Our Week

Early last week I worried that we weren’t doing enough. Actually, I panicked and had a full scale wobbly fit. It wasn’t pretty.

So looking back on the first full week of the term, I am so surprised to see how much we are getting done! Phew.

Our unit study is Sir Isaac Newton. We have looked at his life and talked about his law of gravity and three laws of motion. We have had a lot of fun demonstrating his laws with fun experiments! But have also spent time reading and writing about Newton’s life and his work.

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In Maths the girls have been steadily working through their lessons in Conquer Maths. J is aiming for 100% scores – every time!

We have started learning about the Norman Conquest in History. K is looking at the years before the conquest and the reasons behind the invasion. J has looked at the Battle of Hastings and the knights and castles in the period.

In geography, J has been working on map skills and K has started her new text book and has started at the very beginning – with the Big Bang!

We have been studying states of matter in chemistry – J concentrating on water and it’s properties, while K has started investigating other chemicals too.

Both girls are working hard on their keyboard practice and have both started theory work this week too.

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In English the girls have both been completing comprehension exercises and working on grammar and punctuation exercises. They have also both begun completing daily handwriting challenges, although this is not their favourite activity of the day!

We have been looking at Jackson Pollock in art. The girls made some every good observations about his work. K saw different emotions in the different colours and J said it made her feel like she was driving really fast in the car! We had lots of fun experimenting with our own Pollock-inspired masterpieces. It was very messy though!

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So, maybe we have achieved a lot this week, after all!

Timetable

Today was our first day of timetabled lessons this term. Here’s the timetable we are following:

Our week

Our week

Today saw two children having a piano lesson, followed by alternating English (grammar) and Maths (K did long multiplication and division, J measurement). They then both practised some of what they had learned with their piano teacher this morning while I prepared lunch, and this afternoon we did half an hour for each of the three subjects. In Geography, K started her new text book, geog.1, and did some of the accompanying workbook, while J completed some worksheets on compass directions. In science we looked at water droplets and their behaviour together before K worked on a page of Chemistry from her text book and J looked at changing materials in a Schofield and Sims book. We finished off with French, looking together at greetings and then drawing cartoons of conversations.

It all went smoothly! And tomorrow is Friday – our half day!

 

First Day Of School

Where we live, the first day back at school for most children was Wednesday this week. Friends were madly naming uniform, packing lunches, sorting pens and pencils, filling school bags…

We decided to have a special not-back-to-school day! Partly to celebrate the absence of all these things above and partly to reward the girls for their hard work on our recent Ancient Egypt unit. We planned a trip to the British Museum.

J decided she wanted to take her camera and take photos so she can make a scrapbook about her day out. This was great news to me as it meant that she had something besides looking at the exhibits to do and would not get too bored and also that we have a mini-project to work on when we get home.  The results are a rather hilarious collection of selfies all around London!

Photo Journalling?!

Photo Journalling?!

We took our time in the morning. While friends were doing the school run, J looked like this:

Sleepy!

Sleepy!

Then hopped on a train and headed towards London. We shared a set of four seats with an older lady who, rather than being disturbed by us invading her space, seemed very amused by our chatter on the journey. She joined in with a couple of games of hangman and was interested to hear what we have been learning about Egypt.

We took the tube and ended up in Bloomsbury Square, where we ate an early lunch (OK, so I DID make a packed lunch that morning, after all!) before heading in to the British Museum.

On the Underground

On the Underground

Lunch Stop

Lunch Stop

Then we spent HOURS in the Egyptian exhibits in the British Museum. It was fab, and the girls saw so much that they have been learning about. We even took the opportunity to explain the different languages that appear on the Rosetta Stone to another visitor!

Complete Mummy

Complete Mummy

3,000 year old chair. They don't make 'em like they used to.

3,000 year old chair. They don’t make ‘em like they used to.

Papyrus scroll found inside a tomb

Papyrus scroll found inside a tomb

An early mummy. Preserved in the desert sand by 'accident'.

An early mummy. Preserved in the desert sand by ‘accident’.

Taking pictures!

Taking pictures!

The Hieroglyphs and Coptic  writing on the Rosetta Stone

The Hieroglyphs and Coptic writing on the Rosetta Stone

Head of Rameses II, brought to the British Museum by Giovanni Belzoni. The girls knew about this thanks to a BBC documentary we watched.

Head of Rameses II, brought to the British Museum by Giovanni Belzoni. The girls knew about this thanks to a BBC documentary we watched.

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Gift Shop Foolishness!

Gift Shop Foolishness!

IMG_3409I thought they might be a little tired of the British Museum by now, so we stopped for a drink and snack. However, when I suggested moving on somewhere else they both wanted to stay! So we headed into the Greek section and took a look at the Parthenon exhibition.

DSCF1693I took the opportunity to discuss with the girls the ethics of the Elgin Marbles being in the British Museum. K knew a little about it but this was all new to J. We talked about the fact that Lord Elgin rescued the statues and friezes from damage and possible destruction in Greece, but that now the complete set is split up – half in Athens and half in England. There is no doubt that they have been preserved in such good condition thanks to being moved here, but does that mean that they should remain here? Or should they be returned to Greece? An interesting discussion, which led onto talking about the difference between archaeologists and treasure hunters. How much does history belong to its country of origin, or those who discover it?

The plan for the day was to head over to meet Daddy, who works near Old Street, for dinner. We realised that we had an hour and a half to kill before meeting, and he suggested that we should pop into the Museum of London. It is a wonderful place which charts the history of the city from pre-historic times until the present day. There were fossilised mammoth skulls, stone-age flints, mediaeval artefacts, Roman exhibits and Stuart and Tudor displays. We picked up a couple of children’s activity sheets on the way in so spent lots of time learning about Plague, War and Fire so they could complete their worksheets. We had to rush through a couple of the more modern displays about the Victorians and the World Wars to get to the end before closing time, so we will have to return another day! The highlight for K was seeing the Olympic Cauldron from London 2012. We were lucky enough to get tickets to several events at the Olympic Games and so seeing the cauldron, that held the Olympic Flame, up close was a real treat!

Stone-Age flints

Stone-Age flints

Worksheets!

Worksheets!

Roman Londinium

Roman Londinium

The Cauldron

The Cauldron

We were among the last to leave the museum, but J was really happy to hear that it was “Daddy Time!” We went to see his new office and he bought us dinner at a swanky burger place. We got home late, exhausted, sore-footed but happy.

Daddy's New Office

Daddy’s New Office

Dinner!

Dinner!

The journey home. So tired!

The journey home. So tired!

So, how was YOUR first day back at school?!

Curriculum 2014-2015

I have finally got our curriculum lined up for this academic year – just in time as it’s now September! We have also drafted a timetable, which the girls are both keen to start on. We are going to spend time in the mornings on our unit studies. The first one for this year is Sir Isaac Newton – there is plenty of material to really get our teeth into, and loads of experiments to make the learning fun!

Each subject will be completed using a core text and/or workbook. We are broadly following the National Curriculum but we will also be looking at topics that interest the girls in much more depth by including them in our unit studies.

Our curriculum, by subject, is included below. I’m sure I will add to the books over the coming weeks!

Unit Study

Our first Unit Study - Newton

Our first Unit Study – Newton

We will spend several weeks looking at Newton’s life, his work on gravity, laws of motion and light. Here’s hoping for some rainbows soon!

English

English

English

These are our English books. We are spending two sessions each week looking at Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (known in the US as Language Arts) and skills for writing and reading. K (11) particularly loves comprehension work, and we will be using readtheory.org for comprehension work, alongside our literature texts for the year.

We will also be spending a session each week on a literature study. Both girls love reading and I really want to encourage them to look more deeply at their chosen texts, rather than just reading the story. J (7) is starting with The Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl and I have a reading guide to use alongside this. K will start off with Boy by Roald Dahl, then move on to Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian and then after Christmas will attempt Animal Farm. She reads at a high level so it will be interesting to see whether she grasps the satire in George Orwell’s classic.

We will also be looking at a Shakespeare play together. We enjoyed A Midsummer Night’s Dream last year, but I’m still trying to decide between The Tempest and Romeo and Juliet this time. I’ll keep you updated!

Maths

Mathematics

Mathematics

Both girls use Conquer Maths online but like to spend time using workbooks too. J is speeding ahead in Conquer Maths – she is already half way through the year 3 course thanks to her enthusiasm over the summer!

Science

Science

Science

K will be starting Activate 1 for KS3, which covers the three sciences, and also working from a Lonsdale coursebook for variety. I also have a very comprehensive American Middle School Chemistry curriculum  which we will be using to supplement the work, and because their worksheets are rather good! J has a set of Schofield and Sims science books. We are going to try to keep both girls on similar subjects so that they are working on the same thing, albeit at different levels, together.

Geography

Geography

Geography

A friend, who also happens to be Head of Geography in a secondary school, recommended OUP’s geog.1 so K will be working through the text book and workbook. It was more difficult to find a similar book for J’s level but I think that Across the Curriculum Geography might work out well for her.

Art

Art

Art

We will be working together to study famous artists and their work. We will look at one artist and several pieces of work at a time. I am also planning to do a unit on textiles, where we will try different stitches, use the sewing machine and give tie-dye a go!

Nature Study

Nature Study

Nature Study

The girls were keen to include nature in our work. J has shown an enthusiasm for bird watching (which is probably because her favourite uncle likes to do it!) and K is keen to learn more about nature that is around us. As long as it remains warm enough, we will try to spend time outside each week seeing what we can spot and completing journals about it.

French

French

French

We were very lucky to have been given a wonderful pile of resources by a good friend, including several sets of cassette tapes for conversational French. It’s been a really long time since I did GCSE French (although I did get an A!) so I am hoping to learn along with the girls in this subject.

History

No photo for this one I’m afraid – I am still awaiting the delivery of the last couple of books for J. I am keen that they both learn the same period together to make my life a little easier. We are starting with 1066 and working chronologically from there. K is using the OUP KS3 History books. J will be looking at Great Events: The Battle of Hastings by Gillian Clements and In Search of History: 1066-1485 which is an older title but comes highly recommended.

And that’s the way our year looks!

More Summer Activities

We have been very busy recently; keeping up with school work, meeting friends, visiting family, attending Summer School activities! I’ve become a bit of a taxi service for my girls.

At our local Forest Centre, we went pond dipping and identified the creatures we found using their spotting sheets. J and I returned the following week with a friend and took part in a minibeast safari – sweep net insect collecting and tree shaking. Again, we identified what we found and shared it with the others in the group!

Pond Dipping

Pond Dipping

Pond Dipping

Pond Dipping

Tree Painting

Tree Painting

Tree Painting

Tree Painting

Tree Painting

Tree Painting

Minibeast Safari

Minibeast Safari

Minibeast Safari

Minibeast Safari

I have made the decision this year to join English Heritage. We have a beautiful site just down the road from us and they offer so much in the way of activities for the children. We have been three times now and still have not seen everything there. We’ve taken part in Awesome Archaeology, where the girls got to take part in geophysics and metal detecting, a Victorian fun and games day when we used lots of period toys and saw a couple of fantastic demonstrations, and a day on Queen Victoria where the children took part in a play about our longest reigning queen.

Victorian Games

Victorian Games

A talk about the history of jigsaw puzzles

A talk about the history of jigsaw puzzles

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How Electricity Works - electrocuting the children!

How Electricity Works – electrocuting the children!

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The Charge of the Light Brigade

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Last week, K was out at a drama workshop for the week. in just five days the group learned and performed a full length musical play. They worked so hard over the week and the two performances at the end were a joy to watch – so much fun and enthusiasm from the cast and all the helpers.

K as a rat

K as a rat

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The Whole Cast

The Whole Cast

Having a week alone with me meant that J got to dictate some of our activities (OK, most of them!) and we had lots of fun of our own. We went to to our library a couple of times to take part in craft sessions and to complete the reading challenge for the year. J made a wish list of activities, which included the following:

*go for a walk

*go to the playground

*have a drink in a cafe

*help with the gardening

And other wonderful requests that we did, of course, manage to include!

J's list

J’s list

Watch A Film. This is how J watched TV.

Watch A Film. This is how J watched TV.

Paint Mummy's Nails

Paint Mummy’s Nails

Have a milkshake in a cafe.

Have a milkshake in a cafe.

Make cakes

Make cakes

Hanging out!

Hanging out!

Make a smoothie

Make a smoothie

Be a cowgirl

Be a cowgirl

Library crafts

Library crafts

Animal fun

Animal fun

Trivial Pursuit played in pyjamas.

Trivial Pursuit played in pyjamas after bedtime.

How To Save A Life

At the top of a large maple tree in our back garden, a pair of pigeons have built a nest. You would think that this would be wonderful for the children to watch, and indeed they have had a lot of fun seeing the parents collecting sticks and flying in and out of the tree. However, pigeons are apparently not very good nest builders! We had two eggs fall out into our garden and break before they hatched, which was very sad.

Last week we returned home after a morning out and something caught my eye out of the window.

Holly the Pigeon

Holly the Pigeon

Luckily, I noticed the little fella before our cat did!

This baby had fallen out of the nest, probably in the gusty winds we have been having, and was clearly too little to survive alone. We locked our cat indoors and watched the baby bird through the window. It hopped around a bit and eventually hid in a far corner of the garden. Mummy and Daddy bird were nowhere to be seen, even after a couple of hours.

K wanted to keep it, hand rear it and release it once it was old enough. However, the practicalities of hand feeding a bird up to three times an hour with mushed insect soup, while keeping bird and cat separate, were just too complicated. I was resigned to the fact that nature may take its course with the baby but had a quick scout in the internet to see whether there is anyone nearby who will hand-rear abandoned baby birds and, to my astonishment, found a local wildlife rescue that did A phone call later and they agreed to take the little one as long as we delivered it to its new home about 20 miles away.

By now the pigeon was named Holly. After the large and very spiky bush that I had to climb through in order to catch it (I was less keen on the idea of wildlife rescue at this point, I can tell you!). We drove to the address given and handed over the baby. K asked a lot of questions about how they are fed (through a special tube), with what (mushy insecty grainy soup. Yum) and what it’s chances of survival are (pretty good, apparently!).

We also learned that this one rescue centre has received around 25 pigeons in the last week! A combination of bad parenting and nest-building combined with windy weather is disastrous to them.

We did our good deed for the month and saved a life. Very happy children and very relieved pigeon.

 

Schooling during Summer Holidays?

We have been asked a lot by friends and family whether we are schooling through the summer holidays. We have recently returned from a whole year away spent travelling – a whole year of holiday during which we learned loads but didn’t do a whole lot of structured school. When we returned to the UK we decided that we would not take more time out.

However, we have quickly realised that, during the summer break, there are a LOT of activities available to take part in and a lot of friends around to hang out with! So we’ve changed things around a little and, for the remainder of the six week break, we are half-time schooling and half-time having fun!

Here are a few of the summer activities we have been taking part in over the last few weeks.

Out for lunch

Out for lunch

Loom banding with friends

Loom banding with friends

Meeting in the park with friends

Meeting in the park with friends

umm... I enjoyed the park, too!

umm… I enjoyed the park, too!

Miniature garden designing at the library

Miniature garden designing at the library

Sweet making at the library

Sweet making at the library

Sweet making

Sweet making

Smoothies!

Smoothies!

Learning about geophysics at our local English Heritage site

Learning about geophysics at our local English Heritage site

Metal detecting to find Victorian ruins

Metal detecting to find Victorian ruins

Digging!

Digging!

Awesome Archaeology

Awesome Archaeology

Geophysics in the sunshine

Geophysics in the sunshine