Sunday, 31 January 2016

Homeschooling older children

My eldest daughter would have started secondary school last September if she weren't being taught at home.  In the UK this is a major educational transition and I had wondered for a long time how it would look for us at home.  I asked lots of people and mostly got the reply that nothing much changed for them.  To be honest, I wasn't entirely convinced.  For a start I knew that a lot of the resources we use ended at the end of Y6 so there would have to be some change as we began different books, and also dd1 is quite academic and book-ish and really wanted to take on more challenging books and subjects.
We are into our second term now and things are definitely different.  Dd1 is working more independently and has a longer list of subjects to work through.  We do less work with both girls together.  This is a little sad, but I think I would be holding dd1 back to do it otherwise.
So what exactly does this new stage look like?  Much harder textbooks - many from Galore Park (Maths, English, Geography, History, some Science), some books by Letts and Collins (some Science and a bit of extra English), using futurelearn (free online courses - I'm very choosy about which ones dd1 can do - partly to make sure that the content is 12yo appropriate and partly to make sure she doesn't take on too much) but I have steadfastly hung on to some of the Charlotte Mason ideas which give what we do a bit of balance.  We still have read alouds and poetry most days, we get outside quite a bit on our daily dog walks and observe nature.  The girls study French, Art, ICT and Music together, they do different handicrafts and learn Latin.  It feels like a lot of work suddenly, but this may be compounded by the cold weather and water-logged ground meaning we can't go out too far.
We continue to be opportunists - grabbing occasions to meet with friends, go to groups, watch someone changing a car tyre, host a teacher training student doing an alternative learning placement.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Chinese New Year

Note:  I prepared the vast majority of this post last year but didn't get it finished and posted before Chinese New Year, so thought I'd finish it off and post it at a more appropriate time of year this year - I hope it provides a little inspiration for you.

Chinese New Year is not something I knew much about as a child, but the dds have always been very keen to mark the occasion, most probably because it involves food!  Many years, Chinese New Year has fallen in half term, as it does this year, so we have had a Chinese meal as a family (dh is a school teacher so school holidays and term times are still important dates for us, even though we are a homeschooling family as well!), but sometimes it has fallen during term time and we have met up with homeschooled friends for some cultural enrichment.  This year the dds were keen to meet up with friends, so we have celebrated a week early with them.

I prepared two craft activities and a little challenge, we brought out Yahtzee and a friend brought Chinese Chequers.

Chopstick Challenge

I mixed up some different sized dried beans and peas and put them into the base of a cardboard egg box:

I collected up chopsticks and some small containers: 

I made a small chart to make the challenge a little more challenging!:

Chinese Lanterns

Now, these I do remember making as a child!  We used A4 sized sugar paper, but other sizes and types will work too.  I marked off a strip at the short end of the piece of paper:

I cut off the strip, which will later be used as the handle:

Then I folded the larger piece in half, from the bottom up:

Next I drew some lines from the fold upwards, but not all the way to the top

If you want to decorate your lantern you can do it at this stage (above) or after cutting the strips (below):

I opened out the folded paper and put glue along one of the edge strips and wrapped it round to the strip at the other end of the paper and pressed together:

Then I put some glue at each end of the small strip which was cut off at the beginning:

The strip is added onto the top as the handle:

This is the equipment I collected up for the activity:

Chinese dragons

By sifting through fairly random craft type things which I'd stashed away over the years, I worked out that we could make some Chinese dragons - ish!

We used old sweet wrappers:

Fluorescent card in the shape of stars:

arranged, the sweet wrappers behind the card star:

and glued them onto the back:

then we got some old foil pie cases:

put another sweet wrapper inside it to be the 'tongue':

got some split pins:

pushed the split pin through the tongue, the foil, the card and the wrappers and opened it up:

so it looked like this:

then we reshaped the foil tin to make it look more like a mouth:

and added some eyes:

then for the body we took an empty toilet roll:

and some tissue paper:

put glue onto the toilet roll and wrapped the tissue paper around it:

so it looked like this:

then we put some sticky tape onto one end:

and stuck it onto the back of the face, where all the sweet wrappers are:

like so:

we got some strips of tissue paper:

taped them up at one end:

put another piece of tape across the sealed end:

and stuck it inside the other end of the toilet roll:

so it looked like this:

and this:

Between the 3 families we brought together various Chinese types of food to share a small meal together and there was also plenty of playing Yahtzee and even some playing in the garden despite the weather.