Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pumpkin Fun!

So, here she is ~ our biggest, most beautiful, home-grown pumpkin!

Getting ready for her destiny...

Such FUN!!

We don't celebrate Halloween as such, but that doesn't stop us having fun!!

A pumpkin carving session is a perfect opportunity to illustrate & explain to my children how God loves us so much He is willing to get Himself really mucky, cleaning and scraping out all the gunk in our hearts and lives, so that He can put HIS light inside our hearts and make us shine for Him, for all the world to see!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Schooly Update...

Well, here we are nearly at the end of the first half-term of the year and I think I've blogged about educating my kiddos ~ all of once?! Time for an update me thinks, but I'll try not to make it ALL about H'Ed!

DD ~ he is SO keen! So keen, that once he eventually gets dressed in the morning he just ploughs through his 'bookwork' and then nags me all day to do more!! I don't like to do too much in each day with him as I want him to absorb what we have done, so I have to be creative! I'm liking the materials on Lesson Pathways when I can get myself organised enough to have it ready (which is not often enough atm I'm afraid). He likes to paint, colour, use the computer, do puzzles, play games, cut & stick ~ and generally I can keep him happy! He is making really excellent progress learning letter sounds and his pencil control is great. He is able to sound out basic CVC words verbally and probably could write some if I asked him to (which I haven't tried yet). He easily identifies beginning and end sounds of words, and can hear rhyme, so I think basically half the battle is won before we even step onto the 'reading' road :D. He too, is a whizz at maths! He can read and write all numbers to 20 and do dot-to-dots with numbers beyond twenty with no trouble ~ saying the numbers as he goes along. He has just completed a maths book for 5-7's (excepting the pages that required multiplication & addition of money, which I deemed he wouldn't be ready for until he is at least 7). I think MAYBE I might start him on Miquon Orange right behind Lilo, and just take it slowly. He certainly likes to play with the rods :D. Any suggestions anyone (he was 5 in June)? Alison? I'll tell you what he already knows...

  • Count, read and write numbers/quantities to 20 confidently (says 'two-teen', 'three-teen' & 'five-teen' to help him remember those 'strange' numbers. I've used this method before and it naturally changes over time).
  • All basic shapes (square, circle, triangle, rectangle, star, oval, heart) and necessary properties of them.
  • Concepts of 'half' /'equal' / same /different.
  • Concepts of greater/fewer, more/less than.
  • Good understanding of sequence and pattern.
  • Concept/recognition of O'Clock.
  • Order of numbers (can fill in gaps in sets of numbers/number lines) ~ forwards and backwards.
  • Can recite 2,4,6,8,10 (although does not fully understand skip counting).
  • Brilliant at 'odd one out'
  • Can do some basic addition & subtraction with the use of manipulatives (not tried beyond numerates of 10 yet).
So ~ where do I go from here with a 5yo? I'd like to encourage and nurture him, without over stretching him or discouraging him. He's definitely the kind of kid who is very easily frustrated, so whatever I use needs to seem 'easy' and yet still help him to make good, steady progress.

Lilo  ~ seems to be FINALLY be getting the hang of reading ~ slow but definite progress :D. Headsprout and plenty of practice SEEM to be working this time around. She's feeling more confident about it that is certain and there is a whole lot less guessing/memorising whole texts going on! Maths wise she's been working on multiplication and continues to surprise me how great she is with numbers. She just 'gets' it :D We are using Miquon atm and nearly finished the Orange book. It really seems to suits her. I suspect, if it was something I had ever invested in, Maths-U-See would have been the thing for her ~ but I didn't/haven't/won't now! I do plan to skim through Singapore MPH 1a/b when she's done though, because at some stage I expect she will transfer her onto that instead and in the past I have found they supplement each other nicely.
She's done other cool things too ~ like started to join her handwriting (she does handwriting practice every day) and I don't know, but I actually think the joining of letters might be helping her reading! Strange how that works, but it does seem to. Aside from that, some STILE Literacy work, lots of puzzles, colouring, drawing, colouring, computer work (Learning Ladder/Tutpup/MoshiMonsters/Reader Rabbit/Education City, etc...) and we are reading Alice in Wonderland together ~ when I can muster the wherewithal to do so! It all adds up and she and I are happy :D.

Big Girls ~ they are doing well :D They are SO easy! They get up, get sorted, get on! TP is usually done by lunch time, but I have warned her that after Easter I shall be adding a couple more tasks to her day. Minnie works like a trooper too, but her work is a little more taxing due to her general 'level' being that much higher. But they find time to have some fun in their day :D. Yesterday they built these (the challenge was to build a 'flat design'); 
TP's USA flag.

Minnie's Butterfly.

Lilo's Butterfly 
(the bits at the top are the antenna, the odd red bits were because she ran out of whites).

Right now they are playing on 'Just Dance' (otherwise known as indoor PE when the weather is too fowl for outside).

There are things that Minnie struggles with ~ multiplication & division being her main stumbling blocks in maths. She just does not seem to 'get' the idea at all and practice doesn't seem to be helping! I must confess though, that it was an area I struggled with at her age (and probably still is not my strong point), so I think it will click in at some point enough for her to be able to function with it. She is definitely a reading-writing sort of girl :D. 

TP ~ is catching up nicely now. Her spelling seems to improving quite naturally, alongside her more natural & avid reading of books (well there's a surprise!) and her writing is making progress too. She still does not have the most 'logical' mind, but I see reflections of her eldest brother! He's a pretty good writer these days, so I think she will get there. It's so odd to think how desperate I was for Bugs to be writing stories at her age (coming up 9) and how shocked the school were when he started in year 4 and told them he had never written one! TP hasn't either, but this time round I really don't care!! I've come to the conclusion along the way that writing stories is NOT actually that important or useful and it's only fun IF it's something you enjoy. If you are forced to 'create' on demand your creative juices are highly likely to dry up!! Bugs these days is pretty good at prose & poetry when he CHOOSES to put his mind to it. I can't remember the last time I asked him to do a piece of creative writing, but sometimes he just does because he is actually a creative person ~ left to create under his own steam. I suspect TP is much the same & so I'm just waiting for her to bloom in her own time :D. She writes in her diary once or twice a week ~ I don't read it, but I know she can write!

Taz ~ well he is doing fine - reluctant still, but doing fine :D! Skiving off as much as he can get away with, but actually, WHEN he sets his mind to a task is very capable and struggles less than he thinks he does! He is a just typical 12 yo boy who tries to skim and dart through everything, but I'm not worried about his abilities, just his attitude!! ;D

Bugs ~ he's much the same, only actually his problem is not so much attitude (which is actually not all that bad), but time management and inability to prioritise well and/or recognise his own limitations! Same old, same old in fact! So he often ends up 'finishing off' over a Friday and the weekend, but I think he needs to achieve a certain level/quantity of work these days so that's just the way it's going to be!  Still chasing up college options for next year ~ but I think he'll get a work-load shock all the same! Ideally, I think he'd spend his days taking and editing photographs! I think he's pretty good (and in his shoes I'd do the same)! ~ IF at the end of the day this is where his future lies I don't want to stand in his way too much..! After baby is born we are planning a trip out together to a photography gallery (just linking in some possibilities for future reference) ~ looking forward to that :D
That'll do for now ~ all 'thunk' out now.
Catch up more soon...

Comma Butterfly ~ 2

Thankfully another chose to grace my path the other day ~ and posed for me :D !

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Veg Patch Update

It's been a REALLY successful year chez the Hampton veg-patch. Considering I didn't pre-pot hardly anything (and what I did faired no better than that which I didn't), but just bunged it all in my newly dug-over soil with a 'wait and see' approach. I've not been mad crazy with the weeding and I even neglected it for two solid weeks in the summer whilst on holiday (during which my neighbour thankfully watered it well for me as there was so little rain :D). 

We have had SO many courgettes it's been impossible to eat them all. I've given MANY away, a few have rotted in the fridge and they are STILL being picked!! I'm hoping the one I picked today may be the last. I've about 9 in the fridge atm!

The beans (french and runner), despite wondering at one point if we were to get any at all, have been copious, BIG, and tasty :D We've chopped them up and hidden them mostly in stews (as the kids aren't keen) and again, given a stack away. I'm still picking them and they are STILL flowering a little!!

The carrots are still in the ground ~ they are ready now and I shall pick them when they are next needed for a meal. Next year I will plant these differently as they have really been our only 'not so good' produce this year.

The radishes sadly grew enormous, whilst we were on hol's, so were harvested en masse when we got home, mostly given away and the tops made into soup in this house. They were really too big and woody to be enjoyable. Next year...

The peas ~ again I grew too few and in the wrong place. They got swamped by the Courgette leaves, so next year will require a re-arrange of the plot, now that I know more what I am doing!

And lastly our pumpkins. These have been a joy for the children to watch and they are really excited about harvesting them ~ very soon! There's 7 in all, some are only very small, but there are a couple of really good sized ones too :D. Here's a couple of pictures I took of them today;

Butterflies ~ 7

I saw another butterfly today. It's the first time I've seen one of these this year actually, and I suspect will be almost the last! The sun was shining, and I think it encouraged this one out to feed perhaps for the last time this year :D! It's sitting on my dying pumpkin leaves (more of that in the next post...) and only gave me time for one quick shot. I waited for a while in hope it would return, so I could get a better one, but it chose not to :(

Polygonia c-album(Linnaeus, 1758)

Family: Nymphalidae
UK Status: Resident 

wingspanprinter friendly version
Eggs are laid singly on the uppermost leaves and the caterpillars usually hatch after about 15 days. The favored foodplant in the past was Hops but a decline in village breweries has caused a move towards nettle (usually growing in shaded positions) as the favored foodplant although Elm is often used as well.

The larvae of the Comma are particularly attractive at close quarters although from a distance resemble a bird dropping.

Pupation almost always takes place on the foodplant.

Butterflies of the summer brood appearing around May/June are deep orange and are known as form hutchinsoni. Later broods and those overwintering as Adults are more usually deeper brown above while their underwing is either a beautiful mix of blues greys and browns or the more usual orange/brown.

The Comma is presently a relatively common butterfly but up until the 1940's the Comma was only regularly seen on the Welsh borders.

Larval Food Plants
The larvae feed on Common Nettle (Urtica dioica) Hops () and English Elm ().

Taken from:

All in all I am very pleased this year to have been able to photograph the majority of Britain's top 10 butterflies. I have seen more, but not always had my camera to hand at the right moment. I'd have liked to have seen a Red Admiral, but haven't. I know I've seen a 'Painted Lady' but not settling long enough for me to grab my camera and shoot :D