Climb every mountain…..

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…yesterday felt a bit like that, like it was a mountain to climb.  New place to drive to, new activity to do, new people to meet, new skills to learn (and be tested on)….a whole heap of new which for the boys was exciting but for me was a bit of an axiety mountain.  One which, with the help of friends, we managed to climb and plant our flag on.  We all had a fab day climbing; I learned how to belay and Tig has decided that next time we go, he’d like to have a go to! B loved climbing and ringin the bell and Ot enjoyed climbing to the top of the wall.  B and Ot also enjoyed having a go at bouldering.

Ot and Tig had the second part of their gym induction, focusing on weights.  Ot found the listenening and not talking at the instructor more challenging-perhaps because I didn’t remind, perhaps because he was more relaxed, perhaps tired or perhaps just because that’s one of the challenges he faces.  Despite this, he enjoyed it and is looking forwards to going again.

A tiring day

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Today we headed out to swimming straight after breakfast and had na hour and a half of fun in the pool.  There was front crawl, back crawl, surface diving to collect treasure form the bottom, racing, trick playing and splash wars.  We had great fun together and emerged a little tired at about 11.  We headed home to collect the dog for a walk, we were slightly delayed by the need to get a new tyre fitted on my car.

After the mobile tyre man came and we’d had some dinner, we headed out along the canal to walk the dog and enjoy the beautiful day.  We spotted various trees and had a go at some more photography (if we fancied).  Ot scooted about and B and I walked most of the way together.  We saw roach swimming and feeding as well as geese, ducks and coots/morehens.  We headed back a little sooner than usual because Tig and Ot had their first gym induction at 4.

Once we were back home we did a quick bit of maths; Ot worked on his Chance in conquor maths, getting a silver certificate and B worked on mathseeds and reading eggs.  Once this was done, everyone enjoyed a 30 minute screen break before getting into the car and heading out once more to the leisure centre for the boys gym induction at 4 and B’s gymnastics class at 5.

Tig and Ot enjoyed their induction, the chap who did it said they were really good and worked hard.  The found out how to use the rowing machines, exercise bikes, cross trainers and treadmills.  They’re booked in for the weights induction at 7-8 onThursday, after which they can goto the sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  B enjoyed his gym class, doing well with the balance bar, jumping on the trampet and forward roll/back bend activity.  he also improved working on his handstand and enjoyed the simple bit of bar work.  He was very pleased to see his friends and we headed out to KFC after with a couple of them to celebrate getting to the first ‘red’ coloured week on our sticker chart for gym.

Everyone enjoyed KFC, although we did get a little rowdy!  After that, we headed home and everyone pitched in to collect and fold washing, empty dishwashers, put away toys and do dad’s chees and onion sandwich.  We finally flopped down in our chairs and chilled on screens for a while.  

I read hte first chapter of the original Swiss Family Robinson; B fell asleep and TIg and Ot eitehr really enjoyed it or were to tired to speak or move!  Everyone headed upto bed and fell asleep in super quick time!

Photographer to scientist and back again!

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This morning, it was beautiful so we decided to head out to chase water, to the pretend beach, which is one of the boys’ favourite places.  I took along a selection of dinosaurs and plastic animals, my pentax camera and iphone so we could have a go at the diy.org photographer badge if the mood took us.
We did lot of ball throwing, paddling and sand smushing whilst creating some innovative scenes for the various animals.  They had a go at landscape pictures.


These are some of the fantasy scenes the boys created and took pictures of….


We made a colaborative piece of land art

Talked to a lovely lady with her dogs, Seumus and Ruben;  played with a very cute 145 week old labrador called Maggie and even had a quick climb and a play on the park!

After lunch and a brief foray into anthill on the pads we had a bit of free time, mainly screens but games not online.  After that we had a go at dissections, of the virtual kind!  Everyone used froguts, an app on the iPad, which was especially good for B as there was audio fr everything so he wasn’t waiting for help with reading tricky parts.  Tig and Ot worked through a disection based unit on fish from emind and B had a go at an online Salmon dissection .  (biologist diy.org patch)

Froguts was everyone’s favourite because it was a ‘proper’ dissection;  the fish however could lead to a real life dissection as we can use the fish afterwards (cat treats if it’s very mangled).  The boys then worked with me to draw a diagram of the fish, their choice of internal or external view and added labels.  We did a diagram of a mushroom last week and I notices that they hadn’t got the simple line part of the idea and were struggling with label placement so this was a great opportunity to have a go.  Also, internal diagrams go towards yet anotehr patch :0D.

After tea, everyone gets ready for bed and can then have their internet based time, on Minecraft, Roblox, Youdtube etc and do their own thing.

Anglers in the making

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This morning we had a chat with a fishing expert (Daddy) and found out what we’d need in a tackle box.  He showed us how to use rubbers on floats, add shot, use a bread punch and a disgorger.  After we had found some worms, we headed to the canal to see if we could catch a fish (or 2).

It was a beautiful sunny morning and the walk along the canal was lovely; Sherlock had a great old time sniffing around and  checking that all was in order.  We set up one at a time and gor fishing, using our telescopic poles-perfect size and weight for the boys.  

Soon we were in, catching some little roach and perch.  Some patience was required as well as careful watching of the float to spot those sneaky bites.  It was great to see how much the boys control over thier poles had become and how more proficient they were at keeping them steady and moving them to the best places.  We had one snag, a couple of tangles and a fun, fishy morning.

As well as having a great morning, we also did 3 activities that count towards our Angler patch on diy.org and remembered to video and photograph them all!!!!

Week 3

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So this week has been a good week.  Ot and iig have been determined to get their independent work completed early in the day and have worked well on Whizz maths, reading eggs press, the timetables and spelling apps and have enjoyed topic work this week.  B has worked in spurts, doing some maths seeds and reading eggs when he fancies and working on sight vocal and number bonds along with some phonics refreshing and extending.

Ot has worked hard on his handwriting when we do our folder work (this is aimed at writing, grammar, punctuation etc) and is trying hard with re-calling the dictated sentences as well as learning the poems.  He finds the re-call most challenging-he often substitutes a phrase that has near enough the same meaning but isn’t the exact phrase.  It’s a bit like he sees the big picture of the sentence, understands  the meaning but doesn’t remember the details.  Interestingly if we hadn’t started to use these particular things I would not have noticed this because he has a great memory for things he has watched and listened to but I’ve realised that much of what he has good re-call of is story based or spoken in the style of a story.   I also can really see the value of dictaton for him as it enable him to build up his ability to remember and write but takes off the pressure of having to think of your own sentence, remember and write which is something that in the past it is clear is too much for him-I think in the past when we have re-called the sentence for hi we may have been hindering rather than helping as this means that he ‘needs’ someone else to remember so he can write so independence is not achieved or he is in the frustrating situation of remembering and writing a few words and then having to think and recreate a sentence again and again.

Tig has been working on handwriting and taking time and care-this is made easier because there is less writing than previously and again he has to re-call and write not create, re-call and write.  Tig’s auditory memory is pretty good and he generally can remember a 2-3 sentence chunk word for word and put in the correct punctuation.  

Both Tig and Ot have grasped the concepts of adverbs well, including adverbs that tell when and where and are able to ID verb, subject, adjective and adverb in a sentence.  I like the thorough but very simply chunked approach to the grammar and it reminds me that quantity is not everything!

B has made a connection between + and – facts that with some reinforcement will enable him to develop a much quicker re-call.  If you know 3+4=7 he has realised you also know 4+3=7; 7-4=3 and 7-3=4.  He  can work out 1 more and 1 less and is beginning to spot that in subtraction sums when the numbers are number that would be next door when counting the answer is 1 e.g. 5-4=1; if you were counting back you’d go 5,4.  We’ve dragged the number friends out this week to have a look at these ideas which has been good fun.  He has a very small number of the first 100 words left that he don’t know straight away (there are some that he can sound out) and has been reading sentences that we’ve made up and messages etc.  Whilst I don’t feel like he can read I think it’s more that he is not reading yet….most of the skills and knowledge is there it’s just waiting for him to really want to or need to read larger chunks of text.

Topic this week has been the reproductive system.  TIg and Ot have enjoyed the different videos and brain pop quizzes as well as discussios about when they were born, when I was pregnant, if we’d have any more babies and more.  Ot asked if having babies was very painful because he thought it must be so I endeavoured to explain that whilst yes it was painful, it was for me a different kind of pain, with a pattern and flow that I knew I’d get a baby at the end and I trusted my body to know what to do -IO also pointed out that I had 3 children so it wasn’t so painful I din;t ever want to do it again.  

Everyone enjoyed art this week-me included.  We looked at the women from Brassepuey (sp?)  which is the oldest know carving representation of a human face, read a little about her and stone age art then had a go at carving faces in soap.  The physical sensation was great and  lots of time was spent using different tools to scratch, break of large chunks, scoop and gouge holes etc.  In the process various shapes were made and Tig saw an elephant in his piece so worked on bringing out the features he could see.  Ot created a bear and B did a face and a ladybird.

The boys all cooked a batch of muffins, Ot’s were berry surprise (cherries, blueberries, raspberries and which chic chips with either lemon curd or cherry jam in the middle); TIgs were chic chip and Bens were double chic chip- 4 had raisins in too..

Week 2

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So I didn’t blog last week-maybe it was lack of sleep!  I’ve discovered I need a good 8-10 hours to function and not be uber grumpy!  Last week went well, we had lots of calm, B is struggling a little with unsupervised time and is being’annoying’ in an attempt to engage his brothers so they will play….we need to resolve this!!!  We had a Friday Feast of sticky ribs, BBQdrumsticks, corn bread, home made tortilla crisps, coleslaw and salad-yummy!

The boys were learning about the endocrine system in topic and enjoyed finding out about the adrenals.   We are being hermits a bit and we need to work on getting out for some fresh air over the next few weeks.  I also found some of the cutest welsh collies and border collies …..

Wow!

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Our first week of 2014 back ‘at work’.  Literally for TB (The Boss), who is back at work after a lovely Christmas-another week and he’d really have properly relaxed; and also for the boys in so much as we move back towards some more structured, formal learning.  I am taking an unpaid leave of absence from work for the Spring term, for various reasons  and it has been a bit of an eye opener….We knew that the boys would probably, over time, find it easier as there would be a regular routine to each day and that there would be less pressure to fit in the bits of formal learning which we do.  We thought that this would take weeks, maybe even longer so it was very surprising to see this week just how calm and settled everyone was.  

It has made a huge difference.We’ve covered all of the key bits of formal learning before lunch every day, had free time after lunch and pottered around playing, sitting and chatting and all doing our own thing with various amounts of interaction.  I’ve exercised for at least 30 minutes every morning; we’ve had a settled story at bedtime (which had slipped away in the last few months), the house is clean and tidy (well as much as it ever will be), animals are cleaned out and fed, and everything feels so much less pressured and more relaxed.

Perhaps the biggest difference is the absence of pressure I feel to squash the formal learning we need to do into my days with the guys, that I’m able to fulfil this in a relaxed way and still have fun and not feel that I’m not getting the essentials done.  For us a mix of structured and autonomous works-we are fairly structured in the mornings covering maths, grammar, punctuation and reading skills as well as topic (currently science based) some coding, scratch, art and blogging.  B does more little chunks of phonics, sight vocab and number facts with me and does some independent work using reading eggs and math seeds (both of which he really loves).  So pretty much the 3 R’s and a topic we work on together.  We also listen to a composer for a few weeks and look at an artist (although this week we’ve not done too much with them.)  We are using Friday as a review day where we review what we’ve learned, I help with any tricky bits, we catch up and everyone Blogs about their week.

B and I have just watched some dines and are now watching the BBC program about polar bears and we’re popping out this afternoon to pick up E’s new glasses.

It’s like we can breathe, that there is time, no rush, still purposeful but there’s room to breathe and enjoy.  It is wonderful and surprising and if we’d known we’d have been here sooner!  TB and I were talking and we both agreed it was a dramatic change in the boys and the whole feel of the household…smiles all round!