Wednesday, 18 March 2015


The Girl is an Explorer Scout. Her scout group are going to Kanderstag International Scout Camp in Switzerland in 2016 and she has to raise the money to pay for the trip. Fundraising is not my forte and I was really stuck for ideas and suggestions for her. However, it turns out, she has had a very good idea of her own :)

The Girl wanted to help other children by donating her hair to the Little Princess Trust to be made into wigs for children with cancer. She has been collecting sponsors and the money will go towards her scout trip. Yesterday, she had 12" of hair cut off her head. The long thick plait weighed 94g and was posted to the Little Princess Trust yesterday. One of the local beaver leaders kindly cut her hair for her :)

From this..... this.


Both me and The Girl have been overwhelmed by the messages of support for what she has done. It has really made her realise that donating hair is special and that it will have a real impact on others. I am very proud of her for her thoughtfulness and determination.

Thank you to all those people who have left messages and thank you to those who have donated. She has made a good start on her fundraising for going to the International Scout Camp next year :)

Thursday, 12 March 2015

I am sooo jealous!

The Girl got a Blue Peter badge :) How exciting is that?

Sunday, 1 March 2015

New stuff

Last week we went to our first study group session. I say 'we' but really it was 'they'. The only bit I was involved in was the driving and dropping off. Another home educating mother has organised a study group for older children to take Level 2 certificate courses which can then be extended into taking IGCSEs if they wish. The Girl has signed up for four classes and Boykin has signed up for the Digital Photography and Film-making class, working towards Level 1.

It's quite a long drive to the group, but it's through lovely countryside and we get to stop and walk round a lake on the way home - weather permitting. Unfortunately, the group clashes with the home ed martial arts group, so Ninjitsu has had to go on the backburner for a while :(

Other new stuff for The Girl is that she is starting her Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award with Explorers. In fact, she is at the training weekend for the expedition as I type.

The Girl also walked up Glyder Fawr in Snowdonia, Wales last weekend with friends. We try to go on at least one holiday every year with a whole bunch of people, old friends and new, cousins and kids they've grown up with. It's a fantastic weekend that gives us all chance to catch up with each other and get to know new friends better. It started out as a camping trip every year and has evolved into a YHA holiday instead.

While the teenagers and adults climbed a mountain, I took Boykin inside one - a new experience for us both. Dinorwig aka the Electric Mountain houses an underground pumped-storage hydro-power station built by the CGB when electricity production was a nationalised industry. There is a lake on top of the mountain that feeds the turbines as the water drops a couple of hundred or so feet through an enormous pipe, ending up in a lake at the bottom. The station can go from stand-by to full production in 12 seconds (or something like that) and provides the extra electricity needed during a power surge. At night, it pumps the water back up through the system from bottom lake to the top lake, using electricity provided by coal-fired and nuclear power stations. It took me a short while to get my head round the fact that for every 3 units they produce during the day, it takes 4 units to pump the water back through the system in the night. The tour guide explained really well how this particular type of power station is designed to stabilise the national grid. It's well worth a visit if you or your children are into electricity and power stations.

Useful Electricity links:
Dinorwig educational materials - click on 'Pre-visit education pack'
Dinorwig educational materials - click on 'Post-visit educationpack'
Electrical safety for kids with an optional signed interpretation
KS3 resources and lesson plans
Electricity site for KS3
BBC Science clip KS1
BBC Science clip KS2
Another BBC science clip KS 2
BBC KS3 Bitesize
BBC GCSE Bitesize
Online activities for 5 - 16 yos
Resources for KS2 & KS3
How electricity is made interactive

Monday, 12 January 2015

Still Learning...

I managed to get up nice and early today to do some work before the kids were due to get up, as in accordance with their new timetable as designed by them. Even though they'd both had an early night last night, the wind was so strong it kept waking them up. Me too to be honest. Consequently, they were up quite a bit later than they'd planned and were still pretty tired and grumpy :/

They managed to get some of the things done that they'd chosen to do - maths and the Schofield & Sims reasoning books. They really like the challenge of them. It's just puzzles against a timer really but it gets their brains working in a different way. Boykin got a set of Nanoblocks for Christmas so he spent a fair bit of the morning working on that. Not sure quite how that fits into his new timetable, but hey ho! It's just great to see him gravitate to a toy rather than a screen :)

They got all their morning jobs done and cleaned out the rabbits. I read a chapter of Story of the World:  vol. 2:  to them while they finished their lunch. (We're on China and the building of the Grand Canal.) And, being inspired by this post, we had some soothing choral music playing in the background - Lambert Leçons de Ténèbres.

The Girl devised a game to build up her French vocabulary using the Cherchons Le Mot game from Orchard Toys. She's working on a print and play version, so I can't tell you what it involves, but it was fun and it worked well :) She's trying to raise money to go on an International Scout camp next year and is hoping that her Games Galore stuff will sell on Currclick as a means of helping towards her fundraising :)

There was also a Nerf battle, a singing lesson, tea at a neighbours and a cubs meeting in and amongst it all. And right now, although it is past bedtime by my body clock, they are both still running with the Harry Potter theme (how many years is this now?) and have both just signed up to Pottermore and Hogwarts school....


Thursday, 8 January 2015

New Year , New Routine

Somehow, New Year always feel like a time to make new beginnings. A time to look at what we've been doing, what has worked, what hasn't and reassess what we've learned and what we want to learn. I say 'we' because I include myself in these plans too :)

We're keeping our maths curriculum, Boykin will continue to work through the books and lesson plans with me, but The Girl has decided she will do the interactive materials on the website and use the lessons and tutorials on there instead. She's making good headway and is listening to Mozart at the same time: :)

Boykin has decided he wants to learn Spanish, which means I will learn it with him as I know no Spanish and want to be able to help him along. We're starting with Duolingo to build up some vocabulary. The Girl will continue with French.

Boykin is currently using Schofield & Sims books for handwriting, grammar and spelling. The Girl is going to make a start on IGCSE English materials instead of doing the Galore Park she was doing before.

I'm still reading The Story of the World while we have elevenses, followed by whatever book we are reading for book group (A Bear Called Paddington) :0)

The Girl is really going to try and get her teeth into the IGCSE Biology book and Boykin will continue to do science experiments with me and we will start to look at the Galore Park SYRWTL Science books for a bit more theory, although I'm really not sure how he'll get on with them.

For music, The Girl will still do singing, violin and piano. I'm going to buy her a new cornet so that house has one in the house to play when she wants without needing to be in a brass band. Boykin wants to learn the didjeridoo. Hmmm!

They will both continue to work on Picture Book Explorers with me and I'm hoping to tackle volume 4 of the Five In A Row series in between those. Even if we don't follow the curriculum, I want to at least read the books :) I have plans for five more Picture Book Explorers and hope to make some more lapbooks and project packs too this year :)

Between us we want to go swimming more regularly; grow some more food; get rid of more clutter and make better use of our National Trust membership :)

We've all struggled to get back into the swing of things after Christmas, not least because of late nights and late mornings. We've managed to get to most of their activities so far, but Tuesday was a bit of a fail in that respect  and we didn't quite make them all today either :/

We have a day at home tomorrow so we'll have time to recharge our batteries before The Girl starts Explorers. Another new beginning :)

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Round-up of 2014

It's been a very busy year. I've written and published 10 new Picture Book Explorers, a lapbook and helped The Girl take her first steps into e-publishing with the game that she devised. 

Both children have achieved the yellow belt in Ninjitsu. The Girl also gained Grade 4 in both Cornet and Music Theatre; Grade 1 Ballet; the Bronze Arts Award and Gold Award in scouts. Boykin gained the Discover Arts Award and is working towards his Silver Award for cubs and Grade 1 in both Ballet and Tap.

We've been on lots of lovely Home Ed trips including a local camp and a youth hostel trip, unfortunately cut short because we wanted to be here to celebrate 10 years of one of our local groups. I think my favourite trip might just have been the evacuee workshop because we all got to dress up and we stayed dry for a change :)

We've also been on a youth hostel trip with some of our non-HE friends and are looking forward to another one in 2015. We've had some fab days out with family too - Chatsworth House and Blackpool Pleasure Beach particularly stand out in my memory. It would also have been my Granny's 100th birthday this year so we celebrated (commemorated?) with our very large extended family by gathering for a mass picnic at Cannon Hall on her birthday :)

I set up a new HE board games group at a local games shop which we are all enjoying very much and The Girl is taking part in activities in the new teenagers group organised by another local mum. They also enjoy the new social group in a local park and are interested in contributing to the variety show that is still in the planning stages. We are very lucky to live in an area with so many HE families that like organising stuff :)

We've all learnt lots about UK geography (thanks to PBE) and they've both made progress in maths. We're still reading Story of the World, but I'm no longer using the activity book as we would only get to the end of book 4 by the time Boykin is 16 at the rate we were going :/ Our time line is looking more interesting though :) They have both been spending time on Scratch and want to create more games.

Performance-wise they both took part in their drama class end of term plays and did the half-term four day workshop. Both have given up drama groups :( The Girl has sung in various choir performances, both with her usual choir and with a gospel choir for a Christmas show. Boykin also took part in the dancing show and is happily back at classes again. The Girl has also taken up dancing lessons, but has sadly, given up cornet and brass band :( :( :( She is now learning violin and piano.

We're all looking forward to the year ahead. There are lots of changes in the offing as The Girl moves towards thinking about exams and deciding which groups and activities to keep and which to drop in an attempt to make best use of her time. Boykin will move up to scouts this year and is looking forward to investigating his new Raspberry Pi, playing all his new board games and building with Lego.

Our year in photos that didn't make it to the blog before, starting in January with an amazing birthday cake made by the Girl for Boykin :)