Friday, 22 July 2016

Home Education journal July 2016

Just through the other side of the busiest few weeks for birthdays and it feels great to finally be able to sit and breathe for more than a minute. So leaving out the four birthdays and our wedding anniversary, here are some of the other things we have been doing over the last few weeks.

A zoo visit gave us some chilling out time, especially as they had a new attraction in the play park... bouncy pillows. We had to return to this part of the park several times to bounce as it was a huge lure to my young bouncers. Another high point was the pooping bird video! ... A striated Caracara bird of prey was chatting to my son and I thought it looked so cute that I should try to film it to preserve the memory. However as soon as I had started to film, the bird stopped talking and pooped much to the amusement of the children.

Around this time the elderflower had come into bloom, we love elderflower cordial very much and make some every year. Spurred on by a twitter chat we decided to make extra this year and freeze some for the up coming birthday parties as a special treat.

It is very easy to make and very delicious, if you would like to make some you can find our recipe here.

We have been for some wonderful country walks and hikes through our local nature reserve, the children love to document changes in the wildlife and plant life at various locations throughout the year.

It's especially nice to find fields full of daisies and other wildflowers whilst looking for a place to eat your picnic... the butterfly, bee and insect action going on in this field was amazing to see.

The children's interest in science has continued to grow and they have been studying various aspects of geology. Some of their experiments have included making two different types of lava to compare and using sugar cubes to study erosion.

They spent some time plotting volcanoes around the ring of fire in the pacific ocean to give us this giant map amongst other activities.

We were lucky enough to get the chance to buy a couple of boxes of fruit,  plums and peaches, for just 7 pence a punnet, so we jumped at the offer. This meant quickly processing it before it went off ... so we got down to making batches of both peach and plum wine, both types of jam and a few cakes for tea.

It was a very busy few days but not a single fruit was wasted... the above photograph is my upside down plum cake which was the very tasty end of the last punnet of plums. I may share this recipe in the Autumn when the plums are in season. So that covers a few things from our daily lives.... until the next post.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Handmade Mouse Mat

Father's day is fast approaching and the children like nothing better than to make gifts as little extras for their wonderful father. This year we decided to make a sturdy mouse mat as the ones we have keep getting mysteriously peeled and we have to constantly replace them.

Firstly, finish peeling the top layer from the mouse mat if you need to, as we have chosen to reuse the rubber bottom layer for this very simple craft. Next choose your top layer and test out the fabric to see if your mouse works well on the surface. I have decided to use a faux leather as this mouse mat is for father's day but any scraps of leather or thick fabric would work well. You could even use a fabric that had a photograph printed on it if you wanted a personal touch.

Cut out a rough shape slightly large than your mouse mat as it's easier to cut it to the exact size after glueing. If using a porous fabric you may want to test a small patch to see how the glue dries before starting your mat.

We have used a latex based glue for this project to give a better flexibility. Paste a small amount of glue to each side you want to stick and wait a few seconds to allow to go tacky.

Stick both sides together, ensure there are no creases and press down firmly, then allow to dry completely.

We left ours to dry for a few hours underneath some very heavy books, this ensures your mouse mat dries totally flat and has no lumps, bumps or creases in.

After the mouse mat is dry you can cut around the edges as neatly as possible also ensuring the corners are rounded. Scissors or a craft knife will work well but we have used a rotary cutter as this cuts fabric very neatly with one quick motion.

As you can see the completed mouse mat is now taking shape, the faux leather has given the mat a very professional look. It will look perfect on any father's desk either at home in the study or in his work office.

There we go all finished, the mouse works perfectly and because it is much stronger than the ones we usually buy it shouldn't suffer from peeling any more.

If you would like to personalise your mouse mat further you could emboss it or try out some metallic permanent markers and a quick spray of lacquer to ensure it doesn't come off. It may be best to add details to a top corner so that it doesn't interfere with the mouse functions in any way.

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.