Sunday, 14 June 2009

Our week: part 1 - the good

A quick run down on some of the HE we've been doing over the last couple of weeks:

Ben requested that he and Katie do a short story competition and Katie was in agreement. I gave them 1/2 hour to type up a quick story and they both came up with wonderful results. Obviously, with a 2 1/2 year agedifference between them, Katie's was more mature in writing style, but Ben was ever so well put together, and funny too. It was difficult to judge the best and they wouldn't accept that both should win (the prize was no maths for the day and a magazine of their choice). With constant pleas that I must declare an overall winner I had to go with Katie, but only because of slightly better sentence formation and grammar. When I think back to how Ben used to refuse to read books, get extremely het up at even the mention of writing anything down, let alone a story, it is so refreshing to see where's he is at now. This is an HE dream and a perfect example of how he's grown to enjoy reading books in his own time, put his thoughts and ideas down on paper all off this own bat with just the hint of the occasional nudge from me.

Continuing on the writing theme, for our culture wall Katie has researched and written about Trooping the Colour. Ben is researching the 40th anniversary of the lunar landing for next month and will be looking for interesting information on the Grand Prix which takes place this weekend. Again for both research and record work has come on in leaps and bounds - it's great to see how Katie and Ben have become so much more independent in their work.

We have moved on to Chapter 5 in our Minimus Latin book. As with other languages I've unsuccessfully tried to learn in my time, Latin is not really sticking in my brain - I can usually read it OK, it's the saying it and forming the sentences quickly enough that's the problem. With this in mind, I'm probably not the best teacher on this subject, but the children seem to remember far more than me and often teach me instead! Learning Latin is also helping Katie and Ben with their English through the understanding and use of nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives. We've covered these way back when they first came out of school, but the Latin is really helping to drum home how adding interest to their writing can make it a more enjoyable piece to read.

On the science front I finally made time to look through the free SEP publications that I signed up for and check out the sample pack of sciencey things too. We tried an experiment in one of their booklets to extract iron from cereal and followed it to the letter (we even watched exactly how to do it on You Tube). It didn't work (this must be one of the most frustrating things about home teaching when you're all geared up for something and it won't work after all the effort you've put in). Next day we tried another "iron in cereal" related experiment I came across on You Tube - that didn't work either. Can only assume our rather strong magnets from the Science Museum Magnet Set are just not strong enough. All was not lost though, we took time looking at several cereal boxes to source the best iron content (Ks and Bran Flakes) and learn why iron in our diets is so important for our health.
Trying very hard to find a tiny slither of iron - no joy!

On the art front this week Katie and I used oil pastels and water colours to produce Kandinsky style art work - quite pleased with the outcome, very simple but bright and fun.
Katie also drew and painted these lovely cat pictures.

Ben updated his blog with details of the ice boat that he and I made. He got the idea from the TV show Mythbusters. The guys on the show made a life size boat by freezing layer after layer of newspaper into a boat shape which, once completely frozen, was usable (it had an outboard attached) for about 1/2 hour. You can read Ben's blog entry here.

We decided to read the story of Joseph from the Old Testament seeing as how we went to see the show recently. Having rememberd about this rather different take on the Bible which came up a long time ago on someone elses blog (and best viewed by an adult before any kids get hold of it, just in case) we read through the story. Using Ben's Lego, the children went off to each produce a stop-animation film of a scene from the story which turned out well and were quite amusing!

Katie's is still riding AJ 6 days out of 7 and her confidence and riding ability have grown hugely. She took part in another riding school show last weekend, in torrential rain, and managed a clear round on Icy. Not so lucky with the other two jumping classes, but hey, that's life isn't it? After an afternoon of grumbles and general frustration she's bounced back and is eager to continue taking part in other shows. Weather permitting she's booked to try a small cross-country course at the riding school next week.

Ben is still thoroughly enjoying his tennis lessons. He's also struck up an interest in aviation, especially helicopters, and we've been having some lovely discussions about air lift and how aircraft stay up when flying. Hoping to head off to the Waddington Air Show this year as he was a baby when we all last went to an air show, at Duxford. Remember having to hide away inside some of the hangars as the noise was making him scream!!

Oh, I nearly forgot maths - the very subject we actually do do every day! Still ploughing through the CGP KSIII Maths revision guide for both of them, we've come to the end of the first section and both have been revising for a test next week on what they've learnt so far. This last week we've been looking more at ordering of decimals and basic algebra with some help from various websites for online exercises. What would I do without the internet!

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