Saturday, 24 December 2011

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Christmas Lanterns

We made some Christmas lanterns today. You can download the template from here .

Monday, 5 December 2011

Junk Modelling

Owen made a Roblox character from some of the junk we keep aside for Art and Craft.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Introducing Reading Eggspress!

Reading Eggs is an online reading programme aimed at 3 - 7 year olds. We found it unsuitable for Owen and Anya and the environment is too young for our kids. However, they have recently launched Reading Eggspress, which is a new website for 7 – 12 year olds! This brand new world, designed for older students, is full of motivating learning activities, rewards, great games and real time contests. With 650 e-books in the library and 200 comprehension lessons, Reading Eggspress is a complete English Skills program for middle and upper primary students. Anya has really enjoyed the new environment and found many books she has read on the site. She said she preferred reading on the screen as she didn't like the feel of paper. I wasn't even aware of this problem until now.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Chess - The Right Brain Game

Chess is a great right brain game.  The right brain is linked to the "inner" senses of perfect memory, computer-like math calculation, rapid language acquisition, perfect pitch (music abilities), and intuitive thought.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Friday, 21 October 2011

Boiling Water Experiment

Taking Things Apart

Anya and Owen love to learn how things work by taking them apart.  Anya and Owen have recently been consumed by taking apart a very old and broken laptop.  It is such a great way of discovering how things work.  It ticks all the boxes for Kinaesthetic learning. It's so fun and simple and most broken appliances serve as great learning tools.  The kids loveto guess what each park is and we talk about the function of each part.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Number Lines & Weighing

Last year, I posted about Anya’s Numerical SequencingProblems.  She learnt to count to 21 by labelling the stairs.  We also used number lines which I think fantastic method of teaching Maths.  We look at the number line and count forward and back using it.  Anya finds it really hard to remember which set of numbers follow which eg once she gets to 59 she can’t remember 60 comes next.  Counting in Tens has helped but she hasn’t quite made the connection between the Units that come in  between the Tens.

Scales are a little like a number line too and by weighing ingredients, Anya can see the value of the scales gradually increasing.  She then has to understand that if she goes over the required amount some of the ingredients need to be removed.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Chicken Feed Receipe to Produce Omega-3 Fatty Acids

I have been researching a diet that will help my chicken produce Columbus Eggs which are high in Omega 3 fatty Acids.

You can increase the level of omega-3 fatty acids in the eggs that your hens lay by including flaxseed in their feed. The flaxseed contains a type of omega-3 fatty acid called a -linolenic acid and the hen will deposit a significant amount of this dietary fatty acid into the egg yolk. The hen will also convert some of the a -linolenic acid into smaller amounts of other forms of omega-3 fatty acids and deposit them into the egg yolk.

Here is my current mix:

Wheat                                             4 Parts
Oats/Barley                                     2 Parts
Lentils/Split Peas/Quinoa                  2 Parts
Flaxseed/Sunflower/Sesame Seeds   2 parts

Free choice of Oyster Shells/Grit      

More information on Omega chicken diets can be found at         

Friday, 14 October 2011

BrainPOP - Our Favourite Educational Site

Last year we subscribed to Brain Pop Jnr. This year I have decided to invest another $99 into Brain Pop which is aimed at older kids. The science provided by Brain Pop Jnr is a little basic for Owen but the science videos aimed at secondary student on Brain Pop will suit him better.

Naruto, Bleach and Manga Subtitles

This time last year, I could never have imagined my son would be able to watch Manga subtitled films. Many of the Bleach and Naruto episode are only available as subtitles. Owen's passion for Naruto and Bleach has encouraged him to watch the new subtitled episodes. My job is simply to provide him with the time to watch them! New Manga can be loaded from

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Anya's Reading Takes Off!

Anya's reading has also started to take off now.  Guess How?  By being provided the time to pursue her interests and chat to her friends online.  Anya's main interest at the moment is a game called Roblox.
Last year I spent a whole year offering Owen and Anya one to one learning.  The sessions included reading books matching reading level and age level day reading, playing spelling games, playing reading base board games and working through reading programmes aimed at kids with autism.  We did make some slow progress but the real progress has been made by the kids teaching themselves.  They often ask me how to spell a word when they are chatting to their friends online.  I have learnt to simply spell the word and not irritate them by trying to make their question into a lesson!

Roblox does market itself as an educational game with a belief that kids learn best by making things — by engaging in the creative and complex process of imagining, designing, and constructing.  Roblox provides them with a safe place to build, gives them the requisite tools and lets them play.  They say they are inspired by the educational theory pioneered by Seymour Papert of the MIT Media Lab. This theory — labeled "Constructionism" — holds not only that kids learn best when they are in the active roles of designer and builder, but that their learning is optimized when they're assuming these roles in a public forum.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Autonomous Self Regulated Learning - How Does it Work?

Autonomous education was one of the first words I was introduced to when we began our home education. My friend, who has been home educating her children for 6 years (now aged 8 and 12) explained that her children do not attend lesson, all their learning is self directed. Her children seemed bright, had great communication skills and seem very knowledgeable in a broad range of subjects. She said her children have learnt to read by being read to. She noticed that they both started to follow where she was on the page. They were not taught to read using phoenix but I suppose more by word recognition. I was skeptical about how a child could possibly learn anything without lesson styled learning.

At the time, I was sitting down with Owen and Anya for a few hours each day to cover English and Math. The lessons were informal and the kids didn’t seem to mind but didn’t seem to engage in the lessons with any passion. Both of them were barely reading and writing when they left school. They both refuse to read books even though I have tried hard to find books with an interest level at their age but a lower reading age. They both hate books which I suspect is a result of the atrociously boring books they were made to read at school. We used a specialist software application called Wordshark which is designed to help dyslexic children learn to spell. Both Owen and Anya tolerated 30 mins a day using this software but it didn’t seem to create any real interest or pride in reading or spelling. I noticed Owen had started watching Japanese Manga films with subtitles and seemed to be following the plot. Owen started to ask me how to spell words having shown no previous interest in spelling correctly. He was very interested in an online game called Roblox and was chatting with his online friends. I sat down with him to watch him play. He was typing at a tremendous speed with amazingly accurate spelling. So I decided to abandon the Wordshark and allow him to watch Manga subtitles for 30 minutes instead. His reading now seems pretty good (not brilliant but okay) and his spelling is very good. He still isn’t interested in reading books but is able to read whatever he needs to on his computer. He uses the internet to research and look up all sorts of information.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Moving House & Reducing Stress For Children

Moving house is stressful for most people, but some children find change particularly stressful

I have found that preparing the kids for big events is the most effective way of reducing his stress.  I have spent the last few months preparing the kids for the move and including:
  • Explaining why we are moving
  • Showing him photos of the new house
  • Explaining what is involved in the move
  • Showing them the calender and reminding him of the move date
  • Packing a bag of essential toys, clothes and food/snacks for the first few days.

Social stories may also help kids understand what is going on. 

On the day of the move we ensure the kids stuff was off loaded first and their beds and essential toys unpacked first.   

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Reading Eggs

I thought it would be worth mentioning Reading Eggs as some other home educators have recommended this reading program.  Owen and Anya’s reading has improved so much by simply been provided the time to pursue their interests that it is now below their level.  Anya had a look at Reading Eggs but found it too easy although she seemed to enjoyed playing the games for a while.  Personally, I found the program irritating and wouldn't recommend it for older children that are struggling with reading.  It is clearly aimed at younger kids with interest levels and age levels matched at school expectation.  This is rarely the case with dyslexia, ADD, ADHD and autistic kids.  My focus has always been to try and match older interest levels with younger reading levels.

Chemistry Set !

I've just made a huge investment in a Chemistry set.  Owen and Anya love to do experiments so I thought this set would really allow them to develop this interest.  Not cheap though at £168 from Amazon!

The Thames & Kosmos CHEM C3000 includes a wide range of supplies, including professional grade test tubes, an alcohol burner and chemicals that are needed for the experiments. The guide is the most important part of the chemistry set. It covers each experiment in detail, ensuring young learner are able to perform the experiments properly to get results. There are also color photos of the experiments, which is a great way to see if your results are the same as the photo. The set also includes safety gear which is an absolute necessity when working with chemicals.

Documentary Resource

Top Documentary Films you can find 1700+ (more to come) stunning, eyeopening and interesting documentaries.

Monday, 1 August 2011


HESFES is a home education festival held in South East England.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Mark Gives Hula Hoop Lessons!

Mark teaches us to Hula Hoop!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Legoland July 2011

Lots of skills developed including planning, map reading, problem solving, construction and fine and gross motor skill developement!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Lambeth Country Show 2011

We sell our children’s clothes at lots of markets and fairs. Owen and Anya both enjoy helping to make the signs and then serve the customers on our stall. It is a great chance for them to develop their confidence serving customer and practice their mental arithmetic’s. In addition, the Country Show is a fabulous mix of culture, food, entertainment and fun.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Fisher Farm

Fishers Farm Park is the top, award-winning family visitor attraction located in Wisborough Green on the edge of the South Downs National Park, in the heart of the West Sussex countryside. 

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The Power of Autonomous Learning

We have been moving more towards an autonomous unschooled approach to our education.  The change in direction has been influenced by studying the many and varied books and articles written by a variety of authors including John Holt, Roland Meighan, Jan Fortune-Wood, John Taylor Gatto, Linda Dobson, Ken Robinson.  However, the main reason for our move towards autonomous education is the astounding improvement in Owen's reading as a result of his interest in Roblox and subsequent online chatting.  Both his reading and spelling have improved so significantly that he has even started to watch subtitles Manga cartoons.  His improvement in reading and spelling as a result of online chatting out ways any of my attempts to improve his spelling with Wordshark or the books aimed to match interest and reading levels.   His improvement in reading and spelling is down to his obsessive interest in Roblox and endless game designing and online conversation.  I simply allow him the time in indulge in this interest.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Brown Nail Experiment & Shinny Coins


· kitchen cleaner

· 10 dirty copper coins

· 50ml vinegar

· a glass

· a pinch of salt

· 3cm nail

· teaspoon

1. Put the coins into the empty glass then cover them with vinegar. Stir in the salt and leave for five minutes.

2. Meanwhile, clean the nail with kitchen cleaner and dry it carefully. It should now be very clean and bright.

3. Remove the coins from the vinegar, leaving the vinegar in the glass. What happened to the coins?

4. Drop the nail into the vinegar and leave it there for half an hour.

5. What has happened to the nail?

The science

· The vinegar contains acid which dissolved the brown copper-based chemicals from the coins, leaving them shiny.

· These copper-based chemicals then mixed with the vinegar to make a new chemical.

· This chemical settled on the nail and turned it brown.

The What on Earth? Wallbook

This book was recommended by our South London Home Education Group. It depicts millions of years of evolution, the rise and fall of civilisations, one hundred of the top battles and, on the reverse, the story of planet, life and people from the Big Bang to the present day.

The What on Earth? Wallbook is a comprehensive, visual voyage through the past that contains more than 1,000 hand-drawn illustrations, every major event in natural and human history, the rise and fall of civilizations, the top 100 battles and, on the reverse, the story of planet, life and people from the Big Bang to the present day.

The wallbook is A3 size with hardback covers for extra durability. It can either be read like a book or unfolded into a 2.3 metre long timeline for hanging on a wall.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Fruit Scones

Cooking is great fun and measuring and weighing provides the perfect maths lesson.


  • 75g butter or marg
  • 225g self raising flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 25g Raw Cane Sugar
  • 75g sultanas
  • 150 ml milk
  • Little milk


  • Heat the oven to 400F/205C/Gas 6
  • Grease and flour a baking sheet.
  • Put flour into a bowl then add the butter, baking powder and salt. Quickly rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and sultanas and stir.
  • Stir in enough milk to make a soft, pliable dough.
  • Turn the mixture on to a floured board then lightly roll out to 2cm / 3/4" thick.
  • Cut rounds with a 7.5cm /2" cutter or cut into triangles with a sharp knife.
  • Place on the baking tray and brush with the beaten egg and milk mixture. Bake near the top of the hot oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown and well risen.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Music At The Horniman

One of Owen's favourite places is the music room at the Horniman. The museum provides interactive music projections allowing the kids to select and listen to hundreds of instruments. The kids can listen to the instruments using headsets so the room is very quiet, tranquil and very suitable for kids who are sensitive to noise or have auditory processing difficulties. Surrounding the interactive screens are beautifully displayed instruments which are organised and neatly labelled. In addition, the lighting is very dim so is kind to kids with light sensitivities ... 

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Fizzing Candle


· bicarbonate of soda

· heatproof bowl

· short candle

· matches

· vinegar

· playdough or modelling clay

· dessert spoon

· an adult, to supervise lighting the candle with the match

1. Use the modelling clay to fix the candle firmly in the centre of the bowl.

2. Put five level dessertspoons of bicarbonate of soda around the candle.

3. Light the candle.

4. Spoon vinegar slowly down the inner side of the bowl, avoiding the flame. What happens when the liquid and powder mix?

5. Stop adding the vinegar when the froth is about halfway up the candle.

6. What happens to the candle? (Here’s a clue – what happens when you try to relight it?)

Fizzy candle – the science

· New substances are made when the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar are mixed together.

· One of these substances is a gas called carbon dioxide. This is the same gas that makes the bubbles in fizzy drinks. Here, it causes the mixture to froth.

· Carbon dioxide is heavier than air. It fills the bowl, even though you can’t see it.

· But the candle needs air to stay alight, so when the bowl is filled with carbon dioxide, the candle goes out.

Because of this, carbon dioxide is used in many kinds of fire extinguisher