Alphabet Photograph Challenge – Part 1

Elsa has a camera, which she takes with her everywhere.  Sometimes she remembers to take photographs and other times she doesn’t.

To encourage her to look at her surroundings and to remind her to take pictures, I set her a challenge.

By the end of our home school year could we each have a set of alphabet photographs taken of items we see while we are out.  They can be of anything but it has to look like a letter of the alphabet.

This little challenge seems to be working as these are what she has found so far.

E  H H I I


V V W  X

Y  Z Z

I think she’s doing ok :).




Space Cadet – Fit For Space

Week 3 of the UNSA missions and this week is about food and exercise on the ISS.

Firstly, as usual, it was watching the introduction video with Jon. We always find these funny in our house.



What would Tim need to eat before doing a spacewalk (EVA – Extra Vehicular Activity)

We looked at the table of food we needed to download and finally (again after a grumble to HE friends about not being able to make a 4000 kcal meal) worked out that you only needed to do an extra meal on top of 2500 kcal day for Tim if he was to do an EVA).

Elsa watched a video of Tim talking about his favourite foods and also a video of Samantha talking about snacks on board too. After watching these she chose a meal that she hoped Tim would like. (Loads of chocolate and tea) :).  She labelled it with the number of calories per item of food.

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Mission 3 Part 1 Complete


Using the table of food provided, work out how much Tim’s meal would cost:

  • per meal
  • once a week for 6 weeks
  • once a week for 6 months (24 weeks)

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Mission 3 Part 2 Complete


Persuade UNSA’s Head Chef to choose your meal.

Elsa had to decide why her meal was better than anyone else’s and to try and persuade the head chef to choose it.  She wrote her own text then did a talk to us about it.


Elsa work has uploaded her work and she has been awarded with her badge.


What was nice about after completing this mission, Elsa received an extra badge which was a surprise when she next logged into Makewaves. 🙂



Another subject Elsa asked to do back in the summer was Diwali.  I know she had covered it at school, so I asked her why she wanted to do it again.  She explained she found it interesting. 🙂

I found out it was on 11th November this year so we started the topic the week previous.

I thought it was would be best to find out why Diwali is celebrated so we watched a video and read a story. To make sure Elsa had remembered this, I asked her to filled in some worksheets I’d downloaded from Activity Village and Twinkl, while Anna completed a maze.

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We then made Diya’s out of beads (from Activity Village) and clay.

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We talked about henna patterns and both Elsa and Anna created one on paper then painted it onto their arms with face paints.

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We made lanterns 🙂

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We also discussed Rangoli patterns, where they are used and why and then both girls coloured one in downloaded from Twinkl.

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Finally we made coconut squares.

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An interesting week of learning 🙂



Roots and Greens

N arranged another foraging trip, this time near her home, which turned out to be in the middle of nowhere.  This time it wasn’t for mushrooms (apart from this one, which looks like ears, is called jelly fungus and is edible).


It was looking for roots and greens to add to a soup she had made earlier.

We all made our way up to this fabulous outdoor campfire where N asked the children to find some more sticks to put on the fire.  She then described a few root edibles she had found (Alexander and horseradish). Some of the other HE children helped wrap them in foil and N put them on the fire to cook.

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N gave the children a pointed stick each and tasked them with digging up some wild carrots with them. They look nothing like carrots, but smell exactly like them.

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We then continued to walk around the land and found some ground ivy and white dead nettle, both of which are edible and the leaves went into the soup.

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We walked down to the allotment and there found an Asian pear tree.  They look exactly like apples but tasted just like a pear.

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We went back to the campfire and chopped up the different green leaves we had found and added them to the soup.

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Finally, it was time for drinks, oatcakes and crabapple jelly and soup.

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Another fun, interesting and wet day.

Space Cadet – Space Weather

Onto mission 2 of the space challenge which is about space weather.

Firstly, we watched Mission 2 introduction video from Jon.  Both girls are enjoying these videos 🙂



What is space weather?

We decided to do this as a document this time to make a change and to use the PC.  We used the suggested NASA space weather page for the information on this question. We found images to paste into the document and Elsa wrote in her own words about it.

Among other things, we found out:

  • what the sun is made of;
  • what causes the northern lights;
  • what a solar flare is;
  • how the space weather affects the earth and equipment here.

We watched a couple of interesting videos, one to do with the telescopes taking images of the weather in space and a brilliant National Geographic one on Aurora Borealis (northern lights).

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Mission 2 Part 1 Complete



We talked about what sunspots were and looked at some images online of what they look like. Then we looked at and chatted about the data for the mission.  I discussed with Elsa what she needed to do with it.

  • find the errors in the data.
  • choose 3 facts about the data (highest, lowest, total number over the 10 years she chose).
  • choose 10 years to study and create into a chart.
  • write 2 questions about her data for someone else to answer. 🙂

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Mission 2 Part 2 Complete


Present information about space weather and sunspots to your peers (dad).

Elsa decided that the best way to do this, (after a discussion with other HE children doing this challenge), was by creating a PowerPoint presentation.  I asked her to think about what she felt was important to tell him then suggested pictures and bullet points to remind her what to say.  I said that he may have questions to ask her during and after the talk, so she should be sure she had covered as much as she could initially, but I did say I would give her key words to remind her of the information if he asked her something she couldn’t answer.

She created 4 slides and searched for relevant pictures and remembered information from the previous 2 tasks.  When Daddy got back from work she asked him to sit down and started to talk about:

  • what space weather is.
  • how it affects those on earth and on the ISS.
  • what protection is available.
  • how we can predict it.
  • what sunspots are.

Dad asked her a few questions which she was able to answer without my help. 🙂

She did really well.


Mission 2 Part 3 Complete

Elsa’s work has been uploaded and she has been awarded with her badge.



Space Cadet – Spaceship Earth

Remember a week or so ago I mentioned we had registered for the Unlimited Space Agency challenge?  Well it’s now started and each Monday, Elsa will be set a mission and this continues until Tim Peake’s rocket launches to the International Space Station (ISS) in December.

Each mission is split into 3 sections (Maths, English and Science).

Firstly, for Mission 1, we watched the intro video by Jon.

Watching the Mission 1 video Watching the intro video


Research and explain various information about the ISS and Tim Peake.

Elsa decided she wanted to do poster for both of these elements as she finds it easier to collate information that way.

International Space Station

For the ISS, she decided to write her information on pictures of planets which I thought was inspired so we found a lovely set to print out.

We looked at a video showing you around the ISS, which was fascinating, although Elsa was quite shocked at the toilet and where that goes once it gets full. 🙂

Mooching around the ISS Mooching around the space station Mooching around the space station

We looked up various information including:

  • who is there at the moment,
  • what they have to do while they are there,
  • we also looked at how fast they travel, and
  • where they are right now (which when we checked they were flying over New Zealand)

We found out that, at present, there are 6 people aboard, 2 of whom are staying up there for 1 year as an experiment to see how the body reacts to being there twice as long as usual.

We also found out that the ISS has had a crew constantly aboard since the 2nd November 2000 (so 15 years last week).

Creating ISS poster Finished ISS poster

Tim Peake

This year is an exciting one for Great Britain as it is the first time a British astronaut will have gone to the ISS.  Therefore, finding information out about him was very interesting (I’m jealous as he’s achieved so much in his life already and he’s younger than me 😉 )

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Mission 1 Part 1 Complete


For this mission we used ideas from Natural Born Homeschooler‘s space unit which I had previously downloaded and Homeschool Share‘s Planets and Stars, Sun and Moon units.

Where is the ISS and Earth in our solar system?  Research the different planets including size, what it is made of and distance from the sun. 

Firstly, we discussed the different planets, their sizes, what they were made of, how they got their names etc. and then Elsa completed some worksheets we found from 3 Dinosaurs (in PDF 1, although I have used a lot of sheets from the other PDFs  for Anna, to include her in this space challenge).  She also filled in mini books on their distance from the sun and whether or not they are solid or gas.

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We also learned that the planets have very different temperatures, from being far too hot to being extremely cold.

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We then made a Heliocentric model of the solar system.

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Elsa also created each planet out of air drying clay and put them in the order they are from the sun.

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Mission 1 Part 2 Complete


How far away from the Earth is the ISS?  How long it will take to get there?  How long it takes to orbit the Earth?  How many sunsets will be seen in days, weeks and months?

After looking up the information on the internet, we had to work out the answers to some questions.  Elsa couldn’t do these mentally yet, however, knew how to work them out so wrote how to do them in the workings part of the sheet I’d prepared.  She then used a calculator to get the answers.


During our research of the planets we found out how to work out how much you would weigh if you were to stand on each planet.  I asked Elsa if she knew how to do this using a calculator, she said she could.  So I left her to it. 🙂


The results were she is over 2 1/2 x heavier on Jupiter than on earth and under 1/2 as heavy on Mercury.  This resulted in a conversation about gravity. 🙂

Mission 1 Part 3 Complete

Elsa’s work has been uploaded and she has been awarded with her badge.

Spaceship Earth


Contact from the Local Authority

Before we took the decision to home school we were warned by other home school types that the local authority would probably want to ‘visit us’ and ‘involve themselves’ in our home school journey.

Just a few weeks after deregistering Elsa from school we received a pretty standard looking letter which outlined the councils legal obligation to ensure our child receives a ‘suitable education’ and in a round-about way asked for a meeting.

None of this was any surprise to us.

Some HE parents that we spoke to very deliberately rejected the idea of inviting any member of the council into their home. Such parents felt that they did not need the council to form an opinion as to how their child was doing – that the council’s view point is simply unwanted and uncalled for.

While we agree with the sentiment – we really do not care if the council think we are doing a good job or not because (as far as we can see) their standard methods of measuring success or failure are fundamentally flawed – we wanted to meet with the council in order to explain why we chose to home school in the first place.

So, in September, we wrote to the council and explained exactly that.

“We have no questions for you and we trust all the information you need to satisfy your questions are contained in this letter, but we would welcome a home visit if only so that we can share our views on home education and why we think it is a better option for us.”

Just a day after sending this letter, we took a call from the ‘Service to Home Educators’ team at the council. MB was very nice, very friendly and offered help.  She said she was aware that we had only just started on our journey and didn’t expect to visit any time soon, but as my partner had said around Christmas would be a good time to visit – that would suit her fine too.

While I had initially panicked about the thought of a ‘visit’, several weeks later my confidence is good and we are organised with various subjects. Elsa is progressing really well and choosing the things she enjoys so is trying really hard.  I am not worried about the meeting – we’ll simply have a chat and show her what Elsa has done so far – but I probably will be really nervous the day before!

Coding with Dad on the Dragon 32

In 1983, when I was around 10 years old, my father bought our family a Dragon 32 computer. These were the days when computers had ‘Made in England’ stamped on the bottom and became affordable enough and small enough to have in the home.

home school computer lesson ukWe are talking the era of the early ZX Spectrum, Atari 2600, that kind of thing. At that time, nobody outside of the military or science establishment (people like Sir Tim Berners-Lee) would have known what the internet was. In fact, it was probably still called ‘Interconnected Network’ or something.

These were real computers, where you had to write programs to get them to do anything, or at least buy a cassette tape that might have had a program or two on.

My parents were not well-off by any means, at the time I seem to recall it cost maybe £300 or so – based on averages wages at the time I would have said that is an equivalent spend of maybe £1200 today. A fair wedge for any working parent.

Cutting a long story very short, this computer was my companion throughout much of my childhood and is both the foundation of and trigger for my career in IT. Today I own and operate a small IT support business and I personally spend time writing software for my own and other businesses.

Home School Computing Lesson Dragon 32With my Home School hat on, the first point I want to make here is that I learned about computers in spite of the state school system and not as a result of it. Now we are home-schooling our children I find it very telling that the foundation of my career is based upon an investment that happened by my parents in our home and is most certainly not something that happened as a result of attending any school.

Another interesting fact is that, until I attended college, I was completely self-taught when it came to using and programming computers. Schools had neither the time, expertise nor the equipment necessary to teach me the skills I would eventually need to have a career in IT. This is more of an observation than a criticism, but over thirty years later I am reasonably sure this has changed very little.

And so, it is for these reasons, I fired up that 30 year old computer this week and started teaching my eldest little girl to program BASIC on the Dragon 32. I have to say she loved it, and so did I!


Geography Post by Elsa – China

We have been home schooling since September 2015. We are semi structured so we do a number of lessons.

Mummy wrote about the curriculum before.

We have been following a curriculum by Erica at Confessions of a Home Schooler.

We have learnt about China and South Korea.

For China we learnt where it is, the capital city, language (I learnt to say hello in Chinese, which is Ni hao (Knee how)) and we also learnt some fun facts.

We made paper, then we wrote Chinese numbers up to ten on it.

We did a zentangle picture.

We also built the great wall of China out of Lego.


We even tried Chinese food. My favourite bit was the egg noodles.

I have enjoyed learning about China.