Tag Archives: Space

New Year

This is my 3rd New Year whilst home educating, and it’s the first one that I haven’t felt really fired up by HE.  However, this is no bad thing!  I feel relaxed, brave and sure enough to let things go at the pace they are without any feverish planning and strewing.

I’m determined to spend more time doing things that I want to do: so rather than spend my evenings reading HE blogs/on HE Facebook groups or scouring for HE resources, I’ll be picking up my sewing/watching TV or reading a book!

I’ve already started a Future Learn course – this one’s all about the constellation of Orion.  I completed the first week yesterday, with D enjoying it next to me.  There was nothing there that we didn’t know but we enjoyed going over it again and watching the videos.

We’ve had a lovely few weeks at my parents’ house over xmas and then a further 5 days spent with them over New Year at our house.  We had a great time, as ever!

151225c

Yesterday was our first pyjama day of the new ‘term’.  Always a requirement of a successful HE lifestyle :D.  I had to take Morris to the vets for a general anaesthetic to have his teeth burred but the rest of the day was spent on Minecraft, interspersed with:

  • experimenting with an enormous marshmallow in the microwave!  We were given 2 bags of marshmallows by M’s friend B to try it out.  Even D was intrigued and dared to eat it for the first time!  We then continued with marshmallow fun by setting them alight over a candle.
  • learning a new card game.  M got this book in her stocking.  We had to play with just the two of us as D doesn’t like competitive games at the moment.
  • We googled where rubber comes from and then how erasers are made.
  • We watched a mesmerising animation on a triangle and the Sugar Plum Fairy being played on glasses.
  • The girls cleaned and cooked alongside me – they swept and mopped the kitchen floor, wiped and shined cupboards and handles and then made J’s dinner.
  • We watched Snow Chick – A Penguin’s Tale, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Liar Liar.
  • Sooo many questions about word means, social meanings, road safety, nature and instinct, sums, hemispheres and the zodiac to name but a few.

We went to a friend’s party on Sunday and I was so surprised that every guest there had a positive response to HE and there wasn’t one word on socialisation!  I felt very confident and proud of our decision to HE and today backed up that feeling.  From the outside it appeared like a slouchy pyjama day, but under the surface our brains were buzzing with questions and new connections.

Advertisements

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:

151104c 151104b

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.

151102b

M has been honing her icing skills:

151105a

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

20151109_091431

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. 🙂

151108a

Books and Fair-Eagles

We’ve had loads of downtime this week due to it being half term.  We had M’s old nursery friend over to play on Monday and they all played in the garden together as the weather was so mild.

I had planned on going to the library on Tuesday but D was adamant that she didn’t want to go out.  Having learnt from past experience that I am better off trusting that she knows what she needs, I changed my plans and we had a day indoors instead.  We started off by painting the clay Xmas decorations the girls had made over the weekend:

20151027_122655 20151027_122717

The rest of the day was spent drawing; playing dominoes (M is a master of it after only a few games); and watching Heidi on Netflix.  The animation isn’t great but as I found with My Little Pony – the social stories and plots are a very useful learning tool for the sausages.

After a day indoors, D was ready to go to the library on Wednesday.  Although, since she’s not too fussed about books at the moment and declared libraries to be boring, I had to bring the iPad along so that M and I could enjoy the visit.  D is definitely going through an odd phase at the moment – she’s unusually delicate and anxious about things, which quickly leads to tears.

The last time we went to the library D wanted to borrow lots of space books but it seemed to me that she was on auto-pilot and she wasn’t really interested.  Lo and behold the books have been unread for 3 weeks and most of the time she doesn’t even want to read anything at bedtime.  One night she told me that she kept forgetting her space information so I suggested we could start from scratch and re-learn it all but she said that once it falls out of her head it won’t go back in again… ever.  Which I think was her way of saying she wasn’t interested!

She’s loved space from the moment she learnt how to say ‘moon’.  I can’t believe her passion for it is waning.  It is so much a part of who she is.  Recently, a friend of mine pointed out that this must be difficult for her too if space is so much a part of her identity.  I never thought of that before.

We got some great books from the library – origami crafts, Minecraft hacks, the Gunpowder plot and Greek and Roman myths.  I’m hoping to read some of the myth books with D since it ties in nicely with constellations and My Little Pony.  She’s even made up and drawn her own mythical creature – a Fair-Eagle – an eagle with fairy wings!

20151027_122750

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!

20151006_140204

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.

151001b

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.

150928a 150928c 20151006_160413

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.

151001a

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!

151001h 151001q

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!

151002e 151002f

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.

Papier Mache, Rubik’s Cube and Google

We’ve been spending quite a bit of time making papier-mache goody bags (inspired by an episode of Creative Galaxy).  D is beginning to realise that these TV programmes aren’t very realistic in showing you how much time these art projects take to complete.  So instead of taking 1 minute it took us 3 days to make our goody bags!  And even then, D’s collapsed because we hadn’t put enough newspapers layers on.  However, she wasn’t to be defeated and was keen to start all over again.  This time we made it with 4 layers of newspaper, just to be sure.  After it had been painted and a ribbon handle was stapled on, she immediately filled it with goodies and gave it to M!  Aah.

20150509_184658

The girls are really getting into films now.  They probably watch at least one film a day and their current favourites are Cat in the Hat and Paddington.  They’re both brilliant films, even for adults, and I’m usually asked a few questions during the film, which goes to show they’re not just flopped zombie like in from of the telly: instead they’re engaged and learning.  I’m quite thankful for the break it gives me too: they’re both really busy with different activities at the moment but they still require a lot of hand-holding and help through things – not complaining, just sayin. 🙂

20150509_170509

In keeping with my promise to get outdoors more, the girls have been out on their bikes, scooters or roller skates every day lately, a great achievement for me!  M adores her bike so will willing go anywhere on it, and D is getting more and more confident on hers thanks to J’s persistence that she practices.

D has been keen to play long-ignored board games (Tell the Time, Junior Scrabble and Pop to the Shops) and also completing her favourite map jigsaws which she’s getting faster and faster at.  J has also begun teaching her how to play chess.

20150506_150121

D even made up her own game by drawing the Sun and each planet in the solar system (Pluto is always included because she feels sorry for it).  We then had to choose a planet and orbit the sun like the planet would.  There was a discussion with M about whether the planets traveled at differing speeds or whether some planets take longer to complete an orbit because of their distance from the Sun!

20150506_155435

M is becoming more and more engaged in learning as time passes by: she now asks me some incredible questions and I can tell by the surprise and pleasure I feel when she does it that I had become accustomed to her never asking me anything (or asking and then feigning disinterest when I begin to Google it).  On a visit to the Museum of London last week, she was full of questions about the Roman invasion (including some rather interesting ones like ‘weren’t the English angry?’).  This week she has also asked me ‘what’s the point of ants?’ and ‘why do people in different countries speak different languages?’.

20150506_113256

Last week, M decided she wanted to make the bunnies a toy out of loo rolls.  She had the idea of making them a castle but she had an added challenge that she couldn’t use any glue or tape to fix it together in case the bunnies ingested it.  She came up with an ingenious way of connecting the rolls using a slot on one and a flap on the other.  Her brain never ceases to amaze me!

20150508_141748

M has also dug out a long-forgotten Rubik’s Cube and has been spending hours and hours working through the instructions.  She’s now got to the point (after working on it solidly for a day) where she’s gaining an understanding of its movements and can figure out problems more easily.  She’s set herself the challenge of being able to complete it without any instructions at all!

20150513_142603

And here she is in her new Brownie uniform!  She is thoroughly enjoying it, though small problems are arising to do with her being unable to take in long streams of information from her leader.  I was unsure whether to make the Brown Owl aware that we’re seeking an Aspergers diagnosis but in the end I decided I would so that she might understand M’s behaviour more.  She seems like a very understanding woman and had already noticed a few of M’s difficulties.  After each session I can sense a faint shadow of M’s old school self – the anger at me, the needing to wind down, and the faintly glassy-eyed look which tells me she’s over-stimulated.  But on the whole, it is a positive experience for M and she really looks forward to it every week.

20150512_175358

And finally, a picture of a sausage sandwich for you to enjoy.

20150508_194903

Amazing Artistry

I feel like my head is so full and busy lately.  Usually I use this blog to clear my mind but I haven’t been able to untangle all the thoughts going through my head to do so.

The majority of my thoughts are regarding M’s suspected ASD.  We were rejected from the multi-disciplinary team because they don’t deal with ASD anymore.  Our GP then referred us to CAMHS instead who rejected us for the most LUDICROUS reasons:

  1. They don’t do assessments just because a parent asks for them (wtf? Why shouldn’t a parent have the authority to request an assessment?!)
  2. The list of symptoms I had provided weren’t enough proof of ASD (duh – I had seen all the symptoms in Tony Attwood’s book!)
  3. They needed further evidence from school (Again, duh.  Firstly, if they had actually read my evidence then they would have known that we home educate.  Secondly, M hid all her ASD symptoms from school so further evidence would have been impossible to obtain!)

Can you tell I’m slightly narked by this?  I am still wondering about sending a scathing letter in reply but I haven’t got the mental energy right now.  Besides, if CAMHS are this stupid and ignorant, what’s the likelihood of being taken seriously at an assessment?

So the upshot of all this is that we’ve decided to approach an NHS Consultant Paediatrician who also does private work.  She comes with lots of good recommendations so I’m full of hope.

Meanwhile, I am trying to marry up ASD strategies with our unschooling perspective.  Thanks to some wonderfully supportive and informative people on an unschooling Facebook group, I’ve found Son-Light.  It’s a totally unique approach to Autism which, although it’s been around for a few decades, is still pretty radical.  I like radical.  I’m halfway through the book and so far nearly all of it is sitting very well with me.

I’m on a very steep learning curve and I’m trying not to feel overwhelmed by it all!

In other news…

We’ve been enjoying the spring weather…

20150312_112956_2

M is still very into Animal Crossing: yesterday she was petitioning residents!  D hasn’t been on the computer very much, but she’s done a little Minecraft, Numberjacks Mission to Learn and Teach Your Monster to Read.

20150306_092026

D is still very much enjoying dressing up as a princess.  She made herself an orb like Elsa’s from Frozen the other day!

20150313_093524

 

D has really impressed me with how much she has concentrated on tasks lately: she copied some complicated Hama bead designs; designed some clothes for her paper doll; played for well over an hour with Anna from Frozen’s ice hand; and made lots and lots of ‘sewn’ constellation cards.

20150309_072847 20150311_121430 20150318_182744 20150319_172539

 

However, she did struggle at our latest outing: we were lucky enough to get last minute tickets to go to the Royal Albert Hall with a group of other HEers to see Classical Spectacular.  It really was spectacular!  M adored it – she loved the music, the lights, the fireworks and the loud cannons that boomed at the end.  This photo doesn’t really do it justice.

20150320_142700

 

M has been spending a lot of time perfecting some Frozen figures that she wants to make into puppets.  I am quite in awe of her drawing of Elsa.  She’s 8!  8!

20150314_101010

 

We have continued to enjoy our new local HE group:

20150313_135808 20150318_124209_13

And finally, I’ll end with D’s Van Gogh masterpiece!  Isn’t it incredible?!  She’s 5!  5!

20150317_131858