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

More Egyptian Fun

We have been terribly busy with Egyptian things over the last few weeks. Here are just a few of the things we have been up to.

We made our own papyrus and drew Egyptian Art

We made our own papyrus and drew Egyptian Art

Made notebook pages about different Pharaohs

Made notebook pages about different Pharaohs

We watched a documentary about Howard Carter and the discovery of Tutenkamuhn's tomb

We watched a documentary about Howard Carter and the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb

... and made notes while watching!

… and made notes while watching!

Made a cat-mummy sarcophagus

Made a cat-mummy sarcophagus

We mummified a (toy!) cat

We mummified a (toy!) cat

We have used different preservatives to see which will work best to preserve apple slices

We have used different preservatives to see which will work best to preserve apple slices

The girls spent hours excavating Egyptian artefacts and playing an Egyptian game.

The girls spent hours excavating Egyptian artefacts and playing an Egyptian game.

We are really enjoying our unit on Ancient Egypt!

Advice from a Home Ed Guru

I have a truly wonderful friend who, as well as being a fabulous person, is also my Home Education guru. She has taught all four of her kiddies at home since forever, and her oldest is now 12. All the children are delightful to be around, intelligent, polite, outgoing and wonderfully happy all the time.

Usually, when she gives me a Home Ed suggestion, I take it and run with it, knowing that it will probably be absolutely the right thing to do.

Last week K and I spent the morning assembling a flat-packed desk and then had to run out of the door to make it on time to an event in the library. While there I mentioned to the Guru that we still had to clear up the packaging. Her response was, “You’e a Home Educator now. Embrace the packaging! Let the kids play with it and see what they come up with. What an awesome opportunity for their creativity!” So, I duly let them play.

This is what happened.

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It was a creative mess!

 

Enjoying the Sunshine

We have embraced the wonderful British summer weather we have had over the last few weeks, with lots of outdoor fun!

 

Podding fresh peas

Podding fresh peas

Meeting friends in the pub garden!

Meeting friends in the pub garden!

A friend's fourtieth Birthday

A friend’s fourtieth Birthday

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Monkey Climbing

Monkey Climbing

 

Reading. Everywhere - even in the supermarket.

Reading. Everywhere – even in the supermarket.

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And a day spent with some good friends at a country park. Den building, sliding, climbing and swinging. This is what summers are for!