My Favourite Home Ed Resources

One of the reasons that I read home ed blogs is to find ideas of resources for my family. So, I thought it might be of interest to someone, if I made a list of all the resources that I recommend.

I’ve bought a lot of stuff over the years. Some has been brilliant and gets used over and over again. Some has been a bit of a disappointment and gets very little use. It can be hard to tell in advance which will be which, however!

If I had to start all over again, with no equipment, these are the first ten things I would get. These are the things that have lasted well and that I am regularly grateful to have in the house.

In no particular order, these are my current favourite resources:

Scales 

I am convinced that proper scales help children understand weight and measures in a way that digital scales simply cannot. So, I encourage the boys to use these when they cook. We’ve also used them for play and for various experiments.

When children move on to equations, that image of the balanced scale is really handy.

Big Maps

Obviously, you can see the layout of the world in an atlas or on a globe. But, big maps that can be laid on the floor, climbed over and had all sorts of toys laid out on them are brilliant for hands-on learning. We’ve marked tectonic plates with masking tape, laid toy animals in their native countries, plotted routes of famous journies and our own holidays. When it comes to map work, bigger is always better!

Chronology

My favourite history-themed game! The aim is to arrange events in chronological order. A brilliant way of getting a sense of how history fits together.

The boys’ history books can be a bit disconnected. This game really helps to get a sense of where everything happens in relation to everything else.

It’s an old game, so there are lots of versions around. We bought ours from a charity shop.

Pot of coins

For playing shops, laying out times tables, demonstrating square numbers, practising basic arithmetic . . . We keep a pot of coins in the kitchen, always on-hand to explain maths.

Coins are small enough that quite large numbers can be easily moved around by little hands. Piles of pennies stack easily, so you can demonstrate tens and units. And children like handling money. Coins are fun to hold and clink in a very satisfying manner.

Ray-Box, lenses and prisms

Not a massively expensive piece of kit, but invaluable for explaining reflection and refraction. Even little ones love experimenting with light.

Air-drying Clay

Easy to use, but capable of producing impressive pieces with a bit of effort, clay is a fantastic resource. It’s handy for art, history and science projects. We even use it to make presents for people. I always like to have clay on hand, ready for any excuse to use it.

Balloons

These are great for all sorts of experiments. A few of which I have described here. And they’re also great for art projects, either to be coated with paper mache, or decorated as they are. The make great targets if your children are desperate to destroy something. They can be turned into water balloons on a hot day, or filled with paint and burst to make exciting pictures.

Fabric pens

Another craft item that gets used over and over. You can draw organs on a t-shirt, or a face on a sock puppet. A set of fabric pens is an easy way to create a costume at short notice. And, when you just need to keep the kids busy, decorating clothing is much more fun than just drawing on paper!

Anatomy model

We had these at school when I was growing up and I really liked it. All the boys enjoy taking ours apart and putting it back together. It’s a great way of helping them see how our bodies work. 

Two-colour Abacus

I read a brilliant book about Teaching Maths Visually and Actively and this was one of the products it recommended. The two colours allow children to develop their concept of number by making it easy to ‘see’ numbers of beads without having to count them. It also encourages counting in gives and tens, which are fundamental skills in our decimal system.


What are your favourite resources? I’m sure that I’ve missed out some brilliant stuff!



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Science Club – Wind Up Toys

Arrival Craft: Jumping frogs, an origami craft. I found lots of fun templates online like this one! No automatic alt text available.

Introduction: There are different types of energy. Potential energy is stored energy that can be used later. This is very useful for lots of things.

When we wind up an elastic band, or a clockwork motor, we are turning our kinetic energy into potential energy that can be stored until we want to turn it back into kinetic energy again.

Individual Task: Making wind-up dinosaurs. I got these in a kit from Baker RossNo automatic alt text available.

Older children can also complete an energy worksheets. energystories

Break for drink and snack.

Second part: When we wind up the clockwork motors, a metal spring inside gets wound tighter and tighter, our kinetic energy is turned into elastic potential energy. When we release the spring, it quickly returns to its original shape, turning the potential energy back into kinetic energy that moves the dinosaur forwards.

The metal spring is inside a box, though, so we can’t actually see this happening. It’s easier to see this effect, if we wind up an elastic band. Demonstrate rubber-band powered boat. 

 

Individual Task: Make boats powered by elastic bands to take home.

I gave out styrofoam plates, and the children cut boat shapes out. They then cut a small square to be the paddle out of the back of the boat. They wrapped an elastic band around the paddle and the boat to power the boat.

I covered my boat in duck tape, which made it quite jolly.

Science Club – Telescopes

Telescopes

Arrival Craft: Use numbered axes to make a curve out of straight lines.

Use grids to expand pictures.

Introduction: We’ve looked at light before when we built periscopes and saw how light always travels in straight lines. Today we’re going to look at how light can be bent.

Individual Task: Lay a piece of clingfilm on top of some paper. Carefully put a droplet of water onto the clingfilm.

Look at text through a droplet of water and see how the water magnifies the text.

Gather Together: Light bends when it passes through a different material because light moves at different speeds in air and water (or in air and glass).

Set up ray box, show how a lens can bend light and move the focal point. This is how glasses and contact lenses work to help people see.

We can see how that works if we pretend to be light.

Get six children to stand in a line holding hands. They should walk forward taking the same size steps. They will walk from one side of the room to the other and stay in a straight line.

Then put a masking tape line diagonally across the floor. As they cross this line, the children must begin to walk in tiny steps, only a couple of inches at a time. Since the children will not all cross the tape at the same time, some of them will slow before the others and their line will bend.

That’s how refraction works! It’s also why light doesn’t get refracted if it hits the glass straight on, e.g. coming through a window.

Break for drink and snack.

Second Part: Lenses allow us to focus light where we want it, we can use that to correct vision problems, but we can also use it to make microscopes for seeing tiny things or telescopes for seeing things that are a long way away.

Individual Task: Making telescopes. There’s an amazing website that sells a whole range of telescope-making kits, they’re great value and really awesome! AstroMedia

Poetry Course Second Part

It’s been a while since I put details of home ed stuff up here.

We’ve been busy with our various clubs and home activities, but I am very behind in blogging about them. So, I thought that I would try and get back into the habit.

Some time ago, I began describing the Poetry Course that I ran for our home ed group. I only put the first session up here. Here are the remaining five sessions.

We had a lot of fun together, and all the children made great progress in understanding rhythm and rhyme.

Week Two – Rhythm

Arrival Activity Give out syllable cards set one syllablecards1, ask the children to arrange the syllables in groups of three to make up names for monsters. They can draw their syllable monsters.

Introduction Last week we learnt about rhyme and listened for it in poems. This week we are going to listen for the rhythm of poems.

If you look at page 9, you should see ‘Jack be Nimble’ at the top and ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ at the bottom. Would anyone like to read these to us? One has a faster rhythm than the other, which do you think it is?

Does anyone think that they could clap the rhythm of ‘Jack be Nimble’? Can anyone clap the rhythm of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’?

In groups, look at pages 5, 6, 7 and 8; choose two rhymes that you all know, then one person claps the rhythm of one of the two rhymes and the other person has to guess which one they are clapping.

Dividing words into syllables can be tricky. So, don’t worry if you aren’t absolutely sure right away, with a bit of practice, it won’t seem so strange.

It’s obvious that some words are short (like ‘hat’ and ‘pig’) and other words are longer (like ‘beautiful’ and ‘extravagant’). The cards that I gave you each had one syllable on, when you put three in a line you made a monster name with three syllables.

Let’s have a go at counting some syllables together.

Give out lots of cards with syllables on syllablecards2 and ask the children to build some real words. See if each table can build a one syllable word, a two syllable word and a three syllable word. Then feed back the words and see if all the tables found the same ones.

Regroup Ask the children how many syllables there are in the words they built, then try some different words and see if they can count the syllables in those too. When we speak, we stress some syllables and not others, that’s what creates the rhythm of speech.

Look at ‘Kicking up Leaves’ on page 367. Would anyone like to read this poem for us? That was very well read, and with the stress on the correct syllables. If I read it again and put the stress on the wrong syllables, hopefully, you will hear that it sounds odd.

It takes practise to hear where the emphasis should be. So, let’s try this one together.

Annotate the poem, showing where the stressed and unstressed syllables are. We used a whiteboard to have a go at scanning poems together, the children love writing on whiteboards, and it’s not so terrifying to make a mistake!

To make it easier to talk about rhythm – and to write about it, since you can’t clap in an essay – we have special words for different patterns of stressed and un-stressed syllables.

Dee-dum is an Iamb

Dum-dee is a Trochee

Dum-dee-dee is a Dactyl

Dee-Dee-Dum is an Anapest.

feet

If a poet uses lots of the same feet in their poem, then the poem has a strong rhythm.

Scan ‘From a Railway Carriage’, page 505, together. 

(I printed out some extracts from poems so that the children could have a go at scanning them scansionsheets.pdf)

Everyone can try to scan ‘Fruit Picking’, page 401.

Younger children can use the lacing letters to build words.

Week Three – Parts of Speech

Arrival Activity Madlibs. Some of the children had done these before and some needed a bit of guidance. But, they all enjoyed this activity a lot. madlibs

Recap We’re going to remind ourselves of what we’ve learned so far. I’m going to give out some cards with single syllables on and I want you to see if you can make a one syllable word, a two syllable word and a three syllable word.

Give out the word fragment sheets. syllablecards2

Introduction We’ve learnt a few technical terms so far, but the most important terms for talking about language are the parts of speech.

 

Individual Task Make flip books with a selection of words that can be formed into many sentences.

I didn’t make a print out for these, I just showed the children an example and let them make their own. It’s very simple!

Regroup Poets choose every single word with care. Sometimes, if we try to imagine a different word being used, it can help us to see why poets chose the words they did.

I’ve taken some words out of these poems, I would like you to put your own words in to complete the poems, then we’ll compare the choices we made with the choices that the poets made. missingwords

Poems don’t have to be made up of full sentences. ‘Ten Things Found in a Wizard’s Pocket’, page 257, is missing a particular type of word. Can you work out what it is?

 

Week Four – Sound Effects

IntroductionSo far, we’ve looked at rhyme and rhythm. Today we’re going to look at some of the other sound effects that poets use to make their poems sound good.

Has anyone watched ‘Peppa Pig’ on the television? All the characters names have the same pattern. Their first and last names all start with the same letter. When two words start with the same letter, it is called alliteration. We’re going to make up some alliterative names for my cuddly animals.

Give out cuddly toys and post it notes so that the children can give the toys alliterative names.

Let’s have a look at a poem and see if we can find any alliteration in it. Summer page 42

Let the children have a look on their own, then mark the alliteration on a shared poem.

Sometimes a poet repeats a sound in the middle of the word, rather than at the end (rhyme) or the beginning (alliteration). When they do this, it is called assonance.

Find some examples of assonance in Summer.

Individual TaskGive the children some words and let them see which are rhymes, which are alliteration and which are assonance. soundeffects

Gather TogetherRhyme, Alliteration and Assonance are the three ways that poets can make poems sound interesting by repeating sounds.

Some sounds, however, are pretty interesting on their own.

Read On the Ning Nang Nong page 331.

Some of the words in this poem are sound effects all by themselves. Words that sound like what they mean – like ‘splash’, or ‘knock’ are called onomatopoeic words. Can anyone find any in this poem?

The idea of an onomatopoeic word is that it sounds like the noise it’s describing. We’re going to perform this poem together, replacing this onomatopoeic words with actual sound effects. I’ve brought some things to make ‘bong’, ‘ping’ and ‘clang’ sounds.

Give out sound effect tools (I offered bells, saucepan lids, boomwhackers) and encourage the children to practice a couple of times, then read the poem and leave spaces for the sound effects.

Week Five – Imagery

Arrival Activity Hand out sheets with nouns written on them, ask the children to write an emotion in front of the noun, then try to draw what that might look like (e.g. a sad tree, or an angry sun). figuresofspeech

Recap Rhythm and Rhyme Let’s have a quick recap of some of the stuff we’ve done so far. Some of you may have had a go at analysing the rhythm of ‘The Lion and Albert’ at home. Let’s have a look together. Let’s draw the rhyme scheme in first. I’ve drawn in the stressed and un-stressed syllables for you, can anyone see what feet we have?

Introduction Things like trees and clouds don’t have emotions, people have emotions. So, when we attribute emotions to an object, it’s called Personification. It’s a kind of metaphor. Does anyone know what a metaphor is? A metaphor is when you describe a thing by saying that it is something else. Look at ‘It’s Spring’, page 183, see if the children can spot the metaphors. 

A simalee is different from a metaphor, in that it’s where the writer describes something by saying that it is like something else. Look at ,’As Tasty As A Picnic’, page 171, see if the children can spot the simalees.

Individual Task Look at ‘Morning Meeting’, page 146, and try to spot any simalees and metaphors you can.

Regroup: There are some metaphors that have their own name, like synechdoche, where a whole is represented by a part (like when we say ‘the crown rules’ when we mean the king or queen not their hat), or where a part is represented by a whole (like when we say ‘England is playing football’, when we mean the English football team, not the actual country).

Final Task: Imagery is about playing with words and seeing how they can mean different things. We’re going to exercise our ability to play with words with a game called Dingbats.

Letters are arranged in a box to create a sort of picture of a word. See how many you can solve! Hand out Dingbats sheet. dingbats

Week Six – Voice

Arrival ActivityMake simple cards and write them to someone.

 

IntroductionAs you arrived, you were making cards. When you write a card for someone, you choose who the card is going to be to and you write who the card is from.

When we read poems, we should remember that they are also ‘to’ and ‘from’ someone. Two of the big questions that we ask when we look at poems are: who is speaking here and to whom are they speaking? Who is the poem to and who is it from?

Let’s look at the poem on page 345, ‘Dear Mrs Spider’. Who does this poem appear to be to? Whom does it seem to be from? How do we know that the author isn’t really a fly?

In poetry, there can be more than one person speaking at the same time. There is the author – and sometimes we know a lot about them and sometimes we know very little – and there is the narrative voice of the poem.

There can also be more than one audience for a poem. Obviously, if you’re reading the poem, then you are the audience of the poem! But, many poems are written with a particular reader in mind. We call that reader ‘the intended audience’.

John Coldwell was a teacher when he wrote this poem and he said in an interview that he wrote his poetry to entertain his children.

Most poems aren’t written as letters, and it can be hard – as well as fun – to try and work out their intended audience.

Individual TaskHave a look at ‘Hurt no Living Thing’ on page 298, see if you can decide who the intended audience might be.

Gather togetherWe know quite a lot about Christina Rossetti, she was a lively child and sometimes rather tempestuous. As a young woman, she nursed her sick father for several years. She wrote books of poetry for children and devoted much of her time to voluntary work with sick people in London (this was before the NHS, when doctors were very expensive). Does any of this change your opinion of who this poem might have been intended for?

Final ActivityChoose ‘The Dark Avenger’ from page 475 or ‘Conversation’ from page 480. Make puppets to be the characters speaking in the poem and decide which character should say which line. puppets

If anyone is brave enough, they could perform their poem for the rest of us.

 

Science Club – Diffusion

No automatic alt text available.

Arrival Craft: Colour mixing sheet colourmixing

Introduction: One of the big rules of science is that things move from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration. There is a basic sense of fairness about chemistry and substances like to spread themselves out as evenly as they can.

If we put a drop of water in the middle of a piece of filter paper, what will the water do?

The water will spread as far as it can, moving from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration.

We can use this to separate out the colours of felt tip pens, this is called chromatography.

 

Individual Task: Give out felt tip pens and coffee filter paper so children can have a go at chromatography. chromatography

 

Break for drink and snack.

 

Second Half: Diffusion isn’t only good for finding the colours in felt tip pens. It can also be used to spread flavour around.

Why are the holes in tea bags the size that they are? What would happen if we had a tea bag without any holes in it? What would happen if we had a tea bag with huge holes in it?

To make this a bit more interesting, I put a normal tea bag in some water, then cut big holes in the side of another teabag and put that in water too. As the children predicted, the teabag with big holes in got tea leaves in the water.

We call the material that tea bags are made of a semi-permeable membrane. Membrane means skin or covering. Permeable means something that lets things through. Semi means some. So, semi-permeable membrane just means a covering that only lets some things through.

Individual Task: Make tea bags. This had the potential to get very messy! I put out bowls with different types of leaf tea, spices, and edible flowers. I gave the children empty teabags and encouraged them to mix their own special blends of tea.

Image may contain: drink

 

Home Education – Secondary School

My Eldest is the right age for secondary school, so I’m going to finish my set of weeks with a week of what home education looks like for us at secondary school age.

Monday

Eldest’s lessons on Monday are Grammar, Geometry, Physics and Geography.

When Eldest finished schoolwork, he played Minecraft with Middly.

Then Eldest read until lunch.

Eldest has recovered from chicken pox, but, we’re keeping him away from public places for another day. So, he stayed in with my husband this morning and read.

When I got back home, Eldest helped me write up the instructions for The Leaf Disc experiment for this week’s Science Club.

Then he played Lego with Youngest. After a bit, I put on the Garfield Movie, and all the boys watched it together.

Tuesday

Today’s lessons were Biology, Problem Solving, Fiction and History.

When he’d finished, Eldest played Minecraft on the PC for a while. Then he read library books until lunchtime.

This is (thankfully!) Eldest’s last stay stuck in the house. He spent it beginning  make plans for the Geography course he’s going to lead next year. He’s going to focus on Mountains and Volcanoes. So he started today by brainstorming activities we could do and aspects we could cover.

We’ve got a good number of children attending our Science Club and the Poetry Course went well. There’s an appetite for another short course, and Eldest is very enthusiastic about leading it. I’ll be there to help, of course.

We had a snack. Eldest played Lego with Youngest. Then, I left him at home with my husband while I took Middly swimming. Eldest read, and was still reading when I got home.

He helped a little bit with making tea, then returned to his book again! It’ll be great to get him back out of the house tomorrow!

Wednesday

Eldest began the day with Grammar, Chemistry, Numbers and Bible Study.

Then we had a snack, and then he played Minecraft on the PC.

We had a quick lunch and Eldest helped find and pack things that I needed for Science.

We went to Science Club, which was all about plants and photosynthesis. Eldest popped out to buy biscuits because we didn’t have enough.

He made a leaf mobile, and did the leaf disc experiment. He helped make teas and coffees at break time, and helped Youngest make a cress head. Then he handed out copies of the newsletter and hoovered the hall at the end of the session.

We all went to the park. Eldest played chase with his friends, climbed up the goal posts and played on his phone.

When we got home, we had another snack, Eldest put a load of laundry on.Then Eldest and Middly played with the rats until tea time.

After tea, we watched Catchphrase together. Then Eldest went out to his youth group. They made bottle rockets this evening.

Thursday

Eldest began the day by making origami frogs.

Today’s lessons were Physics, Fiction Writing, Geometry, and Geology.
I helped Eldest look through his work and set him a challenge of writing a story without forgetting any capital letters. He managed (hurrah!), so the day began on a positive note.

Youngest was making ‘breakfast stew’ by mixing three cereals together. Eldest wanted to have some too. I think having Youngest around makes Eldest more open to being playful.

After breakfast, Eldest read for a bit. Then we had a quick snack before going to the library.

Eldest returned last week’s books and selected a new pile for this week. He played Pokémon Go and we went out for lunch with Nana.

After lunch we had a quick park trip (it was cold). Eldest mainly played Pokémon Go on the swing.

Back home, Eldest played with his rabbit. Then had another snack.

His Geology lesson today was about minerals, and it included a description of how to grow crystals. So, we set some up to grow.

Then Eldest went to his tennis lesson. Nana drove him there and he walked home by himself.

When he got back home, we looked at his crystals, which are slowly progressing. Then Eldest cooked sausages and mash for tea. He has taken on responsibility for cooking tea once a week. He chooses what to make and lets me know what he’ll need. It’s a new development, but going well so far.

While tea cooked, we all watched the start of Inside Out.

When my husband came home he didn’t recognise our crystal solution for what it was, and he washed up the saucer. Oops! So, after tea, Eldest and I mixed up another batch and left it to evaporate overnight.

Friday

This morning’s lessons were Bible study, Comprehension, Sequences and Punctuation.

Eldest got up rather late today. He did his work, ate breakfast, ate snacks, read for a while.

I invited him to help me test our battery making experiment for next week’s Science Club. He was a little reluctant, but keener when I let him strip wires.

After lunch, we went for a walk with some friends, and talked about local history.

Eldest taught one of the younger children to play Pokémon Go, and then walked next to her for the rest of the walk to stop her bumping into things!

Then Eldest went to tennis practice.


Workbooks
One of the things that I love about Home Education is how easy it is to cope with Eldest’s spiky learning profile. He loves science and is doing well. He finds English tricky and still struggles a bit with expressing himself in words. Many of his workbooks give him small amounts of practice at re-phrasing ideas in his own words, which seems to be helping his written skills to develop.

Eldest is quickly discouraged if he finds work too difficult, and finds it hard to accept our help. We choose his workbooks carefully to build his confidence and take things at his pace. 

Eldest prefers unfussy workbooks, so he’s very keen on Schofield and Sims. Unfortunately, he’s nearly finished them all, so we’re starting to encourage him to use more textbooks.

He is very keen on Activate Science and Aaron Wilkes’ History Textbooks, both of which contain lots of ‘copy and complete’ exercises.

Reading

Eldest is a voracious reader. He is the only one of us who likes to re-read books. He often reads books several times.

Thoughts

Reading through this, I am impressed by how often Eldest helps out. He’s growing into a responsible young man. He clearly enjoys helping me around the house, and helping younger children at our various groups. 

When we first took Eldest out of school, he was wasn’t very confident in his own abilities and he wasn’t keen on socialising with other children. Looking at how happy he is to write instructions for Science Club, and how encouraging he is when he helps Youngest, I am starting to think that he’s regained a lot of self-esteem. He is also genuinely enthusiastic about spending time with his friends now, which is really wonderful.

Home Education – Middle School

Last week, I described a week of home education for my youngest child, who is reception-age. This week, it’s Middly’s turn. A week in the life of my Middle-School child. This is what he does all day:

Monday

Every morning, Middly begins his day by looking inside his box of workbooks. This morning’s selection was Chemistry, Geometry and Grammar.

He got into a bit of an argument when my husband tried to extend his maths into a discussion about the importance of significant figures. But, we backed off and gave him space to calm down.

He finished his schoolwork, and my husband looked over it with him.

When schoolwork is finished, Middly can play computer games as a reward. He bought Minecraft Story Mode at the weekend, so he played that for a bit. It’s a one-player game. So, when Eldest came down, Middly let him take a turn and helped him work out how to play.

I saw an unattended breakfast, and Middly suddenly remembered that he hadn’t eaten it! So, he sat down to a slightly late breakfast. When he finished, he stood in the middle of the room until I reminded him to brush his teeth.

At half past ten, we turn off computer games. Middly picked up a library book. He always has a pile of library books to read. Here’s this week’s selection:

When the boys were younger, I worried about what they read. Now they read so much, I simply don’t have time to read all their books in advance. My husband read one of these ‘Skullduggary Pleasant’ books and wasn’t concerned. Both Middly and Eldest are enjoying them at the moment.

The fact books are mainly there because I insist that the boys take out fact books as well as fiction. They’re not read as excitedly, but, by the end of the week, they’re the only new books left!

Middly put down his book, and asked for something to do. So, together, we tested out the photosynthesis experiment that I want to do at Science Club next week.

The leaf disc experiment is pretty common in schools, you can find a nice description of it here.

It was a success! Which is lucky, really.

Unfortunately, then I went to clear up, so Middly got into a fight with Youngest over some Lego. I calmed them down. Then they played alongside each other happily until lunchtime.

After lunch, we went to Poetry. We were looking at figurative language this week. Middly made up some metaphors and similes and found some in poems. we recapped our work on rhyme and rhythm and Middly took a turn at scaning a line of poetry. We finished by having a go at solving some Dingbats that I made and Middly drew a Dingbat of his own. 

We went to the park after Poetry. Middly brought his football and had a kickabout with his friends.

We came home and Middly ran outside to play with his bow and arrow in the garden. 

He made it at the weekend at an Iron Age activity day that my husband took the boys to. On Saturdays, he takes the children out, and I have a bit of a break.

After a little while, I reminded Middly that he hadn’t played with his rats yet, so we got those out for a while. He has three rats and he plays with them every day.

We put the rats away and Middly cleaned the table, without me needing to ask. He’s got very good at cleaning up after his rats.

Middly and I played Da Vinci Code – the Game.

Then I took Eldest and Middly to their Uncle’s house to play Dungeons and Dragons.

I picked up the boys. Middly played Pokémon Go on my phone on the way home. Then he helped his daddy to make sausages and mash for tea.

Then, they went out to buy a new Minecraft game together before bed.

Tuesday

This morning’s lessons were Punctuation, Number and Biology.

I looked over what Middly had done. We had an interesting chat about orders of magnitude.

Then Middly came downstairs to play his new Minecraft games. They took a bit longer to download than he’s expected. So, he set them up to download and watched magic videos on YouTube.

Then we had to go out because I’d arranged to meet some friends at the park. Middly played football and explored the woods with his friends.

We came home for lunch, then Middly played outside on his roller skates. Eldest went out to play with him, but the game got a bit out of hand, so I brought Middly back inside to play with his rats.

After we put the rats away, Middly put the finishing touches to the newsletter for this week’s Science Club. He and Eldest write them together, and this week’s includes jokes, a review of a toy, how to make a balloon-powered lego car, and a quiz about forces.

Then we went out for Middly’s swimming lesson. Middly played Pokémon Go in the car. Middly has a one-to-one lesson for half an hour, once a week. It’s going well. He likes his teacher and is able to enjoy swimming without worrying about what other children his age are capable of.

Back home, Middly and Eldest played on the new Minecraft game, while I cooked tea.

Wednesday

Middly got up early this morning, and helped Youngest get dressed. Then he got on with the day’s lessons.

Today’s lessons were Grammar, Crime Solving Maths and Geography. My husband looked over his work with him again.

When he finished, he played on his new Minecraft game again.
At half past ten, we turned electronic games off and all the boys played Lego together for a while.

Middly took the children’s section from the English Heritage magazine up to his room to read. He stayed there till lunch time.

After lunch, we went to Science Club. Middly helped set up chairs and welcome people. We made origami frogs, talked about types of energy, built clockwork dinosaurs from kits, worked out how energy was bring transferred in various ‘Energy Stories’, and made rubber band powered boats. Middly gave out worksheets and biscuits; and tidied up pens and put away tables at the end.

Then we went on to the park with friends. We stayed at the park for a while, enjoying the sunshine, while it lasts!

Back home, all the boys watched ‘Star Wars’. 

Middly went to youth group after tea, coming home quite late.

Eldest came out in chicken pox, which threw our plans out a bit. I had to cancel the remainder of this week’s trips.

Thursday

This morning’s subjects were Physics, Maths and Fiction Writing.

The day started a bit late, with both Eldest and Youngest feeling unwell. Middly finished schoolwork at quarter to eleven. Then he played Minecraft until half eleven.
My mum dropped by some comics and craft kits to keep the boys busy while we’re under quarantine.

Middly read his comic. Then we all started making some sock-animals from the new kits.

After a late lunch, Middly and Eldest played ‘Pick up Sticks’. Then all three boys played with Lego.

There was a bit of a disagreement over the Lego, so I changed the subject with a snack. Then Middly decorated a grass-head doll. 

Middly sorted the washing and put on a load. Then he and Eldest played with the rats.

After he’d put the rats away, Middly used his Biology textbook to find facts about photosynthesis to put in next week’s Science Club newsletter.

Then he read Eldest’s comic.

To make up for missing our trip to. Library this week, I let each of the boys choose a new book online. Middly chose the next book in the Roman Mysteries series. He has been enjoying those books for a while now, and his rats are named after the pet dogs in the books.

The boys watched the rest of Star Wars, plus an episode of Danger Mouse. Then it was time for tea and bed.

Friday

Today’s lessons were Bible Study, History and Chemistry.

Middly got a bit worked up over his History. When he finds something tricky, Middly gets upset and that makes it hard for him to figure things out. He doesn’t willingly give up on a problem, but struggling doesn’t help anyone. So, we took it away and encouraged him to take a break. He read for a while and calmed down. Then he had another look at his History and it went much better. With a cool head, he had no trouble understanding the new concepts.

When he’d finished, he came downstairs and tried to play with Lego. He was still in a bad temper, and got into a fight with Youngest, so I sent him away to calm down again. 

Reading provides an easy escape for Middly and helps him slow his mind down again so he can get himself back under control. 

When he’d had a bit of time to calm down, I went up and we chatted about what had gone wrong. Middly and Youngest made up. Then Middly carried on working on his sock monkey.

Then we had lunch.

After lunch, the boys’ new books arrived. Youngest had chosen a Geography Quest book.

We’ve read quite a few of these Quest books together. They have questions at various levels, some that Youngest can answer, and some that tax the bigger boys. So, I read the book and all three boys listened and took turns solving the problems.

Then Middly say down with his new book,but quickly lost interest. After a bit of encouragement, he finished off his sock monkey instead. He found it tricky, so I was very pleased by his determination to see it through to the end.

By the time he’s finished, it was late. The boys watched Danger Mouse until tea time.

Summary

The chicken pox stopped this being a completely typical week. We would usually have gone out on Thursday and Friday. 

Middly is an active boy, and always busy. He’s very helpful and friendly, and I think that he’s the one who’s struggling most with our enforced quarantine. He works very hard at his schoolwork, and is making fantastic progress.

Books

To keep interest high, Middly used different books every day. This means that I spend a lot of time choosing a selection of books for him!

Middly likes books with lots of pictures and the occasional joke. He uses a lot of CGP workbooks, which are great fun. But they don’t really do much in the way of text books. 

Moving on from the CGP books, for Maths and Science, Middly is beginning to use text books instead of workbooks. Text books have more of thorough explanations in them, which Middly likes at the moment, since he prefers not to need too much help from my husband or me.

I have selected each one separately, printing off lots of sample pages and discussing the choices with Middly and my husband. I have noticed, however, that Middly nearly always ends up selecting OUP publications. They tend to be bright and colourful and to have a bit of a sense of humour.

We had a bit of trouble finding a suitable Maths textbook and ended up choosing this one. Despite the title, we’re not preparing for GCSEs for a few years yet. But, as a lower-level GCSE text, it’s just the right level for Middly right now.

We use Postal Bible School for Bible study, and Middly’s also working through this XTB book.