Category Archives: March

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.

Moons and Newspaper Toys

I started my OU Future Learn course on Moons today!  I managed to get a solid hour in before the girls’ distractions (tablet and TV) wore off.  It’s a fascinating course but I can feel my old ‘school’ feelings rising to the suface: panic that I won’t be able to do it, and irritation with people who are smarter than me, haha.  Thanks to D, I know a fair bit about moons already but I’m loving the chance to learn more.

We’ve had a nicely paced, happy couple of days: yesterday we spent 3 hours in Wimbledon, buying holiday clothes, sandals and a trip to the library.  I think we could actually spend hours in there and not get bored.  M scours the shelves looking for books to read and D asks me to read armfuls of space books.  I found a kitchen science book that explains how to build with ‘bricks and mortar’ using sugar cubes and an egg white mixture.  M looked so thrilled with the idea she gave me a big hug! I think I might have found another of M’s passions: construction!

In the afternoon, m carried on creating spin art on our Snap Circuits toy.  M also made some cheese straws but she didn’t like them which means I’ll be forced to eat them up.  I made a geodesic dome for D and she has been watching telly in it ever since.  Then D did some more writing for her space lapbook while I made thaumatrope toys for them both.  I was explaining persistence of vision to M and wanted to show how eyes can play tricks on the brain: she was genuinely interested… for about a minute…

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I’ve left the toys on our new bookcase in the lounge so they can pick it up again if they want to.

At the crack of dawn this morning they both decided they wanted to make a rocket!  Well, it was 8am but it felt very early for such activities.  The boosters have been painted and the shuttle covered in foil but we’re awaiting the delivery of a glue gun to finish the project off.  A glue gun!  All I need now is a laminator and I will feel like an official home educator.


Then they both got into pirate mode again and made treasure maps, spy glasses and paper hats.  We’re getting through A LOT of newspaper lately.  Just before it was time to go swimming they both got absorbed in drawing pictures for each other.  Sometimes it really feels like a shame to go out when there’s so much to do indoors.  I know M already feels like there are not enough hours in the day to do all the activities she wants to do!

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As for me, I’ve got a list as long as my arm of jobs I need to get done before our holiday in 2 weeks so I’m going to sign off and get back to my moon studies!

A Colourful Afternoon and a Geodesic Dome

Over the weekend I finished the bug house and made a little allotment for me and the girls.  We’ll started planting our veg and flowers in a few weeks.


On Sunday, J took the girls to Guildford Spectrum for the day – they went ice skating and swimming for 6 HOURS!!!  They were all shattered but happy on their return.

After such a busy Sunday neither girl wanted to get dressed or go out today so I shelved plans to go to Wimbledon and we had an activity filled day at home instead.

No day is complete without some sort of space work: D glittered her galaxy mini-book and did some lovely writing about planets too.  She knows so much about space now it is quite easy for her come up with facts to fill her lapbook up.  We then watched a recording of Channel 4’s ‘Live From Space’.  Even M watched it, although she is ‘definitely not interested in space’.

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While the girls were having lunch something popped up on my Facebook Newsfeed from Tinkerlab so I quickly put it together to entertain them while they ate:


It was supposed to show light refraction but it didn’t work very well!  But the girls loved looking at how the colours mixed and it gave me an idea for another activity I had spotted on Tinkerlab earlier in the week: Snap Circuits spin art!

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It kept the girls entertained for most of the afternoon and we also had a go at a little chromatography experiment I saw on An Ordinary Life.  I find it best not to go into the science with M until she is thoroughly comfortable with doing the practical side first so I gave her the freedom to just get on with it without any ‘lesson’.


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The girls also managed to fit in a few films today: Matilda, Disney’s Robin Hood and, of course, Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  But just before bed we squeezed in one last activity – building M’s geodesic dome!  She is soooo happy with it and has lots of plans to paint it, put blankets on it and all the activities she can do inside it!


HE in the Spring

How different HE seems when the sun comes out!

We have barely used our official HE room in the last few days (except for M who is still sneaking about making my Mothers’ Day card).  Instead we’ve been in the garden: playing, building, chasing, weeding and potion making.

Our builder friend, P was back again on Thursday and M helped him to rearrange the climbing frame to her design.  We’ve now got a much roomier frame and a steeper slide!


M also made a ‘potion’ using sand and various herbs around the garden.  She adores strong smells and spicy tastes and spent a long time feeling and smelling the plants.  In fact, at dinner yesterday she actually ate a whole black peppercorn to found out what it tasted like!

M continued to de-stone our garden to prepare it for planting in a few weeks.  We also have some lovely large decorative pebbles which she washed clean too.

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Meanwhile, D asked me to build her a den which she sat inside and did some painting on our water mat and chalking on a little chalk board I found at the back of the toy cupboard.  She drew a lovely picture of Oberon and Titania – Uranus’ moons!  Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of it.  D continues to spend hours of her day deep in her imagination.  At the moment, the slide is upturned and has become her pirate ship: she can variously be found in the crow’s nest or swabbing the decks…


J also took the day off on Thursday and he took them to the park, out to Wimbledon and chased them endlessly around the garden!

I decided on the spur of the moment to have one of our apple trees felled: we’ll be putting a garage up in the coming months and it would have been a bit too close to it.  Sounds a bit callous but the tree had seen better days.  So within an hour some tree surgeons had sawn it down.  We all had a little cry for our tree, particularly M who took it very hard.  However, it will mean that our other little apple tree will now have more chance to flourish.

I asked the tree surgeons to leave us some logs behind so that we can make a log pile house for bugs, bees and butterflies, and perhaps some space at the bottom for a hedgehog.

On Friday, M got started on making newspaper ‘poles’ for her geodesic dome.  I offered to do them but she insisted she wants to make it all herself (and then double checked with me that SHE would be the boss of the finished den, not D).  We came a bit unstuck with the design of it so we asked our friend Lisa over at An Ordinary Life for some help, and she kindly posted her instructions online yesterday!


So that’s what M will be doing over the next few days.  She really loves construction, tinkering, fixing and building: she told me she wants to make a ferris wheel out of cocktail sticks and marshmallows next…

M has wanted to go ice skating for a long time now so we went back to Guildford Spectrum on Friday afternoon.  It is an utterly miserable time for poor D and I have to say it seemed a real shame to be going somewhere cold and dark on such a lovely day but M really loves it so I don’t mind going now and then.  I read Wonderwise books to keep D happy while M went round the rink – she skated for an hour before getting too tired to carry on!  Just to see the look on M’s face made it all worthwhile – she was beaming so widely it brought a tear to my eye!

We’ve only had one minor anger incident over the last 2 days and it didn’t last too long: I set the girls ‘life skills’ to accomplish, which are skills which they choose or skills that I feel they really NEED to learn.  D is making progress with hers, which is learning how to fasten her own seatbelt.  I haven’t set a task for M for a while so she asked if she could learn about the months of the year.  It was going well until there was a bit of melt-down.  I think it was a case of trying to take in too much at once.  So I just stopped immediately and packed her off for a bath – seemed to do the trick as she was chirpily chatting to D a few minutes later!  Phew!

I got an unschooling confidence boost yesterday as it seems D is teaching herself maths.  She voluntarily got her Arithmasticks out and wrote out some addition sums for herself to work out!  She was also beaming with pride when I wrote some subtractions out for her which she then got right.


After the girls had got out of the bath I strangely started to get a stomach ache which became so bad I had to go to bed!  Very odd.  Anyway, the girls were gorgeous and were really excited at the prospect of doing all my jobs for me.  Adorable.