Screens, Screens and More Screens

Yes, I love screens.  Especially when D is too down to do much else.  That flippin’ tooth still isn’t out and although D’s now doing hilarious Nanny McPhee impressions with her snaggle tooth she’s still struggling mood-wise.  It doesn’t take much for her to descend into tears and she painted this very sad picture with our homemade watercolours:

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Poor D.  The best place for her at the moment is chilling out in front of Dora The Explorer, which she’s been watching lots of.  However, she’s still found time for sums in the boat:

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And they’ve both been painting and clay modelling:

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And and and, I almost forgot a big spark that started this evening: I was making pancakes in the kitchen for me and M, and D was mucking about – pretending she couldn’t get past an invisible glass pane.  So I showed the girls some mime videos on YouTube and they were seriously impressed (we tried Marcel Marceau but he was way too slow and old fashioned unfortunately).  D tried out some miming acts afterwards – she’s pretty good!

So back to the screens.  We’ve had a fair amount of screen time going on due to D being on edge.  We’ve got tons out of it though, it’s never wasted time in my opinion.  Even I’ve managed a fair amount of telly watching, thanks to J keeping the girls occupied on Sunday!

We watched Mr Peabody and Sherman, which we all love: there were lots more in-depth questions about Marie Antoinette, Robespierre and the revolution this time around.  They both made accurate judgments on Mr Peabody’s character too (M: “Peabody can’t be that clever or he wouldn’t have said Sherman can’t fly” (if you haven’t seen it, this comment causes Sherman to lose confidence and crash the plane) and D: “Why would Sherman trust Mr Peabody if Mr Peabody doesn’t trust Sherman?” (Mr Peabody has trust issues!)).

I tried watching a programme on Russia’s Lost Princesses today but ten minutes in I realised I’d already seen it.  M was semi-interested but it was a bit too complicated for her to follow so she asked to watch Anastasia instead.  We seem to keep coming back to revolutions!

And this morning we watched quite a few videos on The Kid Should See This.  Really fascinating ones that led onto so many questions: one about Mary Leakey discovering footprints of human ancestors; Alfred Wegener proposing contintental drift; a 14 year old rock climber; surfing the world’s heaviest waves; a world record sky dive; and London’s history in paper craft.  This site works really well for my two: the videos are short enough to keep their attention, the animation/filming is interesting enough to make them want to watch, and the subject matter isn’t too complex.

We had our usual day of art class and Brownies yesterday – the art teacher was full of praise for the way M works – choosing her colours so carefully and meticulously drawing detailed patterns – I was so pleased as M hates how slow she works compared to everyone else so hopefully this will help her to see that speed isn’t everything.

Today we were meant to be going to Morden Hall but there was no way D was going out and the weather looked a bit iffy so we had a day indoors instead.  I have just left the sausages upstairs, ‘playing’ Frere Jacque on pillows – they were working out which ‘notes’ they would need and then jumping on them in the right order. :D

Crafts, Maths and Wobbles

So here’s the more detailed post that I promised.  Unfortunately I’ve been too busy to make daily notes so I’m probably forgetting quite a lot but here goes anyway…

We had a well needed pyjama day on Wednesday, partly because we were still recovering from a busy weekend (or at least I was!) but also because D and I had a mild tummy bug. I feel like I barely moved that day, I certainly didn’t do any of my usual jobs, but somehow I managed to keep the girls going with activities:  M has resurrected her old Sylvanian Families project (from 16 months ago!!): making tiny food packets.  It is noticeably less labour-intensive for me this time around as she is now able to do a lot of it herself (measuring/cutting/calculating etc).  You probably don’t get a sense of scale from the picture below but just to give you an idea – those larger food packets on the right are just over 2cm long.  The project idea and the food labels are from the Sylvanian Families Fan Club magazine.

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D has gone bonkers for an old calculator of J’s – in fact it’s so old it’s ready for the bin but it has nice big buttons and she loves it.  She has been writing reams of sums; or getting me to write the sums, which she then works out on the calculator; or just asking me for sums and not writing it down at all.  We also had a short spell of writing sums out ‘properly’ but really, she just loves pressing the calculator buttons!  And even though she’s not working out the sums in her head, connections are still being made – she can now read numbers into the tens of thousands and is beginning to get really good at multiplication.  Impressive for a 6 year old!

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D is longing to be 7, but at the same time is regressing emotionally.  It’s a normal part of being 6 and I remember M going through the same thing.  D’s way of expressing her wobbles and showing her need for love is by pretending she can’t do her seat belt/coat zip/bath time.  She has also asked me to stay with her until she goes to sleep each night, which I told her I’m happy to do until she doesn’t want me to anymore (to which she replied something along the lines of “that’s good, until I’m a teenager then” !!).

I’m happy to go along with all of these things but I’m ashamed to say I lost the plot a little when she asked me to help her on the toilet.  There are only a few childhood phases I was happy to leave behind and that is one of them.  We had a little chat afterwards and she burst into tears and told me how worried she was about her wobbly teeth.  I was astounded – first of all that she could identify what the problem really was (better than me) and that I hadn’t thought there was something behind the toilet issue (if I had stopped to think for a minute I would probably have dealt with it a lot better – lesson learnt).

I learnt recently that there is a German saying: “wobbly tooth, wobbly child”.  This so fits with both of my two!

On Thursday our play date was cancelled in case we spread our lurgy around so we decided to go to Wimbledon to buy some more clay from our beloved art shop.  I had to put imaginary blinkers on M as I could see her eyes lighting up at all the wonderful things in there which we really can’t afford right now!  We had a visit to the library which was quickly aborted due to building works going on in there and then home again for more craft and play.

D and M have been doing lots of imaginary play together recently – they are still working on a cardboard boat (it keeps collapsing), looking after D’s toy bunny, ‘Cute Twitchy’ and going to D land together.  I can hear their dialogue maturing and becoming much more respectful of each other.

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On Friday we went to see D’s best friend (D) and spent a happy couple of hours there.  D was really upset to have to leave and they were both trying to organise a sleep over to extend the playdate, but given that they’re both hardened co-sleepers I don’t think it’ll be happening anytime soon! :D

On Friday afternoon M asked to make gloop and D tried touching it for the first time!  She managed a few minutes play before going to wash her hands.  We also had a go at making our own watercolour paints after seeing this video on Facebook.  They still haven’t dried but even if they don’t work, we had a lot of fun making them.

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Today we’ve had a busy day of play, house work, baking and M went to a special Brownies event at a local school where she made putty and earned a Science badge.  All good.

M’s 9th Birthday!

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, hence no blogging – the reason for this is because it was M’s 9th birthday!

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She looks so much older!

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We had my parents here for her birthday weekend, and while they were here we managed to fit in a visit to House of Illustration to see Lauren Child’s Doll’s House.  It was a lovely and interesting exhibition, though the museum itself was a tad small considering the entry price.

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The following weekend my sister and her family came to stay and so M had friends and cousins here for her birthday party.  J did an amazing job of entertaining them all for two hours and even extended the party by half an hour because he didn’t want it to end! :D

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With all this activity going on I’ve definitely not been feeling as flat.  The girls have been busy with all sorts of things – imaginative play; sums; card games; cooking; den building; dancing; craft; climbing trees; and Minecraft.

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A more detailed post to follow soon.

Bushy Park and a Car Breakdown

Ok, so we didn’t make it to Lumiere London – we were far too cosy and warm to face going out.  As it turns out it sounded too busy for us and was even turned off outside Kings Cross at one point to disperse the crowds.  I don’t do crowds, particularly with small children!

On Friday, we braved the freezing cold to meet D’s best friend at Bushy Park.  I’ve only been there once and that was years ago (for M’s back to school picnic!) and I had completely forgotten how near to us it actually is.  It’s only 20 minutes away, or at least it would be if it was easier to find.  No road signs and my sat nav didn’t know where it was either which meant we were late, and our friends were REALLY late for the same reason!  M was so cold by the time they arrived that we only stayed for a few minutes before heading home again.  Ah well, we will probably try again another time, especially now we know where it is!

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We’ve been revisiting a lot of old favourite films recently – Disney’s Robin Hood; Johnny English; 101 Dalmatians; and Jake & the Neverland Pirates.  We also watched Jurassic Park for the first time (didn’t go down well) and Hugo (me and M loved it!). We watched Castles: Britain’s Fortified History too, or at least I watched it: the girls weren’t really that interested until someone dropped their trousers and farted at the Normans during the Siege of Exeter – their ears pricked up at that point.

We’ve also spent a fair amount of time clearing out old toys to go to charity or in the bin; playing a few apps (Plants vs Zombies is a current favourite of M’s, and D has almost finished her One Billion maths app); playing Junior Scrabble; poker; learning card tricks; going to ‘D land’ (imaginary play is like medicine for D); playing the piano; and french knitting.

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J took the girls swimming at Guildford Spectrum yesterday but unfortunately he punctured a tyre on the way home and they had to wait hours to be rescued by the AA.  All three of them were absolutely exhausted by the time they got home and the girls have been quite out of sorts today too.  I can’t work out if it’s linked or if something else is going on.  We managed art class this morning but both sausages have been on edge all day – swinging between tiredness, boredom and tears. :(

I definitely have a case of the January blues which I think is rubbing off on the girls – I’m certainly through the lurgy we had last week so I’m not as exhausted as I was but I’m feeling rather flat and lethargic.  I can’t wait for my old buzz to come back!

Play Dates and Pootling

Since I last wrote, we’ve continued along on our pootling-wintery-slow phase – we’re still fairly busy but we’re all asleep by 9.30 every night, even night-owl M.

Last weekend, Aunty Sh took the girls to Wimbledon Theatre to see Peter Pan for their birthday presents.  It’s a little early for D but it was nice that they got to see something together.  They didn’t make Judo because J had too much work to do (the downside of being self employed!).

D has been spending a fair amount of time on Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4 on the iPad.  It isn’t a major thing in itself but for D it’s brave of her to try a new game on her own, especially a game with baddies in it!

On Sunday, J took the girls to the park to play football – amazingly he’s never just taken them out for a kick-about before as trips out tend to be to playgrounds or swimming pools.  The girls were really excited and loved it!  Last week he arrived home late and announced he was taking the girls to the park in the dark, which was quite an adventure too.  J can always be relied upon to be spontaneous. :D

On Monday we had a play date at our house with our first unschooling friends  – the kids played Minecraft together then moved onto other games like Connect 4 and Snap Circuits before ending with an almighty long (and hilarious) tour of D’s imaginary land.  The rest of the day we spent pootling around the house.

On Tuesday we were back to our usual routine of art class in the morning and Brownies in the evening.  I had a lovely bit of quality time with D as she doesn’t want to go to art anymore.  M came out of Brownies, full of the joys – she absolutely loves that group!  She wants to do an optional Saturday class to get her Science badge and has decided that she’d like to work towards another Brownie badge in her own time too.

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On Wednesday we had more friends over to play – they played out in the freezing cold for ages on the trampoline and there was a lot of giggling and thumping about upstairs too.  It was so successful we have arranged to meet again in a few days and this time we’ll be having some Minecraft fun, while I try to encourage my friend to accept screens as an acceptable form of entertainment on a playdate. ;)

Tonight we’re supposed to be going to see Lumiere London at Kings Cross but we’ll have to see if we can overcome the freezing cold and winter lethargy first…

 

M is SO Lucky

I can’t believe how lucky she is – truly.

Games that require no skill: she is likely to win.

Games that require luck and skill: she is even more likely to win.

She’s been asking to learn poker with me for the past few days but we haven’t got around to it until tonight.  So we got out our little Pocket Poker tin (found in the ‘Presents for Men’ section in WHSmith last Xmas: grr) and attempted to learn the game together using M’s ‘Card Games to Play’ book she got in her stocking this year.

We were three games in when she got a flippin’ ROYAL FLUSH!!!!  I think this may be a new interest for her. :)

Other than poker it’s been a fairly quiet week: we’ve all had some kind off low lying bug which hasn’t made us very ill but just quite tired.  We managed to squeeze a play date in with D’s best friend (D) and a trip into Wimbledon so that M could gather ideas for her birthday list.  M downloaded a sample Pokemon puzzle game onto her Nintendo 2DS that is so hard it makes my brain hurt – God she’s clever.  We’ve also been baking and cleaning – D is leaping at the chance to join in with either; learning new card games; continuing to build a cardboard boat and add accessories (like the treasure chest decorated by M below: the flower insignia is being drawn onto everything to do with the boat); thinking about and manipulating numbers (D is really into mental maths right now: the way she is beginning to work with numbers in her head is really astounding); and watching films.

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Next week our term-time classes begin so it will be back into our usual rhythm. :)

New Year

This is my 3rd New Year whilst home educating, and it’s the first one that I haven’t felt really fired up by HE.  However, this is no bad thing!  I feel relaxed, brave and sure enough to let things go at the pace they are without any feverish planning and strewing.

I’m determined to spend more time doing things that I want to do: so rather than spend my evenings reading HE blogs/on HE Facebook groups or scouring for HE resources, I’ll be picking up my sewing/watching TV or reading a book!

I’ve already started a Future Learn course – this one’s all about the constellation of Orion.  I completed the first week yesterday, with D enjoying it next to me.  There was nothing there that we didn’t know but we enjoyed going over it again and watching the videos.

We’ve had a lovely few weeks at my parents’ house over xmas and then a further 5 days spent with them over New Year at our house.  We had a great time, as ever!

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Yesterday was our first pyjama day of the new ‘term’.  Always a requirement of a successful HE lifestyle :D.  I had to take Morris to the vets for a general anaesthetic to have his teeth burred but the rest of the day was spent on Minecraft, interspersed with:

  • experimenting with an enormous marshmallow in the microwave!  We were given 2 bags of marshmallows by M’s friend B to try it out.  Even D was intrigued and dared to eat it for the first time!  We then continued with marshmallow fun by setting them alight over a candle.
  • learning a new card game.  M got this book in her stocking.  We had to play with just the two of us as D doesn’t like competitive games at the moment.
  • We googled where rubber comes from and then how erasers are made.
  • We watched a mesmerising animation on a triangle and the Sugar Plum Fairy being played on glasses.
  • The girls cleaned and cooked alongside me – they swept and mopped the kitchen floor, wiped and shined cupboards and handles and then made J’s dinner.
  • We watched Snow Chick – A Penguin’s Tale, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Liar Liar.
  • Sooo many questions about word means, social meanings, road safety, nature and instinct, sums, hemispheres and the zodiac to name but a few.

We went to a friend’s party on Sunday and I was so surprised that every guest there had a positive response to HE and there wasn’t one word on socialisation!  I felt very confident and proud of our decision to HE and today backed up that feeling.  From the outside it appeared like a slouchy pyjama day, but under the surface our brains were buzzing with questions and new connections.