This week we've focused on ice and what happens to water in its different states. We've also been trying not to kill each other: the home school honeymoon period is definitely over.
I've not posted a blog for nearly two weeks, which for me is a pretty long time. Shortly after my last blog we went on half term, and yes, I still can't seem to shake school holidays. Perhaps it's because I'm able to relax a little more knowing that all of Jenson's school friends aren't racing ahead in the learning department, which can leave me feeling a little lacking in what I can offer. Add to that a bit of personal drama and our home ed half term went right out the window.
A child free weekend in Devon was just what was needed. Simon and I came back feeling happier and stronger. That didn't last long as the pressures from work and family life hit us as soon as we stepped out of the car. Jenson in particular is really struggling. He's like a pressure cooker: shouting, punching, slamming doors and showing some real attitude. He's a really big boy and likes to throw his weight around.
So. Deep breath. Monday was Lego club followed by a home ed trampoline session at Funky Warehouse. A very quiet day but lots of anger outbursts. I can't remember a time when Simon has wished me luck before leaving for work in the morning but this week it has been every day.
Tuesday I decided to do a little project with them. I thought they would enjoy a small scavenger hunt up at Crickley Hill, which would allow us to forage for leaves, snail shells, nuts and other woodland treasures that we could then bring home and freeze in ice. Great idea in theory. In practice, I don't think I've ever seen such a lack of enthusiasm. We managed to last an hour and Jenson was far more interested in the activity than Wren, but it was a struggle. She mostly walked or sat sucking her thumb.
So I began by encouraging the children to look for interesting leaves that offered different shapes, colours, sizes and textures.
Jenson's attention quickly turned to lumping great big pieces of wood around.
After a little digging on the forest floor he was super excited to find this little creature, I'm hazarding a guess at a centipede or similar.
After a trying morning we headed home with surprisingly full buckets. We had some lunch then I prepared the table ready for our ice activity. Silly me I forgot to prepare myself for the massive disaster area that only water, food colouring and two young children can produce. I'm normally pretty calm when it comes to all things messy but with emotions running high and food colouring running everywhere I was heading for a bottle of wine come 4pm.
It was good fun though. The children really got into the task and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
We began by emptying our buckets out onto trays. We then collected a number of plastic containers, which Jenson and Wren filled with various leaves, shells, nuts etc.
They poured water into the containers and over the objects to submerge them, although some how more water ended up on the table and the floor than in the containers.
I guess it was a good lesson in judgment and working out the volume of objects. On more than one occasion Jenson used a straw to suck out the excess water, which by this point had become contaminated with soil debris. We also talked about temperatures and how hot and cold it needs to be for water to freeze and boil. None of this seems to sink in on any level with Jenson, it goes straight in one ear and out the other!
Next was the food colouring. The children used small syringes, normally used to give our chickens medicine orally, to add a little colour to their creations. I figured a syringe was by far the safer option than giving them an entire bottle of food colouring to tip in, or all over the place. Take your pick. It was a good plan, except they never put the blinking lids back on!!!!!
Once Jenson had finished making his little ice sculptures, he very sweetly helped Wren with hers. This moment of loveliness lasted long enough for me to take these pictures before Jenson wandered off looking for another project to start. He did so in the form of a kitchen carving knife, lemon and boiling water; all things that required my close attention. Wren meanwhile was hell bent on flooding the house with pink food colouring.
Through some small miracle we did end up with these colourful creations. As well as learning about water in its different states, the topics of volume and colour mixing were also covered. It was a great afternoon but yes, I was ready for that bottle of wine at 4pm.
The next day I was pleased to see the children were super excited to find out how their ice sculptures were doing. We couldn't get stuck into the task straight away though as one of the chickens had had a funny turn over night and was unable to stand. The dog's 9.30am consultation with the vet got pushed back to 10.30am as we whizzed the chicken over to Woodmancote, which has a vet practice that specialises in small animal husbandry. The vet's prognosis was a neurotic disease. She gave the chicken a shot of anti-biotics but told us not to hold any hope. Some might think it far easier to simply whack it over the head with a brick, a job that may yet fall on Daddy's shoulders, however, one must try to do one's best for it if only to set an example to the children that animals cannot simply be replaced and only after much love and help has been given that we should think about getting another chicken.
And so for the last three days, poor chicken has been sat in a cage in our living room having to endure all of our home ed shenanigans; I'm surprised she's not dead yet. We have been giving her anti-bitoics orally through a syringe and even watched her lay an egg today. I'm pleased she can't understand what we are all saying or else Jenson's comment: "Daddy is going to knock the chicken on the head with a brick" would definitely hurt her feelings.
After a morning of playing animal hospitals, we finally got around to our ice sculptures. Again, lots of lessons to be had and lots of mess too.
We couldn't have hoped for better results. The colours had blended brilliantly to produce beautiful little ice capsules, each one containing a little piece of nature. Jenson was enthralled by it all and loved trying to stack the cubes into towers.
Next we moved onto the larger containers, which of course took a lot longer to melt.
Jenson used his tongue, teeth and muscle to experience the ice and the objects contained in it. Naturally, the activity ended up with him smashing everything up until there was no more.
Home schooling is definitely not for the faint hearted. I can't work out what the problems are, but with a weekend of work in the form of one wedding and five photo shoots and the children back in Kent until Sunday, I've got a few days to myself to try and work it all out.