Tag Archives: Nature

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’.


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.


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

Leaves and Trees

This week I had intended to lots of autumn leaf craft but I just haven’t got around to setting anything up.  We did manage a bit of leaf decorating though – I had hoped the girls would want to do lots but I had to make do with one from each of them. 🙂

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The girls also drew leaves at their art class.  M chose a very complicated leaf and is still drawing all the intricate detail on it, so these two beauties are D’s:

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D also brought home her fantastic picture of an owl:


At home, she made a picture of a house, which is modeled on one from My Little Pony, with a library, thrones and stain glass windows!


The highlight of our week has got to be our trip out to Cannizaro Park.  Our friends were unable to join us this week and I had intended to find Caesar’s Well but almost immediately I took a wrong turn!  M was getting anxious and tearful so I gave up and decided to go to Cannizaro Park instead.  As soon as we got there, M’s anxieties fell away and she became calmer and happier.  It’s absolutely stunning there, the tree that M is sitting under looked like it was on fire, it was so vibrant – unfortunately the colour wasn’t picked up by my camera phone.  The girls picked leaves, spotted fungi and squirrels and had fun finding ‘dens’ in the undergrowth.

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D fell in love with a tree (below) and wept when we had to leave it.  That tied in nicely with our nature curriculum we’re (loosely) following.  We have to ‘adopt’ a tree and observe it’s changes throughout the seasons so I think D has chosen her’s!  Next week she wants to come back to it and do a bark rubbing.


I’ve been getting lots and lots of questions from the girls this week: why do we have lips?; Why does hot food cool down and cold food warm up?; Is a room the same temperature all over?; Why are street lamps orange?; How do trees get diseases?; How do doctors treat diseased patients without catching the disease?  I’m sure there were many many more and the questions seem to be getting more sophisticated.  I can’t answer 90% of the questions without Googling, which is fine – I don’t mind admitting to the sausages that I don’t know everything – but I am astounded by how much I have taken for granted in my life and how little I’ve questioned.  I’m on a steep learning curve!

Our week was finished off with a very laid back Curious Minds.  D played outside with her friend for most of the time (playing house on a pile of logs) while I helped M with some craft indoors:

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I can’t believe another week has passed… we seem to be careering towards the end of the year at break-neck speed!



What is a Bully?

This was the question D asked me recently.  How amazing and wonderful that a 6 year old doesn’t know what a bully is!  There have been dozens of questions from D as to why people bully, whether that boy” is a bully; what she would say to a bully etc etc.  This is all stemming from some bullies depicted in My Little Pony.  It has been explored further with the girls watching the bullying in ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: the Squeakuel’.  Honestly, that movie would put anyone off the idea of going to school: the bullying was so horrendous but told in a ‘this is what a normal American high school is like’ kind of way.  Nice.  D got quite anxious about it and told me that that was why she didn’t want to go to school.

I really feel for those children who have to suffer being bullied daily and it has made me realise how much value I place on mental health.  I realise now that I have (unconsciously!) placed the sausages’ mental health over and above anything else that might be going on in our HE world.  I have also realised that it really is the foundation for everything in life: learning, fun, friendships, responsibilities, relationships, jobs and careers, finance, parenting… EVERYTHING!

I am sure the sausages will be bullied at some point in their lives but I hope that when it does happen they will have enough self-confidence, awareness and resilience to deal with it.

In other news, we’ve been dipping our toes into all sorts this week…

D has been playing on her maths app – at one point it took all three of us to figure out a number line question which resulted in much hilarity.  All  of us have also been teaming up to help and motivate M through the levels of Super Mario Bros: she’s been getting quite down-hearted because she’s been stuck on a particular level for days.  She’s the most skilled of all of us so unfortunately we’re not a lot of help but I think she appreciates the support.

We had a look through some hang-gliding videos after seeing it in action on ‘Alvin & the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked’.  (I never thought I would stomach watching chipmunk films, it’s amazing how low your tolerance goes as a parent).  We also watched this amazing sky diving video and a whole host of others – D is very keen to have a go!

There’s also been a lot of dancing and singing off the back of the Chipmunk films.  I introduced them to Strictly Come Dancing the other night and they were both intrigued by the different dances and the scoring system.  I’ve noticed both sausages incorporating a bit of Charleston into their dance routines since then. 🙂

M is still working on her wooden house in Minecraft.  It’s all the more impressive that she’s gathered so much wood and stone herself to make it.  She was also inspired to create a scaffolding after seeing one in use at a local building site.

We also chatted about how babies grow in the uterus after our free ‘Nine months that made you‘ poster arrived the other day.  The girls had totally forgotten that they are IVF babies so I reminded them about how they were made and how D was frozen (!) as a blastocyst.

We’ve also had a great afternoon out at the common with friends…


It was not enjoyed so much by D as she managed to fall head first into the lake, but she coped admirably well!


Later, she found a stick and pretended to be Taurus the bull…


And M scampered up a tree like the monkey she is…


The end of the week is always finished off by playing with friends at Curious Minds.  I love that they all make their own fun: sometimes playing in a crowd, sometimes playing with parents and sometimes on their own.  It’s a lovely, friendly, supportive atmosphere.


Focus on D

I didn’t realise it was so long since my last post!  I just haven’t been in the mood to write lately, even though I’ve had lots of ideas swirling around my head.

Leading on from my last post, we got up at 3am to see the supermoon lunar eclipse – it was a beauty!  We managed to spot some constellations we’d never seen in real life before too – Taurus (D’s favourite), the Seven Sisters and the square of Pegasus!  We managed to stay in the garden for 20 minutes before we all decided to go back to bed.  I tried not to think too much about where we would all be the next time there’s a supermoon blood moon in 20 years – that sort of thing gives me the heebie-jeebies. 😀

As I mentioned last time, D is coming out of her telly phase, and is often looking for activities.  I’m at a bit of a loss with her to tell the truth, her interest in space is waning and we haven’t yet found an interest to fill the gap.  D is quite hard to strew for since she doesn’t readily try new things so there’s been quite a bit of boredom lately!  However, this morning she came up with an idea to make a large golden key (inspired by The Secret Garden and an atmospheric puzzle app we have called ‘The Room’).  She has plans to make a keyhole with a matching symbol next!


Lately, D has also become interested in competitive games – they were always avoided before because of her fear of losing – I’m impressed by how well she can now play Connect 4, all learnt from observing me and M play I think.  She’s also learnt a lot of Super Mario skills from watching M play.  She loves to watch and learn: I think it feels nice and safe to her.


I’ve focused on M a lot over the past 2 years of home edding: working through her anxieties and helping her to blossom.  I think I can safely say M is ‘there’ – or at least, she’s in a place where I feel satisfied she’s open to learning and new experiences, her anxieties are low  and she has excellent social skills.  Further down the line, I think (and the paediatrician thought) some cognitive behavioural therapy could help her with some strategies to deal with her anxieties, but she’s not ready for that yet.

So now I’m looking more closely at D (sorry, but I’m finding it increasingly difficult to multi-task as I approach 40 – one issue at a time!!).  I recognise a few Asperger traits in there, but nothing as debilitating as M’s.  I don’t feel she needs a diagnosis, partly because I’m pretty sure she is borderline and partly because she is generally more robust and able to express herself better than M: meaning that it’s easier for me to iron out anxieties and issues rather than fumbling around in the dark as I do with M.  I won’t go into the ins and outs of D’s issues now, I’m sure I’ll cover it in future posts.  Suffice to say, I feel as if D has changed quite a bit over the last few months and my focus will now be on calming her anxieties and expanding her horizons.

Now a few snippets on what we’ve been up to:

D has been playing on Room (an iPad app) and we’ve just downloaded Room 2.  She has some totally out there ideas about how to solve the puzzles and I’m learning to shut-up and let her get on with it as she’s generally right.  She’s also been playing on her favourite maths appTeach Your Monster to Read and the Arithmasticks have been out again.  She also made a rocket, a Christmas bauble, baked cookies and played on Minecraft.  This weekend we had a lovebombing day, although I got the feeling we were just biding our time until M returned from Brownies!  We did lots of sewing together for her bunny’s outfit, as designed by D.

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M has been for a day out with the Brownies (she chose not to spend the weekend there), and loved all the activities.  I had to make a mermaid outfit for the mythical creatures theme – it tested all my abilities since I haven’t made anything for about 10 years!  I could have done a much better job had I had time and patience but M was very pleased with it.


M has been trying to finish off old projects, like the Fimo set she got last year.  She also made her first Christmas decoration and has started learning to touch-type again.  She has mainly been occupied with Super Mario on her Nintendo DS – she has completed 6 of the 8 worlds now and has shown perseverance way beyond my level – I would have thrown the machine through a window by now!  It has also meant that she has begun looking up the ‘walkthroughs’ on YouTube on her own!  She’s never dared to do that before.

We’ve given up on Minecraft school.  Freedom to quit and all that.  The subject matter wasn’t enthralling M and the stuff we had to learn to pass a quiz was exceedingly dry.  As it happens, the course creators sent out an email to say they’d had complaints that the course was too hard so perhaps that was another reason why we weren’t feeling drawn to it.  One week, there was a cartoon about the space race which showed JFK sitting at a desk with a picture of Marilyn Monroe on it… cue half an hour lost while we looked up videos featuring her!  Anyway, M loved the idea of a Minecraft school so I’ll keep an eye out for future courses.

They’ve both been having fun with friends too.  We had a glorious afternoon at the common, we were there for over 4 hours in the end and only left because the sun was beginning to set!

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We also had a great time at our Curious Minds group.  This week, the kids played with boxes and made dens out of them.  In the end, D made a ‘kind monster’ out of hers and we brought it home – she has been decorating it every day since!

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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. 😀

Subsidising Greggs

So D really knew what she was about on Wednesday (refusing to go out) and by Thursday she was ready to face the world again!  We needed to go into Wimbledon to get some clothes and shoes for the girls and as I had planned to go to Morden Hall Park the day before, I tagged it onto the end of our shopping trip instead.

In the car I told the girls I would buy them a doughnut from Greggs if they wished, which delighted them both.  D was asking why we had to pay for them so starting a dialogue on all the people, produce and services that go towards making a doughnut!  M went further down the line of questioning and wondered why the government couldn’t pay all these people so we could get doughnuts for free.  Smart girl. 😉

We whizzed around the shops (the sausages have no patience for shopping) and then drove over to Morden Hall Park.  I had remembered to put their bikes in the boot, thinking that there are some good paths for D to practice on and M to get up some speed.  As you can see by the picture below, I had no hope of keeping up with them…

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It was really really lovely to be out in the sunshine, and I did feel rather smug that we were outside, and then sad for all the school kids that were inside on such a gorgeous day.

We’re now on week 2 of our nature curriculum and this week is all about mini-beasts.  Urgh.  I was planning to fail on this one as I’m not a lover of bugs.  As we’re unschoolers, I’m actually following this curriculum for me, and if the sausages show an interest then they can join in too.  So back to the bugs, actually I figured I didn’t do too badly on that front because we came across so many while doing the gardening: M spotted a few and asked what they were called so I happily named them for her and that’s about as far as I’m willing to go on that one!

We stopped for a minute or two so D could climb a log and M could run around in a field, then M spotted some fungi growing on a tree and remembered (from our Wimbledon Nature Club days, 2 years ago!!) that it only grows on dead trees.

We then headed over to the playground and had fun on the zip wire (including me!), tyre swings and tree climbing.


The sausages have been great friends lately, which is lovely as they’ve been getting on each other’s nerves for a long time!  When we got back home, they both got stuck into playing on Minecraft together (either sharing the iPad, or one on the iPad and the other on the laptop).  M has also been showing D how to play Super Mario Bros on her Nintendo and after a lot of tears, D finally made it to the end of level 1!  There was much rejoicing. 😀

This morning D wanted to make her current favourite thing to eat: brownie in a mug.  Sorry, no recipe link because it was copied from my sister’s ancient cookery book.  It’s amazing though because it only takes a minute to cook in the microwave.  D is getting very handy with a knife!


There has been more Minecraft (so much so, that Equestria Girls has only been played once.  ONCE!!) and we also went out in the afternoon to our lovely social group, Curious Minds.


And so endeth another week!

Learning from My Little Pony…?

Yup.  I was a bit dubious about the girls’ new passion for My Little Pony: it looks cheap and trashy and is a little on the irritating side.


The general premise of MLP is friendship, something both the girls could learn from (and couldn’t we all?).  The questions that have arisen from it have been wonderful to hear – in particular they’ve both been figuring out puns, emotions, emotional reactions, behaviours, jokes, personalities and so much more.  The MLP passion has led onto watching Equestria Girls (a similar, spin-off show) and playing a My Little Pony app on the iPad.  This game in particular is the first ‘slow’ game D has been motivated to play!  She’s been reading a little, figuring out how much money she needs to buy the next pony and generally showing an amazing, previously unseen, amount of perseverance. 😀


In other news, over the weekend J took them to a friend’s house to play and on Sunday to a fun fair at Battersea Park; they’ve also been watching films, more MLP and helping me clean!

Today we’ve spent a day at home but most of it outdoors doing some gardening.  First of all they helped me prune our hedge at the front (a job I always save for them because they love it so much) and then they helped me weed their garden patches (which have been woefully neglected this year).  M is eager to plant some crocus bulbs in her patch but D seems to have lost interest so I might take it over instead.

While we worked, M was excited to see a little robin which came to watch us – it was just like in The Secret Garden. 🙂