Friday, 21 April 2017

Education update April 2017

The children have been very busy and involved in so many projects that it would be a very long post if I included it all, so we have picked a few of our favourite things to share with you here.

After seeing pictures online of the many sock toys made by other people they made a plan to recycle some old socks into these cat plushies. I'm very proud to say that all the little sewing projects I had given them over the years must have paid off as they pretty much completed this project by themselves.

My eldest daughter's cat brought her a surprise one morning... a pile of frogspawn!!  We have no idea how the cat carried these in but in an attempt to try and save the eggs she brought them round to us. We are pleased to announce that many of the eggs are now wriggly tadpoles, this has made an excellent nature project for my youngest children and given them the chance to study the life cycle of a frog at very close hand.

We have joined the Woodland trust's project to plant more trees, with great success as we already have many little trees coming up from our packet of seeds. This project has coincided with all the seed planting we do every year to grow our vegetables on our allotment, so it has been very busy.

The latest science project the children have been studying is sound, vibration and wavelengths. We have completed many experiments including a tin can telephone, balloon noise and the above experiment to see the sugar move on the cling film by the sound vibration alone.

We have also tried to recreate how the wavelengths looked on an oscilloscope by using a really long piece of cord and moving our hands either fast or slow as seen above, until it looked the same as a given noise.

 My daughter wanted to try some new recipes in the kitchen, sticky toffee squares were one of her new experiments... and very tasty they were too. We have also been eating some of the early harvests from the allotment, so far this has been asparagus and rhubarb.

Another science project has been about light, this led to an art project involving stained glass windows to really brighten up the house. The children's sports club started up again this week for the summer now that the weather is improving which has been keeping us extra busy, along with the building of a new poly tunnel at the allotment with the hope of allowing us to grow extra vegetables.

 Will update very soon with some new projects and updates on the ongoing ones like the tadpoles and baby trees.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Happy New Year 2017

Just a quick post to wish you all a belated happy new year, I hope you have got the year off to a good start. We have all been quite poorly with the flu over the Christmas season so were out of action a little bit and everyone has been resting up well to recover, however we are definitely much improved now. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas season.

The children have spent their recovering time enjoying all their presents including the many games, lego sets, education sets and craft kits to learn and complete to name a few things. They have also been catching up on some very interesting documentaries and are currently enjoying the royal institute Christmas science lectures.

I was able to make good use of the elderberry syrup made earlier in the year as we all had the flu and it has been lovely to enjoy all the homemade and home grown produce over the Christmas season. This year we made our own pickled onions grown by my husband at the allotment, these tasted absolutely amazing and we will definitely be making them again. Our redcurrant jelly also went down well.

The new year is bringing exciting projects and new challenges, we are expanding our plant collections and planting many more interesting things from seed. For me this means extending my cactus and succulent collection and starting off these new seeds when the weather warms up.

So as you can see we are still here and I hope to be resurrecting this blog more as time goes on, 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.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Home education update October 2016

The last few weeks have been quite busy, Autumn always is with all the food preservation from the allotment and finishing off the summer projects. The children have been busy with days out, drawing, making Halloween crafts and writing books as well as going swimming and a new home ed sports club. They have also been enjoying the experiments in some science kits with Dad.

Some of the experiments were exploring densities, this first one is to recreate a kind of Lava lamp. They started by pouring water and oil into a jar, waiting for the liquids to separate then they added food colouring and salt. The salt dropped through the oil layer talking some oil with it, after the salt dissolved the oil returned to the top in what looked like bubbles. We have added a short video to show this in action.

The next experiment was to create the look of fireworks in a bowl of water. They first mixed oil and food colouring together and poured the mixture into a large bowl of water.

The oil and food colouring mixture rose to the surface but after a few minutes the food colouring began to sink down and look a little like fireworks, or streaks of colour. We have added a short video to show this in action too.

There was also a fizz bomb experiment but that really didn't work at all well. They then tried out the volcano experiment with vinegar, food colouring and bicarbonate of soda. The first time they tried not much happened at all, just a bit of a trickle, it was a bit of an anticlimax so Dad added more ingredients, this time it worked much better... a little too well.

So well in fact that it left a big red stain on the ceiling! I have spared you the video on this experiment as there was a lot of screaming.

We have enjoyed some lovely nature walks looking at all the leaves changing colour and the jewel like berries and visits to the beach for Autumn beach combing.

Also a trip to the local sea life centre, where the children watched the rays for what seemed like hours and got the chance to see the turtle having his lunch.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Halloween Dementor Head

Last year for Halloween the children had a Harry Potter themed party, we decorated the house accordingly and added many homemade props, one of which was a dementor hidden in the stairs. If you read my wonderful husband's blog you will have seen the post he wrote recently on the amazing Dementor hands  he made, I had the job of making the head.

We have made papier mache figures and crafts before but nothing quite this large! As you can see from the photograph I have filled a paper cat food bag with newspaper and used egg boxes and a card tube to make the hollows for the eyes and mouth cavity. Sticky tape has been used to obtain the head shape and to keep the details we have added in the correct position. It doesn't matter how much sticky tape you use to get the shape as this will be covered by the next stage.

Completely cover your model with several layers of newspaper and PVA glue, I tend to use my hands here to finish as you can further mould and smooth it to shape better than with a brush. Leave to dry for a while and it could be painted if you prefer.

However, we chose to cover the head with another layer of papier mache, only this time we used black paper. Is it starting to look quite scary yet?

We wanted to give our head a little more texture so that it had the appearance of being older and more decayed and ripped up gauze seemed to be the way to go.

First we mixed a little black poster paint with PVA glue and dipped our gauze into it. Then simply applied small pieces to the head until we achieved the desired effect.

As you can see it looks quite creepy! The children are still wondering whether to add some more spooky effects.... After it has dried you can assemble your dementor, we fixed the head and hands to long sticks and covered these with long black fabric. It really looked very scary hiding in the stairwell.

Hope you have a Spooky Halloween from everyone here.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Heritage open days 2016

Last week the Heritage free open days took up a lot of our time, we love this time of year and to get the chance to visit some of our local Heritage sites is always very exciting. Day one started with two garden tours, the Bishop's beautiful garden is a favourite of ours and has many different plants from all over the world.

This year there was an added attraction for the children, the Bishop's cat! Well we assume it was the Bishop's cat as it came running from the house to greet us and insisted on giving us a tour of the woodland gardens.

The children love the wildflower maze and the large swing that hangs from a very old tree near the ruins. As these visits coincided with the anniversary of when we first met, my husband and I took some photos of us sitting on this swing as a memento of the many wonderful years we have spent together.

The garden has some quite quirky plants like a tree that oozes the smell of curry, and a vine with flowers that resemble snails and smells incredible. Did I mention the little cat?... best buddies, they spent ages together.

After lunch we went on to look around a gallery housed in an old Victorian skating rink with a unique and extremely vast collection of South Asian art and objects. Followed by a medieval church in which our children got the chance to try their hand at some brass rubbing.

Day two we visited two small museums, another church and an old shawl and clothing exhibition. The first Museum is in a centuries old merchants house with a 14th century under croft and very old herb garden. We got to try on costumes, play old games, learn to write in Tudor letters, complete a shakespeare quiz and make old puppets on sticks.

We finished the week on day three with a visit to the castle museum, the children got to watch and chat to some stone masons at work which was very interesting. My daughter made a crown and they both made a shield using the heraldry pictures to describe themselves.

We had a wonderful time visiting all these places and were extremely exhausted by the end of the week.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Not back to school 2016

Over the years we have been to theme parks, zoos, beaches and picnics to mark the occasion of not going back to school as a home educating family... it has become a kind of tradition. However this year we have decided to take a more leisurely approach to the day as we have a really busy week planned out ahead of us.

So to start the day we went to visit a local park for a spot of hill rolling and playing, it turned out to be quite a relaxing day.

After this we went on a nature walk to look for the common lizard colony we have been watching for a few years. Many of them were out sunning themselves and we even managed to spot several young baby ones which shows the colony is doing quite well. Thank-you to my wonderful husband for this photo as they move to fast for me.

We also took the chance to collect the elderberries for this seasons elderberry syrup, we had noticed that they were very ripe and didn't want to miss the chance to be ready for the cold and flu season.

If you would like to make your own elderberry syrup or to read about it a little more, my post can be found right here.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Glass Ball and Wire Cane Tops

Our garden backs onto the countryside with a small river running past, every summer beautiful dragonflies and damselflies fill every available space and when the seasons change we start to miss them. So we came up with the idea of making a small piece of sculpture to brighten the garden during the cold winter months using some of the parts from a broken mobile.

This is the broken mobile... I kept the parts as we have a passion for recycling and reusing things but the cane tops can just as easily be made with garden wire and glass balls or marbles if you fancy making some yourself.

The first thing we did was make the body of the dragonfly, my husband used a bar with a hole in to hold the wire still, but a cane works just as well. Put the end of the wire into the hole and keep winding the wire round until it starts to resemble a large spring and could fit the required amount of marbles in. We have used six marbles in total.

With the marbles pushed into the spring it automatically starts to look like the body of a dragonfly, you can then use pliers to spiral the wire at the end to finish it off nicely, leaving a little excess wire at the head end to attach to the cane. We have used a larger marble for the head.

We have made the wings with a slightly thinner garden wire because it is so much easier to shape and can be bought very cheaply. Once you have your wing shape twist the wire together to hold it in place remembering to leave enough spare wire on the underside of the wings to fix onto the body of your dragonfly.

A little detail was added using very thin wire and beads, this was wound around the edges of the wings to fix them in place and create a representation of the veining on the dragonflies wings.

Then all that's left to do is fix the wings to the body by wrapping the long piece of wire around the body. A glass bead can be fixed to the insects thorax to cover the knotted wire using hot glue or resin. In the photograph above you can see some of the other things we have made using the glass balls and wire from the broken mobile.

These garden cane tops have been made in a similar way to the dragonfly using a simple spiral to hold the glass balls and adding a few beads as a finishing touch. I have left the bottom end of the wire straight to slide into the end of a bamboo cane but they can also be spiralled to slip over the top of the cane.

Here is the finished dragonfly in the garden, the wire at the front of it's head was straightened and slid into the top of a bamboo cane, which is hidden by the bush. As the body has been made using a spring shape and it is only fixed to the cane at the front it has given the sculpture a subtle movement which has enchanted the children.

These are some of the cane tops which remind us of little moons orbiting planets and definitely liven up a dull looking cane. A small magical touch to add a little cheer to the gardens in the winter.

As there have been a few reports of fires caused by people having glass on sunny window ledges we will be using these to brighten pots in shady corners.