Monthly Archives: June 2015

A bit more magic

More potions and spell making and a wonderful visit to The Enchanted Forest at Groombridge for us recently. The weather for our trip was pretty dismal but it was still a great day out.  Sparking imagination in all kinds of ways.  Well worth a visit if you’ve never been!

potion making, vinegar, bicarbonate of soda, food colouring, glitter and a few magic words…



We are part of a ‘very special’ weekly nature group known as ‘Super Secret Explorers’ (named by some HE friends).  Recently, we decided to choose a new site to explore each week which is how this particular trip came about.  I  like the idea of the secrecy element we now have:  The destination can be decided / revealed only at the very last minute, adding to the sense of adventure!

Our day was certainly full of adventure – we explored Robinson Crusoe’s treehouse, secret doors, tee – pees, secret hide outs, giant spider webs, giant swings, a magical pond, a serpents lair, dinosaur bones, gypsy caravans, and so much more.  It was just perfect for mine.  Word of warning for you though if you have a child with an imagination like C.  He was cautiously approaching a hidden secret door, looking so serious, and I couldn’t help myself from shouting out / jumping as he touched the door.  He burst into tears, and I felt awful.  It’s a dangerous game to try to enter into the imaginative place in his head 🙁


DSC_0226 DSC_0228


The peacocks greeted us as we arrived at Groombridge Place.  I think the boys would have been happy to just watch these!





DSC_0324We took the boat into the forest, although our journey was a little wetter than this picture shows!  This is how the river looked at the end of the day. We couldn’t chance taking the camera out during our stormy trip!


Giant cobwebs





hidden teepee
hidden teepee


giant swing
giant swing
the aforementioned door
the aforementioned door












We ended the day with tea and cake and wand making, by now in the glorious sunshine!  Gotta love British summer!



Engaged learner(s)

I haven’t posted much recently as we are STILL continuing our Harry Potter topic!  Fundamentally, this means that I am being truly child led which is exactly how I want to be with our Home Ed.  C continues to be completely engaged and there is so much learning through imaginative play – it’s great.  But possibly not so interesting for others to keep reading about!

IMG_7760We have set up shop in the garden – a ‘Shop of Magic’, and used this to practice adding 3 digit numbers which need constant revisiting in a variety of situations to fully grasp before moving on to more abstract recording.  I’m not sure the pictures are clear enough but I’ve tried to capture how he chose his 2 items, found the coins, using £1 coin, 10 pence pieces and pennies and we then represented the amounts using ten sticks.  We recorded the adding process so that he can see the link between the concrete and the abstract but the focus was very much on using the manipulatives to model exchanging for a ‘ten’ or a ‘100’.  This is important, as if moved on too quickly to recording then there is a chance he won’t have fully understood why we carry and unspotted mistakes could be easily made.  By physically moving ‘ones’ to the ‘tens’ etc the place value is really understood.


Of course the maths was slow here.  First my items had to be corrected.

“What?!  Why is there a basic wand?  There wouldn’t be basic wand!”

“Why is there a basic broom…”

And so on.  You get the picture!

Then there was the matter of the currency.  It took some convincing that we had to use pound coins because we have no galleons.  He spent a considerable amount of time sorting coins to ‘be’ galleons, sickles and knuts.  I’m now toying with giving him a conversion activity, but why did JK Rowling make the exchange rate so difficult?!

Finally the quidditch set.  For some reason he was happy with paper images of most items in our shop (aside from the brooms and wands of course) but decided to search for different sized balls to put together a quidditch set.  Needless to say I made a coffee at this point!  The beauty of HE though, is that he can spend time doing these things, getting it all just right in a way that is so important to him.  It meant that our maths continued for the most part of the day but he loved it.  The following day he went on to recording straight in the maths book, but this was a stage too soon.  He got muddled with the carrying and exchanging so we will spend more time on the practical before we revisit the recording.

Following on from our success writing to Steve Backshall back in September, remember that?, we have drafted, edited and written up a letter to Daniel Radcliffe, to find out what he’s up to these days/let him know of his celebrity status in our world of Home Ed.  I’m sure it compares favourably with his other career highlights!  The rich reading experience that C is having is now influencing his writing as he is embarking on his own Hogwarts story.  It is currently staying pretty close to the original text and I have pointed out that this may not be such a good idea, what with the books being so long, but at the moment it means his writing is full of wonderful expression and his stamina in writing is increasing so we’ll see how we go.

In other (non HP!) news-  we had our first sleep over.  On a school night!  The following morning the boys spent ages playing with remote control cars in the garden; creating obstacle courses, hypothesising, testing, evaluating and improving on their techniques.  They tried to develop a ramp set up which was proving difficult so we devised a scoring system to reflect this more challenging aspect of the course!


the box is the ramp, no fancy building here!




Oh and of course we’ve managed a few trips.  Unknowingly we have visited JK Rowling’s neck of the woods.  How exciting it was to visit the boys’ Auntie and have Mugglewort Woods pointed out to us!  We are now planning  another trip very soon to take a proper visit!

We have enjoyed some excellent outdoor theatre as part of the Medway Fuse Festival, and believe it or not, there is someone up this tree…



Truck mania

Feeling teased after my last post?  I’m sure you are left wondering  “what could truck mania be?”  I shan’t leave you in anticipation any longer.  Not with the final half term of learning to start writing about – I can’t believe It’s been a year since we left school: It’s flown by!

So Truckmania:  This, clearly, was not a planned event.  Trucks are really NOT my thing. House hunting is, and that was the plan for the bank holiday weekend.  Until a sudden work commitment (or maybe not that sudden, but it was news to me) altered our plans. With Daddy now due to be entertaining the crowds at Beaulieu for two days with his music we decided to tag along and spend some time in the New Forest in the middle of our house hunting weekend.

I was pleasantly surprised. Truckmania was a two day event hosted at Beaulieu Motor Museum which, if you’ve never been, is well worth a visit in itself.  It is beautiful.  And has cars. Old cars, new cars, film cars, Top Gear cars, record breaking cars…

See?  Shiny!
See? Shiny!

I’m still not really sounding convinced am I?  In between operation butterfly watch the boys and I wandered around and explored enormous, and very shiny, truck cabs (the owners seem to spend a lot of time polishing) which they loved.  Some of these cabs are like little camper vans themselves, and since reading Tough Trucks, the boys have been a little fascinated by the inside of truck driver cabs so this was great fun for them.  We watched monster trucks jumping over and crushing cars.  C had a go at pulling a truck, tackled an inflatable army assault course and dressed up in full combat gear.  L loved watching the mini remote control trucks and diggers and I successfully managed to steer them away from the stalls selling these at over £200.  So everyone was happy!


Mini world trucks
Mini world trucks
Pulling a truck
Pulling a truck









The motor museum houses over 250 vehicles, from early motor cars through to racing cars, steam cars and all kinds of memorabilia.  Outside, we loved seeing some of the cars and memorable moments from Top Gear.  Remember those caravans?  The floating cars? They’re there! The house and gardens are beautiful, with a monorail to take you around the grounds – 3 times in our case, and there are lots of large outdoor games to play, you know the giant jenga, chess, connect four type things.  We even had a go at croquet. We explored the abbey and learnt lots of amazing facts about the role of the secret army in WWII, who undertook some of their training at Beaulieu.

Can just about see the monster truck jumping here
Can just about see the monster truck jumping here


mod memorabilia
mod memorabilia

So while this isn’t my usual, learning from the week type of post I thought it was worth a share.  I certainly didn’t  know such a thing existed.  I’ve been to Beaulieu and heard of the motor museum.  Now I can confidently say that I highly recommend it, with or without Truckmania!

relaxing with a book over lunch!
relaxing with a book over lunch!