Tag Archives: Education

Strictly Times Tables

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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. 😀

The Horniman Museum, Circus Skills and Being 6

On Thursday we went to the Horniman Museum.  I’ve never been before as it’s not exactly on our doorstep and it’s pretty small compared to most London museums.  But I had heard good things about it, particularly the current exhibition on there at the moment.

However.

The journey began with M crying because she was so cold (she seems to be feeling the cold quite a lot at the moment) and then we had horrendous traffic which meant that it took us an hour to get there.  Once we got inside, D got very cross whenever M and I stopped to look at something – she wanted to look at space things but there weren’t any.  M had a moderate interest in a stuffed wolf’s head and a skeleton of a baby but other than that it was pretty dull – we don’t really do ‘things in glass cases’ type museums.  D was too cross for me to contemplate paying for the exhibition so we went outside to play, climb trees and admire the views across to the City of London, which cheered them both up enormously.  On the way home, M said her favourite part of the museum was finding a secret den behind a bush – says it all really!! 😀

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Yesterday we went out again, to our social meet up, Curious Minds.  The girls LOVED the circus toys and were happily occupied for a long time.

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Towards the end, D was in tears because she couldn’t spin a hoop around her arm like M :(.  Recently, she’s been struggling with things that M can do and she can’t.  The other day I found her lying on the bed and sobbing because she couldn’t balance on top of the space hopper while kneeling (a bizarre and seemingly unimportant goal in life but I recognise it’s part of a bigger picture for her).  We chatted about M being two years older and therefore more able to do some things and we talked about things that she can do that M can’t (like doing a yoga crab pose) which cheered her up a bit.

I then had an idea of writing a letter to her 8 year old self, describing all the things she CAN do now she’s 6, and wondering what else she can do now she’s 8.  It was quite a long list in the end and D came up with a few ideas which really buoyed her up.  We’ve sealed the envelope and put it away – I just hope we remember where we put it in two years time!

Not Back to School, Out into Nature

How wonderful it felt to be out and about, reveling in the fact that we’re NOT back to school today!

To celebrate, we went up to the common.  The weather was perfect: sunny with a bit of a chill in the air.  Perfect also, for starting on my plan to get out regularly to the common.  With this in mind, I’ve just bought a new book by a fellow home educator: Exploring Nature with Children.  It’s a year long curriculum that walks you through what’s going on, week by week, in nature.  These days I shy away from anything with ‘curriculum’ on the front page but with this book I don’t feel like I’m being dragged along reluctantly, it’s so gentle and simple, I feel like I want to follow it.  And I really need some encouragement to get outside and into nature.  When we were growing up, my older sister called me a ‘City Slicker’ because I did not do ‘the outdoors’.  She was right, I’ve always felt much more comfortable indoors, and inner-city.

So with this in mind, I decided that today was the day to get out to Wimbledon Common.  Luckily, the girls were up for it too.  This week’s topic was all about seeds.  I wondered if I could risk a nonchalant ‘do you know…’ and strew some seed fact (the sausages have a ‘you’re-teaching-me-something’ super-sense) but as it happened, D brought seeds up when she saw how much heather was around and she wondered aloud how it had all got planted.  So a little discussion on seeds followed!

D had a great time squelching about in all the boggy mud (must remember to bring newspaper for the car next time – I had to curtail the fun because I didn’t have anything to protect the car with!) and M loved picking samples to put in her pots for examining later.

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They climbed trees, ran up hills, rolled down hills, got excited about a pile of rabbit poo and a whole heap of other discoveries.

When we got back, they both wanted to chop their findings with their little guillotine and examine them under the microscope.

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Then D wanted to paint the little stone she had found, and M wanted to make a display of her findings.

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After that, the girls settled down to watch My Little Pony and play on the iPad while I got on with some housework.  All in all, a great day!

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Playing, Music and Films

The past few days have been very slow paced, mainly because our car has been in the garage.  It was supposed to be back with us on Monday evening but the garage let us down so we had to miss M’s art class on Tuesday morning.  Whenever my plans for the day go awry I can never seem to settle to anything else so we sort of pootled about all day.   Well, I did. However, the girls were very busy playing a game of pirates on the climbing frame:

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It went on for quite some time and at the end they turned it into a show which I was invited to watch – I love to see M acting as it isn’t something that comes naturally to her.  D on the other hand is a born actress. 🙂

They also had a long game with their long-forgotten Disney Fairy dolls.  It’s rare for the sausages to get on well these days so Tuesday was wonderful.  The other remarkable thing about Tuesday was that ‘I’m bored’ was not uttered once!  Amazing.

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Jeff is planning to have a party for a few work colleagues on Sunday so we set up a Spotify account to get some new party music – I’ve been playing music non-stop since!  I was getting quite bored of my collection so it was lovely to have new stuff to play.  It’s led us down all sorts of avenues too – M wanted to listen to music she loved from the films she watched, like this one from Regina Specktor, which is played at the end of Prince Caspian.  We also listened to the new Annie film’s soundtrack which led to us watching the movie, which led to me giving M a long explanation of how Twitter works (it’s is used to rescue Annie from her kidnappers) and what a foster child is.

Aunty Sh took the girls to the park and then we had Brownies that evening and M had to prepare for her Promise.  She had to have done a good deed that day so she helped me hang up the washing and make pancakes.  She does good deeds daily (she’s a born Brownie!) but we wanted to mark something in particular to tell the Brown Owl.  Naturally, she was feeling nervous about it as she wasn’t sure what to expect but she learnt the Promise by heart and got through it.  Sorry for the blurred photo.

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She also received her first badge – the cook badge – which she’s very proud of!

Wednesday was more of the same, I had planned to take the girls out on their bikes to the local park but D was having none of it.  She said that her life wasn’t fair because M always got to decide whether we go out or not (this is true – M gets the final say because if it was up to D we’d never go out).  I tried to find a compromise but I guess in that situation someone is always going to be disappointed.  This time it was M as D was in such a bad mood there was no persuading her.

So we stayed in and we watched Beetlejuice, after a recommendation from another blogger!  It turns out D might have been feeling a little unwell as she vomited halfway through the film and continued to be sick throughout the night.  She’s better again this morning though thank goodness.

We also had a look at the latest videos from The Kid Should See This: M loved this origami one and this time lapsed video of a New York skyline drawing led to us watching this music video by my very talented and lovely cousin, Zoe Johnston.

Google Earth, Reading and Glasses

The tagline on one of D’s favourite map books is ‘travel the globe without leaving your living room’, and this is just what she loves to do.  We’ve been Google Earth-ing a lot this week.  We’ve used it in the past but that was more to marvel at our own house (!); ‘walk’ to nursery and ‘visit’ Grandma’s in Nottingham.  This week she has broadened her horizons!  She’s looked at Aunty S’s house in Leeds; the Statue of Liberty; Cannes beach (where she swam last week); the Pyramids; Chile; and she searched darkest Peru in the hope of spotting a bear (that ended in disappointment).

Meanwhile, M has been playing Farmville after a long break from it.  She is much more confident with it now and I think it’s really good for managing time, prioritising, working out costs, value and much more.  I’m hoping that between this game; Animal Crossing and day-to-day life, she’ll learn how to tell the time.  Sitting down and learning how to read clocks just doesn’t work for her.

They have both been playing on Minecraft PE.  D is creating a fantastical rainbow world, while M has begun copying a very complicated maze from her Minecraft Constuction Handbook.

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D was a little sad that M had got a speed cube but she hadn’t been bought anything so I thought she might like this solar system kit.  I was right!  She spent a few hours on it yesterday and she is enormously proud of it.

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There were 2 kits in the pack and M would like to do one but not painted as planets.  I was wondering if she might be inspired by Eames’ Hang-It-All.  She hasn’t started yet so we’ll see!

I watched a first aid video with M yesterday  – the Big First Aid Lesson is on tomorrow and I was having a look into it and found you could watch last year’s lesson.  M was very quiet and asked lots of questions but she was strangely apathetic about it?  There were definitely cogs whirring and clicking though so it’s probably still being assimilated.

They’ve had a fair amount of exercise over the past couple of days: they’ve been playing lots of Swingball – we’ve got an indoor one which is great for burning off energy when the weather’s not great outside; Aunty Sh took them to the park for an hour yesterday; and today we walked to Wimbledon, shopped and walked part of the way home again.  Their legs are definitely getting stronger!

The main purpose of going to the shops today was to pick up their new glasses!  Turns out they’ve both got a slight astigmatism (kindly passed down from me) and the optician recommended they wear glasses for screens and reading.  They are SO PLEASED to be wearing glasses!!!  Such a change from my day when they were dreaded and mocked…

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After picking up a bit of shopping we headed to the library, which I am beginning to love more and more since my embargo on purchasing books.  We stayed for almost 2 hours and I think if I’d have brought a packed lunch they would have been able to stay longer.  M picked up an armful of rabbit books (she is currently memorising every rabbit fact known to man) and D found an incredible book all about constellations and the story behind each one.  From across the library, I could hear her shrieking ‘LOOK M, LOOK!! IT’S CASSIOPEIA!! M! M! IT SAYS HERE THAT ANDROMEDA IS THE DAUGHTER OF CASSIOPEIA!!!!’  With that in mind, I tried my hardest to find a children’s Greek mythology book but I could only find one on Mythical Birds and Beasts, which will do for now.

When we got back to the library, D immediately got started on a project of her own idea to make a book of flowers from our garden!  It also includes a leaf she found on the street in Wimbledon.

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After this was done we read a book about Black Holes which was waaayyy above her comprehension level but she insisted on reading anyway.  Then I read two stories from the myths book – the first was about Pegasus and The Chimera and the second was about a Mermaid (don’t ever look at one!).  They were both really enraptured by the stories. 🙂

Then they both gobbled down a chicken roast dinner and ran outside to play on the climbing frame – saving people and animals from a burning Earth, apparently.

Chromatography, Flags and a Slip Knot

As I’ve been saying over the last few posts, J is now self-employed and this week has enlisted me to help him update his database of contacts.  I’ve probably been doing the odd hour for him most days but it’s interesting to experience the effect my unavailability has on the sausages: I’ve always thought they are quite good at entertaining themselves but if I say I have to work for an hour, all of a sudden they don’t know what to do!  Interesting.

So, apart from me doing a bit of work we’ve been mostly around the house as I’m preparing for my parents’ visit and I also like to have a major clean up before going on holiday so that the mess/dirt doesn’t depress me when we get back!  So the house is looking pretty good now, and the girls (M in particular) have been really keen to help.

We’ve managed a lot of activities in amongst the cleaning though.  The girls have been in the garden a lot this week:

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I think M is beginning to get too big for the trampoline!  I’m seriously considering installing some sort of climbing equipment indoors for M – she gets so active in the evenings I think it would be really good for her to have something to stretch herself on.  I’m thinking monkey bars in the hallway or some sort of pull-up bar, maybe even some climbing holds on a wall somewhere!

J managed to take a few hours off work on Monday to visit some friends: we all had a really good time there and the girls were all busy playing together for most of the time which gave us grown-ups lots of time to chat.  I love it when that happens. 🙂

The girls are really busy at the moment, they’ve got tons of ideas of what they want to do – so many that I can’t keep up!  The other day I wrote down all the things D wanted to do so that we didn’t forget (this is in addition to our main list on the lounge fireplace).  It’s a very cute 6-year old list:

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We did manage a game of pirates (a make-believe game where I’m the ship and D’s the Cap’n and she steers the ship to different places in Neverland to find treasure.  It’s very cute.

D has also finished her picture for the kitchen window:

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They’ve both been wearing their princess dresses for the past 2 days, and have put some life into their old crowns by adding glitter.  They also began some beading (which they quickly got bored with) and D made herself a ring with a bead and pipe cleaner.

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While beading, M started playing around with the string and making various knots.  She realised that she could make a knot vanish simply by pulling it and when I told her that is a proper magic trick and showed her a YouTube video she was so pleased!

I had a great, stimulating day with M yesterday: while D was watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates, she came in the kitchen wanting something to do so I quickly put together a chromatography experiment.  We have done something similar before but so long ago M didn’t remember it.  This time, I got the idea from here.  There are so many good ideas for simple experiments on that site.

M really enjoyed it and was full of observations about it.  I don’t usually do the ‘science part’ with the Sausages, I prefer to let them explore what they’re doing without me interfering with facts and ‘knowledge’.  However, this time I did ask M if she would like to know more about it and her answer was ‘no, it will only make me angry’.  Ha ha.

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Afterwards, M was really giddy with happiness.  So giddy in fact that she asked if she could read her rabbit book to me?!!  She hasn’t offered to read to me in a long long time so it was lovely to be asked.  After she’d read a few pages, she then wanted me to test her on rabbit facts so I did but then it all went a bit pear shaped.  She got one of the questions wrong and there were quite a few tears.  We had a cuddle and I suggested we try again after dinner.  So half an hour later she had another go and got the answer right.  I love that she now has more persistence – in the past that book would have been thrown on the floor, never to be mentioned again.

She then seemed to get a thirst for knowledge and said she wanted to read a space book.  I was a bit dubious as space is D’s territory and M really isn’t interested in it.  We read about one page before she wanted to stop.  So I found our Book of Knowledge instead.  M spotted the flags section and said she wanted to memorise some flags!!  By this time, D was sitting with us too so they both memorised the Australia, USA and France flags.

And it didn’t stop there.  By this point it was time for bed and M wanted to memorise some French words so while I read a bedtime story to D, M read through the few that she has already written down to check that she knew them and then wrote a few more including ‘Je m’appelle’, the numbers 1-3 and a poem I taught her (remember this?) ‘Excuse-moi, S’il vous plait, Shift your bum, It’s in the way.  Classic.

This will be the last post for a week or so as my parents arrive tomorrow and then we’re off to France!  Yay!