Boozy planning


J has been planning.  He picked up some demijohns from Freecycle (when it existed, it now appears to have morphed and we have a local Freegle) and is planning to embark on making wine, or more specifically ‘country’ wine, as although we have vines, they aren’t producing grapes (or are even in the ground yet…)  So I ordered him “Booze”, by John Wright, the twelfth book in the River Cottage Handbook Series.

Of course I had to have a read of it myself.  I’ve made various infusions/liqueurs/ratafias in the past, but not anything ‘from scratch’, so it’s an interesting read (and has given me a giggle in a few places so far).  Lots of inspiration to be had and I’m rather excited that potentially in about a year’s time we may have some of our own home-made wine.

Also on the table is “The Story of Plants” by John Hutchinson and Ronald Melville.  It dates back to 1948 and in the back is the library card from when it was part of the San Mateo Junior College Library.  I first saw this book when 5 Orange Potatoes shared a photo of it online and in a herbal group I’m a member of and it looked so interesting I thought I’d try and find a copy for us as well.  I was lucky and managed to find one for a few pounds and was really pleased when it arrived.  It’s a lovely old book.  Originally written for children, so very approachable, without ‘dumbing down’ the information and Moo and I have been steadily working through it.  It has some wonderful fold out ‘family trees’ of plants:


We we will be using it for inspiration for further learning in the weeks to come.

The swirl ball is finished.  The actual knitting part of it, a little while ago, but it took longer to get around to stuffing and sewing it up (I’m not a great fan of having to sew a seam).  It was a quick and simple knit and interesting in how it knitted up with the short rows  (not that short rows are inherently interesting, rather how they worked together to make the swirl effect).  I am now on to baby knitting for friends’ babies, as there’s been a few born all around Arty’s age (and all boys, with one still to come in the next couple of weeks). I was struggling to get basic things done for a while after Arty was born, let alone manage to knit anything for friends, so I’m now catching up (albeit slowly).

Joining in with Keep Calm and Craft On and Yarn Along.


Home Education May 2015

I had kept meaning to publish a week by week account of what we’ve been up to, but despite plenty of good intentions it just didn’t quite happen.  May has been rather a busy month.  I’ve broken down some of the things Nin/we’ve done into rough subject areas, although we won’t have explored them having planned to cover these subject areas (rather this is a retrospective note of things done).

Nin went to a Bluebell festival with friends and had a go at various activities, including climbing and working an outside forge.


Nin has started attending an art class for home educated older children/teenagers organised by Doncaster Community Arts (darts).  She attended her first session this month (having missed two due to me having not long having had a caesarian and being physically unable to get her to them).  The theme of the art class she attended was ‘charcoals’.  She really enjoyed the class and is looking forward to going back after half-term.


Biology, Botany, Chemistry, Environmental Studies, Natural Sciences, Ornithology, Physiology, PSHE, Science and Zoology

Nin has been learning about birds that might commonly visit our garden using a booklet sent to us as part of the Big Garden Birdwatch (organised by the RSPB) earlier in the year.  She has also used the RSPB’s website to listen to common garden bird’s songs so that she might more easily identify them when she hears them.


She wanted to find out why some people are left-handed (various people in our family are) and so she watched: Why Are Some People Left-handed


We have been discussing the importance of microbes and how our bodies are populated with various bacteria and that some are useful and beneficial to us.  As part of this, Nin has made a ginger beer bug (an example of the recipe adapted from the book “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon Morell – which we have – can be found at Wellness Mama: How to Make a Ginger Beer Bug) and explored some basic fermentation techniques in cooking.  She also watched:  You Are Your Microbes


Nin has been increasingly interested in making perfume, so she has been exploring the perfume industry; what goes into perfume; basic properties of essential oils and their uses; and has made a bottle of eau de cologne for her own use (having learnt about the differences between perfume, eau de toilette, eau de cologne, etc).


Occasionally during the afternoon, Nin likes to explore TED-Ed and watch videos that might spark her interest and get her to explore a subject further.  As part of this she has watched the following documentaries:


There’s been quite a bit of gardening going on and both Nin and Stinkers have been involved in sowing various seeds and also potting on seedlings/young plants and general maintenance activities (such as tying plants to canes, etc).   I generally cover gardening in my Slow Living posts (or under the gardening tag) and it would be unusual for the girls not to be involved in some way in anything that happens out there.  I have been planning a post on learning through gardening, but having the time to get it done is another thing!

English and History

Whilst having an afternoon exploration of TED-Ed, Nin watched: Why Shakespeare Love Iambic Pentameter and learnt about this particular poetic method.  This led to watching Ages of English again.  This is a fantastic (and comical) animated and interactive exploration of how the English Language has changed over the years – but be warned, there is some mild swearing involved.


Following Nin’s interest in the Georgians (and the Hanoverians), we have been learning about the abolition of slavery in England.  A variety of resources were used spanning books and then further reading on the internet, including watching this video on TED-Ed The Atlantic Slave Trade: What Too Few Textbooks Told You.   Nin has visited William Wilberforce’s house (now a museum) in the past and we are planning to revisit based on what she has learned over this month.


On an afternoon TED-Ed exploration, Nin watched The Great Conspiracy Against Julius Caesar.

We also watched the animated Story of Britain that covered the Mesolithic period to the Domesday Book in Britain.

Foreign Language

Nin continues to practise both French and German using Duo Lingo and, in addition to this, has also been practising French through emails to her grandfather (who divides his time between France and England) and writing a letter to her penfriend in Brittany.


Nin has been exploring problem solving techniques using Conquer Maths.  Where usually she will understand the lessons quickly and be able to implement them well, elements of the following lessons have been very challenging for her and I have had to spend some time sitting and explaining/demonstrating approaches to her.

  • Guess and check method
  • Using a diagram
  • Making a list
  • Looking for patterns
  • Solving a simpler problem first
  • Working backwards
  • Acting it out
  • Eliminating possibilities

As part of the above she also watched a rather comprehensive explanation of quadrilaterals on Khan Academy.


Nin has continued to attend guitar, recorder and singing groups (and practising at home).  In addition, we’re excited to note that Ten Pieces is coming back, in the new academic year, for secondary age children (Nin would be Year 7 in September): Ten Pieces: Secondary with a great line-up of pieces.


As ever there’s likely things I’ve forgotten to note – sometimes I’ll make a mental note to write something down, but then get distracted and go off and do something else.  Nin continues with Sea Cadets and has had various visits out with friends: Yorkshire Wildlife Park, rollerskating in Rotherham, the aforementioned Bluebell Festival (etc).

30 Days Wild :: Random Acts of Wildness

Having been stuck in a bit of a nature rut recently (what with being on crutches and not being able to do more than slightly hobble about and then having a caesarian section and needing a couple of weeks of being very gentle on myself), I’ve not posted under the Nature tag very much recently.

However, as I’m steadily healing and getting about more, I’ve found the perfect thing to get involved with and get us back to being out daily enjoying the wonderful countryside that surrounds us here as we have done in the past.

I’ve signed up for 30 Days Wild and you can too, by clicking here: 30 Days Wild sign-up.

From the Wildlife Trust’s blurb:

30 Days Wild is The Wildlife Trusts new campaign for June 2015. We’re asking you to make room for nature this June – no matter where you are or how busy your life! Make this the month when you do something wild every day – and let us motivate you! When you sign up to our challenge, we’ll send you a pack full of encouragement, ideas and Random Acts of Wildness. You’ll also receive a funky wallchart to track your progress, a wild badge, and regular blasts of inspiration throughout June straight to your inbox to help you make nature part of your life.

So why not join me and plenty of others across the country in signing up to do something WILD every day in June?

30DAYSWILD_ID1 black_shrunk

Home Education March and April 2015

March and April have had to be much quieter months.  As I got larger and closer to due date I ended up needing to use crutches and I felt rather fed up missing out a bit on the latest flowers (etc) to bloom – no nature walks for us.

The following are some of the things we have got up to over the past month.  I break them down into rough “subject areas”, although we approach learning in a more holistic fashion.

Art & Craft and Early Years

clay work

A spot of clay work

Nin and Stinkers did a spot of clay work, amongst their usual activities of drawing, colouring and painting (typically watercolours).

Art, History and Sociology

We watched “Secret Knowledge: The Private Life of a Dolls’ House“, exploring the history of dolls houses, but also Lauren Child’s passion for them.  Lauren Child is a favourite in our house and the programme also discussed how she draws inspiration from the miniature and how she puts together some of her illustrations and artworks (predominantly mixed media and, we learnt, often three dimensional and then photographed to be used in books).

Astronomy, Science

We watched The Total Solar Eclipse on LiveStream and discussed what causes a solar and lunar eclipse.

History, PSHE, Sociology and Politics

Sunday March 8th was International Women’s Day and following up on this we explored and discussed the experiences of women and girls across the world.  We also watched “Suffragettes Forever! The Story of Women and Power” a three part series on BBC IPlayer exploring the following (amongst other things):

  • the Levellers
  • law/punishment
  • Woolenstencraft
  • Hannah Moore
  • Women’s Society lobbying against the Slave Trade (boycotting sugar)
  • Peterloo
  • Great Reform Act
  • Sheffield Female Political Society.
  • Josephine Butler – campaigning regarding the treatment of prostitutes and the Contagious Diseases Act
  • Bicycles
  • The Primrose League
  • Women’s Liberal Federation
  • The matchgirls – horrific treatment – striked and allowed to form a trade union – one of the actions that led to the Labour Party
  • The Women’s Social and Political Union – NUWSS – the Suffragettes.

Further to this we also discussed issues surrounding poverty and how some people in some places may be refused medical care due to lack of money.


We’ve also been watching a series called “Back in Time for Dinner”  following a family eating meals listed on the National Food Survey from the 1950s (and rationing) through to the 1990s, which led to interesting discussions about food, but also family dynamics and relationships.

Biology, History, Science and Zoology

Crufts was on at the beginning of March and we enjoyed watching the highlights from the various classes and discussing dogs in general (including learning something about working dogs and how breeds have developed over the many years that dogs have been associated with humans).  We also learnt how dogs ‘see’ with their noses by watching: “How Do Dogs See With Their Noses” on TED Ed.

Early Years Education and Science

A bit of fun exploring colour with the little Stinkers.  Nin already understands what happens when various colours of mixed, but it was an exciting activity for a 2 year old!

Biology, Geography, History, Mythology, Natural Sciences, Science, Religious Education and Zoology

Nin has been learning about native species of snakes using a number of sources, including: “BBC Nature: Adders“; exploring their habitat, diet, classification, etc.

To expand on this we began looking at the symbolism of snakes, starting with their use as the symbol of the British Medical Association, the “staff of Asclepius”. We also looked at the Hippocratic Oath (and who Hippocrates was) and the Oath of Maimonides as an alternative to it.

We then expanding upon this to explore some of the stories surrounding the various deities in the family tree of Asclepius (Apollo, Artemis, Panacea, Hygieia, etc), plus a general overview of the Greek deities.  We also learnt about the gorgons.

Biology, Conservation, Gardening, Environmental Sciences, Natural Sciences, Zoology

Nin has been planning bee and wildlife friendly areas to the garden.  Some of the sites she has used are:

And more!


Nin continues using Conquer Maths, working through their programme of lessons, specifically on the following:


  • Equivalent Fractions
  • Simplifying Fractions
  • Mixed Numbers to Improper Fractions
  • Improper Fractions to Mixed Numbers
  • Fractions to Decimals I&II
  • Decimals to Fractions
  • Fractions and Decimals to Percentages
  • Percentages to Fractions
  • Percentages to Decimals
  • Comparing Numbers as Decimals


  • Angles – Types and Labelling
  • Measuring Angles
  • Shapes
  • Rotational Symmetry
  • Parts of a circle
  • Types of Triangles
  • Angle Sum of a Triangle

Of course there is also plenty of incidental maths to be had in day-to-day activities.

Foreign Language

Nin continues to use Duo Lingo to practice French and German.


With a bit of a break over the Easter holidays, Nin has continued with guitar, recorder group and choir.


Sea Cadets twice a week, including her swimming with a buoyancy aid test (needed for her to be allowed to go on boating activities).


There was probably more.  I’m chalking it up as an achievement I made a note of as much as is written above!  I have left out the gardening, because that’s for another post – there have been some home education specific gardening-based activities and also some other deliveries, which I’ll catch up with later.

52 Weeks of Nature :: Third and Fourth Weeks of February


There aren’t many photos for the past couple of weeks. I was ill during the third week so spent much of it on the sofa feeling sorry for myself, rather than getting outside.  Still, towards the end of the third week we managed to get out and I took a few pics.

The crocus and periwinkle are from this past week, the first we’ve seen of the year.  The snowdrops are still out in force and there’s some shepherd’s purse flowering. There are plenty of green shoots promising more flowers to come.  We have seen the buzzards a few more times – once literally low over our heads, so I think we surprised it – but I just haven’t been able to get a decent photo.  I think they must be nesting fairly close as they’ve become a very regular sight.   We’ve seen great tits and blue tits and all the usual blackbirds, sparrow and robins, plus something that was pinkish and very pretty, but couldn’t get a good enough look at it to identify.

As Spring progresses, everything seems to speed up and you begin to see more and more green, it’s very cheering