Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Forest school

Last week continued as it started - playing every day with the kids that live up and down our row of houses.  It was lovely.  We went swimming with Jarvis and his dad, and all the kids really enjoyed it.  One of the best school holiday weeks we've had, as everyone was around and in the mood to hang out with each other.

Monday we had a quiet one.  The car was booked into Kwik Fit so we dropped it off and walked home.  Yesterday Caden and Miles came over.

Today was the first session of forest school.  It's for 6+ so Meg stayed at home with my mum.  Fred and Betsy weren't impressed for the first hour - there was lots of talking and information about the rules.  A couple of the parents told me the first session isn't representative of the rest in the 6 week block.  I told Fed and Betsy this but they weren't convinced.  There was no fire this week (a big draw).

However, one of the mums asked if they wanted to go and dig for old bits of Victorian pottery and glass.  Fred reluctantly agreed and Betsy wanted to be with Fred, so they went into the woods where there is essentially a Victorian rubbish dump.  And they came rushing out a few minutes later, glowing with excitement!  They'd found some pottery shards.  Then they came back with an intact medicine bottle!  And a beautiful white pot.  It was fantastic.  There are so many shards in different colours and patterns, and one of the future activities will be to make a group mosaic.

Next week we'll have a fire, and can bring things to cook on it (we'll bring bagels I expect).  There'll be knives and loppers, and there are plans to make a tyre swing and a catapult.  Fred and Betsy were pretty enthusiastic about it by the end.

Blue skies!

The biggest earthworm I've ever seen.

 Old medicine bottle.

Running to the Victorian rubbish dump through the mud.

Betsy brought her coconut shell piggy bank and made it a nest.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Weekend in brief

Weekend highlights: playing and playing and playing with the kids along our street, riding bikes and scooters, sunshine, playground, trampoline, cinema (for Fred and Rob), spotting signs of spring.

Today - more of the same (except for the sunshine).

Friday, 14 February 2014

Happy Valentines Day

A quieter day today.  

We popped to town in the rain to post our matchbox swap parcel.  The theme was prehistoric landmarks.  I found a puzzle website that creates word puzzles..  I made a word search with the names of local prehistoric barrows etc, and a code breaker about the Ridgeway National Trail.  It ends at Ivinghoe Beacon, which is a few miles away.  We added a mini standing stones model (from a make your own Stonehenge kit!) and a replica coin from c45 BC.  I hope our swap partners like it.

Apart from that we've stayed in, keeping warm.  I decorated the nature tray with the wooden hearts the girls made  the other day.  Betsy and Meg did some valentines cards and pictures. Fred played on the ipad and laptop,  Jeanie came over in the afternoon.  Fred and Betsy played with the Playmobil stuff for quite a while.  

Rob's meeting ended early today so he came home much earlier than usual.  A lovely start to the weekend!

Meg just found a bogey that 'looks like the number 7'!  Another sentence I wouldn't have predicted hearing before I had kids.....

Thursday, 13 February 2014

London - a good day.

Rob took the day off and we all went to London.  We bought Merlin passes last week - it feels very extravagant!  £400 for the 5 of us. 

I'd been planning on taking the kids to Alton Towers in June.  It's very close to Rob's parents and I know the kids will *love* it.  That would cost £150 for the day - it seemed daft not to spend the extra and be able to go to loads of other places too.

So today we collected our passes from the London Aquarium.  The train journey was great - story cubes, and games on the Nexus made time pass quickly.

It's very straightforward to get to the South Bank.  One tube journey, no changing, very little stress!  They love the tube.  Fred likes to stand up and balance as the tube rumbles along.

A short walk in the sunshine and we were there.  

There was lots to see at the aquarium.  Highlights included the jellyfish, sharks, penguins, spider crabs, sea horses, rays - pretty much everything!

We went for lunch in Giraffe afterwards.  I love Giraffe, and haven't been for ages.  It was delicious.  Fred amused himself by creating a superhero called Poop Man on the drawing table mat kids get.

It doesn't look much, but for writing-averse Fred it's a pretty big deal.  We had a few rounds of naughts and crosses too.

We had time to go on the London Eye before heading home.  I love the London Eye.  Rob is not great with heights and didn't enjoy going up, but he felt better once our pod was on the way down.  The kids enjoyed it for about 20 minutes, and then were a bit bored.  Probably not something we'll repeat unless we do an dark ride to see London lit up.

We got back just about in time to look after Will and Jeanie, friends from along the road.  They'll be here until bedtime, so there's lots more playing to be done this evening!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014


There has been a thread on one of the yahoo home ed groups about socialisation - what it is, how much children need, what form should it take. The original poster said that she's been told by a social worker that her child needed 15 hours a week. Someone else commented that a teacher told her that her child was not at school to socialise.

There is a difference isn't there, between the process of socialisation, and the activity of socialising? For me, socialisation is the process of learning about how your society operates, and how to behave in that society. Socialising is being with other people and interacting with them (does this need to be in person? I regularly interact with people online, as does Fred when he plays Clash of Clans and Dino D Day).

I've just checked the Collins dictionary - socialisation is 'the modification from infancy of an individual's behaviour to conform with the demands of social life', while socialising is 'the action of behaving in a friendly or sociable manner'.

I know people worry about either or both of these concepts in respect of home education. People have images of children kept at home, working at the the kitchen table. In fact, there are opportunities to socialise every day if you wish to do so. As for socialisation, I think our kids learn about the 'demands of social life' by having siblings, grandparents, local friends, children and their parents at groups we go to, shop keepers, the postman (really! He's very chatty).

So I've been mulling this over, prompted by the yahoo discussion and our last two days. We've spent them at home, but it's been very sociable!

My mum came over for a few hours yesterday. She stayed for lunch. Betsy and Meg persuaded her into some board games. Betsy spent half an hour showing Nanny her Minecraft world, and Fred gleefully showed her some of Dino D-Day (she didn't know what to make of it!).

10 minutes after she left, Billy and his mum Zoe popped in on their way home from a walk on Ivinghoe Beacon. Fred played Minecraft with Billy, and they went over to Jarvis's house for a while. Betsy asked Zoe to play Moshi Monsters with her. They stayed for a couple of hours. So all together they kids had 6 hours of social contact with people outside of their immediate family.

Today was Betsy's Girl Club. She had this excellent idea to invite home ed girls over and do 'girl stuff'. So, I sent a message to our local home ed email lists and got some lovely responses. The first club was last week, and we had one family (with two sisters) and it went really well. They made cupcake badges and pop-up cards, and played Sylvanian Families.

Today we had a heart theme, and had some wooden hearts to decorate.

Three families came, so we had 6 girls including Betsy and Meg. They played upstairs, then did some craft, then played on the Wii and the DS. It was a lot of socialising and socialisation! We're planning another one in two weeks time, and Betsy would like to do some sort of animal activity. I'll get my thinking cap on (aka go to Pinterest for some ideas!).

We finished the daffodils and I hung them up next to the nature tray. I added the crocus and snowdrop fairies to the tray, as we inch closer to spring.

Oh - great news from Fred.  He's now a level gold 3 in Clash of Clans.  He's delighted!

Monday, 10 February 2014

Making, doing, playing

Back after an unscheduled blogging break!

Winter goes on, not with snow and ice but with rain and floods.  We're very lucky where we are.  The canal is unlikely to flood, as it flows into a brook (which does flood, but further downstream).  We've been on many muddy walks, sailed origami boats on puddles (brushed with melted beeswax first), and stayed in a lot!

I ordered a free trial of a Weekend Box for Betsy and Meg, and we dug into them today.  They're pretty cool, with more content than I expected.

We started with mini kites made from straws and old carrier bags.  Meg in particular loved running with the kite flying behind her.  Freddie wanted one too so I made a stealth kite by request (clear plastic bag!).  I've added 'go fly a kite' to my list of things to offer the kids soon.

Meg really liked the box and was keen to chose another activity.  She opted for snowball cakes - little cakes made from butter, sugar, flour and chopped nuts, then rolled into balls and baked.  When they were cool she rolled them in  a mixture of icing sugar and desiccated coconut.  Cute!  The nuts and coconut were in the box, I had the rest of the ingredients on hand.

Next to do was a colour mix paint activity.  Each box had two small packets of powder paint.  I added a few drops of water and Meg and Betsy mixed it into each colour.  Then they mixed their two colours together.

There is also a map making activity, we'll probably have a look at it tomorrow.

Fred continued to build on his Clash of Clans success.  He's a silver 1, and very pleased with that.  Today he bought some hog riders, something he's been wanting to do for a while.

Betsy, Meg and I started making some daffodil bunting, an idea from the Garden Classroom ebook I've had for ages and not used.  It has some cool things to do, and I've made alist of the ones I think will appeal to the kids.

The daffs need their trumpets gluing on, then we can stick them to some ribbon and hang them up.

Betsy has been collecting photos of birds to make into a bird book.  She picked a pink display folder last week, and started writing the names of the birds today.

Apart from that there's been minecrafting, Dino D-Day, Littlest Pet Shop, Johnny Test, Octonauts, pretend fishing with a garden cane fishing rod, Playmobil.

And here, because I can smell them while I'm writing this, is a glorious daffodil, telling me spring isn't too far away.