Spring has begun ….I hope!

Spring has begun ….I hope!

 

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Yesterday was a lovely sunny day here. Felt like spring had finally arrived. Looks as warm  today so I thought I would share some of the spring like activities we have been enjoying.

A few weeks ago we decided to plant some little plug plants out in tubs. We tidied up a little and got two flower pots full of soil. Annie Rose was happily digging away with a trowel in the pots when with a sequel she said ” tared me tared nake!” (Which translated means I’m scared there’s a snake!) So I peered round to where she had backed away from and as she clung to me I burst into laughter. There wrigglyling around on the path was a worm, not even a big worm, but then she’d not really seen worms before. We had been sorting the back garden out and  only a small portion was child proof and last summer she’d spent most time in the garden in her sandpit or paddling pool.  Anyway she got over her fright and we held a few wiggly worms and by the end if the day every mini beast she saw she said “my ave it” with cupped hands held out in front of her. She did get the little fuchsia plants into the pots in the end too, with the help of big brother Jacob.

IMG_20150402_102453-COLLAGEIn the run up to Easter we decided to make Easter nests to give out as Easter gifts. Such a simple task I let Annie Rose do all of it on her own (except melt the chocolate!).She did a great job she tipped the rice crispies into the melted chocolate, stirred them, spooned them mixture into the cases and added the mini eggs. She even managed not to sample any of it, or lick her fingers. You should have seen her face when I handed her the chocolately spoon to lick!

Annie Rose is much more aware of the outdoors now. She spent a lot of yesterday beheading/picking daisies. A few days ago we went for a little walk around the village which is a slow process when a toddler stops to look at everything! We began to notice the different leaves around us. So we picked a selection chatting about size shape and colour as we did.

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Sunday saw us strolling in a park where we found lots of feathers so we collected them and brought them home. Annie Rose and I decided to use them to make a bird collage. I drew a bird shape and cut it out. Annie Rose covered it in glue and we stuck on the feathers and a googly eye, it looked really effective.

 

 

Today we are inspired by the bees we have seen more often buzzing round our Muscari. So I cut a kitchen roll tube IMG_20150407_092902-COLLAGEinto 3 prices and we painted them yellow. When they are dry we will stick strips of black paper round them, bubble wrap circles on for wings and of course a couple of googly eyes.

Then as we played outside this afternoon we wandered down the street and looked at the flowers. This reminded me of a craft activity i had all prepped and ready which was perfect for today. So we sat on the door step armed with paper plates, paper cutouts and a glue stick. She needed a little more help with this one but enjoyed it all the same.

 

 

I have so many ideas I want to try based on spring but never the IMG_20150407_155544time to do them all!

Of course with all this activity came amply learning opportunities. We reinforced the understanding of 2 items by putting 2 eggs in each nest. We touched on more and less when we put 1 or 3 by mistake. We spoke of colours with painting the bees, making the flower and looking at the flowers growing around us. There was lots of fine motor skills in the painting, sticking, stirring and transferring by spoon. Also much dancing, jumping, skipping and running took place as we went outside to explore.

Make a joyful noise

Make a joyful noise

A year and a bit ago my Dad died. He was only 61 but had spent the last few years unable to do anything for himself due to early onset dementia. But this post isn’t about his illness or his death. It’s about something he taught me in life: I’m sure I will be writing many more posts about things my Dad taught me.
You see my Dad loved music and singing; though he was no Pavarotti, or Tom Jones thankfully! He really enjoyed singing out loudly in worship at church. Now I am ashamed to say there was a time I was embarrassed by this and even more disappointing, like many teenagers, I didn’t hide that fact from him.
After many years and discussions I began to realise that he was filled with joy. Singing was one way of expressing that. It didn’t matter to him that he wasn’t always totally in tune or that his voice was chart toppingly good. Why? Because he knew it didn’t matter to God. But what did matter was that he could express his joy through worshipping God in song.

God doesn’t say come all who have beautiful voices and sing, everyone else better shake a tambourine or just make tea!

He said
“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all you lands. Serve the Lord with gladness, come before his presence with singing” Psalm 100 verses 1-2

Thing is I am the same. I haven’t a great voice nor am I confident in singing. But I do love to sing and the most joyful times in my life are usually filled with music and singing. Now I think I fully understand why he continued to “make a joyful noise” despite my cringing; as teenagers do. I am so glad he did, not just because of what it taught me, but because I can stand in church or be at home or in the car and sing the songs I remember him joyfully singing out to God. It has left me with more happy memories to remember him by especially when the last few years of his life were lived as a stranger to us, and now that he’s gone.

I am looking forward to a day when I will again stand by his side singing joyful praise to our Lord an king!

Pyjamma Day … at last!

Pyjamma Day … at last!

19488_10153093119884525_6706094615295604162_nA year ago I posted our first blog. We had just given in our de-registration letter, had our half-term and were embarking on our new adventure together (well the twins joined us about a week later).

But I believe today is the first pyjama day we’ve had since then!

There goes the ideas all home educators sit around in pyjamas all day everyday!

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We’ve had a really busy year trying out lots of different activities, workbooks, websites, games and curriculums. Some we have loved some we’ve used but adapted, some were not right for us at all. It’s actually amazing how much we have done looking back on this last year.

 

But today is a day off (our half term) …

Luke has been immersed in his art work again. Isaac has also been drawing.11021239_10153093119559525_4296955750893119439_n

Annie Rose has been playing with her new toy sink, pumping water to make the tap work.

Jacob has been using the lego mindstorm set my lovely cousin gave them for Christmas.

Oh, and we all snuggled together with our flat whites, americanos or mochas and watched The comic relief bake off (couldn’t stop laughing about the onion being peeled with a vegetable peeler!).1505557_10153093120119525_7529415256387515793_n

I made Annie Rose a fun and flowery lunch.

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Annie Rose also stuck the regal ice hearts she’d cut out onto the cakes she had made the day before.

I can’t believe how much learning has taken place today with out any structure, timetable or even getting dressed. I don’t think it would work everyday, some of us like structure, but it’s a great relaxed way to learn. Perhaps we will have regular chilled out learning sessions like this … in our PJs of course 🙂

Toddler taming …. more like tongue taming!

Toddler taming …. more like tongue taming!

Isn’t it great how a child’s vocabulary grows so much from the first word to full sentences by 3 years old (or there abouts). I love hearing Annie Rose come out with something new be it a single word, phrase or even part of a song.

so what are my toddlers favourite phrases ….

My do it (classic one!)

mine (another classic)

time got watch (big brothers current phrase)

look Mummy

see it

watch Upsy Daisy (or George)

my found it

you coming (always wants someone to do and do things with her)

BUT then she also says…

stop it! or just stop it!

Just hold it!

Leave lone!

You’ll note the exclamation marks on these last few and maybe you can imagine the force the are said with. So do I need to tame my toddler? Sadly it’s not my toddler that needs taming … it’s  my tongue! You see these phrases are just parroting, these are the things she hears me squawk at her brothers as my patience runs low …or out… and I lose my tongue.

I’m ashamed to hear those words come out of her mouth knowing it’s my speech she is copying. So I need to correct myself before I start doing any toddler taming!

It reminded me of these verses in James 1: 19-20

 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,  because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

and James 1:26

 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.

and James 3:9

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

I’m being honest and holding my hands up to this one. I too often run out of patience, become angry and speak in a way that is not gracious and does not show my children my love for them. Thankfully I can seek forgiveness and let them see that my reactions are not OK. We as home educators plan away at what and how we will teach our children. Let us not forget what we may be teaching them by our very nature. When our actions betray the way we’d like to be we can use them to show our children we can seek forgiveness, be forgiven and be gracious.

Maybe repenting and forgiving show more love and selflessness too?

I hope you appreciate my openness and honesty. Maybe like me you find it refreshing to find a realistic post about how we sometimes fail to be who we want to be rather than all the polished “look what we did” posts.

The best part of an activity when you are two? … the washing up!

The best part of an activity when you are two? … the washing up!

So today we got our pretend snow out again today, (see http://www.athomewithjames.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/let-it-snow-in-the-kitchen/ for our first cloud dough activity). But this time we used some new tools.10953955_10153035377489525_6496105933473103121_n Firstly we made a snow teddy with a sand mould we unearthed in the loft yesterday. we even hid the mini compare bears in the big teddy mould then had fun excavating to find them again. There was again much talk about how soft and silky the “snow” felt. We even spent some time throwing it up in the air which left Annie Rose with a generous sprinkling all over her hair!

10629778_10153035377904525_4735475434382492462_nI went to a local shop full of learning toys last week and couldn’t resist this pack of fine motor skills tools. There is cute little tweezers shaped like a crocodile; a pipette just the right size for a toddlers little chubby hands; a scoop which uses a tweezer action to open and close and a scoop which uses a scissor action.

We explored our play snow with the scoops. Annie-Rose wasn’t able to use them all that well but she really enjoyed trying. Especially using the scissor scoop with both hands.

But the best part of the activity was when we cleared away the snow and put a bowl of very bubbly washing up water on the floor for her to clean the scoops, moulds and compare bears. 10647172_10153035377669525_2785873006621031808_nI used her bubble bath in shallow warm water and whisked it up with my hand whisk to make extra suds that are kind to her skin. Definitely her favourite part of the morning and gave two sensory/fine motor skill activities rolled into one!

LET IT SNOW!!!! in the kitchen??

LET IT SNOW!!!! in the kitchen??

We had snow! On Tuesday we woke up to shouts of “it’s snowing!” coming from the living room. Sure enough when I pulled back the curtains the world outside was white … well white-ish. A sprinkling of snow had settled and snowflakes were indeed still floating down. But by the time we’d had breakfast it had ceased and the sun was shining. 10426336_10153011617244525_4886892959819954937_n

So we quickly slipped on snow boots and took Annie Rose outside. She wasn’t all that impressed although did insist on staying outside, as did the boys. But there wasn’t even enough to leave footprints in let alone build snowmen.

Last night I made a bowl of snow, pretend snow of course. I looked for winter activities and found that lots of people had used a homemade moon sand recipe as a snow alternative. It’s basically 1 part baby oil to 4 parts flour. It feels and smells lovely. It’s crumbly but you can compact it into shapes easily too.

 

I made mine with plain flour so it had a rather off white, almost dirty looking, colour. So I think next time I will try to use cornflour for that fresh white snow look.

Annie Rose and I first just squished it in our hands 10931264_10153011621419525_3792822757495057198_nand then sifted it through our fingers.

Annie Rose liked the texture (unlike paint!). Then I got a little tub and a spoon and we made snow castles. We haven’t any little arctic animals so a few of the compare bears came to play in the snow instead.

The time was getting on so I had to begin getting dinner ready but Annie Rose happily sat playing with her tray of snow on the floor.

Mostly she hid the bears then found them again.10410601_10153011621624525_3473724718167452140_n

This activity was most definitely a hit and needs repeating. Clear up is easy too! a quick sweep up was all it took. I kept the snow that had remained in the tray and put it in a bowl covered with cling film and it should be fine for a few more plays.

 

Can you feel it? Art

Can you feel it? Art

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This week I went out for a well earned treat of coffee (and cream tea) with a dear friend. Just us girlies for a change. But I wanted to leave the boys some work to do, but something a bit different to the usual reading and maths practice they do.

I had picked up a book from the library about art so I looked through it for inspiration. The book is The Usbourne book of Famous paintings. It has 35 famous paintings with a page full of information and ideas about the painting and the artist. I’d recommend it as an introduction to a range of artists and their work.

I came to The Scream by Edvard Munch. The writer spoke about how the painting portrays intense feelings. So i set the boys a challenge. To look at The Scream and it’s description then produce their own piece of artwork to portray a feeling.10943925_10153010661359525_8036422239502982511_n

I returned from my tea shop visit (Ditchling tearooms by the way, well worth a visit!) to 3 boys eager to show me their pictures. But each had misunderstood my challenge. They had all drawn pictures of something that would cause them to feel a certain way. A house on fire, or someone separated from a colourful football match, and a sweet cottage sandwiched between a busy city and a smoky factory. So the pictures didn’t quite portray a feeling but rather a situation that would cause you to feel sad, lonely or scared etc.

After Lunch we got out the pencils and felt pens and set about drawing. This time we explored together how we could use different colours, lines and shading techniques to help show different feelings. 10455120_10153010661309525_6154087324687620159_nWe split a page into 4 and wrote one feeling in each quarter then imagine we felt that way and filled in that quarter of the page in lines, colours and shading we felt portrayed that feeling. The emotions we chose were anger, confusion, fear and joy. Once we’d created these keys to our way of presenting the emotions we created an A4 piece of art to portray one of the emotions. Then we created a display with them all.

It made us think beyond the creation of a picture of1526094_10153010661394525_559278814388354883_n an object or place instead thinking about how the lines shading and colour effected the way they appeared and the feelings they represent through the picture.