Wednesday, 14 December 2011

My candles..

Here are some candles I decorated for my mum....they are addictive to make and I can't wait to make some more...

We learned how to do them from this video!
What an exciting week we have had with the children starting with their tutors and mashaAllah, I must say that they had a great time and the tutors have wonderful intentions to help the community. Each of the children were assessed and they all have homework to do, which they did, without being told, as soon as they got home!  The sister also said that if I couldn't afford for them to go more than once a week [I am hoping to send them at least twice a week inshaAllah] that she would give them extra homework.  Alhamdulillah, this has been such a blessing for me; I didn't realise that I was so stressed about it all!

The children also decorated these candles after being inspired by a video we watched on YouTube

They were great fun to make and I think I may be additcted!  Lego also made this papier mache mountain diarama for his Airfix models.

Sprite made himself this Airfix tank!

Daisy made this art journal page.  She used a piece of sponge to dab colour all over the page and then used stick on paper letters and sticky back foam letters to make the words.  She then went on to paint her next to pages all in black....can't wait to see what she's going to do with those lol!

This is Sprites African inspired giraff mask and Daisy's Zebra mask, both of which were inspired by our session at the library's home school group meeting last week.  We also started making some African masks out of paper mache but they made soooo much mess I could hardly bare to look at it let alone immoratlise it in a photograph!

We also made some ghee and learned about it's health benefits and related ahadith.

The kids also made chocolate cake and orange custard, orange in colour not in flavour.  I don't know why they wanted orange custard but it was nice anyway!

Daisy has been doing some more sewing...

I have also spent some time going over the lessons that the children did at the tutoring group to make sure they understand the concepts and am doing more hands on activities to ram the concepts home.  Lego has been doing forces with related formula and long division, the others are brushing up on their times tables and handwriting before they go back to 'school' on Monday inshaAllah.

Well, we are off for a few days off with my family in London. Yay!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Gotta love the library!

This is just some of the things we have been up to since my last post and I apologise in advance for the length of the post. Sorry!

Jam tarts...yummy!

This is Daisy's impression of what Jannah will look like...

More baking, this time green sultana fairy cakes!  I don't know why Daisy wanted green ones but they were good any how.

I know some of you will probably be gasping in horror at this but we made crackers for my families xmas celebrations....I know....but they are not religious and we miss them terribly so in a moment of emotional gooeyness with my sister I said I would make some so that they could remember us at dinner.  So there you have it...a token of love to my family at a time when we miss each other the most.  Nothing more.

We have been practicing letter formations:

We also have lilly's blooming in December....can you believe it!

We made meatballs and's amazing how quickly children tire of rolling meatballs lol.

We also attended our first session at the Libaries home education group.  Wow, what fun.  This week there was a brother from the museum that came to show us some African artifacts as it is (was) Black History month.  We looked a bowls made from the fruit of the Calabash tree...the fruit comes in different shapes and sizes and are hollowed out, left to dry and then used as water containers, bowls, cups etc.  The first picture is the Calabash tree which is followed by two pictures of some items made from the fruit.  All these pictures are not of the items we handled but of items that a very similar...a very efficient library employee managed to pack everything away before I got to photograph it!

We looked at African hand painted fabrics:

And a 'pillow' to help support huge hairstyles whilst sleeping, it was aparently also used by the Egyptians for the same didn't look very comfortable though.:

We also saw a selection of African masks some of which were quite scarey lol!

Last but not least we looked at some weaved baskets made from raffia. We talked alot about how we are loosing these skills as cultures become more 'modern'...personally I think we would all be much better off if we stuck to a more traditional way of life!

I also found out that home educators can have a special library card that will allow the family to take out as many books as they like, for as long as they like and will never incur charges...bonus!

The museum will also be arranging a special tour of the museum for the group which will ncorporate a look behind the scenes and give the kids the opportunity to choose some items to be included in a display.  They will also be working on a project with the children about the local area. They will do some research using the archives etc,  talk to the people, do some digital photography etc and this will all culminate in a presentation for display in the library.  History and photography all wrapped up together...Lego's 2 favourite subjects, he was thrilled!  They have also said that they are aiming to meet individual families needs and will be willing to provide any activities that we want free of charge.

Anyway, as a result of this session we came home and they kids wanted to make their own African masks and we are also in the process of learning a little about Africa....any work they do as a follow up to the sessions they can take back to show the librarian, she takes a real interest in their work and will display anything she can.  She is such a lovely lady I pray that Allah ta'ala gives her guidance inshaAllah.

Lego has also been supporting his friend who was in hospital for a relatively routine operation and it has surprised me how thoughtful he can be...makes me want to pinch his cheeks mashaAllah.  The visits to the hospital led to lots of discussions about the other children there that had more serious and long term health issues.  Lego and Sprite both noticed that a lot of the patients spent a lot of the time without visitors and said they wanted to volunteer to visit the childrens wards at the hospital as soon as they were old enough to keep them entertained inshaAllah.  Aww how sweet mashaAllah.

For English Lego has been writing a play of a court hearing based on the book 'Holes'.  He has been doing lots of research and it has really grabbed his attention, he has even interviewed a friend that has studied law and really put a lot of thought into it.  It has taken up a lot of time and effort which was nice to see.  He seems to like writing plays and enjoying learning about the law.  I have also sat with him on this one and 'taught' him as we were going along as he was complaining that I wasn't teaching him any more and just letting him get on with stuff by himself. Complaint noted, guilt filed away, and more effort from me to ensue!
Everything else is as usual alhamdulillah...see you soon!

Leaving it to the professionals...

Well I have finally admitted defeat and decided to give up some of my home ed responsibilities to the professionals.  We have been in a rut, educationally, for about a year and it was beginning to have an affect on family relationships and my sanity lol; I knew something had to be done but all my efforts and discussions with the kids came to nothing.  I was making so much dua about it all as I didn't know what to do next; I felt that state school wasn't an option for us and I couldn't affort private schooling [not that that's much better!]; then, by the grace of Allah ta'ala a couple of opportunities sprung up from nowhere alhamdulillah.

The first was a home school group run by the library that is open to suggestions for session activities and wants to 'cater for individual needs' - more about that in the next post God willing.  The other was a private tutoring service providing Maths, English and Science tuition; the upshot is that I have registered the 3 younger ones for the morning session on Mondays [they will do 1 hour of each subject] and Lego will go on Saturday and Sunday for 2 hours per day to do Maths and Science.  This will all kick off this Saturday when Lego begins his classes inshaAllah.  The service is run by a husband and wife team mashaAllah.  They are both teachers and have lots of teaching experience and the sister was very understanding of my situation and is willing to fit in with our needs, they have a max class size of 12 and they don't believe that sitting down with a text book is the best way to learn alhamdulillah [those of you that know me will know that this will be a great relief to me, lol].  On top of this the lessons are extremely reasonable at only £2.50-3 per hour, based on age!  How fab is that mashaAllah?

On the down side I do feel a bit of a hypocrite doing this as I have been, and still am, a strong advocate of home education and would always encourage people to give Home Ed a go but I am just tired and need to recharge my batteries a little!  I know some of you will be shocked at all this revelation so in order to defend myself I would like to point out that I have no family around me to help, other than my husband, who is unable to help with the HEd, and I work part time in addition to the normal woman of the house stuff we all have to do. I also suffer from a long term illness that effects my energy levels etc.  SubhanAllah, did that sound like whinging....sorry, I don't mean to whine just state my case - a couple of people almost fell off their chairs when they found out LOL!

We had got to a stage where the children and I were on different wave lengths and we couldn't get back our learning mojo that was lost during and after my diagnosis.  I did continue to educate through the illness and beyond but it was a continual battle with no time to take a breather.  I think the kids and I need a bit of time away from each other to get our mojo back and these two ventures will just about do it I think God Willing.  It will allow me not to have to think about what to teach as we can base it on what they are doing with their tutors and the homework they set.  We also have the activities at the library which we can work from too and I am also hoping to incorporate a project that we all work on together God willing - but we won't begin this for a week or two to allow us to get into a routine!

We are all looking forward to our new programme of education [although the kids have been talking about the impact it will have on their 'free' time LOL] and it has already lifted some stress from the house; we are having more fun together already and I have more energy and enthusiasm for the little things that I want to teach them like reading, spelling, crafts etc.

Please remember me and my family in your duas as well as all the home educators out there, who give so much, may Allah ta'ala give us ease and guidance in the task raising our children for His pleasure. Ameen.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Soooo, yet again the Historical Banquet has been put on hold because of our illnesses and the homecoming of the prodigal son [or father in our case].  We tried to change the date but couldn't find a time to suit all; we do intend to go ahead at some point God willing so watch this space!

So what have we been up to....hmmm....well....not much is the answer! We went to stay with grandma which was lovely....the kids had giant sparklers and played football with their cousins among other things.  Sprite has been inspired to finish his owl project so we are aiming to finish by the end of next week God willing.  Lego has been doing this [again!]:

The little ones have been doing this:


This was an animal workshop run by Pets at Home. The kids got to handle rabbits and guinea pigs but unfortunately couldn't hold the reptiles as it was feeding time and the staff wasn't prepared for our visit as 'it was in the diary no one put it on the board'.  The young man [oh, that phrase gives my age away!] running the show did a fab job and was very patient with us answering all our questions and more.  Sprite was very impressed with the way the chap talked about the animals and that he got to handle them everyday and announced that when he was 13/14 he wanted to get a part time job working there with the animals.  The workshops are free so check out your local store and see if they can accomodate a visit, it's good fun alhamdulillah!

Sprite has been cooking again and made a lovely Lemon Drizzle came out of the oven whilst I was out and by the time I got back hubby and the kids had demolished it so no pictures I'm afriad!

We also held a small gathering for some friends that we hadn't seen for a while; it was lots of fun but we had a complaint from a neighbour that the boys were making too much noise playing dodge ball in the garden... it was past 10pm but we didn't realise that it was so late so now we're off to organise an apology cake!

Friday, 28 October 2011

We are waving goodbye...

to our snuffles thank God; It's been almost three weeks of illness as each one of us came down with a virus one after another....and of course, as I have no family around me, if one of us is too ill to go out we all have to stay at home.  However, it did enable me to catch up with the washing and dusting, OK I was lying about the dusting - and we spent lots of time just talking, reading and cuddling which was really nice!

Spending so much time at home did fill me with inspiration to improve our learning/dining/crafting space so in between mopping brows, dishing out medicine, mopping up yukky stuff and sleepless nights I managed to change around the whole downstairs space [although I'm still putting stuff away!] and my bedroom and I must say they are working out fabulously.  I love my new's turning in to a real calm space that I can retreat to to sooth my tattered soul whenever necessary ;)

Some learning has still been going on though with English, Math Whizz, madressah, reading, talking etc however, I did want to give a special mention with regard to the 'Great Debate' we had at Sprites English session.  The debate went really well and the children did wonderfully; pushing themselves to present when they found it really difficult and, at times, emotional. We analysed general perfomances afterwards and the children have been asked to write a reflective document on their perfomance as homework, which will identify areas for improvement and offer solutions, which we will follow up with more debate(s) inshaAllah.  If you get the chance I would encourage you to organise a debating group/society as it's a wonderful training ground for dawah work, interviews etc and really gives the children a confidence boost. 

Well apart from all that we have been making robots [or hacking, as my sons tell me] from bits of old toys, correx and staggering amounts of hot glue; Lego managed to cut himself twice on the spinning disk he put on his model LOL.  Sprite's robot didn't make it to the photo stage as it was 'injured' in battle.  Sprite also made a fab pastry for a meat pie - yum. We have also been painting still life as well as the walls and making lots of containers for our new classroom from tin cans. Daisy has been sewing using a kit my sister gave her a while back and as the holes were pre-drilled she found it really easy to sew [once she got the hang of a running stitch] and it did wonders for her confidence mashaAllah. 

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Banquets and Businesses

This week has seen a business idea of Lego's come to fruition mashaAllah; he has been setting up his eBay account to sell his creations, opened a bank account (he needs to get paid of course) and has designed his 'company' logo, prepared a budget and a profit and loss statement, designed compliment slips and packaging. He needs to photograph his creations so has also designed a 'light box' for the purpose.  I was very impressed mashaAllah and he took the time to explain it all to me and 'prove', through examples, that his idea would work.  As a result I decided to invest a little into his idea to start his business off inshaAllah. A budding entrepreneur indeed, mashaAllah.

The kids have also decided that they want to hold their Historical Banquet at our house in October mashaAllah.  As it all go out of hand before they have been told to keep numbers down and are being very sensible mashaAllah.  They are going to need some guidance as this is their first time organising a 'do' and they are getting a little side tracked and need to set a list of priorities. Their first priority is to get the invitations out asap as each guest will be given a character that they need to dress up as and present a very short precis about on the day.  I though this was a fantastic idea and have already purchased the tooth and face blacking for my character [can you guess who I'm going to be? LOL].

The mums also thought it would be a great idea to hand out the invitations in the style of Funeral Biscuits [just to maintain the historical theme!] which were used in Victorian times to bid people to attend funerals; specially prepared biscuits, wrapped in paper and sealed with wax, the banquet details on the front and a biscuit and information about the original form of the biscuit inside. They sound like great fun to make, we have found a recipe and are looking forward to helping with this one!  Here's a picture of original wrapper displayed at the Pitt River Museum at the University of Oxford.

Everyone is going to bring a dish but the boys want to cook a sample of different foods for varying era's for people to try and are researching and organising historical games inshaAllah.  I'm quite looking forward to it all but dreading the cleaning up!

This seemed to be a week or revisits so we ended up at Watermead Park [again], feeding the ducks and strolling mashaAllah.

And at the Abbey Park Pumping Station [again], here's a picture of part of the pumps:

And we had a day of building marble runs on Saturday at a friends house, here's one they manage to perfect after running various tests with different size marbles, inclines etc....meanwhile I had a nice chat and a cup of coffee with me mate!

Autumn has returned with a vengeance and has left us all with the sniffles but poor Crush had it worse with a very high temperature and hallucinations where all the cloth/material came to life in the house...he was so scared, poor thing, and I find it quite difficult as it reminds me of when my father was in intensive care, he was  complaining that the people in the beds opposite had been partying all night and were cutting off Jesus' legs LOL [yes, we can laugh about it now but at the time...!].  He was begging me to take him home and it was really difficult convincing him that he was in the best place!

Lego is learning all about racism in Amercia as part of his study of Holes, we were worried that they would find it difficult but they are doing very well mashaAllah.  I was a bit concerned about how the English lesson I teach on a Saturday is going and that Sprite wasn't taking it seriously but this week he did me proud.  We read our book and did looked at debating.  We did an off the cuff debate and the kids enjoyed it much more than I anticipated and they have been 'debating' everything every since!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Paddling pools and Autumn leaves

Can you believe the weather this past week?  Well, we thought that with such a special gift from Allah ta'Ala we should be grateful and get out to enjoy it...and enjoy it we did LOL.  So the first thing we did was to get distracted by a friend and 'dragged' out to the country park with a hastily made picnic lunch.  It was a beautiful day and the kids had a blast; apart from paddling in the lake we also took a barbecue and the 'big boys' cooked us up some sausages to accompany our lunch.

The strangest sight for me this week was getting out the paddling pool for the kids whilst sweeping up Autumn leaves from the patio - how weird! 

Soooo we spent the next few days up until yesterday enjoying the sun and the garden [the kids] and getting loads of washing done [me] and we even had friends to stay over for the weekend.  The children also spent some time making a bug and insect hotel thang out of a had a 'play' space for every common garden bug you could think of to come inshaAllah.

We have also spent a great deal of time on cars in the last broke down and is now 'resting' on the  driveway until hubby can get round to reviving it but alhamdulillah we had just bought another car [as hubby quite skillfully had an idea that the old one was going to die LOL] but the suspension arm broke on that yesterday so we had that to sort out too!  I'm wishing we didn't have to rely on the car so much :0(

It's been great but we had to crack on with the education today, so it's been Maths and English as usual and we did a teleclass with Supercharged Science on Sound and Sonic Vibrations and each of the children made one of these harmonicas that use wind speed and resonance to make a buzzing sound.  They quite enjoyed the activity and all decorated their harmonica appropriately...the first picture is of the harmnoica and the video shows the harmonica in action.....

Oh and, alhamdulillah, Lego had his plaster off yesterday and it looks like it's healing wonderfully and we are hoping that he will be discharged by the plastic surgeon on Friday...yay!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Well these past two weeks have been so busy and have flown by.  I've been having some Osteopathy on my back [great stuff; highly recommended!] so am getting back on track back wise but came down with an evil stomach virus.  Nevertheless we have all taken the opportunity [on any rain free day] to get in the garden to do some clearing, digging and general chopping stuff down and it's now looking like this;

That's an exhausted Sprite you can see in the middle who had been chopping wood and digging with the pick axe [alhamdulillah for his axe training with the scouts lol]....he is soaking in a hot bath as I type! You will notice the missing pile of wood etc that took hubby three trips to the tip to dispose of; not to mention all the metal etc he took a day to put in the garage poor thing.  And just in case you don't remember what it looked like here's a little reminder.

We have also been collecting conkers:

And Crash has been cooking [if you can call a flan cooking] and it was extremely yummy!


We have also been making ribbon roses [very addictive and therapeutic!]...I know they look a strange type of cool in the photos but we weren't very successful I can assure you!  Lots more practice needed LOL.

Apart from that we haven't done much at all outside the usual daily madressah, maths, English and reading etc and are still trying to get back into 'the swing of things' following Ramadhan.  However, Cubs and Beavers are back on as is the English tutor for Lego and sports for the two little ones so I guess it's back to the mad daily dash around.....but on reflection, they won't be needing me for much longer so I should savour every moment inshaAllah.

And lastly... in my quest for the right home schooling curriculum/method for us the 'Well Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Educations' keeps coming up so I guess that in response to my prayers Allah ta'Ala is guiding me to this book...which I have ordered but it STILL hasn't arrived!  I feel that Montessori doesn't really have much to offer my children but feel really excited about what this has to offer and would love to hear from any of you following the recommendations in this book for your home ed!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Inconsistent until the end...

OK so that was a bit melodramatic but the week did start of exceptionally well and then went rapidly down hill.  We started well on Monday with a brand new schedule and everything went really well....everyone got their work done and it was fab...I should have known it would never last.  Tuesday I woke up and had a relapse with my back...bah humbug!  This was followed by another call from the hospital calling Lego back in and yet another to say that Sprite had to go in to start his physio this another two days taken out of the week!

And with the English lessons starting back for Sprite tomorrow he decides that he wants to change the way he presents his 'nature diary' for his homework!  So the old one was dumped and he made this...

Isn't it lovely?  It was made out of a corrugated cardboard box cut to fit our stock of 6"x6" papers.  On the front the larger flowers he cut from a die I have and heat embossed using different color powders and he  stamped on top of them whilst they were hot [you should be aware that these are MY craft supplies and he had me cringing in the corner all the while he was using them, lol].

The first entry was the frog booklet that you may remember from his first attempt at the diary.  The second page was mostly researched information and photo's from the internet but the third entry he found an outline picture and he painted the image using watercolor pencils.  I like watercolors, you can get away with a multitude of sins [art wise] and always have a good result.  Apart from the art lesson these two entries also included a lesson on internet research and IT (cutting, pasting, changing fonts etc).

Lego hasn't done much this week and is milking the 'poor me' thang far too much....his WW2 model was also broken into tiny pieces when it was accidently knocked off a cupboard by dad [I was just grateful it wasn't me or one of the other children!].  He wasn't very happy.  Nooo, not happy at all; and he seemed to be uninterested in the fact that he was the one who had left it in the precarious position in the first place.  Any ho, it has been unceremoniously dumped in the bin and he proclaimed that he would never build a model again.  However, this pledge didn't last long and he is in the middle of building a WW2 scene out of Lego!

Crash and Daisy have left me all Peter and Jane'd out and I am currently in the process of making flash cards of all the keywords to assist in the word recognition process.  All maths has been done on Maths Whizz this week but I need to get them putting some stuff down on paper too to so that can apply all that they learn.

Well, that's it for this week! Have a great weekend everyone.