And now the summer holidays

I can’t quite believe it is summer holiday time already. We have no plans to go away until September so for the next 5 or 6 weeks we’re stuck in that limbo where if I decide to do work, they’ll magically find friends to go an play outside with, but if I don’t they’ll mope in the house 😉 Oh fun!

It does give me time to get them interested in oustide things again like we did so much last year. I’ve set up a new site where I am planning to have ideas for ways to get kids outside, so I am super motivated to get them out. I’ve heard bad things about the weather though so who knows how it will all pan out!

Alex went off on a fab summer camp last week and had an absolutely fantastic time. She was ready to come home, but they had loads of days out and even did lessons which she said were ok, but didn’t make her want to go to school!

While she was away last week Marcus had a friend over and we had a couple of trips in to Sheffield to the museums there. Felt like it was busier than it sounds!

So we’re planning on taking things easy over the summer and concentrate on a few things like writing which neither of my kids do much of and I’d like them to improve so they can either hand write a journal next year or start a blog. Maths is taking a back seat, we do like to just completely leave it once in a while and let it stew in their brains 😉 Spanish will keep going too and Alex will try and keep up with her recorder.

And then, no doubt it will be September soon enough!

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Poor neglected blog

Argh, I am definitely struggling to pay attention to more than one thing at a time right now! I have been blogging a bit over at our travel blog, but not much home ed stuff being talked about.

Alex is off to boarding school this week (!) at a summer camp, but they are doing lessons! I wonder how she’ll cope with it all. I was worried about her writing which has always been a bit of an issue. Mostly it’s her spelling, but you know, she’s been doing ok at texting home! She’s been spending a lot of time chatting with friends online and I think that has helped her a bit. She does still come out with daft things like how do you spell ‘if’, but I take a deep breath and try not to worry… too much.

We’ve been having loads of days out lately. We’ve been to Legoland (for someone’s 12th birthday – 12!!!!!), to the local Wildlife Park, tropical butterfly house. We’ve had a small city break to Liverpool, some trips to the beach and probably many more that I can’t remember!

We’ve been trying to keep up with our history thursdays with our friends, but we’ve struggled to keep it up due to life taking over on those days. We have learned loads though, despite being a bit rubbish, and we’ve finished up learning about ancient egyptians, babylonians, phoenicians and now we’re onto the ancient greeks. Just in time to coincide with the Olympics!

We’re learning Spanish at the moment as well which I’m hoping we can keep up with and maybe even organise getting some lessons before we head off next year. Spain is high on our list of places to visit one day so it’ll be good to have some basics. I shall do a post of resources we’ve used once we’ve had a good go at them.

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Crazy weekend – part 2

I was pleased to not have such an early start on the Saturday but really we could have done with setting off earlier to make the most of Cambridge Science Festival.

I’d heard loads of friends say positive things about the festival but it always seemed so far away to take part in ourselves and really you end up thinking that there must be similar things nearby. Anyway, it was a bit of a long drive in and a long wait at the park and ride but we eventually managed to get into Cambridge city centre.

Alex really wanted to visit the zoology museum as she has been a member of the young zoologist club that the zoology department runs for a few years now and we’d promised a trip there ‘one day’. The museum is full of stuffed specimens and skeletons and the kids spent ages oohing and aahing over various things. They loved it there! We all couldn’t believe the size of an elephant seal skeleton either!

The special event on in the zoology department was some live bugs being on show and various microscopes and insect bits to look at. Alex held a praying mantis after a bit of encouragement (she wanted to, but didn’t want to ask) but drew the line at a hissing cockroach!

After being there we headed to the Scott Polar museum. It’s a bit of a mixed feeling this one. We’ve learned a bit about the polar expeditions recently and Marcus listened to an audio book we got called Race to the Pole which he enjoyed a lot, but made him quite sad due to them dying and one committing suicide. So although I enjoyed the museum and we all learned lots, it made them all sad again.

So after that we headed next door to the chemistry department where the kids got togged up in lab coats and goggles and set to work doing some experiments in the slime area. They did the dna separation from strawberries, silly putty and watched them make elephants toothpaste (actually M watched it so I’ve no idea what that was about). Unfortunately we didn’t have nearly enough time there until it was time to watch a science lecture which was excellent and full of bangs and suprises. The kids are still on about the chickens blowing up at the end 😉

The worst bit about the day really was that we failed to get on the bus back to the park and ride due to it just being so busy, so we walked. This wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t had to walk with Alex who whinged the entire way 😉

Back to M&M’s and we celebrated St Patricks day with Colcannon mash and lamb for dinner – yum yum 😀 and whiskey for those that liked it.

Sunday saw us head home but not after a lazy start and lots of tea and chatting. I have some fab friends and I never seem to get over how lucky I am after weekends like these.

We stopped off at a campervan dealer on the way home and had a good look around some vans to see if teh configuration we think we want is a good idea and won’t be too big/not big enough. Kids loved all of them, as did I, but they were very expensive and we’ll be looking at cheaper ones for sure. Good to get an idea and was great to look round without a pushy sales person too.

Need a holiday now 😉

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Crazy weekend – part one

So after 2 months of fairly quiet life a majorly busy weekend.  It started on Thursday with a visit to the Big Bang Science fair which was held in Birmingham this year.  We went last year when it was in London and had a really good time.

It was a very early start but it still took us a long time to get there as there was a bad accident on the other side of the motorway.  Once there we had an ok time, but really didn’t seem to enjoy it as much as last year.  I think perhaps the kids were a bit too tired and certainly Alex went from stand to stand without joining in things which isn’t really like her. 

We did very much enjoy the Bang Goes Theory stand where they tried to hammer our fingers and the Land Rover area where they took you round in the cars and went over ramps and stuff – very cool!  We also really liked a stand with all sorts of taste experiments going on (especially as they had free chocolate!!).  I’m not sure we’d go again next year, I think we need a year off from it!!

After Birmingham we headed further south to visit M & M. A lovely evening was had with psychedelic take out curry, but not too late an evening as we had an early start in the morning


I think every journey in to London should be me as a passenger with someone who knows her way and James being directed by someone else – so peaceful!! 😉 And way better than Megabus!! We parked at Cockfosters and got the tube in to the centre. It really didn’t feel like we were actually in London though as it had been so easy and quick! Our first stop was the RI where we had booked in to a lecture about the physics and maths behind superheroes. It was really good and really interesting. I hope the kids got something out of it. I was pleased we were able to actually be in the lecture theatre this time as last time (which I don’t think I ended up blogging about) we were in another room as the lecture theatre was being used for some filming or something.

After the lecture we hopped on a bus to get to the Royal Albert Hall for their Classical Spectacular show. Michelle had mentioned it to me last year as a good thing to go to so I stuck it in the diary and tried not to forget to look for when the tickets were released. I don’t think I’d ever even seen the Royal Albert Hall before on any of my trips to London. Certainly not as an adult, and I don’t remember it as a child – such a gorgeous building.

We were very lucky to get a box on the second tier with great views. It’s so amazing when they come along to open up the door to the box and you go from this rather plain corridor into the box and just see the whole of the hall before you. Just amazing! I probably spent almost all the time there just grinning like a loon and feeling very special 🙂

The show was great too. Mostly pieces we’d heard of even if we didn’t know anything about them and the conductor said a little about each piece at the beginning. There were dancers and soldiers and cannons. Fab! I think my favourite had to be Pomp and Circumstance with all that arm waving and feeling very proud to be British. I was very sad when it was over – definitely want to go again next year!

Afterwards we headed back to M&M’s with a bit of a detour into the Selfridges food hall which is a bit of an experience in itself! Tried hard not to lose the kids!

We were completely spoiled at M&M’s with a fantastic haggis, tatties and neeps dinner with echoes of our Rosemarkie holiday last September and they even opened a bottle of Moet (my absolute fave!) to toast to fab experiences and adventurous spirits (we may have mentioned our plans for next year). It was a perfect end to a perfect day – loved it.

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Wrapping up winter

It feels like winter is definitely on its way out and I can’t say I’m not pleased!

After the beginning of 2012 being upset by lots of car problems (and the associated money problems), we then managed to get a string of colds that knocked us for six. So really I haven’t *that* much to update on! I will list some stuff we’ve done just for my benefit as it is nice to look back on.

We’ve kept up with A’s singing and recorder lessons which she’s enjoying. A has also tried ice skating for the first time.

We went to a science lecture held at the local university which we all enjoyed, we learned about ancient African history with our friends and painted some African designs, we attended our local nature reserve meet (although the kids don’t enjoy that so much now, so it may drop off our calendar) and we also were very lucky to watch the European Ice Skating championships that were being held in our city.

We had a great weekend with friends in Glastonbury – a town I’d never known much about except from festival related business. We had the most incredible walk up the Tor in really mad weather – was sooooo windy! I loved it there, such a different place.

The kids have had some great days out without me. James has taken them round his old school which is being demolished and so was having an open day and they also were treated to a football match at Sheffield Wednesday from their Grandad.

Last week we went to visit my gran and took her out to Durham which is a city I’ve never been to despite my family hailing from round there. We had good weather which helped, but a lovely day out was had. The kids enjoyed looking at a timeline set in stone in the square and seeing how Durham changed through the ages.

I’m going to see if I can find some photos to add in to this post and then hopefully I’ll update what we got up to this weekend as it’s been a bit mad and busy!

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New year in February

The new year so far has been a bit of a let down. The whole of January, apart from the odd few days and a nice weekend away, has been swallowed up in car repairs and toing and froing to garages. Just not been the best, and that doesn’t even touch on the money going out to deal with all this.

So, new year is officially starting today, in February. Noone will mind will they? 😉

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Ok, so I’m a bit behind.

Sometimes it’s easier to draw a line under the missing weeks and start again or it might well drag on.

We’ve spent the last 4 or 5 weeks getting into some kind of routine with our home ed. I started with great plans of what we’d do and bought books and as soon as we started I realised this wasn’t what I liked or wanted to do. It wasn’t far off it, but just wasn’t quite right. I did some soul searching, some reading around and set ourselves up with a ‘schedule’ of sorts but really in a charlotte mason style which is what I always come back to. We’re starting history at the beginning and using lots of ‘living’ books to read and the kids are narrating back what they’ve read. We’re plodding along with some maths, I haven’t got it quite right what I want there (do I ever with maths?). We’ve started learning Spanish, getting back into Latin, and we’ve been doing some biology work.

The biology (Elemental Science Logic stage) is another thing that has been so so. It’s supposed to be a classical ed type thing, or which I don’t know much about, but I think it’s a lot of writing and memory work which I’m a bit lax on them doing. I like the frame work of it all, as Alex wants to do Biology for her future career as a zoo keeper, so I wanted to get started on it and it covers a lot of stuff. I’ve some other ideas on how to keep it going and have it more how I want it, but we’ll see, it’s still in my head at the moment! I think they’ve enjoyed it so far though so we’ll stick with it for now.

We have all been reading lots. If not encouraged, M & A will not read any fiction books at all so I give them a book I expect them to read each day. I really want it to be a challenging book in terms of length and vocab, but not too much. So this has been a little hard for A who is still finding long books too much. She started with The World According to Humphrey that we got at the library and although I worried it would be too much for her, she managed it just fine. M has just finished The Borrowers 🙂 We’ve been listening to Peter Pan and Harry Potter book 2 on audio as well.

There has been lots of out and abouts going on too. We’ve spent time at our friends house doing history related crafts each week – we’ve made cunieform tablets and canopic jars so far. The kids have started Forest School, we saw lots of films for National Schools Film Week, went behind the scenes at one cinema to see how it worked, we attended a ‘Brook to Blade’ event about the history of our area and how the water power and woods of Sheffield made it perfect to found our steel industry, had a mushroom walk at the nature group and A has been continuing her singing group and has just joined a recorder group too.

Other things we’ve enjoyed were a trip to Manchester to the science festival and tickets to see Bang Goes the Theory Live. It was like a mini Big Bang fair with lots of stalls, we loved the Biology and Chemistry ones with dna extraction, chemical smells and CO2 bubbles. We couldn’t get a good view of the show though which was a shame as there were no chairs and so taller people kept going in front of us all, so we took advantage of quiter times at the stalls instead! We managed a little look round the museum while we were there as well, but it really needed much longer than we had.

Last week was Alex’s 10th birthday and she requested to go to an actual big zoo rather than do a zoo keeper experience at the littler places near us so last weekend we went back over the Pennines to Chester Zoo. It was a long day as we wanted to see as much as we could and althoug we didn’t see everything I think we did fairly well. Alex had a fantastic time and she’s learnt she doesn’t want to work anywhere like the fruit bat enclosure 😉

I’m sure there is loads more I’ve forgotten too, but that shall have to do for now. I might add some pics later 🙂

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Hama Bead kit review from CraftMerrily

A very good friend of mine over at Patch Of Puddles runs CraftMerrily and she kindly sent us a hama bead kit to review.

We’ve liked Hama beads for ages, but to be honest the appeal of them comes and goes. Alex likes them the most, but Marcus doesn’t mind having a little play around too now and then.

With that in mind I looked round the site for a kit that would appeal to them both and decided to go with the Red Midi Hama Beads Activity Box.

There was great excitement when it arrived (which was good as the parcel also contained some gifts for A’s birthday from Merry’s other site PlayMerrily) and they both set about exploring it. The kit comes with a dragon board and 2400 midi beads. There was also some press pegboards that we han’t used before, having always just done bog standard hama beading! The 2 boards could be made into key fobs, but once the beads are in them, as far as I know don’t come back out.

Marcus isn’t quite into beading as much as Alex is but he got stuck in too and made a key fob. Alex made 2 dragons and a key fob and still has plenty of beads to make many more. Perhaps we’ll have a look round the hama pages of Merry’s blog to see if we can get some inspiration.

We really enjoyed this kit and would certainly recommend it to others. It’s a really good price, just right for presents for family members or just as something for rainy days and is a perfect starter kit for someone new to hama beads.

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Pear tree study

We’ve not managed many of the outdoor hour challenges this month, mainly due to being on holiday. My father in law has a pear tree in his garden so when I saw that it was one of the subjects I didn’t feel I could pass that one by!

It’s been the most gorgeous day today, really hot, and not September like at all. We gathered up a picnic blanket, our reading books and our nature journals and walked over to my FIL’s house and spent the afternoon there.

I encouraged M & A to look at the tree and choose something to draw about in their journals, they both chose the pears while I chose the leaves. I noticed that the leaves are quite curled when they are larger but I picked a smaller one I could lay flat and draw around. I sketched a leaf a pear and wrote some bits in my journal.

(I need to be braver with the colours don’t I?!!!)

Alex picked 2 pears and drew those. Marcus picked a single pear and drew that.

We saw quite a few insects buzzing around, enjoying the bonus warm weather – a huge bright green shield bug and something else we couldn’t identify.

A lovely afternoon.

(flickr is not letting me upload tonight – so I will try to add pics tomorrow)

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Time to separate?

Brain dump alert 😉

I’ve been looking forward to getting back to some formal, sit down work with my two. Marcus is happy to do anything, but if we leave his education to himself to choose he doesn’t seem to get anywhere and he bumbles around with no real purpose. He much prefers for me to tell him what I expect him to do and he gets on with it. He does get on with it as well, with mostly no whinging (for now!) I always thought Alex was my easy going one, the one that I could rely on to be cheerful no matter what I ask of her, but it’s turning out to not be that way. She really resents sitting down and doing work that I have decided. Actually the work is fine and she’ll do it, but she likes to be the one to be in charge of when she does it.

We’ve always worked at the same level for them both, mostly because there didn’t seem to be much in the way of difference in ability between the 2. There are two school years between them, but only 15 months. Life is easy when you only have to plan once huh? Hmmm. I realised today that it might be easier to plan for them this way, but no matter what, if we decide to do it all this way one of them will suffer. If we go too loose then Marcus will bumble about too much, if we go too formal then Alex will resist.

I’m thinking that perhaps we should have a go at educating seperately. I’m not sure if it will work at all, although they both agree that we should give it a try. Maybe we’ll come across a middle ground that suits us all, or maybe it’s just time we started following different paths for them both. The next few weeks are hopefully going to be enlightening!

One day I’d like to feel like I’ve got it all sorted and I know exactly what I’m doing. Please?

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