Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Bank Holiday Monday

I spent the morning working on a new project and trying to organise another qualification course for The Girl and some of her friends.
Boykin was mostly playing Minecraft and the Girl mostly slept, recovering from her Duke of Edinburgh expedition.
In the afternoon , we got out for a walk with our neighbours. The sky was grey and it kept threatening to rain but it felt so good to be outside...

...swinging on ropes...

...climbing trees...

...walking in woods...

...and making flower garland crowns :)

How did you spend your Bank Holiday Monday?

Saturday, 23 May 2015

What we've been up to...

We've been really busy. Too busy to blog really. And too busy for very much maths, much to Boykin's delight ;)

So far this month, we have been to our monthly table top games group session where they enjoyed playing Diavolo , Knock Your Blocks Off and Snake Oil amongst others.

We also had our monthly themed session which was about physics. They really enjoyed learning about Newton's Laws and doing the experiments that involved spinning eggs, dropping marbles and playing with a skateboard. I also used the opportunity to test the science activity from the new Picture Book Explorers ~ The Little Ships.  (Use this link to get a 20% discount until 4th June.) It went down a treat and engaged all the kids from ages 3 to 15. Woohoo!

They're both still enjoying the study group that they attend, both doing two classes each, unfortunately for me, not at the same time.
They've been to the new local swimming pool which has slides and better family changing rooms.
The Girl has continued working on her patchwork quilt at the sewing classes we attend together; I made a cushion cover :) And I'm quite chuffed because on the very last session Boykin joined in and made a pincushion. Consequently, we're all going back to beginners again so that The Girl can finish her quilt and Boykin can make something else. It's great when they discover a new craft that they enjoy :)

Boykin has also recently been enjoying building and playing with remote control cars outside. His main indoor activity is making Minecraft videos so that he can have a Youtube channel when he's old enough. Look out Dan TDM ;)

The Girl has started volunteering at a not-so-local Montessori school one morning a week as part of her Bronze Duke of Edinburgh, and she's off this weekend on her expedition. Here's praying that they get good weather and don't get lost!

They're both working towards the Explore Arts Award with the library service who set up a CILIP shadowing scheme for our book group concentrating on the Kate Greenaway Medal. The group is from aged 5 to 15 and they all seem to be enjoying it. I'm very impressed with the way it's being run and will be incorporating some of the ideas into our own book readings at home. I'm also very impressed with the things my children come out with when discussing the books. Our litereature heavy approach has really paid off :)

We've been to the theatre to see "I Believe in Unicorns" which was sad but hopeful, and "Bromance" which was funny and breathtaking.

I finally finished reading The River Singers to them and they've both read piles of books to themselves. Boykin has just discovered the joy of Roald Dahl.
On the film front, he's had me watching every version of The War of The Worlds that he could find on Netflix, which has lead to lots of interesting discussions. I'm thinking Day of the Triffids next as a good scary sci-fi story....

Oh, and they went to a dry slope skiing centre for their cousin's birthday :)

What has your family been up to?

Tuesday, 28 April 2015


The Girl is currently working towards an NVQ Level 2 in Art & Design. This week's homework was to tea stain some paper and use it to create a piece that will go towards their final project. Here is a photograph of her work - shared with her permission :)
In the meantime, my not-quite-so-crafty Boy has been inspired to make mini weaponry after he saw this video on Youtube.

You can get free downloadable .pdf instructions by subscribing to Sonic Dad. There's also a selection of other freebies too.

We had a lot of fun with the glue gun even though we got a couple of singed fingers along the way - keep the aloe vera handy! It proved to be quite tricky in parts and Boykin definitely needed a bit of adult help. He was still very happy with the outcome and has been firing matches all round the house since :/

Hints and tips from Boykin:
Use coloured lolly sticks to save colouring in.
Number your pieces on the template and write the numbers on the lolly sticks too.
Trim the excess glue before it sets too hard.

His verdict - glue guns are amazing!!!!

Monday, 6 April 2015

Our Easter Traditions

I have happy memories of Easter egg hunts as a child, particularly one year's hunt that included  a new book. I really hope that I am giving my children similar happy memories of special celebrations.

Family traditions have been very important to my two youngest children over the years. They have enjoyed maintaining them and tweaking them a little as they grow older.

I can't really remember when we started the tradition of an egg hunt in our home, but I think it may have been after Boykin was born. I didn't go in for encouraging the Easter Bunny, but somehow The Girl took this myth on board. Consequently, a few years ago, I was very much surprised by her disappointment when I let slip that I laid the clues for the Easter egg hunt. Boykin, on the other hand, has never believed in the Easter Bunny and has always enjoyed the egg hunt just as much as his sister.

My mum still does an egg hunt every year for her grandchildren, very similar to the ones she made for me and my younger brothers - albeit with more eggs. It is noisy joyful mayhem. They all love it and very much look forward to it, even though there were often tears when they were younger when some cousins got quite a few more eggs than others. They have had to learn to share their winnings over the years.

Because there is a four year age gap between Boykin and The Girl, I wanted to make it fairer. I had to level the playing field somewhat so that one (The Girl) wouldn't end up with loads more eggs than the other (Boykin). So, I came up with the idea of cutting egg shapes out of cardboard and drawing pictures of the places where the eggs were hidden. Drawing meant that no-one had to be able to read, and the rough sketches meant that they were both as likely to be able to guess. At each destination, there were an equal number of small eggs to be shared and a new clue which they had to work together to solve. The hunt ended with a large egg each and quite often a present too. (Usually a book, sometimes audio books or CDs, but one year I gave them toothbrush sets). The whole Easter morning egg hunt event became a much more co-operative rather than competitive celebration.

 It's been a good tradition and they have both enjoyed it.

This year, however, there's been a slight change. The Girl is growing up. She's a teenager and doesn't always want to join in like she used to do. She is, however, really good at adding a certain flourish to the traditions in our home. This year, she took responsibility for setting the egg hunt. She drew pictures and wrote riddles on her egg-shaped clues, hiding the eggs in new places as well as old, tried-and-tested ones from previous years.

On Easter morning, she presented both me and Boykin with a basket for our finds. She collected her own share of eggs along the way as well, but I really loved how she included me in the fun.

I had my own Easter egg stash for once - the first time since I was a kid:) Yummy!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Competitions for Kids to Enter

Do your kids like entering competitions?
Here are some that are open to families and home educators in the UK right now.

Vegetable photo competition - I particularly like the idea of making a veggie animal :)

World Kids Colouring Day - closes May 13th - open to home educators as well as schools

Monthly Colouring Competition

Poetry Competition - children's section is free entry - closes 20th April.

Short Story Competition - closes 15th June

International Short Story Competition - closes 30th June

A Selection of Writing Competitions - open to home educators as well as schools. Click on the Parents tab and then click on Home Education in the drop down menu

Science & Engineering Competition - open to home educators as well as schools

Recipe Competition - open to everyone under age 18 - closes 31st August

*I have emailed the necessary schools competitions to check that home educators are eligible :)

If you know of any more, please post them in the comments :)

Good luck!

Friday, 27 March 2015

Easter sale at Currclick

There are 10 freebies hidden around the Currclick site in the Easter Sale :)
Can you find them all?

Remember to scroll to he bottom of the pages and have a good root around the site, clicking on links in the sidebar and bottom bar too ;)
Here Comes Peter Cottontail Lapbook by Hands of a Child
Resurrection Sunday Activity Booklet by Fortunately For You Book
Spring Notebooking and Coloring Pages by A Journey Through Learnin
Easter Skip Counting Cards by Eastern Wind Academy
Peter and Polly In Spring by All That's Good Publishing
Stories from the Life of Christ Told to the Children by Heritage History
Learning About Plants by Amazing Grace Learning Centers
Splendid Spring by Knowledge Box Central
Notebooking Easter by M.K. Harllee
Easter Vocabulary Activities (1st - 3rd Grades) by Christian Homeschool Publishing

Wednesday, 18 March 2015


The Girl is an Explorer Scout. Her scout group are going to Kanderstag International Scout Camp in Switzerland in 2016 and she has to raise the money to pay for the trip. Fundraising is not my forte and I was really stuck for ideas and suggestions for her. However, it turns out, she has had a very good idea of her own :)

The Girl wanted to help other children by donating her hair to the Little Princess Trust to be made into wigs for children with cancer. She has been collecting sponsors and the money will go towards her scout trip. Yesterday, she had 12" of hair cut off her head. The long thick plait weighed 94g and was posted to the Little Princess Trust yesterday. One of the local beaver leaders kindly cut her hair for her :)

From this.....
...to this.


Both me and The Girl have been overwhelmed by the messages of support for what she has done. It has really made her realise that donating hair is special and that it will have a real impact on others. I am very proud of her for her thoughtfulness and determination.

Thank you to all those people who have left messages and thank you to those who have donated. She has made a good start on her fundraising for going to the International Scout Camp next year :)