Growing Up

M’s will to learn is going from strength to strength – she is actively, positively, wanting to learn new things and to get a grasp on things she doesn’t understand.  It is so refreshing!

This week I bought a new STEAM book – sometimes it’s lovely to go through a book for ideas – I tend to feel overwhelmed when I look on the internet.  M saw me with it so we read through it together and she picked out 6 or 7 projects she’d like to try.  We were looking at an electrical project and M started asking questions about how electricity works – I seemingly wasn’t grasping exactly what she was asking and she was getting frustrated but we got there in the end: she managed to find her words and ask

“Why do things behave the way they do?”

Wow.  What a question!  I obviously didn’t have an answer on hand for that but we had a chat about scientists questioning everything and some of them even turning to religion for an answer.

She does seem so much older now she’s nearing 10 – she makes her own breakfast now: she toasts a waffle and sorts out her own drink.  She’s even been sleeping for 11/12 hours a night this week so I’m sure she must doing a lot of growing.

I’ve also noticed recently how amazing the girls’ vocabulary has become: we were doing some research on Terraria and noticed pictures of bunnies wearing party hats – the explanation read that they only wear party hats when there is a party on.  M asked “what qualifies as a party?”.  What the hell?!  Where did that word come from?! Meanwhile, D is wandering around on Minecraft saying “I’m looking for some flat terrain“.  It is all hilarious and super-impressive at the same time.😀

This week the girls have been playing Terraria and Minecraft, trampolining, playing chase with J and playing with their cousin M, who has come to stay for a few days.

And finally, here is a picture of M dressed up as a dragon – J got out the long-forgotten dressing up outfits when I was out last weekend,🙂

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Old and New

Busy busy busy.  Too busy to write a blog and too tired to squeeze it into the hour I have to myself before the girls get up in the morning.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me – I keep waking up at crazy o’clock: 4, 5 in the morning?!!  What is that about?

I keep swinging between giving up this blog but then I love looking back over old posts.  This week D said she wanted to grow her hair as long as M’s and I remembered that 2 years ago M’s hair was short as D’s so I showed them both September 2014‘s blog posts.  They really inspired M to go back to some old activities – she tried the Alchemy app again, made gloop and iced cakes.

So that was the old stuff.  The new stuff was flying a kite!  We went to Camber Sands for a day trip on Wednesday and it was glorious.

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We had a recovery day on Thursday and M and I played an ongoing game of Monopoly, and D got back to Stampy/Sqaishey/Amy Lee/DanTDM.  D also did a very cute ‘secret’ picture for M.  There was garden play and testing out our new ‘Mood Maker’ nail varnish, which changes colour according to temperature.

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On Friday, we had friends over to play – there was Minecraft, Terraria and chase games in the garden.

In Minecraft land, D’s creativity knows no bounds.  At the moment her skin is a colourful version of Sqaishey Quack’s, and as Sqaishey’s favourite food is pumpkin pie, she built an enormous one for her to live in, along with a large Sqaishey bending over to eat it.😀

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M has been working through the Great Fire of London Minecraft map: she has quite enjoyed it but at the moment is preferring to  work on her own worlds.  There’s been lots more redstone work: D creating secret doors and M creating colour changing beacons.  It really is beyond me!  D asks me to play with her in Minecraft quite a lot (even J has had a go too – D was in hysterics because he was so bad at it): sometimes I have to do a parkour course she’s created for me and sometimes she wants me to help her build something and sometimes we play chase – we run round and round hitting each other and I always lose.🙂

M has started a pottery class – the same one she went to two years ago.  She’s working on a little pot with really intricate details.  She is also back at Brownies – the leader has told her she can stay until Easter which is wonderful news as she really doesn’t want to leave when she’s 10 in January.

Lastly, I went to ‘A Day with Sandra Dodd’ on Sunday – the first unschooling conference I’ve ever been to, the first time I’ve been in contact with loads of unschoolers and the first time I’ve met Sandra Dodd in person!  She was really inspiring and really good speaker.  I was also lucky enough to meet a blogger friend in person and make other new friends too – I absolutely loved it and hope it’s repeated next year.

Colour and Vision

On Monday we took a trip to the Natural History Museum for their Colour and Vision exhibition.  I love colour and anything to do with it so I really wanted to see this, and especially the light installation that had been created especially for the exhibition.  I figured/hoped the girls would be a little interested but took their iPads along just in case.

I find NHM to be quite ‘dry’ on the whole: it could do with more interactive pieces, which would really engage the sausages.  The exhibition could have done with some injection of life too.  Considering it was about evolution and vision, it was very ‘dead’: there were far too many glass cases of dead things, many of which made M and me baulk.

The art installation was beautiful and we all admired the changing spectrum of colours from different angles.

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D managed 5 minutes of the exhibition before collapsing into tears because it was so boring!😀  So she played on Minecraft for the rest of the time.  Fair enough, it just wasn’t attention grabbing enough and the exhibits were too high for her to see.  M on the other hand, absorbed most of it – she asked soooo many questions and we chatted about evolution, the tree of life and the development of eyes.  Her favourite part was the only interactive bit – a computer game which tested how quickly you could spot a camouflaged crab.

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The past two London outings have shown me how ready and eager she is to absorb information now – the questions she asks are incredible and tend to get me thinking along lines I’ve never considered before!

On the tube, M wanted me to give her sums to work out – it was a good distraction from the heat and motion sickness she was suffering from.  She managed quite a few before her eyes became glazed and she just couldn’t even hold the sum in her head.  We had a chat about Aspergers and how she has a smaller working memory than a neuro-typical person.  Her diagnosis has been so useful to me in helping me to understand her more and to help her understand that other people have the same struggles too.

When we got back I put on my favourite ever documentary, ‘Colour: The Spectrum of Science’.  The girls dipped in and out of it while playing Minecraft.

Overall, it was a good day!  I think it’s a shame that NHM is so old fashioned – I think they need to up their game a bit.  It’s so exciting just stepping through the doors but I find it quite boring inside.:/ Though I was impressed to read that you can now tour the NHM on Google Street View so perhaps there is hope.🙂

Glorious Google

This week, D asked me why Gloria (a hippo in Madagascar 3) was wearing a scuba diving mask when surely she could breathe under water?  This lead on to Googling (D says “can you ‘Google Up’ something, Mum?” like this is some sort of new verb she’s invented) how long hippos can stay under water while holding their breath.  Which led on to how long people can hold their breath under water for… which led onto learning about techniques for doing this… Which led onto a carbon dioxide explanation (M pipes up with ‘trees use carbon dioxide!) and the meaning of ‘acidifying blood’.  Glorious Google.

Other recent conversations have been about iron (we’re trying to ensure M eats enough iron everyday): linking it to Minecraft (imagine if we could EAT iron ingots, Mum?!’; linking it to our cast-iron radiators which we’ve been disconnecting and flushing to get them working again; Googling the 5 stages of iron overdosing after M was concerned she might eat too much iron, and amazement that we EAT metal!

I love these rabbit holes and connections.

Another thing Google is useful for is for doing research on a previously jailed sexual offender that your daughter wants to watch on YouTube.  That was D, wanting to watch L for Lee play Minecraft.  I was in a cold sweat wondering what I should do so I stalled her for a while by getting her to watch new Stampy videos while I panicked thought about the best approach.  In the end, I figured he’s unlikely to be displaying dodgy behaviour in his videos but I would be upfront about it to D.  So I told D and M that L for Lee did something horrible to someone and went to jail for it.  D wanted to watch anyway, M didn’t.  Questions from D: ‘But he seems really nice in the videos?;  ‘Do you think he’s still friends with Stampy?’; ‘How can he be nice and horrible?’.  I felt deeply uncomfortable about the whole thing but I knew that if I didn’t let her watch him then she would find ways of doing it behind my back anyway.  In the end she watched 3 of his videos and then returned to watching Stampy – turns out he doesn’t make very good videos – thank goodness!!

And finally, a gorgeous Minecraft creation by D.😀

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Art, Trampolining and Minecraft

Our week has been a quiet one since the visit to London on Monday – the heat was too much to go out most days.  I had earmarked Friday as a day to visit Severndroog Castle but on the day itself none of us felt like going!  Such is the wondrous flexibility of home ed.

We’ve been doing all sorts at home though.  Tons of time has been spent on the trampoline – the girls have been learning a synchronised routine involving drops and spins and they love practicing it over and over.

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M has finished making her Sylvanian Families food!  She started the project 2 years ago so I’m impressed that she’s stuck with it and was motivated to get it done.🙂 Each cereal box was made from tiny pieces of card, which were stacked together and glued.  The stacks were then wrapped in paper and glued.  Then M carefully matched the paint colour to the box label before painting, varnishing and sticking the label on.  Phew.  Next up is the shelves to put the boxes on…

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Once D saw the paints were out, she wanted to paint too and did this happy bunny in her art book – reminds me I really must clear a space on our table to have some art materials out on a permanent basis!

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D has been making videos of her toys playing and has once again requested to video herself playing Minecraft like Stampy does.  This week I have spent hours and HOURS trying to figure out why Minecraft wasn’t loading on our laptop and eventually got it working again!  Plus, after all my fiddling about, the laptop is working like a dream so hurrah for that.  The girls are loving playing on Minecraft’s PC version so I’m hoping to sort some recording software out for that soon.

We’ve had to deal with two deaths (in Minecraft) this week.  The first was quite dramatic – D’s house got struck by lightening, which caused it to set on fire, which in turn killed her cat, Mitty.  She was upset but not as much as I thought she would be.  We all set about making a grave for Mitty and doing a little funeral service.  Later on in the week, M managed to tame her first cat in survival mode but it disappeared when she took it out a day later.  She was so upset about it.😦  They might not be ‘real’ pets but you still attach to them and feel their loss when they die.

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Not Back to School #4!

Yes, this is the 4th time we’ve celebrated Not Back to School!  I think I get more excited about it than the girls – they’re a bit ‘yeah, whatever’.  But I love the start of a new ‘school year’ – it feels lovely and fresh and full of promise.

This year we celebrated by going to Costa for their favourite treats and then onto the Museum of London to see the ‘Fire Fire’ exhibition, which is commemorating the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London.

It was a last minute decision to take them there after they both showed a lot of interest in it when the wooden replica of 1666 London was set alight on the Thames.  I thought the museum would be quiet with it being the first day at school but it appears a lot of schools had an inset day, doh!  D had lost her enthusiasm after a 45 minute wait to get in and then it all went downhill from there – the poor sausage was sobbing with the sadness of the fire and the worry that it might happen to us.  Nevertheless, M loved it and wanted to see all the exhibits and try on the clothes.  We had tons of conversations about it all and it was lovely to see M so engaged in history.

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We’ve been remarkably busy this last week, squeezing in playdates, visitors and builders in each day.

We had my cousin and her son here for 3 days and we whiled away our time at home playing Terraria, Minecraft, Geometry Dash, playing in the paddling pool, bouncing on the trampoline and watching the new Jungle Book film.

As soon as they’d gone we had a play date at M’s friend’s house.  We haven’t seen them all summer and the girls had a lovely time playing in their garden for hours.

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We had a quiet day at home on Friday.  D watched the usual Stampy/Squid/DanTDM videos while M played on Minecraft.  Aquila happened to arrive that day so I took the opportunity of reading it to them.  This month’s issue is all about the children of WWII – the girls already have a vague idea about it having seen it in films and talked about it.  It was, as usual brilliantly written but I got quite tearful thinking of all the children coping with war now.

On Saturday, J took the girls to the park and I took the opportunity of planning and writing out the month’s calendar – we’ve got some lovely things planned this month.  We only have two classes for M planned (pottery and Brownies), which would have previously sent me into a panic that we weren’t doing ‘enough’, but now I feel pleased that our weeks are so open and flexible.🙂

Edible Maths

M has been working hard at eating her 8mg of iron a day – just shows how far she’ll go to avoid taking medicine!  An off-shoot of this has been adding up the iron mgs each day and asking me to calculate how much she’s eaten.  Yesterday she got frustrated because she didn’t understand what I was saying when I said she’d eaten ‘1.4mg’.  In essence, she didn’t understand decimal fractions.  So I sat down and tried to explain it to her (all the while realising how rusty my mathematical thought processes are) – there were a lot of tears and anger but M determinedly persevered (and I kept my cool).  Well done us.🙂

I tried many different ways to explain it (while wishing I had invested in an expensive fractions maths set I was eyeing up a few years ago) but what worked in the end was drawing out the ‘ones’ divided up into grids of 10, which she can then colour in as and when she eats.  She hasn’t grasped it totally but she’s comfortable with the concept and is happy to use the grids to track her progress from now on.

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We had a similar situation a few months ago when M decided she was going to use Khan Academy to learn maths – all was going well until it suddenly switched from simple additions and shape recognition to subtraction complete with carrying over (or regrouping as it now seems to be known).  I spent about an hour explaining the process and she got there in the end after a lot of angry tears but unfortunately it put her off Khan Academy for good.

I got through maths at school by parroting back everything I was taught, I had no real understanding of it and the whole thing seemed totally useless to me, though I can now appreciate how certain aspects of maths have everyday applications.   I love how M desperately wants to understand the roots of mathematical concepts and I can see how she’s gradually getting a grounding for maths that will mean she’ll eventually have a true understanding of it all.

Thankfully she can learn at her own pace, and work on concepts as and when her brain is ready to assimilate them.  What a privilege.🙂