Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Easter crafts and park

We met our friends for our usual Tuesday morning group session today and did Easter crafts. The children decorated ceramic hanging eggs with tissue paper, made Easter cards and pictures of blossom trees, using wool for the branches and tissue paper for the blossom.

They also made chocolate nests for snack time.

It has been a glorious sunny day so we went to the local park for two hours afterwards with our friends, which was very busy! Harry had his first ice cream there this year and we took bubble blowing wands.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Sports camp

Harry has spent most of today at an Easter sports camp called Gamesweek. It is run in one of the private schools in Newcastle which has good sports facilities and he really enjoyed it, apart from swimming, which is not his favourite activity! He has done gymnastics, crafts, climbing and team games as well. This is the longest Harry has spent independently somewhere, including being responsible for his belongings, lunch box and swimming kit and I am really pleased he has the confidence to go and that he enjoyed it. The school holidays are a great time to access this kind of large group activity, which children are not exposed to daily in a home education environment. He is also going on Wednesday.

Peter and I had a day to ourselves, which is rare! We went to the park after dropping Harry off, where he fed the ducks and had a very long and high push in the basket swings.

We came home to hang washing outside and make pancakes.

We also read lots of Richard Scarry books (Peter's current favourite) and went to the allotment to water all our seed beds and seedlings. It has been very relaxing just having one boy at home today!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

A day out at Cragside

We had a super trip to Cragside today. We don't go very often as it's quite far but we always enjoy it. Harry knows a lot about William Armstrong, who built the house and who was a famous North-East engineer so he likes it too. 

The rocky areas around the lake provided some good scrambling.

We spent a long time in the labyrinth. Father and son jostled for prime position in the forest throne!

There are lots of winding paths and wooden sculptures to explore.

Stuart and Peter had a good chat to the wizard (voiced by Harry!).

Harry took some photos too - this is a selection of his - I always find it interesting looking at his photos to see what has drawn his attention. I love the one of Bert, his toy dog!

Friday, 11 April 2014

Theatre trip - Dogs Don't do Ballet

We went to a local theatre, Northern Stage, today with friends. This theatre does some great performances for children and the one we saw was called Dogs Don't Do Ballet.

Harry and Peter really enjoyed it and it was very sunny so they had a run around the grassy areas afterwards. 

Jack and the Beanstalk activities

We have been working to a theme of the classic story of Jack and the Beanstalk these last two weeks. I don't normally split our activities into subject areas but I have done so this time as there is a lot to include! It has been a very popular theme.

Literacy activities 

We have two versions of Jack and the Beanstalk at home and we have read them both several times. The longer version has a lot more detail in and Harry and Peter did well describing the extra objects and events compared to the shorter version.

They retold the story using our beanstalk and printed set (see craft activities below). I asked Peter questions as we went along and asked Harry to think of some new events for his version of the story. He added that Jack sold the cow for the beans and an axe, to explain how he had an axe. He also added that the beanstalk grew bags of money hanging from its branches so Jack didn't need to climb to the top of the beanstalk! This would make for a very different version of events for Jack.

Peter matched up letters from some of the story words using this sheet I made. He cut out each letter then glued it to the correct place.

Harry thought of a simile and adjectives to describe the giant and I asked him to make ten new words from the letters of the word 'beanstalk'. I made letter tiles for him to use to do this.

Sensory and craft activities 

The boys have had great fun with a sensory tub of dry beans. I painted some gold and green as the magic beans and they both wanted to paint their own selection too. Harry started sorting the beans immediately into type. Peter used them to feed the toy cow we added to the story characters, make pretend cups of tea and scoop and pour. They played with these beans for a whole afternoon when I first got them out!

We made a beanstalk to add to the bean tub that looked great and was really quick. The idea was from here. I set out the materials and didn't need to help much. They both really enjoyed threading the leaves onto pipecleaners.

We made a land of clouds for the top of the beanstalk using a paper plate and cotton wool and Harry added the items from the lovely printable set from here for the characters and objects from the story.

The boys also wanted to use the dry beans to make glued pictures. Peter added as many as he could and said it was a pebble beach! Harry coloured some with metallic pens and made a treasure chest for them to go in. He also made a space rocket.

Peter did some of the activities from this printable pack - cotton bud paint dots to fill in letters and cutting and matching characters to their shadows.

Science and maths activities 

We soaked some of each type of dry bean in water then compared them. We also took them apart to see the seed coat, root and leaves inside. The difference in size after one night soaking was amazing and they came apart really easily.

I had some lap book activities already prepared for Spring based on plant life so we tied this into the beanstalk theme and looking at the beans. Harry completed the mini books as a display poster, answering questions about the parts of a plant and the purpose of each part.

We also did some maths activities using the dry beans several times. I thought I should get value out of them seeing as they have littered my living room floor for a whole two weeks! Peter matched the correct number of beans to numbers on paper plates. Harry filled pots with the correct number of beans to answer sums I wrote for him. We also did some fractions. I gave him a group of beans and asked him to place the correct amount on plates for half, third and quarter fractions. Harry likes using manipulatives for maths and the beans worked well for this.


We cooked using beans too (although not the ones that had been played with all week!). We used a recipe from Jamie's Italy cookbook for fagioli all'italiana. 

Harry did all the preparation himself, including collecting herbs from the allotment to use. The herb smell as they cooked was great! We used the beans in a casserole for tea.

We have had great value and enjoyment from the Jack and the Beanstalk theme and I am sure we may use this one again!