This morning started off early as usual with Rabbit and Tiddler waking shortly after six o’clock. However, after a while they went downstairs to play and then Monkey came in to our bed. We often get up before him so it was nice to have his company first thing for a change. He and Suburban dad started playing I-spy, which some how led to “I spy batman in bed.” This developed into an interesting game, and we came up with “spiderman eating spinach”, “superman slurping soup” and a few others. Monkey would like to make an alphabetical list of superheroes and their alliterative activities, but more research is needed as our knowledge of superheroes is limited. We did find an alphabetical list online, of many I’d never heard of, so we may continue the game later. It was a fun way to start the day anyway.
After breakfast, Rabbit and Tiddler went to Dramabuds which was also on a superheroes theme. They had lots of fun practising their superhero skills, and both joined in really well. It has been really good to spend time with just the two little ones and I have found that I listen to them more when the big ones are not around. No wonder they are both so loud most of the time – they have to be! Tabitha is one of the oldest in the class, and I think she is aware of it, so next term she is going to move up to the class for older children. There is a class available on Tuesdays, so she will be able to go back to football on Saturdays which she has missed. So Tiddler will get all my attention at Dramabuds on Saturday mornings next term, and Rabbit will be dropped off at the “big girls’ class” on Tuesdays which will work well as I’ll have all the boys with me. I’ll miss doing it with both of them though.
The boys chose not to go to football this morning, as it looked like it was going to rain, so the rest of the morning was spent peacefully at home. Suburban dad and I both had work and online stuff to do, so we sat at the dining room table with some or all of the children working alongside us most of the time. The big three did their sticker Maths books, Rabbit did her summer sticker book and a new dot-to-dot farm book, and they all did some drawing. Owl also spent a lot of time upstairs doing Lego.
After lunch, Monkey and Rabbit went to their last Ballet lesson of the term. I think they have enjoyed it, but Monkey is back on saying that he doesn’t like it. He is quite a bit older than the others as well as being the only boy, and I think that is just too much being different even for a confident easy-going child. I am looking into classes that are more suitable for his age, and also for Owl who really wants to try it, but it just depends on whether there are any classes available at the right times.
After ballet, we went to the Ecology Centre garden party which was just lovely. We were only able to get there a little less than an hour before the end, and we could have spent much longer there, but it was great fun. Rabbit and Tiddler enjoyed a simple craft activity, making flowers out of paper plates with tissue paper petals and real seeds, and Owl enjoyed finishing Tiddler’s when he wandered off. They spent some time talking about endangered species and looking at a live stag beetle (and two dead ones) and told the stallholder about the (bigger) stag beetle we had found at Rabbit’s Pre-school.
Then we went to the local honey stall, where we felt and smelt some beeswax, touched some pieces of dry crumbly honeycomb and admired the beeswax models and candles. We also bought some honey in its honeycomb and some rock cakes, and spent a while chatting to the very nice lady who was running the stall. When I mentioned that I was home educating the children, her response was refreshingly positive. She told me about someone she knew who was home educating, and what nice children they had, and said that she thought it was much better for children to learn by being out and about in the community talking to people and doing real life practical tasks like meal-planning, budgeting, shopping and cooking. She continued on this theme for a while, and it made rather a nice change instead of answering the same old questions about home ed that we are usually asked. Not that I mind people asking, as I am happy to talk about home ed all day!
We then went to another stall where there was a competition about matching seeds to vegetables, and Rabbit gave me some parenting brownie points by answering lots of questions and correctly identifying pea and pumpkin seeds. The big three also made cress heads, while sheltering from the rain. The children had a lovely time, and in addition to all the free educational stuff and friendly people to chat to they also enjoyed winning bubble mixture, eating lollies and cake and having their faces painted (Rabbit with the England flag, Owl with the Union Jack and Monkey as Spiderman!)
I enjoyed chatting to a student who was doing a PhD on sustainable food, and as she asked me her survey questions she rather charmingly commented on how much I knew about the subject. Along with Rabbit’s superior knowledge of seeds (she was the only one in a group of older children who knew any of them) I was beginning to feel that we were quite the eco warriors. However, we are very inconsistent as we drive a big car, use a tumble dryer rather too much and resort to disposable nappies and convenience foods when we are busy and stressed. I think we are getting some things right though, and having the veg box has certainly helped our children to be knowledgeable about vegetables – and not too fussy!
Back at home, we did a science experiment about genetic differences in our taste buds. We all (except Tiddler) tasted a piece of ordinary paper as a control, and then a strip of paper with a substance called PTC on it. To some people it tastes very bitter and to others it tastes of nothing, and it may be an explanation for why some people dislike the taste of certain green vegetables more than others. We found that Suburban dad, Owl and Monkey tasted the bitterness quite strongly while Rabbit and I could only just notice it. This was interesting as we all eat green vegetables, but Monkey in particular loves them (he’s the boy who has been known to say “Oh yummy, hot vegetables”, when they are brought to the table!) So we discussed other factors that might affect our tastes, such as how often we are exposed to particular foods. I think that’s another vote for the vegbox!
At the end of the day Rabbit and Owl both asked for some time on the computer and we just managed to fit it in. I renewed the boys’ Mathletics subscriptions today and for the first time I added Rabbit as well. She was very excited to try it and she really liked it. Owl finally managed to finished his long overdue blog post about the National Gallery, and he wanted to try Conquer Maths (finally took the plunge on that today too) but we really had run out of time. They are all looking forward to doing it, and I’m all for anything which gets them excited about Maths! It’s been a fun day and it’s nice to look back and see how much “education” has happened without me planning any of it. If this is what we can do on a busy Saturday, while ordering electrical appliances online, emptying kitchen cupboards, buying other last minute things for our kitchen project, planning and organising the next two weeks’ worth of activities, doing washing up, laundry and cleaning (and many other tasks) then maybe I need to relax a bit in the week and not plan so many things. I need to keep telling myself this – there is no stopping children learning and complicated plans are really not necessary.