choose a weapon. E got a wooden sword, S chose a lance, the other 2 girls opted for squeezey balls instead of weapons.

We walked up to the castle remains for a play and explore. The children had battles, roamed about the castle and discussed history amongst themselves. Little S and R became knights, training with their noble steeds for a mighty jousting battle.

There was an “organised” war, the children were given foam swords, separated into teams and marched into battle. There were no winners, as at the end they were all instructed to do a big Shakespearean death!

There was a Jesters tent where the children could learn variuos circus skills such as juggling or walking on stilts. The stilts were much harder than they looked but great fun to try.

We loved looking around the castle and reading about the history of it, it’s a shame some of the plaques were quite old and difficult to read though. The views from the top were phenomenal. Over the course of the afternoon lots of small aircraft flew over with sky divers jumping out and floating over head.

After an ice cream to cool us down we wandered off to find the main attraction, the joust. Whilst we were waiting we somehow got enrolled into the fanfare for the joust. Little S, it seems, is very good at the trombone. Every time the knights and their horses entered the arena or scored a point in the joust we had to play our instruments.

We had a fantastic day and would definitely recommend it. I think Old Sarum is somewhere we shall visit again, maybe on a quieter day so we can explore all the bits we missed this time.

Been very busy

Apologies for being a little quiet on here, we’ve been quite busy. Throughout June we partook in the Wildlife Trusts 30 Days Wild. You may have been following us on instagram as we shared daily “wild” photos. We had great fun exploring the outdoors, catching moths and insects, foraging for elderflower to make cordial with friends and spending lots of time playing in the sunshine.

always climbing trees

R also had a great surprise in June. she was picked up from Granma and Granpa’s house and driven to the airport for a surprise visit to Spain. She spent a week with Great Granny, Granma and Granpa enjoying Spanish culture and weather. She spent a lot of her time there in the pool having a whale of a time! at the end of her week I went over to collect her and spend a couple of night there too.

looking very Spanish

We’ve been doing a fair bit of baking the past few days, with S and E both baking sponge cakes on their own. E also decided to make some lemonade one day which was very tasty.

E’s cake

We found a very cute toad in Nanny’s garden, everyone gave him a little cuddle.

Little S has been enjoying going to Forest School once a week. This week one of the leaders brought along some baby chicks.

Little S and Bob

We spent a day in Portsmouth catching up with some friends I’ve not seen in years. We had a pub lunch and got to see a tall ship too. 

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to be a bit more active on here again.

A rare day of home educating at home!

It’s quite amusing that home education is so called as we are very rarely actually at home, and many others say the same. Monday we were at Moors Valley for a meet up, then went to Nanny’s house and R went swimming. Yesterday R was out for whole day at the Ancient Technology Centre with lots of home ed friends, whilst the rest of us went to our usual home ed group. So to have a whole day spent at home with no plans is quite novel.

The children were all awake between 7 and 8 and headed for their screen of choice to either play or watch something during breakfast. R spent the morning playing with online friends, listening to music and writing out song lyrics. The younger 3 played games and amused themselves which meant I was able to get on and do a bit of housework. The 2 littlest got out a maths set we were given yesterday and played with that for a while. At lunchtime a couple of my friends popped by for a cuppa and a chat.

After lunch we went to explore the field behind our house, the rape flowers are almost as tall as me. We took care to stay on the tractor tracks so as not to damage any plants, and a fab time. It was like a maze. The sun was shining and the children laughing.

After our walk we decided to do a little gardening, planting some foxgloves in the woodland and sowing some new seeds for the summer. The girls filled their own pots with compost and chose what seeds they wanted to sow from my seed box. By the time we had finished school had was over so the children wanted to play outside. We wandered up to the little park and played monsters/chase. S decided she wanted to do some more maths, and Little S helped me prepare dinner.

Once Daddy was home I went out for a nice quiet walk with Poppy and left the kiddies with him. Now it’s time for a cup of tea before crawling into bed. Tomorrow we are going Tomahawk throwing!

A family weekend in Cornwall

When you book a break in the UK you’re always taking a risk with the weather, thankfully we had amazing weather at our recent weekend on Cornwall. Every year we have a “family day”, getting together with my parents, brother, his wife and more recently his son too. This year we decided to do something a little different and spend a whole weekend together. We booked a lodge near Bodmin, Cornwall that was able to sleep all 11 of us.

Setting off at lunchtime on Friday after a full cooked breakfast we had 4 very excited little children. We stopped in Honiton for a drink and a cake, and to stretch our legs. The constant “are we there yet?” chides from the children kept going all through the afternoon. Eventually we arrived at Hengar Manor and found our lodge, number 14. The children raced in to explore and choose their beds. I put the kettle on for a much needed cuppa whilst we unpacked the bags.

Uncky C feeding the locals

We met the locals who were clearly fond of new visitors. Once settled we grabbed our cozzies and headed straight for the pool. E was happiest in the Jacuzzi, R was enjoying swimming the length of the pool and trying out the waterslide. The little two loved splashing in the water, alternating between the main pool and the baby pool. Our swim was unfortunately cut a little short when a little boy was sick in the Jacuzzi, and we were evacuated from the pool.

Back at the lodge we had dinner, played and fed the ducks. Granpa, Uncky C and Aunty A had to work so were to join us later. R took herself off to enjoy a relaxing bath in the big corner tub and I tucked the little ones into bed. E was clearly a little overwhelmed by the day and needed the weight of 3 duvets to help him drift of to sleep. I obviously need to invest in a weighted blanket for him. The others joined us late evening and we ate together, eventually headed for bed ourselves at around midnight.

Saturday morning started early with Aunty A coming down to get N some milk at half 5. S and Little S woke at about half 6 and charged upstairs to jump on Granpa! Once everyone was awake Granma realised that some vital components of our breakfast had been left behind in Dorset. So we sent Granpa and S off to the shops to get what we needed. After breakfast we went for a walk with Granpa and Granma whilst N went for his nap .

After popping to the tavern for a bite to eat in the afternoon we did our annual gift giving. The children were truly spoilt once again, receiving lots of new toys. We also enjoyed a party tea together and spent the afternoon playing. We took the children swimming again, this time taking Granpa, Aunty A, Uncky C and N along. Little S loved swimming with Granpa.

Sunday R cooked pancakes for breakfast for everyone, although needed help as the pan wasn’t non-stick. After breakfast Aunty A, Uncky C and N packed their bags and headed home. We went to the pool one last time, taking Granma and Granpa. R enjoyed showing off her impressive swimming skills to her grandparents. After swimming we had lunch and packed our bags up. We decided on a final stroll of the grounds, taking with us the rest of the bird food. We were able to hand feed the ducks which was quite tickly. We visited the park again and expelled some energy before the long drive home. After stopping for a cheeky McDonalds in Exeter, we arrived home just in time for bed.

Hand feeding the ducks

A very busy but fun filled weekend in Cornwall.

My Random Musings

100 Days of Home Education

This post is a little different from normal in that it forms part of a blog hop. We are celebrating the diversity that is home education. I am one of many home educators taking part in this blog hop, in which we share a little about how home education works in our families. Yesterdays post came from RioLife, so pop over and see how they do things.

For us home education is an intricate part of our lives. It isn’t a separate part like it was when they were in mainstream school. We had school and we had home. Now it is all one, learning and living go hand in hand. From the moment we get up in the morning, the children are responsible for their own breakfasts (with supervision or help if needed), taking charge of their dietary needs. Many days it is toast or cereal, some times they like croissants or pastries. The younger two girls love a big plate of fresh salad and mixed meats and cheeses, whilst the older two prefer eggs.

Most days begin with a little screen time, whether that be Minecraft, YouTube, Roblox or Netflix. Often the children choose “educational” videos or games, but even when it’s not obviously educational they’re still learning. R has learnt to touch type by chatting to online friends, someone commented to me just a couple of days ago about the speed in which she types. Her spelling is almost perfect and what is best is that she is not afraid to ask how to spell a word if she is unsure.

We often head out to see friends, family or attend a group or visit somewhere special. We enjoy hours and hours of fun, team building, play, socialisation and learning in the forest. Mastering skills from balance to wood craft, and learning about nature in all seasons. We meet with children of all ages, various nationalities and from different backgrounds. We take part in national and international celebrations such as World Book Day, Burns Night, National Pizza Day or Comic Relief at our weekly groups.

We’re always on the look out for new and exciting ways to explore the world around us. With visits to museums, libraries, and historical places amongst our favourites. We also enjoy quiet days at home like yesterday, where we bake, do gardening and grow our own veggies. Yesterday Little S made a carrot cake, S made loom band bracelets using a repetitive pattern (a little maths there), and the girls did Hama beads too (perfect for enhancing fine motor skills). R learnt about the human body on MWorld, taking a quiz on the skeleton.

E learnt about reflections and mirrors on YouTube, played a banking game on Roblox and did some reading practice with me. He’s not keen on writing but he did sign his name in a card for Nanny. The smallest girls took the dog for a walk with me and my friend kept an eye on the older two. Two of the girls friends came for the walk too so they had lots of fun playing. S chose sausage, potatoes and veggies for dinner tonight, as we all take turns choosing our favourite meals.

Unfortunately our original plans for a group woodland day today have been cancelled due to poor weather forecast (Storm Doris). Perhaps we’ll spend the days baking, painting and reading or maybe we’ll go and burn some energy at a soft play, I’m not sure yet we may even fit all of that in! But for now I go and have a cuppa. Be sure to read EnglishWeather’s post tomorrow for another view of home education.

 

Home educating when they’re sick

Sunday night I was rudely awoken by the sound of vomiting. Great! My poor little boy was then sick every hour or so for the rest of the night and into Monday morning. This meant that our plans to meet up with a home educating family, that we haven’t seen in ages, had to be cancelled. Not E’s fault but disappointing nonetheless.

Whilst he spent most of the day alternating between throwing up, sleeping and watching TV, I had to find alternative ways of occupying the girls. R is quite good and finding things to do, she likes to cook her own lunch, play with online friends or read a book. She’s also just signed up to MWorld, an educational app that helps them learn all about the world around them. With topics from animals to the human body, to space, early civilisations and more. We’re really looking forward to see all it has to offer and exploring new topics.

The younger two girls still need more of my time. We had a few deliveries recently from Amazon and Approved food, so we made a big box fort to play in. The guinea pigs have also been able to enjoy the fort, and lots of cuddles from the girls. We had a gingerbread train kit that we decorated before devouring. S has begun playing Minecraft and is learning lots from that. She’s such a sensitive soul though, and gets quite upset when she has to kill the animals.

In the evening M came round and made slime with the girls using PVA glue, eyewash, paint and bicarbonate of soda. I’m not sure of the exact measurements but it kept them busy for quite a while.  The only problem is I now have tubs of various coloured slime all over the house. Today has been another quiet day whilst E recovers. We have done some colouring and making shapes out of paper. We’ve read books and played, and the house has been tidied.

Hopefully the girls will avoid getting the sick bug and we can get back to normal.