Monday, 14 November 2016

Cathy Come Home

One of the perks of being a home educator is the annual Into Film Festival. We usually go to see a whole host of films, but this year we have picked only four. This isn't because there aren't the usual number of great films to see, but rather because this is the last year that The Girl will be HE (most likely) and so the focus is on other things - like college courses, IGCSE work and music lessons.

Anyway, today The Girl and I went to the Showroom in Sheffield to see Cathy Come Home, the 1966 play directed by Ken Loach. It was followed by a Q & A with representatives from the South Yorkshire Housing Association and Roundabout, a charity working with homeless youth.

It's amazing to think that this play, released 50 years ago this week, influenced attitudes to homelessness and the housing crisis so much that it caused laws to be changed. I remember seeing it as a child and the impact it had on me then. It was interesting to see what impact it made on The Girl today.

I really want to  take her to see I, Daniel Blake now. I think there will be more interesting conversations to come.

Cathy Come Home is available to watch on YouTube or Amazon.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

A different group every day

This week has been BUSY with home ed groups.

On Monday morning, Boykin went to his Bronze Arts Award group at the library. Progress was made on the Lego stop motion animation that he is making with three of his friends there. I'm very much looking forward to seeing it when it is finished.
He then went back to his friend's house afterwards where they spent the afternoon trying to complete a Lego bridge building challenge. I love how home education can be shared with other families :) I'm very grateful for it.

On Tuesday, The Girl finished her volunteering at the local library which she was doing as part of her D of E. They gave her a glowing report and a card and box of chocolates as a thank you :) We love our libraries!
In the afternoon, both children enjoyed playing Laserquest with a group of other home ed families. They had a great time and I got chance to chat to other parents and have a cup of tea :)
In the evening, we went to the theatre as part of a home ed trip to see Attached, a circus show. It was funny and clever. Boykin wants a Velcro suit now.

Yesterday, The Girl was at college. me and Boykin spent the day at our local themed session. This month it was Disney & Animation. Activities included a Disney timeline game; a Peppa Pig game; a pin-the-tail-on-Eeyore game; icing mickey mouse on digestives; stop-motion plasticine animation; creating animated figures using plastic cups; Disney animal related parachute games and decorating Gingerbread Men on biscuits made by one of the older girls :)

This morning, The Girl and one of her friends went to their music theory lesson whilst Boykin went to the ninjitsu group. We raced to town this afternoon to go to a tour of a small museum in the local university where we are hoping to attend some workshops over the coming year.
It was a lovely session. They got to see behind the scenes, handle artefacts and play with a gigantic computer screen-thingie.
Afterwards, The Girl went shopping with her Nana and Boykin came home to spend some time on his latest computer project.

I think we will all be glad of a quiet day at home tomorrow :)

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Still adjusting.... all the changes that go with The Girl doing one day of college a week. I didn't think it would have as much impact as it has done. Boykin is also out of the house for almost a full day a week too, but on a different day. He's taking part in a Bronze Arts Award group and then goes to his friends for a few hours afterwards. I'm juggling tutoring on one of those days and on the other there are two lots of music lessons to fit in as well.

I'm trying to ensure that The Girl still gets some positive HE group experiences in this last year at home so have organised a few theatre trips and a museum takeover day in the next couple of months on top of the usual groups that we do. I'm finding that she doesn't want to go to all the groups anymore because she has so much studying to do for upcoming IGCSEs and music exams. This can be a bit tricky when Boykin does want to go, depending on where it is and how long we will be out for, of course. Tuesdays were our at home pyjama day for a while but so far, it doesn't seem to be happening that often anymore :( I think our pyjama days will now be tied in with school holidays and I think we're really going to appreciate those holidays this year.

Despite all the nearly-daily activities that they do, we still had time to take a day out to Lyme Park in Cheshire as part of The Girl's studying of Pride and Prejudice. It's the stately home used as the exteriors of Pemberley in the BBC series that starred Colin Firth. It's well worth the visit. We'll be going back again because we didn't get time to see much of the park and when we were still only halfway round the house there was a fire drill.

Boykin was given a trail sheet to take round the house which he enjoyed and which encouraged him to look at things in more detail. There's a wonky fireplace; a secret panel so that the family could spy on their guests; a library where you can sit and read books; a writing desk where you can write letters that they will post for you; a butler's pantry where you can have a go at cleaning the floor; a nursery where you can play with the toys and rearrange the dolls house and a school room where you can play a piano and leave a message on the blackboard. As usual, we took our time and made the most of everything :)

We enjoyed the gardens and then went to the playground. It was pretty late in the day so we had it all to ourselves which was fun for me because I get to climb up the towers and stuff too ;)

Saturday, 3 September 2016

SWAK toothbrush

I love to learn about businesses run by other home educators. and was delighted to be offered the chance to review a SWAK toothbrush and support another Home Ed family :)

Well, to be honest, I didn't really know what one was when I agreed to try it. I suffer from sensitive teeth and have to use Sensodyne toothpaste regularly or else my poor old teeth start to hurt. I wasn't convinced that this toothpaste-less toothbrush would be any good for me.

Anyway, the SWAK toothbrush arrived, looking longer and thinner than I'd expected with this funny little round head. I began to use it as per the instructions with a small dollop of sceptism. I have to say, I was really surprised how easy it was to use although it took a bit of getting used to; not having to apply any pressure was a bit weird at first. After I'd given it a good go, I can confirm that my teeth felt smooth and clean afterwards, although I missed the minty taste that I associate with newly cleaned teeth.

I love the convenience of being able to clean my teeth anywhere and not being tied to the bathroom sink. Both Boykin & The Girl have requested one and, as they are both over 7*, I have agreed to buy them. One of the things that we all like about them is that the little wooden heads are replaceable but you keep using the same plastic handle for ever, potentially. The Girl has recently been impressed by the Zero Waste Movement and this totally fits in with the philosophy of reducing our plastic waste.

You can buy your own toothbrush here. There are a selection to choose from and they also sell tooth oil and tooth salt too.

* Under 7s need full parental supervision with SWAK toothbrushes.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Changes Afoot

Well, it's feeling like Autumn here as the pavements are starting to grow a layer of leaves. I always find Autumn inspires me to start new projects and dust down the old way of doing things. My two youngest children seem to have inherited this feeling.

We spent Monday afternoon devising new schedules. Each person organised their own days in the way that suits them best. I've recently come across bullet journaling, and even though I know I will NEVER be so organised, I have found it helpful to use some of the ideas from it.

We took a trip to IKEA and bought 3 magnetic notice boards, one for each of us. Each board came with 4 hooks and 3 magnets. We've used some of the hooks to hang the boards one below the other. The rest are hanging from the bottom board.

Having an "it'll-come-in-useful-one-day" nature, combined with a "I-hate-throwing-things-away" streak, means that I have had a big jar of bottle tops and a roll of magnetic sticky tape. Perfect for making personalised magnets. A couple of episodes of Star Trek later, we had a couple of handsewn drawstring bags to hold any unused magnets. These hang neatly from the hooks at the bottom of the bottom board ;)

So why have we found the need to try to become so super organised? Well, The Girl is entering her last year of Home Ed *sniff* and will be taking a few exams this year along with some more music grades. She has just enrolled at a not-so-local college to take GCSE English and will inevitably have homework. With one GCSE under her belt (she passed her maths :) Hooray!!!) she has realised that time management will be quite important if she wants to study for two more at home.

Boykin is 'attending' Hogwarts this year and so he has made a simple timetable that will cover all his morning studies. I love how he's managed to put maths under Magical Theory and Physics under flying ;)

And me, well, I have to be on hand for any studying that The Girl will be doing at home whilst also pretending to be Professor McGonegal with Boykin. On my board, I've also included housework, prayer time and all my work tasks - from the latest lapbook to maths & geography tutoring to blogging and updating FB groups ... and everything else in between. I'm not quite sure where my organising local HE stuff fits in really - it's not quite work cos I don't get paid for it, but it sometimes feels like it.... in a good way, of course :)

Friday, 17 June 2016

Wild Animals Session

This month's theme at our local HE group was wild animals.
There were about 5 families who are all regulars. It was a lovely sunny day so much of the time was spent playing out.

Activities on offer were making paper elephants....

....finding where in the world each animal lived on a giant world map... 'Which animal am I?'. Unfortunately I don't have a photo of the lovely lift-the-flap poster that one of the other mum's made with a series of questions using a tree diagram to find the answer.

Outside, they could meet with some real ducklings and learn about wild ducks...

...listen to a story & play a team general knowledge game using Brainbox Safari.

If you want to know how to make paper elephants too, they were inspired by this video.

Other resources for studying wild animals:
spotter sheets
Animals on Activity Village
Elephant unit study and lapbook
BBC Bitesize variation - the variation worksheet has a simple tree diagram

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Games Expo

Yesterday, we went to Birmingham NEC for the Games Expo.

I am very fortunate in that Number 1 Son and his fabulous girlfriend organised the whole day for us. They booked train tickets, sorted out travel times and tickets to the event too. All I had to do was get me, Boykin and The Girl up at 6am to get to the train for 7.30. Luckily, I did it :) Just!

It was our first games expo and I was surprised at how many people were there. I didn't realise that board games were so popular. We were also surprised at how many people were there dressed up in sci-fi and fantasy costumes. After having recently spent a fair few hours watching The Big Bang Theory on Netflix, I half expected to see Sheldon et al at any moment ;)

It was fun playing giant versions of games we'd never played before, Yeti was a favourite. I quite liked the look of giant Ticket to Ride as well :) There were so many different games that I reckon I could've found a game to go along with every project we have ever done or could possibly ever do :)

Personally, I love all the wooden games and wooden storage systems and I think that dice rolling towers are a fab idea.

We decided that we all want a games table with cup holders and a cover so that you can keep your games out to finish later - there'd be no piling up of papers on that!

If you like playing games, its well worth going, Family tickets aren't that expensive and the train station is just a few minutes walk away. Plans are already afoot to go next year with costumes and more money :)

Games we liked