Thursday, 28 June 2012

I hear thunder, hark don't you!

Our look at weather sounds earlier this week was timed well as I have seen the worst rain of my life today! The sky went dark as night at around 4pm and gentle thunder growls turned to crashes with flashes of lightning. Within around 15 minutes of the rain starting, a river was flowing down our street. As we watched from the front door, our recycling wheelie bin, which had been on the street, floated past followed by three others so I had to get soaked through to rescue it! Stuart waited for a break in the rain and cycled home, avoiding the multiple road closures - cars were still queuing to get out of our road following the diversions at 8.30pm. We have been lucky as it looks as though the North East has been particularly badly hit by flash flooding today and I hope there has not been too much damage to persons, pets or property! 

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Scarves and weather

Harry is very keen on Octonauts at the moment and we have spent this morning role playing various rescue scenarios. We used our dark scarves to represent stormy wild wind and waves and bright scarves as jellyfish blobbing around. These scarves have been of our best buys I think for play value!

With thanks to our friend Sarah for showing us the way to the BBC schools radio website, we then listened to this weather sounds programme and used instruments and noises to make our own weather sounds. We also thought about weather throughout the seasons as part of the programme and we will try out some related craft.

I think Peter has also found a new favourite activity this morning. The three little pigs have had around 100 bounces (no exaggeration!) on one of the scarves!

Ancient Greek workshop

We attended a good workshop with other home educating families at the Hancock museum this week called Greek Fighting Forces. There was a short interactive presentation about Greek soldiers, or hoplites as they were known, where the children were encouraged to share their ideas. We learned that you would only have been around 7 years old when you started training and would have had to buy all of your own equipment. We also looked at the armour and shields they would have used.

We then looked at some words, including brave, undisciplined, fit, poor and wealthy and had to decide if they would describe good or bad characteristics for being a hoplite.

We also looked at a picture taken from one of the Greek pots in the gallery, which shows a Greek soldier going off to battle. We discussed what the people depicted might be thinking and saying. Harry thought that the soldier might be scared and his friend might tell him to wear his armour.

After the workshop, we had a look in the Greek gallery, where we used the shield design screen and also looked for pictures of shields with images painted on them which would have been used to try to scare the opposing army. 

We also found the pot from which the picture we had looked at was taken.

Fluffy babies and flamingos

We had a lovely visit to the Washington Wetland Centre yesterday, where we saw goslings close up in the feeding area, cygnets in the enclosed ponds and tiny 2 day old ducklings in the duckery. Seeing the ducklings has left us feeling inspired for our next Five in a Row title - Make Way for Ducklings!

 The wildflowers had gone wild and there was some good co-operative play too.

We stayed longer than usual to listen to a talk about the flamingos. We were shown a model nest and talked about how flamingos feed and sit on the nest. I was surprised to find that the oldest flamingo there is around the same age as me, I thought they would be younger! The WWT is trying to get the flamingos to breed and they have put a wooden egg on the nest area to deter gulls from any real eggs which might appear. It will be interesting to keep watch for the real eggs over the coming weeks.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Reading progress

Last time I posted about reading, we had been working through the Songbirds series from Oxford Reading Tree. Harry started referring to it as 'that stupid reading book' so I decided to put it to one side for now! He has, however, been racing through Reading Eggs in the last couple of weeks and we have also been working through the printed sheets that accompany each online lesson. I like the worksheets as they reinforce and revise what he has learned and also incorporate some writing practice.

He is reliably spotting sight words and reading simple sentences quite fluently, which incorporate the sounds we have covered so far, such as: 

Sam is sad.
Sam can see the bee.
Sam had a cap.
I can see the bees.

He really seems to be enjoying it at the moment and I am pleased with his progress.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Tropical birthday party

We had a wonderful time today at a tropical themed party in Harrogate for my sister's 30th birthday. Lots of effort had gone into the decoration

Harry with his painted face and flower garland. The men also got in on the act after I had painted children's faces so we also had a spiderman, monster and grown up tiger (Neil, my sister's fiance). At least it was some more face-painting practice for me!

Peter had a great time with all the balloons around

And of course it was great to see our family in Harrogate who I would love to see more! Here we are with our grandma. Happy birthday to my sunny, beautiful sister Kelly! 

Friday, 15 June 2012

The Tale of Peter Rabbit
"The Tale of Peter Rabbit" was first published by Frederick Warne in 1902 and endures as Beatrix Potter's most popular and well-loved tale. It tells the story of a very mischievous rabbit and the trouble he encounters in Mr McGregor's vegetable garden!  

This lovely book has tied in very well with all of our recent activity at the allotment. In contrast to our last FIAR work, Harry really enjoyed the sit-down elements and I had to prepare some more as he had completed everything so quickly. When I planned the work for this book, I had included some practical garden work such as planting some seeds but we have been doing so much at the allotment we didn't do any specific practical work for this. We used this Garden pre-school pack for printable elements.

We matched some garden words. Firstly, Harry matched the words to pictures with words attached, then I gave him pictures with the words removed and he matched the words up again. He was reluctant at first, saying he couldn't do it, but was really good at it when he got going. 


We also looked at some garden pictures and Harry circled the correct starting letter.

He traced some upper and lower case letters, then wrote the same letters freehand.

Harry put the parts of a flower in the correct order and matched the words up.

We sorted pictures into groups of vegetables and flowers.

He used his pen well to trace lines from watering can to flower.

We played a Peter Rabbit game, where Harry put the cabbage pictures in number order 1-20. He then hid a small picture of Peter under one and I had to guess which number. If I got it wrong, Harry said whether I needed to go higher or lower. This was popular and we spent a good half hour playing with it.

Harry coloured pictures of Peter Rabbit. He looked back in the book to see the colours of the coat, flowers, pots and shoe (obviously not for the technicolour rabbit on the left!)

 We baked some tasty rabbit shaped gingerbread cookies. Harry was very independent and I actually went off to cook tea while he got on with this. I made most of the mixture as it involved boiling sugar and syrup but after that he did all of the elements up to putting them in the oven.

We were playing with playdough one day and Harry decided to make Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny, so I asked him what else from the story he could make. He made Mr McGregor, carrots, lettuce and letters for the word Peter. 

We have been singing the song included in the pre-school pack all week and I have overheard Harry singing it along to himself:

What do plants need?
What do plants need?
To grow tall
To grow tall

Plants need soil
Water, sun and air
Watch them grow
Watch them grow

As he is a lover of mud and soil, we borrowed a book all about soil from the library which we have been reading too.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Hatton Art - Greeks

We enjoyed a semi-led art session today with other home educating families. The sessions run monthly, usually at the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle, and this was our first one - we will definitely be going again. 

We looked at Greek art today in the Greek gallery of the Great North Museum. We looked for depictions of warriors and mythical creatures, then created our own shields and pots using Greek imagery. Harry really got into this and was busy and interested for the whole hour. These were his creations

He liked the Medusa pictures (hence he used two!) but we hadn't read the story of Medusa before so we spent an hour this afternoon reading all about Perseus, Helios and Odysseus in our Greek Myths book. We bought it after exploring the Greek loan box, when Harry was very interested in Hercules and I really like it. Harry would have kept reading but we had the small matter of Peter getting bored to deal with!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Poetry recital

I read Michael Rosen's blog as I share his views on, amongst other things, Central Government 'diktats' being a negative thing for education. This post about the latest initiative to be introduced into primary schools to teach children to recite poetry is a good example and a very timely one for us.

We have been reading these Red Nose Readers books lately which include funny rhymes and, out in the garden this morning whilst hanging out the washing, Harry repeated several verses of a rhyme called One, Two, Flea and has continued to do so throughout the day. 
Had I taught him the poem? No, we have read it three times at most as part of normal daily book reading. Had I asked or even encouraged him to recite it? No, he did it because, I assume, he liked it. There is no need, in my opinion, to specifically teach poetry or recital to young children or to waste time and money on a policy about it. It is literature like any other and if they enjoy it, they will listen to it, read it, learn it and repeat it. I doubt there are many nurseries/schools/home educators who have not read poetry and rhymes to young children.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Arbeia Roman Fort

We went to Arbeia Roman Fort for the first time today and had a wonderful visit. Harry was really engaged and asked lots of questions. We spent a lot of time exploring the reconstructed gatehouse. We talked about the materials used to build it and how it is different to a modern house. We looked at the Latin inscription and Harry thought it might tell us who lives there or the Roman street name.

We looked at granaries and talked about how the Romans kept food cool without electricity.

We picked herbs (which was invited by the sign I might add!) and crushed them in the mortar, then played some pretending to be ill and needing herb medicines.

We also looked around the barracks and commanding officer's house and the museum. We marked Arbeia, London and Rome on a Roman Empire map and looked at Hadrian's wall. 

This is definitely a place we will visit again. It is great that it ties into a huge historical topic such as the Roman Empire yet also is so local and specific to our area.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Marbling pictures

We have had some marbling inks for a couple of months and have never found the time to use them so we scheduled an hour this morning to get them out. Harry hardly needed any input - he has used them before at an art session at Center Parcs and remembered from there. I think it creates a stunning effect for very little effort!