Tag Archives: Chess

Frenzied Sausages

Back to chess again today.  D came with us this time as J had too much work to do.  I packed a huge amount of food (we were going to be out for 3 hours after all) and a big bag of activities to keep us occupied.

After dropping a delighted M off at chess, D and me headed back to the car to start her Biff, Chip and Kipper activity book.  She’s finished the first set and now she’s onto level 2-3 of the phonics book.  Once she’d finished that she had a drink and a snack while she listened to a Charlie & Lola audio story.


Then we headed out to the park in the glorious sunshine!

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I don’t know if I’m unusual in this but I absolutely hate parks.  There’s something about the mind-numbingness added with the physical exertion that I can’t stand!  I’d much rather be on a walk or something.


Anyway, after D had been on everything a few times we headed back to the car and D listened to a Billy Goats Gruff audio story and then played Numberjacks on my tablet.  Before we knew it, the 3 hours was up and we went to collect M again.  M was over the moon as she had just beaten a boy who claimed it was the first time he’d lost to anyone!

This afternoon was spent packing for our trip to my parents’ house in Nottingham.  The girls did a bit of Trunki packing, but not a lot.  They quickly built up into a frenzy of excitement about tomorrow’s trip and ran around the house chasing each other, screaming, laughing, and pinching my bottom.

I’ve given them a bath tonight.  The first one in ages because they’ve been showering at David Lloyd of late.  They’re both beautifully calm now, combing their mermaid dolls’ hair and quietly chatting to each other.  Peace!

Little things:

M created a wonderful treasure map which J & I had to follow to get to the treasure (which was D), it was really properly done with the furniture drawn from a bird’s eye view.

D talking about going to Nottingham: ‘Mum! Louis [toy bunny] is looking forward!’

D talking to me in manner of a 40 year old: ‘So.  How was M’s chess today?’


Chess and The Canterville Ghost

M’s half-term chess course started again today.  J took the day off work to look after D while I took M to Hersham for her course.  She wasn’t too keen on going at first but just as happened the last time, she absolutely loved it and was disappointed she didn’t get to finish the game she was in the middle of when I came to collect her.

D had a quiet time at home with J and drew him a picture of a hot air balloon, which looks more like a Rothko painting to me.


After I’d had lunch and a cup of tea we all set off to walk into Wimbledon to get M some shoes (the never-ending quest, it seems).  The shoes we’d ordered in for her still weren’t right so the search continues!  The girls had a play on the rides with J while I got a couple of bits and bobs and then we set off home again.

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When we got back I started on dinner and J set off for work.  After dinner, D started reading a book so I volunteered to read to her so we all snuggled down under a blanket to read How the World Works.

It soon became apparent that the sausages weren’t really in the mood to sit and listen to me so I put a film on they hadn’t seen before – The Canterville Ghost.  M has read the story before and loved it but she was really taken with the film, particularly the cheesey romance they’d added in…  She says she’s ready to have a boyfriend now (!).  I did wonder if she might like a girlfriend instead but that idea was brushed aside.  D was fascinated by the ghost, Sir Simon, and how he became a ghost: not being a believer in ghosts myself I found this quite hard to explain!

Multiplication, Division AND Economics!

Following on from what I was saying about how important talking is in HE: out of the blue last night M said she wanted to go looking for gold when she was a grown-up.  Intrigued, I asked her what she would do when she had gold and she said she would sell it and be rich.  Then I asked her what she would do when she was rich (hoping for some charitable reply like ‘help the needy’) but no, she said she would ‘just be rich’.  Anyway, this led on to an indepth conversation about how much money she could get for her gold (you could almost hear the cash-register ker-ching! and see the dollar signs in her eyes); what ‘value’ means; what ‘rare’ means; and I slipped in a bit of supply and demand economics too, just for good measure.

On to today.  I wanted to take the girls swimming and get some jobs done in Wimbledon but we only managed Wimbledon.  It was a big shopping trip though and the girls did really well, there were no flops at all!  I had written out a shopping list which M enjoyed taking charge of and I also let her lead the way around the centre.  She has appalling bearings/direction like me and I want her to get a sense of her surroundings a bit more rather than being led around in a daze.  She did really well looking out for shop signs and seeking out the things we needed in the shops.  It also stopped her from slipping into the strange dreamy state she can get into at the shops.


After we’d done most of our jobs we popped into the coffee shop for a treat and to do a bit in the girls’ workbooks.  This was a special request from D – she really wanted to bring them along so I wasn’t going to argue!

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D did a bit more alphabetising of words and M worked on her times-tables sticker book.  She made a few mistakes on the sums where part of the question was missing so I decided to go through it in more depth when we got home.

Somehow, we ended up being out for hours so when we got back there wasn’t time to go swimming as I had to make dinner.  The girls had some lunch and rested in front of the telly while I cooked a curry.

Once that was done I sat D down with her Arithmasticks to do some multiplication.  She has been desperate to learn her times-tables and this morning was reading the times-tables poster on our bedroom wall and delightedly telling me she had learnt them.  I’m not sure if she has fully grasped the concept yet but we went through lots of different sums and I helped her to work them out on her Arithmasticks.  She was fully engaged and enjoying it which was a pleasure to see.

Then I spent 10 minutes with M going through division with her.  I am sure she did this at school but she claimed no knowledge!  I got some pretty beads out which immediately delighted her and we went through a few sums.  I showed her how division is the opposite of multiplication and how to switch the numbers around to work out an answer if the sum is missing part of the question.  She didn’t really enjoy it.  But at least she understood it.


J came home early but was very stressed from work.  He still managed to fit in a quick game of chess though… and was beaten by M!


Little things:

On the way downstairs this morning, M and D were saying they were going to be nice to each other all day.  I said, yeah right, how about just trying to be nice to each other until lunch time?  Or just for 1 hour?  But they were sure they could do it… and they did!  There was a slight blip around 2pm but it was over in seconds so I’m not counting it.

J & I forgot our anniversary!!  I only remembered at 2pm when I was writing the date down 😦  Any tips on home educating plus stressful job and maintaining a good relationship would be most welcome 🙂

Klee Collages

Today was a much happier start.  D raced upstairs when we heard M waking up and they immediately started jumping up and down on the bed together.  J went to work slightly later than usual and the girls proudly showed him their new slippers and jumpers.  He got them started on a game of Lego and they carried on playing after he’d left for work.


Meanwhile, I prepared a load of cardboard shapes ready for the collages I planned to make using the paintings we made yesterday.  I thought it would be easier for them to draw around a shape rather than do it from scratch each time.  They worked on their collages for well over an hour and got tired of it before they had finished.  M went off to play chess and D played with her Tinkerbell doll she bought yesterday.


Then we got ready for swimming and the girls ate sandwiches on the way to the pool in the car.  We had a lovely swim together.  D is getting braver at jumping in (though is still not happy for her head to go under the water) and M swam two full lengths, one on her front and one on her back, without stopping!  I have always said to her that she has to have lessons until she can swim a length and its taken her two years to get there.  What an achievement!  We will have to see if she wants to continue lessons after this term – watch this space.

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I coaxed them out of the pool with the promise of a biscuit and glass of milk in the café, which of course they were very excited about.  Even though we go to cafes regularly the girls still get excited about it.  It makes me laugh that I can get away with giving them fairly dry workbooks to do while we’re there and they love it – I don’t think they would be as happy to sit and do them at home.  Today M was learning how to use a dictionary and D was working out story sequences and putting letters into alphabetical order.

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When we got back the girls played in the garden for a few minutes and then quickly got tired of it.  I suggested to M that we finish off Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the daytime, just in case it was just a little too scary to cope with right before bed.  We read a chapter (with M shrieking and covering her ears but urging me to read on, ha ha) but unfortunately didn’t make it to the end before I had to start making dinner.

So while I made dinner the girls finished their collages!  Don’t they look fabulous?  I had showed them some Klee pictures beforehand to demonstrate how pictures can be made from simple shapes and they really got it!  The blue one is M’s and she made an upturned semi-circle and a smaller circle into a baby in a pram, and D of course gave hers a space theme.

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Klee – Red Bridge Painting

We then watched Disney’s ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ while eating dinner.  I say ‘watch’, what I mean is I fast forwarded through most of it as D was too frightened by it.  My efforts to expand her film education beyond Disney Fairies and Princesses are not working!

Surprisingly, 20 minutes before D’s bedtime they both decided to sit at the table – D to do Reading Eggs and M to do chess.  They were both yawning away and neither could really concentrate properly so I had to coax them away to jump on the bed instead.

Reflecting on this week, our days have become very art-based!  I think next week I will try my hardest to get them going on a bit more maths.  I wonder if our pattern will be to have ‘themed’ weeks as I find it difficult to chop and change subjects quickly, and the girls seem to like properly concentrating on something for longer than a school-type timetable would allow.  Something to mull over during the weekend…

The Grumps

In one way or another we all had the grumps today.

It was the first morning in months that M hadn’t come downstairs with a smile on her face.  It gave me a bit of a shock to see she looked out of sorts, tired and down in the dumps.  She used to look like that every morning but it’s a while since I’ve seen it!

She watched a bit of telly but seemed to get irritated by anything D did and then started to get tearful so I sat her on my knee which helped her calm down a little, but not much.  When I told her we had our dance and sports group meet up today she didn’t look up for it at all so I said we’d leave it and try again in a fortnight.

I was starting to feel a little despondent as yet again my plans for the day had gone awry.  So we decided to go to the coffee shop and see the new Christmas trees in John Lewis to cheer ourselves up!  We all got dressed and then I went downstairs to tidy the kitchen and the girls started doing a show with their Disney Princess dolls.  I went up to watch it when I had finished my jobs – it was very sweet but unfortunately all based around the fact that women can’t marry each other so one of the princesses had to become a man before they could be together!  Oh dear.  I had to do a little correcting but they carried on with the theme anyway.  Tsk.

So off we went to Kingston and enjoyed a lovely coffee and then bought M some new slippers.  We tried to buy new shoes too but there was only a choice of 3 boots (?!) and the one we liked wasn’t in her size.  The girls bought something each with their own money from the Disney Store and M added a few Tinkerbell themed things to her Christmas list. We managed a very quick visit with only one flop from M (which was about some miniscule mark on her hand which was hurting).

When we got back I sat down with them to watch a new film.  First of all we tried How To Train a Dragon – honestly, it made me feel so old: the main character spoke too fast for me to understand him and the girls couldn’t follow it either so we gave up.  Then I tried James and the Giant Peach.  M quite liked it but it left D in tears as she found it too frightening and the insects too creepy.  Both girls seemed to be lacking in energy and I was feeling like I didn’t know what to do with them anymore.  We couldn’t go out because a man was coming to service our boiler and I knew that none of us were in the mood for any official learning at the table so I started looking through our drawers for inspiration and then it hit me – painting!!  The mood M was in I thought I would keep it as simple as possible and got the girls painting A3 sheets of paper in solid blocks of colour and patterns in readiness for a collage tomorrow.  M still managed to have a flop about something or other and walked out of the room in sulk.  However, after 5 minutes she must have realised she was missing out and came back to join in.

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Once the lounge floor was half covered in paintings I set the girls to making some crumble to eat for supper.  They pretty much made it themselves which was lovely for me – I didn’t get messy at all!  While it was cooking they ran upstairs to get their pyjamas on and jump on the bed for a bit, then came quickly back down to enjoy their creation with custard.  Yum!


We’ve all been in an odd mood at some point or other in the day but we were all feeling a bit better by bedtime.  I hope we’re back on track tomorrow though as I don’t like that despondent feeling, I’m sure it infects the girls too.  Throughout today I kept thinking thank goodness M is free to have a bad mood at home rather than holding all those feelings in while at school!

Big Ears

We’ve got two weeks left until M’s chess competition so I got M started on chess at 9am this morning after the girls had had a play.  D chose a book she wanted to read from our big box in the lounge and we sat on the sofa together – D was very good at reading the words I picked out for her and managed to sound out some more difficult ones too.

Then D did about half an hour of Reading Eggs and M did a bit of cutting and sticking for her India lapbook.  They both soon tired of that so I got them to carry on with their various letters and cards they’ve been making for friends and family.  D finished hers and we put it in an envelope ready to post.  M decided the ones she’d done weren’t good enough (she’s such a perfectionist!) so wanted to do a watercolour card instead.

By this time it was 11am and I needed to get lunch ready as we were going out at 12 so I put the telly on and ‘Get Well Soon’ was on – today it was all about diabetes and very related to our nutrition project so I left them to watch while I cooked lunch.

After lunch we headed off to our Fulham/Putney group.  Today there was a Bionic Ear Show on – it was fascinating!  Though I have to say I think M & D were a little young to absorb all the facts.  It was all about the inner workings of the ear and how to look after them to prevent hearing loss.  D knows quite a lot about ears from reading Usborne’s See Inside Your Body but even she had had enough after half an hour.  However bored the girls were I was pleased to see how well behaved they were throughout.  We stayed to play for an hour afterwards but then left – the parking fees are so horrendous I can’t bear to stay longer than 2 hours!


The girls had a play in the garden when we got back but came in after 15 minutes wanting something to do – they seem to have a very short attention span today!  M had the great idea of playing schools again so the Arithmasticks came out but that game didn’t last long either.


A tip from another home-edder was to casually leave things lying around that the girls might be interested in, which they then hopefully will take an interest in – it works a treat with M.  On Saturday she saw a print out of Mondrian pictures I had left on the table and immediately wanted to know what it was.  When I explained that it was a new project we’d be starting on she was over the moon!  So today when I suggested doing a Mondrian picture she was dancing around the room chanting “Mondrian!  Mondrian!”  Ha ha.

I got D to cut out the shapes she wanted from blue, yellow, red and black card and then stick them onto a white piece of card like a Mondrian picture.  She really took to the idea and did a really good picture!  I thought M could make hers a little more accurately and suggested she measure out her shapes using a ruler on the white card and then measure and cut out the same sized shape on the coloured card.  She came up with a much better idea and decided to draw a grid on each card and then she could just cut to the size she wanted more easily – clever girl.

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While we were waiting for the glue to dry the girls had a bath.  D had a melt-down because she hadn’t got in or out the bath first (?!) – I’m not sure where all that came from but I ended up leaving the room to calm myself down as she was sitting in the bath and trying her hardest to cry as loud as she could.  In the end, M calmed her down (I was too angry to try!) and when D was dry and dressed, M very sweetly read her a story and played Snakes and Ladders with her after promising that she’d let D win.  Tut.  I do feel D takes advantage of M’s generosity a bit too much sometimes but if I try to intervene they both gang up on me so I just leave them to it now.


Anyway, the Snakes and Ladders game ended with D cheating.  Honestly I don’t know what is wrong with her today!  So I got them back at the table to finish their Mondrian pictures.  We’re very pleased with them!

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Chess, Chess and More Chess

Are all home educators cream crackered at the end of each day or is it just me?

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We started the day off pretty efficiently (compared to our recent efforts) because we had half an hour to spare until the library opened so M sat down to a game of chess and D played on Reading Eggs.  Then we went to catch the bus but it wasn’t due for another 10 minutes so I suggested that we walked.  Can’t believe they agreed to it.  And can’t believe they both walked all that way without a grumble!

We headed straight for the coffee shop (of course) and then on to the library to get the girls’ rewards for reading their 3rd and 4th books in the reading challenge.  The librarian asked M which book she liked the most and asked her to tell him about it.  She answered with a very articulate description of the book she’d chosen.  I was very proud!  D by contrast didn’t want to say anything (how unusual!) but then her books were deadly dullsville phonics ones.

Then we went off to the Early Learning Centre to buy a wind up toy each.  I had an idea that we could try taking them apart to see how they worked and maybe use them as the motor for the ladybirds that M wants to make.  A project for next week perhaps?

When we got home M played chess again and D watched a bit of CBeebies.  We had lunch and then headed out again for a swim at David Lloyd.  D really didn’t want to go and she did seem tired but once we were in the pool she didn’t want to get out!  We had the pool pretty much to ourselves and we were leaving by the time the after-school crowds turned up – the benefits of home schooling!

When we got back M went straight back to her chess board again!  I’m trying to look up a few opening moves as I feel like we’re stumbling around a bit without any clear strategy.  A bit like our lives at the moment.  I really need to get some sort of time-table or plan written down now or we are just going to drift and drift from day to day.  I NEED STRUCTURE!!!