Anyway. I'll start writing and post the photos up a bit later at which point I'll remember more things to write about and if I repeat myself, well be a little tolerant. It's my age you know.
There's been a bit of a ROCK theme going on here recently.
Did I tell you about the David Attenborough DVD on fossils that the kids watched while we were doing 'Evolution and Darwin'?
Well, following on from the DVD we've strayed into more of the fossil subject area. Ds1 had already been reminiscing about fossil hunting in Lyme Regis and coincidentally I've been reading outloud to the kids a book on Mary Anning (The Dragon in the Cliff by Sheila Cole), who is famous for finding some amazing fossils on the Dorset coast when she was a girl in the 1800s. Anyway, it's a fab book, and absolutely the best sort for reading out loud. Ds1 has actually been begging for me to read it to him (my throat was sore today and he was gutted that I wasn't going to read the next chapter!).
[If you liked the Little House on the Prairie Series of books it has a similar 'feel' to it AND Mary is home educated for most of her childhood, which is a plus for our home educating family!].
On Tuesday we took off to do some fossil hunting in a local quarry, loaded down with picnic and hammers and dog and identification books and cameras and nappy sacks of dog poo (I'm sure traditional palaeontologists don't have the latter to contend with on their explorations). I'd never been to this quarry before and had no idea what to expect. Although we didn't find anything remarkable (no dinosaurs) in the limestone, there were certainly fossils and the kids were thrilled.
A moth, yet to be identified (a cinabar moth?).
On the rock theme, here are some pictures of the boys doing some stone carving at an arts and crafts weekend. Ds1 wouldn't leave the block alone and spent most of the weekend chiselling away at it! Dh has promised to get him a couple of breeze blocks in the back garden and lend him a hammer and chisel. It's not like the neighbours think we're normal anyway...
Ds1 training to be a plastic surgeon (actually I think it's a penguin in progress)
Ds2 getting a lesson in pot throwing at the arts and crafts show. I was hoping for one of those 'Generation Game' moments with wobbly pots flying off into the audience, but alas he was far too good at it!)
The kids have also been watching repeats of 'The Fossil Detectives' on bbc iplayer. They only seem to be available for a week after showing on BBC4, (no.2 is on iplayer at the moment), but they are to be recommended! My boys really enjoyed them. Oh, and if you go to
there is a link where you can order a free 'Fossil Detectives' guide from the Open University. We've already got ours and it's a really useful start to fossil hunting. Not exactly comprehensive, but in some ways better than lugging around some huge tome on fossils that the kids wont want to look at anyway.
And on the evolution theme we were watching 'The Incredible Human Journey' on iplayer, except that the series must have ended now because it's all vanished off the website (poo). But we've managed to watch a few, and have downloaded a couple more. Maybe the BBC will repeat the series (they seem to repeat everything else).
Oh and that's just reminded me. We went to the Cheltenham Science Festival a few weekends ago. It was a long day out, but the boys went and saw the 'Evolution Revolution' talk by Dr Robert Winston and a talk about the satellite that Blue Peter are sending up (don't know much about it, but they seemed to enjoy the talk). They also got to play at all the hands-on stuff that was there, and pick up some freebies (always a plus!). The kids entered a competition and we were notified a few days later that ds2 had won a robot (he had a choice and chose the Roboraptor). We're still waiting for it to arrive nearly a week later and I'm hoping that it hasn't got lost in our appalling postal system, or that they've somehow changed their mind and sent it to someone else :( We don't often win things, so I'm cautiously pessimistic.
Dd checking out the 'science of balance' at The Cheltenham Science Festival!
And pretending to conduct an orchestra like the statue of the very famous bloke behind her whose name I can't remember.
Ds2 paints with mud to show how kind he is to plants (or some other earthy reason that the stallholder gave and that went straight over my head)
Dd draws a dog. Dogs are her current artistic theme. But it is a very nice dog...
Dd2 proves that autonomous education works. Not only did he teach himself to read, but it looks as if he can spell too (in mud)
AND...more evolution. I took the kids to an evolution event at our local museum of natural history. They kind of blanked out with info-overload (especially the woman who seemed determine to explain the differences and similarities in various animals' DNA to my 3 not-very-interested children), but it felt like one more tick in the box (sorry kids, I'm in control of the pen this time). And there was the usual Mr dynamic museum education officer, who is totally animated about everything (yes, I mean EVERYTHING - in a loud voice) and just the sort of person you need to make a dry subject interesting to kids. Why can't every museum have one of him? (I bet the anti-cloning protestors haven't thought of what they are depriving us home educators of - think how much better life would be if we could populate the country with excitable child-friendly museum bods!)
Alongside the fossil theme we've been doing a timeline of evolution (simplified) using the books 'From Lava to Life' and 'Mammals who Morph' by Jennifer Morgan. There are actually 3 books in the series but I was too tight to buy the first one which I assume is about The Big Bang. You can see below some of the pictures that the kids drew to stick on the timeline. I know it's a sneaky way to get them to do a bit of writing, but - as I keep reminding them - if they were in school they'd be doing HOURS of writing. Though to be fair, even if my kids had hours to do writing in, they'd probably still only come up with one or two legible sentences in that time.
Ok, so what else have we been doing (on a non-evolution, non-fossil, non-rock theme)?
Well the strawberries are glutting. I don't suppose that's a verb, but I've just made it into one. Why? Because I'm worth it.
Do you know just how many fresh strawberries a family can eat in one day? We do. And it's less than I'm picking. I still have last year's strawberries in the freezer that I was supposed to make jam out of...and now I have another 3 tubs to add (on top of last year's blackcurrants, rasberries, sliced apple, elderberries, and weird things which may have once been damsons) . My freezer has become the valley of cryogenic fruit.
The mangetout are also glutting. One day they are tiny, the next day they are monstrously tough pea pods. Ok, well maybe not the next day, but the next day that I get around to going down the allotment, which is nearly the same thing. The only thing to do with all these is to dip them in humous. YUM. The kids don't like them, so I'm left trying to eat a bag full a day (and giving the leftovers to the rabbit which seems a shame). I think even neighbours' distribution outlets are overwhelmed (eggs, strawberries AND mangetout).
Shouldn't complain. But I will.
The horsetail is growing well at the allotment. As we have found out from our numerous fossil/evolution viewings and activities the horsetail - or tree-like forms of it - were around at the same time as the dinosaurs. I've been thinking about this (displacement activity no101)...if herbivorous dinosaurs were introduced on to my allotment I'd have no weed problems at all. Where's Jurassic Park scientists when you need them? Oi! Go get some of that dinosaur DNA and breed me a horsetail predator! But knowing my luck they'd probably be fond of carrots too...
[by the way it's taken me three attempts to finish this post, hence the date at the top is actually about 3 days ago]