Monday, 28 July 2008

Fun times ahead....

or maybe not! I have been thinking about the way we (or I) have been so keen to find lots of 'fun' things for the kids to do over the summer (and beyond), all the exciting stuff etc, but is it all really necessary? Do they really need all this exciting stuff to do? Shouldn't their home, family and deen be enough for them? No one is saying they have to lead miserable lives but I mean where do they go when canoeing and power kiting etc isn't enough? Where will they get their frills then?

What happened to the children that were happy with whatever they were given and could entertain themselves with out all the 'stuff' that society says they need. Some people always seems to be getting 'something better' i.e. the next playstation, the faster computer etc but is it really making them happy?

The Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) (‘alayhis salam) said, ‘The world is a prison for the believer and a jannah for the non-believer’ [Sahih Muslim Kitaab Az-Zuhd] - inshaAllah I pray that Allah guides us and our children to spend this life in devotion to their Him and spend the everlasting life in Paradise in enjoyment. Ameen. To protect them from the temporary thrills that this life has to offer to the permanant thrill and excitement of life in Paradise. Ameen.

I don't think that I will be finding 'exciting' things for the boys to do next year ishaAllah.

I found this post in my 'drafts' folder but liked it and decided to post anyway (6 months later :0))... would be interesting to get your views on this musing inshaAllah.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Back to normality....well sort of!

Hello again, well we have spent the last two weeks in a whirl, with DH around it's difficult to sit down for 5 minutes! Everything changes so much when he is around alhamdulillah.

Well, we have have had two weeks of joint lessons. The first week we studied land & water plants and day/night flowering plants and tropisms for science. Contours and grid references again (as I bodged it up the first time) for geography and for art we did shape searches, collages and pictures. We have finished the shape theme now and will be moving on to colour next week inshaAllah.

'A' has survived his first day at the 'Summer Sports Activity Programme' and he wants to go back next week despite suffering at the hands of bullies and having his drink nicked. It left me with a whole weird feeling and I had to fight my initial reaction to not let him go again..... it's very difficult to advise them what to do in these situations and although I have told him that he must stand up for himself and if someone hits him he can hit back, it's so hard to let them go..... you just want to protect them so much and I know it's normal but it's a different world now from when I was younger. Allah make it easy for all of us inshaAllah and protect our children inshaAllah.

Sorry don't have no pictures of all our good work as I left my digital camera in London.... boo hoo, didn't realise how much I used it until I lost it.....

We have done loads of modelling, drawing and going out this week but not much writing or math hmmm. We are having next week 'off' as I have appointments, 'A' has his sports day (canoeing this week!), 'A' & 'B' are also having a 'sleep over' as well as the usual swimming and teaching days etc! So I will have to get them to knuckle down the week after inshaAllah, that's as long as nothing more interesting crops up ;0)))

Well it's late and I have a house to clean ready for our Quran teacher tomorrow so good night all and God bless and guide us all. Ameen.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Whisked of our feet...........

Well minutes after my last post my husband whisked us all off to London for a couple of days to see my mum. MashaAllah, it was so nice to see her but such a short visit - never mind! The kids all enjoyed seeing their nan and didn't want to come home - it's a shame we don't see her more often, 'A' was trying to convince her to buy the house next to ours but she wasn't keen. Oh hum!

Well, I have had a sore back since we got home so not much structured stuff going on here I'm afraid..... but we did have a lovely day yesterday making 'costumes' we made knights helmets, swords & daggers and all sorts of stuff. It was lots of fun! Sorry don't have any pics as I left my camera in London :0(( Today 'A' has been catching up on his reading and the kids have really been interested in loads of stuff, asking so many questions about books they have read or looked through that it has made my head whirl. They have all been trying to write of their own accord and were disappointed to miss out on their 'Saturday Class'. We also cleaned up the tank to get it ready for another attempt at growing triops..... we have a desk lamp this time which is the variable in this little experiment so I hope they will live as long as our friends triops inshaAllah (they even had a baby hatch! A grandmother at such a young age!).

Have done lots of preparation for our joint classes tomorrow, I am amazed at how much I am learning never mind about the kids. We do have an experiment for science so I know they will enjoy it inshaAllah.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Busy doing nothing........

This is how it seems when you home educate informally. Hmmm lets see what have we been doing..... well on Friday we got up early and went to the sports center to book 'A's summer sports session however, the sports center was shut! So we went to the charity shop (a long standing promise I'm afraid) and then met a friend and the boys all went off to Jummah together - Ahhh!

We had a meeting in the afternoon to plan our group sessions until Ramadhan. At home time I lost 'A' who ended up staying with his friend for a couple of nights and went swimming and trampolining on Saturday (much more fun than being with me apparently!).

As for those left behind they went to their Maths & English class on Saturday and Quran Class on Sunday. Other than that I know we have done loads but I am unable to recall exactly what! I know we read more about butterflies and did some stuff together in relation to science.

Well that's all I can remember............. how frustrating!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Relaxing days.......

We've had a couple of really relaxed days alhamdulillah. We spent all day Wednesday enjoying each other; playing, gardening, playing board games, cooking n stuff. We didn't actually start our school work until 5.30pm, imagine!

And today we all woke up really late and then went to visit a friend to play etc.

Found out about a sports activity sessions that are going on through out the holidays and want to book in 'A' for one day a week for the 6 weeks. It sounds fab; canoeing, football, basketball, cricket, badminton, water sports and lots more. But guess what? 'A' doesn't fancy it! He is worried about being rubbish and having to be the 'goal keeper'; he has a real fear about being a failure and I am not sure how to get him out of it! He's not sporty I have to admit but I did eventually (with the help of nanny) manage to convince him to give it a go; you know 'it doesn't matter if you win or loose' 'not important if you are good or not just enjoy it', 'whole point is to experience things and decide whether you like it or not' etc. None of my other kids are so 'homey'! I guess just throwing him in at the deep end will get him out of it inshaAllah.

Last triop has died. Kids have decided that it was too cold in the kitchen and we now have to buy a lamp and try again inshaAllah.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Why is it that.....

we do so much more on our days off than we do on our planned days?

Tuesday is our planned day off after our very full and busy Mondays alhamdulillah. The boys found a frog in the garden today, they studied it at length and had to be convinced that it would not make a very good pet! They then went happily off to find somewhere suitable to release it in the process having a great discussion on what was and wasn't a suitable habitat. They eventually put him to rest in a perfect place just right for frogs. Well done boys!

Much to my disgust, which I had to hide of course, they also dismantled their dead butterfly and made slides out of it. A good use of a dead butterfly I suppose! They were talking about taking its insides out for examination on a slide at one point and only agreed not to when I pointed out that they would all be mashed up so no use for examination purposes. Phew. We got a microscope kit from the car boot sale that had gum media and stains included so they have been dying to find an excuse to carve something up to make slides. So now we have slides of a butterfly's wing, proboscis, antennae and leg. They are not perfect but are a very good try - well done again boys!

The boys also went cherry picking with their dad which left just enough time for me to have an afternoon nap with E. Once you get past a certain age afternoon naps have a strange appeal. When the boys came back we spent some time running around and playing in the garden....... the boys had 'mop' horses and were holding a jousting competition whilst I ate cherries to my hearts content. Well done again boys! If only they would do writing and math of their own accord everything would be just about perfect!

DH has decided that he doesn't want the kids to eat in between meals alhamdulillah, this is great step forward as it is usually him that feeds them between meals. Things are moving onwards with great speed alhamdulillah.

Monday happy Monday

Monday started late but finished up just on time alhamdulillah. We was very late for our joint teaching session, even after DH pitched in and cooked my contribution towards lunch mashaAllah, which didn't start until the boys got back from the mosque at dhur - oh well, it couldn't be helped.

After a late start, a lovely lunch and some Neurofen for my headache we cracked on with geography. MashaAllah, saved at the last moment by my dear sister who prepared a map and questions for this session mashaAllah. I never thought it would be so hard to find a decent map to work from, be warned! Anyway, they kids loved the session. They had a map of our local town center and had a range of questions relating to the map, some questions asked for straight forward grid references, some asked the children to look up a grid reference and find a landmark or building in the grid. Other questions asked for directions from a certain building. The kids really enjoyed it mashaAllah and even the older ones found it challenging and whilst the older ones were busy the little ones were making map puzzles.

Next up was science. Whilst we enjoyed studying cells it was good to move on and this week we looked at vascular and non vascular plants. We first talked about the differences between the different plants and how scientist use this as a means of classifying plants. Then we made little fold up (see pics) booklets; one on each type of plant. The older kids had to write the information in their booklets and the younger ones had ready prepared information that they had to read and choose where and in which booklet to glue it. Finally we completed a small quiz just to drive the concept home. Not a very interesting topic but I think that the kids liked making the little books!

I really enjoyed the art this week mashaAllah. We brought together our positive and negative images lesson and our patterns lesson this week. We cut a large positive image out of white paper and divided it up into sections; each section had to be filled using different patterns. All the children from the 3 to the 13 year old can all take part in this lesson and it is always enjoyed by all. The art lessons are so simple but very effective mashaAllah. The bottom picture shows a bit of additional work we did following a previous lesson on straight and wavy lines mashaAllah.

Finished the day off with swimming and back to our friends for some more food and play alhamdulillah. I love Mondays, its such a full day and I always end up feeling really tired but happy!

New, new approaches

So I've thrown away the maths workbooks (well filed them away, I wasn't brave enough to bin them) and started teaching maths without them and it worked out very well alhamdulillah. We started off by doing an oral session going over the times table; counting in 2's, 5's and 10's; days of the week; months of the year and seasons. After doing the months of the year B asked which month he was born in. This escalated into them phoning friends and family to find out which months they were born in and making a bar chart. We then input the information into Excel and made it into several different charts.

What a wonderful lesson, they don't get this keen or involved in their workbooks - they just do it quickly to get it over and done with and don't really take anything in. I think we will continue this way with our lessons, they are definitely learning more and enjoying it! Bonus. All the children wanted a turn on saying things by themselves to show how much they knew and the biggest challenge was getting the older ones to keep quite while the younger ones had a go - but they managed it in the end mashaAllah.

The second part of the session will be to do some sums in an exercise book or loose leaves for their folder. Will need to suss out what they like most to make it that much more appealing inshaAllah!

A is slipping into moan mode again so I am ignoring him until he asks nicely in a 'happy' tone and with a smile on his face. He is working it out inshaAllah. The kids are still trying to pitch DH and I against each other but we are standing firm alhamdulillah and seem to be winning!

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Unforeseen circumstances

Unforeseen circumstances indeed. Today we decided that we would release our beautiful butterflies to go and do whatever butterflies like doing. They all went off quite happily however, in a comedy of errors AB stepped on one and as he recoiled in horror and stepped back another one got a kick. In his defense they did land on the wood chips and were difficult to see. We brought them both back in to the 'butterfly hospital' but sadly one died and the other is not looking too healthy. The fourth one that emerged today still has crumpled up wings after several hours (which is much longer than the others) so I am not sure whether to let it go or not, it seems cruel somehow.... I was really loving this project, we all were, but after such a sad ending to it I don't think I would raise any again. All of these things could have happened if they were 'wild' butterflies of course but that doesn't seem to make it any easier for the poor things. We had a long discussion about whether it was right to buy or sell these kinds of kits; arguments for included the educational value and the fact that the caterpillars were reared for this so are not ready for the big wild world, and arguments against included the fact that they wouldn't rear them if we did not buy them and maybe there were somehow damaged by the rearing process or the gloop that they are fed with during the first week or so, or even by our handling of them as pupas etc. Jury is still out I'm afraid.

We all spent all afternoon in the garden planting, weeding and building shelters (them not me) and hiding under the gazebo during the downpours. DH was weilding bits of metal to each other and the kids were busy planting the 40 or so pips they had from their cherries.......... oh dear!

I also had a marathon hair cutting session and cut all the boys hair; it's really funny the conversations that we have while I'm cutting their hair. AB was first and he was pretending that all his hairs could talk. It was so funny and when I was cutting around his ears he was pretending to be his ear and saying 'oh no, please don't cut me or I can't listen to mummy any more'. Next was B; he was marvelling about the people who spend 'thousands' of pounds on hair gel to make their hair stand up so they could look good for complete strangers. He just couldn't understand why. Such wisdom for one so young. And lastly A who was discussing the comparison of brain size between early man and modern man which apparently shows that we are more intelligent (a matter of opinion of course). He was also trying to think what it would be like to have giant slugs and butterflies around - I of course am not keen, especially if the butterflies can kick back!

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Strawberries and butterflies (but not all on the same plate)

We had no joint teaching session this week as one of our group has been preparing for her first visit from the LEA. She has nothing to worry about but it has made me think about where I am going with the boys. I must start planning for their education in 3 month blocks and setting some goals inshaAllah. I have a friend that tutors using a teaching style that she has developed herself mashaAllah and she is going to take the kids for an English and Math lesson on Saturdays.... I will let you know how it goes inshaAllah.

We have also had three butterflies emerge, mashaAllah. The red staining you can see on the top photo is dye that is left over from the ink that is pumped into the butterflies wing. I was so excited when I noticed the first one that my friend said it sounded like I had given birth. And that was exactly how it did feel; minus the pain and discomfort of course. It is just amazing, I would recommend that everyone has a go at raising butterflies. The third butterfly was almost drowning in their food when we came home and 'B' rescued it - my hero.

We also did some gardening....... well DH done the gardening while I sat with my feet up (well I did work very hard looking after the kids while he was away). This is photo of my favourite shrub ever and it smells amazing, the whole garden is alive with its scent. Being a city girl I have no idea what it is, although from my research on the internet I think it could be a 'Mock Orange', but it's lovely, whatever it is. We are (still) looking at redesigning the garden and I think I have come up with a plan inshaAllah. I am going to do some soil testing with the kids and work out where plants should go and make a plan inshaAllah. Should be fun!

We also went strawberry picking mashaAllah we had a lovely day and what lovely, but expensive, strawberries. We will go again inshaAllah, the kids were really surprised at how some of the different fruit grows bless them. We also took some time to discuss why the plants were on raised tables rather than the ground, why some were big and some small etc etc etc.

'A' was definitely less stroppy today actually he was great mashaAllah and I think we all enjoyed spending time with DH for a change. Onwards & upwards.