Sunday, 21 September 2014

Fun run with cousins

Harry and Peter did a fun run this morning with their bigger cousins in Lancaster. Stuart's sister was running her first half-marathon and the fun run was part of that event. They love spending time with their cousins and seeing the rest of their family too. 

This was also a milestone weekend as Stuart took the boys to Lancaster on his own for the weekend for the first time! I stayed at home and got on with sanding all the wood in our hall ready for decorating; not very rock and roll but needs must! It was very quiet in the house but also nice to be working on my own schedule for a change. Of course I love having the boys at home full-time or I wouldn't home educate but it's also very intense so I really appreciate alone time when I get it. 

Friday, 19 September 2014

Michael Rosen Good Ideas

I had a great night last night with several other home ed mums at Seven Stories. We went to hear Michael Rosen talk about his new book, which is all about practical ways of learning. This is a subject close to the hearts of all those who went and we made the most of the night by going for a couple of drinks afterwards.

I am really looking forward to reading the book. Harry is a very practical learner and it will be good to have a different and third party perspective. Hopefully I might get a few new ideas too! 

Michael Rosen also mentioned a couple of new books he is working on, which sound interesting. One is an English version of favourite German folk tales and another was a book on humanism aimed at children, so I shall be looking out for those! 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Our week

It's been an unmotivated, slightly down week for no particular reason. Peter has been up in the night a few times, which I find really difficult now (much more so than when he woke at night every night!) and Stuart was away for a few nights so maybe I have just been tired. We rarely have a whole week of feeling like this so I am sure normal service will resume next week! 

Things have been ticking over as usual and we've been doing Conquer Maths, French, cello practise and Reading Eggs along with our usual classes - ball sport, art and swimming. We also met friends in the park on Wednesday.

Harry has been making lots of loom band bracelets and has followed YouTube instructions for making loom band charms too.

Peter made shape pictures and we read a shape book from the library.

Our holiday reading arrived. I have been really looking forward to this book - it's the third in a trilogy. 

We went to a cheque presentation ceremony at Metro Radio for Harry's scout group. Along with other community groups, they received a grant towards a new minibus. Harry and Peter were the only children as it was during the day, so I was pleased that they behaved very well and sat nicely, clapping the other groups as they received their cheques. The large supply of biscuits and cakes definitely helped Peter to sit in one place! 

Whilst in town Harry and Peter spent some vouchers on books. Harry has really got into the Sea Quest series and is reading constantly. He chose more of them! 

Monday, 15 September 2014

Rocks and volcanoes

We've been following up some of the rocks and volcanoes activities we did last week today. It was raining heavily this morning so I was pleased that we didn't have any plans to go out!

We read some books first. One of Peter's Octonauts magazines had the Mariana Trench Adventure story in, which has lots of good detail about hydrothermal vents, magma and creatures. We also read What's Under The Bed?, one of the Wonderwise series of science themed books.

We enjoyed discovering The Magic School Bus TV series on Netflix after this. We watched two episodes about volcanoes and rock erosion. Harry and Peter enjoyed them and they had a lot of detail in. There are lots of other episodes on different topics so we will be watching this again.

Harry and Peter painted a volcano with underground magma chamber after this.

We read this section of our rock book - The Rock Factory - about minerals forming crystals and Harry also painted some jewellery made from precious crystals.

This afternoon we went out to Peter's enjoy a ball class, played cello, read books and Harry started a healthy eating badge at Beavers. He came home with some fruit kebabs which he enjoyed eating for his bedtime snack!

Allotment show prizes

We went to the Newcastle Allotment Show yesterday and Harry and Peter were very happy to win prizes for their entries in the children's classes.

Harry won second prize in the drawing competition for his picture of carrot harvest.

He also won first prize for a funny face made from vegetables and Peter won second prize in that class. There were several more very good entries including a crocodile made from kale and a potato hedgehog, but they had not been judged as they were not faces.

We enjoyed having a look at the amazing fruit and vegetables in the main classes too and chatting to a couple of people we know from our allotment site.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Rocks activities and parks

We've had a busy week! I have been trying to stay out of the house as much as possible as the builders have been finishing our new bathroom. We have done lots of cello practise and some Conquer Maths multiplication lessons at home, as well as reading at bedtime. 

The bathroom does look lovely and has been completed in just over a week so the disruption hasn't been for too long. There are just a few finishing touches left. Here are the before and after photos!

We went to a friend's house on Tuesday to do some activities about rocks and volcanoes. We built a 'volcano' from play dough. We started with a small mound at the bottom then added vinegar and bicarbonate of soda to simulate an eruption of lava. We watched where the 'lava' flowed over the mound and added play dough to those areas to build up the mountain. 

We did this several times to end up with a taller mountain. We cut a slice of this to show the layers within rocks and mountains as they form over time.

The children all built their own small volcano from the play dough and left a crater in the top. We added vinegar and bicarbonate of soda to make them 'erupt'.

We also read this book explaining how rocks form and about the different types of rock.

We then made sedimentary rock cakes using different coloured crushed biscuits mixed with melted butter. The layers are pushed together with the back of a spoon to simulate the pressure needed to form sedimentary rocks. The children also added some marshmallows in their layers for fossils! 

We went on the bus to a local park with a few other families yesterday and stayed for nearly five hours! The children all played together in a big group really well. Harry and Peter were exhausted! 

We had art class this morning. Harry finished his Batman picture and started a fire engine. He was really proud of his finished picture.

Peter and I did some colouring together and played Spotty Dogs outside art class.

We also went to the park after art for a few hours with our friends before Harry's enjoy a ball class this afternoon.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The BFG activities

The BFG is no ordinary bone-crunching giant. He is far too nice and jumbly. It's lucky for Sophie that he is. Had she been carried off in the middle of the night by the Bloodbottler, or any of the other giants—rather than the BFG—she would have soon become breakfast. When Sophie hears that the giants are flush-bunking off to England to swollomp a few nice little chiddlers, she decides she must stop them once and for all. And the BFG is going to help her! (

We spent last week doing an activity each day based on The BFG, which we have read and listened to several times. Activities based on books are very popular with Harry and Peter and I usually find it easy to give Peter some appropriate activities to join in with. I often use this great site for ideas.


Harry really enjoyed doing this! We measured his height and foot length. He used Lego bricks to measure his foot then measured that in cm.

We then compared his height (4ft) to the BFG (24ft) and the Fleshlumpeater (54ft) to determine how many times taller than him the giants are. When we had calculated this, he built towers of Lego bricks to show the comparison.

He broke down the Fleshlumpeater tower to see how many times bigger than his tower it was.

Having determined how many times taller the giants were, we went outside to draw footprints with chalk. Harry drew his own footprint length, then multiplied by 6 to draw the BFG's footprint length and multiplied by 13.5 to draw the Fleshlumpeater's footprint length.


Harry and Peter wrote their own 'golden fizzwizard' dream. This kind of dream is the best kind in the story! I wrote Peter's out for him.

We also talked about acronyms, using the example of BFG, for Big Friendly Giant. We found some others we use often, such as CD, DVD, ASAP (Stuart and I often say this to each other!) and PwC (where Stuart works). 


We looked in more detail at some of the places mentioned in the story using our Bear map and information cards: Sweden, England, Wales, Greenland, Chile and Panama. We collected the cards inside Bear yoyo dried fruit snacks and got the map in the post after sending barcodes!

Harry found the countries and marked them on a blank world map and we looked at which continent they are part of. 

He was also inspired after this to complete his Europe jigsaw, which has pieces shaped like the countries.


As the BFG has very big ears and good hearing, we looked at hearing and sound. We read the relevant section from a body book, which explained the parts of the ear and how sound waves vibrate at different speeds. We practised making high and low pitched sounds with our voices.

We made elastic band 'guitars' using old shoe boxes so that we could twang the strings and see them vibrating to make sound waves.

We also did a simple demonstration showing how sound waves bounce around. I dropped the marble into the bowl and we listened to the sound which echoed for some time.

I then dropped the marble into the blanket-lined bowl. We still heard a thud but no echo, as most of the sound was absorbed by the soft surface, rather than bouncing around the hard surface.


As The BFG and Sophie visit The Queen in the story, we read this book alongside it. Harry's favourite facts were the corgi dogs and waving from the balcony. We have seen Buckingham Palace on two previous visits to London and Harry remembered it.

We also watched a previous Queen's Speech on YouTube and videos of the coronation from Pathe - the procession and the crowning. Pathe have just made hundreds of historical film clips available on YouTube, so I think we will be using this resource quite a lot.

Harry was interested in the Crown Jewels in the videos so we read about them here. We also read more about the St Edward's Crown here.