Tag Archives: Nature

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!! 😀

20150903_124357

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.

20150904_124354 20150904_124425 20150904_125705

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!

Advertisements

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.

20150902_110205 20150902_110225

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.

20150902_123643

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

20150902_172822

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!

20150902_113542_1

 

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.

150610a

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…

20150611_114811

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.

Baking, Films and a Cold

We’ve had a quiet few days, partly because of the rain and storms but mainly because of M’s cold.  J took the girls to meet M’s best friend B on Saturday and they were out for hours, allowing me to get on and do ‘stuff’.  But on Sunday morning, M came down looking decidedly ill so we decided to take it easy.

Apart from taking D out to see his parents, J worked all day so I looked after the girls.  We made crumble and chocolate chip cookies:

20150518_114533 20150518_120627

M also wanted to learn a few French words in readiness for our holiday so she added a page in her homemade Spanish dictionary:

20150517_091440

While D finished her rainforest picture.  We looked up the patterns for a Blue Morpho and Monarch butterfly, and I helped her a bit with the wing shapes!

20150517_104602

By the afternoon, M was feeling a bit perkier and their Aunt Sh took the girls to the park.

On Monday I had planned for us to visit Raynes Park library (because the girls love climbing on the barrier outside!) but it rained all day so we stayed in and watched endless films!  Over the last few days we have watched: Cat in the Hat, Black Beauty (is that the saddest film ever made?), Secret Garden, Annie, Matilda, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Mulan and A Series of Unfortunate Events.  The girls are also getting into an Amazon series called Annedroids too.  As usual, there were countless questions arising from these films!

On Tuesday, M woke up in a very odd mood: kind of tearful but also angry and out of sorts.  By the time we arrived in Ashtead for her art class she was saying she had a tummy ache.  She still wanted to go in because she was worried she wouldn’t finish her Van Gogh picture in time.  I assured her that even if she doesn’t finish it before the summer term ends she can still carry on next term, so she decided not to go in.  Then we drove all the way home again!

The afternoon was spent watching MORE films but they also found time to do a Sticker Picture Atlas of the World and finish a card for Aunty S.  We have a lot of birthdays in July in this family so M (following my suggestion) has started making cards well in advance so she avoids the stress of not having the time to perfect them.

20150519_132424

I also made a pin board for M to do her times tables on, having been inspired by this blog. She really enjoyed it and grasped the concept quickly.  She has been desperate to learn the times tables recently so this tied in nicely.

20150519_161431

M was feeling ready for Brownies by the evening and we drove her there (storm still going strong).  They were doing an activity about pets so she took in a picture of Morris to talk about.  I have no idea how it went as M struggles to understand what’s going on or how to communicate it back to me (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – how on earth she managed day after day at school is beyond me).

On the way home a rainbow came out!  Me and D got very excited and it inspired D to make this!

20150519_201322

We really need to get ourselves to the library today.  M has finished The Magician’s Nephew (she really enjoyed it!) and we’ve tried returning to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and A Series of Unfortunate Events but neither felt right.  What we need now is Prince Caspian and the Return to Narnia!

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:

Screenshot (22)

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 🙂

20150105_211055_2

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:

20150120_125552

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.

20150120_142313

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!

20150121_220110

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.

20150121_140424

A Week in the Life of a Home Educating Family: Friday

This week has been very odd and I’m not entirely sure it was a great week to report on as it seems to have been quite a nonentity!  Next week looks much more exciting I can assure you…  At least you’ve seen how mundane it can be as a home educator, ha!

What I love about our life though is the little things: the tiny sparkles of funniness throughout the day; the joy I have in learning together with the sausages; the joy I have when they have learnt something for themselves; and the overriding fact that they are 100% happier at home than at school!

I’m not sure I’m going to continue my daily blog into the weekend: we have a big family lunch tomorrow (J’s parents have been married 60 years!) and M has two playdates on Sunday so I probably won’t see a lot of the sausages…

If you missed the previous days, please click on the links below:

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

7am

I come downstairs and write my previous day’s blog.

8am

D comes down and has dressed and brushed her teeth and hair.  I love this new phase of hers as it’s so hard to get her dressed later in the day.  She watches Go Diego Go for a little bit and amazes J (who is now awake and working) with her animal knowledge.

9am

M comes down and we have breakfast and get the bunnies out.

10am

J gets the girls working on anniversary cards for his parents.  While they’re busy, I grab a shower and clean the bathroom.  When I come out, D is in the bedroom doing some colouring.  She tells me that the Spanish word for Grandma is Abuelita!  I love that her head is filled with random facts.  J leaves for work.

11am

I make myself a coffee, M is just finishing her anniversary card.  She has copied their wedding photo and done a lovely job.  Then she starts on Minecraft.  We can hear D upstairs, she’s singing with an American accent at the top of her voice.

12

We leave for Wimbledon Common.  I’m amazed that the girls want to go, usually it’s very hard to get them out of the house.  They must be feeling as cooped up as me.  M loves exploring off the beaten path and we find a bush with 2 rosehips left on it, 2 dens made out of very large branches and a huge fir tree.  We end up at Putney Heath where there is a lovely wood and we play Sausage Spotting which is similar to Where’s Wally.

20141128_122643 20141128_122745

 

Spot the Sausage…

20141128_130016 20141128_130024

2pm

On the way home we look at the large houses in Wimbledon Village and M wonders why you would want a house that large.  I suggest that it’s to do with status and explain what this means.  This then leads on to whether having an unnecessarily big house is a good or bad thing: M is very interested in social justice.

We then drive past a woman in a burqa, which sparks a discussion on what the point of it is.  I try really hard to remain impartial during these discussions rather than imprinting her with all my views but I think I failed on this one!

We get back for lunch.  We have a quick game of Monopoly: M is convinced she’s going to lose (even though all evidence points to the contrary) so we stop and she watches Mr Tumble instead?  She hasn’t watched it since she was 2!  D watches Dora on Netflix for a while but soon stops to help me complete a 500 piece jigsaw we bought last week.  M also helps and D tells us both about a tomato frog that can be found in Madagascar – who knew?!

5pm

M decides she wants to bake: she begins making up a recipe using molasses sugar, flour, butter and vanilla.  She calls the biscuits Madagascar Mix-Up.  She really does find this sort of sensory activity therapeutic: it makes her so happy!

20141128_172410

6pm

The happiness doesn’t last as she can’t wash the greasiness off her hands and it begins to stress her out.  She walks off in a huff, unsuccessfully slamming the lounge door.  I have to say though, her mood this week has been amazing compared to the last fortnight when she was becoming very hard to communicate with.  Luckily, she recovers quickly and comes back in to taste her biscuits and decides they need icing.  We spend the time up to bed watching Dora the Explorer (D told us that ‘lo hicimos’ means ‘we did it’ and ‘mochila’ means backpack’.

8pm

I read another Rainbow Magic book to D and M listens too – they were both fascinated by these fairies a year ago and I can see the interest remains!  I read a fair bit of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire but I can tell M isn’t in the mood to listen.  There is quite a bit of bickering between the sausages and I advise them to keep away from each other before I head downstairs.  Luckily, I know they’re sensible girls and they will keep themselves to themselves.  Usually they’re good friends but they can get on each other’s nerves which is pretty normal and healthy, I guess.

So endeth another week in the Sausage household!  I am looking forward to J being around at the weekend, and to a change in our dynamics: he always shakes us 3 up a bit. 😀

Love Bombing with M

Love Bombing sounds a bit like some sort of porn but it isn’t, honest.  It’s the title of a book written by Oliver James that I read recently.  The basic premise of Love Bombing is that for a day or two (or longer if you wish) you hand over control to your child and you shower them with attention.  This enables you to reconnect with each other, which is often difficult to do in our busy family lives.  No one else joins in – no partners, no siblings.  Just you and one child.  Your child has complete control over what you do/where you go during this time.  After reading the book, implementing Love Bombing plus daily half hour top ups pretty much sorts out most behavioural problems occurring!

So I explained all this to M and her little face lit up :).  I stipulated she could have a day with me (some do an overnight too but there’s no way our budget will stretch to that at the moment) and she could choose what she wanted to do, as long as it didn’t cost too much.  After thinking about it for a few days she decided she wanted to go foraging for berries!  So this Saturday we went to Morden Park!  D was a little wobbly at the thought of both of us going out without her but she rallied at the thought of having her own special day another time, and at spending the day with J.

140830a

We spent two hours walking around Morden Park, picking haw berries, elder berries, blackberries and rosehips.  M adored every minute! She became very good at berry spotting too. She chose to have two doughnuts from a bakery for lunch and then believe it or not, we were too tired to forage anymore.  M tentatively asked if we could go to a toy shop so we headed back to Wimbledon but then M decided she’d rather play Minecraft for an hour so I sat beside her with a cup of tea while she played.

After that we both felt refreshed enough to head out again (M gorgeously bursting with joy at the prospect of sitting on the front seat in the top deck of the bus!) and we spent a long time window shopping in Ely’s jewellery department before heading up to the toys.  She obviously didn’t intend for me to buy her anything but I thought I would as it had been such a cheap day out!

On our way back to the bus stop we spotted the library and M asked if we could go in and choose some more books for her reading challenge… eh?!  So we made a quick dash in there to grab two books before it closed.

M was so full of joy all day that I felt quite emotional at times – it was so lovely to have her all to myself.

A glorious day!