Thursday 30 June 2011

Eczema friendly clean mud

Anna at the Imagination Tree, posted about making clean mud.

The clean mud looked great fun but I knew that it would be bad news to expose my child, with eczema, to vast quantities of soap but he would love anything resembling mud. So, we made an eczema friendly version.

First, the emollient was poured out into a tray with some torn up kitchen roll. It didn't come out of the pot very well.
Some red food colouring was added and mixed.

We mixed the two together and Miss Belle decided that she didn't like the paper.

Two children then played and standing in the mixture seemed to be best.

We tried footprints but they were a bit smeary.

Miss Belle ran around shouting, "This is such fun" and Mr Exuberance's eczema didn't get worse-in fact his feet and ankles seemed to benefit!
Then back to the real mud.

Warning: emollient may make the children prone to slipping. We didn't have any problems with this but were working outside and most of the running was done on grass.

This is linked to It's Playtime where there are many, many play ideas.

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Garden maths

Middle son had some practical maths yesterday.

He had to work out whether our gardening is cost effective.

There are a few assumptions in these calculations:

-seeds were brought in the 50% sale

-yields were compared with the cheapest non-organic store range which is what we buy. The vegetables we grow are organic in all but certification but he didn't compare with organic prices.

-time was not included

We did not allow for other benefits of growing our own:

-little ones who know that fruit and vegetables don't grow in packets

-satisfaction of growing our own

-organic produce which we would usually not eat

-better taste.

What were his findings?

Rather expensive to grow: tomatoes. In fact, we've made a big loss unless we get a bumper crop which doesn't look likely.

Expensive this year but may recoup costs another year: blackcurrants and raspberries. This was because of the cost of netting. We were given the raspberry canes and the blackcurrants weren't expensive.

Cost effective: garlic

 and basil.
We didn't do a formal calculation for cut and come again salad but I suspect this is also cost effective.

Was this a useful exercise?

Probably, I need to have a careful think about tomatoes for next year. The main costs were the expensive seeds due to previous problems with blight and compost. We do make our own compost but most of this was used on the potatoes so we brought growbags for the tomatoes.

The calculations of yield had to be a bit rough and ready but still worth doing.

Middle son enjoyed his maths which has to be a bonus. He had to work on estimation especially of yields, price per weight and comparing different measurements. Hopefully, he will be able to advise how much of each profitable crop to grow but that is for another day.

This is linked to Frugal Gardening 101.

Monday 27 June 2011

5-a-Day-the sea

I'm planning a slightly different week as we come up to the summer holidays.
The plan is to review a different Five in a Row title each day so am not including these in the 5-a-Day.

It does seem appropriate to think about the sea so the titles are based vaguely around this.

Secret Seahorse by Stella Blackstone and Clare Beaton has simple rhyming couplets and beautiful collage illustrations.

Katie and the Bathers by James Mayhew is a simple introduction to the pointillist artists and is a book beloved of Miss Belle.

The Lighthouse keeper's cat by Ronda and David Armitage. This is just one in a series of Lighthouse keeper books; all of which have a strong emphasis on cats and food!

Clumsy crab by Ruth Galloway-story about a crab hates his clumsy claws but at last, finds a use for them.

A kitten called Moonlight by Martin Waddell is the story of a kitten found by the sea. Beautiful illustrations by Christian Birmingham.
The children are enjoying these books, and so many others. I've tried to count how many books are read aloud in a day but have given up by the end of the morning.

Miss Belle is begining to enjoy me reading some simple chapter books. Does anyone have any particular favourite early chapter books?

 I am linking this to 5-a-Day books.
5 a day books

Wednesday 22 June 2011


My younger two aged 4 and 1/2 and 2 enjoy 5-a-Day books. One of these books is our Five in a Row book which we explore in more depth.
This week the books are around the theme of the family.

Our Five in a Row book is Little Nino's Pizzeria by Karen Barbour.

The children have already enjoyed playing at running a pizzeria with a menu, specials, cleaning and looking at coins.

The other books are Does anybody love me by Gillian Lobel.

The tale of Tom Kitten by Beatrix Potter

We enjoy Shirley Hughes' books and have chosen two, this week. Many of her books deal with family life from the point of view of little children. They have been well loved (one of the photos shows this well) and the children know the stories and can remember parts of the text.

Alfie's feet

5 a day books

Tuesday 21 June 2011


We harvested our Potatoes for Schools bags today.
The rocket variety leaves had suffered from slugs in recent weeks. I've never had much success battling slugs. I've tried most of the non-slug pellet ideas but this year they have even had some of the tomatoes and potato leaves. Courgettes are a lost cause.

Despite the slugs, we had almost a kilogram of potatoes-thank you to the friend who loaned her digital scales for the competition!
We ate them using Middle Son's recipe for very strong garlic butter. It was good but we might not have many friends for a while-it was very powerful.
The Potato Council runs the Potatoes for Schools scheme and supplies tubers and bags in which to grow the potatoes plus a wealth of information on their website. The scheme is open to UK home educators with primary school aged children and they are now taking registrations for 2012.

I've linked this to Frugal Gardening at Smockity Frocks.

Monday 20 June 2011

Emergency plans

It was the toothache which reminded me that I really need an emergency plan. I've been blessed with good health but there is always the risk of loosing my voice, Grandma being ill or any of a number of other scenarios common to family life.
It seems sensible to plan for one of these scenarios happening occasionally.
Some parts are easy, or should be easy to prepare over the summer- meals ready from the freezer

 but the educational bit needs more thought.
The criteria are that it should fit in with the rest of the current work, need minimal supervision from an otherwise busy or ill adult and should be suitable for preschoolers and an older child (the children will be preschool, reception and year 7 age come September).

It seems realistic to have only one day planned like this. Longer episodes would need more planning. It also needs not to get out of date.

My solution is to plan a light curriculum based on Middle Son being able to get on with maths and English on his own-so re-enforcement not a major new topic. He can also do reading related to most of the subjects. The younger children can listen to a story CD, perhaps do some phonics on line and probably do magic painting without too much mess. A DVD linked to a history or geography topic will keep everyone happy and if not used in this way can be used at the end of term as a treat. Middle son or hopefully, an adult with a voice, can read a little to the younger siblings.

This plan can be used again and again but will just need revision, and new CDs/DVDs, each term. Not an ideal day but better than it could be.
In the meantime, modern dentistry and painkillers have meant that we haven't had to go onto emergency plan, yet....

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Thoughts at the end of a home education year

I initially wrote a post about what has and hasn't worked in our home educating this year. But the detail is probably only relevant to us and the overview can be encapsulated more simply.

When we have tried to keep to our principles things have gone well and when we haven't there have been problems.

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy might.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Deuteronomy 6 verses 5-7.

Our aim is to have God centred education with a Biblical world view. This doesn't preclude good academics-certainly not. Failing to aim for excellence would not be God honouring nor loving our neighbour as ourself. It doesn't mean that we don't study any books except for the Bible or books about the Bible but everything is held or should be held to that standard.

Is this easy? Of course not. Not because it is hard to keep up with the latest in National Curriculum standards nor because it is hard to keep up with trends in education but because I serve a perfect God who hates wrong doing. He is perfectly patient but sees my impatience. He is perfectly loving but sees my selfishness. But there is forgiveness with Him that He may be feared.

Be with me, Lord, where'er I go;
Teach me what Thou wouldst have me do;
Govern whate'er I think or say;
Direct me in the narrow way.

Work in me, lest I harbour pride,
Lest I in my own strength confide;
Show me my weakness, let me see
I have my power, my all, from Thee.

Assist and teach me how to pray;
Incline my nature to obey;
What Thou abhorrest let me flee,
And only love what pleases Thee.

John Cennick

Monday 13 June 2011

5-a-Day-bees and other insects

Since the bee episode, it was obvious that we had to read about bees this week.

Strangely, I had thought of rowing the Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco this week before the strange events of Friday. Now, of course, it is a must.

There have been so many questions about bees. Busy Buzzy Bee by Karen Wallace tells the story of a worker bee and hopefully, answers some of the questions.

Winnie the Pooh's encounter with the bees seemed like a good fit.
 My aim wasn't to read the whole book every day so far I don't think this aim will succeed. Hope I can still speak by the end of the week.

The very hungry caterpillar
is a favourite of Mr Exuberance and fits in with the general theme as does another Eric Carle book, the Bad-tempered ladybird.
I promised an update on the bee saga: the bees were in our garden at breakfast time today but by lunch , the swarm had gone. There was some activity round the hive but it seems that this was just a few "robber" bees and the whereabouts of the swarm is now unknown.

This is linked 5 a day booksto 5-a-Day books.

Friday 10 June 2011

In our garden, today.

My husband noticed something unusual, in a tree. Not so obvious, here but clearer in this photo.


and threats didn't move them-well, not the queen.

The beekeeper said that she hadn't seen a swarm so high-approximately 10metres from the ground.
The swarm has settled now, still in the tree, with a hive containing honey temptingly below, in the hope that they may want convenient food and shelter.

I will try to update the saga when they move.


The owl and the pussy-cat

We are reading "Owl Moon", this week, along with a couple of other owl books and to fit in with the theme, we read "The Owl and the pussy-cat" by Edward Lear. We made some card models, using a piece of cardboard as a base, to illustrate the poem. Miss Belle and Middle Son both enjoyed this activity.

Thank you to Catherine at Sunhats and Wellie boots for sparking the idea with her owl puppets and choice of owl books.

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!"

Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will".
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.


This is linked to It's playtime where there are plenty of great play ideas.