Wed Ed Group

WedEd loveliness Halloween/Fairytale style.

WedEd played a blinder this week; this group home ed meeting has settled into something that seems to work really well now and I mostly feel like I pull my weight, which makes me feel better. Bene is (temporarily I suspect) not too high maintenance there, so I can do a couple of activities. Once he gets mobile, he might get left at home with daddy on those days!

We started off with pumpkin carving.


Maddy was thrilled to have her own pumpkin to do and did a wolf howling at the moon scene. She’s been itching to have a go at a scene because Auntie Kate always does such great pumpkins and we are always too boring and just do a face :lol: Perfect Halloween craft I think.

Once they’d done that and enough gossiping had occurred, HH did science as she usually does. This week they used a really good microscope to look at slides they made of onion skins. Last weeks bacteria had also been put on to slides and they had some fabulous nasty bugs to look at, including some that moved! All of them loved it and had fun drawing them and making up their slides.


I alternated with HH by doing poetry. This week I asked them what sort of poetry they liked best and Poppy chipped straight in with “fairytale stuff” so I picked out The Lady of Shallot and read it to them several times while they listened to the language and drew what came to mind. It’s too good a poem to pick to pieces too much but it appealed to them all because of Merlin and they mostly had a good old Anne Shirley romantic moment about it. (Amelie drew an onion in the corner of hers… sigh). We talked about the storyline (hard to grasp initially, it needed the second reading) and the magical sense of it. We discussed the use of sounds and seasons and how the mood of the poem changed as it went along. We talked about the use of movement and how the picture was created by describing the surrounding and then how it altered as the poem progressed.

It’s a great poem, I can see why Anne loved it so :)

I’ll have to find Amelie’s picture and put it here.

Finished up with making Fimo fairy houses. I found a rather fab one on Pinterest the other day and we thought we should have a go. These are built around baby food jars again… aren’t they lovely?

This is Josie’s one, which I was really impressed with.

All of them were great. I need to have a go at them now.

Home time.

It’s been a proper home ed week.

There has been lots going on here this week, even though I had a day out (more to come on that!) and we spent a day interviewing for new staff. As well as the geography day we did there has been lots of crafting of various sorts.

Maddy, Josie and I have put together these crafts for the new site a SimpleCrafts .It’s really inspiring us to have this new site to build together, so even though it means taking some of the content off here, I think it is worthwhile. (You can sign up to receive email updates from it… go on, you know you want to ;) )

There are tutorials or printable patterns for all of those crafts – we’ve moved a step up, I promise :) I’ve also added more Autumn Hama Bead ideas to BeadMerrily.

Friday was a recuperate day; all the girls spent ages looking up facts on their first chosen European country; Amelie is now in love with Russia and Maddy has the bug for the history of Turkey. I can only hope this will be even more inspiring next week as I’m sorely in need of home ed feeling good again. I’ve got a shelf full of books on things we don’t open and we really need to knuckle down and live home ed again a bit.

Last week at WedEd the kids did some fabulous art work and Amelie fancied having another go too.

She is still really enjoying ice skating as you can see!

That WedEd also involved poetry writing with me and looking at bacteria with Helen, among other things.

The previous day (I’ve skipped back a week now, have I already done this?) Fran, Bene, Max and I had various medical appointments to keep in Cambridge so the girls did more art with Zoe.

The upshot of the appointments is that Max is having his eyes laser-ed and Fran needs another palate op. I must have already said that. Sigh.

There has been some modelling by Maddy.



And all in all, when you add project work, music, reading, being out and about and doing all their ordinary work too, it’s been pretty productive :)

WedEd: sewing, electromagnets (possibly) and The Listeners.

Yesterday was a good day. After a slow start my spirits soared as we came within a tiny distance of sponsoring six children in Niger, I was feeling disappointed in what I had achieved but actually, it suddenly struck me that in 3 days bloggers and readers of blogs have pledged £1700. We are going to change the lives of the families in the villages of six children. Six families, six children, six mothers will know we care.

I want to do more. But that is an amazing start.

It’s a humbling thought to also be running a competition alongside this and knowing that if I could just generate that same interest in giving £1 or £20 or £75 as I can in a competition to win something I could do more. But six sponsorships IS a start. We can go on from there. I can keep setting up groups of people to do sponsorships for as long as those people might want to start. And I will.

Then we went out and group efforts took on a different meaning as I met up with friends and drank tea and listened to the sounds of our lovely, happy, lucky children playing and learning around us.

It doesn’t take too much for me to feel lucky these days. I settle for everyone breathing to be honest. Happy, educated, entertained, enjoying, joyful, fed, watered, delighted. These are things to make me feel lucky indeed.

The kids drew plants.

They also sewed critters and projects and chatted like the well rounded and lovely individuals they are as they did so.

We discovered that if you hug R when she wears this top she baaaas and so we made her make ears for it, squeezed her lots and made her a mint sauce necklace.

More hugging.

I read them the most fantastic poem called The Listeners by Walter de la Mare. Never heard it before but it was brilliantly spooky and eerie and completely inspired them. They bounced as they told me their thoughts on it, they had really heard the story clues and the devices in the poem and they had loads of ideas about it too. I think it will have been a poem they remember and love. It reminded me of spectres in HDM and the (I can’t remember the name!) white spooky things in Game of Thrones and Black Riders and the old men in Prince Caspian. Fantastic poem.

They also built magnets with batteries (I didn’t get a picture) and Bene got lots of cuddles and was gorgeous and people bounced on the trampoline and ate lunch in the garden.

Lastly we watched their video animation made over previous sessions. Such lovely friends. I hope they remember these as all their lives. Will try to add some of it shortly.

We came home and Fran had her report with predictions of all A’s B’s and Distinctions (guess home ed didn’t ruin her chances then!) and top marks for effort everywhere. So proud of her.

Celebrated with dinner and the football and put Bene in a bucket. That is what you do with babies… Right?

Daffodils at WedEd

Wednesday this week marked a a big improvement in things generally. Not only was I able to drive myself to WedEd or the first time since having Ben but he was also manageable enough for me to be able to get on with being part of the educational offerings again.So this week I brought “Daffodils” along with me which marked a change in itself since I don’t think I’ve been able to read that poem for the last 19 years, never mind the last 2 years.

We started off by discussing the inspiration for the poem, which comes from a walk Wordsworth took with his sister, who then wrote about the day. We discussed the female influences on his life, the fat that his wife wrote two lines of the poem (rather enlightened really, for a man to accept literary assistance from a wife in those days) and that the death of his brother affected him deeply. We touched briefly on the English Romantic period and how that altered the nature of poetry to be more personal and emotional and to have more basis in nature and mentioned the idea of pastoral poetry rather than story telling poetry.

I’m planning to get them to start doing poetry appreciations soon, so one thing I want to do is create a timeline together of all the poems we’ve read so get a feel for how poetry changes and start to categorise poetry too. We’ll make a start on working at that next time and some of the older ones may start trying to work at poems in a way that will help them if they want to do a GCSE in literature soon. So this session was an exercise in looking critically at a poem while still hopefully enjoying it.

After reading the poem through to them I asked for first impressions. One group noticed the mood of the poet very quickly and that towards the end he was reflecting on something and feeling sad. The other focused more on him being happy at the time of the event. We spent some time getting them to think of odd memories of particular, trivial evnts that have stuck in their minds for some reason and the things that call them to mind; light, temperature, smells or other triggers and explored the fact that this memory is something positive for the author in darker days.

Next we looked at the language of the poem and the words used to describe the daffodils. One group picked up on the idea of precious treasure in the words golden, shines and twinkles, while the other saw a link between daffodils coming and going but being ever present as bulbs under the ground and the stars of the milky way being there but not always visible. We looked at the idea of the shape of the milky way describing the shape of the belt of flowers and found other words describing the nature and scene he portrays.

Next came a look at personification. I read the poem again and got them to listen for words that described the daffodils movement and they found their way to the idea of them as dancers. One child picked up on the poet also referring to himself as a lonely cloud so we talked about the idea in reverse, how a crowd of daffodils are portrayed as happy dancers while he, a human, is reduced to a lonely cloud. We linked this to the end of the poem and looked at how the emotions of the poem change from bleak to joyful and them back to a pensive but peaceful mood at the end. This led naturally into briefly looking at rhyming pattern and how it is similar in pattern to some love poetry and the shortened lines of the last verse adding mood after the flowing lines of the earlier verses.

For a bit of light relief, I took my iPad and showed them some Fimo daffodils and then let them loose to make some. I thought it might fix the poem in their minds :)


I’m never very good at describing the rest of WedEd, though it is always excellent but a lot of it goes over my head. I’m so unscience-y it is untrue :shock: However, Zoe organised them through Sketch Tuesday and Em did more fabulous animation things with them and Helen made batteries using foil, salt water and 2p pieces. They LOVED that.

I’m not sure what the pencil game was, but it kept several of them quiet.

There was some male bonding.

And Ben did this for a lot of the day…

…making up for it when he got home by feeding for 8 solid hours and then sleeping through the night for the first time. (Thereby terrifying the life out of me when I woke at 6.15am and he was still asleep.)

And excellent day. They are always great, my kids love them more than anything else; I must remember to blog them more often!

Ning Nang Nonsense Poetry

I’ve got a huge stack of proper educational posts from about last September that I really want to write. They all seem to be stuck permanently in draft waiting for me to take photos or upload videos or goodness knows what. It’s annoying that the most educational things we’ve done over the last 4 months are all half blogged, because they’ve been great :/

Just before Christmas we did a WedEd day where I read the poem On the Ning Nang Nong to the kids. Over previous weeks we had focused on alliteration, assonance and onomatopoeia as poetic and language devices so once we’d explored the poem and identified some of the language types within it, I got them to create a word bank of their own using them.

For example:-
ping pang pong,
ping ding ring
ring rang wrong
row rot rob
pop pap pip

I briefed them so they knew they’d be using their word banks to write a word poem of their own and then let them loose. The results were fantastic; I did video them, but I’m not sure the sound is good enough to hear properly. here is one anyway and I’ll try to upload the others and see how it goes. I’ll have to see if I can find the papers they wrote on.

Two weeks old & been to WedEd.

So Ben is two weeks old. It seems quite amazing that all that stress and worry turned into a baby and being  at home and everything being really quite normal. I look, it is quite obvious, about ten years younger. I hadn’t realised quite what the time had done to me. I don’t know when it started? Did I look sad and drawn since Freddie or since before that? Either way, it seems to have melted away.

He’s settled with his feeding, though he does have a cold, which has set us back a bit. 5 sneezes in a row is a lot for a baby. I think he might be gaining weight now, since we’ve just realised he can’t straighten his legs in the tiny baby size babygro and he’s back in the newborn size one he wore his first night in hospital. His cord came off a couple of nights ago and we get lots of awake time now, with big thoughtful looks like this.

The girls have all been thrilled to learn to change his nappy; he sprinkled Josie twice in the process, to her horror. I think they mostly like doing this to marvel at the relative size of his boy bits compared to his body though. Willies are interesting, but squishy testicles are a source of endless fascination :roll:

I still just like gazing at him, especially when he folds up all sleepily like this.

But the crowning achievement of the week has been losing the yellow and dumping the syringes; as of yesterday he wakes up and feeds and asks and is flesh coloured.

It’s funny the things that catch me out though. It’s not the obvious things, like people in the house who almost never mention Freddie accidentally using the wrong name. It’s the curved balls that get me. Ben is growing eyelashes now, which he didn’t have at birth. They are blonde. I didn’t know if Freddie had eyelashes. I had to check a photo. And he did, long, dark ones. Ben is blonde, getting fairer by the day. And his lashes are blonde. And his mouth, much as I want it to, looks more like mine than Max and Amelie and Freddie’s. He isn’t him, nor really going to look as he would have looked. There are just shades of Freddie, little expressions and flickers. But not him.

We went out on Wednesday and went to WedEd. The girls made paper mache hearts and fimo charms stamped with letters and did gravity and forces by driving toy cars down slopes into pieces of banana and seeing what damage was caused and working out… Errr….. Something. They know, I don’t. Maddy says it is the best science ever.

They also did amazingly good animations using black card on white paper. Amelie has done two more since we came home. These are Maddys pieces.

It was lovely to be out, doing normal things for a day and be with friends. I loved showing Ben off and I loved the girls being relaxed and happy and back to ordinary life. And he and I went out for a baby wearing walk together :)

I love this photo. I love it for the life in his eyes and the fact we’ve nearly got this feeding thing cracked. And his beautiful gorgeous healthy looking self.  But this one is my very favourite.

This was why I knew, all that time ago, that we needed to bring home one more baby. Because I just love watching this man be a daddy. And we make good parents. Not perfect, but really, really good.

Bells, Bangs, Skulls & Potions.

Regrouped for our WedEd? ;) meet this week, which was lovely in itself but made even better for me by Fran being on half term and so along with us. I do miss having her about, even if I am pleased she is doing well at school.

The kids started off with a Day of the Dead art thing just to warm up (not sure where Zoe got it, but this also looks good) while a collection of slightly discombobulated adults got sorted out and drank some tea. (Photos to follow but you can see one of the table here). During this HH did a round of conversational French with them which they nearly all joined in with. Loved that.

Once they’d done that, I took a mixed age group off of kids to do poetry; I hit (slightly haphazardly) on the witches speech from Macbeth which I read to them a couple of times first. I tend to prime them now to listen to the cadence, the words, the feel and the rhymes and then try to form a picture in their heads of what is happening and what emotion it is supposed to provoke. I didn’t tell them anything else about it, so they’d have no preconceived ideas.

They did very well with all of those things and then someone said they were sure it reminded them of something… what was it… what WAS it? I KNOW… that episode of Doctor Who with Shakespeare and the witches! I’m not sure if that is a greater testament to Shakespeare or Doctor Who but I thought it was quite a result :lol: That led on to a discussion of the Scottish play, a brief plot outline of Macbeth and so on and then we went back to the poem.

Having no other ideas, I went for the rather adventurous “now write your own” approach – and all the kids did a BRILLIANT job. Below are two photos, of Maddy’s and one I led Josie and BB through but all the kids did really excellent ones, following the basic brief of a witches spell, shopping list or recipe. We also spent some time looking at onomatopoeia and thinking of words which sound like the thing they describe, prompting Maddy to say “I just don’t know how you keep all this stuff in your head!!!!”

I just love doing the poetry with the kids we have; I finally feel like I have found my niche and have something to offer that widens their experience and I can do well.

(No one brought the art in from the car, so I have photos still to take!)

Meanwhile HH revisited the firework/gunpowder experiment of a previous session – I avoided this but apparently this time it worked brilliantly and had lots of bangs and flashes and fizzes.

The kids went of a nature walk and collected ‘stuff’ and made a gorgeous outdoor nature art collage collaboratively.

There was still loads of time for a leisurely lunch and lots of play and bouncing. It worked really well.

Last of all, Em gave them a bells lesson, after first letting them work together (really well) at sorting the bells, making scales etc. It was lovely to watch and hear.

This short video clip does, I hope, help to bust that “how do home ed kids ever learn to do things in groups?” myth.

The answer? Because a group is not often too hard to find and because their parents are generally not idiots and make sure they do! And because, most of all, home ed kids are lively, interested and enquiring and love opportunities to learn new things.

I think all the kids agreed it was an excellent day which ticked all the boxes; Fran said, very wistfully, “I really miss days like that. It feels more real.”

Not art or latin but something between

Our ArtEtc and LatinEtc days have been suffering a temporary hiatus from lack of people and other commitments recently, so yesterday Zoe and I decided we’d carry on regardless and hope other people rejoin as and when they are able to.

We started with some GCSE Biology with all three of the biggest girls, Fran, Skye and C. We’ve made it to the Digestion chapter, having made it through the cells and enzymes sections with a reasonable amount of success and understanding. While I couldn’t do other sciences, I can do this one and they seem to be learning things, or perhaps putting things the do already know into slightly more grown up contexts. Yesterday was mostly about where and how different food elements are processed and what enzymes work on what food groups. I think Fran and Skye are enjoying working as the ones who are the most able and stretching themselves a bit. They think very hard; C was new to the group, so was a bit at sea I think!

Zoe did some couplet poetry with them next; this is an introduction to more formal poetry I guess, something Zoe took from a previous school idea of her girls. They all had a go (very successfully) at writing two lines of poems. I might follow this up with a sonnet or something. I’ll photograph my big girl ones but Josie and I invented this:-

“Monkey and Rattle are my favourite toys,

I think perhaps they both are boys.”

Then she wrote it out and illustrated it.

I had to pop out for an appointment (which was infinitely more cheerful than expected, all is well after all the expected doom!) and when I came back they were all busy doing water colour and pastel bug pictures.

Pastel Bugs

They might have got away with some playing at that point but after the second of my children turned into a pathetic whiny mess over not getting their way in a game (I lack patience with ‘do it my way or I won’t play’ and Amelie was being an a*se), so we got them back to do their final bit of work for the day which was to read and study The Highwayman poem but I enjoyed doing it so much I’m going to give it a post of it’s own.

For the usual bunch, we plan to meet next Wednesday too; I’m doing ‘Invictus’ and anyone who has time to turn up will be welcome.

Poetry Study: Night Mail by W. H. Auden

Last Wednesday was one of our new Co-op-Ed days (which I will blog!) but I did another poem with the each of the older/younger groups. I’m loving doing this, I think it is the first time I have felt properly useful in the group in the whole time we’ve been going and it has made a real difference to my state of mind too. Luckily the kids seem to like it so far; I really hope they continue to do so.

This week the older kids and I did Night Mail, by Auden. I have only very faint recollections of this, I must have had it read to me, but not at school I think. We started off by me reading it to them, which is a trick in itself; I try to prime them by giving them some ideas of things to be looking out for and noticing in the poem so on this occasion I suggested they thought about the picture in their head, the various scenes, the historical time period and any clues they got as to what type of train, where it was going, what sense of emotion there was in the poem.

Once we’d read it, they all had masses to say about it, not least on the different types of mail, when they thought it might have been set, the way the pace of the poem changes to suit the scene and the speed of the train. They really liked imagining the people and were very sensible and thoughtful about the differences between countryside and industrial parts being portrayed. We talked lots about some of the words in the poem and how they were used to create a mood and a feel.

Then we discussed how things have changed and why the postal trains might be less important now; they had lots to say about lorries and email and my children particularly knew that Royal Mail carry more parcels than letters now! :lol:  We discussed the history of stage coaches (Amelie knew about this from a trip recently) and the importance of ‘the post’ and the significance of the network that built up. We also talked about how the speed of news had changed.

This led on nicely to a poem included in the comments to the link above, which is a poem called “Junk Mail” which mimics the poem and derides the waste of modern post. They loved that, it was a real find.

After that I explained about the film “Night Mail” and we watched a snippet of it.

I was slightly surprised they were as quiet and interested as they were; I think they’d have watched it all but we ran out of time, so skipped to the end where the poem is read.

My reading wasn’t bad, but I didn’t read it like this and they couldn’t believe the speed of it! One thing that made me smile was how engrossed and happy to indulge in a slow paced info type film they were (LOVE home ed kids!) and how much they all chipped in about how films like that used to be part of life.

I’ve set them some follow on activities:-
*Learn a favourite chunk of the poem to recite next week. Do at least 4 lines but as much as you wish.
Then one or more of:-
*Write 4 lines of poem that would fit the beat and subject matter.
*Do a piece of art that the poem inspired.
*Make a lapbook, poster or display of something to do with the poems subject matter.

French/Science/Latin/Poetry/English Day

We might need to come up with a catchier title for this. This is now a very long time ago in my head, so I’ll keep it properly brief. We reformed for an ad hoc day of trying out some new things and a different way of getting the kids together to enjoy some education and company.

First up (mainly as I was late :blush: ) was science from HH which was chromatography. The first version, from the book, didn’t work too well, so my late book signers got to do the working version from HH’s head :D Michelle had worksheet word puzzles and spelling tests, which rather amazingly, they all liked :lol: Chloe was persuaded to run a shop in French and everyone had to take turns in buying things from them. I think a bit of Skoldo got done too. HH did Latin Secundus with them; I’ve not really heard much of the Latin up to now, so was really impressed by how much had evidently been learned at Latinetc. I love the idea that they all think of Latin as something to be yelled out and laughed about, in a very living way, not tests and translations and exams. But then, I really don’t care much about those things or value them, so I like to see them living the moment and dipping into so many other things.

I did the poetry; with the younger ones (and French R) I did The Owl and the Pussy Cat. We read it a few times, hunted for nonsense, talked about the rhythm and the type of poem and I got them to describe what they would draw if they had to. R did particularly well… although she did them point out a drawing of it on the front cover ;) :lol: With the older ones we did The Road Less Travelled and they has some brilliant thoughts about it. I got them to listen twice, trying to imagine the physical side of the poem first and then listen again to decipher what the poet was saying. We discussed the language, the mood of the poem and the impression it left, the beat and the use of language. We talked about the difference in what was being said and what was meant.

I asked each of the children to come up with, if they could, a time when they made a choice or had an experience which would permanently change them; they are a diverse bunch, with 6 month exchanges, joining and leaving school, going on holidays alone, losing brothers, leaving important groups and talk about why the change altered them in a way that meant even when the moment reverted to the original status quo, they could never be the same. I was really impressed by how eloquently they spoke, the depth of understanding they had of the poem and their interest levels. It’s a poem often used to describe HE and we discussed why that was a bit.

After that Zoe got them doing some sewing and I brought out the Fimo bit box and they crafted, played and bounced. I have no photos of the day at all, so will leave you with the dragons made after the previous week!