Tuesday, 12 January 2016

So Much For Planning...

Well I started on the three-way plan but didn't get very far with it.  An online friend contacted me to say that Facebook had reminded her of the time we did the Toys Who Travel - a child-centered community geography project - almost 2 years ago and asked if I was likely to run it again.  In actual fact the boys had found the box of travelling toys shortly after we moved and they've been playing with them quite a lot, so I agreed it was probably time to kickstart the project again.  It took about four days' work to put the question out there to see who would be interested, and then gather all the replies into one place, collate the relevant addresses & details, draw up the itineraries, print off the journal covers, maps etc - and send the toys off.  By the weekend all five toys had healthy looking itineraries, so we took them out on a family walk and had a little celebration to see them off on their travels.  I was disappointed that there were so few places open where we could take them, but we had a lovely walk anyway. They were posted first class yesterday morning, and two of the first hosts have already been in touch to say that they have been received this morning, so that project is well under way.  The toys keep travel blogs (helped by their hosts) which the boys enjoy reading to see where the toys are and what they get up to - it's such an easy way of learning about the UK and its geography!

 The Toys Who Travel left to right: 
Hudson Tiger; Ranulph P Bear; Saxton Rabbit; Mungo Gorilla; Kendal Sloth

enjoying their 'Bon Voyage' tea party

Hudson Tiger's journal (courtesy of Eldest)

So, Toys Who Travel are now on the curriculum for this half term, which I wasn't originally planning but am glad we are doing after all.  And after all that organising, today I've been back working on the half-term plan!  I have plenty of ideas to keep us going, based on the boys' lists from last week - and now I'm just trying to fit them into  a timetable in a way that makes sense.  I abandoned the three-way plan thing as the majority of the boys' work will actually be either learning about the same thing/ doing the same project together, or doing the same subject at different levels and in different spaces but all at the same time.  There are only a few times during the week when they are off doing their own separate things, and that's not enough to warrant three timetables.  So we're back to using my lovely multicoloured plan that has worked for us thus far.  Again I must stress for those who worry that it is too structured:  This is mostly for my benefit, to help me make sure we cover as many of the boys' ideas as possible.  If at any point the plans cease to be interesting or fun, we drop it.  Our diary of things done at the end of half term bears little resemblance to what was planned, it's just a starting point that we use as a spring board to launch us into a very flexible interpretation of the plans :)

So today the boys worked on Literacy Planet, which they all enjoy.  Then they found the pile of books in the den that was made when I started planning for this term by pulling books off the shelves relating to the subjects they had asked to cover.  The planning didn';t get any further than that, and the pile remained just that.  Not even attractively strewn, just heaped together (I know: how dare I call myself a book lover?!).

Still, it hasn't put the boys off - they keep picking random books off the pile and getting stuck in. Today Eldest's choice was "The Shocking Story of Electricity", Middle's was "You Wouldn't Want to be Ill in Tudor Times", and Youngest's was "How Things Work".

Then they finished the whale paintings that they started at the weekend.  The instructions were for Humpback Whales or Blue Whales, but Eldest wanted to do a Killer Whale so he did his own design, which looks great!

"Blue Whale" by Youngest

"Humpback Whale" by Middle

"Killer Whale" by Eldest

And we revisited one of our favourite HE traditions, the TV picnic lunch - today's menu being sandwiches & cake with "Science of Stupid" (which Eldest refers to as 'educational You've been Framed'), "World's Weirdest Weather", and "Mythbusters"  recorded from Nat Geo, Channel 4 and Discovery respectively.

The morning finished, they went their separate ways to do their own thing and give me space to blog.  I really like the balance of having mornings a bit more supervised and then afternoons to do whatever they like... even if my afternoons revolve largely around planning at the moment.  That's OK though, it's what keeps the rest of our time flowing mostly harmoniously, and I'm hoping the planning bit will be done very soon now, not least because this half-term is already well under way, and playing catch-up is not my favourite thing.  So I'm off now - to cook tea and then finish the plan... maybe I'll achieve it this time!

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