Recently we have been learning about mushrooms and have gone on a couple of walks to find some.
Did you know that mushrooms don’t have seeds? They drop spores so we picked a few and made spore prints with them by putting the mushrooms on white paper. Some mushrooms drop brown ones, some drop white ones and some drop cream ones. It was quite an interesting experiment.
We learnt about the parts of a mushroom, the life cycle of mushrooms and where they grow (mushrooms grow in shaded damp areas, some grow in mossy areas, some grow on dead trees branches and some grown up live tree trunks).
On one of the walks we saw lots of different edible mushrooms from blewits, which are pretty as they are purple/pink underneath, jelly ears, which are very weird as they look like ears stuck to branches and some type of bracket mushroom which grow off the side of dead or living tree trunks.
On another of our walks we saw red mushrooms (Fly Agaric), which was the first time we’d ever seen them and it was very cool. We didn’t pick them though as they are known to be poisonous.
We are not brave enough to eat any though as you have to be 100% sure if they are edible or not. We will keep looking and learning and maybe one day we’ll be able to eat what we find.
We went on holiday and I did a rock climbing activity. I managed to get to the top on most of them. There was also a timed wall and on my first try I got exactly the same time as the person who was quickest at 37.00 seconds. I tried again and got quicker knocking nearly 17 seconds off my time to get 20.24.
This week, we are home, so we decided to go to a local rock climbing centre. There are a lot of climbing walls there and Anna went on them as well. She completed the big cheese one. I managed to get to the top of all of the ones I tried. There is also a timing wall there which I tried and got time of 15.24 seconds.
We went to Pizza Express to make pizzas. First, we had to push the dough to the edge of the pan to give it a crust. Next, we put one scoop of the tomato sauce on our pizza base, which we had to shake to spread around. Finally, we decorated the pizzas. I decorated my pizza with olives, ham, onion and cheese. Anna decorated her pizza with pepperoni, onion, ham and cheese. Luke told us to put between 30 and 40 bits of mozzarella on the pizza. Anna put on exactly 30 pieces. The pizzas were put into a massive oven to cook for 4 minutes. While they where cooking we tried some different toppings. There was artichoke, capers, 3 different types of chilli and raisins. Anna tried all of them, I tried some of them. We got handed a certificate for making pizzas. Next we went to the park and we ate our pizzas there.
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. 🙂
This kind of place makes me wish I was young again. It looks so much fun 🙂
We went to Letheringsett Watermill to have a look at how flour is made. We saw the different cogs which move the stones and through the glass we could see the watermill moving too.
There were some scales which are used to weigh the bags of flour. The lady showed us the flour they were making and the shoot it comes down to go into the bags. The day we went they were making whole wheat flour which felt courser than white flour as it used all of the grain.
The stones are used to crush the grains and they have a different gap depending on the different flours they make. They are closer together to make finer flours. The lady then showed us some stones which had been used before. They were very ground down.
The flour they make in this mill is sold in the mill shop and also in local shops around the county.
We live on a farming estate and therefore there are lots of lovely resources we can look at, find or use. This time of year is good for wild fruits such as blackberries and elderberries. We thought we’d make some jam. I had never made any so it was experience for all of us.
First we picked some blackberries. Anna proceeded to eat them as she picked but we still managed to collect plenty. We soaked them overnight in water and ice and a bit of salt to kill off any bugs.
Today we rinsed and put them in the blender and then added jam sugar. Next we put it on the hob to melt the sugar. When the sugar had melted we added some butter and let that melt.
When the butter had melted, we brought it to boiling and let it boil for 4 minutes.
We put it in some jars to cool down.
Then we had some on tiger loaf for lunch.
The verdict was, it was easy to make and delicious to eat.
I think I say this a lot but the beauty of home education is the freedom it gives us to try different things. One thing that came up was a day out at How Hill in Norfolk. What a fun place.
The children were able to try things they would never normally get to do such as thatching.
We smashed the reed on the floor to make the bottom angled so it would look nicer and so it would line up with the roof. Then we put it on the roof with some special nail hooks called bottom layer hooks and hammered them down. On the second layer we needed different hooks called top layer hooks. After we had done three layers we had to stand underneath our roof while he threw a tub of cold water to see if it leaked but it DIDN’T luckily.
Dry and Wet Woods
We went on a nature walk into the dry woods to do some tree spotting and log turning to spot bugs. Anna found lots of little bugs. Elsa played a game where her eyes were closed and she was led to a tree to touch it, then led back to the middle, then she had to open her eyes and try and find her tree again.
We walked through some pretty gardens to the wet wood where the bogs, and the reed beds are. There and lots of bugs on the river. This was such a lovely walk.
They wanted to show us how deep some of the bogs are in the wet wood, so Emma showed us a stick in the ground which was the tallest stick they could find and she pulled it out of the bog and it kept on going up to about 2m high.
We all then went into a bird hide to spot birds on the broad. Anna didn’t see any, but Elsa saw a moorhen. So not too many birds about that day.
Finally we did some pond dipping and Elsa found a massive snail and some water boatman along with lots of other bugs and larvae.
Whenever I have uncooperative children, my go to thing to do is a nature walk. This weeks nature walk was about honey bees while they were busy collecting nectar. It was a gorgeous day so I ran this topic by the girls. Elsa didn’t really want to come but reluctantly agreed, and while Anna skipped off down the road spotting flowers, butterflies and bees Elsa dragged her heels a bit. We talked about whether she knew the differences between a bumble bee and a honey bee, she did and I could see her becoming more interested in what we were discussing. It didn’t take her long to spot a honey bee and we were able to look closely at what she was doing.
They really are fascinating, they flit from one flower to another so quickly (so getting a photograph was near on impossible). As we continued we saw lots of them all busily doing their job. When we got home we watched a video about how honey is collected by the beekeeper, then the girls wrote in their nature books.
We made honey cookies (recipe 40 here), which tasted lovely, but we did have to add twice as much flour as we wouldn’t have been able to roll out the dough otherwise). The girls loved doing this 🙂
The next day I asked Elsa if she’d like to do a comic strip about how the honey bee makes honey. She said yes she’d love to as she’d really enjoyed this mini topic. So she searched for information on the honey bee and then got to it. The final result is really great.
Lesson two of the famous artists curriculum. I love the fact we can just pick these up as we feel like it.
We went for a nature walk (included as a different post) and as we got to the lake at the end of the lane, what should we see but lily pads all over it. After a quick discussion with the lady at the house she said we were allowed to sit on her boardwalk. We went back the next day with pens, pencils and crayons and drew them.
When we got back we had a look in our art book and the next artist was Claude Monet. I couldn’t believe it. Anyway we decided to try and recreate his lily pad watercolour paintings which he did in his back garden at Giverny.
We also had a chat about Monet, where he lived and what the term impressionism meant. Elsa had to also do a little written biography on him where she found out that the impressionism term came from one of his paintings, Impression Sunrise.
Elsa and Anna both enjoyed doing watercolours (neither of them used enough water though 🙂 ) and the results were really nice.
Another thing we are doing is learning about nature. We are lucky to live on a beautiful farming estate so we have lovely walks available to us when we want to go on one. Normally though, someone always gets stung while we are closely looking at something.
This walk consisted of looking at the different types of grasses that are out this time of year. Sadly, it has been very cold and we think that the normal spring grasses are going to be a few weeks late this year.
On our walk, we came to the end of our lane and found a lovely lake which was covered in lily pads. We have done a Monet inspired painting from this.
On the way home we came across this skeleton which we think was missing a few limbs and possibly the top of it’s jaw, so Elsa thought it was a possibly a fox or deer and Anna thought it was a kangaroo or a bear, which Elsa thought was funny but I thought made sense really, as it was missing two legs. After a bit of research at home we found out that it is a muntjac deer.
We had collected lots of moss and stones and pine cones this time so we made a little fairy garden which looked really cute. The girls picked lots of flowers from our garden to pretty it up a lot.