Thursday, 3 April 2014

Local Nature Reserve

Living in the countryside, we haven't had much of an urge to explore our local nature reserves as it often feels like we live in one already!  However, when a homeschool trip came up to a local nature reserve we knew straight away this was going to be just our kind of thing.  Mainly, because pond dipping was mentioned!  I would kind of like a pond in the garden, and so would the girls, but I think the dog would keep drinking all the water and probably eating any wildlife in it so have resisted so far.  This doesn't seem to have stopped frogs, toads and even lizards visiting our garden though :-)
The local trip we went on was to Vinters Valley Nature Reserve in Maidstone, just off Junction 7 of the M20.  It was a brilliant afternoon, the highlight for me, being the discovery of this toad:

The reserve warden was great with the kids and very knowledgeable.  We kept a record of birds seen and heard and his ability to recognise birdsong has sparked off a determination in dd1 and dd2 to be able to do this themselves.  We have a CD of birdsong which came free with a newspaper a long time ago - I'm going to dig it out and see if we can learn some ourselves. 

I think the highlight for dd1 and dd2 was doing the pond dipping.  The element of danger of falling into the pond only added to their enjoyment!  An amazing array of tiny pondlife were discovered and (mostly!) identified using identification charts, and finding empty frogspawn and tadpoles was the bee's knees!

Maybe you have a nature reserve near to you that you could visit ...

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Schooling with the Weather

I know I've said this before, but the flexibility of homeschooling is one of my favourite things about it.  Today we have stunning weather, so out we went!  We tried to identify some wild flowers, some bird song, some birds and some insects.  We came home and made some notes in our nature journals.  Happy days!
Wood anemone

Bluebell in foreground, celandines and wood anemone in background

Wood anemone



What we did when we got back!

The books you can see on the table above are: The Country Diary of and Edwardian Lady, (I got a copy for pennies secondhand) Collins Complete British Wildlife Photo Guide, Keeping a Nature Journal (I waited a long time to get this - eventually finding a second hand copy for sale on eBay) and our read aloud, Tales From The Odyssey Part Two from our Ancient Greeks project.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Arctic and Antarctic Project

In the winter of 2011-2012 we did a fantastic project on The Arctic and Antarctica.  We'd been trying to come up with an idea of what to study and a combination of hubby and me going on an anniversary trip to see Paul Rose at The Assembly Hall Theatre in Royal Tunbridge Wells and trailers on television advertising Frozen Planet sparked the project off.
Here are the resources we used:
We watched Frozen Planet on BBC iplayer (it's now available on DVD) - I previewed each episode and told the girls roughly what was going to happen and they chose not to watch some of the scenes where some of the animals didn't survive - we're animal lovers here!
For each episode of Frozen Planet we took notes and then recorded the seasonal changes in words and/or pictures.
We used Enchanted Learning for worksheets.
We used the books Frozen Planet and Planet Arctic (which were reduced and available at The Book People at the time) for more information and photos, as well as library books including books on the stories of Sir Ernest Shackleton, Captain James Cook, Matthew Henson and Robert Peary.

We made some Arctic collages, after learning about Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights).

We learnt about the Inuit and their culture which linked in brilliantly with our next project which was on Native American Indians.  We made Inuit mittens out of felt:

There was no field trip for this project!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Ancient Greeks project

Last summer we started a project on Ancient Greeks.  It was due to finish at the end of the summer term, but consecutive bouts of chicken pox put paid to that plan and I exercised the luxurious ability to simply stop where we'd got to and carry on in September.  This we did, and here are some pictures from our journey:

Greek sailing boats

From Cake Angels

Lovely Greek Honey Cake

Ancient Greek meze
Ancient Greek meal

Painting Greek pots (amphora/e)

We used this great website to make a paper parthenon: 

Building the Parthenon!

Trying out a cepsydra

Trying out a clepsydra

Paper plate discus

Paper plate discus

Most of the activities we did came from this book:

But we used lots of books over the course of the project and are still reading Mary Pope Osborne's Tales from the Odyssey as one of our Read Alouds:

The book below was more suitable for older readers:

And this one was more suitable for younger readers:

I found some useful blogs and websites etc. during this project:  I've linked to the Ancient Greek pages on these sites below:

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Learning to read and write

I've been organising and decluttering and selling and freecycling over the summer and as I came across the remnants of our early homeschooling days I thought it might be helpful for someone if I documented some of the things we did when we were just starting out, so here is something from a few years ago!
Dd2 was very keen to 'do school' from before she was ready really, but that is the lot of a younger sibling I guess!  So, I had to come up with lots of ideas which looked like 'school' but weren't actually too taxing and here is one of them.  I printed out the outlines of letters from sparklebox using 'Large alphabet letters for tracing (Ref: SB606)' which is towards the bottom of this page and then we used different materials to fill the outlines.  We did other work on each letter simultaneously, looking at only one or maybe two per week.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The Truth Is ...

The truth is, that I don't do all the teaching myself!  At the end of each term we try to make a small gift and write a short note to say thank you to the other adults who help round out our homeschool life.  This usually turns into a mini education in itself - a bit of thinking, a bit of planning, a bit of maths, a bit of writing, a bit of (food-based!) handiwork and a good dollop of gratitude!  We had a first go at using coloured fondant earlier today to say thank you to the tennis coaches - it was great fun, let's hope they don't melt by the time we get to the courts in half an hour!

And here's what we made the next day for the amazing volunteer Brownie leaders (it takes a lot of leaders to keep the Brownies in check!) - what a self sacrificing job they do!

I was impressed by the smiley faces - well executed and they really jolly up the little cakes!