Friday, 29 April 2011

Spring activities

Carving and then painting replica guns (a traditional Spring activity if you are a 12-year-old boy) :

A mid-week trip to the lake:

Making the most of the glorious weather:


Pond dipping with friends:

Crayfish in tupperware:

Bulbs from our last planting session, now in flower:

Planting cornflowers in the front garden:

More seeds in pots:

Candle-making in the kitchen:

toothbrush-shaped candles (dd's idea!):

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Disarming the bomb

(My contribution to 'The Soul of Sunday')

If you wondered why we've been quiet, it's because we've been doing VIB (Very Important Business).

It's these bombs. Bombs can't wait, you know. Ticking ticking ticking. Never stop ticking. It's a wonder we get anything done with the racket.

But fortunately we have the people.

We have the tools.

We have the tongue.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

How to home educate more than one child...

If only I knew. Somehow we've done it - are doing it. But I wonder how it is for other home educators. How do they do it? Is there a secret magic formula? Are they super-structured and organised in their day? (If so, I'm doomed) I now have a 12.5 yr old boy, a very nearly 10 year old boy and a 7.5 yr old girl. All very different. With different styles of learning. With different needs and interests. With different abilities to moan and sulk and throw tantrums at the prospect of certain activities and to infect their siblings with their stormy moods.


Eldest child is at the age when he wants to do exactly what he wants to do and is not interested in being led to water to drink even if he is at death's door through dehydration. (a long-term feature of his personality, but now the effect has been multiplied a million billion trazillion times). I live in hope that entrepreneurs don't need to know times tables or be able to spell and are ok to wear clothes covered in pva glue and with chewed sleeves.

Middle child is at what I call the 'sponge age'. The age when Romans and museums and the solar system and cub badges and flags and the insides of plants and prime numbers and what do you get if you cross a giraffe with a belly dancer and microscopes and...well...everything...has potential to be interesting. An age when they will listen (if siblings are not around to infect them) and make interesting conversation about things they've been wondering about and actually read and write and cut-out-and-colour those things you always dreamt your home educated child would cut-out-and-colour. Ok. There is the downside of his IT (computer/wii games) obsession, but really I should be capitalising on the home ed potential and separate him from his siblings. Quick get those long-abandoned lapbook thingimagigs and cut-out Stevensons Rocket from the shelves!

Youngest child would also be entering the 'sponge age' if I actually had any time left over to spend with her, focusing on her needs and interests. I count my blessings that she is an independent sort and, not unlike eldest child, likes to do EXACTLY what she likes to do, but as a non-reader there is a limit to what she can access without my help. And sometimes I wonder if I really know what she is interested in...apart from soft toys and flowers. Perhaps I am just used to boys who are interested the workings of machinery and want to build catapults and race tracks and perhaps I have forgotten how to interact or find educational value in small defiant people who want to make potions and build little houses under trees for Mr Beany Tiger.


When my eldest was the age of my youngest we were exploring so many things. Educational things. But was that because he was the eldest? Or was it because he was the sort of child he was? Is my home education experience different with my middle or my youngest because of birth order or because they are different characters? Do others find themselves worrying over one child's needs only to find as soon as they've fixed that problem, they turn around to find another child has stopped growing.

Or maybe all this contemplation and deep-thinking is due to lack of sleep after small children have been vomiting into tub trugs for the past few days and nights. Four people infected and just me to go. Oh joy! I cling to the hope that my coca cola drinking addiction will burn all those bugs with its teeth-dissolving acid properties. May the Curse of the Coca Cola kill the Evil Bugs from Outer Bug Land.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Soul of Sunday:Building Bridges

A little late perhaps, but here is my soul of sunday picture (and a few more) taken last week.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Who needs maths lessons..

...when you can play roulette at breakfast

Adventures in Chemistry - Ellen McHenry's Atom - iser

Some of you may have heard me proclaim the wonders of Ellen McHenry's Basement Workshop website here

After trialling some of the free downloads, and looking at the sample chapters, we opted to send for The Elements on CD.

Those who know our family, know that structured courses, curriculums and textbooks are really not our thing. But this is something different. We're already half-way through chapter 3 (of 8)and all thoroughly enjoying it. Not only is it informative and interesting, pitched appropriately (but not patronising) AND it is fun. (did I just say chemistry was fun - yikes!)

The material covered is aimed at ages 8-13. However the book covers concepts I'd barely heard of until I studied for my O levels. If only I'd had access to a resource like this I would have found chemistry SO much easier!

The only downside was me deciding to be a cheapskate and opt for the PDF file on CD instead of the printed version. Having now printed out all 167 pages...

Here is the atom-iser activity, designed to explain the structure of atoms and introduce the idea of atomic number of elements in relation to their position on the periodic table and characteristics of the elements (Or you could consider it an educational way to eat Skittles for breakfast!)

And here is another activity, using element cards.

I've now ordered the Carbon Chemistry book (a follow-on to The Elements) here

And to finish off this April Fool's trick, played on the youngest member of the family: