Spontaneous schooling and shaking off old habits.

Spontaneous schooling and shaking off old habits.

Three weeks ago we decided to have a break from formal schooling. The reason, we haven’t had one since we started home educating over a year ago! We have had odd days and some time over Christmas, half days and outings but not time to switch our brains off. More importantly not enough time for me to be just mum for a while!

The first week was a holiday spent with my mum where we had days out to Alton towers, Warwick castle and saw family. Though during this time Luke also got some work experience too!

Last week we did some sorting and finally took down the wall between the boys tiny room and the big cupboard next door. So now we are slowly sorting the stuff from the cupboard that has spilled it’s from across the landing and into our bedroom!

But we have continued to do our reading together when ever possible. Today we began the next book in the chronicles of Narnia, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. We only read one chapter but from that sprung a spontaneous Literacy lesson and some art.

In the first chapter Eustace is teasing Lucy and Edmund saying

10306486_10153415383224525_8646371780790394193_n“Some kids who played games about Narnia. Got gradually balmier and balmier.”

In response Lucy says Narnia and Balmier don’t rhyme. But Eustace replies that it is an assonance. So together we found out what an assonance was and made some of our own. (Please excuse my untidy scrawl, I was writing quickly at a funny angle with a wriggly toddler by my side!)

Then we thought about what type of painting we would like to be pulled into like the children find happening with the picture of the Narnian boat in Lucy’s room. They then went off and drew their pictures. If you know the boys you’ll know that all their pictures contained cars!

I’m beginning to think that autonomous learning or at least spontaneous schooling suits us best. Today we have had a good productive but unplanned, unstructured day. Annie Rose and I made cakes, we all did a few chores like putting away washing clearing the draining board and washing up. Then we read our book, did our assonance writing and drew pictures. I even got time to do a little (little!) painting craft work. We saw grandparents and they told us about their holiday. The boys did their bible studies, sorted out a box of bits left from sorting out their room and are now playing darts in the newly hung darts board (great for practising subtraction or addition too!).

The difficulty is I am trained in childcare. I have worked for years in nurseries, reception, year 1 and year 4. I can’t get schoolish thinking out my head and routine!

So this term we are changing our approach slightly we will continue to do maths and literacy on an online program we have subscribed to but the rest of the time is going to be sharing literature, maybe with some spontaneous lessons like today, and practical life skills like gardening, cooking and home maintenance. I have to plan for September’s learning but will be trying to shake old habits that didn’t work for the boys whilst in school yet i find it so hard to drop!

 

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Cutting and colours

Cutting and colours

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Today our house has been slowly, or not so slowly, filling up with teeny tiny bits of paper. Can’t just blame the kids though I have been merrily cutting things out too.

I recently subscribed to twinkl  (http://www.twinkl.co.uk/). It has some great resource on and because it is all in one place it’s easy to use and i don’t waste time googling and trawling through lots of resources that don’t fit the bill.

My favourite at the moment are the fine motor skills and learning colours as that is what we are doing lots of with Annie-Rose.

 

11203075_10153336010264525_5681766777416087999_nToday I printed out a colour sorting cut and stick activity(http://www.twinkl.co.uk/resource/t-t-8939-colour-sorting-activity).I cut out the colour groups and put them on the door,whichseconds as Annie-Roses display board. I then cut out half ofthe little pictures and popped them in a tub.We both sat by the door and Annie-Rose selected a picture,matched it to the right group, put some glue on it and stuck it on.I needed to be there with her to name the colours as she matched as she is still a little confused and often says everything is green!This activity is simple and could be home made but I just found it so easy to print off. Also as the pictures exactly match the group colours it is easier for learning colours.

It is easy to extend it too. You could look through a magazine or catalogue together cutting out coloured items and adding them to the groups too, or maybe find craft bits to add like pom poms  , sequins, pipe cleaners, foam stickers and buttons.

We didn’t finish all the pictures but we will do a few more later or tomorrow. Then maybe the same next week and the next to consolidate what she has learned. In fact she has just taken herself back to the door to do some more as I type, she must enjoy it!

So with my cutting those out and Isaac cutting out some more twinkl10891489_10153336007114525_2389337295695065719_n goodies for his Human Body project Annie Rose decided she’d like to play with scissors too. Hence the pile of cut up paper on the floor!

She really got the hang of scissors at Messy Church the other Sunday. I was helping supervise a paper weaving activity and she sat nearly the whole time next to me snipping up strips of paper until the table had a pile of confetti on!

So I am compiling a list of scissor practice idea to try out soon here are some:

Play dough– use scissor to cut up play dough can be easier than handling a floppy piece of paper so I start with this activity quite early too especially with those plastic toddler scissors you can get.

Strips of paper – a strip of paper is also easy to cut compared to a sheet of paper or magazine page so this is my choice for a tots first paper cutting activity.

Greetings cards – old Christmas cards and birthday cards etc make an interesting thing to cut and being card, but not too thick, is quite easy too.

Building control – to encourage greater accuracy you can then move onto following lines either ready made sheets from twinkl or other online printables, or drawing your own. You can use greeting cards and draw lines on them with a marker pen. Starting with straight lines then slight zigzag and waves. The depth of the waves and zigzags can be increased as they become more skilled with the scissor and are able to keep to the lines more accurately. Simple shapes like triangles and squares and circles are also good for improving accuracy.

Magazines – these can just be cut up into random pieces or you can look for picture together either as a sorting activity or as a fun picture making activity or simply to just cut out pictures of things you like.

Water colours

Water colours

Doing our caterpillar craft Annie Rose enjoyed using the pipette so much we carried on playing with it. It is great for fine motor skills.

But I had another  idea too. We had been using water colours to paint earlier that day so I took a brush and used the paint to tint two tubs of water one yellow and one blue.

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I put them on the table for Annie Rose with an empty tub in between.

She enjoyed transferring the blue water to the tub in the middle.19522_10153308403709525_2368446677166776839_n

She tipped it back into the first tub, then transferred the yellow water to the tub in the middle.

She then decided to put both yellow and blue in.11156228_10153308402139525_5460543498143726154_nIt turned green and she noticed. “Look, green” she said.

(Although I am not convinced she knows her colours quite yet,

most things are green if you ask her!).

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Hairy caterpillar craft

Hairy caterpillar craft

We take part in a matchbox swop group on Facebook. Each month there is a new theme and those wishing to take part are partnered up. We then fill a matchbox with items fitting the theme and post it to our partners. This month the theme was spring so Annie Rose and I made our box and sent it off. Annie Rose was excited when she opened the one sent to her. They had made the box into a sheep and amongst lots of lovely stickers, activity sheets and even a cute sheep finger puppet was a packet of cress seeds. And so our next craft was born!
11188297_10153308404639525_2569034946834769675_nYou need:
cress seed
Long egg box
Googly eyes
Pipe cleaner
Scissors
Cotton wool
Water

 

11182034_10153308404729525_4742802111304399126_nI cut a strip off an egg box and an extra bit for the head. We stuck some googly eyes and two bits of pipe cleaner to make the head.

We then stuck it onto the strip of egg box.

 

 

 

Annie Rose put some cotton wool into each dip 1908198_10153308400784525_2630160479725269075_n

11188305_10153308402889525_4601682132332385379_nthen used her pipette to drip water onto them until they were damp.

 

 

 

She then took a pinch of cress seed from my hand and

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sprinkled the seed over the cotton wool.

 

We placed our little caterpillar on the window ledge.

It will be interesting seeing the cress grow and Annie Rose reaction to it.

Then we can eat it in our sandwiches 🙂

Nature Sun catchers

Nature Sun catchers

11150291_10153301780919525_3151990141009459977_nInspired by something on Facebook Annie Rose and I went off on a petal, leaf and flower hunt. We took a little bowl and went round the garden looking for interesting shaped leaves and petals which had dropped, we did pinch a few flowers too(but made sure there was plenty to still brighten the garden).11016816_10153301780989525_77535446753399171_n

 

 

 

 

I took a piece of card, an amazon packet which was perfect as it was already folded like a book, and I cut out a rectangle from one side then use it as a template to draw and cut out a matching template on the other side. I took some good old sticky back plastic blue Peter style and tapped it to the inside of one of the frames so it was like a sticky window. We then place leaves, petals and flowers all over it. I took another piece of sticky back plastic and stuck it to the other side so the sticky side was up,on the inside, again. I then closed the “book”frame up so the sticky sides met each other enclosing our flowery picture. I taped it shut.11150286_10153301780719525_7729638061028365520_n

It looks so pretty especially when held up to the window. So we hung it from the window handle in Annie Rose’s room.11133838_10153301780834525_4552202146044618573_n

 

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.

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 🙂