Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A bit of a week...

I think I would find in near impossible these days to document the entire ins and outs of our week, so what you (and I) see here is always only a snippet, but it is a fairly good representation of how things go along most of the time.

I'll start with out artwork last week. We used another lesson from Art Projects for Kids (my go-to place now) and began a short watercolour series that we are going to do using lessons from here

Here's the results ~ that most of us were particularly pleased with...

Joel got as far as the painting, but then struggled to see the flowers and complete it. I drew one flower to show him and then he said it was spoilt and wouldn't even have a go at the rest. I liked it without the flowers too, but he was ready to throw it away :( I would let him because I thought it was very beautiful, and could envisage a poppy field, so tonight he let me have a go at finishing it for him. And so this is a piece of joint artwork really. I think without the pen-lines it's rather more impressionist, but love it with them too.

Abbie didn't really like hers - she felt the flowers were all too big. It's a shame, because again I really like it, but hey ho ~ can't win them all ;-)

TP was very pleased with hers though;

Lilo's is lovely ~ there's something very simple and innocent about hers ~ and unmistakably 'girly'.

DD has not quite finished his yet, but I think it's going to be great. Again there is something about his work that is quite unique to him ~ orderly, and straight, but striking at the same time.

Stitch's is incredible! This has to be one of the most successfully and carefully executed pieces of art he has ever done ~ and it's stunning! ~ a conglomerate mish-mash of intense colour, out of which he has brought beauty :D

I was also very pleased with mine ~ and have been asked if I'm framing it! I'm not, but it might look lovely as a print on a wall I think...

Chip joined in with this lesson too and was doing a really good job, but in hindsight I should have given him a smaller piece of paper because he didn't really have the concentration to fill the paper enough. I might try him again with this another time. He absolutely LOVES his paints that we got him for Christmas, from Merry ~ they are perfect for him and he is really careful about washing and cleaning his brush between colours, so he is managing to keep them nice too :D

Whilst we are in Kenya Abbie will take charge of art and they are going to have fun doing some cartoon work using her Cartoon Drawing for Kids book (although I bought the dino's one too in case anyone wanted to have a go at something different.)

Chip has also been further developing his drawing skills, and this was his flower this week (which Stitch then wrote Chip's name all over and Chip then decided to cut around)...

There's been some Spielgaben work - not as much as I'd like, I confess, but he loves what we do manage to fit in. This week we did some work with ordering numbers. This particular lesson is used to teach ordiNAL numbers but he's a bit too young for that, so instead we just put the numbers, selected at random in order. He had absolutely NO problem with this, showing me that he not only recognises all his numbers to 10 (only occasionally stumbling over 7 & 8), but can also put them easily into correct order - even to the point of leaving gaps and filling gaps for missing numbers. I was a bit impressed with him :D

We brought out our 'characters' again and blue-tacked them to wooden cubes (the lesson said to draw people, but these are just as much fun and less time consuming) and lined up alongside their house (red bricks). The house was where number 1 would be. Numbers on scraps of paper were blue-tacked to the reverse of 10 dots, which were then turned blindly. He then had to place the number on the character the correct number of blocks from home. 

We did this a couple of times, shuffling the characters about, so that he didn't learn their positions visually.  

Lastly I just gave him the down-turned number dots and had him arrange them in order, without the characters or house for a starting point and that was equally easy for him :D

Later we moved on to another number activity. He was supposed to try and arrange the bricks to create the number shapes. This proved too difficult for him, but Lilo had fun with it and Chip himself made some lovely symmetrical structures and then just named them whatever number he chose!

AAS ~ Lilo and DD are just testing at the end of Level 5. I can't say they are doing fantastically well ~ about 50% correct answers, which might mean another repeated book. I can't decide if it's worth it...
Stitch on the other hand is doing really well in Level 2 and barely ever spells a word wrong!

TP is using some TOPS science cards at the moment that we were given by a friend a long time ago and we have never really used. I think we have an older edition, but it's fine. They are quite simple experiments, but have good teaching in them. She is doing the 'Cohesion and Adhesion' set atm. The last two lesson looked at cohesion and this week she moved on adhesion. It looked a bit like this;

Four tubs containing (L-R) oil, soapy water, tap water and rubbing alcohol. The stopwatch on her phone for a timer (and the cakes are a kitchen necessity!!).

A greaseproof paper 'ramp' was attached to a lemonade bottle, marked with four headings to indicate the four liquids.

a drop of each liquid was timed for how long it took to reach the bottom.

The greaseproof paper was then detached and the 'tracks' of the liquids drawn around, as a permanent mark of their travels.

From this easy experiment, TP was able to visibly see the liquid with the greatest and least cohesion and adhesion. 

The little boys & Lilo have been using some of the experiments from  http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/ and this week had a go at making a musical straw

It was easy to make, but more tricky to make the notes!! I was so busy trying to make a sound with it, I forgot to take any pictures!
As of next week I'm going to get them to work through topics though, as I'm not sure random choosing because they look easy/fun is the best way to get a build up of knowledge. We'll see though ~ it might not be so fun that way and I'd still rather it were fun than boring!

Outside of HE there's been plenty of general family-ness. So, here's some of 'those' moments from our week;

'Smokin' (chocolate fingers!)

Experimenting with sound through air-bed pump tubes!


cycling (still) ~ nearing half way now!

Reading (a whole LOT of reading :D )

Lilo has now FINISHED the Hetty Feather trilogy she received for Christmas ~ three books in a month - I NEVER thought I'd see the day!

And a whole selection of cute and crazy faces!!

Before I go, I will just say this...

I haven't mentioned here last night, when I burnt the tea ~ TWICE ~ and was rescued by Paul, with ready-roasted chicken and microwave chips! I haven't mentioned the fact that Paul & I had our first set of jabs on Friday, which brought me down with an almost instant cold (that I had probably been quite effectively fighting off until my system was overloaded) and has left me feeling rather rough tbh. Nor have I talked about toddler melt-downs, or seven-year old's food struggles. I haven't mentioned the mornings when it's just too cold and none of us really want to get up and about - and the days when everything seems a struggle from beginning to end. I haven't mentioned all that 'stuff' because... well, it  just wouldn't make much fun to read, but suffice to say ~ we are a very normal family consisting of very normal stroppy kids - and stroppy parents at times! Please don't look at all we do with rose tinted glasses ~ you read the best bits and snips here. There are plenty of not so photo-worthy moments in our life, but I prefer to keep those to ourselves ;-)

I hope you've all had a good week ~ keep healthy ~ and see you next week I expect (if not before). :D

Saturday, January 17, 2015

First HE week of 2015

Eventually we have picked up sticks after the Christmas holidays and knuckled down to getting some work done., though there's not much to tell on the 'normals' front really.


Just after New Year we eventually received our brand new set of Spielgaben (Version 4). It arrived around 9pm in the evening, after a LOT of chasing after Parcel Force, but that's another story, and the children immediately wanted to get playing with it ~ all of them!

The Spielgaben was kindly bought for 'school' by my Nanna (well, she just wouldn't let me pay her back, so I'm considering it her gift to us), and primarily for Chip, but I know there will be benefits to having the set for more of the children than just him. It's just that with him we can start from beginning and perhaps discover a whole new way of learning! He's not a 'sit down and be told about stuff' kind of child, so my traditional way of Home-edding is probably not going to work too well with him. I needed to find something more 'discover and learn' for him, such that he can tell ME what he is learning ~ and I think this will hopefully be just the ticket! 

The tricky bit for me is finding time in my days to squeeze in a bit extra to 'work (play)' with him, but I am determined to try ~ even if it means I don't get so much of a break in my day.

One thing I did come up against straight away with Chip, was that when I showed him the nature activities, which involve copying animals with shapes, he was unhappy that his 'sticks' didn't match those in the pictures (which were the wooden ones from the old versions), so was reluctant to make anything that involved using sticks. Anticipating that this was going to be an on-going problem for Chip (and because I rather like wood too), I contacted Spielgaben and inside of a week they have sent me the whole contents of the V3 tray which included the wooden sticks ~ and this has meant extra coloured blocks and extra dots too ~ for just the cost of shipping from the warehouse! Brilliant service :D

This week we have managed two session together with the sets. I tried to go with the principle of getting Chip started then letting him run with the ideas, but it is challenging for me!

Session 1 (sorry no pics): We used the yarn-balls and played 'hide the ball' under a paper cup. I thought he'd be quickly bored by this, but I was wrong. He loved the game. With one ball hidden it was really easy for him to tell me which one. With two balls he had to think a little harder, but could still manage it well enough. Three hidden balls really pushed him, although he did manage that too; however, he didn't want to repeat that one, and instead wanted to hide three balls from me ~ which was fine of course and, in hindsight, I should have gone with his idea to hide them around the room because that would have meant him being creative about where to hide them, but instead I suggested that they might get lost and encouraged him to just hide them in his pockets. Oh well, this is a learning curve for me too!

Session two was definitely much more creative and much for follow-his-lead. The suggested activity was designed to introduce the very basic concepts behind subtraction and addition;

  • draw a 'road' on a piece of paper,
  • put cubes along it & write 'rules' on the paper, 
  • make 'counter' cubes, 
  • mix up ten 'number' cubes in a box. 
  • play a race to the finish game. 
This all seemed a little too complicated and too much 'making' of pieces for me. Thankfully though, I have got some fancy dice with actual numbers on (0-9, and 1-12) that I bought years ago, so I fished those out and let him decide which one to use. I also fished out some old pieces that I kept that fell off a dolly's crib-mobile and some magnetic monsters that lost their magnets yonks ago (yes I do horde 'useful' things). These were our counters. We then strung the cubes on the laces together and created our game-path that way. Next we used blocks as 'hats' to create our rules. Chip helped decide the rules to play by and at the beginning the rules were quite simple ~ yellow hats were go back one; red hats go forward one; the purple hat (in the middle) was go back to the start; first to the end wins. Gradually though he added more rules; green hat jump to the next green block; land next to someone else and you join their team, so that if they win so do you - until you land next to someone else and switch teams; exact number on dice to finish. The games worked very well and was actually a lesson to me about how simply a game can be created :D. Just after I took this shot though, I had to go and prepare our Art lesson, so I left these three playing nicely, at which point Chip decided it was time to REALLY change the rules and it all got VERY confusing and didn't work out too well. Maybe, just maybe, he will begin to learn that changing everything to suit the way you want things to work out does not always work!

So, so far so good and we are looking forward to loads more fun with all this.

Chip also seems to be really getting into drawing at the moment and is beginning to move from the 'what have I drawn' stage - where he asks everyone what it is he's drawn and agrees with the idea he likes best, to the 'what shall I draw stage?' - where his drawings are far more carefully considered and deliberately drawn.

This one ended up like this;
"Phoebe standing on the grass. She is wearing her glasses." 
I can't remember what all the little brown things in the grass were, but they were significant too.

In other news..

Joel (Taz) had his college assessment test yesterday, to hopefully get him in on a Level 2 Btec in Music (performance). We were supposed to meet the Head of Department, but she couldn't make it, which is a pain as I have questions I'd like to ask about what he needs to bring/do for interview. Then the person doing the tests with him was otherwise occupied with a 'social services incident'. I could have easily helped him with his test, as I was allowed to sit with him and he was left unsupervised, but I didn't, because that would be cheating!! I must say I am not particularly impressed with South Cheshire College in terms of their organisation skills, but Jake is happy enough there, learning well and it does have a nice atmosphere about the place. So, Joel did his 'free writing' piece, which I'm sure was fine (although it wasn't very long) and then he scored a Level 2 on his English test (which I think is GCSE level, or above), but didn't do so well on his maths. This is the boy who is working through some pretty advanced maths on Conquer Maths (surds and such like), but apparently has completely forgotten how to do most of the very basic operations (addition and subtraction with re-grouping, multiplication with carrying, and long/short division). EEEK!! Looks like we might be covering some old turf then before September! I'm sure it will all sweep back in, but I'm a bit stunned that he has even forgotten these things. Surely those operations, repeated time and again ad infinitum during his primary years, should be like riding a bike ~ they are not skills you usually loose, are they?? He says he can do it all in his head (but that would have taken too long of course), but can't remember how to do it quickly on paper. At the end of the day though, his results were the same as Jake's were, and they let him on the course he wanted based mostly on his interview ~ which is why it is quite important to find out what the music department will want at interview. 

The rest of our week has contained a lot of 'getting back to normal' ~ swimming, gym, clubs, dancing; that kind of thing plus an awful lot of exercise-biking! We are on target so far, but it's quite tough to keep it going already. 12 days down - only 5 weeks and 5 days left to go! AAArrrrgh!

However, it will be worth it :D My passport has arrived (oh, how scary is that picture) and Paul has the interview to get his this evening (he's NEVER had one before). Next thing is to book flights and our jabs start this week too! It's exciting and scary all in the same breath. I was 14 last time I boarded a plane and back then the world felt like a much safer place ~ at least the skies did. I have worries about leaving the children; I have worries (as do they) about the risks of flying with the present risk of terrorism; I have worries about the very fact we are going to Africa, with all the risks that carries in an of itself (safety and health the biggest two in my mind); BUT I KNOW, with every ounce of my being, that this is something we are MEANT to do this year, and the children are on-board with it all. They have their concerns too, but they are fully behind our adventure :D

For more information about our challenge, and if you'd like to sponsor us, please go HERE  ~

Friday, January 09, 2015

Happy New Year ~ 2015


This year has begun with frost, but no snow. 

The arrival of our Spielgaben set ~ at last!

The removal of Abbie's braces from her teeth,

And the starting of our family challenge to cycle, on an exercise bike, the distance to Kosele, in Kenya ~ 4272 miles ~ in 60 days. At the beginning of March Paul and I are going to work at www.hopeandkindness.org for 3 weeks. We need sponsorship (https://www.sponsorme.co.uk/carolinehampton/cycle-to-kosele.aspx) ~ We are VERY excited!

A good start so far! :D

We're not yet back to HE properly, because I had some marking to catch up on, and the house needed sorting after Christmassy-ness ~ and we just weren't ready, so we've had a clear up, play and wind down kind of week. It's been lovely :D ~ 'GUBS' anyone?

Back to it on Monday then!