A Year in the Life of a Home Schooling Family: Day 57

I had a really weird night last night, dreaming I was on the run (from whom, I don’t know). But I wasn’t running away on land. Oh no. I was a mermaid type creature, but with legs, and I was swimming away across the oceans. But each continent I came to the people/things I was running away from beat me to it. So I had to turn and swim to another continent. I awoke at five exhausted, having had a big sweat and not just a little bit alarmed at the night’s happenings.

Three calm hours later I was awake, and whilst not raring to go, I did at least go. I really wanted to complete a small amount of schooling with the little ones before Gary’s parents arrived. So I wrote myself a list. I mean, writing a list is shown to increase productivity, right?

Unfortunately, I was about three sips into my first coffee and Charlotte came in telling me that all the photocopying I had done the day before was of the wrong chapter. Sigh. So coffee in hand I went and photocopied the work for the right chapter – not simple or easy because I needed to use the snipping tool to individually snip all 37 pages into a document and print it out for Charlotte to use. Grrr, this Latin will be the death of me! I stupidly bought an ebook which I can’t seem to print out. This hasn’t been an issue until today because Charlotte was using her laptop to access the book. However, I had noticed that time was spent looking for music to listen to, checking messages from friends etc…and I was wondering how I could teach her to work smarter rather than harder or longer.

Today we tried out something new. I photocopied the work, which she took with her to Granny’s house. After Granny had tested her on her vocab and grammar, Charlotte stayed there and worked without any interruptions for one hour – no younger siblings, no ear phones, no phone and no computer. She does about ten pages of the Latin text book each day. This is a lot and usually takes her all morning and sometimes into the afternoon, depending on the length of the many translations. Today, after just one hour, she had finished all ten pages with just one exercise to go. Eureka! It’s a bit more work for me, but if it cuts her work time in half or better then it is well worth it. There is no way she could continue working for nine hours a day.

Lillie was less than impressed when I told her she needed to do some photography work. She had worked hard to get it all completed before Granny and Grandad came. Unfortunately she had missed one whole page of instructions of what she needed to do and so had only completed about half the work. I had let it go last week, but she is working at the nursery tomorrow and Thursday and she is attending a sign language course all day Wednesday, so there was no other time she could do it, and she needed to be handing it to her tutor to mark. I had to get a photo of her in her office because each day she is adding more and more of herself to the walls. I love it! I love how she always surrounds herself with beauty:

I picked a few very quick activities for the littles and I to do today. Firstly, Abigail read out the chapter on Uranus from our astronomy text book:

They then did some colouring in their journals:

They did an activity which demonstrated how Uranus rolled around the sun unlike the rest of the planets:

They made some notes about the key points of Uranus:

Our next activity was to begin making our icy model of Uranus and Neptune. The girls made up two shades of blue water and poured them in two similar sized quiche dishes:

I popped a stone in the middle of each and placed them in the freezer to freeze ready for tomorrow.

We then went about making some of Uranus and Neptune’s clouds. The girls poured some hot water in a couple of jars and placed a ziplock bag full of ice over the top:

We chatted about what made clouds, and eagerly watched the jars. For some reason, Abigail’s jar produced lovely clouds whereas Becca’s produced none!

The last activity was one I had thought up myself, and as such may not work ๐Ÿ™‚

I wanted to try to recreate the smell of Uranus. Both Uranus and Neptune’s atmosphere contains methane, but Uranus’ also contains large amounts of hydrogen sulphide, the chemical found in rotten eggs! So, as our home school knows no bounds (and with the realisation that I may very well regret this) I decided that the girls should rot some eggs and make our own hydrogen sulphide!

They cracked an egg, whipped it up and chucked it into a couple of petri dishes. I covered them with cling film and they are now sitting happily (on our living room window sill) in the sun awaiting transformation into hydrogen sulphide.

Another thing on my list today was to complete the art lab we had begun last week. I photocopied a picture of ‘Pear Squared’ an etching from Rose Sielian Theriault. This was to form the basis of our lesson. The first thing I did was to set up a still life as close as I could to that shown in the etching:

I had bought Abs and Becs a sketch pad in which they would be completing one contour drawing a day. So the first order of the day was to sketch the pear still life. I gave them no tutoring at all, apart from to remind them to observe:

In many ways, I have learnt from art with the older ones, that the less I interfere the more enjoyment they will get from the process. So, we talked about ‘Pears Squared’ and I pointed out bits and pieces, such as the lack of sketching and shading (apart from the shadows).

Both girls enjoy art, and Becca is particularly creative, but she is also a perfectionist and so doesn’t always enjoy the process because she is so focused on the end product. I am on a mission to rid her of this, and always encourage her to enjoy each part – and that one can be successful without it looking like it was expected to look (if you see what I mean?). Without further ado I stole her rubber off her and told both girls to do a simple outline drawing using a sharpie pen. No erasering. No starting over. The goal was to observe and draw that which they saw:

They did a great job!

Next they did a charcoal. Both girls love doing art with charcoal, and Becca was delighted to get their rubber back. The only instruction I gave was to observe, observe, observe and to observe some more, otherwise they were to make it their own:

This was probably the first time I had done a lesson with Becca which hadn’t ended with her being despondent with her final picture. In fact, she loved it!

I was so impressed by both girls. Art should be loved, regardless of how skilled it is. Creativity is the goal, and everyone, even those not naturally creative, can enjoy the process of it. I am making sure to display their work so they understand how valuable and precious it is:

The last thing I wanted to get finished today was an activity from the Curiosity Box. Abs had completed most of the activities from last month’s box, and I know the next box will be arriving soon. So I had her do the pulse visualiser activity. I am adding this to the post I wrote about The Curiosity Box, so click over if you want to know more. First, Abs made the pulse visualiser:

These were so cool. If you place one on the pulse on the wrist it beat to the rhythm of your heart:

The children then danced for a minute to increase their heart rate and they tried again:

And then they tested it again:

This time it bounced about even quicker!

Becca has been moved up a group in her gymnastics and is now with girls older than she is and doing things she has never attempted, such as vaulting over a box (which she did first time!), hand stands and bending backwards to a crab. The mat is coming in handy as she practises every day. She can now get up and down correctly to a handstand, although she can only maintain it for a moment or two. And she can do the crab with help:

I’m sure by Friday she will have it unaided. She and the mat are practically stuck to each other – it comes out multiple times a day, much to Gary’s dismay! He keeps thinking she will kick the tv during one of her hand stands!

Gary took his parents and the girls out to a nearby National Trust property:

I opted not to go. For the next ten weeks nothing exists for me bar Latin…or at least that is how it feels ๐Ÿ™

Ten weeks. Then never again will I offer to take a child through a two year course in three months. It is madness. Never again.

Tomorrow we are taking the whole day off school. It is Tom and Heather’s last day here. Even I will not be turning this computer on. Latin can wait.


  1. Wow! That sounds you got a lot done today. I spent our snowy day picking out supplies for next year and I am so worried about how long some of these high school subjects are going to take. My oldest is not nearly as self- motivated as I wish he was!

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