Wednesday, 13 May 2015

My Reluctant Writer or Empty Blocks of Time

Something I have read repeatedly in connection with homeschooling is about letting kids have empty blocks of time to allow their creative juices to flow.  I have read about kids having empty hours, days and even weeks, with little or no direction from adults and certainly as the dds have become older and more independent that has happened on a small scale basis here. It was purely by accident though that we created an empty block of time (while dh and I were DIYing) which opened up an unexpected writing opportunity for dd2.

Dd2 is not a keen writer; she is far more of a hands-on type of person, in fact there has been some considerable reluctance on her part when it comes to English lessons, so it was with great surprise that I discovered this huge (by her standards) piece of writing one day in the Easter holidays:

This was done entirely of her own volition and without any help!  Along with these 'Rules of the Road' she turned the garden into a traffic system:

and built a '30' sign (much more her kind of thing to do!)

with the help of her sister, who is a reluctant engineer, but got totally sucked into this project:

Just when I thought it was all over, I noticed this piece of writing on dd2's bedroom door:

and this morning the teddies in her room have all become teachers and she is writing (yes, writing!) surveys etc for them to do.  Okay, she hasn't got dressed yet, nor had any breakfast, but she is enjoying writing and I am going to let the first two things go for a while so she can have another empty block of time to find her own relationship with writing.  She'll come down when she's hungry!

Monday, 27 April 2015

Election Special

This is not strictly to do with homeschooling, but is something I prepared for a Guiding group I help with.  Hopefully it will be of some use to someone else reading this.  
There are 2 activities.
The first activity (which I actually plan to do second at Guides!) will be done in patrols.  I made a table, with party, leader, colour & number of MPs columns:

and I made an answer sheet, which the Guides will cut up and try to stick in the correct columns on the table: 

For the other activity I then came up with a variety of questions and gave each one 2 or more possible answers.  The Guides will write their names in the section they think is correct. Some of the questions are specific to the constituency in which we live.  Some of the answers have been simplified to make them more accessible to the age group involved.

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!