Tag Archives: Aquila

Many Many Activities on the Go

We’re getting to the stage now where M has more and more interests and projects on the go as she dips her toes into anything and everything.  Currently, she’s into: nature walks (big time – she longs to go to the common and would go everyday if she could!); collecting anything of interest on the walks and examining them at home; learning piano tunes; gardening; working her way through New Super Mario Bros on her Nintendo DS2 (and teaching D how to get through the levels too); sewing; Minecraft (she’s currently building her first large-scale house in survival mode); learning about space in Minecraft School; making birthday cards for family members and making Christmas decorations.  She’s also just bought a paper-flower making craft kit and she wants to finish her Fimo kits that she was given for Christmas last year.  Phew!  And that’s not forgetting the stuff she does around all that – watching films, listening to music, singing, dancing, baking, drawing, Facetiming her cousins, playing with the bunnies, playing with D, going to Art class, Brownies, Judo and our social group.  Blimey, she’s one busy girl!  But busy in such a relaxed, meandering way that if I didn’t take note of these activities going on around me, it would seem as if not much is happening at all. 😀

D is slowly emerging from her My Little Pony craze and although this is slightly overlapping with an Alvin and the Chipmunks passion, she is generally more up for other activities and outings than she has been over the past few weeks.  I like that she delves into these programmes with such gusto but I do like a bit of variety!  Recently she’s been making Christmas decorations, playing New Super Mario Bros, playing Teach Your Monster to Read, gardened, making a pop-up card for her cousin and learning how to use the sewing machine.

Both girls have been poorly this week so we’ve actually been taking it quite easy.  D had a tummy bug (now gone) and M has a cold and cough.  We made it out to the common today, although it was a fairly gentle walk with a couple of stops for sketching:


Indoors, I have finally got the sewing machine out because I’ve got to make a mermaid costume for M’s Brownie party (mythical creatures theme) next week.  The girls were so excited and I showed them how to use it – they’ve had loads of fun just making patterns on paper with no thread.


Once I’ve finished the costume, I’ll thread it up for them and get them sewing!  They’re both showing a lot of promise with it – they’ve got very good control.  This is M’s picture, which she then folded and made into a bag with handles.  D’s are brilliant too but she keeps cutting them up so I haven’t managed to get a picture!


We also made a Victorian puzzle purse, as seen in this month’s Aquila magazine.  And as I mentioned before, the girls have begun making Christmas decorations – it’s never too early!!  We went to our gorgeous local art shop and bought some polystyrene stars and balls to decorate.  We always admire their window displays and we chatted to the lady in the shop who showed us an ex-window display item: a quilled letter.  M and me adore quilling and I feel sure we’ll be doing something like this soon.

We were going to go out at dusk tonight to see the moon but M was too tired so we’ll leave it until next week’s supermoon lunar eclipse!

Birthday Celebrations!

Hey all, we’ve been away for two weeks with my parents in Nottingham.  We seemed to be on a permanent playdate and the girls didn’t want to come home!  We visited cousins in Birmingham, had sleep-overs at my sister’s house in Nottingham, and had cousins over for sleep-overs at my parents’ house.  We also had an early 6th birthday party for D because she wanted all her cousins to be there but her birthday isn’t until next week.

The party was very basic with the standard party games, a treasure hunt and a game of Twister but D said it was fantastic!


We can’t go for long without some form of art being done and luckily, Grandma had invested in a new set of watercolours which the girls loved.  D was inspired by Creative Galaxy to produce a pointillism rainbow and a Fauvism picture.  Seriously, why would anyone restrict screen-time when there’s this stuff being absorbed?!  Thanks to this programme, D is also keen to paint a mural on our lounge wall but I’m not so keen.  The girls have also been watching lots of Mr. Peabody and Sherman and thanks to that film have gained an awareness of Leonardo da Vinci, Agamemnon, the French Revolution, Tutankhamun and George Washington.  Their interest in the French Revolution has been backed up by Aquila this month, who did a feature on it in their magazine.

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The sausages love playing schools and Grandma was asked to set one up for all the toys, which she duly did.  The girls spent hours on sums, spellings, reading, P.E., history, Spanish, space and art. 🙂


Grandma also bought them both a book for Easter and M wanted the Frozen paperback.  She proceeded to read almost all of it to herself every night in Nottingham!  I think it really helped that she knows the script by heart which helped her to understand what was happening in the story and not panic when she couldn’t read certain words.

My sister also taught the sausages something while there, she is an Environmental Health Officer and happened to have been showing a class at school how to wash their hands properly to stop germs spreading so she had her glo-light thingy with her.  The girls loved putting the special lotion on their hands and then testing to see how much was left after a hand-wash.


M also produced this incredible pencil drawing of a rubber plant while on a visit to my cousin in Birmingham:


Since we’ve been back, J has played with the sausages a lot, having missed them tremendously.  He took them swimming for 3 hours at the weekend!  He has also had them in the garden a great deal.  Me and the sausages need a bit of a shove sometimes to get in the outdoors, me in particular.  It’s something I’m determined to change, partly because my sedentary tendencies just aren’t healthy, and partly because I know how much the girls need me to do it.  So with that in mind, I chose to take the girls out to Morden Hall Park today, for my birthday!

It was really hot and as we haven’t really explored it properly it was quite exciting to be somewhere that felt new.  We played frisbee and fetch (the girls were pretending to be dogs) and explored the different fields, gardens, play areas and the River Wandle.  It’s really lovely and I can’t believe we haven’t used this great (and free!) resource properly before.

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More birthday celebrations tomorrow as J has the day off!

Storytelling & Lego

There’s been a whole lot of creativity going on this week and it feels like a few sparks have been ignited which is always lovely to see!

We had a fairly busy weekend, with a family lunch out for J’s parent’s 60th wedding anniversary on the Saturday, and then two play-dates on the Sunday.

As the week has continued, there has been noticeably less telly on D’s part and much more creativity going on.  On Monday there was a lot of Lego building, then some painting and then D made a ‘story chair’ and told us a story in it (and then I had to have a go too).

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Then we were off to pottery in the afternoon.  It was the last session of the term, and the last one for D entirely, unless she decides to return.  As usual, we had our interesting chats in the car: today I had the news on and I felt myself tensing up as there was an item about a man being imprisoned for child abuse – strangely though, neither of the girls commented on this!  M was more interested in the following item about hospital cancer wards, and we had a good conversation about cancer and what the different wards might be in hospitals and why they’re separated.

That evening, J was home and watching Wild Weather with Richard Hammond.  D was already asleep and M sidled in with nothing to do so we all ended up watching it together.  I was surprised to find that M was really interested by it and she asked some really intelligent questions which showed she understood what she was watching and had some knowledge of how vortexes work already.

A spark was lit again the following day when we went to the Art of the Brick exhibition in east London.  At the start, we watched a really inspirational interview with the artist and M was glued: we sat through it twice.  It was almost like he was speaking to M: all about how you can make your own art with anything and it all it takes is one small brick to start.  We were all fascinated by the sculptures and reproductions: M in particular was asking what each piece was called, what it was about, what it meant etc etc and even doing her own interpretations.  It was really heart warming to see.  I urge you to go if you have the chance!

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It was a very long journey for the sausages to cope with and they did amazingly well with two train rides and a very cold walk.  They were understandably pooped on the train home so I read A Christmas Carol to them (an Usborne Young Readers edition).  Usually D would have been too scared to listen but they were both really interested by Scrooge and why he would love money so much, why nobody was sorry he was dead and D was trying to get her head around a future that may not happen.

Of course, the Lego came out when we got home!  The girls’ favourite sculpture was the ‘Yes Pencil’ so we set about making our own.  I made the pencil, while M did the ‘paper’ and letters. 🙂


M has also been working on a the story of her Christmas play, and has finished one of her presents!  She copied a holly sprig we found on the street outside our house.  All I did was help with bending the leaves a little to shape them.  She also used the hot glue gun on her own for the first time!



We also watched a very very VERY cute video about orphaned baby bats, and another on making honey.  D said she would like to be a bee-keeper AND a scientist AND a singer when she grows up. 🙂  She drew these pictures this week:

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We also had a preview of D’s Christmas play.  This is one of her lost boys (they’re wearing animal onesies in the Return to Neverland film, hence the strange outfit on the puppet!)



We also got our Christmas delivery of Aquila this week and funnily enough it was all about story telling!  And funnily enough, D wasn’t interested in listening!  But M listened to how story telling was important in ancient times (of course, she had to check whether this was before I was born…) and all about the life of Hans Christian Andersen. However, she did stomp off because she didn’t get 100% on the Christmas quiz.  At which point D came wandering in and was chuffed to find she could answer the crossword questions!

And finally, today we had to go to the vets to give the bunnies their first vaccinations. The girls were full of sympathy for what the bunnies had to go through and the process of just being at the vets was an education in itself: looking at the clock with Roman numerals to see how long til our appointment; asking about vaccinations; seeing a vaccination being injected; what the bunnies might be feeling etc etc.

And now I can still hear them playing upstairs and it’s 10.30!  So I’m off now to be a kill-joy…



Cans, Climbing and Codes

Well what a week it’s been…  Thank goodness for this blog – it helps me to have perspective and see the week as a whole rather than just good days and bad days…

There have most certainly been a few lows this week, M has been SO grumpy!  Lots of rudeness to me and D, lots of ‘I’m bored’ comments, followed by huffing and shoulder shrugging at all suggested activities.  Humph.  J and I are sure she needs more structure but she is unwilling to try.

Anyway, as I said before, it hasn’t been all bad, and here is a round up of all the activities we’ve been up to over the last week:

All 27 Sylvanian Family tin cans have been finished!  Wowsers that was a long job.  They look brilliant too.  M made a start on the cereal boxes which involves making a net using a set square.  She got very angry about it and gave up but I live in hope that she’ll want to try again as she seems more willing to have another go these days.


The girls have really got into writing coded messages to each other, and to me.  M made one that had tiny symbols and pictures for each letter of the alphabet, which D loved decoding, but mainly we’ve been using a simple number/letter code.  It’s great for spelling practice and D wrote out all the letters of the alphabet in order, in capitals, which I’m not sure she’s ever done before.


Games have continued on the iPad.  This week’s favourites have been Farmville (for M) and Slice Fractions (for both girls).


M started a new climbing course at White Spider in Tolworth.  It’s fortnightly and she gets to experience climbing and bouldering and also has the chance of working towards climbing certifications if she wants to.  She managed to climb to the top twice!

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D was of course thoroughly bored while all this was going on, although there is a lovely climbing/play castle there too.  She made a comment along the lines of “why is it all about M?”.  So after I explained that she needs to tell me if she wants to do something particular inside or outside the house, we decided to write a list of all the activities she would like to do.  Telly was at no.1 so the next morning she merrily sat down to watch TV… ok…

On Saturday, J got the chance to see Arsenal play Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium and he took M along with him for her first football match!  She really enjoyed it and was in awe at the size of the stadium.


Recently, D decided that she would like to learn a language as she was worried she wouldn’t be able to speak to people when she goes to another country – ahhh.  I asked if she would like to learn French (as we’re going to France next year) or Spanish like Go Diego Go and she immediately chose Spanish.  Phew, I have to admit I’m not a fan of learning French as nobody speaks it except the French – Spanish would at least be a bit more useful!  We tried a Duolingo app which had been recommended to me but it didn’t really suit D.  She decided to continue learning from Go Diego Go :).  She has learnt an awful lot of Spanish from watching it – she knows ‘amigo’ is ‘friend’ and today we had a little Spanish conversation!  I was trying to get her upstairs to ‘de-nit’ her hair so I said “vamos” and she said “por favor, no”.  Ha!

M made gloop, one of her favourite activities.  I suggested it, thinking it was soothe her during one of her angrier moments and I was right!  I also slipped in the fact that it is a non-newtonian fluid while she was happily playing…


M is also very interested in Vi Hart on YouTube – if you’ve never heard of her then have a watch, they’re fascinating videos!  Whether or not M takes in the maths involved, she loves Vi’s doodles and it inspired her to start doodling her own, humming like Vi Hart while she draws…


M has also started to like classical music – I’m still sticking it on in the background while they play and it seems to be sinking in.  The other day I put Peter and the Wolf on and M was talking about the different instruments being played and describing the characters.  I couldn’t believe it!  When I first started HE I wondered how on earth children would learn this stuff without it being taught to them, but it seems they just do, you just have to provide them with the opportunity to experience it.

The girls decided today that they were going to make cards for their cousin, M.  While they were working I decided to read the latest Aquila magazine to them, fully expecting to be booed off at any moment.  But they actually listened to me talking about Pompeii, volcanoes, tectonic plates and the Ring of Fire!  So after they had finished I got them going on making a Pompeii inspired name plaque which they really enjoyed…

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And lastly, our enormous sunflower has flowered!


Why is the Sky Blue?

This was the question D asked at 7am yesterday morning!  Luckily, we had our latest Aquila magazine on hand to answer the question.  This pointed us in the direction of this link here.  Where Brian Cox explains the answer in 6 minutes – wonderful!  Definitely worth a watch.

We tried to replicate the experiment and managed to make a lovely sunset but couldn’t get the blue sky working at all.  Ah well, D then wanted to play with the torch and we began making shadow shows from behind the closed curtains, inspired by this video here.

We were quite hungry by this point so we had some breakfast.  While eating porridge, D started saying the beginnings of the 3 times table!  She got a bit stuck at 4 x 3 so I got some chick peas to help her out.  Honestly, that girl is the most unschooled of the lot of us.  I love the way she sees no difference in playing with Lego to ‘playing’ with her times tables.


Then she wanted to put the chick peas into odd-numbered groups.


And this was all before 9am!  M appeared downstairs at that point so we decided to make our own chocolate mousse.  While we were waiting for it to set the sausages had a play in the sunshine.


The chocolate mousse wasn’t much to write home about but I was impressed that it had one raw egg per serving so it was pretty good nutritionally!

The girls’ eating habits are really not too bad at all.  Nutella is still eaten a lot of the time but there are quite a few other bits and bobs being eaten too.  Yesterday I decided to do a chicken roast dinner but to serve it buffet-style rather than loading their plates up beforehand.  D ended up eating TONS of everything – broccoli, roast potatoes, chicken and yorkshire puddings whereas M ate two yorkshire puddings and said she was full.  I find it fascinating how erratic their appetites are throughout the day – so far I haven’t spotted any pattern to it.

As we were in Wimbledon this morning, we had a look around M&S to see if they fancied choosing anything for themselves – D was more interested in pretending to be a puppy but M chose a couple of veggies.

When we got home D asked for more of yesterday’s chicken while M had a sausage and tried a spring onion.  She ate most of it with some Pizza Express dressing and then said she didn’t like it!

A couple of interesting observations – I am eating more since starting the buffet-style dinners, and I’m eating more variety, and eating more puddings!; Also, I think I must have had quite tight control on the cupboards before as now the girls can see what food is available to eat, they’re definitely eating more and my cupboards are emptying faster! So, unschooling diet = bigger food bill = bigger waistline (mine) = happier children.  All good… 🙂

We’ve had a MASSIVE shift in deschooling this week for M!  She is now reading to herself for 1-2 hours every evening after I’ve said goodnight to her at 9pm!  I am SO pleased because it’s taken her a year to want to read (to herself – I read to her everyday) since leaving school!!!  If both the sausages become enthusiastic readers I will be one happy Mum.

Just a last note to say we had a great time at the Science Museum with friends on Tuesday.  We were there for quite a few hours and only managed to see a small amount – we all want to go back soon!

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Little things: I’ve been reading Where Did I Come From? to D recently and I forgot to add in my post about the LEA visit that D was loudly telling the man how she was born: “And I came out of my Mummy’s…” and there was a long pause while she thought and I was silently WILLING her NOT to say ‘vagina’ but thankfully she said “…tummy, head first!”.  PHEW.










Melting Ice and Colour

I took our latest Aquila magazine to the swimming pool on Wednesday to keep me entertained while the girls swam (no swimming for me, I had been to the chiropractor that morning so had to take it easy!).  As much as I love reading that magazine, I can’t help but feel rather dim after reading it – there is so much I don’t know, even in a kids magazine!

This issue was all about the science of colour – I love colour and the girls do too so it was nice to find they were really interested to hear what I had learnt (!) while they were swimming.  We had a really lovely discussion in the car on the way home about why some people think black isn’t really a colour.  M asked some great questions and coped really well with listening and absorbing the answers – hooray!

Today we stayed in as it was pouring outside.  The girls had a pyjama day but as usual this had no impact on the level of activities!  Actually it was a slow start for M as she didn’t appear until 9.30am!!!  By which time, D had watched Disney’s Robin Hood (her latest favourite) and done a mountain of Lego.

Once the girls had breakfasted we got going on making Bolognese together – the girls helped me to prepare all the veg for it and then I made the rest while they ran off to have a game of fairies upstairs.


Once the fairy game had finished, D asked to watch Robin Hood again!  So I put it on for her and M & I went upstairs to sit in bed and read the last few chapters of Matilda.  M really wants to get started on Harry Potter: The Goblet of Fire again (we tried previously but it became to difficult for her to understand).  We could almost do with an abridged version as she loves the story but I have to explain so much of the vocabulary that sometimes the story lacks flow.

We had lunch and D asked to watch Robin Hood (again!) but I persuaded her to stay in the kitchen while I set them both up with a new activity.  I’ve recently bought some pipettes and thought the girls would love to use them in an experiment and I was right!  I had pre-frozen water in various sized containers cut from the bottom of milk cartons which I then put into dishes and gave the girls some salt to sprinkle on them (they loved this from the get-go, asking for more and more and more salt!


We oohed and aahed at the cracking and popping noises the ice started to make, and the little rivers running down the side of the blocks.  I didn’t mention any science during this experiment, I thought I would just let them explore, which they did and they had lots of great guesses as to why the salt was causing the ice to melt!

Then I gave them little dishes of coloured water to squeeze onto the ice blocks using their pipettes.  This had the purpose of highlighting where the ice had melted but the girls weren’t interested in that, they were so absorbed in squeezing their pipettes, making patterns, mixing colours etc, it was wonderful to see such a hive of activity!

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M played with the ice for about 4 hours in total!!!  Her hands were frozen by the end so she had a warm up with me on the sofa and we read Harry Potter.

Cinders also did a cracking job on the kitchen floor.


Bookshelves & Giants

I really thought today was not going to be up to much as it was such a slow starter.  D watched all 5 episodes of CBeebies Stargazing back to back while M didn’t appear until gone 9am.  When she did appear she immediately got started on her skyscraper model, but quickly tired of it and then seemed quite listless.

Then our furniture order arrived!!  M was so excited to help me build a bookcase and D wanted to join in too so we went through the instructions together and built it in an hour and a half!  We’ve got two more to do which we’ll tackle over the next few days – we really need the storage and I’m looking forward to things getting a bit more organised in our home school room.

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The girls spent a bit of time organising the shelves and putting their books in place and then they played with their fairy dolls for a while.  I took the opportunity to sit down with a coffee and browse through our Aquila magazine, which we’ve just subscribed to on the recommendation of another blogger.  I found it to be really engrossing and it was only when I heard a shout of ‘Muuum, I’m really hungry!’ that I realised I’d been sitting there for half an hour.

After lunch the girls played with M’s birthday balloons but this quickly ended in tears because of a bruised foot and a stubbed toe.  While they were convalescing on the sofa I took the opportunity of reading a bit of the Aquila magazine to them – they loved hearing about the Finn McCool legend from the Giant’s Causeway: we looked up Ireland and the Hebrides on our globe and talked about the story and how clever Finn was to outwit Benandonner.  We also read the article about failure which featured a few people they are familiar with: J. K. Rowling, Isaac Newton and Michael Jordan – they were really intrigued by it.  I would say that about half the magazine is above their level of understanding at the moment but that doesn’t matter as I intend on keeping them for future reference.

It was then time to go to swimming lessons.  We sat in the café for well over an hour today as the girls were really enjoying their workbooks.  M has reached a phonics chapter which is at about D’s level (which is strange as the book is aimed at 6-7 year olds), of course she was loving whizzing through the pages but I think it might be time for a new workbook.

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We got back at 6pm and had a quick snack for our dinner.  The girls got going on another imaginary game together which went on for quite some time – I can’t believe how much time is spent using their imaginations these days!