Back from Spain and on With the Show!

Hi all!  We’re back from our wonderful holiday in Spain.  Lots of sun, relaxing, coffee and food!

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And now it’s on with the show…

While we were away we had our hallway and landing replastered and although it looks fantastic the mess from the plaster dust was on EVERYTHING in the house. So the last few days have been spent dusting, vacuuming and mopping.  The sausages were very sweetly chuffed at being able to help us clean.

This week has been about planning D’s birthday party on Thursday and preparing for my sister’s arrival with her 3 children.  So yesterday we went to Tesco’s for the obligatory piñata, balloons and party tableware.  I also picked up some great activity books for D:


And we planted our vegetable and flower seeds.  Today however was a pyjama day (and my birthday!!) and the girls did a few activities but they mainly mooched.  They both played a little with puzzle cubes..


D did some work on her never-ending space lapbook while M did some flower shadow-drawing…


There was lots of playing in the garden and then they watched Peter Pan and Return to Never Land, followed by A Series of Unfortunate Events.

D continues to devour anything science related and usually asks for a science book rather than fiction at bedtime.  Tonight’s first book was all about digestion and the second was about wool making.  She is also very excited to be seeing Mars in the sky at night now rather than Jupiter (whom we were all getting a little bored of).

M is busy making lots of puppets for her Three Little Pigs show.  She’s going to write the script next!  As part of this project, at 7.30 this evening she asked me how to draw a cuboid so that she could draw bricks.  I gave her a quick lesson which she was thrilled about and she picked it up quite quickly.

Recently, we’ve been listening to the audio book of Roald Dahl’s Matilda in the car and M asked if she could read the book.  I did borrow it from the library but had to return it before we got a chance to read it so I thought I would buy her one instead.  Then I found this set – 15 books for £16!!


So our Harry Potter re-read was quickly dumped for Matilda this evening.  I’m so pleased she’s asked to read it as Roald Dahl was my favourite when I was a girl so it is such a pleasure for me to share her enjoyment.

There was a dratted moth in our bedroom this evening but it led to an interesting discussion on the ‘point’ of animals and insects so we started talking about food chains and how we’re all reliant on each other.  Hurrah for moths!  And it reminded me that I had a great idea for a game about food chains which I never set up so I’ll aim to start it tomorrow before our guests arrive!

It was such a slow day today that I managed to fit in some of my own learning and got up to date with my moons course.  I was starting to feel a little panicky this morning: thinking about everything that had to be done as my kitchen science OU course starts this week too but having got last week’s learning done and also a bit of vacuuming, I’m feeling a bit more in control… ha!

Prisms and Maths

Since we’re off to Spain in a couple of days, I thought I would post a little of what’s been happening today as I won’t have time to post for a while.

The day started with me doing two hours of cleaning, tidying, sorting and admin.  I seem to have managed to leave just about everything to the last minute, which is unlike me: I just find my head is so full of HE (and moons!) there isn’t room for much else!

While I was busy the girls were absorbed in their own activities upstairs, although they appeared the minute I sat down with a cup of coffee to tell me they were bored.  I managed to persuade them to get dressed and then they both ran outside to play in the garden and do a bit of weeding.

A new toy arrived for them today – a glass prism!  They were fascinated by it as I thought they would be, knowing their love of rainbows.  After playing with it for a while they then adapted it to their own requirements by watching telly through it…

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After lunch it was time for David Lloyd.  As usual we did our workbooks in the café before going to the pool and the girls both reached new levels in their understanding of numbers today!  D has started learning about ‘difference’ and how it’s another way to think about subtraction.  I’m not sure she’s fully there but she certainly got stuck into the activity.  M continued with her MEP maths, which I LOVE!!!  She had a small strop over a few sums (because they were the wrong way around) and then quickly calmed down when I explained that they wanted her to play with the numbers.  After that she adapted a more than/less than sum and beamed when I complimented her on playing with it!  I really want to get her love of numbers back as it was before school and I hope that if she can play around with her maths exercises (scribble on them; colour them in; make patterns out of them etc.) then it might happen.  This is an example of what she’s been working on:


I didn’t mention in my last post that I came across M working out sums with missing parts using an app on my tablet.  This is something she’s been struggling with recently and she was totally nonchalant about her new skill when I complimented her on it.  I feel like we’re finally getting somewhere!  Yay!

Little things: Me: “D, I learnt something new today: I learnt that an asteroid can have moons!!!” D: “I already knew that”.

Contrasting Days

The last two days couldn’t be more different: yesterday was decidedly lack-lustre and none of us could galvanise ourselves to do much.  Although saying that, we did have a trip to Tesco’s to get our holiday money, during which we managed to fit in a trip to the coffee shop…


And then I discovered we had to return a load of books to the library so we had a trip to Wimbledon after lunch.  The devil had got inside D by this point and she was swinging/running/hiding all over the place and not really heeding my advice, resulting in the librarian telling her off (though in a kindly way), which she was quite miffed about.

Things picked up a little when we got back, we got the Spain lapbooks out with the intention of finishing them before our holiday, however D was really not in the mood and was squiggling rather than writing.  M spent about half an hour on hers and we watched bullfighting and running of the bulls videos on YouTube.

After a bit of telly, and while I was cooking dinner, they both decided to play with the craft sticks I bought recently:


We tried to make a lolly stick chain reaction but this didn’t work so I Googled lolly stick crafts and found a lovely house to build which M immediately wanted to make.  She’s stuck at it for hours over yesterday and today. We’ve got quite a bit more to do but here’s what we’ve done so far:


Today has been much much busier! J was at home in the morning getting a last bit of wallpaper stripping done before the plasterers arrive next week.


And the girls were insistent upon a pyjama day, although I really don’t know why this holds the allure it still does now we’re home educating – it in no way means they are sitting around doing nothing!

M continued with her lolly stick house and also spent hours making an igloo out of sugar cubes and a cement mixture (made with egg whites and icing sugar):

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D also had a go with the sugar cubes but wasn’t all that interested.  However she loved continuing her writing on planets for her space lapbook.  Her space knowledge has gone up a notch: she is now making comments about ‘grabbity’ that show her level of understanding has increased (i.e. that Jupiter has higher gravity because it is larger) and was asking me intelligent questions about tides today (thank goodness for my moons course otherwise I wouldn’t have known how to answer!).


They both had a play outside in the sunshine and ate their dinner under the climbing frame:

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They were still outside at 5.30pm, weeding their plots in their pyjamas and slippers!


Mucus, Gloop and Other Activities

A quick post with a few pictures to show what we’ve been up to over the last few days with Aunty S…

The girls have been absolutely full of cold for quite a few days now and this was cause for D to get her body book out so she could tell Daddy all about mucus…


M has enjoyed playing with gloop…


We had a visit to Wimbledon Common…


M has spent a lot of time making plaster models by pushing toys into clay to make a mold then covering the clay with plaster of paris.  She has tried a dinosaur, a fairy and shells.  D pushed some bouncy balls into hers to make Mars and Jupiter.

M wanted to make up her own recipe so I put all our baking ingredients onto the kitchen table and let her loose.  I didn’t get a picture of the end result but I think she would agree it was pretty revolting!  D got straight to the point and made ‘chocolate soup’: it was made and drunk in minutes.

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The glue gun arrived!  We used it to finish off D’s rocket…


The girls, M in particular are struggling quite a lot with their heavy colds but we’ve managed to have a really lovely, laid back time with Aunty S.

Playdough, Lights and Cake

I thought I would do a quick post about our activities today as Aunty S is coming to stay this week so I may not have time to do another post.  We’re so excited!

We started the day by watching Disney’s Little Mermaid which I haven’t seen since I was about 16!  Then we made chocolate brownies in honour of Aunty S (she is always grateful for cake, is Aunty S).


Afterwards I spent AGES making a little LED light for M, using instructions from An Ordinary Life.  That is no reflection on Lisa’s instructions, it is just the first time I’ve made something like this before.  I couldn’t believe it actually worked!!!  I was so proud of myself and rushed into the kitchen to show the girls (who were engrossed in playing with gloop) and got a very low-key ‘yeah, whatever’ response.  Ho hum.


After lunch we FINALLY got around to making some playdough which M has wanted to make for months.  D wasn’t interested so went off to watch telly instead.  M sat at the table for hours making each colour of the rainbow just right – she is very good at persevering!

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When she was done I showed her how to attach an LED to the playdough which she played with for about 30 seconds before getting back to what she really wanted to do – very intricate, colourful models.


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M then watched Brave while D typed an email out to her cousins and then played on NASA Kids Club for a while before joining M for the end of the film.

All in all a very pleasant and relaxed day!  Now on with my Moons OU course…

Little things:

J was looking at me like I’d gone barmy when I enlightened him about strewing this morning.  Little did he know that he was inadvertently strewing when he left the calculator out on the table this morning.  Both girls independently sat down to play with it and figure out a few sums!  Ha!

A deep and meaningful conversation with D in bed this evening: Me: “Oh, it always feels such a shame to go to bed when there’s so much more to do”.  D: “Yes, sometimes it feels like it’s the end of the world”. Me, feeling a bit overcome by this statement: “Oh no, don’t say that, how awful!”.  D, obviously less overcome: “Sometimes I can make my bogeys pop”.

Learning Unknowingly

We’ve had an interesting few days of some ‘learning without realising’ going on…

Firstly, M has learnt about more than and less than ( <, >) (actually covered a while ago in Mathletics but since forgotten): last week I posted a question on a Facebook group for help with subtractions where part of the sum is missing and I was pointed in the direction of MEP maths and I’m so glad!  I could have sat and done it myself it looked so enjoyable.  An intriguing mix of pictograms, intertwined with some serious maths, roman numerals and what appears to be handwriting practise.  I couldn’t quite figure out the philosophy behind it but I thought M would love it and I was right!  To get her in more of a maths mood I’ve started her on the Y1 worksheets so hopefully she won’t be put off by anything too challenging.  She’s already completed 7 pages in 4 days.  Today she was doing more than/less than with various quantities of dots and spending ages making the dots into faces and patterns.  I was very tempted to tell her to hurry up and get on with it but she was so obviously having fun with maths for the first time in ages that I left her to it.

Secondly, species classification and animal families in her ‘Get Out‘ nature activity book sent from Grandma a while ago: we’ve been Googling the various animals so we can learn more about them in order classify them and so that M can colour them in accurately.  As you can see she’s doing a spectacular job.

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Thirdly, wheat and the process it undergoes to produce flour: I strewed a free booklet with grain samples I got from Grain Chain recently.  M noticed a few days ago and asked what it was.  Her response was basically ‘meh’.  So I tidied it away yesterday thinking I’d save it for a future date.  Then today at lunch D asked if bread sticks were good for you which led onto a conversation about white and wholewheat flour.  So I got my booklet out to show them what I meant: M wanted to feel each sample from the grain cycle and was asking lots of questions (without getting angry!) until it was clear and understood.

This afternoon we went to David Lloyd and the girls did a bit of work in their workbooks though M chose to do her MEP maths instead – yippee!  Then M made a very weird comment – that home school was funny because you didn’t actually learn anything?!  So I challenged her on it (this isn’t the first time she has said something like this) but this time she got quite worked up about it and insisted she hadn’t learnt anything and couldn’t remember it even if she had.  It was so strange, like she didn’t want to accept that home school might be successful?!  Very odd indeed.

It might seem as if this blog is the ‘M-show’ since she gets many more mentions than D: this is not to do with any kind of favouritism but more because M has so many issues from being in school too long and I think it has affected her deeply (not that I am blaming school, but M was in no way suited to their learning style.  She doesn’t really have her joy of learning back yet, although I’ve seen a couple of small sparks.  I find writing about these issues here quite therapeutic and hopefully it might be helpful to others in a similar situation.

On the other hand, D only attended pre-school during the morning and was largely unaffected by it (apart from being furious at being ‘bossed about’).  D has obvious learning passions which have never been stymied, namely science at the moment, and can fully immerse herself in whatever she wants to learn.  She is pretty much teaching herself to read and write now (absolute refusal to use Reading Eggs) and learns through typing emails to family members, writing and reading about space and trying to read anything and everything around her.  She is telling ME parts of the 10 times table just from thinking about it to herself and will happily play with her Arithmasticks to work through number ideas in her head.  She doesn’t differentiate between what we might think of as ‘work’ and ‘play’.  She is well and truly an unschooler.  M has all this potential but I think we are only half way through deschooling her.

Blummin’ school.  My biggest regret is that M ever went.

Being Socialised and Being Sociable

Last week marked a change in our routine: M decided she no longer wanted to go to our Thursday HE meet ups anymore!  I was really surprised to hear this as she has been the main instigator in our Thursday outings (D doesn’t enjoy socialising in large groups).  I’m all for M making her own decisions about these things, after all she knows her own mind better than I did at that age: she is fully capable of knowing when to push herself and when to sit back.

I had thought we were about to enter a new phase of getting out and about in the world more: I had plans for gymnastics, archery and pottery starting next term.  Gymnastics was given a definite ‘no’ by both girls (surprising, given how much they enjoy jumping around on the bed) and after doing a bit of research it turns out that M is too small for archery.  But both girls did say they would love to do pottery so I got 1 out of 3!

I do wonder about finding the balance between when to push them to do something out of their comfort zone and when to let them take the lead.  It’s quite a difficult path to negotiate, but I’ll leave that topic for another post!

Instead, today I want to make a point about socialising and socialisation in HE: as it is a common fear/myth in HE that children will miss out on socialising if they are not at school. Wrong.  Wrong.  Wrong.  The sausages are so polite, well behaved, well mannered, respectful, well spoken and friendly.  And this is what being socialised means: to behave in a way that is acceptable to society.

We were chatting about the bizarreness of etiquette rules the other day.  I asked the sausages to say ‘hello’ or good morning’ to the grocery delivery person as it would be rude to not acknowledge someone who is in your house.  Admittedly they were flummoxed by this and it led on to questions from M about whether you would need to say this to a burglar.  Ha ha.  But since then they both chirpily say ‘good morning’ to any visitors and it is quite frequently noticed and commented on!

This has then led to discussions about the inadequacies of some adults’ social skills:  whenever we go swimming at David Lloyd, we have to walk down a corridor with several doors and M always holds the doors open for everyone, children and adults included.  Quite a few say ‘thank you’ as they pass through and then chuckle as M replies with a ‘you’re welcome!’; but a large proportion walk through rudely as if M were invisible.  At first, M was a little confused by this, until I explained that they were rude.

One of the BEST things about HE is that children are learning alongside adults, they’re conversing with them as friends, and that they don’t see them as infallible Gods (as they might if they were being told to listen and obey them all day at school).  Conversely, they are given their due respect by the adults in their lives rather than being treated as invisible, lesser beings.  Ross Mountney recently posted about the weird social behaviour of some adults and I’m willing to bet that these adults lacking in social skills went to school!

School does not hold a monopoly in socialisation!!!

So that’s socialisation ticked.  So what about being sociable?  Well, instead of large HE groups we’re going to try doing a few more play dates instead.  As I write this, J has taken M to the park to meet up with her best friend from nursery, B.  D isn’t ready to be sociable yet, she much prefers the company of her family and this is fine too.