Wednesday, 30 May 2007

How to Make an Apple Pie and see the World

We had a lovely time on Sunday. Friends came over to chat and play and I think a good time was had by adults and children alike. The children all got along well together and also got quite wet - some sort of 'porridge shenanigans' in the garden involving lots of soil, sand and a hosepipe.

I can't honestly remember what we did on the afternoon but on the evening I managed to slope off once again for a curry with an adult to an adult environment.

This was our first day using Horizon Maths. It went down very well. It is really easy at the beginning. Ideally we should perhaps have started this at the start of the year - but we didn't have it then. I think the fact that they are getting off to a flying start will boost their confidence though so it's not a bad thing. We are one book short for Lily. It's the second workbook in the series so we aren't desperate for it right now but it would be nice to try to find a UK supplier (easier said than done) and order it sooner rather than later

We made a start on How to Make an Apple Pie and see the World by Marjorie Priceman.

I was in two minds about it because it was a Bank Holiday but concluded it didn't really matter whether it is a Bank Holiday or not. Craig was hoping to work up in his office most of the day and we won't get much done in the way of 'lessons' later in the week as we have a workshop and theatre trip planned.

We looked at some vocab from the book - locate, coax, evaporate, elegant...and so the list continues. We then had a little quiz using some apple flashcards I had made to fit in with an apple subtraction scenario in the story. They went down well. I was pleased to see how methodical Hermione was in the way she approached each subtraction.

On the evening I read Hermione her bed time story. Surprisingly she had requested The Three Billy Goats Gruff. After I had read it she announced that she would like to read it - and did - almost word for word. She was really pleased and proud of herself. We were both really delighted. This is just the second time she has expressed an interest in reading an actual book. She always shys away from reading books herself - although she is happy to read from flashcards and things. I think it's a sure sign her confidence is growing and I'm delighted. Just have to make sure I don't appear too enthusiastic about her reading books as opposed to her usual comfortable bits and pieces or she may take a step backwards. A big proud home edding mummy moment for sure!

Lots of 'normals' and Horizon today followed by How to Make an Apple Pie and see the World.

As we read the book we spotted the Eiffel Tower in the background of one of the illustrations. It was just part of the Eiffel Tower but still reasonably distinct. I asked the girls if they could see anything familiar on the picture. Hermione said almost immediately that she could see the Eiffel Tower - hurray all this education malarkey isn't in vain, she must have remembered it from when we studied Madeline.

We chatted about how apples come in many different shapes, sizes, colours and flavours. I explained that these are called different 'varieties'. I got out four different varieties which I had picked up at the market. We examined each one and tasted it. Hermione decided that Golden Delicious is her favourite variety of apple. I managed to rustle up a few sad onions out of the salad draw in an attempt to illustrate that many things come in lots of varieties - a squishy brown onion, a squishy red onion and a squishy spring onion in our case.

On the afternoon Hermione and Nana headed off to the local library to change their books. Hermione specifically asked that they look for the Beatrix Potter book from the Real People Real Lives series as she would like to read that one again. It was available and they brought it home. When she last read it I couldn't find her actual Beatrix Potter books for her to look at the illustrations which are discussed in the Real Lives book. I now think I've seen them in the attic somewhere so I must go and track them down. They are coming to the end of Tales of Olga de Polga by Michael Bond as bedtime reading. I think they are going to have another Famous Five next.

After reading the Apple Pie today we chatted about cinnamon. The story tells us that it comes from the bark of the karundu tree native to Sri Lanka. We looked at some ground cinnamon and some cinnamon sticks. Hermione munched her way through a fair chunk of a stick before announcing it was disgusting!
We stuck our story disk on Sri Lanks. This book mentions many countries but I opted to put it on Sri Lanka for no other reason that the map is least crowded there.
We then wrote stories about a trip around the world. Hermione wrote about a trip to Italy to find the finest orange material there ever was!

We looked at the map at the front of the book and traced the route of the ingredient trail.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Treasure Hunts and Mind Mapping Durham

This morning we had a treasure hunt in the back garden with clues designed around the points of a compass. We didn't actually have a a compass to use - just established the directions before we began. The final clue lead to crisps and juice on the dining room table. All in all a big success.

Following this the girls decided to 'play school'. There was much activity as they printed out lots of handwriting practice sheets from the computer and made up their own word and number bingo's. They completed all the handwriting sheets and played the games of bingo's with great enthusiasm. This made me think about how much more they enjoy doing something which they are actively directing. They were doing what we often all do together in 'normals' but they were so much more enthusiastic as they were orchestrating everything themselves. All fairly obvious really, it was just one of those moments where it is highlighted today.

This afternoon Hermione and Nana headed off to Clayport Library for a Mind Mapping Durham session. They both enjoyed it. They had helped to make what sounded to be a collage of Durham using various pictures and craft materials. The collage is to be displayed in the library soon. We must find out when and go and see it.

Our Horizon Maths things arrived today. I've just glanced through but it looks quite good. I suspect we will make a start next week.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Last of the Big Snow

I'm pleased to say we finished Katy and the Big Snow today. I really don't think we could face another day of it. There just isn't enough 'to it' if you know what I mean to hold much attention for long - the activities we have done have been fine but the story itself hasn't grown and developed as the week has gone on.

We started with our 'normals' which once again consisted of the ladybird game, placing numbers in order of size and some flashcards - uh oh, I feel another rut coming on!

Following 'normals' we read the story and once again attempted to remember the ten listed characteristics of the snow plough. We looked at some snow ploughs in action here and

In the story Katy is personified. We talked about this and decided to write a story personifying something which is important to us. Hermione chose to write about her blankie which she has for some obscure reason always called 'Gold Paws'. She grasped the concept of personifying something and her writing today was good. Her b's and d's now face the right way and words have reasonable spaces between them. I'm pleased.

We ate lunch alfresco today. It was wonderful. The sun was beating down and there was no need to mop and sweep around the high chair afterwards. We messed in the garden till dance class time at which Nana headed off with the girls and I took Miles down the main street for a wander. As per usual he insisted on calling into the pet shop to see the parrots. Hermione also had a great fascination for birds at this age. Afterwards we walked up to the fields at the top of the village to see three horses and their foals. Dancing isn't on for the next two weeks. I suspect Rainbows and Badgers will be off for half term too.

I saw a really moving video clip about children and schooling today called Animal School. You have to click on the purple rectangle to see the clip. I picked up the link from a home ed list.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Castle Eden Dene

This morning we did our 'normals.' We played the ladybird game and the Jolly Phonics books made a brief appearance too.

We read Katy and the Big Snow. I can see Hermione is starting to get bored wit this one. Of all the FIAR titles we have read so far I think this one is the one most aimed at younger listeners. Having said that it does still hold a lot of opportunities for discussion and exploration.

Following on from the story today we looked at something else which helps a city to run smoothly - traffic signals. I was surprised at how many the girls already knew. After that we looked at the compass on the map in the story, talked about N,E,S and W. I placed four sheets with N,E,S and W in what I hope were the appropriate points in the garden and we played a game in which I shouted a direction and the girls headed that way.
This afternoon we visited a friend and went for a walk at Castle Eden Dene I thoroughly enjoyed it and wish we could have spent more time there but I was conscious that we had left Soo and Miles back in our friend's garden and I started to worry about nappies, suncream etc

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Grass clippings and all...

Today our back lawn was mowed for the first time. This may sound very insignificant but to think that in March 'gardening' consisted of hiring a guy with a huge JCB to effect some improvements I think we have come a hell of a long way! I sat and looked round tonight at the vibrant green lawn and the veg patch and I just felt so happy and content - as if one phase of the whole relocation/renovation thing is almost complete.

I was quite surprised at Hermione's enthusiasm this morning as she picked up an Explode the Code workbook and did a couple of pages not long after breakfast. I hadn't said anything - she just did it. There certainly is a love/hate thing going on with the workbooks. She then went on to add to the map which she started yesterday.

Hermione went to the TVHE meeting today. The theme was percussion. She made a shaker which she seemed quite pleased with. She had also spent quite some time there playing a game called 'Tumbling Monkeys' which is apparently like 'KerPlunk'. Talking of games, I thought I would try to pick up a 'Pass the Pigs' cheap on Ebay the other day. No such luck. They are not cheap and they sell fast. I'll have to keep looking.

This afternoon they headed off to Rainbows. I know I say this almost every week but it really is a big hit with both Hermione and Lily. They love it. I never get to hear much about what they have actually done but they always come home in high spirits and full of joy - which is great to see.

Miles is really busy these days too. He still prefers pottering at home to going out and about but I'm fine with that most of the time - apart from occasions like this afternoon when he tried to get into the rain water butt - that wasn't good! He's forever after the girls felt tip pens so I decided to buy him some big chubby crayons of his own and leave them accessible on the dining room floor with some paper. He's spending quite a bit of time 'drawing'. He's still very much into The Little Red Hen ladybird book too.

I mentioned yesterday that we played a new maths game with ladybirds. Well, basically it consists of two boards with leaves on, ten big mummy ladybird cards with 1 - 10 spots on and ten small baby ladybird cards with 1 - 10 spots on. Essentially the mummies and babies have to be matched up to make a total of ten.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

The highlights

Well, what a lovely long weekend we have had with Helen. She left this morning and things have been quite subdued here since.

There has been quite a lot going on over the past few days so I'm just going to list a few of the highlights.

Blissfully unaware of Helen's imminent arrival Hermione and Nana practiced their skipping out on the deck.

At about 12.30 there was a knock on the door. Nana went to answer it and got the shock of her life when Helen was standing on the doorstep. For a moment I feared she was going to have a heart attack as I think she thought something must be wrong. Thankfully she quickly realised all was well and I don't think I've seen her so happy in a long while.

On Friday afternoon Nana and Helen took Hermione to her modern dance class.

Craig and Hermione went to a horse event. I was uncertain as to what exactly it was before they left which is possibly just as well as I'm rather uneasy about sports involving animals. It turns out it was some sort of steeple chase, dressage, racing type event - sponsored by Countryside Alliance - supporters of fox hunting. I'm not going to have a political/animal rights rant here although I do feel sorely tempted. All that needs to be said has been said here. Hermione enjoyed it but I doubt it will be repeated.

On the evening Soo prepared a lovely raw meal. Nana had been telling Helen about raw 'cooking' and was keen for Helen to experience it. We had a tomato dish which consisted mainly of beef tomatoes stuffed with a pate made from sunflower seeds, garlic, basil, sun dried tomatoes and olives.

We topped that off with raw chocolate pudding and an infusion made from hawthorn blossoms from the garden.

Hermione showed Nana and Helen the way to Hardwick Country Park. They had had a pleasant wander around the park an then morning tea (and pineapple juice in Hermione's case) in Hardwick Hall itself.
In the afternoon we went out en masse for lunch. Unfortunately the table was long and thin which isn't really conducive to conversation but on the positive side it did mean that Miles food hurling was confined to just a couple of peeps as opposed to all.

Nana and Helen headed off to Newcastle for some serious shopping and we made a start on Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton.
We played a memory game based on some of the characteristics listed about Katy. We will play this each day and see how many more we can remember each day.
We thought about what main services we would have if we were in charge of planning a city. We made a list which looked something like - a farm, supermarket, fire hydrants, hospital, nurses office, police station, paddling pool (yes, apparently all cities need one of these), vet, electricity company, computer shop, water department, bus station and tram station (possibly of even less use than a paddling pool but it was listed all the same.
We played the rocket additions game, did a few pages of Explode the Code workbooks and checked out some word flash cards.
Helen left about 9.00 this morning. It was a difficult time.
We played a new numbers game today called the ladybird game. Pictures and explanation of this one to follow as I think I'm all most at the end of my blogging for one day.
We read Katy and the Big Snow and drew a map like the one in the story with a numbered key to show which building is which. I helped write out the buildings in the key and Hermione plodded on with the map. The picture below is of it in progress - look out for Sainsburys!

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Excitement mounts

Well, I found it difficult to apply myself to anything today as I'm so excited about Helen arriving tomorrow.

We hurriedly finished The Clown of God this morning. We looked at some things which were invented around the time of the Renaissance - spectacles, submarines, microscopes, flushing toilets and portable clocks. We then followed with a 'Shiny Show' style quiz about Italy and the Renaissance - nothing high brow, just bits and pieces of basic knowledge.

Topped that off with 'normals' and that was it before I hurriedly returned to frantically trying to sort out the house and actually achieving very little.

We have chosen a book to start next week - Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton. It seems quite light weight and I think that is for the best as it will be a hectic week.

Not much else to report today save for the fact that something is eating our courgette plants! It doesn't look like slugs. Suspicion is currently on the wood pigeons.

Off now to continue getting things sorted.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

The Mona Lisa

We continued to study The Clown of God today.

We looked at the Leonardo da Vinci book we recently read and noted from the illustrations how it appeared to be of a similar time - the Renaissance.

This lead onto a closer inspection of the Mona Lisa. I had printed the picture off in A4 size and asked that they cut it into sixths. They then pieced it back together again like a jigsaw.

We placed our story disc on Italy on the globe. I need a map solution for the story discs. I've asked around on a couple of home ed lists but I'm still not sure where I will get a really really big one. We sang 'long legged Italy kicked little Sicily right into the sea' over and over too - they liked that!

We did a bit of work with some Letterland word flashcards. I'm feeling really upbeat in comparison to a couple of weeks ago about Hermione's reading. I think she is coming on in leaps and bounds. She just doesn't appear to follow the patterns you would expect, but then we know everyone learns differently. We revised symmetry by once again making symmetrical patterns with coloured pens on grid paper. This went down well last time and was a hit again. We started and almost finished a game of 'rocket' (home made simple additions game) before Miles woke and pieces were hurriedly put away.

This afternoon Hermione practiced her skipping as she knew that was what they were doing at Rainbows this evening. She hasn't said a great deal about it but I think she enjoyed it. She certainly seemed to be happy when she came home. They had been skipping individually and together across a long rope.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

The Clown of God and other stuff

Nana and Hermione went to see Watercolours by Quicksilver Theatre Company at Darlington. They were both in good spirits when they came home having thoroughly enjoyed it. Having said that, neither were able to really explain it to me. Apparently it was very 'arty' and 'inventive' with a cast of only four.

They then joined Soo, Miles and myself in attempting to avoid the workmen who were fitting the kitchen work tops. Five hours into the job it was looking quite promising. I thought the end was in sight. Then it happened - one of the men broke one of the granite slabs! He had what appeared to be a very strained telephone conversation with his employer and then announced that his employer was about to start the two and a half hour journey from where they are based to bring a new granite slab. What should have been a six hour job turned into an eleven hour job and by the time they came to leave they almost felt like part of the household :-) Never mind, I'm more than happy with my new worktops - even if that does make me feel very old and sad indeed.

Not a lot happened on Sunday. We went out for Chinese lunch and called into the plant nursery on the way home. We now have cauliflowers and a chili plant to add to out growing veg collection.

Our veg patch is looking good - even if I do say so myself!

Sweetcorn and lettuce -

Broad beans -

Sweet peas which will in time shield the compost bin I hope -

The morning was a bit of a none event. I had an appointment. On the afternoon we met friends at the local soft play place called Action Replay. We hadn't been in a couple of months and the children all really enjoyed it. I think the children enjoyed it much more so than the parents who had very little opportunity to chat what with chasing their children all over. Next time we meet up I think it should certainly be somewhere that parents can relax and chat a little too.

Early evening was Badgers. Both of the girls were rather errr excitable when they came home. Craig grumbled that the session was riotous and queried what they get out of it. After a brief chat we established that they do spend a lot of time there chatting with other children, interacting and making friends. So, as long the riotous behaviour doesn't become dangerous hazardous behaviour we will stick with it. Hermione said very little about it until today when she casually mentioned over lunch that she was 'hand bandaged by a big boy' at Badgers.

With the children in bed I hummed and hahed about 'behaviour issues.' I am conscious that I'm not happy with the way I am communicating with the children any more. I regularly feel short tempered and irritable. I've stopped using NVC to the extent I used to - not that I was ever an expert but at least I used to try. I have most of the books but I thought I would try to get back into the swing of it by using the home study pack so I've ordered it from Amazon . Hopefully this will help me to get back on track.

It has rained most of the time for the past few days. This didn't deter Miles from his daily dig around. He loves messing on his part of the veg patch. He doesn't care if it is pouring with rain. I just pull his hood up and then take shelter under the hawthorn and let him get on.

Talking of the hawthorn, it is now in flower and I must remember to try making a cup of tea with the flowers.

Today we started The Clown of God by Tomie dePaola.

This is a FIAR text. I had considered using FIAR for a while before I bought it but was hesitant because I had heard that it had a strong religious content. This is the first text we have come to which has religious overtones - well more than an overtone really. I read it myself last night and wondered whether or not to use it. I decided it would be wrong to leave it out because it contains religious and spiritual views which are not in keeping with my own. I aim to give the children clear unbiased information about as many faiths as I can - so as they can make an informed choice of their own. It can get a bit tricky though trying to answer the kind of questions six year olds can be apt to ask when it is something you don't even really believe in yourself. I'll do my best.

The story went down well, as per all of the FIAR texts to date. I have to say I think it is exceptionally well illustrated. There is a lot to see in the illustrations.

At the end of the story we looked in detail at the pictures. It is set in the Renaissance period. I decided not to go into this in detail save to say that at some point a long time ago clothes and buildings were like the pictures in the book and this was called the Renaissance period.

We went on to look at vocab. The words I chose to highlight from this text were - duke, wearily, amazement, stern, sacrilege, pounding, zucchini and egg plant (as opposed to the familiar courgette and aubergine).

We watched a Jolly Phonics programme called Words and Pictures on CBBC. It was good. We then did the corresponding tasks in the Jolly Phonics workbooks. Quick game of word bingo and once again putting numbers in order of size. I think I need to revamp 'normals.' We seem to get into a rut of doing the same sort of thing day in day out for a week or two, it goes beyond being interesting and comfortable and once again it's time to shake things up.

After lunch Nana and Hermione went shopping for new dance shoes. They bought a beautiful pair of white leather ballet pumps. Very pretty.

This afternoon we made ginger ale from a recipe in one of the new raw food books. We juiced a big bunch of grapes, a couple of stalks of celery and a big chunk of fresh garlic root. It was delicious. I can recommend it!

Off to continue preparations for our special guest arriving later in the week. For those who don't know my sister Helen is coming all the way from Canada for the weekend! It is a surprise for Nana. We should probably have people to stay more often as it is the only thing which seems to prompt me to attempt to finish all the jobs I have left half done. If you're reading this Helen I'm sorry to say but I suspect there will still be lots half done when you arrive. If I ever even think of buying a ramshackle to renovate again please beat me with a big stick!

Friday, 11 May 2007

Random remembrances

Once again life has over taken my ability to blog so this post will consist of more random remembrances which hopefully will reflect some of what we have done over the past couple of days.

Wednesday was a busy day. On the morning Nana, Soo, Hermione and Lily headed off to Natures World for the TVHE meeting. Linz had arranged for a box of Victorian kitchen artefact's to be there for the children to handle and experience. Apparently Hermione spent all most the whole of the time playing with a wash board and a bar of carbolic soap. Thankfully she had done so in an appropriate way. It will take a long while to erase the embarrassment I felt when during her brief dalliance with an official playgroup Hermione attracted much attention by ironing all of the toy food with the toy iron, and when asked why by the leaders was insistent that the iron was a pizza slice. Mmmmm, what kind of role model am I?

Wednesday afternoon was Rainbows. Once again Nana did the chauffeuring honours. I really don't know where I would be without her. She has facilitated so much for Hermione since I had Miles. Apparently Hermione is really settling in well and was even involved in group hugs and things when she arrived. I'm so pleased as a while ago I was really beginning to worry about her social life but now she's settled at Rainbows, Badgers and dancing lessons I feel much more relaxed about it. She came home with a very colourful salt doe model.

On Thursday we did 'normals'. More placing numbers in order, word board etc.

We went on to read A Pair of Red Clogs. Afterwards we looked in detail at the illustrations. We talked about the kimono, how it is worn by Japanese ladies on special occasions, how difficult it can be to put on, the obi belt, wooden clogs etc. We also talked about geisha's. I was uncertain as to whether I should discuss geisha's with them but I felt it important that they didn't see the stereotypical image of a Japanese woman (very geisha like in my view) and believe that half of Japan was of that appearance. I found a nice video clip on the National Geographic site about the ancient art of being a geisha . It did talk briefly at one point about 'getting into bed with the geisha' but otherwise it concentrated on them as entertainers skilled in dancing, playing instruments, flower arranging and conversation. We watched the clip and I turned down the volume and talked over the clip for the few seconds when the jumping into bed business arose.

After a lunch of Japanese sushi we went to the Oriental Museum in Durham. They have a dressing up box full of oriental clothing and shoes. It was good for the girls to be able to try authentic clogs and kimonos after just discussing them earlier.

Today the girls decided they wanted to listen to a cd by Marneta Viegas's 'Relax Kids' series. Well, I'm not sure what to say on this one other than they appeared to be far from relaxed afterwards - or at least not relaxed in the clam, quiet and chilled way. Lots of mess, shouting and frayed tempers. Hmmm. I hung out at the veg patch with Miles till the mayhem passed.

Wen Miles napped we played the rocket game which we made earlier in the week. Hermione's mental arithmetic is really improving as is her reading. She really does do quite well if these things are presented in a lighthearted game fashion, she just seems to be really put off if confronted by a book to read or a page of sums. Times like this I realise I am doing the right thing in home educating her as if I tried to force her down that 'one size fits all' route I think she would be very very stressed.

This afternoon Nana, Soo, Hermione and Lily headed off to Lynn's House to a book launch party for friends. Her book 'Too Ghoul for School' has just been published. They all had a great time. Lynn had read a passage from her book and there had been an opportunity to ask questions. Hermione had enjoyed the reading but I think she was also a little bit scared. I asked if she would like us to buy the book but she felt it was for children older than her as it is 'full of eyeballs' ??? I feel inclined to buy it and read it myself now :-)

After visiting Lynn Hermione headed off to her modern dancing class. She is very keen to start tap and apparently a tap class will be starting within the next couple of months.

Work is ongoing with the garden decking. It just seems to take so long. I'm not one to be blessed with huge amounts of patience. I'm sick of being surrounded by tools and half done stuff. Will this ever end? I can't believe we have been here since November and there is still so much to do.

Nana is still doing sterling work in the garden. We now have a little herb border at the op of the garden. We were going to put herbs at the bottom of the veg patch but feeling inspired by Whitworth Hall I feel that we should have a herb border instead. There are some fantastic fragrant herb borders in the walled garden there. Good strawberry borders too.

After a week of trying I managed to speak to David Battensby Area Traffic Engineer about the problems I am having with people parking across my drive. He has conceded that the circumstances are exceptional and has agreed to have a keep clear white line painted across the road where our drive is. I will be so relieved when this is done as being barricaded into the drive by inconsiderate drivers is an irritation in life I can do without.

Tomorrow Nana and Hermione are going to see 'Watercolours' at Darlington Theatre. It is a story about a boy who moves house, discovers a lady living in tho loft who is going blind and finds that change and new experiences can be positive. Quite apt for a little girl who has recently moved house. In the meantime I'll be stuck at home trying to entertain Miles and control him while workmen cut and fit the granite worktops in the kitchen. I hope they do their cutting and stuff outside. I'm sick of living in a dust bowl.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Weather forecasts

Well, we started the day with 'normals' as per the norm. More of the word board, placing numbers in order of size and looking at the sound 'oa.' We went on to play a maths game which we had made from an idea in this book -

I bought the book second hand from a home ed email list a couple of years ago but it has been packed away in storage and forgotten about up until now. I like it. It is basic but it has some good ideas for simple games to make and play. Today's game consisted of rocket shape boards with numbered squares on plus lots of additions cards. The idea is that someone calls out the additions sum and players work out what the total is and if they have the total on their board they claim the card. First to complete their rocket is the winner.

We read Red Clogs again. Once again Hermione sat wide eyed and slightly open mouthed. She likes this one!

We located Japan on the map and placed our story disc on. I need to have a think an a bit of a re jig with the story discs. They are of a size which obscures small countries and the map is becoming crowded and confusing. Perhaps I should arrange them around the edges with arrow points to the country??

After reading the story we talked about predicting the weather. We wondered why people are fascinated with predicting the weather. We talked about how farmers are interested in the weather so as to know what best to do with their livestock and crops. We talked about why fishermen and airline pilots would be interested in the weather. We talked about how desirable it is to be able to predict potentially dangerous weather conditions such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes etc. Thankfully the girls have never witnessed truly treacherous weather conditions so we watched a clip from National Geographics video clips about hurricane Katrina They were sufficiently interested to watch it three times, (it's just a short clip).

We discussed how people predict the weather. The girl in the story throws her clog into the air and believes the position in which it lands is indicative of how the weather is going to be. We chatted about other weather predicting folklore such as, 'red sky at night shepherds delight...'. I went on to explain a little about what meteorologists do and how hey use lots of special equipment and scientific instruments.

We have set up our own weather station in the garden. We have set up a rain gauge and a thermometer. We also have a home made wind measuring device. It has a name but it escapes me right now. There is a picture of it below. We count how many times the cups rotate full circle in a minute. We hope to record the weather conditions over the next couple of weeks so watch this space!

As I went to switch off the computer Hermione noticed a video clip about trees and decided to watch it. It was about the discovery of a tree in Australia which was thought to be extinct. It dates back to the days of the dinosaurs. There is now a big conservation effort under way to try to protect the future of the species. Hermione explained that she had heard about things like this in the Judy Moody story.

This afternoon we went to visit a friend who is just starting her home ed journey. We had a pleasant time although Miles was a bit cranky towards the end of the afternoon. Hopefully this won't have spoiled it for anyone and we will spend more time together in the future.

Monday, 7 May 2007

A Pair of Red Clogs

The day started with 'normals' which included the 100 number grid again, sorting and listing numbers into size order and the word board.

Today we started A Pair of Red Clogs. It went well I feel.

The story is set in Japan. We talked about how Japan is an island, reaffirmed their understanding of what an island is and coloured in a map of Japan. Despite a little discreet encouragement Hermione refuses to take her time when colouring anything. Her pen control is reasonable but that isn't reflected in anything she colours. We also coloured the Japanese flag and I had intended to place the story disc on the wall map but forgot to do so - a job for tomorrow!

There are some snippets of Japanese in the book which I struggled to pronounce - I suspect this will help them to remember that Japan has a language of it's own - the world doesn't all speak English. I explained that Japanese writing is unlike ours. We looked at some examples and I gave them each a 'badge' with their name in Japanese.
We went on to trace some figures as they appeared in the FIAR Manual.
We overlaid them on the illustrations in the book till we found figures which matched. Many of the figures in the book are basically drawn from the same stance but this isn't really apparent till you do this exercise as they are all dressed differently and have different expressions.
We then went onto flesh out our tracings with clothes and faces etc. The photograph below doesn't show well as we used baking paper to trace which is slightly brown and doesn't photograph well. We all enjoyed this exercise.
Craig just worked a half day today with it being a Bank Holiday. He took Hermione ice skating at Billingham this afternoon. Hermione said she fell down most but I've not yet heard how many times Craig fell down - he's keeping that one quiet!
I went to a plant nursery this afternoon to buy more veg plants. I was very impressed with this place which I just heard about by chance the other day. The plants were all really healthy and sturdy looking - what's more they were only £1.70 per tray and in some cases that was a dozen plants. I bought broccoli, sprouting broccoli, sweetcorn, courgettes, lettuce and beetroot. Add these to the things we already have in the ground (potatoes, onions, broad beans, garlic - wild and cultivated, leeks, rhubarb and herbs) and I think we are doing really well. Nana is really enjoying the veg garden. It's keeping her very busy and she's becoming quite possessive about it, which I guess is a blessing really as although I am very keen and interested I struggle to find the time to do the amount of work it requires. Craig went to B&Q today to buy some netting to make a barrier to keep Miles off the young plants - let's hope it works!
Lots to do this week. I feel there is lots of mileage in Red Clogs, lots of things we could cover. I would like to fit in a trip to the Oriental Museum. We are visiting friends tomorrow and it is the TVHE meeting on Wednesday. Busy, busy, busy....

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Woooo hoooo

Life goes on!!! This evening I went out for an hour and half without children! I went for a curry at the local curry house. It was great. This is the second time I have been out on an evening in almost twenty months (not that I am counting or anything....). Here's to it happening again, without having to wait another year and a half.

All set to start Red Clogs on the morning, feeling lively and invigorated I hope.

Friday, 4 May 2007

We hate workbooks...

...or perhaps not?? Hermione has never been keen on workbooks. I think she might have been had I not made the mistake of calling them workbooks. I think she finds the name off putting. However, more of our stuff came out of storage the other day and in one box was a huge pile of workbooks which Lynn had kindly given us not long before we moved. Well, I'm amazed at the enthusiasm both Hermione and Lily have had for them. They both sat at the table engrossed in them for over an hour this morning. So, when enthusiasm wanes, which I have no doubt it will, perhaps I should just hide them away and then casually produce the box a few months down the line. Workbooks make a change round here if nothing else!

Yesterday we read Leonardo and the Flying Boy by Laurence Anholt. I really like his books. We have his books about Monet, Van Gogh and Degas too. Although we had read this one before it was a long time ago and it was good to revisit it and see the different level of interest and understanding. We had a close look at the Mona Lisa and then we all drew portraits and self portraits.

We have done a few 'normals' over the last couple of days. I made a dice with letter blends and sounds which we used to play a sort of lotto/bingo type game. We have also spent quite a while with a 100 grid, mainly filing in blank number squares. The word board made a reappearance today. Apparently the word are 'too easy' - time to get some new ones! We also had a game of Junior Scrabble which was OK but not fantastic.

Hermione and Nana have finished reading Judy Moody Saves the World by Megan McDonald. Hermione had been reluctant to start this one at first but soon got into it. 'Where would the world be without Judy Moody? Her class is learning about the environment, and Judy is startled to learn about the destruction of the rain forest and the endangered species in her own back yard - not to mention her own families crummy recycling habits. So, never one to take things lying down, Judy Moody gets on the case!' Nana thinks Hermione has learned quite a lot from the story. She pointed out that perhaps I should do more to support the Judy Moody principle and try to be more careful about the vast amounts of paper we seem to use around here - I agree we use a lot - mainly because I'm always wary of stifling their creativity, but perhaps we ought to have a scrap box and insist on using both sides also. Inspired by Judy Moody I believe, Hermione made her own eco warrior style mini book, 'Heal the World'. They have now started on a Famous Five.

Today we listened to two pieces of music and observed how different we felt upon hearing each one. The girls drew pictures of how each piece made them feel. The first was Less than a Pearl by Enya and the second was Move On Up by Curtis Mayfield.

We also attempted to write a letter using invisible ink today but it didn't work. I read on another home ed blog about using lemon juice and then placing the paper is a warm place at which time the juice should go brown. There was no colour change. Nothing happened at all other than the paper became a bit crusty. I should have checked that it worked first.

Nana has constructed the bean wig wams and planted a further four rows of potatos. I went to Houghall today and bought some leeks. We will try to get them in to the garden over the weekend.

Off to start preparing for A Pair of Red Clogs now.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Catch up

I don't know what has happened to this last week. It has disappeared in the flurry of activity around workmen and appointments. It has all been happening - our kitchen units have been fitted, the back garden has been turfed, the man from Story Carpets has been back again to look at the problems, we've been to the dentist and optician...and so it goes's been a busy one.

I thought I had best try to catch up here but don't really feel I've the energy right now after a lovely long day in the sunshine so it's more just the bits I remember.

Rainbows is still going well. Hermione appeared slightly reluctant to go along the other day but came back in very high spirits and looking forward to next week. Badgers is also a big hit. The girls received some forms to complete this week to get their first badge. It's a basic welcome badge, they just have to write out the set rules and say their Badger Promise. Starting from next week the whole set will be working towards their entertainment badge for sixteen weeks. All sounds like good fun.

Today we have spent most of the day in the garden. The weather has been fabulous. We did come in for a short while this morning while Miles was napping to enjoy a story from Circle Round about the origins of the maypole. Hermione would like to go maypole dancing. We usually do at Cherryburn but that is a bit of a hike this year. Will have to ask around and see if anything is happening locally on bank holiday. If not we may have to make one.
We made a start on our garden diaries which I printed off as a free ebook from here . We filled in the part about the seeds we have planted so far and wrote a little about the wildlife in our garden. We then went out into the garden to look at what was happening with the veg in particular and took some photographs of them. We will take more pictures as things grow and possibly make a bit of a scrap book come autumn.
I decided to point out the wild garlic in our garden to the girls. They hadn't realised it was a form of garlic, they just thought it was a flower which smells really bad. After the standard chat about safety and when to eat wild and not to eat wild, we picked some and added it to our salad for lunch. We all enjoyed it. The girls enjoyed it so much so that they decided to pick more for with dinner tonight. Unfortunately that was a bit of an overload and I fear they won't want it again for a long while. Never mind, I think we will try the hawthorn leaves next. Where does foraging come up on the National Curriculum? Is there a box we can tick for this?

There is quite a lot going on in the garden right now. The beans are bursting into life, the potato leaves are showing, the onions are coming on nicely and the couple of herbs we do have are filling out. We have magpies, doves, wood pidgeons and a wren nesting in the garden - those are the ones I know of. All in all a hive of activity!
Today felt like a good day to watch a programme I had taped from BBC Schools TV ages ago about growing rice and tea in Bangladesh. It was just a short programme of about fifteen minutes. We watched it together and all enjoyed it. It showed how in some places the rice grain is still separated from the stalk by the pounding of buffalo hooves. It was very interesting.
I've prepared some bits and pieces for tomorrow. We really do need to get back into the FIAR routine. The girls both asked for a new learning book today. I have decided we are going to start A Pair of Red Clogs by Masako Matsuno next week.
One of these days I am going to figure out how to do links properly on this thing.