Tag Archives: Poetry

Poetry, Pottery and Painting

I’m trying really hard to strew more to keep M (and maybe D?) more stimulated – M already has numerous activities on the go but she seems to want to be stretched and challenged more recently.

Way back in the early days of our HE journey, when I was devouring other blogs, I found a few references to Brave Writer’s Poetry Teatime.  I’m not a poetry lover as such (I love a good rhyme or a limerick but I can’t bear some of it – probably because I don’t understand it.  It brings up similar fears/anger/boredom issues to looking around the Tate Modern) but there’s something about getting lots of yummy things out on the table and sharing poetry together which appeals to me.

It’s only taken me 3 years to get around to trying it out…  I gathered a few poetry books we have (although annoyingly I couldn’t find our copy of Roald Dahl’s ‘Revolting Rhymes’) and invited the girls to a poetry tea.  M was up for it, D was not but came to the table for a chocolate muffin that Grandad had bought for her.  They both wanted me to sing ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ by Edward Lear to them, which I duly did.  D gobbled her cake and scarpered to bounce on the trampoline while M stayed for a few more poems.  I read ‘Bananas in my Ears’ by Michael Rosen, ‘Us Two’ by A. A. Milne, and M sang ‘The Owl and The Pussycat’ back to me. 🙂  All in all it was a success and I hope to do more of it in the future, which may make D less wary and suspicious of it all.

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M has been to pottery – she’s churning out pieces by the dozen and I’m not sure where I’m going to put it all!  Here is her latest piece, which I love.  This week the teacher was marveling at how much work she puts into each of her pieces. 🙂

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We’ve spent a fair amount of time playing Minecraft together – we defeated a witch (with a lot of terrified squeals, mainly from me) and built an enormous scaled up model of a Minecraft bunny in the sky.  It is supposed to be a mob-trap but no mobs are spawning in it unfortunately. :/

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J has taken the girls swimming and got them playing marbles, which they loved.

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This weekend I painted our bedroom, and the girls helped too.  Their brush strokes have really improved from the last time they helped and I didn’t need to correct or go over any of it.  It won’t be long before I can leave them to do an entire room. 😀

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We’ve already reached half term – it feels like M’s classes have only just begun…?  So now we’ve got two weeks without classes to mark the days.  We’ve got a few play dates and activities planned though so I’m looking forward to it. 🙂

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Busily Peaceful

So aside from Aspergers, a whole load of other stuff has been going on here…

Starting with putting up the Christmas tree!

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Christmas has definitely begun in our house!  M is beside herself with excitement about all the craft she wants to do: she has about 6 different activities on the go at the moment, all of which she intends to give as gifts.  D is also very excited of course, mainly about the beauty of the Xmas tree and fairy lights 🙂

She has already made a card for Santa:

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Inside she asks for a scarf, sunglasses and 5 lumps of coal, ahhh!

The best way to describe my days at the moment is ‘busily peaceful’.  I tend to have an hour to myself in the morning, when I have a cuppa and spend a bit of time doing blogging/Facebook/xmas shopping.

D is usually the first to come down and we either sit and chat, or she might ask to play something or watch Netflix.  The other morning we got talking about bees and this led to watching YouTube videos about getting stung and how to get honey from a hive.  The end result was D asking for honey on toast for the first time!

M tends to appear around 9am (she is such a night owl!) and after a few minutes will dive into some craft or other.  We recently had Grandma and Granddad to stay and M put on a puppet show – I am sooo impressed by her drawing skills!  She is now preparing for a Christmas play…

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She also drew this portrait of me on a scrap of paper.  I was feeling pretty cheesed off with her beforehand and so I felt my heart swell when she presented it to me :).

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We have breakfast quite late which suits all of our tummies, and then most mornings are spent with the girls doing various crafts, games, telly watching, iPad playing, or just make-believe.

Today, however, I had booked their Aunt Sh to look after them for two hours while I visited our local scrap store.  Another HEer set up a group subscription for £11/pa each and we can visit as many times as we like and take as much as we want (within reason).  I wish I could have taken the girls as it was pretty amazing inside but unfortunately they don’t allow children.  I was given a guided tour of the place and honestly could have loaded a van’s worth but I just took a few things for Christmas craft this time.  The lady there told me I had roughly £30-worth of stuff so this has certainly saved us money!

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The girls were squealing with excitement when they saw it.  D immediately put a sequin strip on her head and tried to make a hat out of it, which was hilarious.  Then they both settled down to do other crafts in the front room: in this picture M is making her Xmas puppets while D is painting a polystyrene cone which is going to be a sparkly centrepiece for the Christmas table.

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While this was going on, I was attempting to clean and clear the front room which has become horrendously packed with HE stuff and other nonsense.  After D had finished painting she decided she was going to play a song for M on the piano to motivate her to keep working.  It was VERY cute and heartfelt.  Then M had a go and sang Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer while plinky-plonkying away on the keys.  They were obviously in a musical mood as they then created a marching band with kazoos, a drum, a recorder and maracas and marched around the house chanting a song…

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Which then led to playing with some ancient walkie-talkies – though they were yelling at each other, rather than talking…

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It was such a busy afternoon we were almost late for M’s ballet class but we made it with a couple of minutes to spare, thankfully.  M told me today that she wished she could go to ballet every day.  During the class, D really looks forward to doing a workbook – I’m not sure why as she doesn’t like doing them any other time of the week?!  Unfortunately we left in such a rush today that I forgot her pencil case so she played Monument Valley on the iPad instead.

When we got home it was 5.30pm: I started making dinner; D immediately went to watch Dora the Explorer on Netflix (she is absorbing even more Spanish from this programme) and stayed on the sofa for the next 3 hours;  meanwhile, M carried on with her puppets, spent a bit of time sorting through her drawer of toys (she’s decided she doesn’t like most of the stuff in there) and played with her doll on her own upstairs for a long time.

Bedtime has been getting quite strange here in the past week.  For the last few months we’ve been ‘unschooling’ bedtime, which means basically that the girls get to decide when they are tired enough to go to bed.  However, I haven’t totally unschooled it because some evenings I feel like I really need time to myself so I take them up to bed at 8pm, read until 9pm and then leave them to it.  However, this has increasingly started to feel weird and a little like they are ‘banished’ upstairs and ‘unwelcome’ downstairs: particularly as M keeps sidling in to ask for help with some craft or other.  Quality time with J isn’t really an issue as he is rarely around in the evenings, so last night I experimented with keeping them downstairs until late.  I read their stories to them in the lounge while they did their crafts on the floor, I even read poetry to them which they seemed to enjoy.  Then we all went to bed together at the same time and it was really nice and peaceful.  However, today there was no way I could manage without my ‘alone’ time – but it just feels odd!  So, I’m wondering where this new shift in our routine will take us…

A Small Attempt at a Schedule

I was determined to start the day off with some english and maths today so I sat the girls down at 9am (still in their pyjamas) and D did a lesson on Reading Eggs while M worked on Mathletics.  They were quite whiney about it all though which made me think we need to do this more often!

M has always loved Mathletics because of the certificates you get if you reach 1000 points, but it seems this has faded as she was seriously underwhelmed by the one she got today.  However, she is still motivated to get the sparkly perfect scores on each section so it’s not all bad.

Reading Eggs is getting sneakily harder and harder as we progress through the levels.  D zoomed through the first few but now the lessons are getting longer and she is tired by the time she gets to the book at the end.  Anyway, she completed it after countless flops.

The girls had a long bath together after that, while I tidied and got the ingredients ready to make some pretzels.  Hmm, not sure I would make them again as there was so much stopping and starting and waiting and preparing of the dough that D had lost interest by the end and they weren’t anything like the pretzels I know!  They were tasty though and we ate them up for lunch.

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This afternoon was spent finishing off putting the Christmas decorations up.  We now have a serious number of fairy lights all around the house.

We’ve got the LEA lady coming to visit next Friday and it was with this in mind that I’ve decided I really need to declutter our front room where we do most of our home-schooling.  It looks like a garage.  Not that I need to tidy up for the LEA but I always like to have a tidy before anyone comes to the house as I’m not an overly tidy person.  Plus, Christmas decorations look crap when they’re surrounded by clutter.

The girls had a play upstairs while I tidied and I mended the pulley for them. It’s still very popular, particularly with D.  She even noticed that Rapunzel uses a pulley system with her hair in Tangled.

Then we went out to see one of M’s best friends, B, who we have kept in touch with since nursery.  Both girls and B played wonderfully together, racing around the house and they were all very excited to see each other.  B’s Mum had made gingerbread biscuits which they decorated after dinner.

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B’s teenage sister, F, was telling her Mum stories about her day at school, starting with ‘Do you want to hear something funny?’.  So D said to F, ‘Do you want to hear something funny?’.  Then proceeded to recount a tale of how her pants got stuck up her bum once.

We were back way past bedtime so D went straight to bed and M decided she wanted to finish The Owl and the Pussycat in her poetry book, so she did!

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Swimming and Slavery

D immediately started to cry when I said she had her swimming lesson today.  She said she was too tired and put her head in her arms.  I told her that it’s the only thing she has to do in home-school and if its her worst thing then maybe she could think of something she loves doing to cheer herself up.  M immediately thought of her chocolate coin maker and said she would let D make coin.  So they set to work!

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To anybody who doesn’t have this toy I wouldn’t recommend it.  It is A LOT of work (for me) and waiting (for the girls) for very little reward in my opinion.  It took 40 minutes to make two coins and the little sausages gobbled their coin in 3 seconds flat.  Then, swimming lesson forgotten, we got to work on our poetry books.

M is in the middle of a masterpiece.  She’s copying The Owl and The Pussycat from a book illustrated by Ian Beck.  She’s laboriously copying every illustration in the book!  She is really really good at it though and hats off to her, I don’t think I’d have the patience for it.  M is very into detail so it’s lovely that she has the time to do work to her satisfaction.

Meanwhile, D was copying out ‘Isn’t It Funny’ by A. A. Milne.  It’s a very cute little poem and just about the right length for D’s current skills.  For me, this exercise is about learning a few poems by rote and hopefully building a love of poetry as we go along.  So I don’t mind that M takes 1 hour per page or that D takes 5 minutes to do the entire poem: I want them to enjoy what they do and do it in their own style.

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I recently read an American blog where they had a Poetry Tea afternoon as part of their curriculum, with the idea being that they sit down together to eat cake, drink tea (or whatever) and read poetry to each other.  I love it!  Definitely going to steal this idea for myself.

After poetry I decided to show the girls how to make butter.  It was a bit random but being city girls it would be nice if they knew how their food is made.  So we got some cream, put it into an airtight tub and shook.

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And shook.

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And shook.  D lost interest but M & I kept it up until all of a sudden butter appeared!  M and I drank the buttermilk and the butter tasted good too.  M said it was nicer than ‘normal’ butter.

Poor J was ill again today.  He slept until 10.30 and once he was awake we got dressed and then the girls ran downstairs to open letters from Grandma that the postman had just delivered.  She’d sent some amazing sticker and activity wildlife books which the girls got stuck into straight away.

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The afternoon was spent at David Lloyd.  There were a lot of tears from D on the way.  I asked her what it was that she hated most about swimming and she said that it was putting her head in the water.  So I said “I think your teacher is very nice and although she keeps asking you to put your head in, you don’t have to do it until you’re ready”.  D calmed down after a while and we spent half an hour in the café eating biscuits and doing the girls’ workbooks.  M continued looking up words in the dictionary (she seems to quite enjoy it) and D was putting letters into alphabetical order.

The girls then had a quick swim together before D’s lesson.  I don’t know whether it was my pep talk or just something that clicked in her head but once she was there she put her face in the water as soon as the teacher asked her to!!!  She also did a couple of doggy paddle strokes on her own, without a float!  M was also storming ahead in her class: refining her front and back crawl techniques.

Once home again, the girls played a bit with J and he set them up some sort of assault course using our two sofas in the lounge.  They went to bed very happy after he told them a ridiculous story based around how smelly my bottom is.  M was laughing so much she could hardly breathe.

I’ve added a new category to my posts this evening: Talking.  It’s so important in home education!  The things I get asked you would not believe.  I must answer about 100 questions a day, if not more.  M was asking all about slavery while they were getting dressed after swimming today.  She asked loads of interesting questions like ‘how did they get the slaves, what if the slaves didn’t do as they were told, do they still have slaves now etc etc.  We had a 5-minute slavery lesson in the changing rooms.

Little things:

1. How enormously generous M is.

2. M saying she would NEVER have a slave, she would always pay them some money.

Organs and Poetry

When I asked the girls to get dressed at 8am this morning and the answer was ‘no’, my heart sank.  I thought this would be another day when not a lot gets done.  I enticed M into the bathroom with the promise of new toothpaste and then subtley suggested she get dressed and she robotically complied!  D followed a few minutes later.  Then I chirpily suggested that we go downstairs and ‘crack on’ with some work.  Again, ‘no’ was the answer.  So I decided not to push it any further and announced I was going downstairs to make dinner (yes, I do sometimes make dinner at 8am).  All of a sudden I had two little helpers!  The little sausages topped and tailed my beans for me… and then happily cleared up the mess afterwards?!  Wowsers.

After that little blip this morning it was full steam ahead.  First of all, M wanted to learn how to tie shoe laces.  This is a recent thought of mine: to get them learning life skills bit by bit.  If we’re going to be together all the time then they will have to start being more self-sufficient so that I can concentrate on more important things like… J would say Jeremy Kyle… I would say more home ed planning.  So yesterday I put posters up on our home school door saying that if M can tie her shoe laces 5 times then she will get her favourite chocolate as a reward.  Previous to this M has been very resistant to learning how to tie laces but now she has new boots with laces it’s become a bit of a problem.  So the fact that she was asking to do it was amazing… and then she’d mastered it within 10 minutes!!!  Meanwhile, D (who cannot be bribed to do ANYTHING) has been asked to do a zip 5 times for her fave chocolate.  I calmly stated that I don’t mind doing her zips but if she wanted to try then she would be rewarded.  This made her very cross indeed.  She was even crosser when she did her body-warmer zip up.  Strange girl.

After the cross face had gone, D got on with Reading Eggs and M started on her poetry book.  I’m not a poetry lover but what I did love when I was small was writing out poems in a little book that my Grandma made by covering an exercise book in gift paper.  We would draw little pictures next to them and try to learn them off by heart.  It’s a bit Michael Gove but it’s a nice way of doing it.  Anyway, M has completely taken this task on board and her first poem has become a work of art!  It’s lovely to see her painstakingly writing in her best hand and copying the drawings so wonderfully.  She has chosen The Owl and the Pussy-cat.  I will take a picture of it when she’s finished.

D’s reading is going from strength to strength!  She read her 6th Summer Reading Challenge book with ease today, so tomorrow we’ll be going to the library to collect their medals!  She also did a bit more work with her beloved Arithmasticks.

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Then we had a snack and D asked if she could watch Tinkerbell: The Secret of the Wings.  Woo!  So both girls sat down to watch it while I got our Peter and the Wolf activities ready and had a coffee.  It’s amazing how much time there seems to be in the day: that the girls can relax in front of the telly for a bit while still leaving HOURS left in the day for learning seems amazing to me.

Peter and the Wolf went well and the girls enjoyed it (lots of screaming in the film again, always a sign of enjoyment haha) but I did feel that it reached a bit of a dead end.  So I’m going to ask on my HE Facebook groups for any ideas for stretching the topic further.  We watched the Disney animation, then I got the girls to stick down the characters onto a board and match them up with their instruments while they listened to the Peter and the Wolf CD.  They enjoyed doing it but it didn’t seem to lead anywhere if you see what I mean.

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D was getting tired by this point so I fell back on something I hadn’t planned to do today but something I knew she would LOVE – drawing body organs.  She is not a normal 4 year old.  I had bought a roll of easel paper a while ago so I rolled it out on the floor and got D to lie down on it so I could draw around her.  She loved this and decided to dress her body in a leotard and tutu.  Then she proceeded to stick on her organs.  We got as far as lungs, wind pipe, stomach and liver and then we ran out of glue!  I also drew around M and she has done her usual level of detail down to the pattern on her socks!  I have pegged them up on my twine and will post a picture when they’re done.

While I was sorting their dinner I set them up with our new acrylic paints to finish their diyas off.  They look so lovely, I can’t wait to see them with lit candles.  As the kitchen table was covered with painting equipment, we ate dinner in the lounge and watched Pocahontas for the first time.  There were lots of questions about Native Americans and spirits and death!

What a huge day it’s been, and a very successful one, activity wise!  We didn’t get out today but the girls did have a play in the garden so they got some fresh air.  We’re out and about over the next couple of days so it was nice to have a whole day in.

P.S. I’ve just realised that M seems to have ‘de-schooled’ – there was no apathy or anger about learning today!  Hooray!

P.P.S. There has also been a break-though with her bedtime routine: yesterday she asked me if she could move into her own room (up to now we’ve been co-sleeping) so for the past 2 nights she has slept on her own with no mention of feeling lonely and no tears about missing me.  I can hardly believe it!!