Thursday, 5 April 2018

April Inspiration

The sun has come out! The last few days of grey and rain have seemed so long but today is spring.  I took the children out to Walthamstow Wetlands which is new to us. By the way, I seem to be running out of ideas for places to go or things to do in London for my 9 and 11 year old and the Summer holiday isn't far away. Any suggestions? 

This is an amazing list of maths resources for children who struggle with maths but don't let the title put you off; this list would be useful for most children. It does include Sum Swamp which is a brilliant game for young children learning number bonds. We used to play Sum Swamp daily! 

Again, about maths, Jo Boaler talks on this podcast about fear of mathematics, worth a listen.

Frugal Girl published an encouraging post about how to make your house lovely for $0.

I have been reading Sarah Mackenzie's new book, The Read-Aloud Family: making meaningful and lasting connections with your kids. This is a book that I will probably return to again and again. The book lists and questions to use to discuss books with children are particularly worthwhile as well as the chapter around having a book club atmosphere at home. I think that Sarah goes too far about the moral benefits of books but otherwise the book is worth a read and a place on the bookshelf.

The current read is about sleep: Matthew Walker's Why we Sleep. Reading this has taken a little while and I haven't finished yet, partly, because it keeps reminding me about the importance of sleep and that takes away from reading time! This book runs through what is known about sleep and its importance as well as scary stuff about sleep deprivation. Most of the latter isn't new to me but having it in one place does pull a punch. 

More book recommendations are always welcome! 

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Thursday, 15 March 2018

March Inspiration

I'm afraid I haven't written much recently. Life has been busy. My eldest daughter has got engaged and we are looking forward to a summer wedding. Just alongside this, my husband's Mum has been less well and of course, family life and home education  have carried on. Sadly, the blog has suffered!

We've had snow, in London, in March! The temperatures were well below freezing but now there is no trace of snow.

Seterra is one of our favourite sites with its free geography games. It now also has some anatomy quizzes.

This is report on improving maths at Key Stage 2 and 3. Much of this is applicable to home educators and is worth a read.

Recently, we spent time with some friends painting using a tutorial from Mr Otter Art Studio. I was really impressed with a quality of the instructions and hope we can work on more of these.

This is an interesting list of handwriting resources. We actually use something different: Morrell which uses a more UK style. 

Read aloud Revival has just published a list of books that boys like. There are many that I haven't read but The Mysterious Benedict Society and My side of the Mountain have been real favourites here recently. 

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Friday, 9 March 2018

Beginning of the Year Update

We are well into our second half term of 2018.

Our major project this term is around the First World War. I've written about some of the resources that we are using. The Usborne Introduction to the First World War has proved invaluable as a spine. We read a double page spread each day and frequently use the videos linked through the Usborne site.

The other main part of our project has been working on family history. We have made a large family tree and added a sentence of two about family members who were involved in the War. One of my husband's great aunts was a nursing sister in the War and left a diary about her time on a hospital ship going between the Greek Islands and England as well as her time nursing under canvas, at Camiers. We have looked at the diary and one of the children made a poster about her and also included an incident when she was on hunger strike with Mrs Pankhurst.
Hand drawn cartoon found in a commonplace book from a family friend who was killed in the First World War.

We spent an afternoon at the Imperial War Museum looking at their First World War gallery.

This term, we have changed spelling curriculum to Apples and Pears. Our previous spelling programmes whilst highly recommended, just wasn't working for us. So far, so good with Apples and Pears although I have discovered that often spelling/reading resources seem to work well initially, while the work is mainly revision but then breaks down when there is new material to be learned. I'm hoping that this won't happen this time!

We have also started a different science curriculum: Mystery Science. This is very easy for me- videos to watch and easy activities, generally, using household items.  So far, we have used, and finished a chemistry unit. Next up, I plan to use a human biology unit. This curriculum is working very well with my nine year old. My eleven year old finds it a bit young at times.

Our home education group also has a science theme this year although we had to postpone our last meeting due to the snow. The snow meant sledging with friends-three days running! Snow is so rare in London that we have to make the most of it.

Our read alouds this term are
  • Twice Freed by Patricia St John. We have almost finished this fictional retelling of the story of Onesimus. 
  • War in the Wasteland which is a First World War story by Douglas Bond.  
I have another couple of First World War books planned but suspect that we will run out of time. There are so many more things that we could do but sometimes less is more!

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Friday, 9 February 2018

February Inspiration

We've just finished the first half term of 2018. These few weeks seem to have flown by with our home education dominated by a First World War project.

This post starts with a couple of lists.

Elsie at Farmhouse Schoolhouse has a post about the books that have shaped her homeschool. I haven't read many of these but have been busy adding them to my wish list.

A rather different list is of top UK money blogs. I haven't looked at all of these yet but for home educators on single incomes (most of us!) there are certainly some with helpful ideas, as well as some rather crazy ones. 

I have never been certain about the idea of taking time off education to establish discipline. Surely, working consistently imposes its own discipline? Dawn has written a post about the benefits of consistent home education.

At the home education group, my book group has been reading Linda Sue Park's book, A long walk to water, which has led to discussion about water supply and drought. Se7en posted about the reality of living in Cape Town in a serious water shortage-it goes a bit beyond watering the plants with the water left in the water jug!

Finally, a bit of fun. Antipodesmap is a website where it is possible to enter your location and find out what is on the opposite side of the world. It also gives a list of opposite cities.

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Friday, 26 January 2018

January Inspiration

January is almost over but here, in England, it always feels a month where it is most difficult to go outside but where the rewards for being outside are greatest. The photo is from Richmond Park on a rather murky day but so good to get outside even in the mud.

I loved this post about how to teach maths consistently. Not mega-science, just a reminder to keep going every day.

This literature map of the world made me wonder whether my book club could make something similar.

Another common sense post was this one about talking to tweens from Ben and Me.

One of the children and I have been reading The Hiding Place about the work of Corrie ten Boom and her family who hid Jews in the Second World War.  Her home is now a Museum and looks fascinating. I've wasted a bit of time, this week,  looking at how to get from London to Haarlem.

For a bit of beauty, pop over to Raising Little Shoots to see Lyn's lovely nature journal.

Hope that you are having a happy January!

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Saturday, 20 January 2018

Top Home Educating Resources

Welcome to week three of the Virtual Homeschool Fair run by Susan of Homeschooling Hearts and Minds. This week the topic is How do we cover it all? This is about the programmes and resources that we use.
We have been home educating for almost nine years. This post is about some of our favourite resources.  Some of these items we no longer use but they are ones that have left happy memories. Two of these are free!

My children are now too old for Five in a Row but this was a happy curriculum. Five in a Row is a gentle curriculum aimed at 4-8 year olds around picture books. Each week a different book is selected and read each day. The handbooks then have activities around the book which cover science, maths, art, English, craft and cooking. 

Plus points
-the children and I loved Five in a Row.
-excellent selection of picture books
-manuals have a high resale value
-enormous range of activities so those which fit your family can be selected.
-designed for home educating families

Bear in mind
-Five in a Row is probably better for the lower end of this age range.
-many of the books are American and some are out of print. We decided only to buy the books which were inexpensive and easily obtainable and were able to find the vast majority. 
-It isn't necessary or desirable to do every activity in the manual.
-Branch Out World is written by a UK home educator. This is a similar sort of programme based around picture books but these are based in the UK. For example, Mousehole Cat or Katie Moray.
Veritas self paced history is an on-line history course which is used daily. It has an accompanying list of literature which we used and found enhanced the course. We used it for two years covering New Testament, Greeks and Romans and for the second year, the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation.  A typical day would include teaching, maps, a history song, a game and a revision game and more.
Plus points
-generated a love for history.
-requires little parental time and virtually no preparation.
-attractively designed.
-literature bundle enhances the on-line programme

Bear in mind
-after the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation year, the course starts to cover mainly US history. We stopped using the course at this point.
-not cheap but there seem to be sales about twice a year with major reductions (about 50%).
  • Exploring Nature with children
This is a weekly nature curriculum written by UK home educator, Lyn Seddon. 
Exploring Nature with Children is based around a weekly nature walk to the same venue. This can be the back garden, a local park or some countryside. Each week has a theme, for example, seeds, lichen or birds and the weeks are grouped into seasons. Each week includes a poem, book recommendations, an art suggestion and activity suggestions. This may be art or craft, science, writing or music. Children and parents are encouraged to keep a nature journal but there is a separate, more structured journal which can be purchased either with print copy or cursive copywork.

Plus points
- a major encouragement to get outside and to look at nature.
-plenty of activities for a range of ages.
-ideal for UK seasons.

Bear in mind
-this book is written for UK weather and seasons. It may need some modifying if your seasons are very different.
-it isn't necessary to do every activity.
-these are ebooks. The main title can be used on a tablet but the journals obviously need to be printed.

  • Poetry Teatime
Poetry Teatime is a brainchild of Julie Brogart who designed Bravewriter. We have used Partnership writing and certainly use some of the ideas around teaching writing. However, the part of the Bravewriter programme which has impacted us most is the concept of a Poetry Teatime. This is a time set apart for reading poetry, and sometimes other books, over a drink and a snack. Sometimes, we have a carefully laid table and a special snack and other times, the poetry reading is less formal. I have complaints when we miss Poetry Teatime.

Plus points
-poetry in a relaxed environment. 
-reading aloud practice
-sometimes, we write. Covering the table with brown paper and providing pens helps this.
-sometimes, we invite friends to this sociable occasion.
-poetry tea can take place outside the home. We have had poetry in cafes while waiting for an older child taking exams or at Bateman's,  Rudyard Kipling's home, because this seemed the place to read Kipling .

Bear in mind
-you might not want to introduce an extra snack! We are trying to have healthier snacks although this doesn't always work.
-funny poems work well, particularly, with children who aren't used to poetry.

  • Morning Time
Morning time is another free resource. This is a time to gather all your home educated children and spend time together. Morning time can make a definite start to the day and helps put first the items that you want to be first in importance. We start with prayer, a Christian book, memory work and a hymn. 
We then put in either extras that we don't want to miss or a special book/topic. Our current items are
-a double spread of  the Usborne Introduction to the First World War
-a chapter from one of the children's current book club choices: a Long walk to water and the Astounding Broccoli Boy.
-a weekly podcast from Classics for Kids or music from the First World War.

Resources for Morning Time include
-Pam Barnhill's podcasts Your Morning Basket
-Kendra Fletcher's book Circle Time: the best part of your day
-the Farmhouse Schoolhouse posts about Morning Time.

What are your favourite home education resources? 

Looking for more curriculum ideas? Visit my fellow homeschool bloggers! 

Our Homeschool Plan for 3rd, 6th, 8th, & 12th Grades by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Our 10th Grade Plans by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
Planning Out Our Unschooling Studies by Jen @ A Helping Hand Homeschool
The Details of Curriculum by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Reflections of a Curriculum Junkie by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
Freedom through nature journaling. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
How I pull together a homeschool curriculum without packaged curriculum by Dana @ Life Led Homeschool
Our Favorite Curriculum and Resources - An Annotated Bibliography by Sabrina @ Kids, Crunch, and Christ
Our 2018 Homeschool Curriculum Choices by Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool
Top Home Educating Resources by Sarah @ DeliveringGrace
Homeschooling Curriculum We Are Using This Year by Laura O @ Day by Day in Our World
Use the Force and Complete the Course by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Choices, choices - how to choose your curriculum wisely by Lizzy @ Peaches@Home
Our Curriculum Needs - grade seven by Annette @ A Net in Time
The Heart of Our School by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
What I Use with 7th and 9th Grader - Virtual Homeschool Fair -Week 3 by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
How to Avoid Gaps in Education by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset
Tricky Subjects and Starting the Decision Making Process by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens
High School Syllabus by TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy @ GoldenGrasses

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Please note that the Exploring Nature with Children links are affiliate links.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

A day in our Home

This is the second post in the 2018 Virtual Homeschool Fair. Susan at Homeschooling Hearts and Minds runs the Fair through January. The topic this week is Our Method of Homeschooling. For this topic, I plan to give an overview of a day in our home. It is from a day this week with some general comments.  I don't for one moment think that this is the way or the only way to home educate. This is just the method that works for our family. 
Image may contain: text

I currently home educate my eleven year old and eight year old. One of our challenges but also privileges is that I care for my husband's elderly mother who is bed bound. We have various different people visiting our home every day to facilitate this. There can be a fair few interruptions!

Our day is divided into
  • morning time
  • English
  • maths
  • afternoon activities
That looks really simple!

Morning Time
I aim to start morning time at nine o'clock. 

Our morning time changes as the children change. However, it always starts with prayer and reading from a Christian book (currently The Case for Christ for Kids). We usually have some memory work on going, currently, this is the Sunday School motto text (Seek the Lord, and ye shall live. Amos 5 verse 6) We then sing a hymn which on this particular day was He reigns, Christ the Saviour reigns.

The second part of Morning Time varies most. Often, we have art appreciation, music appreciation , a science book and a chapter from a book club book on different days. This term, we have a big topic about the First World War so are reading a section (just a couple of page spread) from the Usborne Introduction to the First World War.  We read about the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo. This involved a fair amount of referring to the map and talking about the treaty blocks that we had read about the day before. 

My daughter went to her desk to work independently. She worked on typing and spelling while her brother read to me.
My daughter then read aloud from one of her favourite Roman Mysteries before doing her piano practice.
Usually, her brother then does more English before having a short break but this is the first week of term, and he loves Prodigy Maths so that is what he did. Next week, we should be back to normal!

The children had a break. I try to get them to go outside and today, they played swingball before they were rained off. Break time fits in well as I need to spend some time with Grandma at this point in the morning.

Maths starts with ten questions. This is my own cheap and cheerful invention. I write ten maths questions in the children's maths books, usually, the day before. The questions are items that I want them to revise so they might include some times table questions, simple division and fractions, square roots, decimals and so on. 

The ten questions plus a couple of other items also mean that the children can keep working if I am called away. This is the part of the morning that most often gets interrupted. So the children can use

  • 10 questions
  • Either Schofield and Sims Understanding Maths workbooks (Younger Daughter)
  • Prodigy Maths (Youngest Son) 
On this particular day, there weren't any major disruptions so Youngest Son and I also worked on decimals. We used the exercises in the Galore Park Junior Maths 2 book.

Youngest Son and I fitted in a game of Slug in a Jug and Country Lotto. They are both easy for him now but he still asks for them. 

We stopped for lunch and spotted  a green woodpecker on the lawn. Then there was great excitement as the newly published Roman Quest book, Return to Rome arrived in the post. 

Afternoon Activities
Well, we had to read Return to Rome. After a fair few chapters, we managed to stop so that we could read about the Scientific process before a trip to the park. 

We arrive back at the same time as the carers arrive and I help one of them with some blending. 

Younger Daughter helps me put together the things that we need for our Home Education group the next day. I show Youngest Son what happens when we mix yeast with boiling water and with warm water and fits in with our reading earlier.

In the evening, there is more  from Return to Rome.  We will be through this book soon! 

This wasn't a perfect day. I would have liked to have fitted in more science activities and more writing somethings to improve for another day. 

What do my fellow homeschool bloggers have to say about their Homeschool Method? Go visit them to find out!

How Our Academic Co-op Completes Our Eclectic Homeschool by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
A Method to Our Madness by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Finding Our Homeschool Method by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
How We Homeschool by Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool
Give Us.... by Annette @ A Net in Time
A day in our Home by Sarah@DeliveringGrace
Lit-Based Education: How We Homeschool by Debra @ Footprints in the Butter
Overhauling Our Homeschool - Adjusting our "How" to fit our "Why" by Sabrina Scheerer @ Kids, Crunch, and Christ
A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler: Expectation Vs. Reality by Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road
How Charlotte Mason Transformed Our Homeschool by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
Captain's Log, Supplemental - Our Homeschool Days by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
How we get it done. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
How to Organize Daily Curriculum with the School Cart by Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine
Learning For LIfe by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens
Eclectic Homeschooling: When It All Comes Together by Jen @ A Helping Hand Homeschool
A Typical Day? by Lizzy @ Peaches@Home
This is the Way We Do Our School, So Early in the Morning by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
A Little of This and a Little of That: Eclectic Homeschooling by Laura O @ Day by Day in Our World
Still Classically Educating After All These Years by True North Homeschool Academy
So what exactly is Life Led Homeschooling? by Dana @ Life Led Homeschool
The way we learn ~ 2018 Virtual Homeschool Fair by Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning
Our Homeschool Routine by Joelle @Homeschooling For His Glory
Homeschool Methods – 8 Tips for the Journey by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset

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