Thursday, 18 September 2014

Number Table to 100 (times tables)

Phew!  Talk about busy!  Lots of hedgehog inpatients at the moment, combined with same old back issues and an unprecedented amount of social stuff and groups to go to - I'm not sure whether I'm coming or going!  Hence the lack for blog posts lately - it's as much as I can do to stay on top of the rest!

Anyway, I wanted to share a resource that I made yesterday.  Youngest seems to have gone up a level in MathsWhizz and the exercises that he is being given are now proving more of a stretch.  This is not really a problem - as long as he's enjoying it, he can carry on, but if he hits a wall I'm fine for him to take a break if he needs, while his brain simultaneously rests and assimilates what he has been working on.  We've experienced this before so I'm happy to take my lead from him.  He seems OK to continue for now, and as one of the questions showed him an example of a 1 - 100 number table, I thought I would whizz one up for him to use.  He used the old 1 - 20 caterpillar a lot, so this is a natural progression.  He is currently learning about odd and even numbers (2x table), and counting in 5s and 10s, so I colour-coded those on the number table - and noted the prime numbers too.  While I was there I thought it probably wouldn't be long until he reached the other times tables too - Middle certainly has - so I did a few more number charts, one for 3x 6x and 9x tables, one for 4x 8x and 12x tables, and one for 7x and 11x tables.  I think they will really help Middle seeing the patterns etc as he is such a visual learner.  Anyway, I thought I'd share the PDF download here as well in case anyone else can use them too.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Balancing the Busy-ness

 Well this is turning into a busy term!  I'm trying to keep track of all the different groups that have started locally - we are so fortunate to live in a place with a thriving HE community, there is always something going on, and it would be very easy to take on so much that we completely overstretch ourselves!  It's such an important balance: having enough time socialising, enough time enjoying group learning, and enough time relaxing and learning at home, at our own pace (not to forget looking after the house and hedgehogs).  At the moment we have two weekly groups and one monthly group, with regular (but not scheduled) socials & playdates.  There are opportunities particularly on a Monday that I was tempted by, but we all still really benefit from keeping Mondays dedicated to PJ days.  It just seems to anchor us, having a day a week when we know we will be home with no demands.

Having said that, this week Monday was not a PJ day as it was my niece's birthday party.  The boys had a great time with friends, bouncy castle, cake etc, and once in a while it doesn't hurt to give up PJ day for a good cause.  I still wouldn't commit to anything regular on a Monday though.

Of course, yesterday's "day off" meant we didn't get maths done etc, but the boys were all up for it this morning, & they all not only completed their Mathswhizz thirty minutes, but also did their English (Eldest's workbook, Youngest's Reading Eggs and Middle's Madlibs (his choice after the workbook issues last week).  They wanted to do art next, and instead of the planned Cave Art project that I couldn't find the paper for, we did a Pop-art project instead, courtesy of Deep Space Sparkle. The lesson involved doing a repeated pattern of flowers on grass, but the boys decided they wanted to do sea-creatures instead...

Youngest's "Fish"

Middle's "Piranhas"

Eldest's "Jellyfish"

Following that we watched the second episode of "Operation Cloud Lab".  I asked if the boys wanted to watch it another day, but they were determined, so we went ahead.  That was one busy day!  A the end of the TV programme the phone went - it was someone who had found hoglets, followed by another caller with another hoglet... and then another!  So my day got distinctly busier, but the boys' day became less so.  So I am writing this finally at 10.45pm, about to head for bed now I have finished the last item on today's "to-do list": write in my blog!  Good night all! 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Me On The Map

When I was preparing this morning's activity last night it took quite a while, and I wasn't sure how well the boys would take to it... lots of fiddly drawing.  However, they spotted my 'example' and were intrigued, so that made for a nice bit of enthusiasm after Maths.

We started off reading "Me on the Map", which we all really liked, and it gave us lots of ideas (I think we'll return to it next week too).  Then I got out my pre-prepared activity.  It is a craft using concentric circles pinned together to show where the child lives: their house, their street, their town, county, country, continent and world.  I had seen it on Pinterest initially, but all the versions I found were American based (talking about what State you live in etc), and I couldn't find a UK version, so I made my own here.

It's really an activity for young children, so I was confident that Youngest would like it - and Middle.  I just wasn't sure if it was too simple for Eldest.  I let him decide for himself though, and I think it helped that he saw I had done it myself.  The lovely thing is that although I had prepared printed maps for the younger ones to cut out and stick on the right 'page', Eldest decided to take the more complex route of drawing the maps by hand - and he did a great job!

I printed off the sheets and the boys cut out their own circles...

Then they wrote and drew/ cut and pasted onto each page as appropriate, and pinned the circles together in order with a split pin ...

Youngest's                   &                    Middle's

A few of the "cut & paste" maps used...

Eldest's craft, shown in full as he was - rightly - proud of his "detailed" work...

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

So Far, So Planned (ish)

Well the "plan" has been really helpful so far!

Yesterday the boys were all eager to get back into the swing of things. Mathswhizz first, which they all enjoy (after Mummy did the morning hedgehog clean-out of course), and then Youngest spotted the 'Deadly Defenders' game on CBBC while I was trying to find some information for a friend.  His brothers were still occupied with maths, so he had a play - it's great!  They all ended up having a go - it's quite addictive, and as it comprises wildlife knowledge with math skills and strategizing, I didn't mind at all!

We then got to our Art activity.  I had planned to do the 'Cave Art' module from our Deep Space Sparkle curriculum, but the book I ordered hadn't turned up, so we chose one from the Grade 1 curriculum, based on the book, "Up Tall and High", which we do have.  It was a lovely activity, and was definitely enhanced by the video tutorial as she explained (in simple terms) the techniques used, and demonstrated what to do.  The boys all enjoyed it and were pleased with the result...

Youngest's bird

Middle's bird

Eldest's bird

After Art, I got to choose the first TV programme of the day: there was a little complaining that they didn't get to watch "Rabbids Invasion" immediately, until they realised I had recorded a special episode of Mythbusters based on Star Wars (I found it on Youtube here for those who like the sound of it)... it went down really well!  The afternoon was then free for them to choose their own activities - well, Eldest did (choosing Minecraft), but Middle and Youngest needed to tidy their room first, so it was a while before they were able to play "Five Second Rule" together.  I love it when they ask to do something as a family.  Eldest joined us and we had a good giggle playing.

Today was English, as per our weekly planner.  Youngest loved being back on Reading Eggs, and Eldest got on with his workbook with little problem - hooray.  Sadly Middle was in a funk about his workbook as he decided it was too hard (actually not hard at all - it was just a page of writing definitions), so it took AGES of cajoling.  I need to rethink this one with him.  On the one hand, he is still primary age, and I want him to just enjoy reading and writing freely without demands or restrictions.  On the other hand, as Eldest and I are starting to discover - if he wants to take qualifications, Maths and English will be the basic requirements, and the English curriculum is so rigid, I don't want to put him at a disadvantage by getting behind.  Who'd have thought I'd still be agonising over this in our third year of HE?!

Anyway, once Middle eventually finished, we were able to do an experiment making a cloud in a bottle, as found on Youtube.  It was quick, easy, and most importantly, it worked!  We followed up by Mummy's choice of TV: a recorded episode of "Operation Cloud Lab", which my Dad had watched and recommended.  I recorded it and we watched the first episode today - considering it's made for adult viewers, the boys all stayed with it really well.

I love it when a plan works!  This afternoon the boys had friends over to play, so I was able to write in my blog.  On the whole the gentle structure is working well for us - but I do need to reconsider Middle and his dreaded English workbook.  Any ideas, feel free to share - and otherwise (as always) watch this space...!