Tuesday, November 28, 2006

B's lovely penguin

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Things we've done this week

Maths all week has been successful. I'm encouraging B to work a little on his own. During him time in school he'd always had an assistant sitting with him helping him complete his maths, and I'd done the same. I know he's capable of doing the tasks himself so I've been gradually been moving away to let him sort any simple problems out on his own. I don't think we've had any tears or sharp words over sums at all this week, from either K or B. Makes a pleasant change! K's been working on her fractions. We've completed two maths books for her age group with fractions and percentages being the two areas she gets stuck on. Must admit, it was only until my adult years that I understand these two areas myself, I didn't really see the point in knowing about them this!

We looked at how trees are symbolic to different religions for National Tree Week, using this website with K writing a little about three religions and both children writing lovely Haiku's about trees.

For "Around the World" we've finished watching the video and have also completed India, learning about the different styles of food from different parts of India, and also understanding more about the cobra, using this website. K made a lovely little card basket using her new basket weaving skills to safely house her pipecleaner cobra!

Club Penguin is still a main feature in the house and it's also taken over our upstairs hallway as K and B have made mini cardboard penguins (together with speech bubbles), igloos, a snowy slipway for the "sled" game (plus rubber rings to slide on!) and various other club penguin bits and bobs! It's great to see them using their imagination in this way and actually playing together so well (for once). B's also written a couple of small pages about club penguin and his particular furry friend (Bumpi Boy), and announced that he enjoyed writing after finishing this (something new there then!). As B's now joined on a monthly basis, he's learning fast about saving his coins to buy things for his igloo and clothes for himself. He's also got himself a little fluffy pet in this game, so he's learning about caring for that too!

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Ready to slide on their rubber rings

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Penguins in igloos

K started her swimming lessons this week. She was so excited about it but also, unlike her, quite nervous. As she's starting as a beginner K was swimming with a small group of younger children, but she didn't seem put out at all. She easily managed to swim widths of the pool unaided, but couldn't swim them aided (she just couldn't swim anywhere!). Really do want to try and get to the swimming pool, as a family, at least fortnightly. K and B love the water so much and it will help K to continue to progress in her lessons.

This week we've done two group activities. The first was to see Kensuke's Kingdom at our local theatre. The book, by Michael Morpurgo (a favourite author of Ks), was adapted for the stage and performed by the Birmingham Stage Company. It was simply, but very effectively performed and the kids loved it. I wondered how B would get on as it was his first proper theatre visit, but he took it all in as I found out the next day when they had to write a small review of the play. If you get the chance to see it, and it is travelling to various places, do go, it's well worth it.

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Our second group activity was to our fortnightly get together. This time the theme was World War II, so K and B were able to understand some of what was going on as we'd done this topic earlier in the year. The new venue seems to be a hit with most people, especially those that enjoy the huge soft play area above the main rooms!

Two other things K and B have done this week: K's started making a Christmas scene with her models for a photo. She's sewing a tiny, tiny Santa outfit for one of her small dolls and has also started one of her lovely pipecleaner men to be Father Christmas himself! B's made a cute junk model penguin (will post a piccie in due course) using a toilet roll, material and feathers - very clever.

Bye for now!
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Monday, November 20, 2006

Yep, this is me!

Your Quirk Factor: 58%

You're a pretty quirky person, but you're just normal enough to hide it.

Congratulations - you've fooled other people into thinking you're just like them!

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Other things, apart from penguins!

So, further to my previous post about Club Penguin (B's joined now, on the monthly scheme and is decorating his igloo, and his penguin in mad fashion!), we have done some other work this week. B decided to do his own experiment to find out how quickly water will freeze at -4 deg C in the freezer. While this was happening he made a lovely little Fimo penguin, which slide down the frozen ice cliff once it came out of the freeze some six hours later.

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We've finished reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the children have completed their storyboards. Later in the week we made book review boxes, an idea that I found from Crayola, as it was National Childen's Book Week. K chose to review Mr. Wonka, and B did Charlie. They worked really hard on this boxes, making little characters from clay and plaster or pipecleaners and tissue, to go with their little snippets of information.

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It was Prince Charles' birthday last week (Tuesday) and also the State Opening of Parliament (Wednesday), so we briefly covered these events. B was very interested in the life of the Prince Charles so we discussed all the good things he does within the community, his sons, his future role as King, and when he became Prince of Wales. K drew a lovely picture (together with rather large ears) and B added the necessary dates and the Fleur des Lis before placing it on our timeline. For the State Opening of Parliament, B covered this by doing a mini poster all about it. We used the Woodlands School site to help us.

K and B's Flat Travellers have flown to the USA this week. K's has gone to Tennessee and B's to Pensylvania. We are looking forward to receiving our exchanges. Together with the laminated Flat went a little passport and journal and an information sheet giving some details about where we live.

On the "Around the World" front we have been covering India which has been of interest to us all. We are beginning to get a bug for wanting to actually visit these countries - if only the pennies would allow us! We've looked at the Taj Mahal and were lucky enough to find a lovely book in the library showing us the insides of this wonderful building plus lots of extra details. We looked at the languages, clothing and traditions of the different religions of this country. The Himalayas proved to the most captivating of the subjects covered this week. The sheer stretch of it and the fact that some of the peaks are the top highest in the world, including Everest of course. Lots of questions were sparked from this too, like wanting to know the names of all the peaks in this range, why do mountains grow (and how), what exactly is "sea level" and are there volcanoes in the Himalayas. This all led to how hot lava is compared to "ordinary" fire! I love days like this - keeps my fingers busy on the keyboard trying to answer the questions the best I can. We came across this fun volcano site which B liked browsing through.

Went along to the Christmas light switch on in town on Thursday evening. Sad to say none of us have got that Christmassy feeling yet, unlike last year. Until Friday, the weather here has just been far to mild, I'm hoping colder, more winter like weather will put us into a seasonal spirit. The lights were lovely and the children enjoyed going on the carousel (a first for B) and looking around the Continental Market. It was a nice atmosphere in town and we bumped into old school friends too, so we had a bit of a catch-up.

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I have been encouraging the kids to do their Christmas lists. K's list from Utterly Horses very neatly filled an A4 sheet! She hasn't even started on all the other Christmas catalogues that have popped through the letterbox. B found the task hard, which was surprising. He seems to like lots of different things, like construction, electronics, colouring and crafts. While B and I were ploughing through the catalogues he asked me to show him joined up writing. Once I'd shown him a few simple words, he quickly picked it up and did some beautiful writing for me and he was very proud of himself. It's quite hard at times to show him the proper formation as he is left-handed, but he soon got the hang of it.

Young Billy the rabbit is rather randy at present and is moving his backside in bunny fashion against various things (including my leg, Herrance and Allie (Jasper's too quick for him!)). The kids have been fascinated by it all (hmmmm) and eventually the question of why, what happens, etc., etc., raised it's head! Amid their whoops of laughter I explained clearly, but simply, the birds and the bees (so it's all done now). There's only one question remaining, "why does Billy do it to Herrance's head, my leg and Allie's side rather than directing his actions to the right area!?".

I'll leave you to ponder on that one! Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The waddly, furry things have taken over!

Yep, found out about it on Monday afternoon, learnt more about on Monday afternoon, signed up for it on Monday evening and we all spent Tuesday afternoon playing it! Hooked? Yep! Oh, by the way, I'm talking about the Club Penguin site. You probably know it already, or your children do anyway, but here's the link (just click on the cute penguins):

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Kids were really, really pleased it was raining on Tuesday afternoon as we'd planned to go to the plot to do more digging, but rain forced us to play and seriously enjoy the Club Penguin site. All three of us have penguins and basically you go around your icey world meeting fellow penguins and holding little conversations with them. You can pick up buddies too! Penguins meet, say "hi" to each other and then you can send them an internal email asking if they'd like to be your buddy. 99% of the time they return a "yes" although B had a "no" at one point! Not sure yet what benefit buddies are but B and K picked up loads in their afternoon play and B liked hunting them down to play some of the games on the site. You need to play games to acquire "money" to purchase things, although you can't actually buy anything unless you join the club - haven't got that far yet. Some of the penguins have used their "money" to decorate their igloo homes amazingly, others wear weird and wonderful clothing and some have little furry pets that follow them around! Won't bore you anymore as you're probably fully aware of it all anyhow. Just wanted to add though that the site is said to be a safe site for children from ages 8 upwards, and there's obviously rules to follow, but I found it rather hard to know what to say to fellow penguins and some seemed rather amorous towards me! Apart from "hi", "how are you", etc., I felt I couldn't really say "what have you been up to today" without thinking the moderator may wonder why I was asking! Perhaps I'm alittle too sensitive to these things. Did come across three penguins having an argument about who was to be Mummy, Daddy and baby - strange?! - I waddled out of that room before I go ropped in to be Grandma! And before I close, my favourite room is the disco, where you can dance the night away and annoy the DJ as I did - he told me to "go away", perhaps my dancing wasn't up to much!Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Saturday, November 11, 2006

We're back from our hols.

We've just come back from a mini-break on a canal boat (yep in November) and have had a fabulous time. We have been so lucky with the weather too, just one wet and windy morning that wasn't much fun for P, the driver, or for me and the kids when it came to working the locks, but the rest of the five day break we had sun. The children never seemed to be bored, seeing as how most of the time they were inside the boat. We had our first Flat Traveller with us and we all updated the travel log and kept notes of what we'd seen using a traveller's pack that the canal boat hire company kindly provided us. K and B also did lots of drawing and colouring, games playing and, for K, lots of reading and saddle making! No one said they'd missed the PC for the entire trip!

Set off last Monday morning to Nottingham to pick up the canal boat from Sawley Marina. After we'd watched a video about what to do and not to do inside the boat and on the water, we were shown how to operate the locks and fill up our water tank. We were then free to drift along the Trent and Mersey canal at our leisure. We didn't leave Sawley until 3.30 ish on the Monday afternoon, so we couldn't travel too far as we soon lost the light. We moored, after battling through our first lock (me doing the battling - I couldn't shift it!) at Shardlow for a swift couple of pints, and Fantas, in the Malt and Shovel. Then we had our second battle - which beds to claim. Somehow this ended in us being on the smallish pull out sofa (closer to the kitchen and TV) and the kids having the comfort of the fixed king sized bed (such fools are we).

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First night's stop - Shardlow - very pretty.

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Lots of pretty waterside houses - wanted them all!

Set off at 8 the next morning to travel at a speedy 5 mph past the most wonderful homes, scenery and the like up to Willington. As winter was setting in, we couldn't travel past Willington as lock and canal works were taking place. We saw kingfishers (never seen these before, so it was pretty thrilling for me), herons, cows drinking from the water's edge (even one on the towpath) and good old hardy fishermen! No problem with locks today, kids helped out and it made a huge difference. Their muscles (and mine) have grown over these last few days. We were amazed to see so many others enjoying their boats too, and many people seem to live on them. Moored at Willington for our over night stop and stayed in to watch "Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves" (quickly running the video through any "naughty" bits before the kids could work out
what was going on!).

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P turning the boat successfully at Willington
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Morning visitors looking for breakfast

Turned our boat round early next morning to head back to Sawley to enable us to travel the other stretch towards Nottingham. Weather was not good during this morning, and the rain was being driven by wind and seemed to start up every time a lock appeared! Poor P was kind of fixed to the rudder by lunch time, we thawed him out with hot soup! After lunch, it brightened up and B and I were able to sit at the front of the boat and enjoy the peaceful views and marvel at the mirror images in the water ahead of us. We hoped for a meal out once we'd moored back at Sawley, but as soon as our food had been ordered, a local powercut shut everything down and we had to turn back to the boat and arrange our own grub! TV didn't receive the best signal so we resulted to fun family games to keep us amused, and we were all too exhausted to stay up much past 8.30 anyway!

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The Power Station at Sawley was a fascination for us all
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Beautiful scenery along the River Trent

Thursday we travelled from Sawley to Nottingham along the River Trent which provided a different style of scenery, being more open with hills and the Attenborough Nature Reserve along the banks then ending up quite industrialised closer to Nottingham. We were hoping to go just past the town to a larger stretch of water to easily turn the boat round but we were told that the lock was closed. This posed a problem as the boat is naturally long and the canal is not wide. We had to back up to the entrance of Nottingham Marina to use it as a winding (as in "wind" the weather) hole (turning area) and turn ourselves around. Sounds easy, nope, took us a couple of tries, and some frustrated words before we were able to moor up the correct way! Spent the afternoon in Nottingham visiting the castle and museum, the lace shop, seeing statues of Robin Hood and his men and witnessing the spectacular views from the top of the castle. Had a quick browse around the town as the night drew in and found a wonderful shop called The Token House with all those lovely little trinkets, bits and bobs that make such lovely little gifts. Had our meal out and another zonked out early night!

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Nottingham Castle
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"Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem" - the oldest pub in England shown
here with Sabba, the Flat Traveller we took on holiday

Drifted back on Friday and moored up for lunch just past the Erewash Canal before returning to Sawley and then a rather wet and miserable drive home.

Want to do something different - would recommend this kind of holiday (during school time)! Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting