Category Archives: Home education

The Beginning of the End

Today.  Just another rainy day in August.  Too much to do and yet nothing to do.  I’m lacking motivation today.  Tobias is at football – the first of four sports days with his new school.  I hope he’s having fun even though he will be getting very wet and muddy.  It’s not the official start of term but it feels like it.  And ever since we took him out of school five and a half years ago, this day has been a shadow in the background.  Hardly visible most of the time but always there.  The beginning of the end of our home educating life.  In some ways it’s just a bend in the road and there’s likely to be a lot of home educating going on here for years to come.  But today it feels more like an end than a beginning.

There’s a lot to be positive about.  I’m proud of my biggest boy and I love watching him grow and gain independence.  He has chosen this next step himself, worked hard to get where his is now and is (most of the time) looking forward to this new experience.  I have loved having him at home with me for so much of his childhood and I am so glad I didn’t blink and miss it.  But I have always said it is his choice and now he is ready to move on.

I’m happy for him but I’m a little bit sad too.  Suddenly our freedom to go where we like when we like is gone, and all the children will be affected by that.  But more than that, I’m sad that Tobias’ time will be so structured.  I know there will be lots that he will enjoy at school but I don’t want him to miss out.  I wish he could have the benefits of school without giving up so much time.  Time to learn what he wants to learn and study things in depth.  Time to read a whole novel in a day.  Time to relax with friends.  Time to cook meals for the whole family.  Time to play with his baby brother.

I saw this on facebook yesterday and it summed up a lot of the things I’ve been feeling recently.


I hope we will be able to find a way to work round the edges of school, to live our lives and learn and grow, to keep school in its place as a resource, a part of the education we want our children to have but by no means all of it.

Over the years I’ve often been asked why I’m home educating.  There are many ways to answer that question but the simplest answer is this – I want them to love learning.  I’m proud of Tobias and everything he has achieved throughout his primary school years at home.  But most of all I’m proud and happy that he loves to learn and now I think he is mature enough that school, even though it isn’t perfect, won’t ever be able to take that away from him.  So that’s why I know he is ready to go.

And as I’m writing this he’s just walked through the door – wet, muddy and happy, so I think the first day was a success.  This is it – the beginning of the end.  But I’m hopeful it’s the beginning of something good too.

Tobias (I know you will read this!) – I am praying for you, that you will enjoy your time at school, have lots of fun and make new friends.  I hope and expect you will do well at school, but I want you to remember what’s really important.  Just be yourself – trustworthy and reliable; kind and generous; enthusiastic and open-minded – and then you will be able to make the most of the new challenges and opportunities that school will bring.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)





Chinese New Year Lapbook

If you have been home educating for a while, you have probably heard of lapbooks, which are a quick and easy way to produce a mini topic book.  I’ve been meaning to try it for a long time, and have finally got round to it with a little help from the twinkl website.

chinese lapbook 1

We decided to try the Chinese New Year one first.  We printed off the resource pack from twinkl, which contained lots of pictures and captions along with instructions on how to make the lapbook.

chinese lapbook 2

It’s really simple, and all you need (in addition to basic stationery supplies) is some large sheets of card (A3 or similar) – ours was thick blotting paper because that’s what we had but it was just as good!  The instructions were really clear and the children quickly got the idea, and produced their lapbooks with a minimal amount of help.

chinese lapbook 3

We enjoyed a very relaxing afternoon making the books, and using the internet to find out more about Chinese New Year.  It was a great success and we’ll definitely be heading back to the twinkl website for more lapbooks soon.

Hama Bead Woodland Kit

Whenever I need a peaceful, calming activity I tend to turn to Hama beads.  There’s something about them that attracts all the children, including any visitors, at once and keeps their attention for a very long time.

hama beads 1

We’ve got plenty of Hama beads and boards really, but you can never have too many, and the children are always inspired by a new kit.  They were very excited to receive this lovely Woodland Kit, and a selection of extra boards, from Craft Merrily last week, and couldn’t wait to dive into it.

hama beads 2

The big boys made the owl and the squirrel from the Woodland Kit, and I was really impressed by their concentration as they were quite fiddly designs.  I loved the results too.

hama beads 3

The little ones had fun with the extra boards, and produced a slightly scary rabbit and an extremely colourful flower!

hama beads 4

We really enjoyed having some new Hama bead inspiration, and I think we’ll be doing a lot more over the next few weeks.  I hope to share some Christmas Hama designs here soon, though I expect there will be quite a few random ones too!

We received the Woodland Kit and a selection of boards free for the purpose of this review.

Autumn with Twinkl

We’ve been making good use of our subscription to the fabulous Twinkl website recently, and I’ve been meaning to write about it for a while.  Our display board in the hall is covered at the moment with (mostly) Autumn themed pieces of work and pictures, as the children have been so busy.  We are getting through quite a lot of printer ink as the little ones in particular keep asking for more.

twinkl autumn

It started when I decided to look for some resources for Rabbit and Tiddler to practise their number bonds to ten.  Twinkl was the first place we looked, and we found this lovely Rainbow to Ten Display Poster.  I printed a colour poster for their bedroom, and then two blank ones for them to colour and complete, which they both enjoyed.  They also had fun matching these Number Bonds to 10 on Pumpkins, and Rabbit now points out “pumpkin pairs” whenever she comes across them so it seems to have worked!  There are lots of other matching activities on different themes – we might try the snowmen ones next.

All four children enjoyed colouring the Rangoli patterns for Diwali, and Tiddler in particular kept asking for more, so we printed out lots of Autumn colouring pictures as well.  I’m now starting to browse the Twinkl website for some ideas for Winter and Christmas activities and there are so many to choose from that it’s hard to know where with start, but these Winter Maths Challenge Cards might have to be first.

Lego Maths with Twinkl

Maths that involves Lego is always popular in our house, so I was very pleased to see these Lego Addition worksheets available on Twinkl.  I printed out a selection of them, and though I was mainly aiming the activity at the younger children I guessed that the big boys would want a go too.

lego maths 1

Rabbit worked through two sheets very quickly and easily, so even for her I will need to devise a harder version.  The big boys did a sheet each for fun, and I have suggested they might like to make some more up, so perhaps they can do some for Rabbit.  I wasn’t sure if Tiddler would want to do it, but in fact he was very keen and it was perfect for him.  He was very happy sitting on my knee, matching real Lego bricks with the ones on the sheets and carefully counting the bumps.  I was very impressed by his counting, as he did them all with only one or two mistakes.  I had to help him with the writing – he is very confident writing one and zero, so he loved it when the answer was 10!  I wrote the other numbers for him and he traced over them.

lego maths 2

I had also printed off some multiplication worksheets for the big boys, as we have been working on times tables recently, and they did those as well.

lego maths 3

It was a very successful afternoon, with all four children working happily alongside each other.  Even though I was feeling really unwell at the time, I had one of those moments when I felt like I was looking from outside and realising how lucky I am.  People often ask me how I manage with so little time for myself, and it can certainly be hard to get anything (other than education) done.  But really I know it’s the best way for us.  I wouldn’t miss this for the world.

Daffodils for Freddie

Dear Merry,

It’s been a while since we have done any organised art and craft together.  The “doodle drawers” are emptied on a daily basis, and as far as the little ones are concerned, “making time” is all the time, but I haven’t had it in me to plan any activities for them recently.  They have, of course, been perfectly happy independently creating and mess-making, but I have missed doing it with them.  It has taken your daffodil boy to give me the motivation to get on with it, and I am thankful for that.  A little bit of art therapy proved to be exactly what I needed.

daffodils 1

And now, our Spring display is up.  It is the first thing I will see every morning when I come downstairs, and when I come in from outside too.  And if I needed a reminder, which I don’t really, it will make me think about Freddie every day.

daffodils 2

Merry, I will never forget your beautiful boy.  Sending you all my love for April and always xxx

Leaf Printing

Rabbit and I have been planning to do some leaf printing all through the Autumn, but somehow we have never got round to it.  So yesterday morning, when we had some time together while all the boys were out, we decided it wasn’t too late for one more Autumn craft session, before moving on to Christmas crafts.

leaf printing 1

Rabbit really enjoyed organising everything exactly the way she wanted, and having all my attention, though she didn’t really need my help.

leaf printing 2

She loved experimenting with the colours, mixing red and yellow to make orange, and adding glitter glue to brown paint to make it sparkly.

leaf printing 3

When she had finished printing with the leaves, Rabbit painted a picture of a shark in the sea, and then we went to collect Tiddler from Pre-school.  After lunch, we carried on painting, and both the children had fun mixing all the colours together and getting their hands messy.  We had a lovely time, and I think the activity could have easily carried on all day, but we had to tidy up because it was time to go and visit Father Christmas at the Garden Centre.

After painting in the garden most days in the summer, we haven’t had the paints out much this Autumn.  I’m glad we finally got round to it, and the children had such a good time, so I’m going to make sure we don’t leave it so long again.  Winter paintings next week!

Hobbycraft Christmas Decoration Kits

We have been sent two Christmas Decoration craft kits to review by Hobbycraft, and my original plan was to let the children try and help me.  On closer inspection, I decided it was probably a bit too difficult, or at least it would have taken them even longer than it took me.  So I decided to make them myself, and perhaps we will make some more later with our stash of felt.  (It is tempting to say that they were made by the children, but the slapdash sewing is all mine!)

hobbycraft decorations 1

We chose the reindeer and the heart decoration kits, and it was interesting to compare the two.  The reindeer kit, which I did first, was harder, and in fact the children would have been able to do the hearts, so that is probably something we will try if we make our own.

hobbycraft decorations 2

The kits are priced at £3.00 each and include pre-cut felt pieces, thread and toy stuffing.  The reindeer kit also has beads for eyes.  Both kits contain an instruction leaflet.

hobbycraft decorations 3

I started by marking the snowflake patterns on both sides of the reindeer.  It wasn’t clear from the instructions which thread to use, as there was a small amount of embroidery thread and a larger amount of thin sewing thread.  I opted for the embroidery thread, which seemed the logical choice, but it turned out to be the wrong one as there was only enough for four snowflakes on one side.  I used the thin thread to complete the last snowflake and decided to keep the other side plain!

The instructions included small pictures of the stitches needed – back stitch, blanket stitch and running stitch.  However, I don’t think you would be able to work out how to do all the stitches from the pictures if you didn’t already know.  I had to think hard about how to do blanket stitch – I did eventually remember, though I did it pretty badly.  The instructions also refer to using French knots for decorations on the corner of the snowflakes, but I couldn’t remember how to do them so I missed them out.

Having joined the two pieces with blanket stitch, I filled the reindeer with the toy stuffing, added the antlers and sewed up the hole at the top.  Then I added the beads for the reindeer’s eyes, and felt pieces for the feet.  I have not yet added hanging loops, as they were supposed to be made with the embroidery thread which I used by mistake, so I will have to find some more thread and add them later.

hobbycraft decorations 4

Next, I made the hearts and they were much easier, particularly because I decided not to embroider any words on them.  I didn’t really want “Mum” and “Dad” as suggested, and couldn’t think of anything else to do, so I left them plain.

The felt in this kit is thicker and fluffier, and there are pieces of ribbon to sew them together.  I prefer the look and feel of the thinner felt, but it was very quick and simple to sew the thick felt pieces together with ribbon so this kit would be more suitable for a child or someone who is not very confident about sewing.

It would be useful if there was a slightly larger amount of ribbon provided to allow room for error.  I nearly ran out of white ribbon so the hanging loop on the red heart is too small and I will have to replace it later.

hobbycraft decorations 5

I think the kits represent good value for money at £3.00 each, although they could do with clearer instructions in parts, and a more generous amount of ribbon and embroidery thread.  They reindeer kit would be tricky for a beginner, and both kits would be too basic for someone more experienced.  However, they were just about right for someone like me with rather rusty sewing skills, and I did enjoy doing them.  I also worked out what to do, and what not to do, when I try to make my own decorations so it was useful from that point of view too.  They may not be perfect, but the children love them so I am happy with the results!

This post is sponsored by Hobbycraft.

Colours of the Rainbow: English, French, Spanish and Italian

I’ve only got time for a very quick post tonight, but I wanted to share another lovely twinkl resource we’ve been using – a set of four rainbow pictures with the stripes labelled in English, French, Spanish and Italian.  The English one was just right for Rabbit, and she enjoyed colouring in the rainbow and copying the colour words.  Monkey chose to do the French one – he and Owl have both been learning French at home for some time, and have recently started lessons at one of the local home education groups, so this was good practice for him.  Owl did both the Spanish and Italian ones, and he found it interesting to compare the words in the two languages which are similar.

rainbow words

I think we might print off some more copies of the French one to decorate the boys’ French folders, and also this word mat which includes some more colours.

We were given a free subscription to twinkl premium for the purpose of reviewing this and other resources.



Compound Word Game

We have a bit of a thing about compound words in our family.  It started with Monkey, who decided he liked them a couple of years ago, and got in the habit of noticing them and commenting on them in everything he read.  At that time we made a compound word card game and played it quite a lot for a while.  Rabbit is now showing an interest in compound words too, so when I saw this version on twinkl I was very keen to try it.

compound word game

I asked Owl and Monkey if they would like to make the game for Rabbit and Tiddler, and they cut out the cards with only a very little help from me.  Then we laminated them all and I cut them out again.  After that Monkey matched up all the pairs to check that they were all there before giving them to the little ones.

compound word cards

We have devised our own rules for playing the game.  We mix all the cards up and share them out between the players.  Then the first person chooses one of the cards with a plus sign on and places it in the middle (for example sun + flower.)  The next player looks for the matching card (sunflower) and if they have it they can keep that pair, and if not they add another card to the middle.  We take turns until all the cards have been paired up, and then see who has the most pairs.  Or sometimes we don’t get as far as counting.  When we were playing today, Tiddler said to Rabbit “I won last time, so you can win today, then Mummy can win next time!”  However, when we finished he declared “I won” without counting and then mixed all the cards up.  Luckliy Rabbit wasn’t too bothered!

compound word game 2

We have really enjoyed making and playing our compound word game.  It’s a lovely indoor activity for rainy days, and perfect for just before bedtime as you can see from the photos above.  We have also managed to get out of the house for an Autumn leaf hunt yesterday (using a twinkl checklist) and for a little bit of Leaf Art today – it’s late now and I’m tired so that will have to be another blog post for another day!

We were given a free subscription to twinkl premium for the purpose of reviewing this and other resources.