Friday, 31 January 2014

A trophy and haircuts

Harry won the trophy at his enjoy-a-ball class today. Each week, one child wins a trophy for good trying and listening. Harry was very proud. Stuart was going out after work tonight with friends so we called him using FaceTime so Harry could show him the trophy. He has gone to bed with it tonight!

Both boys also had haircuts today. Peter has needed one for a while and looks very smart now. 

Harry did his difficult spellings this morning and practised his cello before we went out. They also both helped me to tidy the house as Stuart's sister is visiting tomorrow. Harry vacuumed the hall and Peter helped me to put clean clothes away. I think that even very small children can help around the house and both of mine actually love having jobs to do. 

Harry has been reading one of the stage 9 Oxford Reading Tree books we borrowed from the library, Survival Adventure. He has done really well. There is a lot of text so we have been taking turns to read a page but he hasn't struggled with many words. 

We had French class with our home education friends yesterday, after having a FaceTime call with my sister. The children each had a Brussels sprout and we sang a song planting the little cabbage with various parts of the body and putting it on, under, in front and behind things. They also practised saying 'I am eating....' and 'I am drinking....'. It was very cold but we enjoyed the fresh air in the playground afterwards and the children all had rosy cheeks!

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

History timeline additions, human body activities and play

We had our group session with two other families yesterday morning. Firstly, our friends read their chapter continuing the group story we are writing. We also shared our history timeline contributions - we have sheets on Nelson Mandela, Machu Picchu and the Battle of Blenheim to add to our timeline, along with our sheet on the first moon landing. I still actually need to display the timeline at home and I am thinking where would be best for it. 

We also did some human body activities. We drew round one of the children on a large roll of paper and they each chose a mystery internal organ from a bag, then we discussed what it was and placed it on the body outline. These were the organ pictures we used, which I printed from the internet.

I read books to Peter and a couple of the other younger children while the others looked at a model brain and skull and talked about what the different parts of the brain do. Harry and Peter both brought their Lego sticker books to do at craft time, which is around the last 30 minutes of our 3 hour session.

We had a relaxed afternoon yesterday after our group session and a nice day full of play today. Peter has a cold and Harry is always tired on a Wednesday after his late Beavers and Gymnastics sessions on Monday and Tuesday.

We played an afternoon of post office games, as we found some leftover bits and pieces from a kit we had, including ink stamps, envelopes and stickers. We wrote several notes to each other and played at posting them, so this game involved some reading and writing practise for Harry! It turned into a game where we pretended to be Paddington Bear posting things to his Aunt Lucy. Harry and Peter have been listening to the Paddington stories, read very well by Stephen Fry.

We have built lots of Lego. Harry has many sets of Lego but most of them weren't built up so we sorted through everything and built all his police vehicles together. He is great at following the instructions, even on big models. Peter played with the things we had built and with his Duplo at the same time. It got very messy at one point but they did both help to clear all the pieces into the correct trays at the end of today.

Harry has also done Conquer Maths lessons on halves and rounding. Peter is enjoying playing an Alphablocks game on the Cbeebies iPad app, which has been good for his letter recognition.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Space history, painting and reading

We prepared another addition to our history timeline today ready for the group session tomorrow. I asked Harry to have a look through this book from the library and choose something that interested him. 

He chose the space page, so we decided to make a display of the first moon landing - Harry searched for 'moon landing' himself using the internet and found the Wikipedia page. Harry and Peter used silver paint to create moons, which we stuck to black card before writing the facts with shiny pens. 

Harry also wanted to paint some planets, after enjoying his trip to the observatory on Saturday night so he did these using acrylic paint on canvas sheets. I love the pads of canvas sheets from The Works as they are very reasonably priced and don't take up as much storage room as framed stretched canvases. 

Peter enjoyed painting with his hands and adding glitter! 

Harry has also completed a Reading Eggs lesson and read this book to Peter. He did really well at trying to work out words instead of giving up if he didn't know it immediately and read longer words like pursuit, costume, ordinary and stomach.

Peter did some pages of his Kumon tracing book, which aims to work on pencil control. 

He is practising holding a pen correctly too and did very well in the book as well as doing some of the Octonauts magazine activities. Harry didn't hold a pen correctly until he started writing letters at about age 4.5 and I think it will be easier if Peter starts learning now as it took quite a few weeks to adjust Harry's grip. 

I am doing this in a very relaxed way with Peter at the moment and only because he is keen. If he doesn't want to do the 'work' I give him, he doesn't have to and can go to play instead and actually most of the play he does improves his hand strength and motor control ready for writing anyway. I do expect Harry to do the activities I ask him to do but usually give him a choice so he has some control over what we do on a particular day or in which order he does things. Harry's set activities usually don't take more than an hour per day and often less.

Harry and Peter went to bed for a nap after lunch. Harry seems to be in a disrupted sleep pattern and got up at 5.45am. He doesn't cope well with being tired and can't focus on anything so he needed to rest before Beavers. The ability to do this is a big benefit of home education for us. I can't imagine Harry getting anything from a day at school when he is tired.

Harry had his first Beavers session wearing the uniform tonight. He was really proud of himself! They continued to work towards their science badge by looking at magnets.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Family astronomy at Kielder Observatory

Stuart and Harry had an adventurous trip to Kielder Observatory yesterday for a family astronomy session. Harry has always been interested in space and he was very excited. This is one of the large telescopes.

There were several leaders to help the families and they did a talk at the start with questions. Stuart thought it was very well organised, which I had expected as the observatory runs a large number and variety of popular sessions. Harry was very pleased to have seen Jupiter and lots of stars. I think this will definitely become an annual trip, for all of us when Peter is old enough.

It was quite a late night for Harry after an intense morning at music, so it has been a tired day today. We all watched the Lego Batman Movie after lunch and then Harry spent lots of time building his own Lego creations inspired by the Batman vehicles. 

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Monster letter craft and library

There seemed to be even more boy energy in our house yesterday than usual! 

We managed to get Harry's spelling list done - I was pleased that he got the wrong ones from last week correct this time after we discussed his mistakes and he only got 3 wrong from the new list. These were words he can read but he spelled them phonetically - 'wos', 'shee' and 'thay'. He was pleased too that he got more right than last time.

I had prepared a letter activity for Peter to do too, using an idea from the great No Time for Flashcards blog. I cut out monster shapes by folding paper in half, drawing a half-monster shape and cutting it out. I then added a different coloured tummy. We already had letter stickers and I gave these to Peter, along with googly eyes and told him the monsters were very hungry and needed to eat letters. He loved doing this. It was interesting that he started by looking for the letters 's' and 'p' straight away, the ones we have learned. He also chose matching letters for the other ones he chose as there were more than one of each letter. I talked to him as he did this about the names of the letters he had chosen and words that start with them.

By mid-morning, Harry and Peter were wrestling each other on the floor, so we had to get out and it was a nice, crisp morning. I had run out of clothes washing liquid anyway so we went by bike and scooter to our local supermarket. There were some really loud birds and the boys sat down to listen and thought they sounded cross with each other! 

Peter is really too big for his balance bike now so we are hoping he can master pedalling in the spring to move up to Harry's old first pedal bike.

The cold fresh air helped the abundance of energy a lot! We had lunch and reading time, then Harry practised his cello. We visited the library before Harry's enjoy-a-ball class as there is one nearby and got some great books this time. Harry chose a non-fiction book about dogs to read to his new friend Bert, the build-a-bear toy and a book about energy as he has enjoyed doing his electricity kit so much. We also borrowed books about Stone Age art, after discussing this at the Centre for Life this week, Da Vinci and erosion. There were lots of Oxford Reading Tree books at this library and Harry chose some level 8 and 9 ones, which we will read together. 

Thursday, 23 January 2014

A trip out - Centre for Life

We had an impromptu day trip today, which turned out to be great fun. We had a FaceTime call with my sister this morning and Harry very proudly showed her his cress seeds from Beavers which are now growing small roots. We then dropped Stuart off at the train station as he had to travel to Sheffield for work today. In the station car park the boys spotted the Centre for Life and begged me to go. We had arranged to meet our friends from French in the park today, but the weather had already cancelled that, so we needed an alternative and I agreed.

Harry and Peter love the Centre for Life at the moment. We have been three times in the last month and it was really quiet, with just a few families and a couple of school groups. We also had luck to meet another home educating family with similar age children, so we stayed with them for most of the day - we didn't get home until 3.30pm!

They dusted sand from bones while we talked about what you can learn from them.

They made magnet machine designs.

Peter played for a long time with the sound tables.

We went to the science theatre show, where one of the staff showed us a variety of weather themed science on stage - cloud in a bottle, lightening, a rainbow and how cold air sinking creates fog. Harry really enjoyed it and I was so pleased that Peter sat through the whole thing with hardly any wriggling - it is advised for age 7 onwards but it was perfectly suitable for Harry and Peter obviously found it interesting too. The Centre for Life admission price includes the science theatre show and also three different planetarium shows, although Harry didn't want to watch any of those today. There is a new exhibition on DNA opening soon which might be interesting for Harry too, as we haven't looked at this before. 

In the under-7s area, the boys had a great play with the soft play blocks as it was so quiet, making some nice houses.

We were all a bit weary when we got home! Peter watched Alphablocks on TV and Harry played with his electronic science kit again, making a daybreak alarm, which sounded when the light came on in a dark room. He also started reading Mountain Rescue, an Oxford Reading Tree book at bedtime.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Happy Birthday Peter

It was Peter's third birthday today. These three years have gone so fast and Peter is such a little boy now - hardly any hints of baby about him! His personality is quite different to Harry and they do have a fraught relationship sometimes but Harry has made a big effort today to make his birthday special and they have had lots of giggles together and some cuddles! 

We had a really nice, relaxed day designed around him. He opened his present this morning and we went to town on the bus to choose some new books with his birthday money. He loves bus trips and I rarely use the buggy now so it's less walking for him when we go to the City Centre as the bus goes right into the shopping area.

We visited a cafe, where I read one of the books to them and they looked through the others while I drank my coffee.

When we got home, Harry followed some of the pages of the book alongside his electronics kit and was really pleased to make a rain sensor that sounded an alarm when the sensor got wet. He also made a circuit that sounded a police siren with a flashing light when switched on. Peter did some of the sticker pages in his Octonauts magazine. They both chose these activities independently and it was really nice to sit down for an hour together.

Stuart came home from work after lunch and we spoke to Harry and Peter's Nanna and Great Nanna on the phone before going swimming. We all had a great time and came home very tired and hungry for a phone call with my mum, pizza for tea and a second birthday cake for Peter! I think he has had a lovely day! 

Monday, 20 January 2014

Timeline volcanoes, podcasts and park

We were busy this morning preparing our contributions for our group session tomorrow. We discussed the group story again and added some descriptive parts to the ideas Harry already told me last week. I will write this up tonight ready to share tomorrow then another family will take it home to continue. We will also each be taking some historical events to add to a group timeline. Harry wanted to look at volcanic eruptions so we chose a very famous ancient one - the eruption of Vesuvius that buried Pompeii and the largest modern one - the eruption of Tambora in Indonesia. 

The boys made volcano pictures from felt then we added the details. We found the information online and in a good book we have at home which has lots of world facts. We also ended up reading about other World Heritage Sites as Harry was interested to know some more. While they made the volcanoes we listened to the first Wind in the Willows podcast episode from BBC learning - it was a nice version read by Bernard Cribbins and Harry loved it so we will definitely be listening to the rest. There are also some teacher notes available on the website, so I am going to have a look to see if there is anything we might use.

Peter wanted to play a podcast too so we listened to Let's Move, a BBC schools episode about Jack Frost. There was lots of imaginative dancing through snowy trees, sliding on ice and making ice patterns with our bodies and we all did this together. I am really enjoying the BBC podcasts and they are a great way to involve Peter and Harry in something together and get them moving, listening and thinking.

The build-a-bears made yesterday have been very popular friends today, especially with Harry. We walked to our local playground and they came along too and the boys had great fun pushing them in the swings and playing hide and seek with them.

Harry has painted the box his came in too. Peter did start but didn't last long! 

Harry has also completed a Reading Eggs lesson today and read to me from books. He had his second week of Beavers tonight and has come home very happy again. They planted cress seeds to bring home and take back in two weeks to compare to everyone else's. This is the first activity towards a science badge and Harry will be delighted when he earns his first badge! 

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Playdough, build-a-bear and reading

The end of the week has flown by! We went to the library and have done lots of reading of our new books. Harry was inspired to make some playdough cakes after reading Small Knight and George and the Royal Chocolate Cake. 

Harry has done some great reading in the last few days too. He read several pages of the Usborne Beginners Solar System book and was really proud of himself. 

Harry and I had a lovely trip out together to town after music class yesterday, where we bought new trousers for him and a birthday present for Peter. We also had a good look at Lego and a cafe visit.

My mum and sister visited today as it is Peter's birthday this week. They brought early presents and helium balloons, which the boys both love! We had an early birthday cake too, with candles and sparklers. Harry and Peter also had another treat today - a trip to build-a-bear where they designed their own stuffed toys. They have seen friends with these recently (thanks Fay :-)) and wanted to make their own. We now have a fireman dog on roller skates and a Spider-Man bear on roller skates as part of the family! They have both gone to bed with their new toys tonight (minus roller skates).