Tag Archives: Lego

Indoor Fun

I don’t know if it’s because the wobbly teeth are finally out or because we finally struck gold with a class that D likes or what, but things are definitely on the up!

On Wednesday evening we went to a new (for us, apparently it’s 90-odd years old but I’ve never heard of it!) class called Woodcraft Folk.  The premise is letting children be children and being close to nature so they do a lot of camping and stuff but in the main they do a weekly class in a church hall near us where they play games, sing songs and generally run around having fun.

Initially D wanted to sit on my knee at the back of the room and just watch but after 10 minutes she actually asked to join in!!  D?  Joining in a competitive game with a load of strangers?!  Whaaat??  She had a minor upset midway through and we had a quiet few minutes in an adjacent room and then she felt ready to join the group again.  M really loved the class too.  We found it a little hard to understand all the new games (particularly as the noise level was so high) but she didn’t panic and gamely joined in too.

It was all good!

The sausages have been watching My Little Pony Season 5 for the first time over the last few days.  I have to say there is less passion about it than before but D did several spin-off activities: like arranging all her ponies on a shelf I cleared for her in the lounge; making each pony their own ‘element’ to wear; and getting me to make a big Tirek puppet so that she could put on a MLP ‘season 6’ show about the ponies beating him. 😀

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M has been busy doing various crafts like decoupage and making Minions out of the Kinder Egg plastic containers.  Today they both spent hours remaking M’s Frozen Lego castle upstairs, meaning I could have a sit down and do some cross stitch and watch some telly!!  They have also both made bracelets using some old beads of theirs.  D did one with the name of her alter-ego, Dordy.  Dordy is hilarious but a bit naughty.

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D also spent a long time arranging her bunnies and making more Lego thrones today.  There is a whole line of royal rabbits living in D-Land now.

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M has spent a fair amount of time on Minecraft, finishing off her ‘cruck’ peasant house for her Castles and Cannons course.  Together we learnt how to make a fireplace (that didn’t set the whole house alight) and added other peasant ‘essentials’ like a table, herbs, straw bed and woolen blanket.

M has also done work with me towards her Interior Designer Brownie badge – she desperately needs shelving in her bedroom so we looked at what we could fit where and how big each shelf would need to be.  It involved quite a bit of measuring and quite a few tears on M’s part.  She still gets very tearful and angry if she doesn’t understand something immediately but luckily it doesn’t last too long and she can be pulled out of it with a bit of humour on my part.

Strangely, the sausages haven’t wanted to go out the last couple of days, even though the weather has been beautiful.  We’ve been so busy indoors though, which is obviously what they both needed.

 

 

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Toys, Minecraft and Saving Up

How did it get to midweek already?  I keep meaning to blog more often but the days go by so fast!

Our weekend was spent mainly around the house although J did take the girls for a long play at the park on Saturday.  M was struck by a huge amount of lethargy on Sunday – it was v odd!  She was adamant she was too tired to go out so she played Animal Crossing, Facetimed her cousin A, watched films and played chess and Ludo.

The weather was beautiful on Monday and I had to go into Wimbledon for a couple of things.  M had already decided she wanted to buy some more Lego so she was very excited to come too.  D also came along and managed to walk all the way in without one grumble. 🙂  M spent her money on Frozen themed Lego which came with Elsa and Anna figurines – she is so chuffed with her choice and has rebuilt it twice already.  Usually she likes to build Lego sets and then sit back and admire them but last night her play developed further and she decided to narrate the story using her Frozen book and act out the whole film using her Lego!

Meanwhile, D had bought 4 more My Little Pony soft toys, which completes her set of ponies.  She is so pleased with them.  They have all had a wash and a hair cut already and now she is drawing out their ‘elements’ on card that will go around their necks.

After we had dropped M off at art class on Tuesday, we went to our usual cafe and D was telling one of the Mums all about the ponies’ personalities and the difference between unicorns, alicorns and pegasi – she has an impressive amount of My Little Pony knowledge!

M finished off her clay tablet at art class.  I absolutely love it!

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This week is the second week of M’s Minecraft course and her first assignment was to watch a video about peasants from Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives.  It’s a very good watch and Terry Jones is up M’s street, humour-wise – but she really struggled to watch for more than 5 minutes and ended up getting angry and upset about it.  I ended up watching the rest (I was finding it hard to answer all M’s questions as the subject is pretty new to me too) with the thought that maybe I could just summarise it for her to save her watching it again.  However, after a couple of days rest she was ready to try again and she managed to watch it all the way through!  What seemed to work was me pausing the video at intervals to tell her what was about to happen – she seemed to get less stressed about it all anyway.  She’s now got to make a peasant’s house in Minecraft using the information she’s learnt and she’s really motivated to give it a go. 🙂

I’ve been looking at our trampoline, which is well past it’s best, and wondering how we can afford to buy a new one and then I read about a 365 day saving challenge on a Frugal Facebook group.  You basically save 1p on day 1, 2p on day 2 and so on until you have over £600 at the end of the year.  So I emptied out my purse of change and the girls and I worked out each day’s savings (there were quite a few since we’re starting 2 months late).  It was an amazing maths exercise, not to mention learning the different coins.

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And to finish off, THE TOOTH IS FINALLY OUT!!!  Hooray!!

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Nottingham, Space Centre and Christmas

We’re back from a trip to my parents’ in Nottingham.  We actually got back on Saturday but we’ve been busy putting the the Xmas decorations up – oh yes!  My excuse is that we’re only here for another 5 weeks before we leave for Nottingham again but really we just love our Christmas decorations. 😀

While in Nottingham we had a wonderful halloween party at my sister’s house: there were lots of family and cousins there.  D didn’t cope too well with the enormity of it all and the scary costumes unfortunately – it was the first halloween party she’s been to but she said it was the worst!

Apart from other play-dates throughout the week, Grandma treated us to a trip to Waterstone’s book shop – one of our favourite shops in the world!  She bought both girls a book: M chose Heidi and D chose Poo Bum.  V reflective of their personalities, ha ha.

We also had a trip to the Leicester Space Centre, which was rather disappointing: it was all a little tired, the interactive displays were past it (some broken too), and the layout was terrible.  The best bit was the planetarium which showed a rather good animation all about how we’re all made of stars.  It was a shame as the centre has the potential to be amazing but I guess it’s suffering from lack of funding.

Sausages on the moon:

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D has decided she no longer wants to be a space scientist or a cleaner – now she wants to be a singer!  She wants a guitar for Xmas and she had a good time practicing on Granddad’s while we visited.

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M has been honing her icing skills:

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Back to London again and the girls have been busy crafting, playing with Lego and cross-stitching.  Here is D’s ‘man and dog’

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Surprisingly, there has been very little screen time going on since we got back – no Minecraft or My Little Pony..?

Yesterday I spent most of the day finishing off a website for J’s new business.  The girls mostly entertained themselves but were also very bored.  J made up a game that revolved around times-tables – it involved M running to quickly find an answer to a sum from our times-tables poster and D checking it in her times-tables sticker book!  I’m not sure how much went in but they loved it.

Today is our usual Tuesday routine – art class in the morning and Brownies this evening.  The art teacher was disappointed to hear that D doesn’t want to continue the class after this term.  D admitted to me yesterday that she only rejoined the class this term because she wanted to chat to her friends!  However, I suspect that the reason she doesn’t to continue the class is because it’s so prescriptive (in the nicest possible way!): D very much marches to her own beat so the teacher is going to see if she can adapt anything to encourage her to stay… here’s hoping.

Here’s a picture of the sausages with their new hats and scarves. 🙂

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Striking Gold

Huzzah!  Not real gold of course, or I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this – I’d be on holiday in the Bahamas or something – no, I’ve struck gold of the home educating kind: this week I sat down with M and showed her the Hour of Code on Khan Academy and it was a hit!

Last night I told her it was time for bed and no, she couldn’t carry on coding: her eyes filled with tears!  Of course, I relented and let her carry on until I could hardly keep my eyes open and she was forced to turn the light off.  I had to practically wrench the laptop out of her hands to write this post.

She definitely has a knack for it and grasped the basics straight away: she’s learnt what pixels are, what the x and y parameters mean, how to draw a line, a rectangle, a circle, how to fill in a shape with colour, how to change the colour of a line and how to construct a function.  Pretty impressive for one day!

For her final project on the Hour of Code she had to make an animal out of all the shapes and functions she’d learnt.  She chose to copy her toy, Pink Teddy.  The picture’s a bit small but you can see how many functions she had to write (and figure out) to make a seemingly simple picture:

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M’s behaviour has really really improved over the last few weeks, so I’m thinking that she must have been under quite a lot of (self-imposed) stress in the run-up to Christmas.  Lately she’s been sunny, charming, helpful, kind, funny and calm – back to her old self!  Any rising difficulties have been nipped in the bud by me – I can now recognise when her blood sugar is running low and I’m trying to educate her to recognise it too so that she can stop herself spiraling into unnecessary doom and gloom.  It’s not easy to do when you’re unschooling food.  Neither sausage eats three meals a day  – they tend to graze throughout the day instead – and without those 3 meals to mark the day it’s very easy for me to lose track of when they last ate.  Their diets are very slooooowly becoming more balanced, which I’m pleased about.  In this picture they both decided (at 9.30pm) that they wanted chicken, yorkshire puddings and gravy… luckily I had some to hand 🙂

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This week we had a busy weekend with a big family get-together to celebrate the Sausages’ Granddad’s 88th birthday, and we had friends over for lunch who brought their 3 little girls with them too.

We’ve been playing with K’nex… M constructed this ferris wheel from a picture I found on Pinterest:

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I helped D to put together our clock.  I read the instructions while she put it together: I was really impressed by how well she followed the instructions and listened.

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We’ve been to our art class where D worked on a canvas for the first time and M began a copy of Van Gogh’s ‘Irises’ (eek – I am beginning to feel a little inferior!).  M went to her usual ballet class, despite having an ENORMOUS (2cm) splinter in her foot.  I was hoping that it would slide out on it’s own (wishful thinking) but ended up taking her to A&E this morning to have it removed.

Meanwhile, D has become interested in puzzles which is great as M and me are big puzzlers too.  She now loves doing word searches and secret codes and both are excellent ways of learning new words.  Her spelling and reading are really improving!

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We’re learning the times tables, as per M’s request.  It’s a bit of a bore and I’m not at all sure there’s a lot of point (I’ve managed very well without them and I’ve heard recently that some schools have stopped teaching them) but she wants to do it!  More importantly, she has shown that she now has an understanding of the numbers, which is much more important than learning by rote.  The other day she had worked out that she had 12 Mini Eggs left to eat because she knew there were 4 different colours of each egg and she had 3 in every colour!  D hasn’t grasped multiplication yet and was insisting on counting the eggs out one by one. 🙂  We’re listening to Times Tables Challenge whenever we’re in the car and M is also insisting on me testing her every now and again.

Our free DVD of the BBC’s Ten Pieces arrived this week.  I thought it was really well done and nice to watch and listen to.  The girls enjoyed it for a little while: there was a vague interest in the instruments and D recognised Handel’s ‘Zadok the Priest’ from Johnny English (!) but I can’t say it ignited any sparks…

…Unlike the films we watched on The Kid Should See This!  First we looked at a film of this guy making British birds out of Lego (M was very inspired by this and has had several attempts at making a Robin but had to give up as we don’t have enough Lego pieces); then we watched one about what makes Blue Morpho butterflies blue, which then led onto watching a film of them hatching.  The girls were very interested in this as the Blue Morpho features in a Go Diego Go episode so they were able to fill me in on all sorts of facts that I didn’t know they knew. 🙂

Another packed week.  Just one more thing to show you, a picture of our gorgeous bunnies, Morris and Dusty.  In this pic they are being naughty and refusing to go back into their cage – they decided to settle down for a nap/read the paper in the hall instead…  too cute to be cross with though.

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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…

 

 

Connections and Positiveness

I (or, we) have had a very positive couple of days.  Not a lot happened.  Just a few nudges here and there as M made a few signs to show she was open to more learning.

As you might expect, my heart leaps (though I retain my nonchalant composure) whenever M takes an interest in anything.  ANYTHING.  Anything at all will do.  This time the spark of interest was due to our weekly email of The Kid Should See This.  I cannot rate their email subscription highly enough – the variety of interesting videos is brilliant.  In last week’s email they had a clip of Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus.  The bit where he gets trapped in a lion’s cage.  I have to admit to never seeing a Chaplin film before and we both really enjoyed it.  M is still giggling about it now!  D loved looking at the air traffic visualisations and watched them over and over again – they’re stunning to look at.  We also watched a gorgeous film about polar bears on a quest for sea ice.

What else was positive?  Well, Lego was linked into a couple of games today.  First of all, M was playing on her Lego City app and she got quite excited when she realised that she had the same Lego as in the game she was playing.  She then got out her Lego City collection and began building it.  She generously shared some of it with D who loved playing with the bank robbers.

Also making a connection with Lego was D, who has recently changed from making her Lego tree-house over and over again to constructing a tree-house in Minecraft!  It’s getting very detailed and interesting.  Leading on from this, M began making a tree house out of junk modelling just before bed this evening!  I like the connections that are being made between the games and it goes to show that playing a game on a computer can be just as valid as playing with Lego!

I am also very pleased that I read Lori Pickert’s Mentoring Self Directed Learners as this was at the forefront of my mind when I sat down with M this evening while she made her tree house: I observed, helped her when she needed it, I didn’t jump in with solutions and I offered to make a note of a few things which she didn’t have time to do, which really eased her transition into bed!

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Other connections: At the weekend J took the girls to a local fair where they bought a number of books.  M has particularly enjoyed doing an Usborne Sticker Dressing Long Ago book.  Today she brought it with us to do in the David Lloyd café before swimming and she was completing a page on the Palace of Versailles.  We looked at the richness of their clothes, how the King was dressed compared to the other nobles and how they all had clothes similar to Captain Hook in Peter Pan (who had modelled himself on King James II).  Another example of how telly watching can also be a valid use of time :).

Next positive happening: M announced that she would like to write a story so I suggested she get out her little book and she could start writing.  She got as far as the title before stomping out of the room because she didn’t know how to start the story.  I left it for a bit, we did other things, and then a few hours later I asked her if she’d like me to do it with her.  And I got a ‘Yes!’.  So she dictated the story to me and I scribbled like mad for 10 minutes.  We haven’t finished yet but I’m so pleased that she wanted to continue.

One last connection that I just remembered: D was doing ‘spin art’ on our Snap Circuits and then decided she wanted to draw a colour wheel so we had a think about what the primary and tertiary colours are and she coloured in the various segments, put it back on the circuit and watched the colours merge into brown!  A great example of connecting art and science!

While we’re on the subject of connections, thanks to a tweet from Katie Pybus at The Gallivanters, I read this post by Sandra Dodd on connections and how learning works, it makes for a very interesting read if you have a spare 10 minutes.

Paper Aeroplanes and Red Cabbages

We’ve had a good couple of days, I feel like something is starting to shift in our home education: I’ve had two instances in two days where I have been able to explain/answer a question which have been listened to without any flops; the girls have finished their Spain lapbooks and are now EAGER to start one on Africa; D has finished her maths workbook and will now be starting on MEP maths with M; and today, both girls wanted to do more work in their workbooks than I had intended them to do (the result of not forcing them to do it?).

Yesterday the day started well, I got my The Kid Should See This email and showed M the Strike Eagle paper aeroplane video which she immediately got started on with J’s help.  It flies fairly well but I think we need to try it out in a big open space.  I forgot to mention we saw another video last week which showed how humans are unable to walk in a straight line when blind folded or their vision is obscured by fog for example.  M wants to try it out when we next go to the Common!

I had a little science experiment planned which I read about here.  If any learning can be done around art then I’m all for it and the girls love it too.  So this experiment was about testing the acidity of various household items such as coffee, lemon juice, water etc.  by painting them onto blotting paper which had been soaked in red cabbage water.  The colours didn’t come out as well as they should but the girls got the general idea and enjoyed creating the pictures and painting with strange things!

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In the afternoon, M wanted to do the salt and ice experiment again so that kept her busy for well over an hour.

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Meanwhile, D was busy building Lego.  I would hazard a guess that she spends around 2 hours a day building with Lego these days.  She’s very methodical about it, following the instructions page by page and building each thing exactly.  Then the next day she breaks It and starts all over again!

We also had a break through with M’s eating: she doesn’t like many vegetables and hates all fruit except lemons but yesterday she ate 2 strawberries!  I had the genius idea of buying squirty cream to dip them into.  Don’t know why I didn’t think of that before.  I also tried offering them dipped in chocolate and in icing sugar too but D didn’t like any of the strawberry options offered.

Yesterday the girls were saying that they would like to do a lapbook on Africa.  M asked what language they speak and I replied that there were lots of different languages which led on to us watching a YouTube video on the San Bushmen who communicate by clicking their tongues.

Today, Wednesday, is always a bit of a strange day as we’re out at David Lloyd in the afternoon and we all seem incapable of doing anything but mooching in the morning.  But  a lot of maths was done in the café before swimming so that more than made up for our lack of productivity beforehand.

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When we got home, M and I made Gwyneth Paltrow’s Horchata together which was delicious!  Reading this post, it seems as if we’ve done quite a lot but actually it’s felt quite slow-paced?!