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.


Our Wildlife Garden – a work in progress

I thought it would be nice to encourage the children to create a wildlife garden so we could watch what bugs, animals and birds use it over the various seasons.  We picked a corner of the garden which would be suitable and got to work (and hard work it was)

Firstly, we cleared the area of nettles, big weeds, bricks and rubbish.  Then dug a hole to fit our pond (which is half of an old sandpit).


While we were digging we found this little fellow 🙂 Wildlife count 1.

We then put in some pond liner and filled it with water.  We also had a little visitor. (wildlife count 2) 🙂

We then cut off the excess pond liner and placed some shingle around it.  Then we placed some big stones around the edge to give it a bit of a border and a huge stone in the actual pond.


We then made a little ladder for the frogs to get out (as seen in a library book).

We made a bug hotel out of old logs.

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We made a bee hotel out of bamboo and a little watering can plant pot we bought.

Finally we added a little fence around it and added some pond plants, a gnome, a flower windmill and toadstool.

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Next spring we will dig out the grass and add wildflowers.  We will also add a bird box and bird feeders.


Liquids, Solids and Gases

When we decided to home educate, I asked Elsa what she’d like to learn about and one thing she mentioned was liquids, solids and gases.

We did some worksheets from a book bought from The Works.  These books are good, but we don’t use them that often really.

She asked to do some experiments (eek)… so I hoped these would do.

Firstly, she’d seen a glass/arrow trick online and wanted to try that.  She kept on about it, so we discussed ‘how can we fit this into our liquids, solids and gases topic”?

So, how did we? I hear you ask.

We used a variety of different glasses/bottles (solid) and part filled them with water (liquid) and the rest of the bottle was still filled with air (gas) 🙂 don’t you just love an 8 year olds logic. 🙂

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We did this experiment to prove refraction.  We tried 4 different types of vessels to see if they were all the same or whether the size made any difference.  As it happens it does, the bigger the glass the further away it needs to be from the arrows for one of them to change. 🙂

The second experiment we did was ‘Can we change a solid into a liquid?’

This involved hot water and cold water and different solids. We tested each solid in both the hot and cold water to see if they would dissolve, whether they dissolved quicker or slower in hot or cold water and whether it turned back into a solid once we were done.

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Elsa enjoyed doing these experiments, although I’m not sure how suitable they are for the subject of liquids, solids and gases. 🙂

Infinity Tiles

On a HE website group I saw a link to this maths game from Babble Dabble Do.  No matter how you rotate each square they always fit together. How clever!  I thought Elsa and Anna would like to have a go at making one, I downloaded the template and let them colour them in following the pattern guide.

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OK, well Anna needed help as she doesn’t really enjoy colouring in (what a nuisance that is).

The girls then laminated them and cut them into the squares. They have had fun making them in a variety of ways.  Elsa has actually coloured another one to add an extra 9 squares to her game.

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