Tag Archives: Art

Perseverance

This is the fairy that M made for the top of our tree!

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She must have spent 30+ hours on it and there has been a lot of blood, sweat and tears.  She worked to a deadline too: she wanted to get it finished in time to put on top of our tree, which was being put up during Aunty S’ visit last weekend.

As the deadline loomed there were many moments when her face brightened as she remembered something exciting to do (she always has so many ideas and activities on the go) but she would then droop as she remembered she had to continue to work on her fairy.  By the final day she was weepy and had clearly had enough, but she still ploughed on until it was done.

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Bear in mind that this was a self-imposed deadline, and a self-imposed project, and that she’s 9!  I asked her ‘if you could go back in time and tell yourself how hard it was going to be, would you still do it?’ and the answer was ‘yes’.

D (7) has also impressed me with her perseverance lately.  Over the last few years she’s really struggled with anything competitive because she can’t bear to be wrong and she can’t bear to lose.  The other night she asked me for an addition sum.  She couldn’t quite get the answer right though.  In the past she would have cried and raged that she NEVER wanted to do STUPID sums again.  I could see her eyes welling up so I offered to help her work it out.  She refused saying she really wanted to do it herself.  And she did, and she beamed. 🙂

 

 

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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Butser Farm and Minecraft

It’s been an odd week, it always is when we have no classes to anchor us.  Days drift and merge but time flies by so that every day I’m surprised when bedtime comes around. 🙂

This week has of course featured Stampy, a lot.  And Babbaville – the latest developments are that M put the finishing touches to her boat, adding signs so the Captain, First Mate and crew know where to sleep; she reorganised her department store so that items are categorised better; and we turned the difficulty level up to ‘high’ because M wanted to overcome her fear of mobs (it worked and we got some nice enchanted armour out of it).

A couple of really noticeable skills from all this Minecraft playing: we’re now really good at working as a team – helping each other, dividing up jobs, and playing to each other’s strengths; and maths – the other day M was working out whether it is better value to smelt with 9 pieces of coal or a block of coal (which is made with 9 pieces) – turns out the answer is a block.

Also, the learning threads that come from Minecraft – M wanting to know what the correct terms for the second in command on a ship, the crew and where they sleep; and D wanting to make her own iBallisticSquid soft toy, which led to a trip to Tooting Market to buy fabric (always an experience with all the produce and smells).  D helped me to draw a cube net for the toy pattern and then I spent almost a whole day (!) making Squid.  It is very much loved which is a relief as there were heart-achingly silent tears when she realised the Squid toys that iBallisticSquid was promoting (on a two year old video) were no longer available. Phew.

Minecraft’s creative side is obviously huge:  M made a replica of a road this week and D spotted a natural island that was the shape of a dolphin – we just added fins and covered it in blue wool.

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Onto real-world news – J has taken the girls to the park quite a few times, and also to the hospital to visit his brother (who is now recovering from a quadruple heart by-pass!).

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We have been on a trip to Butser Farm for a workshop organised by another HE mum.  We had booked it last year but M was too ill to go but we made it this time!  When we got there I was wondering ‘what was I thinking?!’ because there was FAR too much talking from the leader which didn’t engage either of my two (blank stare from M who couldn’t take in a word of it and D on the verge of tears from the boringness-missing-stampyness of it all).  BUT it all came together later on.  The girls did cordage, spinning, pottery (using real just dug up clay), copper jewellery making and clunching.

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It was an amazing trip but the following day D needed some serious Stampy watching to recover.  We had a birthday party to go to that day though but luckily our friend was thoroughly understanding of D’s need to escape into Stampy’s Lovely World – D was full of excitement about the party but in the end just couldn’t seem to cope with it.  She did enjoy swimming in their pool at the end though.

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M has been doing lots of paper craft – making tiny Washi Tape bags for her Sylvanians; doing her first paper cutting with my knife for J’s birthday card, and quilling.  I showed her how to use Instagram and Pinterest on her iPad and they’ve really inspired her.

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We also watched Star Wars for the first time to see what all the fuss was about (neither of us was that enthralled to be honest) and M asked to watch Doctor Who so we’ve started on the Christopher Eccleston series, which she really likes.  Unfortunately it’s far too frightening for D and even with headphones on she still ends up seeing images that upset her.  She won’t leave the room but I have to watch with M to explain what’s happening throughout so I think I will have to turn the sofa around next time we watch. :/

This marks the first time that M has requested to watch a film/programme she’s heard about, rather than the suggestion coming from me.  She’s noticing much more around her than she ever did before – I once commented that she wouldn’t ever be influenced by peers as she was so much in her own bubble, but this is no longer true: she picks up on every over-heard conversation and questions it, she asks about images she sees on the news, culture, behaviours and jokes.  She picks apart and examines everything!

And finally, we ended the week with a trip to the Common to meet friends we haven’t seen in AGES!  We had a lovely time and no-one fell in the lake which is always a bonus.

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Yes, Minecraft

For those of you who are not particularly interested in Minecraft, these last few posts must seem really quite boring!  If you’re not into computers or gaming then I can certainly see that you wouldn’t get how incredibly amazing Minecraft really is.  Yes, it’s still featuring heavily in our lives right now.  The passion was just beginning to ease a little and then the latest Minecraft PE update came out and the level of excitement was through the roof! 😀

M has since been playing about with pistons (I have yet to learn how to work the engineering and redstone side of Minecraft so I watched on with awe) and we’ve all been taming horses using saddles that M had fished previously.

We did have a bit of a disaster in Babbaville though.  Since the update, a few of our worlds were causing the app to crash and Babbaville was one of them.  I looked into ways of backing the world up but it seems this isn’t possible without hacking the iPad which I’m not prepared to do.  M was absolutely gutted but cheered up a little when I remembered that we could use Babbaville’s seed to recreate the same world again.  We’ve since had loads more fun recreating Babbaville from memory onto a new world.  Phew.

We’ve all had a change of skin using our Skinseed app: D turned herself into iBallistic Squid, I am now Stampy and M is a blue bunny.  We figured out the patterns from looking at images online – we could have just bought the skins but that wouldn’t have been as much fun.  Here is D as Squid – she figured out the teeth and colours herself 🙂

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The measure of how much we’ve been playing Minecraft is when we have to question which world we’re talking about: i.e. are you hungry in the Minecraft world or the real one?

So onto real-world news, last weekend J and I went to our nephew’s wedding.  This was cause for much anxiety for D, and it’s been building up and up over the last few months.  We had planned to spend the night away at a hotel but I decided D’s anxiety was getting too high so we just went for the day.  Here is a rare photo of J and I together, taken by my Dad.  What a treat for your eyes. 😉

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My Mum and Dad came down to look after the girls while we were gone so they had a lovely day of play with my Mum and games of chess with my Dad.  D coped very well considering how worried she’d been.

The general mood here is one of cocooning: M has decided she’s not interested in going to Woodcraft Folk anymore and even Brownies fell by the wayside this week.  Next week, Brownies finishes for the summer so we have got a few months a head of us with no classes at all!  We’ve had a couple of play dates this week though – we grabbed a rare few hours of sunshine in Bushy Park with D’s best friend.  This girl has so much energy, the girls were utterly exhausted afterwards (in the best way)!  Bushy Park is stunning and we plan on exploring more of it.

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And here are the girls on another play date and having a last-minute bounce on our friends’ fantastic trampoline before returning to our pitiful one at home. 😉

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I made a couple of new discoveries in terms of resources: the first is thanks to my nephew who showed it to my Mum, who then showed it to us – Michael Rosen on YouTube!  I love that man.  The second is Wonderopolis: if you read this blog regularly you’ll know I struggle with science.  This is probably the first website I’ve come across where science is worded in such a way that I can actually understand it!  The girls and I wanted to know where wind comes from and now we know. 🙂

Cousins, Modroc and Minecraft

Yes, full on Minecraft absorption continues: D is still watching Stampy videos, in particular she loves the Quest ones with his friend Squid.  In fact, we ALL love those ones and can frequently be found giggling together over their silly antics.  M loves to watch Stampy too but mostly she loves to play in my Minecraft world called Babbaville (Babba was a nickname given to me by M before she could talk properly and it stuck: she only started calling me Mum a year or so ago and my niece and nephews still use that name!).

Babbaville has a remarkable effect on M: it really soothes her.  We’ve set the world up so well now that life is pretty peaceful in Babbaville – M loves to spend her time harvesting crops for her shop (she now has a 3 storey department store), fishing (I can well imagine she would love fishing in real life given the comments she makes about it in Minecraft), sorting out and tidying, and killing the odd mob now and then.  Because it’s my world I have to be playing too or M wouldn’t be able to access it so it means we are spending a lot of time playing together!  It’s really lovely as M has never been all that playful like D – from an early age M’s games would be so heavily controlled and scripted that they were not very pleasant for anybody else to play.  I have seen how playing on Minecraft works as a decompresser for children after school but I never really saw it as therapeutic – now I can see that it really is!

D’s angle on Minecraft is the creativity – she spent hours working on a world with her cousin J (7) and they built some incredible structures together.  Plus she has learnt sooooo much from watching Stampy – most of the time I’m listening too but she still manages to come out with some titbit of information I didn’t know so I can’t be listening as hard as her. 😀

At the moment, I’d say about 80% of our time is taken up with Minecraft in some way or other.  I can imagine non-unschoolers reeling in horror at this (“but imagine what they could be doing instead” or “children should be playing outside”).  Well, sometimes I get a small voice in my head saying these things too but I squash them with:

  • Replace Minecraft with any other activity – books, for example – parents boast that their child will ‘have their head in a book all day’, but there seems to be a lot of shame in saying ‘my child will play on screens all day’.  I LOVE books, but they’re limited – imagine how much of a broader spectrum of knowledge and skills a child is getting from an iPad.  Society and it’s shaming ways have to catch up in my opinion.
  • Saying what children ‘should’ be doing isn’t helpful.  When I was a child I ‘should’ have practised the violin more but I didn’t because I didn’t enjoy it enough.  I ‘should’ have had more friends to play but I didn’t because I enjoyed my own company and had 5 other sisters and cousins to play with.  I also ‘should’ have been outside more but I wasn’t because I genuinely don’t enjoy being outdoors – I’m a homebody.  We didn’t even have computers or a lot of kids’ TV in my childhood and I still didn’t do the things society said I ‘should’ be doing, so setting computers and TV up as the reason kids are not doing what they ‘should’ be doing doesn’t even make sense.
  • Adults expect too much of children – those ones who are full of ideas about how children should be behaving rarely examine their own behaviour (I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard a parent say ‘don’t f*****g swear’), or those ones who come onto Facebook to say their child would spend all day on screens if they were allowed to (yet it’s ok for that same adult to spend hours on social media and spend their evenings watching TV).  I’m actually great (if I do say so myself) at seeing how much D in particular needs screentime to recover, decompress, whatever, from life and I’m just coming to terms with my love of games and how I need them too.

Ooh I seem to have gone off on a tangent there, so back to our week. 🙂

The other 20% of sausage time is taken up with playing in the garden – the girls have made up lots of crazy games together and also with J.  I can’t remember why M has only one pyjama leg down in this pic but this is them making up a little dance routine in the garden one evening.  Also note the collapsing trampoline behind them!  Oh dear, it really is time for a replacement…

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I have recently had a food overhaul while I try to figure out what I’m intolerant to.  Which means I’m spending a lot more time in the kitchen while I try out new recipes.  M has been helping me loads – she loves chopping & peeling and collecting herbs from the garden, she loves all the smells and textures on her hands and a couple of times has even joined me for dinner afterwards.

We have also (finally) finished her Perseus sculpture in wire and mod roc after I finally got around to buying wire thick enough to make a stand and some more mod roc to finish what she couldn’t do at the National Gallery a few months ago.  And here it is!

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She has also covered her button jar with tiny pieces of washi tape and Mod Podge:

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They’ve been to the park lots (J loves taking them), looking after our bunnies, getting their eye’s tested (they love the optician’s!) and they had lots and lots of fun with cousins who came to stay for nearly 4 days (their longest visit so far!)

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Next up, my parents are coming to visit so they can look after the sausages while J and I go to a wedding.  Only our second night away away from the sausages – eek!

April/May Catch Up

And I’m back in the room.

Can’t believe I left 6 weeks between posts!  I just haven’t been in the mood and lost my blogging mojo for a while so this post will be a quick update on all the things we’ve been up to and then hopefully I’ll be in the mood to blog more frequently again.

We’ve had 3 lots of visitors – cousins & grandparents.

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D had a birthday party – she’s 7!

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The following week my parents took us to Spain and we happened to be flying on D’s birthday – she got a special mention from the pilot over the tannoy and he then invited M & D into the cockpit where he spent a long time explaining how he flies the plane. 🙂

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We had a fabulous week in Spain – the girls swam everyday; there was a gorgeous park next door to our complex with free range bunnies, peacocks, turtles, ducks and chickens.  M took the time to write more entries in her home-made Spanish dictionary, and she did a bit of artwork, creating this 3D hand we found here.

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On our return, we’ve had quite a few table activities going on – M has nearly finished her Sylvanian Family food and D has been creating (or directing me and Grandma) to make clothes for her toys using new fabrics and a sewing kit she was given for her birthday.

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D has created quite a few things recently – a Lego instruction book on how to make her ‘Moon on a Stick’

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She made a book about Cute Twitchy (her toy rabbit):

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And she has just started a new book which details her happy memories and dreams 🙂

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M has been gardening quite a bit – she loves helping me to prune our hedge at the front and we weeded her patch of garden together.  She really wanted to get a Brownie gardening badge so we planted lots of flowers and herbs to meet the criteria.  While we were preparing for the badge, I realised she had enough craft to get her craft badge too, so she showed all her achievements to the group this week and got the two badges she wanted. 🙂

There has been a lot of Minecraft and Terraria – we got the girls an iPad each which has enabled us to play multiplayer, which the girls are LOVING.  They frequently ask me to join them in their worlds – we’ve been adventuring, mining, killing mobs, making obstacle courses, playing hide and seek, building houses, structures and getting lost.

Here’s me enjoying Minecraft 🙂

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Because We’re Happyyyyy…

Yesterday was one of the most joyous days we’ve had in a long time!  🙂 Maybe because it was a beautiful spring day?  Or maybe because I ditched all work (apart from an hour writing my blog in the morning and half an hour cooking dinner in the evening)?  Maybe it was because J played chase with them in the garden rather than taking them out (because they didn’t want to go out)?  Or maybe because I prioritised playing on the girls’ makeshift boat and actually got into it rather than thinking of a thousand other things I could be doing instead?  Or maybe it was because I played happy tunes on Spotify while the girls made art in the kitchen and we all sang and danced along?  Or maybe all of it 🙂

Whatever it was, M was practically bouncing off the walls, shouting ‘I’m so happy!’.  The energy of the day really reminded me of when we first began home educating: it was summer so the girls could run in and out of the house; I was fired up with excitement because of our recent decision to HE and I was strewing like mad, thinking about all things we could DO; both girls were filled with relief and happiness at not having to go to school anymore.  I still remember the day I turned around to look at M in the back of the car (grey faced, dead-eyed, utterly miserable, looking like she was about to be fed to the lions), D was crying and so I turned the car around and they never went back.

I wish all children had the right to be home educated.  Oh right, they do!  Ok, I wish more parents understood it and saw it as a valid alternative to school.  I wish everyone would take their school goggles off and realise that education doesn’t have to be so pressurised and robotic and that there is more to life than SATs and GCSEs.  Oh yes, and that there are other ways to socialise than with 29 other people your own age (because we all do that as adults, right?).

Anyway, back to our happy day yesterday: I always feel it’s a pity there aren’t two of me – one could do the energy filled play days, while the other lies down to recover.  They could take it in turns.  I’m highly introverted and I need a lot of time to be on my own!  Or at least just thinking my own thoughts rather than dealing with everyone else’s.  Hence, these magical energetic days don’t happen all the time as I would probably go insane, or more likely, depressed.

I’ve been making a concerted effort to just play the last week or so.  I find it so easy to do craft, or artwork, or taking them on a day trip, but I find simple imaginary play so hard, and a little boring if I’m honest.  So yesterday I pulled a long forgotten toy out of the basket and joined the girls in a game on the boat.  M isn’t big on imaginary play either but she joined in too and was soon in a heap of silent laughter as D entertained us with a hilarious role play with her toy rabbit, Cute Twitchy.  I actually found myself really enjoying it. 🙂

I’ve also been trying to say ‘yes’ more to D (I’m on a constant quest to say yes more, as a small voice inside me is saying ‘actually I would like to sit down and have a cup of tea’).  So when D asked me to make Cute Twitchy a toy carrot I inwardly groaned (imagining myself to be sewing on my own for hours after D gets bored and wanders off) but I said ‘yes’.  D actually did a fair amount of the work but got tired of sewing at the end so I finished it off for her.  M also got engrossed in making a top for her toy, Pink Teddy, but got stuck when deciding which buttons to use from her beautiful collection.  I’m sure she’ll get there eventually.

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We also did another D-inspired activity: she had asked for a pestle and mortar for Christmas, after seeing a scientist grind lapis lazuli on a science program.  It’s been sitting on the shelf for a long time so I suggested she might like to pick some grass to grind.  Luckily, I had accidentally bought two so M could join in as well.  They crushed grass, dandelions, daisies and few early forget-me-nots.  Then D moved onto spices and she tried poppy seeds, cloves, and fennel seeds.  We enjoyed the smells (they even ate a clove each!) and chatted about why lapis would have been so prized (M was disappointed she couldn’t make a blue sky).

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We then watched a couple of films before returning to the kitchen to do more grinding and painting.  We had a quick read of this article, before having a go at using white vinegar instead of water to make the paint – it really lightens the colour.  M noticed I had chopped a red onion and asked if she could make paint from the skin.  D used uncooked skin, and then I boiled the rest and M crushed that.  It turns out that boiling it first makes a much deeper, pink paint!  We’re really looking forward to getting some berries to have a go at crushing next. 🙂

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The day finished with another game on the boat, and then D decided she’d like to teach me and M about numbers instead of having a bedtime story.  I could hardly stand it, she was so unbearably cute while she patiently explained to me all about the patterns she can see in numbers and what the bigger numbers look like.

Just to finish, J took the girls to Battersea Park over Easter weekend and they had a go at water-zorbing… I want a go!

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