Tag Archives: Talking

Minecraft Minecraft Minecraft

The love of Minecraft continues… It’s been reignited by our being able to play multiplayer across our iPads which has made such a difference in how the girls (and me) play.

We’ve been working on projects together in each other’s worlds: the girls particularly love the wooden house in their Minecraft Construction book – I must have helped them to make it at least 10 times over the past couple of years but this is the first time we’ve been able to actually build it together.  D asked me to help her make it in creative mode, which meant I could lay the foundations and start building upwards, and she could then continue once she understood the pattern.  We finished it in under an hour – it would have taken at least 3 hours previously.  M then wanted me to help her make it in her world in survival mode – this was obviously much harder because it involved a lot of tree chopping but it was great to be able to do it together.

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Typically, our bedtimes are spent playing Minecraft or Terraria together too.  Last night M and I dared to increase the difficulty rating slightly to fight some mobs (and get bones so we could then tame a wolf and get a pet dog) – D found it too frightening and left the room. 😦  She was placated with watching Stampy while M and me continued playing.

D has gone nuts for Stampy, we all have to some extent but D has watched him for hours and hours whereas M and I have our limits!  His early videos contained a bit of swearing which the girls were intrigued about so we chatted about the words he was using, what they meant and why he was using them.  They took it in their stride. 🙂

Stampy has even inspired D to make her own gaming videos.  We don’t have whatever software you need for this so she asked me to film her playing a few of her games.

Coming off the back of Minecraft there has been lots of ‘how do you spell this?’ and ‘what does this say?’.  For D in particular I can see that she could begin picking up words from it – more so than if I was sitting and reading to her actually.  She has quite a strong fear of failure so it would be nice if it just ‘happened’ like that, rather than her sitting down and trying to learn to read.  To be honest, I think she knows more words than she lets on – she was reading whole sentences 2 years ago but now says she can’t read… hmm.

We’ve stopped going to the library at the moment – D doesn’t like going any more because ‘they’re too quiet’.  Even to the point where she stands outside the door while M and I are taking books back, ha ha!  Ah well, our library has a really good selection of books online (much better than in the actual library) so we don’t have a need to go there at the moment.  You can also download read-alongs so I got a couple of D’s favourites for her to look at on her iPad.

We’ve all been quite poorly with heavy colds since getting back from Spain so there’s been a lot of sitting around and tiredness.  Yesterday however, we made it out to Wimbledon Common.  It was glorious as usual and we had a good hour’s walk before the girls’ legs got tired.

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We would usually have attending M’s art class on Tuesday morning, but she appears to have gone off it?!  It once was her favourite class of all but it seems nothing is wrong with the class per se, just that she’s ready for something different.

We tried a ‘schooly’ type class in Kingston recently.  M responds well to a structured environment (whereas D definitely does not!) so I thought it would be a good thing for her to try.  Unfortunately it really didn’t go down well at all with M – with her information processing issues she really needed more attention and instruction than the teacher (an HE mum) could have given her.  Plus, she was learning about something totally new which meant she was struggling to understand a lot.  I’m so glad D and I stayed in the room because M got very tearful at one point and although she stuck it out to the end, she gave it a 4/10 so we decided not to go back!

It gave me renewed respect and gratitude for her art class and brownie leaders who do so well in making sure she understands and is happy.

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A Lot of Science

Oh my word, such a sciencey few days: M has been asking lots of questions and I’ve been thinking about how much I need to up my game in the science department.  My knowledge of anything sciencey is appalling and it’s something I’d really like to rectify if I’m going to give the sausages a balanced education.  I don’t mean that in the teaching sense, but I feel that currently my strewing is heavily weighted on the arts side and there is very little on the science side.

Anyhoo, as usual, M is pushing me along, letting me know when she is ready to take a step forward.  Her questions this week (well, at least the ones that made me stop and think) were: “What makes some things heavier than others?; What’s an atom? What’s the point of genes?”  Jeez, where do I start?

Well, for starters I need to learn some of this stuff myself.  A great deal of M’s learning is filtered through me, this is mainly because she has issues with any form of information intake.  So if we’re watching a film, I have to pause it every so often to recap on what’s just happened; if we’re reading a book, again I have to recap after each paragraph so that the information is simplified and re-organised in a way that she understands.  Sounds like hard work but I’ve normalised it so much that I barely notice it anymore.

So I’ve been looking around for some sort of way that I can learn very basic science.  Most resources assume some sort of prior knowledge – I even tried our See Inside Science book but I found it baffling!  The other day I happened to be on Khan Academy and I noticed that there’s a science section on there – bingo!  I spent a couple of hours yesterday learning all about atoms, protons and atomic weight.  After that I went upstairs and succinctly described an atom to M and told her that you could string a million carbon atoms across the width of one strand of hair.  This pleased her muchly so my time was not wasted. 🙂

We’ve also been watching ‘Colour: The Spectrum of Science‘ together this week.  I can highly recommend it!  In the first episode, Lapis Lazuli made an appearance, which intrigued the girls as they have mined for it in Minecraft.  The presenter ground the rock down to make paint so D has now added a pestle and mortar to her Christmas list, which I think might be the best present request ever!

This evening we watched the second episode and M was grilling me as to why chlorophyll was green and not any other colour, and wanted to know the full details of photosynthesis – I struggled to answer some of her questions so I have a fair bit of research to do, starting with light waves which I’ve never really understood.

The way that M grills me for answers leaves me thinking she’d do very well on Prime Minister’s Question Time.  Her Nanny took her to see Annie at our local theatre this afternoon and when she got back I was reading through the programme, which had a little history on the 1930’s depression era.  She was really interested in the whole cycle of how and why it started so I got another grilling. 🙂

D has been SUPER excited this week because her friend came over to play on Wednesday.  It was honestly like Christmas: she couldn’t wait for bedtime to come and then she couldn’t sleep for excitement!  They had a really lovely time together and D has been counting the days until she can see her again.

We’ve had a very quiet day today, partly because M was out at the theatre all afternoon and partly because I’ve been feeling a little unwell.  D has spent most of the day cuddled up to me on the sofa, doing all sorts of ‘schooly’ type learning: she began with her Times Tables book, and then went onto her onebillion maths app which she played for hours before going onto some letter writing practise on her iTrace app.

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Phew.  It seems like there’s suddenly been a whoosh of learning over the past few days – no wonder I feel tired! 🙂

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.

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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.

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

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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!

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Collage, Tidying and Schools

Trying to keep up with my regular blogging…

D watched Go Diego Go after waking this morning because she wanted to see the Monarch butterfly episode.  After that she wanted to create a rainforest collage (still in progress so no pic yet) and then wanted to paint the inside of her goody bag (but she made sure to put it on her head first).

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M had joined us by this point and put another coat on the outside of her goody bag too.  We then had breakfast.  As part of M’s Brownie cook badge, she has to prepare a meal (she made sandwiches and biscuits at Brownies), wash up, and understand how to handle kitchen utensils including knives.  So she washed up her breakfast things but looked utterly disgusted while doing it – I guess washing up isn’t good on a sensory level.

However, that seemed to put her in the mood for some housework so she started tidying up, dusting and sweeping the lounge.  D helped by doing a bit of dusting too.  I haven’t had chance to do it this week (or last!) so it really needed it.  Last night she sneakily tidied the bedroom too – I like this phase. 🙂

They had a quick run around in the garden with J before he went to work and then we watched some Babble Dabble Do videos to get some ideas for a new art project.  I love that website.  I think we might try the salad spinner one next, just need to find a cheap salad spinner somewhere!

After that we got dressed (after all, it was midday), I threw a load of food into a bag and we went off to our social/activities group, Curious Minds.  We haven’t been for ages so it was lovely to be back.  The girls began by doing some collages but then they made friends with two other girls and spent the rest of the time playing with them.  I chatted to a few Mums I hadn’t met before too so that was nice for me!

We got back a few hours later and the girls watched Cat in the Hat.  M did her Rubik’s Cube while she watched – she is now able to solve two-thirds of it without instructions!

I painted D’s nails and she watched Sarah and Duck while M did her new favourite balancing act on the sofa.

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You would think it was time to start winding down now, but no – D disappeared off to find some long-lost soft toys and came back announcing that she wanted to play schools!  By this time, M was FaceTiming her cousin A in Nottingham.  So A acted teacher for a while, asking the bunnies some maths questions.

The bunnies figuring out division.
The bunnies figuring out division.

 

 

A and M then decided to visit each other in Animal Crossing.  M has been really missing her cousin lately so it’s lovely that they are able to connect like this when they’re apart.

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Meanwhile, D wanted me to ask her some spellings.  Her reward for correct answers was an ‘ass-shake’ (her bum, not mine) which had her in fits of giggles and asking for more.

I was then called on to help A in Animal Crossing so D asked to watch a Numberjacks DVD.

And then it was time for bed!  Phew!

They’re still bursting with energy – J has just come home and I can hear lots of thuds, shrieks and giggles coming from upstairs.  I’m knackered!

Scattered Learning

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted – we’ve been to stay at my parents’ in Nottingham for a week and pootled about doing all sorts since then.  We don’t seem to have anything ‘long-term’ on the go at the moment, which I kind of miss.  But the girls seem happy to be dipping their toes in and out of all sorts…

D has been doing lots of dot to dots in an ancient Usborne book of ours.  She’s really getting to grips with reading larger numbers and she looks for them everywhere – on buses, computer games… everywhere!  The other week in the car she asked what a googol looked like so as we had a spare minute before art class I looked it up and we all learnt that it has 100 zeros!  Who knew?!

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She’s also been busy on Teach Your Monster to Read and is now confidently reading sentences out with a look of pride on her face. 🙂

We’ve been doing a bit of science too!  The girls loved doing this density tower, and were running around trying to find different objects to throw in and guess how far down they would sink!  It looks a bit of a murky mess, but it still worked. 🙂

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We read How the World Works and the girls showed an interest in the little book inside that shows the continental drift.  As luck would have it, The Kid Should See This had a video on the man who discovered and named the pangea: Alfred Wegener, and we watched it together.  This led to watching a video on snow circles, an acorn and the far side of the moon!  I LOVE that website.

We were all excited to see THREE planets in the sky at once the other night: we saw Jupiter, Uranus and Mars.  We couldn’t quite make out Venus as it was overlapping Mars and we then forgot to go out again later after they had moved apart but it was great all the same.

The girls’ love of Peter Pan has resurfaced!  I downloaded a free Kindle copy of Peter and Wendy which I’ve been reading to the girls while they busy themselves with colouring or Minecraft. I’ve never read the original before and it’s actually quite an easy read and as the girls know the story inside out they are keeping up very well, with just the odd question about a big word or an old-fashioned phrase here and there.

This had led to watching the films (I think we have all of the Peter Pan related ones) and various Tinker Bell films too.  There may be a project on the horizon as both girls have expressed an interest in making a fairy house like Lizzie’s in The Great Fairy Rescue.

M has continued to do her coding on the wonderful Khan Academy.  She is still playing around with shapes: it’s SO mathematical and she’s managing and learning really well.  In a few weeks I may gently nudge her forwards a bit but first I need to learn it myself!

This week, M and D have spent a lot of time in their Rapunzel princess dresses, which led to them both wanting to make crowns, a sceptre and an orb.  We’ve done the sceptres (painted wrapping paper tubes) but haven’t got around to making orbs yet – hence the balloons in the picture!  This led to us watching Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation which was pronounced ‘too slow’ by M.  We then did our own coronation, and M was in fits of giggles as I pretended to be an old codger shuffling forwards with the crowns…

D was telling J about it all the next morning and reassured him that it was ok as her coronation was just pretend and the Queen is still alive.

Morris was intrigued by the rustley dresses and kept photo-bombing the coronation pictures.

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And lastly, some paintings by M!

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Music, Cleaning and J

It’s been an odd week, due to Dusty dying, but one of the good things about having kids (or sometimes difficult, depending on which way you look at it) is that you are forced to carry on regardless of what mood you’re in.

So life has been continuing pretty much as normal with the odd bit of sadness surfacing here and there.  Last night, I was too sad to read D’s bedtime story so M kindly took over and read it to her instead, while holding my hand.  They have been very sweet towards me in the past few days.  M hasn’t expressed a lot of emotion over Dusty’s death but she did say last night that she is sadder about me being sad than Dusty dying!

So, in ‘normal’ life, here’s what we’ve been up to:

Their Aunt Sh has taken them to our local children’s theatre to see Peter Pan.

D has learnt how to draw 3D shapes, which she is delighted about!

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The music phase continues, with the girls getting into Beethoven’s 5th Symphony following our viewing of CBBC’s Ten Pieces DVD (they seemed pretty uninterested at the time but have remembered some aspects of it); D did another concert at the piano for us on Friday night; M has been learning the words to Frozen’s Let it Go and playing it over and over; we’ve had a few kitchen and bedroom discos; and the girls have rediscovered our bag of instruments in the toy cupboard.

They’ve both been more involved in the cleaning this week: previously I haven’t been too keen on them doing it because of the amount of chemicals involved, but recently I’ve gone all frugal/eco and use water and E-cloths to clean most of the house.  The girls love my homemade lavender/water spray which I use on the floors and could be heard having an argument over who would be spraying and who would be mopping!  Today I asked who would like to help me clean the car this week and they both shouted ‘ME!’.  What is that about.

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D still watches lots of Dora The Explorer and her love of Spanish continues.

M has been spending every spare moment playing Animal Crossing New Leaf on her new Nintendo DS2.  If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that we don’t limit screen time in this house: so D can spend as much time as she likes soaking up Spanish with Dora, and M can spend as much time as she wants on her new game.  J struggles with this a bit because he doesn’t like computers very much.  However, he does let her get on with it, while sometimes muttering about ‘bloody computers’ under his breath…

While I’m on the subject of J (who is largely forgotten about on this blog!), here’s a list of all the activities he’s done with the girls JUST THIS WEEK, just to big him up a bit: He’s made a few dens (which tends to involve turning all the lounge furniture upside down); he had a ‘sleep-over’ with the girls in the lounge on Saturday night; he took them to our local soft play for 3 hours; he taught D to ride her bike without stabilizers last week (sorry, I forgot to mention it!) and has been getting her to practice at it; he can’t enter a room without getting them to leap off the sofa and into his arms (where there is J there is shrieking); he has played countless games of hide and seek; taken them to the park; to their Judo class and had a film night.  Phew.

I was recently asked how I get ‘me’ time while home educating – if it wasn’t for J I would get very little!

Lastly, here are some pictures that the girls made with oil pastels to say ‘thank you’ to their Nanny and Granddad for their Christmas presents (better late than never!).

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Little Dusty Dies

We’ve done quite a bit this week but it’s all been overshadowed by the death of one of our rabbits, Dusty.

Both rabbits went to the vet to be neutered on Friday and while Morris made a quick recovery, Dusty wouldn’t eat and had to be force fed.  The vets didn’t want to release her until she began eating so both rabbits were kept in but then on Sunday morning the vet called to say that Dusty had died. 😦

The poor little thing.  There is a very high chance that an un-spayed rabbit can develop some sort of uterus-cancer so it was important that she had the op, it was just a shame that she wasn’t strong enough to cope with it.

After breaking the news to the girls, I drove to the vets to bring them both home.  While I was gone, the girls drew pictures for Dusty.

When I got back, I unwrapped Dusty from her towel and we had a little stroke and a goodbye.  Even Morris had a little look.

Then we dug a deep hole outside and had a little funeral.

It’s interesting to see how the girls cope with their first death: on being told Dusty had died, D’s first reaction was ‘We can get a new one!”.  She has since had a few tears and asked questions about death, God and also got upset about the possibility of J or me dying; M is evidently feeling sad about Dusty’s death but is having difficulty expressing and releasing her emotions.  As for me, I miss Dusty so much and keep crying so I’m getting lots of sympathy and cuddles from the J and the girls.

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