Tag Archives: ICT

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.


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.

20150610_115343 20150610_190642

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…


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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Firefighters, Colourscape, Go Diego Go and Alchemy!

I’m confused, we’ve had Go Diego Go on so often this past week I feel like I could be a South American living in the rainforest too… D now knows ‘si, por favor’ and ‘ayuadame’ (help me) – small beginnings!

I must start blogging more often so I don’t end up writing these huge posts, so apologies for the huge post but here goes…

We finished the Pompeii plaques:

20140918_140521 20140918_140546

We had a busy day last Friday – first to Epsom fire station for a tour with our local HE group.  The girls were reluctant to go but soon changed their minds.  The firefighters were really friendly and showed us their uniforms, the kit they use and the truck.  All the kids got a go with the hose too!

20140919_110435 20140919_113205 20140919_113238

From there it was a quick bite to eat in the car and straight onto Clapham Common where we met with another HE group to go to Colourscape.  It was an incredible experience, and quite indescribable!  We learnt lots about light, colour, heat and sound.  Unfortunately it’s finished now, but I would love to go back and cement what I’ve learnt.  I’m not sure how much the girls picked up but they certainly enjoyed it.

20140919_140028 20140919_141551 20140919_142320

On Saturday morning, J managed to convince the girls to go to their Judo class.  They weren’t too keen on going but came back full of excitement as the teacher seems to appreciate them being there and their obvious skills.  J told me the teacher frequently used M to demonstrate the moves to the rest of the class!

After Judo, M had her first rehearsal for the ballet production she’s taking part in.  She had rehearsals all day Sunday too and then afterwards her friend T came to play for a few hours.  Meanwhile, D was having fun at the South Bank with her cousin.

20140921_133330 20140921_142053

We had a chilled morning on Monday and we spent it reading, watching Go Diego Go, The Powerpuff Girls and playing on the iPad.  In the afternoon it was back to Clapham again for the girls’ favourite class of all: pottery!  They were thrilled to be back and ran in happily, leaving me free to read in the church yard, which I love.  The girls also had a good run around in there churchyard beforehand too.

20140922_141801 20140922_142509

Tuesday was spent playing M’s current favourite game on our tablet – Alchemy, while D continued to watch Go Diego Go.  The premise is that you begin with the four basic elements: earth, water, fire and air, which you then have to combine to make new elements.  There are 390 to make in total!  We quickly became unstuck and lost track of how we had made elements, which ones we had combined already and which ones we hadn’t.  So I decided to start writing what we’d done in a grid, which M adored!  I then realised there would be too much data to put on paper so I created a spreadsheet.  M has quickly grasped how it works and can be seen merrily beavering away at it from time to time.  I’m not sure which she likes more – the excitement of finding a new element or the data collection… she is so like me :).

20140922_182539 20140923_095454

Finally, someone took notice of the British Legion WWI poster I stuck up in the kitchen a few months ago!  D asked very sweetly if I could tell her what it was about so I got out my Usborne book of The First World War that I bought for myself a few months ago.  I still need to read it through as my understanding of that war is so pitiful!  We began talking about Archduke Franz Ferdinand and who shot him which led onto questions of ‘why?’, whether the killer was a ‘goody’ or a ‘baddy’, and D poured over the pre-war maps of Europe and the British Empire.  It felt like a very successful and thoughtful bit of learning, and even M picked up a bit as we were still chatting about it in the car later on in the day.

The girls then watched The Chronicles of Narnia and before we knew it, it was time to go to M’s ballet class.  We raced out the door and didn’t have time to put on her leotard or tie her hair up, but the teacher didn’t seem to mind too much thankfully.  M’s friend wasn’t at the class that day but M still enjoyed it and came back home longing to practice in the lounge.

Wednesday morning was more of the same – Go Diego Go (what a surprise!) and Alchemy.  We had quite a few tears from M as she is struggling with her moods again: she gets into a huge black cloud if anything goes ‘wrong’ which then taints the rest of the day.  Rather than seeing it as a moment which didn’t go well, she seems to think that if ANYTHING goes wrong then the whole day is ruined.  I’ve tried so many approaches to try and help her but I’m fast running out of ideas and patience, argh!  Still, she is getting better and better at trying things again once the mood has passed.  One thing that helped today was doing a bit of baking: she cheered up enormously and I’m beginning to wonder if doing something sensory with her hands like gloop or baking helps her in some way?

She also cheered up at the thought of going to Morden Park again this afternoon.  We met up with our local HE group there and the girls ran around playing with the other kids and M got to do a bit of her favourite foraging!

20140924_144452 20140924_152945

We’re off to visit my parents in Nottingham after our climbing class on Friday so the next post will be written from there!

Digital Fun at The Barbican

You know when you go to places and you just wish that everyone else would go too?  Digital Revolution at The Barbican is one of those places.  We don’t generally do museums unless they are hands on (M can’t bear ‘looking in glass cases’ types of places, and I’m not too keen either) and this exhibition is as hands on as it gets!

There were old fashioned games to play (Donkey Kong!  Pong!  Speak & Spell! Pacman!), lots of coding info, and then lots of sound/motion/visual tech integrations that were really and truly fabulous…

An old fashioned telephone that you could dial and listen to various robot birds in the tree above…

20140703_111846 20140703_115708

Music videos…




This incredible camera which transformed everything it could see into a sort of moving painting… (there were a lot of adults dancing about in front of this one)

20140703_121258 20140703_121425

A very odd piece about death which caused anyone standing in front of the camera to have smoke curling out of their eyes…


An amazing piece with various screens about birds – this is the final screen which M did – the wings appeared whenever M raised her arms.


This was the girls’ favourite – you could speak a wish into a microphone and the wish would be written out in front of you, a chrysalis would then appear and then a butterfly, which would land briefly in your hand before flying up to join the rest…


There was so much more and it would be lovely to go back again to soak up more of it.

We had a lovely lunch outside on the terrace…


And I pointed out the large, ugly, black building in the background, which is where I used to work long ago. The girls were duly impressed.


A Good Day

Today has been a good day.  Phew.  Totally sausage-led but the learning was so OBVIOUS I would have been a fool to force either of them to do what I wanted instead.

The day’s learning started at 8am with D wanting to work on her space lapbook.  We started this yesterday and D was literally jumping up and down on the spot with excitement when I told her about it.  So far, she has illustrated the phases of the moon, researched and written about the far side of the moon, drawn the planets in order from the Sun outwards, found out which planets are solid and which are gas and how many moons each planet has.  This lapbook is going to be huge!  This morning she started on a night sky observations mini book.  D drew and listed that she had seen Orion, Jupiter and Sirius last night.

20140228_085034 20140227_120129

Meanwhile, M wanted to continue with her Spain lapbook so I got her finding out how to write and pronounce simple greetings in Spanish.  She was very sweetly speaking SLOWLY AND CLEARLY into my phone and getting spoken responses back from Google – amazing technology!

The girls had a bit of a play on the Lego app after breakfast and then we got dressed and they played with Baby Annabell together.  While this was going on I did some research on good android STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) apps.  I found some amazing ones – D was busy repairing cars in ‘My Little Work Garage’ while M was adding cogs, pumps, elastic bands, weights and all sorts to make new machines in ‘Pettson’s Inventions.

We also had some interesting chats and questions: we watched this YouTube clip and talked about how your hearing gets worse as you age; we discussed why birds can fly and humans can’t; and why people didn’t live as long in the old days.  All these discussions stemmed from the girls’ questions!  And they were PROPER discussions rather than me spouting my ‘wisdom’: they both had ideas of their own to contribute.

I did get them to (happily) complete a sheet in their workbooks at David Lloyd before we went for a swim.  M did some subtraction sums (without any angry tears, yay!) and D did some reading and writing.

D is now able to swim 1/4 of a length unaided so I feel it’s now safe enough for me to leave her alone while I have a proper swim.  I managed two lengths today before my muscles started to buzz and I thought I’d better get back to D – the lifeguard always looks half asleep, I wouldn’t trust him to notice D was in danger!

It feels like we’ve done a week’s work in a day today: M was almost incapable of doing anything once we were back from swimming because she was so tired.  My new book for D arrived today so we read that in the hour before bed.  It’s an ENORMOUS book called ‘Children’s Atlas of the Universe’ and was recommended to me by a friend.  D adores it and there is so much information in it I feel like I need to set aside a day to get to grips with it!

Lastly, here’s a picture of some tissue paper stars we made at our Stoneleigh meet up yesterday, aren’t they great?


Best Friends

We were having a funny argument in the car last Thursday: the sausages were convinced they were ALWAYS best friends and NEVER argued.  Ha!  I tried to convince them otherwise but they ganged up on me and swore I was wrong.  Since then, every time I’ve heard cross voices I’ve called over “you wouldn’t be arguing, would you?”.  Any bickering has stopped immediately and they’d call back “No, we were just pretending!  We’re really best friends!”.  Tee hee.  They kept it up for FOUR DAYS.  Pretty impressive!  But yesterday they caved in and admitted that yes, alright, they do argue.  Well, it was nice while it lasted.

We’ve had a nicely paced few days: the girls have started on a Matisse sticker book (we’ll be going to the Matisse exhibition at the Tate Modern in a few weeks so I thought we’d start some preparation).  Matisse cut-outs are my absolute favourite works of art so this will be an easy project for me to get across to them.  These sticker books are wonderful – you can either create your own masterpiece using Matisse’s shapes, or replicate his artwork.  M chose to replicate and D chose to make her own:

20140225_095912 20140225_095943

D has spent quite a bit of time doing worksheets for her folder.  She’s been concentrating on learning her 2 times table and has been doing lots of colouring in sheets I found on The Lesson Library.  She is pleased as punch to have her folder filling up, however I think she reached burn out yesterday because as much as she wanted to continue she just didn’t have the energy to do it.

I have been meaning to get the girls writing out thank you notes for Christmas and birthday presents for AGES – it’s absolutely shocking that it’s nearly March and we still haven’t done it.  However, since they have become interested in typing, J set them both up with an email account and they eagerly sat down to type out messages to family and friends, hoorah job done!

M has now gone one step further and wants to be able to type as fast as me so I asked on one of the many Facebook groups I’m a member of if anyone knew of a good touch typing programme and someone replied with a link to this.  M spent 2 hours on it yesterday and has mastered the middle row of keys.

Yesterday we made a delicious chocolate cake, with M being the chef (Yes Chef!) as the recipe was from her library book.


We’ve done loads of activity books and magazines…


We’ve watched films, CBeebies, played Where’s My Water and lots and lots of Lego and imagination too…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Story Time!

The girls finished their stories today.  It has amazed me how popular this unplanned project has been.  I have tried many times before to get M to write stories or books but never with much success.  It seems that getting them to play out the story themselves with me taking the photos really fired their imaginations – I guess it’s a no-brainer compared to sitting and looking at a blank sheet of paper while trying to come up with an imaginative story!

The other aspect that made a difference was that they got to type rather than write the words.  It seemed to make it more exciting somehow!

So here are the two stories.  D’s is gorgeously simple.  M’s is very intricate and if you look closely at the pictures, you’ll see there is more happening in the pictures than the narrator is letting on… very clever story writing!

Tinker Bell and Louis

Katie’s Surprise

Do we have an official Christmas holiday?

For the last few days I’ve been ruminating on what to do over the Christmas holidays.  Do we stop all structure in imitation of a school term?  Or do we carry on as we are, with some semblance of structure?

Our natural rhythms appear to have answered this for me, because even though we live life at what I consider to be a gentle pace, it seems that actually it may not be so gentle after all: M is so tired she can barely manage simple addition in Mathletics; and I for one don’t have any mental space beyond making dinner and hanging the washing up.

Out of all of us, D leads the most simple life and probably spends 90% of her day playing.  Not that she isn’t learning anything, but she certainly doesn’t do as much formal learning as M (which is how it should be considering her age!).

Consequently, M and I are very ready for a holiday, while D has bags of energy.  She is desperate to do Reading Eggs and has to be coaxed off in order to give her brain a rest.  With this in mind I’ve resolved to take the holidays as they come.  If they want to do formal work, they can, if they want to watch Tinkerbell all day, they can.

I’m sure some of you are thinking that you don’t really ‘holiday’ from home education because learning is everywhere, but this Christmas we will be at my parents’ in Nottingham for 2 weeks and so for us it will be a break from the norm.  Knowing the sausages, they will be learning in every which way: they are unstoppable.

Here are a few snapshots of what we’ve been up to today in Nottingham:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There’s been a long game of chess this afternoon which, according to Granddad, is “very tense”. M didn’t seem in the least bit perturbed though.  Granddad has asked to continue the game in the morning, ha ha.  Watch this space to see if he will be beaten by a 6 year old…