Wednesday, 21 January 2015


To be honest, I didn't think my two would be that keen on making self-portraits, but I got that completely wrong!

First we looked at 4 self-portraits of Albrecht Durer in The Art Book for Children 2,

including this one:

and then they could choose what they wanted to use to make their own self-portrait.   I gave them some basic drawing tips on the shape of the human head (more egg than circle!) and we looked at how far up/down the eyes are (half way) which they found surprising, then the bottom of the nose and the mouth.  I set them up in front of mirrors and off they went!

Their framed pictures on our 'up-the-stairs gallery':

Monday, 12 January 2015

What to do with the month of December?

I had planned that we would work for quite a bit of December last year, maybe finishing the last few things in the week beginning the 15th, but it just wasn't to be.  I should have known when in September I saw other people settling back to school but planning to stop for all of December and feeling a bit sorry that I hadn't worked our schedule similarly.  I needn't have felt like that though because I fell ill at the end of November and after a bad experience in 2013 of falling ill and ending up with no voice for a month (gulp!) I (reluctantly!) decided to give in gracefully, tie up the last loose ends and pack away the books early.  This turned out to be the right thing to do - I recovered and only struggled with my voice for a few weeks, rather than losing it completely.
So, what to do with that extra time?  Well, this for a start:

Baking snowmen cakes for neighbours and people who help the kids in one way or another (Brownie and Guide leaders, sports coaches, Sunday school teachers etc):

Christmas doodle books retrieved from the Advent box:

Freezing saucers of water and leaves overnight in the garden to make ice suncatchers for the next day:

Baking more cakes and decorating them for visitors:

Having fun at Brownies:

Building a den in the garden with friends:

What gradually happened through the month is that I realised we were spending much of the month serving others in one way or another.  This was a much better use of time than anything I had planned :-) and I hope it can become something we do annually.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Getting out and about

I determined over the summer 2014 that we would meet up more with other homeschoolers and that I would make a concerted effort to grab more opportunities which came our way. We ended up doing all kinds of things I couldn't have foreseen - here's a glimpse:

In September I ran our annual Fun Games Day for a few local families, which is loosely based on a school Sports Day, but there are no races and it's more about fun than physical prowess!

We also joined a group of other homeschoolers and visited a local stately home.

In October we went to see a showing of the BBC's 10 pieces at a local cinema with some of the homeschoolers we had gone to the stately home with, and the following week we went to the Primary Proms at the Royal Albert Hall where we met a lot of homeschoolers - some new faces and some familiar.

The day after I ran our annual Scavenger Hunt for a few local families and we celebrated dd2's 9th birthday!

The following week we met up with some other families and went to visit a fire station:

I also made a commitment (to myself, really!) to get along to a group which meets weekly about an hour from us.  Realistically we could only go there every fortnight, which we managed, more or less and we had some very enjoyable times there doing some craft activities and building friendships (for the girls and for me).

With the exception of the fortnightly local group meetings, all these events were free!  The local group asks for £2 donation and we made donations at the fire station and the stately home (I think!).  Obviously there are travel costs involved in most of these events, and for us we also had to pay for a dog walker when we went to London, but I'm very glad that I made the effort to do these things with other homeschoolers and to give myself and the girls some time amongst like-minded families rather than our usual diet of the three of us at home or spending time with schooled children.  I have already signed up for a few more events in 2015.  

I can't finish this post without explaining how I came across all these events, when I hadn't found much going on locally before; joining a local HE group on facebook has made all the difference - it was really as simple as that!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Hidden Treasure

Kind of following Charlotte Mason and kind of following Ambleside Online, I have learnt to be quite choosy about books and curriculum.  I've also learnt that a fair few items I'd like to get hold of are no longer printed or are simply not available here in the UK, unless of course you are prepared to get your hands (and often knees!) dirty searching for hidden treasures.  At a very wet village fete today I was absolutely delighted to pick up all of this lot scarily cheaply.  I did have to kneel on a damp floor, and carry all this lot in my arms whilst rummaging further, but it was absolutely worth it and I feel like I've undeservedly been given a great big present :-)  Perfect timing too as I started planning in detail this evening and working out what I haven't been able to get hold of second hand and will have to buy brand new :-)  In fact, I was in such a good mood that both dds got sewing machine time this afternoon - more handicrafts of course :-)  Homeschooling never really stops for a holiday!

Finishing the final part by hand.

A carry cot for Hoppity the Panda.

Pinning on scraps left over from bunting I made.

Much jollier t-shirt now :-)

Much, much jollier :-)

A closer look at the treasure.

Some are for me and dh :-)

Monday, 21 July 2014

Telling the Time

Over the years, I made several cardboard clocks with movable hands, but this idea, which I got from Pinterest was by far the most useful.  All you need are 3 paper plates, a split pin, 3 different coloured pens, a pair of scissors and 2 strips of card for the hands:

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Bean Bags from my other Blog

I've said many times before, that where homeschool ends and the rest of life begins is a very had place to find, and in fact, I now think that such a place doesn't exist, so not surprisingly, a post I put on my craft blog, Camberwell Crafts, could just as equally have started its life here: 

Bean Bags

I've seen sewing machines on American blogs which are aimed at kids size-wise but still operate much the same as an adult's machine and have looked for something similar in the UK over the last couple of years with no success.  A few months ago however, I came across this at a newly opened John Lewis store not far from where we live:

It was just what I've been looking for for Pinky and Perky and at £49.99 was something we could get them as a special shared present :-)
It comes in various colours - I've seen red, pink and purple in the store but other colours online as well.  I chose the white one as I found the other colours in the store quite dark and as it doesn't have a built in light, I wanted it to reflect as much light as possible onto the fabric.  It has a variety of stitches and 9 needle thread tensions, two needle positions and a reverse.
Very generously I was given a £10 Waitrose voucher by my mum a while back and as that can be used in John Lewis too, it brought the price down yet further, so without another thought, a sewing machine was purchased instead of Easter eggs and it was opened with much gusto last Sunday.  It will far outlast any chocolate!
As the forecast for today was rain, rain and more rain I decided this was the day to have a go with the sewing machine, so Pinky and Perky took it out of its box and they chose some fabric which had been very generously given to them by my sister-in-law, and to her in turn by her mother-in-law (I can see a bit of a generational thing coming on here!).  We looked at the instructions a lot and set it up without too many problems and then they made beanbags!  Pinky in particular was absolutely thrilled with what she had achieved.  And I was pleased we'd kept the out of date beans over the past years which I always knew would come in handy one day!
Cutting out templates.

The new machine ready for action!

Cutting fabric - child hands+adult scissors=hard work!

Placing the template on the fabric.

Ready to go!

Hand sewing the hole after turning right side out and filling with beans.

Perky showing side 1.

Perky showing side 2.

And here is Perky's beanbag ...

... in all its technicolour glory!

Pinky with side 1.

Pinky with side 2.

And a happy pink version ...

... for a very happy little girl!