Home education

Oops: March!

We continued this month with a letter (sound) a week as the overarching theme for most of the activities I planned. This month we covered G, H and I and had a lovely and much needed week off at Centre Parcs with family.

Looking back over the month a lot of our outdoor time was spent in mud or rain! We spent a great day with a new Home Ed family at our local nature reserve, splashing, jumping and even rolling in muddy puddles (boys not me)! All in one waterproofs came into their own that day! We spent more time out in our garden this month, watching the garden changing, planting some bulbs which the boys then took care of and generally enjoying the ease that slightly better weather has brought to getting outdoors. The mud kitchen has also started to be used again with the boys creating their own mud restaurant and making and serving me mud food! Yum!

We continued this sensory, all body, experience of the elements one particularly rainy day when Reuben ventured out onto our patio in just his underwear to enjoy the downpour, splash in the puddles and generally get very wet!! The other two boys enjoyed watching the experience through our patio doors in the comfort and dry of our kitchen!

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We also had a great day when our Home Ed group got together again. One family couldn’t make it which meant I had to improvise and come up with an activity for the older group. We went on a very windy walk down to the canal and the three older ones came up with their own windy day poem. I wrote it down for them and then they presented it to everyone else when we got back home. They had such fun bouncing ideas off each other and playing around with words and similes/metaphors (even if they didn’t know that’s what they were doing!)

Continuing with a sound a week 

Our first sound for March was G, so we began by looking at Van Gogh (I know not exactly G but I decided to do him anyway!) I came across this great idea to recreate his Starry Night picture by playing around with paint on a tray covered in tin foil and then press paper over the top of this, and repeat this process a few times to create layers of different colours. The boys had great fun moving the paint around on the trays with their hands in a swirly motion! It was lovely to see them trying something different and really enjoying the process.

For H week we investigated Hockney and had a go at creating our own photo collage. I had asked my parents to take a whole bunch of different photos of the outside of their house from different angles and positions. The boys then cut these all up and we spent time sticking them together a bit like a jigsaw to make a large collage of the front of their house. It was great fun and so different from anything else we have done. I love that exploring artists in this way has led us to see that there are so many ways to be creative and produce art and it has been really fun to see the boys trying different things that we wouldn’t have done otherwise.

I decided to introduce “5 funky facts” when we did Robert Indiana for I week. The boys love the CBeebies programme Go Jetters and the Unicorn who gives 5 funky facts about a place, so I decided to borrow this idea to help focus what I share with them about the artist. It really seemed to help them remember some key information so I will continue with this for our artists in the future.

Once again studying Robert Indiana led us to a very different style of art than previous artists and Ezra in particular enjoyed creating his own version of Indiana’s LOVE piece. He spent ages colouring the letters in and then carefully cutting them out. Some fine motor practice going on not just artistic skills and we had some interesting discussions about POP art.

I have tried to find some fun ways to introduce the letters of the week and I borrowed some lovely ideas from different people’s blogs. So we have tried a rainbow writing tray (sheet of paper coloured in rainbow colours on a tray and then covered in salt) and alphabet soup (a bowl of water and food colouring plus a bucket of magnetic letters thrown in!!) I found both of these ideas from the wonderful Imagination Tree blog (https://theimaginationtree.com) 

We have also continued to look at an animal each week and try and cook or bake something that begins with that letter. I decided to introduce the boys to afternoon tea and laid the table for them to have tea with me one afternoon when we were looking at the letter I. We talked about where tea came from, looked at India on the map and chose bees as our insect to explore. We’d found a great book in the library all about bees so we read some of the information from that and played the game in it with lots of bee facts to learn along the way!

Scaffolding learning 

I have been thinking a bit about the maths activities I am doing with the boys at the moment and following conversations with friends and family who are teachers, I have decided to focus a lot of what I do, at the moment, on numbers. In my head I know that I want to bring in other areas such as money, time, shape etc and so I try and talk about and introduce these ideas whenever I can in our day to day life. However, my focused maths times with the boys (which are short and only happen three mornings a week) are about consolidating what they already know about numbers, particularly numbers 1-10. I have been looking in to Singapore Maths and the Maths No Problem curriculum. This isn’t something I am using yet but having investigated it a bit I may well try it out next year.

I have been reflecting on some of the theories and ideas I studied years ago on my Early Childhood degree course and more recently during my Play Therapy training. Some of these ideas came up when I was looking into this Maths curriculum and chatting to people; ideas about consolidating and deepening a child’s knowledge in an area before building on and extending it. This has helped me to worry less about covering lots of different areas and focus more on finding fun ways to explore key things, like numbers, in a deeper way. This will definitely be an ongoing process of learning for me!

I have also been reminded a lot this month that I have THREE boys who are exploring, learning and investigating the world around them and not just TWO! It is easy to forget that although our youngest is only 1 he is learning and exploring the world around him all the time. He has become much more interested in what I am doing with the older two and I have had to think on my feet a bit more this month about activities that he will enjoy, that will allow him to practice skills he is already developing and that will stretch him (all that thinking has happened in several seconds whilst the older two are busy painting and he is trying to join in!!) He has started to have a go with a paintbrush and some finger painting. I noticed he enjoyed playing with empty spice pots and so I have given him one of these and a bowl of pom poms, he has found it great fun filling the pot with these, taking them out, filling it up again, putting the lid on and off. When he seemed to lose interest in this I gave him a jam jar and let him fill it with the blocks from our Grimms pyramid, which he loved. Another hit was pulling pipe cleaners out of the holes on a colander!

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This month we also…..

Dressed up for World Book day- I decided to let the boys dress up to go to the library in town on World Book Day. I was fascinated by both the boys choices as neither of them picked what I thought they would. Reuben wanted to dress up like a snowman like the children in Secret Seven had and Ezra wanted to be Baghera from the Jungle book! I love that they have found so much pleasure out of reading these stories and it was great fun turning them in to these characters for the day, well the morning at least, they wore the outfits on the train and then decided they’d had enough of being dressed up so everything came off! It was fun whilst it lasted and it led to a few interesting chats with people on the way who wanted to know who they were dressed up as!

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Went to Centre Parcs- We love this place and we totally took advantage of the massive discount you get if you go with family during term time! The children had a wonderful time swimming every day, cycling everywhere, playing games and drawing lots of maps of the place!

Finding time when I can write has been tricky this month hence why I am only just writing up March now (ok so this was a while back and I hadn’t realised it hadn’t published to my blog, oops!) But I still find it so helpful to spend the time writing what we have got up to as it enables me to see the bigger picture and see that there has been so much learning going on even when I haven’t realised.

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