Monday, 30 May 2016

Home education journal - A busy time

It's been a while since I have posted an education journal entry as we have just been so busy, but I have picked out a few things from the last few weeks to record here. We have started to go swimming again for an hour or two each week which the children have enjoyed immensely and it's a very important life skill. We had a short break over winter to allow my daughter's new ear piercings to heal but at least nobody forgot how to swim.

We have continued to spend a lot of time at our local nature reserve, so that we can observe the seasonal changes in wildlife there. Also taking the time to explore the ruins of Trowse Newton Hall found in the reserve.

With the commencement of spring, plant experiments start all over the house and garden. The one pictured above is to see if various plants can find their way through a maze to find the light... the children tested beans and potatoes.

They have also continued looking into plant anatomy in much more detail including flower dissection and labelling.

Another science project had them looking into energy and motion, they made straight roller coasters and bumpy ones to test how much energy was needed to get the marbles over all the bumps amongst other things, which proved very entertaining.

We have spent some time exploring the directions on a compass and made little signposts to have in their rooms to enable them to know which way our house faces and also the windows. They found which way to position the signpost using a compass. Another part of the Mystery science course was to plot the sun's passage over our house using a little plastic dome.

We also took part in the RHS school's gardening project to grow rocket seeds that had been in space. 

We had to plant two packets of seeds, one from space and the other a control, to see how each packet grew. Each seed had to be planted independently in it's own compartment in the seed tray, so it took quite a lot of time and patience. 

The children took one packet each and all our results are being recorded on a very large chart.

That covers just a tiny fraction of the things we have been doing and some of the science projects the children have been experimenting with. It's been very busy here sorting out the allotment, plants and various other activities. Hope to be back really soon.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Home ed Journal entry - last few weeks

As usual we have been so busy over the last few weeks and with the onset of spring there has been so much more to fit in. This is a quick update of some of the things that have been taking up our time.

We have been out and about on a few nature walks in our local nature reserve and on the local marshes, monitoring and looking at the kinds of wildlife that is around in early spring. We visited the nature reserve on a lovely sunny afternoon but decided to go to the marshes extremely early on a very frosty morning and were rewarded with a sighting of a white egret, although photos proved much more difficult.

The children have been enjoying cooking as usual, and have carried on making many things after the success of the Chinese dumplings for Chinese new year. It's lovely to make these as a family every year, they taste amazing.

Chocolate Easter nests are usually a very simple, favourite every year, ideal for young children to make and enjoy.

We have also been looking at life on the home front during the war and have been considering a dig for victory theme for our allotment this year. In the meantime, as I have several wartime ration and victory cookery books, which have been fascinating, I have been trying out the recipes. This week we cooked an old favourite of my grandmothers... Rock cakes!

These were recommended during the war by the Ministry of food because of the minimal amounts of sugar and eggs in the recipe. I must admit to avoiding these as a child if I could but they were definitely really tasty, I obviously didn't know what I missing and the children loved them too.

My husband and daughter have also been rescuing and renovating a wartime dressing table with the most fabulous mirror if you would like to take a look.

The children have been really fascinated with science as usual and we have been continuing with the Mystery science courses and some of the of the shelf science packs. They have been studying different forms of energy and plant science mostly due to the fact that spring has arrived and our growing experiments and activities have been taking off.

We have made a root viewer, so that we can study roots closely and also if we turn the viewer every few days the directional change of the roots can easily be seen.

We made some grass heads... we have made these before when the children were very small but we wanted to make them again to try out some of the theories on the science course.

The quest this time was to get the hair to grow in the direction of your choice. My daughter wanted her grass hair to grow upwards and my son wanted his to grow straight out the back, so I think that worked well.

After our experiment finished we thought it may be a good idea to hide the grass heads in the garden so that they could continue growing and add a little extra magical interest. We are hoping it may look like a little troll head popping up out of the ground, my daughter added ribbons to her head first.

As for me I have increased my cacti and succulent collection over the winter season by about sixty new young plants so I have been really busy as most of these, and some of my larger ones have needed re potting as the spring arrived.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

A day in the life...

A few weeks ago some fellow home educators decided to live tweet their days, I had intended to join in but due to some technical difficulties didn't get round to it. Anyway I saved the photographs and I'm going to post here, I have been thinking of making it a regular feature... a bit like journal entries of things we have been getting up to, better late than never!

We decided to do a '30 days of yoga' challenge during January which was a very enjoyable and relaxing way of keeping active during the winter months and beyond. I have done yoga sporadically for a very long time and am hoping to make it a more frequent family pastime.

On the live tweet day our next activity was a local library visit to make good use of resources and a variety of new reading and studying material followed by a very frosty play in the park and obstacle course race. Lugging heavy bags of books about definitely keeps you warm.

After lunch and library book reading the children chose to study, completing some maths and science projects and a little anatomy practice. Recently we have been doing some on line science courses with the mystery science club which the children have found fascinating. This months project was Invisible forces -  forces, motion and magnetism. We have also been looking at Botany, prehistoric man and the great barrier reef to name just a few things.

Dinnertime that day consisted of home made bread and minestrone soup, the children love making bread and we have just finished watching Victorian Bakers which was a very interesting social history program and has inspired them to try and make different styles of bread in the future.

Our minestrone style soup  is very chunky and rustic looking but tastes amazing as most home made soups do and well worth making to warm you up on winter days.

That pretty much covers that particular day but we have no set timetable and every single day looks very different to the next day...what we study is entirely led by the children's interests and is a fascinating and exciting journey.

We have also taken the time at the end of January to complete the big garden bird watch for the RSPB and were very excited to see a gold crest right outside the window. The children also went ten pin bowling for the first time, which was great fun and I have added a short, funny clip of my son's very unusual bowling technique... one, two, three... star!

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Resurrection plant time lapse

My son decided to buy a resurrection plant called Selaginella lepidophylla also known as rose of Jericho and dinosaur plant amongst other things and we wanted to capture footage of the plant returning to life. So my husband and children set up the camera to make a time lapse film recording what happened for them to keep.

The clip lasts less than a minute but captures the plant opening and is an amazing educational project for the children to watch again. Our camera battery ran out slightly sooner than we would have liked so we have added a photograph at the end to show the plant after 24 hours. The good thing about these plants is that they can be dried out and re hydrated again. Fascinating to see!

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Happy New Year 2016

Just a quick post to wish you all a belated Happy New Year, give you a quick update on a few of our activities coming up to the Christmas season and to post a photograph of the handmade gifts I made for my children this year.

 I usually crochet the children an extra gift to add into their Christmas stockings but this year I decided to get out my sewing machine and surprise them with a soft character toy each from their favourite computer game or cartoon. I made my son an Enderman from Minecraft and my daughter a Lumpy space princess from adventure time. They certainly got more than a few squeals of delight on Christmas morning.

Just before Christmas we went to the Harry Potter Warner Brother studio tour and had an absolutely wonderful time. We got to see the Hogwarts Express which arrived earlier in the year and had the pleasure of seeing Hogwarts in the snow with all the sets decorated for Christmas. An amazing day for adults and children alike!

We also took advantage of the last sunny days of the year to go beach combing on a nearly deserted beach and had a picnic by the sea. Using some of the time to clear a bag of rubbish from the shoreline as we usually do.

To finish the day we visited the local sea life centre, a perfect way to relax in the lead up to the Christmas season.

So as you can see we are still here and I hope to be resurrecting this blog, adding more crafts, science and other learning projects with an added taste of our lifestyle too... Happy New Year from our whole family at Lightly Enchanted.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Pumpkin pancakes / flatbread

I do not know what to call these really, but we thought we would try something new with some of our left over pumpkin purée from the Autumn harvests. Where I live potato cakes are something to make with your left over mash potato and a little flour, so I wondered what would happen if I replaced the potato with pumpkin purée instead... I have to say the result was very tasty.

 I have started with  200g of pumpkin purée and mixed in about 200g of all purpose flour and a small knob of butter. I have said about 200g of flour because sometimes you need to add a little more to be able to knead it like dough, as that's the consistency you are aiming for. Roll it out to about half a centimetre thick and cut into your preferred shapes.

I have cut them in rectangle shapes so that they fit neatly on a lightly oiled baking tray and cook them in the oven at 200C for about 10 to 15 mins.

That's about it... very simple and very tasty especially hot straight from the oven spread with melting butter. My husband and daughter like to cut their's open down the side like the pocket in pitta bread and spread the butter on the inside. They are also a handy size to put in the toaster and warm through.

But however you choose to eat them it's a very quick and easy way to use up some left overs and has a very intense pumpkin flavour.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The end of Summer

Summer is well and truly over now and the leaves are starting to show their Autumn colours, so I thought I would share some of our summertime activities with you. We have been on all our usual adventures in nature as you may have seen in the 30 days wild project we joined in June, also trips to the Dinosaur adventure park and a theme park.

We have explored new places and had adventures on a prehistoric walk through ancient areas of woodland. We have also spent time exploring the countryside and the thrill of playing in fields of long grass.

The children gave themselves Summer challenges, my son's was a reading challenge to read the entire series of Harry potter books including the extra short books. This is a big challenge for him as he prefers to read fact books and encyclopedias so me and my husband joined him on this challenge to give him extra support... everyone finished this challenge in less than the three months given. He has now gone back to reading about Japanese mythology and his dinosaur research.

My youngest daughter had different challenges, she wanted to teach herself to weave bracelets, make wind chimes, hula hoop and juggle... all of which she accomplished with ease and has now moved on to learning musical instruments.

We have also spent a lot of time at our local swimming pool, the children had so much fun and can all swim a number of different strokes and have hugely increased their water confidence skills.

Both children attended two activity club courses looking at different animals and their care which they found quite interesting. We also took advantage of the Heritage free open days and went to three museums.

The children love exploring museums, my grandmother used to take me around the strangers hall museum when I was a little girl and it is lovely that it is still there for my children to experience. This year we even played old games in the museum gardens.

We managed to find a newt, something the children had been looking to see in the wild which was quite exciting for them.

We have had a few new additions to our family too, after spending time with the reptiles on the animal care courses that the children completed we decided to add a snake to our family, my son already has a leopard gecko, which is fascinating, so learning about snakes would be just as interesting and something my husband has been wanting to do for quite a while.

This is a photo of our beautiful new Royal python when he first arrived, only a few months old. The other new arrivals are chickens, as you know we lost two of our older girls earlier in the year and were only left with one chicken. The remaining elderly chicken, Dotty, was very lonely so we decided to increase the flock.

It took Dot a little while to accept the new chickens, but after a week or so it all settled down. Dot is on the far right of the above photo, the black and white chicken is called Sylvie and the two reds are called Evie and Ginny.

That covers a few of our summer highlights, adventures and challenges... Preparing for winter has taken hold here and the last of the allotment harvests have been collected and preserving food is in full swing.