Category Archives: July

In Nottingham!

We got back from our week in Scarborough on Friday and we’ll be staying in Nottingham for the next 3 weeks.  The girls and I always love coming here. As for HE, I’ve been directing them towards certain activities rather than letting them roam free while they’re here.  So far they’ve loved what we’ve done and it’s good for me because I can start to feel my way around how best to approach their learning and they can get used to me directing them more.

So what have we done?  Well… first the girls made cakes with Grandma!  M did the weighing and then they both shared the mixing, icing and eating.  Grandma bought some lovely fairy cake toppers from Lakeland so they led to a little imaginative game too.

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Then M finished her cross-stitching…

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…and started on a new design.  This time she is planning her design on graph paper I printed out from stitchpoint.com.  She’s drawn a very intricate border so it’s going to be a long-term project.

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D started her cross stitch a good while ago and was very pleased to get hers finished this morning.  She was surprisingly good at it for a 4 year old, and quickly got some speed going with her stitches.  What really surprised me though was her perseverance: she didn’t have a flop when she got into difficulties and stuck at it for an hour or two!  Plus, it was the first thing she asked to do when she came down this morning, so there we were at 6am, sewing away until she got it finished at 7.30.

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It was soooo quiet: I was doing HE planning on my laptop while D silently sewed.  Everyone else was in bed.  So I put some gentle music on and then started to think about other things we could be listening to while we sewed.  I ended up downloading a Nutcracker album which has a little explanation of what’s happening in between each scene.  The girls are a little familiar with The Nutcracker from dancing to it at Grandma & Granddad’s house and we have an Ella Bella Ballerina Nutcracker book which they both like. I thought this album could build on what they already know, so we’ll have to see how successful it is!

Just to backtrack a bit to yesterday, Grandma and I took the girls to Wollaton Hall for a run around.  By chance there were a few activities being run by the RSPB.  First the girls made a butterfly feeder, it involved quite a bit of colouring in so we encouraged M to spend a bit more time on finishing it at home – you can see them in the picture below.  Then we went down to the lake to do a bit of pond netting.  Luckily a guy there was very knowledgeable and showed M (D wasn’t interested) these tiny creatures hidden in the scum he’d netted out of the lake.  Ewwww.  Glad he was there – the bugs and things were so tiny we wouldn’t have spotted anything.

Then we walked back to the RSPB activity tables and the girls made a dragonfly out of pipe-cleaners and beads and a dial that helps you to identify butterfly species.  After that we did a bit of running around and the girls had a go on a bouncy castle.  They were pooped so then we went home.

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Today we looked after MD who immediately set to on a game of chess with M!  They both had only a rough idea of the rules of the game (Granddad gave M an introduction yesterday)  so I sat with them and helped.  I don’t think I’ve played chess since 1981 so I was a bit rusty but they both did really well and the game went on for quite some time without either of them getting bored.  Once that game finished, M asked for another game so she had a quick bit of lunch and then I played with her for another 2 HOURS!!  We had everyone crowded round the board by the end, all chipping in with ideas as to how M could get my King and she ended up winning!  I’m hoping to get M on a 3 day chess course next month so that she can get a better grasp of it than I can give her.  She definitely has a chess brain.

While this game was going on, D ranged between wanting to join in (she learnt a few of the pieces’ names) to wandering off because she was bored.  She also spent quite a bit of time doing Reading Eggs with Grandma’s help – she’s now on level 3!

The rest of the day has been spent mooching, playing, sewing and watching films.  M has been awake until 9pm the last few nights so I have just suggested to her that she has a later bedtime with the proviso that I don’t wait up with her until she falls asleep.  The past 3/4 months she’s been wretched when I tried to go downstairs, I think it was to do with all the anxiety from school.  So we’ll see how successful I am tonight…. watch this space.

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A day indoors

We spent the day at Legoland yesterday and it was HOT.  33 degrees apparently.  It was crowded too.  Either thousands of privately educated and home-schooled children were there or there was a lot of truanting going on.  I think probably the latter.  So J and I gritted our teeth and got on with it.  The girls were fabulous.  We queued for over an hour to go on the log flume and they didn’t really grumble much.  For the last hour we went in a more sedate part of the park which had a carousel, a swing roundabout and a mini-ferris wheel.  The girls loved it and it was so much more relaxing than the noise and crowds everywhere else!  Sorry to grumble, we did have a nice family day out, it was just annoying to have so much heat and so many crowds, particularly during term-time.

Today is J’s birthday!  The girls had made him cards and we bought him packets of chocolate brazil nuts and a keyring with photos of the girls inside (well what do you get a man who doesn’t want anything?!).  He was quite chuffed :).  I won’t tell you his age but he says he’s 42.

Once J had gone off to work, M got on with a drawing for a Royal Mail Christmas stamp competition.  The theme was ‘what Christmas means to me’

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She worked on it for a good few hours with a few breaks for playing with D and Piggy in the Middle.  The closing date is in a few days so I had to keep reminding her not to get drawn into tiny details in the picture and to just get on with it, quick!

Meanwhile, D did her first crossword!  She amazed me with her persistence to get it finished and looking good.  She did a bit of the spelling but mostly it was good for writing practise.

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Then we went on to do some work on Reading Eggs while M continued with her drawing.  D can go on and on with Reading Eggs.  At one point she had her head on her arms but was refusing to stop because she was so eager to see her avatar move along the map showing her progress.  Her reading and mouse control have improved so much because of it.

M finished her drawing by lunchtime.  She did so well to stay on track and get it done on time.  This was the finished picture!

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I persuaded them both to have a break and watch Peter Rabbit while I got the entry forms printed and filled out for the competition.  I also filled out forms for M’s first bank account!  She’s going to get £1 pocket money a week – half of that will be put into her account and the other half will be given to her.  She can spend the money in the bank if she wants to but we thought it would be good to get her used to saving.  Knowing M she will want to save!

After Peter Rabbit and some lunch we went out to post our letters then straight back home to keep out of the sun.  This afternoon was spent drawing cards for more birthdays next week.  D finished hers in half an hour and asked how to write the messages on the cards.  It was lovely to see her willingness to write as quite often she doesn’t want to do it.  M is half way through hers, she’s doing a lovely picture with watercolours.

Today my Ebay purchase arrived – Junior Scrabble!  I can’t wait to try it out on the girls.  We didn’t have time to play today but I did get the tiles out for D to play with while M was busy drawing.  She immediately asked me how to spell lots of sorts of words and had a go herself too!  I’m still trying to get my head around D: it seems to be that if she suspects she is being taught then she immediately doesn’t want to do it but if she initiates it then it’s ok?!

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I still need to go through my subjects, contents and resources to get things clear in my head for the LEA and get some targets for us to work towards.  That will have to wait though as I will be busy packing for Scarborough over the next 2 days!  Yippee!!

Questions Questions

The girls ask a lot of questions and a lot of the time sometimes I don’t know the answer.  So I’m going to post their questions I can’t answer on here in the hope that I’ll get around to finding the answers.

Like, why is grass green?  Well… I know it’s to do with photosynthesis but that’s about all I can remember…

A recent question came from M when we were making a sort of oven to melt a marshmallow in the sun.  We covered a bowl in foil, put the marshmallow on a stick, stuck the stick down with blue tack and covered the bowl in cling film.  When I was explaining the process of why the bowl would get warmer, I likened it to the heat getting stuck under Venus’ clouds, making it a warmer planet than Mercury.  So M asked ‘if the heat can get through the cling film, why can’t it get out again?’  Erm…

Is this a day off?

This is the question that D asks most days.  She still hasn’t got used to the fact that there is no more nursery.  I’m sure it will sink in some time soon.  She didn’t really finish nursery properly (she had a tummy bug and after that just refused to go back in) so it just sort of petered out.  It’s a shame she didn’t get to say goodbye to her teachers but she never seemed too keen on them anyway – she accused them of ‘bossing her about’.  Ha ha.

It does feel a bit like we’re on a ‘day off’ all the time and I’m wondering when to start some sort of structure.  Should I do it gently over the holidays so they barely notice that home school has begun or should I give them a complete break, time to forget about school and nursery and then start when schools go back?  I seem to be doing a mixture of the two at the moment: asking them if they want to try an experiment or do maths etc but not pushing it.  This afternoon for instance, M went crazy for Mathletics and got her first bronze certificate while D put on fairy wings on and made a ‘Precious Pie’ in the garden.  I helped her to write up a ‘recipe’ though and got her to think through the sequence of making it so it did have some educational aspect!

It wasn’t all Precious Pies today though: at 5.45am D asked to do her Reading Eggs (she’s now made it to level 2) and then M came down at 6 and got stuck into Mathletics.  I had to force them both off the computers at 7 as I was desperate for breakfast and thought they might be too.

Then I had a shower while M did more Mathletics (can you tell she loves maths?) and D got frustrated with the LeapFrog computer – she’s still got quite a way to go before she gets good mouse control.  We were in Wimbledon by 9.30 and in the coffee shop by 10!  Yeah!

M has started suffering from travel sickness so she had to lie down to recover from a 10 minute drive from Wimbledon.  They both watched Peter Rabbit for a bit while I made some lunch.  D ate the yokes of all 4 eggs I boiled!  She ate tons today, I think she must be having a growth spurt.

After lunch, M spent a good hour learning how to use watercolour pencils with a new watercolour pad she got from a party bag this weekend.  She made a lovely card for J’s birthday which I can’t show yet in case he sees it.  She also decided she wanted to make a ‘Perfect Pie’ like D’s but gave up when D and I asked her to play piggy in the middle.  It was a sign of the girls’ good moods today that no one stomped off in a huff when the ‘piggy’ got the ball.

D LOVES cracking, peeling and slicing her own eggs. Good job since she eats so many of them…
M doing P.E.
M painting with watercolour
The fairy and her Precious Pie
It was so delicious I ate all my share up
Here’s the recipe in case in of you would like to have a go at making your own pie
M’s first Mathletics bronze certificate!! Represents about 4 hours work.

I’m outta here. Tomorrow it’s Saturday which means I’ll get some me-time in the morning when Jeff takes the girls out (I’ll probably spend it cleaning the bathroom and doing research on magnetism.. more on that later).  We’re off to Ascot in the afternoon to see my friend Abi, I can’t wait as I haven’t seen her since January!

No more school!

Here we are! We made it to the end of of the summer term!  No more school!  No more nursery!

We’ve dabbled in a few bits and bobs this week but nothing too full on as we’re still finding our feet.

We made coloured ice cubes, and did an experiment to see what would happen if the cubes were mixed up.  Then we made sundials and attempted melt a marshmallow using the sun’s heat with a bowl covered with cling film, it didn’t work though.  The girls did a bit of Mathletics and Reading Eggs on the laptop and then we made shapes and structures using mini-marshmallows and cocktail sticks.  These were very popular and the girls must have sat for near on 2 hours to see who could make the strongest structure.

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M with the dyed ice cubes
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M waiting patiently for the ice cubes to melt
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These showed the girls how sundials were once used and how shadows change length over the course of the day
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M helping D to use the mouse on Reading Eggs
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D’s shapes

But today we took it easy because both girls were up very late last night: J thought it would be a good idea to take them to the park at 7pm!

This morning I was very impressed because I didn’t think much of what we were talking about was going in but they both told J all about what sundials were for and how people used them long ago before clocks were invented!  They were listening after all!

However, for most of the day there was A LOT of grumpiness around so we watched Madagascar and attempted to have an ‘end-of-school’ party (as per M’s request) but it was an absolute flop as both girls wanted to referee the games.  I didn’t much fancy playing musical bumps on my own.  We still managed to make (and eat) cakes though, along with sandwiches, crisps and party biscuits.

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These didn’t last long

There we are then, my first ever post on my first ever blog!