Sunday, 31 July 2016

Not quite the usual end of summer term

This time of year usually involves lots of going out for us, but a sudden and serious illness changed all that this year:

This end-of-summer-term was more about thinking of others and making sacrifices, than previous years.  These are, of course, valuable lessons in themselves, but after several weeks of not being able to go far or leave our dog home alone, we were all getting cabin fever.

Some traditions carried on as normal.  We made emoji cakes as thank you gifts for tennis coaches, Girls Brigade, Guide and Brownie leaders:

Dd1 made her first batch of chocolate brownies unaided (except for the in and out of the oven bit) for dh to take to work on his birthday.

We also had our annual end-of-school-year lunch at Sainsbury's.  Marking this point has become more and more important as the years have gone on, and having this carrot to dangle has made it easier and easier to get the last of the work finished off.

On the second day of the holidays, the girls had a couple of friends round to play and asked me to make them a parachute challenge - to give them identical 'kits' and they had to make parachutes for playmobil people.  As always, it's hard to tell where homeschool stops and holidays start:

I'm pleased to report that Honey, the dog, is making a great recovery, and we are getting out and about a lot more now.  

I have managed to start quite a bit of my planning for September, but still have the bulk of it to get through and a few books to order.  Usually this gets left until quite late, but I'm planning on getting it done earlier in the holidays this year.  Next year I will be doing more separate learning and less shared learning with the girls which will be a new challenge, but hopefully I can get it to work.  Time will tell!

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Creative learning

It doesn't feel like there is much going on here at the moment: warmer weather, less motivation to work, just trickling along with the basics and counting the days to the summer holidays ... but this is okay I think.

Playmobil gets centre stage in the garden:

The dog's outdoor bath is now the ocean:

Both dds made and decorated cakes for the Queen's 90th birthday celebration in our village:

Needless to say there have been hours and hours of conversation about politics:

Old projects have been picked back up again:

Origami cranes have been made:

Dd2's tomato plants have been nurtured and nourished:

Dd1's strawberry plants have led to all kinds of learning (mainly to do with pest control!):

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Adding a bit of spice

I'm continuing to try to breathe a bit of life into some rather dull textbooks.  The drier weather means doing things like this are a lot easier and therefore a lot more frequent:

I found a website called  with some geography activities appropriate to dd1's current work.  Once it had dawned her that she was simply 'doing' the work and not really remembering it we decided that some fun reinforcement was in order.  Here are some Coast Dominoes:

And here is an activity called Continental Drift:

We made human and animal cell diagrams out of foodstuffs on paper plates:

We also went on a trip to Bewl Water with some homeschooling friends:

I am part of a facebook group called Home Education Arts Academy which sets regular themes for children (and sometimes their parents too) to inspire them to produce a piece of art (of any kind).  Recently there was a theme of Sunshine.  I used a youtube video which you can find here to guide us through a sunset scene.  First of all we tried it in tempera paint (see below):

This had limited success.  Afterwards we tried using watercolour which worked a lot better.  

I put the watercolours up in the Hallway Gallery:

And then I remembered something I had read in this book recently (which I thoroughly recommend by the way):

What I remembered from the book was an experiment where half a pottery class were told they would be graded on the quality of one piece of work and the other half were told they would be graded on the quantity of work they produced (the more pots they made, the higher the grade they would achieve).  Both halves of the class were given the same amount of time to complete the task.  The half who would be graded on the quality of one pot worked, understandably, on perfecting that one pot.  The half who would be graded on the quantity of pots they produced made lots and lots of pots.  Whilst making all these pots the 'quantity half' made errors and learned by their mistakes,  improving as they went along, whilst the 'quality half' didn't learn from their errors because they kept working on just one pot.  It was the 'quantity half' who not only got the best grades but actually produced the best pots, even though each pot they made had had far less time given to it than the one pot made by the 'quality half'. 

I was really struck by this experiment and much more that was in the book, so decided to try it out in my own little class.  I told my class (of two!) that if they could produce 4 additional sunset pictures in watercolour by a particular date then they could have a small treat (one chose chocolate, the other chose carrots!).  It was fascinating to watch this experiment as they suddenly had a chance to learn from previous mistakes and try new techniques.  Below is some of the work the additional opportunities created:

I am really pleased we gave this a go, and I realised what pressure there can be when you are asked to produce one of something - far better to be asked to produce lots and then you can improve as you go along.  I'll definitely be doing this again in the future.