Tag Archives: Christmas

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. 🙂

 

 

Documentaries

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…

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

It’s that time of year again!  This time last year I wrote a very descriptive account of what we got up to each day (click here to read it) and I thought I’d have a crack at it again this year.  For me, it will be interesting to see if there are any changes or similarities in our lives.  Of course, the girls are a year older (M is now 8 and D is 6), but M was still deschooling and we’re deeper into unschooling than we were then.

This time, rather than do a 5 day account, I thought I’d try for 7 days – as regular readers will know, J is now self-employed so works more over the weekend and his working hours during the week aren’t so rigid.  On the one hand this means we see more of him, on the other hand I don’t have a clearly defined weekend break anymore, so now I can account for their weekend activities too.

So here we go, Day 1!

7.15am

D and I come downstairs, M is still sleeping.  I make myself tea (nothing happens before tea) and feed and let the rabbits out.  The rabbits now stay out all day, in fact they practically own our front room, which now resembles an over-sized hutch.

7.30am

D is definitely a lark, she is so sunny and chirpy as soon as she wakes up. When I come into the lounge she wants me to point out Whitby on the globe (we’re going next year).  We also talk about Spain as we’re going there next year too.  D asks if she can decide where we go on holiday after that, to which I respond that we all have to agree and we have to check whether we have enough money.  D tells me that when she has a child, they will get to choose the holiday. I try to find a Spanish tourism video on YouTube to show her but she spots Lapin Cretin and immediately wants to watch.

8am

M comes down with J and gives the rabbits a few peanuts. They hop around her feet when she comes down in the morning, making her look like Snow White, surrounded by little animals.  M has breakfast straight away (she can’t function before a bowl of Coco-Pops) and then she watches a bit of Lapin Cretin with D but soon gets bored of it so she goes off to play the piano instead.  I clean the kitchen inbetween helping her to remember how to play Jingle Bells.  M then teaches J how to play a tune.

9am

The girls’ Aunt Sh pops round to say hello and the girls perform their Strictly Come Dancing routine for her and M shows her what she can play on the piano.

9.30am

J takes the girls to church to light a candle for the people in Paris.  He isn’t a regular church-goer by any means (and I don’t go at all!) but he felt moved to go today.  They then go the park.

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11.30am

The sausages are back home for a few minutes before going to their Aunt Sh’s house to make paper chains and angels.  They’re there for hours!  I make the most of the time alone to get some online Christmas shopping done, check Facebook and do some cleaning.

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2pm

They return home again and M plays Beggar My Neighbour first with J and then with me.  Amazingly, she loses both games – this hardly ever happens.  D doesn’t really do competitive games so she stands on the sidelines cheering M on and booing me.

3pm

J puts Tinkerbell on and they both watch while doing Lego and sewing.  After that he puts another film on (he does like films a lot) which is Toy Story 3.

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7pm

Once all the films and activities are finished, M decides to make Aunty Sh a card to say thank you for buying her a theatre ticket for Annie last week, but then she gets distracted by the Christmas tree that she and D are making.  Last week we made 3D snowflakes as she wanted to put one on top of her tree.  They’re very easy to make but M wanted one small enough to fit on top of the tree so it took a long time.  They both get soo excited about sticking all the shiny stuff onto the tree and D sings a very cute Christmas song she’s made up (she wants to be a singer when she grows up).

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8pm

The girls go upstairs for a bedtime story.  We haven’t quite unschooled bedtime yet but we’ve reached a halfway place that works well for us: we go up at 8pm, I read to them until 9pm and then they can decide when to go to sleep.  The girls are very excited and giggly in a lovely infectious way.  Once they’ve calmed down a bit I read Is a ‘Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is?‘ to D and ‘Heidi‘ to M.  We chat about what it was like for children to work as chimney sweeps in response to a question D asked last night (I had to do a bit of research to answer that one).  Strangely, D suddenly gets a really blocked nose and says she feels poorly so I leave her to get off to sleep while M gets on with her sewing.  She’s making a sort of prize ribbon for the next obstacle course race with her cousins in Nottingham. 🙂

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Christmas Countdown Begins

Yep, the Sausages are already talking about Christmas, and I realised that it is actually 100 days away!  They don’t talk about Christmas in a ‘I want presents’ way, they mainly talk about decorations, which is probably my favourite part of Christmas too – decorating the house – it’s obviously rubbed off on them. 😀

We were on the common today and there was lots of talk of what they could use from the common to decorate the tree – it was very sweet but I did have to keep reminding them that it’s too early to make natural decorations as they won’t last.

Yes, we were on the common again today – the girls were very keen to go, rain or no rain.  I kitted out the car with newspaper and plastic bags, in readiness for a lot of mud, but in the end we escaped the rain.  We had a list of items to search for in our nature curriculum and the sausages found them all.  They also collected a few things to bring home and M made a rope from grass, which she wanted to try after seeing this video.

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We’ve also been busy at our classes – we had art class yesterday, and M had her first Brownies session of the term.  She was strangely cross after art, which made me wonder if something had happened that stressed her – I tried some gentle questioning but I couldn’t get to the bottom of it.  She was out of sorts for an hour or so afterwards.

Once we’d settled back at home again, D watched some My Little Pony on the iPad – she’s actually just starting to ease out of MLP again and is asking to do other things instead.

Meanwhile me and M tried to get started on our first week of Minecraft School.  We read through the space information, watched a video and then answered 6 questions on what we’d learnt.  I have to say it was rather dry but M stuck with it.  We then tried to get going on their Minecraft server (M perked up considerably when we discovered that they have a virtual Minecraft shop!) but we couldn’t stake any land to get going on a spaceship build (this week’s assignment) so we may have to leave it for this week.

We got our weekly The Kid Should See This email, which sparked off loads of questions and learning, as always.  D absolutely adored this video, which shows a man’s ‘magic beard’ in stop-motion.  It is very very funny, and inspired her to make her own, which you can see on our Facebook page here!  When we got back from the common this morning, M also got down to work and made her own video too – I particularly like the Lego man with his head on fire. 😀

A Fresh Start

We’ve had a fabulous break over Christmas and New Year: we had my sister and her family here for a weekend, then my parents down over Christmas, various family get-togethers on J’s side, and then a week spent in Nottingham (with my parents again!), most of which seemed to have been spent with the sausages’ cousins.

We managed a trip to the Science Museum with my sister’s family which was enjoyed by all – it turns out that the Saturday before Christmas is an excellent time to visit as it was the quietest I’ve ever seen it!

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M did some incredible home-made Christmas presents for many family members.  It did get stressful to say the least as she seemed to have so many amazing ideas but didn’t actually want to complete them!  However, this creation, which was made for Grandma, was the most incredible because of her creativity, the structural ideas and the paper engineering that came all out of her own head:

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D has been entertaining the family with her little heart-felt songs, which are totally off-the-cuff and of-the-moment.  Sometimes they’re sweet little ditties that bring a tear to your eye; sometimes they’re pop-py and she gets her air-guitar out and sometimes you can hear her just belting out a tune from somewhere else in the house.  It is honestly like living with Annie – there is a tune for every moment. 🙂

We’ve been back in London for a few days now and although our classes haven’t started yet, I feel as if we’re starting anew; afresh.  The house is still feeling gloriously clean and tidy after my massive pre-Christmas cleaning regime.  The girls are rediscovering old toys and asking to repeat projects that were enjoyed last year: D is writing out numbers, playing with her Arithmasticks and asking for sums but this time she has added a new dimension of saying them in Spanish!  M is asking to learn her times-tables and telling the time again: we had a go at them last year and I’m looking forward to doing a bit of academic table-work again.

To start our New Year off with a bang, we had a day trip to Windsor Castle today, along with a pre-booked educational workshop which another HE-er had kindly organised.  The theme was ‘Learn How to be a Medieval Knight’.  M & me found it really interesting, D however did not!  Among other things, we learnt that Windsor Castle is the oldest working castle in the world (meaning it is still used and habitable); M got to try on a chain-mail head-piece; and joined in with the other children as they dressed up as Knights of the Garter and took part in a dubbing ceremony. 🙂

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Although it was a workshop aimed at KS1 children, I did feel that D was too ‘young’ for it. But then again, she is quite single minded – I’m sure if the Knights of the Garter had taken a trip to the moon she would have perked up a bit. 😀

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Spanish and Hibernation

We’ve gone into hibernation this week, which suits D: she has rediscovered the joy of Go Diego Go and Dora the Explorer, so she’s back on the sofa soaking up Spanish words and animal facts.

All our classes finished last week so we had a full free week. We’ve had a few pyjama days, which always go down well but mostly I think the girls (M in particular) have enjoyed getting into activities without having to stop to get dressed and go out!

On Saturday, Jeff took the girls to Box Hill for a run-around.

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Meanwhile, I spent HOURS in Wimbledon, finishing off my Christmas shopping. I also couldn’t resist buying a gorgeous book on colour which I’ve wanted for ages (our art shop is a dangerous place to go), How the Grinch Stole Christmas and some new posters for our bedroom wall. It’s a good place to put them as the girls are more likely to be mooching around and gazing at them at bedtime (I’ve already spotted M muttering bone names while studying the skeleton poster). I also got one on telling the time – which (to be fair) M had actually asked me if she could learn, but then had a melt down because (to be fair) the poster is badly designed and she was blaming herself for not understanding it.

On Sunday, we had Jeff’s Mum over for lunch: she is teaching him how to cook curry so while they were busy in the kitchen, we began listening to an audio of A Christmas Carol (thank you, Pru, for the idea!) while doing activity books.

On Monday, D began teaching Spanish to M! She made up a game where they would run round and round the bed and then jump while saying the corresponding Spanish words! :D. This was the beginning for M getting hooked on learning Spanish too and during the week she has even been spotted watching Dora the Explorer (a once hated programme!). D has continued with her story telling and has also begun singing made-up songs while playing air guitar, which are unbearably cute. Yesterday she told me she wants to be a singer and a cleaner when she grows up. I asked her what happened to wanting to be a scientist, so then she added that to the list. And then I reminded her that she also wants to be a bee-keeper so that was added too!

M made up two new biscuit recipes – unfortunately she has lost the first one she made up (could that be, perhaps, because it was on a silly scrap of paper which she refused to write up into a book?!!) so she has baked twice this week – and written one of the recipes down in a book :).

D spent some time on Reading Eggs but I had a feeling that the interest in it is waning so I’m not sure we’ll renew the subscription in January. She had a go on Teach Your Monster To Read instead, which was way too easy for her but I felt she needed a bit of a confidence boost so it did her good to sound out the easy words and she loved playing it.

On Tuesday, I pushed M to finish one of her Christmas presents (she loves starting projects but not finishing them!) so that we could get it into the post along with D’s present for Aunty S. They’re both fantastically well made – D was shown how to construct this tree in pottery. M figured out how to make Santa ‘spring’ from the page by using a piece of concertinaed card behind him, all by herself (sorry, I forgot to take a picture!). So we had a short bike ride to the post office and back and afterwards they made up another Spanish game!

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On Wednesday, J was playing YouTube videos of Nat King Cole and explaining to the girls how badly he would have been treated because of his skin colour. It’s always odd talking about racism and sexism or any ‘ism’ with the girls because they are quite naturally puzzled by people’s behaviour when it is so nonsensical! M made the link back to Nelson Mandela who J had talked about when he died recently.

It was the dreaded bath day today. D loves her baths and will spend hours in it just making up stories and playing with the water (in fact, I have to schedule it in to the day so I’m not forced to get her out before she’s ready); M on the other had hates it. Not the actual bath/shower, but the getting in and out. It is always a miserable time for her. I’ve noticed a lot of extra sensitivities creeping in to her life lately, and the coldness she feels before and after the bath is one of them. I made a decision that day to let her control her bath-times from now on. She is a little unsure about this as she knows she doesn’t want to be smelly but she also hates baths and showers so we’ll see what happens.

The girls’ Aunt Sh picked them up later in the day to take them to a Santa show at Wimbledon theatre. She took them last year and they adored it so she decided to take them again this year (she always takes them to the theatre rather than buys presents). They still loved it and were very pleased to be given colouring books so sat and coloured when they got home.

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Thursday and Friday were both very similar (I had planned to meet an HE friend at Wimbledon Common on Friday but the early morning rain put me off and her car was in the garage so we cancelled) in that there was LOADS of Spanish going on and lots and lots of writing being done by M. She baked some lovely cakes and wrote the recipe down in a book and she also began a Spanish Dictionary!!! D has been helping her by telling her the words she doesn’t know and yelling from the sofa when a new word comes up in Dora.

The only other thing of note that has been happening this week is the girls learning all about mating and instinct from the bunnies… from Morris in particular…

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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. 🙂

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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!

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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!)

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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…