Thursday, 29 November 2012

Thank you, Christmas DVD!

Feeling a bit direction-less at the moment.  The boys are (mostly) happy carrying on with their 30minutes a day of Maths Whizz/ Reading Eggs, but they seem to have lost enthusiasm for other activities - and that may be at least partly due to my enthusiasm waning.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not going off Home Education - in fact the more I think about State Education, the more huge flaws I can see in it - and the more I am convinced I want better for my boys.  But within the Home Education that we are experiencing, I'm feeling a bit dissatisfied - as if I'm missing something.

One thing that really hasn't helped is not having my laptop.  I know it sounds silly, and possibly a bit shallow - but I hadn't realised how much I got done on it while being in the same room as and instantly available to the boys of an afternoon, while they learned stuff off the TV or read books/ played/ drew etc.  Now that the only available PC is in the study, I have to choose between being with the boys or leaving them to get on with what they're doing while I grab some computer time - and that makes for dissatisifaction whichever way I go.  It's not just the blog (which I can feel slipping), nor the quick (hopefully encouraging) chats on Facebook; it's all the research I used to do without noticing at the time - finding new resources to build on whatever the boys are learning at that point, or being able to look up answers to questions there and then, etc.  I only tend to get about 1 - 1 1/2 hours to myself in the evenings once all the boys are in bed and the hedgehogs weighed & cleaned out - I can't even get the Christmas shopping done in that time, let alone research, blogs and chatting.  And as for my beloved photos - well they're all backing up on my camera's SD card.  It's going to take a very long time to go through those when I get round to it!

Anyway, enough complaining.  I'm not trying to depress myself or anyone reading - just noting it down as part of our journey - this is a "warts-and-all" account, after all!

Despite feeling a bit unsettled, we've had a lovely couple of days since I last posted.  We had a go at an "Underwater Hippo" art project from the lovely Deep Space Sparkle website, using a paint wash over oil pastels.  Previously I had been sad to miss out on making my own 'art' because I was so busy helping the boys - so this time I made sure I attempted the project alongside them. The only problem was, Youngest got a bit impatient and just did his own thing.  Actually that's not really a problem at all: it's good for him to just get a chance to try out different mediums etc, in whatever way he wants.  I have to say though, his finished result does not really resemble the hippos we were aiming at - although he said he wanted to show all the blood inside the hippo, so with that in mind, you may be better able to 'interpret' his art!

Eldest's Hippo                                        Middle's Hippo
Mummy's Hippo                                   Youngest's Hippo

While Eldest's paint was drying he was still in arty mode, and decided he wanted to draw a Creeper from Minecraft.  I love how he got the pixellated effect - it took quite a lot of patience.  Then Middle wanted to do some more marbling, so we got the inks out again and created lots more sheets to hopefully use on our Christmas cards...

Also this week we've been following some more familes of wild animals on the CBBC series, Wild Tales.  This time it's been about cheetahs, wolves and zebras, and today Youngest decided he wanted to be one of the cheetahs because they're so fast.  We agreed that Mummy would have to be a zebra because they're the only vegetarians on the show.  Eldest and Middle wanted to be wolves because Eldest liked the extended family and Middle thought the wolf cubs' faces were the cutest. 

While Eldest and Middle have been on their internet curricula, Youngest and I have been reading together.  He got to another stage that was slightly beyond him, so I've been looking for ways to consolidate the learning he has done so far.  He totally gets phonics from the point of view of blending sounds together, so Reading Eggs has been great for him so far.  However, he has only mastered the simple phonic sounds so far (the short vowel sounds and single letter sounds b,p,t etc)  However, he can't progress much further in Reading Eggs without mastering the digraphs that he seems to have been blustering his way past (eg 'th' - two letters that make one sound - he would sound out the t then the h, making it impossible to read the word 'the').  If he was happy to re-do lessons from earlier in Reading Eggs, I think he would pick it up quickly, but he's not interested.  Anyway, while I was looking around I found the first of the new Oxford Reading Tree Songbirds books - written by the excellent Julia Donaldson, of Gruffalo fame (amongst many other fabulous books).  I'm not usually a big fan of reading schemes, but this first book (a collection of twelve simple stories) is exactly right for Youngest.  All the other books we had were beyond him, as they introduced digraphs etc almost immediately, but this one starts off blending simpler sounds, without him having to master more complicated ones.  He is starting to show signs of recognising common words by their shapes (such as 'the'), but there's no hurry: he's a bright little thing & I know he'll get there in his own time, so for now we're just enjoying sitting down with a book and him saying "I can read this one to you Mummy!"

Oh, and other than all of the above, Christmas DVDs are now the order of the day - or afternoon!  We let the boys watch our new copy of Arthur Christmas on the long car journey to Exeter the other day, and that got them fully in the festive mood - so even though it's still only November (just), I'm going along with the holiday viewing.  I don't take much persuading really - though I still refuse to put up the tree until mid-December!  Still, thanks to today's Christmas DVD, I got to write in this 'ere blog - so not all bad, eh?


  1. Lovely artworks! Have you tried Jolly Phonics with Youngest? It teaches all the digraphs separately to the single letter sounds - seemed to work well for my two at least. I know what you mean about feeling directionless - I think the appalling weather has put us all into hibernation mode much earlier than usual this year. J always needs to be "steered" towards any particular activity, otherwise he would just choose to sit in front of a screen all day, and sometimes it's hard to come up with ideas! But I think it's just part of the natural cycle of home-ed - that's what I tell myself, anyway!
    R x

  2. Thanks Rachel. I was put off Jolly Phonics at a previous school that I worked at - but it was a long time ago, I'll have another look at it :)
    Mine are definitely in 'steering' mode now - which is fine I guess, just means I need to come up with more suggestions - just as I was trying to back off! Ah well, never mind, you're right: it's part of the home ed cycle - keeps us on our toes! :)