Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I have risen from my sick bed!

Having bragged last week to HE members that none of us have suffered with illness since leaving school/work, I go and get a humdinger of a cold! Not usually one to let a little drippy nose get in the way of life, but this time I have been suffering with sneezes, dodgey tummy and head resulting in frequent trips upstairs to bed. Kids, naturally, have enjoyed my bout of illness as it meant they could play whatever they liked, including on the PC! 4p.m. this afternoon, all has changed! My sudden spurts of silliness have returned (noticed by K), so I must officially be on the mend, thank the Lord!

So, here's a round up of some things from last week and the weekend. Actually, I can't remember much from last week, but I remember we'd all decided that my head was complete and utter mush (more so than usual, must have been the start of the cold!). The reasoning behind this was because I rushed the kids through lunch on Monday in order for us to get to group bowling in time, only to find we were a whole hour early (but I wasn't the only one!). Other little things, including total chibberish coming out of my mouth added to the conclusion of mush! However, we did do two more maths posters, one on lines and one on coordinates/ direction (not sure why this featured in the shapes book, but it was interesting). Finished Japan, updated B's flat Matt diary and went with the HE group to Fenscape in Spalding to learn all about the Fens and the draining of them. Interesting place and my two seemed to enjoy it and remembered what the museum was all about, an added bonus obviously. Weather was good so they had a bit of a run (or gallop) around in the beautiful water gardens at Springfields. After this we went back to a friend's house for lunch and play (and natter) which was lovely.

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Coordinates and directions

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On Saturday we took the train down to London to show B's Flat Matt and K's newly arrived Flat Kim around the "big city". We printed off some 2 for 1 entry tickets (courtesty of the rail company) and had a good time in the Aquarium, it had changed since our last visit about three years ago and it wasn't too packed full with visitors (mind you it was pretty early!). We loved watching the sharks in the huge central tank and marvelling at the numerous pretty tropical fish that swim the coral reefs. We also got a chance to feel the Stingrays which was amazing, rough on the top and very smooth underneath. After a much needed McD's for lunch, we headed off to Winston Churchill's Britain at War museum in Tooley Street. Although small, the museum was full of interesting war time information, lots of donated war time items/letters, clothes and gas masks for the kids to try on and other interactive displays. We all sat in an Anderson shelter and listened to an overhead bomber dropping it's load - pretty scary stuff. Also, we walked through a London street Blitz scene which provoked lots of questions from K and B. During our time in London, the kids marvelled at the height of Big Ben and K asked to see The Gerkhin as it is her favourite new-build in the city, we also saw HMS Belfast, Tower Bridge and the Houses of Parliament. The weather was cold but very bright, beautiful blue sky and the sun shining. It was such a shame we had to be booked on a 3.30 train home, but I think we managed to see quite a bit of London during our few hours there.

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Many thanks to those who have requested K and B's review magazine - it has been a total nightmare and we probably won't do it again! I have tried unsuccessfully to email the finished work but it is too large in size (even after taking out all the beautiful headings and downsizing the photos to tiny dots) so I tried to cut and paste it on to our Home Ed website, but no joy. Have had to re-type the children's work and find all the photos to make it look half-decent. Then my cold got in the way! Most of it is on the website but Photobucket went down and I haven't yet finished it - will try again tonight and then put up a link! Really sorry guys!

Other rather exciting news. Decided not to listen to Lucy's warning - we're on the move. Have been umming and arhing about moving for a while now, although we love our house and being in town as it is so convenient, but we have always wanted to try life in the country and decided a long time ago that now is probably the only time we'll be able to afford one last move (and it has to be to a detached house!) - so we've gone and done it! Found a lovely house way out by The Wash (will ensure the kids know how to swim really well as we'll be first to experience the effects of flooding due to global warming!) - sold our house and had an offer accepted on the new house in about three days!!! Scary stuff or what! Will keep you posted on how our savings are dwindling away with solicitor and agent fees, removals and other necessary expenses!

Here's a little woolie pony K has made - rather cute don't you think?

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Her name is "Peppermint Sherbert"

BTW - although the kids have enjoyed their early half-term break this week, B has this morning asked to do some work! Yippee, I love it when my kids ask to learn something! We've been looking at Chinese New Year ready for a group session tomorrow.
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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

K and B's review magazine

The children have worked really hard to put this together (and also much hair pulling on my part to get the boxes in the right places - I should have left it up to K, she would have done it with no problems whatsoever!).

When looking back over the last term we'd done quite a bit of "work", but the review is the "best bits" chosen by K and B.

If you'd like a copy please click the picture below and send me an email, I'll happily email you a copy back.

Bye for now!

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Friday, January 19, 2007

This has been ...

... so much fun for K and B this week! It's free downloadable Pivot Stickfigure animation software suggested by Woodlands Junior School in a past post (when K and B were practising drawing people). K picked up how to use it instantly and taught B in a matter of seconds, so it's quite straightforward. Here's one of K's animations (excuse the faint lines, this is because I had to make it smaller to fit in the blog space!). They started off with just stick men doing gymnastics, they progressed to better things. Unfortunately I can't find any of the ones that B had saved. No doubt they'll continue to use the package so I'll post one of his another time.
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The children have finished their review magazine of last term. I need to pull it all together to form one document now and will put it on our website for all to read! K has been busy writing thank you notes for all her lovely birthday presents, so while doing this (for literacy), B has been using a workbook to learn about letter writing. He wrote a well thought out letter to his friend asking him to come over and play, using the correct layout. He was so chuffed today to receive a reply letter, correctly set out too!

The "shapes" work we've been doing together has come along in leaps and bounds. They seem to enjoy doing this more than workbooks (I wonder why!?) and seem to be retaining the information which is obviously a bonus. We've done four posters now, here's the next three which were completed this week (see previous post for the first poster).

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Polygons - the children have yet to stick on their answer to the question!

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Quadrilaterals and polyhedrons (3D polygons) - they enjoyed doing nets.

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More 3D shapes using polyhedrons.

We have nearly finished looking at Japan for the "Around the World ..." project. K's especially into this because of her new interest in Bonsai trees (she has two now). They read about Sumo wrestling and had a go on a simple interactive game! We all had some fun being Sumo wrestlers too, doing leg lifting exercises before "wrestling". Naturally with my adult weight I won every time! We've also read about the typical Japanese house, tea ceremony (although we briefly touched on this as it seemed a rather complex ritual) and types of food they eat, including Sushi. We discussed how the Japanese seem to like a neat and ordered lifestyle.

For some strange reason P's PC wouldn't boot on Wednesday morning which meant we couldn't do any planned work as all my documents are stored on his PC for sharing! We did some lovely art instead using some new pastels and also ink. We followed instructions for drawing trees in different mediums using the Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas. This is another great book from Usborne but I'm a bit put out as it is two books in one. One section is the art book that I recently purchased and the other section is all new material. Wish I'd waited now as the new section is full of interesting art tips.

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Using pastels - B's large, K's small.

We went to Barnack Hills and Holes Wednesday afternoon. It was deserted (great) so I joined the kids for an imaginary canter up and down the hills and through the woods (did I really just tell you that). It was great fun actually and really puffed me out, so I obviously needed the exercise! Lots of sheep about this time, one was tame enough for a stroke, but all the others just ran in different directions. B did some tree climbing and got pretty high up. Unfortunately the rain started to come down and the wind started to pick up so we didn't stay too long.

Can't believe how windy it's been, and the rain has just chucked it down. Our house to two doors down still has a huge puddle from kerb to edge of driveway. The school kids this afternoon were skimming stones from our drive across it! I hear there's more to come and the children are really excited because they've mentioned snow flurries for Sunday (yer right, it was 13 deg. C today).

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preparing for canter
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bundle of mistletoe
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Had a group get together today to find out about birds. We're following the RSPB Wildlife Action Awards scheme with the group. A link to this is here. The booklet is just £2.00 and I'll post more about it once I've received my copy and had a good old read. Today the children made bird feeders which was one of the activities. They also had some art/craft activities and a wonderful display of (stuffed) bird life to study and get a better understanding of different types of birds/ beaks (bills)/feet/how they fly etc., etc. Unfortunately I didn't get much of a chance to do any learning myself but B had a look around it all and told me about some of it. The stuffed birds were had all died due to either road kill or flying into windows, etc., before anyone asks any questions!!
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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

P and K's birthdays

A busy weekend with double birthdays! P's on Friday (won't give away the age) and K's on Sunday - she's 10 now, can't believe how time has flown. I always find the evening before the children's birthdays I spend time just thinking back to their births (and as bumps too), their early childhood and how they've changed and developed their own personalities. I feel I know them better now than I ever have.

We had a mini family get together on Saturday afternoon with nibbles, drinks and lots of pressie opening. I painted P an abstract picture for the upstairs hallway. He's been asking me to paint something for him for a while now so this was a surprise for him. The photo doesn't really show it off too well, it has different textures, including some sparkle and I named it "shining through the rough and the smooth" (and it's not yellow themed either, it's creams and browns!). K received more lovely model horses (naturally), she has 108 now (must, must get her those new shelves)! Here's the new larger feltie that we got her, I've probably said before, but the lady that hand stitches them must be so patient. They are beautifully finished and quite adorable.

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Three of K's friends came over later in the afternoon and stayed for a sleepover! This is the first multiple sleepover we've hosted (and experienced) and I knew the girls would have fun together and are all sensible (if you know what I mean). B was in his element, snuggling down with them all to watch a Bratz DVD which finished a 9pm bounding into the kitchen afterwards saying "wow, guess what, it's way past my bedtime!" Once the clock drew nearer to 10.30 he began to flop and so he went to bed and the girls settled down in K's room for a good old natter (sorry, more nattering) and play. P and I headed up to bed after midnight, and they were still at it! As the clock ticked by later and later, and still now sign of sleepy heads (of course) I had to ask them to calm down a little as we have very thin walls in this Victorian house and a new bedsitter in the room next to Ks (didn't want to scare the life out of him with all the girly chatter). The girls were really excited because K's clock said 2 a.m., I let them continue their loud banter for another hour before going in again. This time, they were ready for a snooze and immediately zonked out until 8 ish (phew). K slept in her top bed (and they all tried to sleep in it at one point), but the three guests decided to sleep huddled together under piles of sleeping bags!

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They got up quietly around 8 and headed for breakfast and a session on the PC playing Neo Pets before I plodded downstairs for more pressie opening (as it was K's actual birthday). Then, after a lovely natter with the parents over a cuppa and once the kiddies had departed, we headed out for a pizza and went for a drive in Elsie Mo, finishing with early nights all round!
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Thursday, January 11, 2007

K's mini film

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

It started off shaky ...

... but thankfully by today we seemed to have settled back into a routine. This happens after every kind of break from the norm but I never learn. I'd hate to be a teacher trying to motivate a class of 30 kids after a school holiday, motivating 2 kids was hard work on Monday and Tuesday!

Anyway, today was good, we accomplished lots and had fun with it - just what we all like. Here's a quick run down.

We've decided to look at maths topics as a threesome for a while, rather than just concentrating on individual work books. At the moment we're studying 2D and 3D shapes, their names, how they are made up and the measuring of angles (if appropriate). K and B have started to make a poster showing, so far, the circle and sphere using spiral-craft drawings and we've just started polygons - looking at the triangle and all the different varieties available. Tomorrow we'll us Geomag to make a 3D pyramid and look at prisms and tetrahedrons too! Will also use Enchanted Learning to produce some 3D shapes.

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We're continuing with our Around the World lapbooks and have begun learning about Japan. K is seriously into Bonsai trees at the moment and we've bought her one for her birthday (on Sunday - she'll be 10). Being K, she's read three books and browsed the web for information on these stunning little trees and is considering joining a forum. Today she trimmed her tree for the first time and luckily, unlike the cartoons I've seen in the past, the leaves all stayed on! So, we did a bit on Bonsai as well as Mount Fuji, thus recapping on earthquakes and volcanoes (as Japan has three tectonic plates beneath it), pinpointing the country on the map and finding it's flag, capital city and continent.

In their spare time, K has been busy making little fairy type dolls using the leftovers of a kit she had a couple of year's ago, and B made this fun little robot using a variety of junk modelling stuff. It has match boxes for feet which he's turned into drawers for little bits and pieces! I personally think the eyes are the best bit, and the bow-tie of course!

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Also, K decided she would find out how to make a mini movie using Movie Maker on the PC. In no time at all she'd worked out how to make a simple clip showing some of her horses, progressing onto this clip which has much more detail and music too. She did this without any help from me (as I wouldn't know where to start) or P (he was a work) or from the application itself. Therefore, P and I are pretty proud of her and she's pretty proud of herself. Having problems putting the clip up on the blog - nearly there but want to watch Desperate Houswives instead, so I'll fiddle again tomorrow!

B received his Flat (Travellers) Lego George home from Pennsylvania and it's already packed up ready to zoom off to Kentucky - doing an exchange with Flat Matt! Flat Clifford, from Texas, is nearing the end of his stay with us - he'll enjoy K's sleepover party on Saturday night and then leave us once he's recovered! Doing the travel journals certainly ensures we go out and about during the week! This week we've been to the museum to see an exhibition on pantomime and also to the museum's art gallery which had some wonderful modern art on display titled "The Destabilisation of Perception".

Into logical thinking at the mo - here's a couple of games (haven't yet tried them out on the kids, but I liked them!)

Build the square puzzle

Traffic jam game

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Monday, January 08, 2007

I've been tagged - 6 weird things about me (!)

I've been tagged by Merry:

Each player of this game starts with the "six weird things about you" blog post. People who get tagged need to write their own six weird things post and state the rules clearly. At the end of the post tag six more people and don’t forget to leave a comment on their blog to tell them they have been tagged and tell them to read your blog.

1) I have a wart on the left side of my nose which suddenly appeared in my late teens. It used to annoy me when I was younger but now I've accepted it and just tell everyone "I must be a witch"!

2) I learnt to drive (and passed first go) when I was 19 but once I'd received my driving licence I had no intention of driving - it was just something I felt I had to do! I had a go at driving P's little Citreon Visa soon after passing, but the car was in such a state engine-wise, coming to a shuddering halt in the most awkward places (like up a steep ramp to Tesco's close to home), that my confidence was really knocked. It wasn't really until I moved to our recent home, 3 years ago, that I started driving on a regular basis (and this was only because the bus service to/from school and work was so bad and very expensive). Now I couldn't live without the convenience of a car!

3) When P and I first moved to this city we literally had 2p in our purses after paying all the monthly bills and as I soon fell pregnant it didn't seem the right time to go out and find a job for myself. I wanted to do something to help the finances so I became an Avon rep and stayed with Avon for a good 8 years, until we moved to our present home. The amounts of commission I'd pull in really helped boost our money and I loved their products so much it made it much easier to sell. As the kids got older they weren't too keen on trudging round peoples houses after 5pm, but they loved getting pocket money and sweets from customers at Christmas and I'm sure it helped K learn numbers by reading all the door numbers along the street!

4) I have a weird little habit of making up songs/poems/ditties about things/people/animals! The mood has to be right, of course, a certain song on the radio or a silly situation will spark me off! Kids and P think I a bit loopy, but I get a feeling of satisfaction when a short poem flows well (and if it makes sense that's an added bonus)!

5) Another strange thing I like to do, and can remember doing this way back into childhood, is to make percussion noises to songs, the kind of rapping/base drum noises that rappers make instead of using actual instruments. Enough said about that I think!

6) Can't think of anything else really, but I guess in some circles people would say I was weird to home educate my children, but to me (and hopefully them), it's been one of the best things, so far, that I've ever done.

I'm tagging (apologies if you've already been tagged!):

Islamic Homeschool
Five HomeEd in Kent
Classroom Free
Quietly Making Noise
Happily Home Edding

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Just a little spooky!

We have that "let's do the house up" New Year feeling that always seems to get to us this time each year (it's the only time we wander round MFI dreaming of replacing our extremely worn out kitchen, but never actually doing anything about it!).

Now that K's room is up and running (and still relatively neat and tidy after a week), we decided to put K's old bed back on top of B's to make up the bunk beds again so that B's friends can stay over. It took up most of Saturday morning to accomplish this task, having assembled the bed(s) a couple of times before realising that (1) the holes for the ladder where on the wrong end, and (2) the holes for the top rails where at the back not the front of the top bed! Got there in the end ... but ... something really spooky happened!

The top bed sits on wooden dowels that are screwed in top and bottom of each bed (if you get my drift). Having had to take them apart once because of slip up number (2) above, we screwed all the screws back in before we pushed the bunk beds closer to the wall. Anyway, as we moved the beds one of the legs came away from the dowel and P realised we must have missed a screw. Could we find that screw, nope, nowhere, we hunted high and low. So, we finished everything off, except the last screw, and I tidied the rest of the room thinking I'd find it - but didn't. As B was going to bed, I suddenly remembered the missing screw and suggested P find another to finish the job. When he went to screw the new screw in, yep, you've guessed it, the screw was already there!!! I tried lifting the bed (just in case the screw hadn't been screwed in properly), but it didn't budge. EEEKKK, what's going on there then?

Also, managed to put up the new curtains in the front room. P is such a hero, I'm so lucky to have a DIY kinda guy. He spent the afternoon hours of Saturday measuring, cutting and bending (it's a square bay) the curtain pole, drilling (and re-drilling because two screws snapped leaving the remains in the holes) and assembling the pole and finally putting up the curtains (without it all collapsing - not due to his work I must add, but because it's an old Victorian house and the plaster can, in places, be a little unstable!).
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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Thoughts for the new year.

We all seem to be ready to get back to a "normal" routine. The children, although happy to be playing on the PC all day, are beginning to get into "bored" mode and so we've been chatting about the kind of learning they'd like to do this term. I read recently that being bored is good for children as it makes them go and find something to do! I thoroughly agree with this, and I know the statement is true as I've seen K and B go off and amuse themselves with Lego, drawing or horse model customising on several occasions when they've been at a loose end. The kind of "bored" mode they're getting into these last few days is different. They want to be on the PC all day, and hate it when I drag them off after a couple of hours. I know that if I let them stay on for longer than this they not only look like death-warmed-up, but they're tearful and stroppy too and will bicker with me, P and each other continuously! Anyway, I decided to bring up the topic of interesting ideas for next term's "work" (we're starting back next week), thinking I'd get sour looks from both of them. Not so, they seemed very willing to get back to a routine so we brainstormed a few ideas.

Both are really enjoying the "Around the World" topic we started last term, and we'll finish this off in the next few weeks, looking at Japan, USA and the UK. The library has some of the other Palin travel videos which are on hire for free, so we'll probably look at these and do something to boost our limited knowledge of this fascinating world. We're also interested in starting a language, probably Spanish as I've found lots of good websites to help us along. K also started her own lapbook about horses last term and I think she'd like to continue with this. B had so many science and creative games/toys for Christmas which he's gradually working through that no doubt we can all use them to broaden our learning. Would like to do alot more literacy with the children. We have been doing forms of speech (once in a blue moon), but I'd really like the children to use the written language a lot better than they already do. K loves to type stories on the PC and they are very well written, but when it comes to writing short bits of information, say thank you letters or facts for the Flat Traveller's journal, her writing could do with flowing alot better than it does. B is very keen on using the Thesaurus when doing poems, short stories, so I should really encourage this more too. We will be joining others from the HE group for a visit to the local museum in March to participate in an exhibition on light and optics and also a session on Galileo Galilei. It will be a benefit to us all to cover these topics before our visit, so that's scheduled for this term too. K has also expressed an interest in learning HTML. This came up before but we didn't really get very far, perhaps, as the interest is still there, we'll get a book to help teach this kind of programming.

Finally, we thought it would be nice to pinch an idea from another HE family and produce a small newsletter covering some of the most memorable (to K and B) "work" they'd covered last term (September to December). This will be quite a fun thing for them to do and they've already listed a number of items they'd like to write about. I'll keep you posted!

Today K and B had fun on this website, provided by Merry, and they made several beautiful snowflakes which they added to the gallery. Check this one out too, it's great fun. We also looked at how high birds can fly (and how fast), the size of the largest recorded snowflake (both B's questions) and who invented time zones and why (from K). We also got out the house and went to the park, B on his bike and K on her skates - she did exceptionally well.

As promised, here's a piccie of K's freshly decorated bedroom. She's so chuffed with it and B can't wait for his bunk beds to go up next weekend!

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