Monday, 15 February 2010

Chinese New Year

We don't celebrate Valentine's day in our house, but we like Chinese New Year. It's a good excuse to eat Chinese food :0) In addition, there's a blog competition if you post about what you did.....

I really don't expect to win anything but I thought it would be fun to enter and it gave me that extra bit of incentive to blog what we did.

ETA : There are some really good ideas on the other blogs. It looks like everyone has had a lovely time :0)

We kept it very simple due to everyone being tired. The kids had a sleepover with their cousins last night so were late to bed and early to rise and consequently a little bit touchy. In fact, the Boy fell asleep as soon as we had eaten. Bless!

We had Chinese takeaway which we ate with chopsticks. We had fortune cookies and green tea to go with it.

The girl made a pipecleaner tiger for the Year of the Tiger. It took some doing, especially working out how to make the head but she got there in the end :0)

She has a Chinese Zodiac book with complex mazes in that she loves, so that was a good excuse to bring that out.

We read a copy of the National Geographic from 2008 which was all about China. Actually, there's a lot of reading in the NG and most of it would go over her head so we looked at the photos and read the captions. I love their photos, so many aspects of Chinese life were portrayed. We ended up discussing all sorts of things, including the Great Wall of China and The Forbidden City. On the pleasant side, the Girl was surprised that Chinese people from different regions looked so different to each other. On the not so pleasant side, questions were asked about the treatment of animals and Tianneman Square.

We found China on the globe to see how big it is and discussed over-population and the one child policy. The girl came up with an interesting question - what happens if you have twins in China? As yet, I haven't been able to find the answer.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Edison's Birthday Cake, Maths monsters and clay

A creative couple of days :0)
As it was Thomas Edison's birthday on Feb 11th and the BYFIAR manual gives a recipe for a birthday cake mentioned in Chapter 2 of our book, we baked a cake :0) It's an American recipe so the measurements were all given in cups. Luckily, I have a set of these that I got for about 20p in our local charity shop. It wasn't until afterward that I realised that we'd used US cups but UK teaspoons etc. Baking's not really my forte - I didn't know what a bundt tin was and I've never made icing like this before - eggs, sugar and water in a double boiler mixed with burnt sugar. It makes a hard set toffee flavoured icing. I thought making the icing a bit too dangerous for them what with all that melted sugar and it took ages because I don't have a handheld mixer. It worked well though and there was so much mixture we ended up with 2 cakes. They had a great time baking and the cake was lovely :0)

The boy got to make plastacene animals as part of his maths book. Of course, the girl had to make one too :0)

Then he made a monster....

We went to Construction Club on Friday. It's Home Ed group we don't often go to as it takes the best part of an hour to get there. This month the theme was buildinga group landscape from clay. The boy wanted to put the sunshine in as his contribution, so he made a pond with the sun's reflection in it :0D

The girl continued with her farm fixation and made teeny tiny people and animals to go with her farm buildings. It's her thumb in the picture to give some idea of scale.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

...And Today.

We went to our local group meeting today. There were 10 families, 21 children between them aged @ 1 month to @ 14 years old. It's a monthly meeting with a theme - France this time. One of the mother's is French and she brought genuine home-made french recipe crepes, taught us a Breton dance, some french nursery rhymes and a French version of a Lucy Locket style game.

There was also the opportunity to -
construct the Eiffel Tower from straws,
learn a cats cradle Eiffel Tower,
play a game one of the children had devised based on the map of France,
label clothing and a weather chart in french,
read French books,
listen to jokes that had references to French language,
do mazes, colour maps and learn facts about France.
Oh, and play and play and play, outside, in the cold and the light snow flurrys.

We celebrated a late Epiphany (postponed due to bad weather) and also had Kings Cakes with hidden beans in them :0) Yum!


We started out with maths and Thomas Edison for the girl. She's not very keen on writing but she wrote a short autobiography of the day she was born to tie in with Chapter 2 of our BYFIAR book. Next, she sewed the arm on to the sock doll she's making. It's looking very cute, small, bright pink and squidgy :0)

The small boy practised his name. He used letters I'd stencilled onto milk bottle lids in both lower and upper case - 'higher case' as he calls it :0) Then he found some words beginning with 'sh' on his slidy letter thing and wrote them down as part of his Scooby Doo lapbook (his request). 'Sh' for Shaggy.

They both went off to play with the moonsand that he got for his birthday. And then developed their sweeping up skills. Nice stuff but messy!

Unplanned and unexpectedly (DCSF please note how this would not fit into your proposals), they got out the girl's new weather station -also a birthday present. This seemed like a good time to get out a pack I'd bought last summer in a sale - you see, being a bargain hunter and a hoarder can come in useful ;0)

We spent most of the rest of the afternoon talking about clouds, reading complicated names, discussing thermometres, measuring systems and such like. We tried to make our own rainbows with water, a mirror and a torch but failed miserably. In the end, I resorted to spinning a crystal in the window - much more effective. Will try the rainbow experiment again - maybe we need a different kind of torch?
Making Rainbows:
1. Put a mirror inside a glass bowl at a 45 degree angle. (We used playdoh to fix it in one place)
2. Shine the torch straight down onto the mirror so that the light reflects back onto a wall.
3. Look at the rainbow on the wall.
We did it as per instructions but all we got was a white rectangle reflection. No rainbow :0(
However, all this weather talk set me off gardening - the first of the year. And look what I found under the old leaves and stalks :0) Yeeeay!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Free Poetry Project Pack

Heart of the Matter are giving away a free HOAC Project Pack called A Peek at Poetry. It has info, and a minibooks to go with it. It doesn't appear to be about specific poems, just poetry in general.
All you have to do is sign up for the Heart of the Matter newsletter :0)

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Committee debate

I finally managed to watch the Committee debate. Unfortunately, I found it difficult to hear what they all said but Caroline Flint MP (Labour) was quite easy to hear. She spoke against the Home Education part of the Bill, obviously having listened to one of her constituents. However, she toed the party line (as apparently she always does) and voted to keep this part of the Bill as it is. This was very disappointing and presumably happened because of the whips. (I read somewhere that there's a 3-line whip on it.) Maybe I'm wrong, but either the MP for Don Valley was lying in her speech and didn't actually agree with anything she was saying, or there's rather a big flaw in our political system whereby an MP can speak againt the party but then feel unable to vote against it. I'm not in Ms Flint's constituency, so I don't think anything I wrote to her would be acknowledged, but I'd really like to know why she voted how she did when she had so much to say against the CSF Bill.
This is what she said here.

Not enough Pictures!

It's been a busy week :0) There's been birthdays which means play gyms, lots of friends, relatives and Magna - not necessarily all at the same time. They got great presents, lots of sciency stuff, books, games, crafts and mini-people :0) VERY happy children :0)
On the Home Ed side, in and amongst their amazingly full social calender, they managed to stay at home some days and do some stuff an inspector would recognise as learning....not that he'll be seeing it cos we're not registered at all.
We started Yr2 MEP Maths this week. I bought the books instead of just printing them off the internet. The girl is very pleased with them. So pleased that she has manged the neatest numbers ever :0) It seems to have jumped backwards a bit, probably due to its having been written for school children who would need some reminders after the six week holidays. Boykin is still doing the Reception book and I'm very pleased because there are now lesson plans up to 50, only 10 more to wait for. We've been moving a bit quicker than the lesson plans have been published so I'm glad there are so many up now. Not that I think we've missed much. His spacial awareness and number skills are fine :0)
The Girl went to French group, leaning 'le', 'la' and all the corresponding possessive determiners. (Okay, I had to look that up! ) While she was doing that, me and the Boy played Planet Protectors and helped them to build words do his maths book ;0)
We've also read the next bit of Thomas Edison, learnt a bit more about the Great Lakes, looked at the house he was born in ont'Web and filled in a bit more of the map.
We've been dicussing Normans quite a bit this week too.

We had a lovely book group meeting. So nice to see people again after all the snow. It was cancelled in January - due to snow- so everyone brought different books that they'd read over Christmas. Both of mine took one, Munchkin girl wrote a review of The story of Olga da Polga by Micheal Bond and Boykin took Room on the Broom which I pactically know by heart having read it 3,006 times! This month we're reading Fattypuffs and Thinifers by Andre Maurois.

The Boy got a kit to make his own bouncy balls. He was ecstatic. He collects them - bouncy balls that is. It was really simple to do - just add cold water.

I would have liked to know what was actually in the little bags of coloured crystals. None of the science was explained, in total contrast to his Grow-your-own-worms kit. This gave a good scientific explanation of polymers which went over his head a bit, but he liked it that Worm Goo (sodium alginate) came from seaweed.
(It's not a very good photo, but it was good fun)

We went to Magna with cousins etc for the day. They really enjoyed it. It's a science museum inside an old Steelworks. There are four pavilions, one for each of the elements - earth, air, fire and water. It's completely hands-on and interactive and cold. Brrr! Unfortunately though, quite a number of exhibits didn't work. However, the kids enjoyed it and found plenty to explore - so much so, that we didn't get a proper chance to do all the Earth section. We've never been in summer, they have an outside waterplay area and an absolutely fabulous playground. And, they do a Home Educators discount :0D
Note to self - next time I remember to charge the camera battery up before I go out for the day, I MUST remember to put the battery back in the camera!!

The Girl got Lego Creationary game for her birthday. I think they both felt a bit challenged by it at first but soon got into it. I can see this being played lots. It's going to be great for developing their creative imaginative building skills :0) It's a bit like Pictionary except instead of drawing you have to builid Lego models and the other players have to guess what it is. There's no reading involved so it's good for non-readers too. Great fun:0)

Photos of models taken by them :0)

Ambulance Boat

Snake Swimming pool

Monday, 1 February 2010

Imbolc story walk

It's so lovely having some sunshine :0) Two glorious days in a row.
I've not had my camera with me this weekend so have no photos of our lovely walk yesterday exploring the last pockets of snow and ice on moorland crags. There were amazingly bulbous icicles, miniature glaciers for skating and tunnels created by melting water. And then, while looking for a Roman road, we discovered a hidden valley complete with stream and woodland. Beautiful! Both children walked happily for miles - and at a decent pace which makes a change. I can look forward to longer, more interesting and more varied walks now. Must remember the chocolate next time - for me that is ;0)
Today the went on the Imbolc story walk to celebrate the coming of Spring. The kids loved it. There was much running around with friends in woods, funny stories in folk-tale style,
a crow stilt walker

a dragon,

morris dancers,

and an ivy covered hoop to climb through.

It was all most wonderfully topped-off with soup, bread and a very essential cup of tea in a lovely warm room. Fab!!
Like I said, no camera, but one of my lovely friends took some photos for me. Thanks C. X