Thursday, 27 June 2013

Observational Drawing

Lovely to get together with lots of other HE families today for an Art session led by a lady from the Hatton Art Gallery.

We all went over to the Great North Museum to do some observational drawings of the animals in display cases.

Elizabeth carefully drew a hare.

Sebastian was far too tired and could have done with a nap but didn't have a pushchair so, instead, ran around like a Crazy.

Francesca sat next to a rabbit and drew a rabbit, although, evidently, a different one.

Lovely concentration.

After the hare was completed, Elizabeth drew Little Dog.

Francesca went on to draw a hasty hedgehog and then an excellent shrew, for which she did really make a proper effort to observe the one on display.

Sorry the photo has skewed round on its way from my phone to Blogger. It really is a very fine shrew.

The rabbit that Francesca drew:

Elizabeth's carefully observed hare. IMO the felt pen when we got home has ruined the subtle details and obliterated the shading but hey ho. You can still see his spectacular ears and his gangly legs.

And here's Little Dog's portrait. Again, alas, the felt pens got to it before I realised, but you can see his rounded ears and round eyes and shiny nose (I think she forgot that she'd cunningly left a white spot in the middle of the nose, to show the light. It has now become a black spot.) You can still make out the four legs, two of which are smaller, because they are behind. And the tail.

I couldn't let the subject of Elizabeth's art pass by without including a picture that came home from playgroup yesterday. Elizabeth's drawing of a duck. I love the webbed feet, the green tail, the blue wing and the smile. A duck always needs a smile.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Full of Busy

Well I've been a tad worried, lately, about Francesca. She was getting a bit out of hand. I mean, you'd hope I could control a 5 year old. But then again, would you hope that?! I'm trying to raise people who can think for themselves and act independently. Oh it's a minefield.

Anyway, that extremely headstrong and willful daughter of mine can really try the patience of anyone trying to - say - encourage the regular practising of the violin, for example.

Suddenly, she was super-engrossed in such laudable pursuits as reading in her room, racing through her Maths book and producing great feats of colouring in.

Anything, in fact, to avoid violin practise.

To the point where I just had to step back. I could not mention the b***** thing one more time. I did not want to hear any more defiant refusals. I was tired of having my daughter holed up in her room 'reading' in order to avoid me and my violin request.

And then suddenly, proving, as ever, that motivation for different tasks comes in waves and it all evens out in the end, today, we've had model-student Francesca and her ultra-productive regime.

It started with History, straight after breakfast. Indeed, before I had finished eating my breakfast, Francesca was working on her 'Big Numbers' work (all to do with beginning to appreciate large timescales) and then calculating how old I was in the various photos we have of my childhood.

Later, we had An Actual Self-Directed Fully-Comprehensive Violin Practice!!! Yes, really!!!

Then some lovely art with Abuelita.

During which Sebastian and Elizabeth made clay ladybirds with pipe-cleaner legs.

Then Francesca got onto her Timez Attack game on the computer, which she is loving, by the way, for learning her tables.

Here's the art:

And here are the ladybirds so far:

And here's a testimony to the age-old appeal of the large cardboard box.

Now, who could be hiding in here?!

Making Fire At Gibside

We had a great time at Gibside today, doing one of their education workshops - fire making.

This was not only fun and informative, but a much-cherished opportunity to hang out with lots of other similar-aged home-ed children. I loved catching up with lots of mums I hadn't seen for a while and even meeting some dads for the first time. Francesca and Elizabeth loved reaquainting themselves with friends and Sebastian found Sam (his big-boy role model friend) again.

The teacher, Melanie, showed us how to make friction and warmth by rubbing wood together.

The children listened carefully to safety instructions - how to keep the fire contained by using a cleared space and surrounding the fire-place with stones.

Everyone had a go at creating friction with wood, both by hand and with a bow to make the stick twirl faster.

Then we made sparks by rubbing metal together.

Using this method, we set fire to some cotton-wool.

Happy boy trying very hard to make a spark to light his cotton wool.

Everyone helped to build the fire, starting with tinder, then kindling, then increasingly large sticks. Melanie lit the tinder with her spark-making device and then showed us how to build the fire up carefully, letting the air get to the flame.


Sebastian found his own little log to sit on.

All the children sat round, toasting marshmallows. Which they then ate, of course.

Sebastian needed some help with his sticky marshmallow.

Francesca acquired a puppy to play with.

We all went to picnic and play in the Strawberry Castle play area (no pics) before heading home.

Here's Francesca:

Teddy got a close look at the chapel too.

"Let's have a last photo together before we go back to the car!"

"And me!"

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Play dough and Paint

Sebastian played with playdough by himself for ages - really focussed on his 'pasties' that he was making and occassionally turning up to give me a 'taste'. Lovely to see him playing independently with real imagination (if that's not an oxymoron!)

Abuelita came to give Francesca her watercolour painting tuition.

They painted a geranium and a columbine flower. Sorry the picture's ended up sideways. You get the idea!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013


It was unexpectedly hot! Almost too hot in the full sun of the adventure playground. Elizabeth enjoyed doing the 'challenge' as she called it:

Sebastian enjoyed having a go on everything.

Francesca's arm features in the picture above - she was there, honest!

Getting too hot, we moved on to the labyrinth, which I thought might afford us some shade.

Here are the girls approaching the carved wooden statue of a wizard called George, at the start of the labyrinth:

Here they are discovering an elaborately carved throne:

And sitting on it:

We had our picnic in the middle of the labyrinth.

We saw damsel flies, which the children were interested in. Incidentally, we did some map work, looking at the road route round Cragside that we followed to get to the various carparks for our destinations.

This is supposed to be the quintessential Cragside image, with the iron bridge in the background but I'm not sure you can make it out all that clearly.

We had a pleasant stream-side stroll and finished off with ice creams and coffee at the visitors' centre.

Alnwick Garden

Not the greatest picture, perhaps, but shows the sunshine and the playing in the water.

This is the sunlight filtering through the trees in my friend's garden as we ate our meal:

And the gorgeous girlies in the beautiful flowers. They called it the fairy garden.