Sporty Thursday; full Friday

This has been a week of Going Out! Thursday was Multisport, the first one of the new term, which kicked off with dodgeball and basketball. All four partakers came out hot and sweaty, having had a good couple of hours of running around. Meanwhile Afish and I had been to the supermarket and managed a big shop, even remembering to use some of the vouchers which generally sit forgotten in my handbag until I fish them out to find they’re out of date already 🙂

Rushing back from sport we just about made it to trombone and were quite relieved by then that we hadn’t yet found out about sinfonia for this term! Trombone was followed post-haste by gym for Afish, while the others had a chance to do some catching of breath and catching up on normals before K and L headed off to judo.

Both Thursdays and Fridays have activities on alternate weeks; unfortunately this term the alternate weeks are the same, so we have a quiet week followed by a busy one. I’m sure you can guess which this one was! It was not easy to get any of the boys up so we left rather later than planned and arrived at Conservation partway through the discussion and planning meeting. The children went off to play while we talked about the shape of the group and how we can make it work better for everybody, but especially for those older children, like J and SB, who often find themselves the oldest in a group and are desperate to do at least a few activities with their peers. Hopefully some of our ideas will bear fruit; we’ll try it for a term at least and see what happens. There wasn’t really a planned activity, since it was the first meeting, but we needed to saw wood into smaller pieces for the fire to cook dinner and the fire had to be lit and tended. Sausages always taste better for being cooked over a real fire 😉 the children all gradually drifted off to play in the park then, leaving adults drinking tea and continuing to plan, and by the time I’d rounded everybody up there wasn’t time to get to the library before Lfish’s violin lesson so they had to work in the car rather than in the comfort of a room full of books and computers… That may, on reflection, have been no bad thing 😉

While Lfish and Kfish had choir Jfish and L were going to try the county music sessions on the other side of the (fortunately small) city, so I had some rushing around to do. Afish parked herself in the church where choir was and Bob collected her and Lfish from there while L, Jfish and I were introducing ourselves and working out where to go, then I had to run back and collect Kfish after his choir, walk him to the car and drive back to the music hub to collect the boys. It’s not pretty, but it seemed to work and I think they got enough out of the music to be worth doing again.

Wednesday: Hundertwasser, 3D drawing, homeostasis and saxophone

It was a WedEd Wednesday this week (hooray 🙂 ) so we headed over to the Beans’ with good intentions for an early start. We should have left early to get fuel on the way but L, who has been looking forward to his saxophone lesson all week, forgot that a lesson needs a saxophone so had to go back and get it. And then had to go back and get the music. We still had enough time to get fuel though, and to pick up some pasta to share for lunch, so we stopped at the supermarket and filled up then I pulled into the drop-off/10 minute wait space and sent Jfish in for pasta. A few minutes later he rang to say he couldn’t find any of the large bags I’d suggested and didn’t know what to get. I abandoned the car and ran in to show him (he was right; they had no big bags so instead I grabbed a medium sized bag and some cheese while he hunted for the bottle of water he wanted) then ran back out to the car to wait while he paid. Some time later he still hadn’t appeared, so I asked Kfish to pop in and see if he was at a till and to hurry him up if need be. As Kfish went in he passed within a couple of metres of Jfish – we could see them both from the car. Apparently, though, they couldn’t see one another, since Kfish disappeared into the bowels of the shop and Jfish came out to the car. I explained what had happened (the others were laughing too hard by now) and Jfish immediately volunteered to run back in and fetch Kfish, then did so before I could stop him. We waited, torn between frustration and laughter, for a few more more minutes, watching our nice early start tick away, and then Kfish appeared, shrugging his shoulders to say he’d seen no sign of J.It was like a scene from a farce! Once we’d explained he was about to dive back in, but we called him back and instead he hovered in the doorway ready to jump up and down and call if he spotted J. By the time J finally sauntered back out to report his failure to find K the children still in the car were killing themselves laughing 😆

Anyhoo, we eventually made it, only to find that poor HH had a migraine, so rather than starting with Science I scooped up all those who wished to do Art and we talked about Hundertwasser. We looked at some examples of his work and pulled out a few key ideas (such as using bright colours, links with nature, use of spirals, love of water, individuality and personality, avoiding straight lines) and we talked about his theory of skins (your own skin, your clothes, your home, your immediate environment, the wider environment) and the buildings he designed. The basic idea for art was to take lollipop trees as a basis and start with a bright background then make black patterned shapes to stick onto it. Another option was to design a village or street in the style of Hundertwasser – Lfish and the other older girls opted to do this together, with great teamwork 🙂

Since the art was in sections for those doing backgrounds and then shapes, TheBabs took people as they were ready and introduced them to the idea of making up solids from 3D diagrams, then doing their own isometric drawings and 3D drawings. Even Afish was able to work out plan/side/front view cards and relate them to the solid objects and the boys in particular did some really good work with the drawings.

The lovely Em also managed to fit in a long-awaited saxophone lesson for L. This way there’s a definite slot once a fortnight, but we’ll need to think about how to get a lesson into the in-between weeks.

By now HH was feeling a little more human so we had an earlyish lunch and then moved on to Science, which was done outside since we were dissecting kidneys and the smell might have been overpowering in the kitchen! We had looked in advance at a powerpoint about homeostasis, so when HH asked what the topic was going to be Lfish was able to answer 😉 There was a kidney each, but not enough blades, so the actual dissection happened in pairs which worked well because some first cuts showed things better than others but each pair ended up with something where they could see each of the things we were looking for from the sheet HH had provided. Afish gave up first (she’d not been very keen in the first place tbh and felt the last time we dissected kidneys was enough to keep her going for a while!) and went to play, but the others carried on valiantly and managed to identify the key features and talk about their functions. I think L felt a bit uncertain as to what was going on at times, but the occasional quick check kept him on track with what we were doing and each week it should get easier for him to follow.

Jfish, SB and I managed a little French oral practice and a quick bit of future tense revision then it was time for me to take K and Lfish to choir. J had a trial Italian lesson and test set up so also needed to come, but Afish and L were not looking forward to lots of waiting around so were very happy when TheBabs came to the rescue with the offer of a lift home so they could stay longer and join in with the various games about to start.

Italian went well and J has now embarked on a year of lessons with the aim of achieving GCSE at the end. The other children in the (small) class have been learning with the La Dante institute for a while already, hence the test to see whether he would be able to fit in with them and keep the pace of the lessons, and half of them have an Italian parent so it should move fairly fast, I think 🙂

A good day all round, really, with thanks to HH and galoka for hosting and Science, TheBabs for Maths and lifts, Em for saxophone and T41 for the reminder to look again at La Dante 😀

Creswell Crags

Having studied the prehistory of Britain we thought another field trip was in order. Since Creswell Crags is one of the most important Ice Age sites in Europe it seemed a good candidate 🙂
We set off rather later than planned, and without J as he had decided to stay at home and work (hmmm) but at least that meant the fog had a chance to clear first. The journey took a couple of hours, following L and Kfish’s directions (worked out yesterday as a Geography exercise 😉 ) but with a slight rethink at the end when it became clear that their route took us a fair distance further than necessary.
After such a long time sitting the first priority was stretching legs, so we set off round the gorge to peer into all the caves. Sadly the tours only run at weekends or as prebooked visits (currently all booked for several months ahead) so we had to content ourselves with the outside and easily accessible parts, but it was still quite stunning. We all enjoyed climbing up the cliff face to see what view the cave people might have had and imagining how we might live in one of the caves. The children all decided that Mother Grundy’s Parlour was the most promising to live in, even though Pin Hole is the one where most art has been found and Robin Hood the most visited. We also attempted to feed the ducks (having been given a couple of bags of duck food when we arrived) but they were clearly well-fed and contented so ignored us all morning and only came to eat when we returned from our walk and tried again.
As we were heading out we saw a school party in the outdoor classroom learning to throw sticks at targets, so we talked a little about how people might have hunted. Another party was on their way to a cave visit, with hard hats and head torches; we were lucky enough to arrive at the cave they were visiting just as they left, so had a chance for a good peek in 😉
On the way back we stopped at the themed playground so we could all enjoy climbing on a mammoth, riding on a rhino, sitting on horses and reindeer, hiding in a house made of tusks and exploring the obstacle course. Time was rushing by, however, so we went back to the centre, where there were finds to excavate and microscopes to examine and identify finds. Upstairs the queue to buy tickets for the permanent exhibition was very long, thanks to a school party coming out of the shop to make purchases (same desk) so we ducked into the free temporary exhibition first, where we found the actual bone discovered in Pin Hole cave and decorated with the rather grotesque and cartoonesque figure of a man. The exhibit was all about different readings of what the picture might be and might mean: perhaps a cartoon drawn to give an impression of movement, an overblown exaggerated drawing, a figurative depiction, a man wearing a ceremonial mask or even a figure half-man, half-creature. We can only speculate, and the exhibition encouraged us to do just that.
Then we wandered round the permanent exhibitions and learned more about the crags, the finds there and how they have fed into knowledge of the Ice Ages and the fauna and flora of the area then. Each child chose an item to write about later in the week. The videos were very good, including one showing the landscape as it might have been in different eras. It was odd to think that Derbyshire was once so warm that rhino and hyenas lived there, and then so cold that the whole area was deeply frozen and people fled back across the ice to mainland Europe or survived huddled in caves for warmth. The children’s favourite exhibit was a computer-aided depiction of various pieces of rock art where you could trace the lines of the picture and the important ones would be highlighted. This made it much easier to see which lines were deliberate and which incidental and allowed us to see why the pieces were considered to be so exciting.
We finished with a look round the shop and buying a postcard each for their project folders.
Despite a slow journey back we just made it in time for Afish to get to Brownies 🙂

Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Last term we kept meaning to try a new multisport session in the opposite direction to usual. Having a free Friday morning this seemed a good time to go. It’s cheaper than our usual one because there’s a substantial sibling discount and it was fun, but the boys were all older than any other children afaics, so not ideal age-group-wise. We may go again whenever it won’t clash with Conservation and hope it picks up a few older children. We’ll see.

Home for normals then off to violin, dropping L and Kfish at the library on the way. Afish had been hoping to meet up with a friend and we had books to collect from another mum at friend’s school so we went there after violin and found books but no friend, so she came with us to the library to find the boys and then she and both Ls went home with Bob while Kfish had boys’ choir.

On Saturday there was a big heritage day in Cambridge, which included music from members of choir, and lots of Kentwellies dressed as Tudors to welcome Queen Elizabeth I on a recreation of her tour of Cambridge colleges 450 years ago. We missed the beginning because of music school (which L said was easy to medium for the music, but medium to hard for the English, so probably a good balance) and then Jfish and L both declined to dress up and Kfish decided to go back to civvies as soon as he could after singing, but the rest of us had a lovely time selling sweetmeats and huzzah-ing as the queen went by, culminating in evensong in the gorgeous King’s college chapel. Some photos were taken, and some more, and a video too. (At 2:57 or so in the video you’ll see the vicar of Great St Mary’s – which was hosting the event – doing his first bit of Tudor re-enacting in a costume borrowed from a Kentwellie, which he really enjoyed.)

Meanwhile the boys went to see the workings of the Corpus clock and then visited the Whipple.

On Sunday Kfish had Eucharist and mattins, so it was an early start for him and Bob, while the rest of us went to our local church for a special service led by two Salvation Army majors to commemorate the beginning of WWI. We were given replicas of the booklets handed out to soldiers 100 years ago, with St John’s gospel and a few hymns.

In the afternoon we had a chore-pause and then filled the now brightly painted volcano with bicarb and vinegar. This didn’t produce the enormous eruption that was hoped for – the children’s choice of a large bottle inside the crater might have stopped the ingredients mixing as well as in a smaller bottle – but it was still enjoyed by all. Bonus fun came from catching the CO2 given off by the reaction in balloons, and then using the CO2 to put out a candle flame. Jfish even had the bright idea of first emptying the balloon into a glass, and then tipping the glass onto the flame. This was to make sure that the fire extinguishing was from the CO2 and not the sudden whoosh of a random gas.

Trombones, volcanoes and judo!

Lfish did a trombone taster session at holiday orchestra a while back, and I’ve been looking for something musical she can do and not take ttoo seriously,so we decided to ask Jfish’s teacher if she could fit in a short Lfish lesson with his lessons. Today was the first of those, and went well 😀 Apparently she has a high embouchure, which makes beginning hard (lots of low notes in bbeginner pieces) but bodes well for tthe future. There’s a limit to how much she can play for now though, as her arms are too sshort to reach beyond sixth position 😆

We left the others finishing off making volcanoes, today’s big activitysince L knows a llot about them in French so finds them accessible iin English. First we looked at articles about tthe Auvergne and L told us about family holidays there, then we looked at general information about volcanoes and then decided it would be ffun tto mmake oone. Afish opted for a small clay version, which she lacquered when dry, then we all got together to make aa large paper mache version based around a bottle so that once it’s dry we can fill t with bicarb and vinegar to make an eruption.

When we were drawing up weekly timetables for this term we asked L what else he might like to do and he answered without hesitation that he wanted to ddo judo. Fortunately we managed to find a class we could get him to and this evening was tthe first session of term, so he and Kfish went along and tthey’ve just got back. It seems to have gone well and they are both keen to return next week 😀

Field trip Wednesday

We had been contemplating a trip to Creswell Crags, but since the social worker was due to visit again decided this left too short a time to be practicable. She then cancelled, so we could have gone, but I woke up with a migraine and took a while recover enough to do anything much, so instead we had a couple of hours of normals and then aa rather less demanding field trip, to the Norris Museum, which houses lots of local Stone Age artefacts 🙂
We saw flint axe hheads from 300,000 years ago – and just down the road – and we handled fossils and replica flints – and even a baby mammoth tooth. We looked ahead a little too, since the museum is so tiny it’s almost impossible to view one exhibit without also viewing the next! All the dinosaurs they have there are aquatic, as the area was 60m under water then. It’s fascinating to see things you think of as History and then be aable to place them locally geographically 🙂

We came home via a shop selling Slush Puppies, which the children have bbeen desperate to try for ages, and fitted in lunch and little music before I had to dash off to choir with KFish and Lfish,leaving L, A and J at home with Bob. L is adamant he hates singing and doesn’t want to do choir, so we’re looking out for other things to fill his time, since it’s a big commitment for half our family. This time, since Bob was working from home, it was easy – he and Afish did some Science and he played a game or two with Jfish. He’s also enjoying non-verbal reasoning, which I started him and Lfish on and now keep finding him continuing on his own 🙂

Next Wednesday should be L’s first saxophone llesson iin England; it would have happened last week or this, but his future teacher has bbeen away.

Apologies for silly typos – my tablet appears to have a stutter and doesn’tt like being corrected, yet is happy to merrily auto correct things into error!

Getting into good habits

Several quiet days in a row means we’ve been able to start putting some good habits into place. Hopefully we’ll be able to make them stick!
Saturday mornings will have music school from next week, so this week was a bonus trip to the cinema for the films for juniors showing of Escape from Planet Earth, which was apparently very good. Libby had gym in the afternoon, while the others did music practice (good habit number one, which slipped a bit over the holidays) and we all managed a bit of tidying and housework (good habit number two – regularly attacking the house together 😉 ).

Since choir hasn’t started yet either the children had no services to sing at, so we were able to go along to our home church, where Kfish and Lfish introduced L to their friends at Junior Fellowship. Bob and I were a little bemused in the service though – usually a Methodist service offers some good solid singing opportunities, but this time out of about 10 songs or hymns there was only one we both knew well, one Bob knew a bit and one I’d sung before but didn’t really know. It reached the point where the words would appear on the screen and we’d look at one another and try not to laugh…

Monday was a quiet working day, although we definitely need to work on good habit number three (getting going promptly in the mornings). Maths is moving on steadily and L is working his way through his EFL folder. We had planned for Mondays to be History project days, but since it looks as though Cake is not going to work for the boys on Tuesdays this term we’ve gained an extra working day (phew! say I. Bother! say the boys. 😉 ) so when I took Afish and Kfish to their ‘cello lesson in the afternoon I left some ideas for constructive busy-ness but no actual work and L, Lfish and Jfish amused themselves.
In the evening Jfish had his first seminar with CMLive on Middle Ages literature. He’s doing the extra book club option as well, so I’m hoping it will reignite his love of English, sadly lost somewhere in year 8 at school. So far so good. He enjoyed it, and appears to be ready to put some work into it today 🙂

Today started with the usual Maths and English until everyone was ready to get cracking with some History. We read and talked about the Bronze Age and each child wrote a small paragraph (or in L’s case copied and in Afish’s dictated). Then we watched a documentary about Stonehenge. This afternoon holds a future of music practices and perhaps art. We’ll see…

Freeday Friday

After a busy Thursday in the Big Smoke, Friday had a relaxed start and then went on to be a day of normals (Maths, English, Music then take your pick) apart from a violin lesson for Lfish with her new teacher. He’s very different to her last teacher and will take some getting used to, but I think it could be a Good Thing for her in the end, if she manages to adjust enough to cope.
L was happy to stay at home with Jfish, Kfish and Afish, under strict instructions to keep busy playing a game or similarly occupying themselves. The house seemed to be intact when we returned so presumably they managed 😉 Next week choir and other activities will have started so Fridays will have a rather different shape. We’re enjoying the peace and free time while it lasts!

Mammoths Stomp!

TheBabs is a useful friend to have when it comes to the Natural History Museum 😉 We were already planning to go to London to see Stomp! so the offer of free guest passes to an exhibition at the NHM was impossible to pass up, especially when combined with the chance to meet up with friends 🙂
When we booked Stomp! many moons ago, we didn’t know whether Kfish would be here or in France, so we booked 6 tickets anyway on the assumption that we could either take another child with us (if Kfish was in France) or I could stay at home (if we’d gained a French child). In the event, Jfish was asked if he’d like to spend the day with Jbiff, whose school term hadn’t yet started, so we dropped him off first and then travelled to London from the nearest station to there.
Finding ourselves passing through Tower Bridge on the underground we seized the moment to see how the poppies were progressing. We visited a few weeks ago with French J and found it quite breathtaking so it was good to be able to show Bob as well and to see how many more poppies there were now.
We opted for the exhibition on Mammoths and caught up with TheBabs and B and the Beans there. It was very good, with short videos and interactive exhibits to keep the children’s attention engaged. We saw Lyuba – the most complete woolly mammoth ever found, but only a baby having died at just one month old 🙁 The children also had a go at manipulating a trunk to perform a task, fighting with tusks and working out where best to attach ligaments to avoid having their (mammoth) head pulled down by the weight of tusks.
TheBabs was also kind enough to take us with her to the member’s room (complete with misplaced apostrophe, unless she really is the only member!) where we had a comfortable lunch break, complete with tea (but no milk – tsk tsk!) and then decided to whizz through the earthquakes and volcanoes section to experience the newly refurbished Kobe earthquake experience. I think L would have liked rather longer there, so have noted his interest in volcanoes for future reference 😉 Unfortunately with a matinee to get to time was not on our side.
A brisk walk and a trip on the Tube and we were at Leicester Square, ready to hunt for the Ambassadors Theatre. We got sidetracked briefly by a proper old-fashioned sweetshop where Bob and I decided quite uncharacteristically to treat the children to a bag of sweets for the performance. The lovely assistant very helpfully gave us a mixture of all the old favourites, most of which the children had never tried (we’re quite abstemious sweetie-wise normally 😉 ) and working our way through a few of them helped to pass the time once we had collected tickets and were waiting to go in and then again waiting for the show to start.
The wait may have been tedious, but the show was well worth it. Bob and I saw Stomp years ago when we were both students, as far as we can remember, and they were excellent then. If anything they’re even better now. There were touches of humour, well orchestrated rhythms and musicality, fantastically choreographed dances with dustbin lids, large sticks and even shopping trolleys and even a whole set performed in the dark with lighters. Excellent stuff 😀

Wed Ed

Wednesday and the start of a new term meant Wed Ed – hoorah!

We took along some Zentangles ® for Art. I hadn’t realised until I researched it that Zentangle is actually a copyrighted term for a particular and very specific form of art method invented by a monk and a calligrapher as a form of meditation, where the process is more important than the product, but the product is often surprisingly intricate and beautiful.

HH did some Science based on respiration (which is why we had been looking through the powerpoint earlier in the week) and we learned that Jfish has the largest lung capacity of the children there – not surprising given he is the oldest, the largest (not by much – SB is almost as tall!) and plays the trombone. L has the second largest, which is good news for a saxophonist 🙂

TheBabs had some Maths activities to share too, which kept all of the children busy for some time and some of them for a considerable time. Others moved on to Minecraft; they have a project underway apparently and were very happy that we didn’t have to dash off for choir, since it doesn’t start until next week. I also did some French with Jfish and SB, something I hope to fit in each week if we can.

There was a big gap, though, as Em and co. were not there 🙁 which as well as missing them meant no music.