Tag Archives: The Kid Should See This

Screens, Screens and More Screens

Yes, I love screens.  Especially when D is too down to do much else.  That flippin’ tooth still isn’t out and although D’s now doing hilarious Nanny McPhee impressions with her snaggle tooth she’s still struggling mood-wise.  It doesn’t take much for her to descend into tears and she painted this very sad picture with our homemade watercolours:

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Poor D.  The best place for her at the moment is chilling out in front of Dora The Explorer, which she’s been watching lots of.  However, she’s still found time for sums in the boat:

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And they’ve both been painting and clay modelling:

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And and and, I almost forgot a big spark that started this evening: I was making pancakes in the kitchen for me and M, and D was mucking about – pretending she couldn’t get past an invisible glass pane.  So I showed the girls some mime videos on YouTube and they were seriously impressed (we tried Marcel Marceau but he was way too slow and old fashioned unfortunately).  D tried out some miming acts afterwards – she’s pretty good!

So back to the screens.  We’ve had a fair amount of screen time going on due to D being on edge.  We’ve got tons out of it though, it’s never wasted time in my opinion.  Even I’ve managed a fair amount of telly watching, thanks to J keeping the girls occupied on Sunday!

We watched Mr Peabody and Sherman, which we all love: there were lots more in-depth questions about Marie Antoinette, Robespierre and the revolution this time around.  They both made accurate judgments on Mr Peabody’s character too (M: “Peabody can’t be that clever or he wouldn’t have said Sherman can’t fly” (if you haven’t seen it, this comment causes Sherman to lose confidence and crash the plane) and D: “Why would Sherman trust Mr Peabody if Mr Peabody doesn’t trust Sherman?” (Mr Peabody has trust issues!)).

I tried watching a programme on Russia’s Lost Princesses today but ten minutes in I realised I’d already seen it.  M was semi-interested but it was a bit too complicated for her to follow so she asked to watch Anastasia instead.  We seem to keep coming back to revolutions!

And this morning we watched quite a few videos on The Kid Should See This.  Really fascinating ones that led onto so many questions: one about Mary Leakey discovering footprints of human ancestors; Alfred Wegener proposing contintental drift; a 14 year old rock climber; surfing the world’s heaviest waves; a world record sky dive; and London’s history in paper craft.  This site works really well for my two: the videos are short enough to keep their attention, the animation/filming is interesting enough to make them want to watch, and the subject matter isn’t too complex.

We had our usual day of art class and Brownies yesterday – the art teacher was full of praise for the way M works – choosing her colours so carefully and meticulously drawing detailed patterns – I was so pleased as M hates how slow she works compared to everyone else so hopefully this will help her to see that speed isn’t everything.

Today we were meant to be going to Morden Hall but there was no way D was going out and the weather looked a bit iffy so we had a day indoors instead.  I have just left the sausages upstairs, ‘playing’ Frere Jacque on pillows – they were working out which ‘notes’ they would need and then jumping on them in the right order. 😀

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Christmas Countdown Begins

Yep, the Sausages are already talking about Christmas, and I realised that it is actually 100 days away!  They don’t talk about Christmas in a ‘I want presents’ way, they mainly talk about decorations, which is probably my favourite part of Christmas too – decorating the house – it’s obviously rubbed off on them. 😀

We were on the common today and there was lots of talk of what they could use from the common to decorate the tree – it was very sweet but I did have to keep reminding them that it’s too early to make natural decorations as they won’t last.

Yes, we were on the common again today – the girls were very keen to go, rain or no rain.  I kitted out the car with newspaper and plastic bags, in readiness for a lot of mud, but in the end we escaped the rain.  We had a list of items to search for in our nature curriculum and the sausages found them all.  They also collected a few things to bring home and M made a rope from grass, which she wanted to try after seeing this video.

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We’ve also been busy at our classes – we had art class yesterday, and M had her first Brownies session of the term.  She was strangely cross after art, which made me wonder if something had happened that stressed her – I tried some gentle questioning but I couldn’t get to the bottom of it.  She was out of sorts for an hour or so afterwards.

Once we’d settled back at home again, D watched some My Little Pony on the iPad – she’s actually just starting to ease out of MLP again and is asking to do other things instead.

Meanwhile me and M tried to get started on our first week of Minecraft School.  We read through the space information, watched a video and then answered 6 questions on what we’d learnt.  I have to say it was rather dry but M stuck with it.  We then tried to get going on their Minecraft server (M perked up considerably when we discovered that they have a virtual Minecraft shop!) but we couldn’t stake any land to get going on a spaceship build (this week’s assignment) so we may have to leave it for this week.

We got our weekly The Kid Should See This email, which sparked off loads of questions and learning, as always.  D absolutely adored this video, which shows a man’s ‘magic beard’ in stop-motion.  It is very very funny, and inspired her to make her own, which you can see on our Facebook page here!  When we got back from the common this morning, M also got down to work and made her own video too – I particularly like the Lego man with his head on fire. 😀

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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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:

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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 🙂

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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:

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Connections and Positiveness

I (or, we) have had a very positive couple of days.  Not a lot happened.  Just a few nudges here and there as M made a few signs to show she was open to more learning.

As you might expect, my heart leaps (though I retain my nonchalant composure) whenever M takes an interest in anything.  ANYTHING.  Anything at all will do.  This time the spark of interest was due to our weekly email of The Kid Should See This.  I cannot rate their email subscription highly enough – the variety of interesting videos is brilliant.  In last week’s email they had a clip of Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus.  The bit where he gets trapped in a lion’s cage.  I have to admit to never seeing a Chaplin film before and we both really enjoyed it.  M is still giggling about it now!  D loved looking at the air traffic visualisations and watched them over and over again – they’re stunning to look at.  We also watched a gorgeous film about polar bears on a quest for sea ice.

What else was positive?  Well, Lego was linked into a couple of games today.  First of all, M was playing on her Lego City app and she got quite excited when she realised that she had the same Lego as in the game she was playing.  She then got out her Lego City collection and began building it.  She generously shared some of it with D who loved playing with the bank robbers.

Also making a connection with Lego was D, who has recently changed from making her Lego tree-house over and over again to constructing a tree-house in Minecraft!  It’s getting very detailed and interesting.  Leading on from this, M began making a tree house out of junk modelling just before bed this evening!  I like the connections that are being made between the games and it goes to show that playing a game on a computer can be just as valid as playing with Lego!

I am also very pleased that I read Lori Pickert’s Mentoring Self Directed Learners as this was at the forefront of my mind when I sat down with M this evening while she made her tree house: I observed, helped her when she needed it, I didn’t jump in with solutions and I offered to make a note of a few things which she didn’t have time to do, which really eased her transition into bed!

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Other connections: At the weekend J took the girls to a local fair where they bought a number of books.  M has particularly enjoyed doing an Usborne Sticker Dressing Long Ago book.  Today she brought it with us to do in the David Lloyd café before swimming and she was completing a page on the Palace of Versailles.  We looked at the richness of their clothes, how the King was dressed compared to the other nobles and how they all had clothes similar to Captain Hook in Peter Pan (who had modelled himself on King James II).  Another example of how telly watching can also be a valid use of time :).

Next positive happening: M announced that she would like to write a story so I suggested she get out her little book and she could start writing.  She got as far as the title before stomping out of the room because she didn’t know how to start the story.  I left it for a bit, we did other things, and then a few hours later I asked her if she’d like me to do it with her.  And I got a ‘Yes!’.  So she dictated the story to me and I scribbled like mad for 10 minutes.  We haven’t finished yet but I’m so pleased that she wanted to continue.

One last connection that I just remembered: D was doing ‘spin art’ on our Snap Circuits and then decided she wanted to draw a colour wheel so we had a think about what the primary and tertiary colours are and she coloured in the various segments, put it back on the circuit and watched the colours merge into brown!  A great example of connecting art and science!

While we’re on the subject of connections, thanks to a tweet from Katie Pybus at The Gallivanters, I read this post by Sandra Dodd on connections and how learning works, it makes for a very interesting read if you have a spare 10 minutes.

Paper Aeroplanes and Red Cabbages

We’ve had a good couple of days, I feel like something is starting to shift in our home education: I’ve had two instances in two days where I have been able to explain/answer a question which have been listened to without any flops; the girls have finished their Spain lapbooks and are now EAGER to start one on Africa; D has finished her maths workbook and will now be starting on MEP maths with M; and today, both girls wanted to do more work in their workbooks than I had intended them to do (the result of not forcing them to do it?).

Yesterday the day started well, I got my The Kid Should See This email and showed M the Strike Eagle paper aeroplane video which she immediately got started on with J’s help.  It flies fairly well but I think we need to try it out in a big open space.  I forgot to mention we saw another video last week which showed how humans are unable to walk in a straight line when blind folded or their vision is obscured by fog for example.  M wants to try it out when we next go to the Common!

I had a little science experiment planned which I read about here.  If any learning can be done around art then I’m all for it and the girls love it too.  So this experiment was about testing the acidity of various household items such as coffee, lemon juice, water etc.  by painting them onto blotting paper which had been soaked in red cabbage water.  The colours didn’t come out as well as they should but the girls got the general idea and enjoyed creating the pictures and painting with strange things!

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In the afternoon, M wanted to do the salt and ice experiment again so that kept her busy for well over an hour.

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Meanwhile, D was busy building Lego.  I would hazard a guess that she spends around 2 hours a day building with Lego these days.  She’s very methodical about it, following the instructions page by page and building each thing exactly.  Then the next day she breaks It and starts all over again!

We also had a break through with M’s eating: she doesn’t like many vegetables and hates all fruit except lemons but yesterday she ate 2 strawberries!  I had the genius idea of buying squirty cream to dip them into.  Don’t know why I didn’t think of that before.  I also tried offering them dipped in chocolate and in icing sugar too but D didn’t like any of the strawberry options offered.

Yesterday the girls were saying that they would like to do a lapbook on Africa.  M asked what language they speak and I replied that there were lots of different languages which led on to us watching a YouTube video on the San Bushmen who communicate by clicking their tongues.

Today, Wednesday, is always a bit of a strange day as we’re out at David Lloyd in the afternoon and we all seem incapable of doing anything but mooching in the morning.  But  a lot of maths was done in the café before swimming so that more than made up for our lack of productivity beforehand.

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When we got home, M and I made Gwyneth Paltrow’s Horchata together which was delicious!  Reading this post, it seems as if we’ve done quite a lot but actually it’s felt quite slow-paced?!

Having a Mild Panic

Yes, today (or should I say ‘this morning’) I was mildly panicking about the lack of THINGS BEING DONE.  We’ve been on ‘go-slow’ over the last 5 days, partly because of illness (the girls were full of cold and D seems to have a weird spotty virus on her face) and partly because of days spent playing with family.  I know, I know, playing is great and all that but I can’t help hearing that nagging voice, saying they should be sitting and writing sums or something.

I can now confirm that neither sausage responds well to being told what to do.  Haven’t got a clue where they got that from.  If I ask M to sit and do sums she will do it but in an utterly ‘this-is-so-boring-I-can’t-wait-to-get-it-over-with’ way.  If I catch D in the right mood then she loves doing the odd sum but this is often not the case.  The whole point of HE for me is to re-ignite M’s love of learning and to keep D’s spark going.  So telling them what to do and ‘teaching’ them is no longer really an option for me.  My heart knows this but my head hasn’t caught up yet.

So this morning I calmed myself by asking the Facebook UK Unschooling Network group a question: I am fascinated by ‘strewing‘ as I can clearly see that showing the world to the sausages really sparks their interest, as opposed to trying to teach them about it.  So I asked the group how to strew and got some great responses, but more on that later.

This morning started off energetically: M started to make a mobile (the kind that hangs from the ceiling, not the phone type) from her magazine and D wanted to write out all the names of the planets in our Solar System…

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But then it descended into murk.  M collapsed into tearful anger because something wasn’t quite right with the mobile.  I couldn’t get through to her so left her to her own devices while I played chase with D in the garden.  Then when M had recovered she wanted to put on Parent Trap so we all sat down to watch.

This was when my niggly feelings began; so I posted my question to FB and got some lovely responses back which sparked off lots of ideas of what I could do strew with the sausages.  Call it a ‘sausage strew’ if you will, ha ha.

The first thing I did was to set up Pinterest accounts for both of them so that I can send them things of interest, with a ‘I saw this and thought of you’ vibe.  I sent M some junk modelling, DT and fairy pins and D some space ones (naturally!).  After the film had finished, M in particular was intrigued by her pins and wants to make a geodesic dome out of newspapers next!

We had a quick game of Downfall (me against the sausages: guess who won?  I’ve seriously only won 1 game out of 6 now.  Tsk.)…

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Next, D typed out a couple of emails to Granddad and Grandma and M had a 5 minute bounce on the trampoline in the garden.

And then M felt ready to tackle her mobile again – hurrah, back to business!  No photos of it yet as it’s still in progress but she must have spent 2 hours just cutting today.  D got busy with painting a rainbow in watercolour and then wanted to make another celebration elephant like the ones we made for Diwali last year.

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I spent some time going through my emails while this was going on, and found a video from The Kid Should See This.  It was about ‘eyebombing in Madrid‘ and the girls watched it on loop for half an hour.  If you watch it, you’ll see why I immediately bought 200 googly eyes from Ebay afterwards!

I also got M to write a few things down on our easel that she’s interested in learning about and she wrote this!  The last one is ‘drawing spring flowers’ but she got tired of drawing the lettering 🙂

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So the day wasn’t so bad after all: it seemed to gear up after 2pm so it will be interesting to see if this becomes a rhythm or is just an odd day.  I do feel a little less panicky now and a little more excited about a possible new path into unschooling – I’m taking tentative steps towards it.

Here’s a few pictures of what we got up to at the end of last week in Nottingham:

D's colour wheel
D’s colour wheel
Making a pom-pom
Making a pom-pom
D making her pom-pom
D making her pom-pom
The finished pom-poms!
The finished pom-poms!
Making our own butter - soooo much better than shop-bought!
Making our own butter – soooo much better than shop-bought!
Folding paper aeroplanes
Folding paper aeroplanes
Drawing
Drawing
Making potions
Making potions
Learning about circuits
Learning about circuits

Little things:

While in the bath, D asked M if she would like to watch Jake and the Neverland Pirates with her afterwards.  M replied ‘No, I’ve got too much work to do’.