Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Recycled Greenhouses

Greenhouses with cress

In science we have been learning about both the needs of plants and recycling. We put these 2 ideas together and re-purposed some plastic bottles to make these green houses. The cress sure grew quickly inside!

Monday, 30 January 2012

Pattern Landscape

Following on from our previous work with lines and patterns we decided to make a picture. We were inspired by the work of Karla Gerard

First we did a directed drawing of a landscape and filled each section with patterns. We used permanent markers on watercolour paper.

By R age 5

By L age 3

We then used acrylic inks to paint in each section. R has really improved his painting technique today.

By R aged 5

By L aged 3

We Got Bugs!

Today as part of our science project we went on a bug search, both inside and outside the house. The children were really into it. Here are some of the things we found that R recorded in his nature journal.

House bugs - grasshopper, spider, roach, beetle

Outdoors - beetle, spider, slug, snail, ant (with eggs), lizard and bird. 

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Hieroglyphic Scrolls

This week in history we have been learning about the first writing. Today the children made some Egyptian hieroglyphic scrolls.

As a warm up we experimented with markers to see what types of different lines we could make.

Next we tried out some inks with brushes and nib pens to see what marks we could make.

Then we used some long sheets of paper to make the scrolls. Firstly we used markers to make and decorate a border. R then used a nib pen, whilst L used a marker, to put in the hieroglyphs. We used an Egyptian picture symbol to represent each letter in our names. 

Next we used fine brushes to paint in coloured inks.

Finally we made ends for the scrolls from tightly rolled paper. Once rolled up they were tied with some old lace.

By L

By R

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Macro Photography

This week Dad has been teaching the kids about macro photography. Here's a selection of their photos.

By R

By R

By R

By R

By R

By L

By L

By L

By L

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


Reading library books

Reading is a huge part of our everyday life here so why haven't I blogged about it before? Maybe it's because reading doesn't provide a wealth of lovely photos, or is it that reading is so everyday its taken for granted? Reading to us is as natural as breathing, as routine as brushing our teeth. So how do I teach reading? What do we read? How does reading fit into other home school subjects?

Firstly, and most importantly, if you want your child to love reading for themselves you need to start by enjoying books together. As early as possible. Even as babies the children loved books and we introduced bedtime stories when R was around 6 months old. We still have a picture book each before bed and, for R (who is older), a chapter from a longer novel too. We have always been members of the library and even as babies the children enjoyed visiting for bounce and rhyme time and story time.

So when should you start teaching children to read? Well I believe this should be when they express a desire to do so, after all it is very difficult to teach anyone something that they are not interested in. As long as you continue to share books children will eventually be motivated to read for themselves. R is very gifted in his reading ability, whilst L follows a more typical development. R became interested in letters at around 18 months old and begged me for an alphabet puzzle which I (stupidly) thought would be too difficult for him. He used this puzzle to very quickly learn the letter names and sounds. Next we moved onto using the Jolly Phonics materials. These are all available on Amazon and you'll find the teachers handbook and the finger phonics books the most useful. I also made sandpaper letters for the children to feel. By age 2 R was reading! I have used the jolly phonics readers but I have found that the children prefer the Oxford reading tree books. L has learnt all the sounds and can blend simple words and she knows many tricky words too. She is reading level 1 books. L works on phonics and tricky words (those that cannot be sounded out) every day. Both children also read aloud to Dad or me every day. R reads short novels from the library or his favourite Beastquest books.

There is also lots of independent reading going on whenever there is an opportunity. The children know that I'm not very friendly if woken too early so they will often creep out of their rooms to read books from our library. R is currently independently reading through the Harry Potter series. L just gets out her favourite books to "read" looking through all the pictures. Throughout the day the children go off to read often.

R in our library

We visit the public library once every week. The librarians kindly gave me a teacher's card so we can get out 50 books between us, and yes we often do! At the library I ask the children to choose some books related to our current topics for the week, this will form the basis for assigned reading during the week. The children also get out many picture books and short novels. R is currently working his way through the collection of Superman and Batman books. Once they have chosen their books they usually sit and read them in the library until, after about an hour, I demand we leave. I keep the library books downstairs well away from our own books to avoid having to search for them every week.

Every day R has assigned reading time. I give him some pages, or a whole book, or a few short books to read based around our history, science and art topics for that week. This is working really well and ensures that the library books actually get read. It also frees me up to work 1 to 1 with L. In addition to independent topic reading the children both listen together to me read from our spine books for history and science. We are using the Story Of The World series and the MrQ science textbook. The children then narrate back what they have learnt and I record this for them in their topic books. We also often read together from our library books.

Assigned reading about Picasso

I would actually like to have more time for reading. I'm currently planning to snatch a bit more time for reading when we are on the train, in the car or waiting for appointments. If I know R he will be reading a book any time he can!

Reading the dictionary cover to cover!

Use the side bar to click on "English" to find out even more about reading, spelling and writing.

Egyptian Faces 2

We were inspired by the Deep Space Sparkle website to make these Egyptian portraits. Firstly we experimented with oil pastels in our sketch books to make a range of patterns to decorate our Egyptians with.

Pattern experiments

Later I did a directed drawing with the children to make an Egyptian face and head dress. The children then used some of their pattern ideas to decorate the piece. Once they were complete I cut the faces out and mounted them on a colourful backing paper.

Egyptian by R age 5. Oil pastels

Egyptian by L age 3. Oil pastels

See more here.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Nature Walk - Cicadas

Today we took a short nature walk and as usual the children collected lots of specimens. We noticed lots of exoskeletons of some kind of insect around the bases of trees and when we looked into the trees we found lots more stuck there. One was even being inhabited by a spider.

There were hundreds of them. We collected a few to take home and identify. We found out that these are the exoskeletons of cicada nymphs. The nymphs emerge from underground and make their way into the trees where they then moult and the adult cicada leaves the nymph skeleton behind. You can find out more here.

Check out those claws!

The children recorded their findings in their nature journals.

By R,  the 2 L shapes are its other legs which fell off in transit

By L

Paper Making

This week in science we have been learning about renewable and non-renewable resources and recycling. We decided to have a go at recycling some of our old drawings into new paper. Luckily I had picked up a paper making kit in a yard sale a while back. Just in case you are wondering about the eye make-up we were still being Egyptians today.

First step was to rip up lots of paper and soak it overnight in water. Then we blended small amounts at a time in the kitchen blender (food and art preparation overlaps a lot in this house!). Water and slushy paper got splatted pretty much everywhere.

A disgusting paper pulp.

We took the next stage outside. First we put some pulp and more water in a large container. Then we assembled the mould, net and deckle on top of each other.

Assembling the paper making frame

Next we lowered the frame into the pulp mixture and caught up some pulp on the top. We let some of the water drain back into the tub.

Lowering the frame into the pulp

Letting water drain out

Lifting out some paper

Letting it drain

The next job was to remove the deckle, lift up the paper on the net, and turn it onto a drying board.

Removing the deckle

We tried putting some leaves and shells on some of the drying boards to give out paper some texture.

Adding leaves to make an imprint

Placing the paper and net onto the drying board.

Next we used a sponge over the net to soak up the excess water and then we removed the net.

Soaking up excess water

L's first piece of paper ready to dry.

We left the boards and paper to dry in the sun. Then it was a simple matter of flexing the boards to loosen the paper and peeling it off.

Here are the results:

Finished papers some textured, some plain

A sheet of paper with leaf imprints

I'm not sure what we are going to do with the paper yet, but I'll think of something.