Famous Artists – Jackson Pollock

We hadn’t done any work on artists for a while, so I asked if the girls fancied learning about someone else. Of course they did because what we do is we chat about the artist, find out some information about them along with a few interesting facts and the we have a go at their style of art. This time it was Jackson Pollock who is well known for his drip painting style.

The girls added water to the paint so it was runnier than usual and either dripped or flicked the paint onto the canvas sheets we had. This was messy and fun (so they tell me).

The finished products

Jackson Pollock’s style of art is interesting. The big black blob on Anna’s picture was an accident, but she decided that she wanted to make sure it had lots of blobs of other colours on it so when it dried it would be ‘more colourful’.

Do we need school to learn?

At the beginning of every September, I ask the girls if they have anything they would like to achieve by the end of July.  Anna (who was 5) said she’d like to learn to read.

I helped with this by teaching her blending sounds and split digraphs which we worked on until Christmas last year.  This was to give her the basics.  She already knew that letters have a sound and a name (ay or a, bee or b, etc).

After this, we started reading simple books. moving on to reading programs such as Oxford Reading Tree which we bought, but also got different ones from the library (one of our favourite places to go).   By July she was on Level 5 books.

I have no idea the ‘comparison’ with schooled children, but this child has pretty much taught herself to read fluently.  As of now (August) she is reading Liz Pichon (Tom Gates) and Andy Griffith (13 Storey Treehouse Stories).

To continue with her gaining confidence in reading alone, we now all read for half an hour a day (or more if you want to).  So far I have found that instead of picking up a gadget or putting on the television, they have been picking up books to read.

My conclusion after this year, is that if a child wants to learn something they can do it anywhere, given the right encouragement and facility to do so. 🙂

Forensic Science – Fingerprints

As Home Educators we are very lucky that we have lots of parents who will organise lots of interesting topics for the children to study.  One such topic was forensic science taught by real forensic police. 🙂

When we arrived at the venue there was a ‘crime scene’ set out. After an introduction about the day and what would be happening, the children were first shown different ways of getting DNA samples from a scene. These were in little sachets and the children had to guess what these might be.

Next it was taking fingerprints and using a magnifier to look more closely at them. They talked about the differences in peoples prints (these include simple loops, double loops, arches and whorls).

Next, it was get suited up so as to not contaminate the scene and then they were given a CD with prints on.  They had to find them using a special brush with the fingerprint dust on. They were told and shown how to do this. They had special tape to lift the prints and then using the magnifier they were to compare the fingerprints with the suspect list and then decide which suspect was guilty.

This was a fascinating subject and Elsa enjoyed it immensely.

 

Have I Given Up?

As Elsa gets older I worry about the fact she’s not doing 30 hours a weeks school and 5 hours a week homework.  I mean we do stuff, but it was getting the point that she was becoming difficult about doing English with me (her least favourite subject).

After several weeks of this behaviour, I suggested maybe having someone else teach her this subject.  She wasn’t happy about it but agreed to give it a go.

I found a tutor who came and tested where she was at so she knew where to start teaching her and my goodness, she was classed as being where she should be age wise for comprehension and maths and ahead for reading. This was a bit of a surprise as we had only been doing a small amount each day.

She continues to have the tutor once a week for 2 hours and is given homework to do.  This will hopefully keep her on track for the future.

So while I may have felt at the time I had given up. I didn’t.  I just passed some things over to someone who could help me. I now focus on other subjects, which at present include Geography, Ancient Egypt, French, Art, Cooking, Sewing, etc.

We still have a varied education and now our tutor is part of this.

Making our own soap

This year we wanted to make our own gifts for families and one of things we decided to do was make our own soap.

I found this video and thought we’d use this one but amend it a bit.

We bought some goat’s milk soap base and chopped it into cubes ready to melt. We grated some lemons to get the rind.

  

We melted the soap base over a pan of simmering water. This took quite a while.

  

We then mixed in a few drops of  both lavender and lemon essential oils.

We poured the mixture into our moulds and let them set. removed them from the mould to let the other side set.

Finally, we wrapped them in cling film to prevent them from being affected by the air and then in brown paper with a ribbon.

These looked and smelled lovely and worked perfectly. We will be doing this again.

Minecraft Plushies

One day while looking through our local library we found this book and the girls decided they would like to make a plush cube. (yay measuring and sewing) 🙂

I asked them which one they would like to make.  Elsa decided on the Minecraft parrot and Anna decided on the pig.  I asked them to design them on some squared paper and then work out what and how many materials they would need.  We popped to our local Hobbycraft (brilliant shop btw) and purchased what we needed.

Firstly we measured 6 8x8in squares out of the felt which would be the base colour of the things we’d decided to make.  Pink for Anna and red for Elsa.

 

We then cut them out and starting to sew them together.  We left the sides which required more detail separate to make it easier to sew.

  

We then cut out 1x1in squares for the details then pinned them on the base squares. Elsa had face, wings, tail and Anna had face and tail.

   

They gradually sewed the pieces on and then finally sewing all the base pieces together we left a little gap so we could stuff them.

 

Then they finished off by sewing up the hole.

 

The girls did these mostly on their own. It took a little while to complete them as there was a lot to sew, but they completed them.

I think they look great. 🙂

Separating Home from School

Something I wanted to do when we decided to home educate was to keep home and school separate.  We would be spending more time here than previously and therefore it needed to be a nice space for both of those things.  We used to have an area where all our school work would be kept, which was away from the rest of the house.  We have a garden office which was being used for our business, but in March the business moved to an office in our local city.  Therefore we now have this amazing space in the garden available to us.  🙂

So the girls and I discussed what we wanted that space to look like.  The girls decided that it needed to:

  • display their work;
  • be bright and colourful (bit difficult because of the black carpet tiles already in there);
  • have one table so they were able to work together.

We were very lucky as at the same time, the gym the girls attend was giving away tables they no longer required.  So I asked for one of those and my husband put some taller legs on it and we had a lovely bright red table to use.  We bought some vinyl flower stickers to decorate it a bit further.

We had the colourful drawers from when we educated inside our home. I always thought if it’s bright and colourful it would be more inspiring and for the most part that is true, so they have a set each.  We also had the wicker storage system which holds all their craft stuff, like paint and paper.  We just moved all those things into the lovely new space.

We found this gorgeous rainbow rug and I thought that would brighten up the black tiles a bit.  The girls absolutely love this. Aside from being lovely and bright, it’s soft too.

 

We had a discussion about where we’d like the ‘work’ to be displayed, they decided to separate it into subjects, which is how we had it in the house as well. So at present we have an art wall and a wall that displays French and Vikings.

Anna sits on the Vikings side of the table therefore, she has things useful to her on the wall. (She is learning to read so blending sounds cards).  Also as time has gone on we have added a helpful hints wall for maths.

Our little school room is coming along nicely.  The girls both like being in there and that is half the battle 😀

 

 

 

 

 

What? You Home Educate?

Whenever anyone finds out we home educate we are normally asked a lot, and I mean a lot, of questions. I can usually guess what these questions will be as most people ask the same ones.

Until recently I think people just assumed my children were too young for school even though Elsa is obviously of an age where she ‘should be at school’.  Now we are being asked questions on a more regular basis.

Here are some of the most common questions we are asked, so maybe if you see someone who is ‘of school age’ you will already know the answers to some of the questions you may have. 🙂

  • We are semi-structured which means that we do some formal work. therefore some of the answers we give will not be relevant to how other people home educate their children.

Don’t your children go to school?

No they don’t go to school, we home educate.  This means we educate them elsewhere than an educational facility. Until recently this question has not been asked too often. However over the two weeks I’ve been asked this three times.

Is home education legal?

Yes it is legal to home educate in the UK.

Do we have to follow the school curriculum?

We look at the curriculum for Maths and English occasionally, but no we do not follow it properly and legally we do not have to follow it either. The UK school curriculum is one reason we took Elsa out of school in the first place. Too much ‘teaching to test’ and not enough personal development of the children.

Are you a teacher?

I am not a teacher. I am a qualified nursery nurse. Therefore anything we learn we learn together. We discuss what topics the girls would like to do. I prepare the work we do, so I know what I’m going to teach. A lot of the time I ask for the girls to research their own work.  We use resources from the library and visit places of interest if they are deemed educational to the topic we are doing at the time.

How do you know what to teach?

Formally we do Maths and English and that’s it. We very loosely follow the school curriculum for those, but I don’t teach them the way they are taught in school as it all seems so convoluted and difficult. I give my girls different methods of learning so they can choose which way works best for them. They are very different children, so different methods work better for each of them. In school they wouldn’t be able to do that. It would be one way only and if they didn’t get it then they would get left behind.

The rest of what I ‘teach’? Well they choose what they are interested in learning. At present we have one topic and one language on the go, they chose one each. I collate a mini curriculum so I can ‘teach’ them the main parts of those subjects. We learn together. That is why I love home education. I’m learning as much as them.

Does anyone check what you are teaching?

Home educated people are not checked by anyone. You can, if you wish, accept a visit from the home education department at the council, who will come and see if you need assistance in any areas and offer advice should you need it. We are happy to have these people visit us and at present they only come to see us about Elsa, but they obviously know about Anna as well. She is still under official school age, so they don’t ask us about anything she’s doing.

Some home educators do not wish to see people from the council and that is their right.  Legally you do not have to, however, we don’t have a problem with them visiting us. They have asked to visit once a year and we can accept or refuse as we wish. However, we can always contact them should we need them.

What about exams?

Just because we home educate does not mean that they can’t sit exams. They can do online IGCSE’s which are the equivalent of ones sat in school.  They can also attend college from age 14 and sit GCSE’s there if they wish.

Will they ever go to school?

I can’t say they won’t ever go to school because it’s their choice. Elsa was in school until the age of 8. Anna has never been. I ask Elsa each January if she’d like to go back the following September. So far she’s always said no (unsurprisingly).

What about college/university?

In the county where we live, the local college has specific places for home educated children which is great. So if my girls would like to go to college they can. They can get the relevant qualifications to go to university from there if they wish. or use the IGCSE’s from above to apply for college or jobs.

What about doing sport?

As a home educator there are so many classes available to us in a number of different subject areas. My girls go to gym and they both love it. Last year I arranged a sports day for our local home ed children. That was a lot of fun. If there isn’t something available during the day (e.g karate or swimming), we can often get groups together and we can contact places and often they will put on classes/lessons especially for us.

How will they socialise?

This is the most common question we get asked. It’s funny because it is the thing I worried about the most before we actually removed Elsa from school.

However, at school the children are mixing with their teacher and their peers. All the same age, all the same people day in and day out. Home educated children meet lots of different children from different backgrounds and different ages. My children attend various clubs during the week to cover the subjects I think are important that I can’t do.  At these they meet and play with other children ranging from new-born – 15. They are also interacting with different adults during the week. I think that my children (particularly my oldest who was shy and quiet) are more confident now.

Do you receive funding?

Oh I wish we did but sadly no we don’t. So the more classes/events/trips you do the more expensive it is. Home education can be as cheap or as expensive as you make it. We do 4 classes a week. Financially that is about £40 a week for each of my girls.  We also do one off educational visits.  As home educators, we can often get discounts or free entry to educational places such as museums or castles if we use them during school hours.

These are the most common questions we are asked, but if you have any that have not been answered here, please leave a comment and I’ll answer them the best I can. 🙂

Learning about Famous Artists – Louise Nevelson

I asked the girls if they would like to do another lesson from the famous artists curriculum.  We haven’t done any for quite a while so the girls were both very keen to do this.  We chose Louise Nevelson this time.  As we always do, we researched our artist a little bit to find out where and when she was born, where she studied and what type of art she was most famous for which is Monochromatic Sculpture. She mainly used wood for her art, but we wouldn’t have had enough so we improvised at bit and over the previous week or two we collected items we could use to replicate her art.

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The girls found some box lids and designed their art pieces in those then stuck them down and left them to dry.

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While it was drying we went to our local DIY shop to buy some acrylic spray paints. Elsa chose pink and Anna chose blue.  We went home and went outside to spray the now dry pieces of art.

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Finished art.

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This has been one of their favourite artworks they have done 🙂

Forest School – A Different Type of School

So while I try to do all the formal stuff like Maths and English, Topic and Language, I have to admit that there are some subjects I’m not that able to teach because a) I don’t have the resources, b) I don’t have the space or c) I don’t have the ability.

We love the outdoors and we live in an amazing place to do walks and such, but I don’t like being outside when it’s cold or raining too much, so when my friend suggested forest school I was curious as to what that was.  She told me it’s held at an eco centre and that the building they use if it’s absolutely dreadful weather was made from hay bales and lime by the home ed community.  She also added that most of the time they are outside whatever the weather learning about their surroundings, making dens, cooking on an outside fire and generally doing all I used to when I was 10.

So one day a week, both girls go for the whole day to a safe place with trusted adults where they do all this fun stuff that we are unable/unwilling to do at home.  They both absolutely love it. They get to play with clay and make stuff with willow, (Elsa made a hoopla game). They make swings and play in mud.  They learn about what plants are safe to eat and drink.  They make dampers (I hear a lot about dampers). It all sounds great fun doesn’t it?  Well here’s some pictures to show you that it’s as fun as it sounds. 🙂

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This kind of place makes me wish I was young again. It looks so much fun 🙂