Friday, 4 November 2011

Planning, planning, planning ...

Since I started my teacher training an awfully long time ago (!) I have fiddled around and experimented with different styles and layouts of planning, and being a home educator has not resolved this problem one bit!  In fact, faced with the option to plan any how I liked and not how the school policy dictated I have had even more choices!
My most recent (and really successful so far!) planning style is this:

I've been through all kinds of planning since I started homeschooling just over 3 years ago including one busy year when I hand wrote a lined A4 page for each day and a very time-pressed half-term holiday when I  word-processed the whole half term onto one A4  piece of paper.  I still use (even if it's only in my head sometimes!) the long, medium and short term planning system but I am very relaxed about plans being flexible to suit the child, the weather, and so on!
I'm hoping that I may have 'cracked it' this time but I doubt it somehow!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Fab art ideas

I have recently begun working my way through 10 Simple Art Activities which I found on this blog.  I like to give the girls opportunities to do biggish and random art, as well as handicrafts and smaller craft projects.  I wish there were more hours in the day and we could do some every day!

Getting ready - all clean and tidy!

Leaves we collected for printing.

Contact Paper Suncatchers

Hole "Challenge" Drawings

Q-tip Pointillism
Simply Painting (the background!)

Simply painting (the foreground!)

Getting stuck in!
Using Art Straws.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Easter Mosaic Cross

I had hoped to write about this activity some time ago, but on the grounds that late is better than never and potentially I could just be early for next year (!) here is a brilliant idea from that artist woman.

Now, our results weren't quite so impressive as hers, but for what it's worth, here's how we got on with it:
It was one of those art activities which takes place in stages and involves eating along the way!  So, we cracked and used the eggs (I forget what for now), washed the shells and let them dry.  Then we painted the shells in different coloured acrylic paint and again let them dry.  Next we broke the shells into smallish pieces and organised them into their different colours and cut crosses from pieces of card.  Finally we glued the shell pieces onto the card with PVU and painted over the shell pieces with the same glue as we went along.
While we were waiting for paint and glue to dry we culled the nature basket which was still full with autumn treasure and needed some space ready for new finds!

Painting the eggs
Sorting the eggshell pieces by colour

Glued cross ready for decorationg

Decorated cross

Drying in the sun

Crosses at the bottom of our Easter tree
Easter tree 2011

Sorting through the nature basket

Discovering old treasures

Little ones' role play.

I have often worried that dd2 doesn't get the role play opportunities that dd1 did before we moved house, but I needn't have worried because she is more than capable of resolving any such problems herself.  Some weeks ago I came across her in her office.  She can send emails (including one to the Queen explaining why I couldn't attend the Royal Wedding recently!) and write letters from her portable office.  There are also signs on the two doors to the conservatory, or should I say to her office (!), saying opne (sic) and shut in case there is any doubt!

On a more serious note, I read some time ago that homeschool parents are inclined to worry that they don't have a shop corner, post office corner and a kitchen corner etc like you might find in a Reception classroom, but of course, homeschooled children don't have to go to pretend shops, kitchens and post offices etc because they get to do the real thing!  It's a no-brainer isn't it!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Impromptu homeschooling

I guess impromptu homeschooling is one of the great benefits of teaching your own children - it's certainly one of my favourite parts and today we had a brilliant example of it.  Dh and I were trying to bring order out of chaos in our conservatory ready for homeschool after the (extended!) Easter break and some resources were discovered which hadn't been used before.  Suddenly the girls are old enough to use these wait-in-the-side-wings resources and beautiful things happen!  My Granny (who passed away a month ago) gave us some cards labelled Lucy Harrison Poetry Machines - I've found this website connected to them - and they were too hard for dd1 at the time they were gifted, but today they were just right, and I know my Granny would have smiled from ear to ear to see the poems which dd1 made from the word cards.  I wonder what you think of them?  I was very moved by them, but that's probably just one of those ex-Londoner motherly moments!
Morning wandered everywhere again.

Sometimes London people can become friends and smile.

Sometimes fiction can speak the language of London.

We remember fragments of happiness.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Time passes ...

It's been a while since my last post due to a couple of bereavements (one human and one feline!) in the family, but mostly homeschool has carried on.  We have continued to study Ancient Egypt and had a go at building a pyramid from lego following some instructions in Story of The World.  Despite my desire to let the girls loose with the instructions and the lego I had to help at one point with how to count the blocks on each side of the square:

Monday, 14 February 2011

Homeschool generosity

For me, homeschooling was quite a lonely path initially, but over time I have been blessed with kind friends whom I may never have met in those few minutes at the school gate twice a day.  Yahoo groups have become my once or twice daily contact with other adults with similar outlooks on education to me - much like those school gate encounters I guess - and that is where I have found many of these friends, some of whom I meet up with regularly.
One friend recently moved to the UK from Germany with her son and English husband and before we had even met in person very kindly asked if there was anything she could bring back for me on her next trip to Germany. Much to my surprise there was something! We had recently taken a look at Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart using My First Classical Music Book and it mentioned Mozart Kugeln, so I asked my friend to bring some back for us, and here they are, and very delicious they were too! Thank you!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Friday? Tuesday? Who cares? We homeschool!

Normally Nature Study (going out and observing and then drawing something and checking what it is etc) is on a Friday for us, but as we are walking every day with the dog we take opportunities as they come for observation, awe and wonder.  Today was a Tuesday but was such a warm and gloriously brilliant day that we made the most of that fantastic quality of homeschooling - flexibility!
We've had some high winds here since Friday so the poor puppy has had some fairly miserable and short walks across the recreation ground (so we didn't get hit by falling branches in the woods) but today we were back in the woods.  We tried to spot fresh branches that had fallen over the last few days - this is hard for us as we do not have the tracking gene in our family (!), but we spotted these fallen twigs with buds:

I don't know how long they had been on the ground so whether they will grow at all is anyone's guess! We also saw snowdrops and croci in the churchyard and grass shoots and maybe bluebell shoots (I haven't seen the wood in the spring so am not sure if it has bluebells yet!) coming up through the blanket of dead brown leaf which still covers the floor of the wood. The girls were so thrilled at these signs of spring that they needed no encouragement to draw the pictures below when we got back.  While they were drawing I printed off the signs of spring check sheets from the Woodland Trust's nature detectives website which is a real favourite of mine.


Monday, 7 February 2011

Homeschooling with a meek and quiet spirit

Homeschooling with a meek and quiet spirit by Terri Maxwell has been on my reading list for at least half a year and I have recently finished it.  Wow, what a book!  The title alone is piercingly challenging for someone like me! 
I ordered it from Rainbow Books and also ordered the study guide to go with it - so glad I did!  God willing I will be re-reading this book in the not too distant future, and repeatedly after that I expect!  It's an absolute mine of advice and wisdom from someone who has 'been there, done that' and is refreshingly honest about her failings as well as successes.
There is also lots of brilliant scripture (especially in the study guide) which I will be using for memory verses both for myself and the girls (they are blessed to be much better than me at memory verses!).

Thursday, 3 February 2011

If you go down to the woods today ...

you're sure of a big surprise ... because if you look carefully you will find graphemes/letters! 
Something we have been meaning to do for quite some time is photograph the graphemes/letters the girls spot on our dog walks.  The delay came because I realised I was going to struggle to control a crazy puppy on a 10 metre lead and help the girls with cameras, letter spotting and not falling into streams, but the Lord gave me an opportunity this week when dh had a day off work in lieu of doing a first aid course in his own time and I could therefore have an extra pair of hands on the dog walk!
I wonder if you can see the graphemes/letterswe saw!

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Learning mats.

A really useful little item which was just coming in as my teaching years ended was the learning mat.  I've never seen any in use in schools, nor heard of them, but they are great for homeschooling, especially if you move from seat to seat, room to room, house to house or are travelling.  I like to have lots of useful info on the walls and windows so my girls can find what they need easily (e.g. which way round to write a 7!), but wall and window space is limited, especially when we move out of the conservatory and into the main house for the winter.  Here are some pictures of our learning mats:

I made them on word, printed each side then laminated it, but you could print onto paper and put it into a plastic document wallet or print onto card.  Looking back, I would make some subtle changes if I ever re-make them, like starting the number line at 0! 
I'm sure you can think of other great ideas for learning mats - maybe one specific to a subject you are studying e.g. Ancient Egypt or Reptiles, or older children could even make their own!
If you would like me to email you a word document of the learning mat which you can then tailor to your own needs then please leave a comment below with your email address and I will very happily do so.