Monday, 23 February 2015

The Value of Time Off

We're having a thoroughly lovely day today - we enjoyed a half-term week off, doing nothing much other than playing - and it has really paid dividends when it came to today, with all of us feeling ready for some more structured activities.  We got LOTS done!  Admittedly, this was in part down to the planning that I did over the half-term (it only took one morning to do my plan)  As I mentioned in my previous post, we are sticking to the format from last half term as it was so productive, so adaptable,  and so much fun...

So today I had planned some Bible Study, Maths and Art - and was hoping that we might also fit in a bit of History if we had time.  We did all of the above and more!  I just love the energy that results from a week off!

The Bible Study came about because of some sibling bickering that was starting to really bother me before half-term.  Although we do deal with this on a day-to-day basis as the need arises, I also wanted to address some specific character issues - kind of like PSHE lessons but with a Bible focus - so I asked around if anyone knew of any studies out there to do with brotherly love, patience, forgiveness, telling tales etc - and sure enough, I was directed to a "Brother Offended" checklist study with poster to colour in.  I took advantage of the boys renewed enthusiasm for structured activities this morning and we started the study.  It's far too early to know how much is going in, but we had some lovely discussions and prayer time.

Then the boys went online to tackle MathsWhizz - and again I saw the value of time off.  Towards the end of last year Youngest hit a wall in his maths and was finding it all too hard.  Having experienced this more than once I knew that he just needed a break to let his brain assimilate and mature - so he abandoned Mathswhizz and has been doing easy sums and playing whatever maths games he fancied since then.  Today he sat down with me to have another go, and had no problems at all!  True, the questions are not easy still, but he was just able to work them out without struggling.  This is one of the huge benefits of Home Education, that children can learn in their own natural seasons: work when they have the energy and enthusiasm - and rest when their brain needs a break.

While Youngest waited for his brothers to finish he found some Challenge Cards from Dyson, and asked if we could do the one getting the egg into the bottle.  I wasn't sure that the neck of the milk bottle was wide enough, but we had a go anyway.  It was fascinating!  We boiled the egg for ten minutes while immersing the bottle in hot water...

Then we peeled the egg and placed it onto the neck of the hot bottle - the theory being that as the air in the bottle cooled and contracted, it would suck the egg into the bottle...

It didn't work completely, but we were all fascinated by the process, checking peridoically on the progress...

(after about 10 minutes)

A while later - we were fascinated by the little bubbles.  

sadly this is as far as it got - I need to find a bottle with a wider neck to try again!

Then after they had all finished Maths it was time for art, and inspired by the TV series on Alaska that I have been watching with Eldest, we chose a lovely winter moose collage from Deep Space Sparkle.  First we read the book, "Ernest", then we painted the backgrounds, and sprinkled glitter on for the snow, then used pastels (oil and chalk) on separate pieces of paper to create our mooses with huge antlers, cutting them out and sticking them onto the backgrounds when all was dry.  A lovely, straightforward activity that all enjoyed - and having had several weeks of no painting or pastels, none of them batted an eyelid at getting the paints out once more.  More evidence of the benefits of time off!

Mummy's moose, "Frank"

Youngest's moose, "Loz" (complete with steaming pile of moose poo)

Middle's moose, "Brian" (also with poo, inspired by Loz)

Eldest's moose, "Moochie"

Youngest finished early again and went to look for something to do.  He found our magnet set and started playing happily, following the challenge cards included.  Eldest joined him before long, and then so did Middle, while I finished clearing the last bits of art up and got ready for our final activity.

And finally, with plenty of time to spare, we got to the history that I had been hoping to start.  Having finished looking at the Vikings (for now at least), we have now progressed onto the Normans and Middle Ages - so today was all about 1066.  I read the book, "The Battle of Hastings" to the boys (it also covers the Battle of Stamford Bridge), and then watched a couple of short Youtube clips - one from Horrible Histories on Hastings, and one showing the animated Bayeux tapestry.  The boys drew some pictures, and then we stopped for lunch, when we also watched the Horrible Histories "Measly Middle Ages" DVD.

Eldest's "Battle of Hastings" (well-ordered Normans on the right; Anglo-saxons on the left, with Harold dead at the very top)

Middle's "Battle of Stamford Bridge" (Harald Hardrada dead in a pool of blood with an arrow in his neck, while an English warrior spears a Norwegian through the foot from under the bridge)

Youngest's "King Harold" being killed -1, then trampled on - 2, then a ninja warrior (!) escaped - 3

Phew!  It feels like we crammed a whole week's worth of activities in to one morning!  The rest of this week is pretty full though with groups etc, so it's been nice to have a very productive day to balance out what is coming.  Also, I am under no illusion: the rest of this half-term is not likely to be this full-on as it's an unrealistic pace to try to keep to, but as a one-off active day, we have thoroughly enjoyed it!

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