Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Strange happenings

child grows fangs when told to disconnect from technology:

Child-eating dinosaur discovered in city museum:

Tiny lady takes on giant fox:

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Wild in the Woods

Some photos of our recent trips to the woods.

Today the kids were running around when a school group arrived.

One of my kid's friends said 'They must think we're really wild.'

To which I replied 'Well you are wild: you're free range and they're battery farmed!'

ds2 leading the way

and looking like something out of Lord of the Flies

Ds2 just chilling

Marshmallows are compulsory

Woof woof (bark)

Look what we found...

and these too!

And photos from our other recent visits:

DD and the beanstalk (actually it's creeper growing over a very old dry stone wall)

Playing starwars

Some creatures that came with us (oh joy!)

weird fungi

hanging on a hay rack

building a ladder out of branches

A visitor, come to check if we've got any sandwiches

Saturday, 19 September 2009


..wasn't sure if this would work, but looks like it has. Just got this from, which looks like a website where you post up your photos and do all sorts of stuff with them and then everyone can see them and nick them. Er..or maybe I got the wrong end of the stick. Anyway I thought ds1 would like this little animation which was made by someone and posted on photobucket.

And then I thought maybe someone else would like to see it to. So here it is.
Nothing fancy you know...

Friday, 18 September 2009

Please help us! Sign a petition against The Badman Report

The Report into Elective Home Education issued by the DCSF/Graham Badman has made many recommendations which threaten to change the lives of home educated children in England.

If the recommendations are approved there will be changes to primary law that will enable the government to intrude into the lives of ALL families in England.

Home educators are at the front line against these changes and we need your help!

A basic explanation of why we are protesting can be found here:

Please help us by signing the petition at

And, even better, write to your MP at (it's easy, honest!)

Even a simple letter to your MP saying that you are concerned about the recommendations will help.

The more letters they receive the more likely they are to pay attention.
We are a minority and need other voices to join us!

Please forward to those who might also be willing to support us.


[Graham Badman, finally realising that the report was based on woefully inadequate statistics, is now asking Local Authorities for further evidence! If it wasn't so serious it would be laughable. Too much for me to tackle all the info on my blog, but the Dare to Know blog does a grand job with all the relevant links...see ]

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Home Educators' Picnic (Oxfordshire)

The day started at 7.30am when a home educator and her wonderfully articulate daughter were interviewed on local radio:

and then there was bubble blowing and leafleting in the city centre

And here are a few photos from our day: (will try and post some more tomorrow!)

'Marching' with the banner to our picnic

A happy fairy

Magicking up some bubbles:

Smile for the camera!

Anyway...gotta go, low battery on the laptop. Will try and post more tomorrow!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

A serious case of "Excerptitis": please define and analyse, using full sentences. Marks will be deducted for incorrect spelling and grammar.

Just found this from earlier on this month:

An obsession with “excerptitis” in primary schools means young children rarely read a whole book, research suggests today.

A quarter of primary school children read just one complete book a year in the classroom, and do not discover the endings of classics such as Treasure Island or Goodnight Mr Tom.
Instead they are frequently given passages or “bite-sized” extracts of books to read. The survey found that one in eight primary school teachers had never read a whole book with their class.
A lack of time caused by the pressure of squeezing many subjects into the curriculum is thought to be to blame.

Michael Rosen, the poet and former Children’s Laureate, said: “I think of it as an illness called excerptitis. The consequence of excerptitis is boredom. We have bored thousands of children and put them off reading. I mean, what a tragedy.

“This research shows that in thousands of classrooms children are not reading books or talking about books, I think it will shock the public that so few whole books are being taught in class.
“There are going to be children who will only be taught about three or four books as part of their literacy education in the whole of their primary careers. For the thousands of children who don’t read books at home, it is a travesty. That’s three books they might have come across in the whole of their infant lives.

“The idea that children can’t manage whole stories or whole books is a nonsense,” Rosen added. “No extract in the world has the power of books. Extracts deny children the meat of the story.”
The survey of more than 500 primary staff and 1,000 parents of schoolchildren was commissioned by Heinemann, an educational publisher. It claims to be the first wide-scale research into the use of whole books in literacy teaching.

Researchers said that, if the findings were extrapolated to all primaries across the country, it would mean 600,000 children would never read a book in class with their teacher. More than 1.1 million would study only one whole book a year.

Teachers said books not finished in class included The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Roald Dahl’s popular novels.

Half of teachers could think of at least one occasion where pupils were left ignorant about the narrative of a novel, because teaching the whole book was not a priority in class.

Almost 85 per cent said children missed out on finding out “what happens next” because they did not read a whole book.

Three quarters of teachers said children’s “reading stamina” and concentration levels were being damaged by the lack of whole book reading.

Nearly two thirds of teachers feared the absence of teaching literacy using entire books could turn children off reading. One in five said they had seen evidence of this already, with many believing there was a greater negative impact on boys.

State primary classes were almost twice as likely to not finish a whole book as their independent school counterparts - 13 per cent compared with just eight per cent in private schools.

Michael Morpurgo, the children’s author, said: “When a book is written, it’s written whole.
“The point of a book is that it should be fun, it should be exciting, it should tell you more about the world around you, it should open your eyes and open your heart, it should make you joyful, it should make you sad - and you can't get this from just taking little snippets from it.”

Classic books remembered most fondly by parents in the survey were Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Hobbit, Stig of the Dump, Swallows and Amazons, and Watership Down.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Parenting, parenting..oh where did it go?

You may remember that a while back the kids had a sale of their toys/books/assorted junk outside our corner shop. Well they raised enough to buy the bits and pieces to allow us - I mean them - to play gamecube games on the Wii machine.

The past couple of days they've been playing the gamecube game Super Smash Bros Melee. It's basically a beat-each-other-up game with nintendo characters who have all sorts of little beating-each-other up tricks. Yes, you can tell I have three children... gone are the days when I thought having toy guns in the house (and shoes that were put on un-measured feet) were the worst parenting crime ever.

Anyway, I'm waiting my turn on the game. Cos actually it looks fun. And us parents never get to do the fun things do we? Except everytime I ask 'how did you do that' they come up with this sort of complicated 'well you hold this down while pressing b and moving like this...and if you do this then you can morph into xxx and then you can suck him up while doing a power kick'. Um..yeah. Can I have that in English please?

After several days of the kids' intensive gaming I have set one proviso for playing the game: I've told them that if I hear them yelling 'DIE YOU LOSER!' one more time then I'm switching the game off...I do like to keep the faint illusion that I'm actually doing an ok job as a parent {g}

When I was a kid all the computer games we had were those with little squares that went across the screen and bleeped; you know the ones you were meant to hit with the little vertical line? Oh, and I had a Spectrum ZX 2+ where you could make music with 'white noise' (it took you three days to make about 4 seconds worth of music, but it was wonderful!). I never even got to play pacman till I was an adult. I had such a deprived childhood you know...I think I need to have a go on this game just to make up for

And did you see Derren Brown predict the lottery numbers on Wednesday?

I'm just watching the programme on Channel 4 which supposedly explains how he did it (though the programme's an hour long and I wouldn't be surprised if at the end he refuses to tell us anyway - he's a crafty blighter that Derren is). The most likely explanations it seems (well according to those intelligent folk on the internet) is that he used some sort of split-screen technology. But...I guess we'll have to see. Maybe all will be revealed.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Terry Dreary says it all

Author of the Horrible Histories series speaks out about his feelings towards schools in The Telegraph

“I get 200 requests a year and the answer is no,” he says. “I detest schools with a passion. I’d rather cut off my left arm and eat it with Marmite than go into a school. And I don’t even like Marmite.

“Schools are an utter waste of young life. Learning things that will never be any use to you. The only reason they are there is to keep kids off the street. They were a Victorian invention. The Industrial Revolution took kids from their families and made the parents work in factories long hours. Then they said, ‘we can’t have these little kids working here.’ So what do we do? Lock them all up in the same room all day and we’ll call it school. I spent hours learning trigonometry, physics, none of which prepared me for life. Relationships, talking to people, managing money, planning your career, how to help someone who has cut their leg open. I have had to learn these things by default.

“There won’t be any schools in 25 years. There will be mentoring. Older people passing their skills on to younger people. Teachers know nothing about life and the real needs of pupils.” I want to go give that man a pat on the back!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Life and death; it's all education

Two bits of news:

The triops have died, as I predicated they would (with their ideal lifespan that just about lasts as long as the novelty of having them). Now we have to drain off the water (and dead triops) and dry the sand out. Then hopefully start up again (assuming that they've laid eggs in the sand).

And great news! We have an addition to the family! One chick has hatched.

Here it is at the beginning:

Then the day after it hatched:

And then today, just two days after hatching (I think it's gonna be a big bruiser):

There was a second chick on the way, it seemed lively but for some reason it didn't get out the shell alive.

2 of the 6 eggs were duds I think as the hen cracked and ate them a few weeks ago. No sign of anything from the remaining eggs: one of them she kicked out - completely out- of the coop a couple of days ago. I popped it back under but it was cold, possibly another dud one? So pinning our hopes on one egg really, which doesn't seem to be doing anything. Coudl be we end up with just one chick. I just hope it's not a cockeral cos with just one chick we're going to get very attached and I dont' think it'll be easy taking it for 'a walk in the woods' as planned.

Dd has had a quick lesson in life and death. She took the death of the chick extremely well really for a 6 year old girl. Though I must admit when we found the mother hen eating the dead chick today, both of us thought we'd rather not stop and look...eek. Perhaps I should have removed it, but I figured I'd leave it up to the mum to do what was needed and kick it out of the nest; didn't want to upset her into leaving the eggs. Ah well, that's what nature is all about.