Sunday, 29 June 2014

Great Fire of London workshop

We took part in a really interesting Durham University workshop on Friday with other home educating families about the Great Fire of London. The children looked at photos of objects damaged by fire and thought what they might tell us about the fire. We also discussed primary and secondary historical sources. We looked at some primary newspaper reports and talked about supporting evidence. We checked that the newspapers had reported the same facts, which would make the story more reliable.

We had a look at a map and some paintings of London at the time of the fire. We discussed the architecture of the time and how that contributed to the spread of the fire: streets close together and overhanging jetties. 

We read some of the diary extracts of Samuel Pepys about how he buried his wine and cheese to save it. The children thought what they would save from a fire and wrote this using a quill. 

The children also enjoyed making a human chain and role playing putting out fire by passing a bucket along the chain after filling it up in the river. They also enjoyed discussing how dirty the river would have been given the lack of proper sewage facilities! 

We really enjoyed the workshop. Peter spent most of it cutting up an old magazine and making pictures with it, so he was happy! We also went to buy my mum a birthday present afterwards and Harry had his enjoy-a-ball class.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Day at the park

We have, almost literally, spent all day at the park today. Stuart needed the car so the boys rode their bikes, which took half an hour at Peter's speed. We met some friends and the children ran, chased and wrestled for four and a half hours before we rode home again. It's been a real feel-good day - I have chatted to my friend and the boys have played with theirs and we have had loads of fresh air and sunshine!

We have continued reading The Borrowers and Harry has declared it 'one of my favourites but I might change my mind when it is finished'! He is keeping his options open.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Seven Stories Moving Stories

We have had a day filled with literacy themes today. Peter wanted to show Harry the new Seven Stories exhibition based on books make into film we had visited last week and we all liked going together. We have had an annual membership to Seven Stories for nearly 6 years now and we are very lucky it is so close to us as it is a great resource. We are also fortunate to be able to visit at quiet times as the boys can really get involved in the parts they are interested in without being moved on.

Harry was enthralled by The Borrowers and the huge matchbox table and we have started reading it together tonight as I had an old copy already. I am really pleased that he has been inspired to want to read a new book and Seven Stories is a great place for that to happen as it really brings literature to life in an engaging way for children, with lots of hands on exhibits. 

I think we will be reading Alice in Wonderland this year too! They spent a long time enjoying a mad hatter's tea party.

Peter was delighted to find penguin outfits at the Lost and Found rowing boat as he loves them. We watched a clip from the film with a stormy sea and talked about how the boy and the penguin may have felt.

They both loved these fairy tale cubes, which could be combined to make mixed-up fairy tales and they had some chuckles about their bizarre stories! 

Harry has also been practising using an Oxford Reading Tree spelling dictionary this morning. I hope he might find it useful for writing independently. He completed a compound words worksheet then looked for the words in the dictionary. 

We also played bananagrams and Harry was allowed to use his dictionary. 

Peter has enjoyed lots of books read to him today too - The Lorax and Richard Scarry books are current favourites and we also read Dr Seuss's The Places You'll Go.

I am starting to think about planning some activities for September onwards. We have been very unstructured in the last couple of months as the weather has been good so we have been enjoying lots of outdoor time. I would like to have more prepared though for the winter including activities for Peter and I think that starting each day with reading may be one of the things we do. 

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Funfair and day at Wallington

It has been a fun filled weekend! There is an annual week-long fair in Newcastle called The Hoppings which we visited on Saturday afternoon. The boys loved it! They had a turn on a slide you went down in a sack and one you went down in a giant ring. 

They were very brave and went with Stuart on the log flume! These are the views from the top and it was quite high but they were both laughing at the end, especially as Stuart sat at the front and got very wet! 

Harry and Stuart had fun in the dodgems.

They also enjoyed hook-a-duck and candy floss.

I have been doing a first aid course all day today as part of my volunteer training at Harry's scout group. It's been really interesting and I feel much more confident that I could deal with first aid situations now. Stuart took the boys to Wallington and they had a wonderful time racing, climbing and wrestling! 

Happy boys! 

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Seven Stories and Big Bang fair

We had an unusual but lovely day on Friday. Stuart took the day off and went with Harry to the Big Bang science fair at Northumbria University. There were lots of school groups and he went with a group of home education friends. They watched the Ugly Animal Roadshow, took part in a workshop called The Colour of Nature, about adaptation and camouflage and watched a fun science show.

I looked after a three year old of a family at the event so he didn't have to go along and sit through the workshops, as they were aimed at older children. It was nice for Peter to have a small friend and we went to Seven Stories to see an exhibition we haven't seen before; Moving Pictures features books that have been made into film and it was really good. We read several books while at Seven Stories too as they have them around all of the exhibition spaces.

The boys dressed as foxes in the Fantastic Mr Fox area.

Played with the animals in the Snow White area.

And rowed to the South Pole in the Lost and Found area.

We came home to play with bubbles and water in the garden. Harry came home briefly and went out to his enjoy-a-ball class with Stuart.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Space activities, shop maths and allotment

Harry seems unscathed from our night of camping in terms of tiredness, which is great as he can be badly affected by changes in sleep routine. I asked him to write about it on Monday and he enjoyed doing this.

Peter has been poorly this week, however, with a high temperature and hot and cold flushes. He promptly fell asleep in the car on Monday after enjoy-a-ball so Harry and I decided to drive out to Tynemouth to see the sea and we managed to park by an ice-cream van and enjoyed ice-creams whilst listening to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! 

We have visited the park twice this week, once with friends after our group session and once on our own. Harry and Peter love their bubble wands at the moment! They also took nerf guns to play with their friends, but Peter wasn't really feeling up to that so he had lots of pushes in the swing.

We also had our group session yesterday. We listened to a BBC Learning Time to Move episode about space and had fun making rockets with our arms and black hole shapes with our bodies. We looked at the size of all the planets and made paper balls to represent them to give us a visual image of the relative sizes. The children also started some paper mâché planets using newspaper over balloons. Harry and Peter started painting theirs this morning as they had dried overnight.

We have continued the space theme by finishing Harry's jigsaw, which has been doing over the last couple of weeks and listening to the third story in the George's Secret Key series by Lucy and Stephen Hawking: George and the Big Bang.

We have been practising maths skills by playing shops this morning. Harry set up a shop using Lego models. When he asked me, for example, for 90p, I would get 30p or 40p and ask him how much more I needed. We also used times tables; if he asked me for 30p I would ask him how many 5p's would be needed. Harry also used some of the coins to make a pyramid design on the floor while he listened to his story!

Peter has been using maths vocabulary by putting World Cup stickers in our sticker book. He has been counting how many players there are on each page and saying if his sticker is next to, above or below other stickers. He did some of his Octonauts magazine while Harry was at gymnastics class too, practising counting and pen control.

We had a good visit to the allotment this afternoon and harvested our first cucumber, which Peter promptly ate! Harry weeded and watered and was rewarded by going to another plot with a man we see often who let him pick a whole punnet of strawberries! 

Harry has also been playing cello and reading every day.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Camping with friends

Harry and I have had a super weekend camping with friends from our NCT group. There were 6 families in total with 10 children and we all cooked and ate together and the children stayed up late playing in the long grass around the field and with balls and bubbles. There was also a good play area at the site.

We don't have enough camping equipment for all four of us to go together but we will invest in this soon as I think Peter would really enjoy camping now. He was a very bad sleeper as a baby and toddler so we never wanted to take him! 

Harry did a great job with one of his friends almost putting the tent up on their own! It wasn't as tight or straight as I would have done it but I didn't adjust it as we were only staying one night so it was good enough and he was really proud of his efforts!

Bubbles with the cool box 'goalposts' still in place! 

Stuart and Peter had a lovely weekend at home too. Peter played on our little bouncy castle, read lots of books and chose porridge for lunch! They were both asleep in record quick time tonight! 

Friday, 13 June 2014

Our week of home education

Wow it's Friday! I am not sure where this week has gone and it's not often I can summarise a whole week in one post so I will this time. It has been a good week filled with board games, Lego building, cello and piano playing, garden play and audio books. It has been really nice having a slower paced week and I am starting to think about our schedule for September as we have been very busy this year and I might want to scale it back.

We have visited friends for lunch and a friend of Harry's is sleeping at our house tonight (they are all thankfully asleep!). We have visited the allotment a few times too and everything is growing nicely.

Harry made a space mobile at Beavers and they played a good game where they all had to be part of the solar system and find others who had the same characteristics written on a slip of paper to make a group representing, for example, the sun. We have also been reading about how the days of the week and months of the year were named after the planets.

Harry has also had gymnastics class and both boys had enjoy-a-ball class. 

The boys rode bikes to the supermarket and Harry carried a rucksack full of shopping home, which was helpful! 

We took the bus to town and Harry and Peter both had haircuts. This is Peter's 'serious' face as he sat for a passport photo! We have booked our first family holiday abroad so acquiring passports is on my to-do list.

Playing doctor involved cutting my hair for some reason! 

Harry and Peter made glittery Father's Day cards for this weekend and chocolate pistachio fudge as a present for Stuart. This is really easy and very delicious! The recipe is at the bottom in case anyone would like to make it.

Both boys have done two Reading Eggs lessons this week and Harry has been reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory again. I am reading Fantastic Mr Fox aloud to Peter and Mammoth Academy to Harry. We have been using the Mr Thorne maths app this week too and playing lots of Trilemma. Harry has covered odd and even numbers, multiples, square numbers and division in this game and we both really enjoy playing it. Peter has enjoyed playing Spotty Dogs and has done great counting.

Recipe for chocolate fudge

Melt 350g dark chocolate with 1 x 397g can of condensed milk, 30g butter and a pinch of salt. 

Add 150g shelled pistachio nuts, which have been bashed in a bag into smaller pieces, and 150g dry fruit (cranberries, cherries and blueberries work well). 

Spread the mixture into a lined 23cm square tin and chill in the fridge until solid.

Cut into small squares and keep in the fridge or even the freezer. It is actually very nice eaten straight from the freezer!