Category Archives: 2015

Strictly Times Tables

The love of numbers is still in the air!  D was working out what 4 x 9 is after seeing the judges’ score on Strictly Come Dancing.  She gets all cute and excited when she works something out in her head :D.  She’s still working out the number of tens and units in various numbers too.  She’s also (having been inspired by Strictly) trying to do various dance moves while saying the beat like a choreographer; and clapping to a beat and talking about the different speeds of a rhythm.  Who knew there was such a lot of maths in Strictly. 😉

M has also been thinking about Maths: in the car on the way to art class she asked me for some division questions, which then led onto me asking her sums with a negative answer (she quickly worked out she just needed to switch the numbers around in the sum!).  She then wanted to chant and be tested on her times tables.  And so the mental maths goes on.  I’m so pleased they see maths as something fun to do, not some awful chore that has to be waded through everyday.

The girls had their final art class before Christmas on Tuesday.  For D it was her final one because she doesn’t want to continue anymore.  She managed to finish her final canvas: another beauty which is going on the wall!  It’s a copy of Hundertwasser’s ‘Hommage a Van Gogh’.


M had her final Brownies class before Christmas too.  This time it was a little different because the majority of girls were performing a concert at their school.  It meant that there were only 8 girls there (instead of 21).  When I came to collect her at the end, the Brown Owl said to me she’d been amazing at joining in and organising the other girls!  I think this is due to her feeling more confident in a smaller group but they were also doing something that she loves – putting on a play!  No script, costumes, audience or anything – just a lovely game.  Right up M’s street.

Yesterday I took the opportunity to get out into the gorgeous wintry sunshine and to get to the Common one last time before we leave for Nottingham.  We all marveled at the frost which looked like fairy glitter, and the low sun which was like a bright torch in your eyes!  I completely forgot to read this week’s Nature Curriculum but it was just nice to get out.  The girls spent the entire trip playing a make-believe game, which seemed to have a Minecraft theme.


Today we have some guests arriving (Z and M!) so we’re all excited and looking forward to seeing them! 🙂


Today, D has been drawing her ‘motions’ (emotions) after being inspired by Inside Out.  First of all she drew Joy, Sadness and Anger (but no Disgust or Fear as she didn’t like them!) but then scrapped that and drew a new picture with just Joy because she “just feels so happy at the moment”.  That was lovely to hear given how highly strung she’s been recently.  I didn’t take a picture of it but she also drew her three favourite ‘islands’: Family; Christmas; and Goofball.  All in all it was very cute!  When D had finished drawing, we watched Inside Out again and M remarked how strange it is that they only show 5 emotions.  After a quick Google, I found an article which describes these 5 as the primary emotions (a bit like the primary colours), which I then read to the girls.  They seemed to understand but no doubt they’re taking a bit of time to process it as it was fairly complex!

I noticed today how there is such a difference in M’s attitude towards absorbing information: there is no sign of the panic/fear/anger/sadness that used to appear at a moment’s notice.  Now she just listens and asks questions if she needs to.  Today, she finished learning Silent Night on the piano – I was amazed that all mistakes were met with giggles instead of rage!  She did have a few moments of frustration (she is after all, human) but she kept herself in-check.  Why?  Because the bunnies were sleeping next to the piano and she didn’t want to disturb them, ha ha.  Every home should have a bunny. 🙂

J took the girls out last night to see all the London Christmas lights, along with his Mum and nephew.  They had a look at some shop displays, went up the Shard and finished off with some pancakes.  I was in two minds whether to go with them or not but in the end I decided I was in great need of some alone time!

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We’ve got documentaries coming out of our ears at the moment – the girls are actually asking for them to be put on!  This hasn’t happened before, ever.  As I’ve mentioned before, D loves the ‘Colour: The Spectrum of Science‘ programme and now M loves a new one I put on the other night on Netflix – ‘Secrets of Henry VIII’s Palace: Hampton Court’.  She seems fascinated by the goings on of Henry VIII.  We also watched ‘Secrets of the Tower of London‘ and two episodes of the ‘Britain’s Outlaws‘ series.  There have been so many questions, from M in particular, and no anger issues at all!  We tried ‘Shock and Awe: The Story of Electricity‘ too but that was a no-go: it didn’t pull any of us in unfortunately.

The girls have been busy making a boat from a cardboard box – they’ve really worked hard together.  They made oars to go with it, made a shelf for a little treasure chest and designed a flower motif on the base of the boat.  They then drew the same flower design with Sharpies on some plain white t-shirts.  Altogether a gorgeous little team project!

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No Curious Minds today: D didn’t want to go.  It was quite hard for me to accept as I could see it was a beautiful wintry day out there; but we have an arrangement whereby we all get a turn to have ‘the final say’ as to whether we go out or not.  So we stayed in and M finished off her Sequin Art, we watched Disney’s Christmas Carol (which was surprisingly true to the book); D did a bit of maths with Numberjacks and also made a card for her friend and both girls played on their boat.

We’ve had a busy happy few days really.  D is much more relaxed now that I’m with her in the evenings; and J has promised her that she doesn’t have to join in at Judo, she can just watch M if she wants to.  Giving her more control and comfort may well have done the job – I hope…


M spent the weekend recovering after that horrendous bug she caught last week – she looked awful: all skinny with large sunken black eyes.  D was also ill on Friday night, having had a relapse.  Needless to say, neither of them could go to Judo.

However, on Sunday we had our annual meal with J’s family to celebrate his parents’ anniversary.  It was at a Chinese restaurant – the first time the girls have been to one.  M certainly chose that meal to tank up – she tried everything in front of her – prawn crackers, sesame prawn toast, ribs, crispy seaweed, the lot!  She particularly liked making up the shredded duck pancakes with cucumber and spring onion.  This is a far cry from the girl who would only eat about 4 different foods a few years ago!  D was more true to form and ate some brioche I’d brought with me but she did try a prawn cracker which was pretty brave of her.

I can’t remember how much I’ve written about D’s state of mind at the moment but she’s worrying about anything and everything: Judo, art class, me leaving (to go to Australia or Russia?!); being forced to go to Brownies/school etc etc.  There have been a lot of tears this week over seemingly trivial things.  One major change though is that she can’t bear being left at night, which has meant me having no ‘me time’ at all in the evenings.  Even me being in the room isn’t enough – she wants to lie on top of me.  So I’ve ditched my me-time for now as the fear and sadness I see in her face when she’s begging me to stay just isn’t worth it.

On the plus-side, I am loving our bedroom time at the moment.  We either have a ‘lesson’ from D, or we get to read her new space book from the library (I went on my own at the weekend and picked up loads of great books).  I think I might be a tad more excited about this book than she is, as her interest in space isn’t as passionate as it used to be.  I have finished reading Heidi to M and I got her a few classics to choose from – she’s chosen Jane Eyre – one of my favourite books!  It’s rewritten for a modern-day audience but it’s been done really well, and isn’t abridged.  I found it in the 9-14 year old section but even D is keeping up with the story.

Today we’re back to our usual routine, which feels a bit odd after 2 weeks off due to illness.  We went to the girls art class this morning and then Brownies this afternoon.  Our free time has been spent on SequinArt, singing, piano playing, baking, sewing and board games.  In fact, neither girl has the remotest interest in doing anything ‘screeny’ – not even Minecraft!

On a final note, I was thinking today that home education doesn’t leave a lot of room for a private life – both girls are fully versed in periods these days although I did have to go through all the details again with D today.  She now thinks she’s luckier than boys because she’s got three holes instead of two.  We’ll leave it there.


Still Poorly, Still Learning

We’re not doing very well here – M has been too poorly to be able to do much.  It started on Sunday night and has continued off and on since then.  D is absolutely fine but is missing her playmate.

D has made up for it with lots of activities though.  Even M has been managing a couple of bits here and there.  On Monday we made Christmas decorations, inspired by this post on Artful Parent.  I made a yellow star, D made a multi-coloured one and M made a colourful pine cone.  She added a very pretty detail on the top too.

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We also made a Lego Nativity scene, inspired by this post on Frugal Fun 4 Boys.  M made the sheep while D and I made Mary, Joseph and Jesus.  M still wants to make a shepherd but hasn’t managed it yet.


D decided she would like to make a crown and throne for her bunny (to go with the felt wig!) so we set about making it together.  D has never really been one for proper construction (like M, who seems to have a feel for it in her bones) so she really learnt a lot about measuring and right angles this time.


We seem to have been holed up in the lounge for days now.  D was suffering from cabin fever a bit last night but on the whole she has loved the endless pyjama days!  M has been too ill to get off the sofa so we haven’t been able to go out.  What has really helped over the past two days is an audio book of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.  I signed up to a free month on Audible and chose it as my first book – I’m so glad I did.  Both girls have been listening but it’s been especially helpful to M, who is too ill to concentrate on the telly but seems to be able to listen to a book.

D has invented a new game (she’s got a great imagination and comes up with some hilarious games) where she’s a teacher who has to tell her students (me and M) about something from the posters on our bedroom wall.  Last night it was the number chart: I had to pick a number and then she would tell me about it – I was really impressed as she was explaining units and tens to me and then hundreds.  It then turned into a game where I would give her a sum and D had to point to it on the chart.  We got into division and how ‘half’ is the same as ‘divided by two’.  I was really pleased with both girls’ level of knowledge considering we don’t do any formal maths, we just talk about numbers a fair amount.  I’m beginning to see how much maths really is everywhere and how their maths knowledge really does have the potential to grow and expand, with no worksheets in sight.  By the by, M astounded me last week when the girls were discussing what score to give a dancer on Strictly – D couldn’t decide whether to give her 1/10 or 10/100 and M said ‘it doesn’t matter, they’re both the same’?!!!!  You see?  Maths can even be applied to Strictly Come Dancing. 😀

Tonight we had two ‘lessons’.  The first one was about skeletons – considering she hasn’t read her See Inside Your Body book for over a year I was seriously impressed by how much she remembered.  She did a lovely talk on the whole body starting with the skull and finishing with the feet, then I was tested at the end! Our second lesson was on the Solar System – D told me so much about Earth, again I was amazed by how much she remembered about the Pangaea and Earth’s axis but most of all I was amazed to hear her recount some of the things we’d learnt from watching Colour: The Spectrum of Science.  I don’t know why I was amazed, she loves that programme. 🙂

I don’t think there’s any chance we’ll get out of the house tomorrow but fingers crossed for Friday.

A Week in the Life of a Home Educating Family: Saturday 2015

Wow I can’t believe I made it to the end of the week.  And what an odd week it’s been with just about all our usual activities being cancelled for one reason or another.  We seem to have had quite an indoorsy and isolated week, which perhaps isn’t the best advert for home ed!  Most people outside the home ed community would assume that socialisation is a problem for home educated children, but that’s because they’re looking at us through schooly goggles.  I heard on a telly programme this week (was it My Little Pony?) that your family are your first friends: well, the fact that the sausages are still speaking to each other after the week we’ve had speaks volumes. 😀

Anyway, time for my final installment of A Week in the Life 2015.  If you missed the previous days’ posts, please click here:

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.


I have a lovely lie-in which was nice after yesterday’s early start.  The girls wake up too.  I go downstairs and feed the bunnies, leaving the girls snuggled in bed.  After I’ve made a cup of tea I go up again to see if they’re ready to get up but they’re not.


J notices it’s snowing – we tell M as she appears downstairs and she runs off shrieking the news to D.  D comes down and I show them another Story Bots video I found last night.  While we’re on YouTube, D spots a My Little Pony video she hasn’t seen before and the girls get immersed in that.  The snow stops after a 5 minute flurry.


J decides he has too much work to do so doesn’t want to take the girls to Judo this morning so he takes them out to see his parents and then onto the park.  I stay in and decide it’s high time I vacuumed the lounge: there is crunching underfoot and crumbs all over the sofas.  This is my ‘me-time’ – I used to begrudge the fact that I spent hours cleaning on ‘my time’, but these days I use it as a way of processing my thoughts, listening to my favourite radio programme and most of all, regain control of my environment.  I’m really not uber-clean but if I feel like the house is too dirty/messy then I get quite stressed about it which affects my time with the girls.


I have a coffee and apple crumble break.  I’m just starting to have a look through the YouTube for Kids app when there’s a knock at the door – it’s the sausages!  They’ve been at the park for over 3 hours and are in high spirits.  I get a little serenade before they come in, followed by J.  J really does love playing with them and gets easily distracted, hence skipping 45 minutes of Judo ‘because he’s got too much work to do’ to spending 3 hours at the park instead…



J goes upstairs to nap work.  The sausages play My Little Pony on the iPad together and then I remember that Inside Out is released on DVD this weekend.  I look through Amazon Video and buy it so we can watch together.  It’s a really interesting film and such a great way of getting the concept of emotions, and the importance of each emotion, across to children.  I can’t say the girls understand the point of the film yet but it generally takes a few goes to cement films into the sausages’ minds.


J comes down again.  After running around the house trying to guess what emotion the other is feeling, the girls settle down to Minecraft.  I sit with them and sew on M’s new Brownie badge and put their new gloves onto elastic.


I make dinner for J and me and then we watch 2 episodes of Have I Got News For You.  I think it’s the first time we’ve both watched a grown up programme together in front of the girls!


The girls decided earlier that they wanted to watch Strictly Come Dancing live this time (usually we record it on TiVo and fast forward through the boring bits) so I put it on.  They were mega excited and spent the entire programme copying the dances and making up their own routines.  Strangely, I think this is the first day in a long long time where they haven’t fallen out once?!


It’s up to bed.  They are still really giggly (in a hilarious way – not a manic I’m-going-to-burst-into-tears-at-any-moment way, which is more common at bedtime) and they decide they’d rather jump about on the bed than have a story.  So I read Heidi for 5 minutes and then make a quick exit.  Now they’re making a den and I can hear a lot of shrieks and laughter.

What a lovely, joyful end to the week. 🙂


A Week in the Life of a Home Educating Family: Friday 2015

I was just reading Friday’s post from 2014’s ‘A Week in the Life‘ and it seems I picked an odd week to do it then too!  I still like what I wrote a year ago though:

“What I love about our life though is the little things: the tiny sparkles of funniness throughout the day; the joy I have in learning together with the sausages; the joy I have when they have learnt something for themselves; and the overriding fact that they are 100% happier at home than at school!”

Amazing that I still feel the same way really: I don’t feel jaded by HE, even if it is bloody hard work.  It’s like waking up in the morning and realising you’ve got the best job in the world. 🙂

So, on with the day!  If you missed the previous days’ posts, please click here:

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.


I wake early after M’s toy falls out of bed and bangs on the floor.  Last night M asked me to finish an order on Farmville so I come downstairs, feed the bunnies, make a cup of tea and play on the iPad for a while.


D is awake, we can hear her upstairs.  J goes up to see her and she pretends to be asleep in bed.  She eventually comes down, all pleased with herself for having fooled Daddy.


M wakes and gives the bunnies some peanuts.  She takes over the Farmville order.


D finishes painting her box – it’s all done!  Afterwards she watches M playing Farmville and helps her while eating Hula Hoops (we’re having a Hula Hoop day).  I get lost in Facebook.



D interrupts my Facebook reverie to ask me to Google a picture of what earth would look like without oxygen.  There doesn’t seem to be one – I find a pretty comprehensive article but I can’t absorb it right now.  I make a mental note to look at it properly later.


I go upstairs to get dressed.  The girls are playing K’Nex and Multi Cubes when I come down.  J is trying to show D how the cubes relate to the times table.  I do a bit of dusting in the lounge and then I ask the girls to get dressed for our weekly social group, Curious Minds.  D is upset and says she doesn’t want to go this week.  We take it in turns as to who gets the final say in whether we go out or not and today it’s M’s turn.  M wants to go so I reassure D that I’ll take the iPad with me if she really isn’t in the mood to play.  That cheers her up a bit.


D paints a clay sculpture she made a week ago.  This inspires M to do some clay work too and she decides to make some tiny beads with little patterns engraved on them.


We get to Curious Minds and D is still not in the mood.  She gets upset in a football game and doesn’t recover from it.  M tries to engage her in dismantling a plug but that only lasts a few minutes.  Eventually, M decides it’s time to go home as her usual play mates aren’t there today anyway.  I get some interesting questions in the car on the way home: they ask why Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th, which leads onto the Queen having 2 birthdays and then onto what the Queen Mother is called and why she isn’t/wasn’t still Queen.



D watches Lapin Cretin on YouTube.  M carries on making clay beads.  I make an apple crumble.


M and I watch Back to the Future 3.  She has so many questions and she copes admirably with all the complicated space time continuum stuff.


M calls her cousin A to play Animal Crossing together.  It doesn’t go so well today though as they keep getting disconnected and then A has to go for her dinner.  We’re all quite tired so the evening continues with My Little Pony an Heidi on Netflix.


J comes home and he watches a My Little Pony with the girls before it is time for them to go upstairs.


As D isn’t really into bedtime stories of late, I show her the new YouTube app for kids and both girls immediately get stuck into watching LOADS of videos – they especially love Story Bots and watch them over and over.  M loves it so much she decides she doesn’t want a story either so we sit and take turns choosing videos to watch.


I come down and find J asleep on sofa.  As usual, I’m exhausted so I’ll just finish this off and then go to bed too!