As a regular reader of our blog you would be forgiven for thinking we seem to be jumping about a bit with our topics. That’s because we are jumping about a bit with our topics! There is no link between recent topics other than the fact that the moon decided to partially block the sun a week before our planned Kent Life Viking day trip!
And so, fresh from viewing the Eclipse (for eclipse substitute grey cloud cover) we have thrown ourselves into another mini topic. It needs to be mini, as Easter is fast approaching, with all the chocolatey plans that we have!
Forget the advice not to work with children or animals. When undertaking a maths task, my advice is not to work with children and food. Not when you are using the food to actually work! Here’s some maths from a few weeks ago:
Don’t eat your work! It could collapse! This work was based upon some research into the seven wonders of the world following on from learning about The Great Wall of China. The inspiration came from the fantastic Dyson Challenge cards we have. Great mathematical and design learning came from this, along with some very fiddly marshmallow co-ordinating to attempt a geodesic dome…
To move from the concrete to abstract, we have used this practical work to learn how to accurately draw a pyramid as well as other 3D shapes. A protractor is on order to reinforce the angles that we have been talking about, along with a compass. Feels very grown up, I remember getting my first geometry set for the start of secondary!
Well.. the eclipse was pretty nondescript around here! How was it for you? Not wanting to have a one off day of unrelated learning we set about planning a short topic exploring the solar system and even though the clouds tried to hinder us, we did manage some useful and interesting learning out of it. To prepare, we made our obligatory pinhole projectors, which of course involved lots of discussion about why not to look at the sun. Little did I know that testing these with torches was to be the best use we would get out of them!
My weekly posts seem to be turning into fortnightly ones. We’re just too busy! We have had lots of exciting new developments with ‘pleasemissmummy’ becoming established as a business, which of course doesn’t effect our home learning , just keeps me up until late at night. Every night! Which has led to yet more reflections on this new way of life. The hardest thing about home educating is juggling all the roles. No longer is there a clear handover from my teacher role and my mummy role. When I was at work (when I got paid to be teaching!) the two roles were clearly defined. Now, the edges are somewhat blurred. I go from mummy to teacher, to meal supervisor, back to teacher / mummy, playtime supervisor, and of course the usual parenting roles of cook, cleaner, launderer, chauffer…
How do others do this? If you are a ‘Home Edder’ parent reading this I would love to hear from you. My advice to anyone considering HE as an option is to be very aware of time management, and build in time for yourself. I’m not sure that I do that enough but I will. Every week I say that I will – next week. Must not procrastinate. Must do better!
So what of our learning? We have concluded our China project with two main outcomes of a tourist leaflet and an informative project book that we can add to over time. These, of course, are in addition to the delicious food, poster and beautiful Chinese script he has practised. The links we have made have been pretty diverse and, as usual, directed by C as well as being topical. We have incorporated Fair Trade fortnight into our learning and from this looked at rice production. We’ve also spent some time learning about Buddhism and reflecting on how a Buddhist way of life can be incorporated into our lives. Trying out some meditation to see how this impacts on our general mood seems like a good idea!
Comic Relief, fully embraced as always, has given him a deeper insight into the lives of children in developing countries and the general importance of fair treatment. Family life and teaching roles were blurred again here; we always take part in Comic Relief activities but it was more fulfilling this year to take it a stage further, use some of the learning materials and relate it back to the Fair Trade ethos.
World Book Day didn’t pass us by just because we don’t go to school. We had a lovely time at one of the HE groups, going on a Gruffalo hunt run by the Kent Wildlife Trust. The children explored the creatures from the story, created descriptions, wrote a poem, investigated habitats and had lots of fun dressed as their favourite book characters.
Very excitingly, I think Little Legs is now officially on this journey with us. He is really keen to read and so we have introduced the second set of letters and spent some dedicated time exploring these with the magnetic board and using ‘sound buttons’ to segment and blend cvc words.
We are now looking forward to some solar system learning during the lead up to the partial eclipse this week. I’ll be sharing any links I find to useful activities and websites on my FB and twitter feeds so take a look if you too are interested in this area.
We are officially ‘pigs’. Turns out C and I have the same Chinese sign of the Zodiac. We’ve had some fun reading up on our characteristics to see how like the descriptions we are and have used this to explore connectives in our writing whilst trying to describe our ‘pig – like’ qualities.
Once we had researched these, it was onto the serious business of food! After a recent trip into London’s Chinatown and a visit to the wonderful See Woo wholesalers in Greenwich, we marked the Chinese New Year by giving out some lucky coins in lucky envelopes and preparing a huge feast of dumplings, spring rolls, fortune cookies and some mathematical (fractions) sushi. The boys, inspired by the vibrance of Chinatown, made some lanterns and had a go at some Chinese writing. I think the writing says ‘See Woo fine noodles’ but we’re not 100% sure on that one!
Sushi making sequence…
The celebrations have led to some rich learning opportunities as we now begin to explore facts about China. We’ve taken a Google earth tour and learnt how to take notes. From these a draft leaflet has been designed which is now in the process of being created on the computer. Preparation for a role play Travel Agents. Or maybe a ‘school trip’. I do always emphasise the importance of bringing learning to life so it could be justified…
Back to reality and, due to the lack of funds for a field trip to China, the learning… Note taking: Early note taking is best taught in stages, starting with key words around a picture (in this case The Great Wall of China) before moving on to taking notes from texts. This prevents the temptation to copy out long chunks as they child first learns to note key words when there are no words to copy. We then moved onto a very simplified site, where again there were too few words to be tempted.
The leaflet writing and subsequent advert for the Chinese New Year Parade has been the platform for teaching about persuasive writing techniques. Once again he has impressed me with his ability to retain some pretty advanced stuff. We have been putting our persuasive skills to the test in all kinds of situations, quite often in the car. He did a very good job of trying to convince me that the skate park was better than riding a bike. Needless to say I won’t actually be trying it.
The Chinese theme continues as we embark on some basic learning about the economy and the concept of fair trade, to celebrate Fair Trade Fortnight. Remember that small changes in our shopping make a big difference!