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  ~


Jill Harrison said...

I have a couple of little boys that I think would love this new game/activity box.

Caroline Hampton said...

Jill ~ They ship to Australia :D