Sunday, 29 September 2013

Autumn allotment and the last few days

I am used to being busy but this week has been especially so. I had lots to do for my sister's wedding party, which was yesterday - brownie baking, a present of a hen party photo album to finish and the card to make. Harry made a Hama bead heart for the front and stuck on some glittery stickers showing places they had been for their wedding trip - New York, Las Vegas and San Francisco. Harry and Peter did a handprint on the back of the card too.

We had a great morning playing doctors. Harry made plasters from pieces of craft foam and tape and we had a huge queue of toys waiting to be seen with a variety of interesting ailments. I ended up with several plasters too! 

We made banana cake. Harry loved mashing the bananas and he also helped me with chopping for our slow cooker casserole which we made before going to French. 

We spent over an hour on Thursday and Friday in playgrounds, after French and before Harry's enjoy-a-ball class.

We spent yesterday in Harrogate at the wedding party and it was lovely to see lots of family. Harry and Peter were very happy with some gifts from my mum and sister from their travels. 

Today we went to the allotment to start tidying up a little. We cleared the tomato plants from the greenhouses and swept them. They have been a little neglected for the last fortnight or they may have produced for a little longer. We still have a couple of very small peppers growing though.

The sweetcorn was ready! This was particularly exciting as we planted it from seed in pots in the greenhouse and have watched it grow to taller than me. There are around 15 ears and we brought 3 home for tea. Harry really enjoyed the visit today as we have watched all 3 BBC episodes of Harvest 2013 on TV together recently and he was pretending to be the farmers. The programme focused on the harvest of grains, vegetables and fruit and was very interesting as it looked in detail at how the weather of this year and last year affected the harvest and at the growth and evolution of a variety of plants. Harry has always been fascinated in farming - it would be one of his ideal careers at the moment I think! 

Peter occupied himself making a mud patch! 

We potted several more strawberry runners and have over 20 for next year from only 4 original plants. The courgette plants still look good and are flowering and the rhubarb is very healthy after we split it all last autumn. There are mature leeks and parsnips which we will harvest when we need them. Being there today with all the empty beds has got me planning next year! 

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Productive home education day

Contrary to some perceptions, as home educator's we don't actually spend a lot of time at home (of course every family, home educating or not, is different and this just refers to my family). We spend a lot of time outdoors as open space, exercise and fresh air is great for all of us, especially my small boys. We spend time playing with friends, out at Harry's classes and working at our allotment. We also visit lots of interesting places - museums, libraries, historical and National Trust sites. We do normally do some reading/writing/maths based work or activity alongside this, usually very early in the morning. 

So today we had a day at home and I tried to make it productive. Harry played some games of Math Bingo on the iPad and practised his cello again first, using the book from his lesson. I am really pleased that he is so enthusiastic and I hope it lasts! He really wants to use the bow but they haven't started that in the lessons yet so I am trying to get him to wait so he doesn't get into bad habits with it.

We played a game of nonsense stars, where Harry reads nonsense words to practise sounding out words. He doesn't like doing this and got several wrong. He had a great attitude though (I mention this as it is not always the case!) and had a go even though he didn't know - I compare learning to being a scientist with Harry as he loves science so we say that you often have to try many different ways of doing something and have many attempts before you get the right answer. He was genuinely delighted when he did remember the correct sound to help him to read the word. 

After this they watched Balamory from CBeebies together. During this time, I cleaned the bathroom and hung up washing - I just have to grab the available opportunities for household chores! 

We did some measuring and graph creation before lunch. Harry's last Conquer Maths lesson involved measuring objects using virtual shoes and pencils as the unit, so we measured some real things. We recorded it in a table, although we only did pencils today as Peter drew all over our shoe column! Peter did really enjoy getting involved and did some good counting of the pencils. We measured Harry, Peter, Harry's dolly and Peter's dog. I asked Harry to find something measuring 1 pencil and he went off trying out lots of things before finding that the height of his toy barn is 1 pencil. 

We then turned the table into a bar chart. Harry drew the axes and marked the units on. We used a colour key to label each bar. He was really pleased with the finished article. We talked about how the bar chart and the table show the same information but in different ways.

Peter went for a nap today after a 5.45am start, so we had a nice hour of peace! A friend called round with some fresh, warm bread from a bakery and Harry and I did some Hama bead threading onto straws. 

We had a special craft project to do this afternoon, which I am going to keep secret just in case my sister reads this. We needed to do it today so it would be ready to take to my sister's wedding party on Saturday.

After this, the last 2 hours of the day was spent making rockets, running around in the rain with them and playing with tin foil! 

Harry read lots of sections of our bedtime story books tonight and did it really well.

Tin foil rockets and fun

We had a great time modelling and playing with tin foil today. I had only planned a rocket making activity but we had a whole afternoon of fun with it, although I do now need to replenish my foil supplies! 

I set up a tray with materials and we made some space rockets from toilet roll tubes covered with foil and some great star covered felt I picked up at Hobbycraft on my last visit. These were decorated with jewels and star stickers and we used orange tissue paper for fire coming from the boosters. Harry also made an astronaut to hang from one. These were raced around the house and blasted off for around half an hour.

We had been indoors all day so we left bolognaise cooking on the hob for tea and took the rockets outside. I tied string to them and Harry and Peter flew them round. They also ran for nearly a mile round the streets with them! There wasn't much left when we got back but they had a great time! 

The boys also experimented with the foil in water in the garden and managed to make some boat shapes that floated. Harry loved this concept and made lots more. He took some in the bath for them to play with.

Harry also discovered that his trucks left tyre tracks on the foil when they were driven over a flat sheet of it. This left a really good effect and we may do more of this at a later date. I think the extra strong type foil may be better though. For the other activities it was just the very thin cheapest supermarket basic version which I buy for craft purposes.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Cello practise

Harry has been practising his cello today. He remembered his lesson really well and worked on sitting straighter. Unfortunately, he had to concentrate with Peter pestering him but he managed fine. I think when he is doing more complicated practise we will need to keep Peter out of his way! 

This is the book Harry is being taught from, by Colourstrings. It uses a colour to represent each string so the children are starting by reading coloured dashes instead of notes. We have a copy at home now too so he can practise what has been covered in the lessons.

Monday, 23 September 2013

A perfect outdoor day

We have had a superb day! It was a warm, Autumnal sun and we spent nearly the entire day outdoors with our friends. We are so lucky to be able to spend days like this together - there is nothing else I would rather do than be outdoors in nature with the boys and like-minded friends enjoying the seasons.

I squeezed in a bit of work first thing, as I expected we would not get any more opportunity to do it. Harry stuck his postcard from Center Parcs into his outdoor book and drew and labelled a red squirrel. He looked up red squirrels on the internet too and I read him the page we found. He wrote his most interesting fact in his book - that the babies are called kittens. He also completed a few pages of his phonics workbook.

Peter was drawing and he wanted to glue his post card on too and said he was writing 'duck' - of course he wasn't actually writing but it was quite nice that he wanted to join in!

We then went out to meet our friends at the Rising Sun Country Park. The children played in the adventure play area and we ate our lunch there before walking to the woodland. Harry collected some good helicopter seeds which he enjoyed watching as he let them fall to the ground. The boys had a box each and they collected some nice Autumn treasures along the way - rowan berries, bright yellow leaves and fluffy thistledown. We also spotted acorns and elderberries growing, as well as blackberries.

We stopped at the pond to watch the various birds. The swan family was very interested in us!

We also saw horses close up in the fields and a stag, although the children were all convinced it was a Christmas reindeer!

I took along some supplies for painting and we collected blackberries on the way to squish and use the juice as paint. My children weren't really interested in doing this when we got started but others were. Harry was far too busy making his den with huge sticks!

We walked further to the community farm where one of the volunteers picked plums from the trees for the children and gave us cooking apples. He also took everyone to see the pigs in their field, although I missed that as Peter was sitting on the floor protesting at his weary legs - Harry went along with the others though. We have all done a lot of walking today and Peter was asleep at 6.30! The apple crumble we made tonight from the cooking apples has restored my energy a bit though.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Our holiday to Center Parcs

We have spent the past week on holiday at Center Parcs, hence no blog activity. The ability to take term time holidays is definitely a plus point for home education!

We have all enjoyed being together as a family. I think Harry in particular has enjoyed having Stuart around. We took our bikes and even Peter managed to ride his balance bike to our destinations and back again. 

The weather wasn't great so we went swimming lots

The boys enjoyed playing in the indoor play area too

Harry and Peter were both really keen to do some art and that meant we got some nice one-on-one time with each of them too as they went to separate sessions. Harry painted a great volcano on canvas, decorated a tea-towel with stencils and traced a picture onto clear film to put up at the window. Peter got very messy with sponges, stampers and driving small cars through paint - he was in his element and certainly did not want to finish after 45 minutes, he would have carried on for another hour! 

There were a couple of sunny spells and we took a boat out onto the lake in one. Harry insisted on steering although he couldn't reach the pedals so Stuart and I took it in turns to do solo pedalling. Thankfully we managed to (ungracefully) swap seats without falling in, although I am sure that would have been the highlight of the week for Harry and Peter!

First ever ten-pin bowling. Harry loved it. Peter managed one round then wandered off!

We had a couple of visits to the adventure playground. 

It has been a lovely week, away from any schedule and I feel ready to start a new, normal week tomorrow. I have planned quite a lot so Harry isn't too focussed on Stuart going back to work, as he struggles to accept it after having him at home.