Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I'd like to share this brilliant link ...

Found this on the back of a mag in the library!

Ology World - for all those who love the series of books, Pirateology, Dragonology, Wizardology, Mythology etc., etc. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Our week

Our week started with a social Monday, having friends at our home from 10.30 until 9.30! All got on fabulously, as usual, and with good weather, the children spent alot of time outside on the trampoline, doing horse jump courses or pretend lightsaber fighting. At one point I vexed my muscles to do wheelbarrow rides around the garden - won't do that again in a hurry, not used to the excerise!

Tried to get back to normals from Tuesday onwards but have decided to try a new tactic (which means I need to get away from the fear that they aren't learning unless "doing work"). I've decided that we should do our normal routine unless the children have started their own learning by pursuing their own interests before our "school" morning has begun. In the past I've usually broken up their own spontaneous "play" in the mornings in order to keep to some routine, letting them continue with it in the afternoons. Invariably this doesn't happen, the time has past and so has the enthusiasm. So on Friday, when Ben discovered his paper plane calendar (365 paper planes) and started making them like a man possessed, I left him to it. Katie was busy making horse tack and painting model horses so I left her to that too, and eventually she joined in the paper plane making. We looked up the history of origami and later we also tried some tangrams - so all pretty educational.
Tuesday seemed to be full on with our learning. Having finished these maths sheets, we have moved on to getting to grips with our times tables following this maths website . It seems quite good so far (only up to the 5s which Katie knows already but Ben still has to use his fingers to remember them). Next is the 9s, which neither of them know. After this, we started our new topic, "Our World", using the Horrible Geography book and The Usborne Geography Encyclopedia - both from the library and both shown on my side bar, and various websites like this one which we also used for our myths and legends and found to be very good. We made a cross-section of the Earth using various crafty materials and wrote some info about each section - crust, mantle, outer and inner core. We also made an edible cross-section of the Earth, which didn't look anything like what it was supposed to look like but it tasted fab!
Photobucket Photobucket
Trust me, this is the Earth!

Wednesday was spent doing our St. George play/film which is in the post below and Thursday Katie had a very comprehensive assessment at a local(ish) riding school that's been recommended to us. We all love the riding school she currently goes to in Peterborough, but our HE group schedule has changed this term and we shall in P'boro on a different day to normal which will be difficult for her riding. Also, this new place, not only being much cheaper, also runs a 2 1/2 hour stable club on a Saturday morning with training and exams, something she's longing to do. A couple of children from the village go too so she'll also get to know them better.

Weather this weekend was mostly brilliant. Lots of outdoor stuff! More trampolining (would love to post up a rather unflattering pic of P, but I'm just too nice), the swing ball has been dusted down and Billy the rabbit has spent longer than a couple of hours outdoors enjoying the warmth. Even managed an hour of reading in the deckchair this morning. Have now planted up the last of the onions, Katie's two butter bean plants and have dug over the rest of the plot ready for corn on the cob and runners. Garlic's looking great - won't be long now! After all this, I decided to start a mini-Spring clean of the house. Amazing what nice weather can do!
Ben did some wood sculpting.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

St. George's Day

We all spent a long time today reading about the history of St. George here, and then writing a short playing following this version of St. George slaying the dragon, making costumes and performing this play. Hope you like it.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Morris Dancing

We went along to the most fabulous group get together yesterday - Morris Dancing. Liam, the Director of this company, was absolutely fabulous with the children and kept them captivated for two hours, willing to stay with them a little longer to show and help them play a variety of unusual instruments he brought along.

He started the session by teaching the children a dance which they picked up brilliantly (and it wasn't that simple). It needed lots of team effort, and with some teams ranging in age from about 5 to 11 or 12, they worked together really well. After each team displayed their dance, accompanied by Liam on his melodeon to much clapping and foot tapping from mums and dads in the audience, we had a small break before taking a look at some musical instruments. Liam introduced us to the triangle! An instrument often associated with school music sessions and not particularly exciting (sorry, hopefully that won't offend anyone too much), or so we thought. However, he showed us how to hold the triangle, then clench it to make fun sounds and beats. Next came the dulcemar (I can't find a decent web link for this), which is like the insides of a piano and you gently tap the strings with a special wooden "tool" to make the most beautiful and relaxing sound. A set of Lincolnshire bagpipes, which one of the children tried to play and made the most hilarious noise, followed by of the mums, who'd got a pair of pipes at home (but hadn't played them for quite a while), who managed a actual tune. After the group having fun keeping beat to the melodeon using spoons, Liam showed us a herdi gerdi - (again, can't find a pic to show you).

Here's some piccies. Ben made a lovely film of the teams dancing, but there's just too many faces to safely put it up on the blog.
A dance move called "high basket"
A dance move where dancers first go under the sword and then step over it.
Listening and learning about the melodian

I think I can say we all had a really fun time - much recommended.

Finally, it's finished ... how long did that take?!

Well, we started this in May 2006! Ben and I have finally glued all the pieces together and now, hopefully, we won't wait another two years before putting it up for the birds!


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Quirks about me - tag.

Thank you Hannah for the tag, here goes:

The rules are as follows:
1) Link to the person who tagged you.
2) Post the rules.
3) Share six non-important things / habits / quirks about yourself.
4) Tag at least three people.
5) Be sure the people you tagged KNOW you tagged them by commenting what you did.Six non-important things/habits/quirks about me:

1) When I'm tired I play with my ears. This is something I've done for as long as I can remember!

2) I had an assignment published in a book about Early Learning after attending a course during my wonderful time working in a pre-school.

3) I sing often, which really annoys the rest of my household. I usually burst into song when someone says any word that reminds me of a song. In fact we often play a game when the children try and catch me out with words that don't produce a song!

4) I make up silly rhymes, which also annoys my children, but not as much as my singing. Unfortunately, most of my rhymes end in the word poo or loo, as they rhyme with so much!

5) I like a hot water bottle in my bed although I usually push it to the bottom as soon as I get into bed!

6) I seem to have a knack of making a computer stop working or go abit strange. Unfortunately it only happens when my hubby is away on business and therefore we're without the internet, which is a very big problem in our house! When he returns, the computer decides to work perfectly without any input from him. Therefore I must have some kind of weird and wonderful way with machines to make this happen.

I'm tagging: Islamic Homeschool, Nikki and Tammy.
little flower

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Getting back to nature

Spent a lovely long time in the garden sowing a row of onions, a large container of carrots and another of potatoes and some more spring onions (hoping they'll grow this time).
Our kitchen conservatory, being the warmest place in the house at the moment, has turned into a greenhouse! Having realised I've probably left it a little late to sow the tomato seeds, I bought two cherry tomato plants from a rather gorgeous and well stocked garden centre close to us and have sown them in a large window box style tub indoors. The little tag says they grow up strings, so I'll have to put my thinking cap on as to how I'm going to attach the strings to the roof of the conservatory!! Katie has sown cacti seeds and marigolds, peppers and chilli seeds.
No, they are not dead bodies!!

Outside I've had a good old dig around and weeding session, although it hardly seems like I've done anything. I've planted two sweet pea plants next to our two benches, with tipee canes for them to grow up. I'm also madly digging the earthed area around the pine trees in order to sow a packet or two of butterfly flower seeds. Katie did this last year and they looked stunning, just like a cottage garden.
This little fella was snuggled under a large brick I stumbled over! He's happy nestled among the rotting wood in our nature garden area now.

Also, on the garden front, through the RSPB Homes for Wildlife, we've been doing the April survey to try and get an idea of which birds are breeding and nesting in our garden (or roof in our case). We've missed the first two weeks (of the four week survey), but we sat outside this morning for half and hour to see what was going on. Unfortunately we were rather hindered by the visiting cat we call Kanda whom, still being rather young, insisted on chasing bees, pouncing on bread and sticks on the ground, and generally putting the birds off visiting our patch! We did note three sparrows coming and going from our gutter and three blackbirds, but just yesterday I saw the blackbirds with nesting materials and worms in their beaks so I'm sure they're nesting close by too.

All three of us use the A-Z list of birds on the RSPB site constantly, with it's clear photo/drawing, description and recording of bird song, we've been able to identify many unknown birds we have seen or heard in and around our area. We recently discovered the rather large thrush lookalike visiting us is a Mistle thrush. Katie is tempted to join me for the Dawn Chorus Day on 4th May. I think our HE group is planning a get together with cooked breakfast thrown in, but I reckon we'll stay at home and crawl back to bed afterwards!
black cat

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dealing with bullying - been thinking about this.

Ben had someone over this week for an over night stay. This little chap is at school, and when we all sat down for tea he talked about how lucky Katie and Ben are to be at home "not having to work or put up with horrible bullies". I soon put him right on the "not working" bit and he laughed lots when I told him that home isn't that much different to school - Katie and Ben still give me hassle about learning on some occasions.

On the bullying side though it was interesting to hear his story of a particularly nasty chappy who seems to continue to make other children fear him and his small "gang". It seems that one child was so put out by it all he had to change school. We heard that the playground staff, teachers and head didn't really want to hear the whole story when it came to this bully (we've come across this before). What made the whole thing interesting was the complete shock horror on Ben's face when he heard about the antics this boy was getting up to, and his suggestion for putting this guy in his place! It made me realise that although Ben had experienced upsetting problems with a particular child from playgroup to the day he left school, he was still shocked to hear that bullying went on, and he didn't really have the best ideas for dealing with it (he said he'd give him a good punch, much to the horror of his friend who rightly pointed out that this would get Ben into more trouble than the bully!). Katie, being a little older and having also experienced bullying (more of the verbal kind) at school didn't seem so put out. Perhaps girls react differently to boys, or perhaps, being a little older, she wasn't so fazed about it all and felt she'd be able to deal with it in her own way. I guess I'll never really know, not yet anyway, but it did make me wonder if I am cushioning my children by not exposing them to these sorts of issues. How often do I get told this is good practise for their futures! We seem to mix with others that are decent, welcoming, happy, friendly and eager to get along with everyone. Are Ben and Katie going to have a shock when they hit the real world in a few year's time or do you think by discussing the subject and how to deal with it will be enough to see them through?

Please feel free to leave your comments. This has really made me think.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Break from work, "old" friends and a trip to London

We're having our Spring work break at the mo and really relaxing (much needed). Well, sort of relaxing - it's still been hectic, but a nice kind of hectic if you know what I mean.

Starting with a lovely family lunch on Easter Monday (just a tiny bit behind with my posts aren't I?) where the children (including the "big" children) had great fun on a Wii playing tennis and bowling most of the time. Ben came away saying he really wants to learn tennis, but only if he has private lessons first to get to grips with it all! It seems he's a bit like this. He's very nervous about joining clubs incase he's not very good or can't understand how to do the activity. He needs to know he can do it before he joins! I'm hopeless at tennis - much better at badminton (as it's a slower pace) so I'm not a good teacher, but luckily we have a group tennis session this Friday, which he's going to try.

On the Wednesday, Katie had a pony day which, I think for the first time, wasn't wet (although they'd forecast that it would be), but cold. As always, she had a brilliant time. However, in the evening she told us that she'd muddled through with blocked ears and a stinking headache. This seemed to last until Sunday evening unfortunately so we had to cancel friends staying on the Saturday night. Poor love was quite down in the dumps but I think it was the first proper under the weather illness she's had since leaving school nearly three years ago - not bad.

Made the most of nicer weather that weekend for gardening with Paul buying a much needed chainsaw. I hate the things, you hear such horrible stories about chains flying off and doing such damage. However, we really needed to get our dead Rowan tree down, plus the plum tree (that's growing out of the septic tank drains - not a good thing, obviously) and with all the other trees in the garden, and log sawing for the fire, we knew we'd get a lot of use out of one. After the initial thinking that the new chainsaw wasn't any good (it wasn't cutting), and having listened to me (aren't women always right?), he realised the chain was on the wrong way round, but once fixed, he was off. Keeping his feet firmly on the ground (there was no way I was letting him up a ladder with that thing), we cut the tree down which landed with a massive thud and left indents in the ground. To say he loved using the chainsaw would be an understatement. I'll have to keep I eye on the other trees now incase he gets ideas! Sadly, our neighbour, just two days later, had a rather nasty accident with his bench saw and it appears he's now lost his right thumb and second finger from the knuckle up and completely sliced through his first finger cutting the tendon. These powerful tools are certainly dangerous things.
Tuesday we had "old" friends for lunch. Not old at all of course, but two families who were good friends with us at school. We hadn't seen each other for a much needed natter and catch up for far too long and it was lovely having them here. All the children (and adults) got on fabulously. Much jumping on the trampoline, footy in the garden and playing in the house. One family are also home edding and live not too far from us so hopefully we'll see more of them.

Thursday and Friday Paul and I spent in London. Can't remember the last time we had a couple of days away together - it was special. Paul used some hotel card points to secure us a free room at the Intercontinental on Park Lane and we were upgraded to a rather nice room on the top floor upon arrival, with a complimentary tray of goodies too. Thursday afternoon we spent at a rather dreary Ideal Homes. I haven't been for about 11 years (gulp) and so was really disappointed at how it had all changed. Much more space (or was it fewer people) and no small stalls full of interesting bits and bobs that me, my sister and mum used to spend all our pennies on. Even the houses on show weren't up to much we didn't think. Never mind, it was a day out and we did find some extremely scrumptious liquorice in various flavours to munch on whilst mooching round.

Curry in the evening and lots of walking to see the sights. Friday morning we headed for Harrods and were one of the first through the doors at 10 a.m. Felt a little intimidated until more people had arrived. Such prices! We were looking at the TVs for £3 or £4,000 and then found one at £800 which seemed a bargain not to be missed (no, we didn't buy it). Children have their own floor in the department store not just for toys, shoes and "ordinary" clothes, but for their own hairdressers and designer clothes room! Looking round the fossil and mineral gallery was my favourite - just like looking round a museum. We bought danish pastries for a late breakfast and later bought baquettes for lunch from the best part of the store - the food halls. Love all the little food bars dotted around - chocolate bar, dim sum bar, coffee bar to name just three. And the spookiest bit - the wax statue of Mr. Al Fayad himself!

Watched the Grand National this afternoon (through my fingers - I hate seeing horses (and riders) fall). I picked the winner - just wish I'd placed some money on him!

Weather's turned very cold again but hopefully the spring onion and leek seeds that we planted last week will survive. Katie's also planted a host of summer flowering bulbs in her patch. We stopped off at a wholesale plant shop for Katie to buy a Gerbera for her collection to see she had to buy a tray of 6 for £2.99. When we went to pay, the lady asked how many trays were left outside (three), and said we could have them all for free! Needless to say her room, and our home look very pretty at the mo!

Another busy week next week with more social activities, sleepovers, group cooking for Katie and tennis for Ben and then our planning meeting on Thursday evening. That comes around too quickly!

Had been busy redecorating Ben's room over Easter too. Here's a pic of the finished room - looking very crisp and clean. Love the two beanbags he chose, they're so comfy to sit on, and a new, warm, rug makes it much nicer for him to play on the floor.