Sunday, 30 March 2014

Early allotment progress

We had a trip to the garden centre yesterday for some allotment supplies and did some planting today. Peter was not wholly impressed to be travelling home surrounded by blossom branches as we bought a small tree for the garden too! 

We have planted the first onions and potatoes today. I have just done two small rows of onions (white and red) as I want to do more staggered planting this year. This was one of the main areas to improve on from last year. We also planted a row of beetroot. It may be too early and too cold but we took a risk putting the sweetcorn in quite early last year and it grew really well. If it doesn't germinate I will put another row in in a couple of weeks.

Peter liked using the vegetable feed on the newly planted items. Harry asked why we need to plant the onions in a different place to last years leeks, so I explained about crop rotation and how each family of vegetables use and leave different nutrients in the soil so they need to be moved around the beds to balance the soil.

We found this seedling storage unit in the sale at the garden centre so this is now holding all the seedlings at home which is much more practical than on the spare bed! There are peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and sweetcorn. 

I was also delighted to receive Harry's Mother's Day present - a bath bomb he made at Beavers. He brought it home hidden and has kept it a surprise. I have promised him I will use it tomorrow! 

Peter made a lovely bright card too. 

I took the boys to a birthday party this afternoon and they have had a great, energetic time racing around soft play and a bouncy castle.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Music concert and family office

It was Harry's end of term ensemble concert at The Sage today. All the children did really well and we were very proud of Harry. They performed three pieces on a combination of cello, violin and viola, a dance and showed us some of the ways they learn bow control and rhythm in their ensemble class. He really enjoyed it and was beaming afterwards.

After this we went to Stuart's office. He moved office recently to a new, bigger building in the City Centre and they organised a family day to allow wives, husbands and children to see the new office. There was face painting, a magic show, balloon modelling, table football, a pool table and lunch and it was really good. They boys didn't want to leave! I used to work there too (Stuart and I met at work) and it was nice to see some people I used to work with too.

Harry pretending to be Daddy!

Chairing an important meeting.

Stuart assures me that this ball pool is not usually in the office.

We left with balloons. Peter wanted to go in the arty water fountain! 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

A natural home education day

I would say that we have had a natural day of home education today. We had a really bad day yesterday - we were all very tired recovering from our holiday, both boys were grumpy and actually downright rude and just didn't want to do anything other than chase around and hurt each other. This doesn't happen often but, when it does, it usually makes me think that we need to step back and have a free-flowing day.

I didn't make a plan for today. I just suggested things as they seemed appropriate and, as usual on days like this, we have squeezed in a lot of activities. More importantly, the mood has been nice and we have all been happy! 

We went to our allotment for our first proper work session together this year. We dug over and weeded three beds, swept the stone areas and greenhouse floors and went to the small wildlife garden to see the frogspawn in the pond and the beehives. We haven't planted anything outdoors yet but will prepare the beds ready for some peas and onions soon. Harry and Peter enjoyed chatting to a couple of the other, older allotment holders we know.

I am sure I needed this rest more than them! 

The boys also had fun playing in one of the unprepared beds with trucks.

At home we baked chocolate buns and fruit scones. Harry weighed and Peter broke eggs and mixed. He managed to cover himself with a lot of flour! 

Harry also made a sourdough starter, which we will feed with more flour and water until it ready for using to bake bread. We were inspired to do this by this bread page this morning, written by a friend who makes lovely bread whilst home educating her three children.

The boys also painted their clay models from Monday and some butterfly and flower cut-out shapes. We are planning to make a spring poster with these.

Peter had a bath after painting and Harry played with him, out of the bath, with superhero Lego. They played some really good scenarios, with all the baddies finally being eaten by sharks! 

Harry has done a Reading Eggs lesson and spelling list on the iPad today. Peter has been playing with this puzzle and managed to find the correct place for all of the letters.

We also built a train track in their bedroom. I have seen this Lego men idea somewhere and can't remember where! Lego men were lined up along the track then a marble was rolled down to knock them over. They really liked doing this! 

Harry also created some Hama bead designs whilst listening to the BBC Wind in the Willows podcast. Peter and I did some jigsaws at the same time.

We have read more Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator tonight. I am not enjoying it as much as the other Roald Dahl's we have read but Harry seems to love it. I will be looking forward to the next one we choose! 

Monday, 24 March 2014

Word game, numbers, clay and a piano!

It has been our first normal day after holiday today and it has dragged a bit (mainly due to tiredness from being woken at 2am by Peter!) but we have got lots done, which I always like on a Monday.

Peter had his enjoy-a-ball class this morning and Harry took his Lego reading books along and wrote a story based on them, in which the crooks tied up all the police and won! He has been doing great writing and spelling recently, which I am really pleased about as it has never been a favourite activity for him but he seems to have had a spurt of finding it easier.

He also wrote these newspaper articles at the weekend, unprompted, including bold headlines. I liked the 'Buy some soon' statement - I think he is trying to tell me something! 

We played one of our favourite reading games at home - pyramid reading from the great Games for Learning book. I gave each of us a blank pyramid made up of blocks. Harry was given a word to read and Peter a letter. If they got it right, they coloured a block. If they got it wrong, I got a chance to read it and colour my block. Peter loved joining in with this for the first time!

We also did three sections of this English workbook - 'ing' verbs, capital letters and rhyming. I am pretty sure that Harry understands all the concepts in this book so we are just going through to check before we move on and I am asking him some of the parts verbally.

We had a very exciting delivery after this - a piano! The parents of a friend unexpectedly offered a piano a couple of weeks ago (thank you Sarah if you are reading!) and we had been talking about getting one in the future so we jumped at the chance. I downloaded an app on the iPad and we watched some videos before practising some five-finger playing. I am really keen to learn and I hope Harry and Peter will want to as well. Harry also played his cello.

We also had a less exciting visitor - a gas engineer to fix our leaking boiler! 

We have really enjoyed reading our Wonderwise books recently. We have been reading this one on holiday and today we did one of the activities from the back (there are a couple of activity suggestions in each book). We used air drying clay to create snails for the garden, cups and 'jewels' which we will paint when dry. Peter squashed the clay into an old chocolate tray which made good jewel shapes.

We still have our paper mache earth and sun hanging in the playroom, which was one of the activity suggestions in the Out There Somewhere book from the Wonderwise series, to show that some parts of Earth do not face the sun and there it will be dark.

Harry wanted to watch the latest Deadly 60 Pole-to-Pole CBBC show so I did some number work with Peter. He used his sorting pie to identify the numbers 6-10 and count in the correct number of objects.

I put the numbers 1-9 on the magnet board and asked him to find particular numbers and then put them in order.

Harry had Beavers this evening and did some work on water safety, towards his safety badge. He also made something for a Mother's Day surprise, which I was not allowed to see! 

We have continued our Roald Dahl reading by starting Charlie and The Great Glass Elevator, after finishing Charlie and The Chocolate Factory last week. I read Harry two chapters of this tonight.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Sing a Song of Science

Harry had a day filled with music yesterday. He had his cello lesson followed by group ensemble session in the morning. This was the last lesson before an end of term concert next week.

We stayed at The Sage to meet some of our NCT friends for lunch. There were 5 boys and we all went to see a show called Sing a Song of Science together. This was great - the songs were set to popular music tracks (such as songs by Take That and Amy Winehouse and even the Hokey Cokey!) played on a keyboard, guitar and steel pans and covered a variety of science topics in a very engaging way. I was really pleased to notice that we have covered all of the topics at home, from forces and electricity to plant growth, pollination, teeth cleaning and fighting germs. 

Holiday to Center Parcs

We spent last week on holiday at Center Parcs and had a super and fun time with lots of swimming, cycling and outdoor time. My mum joined us for two of the four nights as well and it went far too quickly.

We went swimming every day and the boys loved mini jet skis. Harry has done this before but Peter is just old enough so he was very excited!

We all enjoyed a game of ten-pin bowling. Stuart won, but Harry was the only one to score a strike and he was delighted!

We visited the play areas lots. There were several school age children which was good for Harry to run around with (and Peter actually as he is used to playing with bigger children). We were at Sherwood Forest Center Parcs this time instead of Whinfell and the play areas seemed to be fun and challenging for the older children. There were three different areas all close together so it was possible to spend a couple of hours.

We were quite lucky with the March weather and had a BBQ on our first night. The boys spent lots of time collecting bags and bags of pine cones. Harry had also made some nut feeders before we went by threading monkey nuts onto string and we enjoyed watching the squirrels eat them. Harry made friends with a 7 year old girl from the lodge next door and they played together most days outside.

We were not so lucky on the last night and Stuart ended up cooking the BBQ in the rain! A bit of rain can't stop a holiday in our country!