December for us was all about building up for Christmas and having fun as a family. We wanted to generate and maintain an atmosphere of love and happiness and most importantly to create memories.
We had our visit to Father Christmas at Ruxley and our mini Christmas at Nanny and Grad's. Mummy and Nanny took Button ice skating which she loved. We celebrated Advent in lots of different ways- we had a candle, the kids had their chest with felt Nativity scene pieces, felt Christmas tree decorations and a little chocolate each, Mummy had daily shotbread from Michael's Tasty Treats and Daddy had a different teas each day with his Tea-vent calendar from save_our_teas. We also had a weekend at Nanny's flat where Nanny and Grad surprised us all with a trip to the brilliant Jimmy's farm. We all had an amazing day there. Button even squeezed in another French club which she enjoyed.
Button said that she loved the book about the Mistlethrush and really liked "Little Drummer Boy". Button's favourite day was Christmas Eve, playing games and then putting the reindeer food out with Bear and Buttercup.
We cut schoolwork right down in order to embrace the season. For music we looked at a Christmas carol and a Christmas pop song each week (who knew that Silent Night was originally German), while art was all about Christmas cards and making hats for our deconstructed Christmas crackers etc. For English we picked some lovely Christmas related stories. We looked at "the Nutcracker", "Madeline", "the Mistlethrush and the Mistletoe" from Susan and the birds by Enid Blyton, "one Christmas night" and "the lion, the unicorn and the donkey". With Bible studies, Button obviously looked at the Christmas story.
We had a fantastic Christmas and really embraced the freedom to play and learn. It has given us food for thought as to how we want to move on home school wise. We have been truly blessed last month with so many great memories made.
So you will need to forgive us for being tardy with the blog this month. We obviously stopped schoolwork for Christmas week but then decided to take the start of January off to re-evaluate how we do things.
Mummy and Button really enjoyed the freedom and flow of the run up to Christmas and how we were able to embrace life as a family. Mummy and Daddy began to look back at what has been a fairly successful year in terms of schoolwork for Button and development for Bear and Buttercup. We started to wonder if we have been too prescriptive and structured both with Button's work and our "Twins' curriculum". Mummy felt that Button and her were under too much pressure with the amount we were doing and that too much of it was a battle. The flexibility we craved and having it child led just wasn't working. Now the Twins are 2 1/2 and have been smashing most of their milestone targets, we felt that having a weekly focus on a gross motor skill, fine motor skill and a life skill was becoming contrived and repetitive. There are only so many ways you can write about standing on tiptoes for example. The Twins are now learning and perfecting all these skills at their pace each day through play, through general life and on individual whims. The time we were spending planning, trying to do it in a forced overly structured way and writing up can be better spent on more play. Similarly with numbers, focusing on a number of the week was not proving to be effective or worthwhile.
So now we are moving away from the 'Twins' curriculum'. It has served its it's purpose to ensure that both Bear and Buttercup received support to achieve their milestones and had plenty of
observation. Otherwise there is always a danger that one child could be left behind. Instead we are evolving into 'toddler play'. We will introduce different number games to help familiarise them
more generally with all the numbers in context with each other. Where possible we will link it into the book of the week to help give this a bigger focus.
We also realised that by trying to rotate their open ended toys we were actually stopping them being open ended. So instead the Twins will have access to all their open-ended toys to play with whenever and to tie into their weekly playscene if they wish. The emphasis is greater freedom for Bear and Buttercup to choose and express themselves and most importantly to play.
For Button, we wanted to add improved fluidity and child led emphasis to her schooling and give her more focus on positive family time and play. However, at the same time, and in some ways a contradictory aim, we wanted to have more regular focuses on key areas.
Button actually craves structure but to allow more fluidity, instead of weekly drawn out lessons Button will have a list of Dailies to do- but shorter bursts. This will include reading, spellings,
maths, listening to a composer, exercise, sign language, French, Keyboard, helping round the house and looking at the Bible. Bursts will be between 5 and 20 minutes and these "dailies" will only
actually be four days a week. Wednesday will mainly be for family time and trips; Thursday will be dailies plus art and an hour to work on a project of her choice; Friday will be dailies plus half
hour science and half hour on a famous person (based on her @post.from.the.past letter); Saturday will be English; Sunday will be Church and more family time.
With the project, Button will have the chance to learn about what is interesting her at the moment. With art, and within her 20 minute invitation to learn Button will lead through choices. We will give her various options and then go in the direction she chooses. We will end up doing just five focused "lessons" (her project, art, science, famous person from history and English) and having two and a half days free, yet actually learning more every week. Button will have more reading time, more maths, more Bible study, more sign language, continuing French and adding keyboard.
The aim for this new "curriculum" or approach is to be eclectic, varied, balanced and flexible whilst giving Button fun non school time with us. So come back next month to read about how the first month has gone.
This month has been a real home Ed month! Academic study has been put on the back burner a little bit, or at least tweaked. There was still plenty of writing practice as Button started the next Secret Seven book and learnt about Edward Hopper, Scott Joplin and Walt Disney; the heart, the lungs and muscles; as well as continuing our journey through Genesis in Bible Study. We have written poems and made up tongue twisters and also did a lot of work on Remembrance day. We received a great deal from www.Planbee.com on a pack that was full of information and activities pitched at different ages and abilities. Button really enjoyed it and it varied the style with which we normally teach her. Halfway through the month we switched our music study from Scott Joplin to Christmas. So we will have two songs a week- one carol and one pop song- picking one of them each week to study the history of. So far we have looked a bit at the history of 'Jingle Bells' and 'White Christmas' but also listened to 'Christmas time' (the Darkness) and 'we three Kings'. We will return to Joplin in the new year. Similarly, we have left Edward Hopper til the new year to make time for Christmas arts and crafts.
However, the focus this month for Button had been on acquiring new skills. Some of this has been through her fab subscriptions- she is loving mud n bloom, post from the past, letterbox lab and yum box. Mud and bloom had some leaf threading (though we struggled first to find dry leaves and then not to rip them), her Post from the past was "from" Walt Disney and her yum box was Spain (we have looked through the booklet but still have the yums to enjoy. The way things fell this month, Button ended up doing two Letterbox labs this month. With the first she learnt how to capture a shadow and loved it so much she showed anyone who visited and it became a regular game for her, Mummy and Daddy. She also learnt about static electricity, bending water and making hair stick up. In her most recent box Button learnt about slime and swirls.
Button's Best Bits
So Button said her favourite part of this month was French club (possibly because it was the last thing she did) which is great as its a really positive thing to do. Schoolwork wise, I was
surprised when she said the Christmas cards were the best bit. They did look great though and she did a brilliant job.
So to new skills...after several weeks of working on tying laces with apparently little interest or progress, it suddenly clicked into place for Button. We have learning boards for dressing fasteners, including poppers, buttons and of course laces. Button used the lace board to learn and once she mastered it, she easily transferred the skill to laces on her boots and trainers.
So Button moved on to a new life skill which she soon had mastered. This one is an important one in our house- making tea and coffee. She was soon able to make much needed instant coffee for Daddy or Gran. She had already made tea for Daddy with teas from @save_our_teas with help but now she perfected making them on her own for Daddy, Nanny and herself.
We have spent a good chunk of the year working on Growth Mindset. The pack we got did serve a purpose but was very American based in terms of podcast and book lists. It was also a bit flakey at times and to be honest our Mindsets probably need a bit of work for us to implement a lot of the best ideas consistently and effectively. We pretty much worked through to the end of the pack we had and made the decision to adjust our approach. We want to continue to encourage Button to grow as a person and have an all round upbringing. So we are now going to introduce Button to British Sign Language. We did baby signing with all three kids so it is an obvious next step. Button loves it already, learning how to sign "My name is Button". We will start it properly in the new year.
As we eased off some of Button's lessons and started some Christmas craft, she did some sewing for the first time. Button did so well with this new skill, making some Christmas tree decorations in stages that she will finish in December. She was very cautious of the needle at first, but really perservered and did a good job.
Another great opportunity to work on some new skills arose when Grad organised a Home Education woodwork session at his business North East Wood recycling (soon to be rebranded Anglian Wood recycling). It was a great two hours where the kids were in three teams, working together to make Christmas trees out of pallets. Button quickly made a friend and though she was initially reticent to use the tools she did have a go at the end with the electric screwdriver. Then she had caught the bug a bit and so did some drilling when everyone else had gone, on a smaller project.
Button also had a Gymnastics competition this month and was really disheartened that two friends she made got in the top three but she didn't. However, Mummy and Daddy were really proud of how much she has improved. Unfortunately, she just can't manage certain basics such as cartwheels yet and so is unlikely to win any prizes until she masters those sort of skills.
Finally, Button had French club and was really excited to go, even though her two friends were not going this time and she would not know anyone. She just made another friend and we are so proud of her ability to put any anxieties to one side to do something she wants, to make friends and to generally fit in to all these groups and clubs she goes to.
So as Advent starts, we are into full Christmas mode, as you can follow on Instagram @teachingmumanddad and @teaching_mum_and_dad, and getting really excited. So come back in January to hear all about our Christmas and most importantly we hope you all have an amazing Christmas and a fab New Year.
We had a productive month in October, curriculum wise. Button looked at Hopper's artwork; studied the first Secret Seven book (which she loved); learnt about Brazil and the Rio Carnival; did her math seeds; continued through Genesis in Bible studies, looked into the Celts and the Bronze Age; learnt about Ada Lovelace; and studied different parts of the body including ears, eyes, the brain and the nose. This included doing a sugar/ cinnamon taste test to learn how it is the nose that picks up flavour.
Mix equal parts of sugar and ground cinnamon in a pot or bowl. With one hand, pinch the bridge of your nose and slide your fingers down til you are blocking your nostrils. With the other hand take
a small pinch of the mixture. Put the mixture in your mouth, dissolve it in your saliva and swill round your mouth. You should just detect sweetness on the tip of your tongue. Now release your nose
and you will suddenly taste the cinnamon.
Meanwhile, the Twins have continued touching on numbers (9, 10, 1 and 2), had lots of open ended play but also worked on fine and gross motor skills as well as life skills. Please visit our Toddler curriculum write ups for more details.
We had one big negative this month and that was with Rosetta Stone. We bought our discs about ten years ago and always thought it would be great to help our kids learn French. It cost us a lot of money but was pre-kids, back when John Lewis had a worthwhile bonus (we were both Partners) and we saw it as an investment like a set of encyclopedias. After all, the French language may evolve a bit but fundamentally will remain the same. Unfortunately, we seem to have lost the activation code and obviously after a decade we are no longer using the same computer. However, we loaded it onto our laptop and it has been working fine. Button loves it and has really improved since using it. So we were all really upset when all the levels suddenly locked this month. I emailed Rosetta Stone and was even able to send proof of purchase. Now there are lots of businesses out there who are great- who provide good, honest products and great customer service, businesses who value their customers. Then there are those, like Rosetta Stone, who have a good product but value money above customer experience. Their response to me wanting to be able to use a product I have already purchased from them and paid for in full was:
"Thank you for contacting Rosetta Stone. We have checked on the system and you have a version3 product. This product is no longer supported, unfortunately, when this became unsupported, all the information regarding the activation code was no longer accessible. So you will need to contact our UK sales team to purchase the online subscription at a great price because you are a version 3 customer. I apologize for any inconvenience these may cause."
Are you kidding me? Imagine a company builds houses and sells them all. Should they be allowed to suddenly activate a lock on all these houses so that they can now rent them out instead to generate a new, monthly income? It is not like the discs no longer work, as they were working fine- they have locked the version to force customers to pay monthly for something they have already paid for. This is disgusting and we will now be taking our learning to Duolingo instead. I told them I would be complaining about them in this blog and received this:
"Thank you for contacting Rosetta Stone.
I understand your opinion, unfortunately these changes were made by Windows and Mac, and because of these changes the program has become not compatible with future operative systems. So this is why we suggest for you to upgrade to online services, this will help to continue your studies and to provide with full support for these subscriptions.
This is a special offer for our most loyal customers. You can take advantage of this upgrade by calling Customer Care at (800) 280-8172 and then selecting Option 2.
If there is anything else we can assist you with, you may reply directly to this email or initiate a chat online via our support portal.
Thank you and have a great day!"
I assume this is an American number as here in the UK it was for an energy comparison company. While their explaination for starting their new subscription service is no doubt valid and is clearly the way most businesses operate now, it is not really relevant in my issue as it has been perfectly compatible with my current operative system!
So despite this one issue we had a pretty strong month academically. Button's spellings and writing is still at a very early age but she is working pretty hard and is improving. Her reading has really come on and we are so proud seeing and hearing her read or attempt to read things everywhere we go.
However, the real big wins this month were with Button's more extra-curricular activities. She has continued to engage with her invitations to learn/play though perhaps not as we would hope yet. We would like this to help promote self learning, creativity and non-screen spare time. So far she has been a bit picky, not giving everything a chance, and it has still been driven more by us. However, she has done it and she has embraced the creativity elements.
More successful have been her various subscriptions which are working out really well. Mud and Bloom continues to be great, with variety to maintain her interest. The dipping leaves in beeswax was
great and something we have been wanting to try but didn't know where to start.
Button has slowly grown into her Aquila subscription from Granddad and this month loved making her own paper after reading a piece in the magazine.
We started our Letterbox Lab subscription in October, and it has been a big hit all round. Mummy and Daddy love that it comes with everything you need, while Button has loved the activities with hidden rainbows, learning about incredible ink, making rainbow glasses and a rainbow spinner.
We are also super excited about a new subscription that we hope to have started by our next blog, so remember to come back next month to hear about that.
It has been a busy month, extra-curricular wise, especially half term week. This week started with French club which Button loves. This is a local club in Crayford that runs for one or two days each holiday. It is great fun and really supplements our French learning as I think it makes elements more real for Button. Button also had a fun sleepover at cousin Cornelius' new house which she loved followed by Pumpkin picking with Cornelius and also Bear, Buttercup and cousin Cupcake. It chucked down with rain but like true Brits they still had fun and got some great photos.
The big highlight though was Button learning to ride her bike. The Twins Godmother had recommended thebikeclub.co and Button's bike was too small for her. So we signed up, got Button a second hand frog bike and attempted to teach her to ride. The frog bike we got can't have stabilisers but is quite light and we took it as a positive as it would force her to learn. Daddy took on the fairly traditional role of trying to teach her to ride. However, Daddy was clearly too soft so Mummy took over with some tough love. An hour or so later and Button was riding. We are so proud of her and I really think the process of learning to ride and the feeling of success when she achieved it will stand her in such good stead for the future.
Button says her highlights this month were half term with French club, staying at Cornelius' house and pumpkin picking; trick or treating; and of course learning to ride her bike. Learning wise she loved learning about the body. Button also enjoyed brain breaks as part of her growth mindset studies.
The final thing this month was Halloween. We don't really go in for it but Button really wanted to go trick or treating. Luckily Auntie offered to take Button along with Cornelius and his friends. She loved it and even got to stay the night at Nanny's after. Pumpkin wise we didn't get around to carving pre-halloween so instead carved the big one as a hedgehog house and left them out for the wildlife. The little one we hollowed out and filled with peanut butter, seeds and dried fruit and hung it in our cherry tree as a bird feeder.
So now we enter a new month, hopefully with our new subscription, so come back in December to read about our November adventures.
Ah September it was fun! Sad as it was to wave goodbye to our summer(?) it was great to get our parks, museums, swimming pools, eateries and streets back as schools reclaimed their inmates. As home edders we get spoilt with peace and freedom during term time but Button was also super excited to get back to Drama this month after their summer break.
We have actually ended up with a fun low key start to year two for Button. The start of the month, Daddy was off for our Wedding Anniversary. Then we had Roald Dahl week to celebrate his birthday.
This was a lot of fun and we tied the Twins' curriculum into it as well. We used 'Boy', 'George's Marvelous medicine', '1,2,3', 'BFG' and 'Esio Trot' to study history, geography, sensory, art and
literature. It was great to celebrate one of Button's favourite authors and explore some of his books that we hadn't yet read.
For Button, we tied it in to each subject. So for Science we made a dream jar from oil water and effervescent tablets which she loved doing. We also painted dream jar pictures and the Twins joined in. She learnt about Norway from when he was a child. It was a lot of fun and Button really enjoyed learning about him.
Button also had a week away at Nanny and Grad's. She spent a lot of time outside at the park which was great, made up a play and taught her Aunt how to use a tablet (as she is looking at getting one). Button also took and did a chunk of her schoolwork that week which was great, including learning her spellings. We were pleasantly surprised when she got back and only got one spelling wrong in her test.
We wanted to get back in to swimming now that the school holidays are over, so we squeezed it in once in September. Button did a great job of practicing going under water. This will help her confidence as she is still quite nervous and stiff in terms of actually trying to swim. On the exercise front, we discovered that now Daddy finally fixed the pedal on Button's bike, she had outgrown it. So, on the recommendation of the Twins' Godmother, we ordered a frog bike for Button from the bikeclub.com. This will mean no stabilisers and Button can't wait to get going on it.
The Twins have been busy as ever with their curriculum, which you can read about in the Twins' curriculum section. They also started a new group ABC sounds right, preparing them for phonics. We are not overly fussed about them learning phonics this young but we love the idea of them socialising with their age group and older.
We have also started an excellent new subscription this month. So far, we cannot enthuse enough about the Letterbox Lab. We have gone for the smaller box which has a couple of experiments plus
various extras and online extras. They also offer a Home Educator's discount. They supply everything you need, even down to the scissors. Button loved it, she loved learning about white light and
We also bought an x-ray puzzle this month as Button wanted to learn more about the body. Button loved that once it's built you use the torch light to see through the body to the bones. It comes with little mission cards to find certain body parts.
Check us out on Instagram @teachingmumanddad and @teaching_mum_and_dad to follow our adventures during the month and we will be back with October's blog in a month's time.
Sorry that August's blog is so late. The end of August/start of September is a bit crazy busy for us with a birthday and our wedding anniversary, plus we popped away to Stowmarket for a quick break. Anyway, back to August...
...Daddy took Button on a school trip to London this month, to visit the Royal Academy for their Summer Exhibition.
Button was in a really good mood on the train up there and seemed pretty excited. We then jumped on a bus as it was starting to rain and I knew there was a lot of walking ahead of us. This enabled us to take in some landmarks and talk about history. We talked about Nelson's Column, the lions of Trafalgar Square, a statue of George IV, a statue of Florence Nightingale and the Crimean War Memorial. Button really impressed me with a lot of her history knowledge. We then walked from Piccadilly Circus to the Royal Academy.
The lady offered us a kid's guide and Button was keen. The guide really helped make the galleries less daunting for Button and provided her with simple and effective engagement. With things to look for and pictures to draw, but also rooms with nothing to do (we called these three rooms) where she could just look at the art herself, there was enough variety to maintain Button's interest. It was super, super busy which was good to see, with a real range of ages that is necessary for the Academy to have a future. It was also great to see Button get excited in the shop about choosing postcards of artwork we had seen. Often in the past we have been to places of interest and then in the gift shop she would choose slime or something else with no relevance to where we had been.
This month we also had Cornelius' sixth birthday. Cornelius, Uncle and Aunty were on holiday down at Romney Sands Holiday Park. So on the Wednesday we travelled down en mass to spend the day with them. It was a great day with lots of memories and experiences. Button seemed so grown up: picking teams and playing rounders with all the family; going on a rollercoaster, first with Cornelius and then again on her own (she just queued up on her own -Uncle J was watching her- while Mummy and Daddy were taking the Twins on rides); and playing with Cornelius and Mummy in the arcade at the holiday camp. Mummy and Daddy were so proud of her! For Bear there was lots of fun and new things too. He embraced playing on the beach, loved the little train to Dymchurch and then loved the rides at the funfair. He even went with just Button on the cups ride and then the Dumbo ride -TWICE !!! Buttercup enjoyed bits- playing on the beach; her ice cream and dinner. However, she was not really a fan of the rides or the crowds at the funfair.
The end of the month brought Mummy's birthday. Our mini ecowarrior, Button, had bought Mummy a t-shirt from Rapanui that is made from recycled clothes and can be recycled when it wears out. It has "Save the Planet" printed in big letters and Mummy loved it. The Twins had got some cool dungarees for Mummy but played a smaller role in the purchase. We had a great family day and Mummy was thoroughly spoilt. We went to a little tea room called Lindy Loos where Button had tea and cake and the Twins had chocolate milk and banana milkshake cake. We then let them spend their pocket money in the toy shop and we treated them to a colour in cardboard playhouse and Button to some watercolours from Hobbycraft.
Perhaps a little surprisingly we even managed to squeeze in some schoolwork this month. We started our curriculum quite late this year so felt we were playing catch up a bit. Plus we have found it a little young for Button in some areas so felt there are some areas we wanted to push on with a bit more. While with the Twins, we wanted to maintain the momentum as most of their curriculum is through play anyway.
So this month Button learnt about electricity, Japan, and the Stone age. Button has always loved Japan (probably due to her love of Sushi) and enjoyed learning more about things such as clothing (Kimonos) and martial arts. Doing a history project on the Stone age was also her choice and she especially enjoyed learning about cave paintings. The project on electricity was sparked by Button wanting to build a solar powered fan. Mummy and Daddy were a tad concerned about how little we knew, how to pitch the information to a six year old and whether it would be interesting enough to maintain her attention. We were pleasantly surprised- Mummy and Button enjoyed the solar fan, a potato clock, making online "circuits" and just learning the history of electricity. This was a perfect example of how and why Home Education works so well for our family! Make sure you follow @teachingmumanddad and @teaching_mum_and_dad on Instagram to follow our adventures in learning about the world on a daily basis and we will be back in a couple of weeks to tell you all about our September!
While the first six months of 2019 flew by, July has been a lot more steady. It has been a month of celebration, opportunity, memories and change. It certainly feels like we have packed a lot in.
The month began with the Twins birthday. In our house, it is less a birthDAY and more a birthday WEEK! It is cousin Cupcake's birthday the day after the Twins' and her party was booked for the Saturday after, so we celebrated the Twins' birthday the weekend before. The plan was a picnic in the park but the weather made this impossible, so cousin Cornelius, cousin Cupcake and a couple of friends from Sing and Sign came round the house instead. It is fascinating to see similarities and differences between Bear and Buttercup and Button when she was their age. The Twins are certainly more proactive at opening presents than Button used to be. Although that may be partly due to Button rushing them! Strangely, Buttercup freaked out at everyone singing "Happy Birthday" just as Button used to.
Monday was Gran's day and we headed to Hall Place. The aim was to visit the owls and the butterflies, but unfortunately the owls were shut. We still had a great day though, meeting the butterflies, ducks and geese; exploring the grounds and climbing trees; and visiting the art gallery. Button was not keen on the butterflies but loved the rest whilst Bear and Buttercup just loved the freedom to run and explore.
Tuesday night we travelled to Nanny and Grad's flat in Stowmarket. We were going to stay a few nights before coming back Friday in time for Cupcake's party on Saturday. Wednesday was Bear and Buttercup's actual birthday and in the morning they received their gifts from Nanny and Grad: an old fashioned style spinning top and a jack in the box; a Grimm's rainbow; a Dinosaur bridge for their train set; and best of all a wooden Fire station.
Then Grandad drove up and planned to take us to a Steam train place. Unfortunately, this small project is only allowed to run the trains so many times a year and mainly on weekends. Fortunately, it was a volunteer day and one the guys was so nice he gave Grandad, Button, Bear and Daddy a little tour while Buttercup napped and Mummy searched for an alternative. Grad saved the day with a suggestion of another Steam train place not too far away. What a gem of a place with so much to do and see including both a running full sized steam train and a running miniature steam train! Bear was so happy!!! There was also a giant old fashioned carousel which all three loved and got to go on three times as part of the entrance price (the trains were also included in this price); a brilliant museum, a playroom, brilliant model train sets, a play park and a signal box where you could actually change the signal. We did not stop, other than for lunch and ice creams, and still did not get round everything. We fully recommend a visit if you get the chance.
Thursday was Nanny and Grad's turn for a day out and they wanted to take is to Southwold. Daddy was pleased as he is an Adnams fan, while the kids love a seaside. We started with the pier and Button loved the special curiosity style arcade they had. We also picked up some eco friendly soaps, a lovely unique birthday card for Cupcake, a Lanka Kade Dinosaur and some Lanka Kade letters in the gift shops. Next we headed for a cup of tea/ Cappuccino/ coke in a little cafe which had a pitch and putt course. Grad and Nanny had got there first with the Twins and the lady had kindly loaned them two clubs and balls to keep them entertained. We then walked up to the town where the girls went shopping and Daddy and Grad took the Twins to Adnams for juice, crisps and Beer where Bear flirted shamelessly with the little girl on the table next to us. We had to hit the beach next, though intelligently about as far away from the car (with our swimming stuff and towels) as we could get. Even so, all three kids had a great time in the sand, as did Bot and our Mickey and Minnie peg dolls. We finished with dinner back on the pier.
Cupcake's party was at a soft play centre in Welling. It was intriguing to watch Button, Bear and Buttercup explore and enjoy the soft play in different ways. Button went off with cousin Cornelius before making friends with another little girl and playing with her. Bear loved it and alternated between following Cornelius and playing with the ball pool balls. Buttercup was more cautious, dragging Mummy in first before getting more comfortable and playing in the ball pool.
We also had Button's show this month. After months of practice at Drama and at home, Button played a part in a scene about going back in time to the Egyptians; sang in two songs and performed in a dance routine. She did really well and really enjoyed herself, though she was shattered afterwards.
Button also really enjoyed French club this month. We paid for two full days this time and Button thrived- having fun, topping her French up and spending time with a couple of friends who were also going.
Hopefully, you have all embraced plastic free July? Button has really bought into it, embarking on her mini-eco warrior journey. We have made several swaps, with Button vlogging about them on Instagram. We have swapped looseleaf tea and reusable teabags for plastic sealed teabags, bamboo toothbrushes for our old plastic ones, dish washing soap for plastic bottled liquid, hand soap bars for plastic bottled liquid soap, metal straws for plastic straws, shampoo bars for plastic bottled shampoo and milk in glass bottles for milk in plastic bottles amongst others.
So lots of fun and games this month. On a serious note, we also adjusted our curriculums this month. The joy of Home Educating of course is that you can adjust to suit your family. Bear and Buttercup have developed so much the last month or so, while our wooden toy library has grown nicely. So this was the perfect time for a revamp. We removed some elements that were no longer relevant, added more open ended play and updated gross and fine motor skills.
Similarly, as good as the Blossom and Root curriculum has been for Button, the version we have is aimed at 4-6 year olds. So some of the elements were starting to be a bit too simple. So we dropped the integrated science and maths and the English language. Replacing them with Mathseeds, a weekly science project and by creating an English lesson that takes elements from the previous curriculum but designing it to push Button a bit more. We have kept the history and geography element but more as a personal/ local subject which we are now supplementing with a weekly history project and a weekly geography project. These three new weekly projects will be Button led in terms of topic. We have also finally started using our Growth Mindset stuff which is proving a success and are continuing our Bible studies with our Table talk book. We have also introduced an invitation to play and some invitations to learn in Button's Home Education area. These will change weekly and consist of a learning toy such as Kapla planks, one reading book at her reading level, a poetry book at her reading level and a work book such as a handwriting book. We have also changed our timetable to make Wednesdays more flexible for school trips. For example, we are hoping to take Button to the Royal Acedemy for the Summer Exhibition sometime next month. So stay tuned on here and on Instagram @teachingmumanddad and @teaching_mum_and_dad as we continue on our learning journey.
MISSING- the month of June!
Did anyone else blink and pretty much miss June? Even the weather seemed confused about whether it was June or February!
Well despite the speed and apparent brevity of the month, Button rode June like a rollercoaster and crammed loads in.
There were physical developments as Button lost both her front top teeth. Button has also been doing well at gym and at drama. With her Summer show for drama fast approaching, the last day of June was her dress rehearsal. She said it went well and she seemed a lot more confident afterwards than she had been beforehand.
The Blossom and Root curriculum has led Button through the works of Picasso and Tchaikovsky, through much loved tales of Winnie the Pooh, through the life of Daddy, to Mercury, to Venus and to the International Space Station. The highlight was probably Button's first attempt at a still life, which was a great success.
In French, Button has continued her progress on Rosetta Stone, run a French Cafe and played a colour game.
Button's reading improves every month and she is starting to read to the Twins. She has even started doing a bit of Reading Eggs again. Whilst she still loves listening to us read the Worst Witch books and listening to Enid Blyton books on audibles. This month she listened to the "naughtiest girl in school" series and "Summer Adventure stories".
This has been a bad month in terms of going to Church as we have been so busy, so our 'Table talk for families' book on exploring the Bible has been more important than ever. Mummy and Button have covered the miracle of the lame man from Acts. They have spoke about having faith in God and turning away from sin. Daddy was very impressed when, on the way back from her dress rehearsal, Button wanted to stand on what she calls the "Prayer rock" and say a prayer.
We have been behind on our Yum box but eventually got to South Korea. There were lots of unusual and surprisingly good snacks this time. Meanwhile, Button visited Argentina with Little Passports and then did a project on Argentina having finished her project on Egypt. Button's third monthly subscription, Mud 'n' Bloom, continues to capture Button's imagination. This month she has grown courgette and velvet queen sunflowers.
In the middle of all this, Button managed to fit in going to Stowmarket for the week to stay with Nanny. While there she visited the museum to learn the history of Stowmarket. We also all went to Leeds Castle for Father's Day. This was a great day of fun, memories and no shortage of learning opportunities. Button loved the maze, the birds of prey and the castle itself. The eye spy sheets the Castle has is a brilliant way to keep the kids engaged. Button even got to try their old fashioned boot remover. The Twins loved the trip too, especially the ducks and the train. We then all went to Stowmarket for the weekend for the Stow Fiesta at the local Rugby club. We weren't sure what to expect but it was amazing. Button took full advantage of the FREE face painting, the FREE climbing wall, the FREE circus workshop, the play park and the assault course (also free to use). Bear and Buttercup enjoyed the FREE balloon animals, the FREE Punch and Judy show and the FREE circus workshop. The weather was perfect and Nanny, Grad, Mummy and Daddy enjoyed it as much as the kids.
Finally, we are so proud of Button for embarking on her journey as an 'eco warrior'. Mummy and Daddy have been inspired by Hugh's "War on plastic" and Button has bought right into it. She is so keen to test out and promote on social media each swap we try. We are right at the start of this journey but Button's attitude and approach gives us such hope for the future of our Planet.
It's been a month of two halves this month. The first two weeks were school work as usual but the second two weeks were full of holiday fun and half term. We don't normally bother taking half term off as everywhere we would normally go is busy but we had a few playdates set up with her friends that do go to school and everyone was very tired from our holiday that we decided it would be best to take some extra time off, but I'll come back to that later.
So the first two weeks were business as usual and we learnt even more about Ancient Egypt. Button is still really interested in this part of History and did some amazing work on it. She learnt about their make up and spent ages drawing an Egyptian face decorated with make up. It was great to see her enjoying drawing and colouring because even though she's creative and loves to paint and build she's never really enjoyed colouring or drawing. However, lately she's really been getting into it and I will find her in the kitchen colouring me a beautiful picture.
We also learnt about China with out Little Passports subscription and enjoyed the tastes of South Korea with our yum box. We highly recommend both, so much fun to have as a family with the yum box and Little Passports is a great way to learn about other Countries. Our Mud and Bloom box had us leaf rubbing and planting poppies and corn, which are all doing really well so far. While the actual curriculum we follow, Blossom and Root, had us learning about where Daddy's name came from and where he was born, we travelled to the Sun in our spaceship and we learnt about Picasso through studying his art work.
Button also cooked us dinner all by herself using Cbeebies, she made us enchiladas. They tasted amazing and she received her level 7 in gymnastics.
It was a busy few weeks but the next two were a lot more slow paced and relaxing.
We had a week at Bexhill, not too far from us but on the seafront and we caught the weather so well and had beautiful sunshine all week. The Twins loved the freedom and Button enjoyed the quality time with all of us. Gran always comes with us and all the children loved the extra attention.
We spent two days at Hastings where we explored the Blue Reef sea life centre. The Twins loved watching the fish swimming around and all the colours. Bear was amazed by a young ray that kept dancing but their favourite room was actually the reptile room or Jungle room as they called it. Buttercup kept waving at all the animals lol.
Button then found a little shipwreck museum which was amazing. She was wearing her dinosaur dress and they spotted it straight away and led her to the Dinosaur section where she got to sit on a Dinosaur footprint and hold a Dinosaur fossil. She was so over the moon her smile said it all. They spent so much time with her giving her so much information in a fun way (such as shark poo is called cop-row-light) and it was free. The Twins did some colouring and had a little explore themselves.
The second day at Hastings we did the Fisherman's museum and we all got to go on top of a real boat. Mummy's nerves were tested with the stairs and the Twins but they loved it. It's amazing how many learning experiences there are when on holiday without even realising you are learning.
The Twins loved the pebble beaches and we gave them a bucket each to fill but at Hastings there is also a sand play area and we spent ages with the twins there while Button explored the bigger park and the mini golf with Daddy, even getting a hole in one!
The house we stayed at was a town house called Seascape and which we booked through Sykes, which really encouraged the Twins on the stairs. Bear mastered coming down while away but Buttercup is still nervous around the stairs and would only do a few stairs at a time before asking for a cuddle. They loved the holiday and the chance to be outside everyday, having three adults really gave us the opportunity to get out and to have one on one time with each child. It was a special time for them and us. Visit our Instagram pages @teachingmumanddad and @teaching_mum_and_dad to see pictures and more details of our amazing week.
The second week was half term and we were all very tired from the holiday. We had done a lot of walking and the children were all in the same room, so not always getting a great night's sleep. so we decided it was best to refresh during this week. This was actually a good thing for Mummy because it gave her the chance to do some fun stuff with the children. The Twins did their first baking and made some yummy cookies and Button got back into her Lego. We also played board games and just enjoyed each others company while catching up with daily life.
This month has been a crazy one. Full of visitors and Easter. We decided through all the visitors and celebrations we would continue with our home ed bits but at an even more relaxed pace than we
already have. Which meant taking some bits out of our weekly set up and going with the flow with others. We decided to put our main focus on Button's spaceship as she still had so many ideas to
create and attach.
Our month started with a weekend visit from their Uncle who is currently living abroad. This always excites Button as he's the silly uncle and always gets up to cheeky things. We spent the weekend with family and catching up.
Our next set of visitors were the most exciting, our caterpillars. We received five and Button named them Will, Shane, Ataylor, Sailor and Racer. Not sure where these names came from but by the time they were cocooned we were used to them lol. The day came to release them and Gran came round specially but as the weather was too cold they wouldn't fly off our hands. So back they went till the weather was warmer and we had another try. They were a lot more eager to fly away this time and most ended up on our cherry tree full of blossom.
Our third and final visitor was Spanish Grandad, I'm sure you can all guess where his travelled from. He was staying for a week and sharing his time with us, Uncle Michael and Uncle Joe Joe. This was a lot of fun and we spent the time going to the park or playing board games. He spoilt the kids rotten and Button loved her new stunt scooter.
Plus we had Easter which meant a lot of family celebration and Church. This included a fun family get together at Nanny's with a sleepover and then a great Good Friday at Grandad and Grandma's. The kids loved playing on their scooter and scuttlebugs in the wilderness of Grandad's garden!
With all this going on, doing any actual school work was tricky, Button was super excited by everything going on and by the middle of April (just before Easter) she had a cold again so would lose concentration pretty quickly. This just meant that we tried to focus on fun, craft based bits like finishing her spaceship (finally) which looks amazing, and Easter crafts.
We did manage to learn about Ancient Egypt a bit before all of this and then when Uncle J came over we were able to play the mummy game and race to dress each other like a mummy using toilet roll. Grandad was judge and we ended up in a tie after two rounds and a month's worth of toilet roll (or two week's in our house). She enjoyed ancient Egypt so much we are continuing with it for a bit longer, into May, which is the joy of home ed.
Her spaceship is complete and we are all very proud of it! Proud of Button for her amazing ideas and use of the recycled items we collected for what seemed like a year and Daddy for making her ideas a reality. She can't wait to start flying across the Solar system in it.
Also, because of the Easter holidays we got to spend some time with their cousins: a cheeky trip to the park and the local trampoline centre. The Twins especially loved these outings and the time spent with their cousins.
They also loved playing in the garden. We finally had the weather to cut the grass and get out there. Buttercup loved the mud kitchen and would make me mud soup. Bear loved the trampoline and slide. It was just so lovely to watch them enjoy their outdoor space with Button.
Meanwhile the twins have had a busy and successful month. Follow what the Twins got to learn and experience under the Toddler curriculum section.
Where does one start when they have a whole month to talk about? When we had so many play and learning opportunities?
Let's start with Button: She worked so hard with her blossom and root curriculum. She started the plans for her space ship under science and really enjoyed finding out what happened the year she was born in history. Button was so excited this month that she started a new project on famous people. This was inspiring for me, watching her brain work and wanting to learn more. It was a good timing that she showed an interest in famous people because I really want to focus on famous women with her soon to inspire and encourage her. This time round she wanted to learn more about Nelson Mandela as he is from South Africa and our country project this month (based around our Little Passport subscription) was on South Africa. She also learnt that there are over 11 languages spoken in South Africa and it is known as the rainbow nation because of it. For her history she went on a completely surprising route. I asked Daddy to sit with her and watch some Horrible Histories to pick a topic (I won't do this again). Button found one clip hilarious where explorers were looking for the city of gold and were sent the wrong way by pretty tribe women so they wouldn't bother their tribe and home. So this is what she wanted to learn more about. Daddy thought it was fantastic, that this is why we Home Educate, that Button could choose to learn about the city of El Dorado. I won't lie, I was less keen. I struggled a lot because yes it's history but it's a mythical place! So I was struggling to find books or even facts on it in the library. We soon discovered that Sir Walter Raleigh went in search for it but only bought back tomatoes, potatoes, the prickly pear and to Buttons horror, tobacco. She now blames smoking on him lol. We then spent a week painting and building her own El Dorado which turned out amazing. ("So maybe Daddy was right?"-Daddy). Our other subscriptions are mud and bloom and universal yums. What a lovely way to explore nature with mud and bloom. Button had to make a kite with Daddy and ice decorations with Mummy. She also planted two types of seeds. I am already starting to plan the garden as these plants will need somewhere more permanent to live other than my tiny window sill lol.
Universal yums is always a huge success in this house. We love exploring other countries and this month the twins really joined it. It was very lemon and haznut heavy (which I loved) but Daddy felt there could have been other typically Italian flavours like tomatoes, basil and oregano incorporated.
As well as all this planned learning we also had time to do so much more. With half term we had three play dates and one of them was at soft play which the Twins loved. We did a lot of Lego, we made Valentine Day cards and she started her swimming with Daddy. Button learned to trace and draw maps, she also got her threading and playdough out and spent a lot of the end of February in the garden. After the dreaded January we had with sickness and poorly babies, this month I was really encouraged to do more with our free time as a family, getting the Twins more involved and encouraging Ayla to do different things with her time. Which brings me on to the Twins. We decided to re-do the living room Maria Kondo style. We had already tackled the kids rooms, so upstairs was a haven of calm and joy. I wanted to bring that downstairs as we spend most of our time there. It took a good week for me to sort through all the boxes of toys, craft, sensory etc. We then decided to toy rotate so sorted through all that as well. We have 3 boxes in the shed ready to swap with three boxes in the living room. We have gained more space and clear areas for playing, exploring and displays. I feel so much better in this space and I think the Twins do to. Now we have more space and my brain is freed up to plan I have started to plan play based activities for the Twins. Our first full week was on the colour pink, you can read all about that under babies and colours. They loved these activities and really got a lot out of them, plus it was time we could all be together playing. Button really enjoyed these activities too, we just had to stop her from taking over lol!
It is Button's birthday next month with some cool bits planned. We are also working on bit of a toddler curriculum for the Twins that we hope to roll out next month so look out for March's blog!
It felt like all Button's time with us was School based, she was battling everything, she was rejecting reading and we felt like the twins were being neglected. On top of that we were both exhausted from planning and writing up. This would be fine if it was working and some months it did, but Mummy was struggling to find new crafts and keep things fresh and we felt that some subjects were losing impact. Daddy was starting to feel a bit disconnected in terms of finding time to plan, teach, inspire and write up around work and that he was Button's teacher and not a Dad. Daddy was also worried about fitting new subjects in such as science, music and swimming.
Mummy was unsure when Daddy started mentioning curriculums. We were worried that they would be too rigid, too generic and too school-like, defeating the point of Home Educating in the first place. Then Mummy found Blossom and Root. This curriculum is nicely flexible and follows the Charlotte Mason style of education with short focussed lessons. It provides some structure and planning but is not rigid. It neatly incorporates different subjects but keeps it short focussed and fun. We are then supplementing with Mathseeds, one Button led History project a month and one Button led Country project a month, inspired by Little Passports. However, we are approaching these extras in a similar short focussed way as the rest of the curriculum. Similarly, we are using short bursts of Rosetta Stone for French and Table Talk for Families for Christianity. We also took inspiration from this new approach to take a step back from Reading eggs and the Biff and Chip books. We are covering more now but in less time which means more time for play, more time for the twins, time for hobbies, time for swimming and more planned time for subscriptions such as Yum boxes, Little Passports and Mud and Bloom.
Best of all, Button has thrown herself in. Her approach has been positive and she often wants to do more. Button has even redeveloped a taste for reading which tied in nicly with some new reading books we bought her. We are attempting these with a lot less pressure than Daddy had previously applied at times in his eagerness to encourage Button to read. All of which has empowered Button once more. She is enjoying learning and once again teaching Mum and Dad.