Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The end of Autumn?

I thought I would wrap up the autumn themed work we have been doing with some written work this morning, as the nights are definitely cold and dark and we have a lot coming up, even before I can start the Christmas theme in earnest!

We have been thinking about descriptive autumn words a lot. Harry has been writing the beginning and end letters of words and putting words in alphabetical order. We also looked at some images and he decided which ones represent autumn.

We used an acrostic poem template for Harry to think of and write some autumn words (we used the dictionary to help think of some). He also thought up a longer poem which I wrote for him - I thought it was really good.

We got out the instruments to have a sing of a lovely song I remembered from last year

Autumn is coming
Nights turning cold
Blackberries in the hedgerow
Leaves brown and gold

So I think that will be it for autumn in terms of structured activities, although I am sure there will be more playing in blustery leaves to come. We have enjoyed some leafy craft activities and watching the weather and the changes in nature. Looking forward to a couple of workshops during November and a short trip to Edinburgh.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012


One of my big aims for Harry and Peter is that they become independent and able to look after themselves at a young age, which I think is a great boost to their confidence and of course means that they are honing vital life skills. I find this is supported a great deal by the home education environment, as I have time to let them 'help' with everyday tasks and to do things for themselves, even if it takes a loooooonng time!

Harry has really developed in this area recently so I thought I would share and record some examples here. He came upstairs this morning to tell me he had unloaded the dishwasher (he had) and he has recently been getting spoons and glasses out for breakfast before we come downstairs. He has been putting his dirty clothes in the wash bin for a few months now and Peter has started to copy him, which is great!

A couple of weeks ago, I went to put Peter to bed shortly after our veg order arrived and Harry had unpacked it all into the correct places when I came back down. He was really proud of himself.

Harry has been looking out for Peter more too. He peels bananas for him, winds up toys and puts Octonauts into vehicles for him. I also went upstairs last week and Harry had noticed that the nappy box in Peter's bedroom was empty, so he had got a new packet and was refilling it.

Harry really is growing into a big boy!

Halloween party

The boys enjoyed getting dressed up yesterday and going to a halloween party at a friend's house. Peter was a little monster and Harry was a pumpkin pirate! They had a look at some spooky food, including 'bloodworm' spaghetti, but didn't try any. They all 'mummified' each other with toilet roll before having an impromptu toilet roll fight. All great fun!

Saturday, 27 October 2012


This is the sight in our garden this morning! It snowed quite heavily during the night... it's October!! This has got me thinking of stocking up on lots of entertaining activities and ideas for winter, in case there are prolonged periods of time at home.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Autumn leaves

The boys really enjoyed making some autumn leaf pictures using fabulous felt leaves from Baker Ross this week. Harry used tissue paper too to represent conkers and acorns on the ground.
Peter made some effort too! 

I really love getting a Baker Ross delivery - it is like a present! Last time I ordered I looked ahead for 3 months to decide which themes we would cover and which supplies we would need. That worked well as I then don't need to try and make last minute dashes to the shops. I included autumn, bonfire night and Christmas and I am itching to get started with the shiny paints, glitter and jingle bells!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Blueberries for Sal
Little Bear and Sal both go berrying with their mothers, but after sitting down to rest, they each end up following the other one's mother.

We were delighted to share some of our FIAR time this month with another lovely family for a morning of activities and Harry was really excited to have some friends to work with.

Firstly, we used our own tin buckets and blueberries to see what sound they made when dropped in. I dropped in a coin and lolly stick for the children to hear different sounds and for them to guess what the objects were.

We had a look at the atlas and the children marked on a world map where bears live. We thought about why they don't live in Australia and Africa (too hot).

In the book, the bears and the humans are storing food for the winter. We talked about why food needs to be stored for winter - the plants and berries die down and there is too much frost and snow to collect food. We read this book about hibernation.

The children then drew some animals from the book using autumn themed gold crayons - this was Harry's snake (with forked tongue) and bat. They then washed over the drawings with blueberry paint, which I had made by cooking blueberries with water. The crayon repelled the water-based paint and it made a nice effect on the watercolour paper. When these had dried I gave them a selection of letters printed on blueberries to make their names on the picture.

The children knew that the book is set in autumn, as the characters were making preparations for winter. We made these lovely themed stained glass style hangings, which are on the window to catch the light. 

We also did some work on this book on our own. We had a family trip to Wallington, where Harry collected some sticks and moss in the den building area and brought them home to create his own winter home for a toy bear. He soon realised that the sticks would stand up better planted in soil than stood on the grass and he also found some stones to make a wall to keep out the wind, which he stuck together using 'cement' made from wet mud. I think the poor bear ended up buried in the mud to be rescued at a later date!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Racing and painting

Several home educating families we know have been meeting up for the past few weeks at a church attended by one of them and we went along for the first time today. The facilities were brilliant and the church has very kindly let us use the sports hall and play equipment for free and an 'art lady' is doing an art session with the children too. I am so pleased that we can be involved with this and see lovely friends for the children and me!

Harry and Peter loved riding around on small bikes, trikes and tractors and doing scooter races with their friends. The art session involved painting sunflowers which had been arranged for the children. This was Harry's painting.

This tied in nicely with a library book we have been reading quite a lot. Harry seems to really like this range of books, in which the Katie of the title can walk into famous paintings and interact with them.


We have found yet another way to use our colourful scarves. If you tie a knot in them they become throwing implements and behave a bit like a shuttlecock. They have been showered all over the house this week and dropped through the stair spindles. The play value the scarves provide still amazes me!

Friday, 12 October 2012

Dressing up

The boys had a great time with the fabulous dressing up clothes at Seven Stories this morning. I am making them a dressing-up box for Christmas and I think we will have a great time with it on some cold winter days indoors. Peter was very taken with all of the pink frilly skirts.

Harry added a fox coat to be a fairy fox 

They both liked being a dinosaur

 And Harry attached all of the tails to be a 5-tailed monster.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Books, books, books

I have been thinking a lot about books in the last couple of weeks. 

We have had a couple of great trips to the library and the boys have come home eager to empty the bag and read all of the books straight away. I also ventured into the audio book collection there for the first time and we borrowed Danny The Champion Of The World for the Center Parcs journey. Harry was enthralled and we have listened to it more since then. I really enjoyed listening to a longer, more involved story too, fabulous!  

I have also been reading through this list of the best children's chapter books. I am so excited to start reading some of these to Harry. I read several of them as a bookworm child and I think we will have some great, imaginative adventures lost in their plots. 

On that note, I am going to read my own book!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Mission to Mars workshop

We attended a workshop with other home ed familes at the Hancock Museum today called Mission to Mars. 

The children sat on the floor for an interactive presentation about Mars, during which they were encouraged to ask questions and share their knowledge.

They then sat in small groups and thought about what they would need to build to establish a human colony on Mars, using information cards showing the types of structures which might be built. We worked out that the most important things would be a food source, water source, place to live and fuel plant for rockets and vehicles.

Harry has been interested in space for a while and we have read several books about space and astronauts so this was interesting for him. The thinking around building a colony looked at it from a different angle and took into account more general topics of what humans need to survive.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Autumn inspiration

We had a lovely walk today to our local playground in the autumn sun, where we noted the leaves starting to change colour and the berries growing. It was a real feel-good morning in the fresh air.

We collected some leaves and used them at home to create an autumn inspired artwork, following one of the projects in the art book we have borrowed from the library. Harry printed a circle of petals in autumn colours and printed using some of the leaves around the edge.

Friday, 5 October 2012

A week away at Center Parcs

We have been on holiday this week at Center Parcs, which has been our usual destination since having children - we find it easy to entertain them there and Harry still doesn't want to come home at the end, even after his sixth visit. It is the first time we have taken our own bikes and it worked - Harry got around well without the complaints we usually hear when we are walking anywhere and it was much quicker travelling by bike in the bad weather. The weather forecast was awful so we made the most of arrival day by playing outside and enjoying ice creams. 

Harry liked his mini jet ski sessions and went down some small slides for the first time in the pool! Peter loved the pool again and went round the rapids lots of times. We have made good use of the pool this visit, whilst torrential rain fell for much of the week!

Given the weather, I was very pleased that I had booked some activities this time. Harry had a go at archery. We also went to a ranger led session about bats, where we watched videos of them and listened to their calls, before making a bat hat and mask and learning some facts.

They both did an art session. Harry used china pens to decorate a mug and acrylic paint to make a dinosaur tea towel (note the fat pink pig, which is lunch for the dinosaurs!). Peter plundered the Center Parcs glitter supply for some messy pictures (I am still covered in it now!)

Harry had spotted a rollerskating session at the sports centre and wanted to try so I braved the floor with him! I think he found it harder than he expected but he carried on and improved after a few laps. He didn't manage without me gripping him quite tightly though! This brought back good memories of a family holiday to Center Parcs when I was around 11 - all four of us went rollerskating, I might try to dig out the photo!

There was finally some blue sky at the end of the week so Harry and Stuart headed onto the lake in a boat.

I love these cheesy smiles!