Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Holiday sports camp and loom bands

Harry has been at a summer holiday sports camp for the past two days. He has really enjoyed it (even the swimming, which he hated at Easter) and has played tennis, football and hockey and done gymnastics and crafts. His friend from our NCT group came to sleep at our house last night too as he was also attending both days at Gamesweek. They both looked very hot and well-exercised when I picked them up today! 

In between sports he has also been busy building loom band bracelets. He had heard people talking about them and seen lots at Beavers so when we were in a shop last week he spent some of his money on a kit. He has mastered the basic weave and fishtail and has done honeycomb and raindrop bracelets this week. He has been watching YouTube videos and following the instructions himself for the new styles. 

Whilst Harry was at Gamesweek yesterday, Peter and I went to Tynemouth to meet some home ed friends . There is a range of bouncy castles with slides which he really enjoyed.

Today has been a bit too hot for him (and me actually; I've had a headache for most of the day) so we have mainly stayed indoors. We have done some big jigsaws together and read lots of books. We made a quick visit to the allotment to water everything and Peter ate one of the cucumbers as usual! 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Half-year home ed quiz and review

I have been reviewing what we have covered in the past six months recently in order to put together a half-year quiz for Harry. We did this at Christmas too and he loved it. His recall isn't great so this is a good, fun way to practise and it allows me to take stock of what has been done. Often, this is more than anticipated, which I expect is the case for a lot of home educators where learning can become a natural process and you are not always trying to meet targets and tick boxes.

We cover subjects in different ways. I noticed that most of the geography topics were part of projects looking at major events - the World Cup, Winter Olympics and Chinese New Year, whereas English has mainly been workbook based. We do lots of hands-on science both alone and with friends and group history workshops led by third parties with other home educating families. This variety suits us and means that if a particular approach isn't working, we can fall back on other activities.

I went through my blog and chose some major areas to cover, which we did using quick-fire factual questions. This is how it was broken down:

English and art

Nouns, verbs and adjectives
Question marks and question words 

The art of Matisse and Van Gogh 


Harry spelled forty words from the dolch lists by writing half and telling me half verbally. This area has improved a lot this year. We only started doing spelling in January and he couldn't spell simple words like 'with' but he hardly struggled with these words. I chose middle-difficulty words for him such as 'they' and 'every' and we will continue to work on this so he can feel confident when writing himself.


Units of measurement - ml, cm, degrees, grams
Right angles
Fractions - quarter, half and third
Horizontal, vertical and parallel lines
3D shapes
Identifying the biggest number using numbers in tens of thousands
Days in a week and months in a year
Bar charts
We also practised the 2-6 times tables by rolling a ball to each other and saying them in turn


Ancient Egypt
Famous volcanic eruptions
Great Fire of London
World War I


Forces - gravity, friction, air resistance
Electricity - conductor vs insulator
States of matter
Space - planet facts, constellations
Adaptation and food chains
Human body - organs, skeleton


Landmarks - Taj Mahal, Sistine Chapel

I don't think we will be starting anything new in August which will give me chance to get some advance preparation done for Autumn. We will continue to read and play games at home of course. We have a very busy period coming up: Harry is taking part in several summer holiday sports camps and swimming lessons which will tire him out, we have a family wedding, cousins visiting and a camping weekend and we would like to make the most of the summer weather and special summer holiday events too.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Games, reading and bike practise

We have stayed around home today as I have felt a bit weary the last couple of days and we didn't have the car anyway. We completed most of our beach follow up activities and did a couple of sections of half-year quiz. Last year we did a quiz at the end of the year based on the topics we had covered but I felt that a year was too long to review all at once. Harry really enjoyed the quiz and asked for another one so I reviewed my blog and we have covered maths, science and spelling today. We will be doing history, geography, English and art too this week. 

We have played several of our Orchard Toys games today: Pirate Ludo, Crazy Chefs and our newest one, Les Courses a Faire. This is a French language version of Shopping List and I really like it! Harry was trying to read the words on his list and Peter made great efforts at saying his words. 

Peter has also been out practising on Harry's old first bike! He is really fast on his balance bike but I want him to learn to pedal so he can use a proper bike next year when he is too big for the balance bike. He was really proud of himself as he made it half way down the street and back.

I have been reading The Borrowers aloud today and also most of this library book, which both boys love. They really enjoy traditional stories, which is why, I guess, such stories endure for generations! 

Harry read his first Summer Reading Challenge book, which had a serious message that the habitats of animals are being destroyed and people must care and act together to save them. He read quickly and fluently and was really pleased that he didn't need any help with the first page.

Beach activities

We enjoyed following up our recent beach science and visit with some more activities.

We investigated the sea water we brought back from our beach trip. We measured 100ml of sea water and fresh water and weighed them. I asked Harry how we could make it a fair test and he said to use the same amount. Harry was amazed that the sea water weighed more and suggested it was because of the salt.

We coloured some fresh water and poured it into salt water. The fresh water floated to the top of the salt water layer due to being lighter (http://www.kidspot.com.au/funzone/Experiment-Floating-coloured-water-experiment+11433+570+sponsor-activity.htm).

We also looked at another difference between salt and fresh water using this experiment (http://anordinary-life.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/fishing-for-ice-cubes.html). When you sprinkle salt on the ice cubes, the difference in freezing temperature between salt and fresh water makes the string sink down into the ice and freeze into place, allowing you to 'fish' out an ice cube. 

This didn't work the first time we tried, in this container. 

We re-visited it a few days later (like 'proper scientists' Harry said) and changed a few things. We used a lot more salt and did it in a glass so the ice cubes were very close together. I put the string in place too the second time as I don't think Harry had the necessary patience to leave it for long enough. It worked!! Harry loved this.

We examined the sand we brought back from the beach (http://lifestyle.howstuffworks.com/crafts/seasonal/spring/beach-activities2.htm). Peter picked out the larger pieces of stone and we talked about erosion. Harry was delighted to find some magnetic material in his sample. We also watched a short episode of Coast on iPlayer about dredging sand from the ocean floor.

Harry and Peter used the sand and rocks, along with some play sand in the garden to create their own 'beach'. Harry did some coastguard rescues with little boats.

Peter filled every container he could find and established a 'water shop'. He charged £100 for the biggest bucket! 

Whilst in the garden, we talked about the beach and the boys gave me the lines for an acrostic poem, which Harry wrote out.

We also listened to a BBC podcast, featuring people who help us at sea and the story of Grace Darling (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01w533q). I think this gave Harry the inspiration for the 'Coastguards watching' line of his poem.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Allotment, Lego and summer reading challenge

We have done a little bit of follow-up beach science today but Peter had a very grumpy morning and had to go back to bed for a nap so most of the morning did not go as planned! We will continue tomorrow. Harry kept himself busy while I negotiated with Peter with the two Lego activities below. He is self-motivated generally in his free time and doesn't struggle to find activities he wants to do.

He enjoyed making some stop-motion animation Lego videos this morning using a Lego video app. He hasn't done this before and needs a bit of practise getting clear shots but he is getting better. 

He has also spent a lot of time today building a high-security prison with attached office and barbecue area! 

We went to the library after lunch and Harry signed up for the summer reading challenge. He chose his first two books today and needs to read six over the school summer holidays. We would probably do this anyway but the challenge element gives him something extra to work towards. 

We also visited the allotment to water our plants in the greenhouse. We have some good looking green tomatoes. 

We harvested Beetroot, which looks great and we are having for dinner tonight. 

And also courgettes and the first onions, which Harry laid out to dry.

We brought home a pot full of peas too which Peter snacked on later whilst Harry podded broad beans; this has always been one of his favourite kitchen jobs. These are from our veg box, not the allotment. Ours are just starting to grow pods.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Wetland Centre, eye test and Beavers

It's been a busy few days; it feels later than Tuesday!

Harry had his first eye test at the weekend. He really enjoyed it; he must have been the most excited customer of the day! He doesn't have any problems but there is lots of short-sight in the family so there is a high chance he will need glasses at some point. 

He spent Sunday with his Beaver group at an outdoor activity centre. They had a great time and did orienteering, assault courses and dry-slope sledging. He went to sleep very quickly!

It was the last Beavers meeting of the term yesterday too and they had fun party games followed by a party tea. Harry made traffic light jellies to take for the party.

We met friends at the Washington Wetland Centre yesterday too. It was very hot and I think Harry was still tired from Sunday so he was a bit bad-tempered all day! They both fed some ducks and geese from their hands.

And we always enjoy seeing the flamingos.

We are still reading The Borrowers aloud at home and the boys have been out in the garden with lots of water. 

Beach science and trip to the beach

We have had a brilliant day and I am tired out! The laptop needs a new power cable so I have just put my links in brackets for now so I can update them properly another time. 

We started by looking at beach-themed science with some friends at our house. We talked about why a sea breeze blows from the sea to the land with the help of this demonstration. The sun (grapefruit) warms the sea (ice pack) and the land (warmed sand) at different rates, resulting in different air pressure. The wind blows from high to low pressure to try to equalise it.

We also talked about different kinds of waves and demonstrated that water molecules move in a circular motion within a wave, by making waves in a tub of water containing a floating object. The object bobbed up and down and returned to much the same starting place. I used this page to help with the explanation (http://legacy.mos.org/oceans/motion/wind.html).

We watched a BBC class clip (http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/clips/z4mn34j) showing how beaches are formed and the stages of rock erosion and a YouTube video about tides (http://youtu.be/5ohDG7RqQ9I), before having lunch and heading down to a local beach in Whitley Bay for some real life investigation with our friends.

Lots of rocks were collected and we brought a bucketful home to examine in detail tomorrow. We saw the different stages of erosion we had seen in the video at home. Harry liked these red ones in particular. We also collected sand and sea water to use tomorrow and observed the tide coming in during our long visit - the area below was completely covered with water when we left.

General beach fun was had for several hours too - jumping in the waves, drawing in the sand, excavating tunnels and building seaweed 'forts'.

And, erm, licking rocks!! Peter kept dipping the rock in the sea and licking it. Surely only a three year old would think to do that!