Category Archives: Weekly Wrap Ups

Snaps From Our Unschooling Week

Throughout this post you’ll see snaps of our unschooling week that I recorded using the app Snapchat.

Unschooling on Snapchat - 3D drawing

Unschooling on Snapchat - learning lines

My daughter’s scout troop leaders are a whizz on social media. When the scouts are off on camps we enjoy vicarious adventures thanks to a stream of messages and photos they send on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.

When Cordie joined Scouts I didn’t know how to use any of those apps. Scouts gave me a reason to learn. (Though I confess I still don’t really understand what Tumblr’s all about.)

On their last summer camp the scout leaders branched into Snapchat stories. Their tongue-in-cheek blog warned us:

“The scouts are absolutely appalled that their parents have set up Snapchat accounts in order to see our stories there. The last thing they need is you on their social media of choice. They’re demanding that we tell you not to friend them on there. Just view our stories from the camp and then delete your account, delete the app, and throw away your phone.”

(I tweeted back, “Tell Cordie she’s safe. Every time I open Snapchat I’m convinced I’m going to send the world a picture of my nostrils.”)

Unschooling on Snapchat - Spanish pairs

Unschooling on Snapchat - playing Monopoly Empire

Snapchat lets you annotate, filter and share photos and video clips (snaps) over a 24-hour rolling period.

If you’ve ever looked over a teen’s shoulder and wondered in bafflement why she looks like a dog in all her smartphone photos, you’ve seen Snapchat in action.

Unschooling on Snapchat - trigonometry

Unschooling on Snapchat - blowing into red cabbage water
“What happens when I blow carbon dioxide into red cabbage indicator water?”

Photos and videos are deleted from your Snapchat story after 24 hours, so your story’s always up to date. You can choose to save your snaps to memories, though.

Unschooling on Snapchat - Creative Constructions with Geometry

Unschooling on Snapchat - balancing equations with polymods

These days I can safely navigate my around Snapchat (there were a few nostril shots on the way). And – with a bit of tween help – I’ve even made some Snapchat stories of my own.

Unschooling on Snapchat - Reading Harry Potter

Cordie and Jasper were left to their own devices for much of this week while I recovered from a headache. Thanks to Snapchat I was able to record some of what was going on around me. Looking back over my snaps, I was reminded that unschooled kids can not only cope with a little benign neglect now and then – they can thrive on it.

Unschooling on Snapchat - Hama Bead maths
Jasper explaining the maths of his Hama bead design

I know most of you don’t use Snapchat, so I thought I’d share a few of our Snaps here.

Unschooling on Snapchat - vegan pancakes and The Elements book
No eggs? Make vegan pancakes!

Instagram recently released an alternative to Snapchat – Instagram Stories. I think a few more homeschooling parents are probably on Instagram so I’m going to have a play with that next.

Unschooling on Snapchat - reading the Angles of Gum Tree Road
An exciting new book arrived this week 🙂

Do you unschool on Snapchat or Instagram?

Do you share your homeschooling life using Snapchat or Instagram stories? If you do, leave a comment with your username – I’d love to follow you. Find me on Snapchat and Instagram as lucindaleo.

I’ll leave you with a 10 second video snap of Cordie singing and playing a song she taught herself. You can see the full version over on YouTube.

Have a great weekend!


I’m appreciatively linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers’ Weekly Wrap Up.

Us-Schooling Snippets

IMG 8773

You know how we homeschoolers are always looking for the best label to describe ourselves? I recently came across my favourite one yet at Ed Snap Shots: Us-Schoolers. I love her story of how she thought up the phrase.

Us-schooling perfectly describes our homeschooling style.

During November we visited Seville and El Puerto de Santa Maria in Spain. (El Puerto is the town near Cádiz where we’ll be spending February learning Spanish.)

Spain collage
November in Seville and on the beaches of El Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain

Two weeks later we we slid down rapids, biked through the forest, and zip-lined through tree tops at Center Parcs with my mum and nephew.

Tree top adventuring at CenterParcs

How is Us-Schooling going?

Since we got back I’ve managed to rein in any schoolish “We’ve got to get back into the swing of things!” tendencies (yay me). As a consequence we’ve had a really happy week, full of spontaneous learning. The best thing about having a routine rather than a schedule is that we have plenty of time to follow our interests.

1. Snowflake symmetry

I haven’t posted much about maths lately, mainly because our buddy maths routine is continuing to work so well.

The best thing about not following a curriculum is that we have plenty of time to do any other maths activities catch our interest. This week we were inspired by the An Ordinary Life‘s exploration of symmetry when they made snowflakes using isometric grid paper.

Instead of drawing straight onto our grid paper, I stapled clear binder covers on top. When we detached the paper, we were left with pretty Christmas decorations to put on the windows.

Mathematical snowflakes

We found that creating symmetrical designs requires a lot more concentration than we’d expected. (My spatial skills were certainly challenged!)

2. Skating at a 16th century house

On Monday we skated at Somerset House, a beautiful neoclassical building on the north bank of the River Thames. On the journey into London we learned some interesting facts about the history of the house:

– Somerset House was built in 1547 by Edward Seymour, who was the brother of Jane Seymour (Henry VIII’s third wife, and mother of Edward VI).

– After Henry VIII’s death, Edward Seymour manoeuvred himself into the position of Lord Protector, ruling England during the reign of the boy king Edward VI. During this time Seymour bestowed on himself the title “Duke of Somerset”.

– Lord Somerset’s power was not to last, however. In 1549, before he could finish his magnificent house, he was overthrown by a coup d’état.

–  Somerset met a gruesome end in 1552 when he had his head chopped off at the Tower of London. Somerset House was then seized by the Crown. Its most famous resident was the future Queen Elizabeth I, who lived at Somerset House during the reign of her half-sister Mary I.

– During the English Civil War, Parliament tried to sell the house. Fortunately for us, they couldn’t find a buyer.

Skating collage 2
Ice skating at Somerset House

3. Hands-on history at the Imperial War Museum

After skating at Somerset House we hopped on a double decker bus to the Imperial War Museum. The bus ride turned out to be the highlight of J(9)’s day (which is saying something, because he loved skating and the museum). Both children have requested that we now travel everywhere in London by bus, instead of by underground train.

The museum’s World War I exhibition was fascinating. The kids were shocked by the weight of the rifles soldiers had to carry, and they tried their hands at running a naval campaign.

My favourite part was the propaganda posters aimed at persuading men from Commonwealth countries like India and Australia to fight for Britain. How times have changed!

War museum collage
C(11) trying out a WWII Anderson Shelter at the Imperial War Museum (bottom right)

4. Watching a NASA rocket launch

We spent much of Thursday and Friday tuned to NASA, watching the launch, orbit and re-entry of deep space capsule Orion. When the launch window closed without take-off on Thursday, we hoped things would go smoothly the next day so we could catch the launch before our skating lesson.

Fortunately, both the weather and the technology co-operated, and Friday’s countdown ended in a very exciting lift-off.

NASA Orion
Watching NASA’s livestream

We were back in time to watch Orion’s re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere and its smooth parachute descent towards splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

5. The Mystery of the Periodic Table

We learned about the inner transition elements in the last chapter of The Mystery of the Periodic Table. I can’t praise this book highly enough. It’s the perfect family science read-aloud – we all learned something from it. I now understand, in a way I never did in my school chemistry classes why the periodic table is structured the way it is.

J(9) may not retain everything he heard, but for him it was a solid introduction to chemistry, told in an exciting way through the eyes of famous scientists from history.


I’ve been searching for a similar living book about physics. We loved the Uncle Albert and the Quantum Quest series, but I wanted something that covers concepts like optics and fluid mechanics.  Secrets of the Universe: Waves: Principles of Light, Electricity and Magnetism looks like a good start. If the children like it, I’m pleased to see there are several others by the same author.

I’ve also bought Touch This! Conceptual Physics for Everyone, which has lots of pictures and ideas for hands-on experiments. Leafing through just now, I noticed this, in the section on gravity and tides:

“If the moon were too near the earth, the moon would be pulled apart. This has been the fate of moons too close to other planets – Saturn’s rings being the best example.”

I hadn’t know that Saturn’s rings were what remained of some of its moons!

6. Christmas stories

In the car this week we listened to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. J(9) was pleased to be listening to the original, on which so many other stories he likes have been based.

C(11) loved Dickens’ language, which reminded her of her favourite book series, Gerald Durrell’s Corfu Trilogy.

Christmas books collage

We also listened to a lovely telling of The Nutcracker by Jenny Agutter.

Next week we’ll listen to A Child’s Christmas in Wales read by its author Dylan Thomas, and then Lost Christmas. C(11) and I are also going to listen to The Christmas Doll.

At home we’re looking forward to re-reading some of our favourite Christmas stories, including The Sneezing Christmas Tree and The Legend of the Poinsettia, not forgetting of course The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and J(9)’s favourite Christmas book last year, Christmas According to Humphrey.

7. Chess

On Wednesday J(9) asked me to play chess with him. He hasn’t played for over 18 months, and before that only a handful of times.

He easily checkmated me, confirming my belief that computer games teach excellent strategy skills. (Not that I’m a great chess player, but I’ve played a few more times than him!)

IMG 8857  Version 2

When we haven’t been busy following rocket launches or skating in historic houses, the kids have been making speed art videos, writing stories over afternoon tea and translating the next exciting instalment of Minimus Secundus: Moving on in Latin.

It’s been a great  us-schooling week.

* * *

I’m appreciatively linking up here:

The Hip Homeschool Hop at Hip Homeschool Moms

Weekly Wrap-Up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Collage Friday at Homegrown Learners


A week in the life of a British homeschooling family – Friday

Img 8478b

Did you know that an aeroplane is only on its correct course for about two per cent of each flight?

The pilot knows where he needs to get the plane to. By regularly checking where the aircraft is, and making many tiny course-corrections along the way, the pilot successfully guides the plane to its destination.

Flying a homeschool

(Don’t worry, it’s not my latest adventure scheme, it’s a metaphor.)

As the “pilot” of our homeschool, I want my kids to reach adulthood well-educated and with the skills they need to be lifelong learners. Along the way I’d love for them to discover a few of their strengths and passions.

I’m accompanied by my 9 and 10-year-old “co-pilots”. Together, we reflect on our days, weeks and months, adjusting our routine often to help us stay on track over the long-term.

That’s why, once a year, I blog about a whole week in our homeschooling life.  If I told you about a single day, I’d probably choose one we spend at home doing a cool science experiment, poetry tea and a hands-on history project as well as maths,  English and perhaps a couple of languages thrown in. People might read it and wonder how we manage to do it all. They’d never know that we spent the whole of the next day walking in the woods, or just hanging out with friends.

This week has been busy (see Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday).  We arrived home from the theatre at 9PM last night. Thanks to our flexible routine, I’m able to organise our day so that J(9) in particular gets the downtime he needs.


C(10) and I do some Spanish and maths.


Science. Over the last few weeks we’ve been investigating light using laser pens. {Note: laser pens can be dangerous. C(10) and J(9) know this, and they only handle the pens when I’m supervising. Handled responsibly, though, they are an awesome way to learn about light.}

The children know that light travels in a straight line. Today I give them the following equipment and challenge them to make it appear that the laser beam curves.

P1020636  Version 2

Before we begin, I slip in some extra science. I show the children the bottle of water (see photo) with its lid on, and ask why no water is leaking out of the hole.

They come up with several creative suggestions before they remember what they know about atmospheric pressure!

Ready for science

C(10) and J(9) enjoy experimenting with the laser beams for some time before they hit upon the solution. (I’ll write a post at some point sharing the various light experiments and demonstrations we’ve done recently.)

Along the way we have interesting conversations about fibre optics, total internal reflection, and refraction. I don’t get too technical – at this age I just want my kids to find science fun and approach it with curiosity – but I’m grateful for my physics breakfasts, which help me answer some of their questions.

Total internal reflection of laser beams through water – or, how to make light “curve”


Poetry teatime. Over the last few weeks we’ve been listening to The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place audiobook series. The eponymous Incorrigibles are three charming children who happen to have been  raised by wolves until they come to be looked after by plucky young governess Penelope Lumley.

Miss Lumley proceeds to educate the children in a manner homeschooling mums would heartily approve of. One of the many poems she reads to her charges is Longfellow’s The Wreck of the Hesperus.

P1020661  Version 2
Poetry pancake time

Usually we all choose our own poems to read for poetry tea, but today everyone happily agrees to my suggestion that we take turns reading the twenty-two stanzas of The Wreck of the Hesperus.

P1020662  Version 2
J(9) reading The Wreck of the Hesperus


On Friday afternoons we usually visit our local ice skating rink, where the children have group figure skating lessons.

Because of J(9)’s sensory issues, his skating teacher suggested he have a few private lessons to increase his confidence. I’m always looking for opportunities to exercise, learn and have fun alongside the children, so I asked J(9) if I might join him in his lessons, and he agreed (I’m loving it!).

But our teacher is on holiday this week and none of us minds having a free afternoon after our busy week.

I use the time to run a few errands. My husband is working from home today so J(9) is glad not to have to come out with me.  C(10) comes along so that we can hear the next chapter of Pride and Prejudice, the audiobook we’ve been listening to when it’s just us two in the car together.

P1020674e  Version 3
Waiting at the garage for a car bulb replacement.
P1020683  Version 2
C(10) rides her bike while I walk the dogs

After our dog walk we head home. My husband texts to ask if we’re okay and we realise we’ve been sitting in the car on the driveway for ten minutes, listening to the end of Pride and Prejudice. We enter the house smiling.

P1020730  Version 2
Listening to Pride and Prejudice in the car


J(9) has done copywork and handwriting while C(10) and I have been out.

He and I do maths together – a fun Ed Zaccaro chapter involving algebra and fractions.

J(9)’s favourite maths position

After maths I head upstairs with a box of hair dye. My sister-in-law is having a 1920’s fancy dress birthday party tomorrow and grey roots won’t complement my outfit. I’m delighted to discover that Sue Elvis has made a new unschooling podcast which I listen to in the bathroom.


James kindly drives C(10) to her Stagecoach class, where she does three hours of singing, acting and dancing. Often I go to the gym at this time, but today I make frozen banana smoothies for J(9) and I, and I blog while he relaxes in his room.

* * *

Thank you so much for all your kind comments this week. I didn’t know if these posts would be of interest to anyone else but I wanted to record them for myself. I’m so appreciative that people have stopped by to reassure me that I’m not the only one who sometimes fails to live up to the high expectations I set myself!



See also Week in my Life 2013, when I was homeschooling an 8-year-old and a 9-year-old.


I’m appreciatively linking up here:

Collage Friday at Homegrown Learners

Weekly Wrap-Up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers


A week in the life of a British homeschooling family – Thursday

This week I’m blogging every day about our homeschooling life.

I had hoped that after yesterday’s craziness we would have a peaceful day today. I think I under-estimated the implications of having to be at a theatre 50 miles away, bang in the middle of evening rush hour.


At 10:15 we leave to meet friends for a beautiful walk on Wimbledon Common.


Sticks – useful props for playing “Lord of the Rings”
P1020618  Version 2
We eat lunch alongside Wimbledon Common’s famous Wombles. Did you watch the Wombles when you were a kid? I had a Wombles birthday party in 1975!


We arrive home. I manage to resist trying to shoehorn any maths into the gap in our schedule.


C(10) goes to a monthly book group led by an experienced homeschooling mum. Before each meeting, Kate sends out an inspiring list of related project ideas.

Last month’s book was Stay Where You Are And Then Leave, a fictional account of a young boy growing up during World War I. For her project, C(10) created an imaginary newspaper page celebrating the end of the war.

private peaceful 1

For this month’s book, Private Peaceful,  C(10) wrote a poem from the point of view of a member of a firing squad, having to execute his fellow soldier.

Back at the start of the twentieth century, little was understood about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Many soldiers suffering from PTSD were shot for “cowardice”.


A young man walks towards me

he takes his final step

his eyes clouded with fear

his shoulders heavy with dread.


His eyes look down to the damp ground

he knows his life is done

and all I can think about is

what we have become


We’re monsters in human form

about to take a life

to end his troubles

his thoughts and worries

to shoot away his strife.


My kindly thoughts don’t save me

as the weapon kicks

I turn my head away

and moisten my dry lips.


The man collapses to the ground

I look at him with sorrow

I wonder though deep inside

Would I do the same tomorrow?


The poem made me cry.


Kate also organises field trips. Tonight’s theatre production is a powerful one-man performance. The actor has one prop – a bed, which cleverly turns into the barbed wire of no man’s land.


The play ends differently from the book, which gives rise to interesting discussions on the way home and an e-mail discussion among members of the book group. (J(9) is still rather cross about the ending.)



We arrive home.

Tomorrow, we are really going to have a quiet day!




For more Week in my Life, see Monday, TuesdayWednesday and Friday.

And see a Week in my Life 2013, when I was homeschooling an 8-year-old and a 9-year-old.

A week in the life of a British homeschooling family – Wednesday

Img 8478b

Today you’ll get to peek behind the scenes and see what life is like round here on the less-than-perfect days. Yes, this is the one where I let slip that – shock! – occasionally life gets in the way of me being the model homeschooling mum I aspire to be.


C(10) spends most Wednesdays studying science, history and art and hanging out with her friends at a homeschooling group she loves.

This week, though, the group are spending the afternoon playing outdoor team-building games. I’ve never been to the  venue before so I want to allow plenty of time to get there, which means leaving home at 12:30PM.

Bring on my least helpful homeschooling mode: “Right! We’ve got to make the most of the morning!”

I text C(10) inviting her to come down and start working with me at 9:00AM. (Yes, I message my kids. It’s no use calling them when they’re wearing headphones. Sometimes they reply. Does that count as writing practice?)


C(10) comes downstairs. The doorbell rings. I’d forgotten I’d scheduled a grocery delivery.

By 9:30 we finish unpacking the shopping and settle on the sofa for maths. Except that C(10) wants to do Latin instead. It’s true we left the story at an especially exciting point yesterday. (Really. Pandora was “cotidie vomo”.)

The homeschooler I’d like to be tells my daughter, “Of course, darling. Latin it is.” The real-life slightly-stressed mum in the room insists on doing maths first. Luckily (because most of the time I’m pretty reasonable?) my kids graciously overlook my occasional sergeant-major moods and C complies with my random insistence on maths.

Afterwards I generously allow C(10) to do Latin.  (Minimus 2 spoiler alert: It turns out the lovely Pandora is “gravida”!)


I’ve asked J(9) to come down for dictation and freewriting at 10:30. Trying to eke out best use of our precious time, I suggest that C(10) joins us freewriting.

Picking up on my stressy vibe, C(10) – who adores writing and always has half a dozen different stories in progress – tells me she doesn’t know what to write about. Foolishly, I suggest that she think about what she’s going to write for NaNoWriMo next week. C(10) wails dramatically.

P1020535  Version 2
“I don’t know what to write about!” {Photo used with C(10)’s permission 😉 }

J(9) has recently progressed from copywork to “French” dictation (dictation with only some words missing).

Because he has done so little writing until recently (I backed right off until I sensed he was ready), I have no idea how his spelling is these days. On Monday, to build his confidence, I gave him dictation with very easy words missing. Today he asks for more of a challenge, so I blank out three-quarters of the words in a quote he’s previously written for copywork.

P1020541  Version 2
Checking his dictation

The spelling and handwriting present no problem to J(9) (yay). However he takes great issue with the way I’ve printed the gaps (using underscores) and lectures me for 10 minutes on how I need to set it out differently next time.


By this point I have a 10-year-old moaning that she doesn’t know what to write, and a 9-year-old fresh from his most challenging dictation assignment yet (and irritated by his mother’s irrational method of printing gaps). Guess what I do? Insist that we stick to the plan and freewrite, of course! {Cringing as I write this.}

Fortunately, as I mentioned, my usual reasonableness has built up a bit of goodwill with my kids, so they kindly go along with my freewriting plan. We set the timer for 8 minutes. As usual, I write too.

C(10) has become convinced that my NaNoWriMo idea is better than hers, so I suggest that she writes something based on my idea. She likes this and writes a wonderful few pages as a prequel to my story.

J(9), meanwhile, vents his irritation about the dictation episode by bashing long series of numbers into his keyboard. He then cleverly writes a story around the numbers. They are computer codes entered by a desperate astronaut. I’m impressed.

Left: J(9) reading his freewrite


I had planned a short science demonstration for this morning, but by this point I am beginning to come to my senses. I scrap the demo and instead read aloud from The Mystery of the Periodic Table as we eat lunch. We only have time for a few pages because I want to get to the outdoor centre in plenty of  time, so I suggest we finish the chapter in the car when we arrive.

P1020551  Version 2

I load the car with snacks, dogs, J(9)’s maths books, and swimming/karate/gym kit as we’ll be going straight to the leisure centre after C’s team-building.


We arrive at the outdoor centre and I turn off our audiobook – the wonderful The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place – and pick up The Mystery of the Periodic Table. The children groan – not because they dislike The Mystery of the Periodic Table, but because The Incorrigible Children is so good.

It seems there’s still a bit of the sergeant-major hanging around me, because I insist on the chemistry book first. (We are at a particularly exciting bit, even the children agree. Mr Newlands has just put the elements into octaves, ready for Mendeleev to sweep in and take all the credit for the periodic table.)

IMG 8503  Version 2
C(10) playing team-building games

At 1:30 C joins her friends for team-building (perhaps she can teach me a few things). I’ve planned for J(9) and I to walk the dogs and then hang out in a nearby coffee shop for maths and downtime.


Although I can barely move in the car for stuff, I realise I’ve managed to leave purse at home. Since I cannot make it through this afternoon without coffee, J(9) and I drive home via the woods.

J talks to me about the computer game Terraria throughout our entire dog walk. I pay attention dutifully, hoping to redeem myself for earlier motherly misdemeanours. I even agree to play Terraria with him later.

IMG 8500
The happy face of a boy talking about computer-games


J(9) and I do maths, then play Terraria together for half an hour. I have zero personal interest in computer games, but I try to join J(9) in a game now and again.

Playing with him helps me realise the huge amount he learns from these games. It’s also a valuable lesson in empathy, reminding me what it feels like to be a beginner learner. I recommend having your child teach you something regularly – it’s very eye-opening!


We collect C(10) and drive to the leisure centre.  J(9) does his swimming class. C(10) does her second karate class of the week, and I use the gym.

IMG 8506  Version 2


I treat us to dinner in the leisure centre cafe, and the children play in the soft play. (Where do they find their energy?) When we finally get home I am so happy not to have to cook dinner. Instead, I jump in a long hot bath. Bliss.


Does your child teach you anything?

Have you ever been a less-than-perfect homeschool mum?


For more Week in my Life, see MondayTuesdayThursday and Friday.

For a Week in my Life 2013 when I was homeschooling an 8-year-old and a 9-year-old, see here.


I’m appreciatively linking up here:

Collage Friday – Homegrown Learners

Weekly-Wrap Up – Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Finishing Strong #35 – Education Possible

A week in the life of a British homeschooling family – Tuesday

Img 8478b

This week I’m blogging every day about our day-to-day homeschooling life. If you’re only here the science, go ahead and delete these posts. Normal service will resume next week. 😉

8:00AM – Physics for breakfast

P1020482  Version 4
Even the driest textbook goes down easily one bite at a time.

I’ve had physics for breakfast every day for the last seven weeks (with a side order of green tea and porridge).

My favourite way to learn science is by hands-on exploration alongside the children. But I’m hoping that by finding out what’s on the school curriculum, this GCSE Physics book will give me plenty of time to pull together the most fun ways of learning to share with my kids. I might even have half a chance of explaining what’s going on in our experiments!

9:00AM – A musical morning

On Tuesday mornings we’re visited by a gentleman with a grey ponytail and steel biker rings on every finger. Chris used to sing his own songs in a rock band. Before that, he trained as a classical guitarist.

I’m not sure how teaching C(10) and I to play classical and blues pieces compares with the excitement of Chris’s former life, but we couldn’t ask for a more entertaining teacher – we spend most of the morning giggling. Which in my book is a great learning state!

11:00AM – Cupcakes for YouTube

Every week C(10) creates a video which she posts on YouTube on a Sunday. She’s taught herself everything related to making these videos – how to position the camera using a tripod, how to edit her films, how to add royalty-free music, how to make graphics thumbnails and how to publish her finished videos.

Cake you tube

Today she decided to film herself making chocolate-orange cupcakes. I love how she speeds up her finished creations – you’ll see what I mean if you peek at last week’s pumpkin-carving video.


While the kitchen was in use as a recording studio, J(9) and I hid out in another room doing copywork and handwriting.


After lunch (vegetable soup and crusty bread), C(10) and I did maths, Latin and Spanish.

We love the comic strip style layout of Minimus Latin, and always end up having interesting conversations about English words that come from Latin.


Until recently we were using an adult Spanish course, but C(10)’s interest in learning how to introduce oneself and talk about one’s occupation had begun to wane, so we decided to look for a book with more relevant vocabulary.

We’re enjoying Mira so far. It seems lively and should prepare C(10) a little for our Spanish adventure.


3:00PM – Teatime

C finished filming as she iced her cupcakes…
Teatime collage
… ready for us to enjoy at afternoon tea as we wrote and shared our own Halloween-themed mad-libs stories.


Dog walk
Fresh air and exercise time!


For more Week in Life of a British homeschooling family, see Monday,  Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

And here’s how a week in my life looked this time last year.





A week in the life of a British homeschooling family – Monday

IMG 8478v2

Sometimes I think my family takes the homeschooling truism, “there’s no such thing as a typical day” to extremes.

On a mythical “normal Monday” we would work through our short homeschooling routine, read a story or play a game over afternoon teatime, and go for a walk with our dogs. There would be no egg throwing, and definitely no rollercoasters.

But as “normal” is never likely to happen, and since this time last year I enjoyed participating in a “Week in my life” blog hop, I thought it might be fun to record the same week this year.


I get up, let the plumber in, and make porridge. (The plumber doesn’t come every day. Only when 9-year-old boys use their bedroom radiator as a launchpad.)


We’re expecting friends to arrive at around 10:00AM, so we get to work promptly on our daily maths and English routine.

First, I do buddy maths with J(9).

Then after a quick jump around, he does some “French dictation”. This is a Brave Writer idea, designed to introduce children to dictation.

J maths

Next, buddy maths with C(10). She usually uses Ed Zaccaro too, but occasionally we work through British materials instead, to check for gaps and reassure C(10) that she’s on track.

C maths


No sign of our friends, so we head to our local park with the dogs.



Pancake time. I dictate an excerpt from Catching Fire to C(10) while I make the batter. She’s using Brave Writer’s Boomerang this year.

C(10) writes beautifully, but dictation is proving very useful for picking up and dealing painlessly with small errors. Today’s passage gave us the opportunity to discuss how “too” and “to” are used.

Pancakes and dictation

We eat our pancakes while reading about James VI in The Story of the World vol 2. C(10) has been learning about this period in her homeschool group, so she entertains J(9) and I with extra details.


C(10) practises guitar. She and I are both working towards classical guitar grade 5 exams this year.

P1020362  Version 2

While we’re making pancakes, C(10) tells me about an interesting demonstration involving eggs and inertia that she’s been watching on Veritasium. Somehow this ends up in an “experiment” involving throwing eggs  at our garden wall. (We’ve been picking egg-shell off the dogs all afternoon.)

Egg throwing


Our friends arrive! (Loraine, I love your timekeeping. We wouldn’t have had nearly such a productive day if you’d come earlier.)

P1020467  Version 2


Because our day hasn’t been quite busy enough, after our friends leave we decide to head to a local theme park. Seriously though… We save up grocery store points to buy annual passes which cover the three big theme parks near us, and our coupon for C(10)’s pass is about to expire.

While we’re there we have to go on a few rollercoasters, of course.

Can you see C(10) there on the right?

J(9) is so excited that by next spring when the parks reopen, he’ll be tall enough to go on this one, which C(10) rides on her own this time.

6:00PM Tacos for dinner. My guitar practice, then off to the gym for half an hour on the cross-trainer while C(10) does in her karate class.


For more Week in Life of a British homeschooling family, see Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

And see Week in the Life of a British homeschooling family 2013 with children aged 8 and 9.


How was your day?

Perhaps you’d like to share a normal (ha!) day in your homeschooling life?

Homeschool Mother’s Journal – Summer Fun

My favourite thing this week was…

…spending time at the beach with the kids, my mum, my brother and my two nephews (aged 2 and 5).

Beach fun
At the beach. Manic but so much fun!

In my life this week…

…we’ve been revelling in the glorious summer weather!

River days collage
enjoying the sun, in the woods and by the river

In our homeschool/unschool this week…

Caterpillar chrysalises
We’ve been watching our caterpillars make chrysalises
UV bead activity - secret codes
and making secret codes with UV beads

We took the beads into the sun to sort them into colours, used them to “write” secret messages in a tray of salt, then took them into the dark and watched the messages “disappear”.

C(9), who has been doing a project on light, was intrigued to discover that the colour change is reversible and is excitedly thinking up more fun activities to do with the beads.

I’m enjoying …

…noticing how good my kids are at making their own fun. They really are never bored.

C(9), the family extrovert, has a talent for gathering her favourite people around her. She loves it when we spend time at the beach because our house there shares communal gardens with our neighbour friends.

If she’s not playing in the sea or out playing forty-forty-it with a bunch of kids, she’s making music videos with one of her girlfriends or talking with other friends over Skype.

ip dip children's game
deciding who’s “It”

Meanwhile J(8) is enjoying having plenty of time to hone his Minecraft, Roblox and Civilisation skills and to talk non-stop with his friends about said games (and a zillion others I’m trying to keep up with) while they’re biking or swimming.

Or he’s bouncing on the trampoline inventing things in his head. He told me casually today that, “In my mansion, I’m going to have a soft floor with metal underneath it and magnets in the ceiling so I can move around by hover board”!

I’m proud of … my kids

C(9) marked the end of the school year singing, acting and dancing beautifully in her Stagecoach show, she passed her grade 3 guitar exam with merit, and she received her Silver Award, the highest award at Cub Scouts.

I love her for who she is, not what she does, but I know she worked hard for all these achievements and I’m so happy everything worked out for her.

homeschool mothers journal guitar playing
entertaining friends
homeschool mothers journal cub scout silver award
Cubs Silver Award

Meanwhile J(8) has been managing his Sensory Processing Disorder so well, playing with the other kids with almost no meltdowns – I think we may have turned a big corner. He even went for his first ever – and second! –  sleepovers with friends this week.

Something I have my eye on…

tricolour cavalier king charles spaniel puppy - navigating by joy
In two weeks our new puppy will be coming to live with us!

We’re extremely excited, and a bit nervous about doing all the training again. He’s the half-brother of our existing dog, and my mum is having his sister. 🙂

I hope you’re having a wonderful summer too!



Homeschool Mother's Journal Summer Edition - Navigating By Joy


This Week In Our Homeschool

paper aeroplanes - navigating by joy homeschool blog

In our homeschool/”unschool” this week…

J(8) made paper aeroplanes from his Klutz Paper Aeroplanes book. Then C(9) taught him how to make an aeroplane she told him she invented when she was eight.

My children are both quite intense and although they have great fun playing together, things don’t always go smoothly, so my heart sings when I see them working together like this.

Paper aeroplanes on the trampoline
They had great fun flying their aeroplanes on the trampoline.

A helpful homeschooling resource to share…

I’ve been collecting Brave Writer’s free Daily Writing Tips for writing inspiration. This week we wrote riddles to read to each other. Even reluctant writer J(8) joined in with enthusiasm!

Brave Writer riddles - navigating by joy homeschooling blog
J(8)’ s riddle: “Toppings go on me, warm, good-smelling” (pizza)

Places we’re going and bugs we’re seeing…

We made it to our nature-study pond for the first time since we returned from Norway. On our last visit we were surprised to find our swan still nesting, but this time we knew from the “Happy Birthday” bunting someone had put up that something had happened!

Happy birthday cygnets

There was just one cygnet left, but he (or she) was worth the wait. The children have named it “Shadow”.

cygnet - homeschool pond study

We noticed how the cygnet held its leg in the same way we had seen one of its parents do.

Cygnet and swan leg comparison

Cygnet feeding
Feeding with mummy swan

J(8) commented on how much his willow tree has changed since March.

Willow tree nature study

Continuing the nature study theme, I was sceptical when J(8) ran in to tell me there was a bug “as big as my hand!” on the trampoline. We just don’t get bugs that big in England. He wasn’t far off, though – this little lady measured an impressive 6 centimetres!

Female stag beetle  homeschool nature study

I know you folks in more exotic climes are shouting ‘Call that a bug?’ but believe me, it was exciting for us! And by “exciting” I mean, of course, an opportunity to take a deep breath or two and show my squeamish-as-me son how “interesting” bugs can be. 😉

We think we identified it as a (dying) female stag beetle, which we were both pleased to see described as “rare”. Apparently they die shortly after laying eggs in or near rotting wood, which J(8) decided must be our old shed (we could probably do our nature study there next year).

As soon as C(9) walked through the door, hours later, J(8) whispered to her “We found a massive stag beetle next to your den, but don’t worry, the babies won’t come our and NIP YOUR ANKLES til next year”. (Gotta love little brothers.)

My favourite thing this week was…

Playing Consequences. My kids can’t get enough of this game.

Here they are literally rolling on the floor laughing at the idea of Ghengis Khan asking Princess Peach, “Have you got any string? My pants are falling down.”

rolling on the floor laughing while playing Consequences

Consequences as writing practice
More effortless writing practice 🙂

I’m cooking…

mackerel stir fry
Mackerel stir fry – loads of veggies, mackerel and a couple of eggs stirred in. We eat it with rice.

I’m grateful that…

Byline, the blog reading app I’ve used for over two years, has updated to Feedly. I’m so happy that my transition from Google Reader on 1 July will be completely seamless! I love Byline’s unfussy interface and the fact that it caches content for offline reading.

A photo to share…

our 1 year old cavachon
Our dog Harvey celebrated his first birthday this week
birthday card writing practice - navigating by joy homeschool blog
J(8) decided to make him a card. (More spontaneous writing, yay!)

HMJ Logo1 1024x992

Collage Friday

Hobbies  Handicrafts

Hip Homeschool Hop

Weekly Wrap Up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

It’s A Wrap: Going With The Flow

strewing rocks and minerals books
Successful strewing!

Do you ever have times where everything feels easy in your homeschool? On one of those days:

  • My children greet my suggestions with enthusiasm (or better still, make their own suggestions).
  • We flow effortlessly from one happy learning experience to another.
  • I don’t have time to worry about whether I’m fulfilling my responsibility to provide my children with “an education” – we’re too busy having fun learning.
I am blessed with two outspoken children who have approximately zero tolerance for tasks that don’t inspire them. It means there’s no margin for pushing ahead with what’s not working – I get immediate feedback as to whether we’re on the right track.  As Michael Neill puts it:
Moving forward when you are inspired is like climbing into a canoe and going for a ride down a river.  Trying to move forward when you are out of touch with your inspiration is like carrying the canoe up a dry riverbed.
Some days it’s easier to get into the flow than others. During the recent schools half term holiday I found it easy.  Because local schoolchildren weren’t spending hours doing sums or memorising spelling words, I didn’t worry that C(9) and J(7) weren’t.

Instead, we were free to play with magnets, make salt dough maps, and try art journalling. We had a great week and the kids learnt loads. It struck me that I could choose to take this same relaxed approach whenever I wanted. Why should I let the quality of our time be dictated by whether or not schoolchildren are sitting in classrooms?

So this week, I chose to stay in the flow. Learning has been organic and abundant. Here are some highlights. I’ll say more about most of them in separate posts.


When we studied magnetism I noticed the children were especially interested in magnetite and the magnetic field of the earth, so this week I strewed some resources about rocks and minerals. This has been a success!  Even reluctant reader J(7) eagerly reading me extracts from the books they’ve found lying around (yay!).


Rocks  Minerals books collage
We also watched a few You Tube videos to review the continents and for me to gauge their interest in volcanoes and earthquakes. We will definitely be following this up!

History & Geography

origami kimono for Japan lapbook
Origami Kimono
We’ve reached the history of medieval Japan in The Story of the World vol 2, so I brought out the lapbooks the children had made when we looked at Japan for geography last year. Happily looking back on what she’d made, C asked, “Why don’t we make lapbooks any more?”


This was a useful reminder to me that just because children lose interest in something (“I don’t want to make lapbooks any more.  I much prefer notebooking now!”) doesn’t mean their interest won’t revive a few months later!


We also painted our salt dough maps (having finally given up waiting for them to dry and baking them!).
salt dough map painting


C and I used kneaded erasers to “draw” on charcoal. This was such a different way of looking at things, I could almost feel new brain connections forming as we worked!


art with charcoal and eraser

New Projects – Kids’ Blogs

I was delighted when J(7) decided to create a blog to review video games, and I was even more thrilled when C(9) offered to type for him. These two do not often collaborate, so my heart sang as I heard them.  C(9) meanwhile also learned how to scan her artwork and post it with commentary into her blog, Comics Are Fun.
project based homeschooling - kids blogging



Two successes here:
  • The children enjoyed practising their maths facts playing against children around the world in preparation for World Math Day on 6 March.
  • I introduced C(9) the relationship between fractions and decimals. Not only did she get it straight away, but she turned to me with a smile and said “You know Mummy, you’re getting much better at explaining things.” That made my day!

Poetry Tea

Friends joined us for poetry tea (and I discovered a new gluten and sugar free lemon drizzle cake – delicious! I just substituted a gluten free flour blend and added xanthan gum).


poetry tea and sugar free lemon cake


I hope you’ve had a great week too!
To see what other homeschoolers have been enjoying this week, visit It’s A Wrap at Hammock Tracks and Collage Friday at Homegrown Learners.



Homegrown Learners
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...