Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Geography Swap

I met another home schooler thru the bogging world and we are doing a swap. I live in the UK and she was looking for some items that best represented the country we live in. I volunteered to send a few things from England and Germany as we were going to be going there on holiday. So this is what I sent:

England items: Castle rock candy, red telephone tin with tea, eraser with a big red double bus, pencil, Paddington Bear bookmark, mini book on London, British flag pin (don't know why but finding a flag was hard), postcards from the Cambridge area (we live close by), brochures of some of the most popular London sites and some UK coins.

From Germany: Euro coins, postcards, pin of German flag (again could not find a flag) English brochures of some of the sites we visited and a small hedge hog which were in every little shop I visited. I don't know if that was a symbol of the county we were in or just an autumn decoration that was out in the shops.

We are excited to see what is sent to us. I hope to use the items for our US geography notebooking.

If anyone is wanting to do this exchange let me know maybe we can work something out:).

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Week in Review

We have been super busy here. We are wrapping up school and preparing for our trip back to the states which we are all very excited about. Schoolwork has been a bit lighter with us completing projects and missed work from last week due attending 2 home schooling field trips.

Reading: Princess has been reading out loud 1001 Arabian Nights and we made it up to chapter 16 before having to turn the book back into the library. We will have to pick it back up when we return. Independently she is reading Percy Jackson's The Battle of the Labyrinth.

Little Man has begun reading out loud the new series " Wright on Time" Arizona. This is the new book written by a homeschooling Mom for homeschoolers. We are reading one chapter a day. This book is pretty challenging for Little Man but he is following the plot and amazing me with his ability to sound out the harder words. Although his understanding of some of the larger vocabulary is still questionable so we are taking our time and defining a lot of words as we read and then doing some discussing. Independently he read his first chapter book level 3 Batman reader. He was so proud of himself.

Spanish: Still working on our Spanish lesson from Power Speak. We are a week behind the recommended schedule so we will have to try to fit this in during our holiday somehow, in order to stay on schedule.

Piano: I still love the Piano lessons we are using: Pianimals. I just purchased and received the Holiday music book and the kids have been practicing learning Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas songs. What I love about this program I often find the kids going to the Piano on their own through the day to practice the songs or try to learn the songs ahead of schedule. The kids are so proud of themselves if the learn the song on their own.

Embroidery: Both have finally completed their projects. We had to stop and start so many times...this project drag on much longer than I anticipated.

But didn't they turn out great.

AAS: After getting some advice I have now split the children up with their lessons and slowing down Little Mans lesson by spreading out one lesson for a week. While Princess is still completing one lesson a day. I had hoped to have completed book one with Princess before leaving on Holiday but that doesn't look like it will happen.

Math: Using workbooks for both children along with games and concentrating on fractions for Princess and counting money for Little Man. Neither one likes Math or the workbooks so I need to look into some other ways of making math fun. I have put it on my to do list.

Little Man has been wearing his spider man costume all week:) I downloaded the fraction flash card from Have Fun Teaching. I am sorry but I can't remember where I downloaded the money game:(.

History: We have been watching the Liberty Kids series. We have been discussing the Revolutionary War. We will be visiting Williamsburg, VA in a couple of weeks and I would like the kids to understand what it is they will be seeing. I had hope to do a lap book but there wasn't time. I figure we will have to get back to this topic later so the lap book will wait. For for now we have been watching the shows and discussing what we have learned very informally. If you haven't heard of this movie series it is very good for children. My children have really enjoyed the series and often ask to watch a show again.

Projects: Little Man finally completed his "All Abut Me" Lapbook which I got free from Live & Learn Press.
Princess has finally completed her "Mythological Creature" lapbook from Hands of a Child.

In addition to their school work I have been frantically doing laundry, blogging:), organizing school material to take with us, and packing. I am looking forward to our Holiday! I promised the kids and my husband no school for the week we are in Disney. After that we will be doing school on the road:). I will let you know how that goes:)

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Trip to a British Fire Station

Today the kids and I joined the British Homeschoolers on a trip to St. Neots Fire Station. The kids and I already knew the emergency number in the UK was different--999. However, today I learned there is another emergency number available here in the UK and on the Continent--112.

I learned that there are many similarities and differences between firemen in the States and here in the UK.

The color of their trucks are different; that is obvious--but what do they called their fire trucks?

Answer: appliance

Uniforms are more or less the same with the same safety devices used

Fire equipment looks the same

Here we are looking for the fire hydrant--can you find it in this picture?

It is that small yellow rectangle on the ground by our feet! I didn't know that. I always wondered where the hydrants were!

The raised yellow H sign lets the Fireman know there is a hidden hydrant in the ground with in 3 meters of the sign. On the trucks they have detailed maps of every hydrant for the county, but the firemen still told tales of some hydrants being so overgrown with weeds that it hard for them to find them. With budgets cuts there are only 2 workers who maintain the hydrants and try to keep them clear and easily accessible.

The hydrant is approx 18 inches below ground.

Setting up the hydrant. All fire truck carry the needed pieces to connect to the hydrant.


All the kids got to try their hand at using the fire hose. Very exciting!

And of course go inside the fire truck and wear an fireman helmet:)

British Fire Engines have Blue lights!

More equipment seen at the fire house.

Some other difference my children noticed:
They did not have a fire pole to slide down -- some fire house do have them just this one did not!
The fire mascot is not Sparky the dog but "Blaze the Bear" but he was not available to be seen today:(

The sirens make a different sound then the ones in the states.

We all had a great visit to the firehouse and learn a lot. It is always fun to see how things are done in different countries.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Autumn is my favorite season

I love Autumn. I love the crisp air, the changing colors, visiting pumpkin farms, apple picking, and the Autumn decorations. They are so much more understated than Halloween and Christmas. The weather in England goes so quickly from late summer to late fall that there is really no chance to enjoy the season. Decorating for Autumn in just not done here, Halloween is not heavily celebrated (big disappointment for my six and eight year old) and to my knowledge there isn't a pumpkin patch anywhere near where we live. :(

So when we decided to go back to the states we considered two things, when would the US children be in school, :) and what season did we want to see. Autumn won hands down. I even made sure the children would be able to stay and go trick or treating at their Grandparents' house and we will buy their costumes stateside as the variety here was sparse, even on the military base. Saying all that, we love living in England, we just miss the Autumn :).

When visiting Germany a couple of weeks ago we visited a lovely palace and the gardens were all deck out for Autumn. I loved it and I just had to share and it made me happy and excited to go home.

Looking down the hill from the palace. The entire garden was decorated with pumpkins and various colored squash. This year was a ocean theme. It was just beautiful!

Can you tell what sea creatures these are?

A turtle and a man surfing on a wave.

Pirate island and a man fishing.

Me just trying to be creative with my photography:)

Friday, 17 September 2010

Waterways and Canal Museum

This week we went on 2 field trips with other homeschoolers. Home education is very different here then in the states. Field trips are arranged and posted to many different counties and every time you attend you will met a different set of home edders (as they call themselves here). While I love meeting different people it does make it some what difficult to get to know people well and form any kind of support circle. Also hard to have the kids make friends that they can see on a regular basis. The other issue, as there are not as many home edders, it is not uncommon for people to travel from their homes up to 2 hours to attend a field trip. I also find I schedule trips based on what is available versus on what we are studying at the time. And this week was no different. I always buy lots of resources so that I can go back and study the information at a later date.

Friday we attended a field trip at Stoke Bruerne Canal and Waterways Museum. It took about 90 minutes to get there. The town is very quaint and was built along the canal. The purpose of this trip was for the children to learn about how canals were built, how they are used and how they worked. About 50 children along with parents attend. This is a very busy canal so the kids got to see lots of narrow boats coming and going thru the locks. The boat owners were very appreciative of the kids enthusiasm to open the paddles:) of the locks.

Narrow boat entering the lock.

A second boat entering the lock. Notice there is not much room for mistakes.

Watching the boat owner opening the lock side paddles to allow water to enter the lock.

The children opening the large paddles of the lock gate to allow the boats to continue on their journeys. I think my kids did this 6 or 7 times. Most boat owners were fantastic in answering children's questions and allowing the kids to participate in the procedures. There is no lock operator all boat owners must do this by hand which is why you need a minimum of two people on the boat. One to remain on the boat to steer and one person on land to open the lock. Once the boat is through the second person hops back on the boat. Most of the people we saw were houseboat owners or vacations riding through the locks. In this case the boats were going up river:)

A boat exiting a lock going down river. The kids were excited to see the lock fill up or down with water. It only took about 5 minutes to fill up or empty a lock.

A dry lock. As you can see it is only about 4 feet deep and 8 feet across. Paddle door are made of iron but the sides are made of brick.

Here is some trivia for you:
Who invented the canals and locks?
What were canals and locks originally used for?
What mode of transportation replaced the canals?
What did they call the men who build the locks?
Answers at the end:)

Originally the canal boats were pulled by horses and looked like this. Everything on the horse had a very specific purpose. The lace covering around their head were to stop the flies from annoying the horse. The bucket around their nose was to stop the horse from nibbling on grass and trees while working. It was also used to feed the horse.

In this area most canal boats were decorated with a rose and castle theme somewhere on the boat. It was to symbolize what part of the country you
were from.

This picture is 99 years old and is of a family of boaters. There are a total of eight children. The oldest six walking along the canal and two younger ones on the boat with their mother. Children were sent off the boat during the day to work by age of three years.

My daughter and a friend dressed up as female boaters. I tried to get my son to dress up but he wouldn't have any part of it.

The only disappointment of the day was the boat ride. The children and adults all thought the boat was going to go thru a lock but alas we were told that would not be the case. It was a pleasant boat ride but we all really wanted to experience the lock. :(

Trivia answers:
1. Chinese
2. Move trade around the country
3. Locomotive
4. navvies short for navigators

We had such a good time I want to go back with my husband and walk the one and half mile path along the canal so we can observe the boats and wildlife of the canals. Maybe I can persuade a kind boater to take us through the lock up river:).