Thursday, 15 November 2012

Hedgehog Fever

With two rescued hoglets in our downstairs loo, it is not really surprising that hedgehogs are creeping into much of our learning at the moment.  Particularly (but not exclusively) when it comes to craft!  This week Eldest worked patiently on making a pompom hedgehog (fiddly things, pompoms!) while Middle and Youngest did a potato printing of hedgehogs and owls, adapted from a project in this book.  As I was helping them all to do different projects I didn't get to join in myself this time.  This made a noticeable difference in that I couldn't demonstrate what I meant to the younger two, which made it significantly harder for them to understand what I was trying to explain (eg when saying to Youngest to put the potato down and lift straight up again, he interpreted that to mean dragging the potato down the page and back - a totally reasonable interpretation but one which had the opposite of the desired effect).  Lesson for Mummy: explaining something is okay but is just a one-dimensional way of teaching (auditory only) & open to confusion.  By using demonstrations as well you include a second dimension (visual) which provides a better foundation for letting the learner have a go, adding a third dimension (kinesthetic) - all of which together give a much more stable learning experience.  Anyway, I think the finished works of art were really sweet...

 Pompom hedgehog by Eldest

 Middle's "Night-time"

Youngest's "Night-time"

Middle and Youngest also made some cute hedgehog collages - Middle's were obviously getting into the festive mode!  (nb you can tell what season is fast approaching by the amount of glitter liberally scattered about this house)...

 "Hedgehog" by Youngest

"Mummy and Baby Christmas Hedgehogs" by Middle

Of course the boys aren't the only learners here - having sent the hedgehog poo to be tested (a learning experience in itself) & having received the results, I have been to the vets to learn how to remove ticks, apply topical treatment and give sub-cutaneous injections! (Note to anyone considering caring for juvenile hedgehogs: it's not as straightforward as you might think!)  Eldest came for the 'lessons' with me, but Youngest had been too excited by the vets' waiting room & just wanted to play at being puppies with Middle, so the younger two went to Grandmas.  Hedgehog Midge was looking a bit poorly yesterday & possibly feverish, so I was quite concerned when I went to bed last night.  I even woke up thinking about him - I think I've also got more than a touch of hedgehog fever!  Anyway, he has put weight on again today and I have hedgie anti-biotics on order to collect tomorrow, so hopefully he'll see improvement soon.  My next project is to see if I can sex them.  I believe Midge to be male and Squidge to be female, based on nothing other than Midge having a whopping appetite and being a bit more aggressive, whereas Squidge has a prettier face and is feisty in a less butch way.  I'll be fascinated to see if my gender stereotyping bears any reflection on the true state of things.  However until they uncurl in my hands I won't know, so it could take a while!

In other news, we have written and posted our polite letter to the LA, declining their visits and including our Educational Philosophy, as blogged about in Feeling Prickly.  I'm relieved to have that done, and am hoping to hear nothing more.  I think we'll still go out next Weds though (their proposed date to visit), just in case...

This week (other than the hog fever) has been quite nice and calm.  Craft club on Tuesday saw all three boys making a hanging mobile each.  The proposed theme was insects or undersea creatures, which is usually Eldest's favourite subject, but this time he decided he wanted a mobile of something else... no prizes for guessing, but suffice it to say they're spiky & live in our downstairs loo!  Anyway, I've mostly regained my equilibrium, and feel like I am getting to grips again with this Home Education lark.  We've got into MathsWhizz and Reading Eggs again, are playing games together, investigating together etc - as well as giving them space to do their own thing where they want to.  I'm sure the boys haven't suffered for not having had my full attention these last few weeks: they have studied, played, learned etc on their own, which is a good thing.  However I do take my role as facilitator seriously, and I like it best when I can focus properly on it, rather than being distracted from it with too much busy-ness.  Autonomous learning is all well and good, but I think it's better if it's a conscious choice rather than a side-effect of a preoccupied parent.

Speaking of autonomy, I made the 'mistake' of suggesting an activity to the boys today.  It wasn't really a bad thing - they all agreed quickly enough, and we got some nice results - but I was kicking myself for having forgotten that I was trying to avoid suggestions because I want the boys to be able to think for themselves and find their own inspiration rather than relying on me.  Anyway like I said it wasn't a bad thing, and I haven't suggested anything for ages, so I've stopped kicking myself now.  I asked if they'd like to write some poems.   I wrote one too (remembering my earlier lesson about demonstrating), and they were all keen, although Eldest ran out of interest very quickly, and Middle's poem turned almost immediately into a story which he dictated to me (he got totally discouraged by the time it was taking to write a few words, so Mummy helped!).  I will leave you with our finished pieces of writing.  If you can't spot the theme I suggest you go and lie down in a darkened room somewhere... or should that be me...?

Our Hedgehogs - by Youngest
We have some hedgehogs named Midge and Squidge.
They are a bit little and like their food.
Midge and Squidge like doing poos.
They don't hit; they're friendly hedgehogs.

Our Hedgehogs - by Eldest
We've got some hedgehogs
They stink like a dog
One's called Midge
Another's called Squidge
They're a bit tiny
But not whiney
They're very happy
Even without a nappy

Hedgehogs - by Mummy
Spikey, pokey, pointy, prickly,
Snuffly nose that feels so tickly.
Two little eyes, all black and beady,
Four little legs, surprisingly speedy.
Nestled in leaves, they sleep through the cold,
(curled in a ball, they're not easy to hold!)
Some think they're gorgeous; some think they're pests -
but we love our little hedgehog guests.

Hedgehog Adventure - by Middle
Once there were three hedgehogs who were friends for ever.  One night they went on a walk to the park and they saw some people who were going to see fireworks.  They wanted to know what fireworks meant, and the people were very gentle and kind and they knew all about hedgehogs so the people told the hedgehogs what fireworks meant and the hedgehogs wanted to see the fireworks with them.  Then they went to the festival to see the fireworks.  They saw loads of different coloured ones.  The hedgehogs loved the pretty ones but they didn't like the noise.  Then it was getting to daytime and they needed to go back home to sleep. Then the people said goodbye.  The hedgehogs went back home and their mother said, "where have you been?"  The hedgehogs explained all about their adventure to the festival and the fireworks, then their Mum tucked them into bed and kissed them goodnight.  The End.

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