Journey into Unschooling

Ups and Downs

June 27th, 2015 by becki

The past couple of weeks have been full of highs and lows. Nanny was admitted to hospital, and remains there nearly two weeks later, which was an obvious low point. The stress, worry and difficult decisions to be made, and the sheer exhaustion of daily hospital visits on top of the children’s busy lives. The children have been absolute stars though, coming with me on a rotational basis, one child each day. Alfie has been the delight of the ward, spending anything up to half an hour in a big embrace with Nanny, and taking the attentions of the other patients on the bay very well! Holly has made cushions for both Nanny and Grandad, with their initials sewn on. Even Amber has been a happy ray of sunshine on the elderly care ward :-)

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We have tried to keep things as normal as possible for the children, amidst all the phone calls and visits. Lovely friends have been our saving grace, and we have managed to have lots of fun. We have kept up our usual weekly ice skating with friends, and gymnastics classes. We spent a lovely day at Avoncroft Museum of Buildings. The lady in the medieval house was amazed at the knowledge the children brought with them from previous visits to places like Moseley Old Hall and the Ancient High House, and they enjoyed learning more from her. They had a lot of fun re-enacting air raids (with more serious discussions on the realities of war too), and being shown how the windmill worked. The highlight was, of course, the working telephone boxes through the ages, where they could really call each other. The slooow dials amazed them (and me – how did we cope??)

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We had a lovely time with lots of friends at Tettenhall Pool.

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Fun with the Friday Club gang at the Arboretum splash pad and playground, followed by a visit to Grandad.

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An all you can eat buffet breakfast, shopping and gardening. Making Father’s Day cards for Daddy.

A barbecue to celebrate the summer solstice. Painting a canvas of Jasmine using acrylic paints. Vegan chocolate brownies. Exploring nature’s pallette and entering a competition. Woodland spotting jigsaws. Father’s Day breakfast for Daddy :-)

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Visiting the Herbert Art Gallery to explore the Children’s TV over the last 50 years exhibition. Making films, exploring rocks, minerals and shells. Trying on chain mail and helmets, sniffing medieval toilets, exploring the impact of WW2.  Sliding down bannisters in the gallery square. Being inspired by multi-storey car park spiral ramps to discuss castle spiral staircases and design Minecraft spiral staircase filled towers.

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Swimming with friends, swimming further and further underwater.

A lovely, sunny day out with friends at Drayton Manor Theme Park and Zoo.

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Fun with more friends at Monster Mayhem soft play.

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Library for new books, yet another sunny barbecue :-)

We will stay positive through it all, because we have each other :-)

 

June Fun

June 14th, 2015 by becki

So far, June has been a lovely month, full of fun and adventure.

A trip to Ikea for breakfast and a visit to Nanny and Grandad.

Swimming with friends, followed by gymnastics class. Both girls have started gymnastics, as well as Alfie, so it is truly a family affair :-)

An amazing day in the sunshine at Gulliver’s Kingdom in Matlock Bath with friends. This has been my favourite theme park out of all the ones that we have visited. Fantastic rides, really friendly staff and great facilities. Plus, as it is aimed at children, no gangs of men and youths!

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A fantastic trip to Wolseley Centre, completing a picture scavenger hunt challenge, climbing trees and paddling in the river :-)

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Friday Club fun in the Arboretum water jets with lots of lovely friends.

Cooking cakes and soup.

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A visit from Nanny and Grandad, plus lots of gardening and playing in the sunshine.

A lovely home ed meet up at Lower Drayton Farm. Making lovely new friends, scavenger hunts, matchbox challenge, nature walk and trampolining fun :-)

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Ice skating with friends, Pizza Hut lunch, gymnastics and jigsaw fun ;-)

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A night at the beautiful YHA Jordans, set in the woods. We now have YHA membership, ready for lots more fun and adventures :-)

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Two amazing days at Chessington World of Adventures, and a night in the themed Azteca Hotel,  with lovely friends. Ten children, rides galore, swimming and breakfast buffets :-)

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Quiet times at home to recover from our adventures. Nature magazines, sticker books, solving code challenges, and lots more fun.

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World buffet lunches and library for lots of new books and audio books.

What an amazing month June has been so far :-)

 

A Month of Contrasts

May 31st, 2015 by becki

The past couple of weeks have been in stark contrast to each other. A few weeks of manic busyness – every day filled with adventures, home just a place to sleep and grab a new picnic. Then, just as we were looking forward to slowing down a little for half term (avoiding the crowds!), a stomach bug strikes and we end up slowing down completely! As awful as illnesses are, in some ways it was a welcome break from the mad rushing about. A chance to craft, build with Lego, watch documentaries that had stacked up on Iplayer for the kids, just chill out and be together at home. Not to mention spring cleaning, and sorting out the playroom. Three big bags of toys given to a toddler friend, new bedroom furniture for the girls and lots of housework and gardening done. Now we are ready for the adventures of summer :-)

Here are some of the highlights of the end of spring.

A lovely play date with Caleb, Flynn and Niamh. Trampolines, Terraria, Peppa Pig and lots of fun :-)

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Ice skating fun with the Jones-Thomas clan – and Daady’s first go at ice skating! He was an expert by the end!

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Alphabet dragons, back home in the warm. Gymnastics for Alfie, with level 5 badge and certificate to take home :-)

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An amazing day at Moseley Old Hall with the Kentish, Kelly, Hewitt-Hardacre and Williams crews. The treehouse in the woods is amazing! Alfie enjoyed the guided tour around the house, tying in its history with our recently visited  Boscobel House, another stopping point for King Charles II fleeing his captors.

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Afterwards a trip to Ikea for tea in the restaurant, and choosing new furniture.

A lovely, sunny day at Rays Farm with Elaine, Jacob, Jess, Bex and Violet. Stroking the goats, marvelling at the owl with the owlet tucked under its wing, exploring the fairytale forest, and admiring the alpacas :-)

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Fun at home.

Hama bead creations

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Making tomato soup and vegetable soup

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A rainbow scarf knitted by Holly for Alfie’s Fluffy.

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Playing a game of Frustration with Grandad

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Naptime!

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Local library for more books and CDs, with a quick go on the playground at Holland Park.

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Making salt dough

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Modelling with and then painting salt dough

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Potato and carrot “cheese” – amazing stuff!!!

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A welcome breath of fresh air at Forge Mill Farm once everyone was on the mend.

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Cheeky Petal, who decided to launch a gang attack on poor Jasmine the cat ;-)

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Tilly, who suffered a prolapse this week and had to have a minor op at the vets.

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Alfie made the third of his recycled robots – a Polybot, made from a polyhedrom with drinking straws to hold on its limbs and a brushbot motor. Boy is it fast!

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Playdough fun

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Vegan chocolate brownies

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Garden blooms

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A nature hunt in Shire Oak nature reserve

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May Madness

May 16th, 2015 by becki

May has been a month of ups and downs. Sadly, just after the death of Buttercup, we also lost Rosie. She clung onto life for another week after her vet visit, but the antibiotics and TLC sadly were not enough and we lost her. She enjoyed a sun bathe on her last couple of days of life, after 19 months of freedom with us, enjoying her retirement.

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We also had a scare with Pru, who we took to the vets with similar symptoms. It seems it may have just been a broken egg though, and she has perked up and rejoined her sisters after a week of TLC and Nutri-drops.

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So far in May we have also had visits from Nanny and Grandad, two fun days ice skating with the lovely Jones-Thomas crew, two gymnastics classes and a couple of dentist trips.

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We had a fun day at Space Hoppas soft play with the lovely Elaine, Jacob, Jess, Bex and Violet

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A fantastic day at Lower Drayton Farm with lots of other home educators. We got to tour the farm on a tractor ride, explore the rapeseed fields, feed the llamas, feed the lambs, stroke a rabbit, guinea pig and duckling, play with all our friends and generally have a fun day on the farm, despite the rain.

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We had fun at Friday Club, including a drumming workshop.

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Amber and I went to Izzi’s prebaby afternoon tea party.

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We spent a fun day at Boscobel House and the Royal Oak.

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We had a trip to Mere Green library for lots of new books, before meeting Granny and Grandpa for lunch at Taybarns.

We had fun swimming, with Alfie and Holly further perfecting their underwater swimming skills.

We had a lovely day at the Wolseley Centre for Flynn, Calen and Niamh’s birthday celebration.

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We had a breakfast buffet at Taybarns with lovely friends, then a day exploring Coombe Abbey country park.

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We met Charlotte and baby Katie Rose for lunch.

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We built working recycled robots

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Made a moon dough zoo

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Read lots of books

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Did lots of cooking

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Hatched a dinosaur

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Built the Sagrada Familia in Nanoblocks

 

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And generally had lots and lots of fun :-)

 

 

End of April Fun :-)

May 3rd, 2015 by becki

A lovely day out at Conkers with friends – riding on the train, burying each other in wood chip, monkeying around on the playground, den building and enchanted forest exploring.

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Ice skating with lovely friends

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A wonderful afternoon at the owl sanctuary with lots of HE friends, where we learnt so much about owls.

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A fun day at Drayton Manor theme park.

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Friday Club guerrilla gardening fun

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Followed by red mountain exploring

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Art gallery exploring

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Game playing

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Cushion sewing

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Cooking – butter bean burgers, and making scones and rocky road for Nanny and Grandad’s visit :-)

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Magazines

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Sandy Glades

May 3rd, 2015 by becki

We had an amazing holiday at Sandy Glades holiday park in Berrow. The weather was gorgeous, our lodge – in a private gated park – was amazing, and we had lots of fun. Here are some highlights :-)

We stopped off enroute for a picnic and play at the beautiful lakeside park, on the seafront of Portishead.

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Our lodge was amazing. I especially liked having a totally separate utility room, so all the sand and dirt didn’t tread inside. We even fitted in a swim on the first afternoon, in the holiday park pool.

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The next day, Alfie had a go at Water Walking in the holiday park pool. It was great fun, but very tricky :-)

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We also walked down to Berrow Beach, and explored the holiday park play areas. We even had a duck visitor to our lodge :-)

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We had an amazing day at Puxton Park.

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A lovely day at Weston-Super_mare in the Seaquarium and on the beach. We even got to feed the fish – and had the whole Seaquarium to ourselves!

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On the way home we stopped off at Tyntesfield NT. They had an amazing woodland playground trail for the kids. We also explored the orangery, kitchen gardens, and old saw mill.

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What a fantastic holiday :-)

Easter Antics

April 19th, 2015 by becki

April so far has been characterised by illness :-( We have all had a horrible bug that has given us swollen tonsils, sore ears, cold and flu symptoms and the worst lethargy ever. Alfie and Holly have also had bleeding noses, and Holly blistered, weeping ear lobe. Lovely! It also seems to take weeks to stop feeling tired and exhausted to the bone. All of us have been so flat, washed out and tired :-(   There have been events cancelled, early home time, having to sit and chill rather than having fun with friends, grumpiness and general lethargy. It is horrid to see your child desperate to play with their friends but too tired :-(

We also lost our beloved Columbian blacktail hen, Buttercup :-(

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It has not all been doom and gloom though, so here are some pictures of what we have managed to salvage from April so far!

Aldridge Easter fun day, with carvery lunch in the Crown.

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Vegan Easter eggs on Easter Sunday

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Making vegan cupcakes for friends

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Kingsbury Water Park fun with Alice, Saule, Jacob, Jess, Caleb, Flynn and Niamh.

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Birthday lunch with Nanny and Grandad at Buffet Island.

Alfie trying out the Big Shot die cutting machine he bought with his birthday money.

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Painting cardboard dens in the garden.

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Marbling fun before an afternoon in Beacon Park with Dylan, Aaron, Phoebe, Caleb, Flynn and Niamh. Holly started to feel ill with sore tonsils, so Alfie stayed on with his friends and got a lift home with Sarah.

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Library and playground fun.

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Making birthday cards for Aaron.

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Fun times at Aarom’s 7th birthday party.

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A lovely playdate with friends

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Homemade moon sand fun

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Chilling out after swimming

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Making tarka dhal to eat after gymnastics, where Alfie had a great time trying out the new bars.

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Trying out new ice skates at Telford ice rink HE ice skating session. Holly loved hers straight away, and Alfie soon got used to his and loved them too :-) We braved the park with friends afterwards but it was packed!

A fun day out with Cruz, Brooklyn, Aaron, Dylan, Phoebe, Jacob, Jess, Flynn, Caleb and Naimh at Amerton Farm.

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Friday Club fun, making Hama bead creations, followed by play in the Arboretum.

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Alfie is 9 and Spring has Sprung!

April 3rd, 2015 by becki

So, my little baby boy is now 9. NINE! How did that even happen??? Surely he was snuggled up to me in the sling only last week??? Unfortunately, his birthday plans with both family and friends have had to be deferred to next week after I succumbed to the first bout of tonsilitis since I was 17! Hideous :-/ Thankfully I am starting to recover now. Alfie, being the amazing child that he is, claimed that he still had the best birthday ever, and actually got a bonus, as he had a takeaway on his birthday yet still gets all his birthday plans next week. I have never met a more kind, thoughtful, grateful child than that boy.

So, what has been going on these past couple of weeks? here are some of the highlights :-)

Alfie wrote his own white board entry :-)

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Home ed ice skating at Telford ice rink.  Afterwards, we went into the park to play with friends in the sun, and celebrate the birthday of a HE friend.

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A fun day at the Big Play Barn with lots of our HE friends. As ever, the jumping pillow was the most popular feature ;-)

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Eclipse watching. Alfie and Daddy walked up to the top of the hill in Shire Oak nature reserve for a birds eye view, whilst Amber and I watched from the garden. We were disappointed that it didn’t go very dark, and the chickens didn’t even seem to notice, but it was an amazing sight, viewed through our homemade pinhole cameras.

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Afterwards we all went for a family fry up at the Crown breakfast buffet, before friends came over for a lovely play date. Holly tested out her new roller boots, whilst unpacking the Approved Foods order, and making their initials out of almond milk and apple juice cartons ;-)

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We had a lovely, if rather chilly, meet up with Uncle Steve, Aunty Andy and cousin Toby at Emberton Country Park.

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A day spent gardening in the sun.

Swimming at Oak Park, where lots of progress in swimming confidence was made. Now Alfie and Holly can both swim unaided.

Ice skating with friends at Cannock ice rink.

A lovely meet up in the spring sunshine with lots of Staffs home educators at Victoria Park. The children were having so much fun that it was difficult to drag them away when our parking time was up! Holly made a sand turtle and Gary the rock, the subject of much conflict, negotiation, support and friendship ;-)

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Cycling in Dartmouth Park with lovely friends.

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Friday Club fun making dens and candles at Clifton Road, before wild adventures at Red Mountain.

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A last visit to Walsall Museum before it closed down. Also, to the library for new books and audio CDs, and for a Wetherspoon lunch.

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A trip to Telford ice rink with Nanny and Grandad to buy Alfie’s birthday present of ice hockey skates. He is so pleased with them :-) We had lunch in the Wrekin Giant, then caused mayhem in the windy park ;-)

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A trip to Cannon Hill park with our bikes to meet Caroline, Lauren, Tom, and Martha. Lots of riding bikes through puddles, collecting pink daisies and climbing trees.

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Pizza Hut lunch with Sally, Evie and Finn, followed by a spot of marbling.

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Jigsaw fun

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Alfie turned 9. He loved his Lego City museum break in set and spent all day building all of the models. He chose Indian takeaway for his birthday tea. A wise choice! :-)

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Rich and Elaine took Alfie and Amber to their tour through time and coin minting at the 500 year old Ancient High House in Stafford. They had a fantastic day.

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Holly took the opportunity to make Alfie a delicious surprise vegan chocolate birthday cake :-)

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Today has been a day of games :-) Snakes and ladders, chess, 3D snakes and ladders, Guess Who, brainteasers, Herds of Words, alphabet dinosaurs, marble runs and Mario.

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Next week, postponed birthday fun. Lots more spring fun to come :-)

Spring Fun

March 17th, 2015 by becki

We have been having lots of fun during these early spring days. The children have been pursuing their interests more and more as they get older, and we now ice skate and swim every week. Both Alfie and Holly have now taught themselves to swim during our weekly swimming sessions. We go on our own, with friends, and even had Nanny and Grandad come to watch and see how well the children were progressing. All three love the water, and Alfie is currently into diving down to the bottom to retrieve rings. Ice skating with friends has also become a weekly adventure. We go to a session at a small local rink most weeks, but venture to a home educators’ meet monthly at a larger rink 25 miles away, with much smoother ice. All three children love ice skating, and only Amber needs a support now.

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We have been having lots of fun with friends too. We went to a big HE meet up at Monster Mayhem soft play, which the children loved. We also went to a home educators’ day at All Things Wild wildlife and dinosaur park. The children had a fantastic time – completing the stamp trails, building dinsoaurs, playing games in an old RAF helicopter, following the time walk and climbing trees, as well as spotting the animals and birds.

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We spent a lot of time baking for the Time for a Cuppa sale we held at Friday Club, raising money for Dementia UK, a subject very close to mine and the children’s hearts at the moment. Amber made sugar cookies, Alfie made his famous vegan rocky road, and Holly made vegan cupcakes. They all enjoyed running the stall selling cakes, and with games to win prizes. We raised £70 for Dementia UK :-)

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The children all enjoyed den building and parachute games at Friday Club too :-)

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We had a lovely day at the National Forest Adventure Farm with friends. Alfie overcame his fear of the red drop slide, Amber got to feed the lambs, and all had fun playing with friends.

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We had more fun there a week later with Nanny and Grandad, including a tractor ride, feeding the alpacas, and Holly conquering the blue drop slide :-)

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We had an amazing day at the Big Bang Fair at the NEC. The children got to crawl inside a giant nose, find out how the spine works, go inside an ambulance, design their own machines, make circuits, dig up dinosaurs, take fossil rubbings, operate a giant drawing machine and try to defeat a computer at strategy games, against many other things!

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We had a fantastic time at Friday Club building catapults, trying out archery, balloon sword jousting, computer gaming and parachute gaming.

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We also went out to spend our World Book Day tokens (with a quick drink stop!)

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Made cards

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Went to gymnastics class, and learned lots of new skills.

Did jigsaws and played games

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Used lots of media at the same time ;-)

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Protected ourselves from brothers who had eaten too much of their homemade tarka dhal…..

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Learnt how a hare and rabbit differ…

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Did lots of cooking – and washing up – and even made our own chilli oil.

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Spent lots of time doing crafts.

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Went to the big library in Birmingham for lots of new books and CDs.

I even got to go out with a bunch of fantastic fellow unschoolers, as well as to my aqua fit class!

A lovely first couple of weeks of March :-)

The End of Winter!

March 1st, 2015 by becki

Today, spring is here. It even looked like it for a few hours this morning! Amber and I set off to the supermarket in bright sunshine, planning on hanging washing on the line when we got back and there was no danger of chicken poo water spray from Rich’s coop cleaning duties. However, it was not to be – our drying and gardening plans were thwarted by heavy rain and gales! Still, we have buds on the trees, seedlings emerging and bright mornings. All a good sign, right?

Here is a sneak peek into how we have spent these last few weeks of winter :-)

Friday Club fun – designing a Lego croissant and pain au chocolat maker ;-)

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Cooking a special Valentine meal for Daddy :-)

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With yummy sugar cookies

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And vegan sushi – yum!

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Making Valentine cards

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Helping clean up a spill

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Fresh air in the park, spotting crested ducks and getting some exercise.

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Learning all about the amazing Erasmus Darwin – humanist, inventor, evolutionist, doctor, scientist and poet! Finding the 26 mice hidden all around his house.

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Making more sushi and vegan Brie!

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Play dates with lovely friends – playing babies with Phoebe, sun bathing and water fights (all indoors!) with Jess, Lego with Jacob, catching up with Evie and Finn and showing off the chickens. Train track fun!

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Hungry Horse for dinner :-)

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A trip to the farm and Dartmouth Park with Nanny and Grandad

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A sleepover with Cadi – pizza, dolls, loom banding, colouring, midnight snacks and giggles galore!

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Blowing off the cobwebs in the Arboretum

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Jigsaws, elephant and monkey leaping games, dominoes and memory games

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Apple crumble, malt loaf and vegan Jaffa cake baking :-)

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Badger cull protest and wildlife festival visiting, followed by lunch in the Warehouse veggie restaurant. Trio of hummus followed by refried bean tortilla for Alfie :-)

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Play Doh monster making

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Seed planting

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Visiting the Stones and Bones geology exhibition in the Library of Birmingham. Finding the fossils built into the Hall of Memory and Baskerville House.

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Ice skating fun, with tips from the coach

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Gymnastics class, and the achievement of level 6 badge and certificate.

A visit from Nanny and Grandad. Grandad loved Alfie’s vegan sushi. he had never had sushi before!

A fun, mad day at water World with friends – splashing, swimming and having fun.

Friday Club Minecrafting and chat.

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Play Dough creating

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Victorian House sticker book

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Treating the 13 lovely ladies to some scrambled eggs

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Story telling at the library, new books, spending Xmas money, art gallery and Frankie and Benny’s lunch :-)

Loom banding galore – amazing creations beyond belief from Holly, who has also been giving her siblings lessons :-)

Spring cleaning – in more ways than one – curry with friends, aqua fit, time spent reading and drawing, cuddling and watching Operation Ouch. The end of Winter has been full of fun and adventure. now bring on the spring :-)

 

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