Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Minecraft and Minibus

Well, we WERE going to be doing some more about the Chinese new year this week, but there's been something much more exciting happening.....we bought a minibus!!
We're going to be converting it into a campervan!
We collected it on wednesday and we all love it, even though we just plodded all the way down the A1 doing 55 miles an hour. I was a bit nervous about driving it at first, I shouldn't have been, I've driven lots of vans in the past, big ones too when I worked as a gardener, the biggest being a huge Iveco van pulling a big trailer, I managed quite well with it then, even got pretty good at reversing the trailer around! So it didn't take me long to get used to this van.We are going to have so much fun in it!

Our first outing was to Woodside Animal Farm, we've been there once before and Alex said he wanted to go back, so we did. They had a tracter ride, a play in the indoor soft play area, and handled some of the animals. Amelia had no fear of the animals at all and expecially liked the feeding the slightly(understatement..) over-enthusiastic goats, even when they accidently nibbled her fingers she didn't seem to mind, she seems to have an affinity with animals. She's maybe a bit too entusiastic about them because when the man brought out an Eagle owl during the hands on session, Amelia went running over to it and spooked it so the man had to keep us all very calm and quite until the owl had settled down again! Jamie got to hold a Bearded Dragon and a Chinchilla, Alex only held the Chinchilla (which he fell in love with), he wouldn't hold the Bearded Dragon because it was "too spikey".

(I apologise for the terribly quality of the photos here :/)

The day before that we actually made it to craft club! It's been ages since we've been because Jamie is nervous about going there, but Alex and Amelia wanted to go, so she had to go too. Jamie sat around while Alex and Amelia made some lovely insects.

After Craft club we drove all the way to meet up with some new friends, it sort of went horribly wrong though because we drove in our old rubbish car that was dying, we didn't have any heating and it was very cold outside, in fact, there was snow everywhere, so by the time we got to the park, the children were freezing, and didn't appreciate being at the park at all! It was lovely to make new friends though, if somewhat briefly!

After a weekend of trying out the new minibus and showing it off to our family, Jamie has been learning about prehistory today. She's written up a timeline showing how life started and evolved on the planet. She also drew some diagrams of different types of fossils and has given a short desription of each one.
Jamie has also told me that she'd like to be a clothes designer and has drawn up some designs of dresses.

Jamie has worked really hard at this project, all of her own choosing,
she came downstairs really pleased with herself saying that she learnt it all at home on her own
and she never would've learnt about this at school!

Some of Jamies dress designs.

As for Alex.....yes, you guessed it - Minecraft.
He would quite happily play it all day, with short intervals of trampolining in between! he plays it until someone gets annoyed that he's hogging the TV,  or after 2 hours, because then I say he needs a break, and he just saves his game and goes for a mega bounce. His world he's created is amazing! it's like a crazy 3D maze that he knows off by heart and its amazing watching him, he is so quick, he's like a machine and he knows exactly what he's doing. When I play it (when I get the chance!), I'll do something, then I think "...hmm..what shall i do next? hmmm....oh! I know....." but when Alex plays it, it's like he can't get it all done quick enough, buzzing around. I played alongside him today and I only had to say "looks like we need a ladder here" and he's done it, sorted it already! You can also see into his mind a bit watching him play, it's really interesting! He's also figured out how to do loads of the crafting through experimenting, theres a tutorial that teaches you how to mine and craft and farm and breed animals and all sorts, but he doesn't bother reading any of the instructions, so everything he's learnt is through discovery, which I think is really cool.

Yesterday we visited grandad, he taught Jamie a new word -  onomatopoeia! a word that spells out a sound!

Today we went round a home ed friends house for a play date, Alex was delighted to see they had a trampoline, Jamie made a new friend and Amelia ate lots of chocolate cookies!  We all had a lovely time :)

Tomorrow is another busy day, Jamie has another play date, then we're meeting another home ed family for a walk around the park, hopefully the weather will stay nice!

I went jogging for the first time this morning! I'm determined to get fit!

Right, I'm off to play minecraft...er,I mean....watch the news.............................

Sunday, 10 February 2013

OoOh look at us all proper home schooling-like!

It's been a really productive week for us learning-wise. We've all been learning about the Chinese new year, which I didn't really know anything about before, had no idea how long it went on for! Jamie has taken a particular interested in it. We started off making some snakes that I saw were at craft club from my friends blog, which we missed, Jamie decided she wanted to turn hers into a dragon and did a quick bit of research into what Chinese dragons look like.

Jamie researching Chinese dragons

 Amelia's snake on top, then Jamies Dragon (love the flames)
and Alex's snake

The next day, me and Jamie sat in her bedroom and found out what the Chinese traditions were for each of the 15 days of new year celebration. During this research, we discovered that on one day of the celebrations they have a birthday for all dogs and treat them kindly on that day, this made Jamie remember that she'd heard somewhere that some countries eat dogs and asked me to find out which countries eat dogs, and China was one of them, much to Jamies disapproval. She pondered sadly that they get treated nicely on one day of the year and eaten on the other days. We found out that in China, dog has been eaten for thousands of years and was said the be the tastiest meat! poor doggies :( She also found out - because one of the days is for son-in-laws to honour their father-in-laws, we got talking about the traditional role of women in China, which made Jamie a bit annoyed again!

 Jamies research about the 15 day Chinese new year celebrations.
She's going to be making a new lapbook all about it next week

Jamie decided that she'd like to do a mini version of the Chinese celebrations and asked if I could buy her, her own Chinese dress, so we looked on ebay and she chose a red one with dragons on  (they didn't have any with snakes) and we also bought some eco friendly Chinese lanterns to let off on the festival of Lanterns (but we nay do it a bit earlier than wait for 15 days!)

Today, we researched some Chinese art to do a painting of  a snake and we learnt the Chinese symbol of snake and learnt a bit about Chinese stamps and seals and made our own stamp out of a potato!

 Jamie learning how to paint Chinese style

 Amelias snake, but she loved playing with the black paint more!

 Black hands!

 Jamies beautiful blossom trees, snake and chinese symbol
and her personal stamp.

My effort (I'm chuffed with my stamp lol)

All the time Jamie, Amelia and I were painting, Alex was completely absorbed in playing his new game - MINECRAFT! he spent all morning building houses and tunnels and re-building, then when he finally turned the game off, he went upstairs and replicated the house he made on the game with his lego. We haven't even got the proper game yet so he keeps doing the demo over and over again, we'll be getting the new game in the week.

 building his house in the game...

 and with his lego.

Jamie is also working on another project at the moment, last summer, her and her friend acted out a film which I took photos of (as she directed me!) and she's now learning how to use the computer to put all the photos of the film into a book, with her writing a story to go with the photos. When it's all done I'll put it in the blog :)

Jamie making her adventure book.

It's been really good fun doing PROPER home education, and can't wait for what we'll be getting up to next!

We're making egg fried rice and stir fired vegetables with sweet and sour sauce and prawn crackers tonight......mmmm......

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Another rush job :/

I'm going to attempt to write this blog even though Amelia is play wrestling with her dad on the floor and lots of other noise going on, because if I don't do to now, I may never do it, so excuse me if I make loads of mistakes or not make very much sense....

It's been quite a hectic last few days

Today, we finally had a visit from our EHE (Elective Home Education) officer. As she turned up, so did Jamies new mattress so for the first 15 minutes it was really noisy while Jamie, Alex and Amelia bounced around like mad on it, screaming and shouting! When it got quiet enough I had a really good chat with the lady about how children learn, she said that she doesn't need to see loads of paperwork and workbooks because she knows children do most of their learning while they live their lives, getting on with things and doing stuff. She also told me about how she quit her job as a school teacher, about how she could see how the schools timetables were not doing any good for the majority of the children. She says she's still trying to educate the LA about home education, and how children learn without school, I'm really glad I live in an area where she covers, some other places of the country aren't as fortunate which is really terrible, they should all be the same. I don't have to have her round, I can quite easily say I don't want her to visit, and that would be that, but I know she's trying to change the way LA's see home educators, so if my family can help out by example, then thats a good thing. I was I little worried because I haven't very many worksheets or anything like that to show her, but what I did have was LOTS of photos from doing my blog! So I stuck them all (over 200 of them) on a memory stick and had them as a slideshow on the TV, it looked really good! And the Lady was really impressed.

Yesterday we went to a funeral. It was the kids great great uncle who passed away at 82 years old. Although it was a time of sadness, it was nice to see that side of their family (their dads side), so a bit of family history was learnt. We went back for the wake for a bit afterwards and then to the local park.

On Monday I had Alex first play-date! I'd arranged for Alex to meet some children that had similar interests, namely Skylanders, because I thought that even though Alex wont talk to any children at all really in a social setting, he'll quite happily make friends with anyone if they liked playing Skylanders too, and it worked out perfectly, as soon as the skylanders were out of the box they were chatting away and went to play skylanders, then after a while, they went and played in Alex's room, and then they all went out on the trampoline. After everyone had gone home, I asked Alex if he enjoyed having friends round, he said he did, and wanted them to live with us! So we'll hopefully be meeting up again soon :)

In my last blog I completely forgot to write about the pantomime! We went to see Robin Hood at a local theater, I enjoyed it much more I thought I would, Jamie hated most of it and had to cover her ears during the singing - except a song from the film 'tangled'- her new favorite, I'll remember ear defenders next time. Alex was completely mesmerised by it all, took a bit of explaining why the lady was dressed as a boy and a man dressed as a lady, he loved the slapstick humour, got confused with the fake arrows being fired and bombs that weren't real bombs going off. After the show Alex, Jamie and Jamies friend got autographs from the guy that played Little John, then we dropped Jamies friend off and went for a meal at an Italian resturant, so it was a pretty good day.

I've not seen that much of Jamie lately, not since she got her new high rise bed, I see her when she comes running all excited downstairs saying "mummy I love my room!!"  then rushing off back upstairs, she's got a space where she can go and hide away all by herself, and she's been learning and practicing the songs from 'Tangled'.

Ok, I can't keep typing, I've got to go help Amelia put some jigsaws away, she's really getting into jigsaw puzzles and books at the moment, she can't get enough of them!

 Alex reading alongside Amelia

 Alex making some Moshi Monster masks