Thursday, 28 August 2008
Tuesday, 26 August 2008
Monday, 25 August 2008
I meant to post these castle creations a while ago as they are so pretty, but forgot, so here they are now. The first one was something me and A did a few weeks ago on a rainy afternoon. The silver one below is something created by A and my Mum ages ago. They are now up on our shelf together in the living room, and get lots of nice comments from visitors.
A took these pics today. She has developed a real interest in fungi, ever since we looked at a book my friend lent me called 'Food_For_Free' to help us with our foraging. I'm too terrified to try any of the wild mushrooms we find, as there seems to be so many 'bad' ones that look like 'good' ones. I also remember seeing a mushroom 'expert' on a Jamie Oliver programme warning about some highly poisonous mushroom that looks exactly like an edible one - the only way you know the difference (unless you are an expert of course!) is if you eat it and die. Well, that may not have been exactly what he said, but thats what stuck in my mind. Maybe I'm just a sissy! Anyway, A has decided to do a project on fungi and is busy collecting information, so along with the photos she took today, and some she made her Nonna take when she was over there, we got some more books out of the library today. We must have a look at some websites too, I'm sure there'll be some helpful ones out there.
Tai Chi this morning, I was chatting to one of the other women afterwards when she looked at A and said "when is she back at school then?", so I smiled sweetly and replied "well, she's not going back actually, I'm home educating now." She then gave a huge smile and said "Really? Well good for you!" and turning to A said "that will be fun, wont it?". What a lovely response!
A and I had a discussion last night about how we will approach things now, as her old school starts back this Wednesday so it feels like time to get a bit more organised. A wants to keep to a bit of a (flexible) routine, so we decided on 2 hours each weekday morning on English and Maths as a basic plan. I think it might be good to have this as a general rule to motivate us (me!) in the mornings - I am not a morning person! We'll see how this goes, I think there's a sense of security in it for A, because she is used to this sort of routine. At school they had their 'main lesson' for two hours every morning. The rest of the time she'll work on her various projects as and when she feels like it. There are some things we will work on together, for example learning Italian, and others I will just support her in when she needs me to. She expressed a real keeness for spelling tests too (?) so I'll go along with that. Things will change and develop I'm sure, we are still at such an early stage, but it does feel nice to have a little bit of a plan.
Bedtime doesn't seem to be such an issue, she is still staying up very late but is happy to go to her room when I ask her to (usually 9 - 9.30). I'm hoping she'll start actually getting to sleep a bit earlier once we have more happening in the mornings.
Friday, 22 August 2008
The venue was the old 'Ballerina Ballroom', which had been used as a dancehall and music venue years ago, although I had only ever known it as a bingo hall. It had been decorated beautifully for the festival, a little cafe to one side, and the main room set up with deckchairs and beanbags for the filmshow. (We were quite comfy on the beanbags, but I'm glad it wasn't a long film!). The whole experience was lovely, not a bit like the multiplex!! There was such a friendly atmosphere, more like watching a film with a huge gang of friends, with cheering and clapping, and plenty of laughter. I'm now regretting not booking for more films, but hopefully there will be another festival, there is certainly the demand for it - they had to put the film on again because so many people got turned away for the first showing.
Its wonderful when something like this turns up on your own doorstep!
We have watched a few films at home recently, mostly dance films: Step_Up; Step_Up_2_The_Streets; Save_The_Last_Dance; which have been inspiring A. She did ballet classes from the age of three, but recently gave it up. The classes had become much more geared towards doing the exams, she did her first exam last year but really didn't enjoy the experience and was very clear she didn't want to do any more. Although her teacher said she didn't have to do the exams, the class was all about learning what was needed for it so I think it became quite boring for A. I felt quite sad at her leaving, because she was quite a good little dancer (I know, I'm bound to say that as her Mum!). But she had been saying for quite a while that she wanted to leave, and as the person who paid for the classes and gear (!) there seemed little point in pushing it if she wasn't enjoying it.
She has always loved modern dance too, and used to go to a drama/dance class that my friend ran, which she enjoyed. She doesn't seem keen to join any classes at the moment, but is very happily making up her own routines. She even tries teaching some moves to me (oh dear!).
Another activity she has been doing a lot recently is composing songs on her keyboard, some quite impressive (again - a Mum's view!). My immediate response to all this musical 'talent' is to encourage her to have lessons, and as with her other creative/artistic endeavours she is very unenthusiastic about classes or lessons. I'm not sure how far to push her on this one (if at all), she seems to be very 'musical', and picks things up quite quickly, and I think if I found a good teacher lessons could reveal to A just what she's capable of. But then again, I had piano lessons from the ages of 5 -12, and although I can read music and have a good understanding of the theoretical side of it, I'm certainly no pianist and never play now - I just never had the passion for it. The music exams I did as a kid killed any confidence I might have had as I was so focused on 'not getting it wrong'. I think I'll just let her tinker for a while longer before pushing the idea of lessons.
Monday, 18 August 2008
I know that I shouldn't be overly worried about how 'other people' view what we're doing, its just that fear of looking like an idiot when someone wants a quick, concise answer and I haven't got one to give. Most people seem to assume that I will keep to school hours, cover the national curriculum, and sit A down with workbooks. If I mention autonomous learning they look at me like I'm a maniac. Part of me understands that, because it is very radical to most people, I just wish it didn't knock my confidence the way it does at the moment.
This issue came up today in particular because I go to a Tai Chi class on Monday mornings, so A comes too and just brings something along with her to do quietly at the back of the room. Once the schools go back I know I'm going to get lots of questions and feel I'd like to be a bit prepared for that.
This has led to a general feeling of 'lets get a bit more organised', so to start with A and I are going to have a meeting to discuss and develop a plan on how we would like to approach home education. I am also going to attempt to keep some kind of a written record on what A is learning.
A has been pretty busy lately, autonomously learning ;-))
Apart from designing and creating various items of clothing (pictures soon!), and teaching her Nonna all about wild mushrooms, she came home from her Grandparents with a 20 page 'Beauty' magazine she had created all herself. We are going to photocopy it and give some copies to her friends. I love the way she is starting to really get her teeth into her little mini projects now, with absolutely no prompting from me. Her strength is definately her creativeness, I never know what she'll come up with next!
Basic Chocolate Cupcake (makes 12)
8floz (230ml) soya milk
1 tsp vinegar
5oz (140g) caster sugar
3floz (90ml) vegetable oil
1&1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4oz (125g) plain flour
1&1/2 oz (45g) cocoa powder
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350F/175C/gas mark 4 and line muffin pan with paper cases.
Whisk together soya milk and vinegar in a large bowl and set aside for a few minutes to curdle.
Add sugar, oil and vanilla extract and beat until foamy.
In a separate bowl sift together flour, cocoa powder, bicarb, baking powder and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat until no large lumps remain.
Pour into cases, filling three quarters of the way.
Bake for about 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Eat while still warm, or allow to cool completely and ice with chocolate 'buttercream'.
Chocolate 'Buttercream' Icing
3oz (115g) vegan margarine
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
6oz (170g) sieved icing sugar
2oz (55g) sieved cocoa powder
Place all ingredients into a bowl and mash with a fork until smooth and creamy.
* we added dark chocolate drops on top of the icing, as they weren't quite chocolatey enough for us!!
OK, so its not the healthiest snack, but we all need a treat now and again ;-)
Friday, 15 August 2008
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
No pictures of our woodland adventures as I very stupidly forgot my camera, so just this lovely one of an upside down, mid-flip A on our trampoline. I love this photo!
Our trip to the woods was with the local home education group, and it was great. The forest rangers took us on a walk and we talked about the different types of trees and some of the wildlife, then it was off for lunch and a bit of pond dipping which the kids all thoroughly enjoyed. A happily joined the other kids and seemed totally at ease, a good day all round actually.
I have to say I feel really lucky to have this established network of home educating families so close at hand. It has definately made the process easier for me. From the very beginning, when I was just considering HE as one option and made tentative enquiries, the group has been welcoming and friendly in a down to earth kind of way.
Saturday, 9 August 2008
Wednesday, 6 August 2008
Let me tell you
about it, these are the instructions: "It’s the Pay It Forward Exchange. It’s
based of the concept of the movie “Pay it Forward” where acts or deeds of
kindness are done without expecting something in return, just passing it on,
with hope that the recipients of the acts of kindness are passed on. So here’s
how it works. I will make and send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who
leave a comment to this post on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I
do not know what that gift will be yet, and it won’t be sent this month,
probably not next month, but it will be sent (within 6 months) and that’s a
promise! What YOU have to do in return, then, is pay it forward by making the
same promise on your blog.I will now Pay It Forward to you THREE, I wonder who
you will be?! Please, be a PIF! You will enjoy it just as much as we do!"And,
remember...you have 6 months to get your gifts done! Come on, you know you would
love to be one of my angels. Then, one day, but you don't know when....you will
get a gift that I have made especially for YOU!Please remember, you don't have
to knit or crochet to participate, anyone who can make a nice handmade gift is
welcome to join :)
Monday, 4 August 2008
So, one lot of visitors go home tomorrow (my brother and his family), and another lot arrive! I have to admit - I have struggled a little bit this past week. I love my brother and his partner, and my nephews of course, but we are on such different wavelengths about most things. I feel a bit sad that there's not more of a connection between us, but I suppose life would be very boring if we all thought the same way.
Anyway, our new visitors are an old family friend I haven't seen since we were children, and her two daughters aged 10 and 12. A is very excited about sharing her room with two new friends, and I can't wait to catch up with their Mum - should be very interesting!