Saturday, 25 May 2013

Varying sources of excitement, no matter how small...

One of the things I love about unschooling is the freedom to be able to facilitate an interest no matter how small. A spark of interest might lead somewhere for thirty seconds or for months on end, and it's all just as valuable to the tapestry that is the human mind!

In that vein we had much excitement one morning this week at the arrival of fish eye and macro lenses for our iPhone, cue experimentation...


More excitement one afternoon for a while at the discovery that the bluetits have hatched at the kids' grandparents' house and can be seen on the nestbox cam cheeping for food...


Further excitement for a few minutes (following Sprout's rediscovery of his rock and crystal collection) at the realisation that his grandparents not only have bluetits but also a huge desert rose.


Sprout and Gruff worked on their robot arm for a second week at Hackspace; it's almost finished, and I suspect they'll be working on it this weekend to get it finished (I have a new project lined up for the next Hackspace they go to, Sprout's very excited about it!)



Home ed group saw a spot of parkour (not a great pic, Sprout looks less than happy, but he was actually over the moon and shouting at me to get a photo of him!)...


...paper aeroplanes...


...and much hilarity from the boys' new Gooey Louie game.


The rest of the week was fairly dinosaur-centric, with lots of dinosaur play and this 'hatching' of a dinosaur egg.


Chef Squidge and Sous Chef Sprout cooked a feast for the start of the weekend: Pan fried cod with fennel and pancetta, Thai style greens, and spicy sweet potato mash, served with ginger and mint lemonade, and followed by summer fruits frozen yoghurt. Yum. It was gorgeous. And here's Chef serving up...




Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Reading! Photos! Boxes! Little Moments of Joy


Just a random bits-and-pieces week here this week, no big trips out just a few days pottering about doing things that interested them all. I love these kinds of weeks and often, like this week, find that they bring some of the most exciting and joyful moments.

Following Squidge noticing a big pink truck on the motorway we looked them up and found that the owner of the haulage company had started painting some of them pink as it is his daughter's favourite colour, which Squidge thought was cool.

Sprout has spent some time playing Fragment and Burn Pixel Wood, more time playing Robot Unicorn Attack determinedly trying to better his scores and level up, and contemplating the process of advertising after Nerd Cubed mentioned that he buys Old Spice so that they keep making adverts, which he pointed out is the opposite of their intention. (As an aside, I was amused when googling for the Old Spice link that their heading is 'Body wash, Deoderant and Other Man Fresheners' o.O )

Moppet has even been playing a few games - she loves Talking John on my phone (and throws her head back laughing when the little blue dudes do their maniacal laughter!), Cause and Effect Sensory Light Box in the iPad, and Kneebouncers too.

Squidge found my bag of nail varnish from back in the days where I actually had time to do my nails, and decided he'd like rainbow nails. Sprout joined in with robot nails too.


Meanwhile, Moppet brushed her tiny covering of hair :)


B&Q Kids Can Do It class saw Sprout building a wishing well, and me discovering that he is far better at drilling self tapping screws in than I am. Here he is demonstrating that the two part wood glue that he attached the roof ridge with is so strong that you can pick the whole thing up by it and nothing falls off.


And here he is wearing his wishing well to walk back to the car. Ahem. 


Back at home, they invented a game outside that involved glasses of water, hollow pipe insulation, watering cans, and had levels, power ups and puzzles. It was way out of my league and they had loads of fun (and got rather wet).


Squidge is still chefing, as evidenced by this two ingredient pizza that he mixed, rolled and topped, and the huge amount of batch cooking that he did with me too!


After having a bit of a reorganise in his room, Squidge rediscovered his puppets and put on a little show for us.


Another trip to Apedale saw them excited to see thousands of tadpoles in the pond... 


...and happy to sit in the tree blowing bubbles :)


We got the boys a skate ramp for their burgeoning scooter skills, and after we brought it in from the rain Moppet started using it as a slide (accompanied by shrieks of laughter!). I just love this picture of Squidge gently protecting her, the look on his face is so sweet :)


This isn't a clear photo but I've included it because Sprout got a little boardgame about the film Epic, which has some little question cards about nature if you land on certain spaces, and... HE READ THEM. It's been such an exciting couple of weeks seeing glimpses of his blossoming reading skills, from reading things out from windows as he was installing a program on the PC, to reading me a sentence off the screen at the start of a film and asking me why they were saying that, to this - "When do leaves fall from the trees?" No teaching, no coercion, just a boy living a life surrounded by words and working our how to use them for his own ends :)


`Boxes. Boxes. And more boxes. )There's a whole pile of them just out of shot) Oh, and bubblewrap. We got a delivery so that was the afternoon sorted - building trains, dens, ramps, assault courses, sliding down the skate ramp in little boxes, and hiding in boxes pretending to be parcels and jumping out to surprise Gruff.


Sprout's started taking part in a photo a day challenge that has a weekly theme. Last week was 'Adjectives beginning with F', which he just caught the end of with Floating (rhododendrons in the bathroom sink)...


...Flowing (taken at Bramshall Park)...


...and Flaming (hand sanitiser set alight - he did start off drawing a flower/stem/leaf outline with it, but once lit it took on a somewhat, erm... phallic appearance, which he thought was hilarious but maybe not quite appropriate to be shared, so he glooped some more sanitiser on and saved people's blushes!)


This week was 'Openings', for which he took the following...






Later in the week we popped over to their grandparents' house as the Blue Tits had laid 9 eggs in the nest box so the boys wanted to see them on camera. Squidge squealed with excitement as he watched the female keep fluffing herself up and settling on the eggs.


While we were there Squidge checked on the courgette plants that had been planted in the soil that he improved with sand last week, and he built some sandcastles too.


We'd picked up Hydro Strike and a My First Scalextric at the charity shop, so they had a play with those too. Hydro Strike was hilarious...


...and Scalextric was a huge hit, Sprout loved seeing how quickly he could get the car to spin off the track.


They both got a tiny little greenhouse and planted some cress seeds in them; Squidge wants to grow some to eat and Sprout wants to leave it growing indefinitely and see what happens.


We transported their new skate ramp over to their grandparent's house so there's actually space for it, and Sprout very competently screwed it together once we were there...


...while Moppet toddled round happily and splashed in some really muddy puddles...


...then they put it at the bottom of the bank to increase the adrenaline factor!


I was just saying to Gruff the other day that it was funny that Moppet has a toy landline phone but hasn't ever seen anyone use a real one, but today she discovered the one at her grandparents' house, and was right in there chattering away in no time. It reminded me of a photo I have from when I was a few months older than she is and I'd called 999 not knowing what it was, and my mum took a photo not realising who I was on the phone to... I can still remember the mild panic I felt now!


I was very excited this week when Moppet signed 'happy'! This obviously isn't a picture of that (I'm not *that* quick on the shutter release!) but of her trying on the rather large sunglasses her grandma bought her.


Amidst the continued gloomy rain there was a sunny day, which we were lucky enough to spend with friends at The Brampton, bouncing...


...swinging...


...playing in the sandpit, eating sausage rolls, and finally trying on old fashioned hats at the Victorian street scene.


When we got home Gruff was working on his van and cleaning up after himself, and Squidge decided he'd like to wash the car, so after explaining to me exactly what he wanted to do, he did so and then proudly showed us the results of his work.


I picked up some ziplock bags and some cheapie hair gel while I was shopping, put one into the other, added some glitter, and voila - one squishy sparkly baby toy!


The weekend saw Finn's weekly class (and my realisation that I hadn't blogged in over a week!), where he built a butterfly house...


...while Squidge relaxed in his favourite cafe chair...


...and Moppet toddled round happily inspecting wallpaper samples for stroke-ability.


And this is a photo of Fly, just because we so rarely get a photo where she's not a streak of speed! Isn't she beautiful? :)







Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The Boys Who Were Never Made To Share

There were once two boys, and from the time they were tiny their own things belonged to them and they were never made to share. Not ever. Of course this made them grow mean and selfish and they ended up with no friends, and on any given day they could be found scowling alone  in a corner hugging their material possessions to their chests.



Just kidding. Not about the first part - Sprout and Squidge *haven't* ever been made to share - but the second part, the part I was assured would be the case should I not force the concept of generosity on them by taking their things and giving them to other people... well it's just not happened. In fact, the complete opposite has turned out to be the case.

I realised just how much when we were at Cadbury World last week. At the end of the visit, we went in the shop and they each chose a couple of things (not once checking whether they had as much as each other to be 'fair'). One of Sprout's choices was a big bar of Dairy Milk:


On our way out to the car, the first thing he asked was if we could drive to his Grandma and Grandpa's house so he could go and share it with them, Squidge, me and Moppet. Absolutely we could, and once we were there he broke big lines of chocolate and gave them to everyone, and you could see by his huge smile as he did it that he loved doing so.

Every day they're generous with each other, and other people, in all sorts of ways, from sharing their toys to giving each other sweets. Of course there are occasions where Squidge doesn't want Sprout to have his bow and arrow, or Sprout wants his bag of crisps to himself, and that's okay. 

When you think about it, the concept of making children share, taking their possessions and giving them to other people, is a ridiculous notion if what you want to end up with is children who like being generous and thoughtful. 

Sharing with them, on the other hand, and surrounding them with an atmosphere of thoughtfulness and generosity... doesn't that make more sense? I'm glad I trusted in that logic.

Friday, 10 May 2013

A most chocolatey time

After a long busy Bank Holiday weekend getting our business launched (Purple Pirate Pixie, if you'd like to check it out!), we started off the week with our monthly Minecraft Day, where we had a friend over and tried out the Nerd Cubed server map and revisited the Whoosh games custom map for a hearty game of Spleef.

Gruff has a new van to drive to his new job now he's no longer going to be working within walking distance of home, and it needs fixing, so he's had two little apprentices handing him tools.

Squidge is still calling himself 'Chef', cooking up a storm and carrying dishes aloft with one hand from the kitchen. He and Sprout made these sparkly blueberry cookie sandwiches...



... which Moppet was stickily excited to find left out on the table :)



Squidge is also enjoying watching cookery programmes, particularly Hairy Bikers and Choccywoccydoodah. I think Jamie's 30 minute meals is going to appeal to him too so I'm waiting for some to come on so that I can record them for him.

Hackspace was cancelled this week due to the rather lovely weather, so Sprout's robot kit serves another week as Moppet's sitting spot :)



Home ed group brought Giacometti sculptures, and no, your eyes aren't deceiving you, Sprout's *is* an anatomically correct robot. Squidge's is a dancer holding a bomb. Imagination, it's a wonderful thing!



They picked some dandelions for me when they were out on their scooters, and we talked about the etymology of the word, and they put them in some water. Squidge was excited to find that they closed up at night and opened again in the morning.



We took advantage of the Purple Thursdays offer to go to Cadbury World...



...where they were amazed to learn that chocolate is made from beans, Sprout loved walking through the factory part watching the machines and feeling how warm the chocolate gets...



...made chocolate concoctions, played chocolate games...



...wrote their names in chocolate...



...pretended to surf on chocolate...



...and delightedly shopped in the huge chocolate shop...



Afterwards the boys wanted to go and show their cocoa bean toys and their haul of chocolate to their grandparents, and while we were there we played some football and did some mosaics.



Night at the Museum and the sequel were on TV one night, so we popped some corn and settled in. They really enjoyed finding out what happened next, and it's piqued Squidge's interest in Ancient Egypt so I need to ferret around up the loft to find all the Egypt stuff that Sprout had when he was four too :)

We spent a day at Bramshall Park with friends...


...they bounced...


...climbed...


...pulled faces...


...decided it was warm enough to slide down the (deserted) skate ramps in their pants...


...crawled...


...picked me flowers...


...and fished stones out of the river.


On a nature-filled afternoon at their grandparents' house, they inspected some bracket fungus on an old log...


...added some sand to soil to improve the quality...


...looked for blossom...


...and finally found some cherry blossom.




Sprout hasn't liked stories read to him since he was maybe 3, but this week he's asked me twice to read a story to him, first the story behind Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and then The Real Ghostbusters: Lost and Foundry

In gaming this week Sprout's been playing the Wizard's Academy custom map on Terraria, and has made a start on Psychonauts, and Squidge has been playing Toca Store, Sprinkle, One Tap Hero, Toca Doctor and Catch the Candy on the iPad, and has found their missing Super Mario 3D Land game so has been catching up with that.