Over the last 15 months of writing this blog, life has changed dramatically for me and my little family. The reason for starting the blog was to document our home schooling journey, that then became a following of our dreams journey, to now settling down to living abroad and embracing a new culture. I have loved writing and I have loved having the blog, but in the last few weeks something has shifted. Originally it was a diary to inspire others, but I’ve got caught up in the whole stats and numbers thing, and wanting to be read. I think it stems from trying to get your blog “out there”. There is so much competition and so much background work that needs to be done, I felt that I am always on the alert to make sure that a link up is made before the dead line, or the comments are submitted before closure. There have also been a few personal things going on in the background too that make me feel I need to take a break and concentrate on my young family, instead of where the next post is coming from. I hate being online, and yet if I don’t reply or comment on various platforms, algorithms ensure your material doesn’t appear…cruel but it is reality. So I feel this is all dictating our days that are about living in the moment, and being immersed in the outdoors and nature….all a little bit of a contradiction and it’s been eating away at me. So, I guess, what I am trying to say is, I am in no way clear aboutwhere I go from here, so over the summer I will take a break, and see how it affects our daily life. In the meantime, I shall spend my daylight hours running after three very energetic children, exploring Sweden, and being company for my husband in the evenings!! After the Swedish summer break is up (which starts mid June and finishes at the end of August), I shall decide whether I either missed it, or it just wasn’t for us 🙂 I will keep the https://www.instagram.com/mammasschool/ Instagram account going for now, that will tell the story of our journey in pictures, as I know a lot of my little lady’s friends will like to see what she’s up to..and hoping mine too 😉 xxxxxxxx
Category: Education (Page 1 of 9)
The snow has melted, (it’s forecast again for tomorrow night, but we will ignore that!!), the first few spring flowers are peppering our lawn, (although the snowdrops are still hiding!), and the temperature has risen to +2 degrees…..springtime is coming! Or I am trying to pretend it is, and search out the signs that soon we may be able to leave home with gloves and hats in our bags, rather than permanently on our hands and heads! Being the start of March I felt it was about time I got my skates on and set about planting some seeds.
Back in the UK I have left a very small garden, but one that is literally bursting full of colour for three seasons of the year. We currently have a very unsuspecting tenant in there, unaware of what is about to happen, as before we left I had trimmed everything back for winter. When we moved in over 6 years ago, there was not one flowering plant in the garden, so I was fairly proud of my colourful riot of a jungle 🙂 In Sweden now, I have a huge garden and I need to be careful I don’t go for the jam packed look again, or else I will not be able to manage it at all (I already need a goat for the grass!).
I plan to have similar things in the garden here. We need some fruit trees (we had apple and plum in the UK), we need to start a herb garden, we always grow some fruit and veg, and then I need flower colour to brighten our days. Some pips/seeds we have saved from what we have eaten, and others I bought in the shops. The wild seed mixes I am leaving until I can put them straight outside. Today we have planted chives, rosemary, tomatoes, french beans, peas, carrots, rhubarb, small poppies, large poppies, chillies, pumpkins, melons, peppers, pear, and ….there’s one other but I can’t remember what it is so that’ll be a nice surprise when it appears! This will hopefully keep my costs down a bit when I head to the garden centre a bit later in spring, having started a lot from seed. I want to get some roses, blueberries, lavender, and a few more herbs from plant for starters. A few weeks ago we planted some of our apple pips, and we have got six sturdy looking seedlings sprouting, so I am crossing my fingers about those working out.
Springtime seed planting is a bit of a ritual in this home, very much centred around the children being able to let their inner mud loving gardener free!! Our little lady has been diligently planting seeds for years, and has enjoyed it. Our mad twinnies though have always planted one seed and pottered off in search of more wild adventures. However, today, they seem to have decided this was fun, and for the first time ever, they will be able to see the results of growing from seed (fingers crossed). They even helped to delicately transfer the apple seedling into larger pots. I was really pleased with the help and interest.
So with our springtime seeds planted, our house now resembles a garden centre until the weather warms up!! Lets hope they survive with three children dashing around…I wonder how many times they will be knocked over?! Each pot has more than one seed in too, so plenty of gardening to keep us busy in the next few months!
Today we have been given a couple of fantastic learning opportunities which just popped up! I realise the little people learn all the time, but today’s opportunities taught the whole family, and were a couple of great chances. The children were playing in the garden, I was on my never ending weed removal challenge from the gravel path, and Dadda was trying to bash an old cupboard to pieces in the garage (definitely not Ikea, as at some points the cupboard seemed to be winning, not Dadda). He suddenly shouted, there’s a big moth in here, so that we could all come and have a look. It was very still and the wings were closed together, however we did get a brief glimpse of them as it seemed to give a stretch, and they were beautiful, and definitely belonged to a butterfly! We were all taken aback a little, thinking this is most definitely not the time for butterflies, especially in a cold garage in the middle of a Swedish winter.
We carefully lifted it off the cupboard marked for demolition, and moved it onto a sledge for closer inspection. It was definitely alive but in shutdown mode. This is not something I thought butterflies did…hibernate! So, off we went indoors to research, and sure enough some butterflies do hibernate. Well, strictly scientifically speaking insects don’t hibernate, but stay “dormant”, but as most people think of hibernating as “sleeping through the winter” it is then often applied to moths and butterflies. We are sure this was a peacock butterfly. We didn’t want to waken it up too much to make it think spring had come early, so once we had had a good close look, we returned it back to the cool of the garage to return to its slumber. From my reading up about it, it seems to be quite a rare thing to see a dormant adult butterfly, so we’ve been very lucky 🙂
In the afternoon we went for a little family hike, that, as usual for our hikes, we diverted, and took a little longer, but for good reasons 🙂 We discovered a medium sized uninhabited island that came very close to the coast of ours. We decided to divert off the footpath to get a closer look. You can see from the photos that this would be totally accessible via the transport of paddling in warmer weather. We have earmarked this as an adventure for a warm sunny day, carrying everything we need for a day, and go over and enjoy exploring it.
We then carried on with our hike. Further along the shore line trying to relocate the path, I discovered an ilium (hip) bone. This has led to much research since…is it a swan’s? Is it another bird’s? Or what and how has it got there. We think it belongs to one of the island’s deer. Quite a young one too I think as it is quite small. You can see it compared to our little lady’s pine cone. Another good find for us all to learn from, especially as it involved a lot of research from us grown ups to finally hit on the right type of animal/bird and then a species 🙂
If you read the blog regularly, you’ll know I’m a big fan of outdoor, nature based learning 🙂 However, especially during winter, this needs to mixed up with some indoor activities as well. Plus, although I’m not a big fan of workbooks, I do use them for the Maths and English, to guide me along more than anything. Since Christmas, with so much exploring and other activities to do (sewing, microscopes, geocaching…all teaching valuable skills as well), it was clear that our home ed plans needed a little overhaul. Add into that we are all trying to learn a new language as well 🙂 I wanted to step up the twins number and letter work a little, and make it a bit more interactive, so I have been beavering away on my Pintrest research and dedicated 2 specific boards on my page (Mamma’s School) to number learning, and letter and reading learning.
It was has become clear to me I am trying to stuff too much into each day as well. Each week, I want to follow the weeks nature curriculum, do a proper hike to explore (and do either geocaching, practising compass reading, minibeast hunting, use our spotter books etc.), some formal workbook work, learn Swedish, teach some tap dancing, try and keep the little lady’s piano going at home (not having lessons now), as well as some more fun number and letter activities…..plus the craft they all love! My problem is I don’t take this slowly and was trying to achieve this all everyday, and when it’s mixed with a half day of school for the little lady, it becomes more of a headache for me and a task list, rather than something to look forward too! So, now the plan is not to achieve everything everyday, but a bit of everything over the course of the week.
The non formal workbook methods for our mini men needed an overhaul too. Using Pintrest I have found a lot of ideas. Today we implemented a few, and when I write home based home education blogs in the future, you will see some other ideas (or check out the Pintrest page 😉 !!!).
We used some pipe cleaners and beads to do our sums. I threaded 10 beads onto the pipe cleaner. The mini men then slid the beads up and down according to the numbers in the sum. This simple thing got their attention for a lot longer. They were able to fiddle and jiggle to work out the sum, and then were happier putting pen to paper, as less bored working it all out. For number recognition, we have some cards I made with numbers on and we lay them out. I shout a number, and as fast as they can they have to grab that number. In the dryer weather we like jumping onto chalk numbers drawn outside. We did a simple sorting task, making a car park graph out of cars, which they had to sort into the colour noted at the start of the car lane. My mini men are both struggling with recognising that each letter comes in two forms. So, to help with this, I have drawn out 2 sets of alphabet cards (small and capital), and we can play matching pairs memory game (my letter recognition is good, but my memory rubbish, so we are about even on this game!). They have both recently really got into asking me to write a sentence so they can copy, so I have taken this on board, to help them have a little bit more writing practice. So they are now copying a simple sentence under one I have written. The we do our reading together. We finished off with a game of I spy to help some more with their word and letter recognition. They both worked for a lot longer today than usual as it was generally more interactive and enjoyable.
Our little lady continues happily with her workbooks (based on a wild nature theme) in Maths and English, but her revamp comes into the Swedish learning with the boys. I am not a big fan of apps and TV (works for some fine, but our little lady gets a “spinny head” from screen time, and mini man no.2 can’t take it or leave it once he’s had it in the day, so it’s a lot easier to just not have it!). We are generally too involved with either being outside or having unstructured play as well. However, having taught them some basic Swedish words, it was clear I needed help with this (I am learning too, so we need something to copy the pronunciation from). Our little lady is doing some great workbooks at school, but having had a little weep over Christmas about her inability to communicate (she’s a bit of a babbler, so the fact she can’t talk at 100mph is probably getting her down), I feel I needed to step up the learning game at home. I have found an app for my phone and downloaded it, and we are starting off with flashcards from certain categories. So, the first one we have done is animals. Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of material out there, but I will keep plodding through. Then I am using you tube to find short programmes such as the alphabet, or numbers, or other categories, and sometimes just a Swedish kids TV programme (today they did nursery rhymes in Swedish which they can understand from knowing the English version). So, fingers crossed that with our learning, we will gradually incorporate more words into our daily living as well, thus making it all come a little bit more naturally….eventually!
As I introduce more ideas to my mini men to work through their Maths and English, I will post about them, so keep an eye if you think you’d like to use them 🙂
Happy New Year…or Gott Nytt År!! 2016 has seen a huge amount of change for our not so little family, and lots of adventures. It was about 2 weeks into January when we took the momentous decision to home educate our children. Our daughter was just starting her second term of junior school and we were to hear any day about the twins infant school places for September, when Dadda and I suddenly realised, we don’t have to put our children through this just because that’s what is conventional and what everyone else does! Our mini men were thriving in their forest school environment, learning well (and enjoying it), whereas our little lady was becoming a shadow of herself rather fast. When our 7 year old beautiful, full of life, school loving daughter moved to junior school, we had prepared ourselves for the increase in learning tempo. However, what we were not prepared for was watching our creative, nature loving daughter almost shrivel up with school and begin to dread each school day. She loved to write stories, paint, create, and make, but access to these pleasures was reduced. Well, virtually non-existent. She always worked hard and therefore did well at maths and English, and anything else that was put her way, but there was no place for her own talents, abilities, and interests to be nurtured. Then there are our 2 beautiful twin boys that are always going to be round pegs in square holes with the educational system in the UK, preferring to do most of their learning by any physical means available and preferably outdoors covered in mud! I wasn’t exactly looking forward to having all three in school, but I’d be lying to say after nearly 5 years of looking after twins plus an older one full time (and our boys are fairly intense mainly due to the speed they move at, and my friends can testify they are rather good escape artists!), that I hadn’t been looking forward to a bit of a breather! However, it turns out it was probably the best decision we have ever made as parents. Within weeks, our little lady was back to herself, enjoying playing outdoors, enjoying playing with her toys and using her imagination, doing arts and crafts whenever she felt like it, not exhausted for no apparent reason, her mysterious “spinny heads” had gone, and the icing on the cake….she got to do forest school too!!
Due to now home schooling and having no commitments on a day to day basis, we spent the next 7 months having some amazing adventures….with all 3 little people. We spent most of our time outdoors, in all weathers, and we were able to go with the flow much more, which again suited all three of them. There was no hurrying resistant twins up in the morning, there was no awkward hour between school and supper where all three raged war and were monkeys, life was a lot more settled in general.
Unfortunately, at the end of June we lost out Border Collie, Jack. He was 12.5 years old, and had gone through a lot in his little life…he was very accident prone and his insurance certainly proved its worth! He also went from being our baby, to adjusting to life with one baby, and then a pair of twins! He loved them dearly, followed them around, and generally found his purpose as the under table hoover. He was a gorgeous, very unique, and very loving dog, and I miss him a lot.
Then we made a huge life changing move, by uprooting our whole family to Sweden. It has been a long ambition of Dadda’s and mine to live in Scandinavia, and especially having children made us want to do it all the more. We wanted our children to experience an upbringing based on the outdoors, an education with less emphasis on tests, a society that ensures children get to be children and a lot of emphasis on play, a culture where letting children take risks is normal, and where meatballs are in great supply 😉 !!!!
So, quite a few big changes in 2016, and I am going to leave you with some photos of our highlights 🙂
Now our severe windy storms of the past few days have passed, life in the outdoors can return back to a more normal routine, without fear of a tree falling on our heads. One of my priorities at the moment is refining the twins’ cycling skills. We put them on 2 wheels back in November where they just took to it like ducks to water. However, like everything they do it was at 100 miles an hour, plus they had no stopping or starting skills, preferring to ride into a bush to provide the slowing down mechanism! Our island is quite small, and sometimes it seems a bit silly to be driving somewhere on it, like the beach right at the other end. However, it would take us a long time to walk there and back. So, if I can get them riding more safely before summertime, it could become a possibility to cycle there instead. My aim is for them to practise starting, braking to a stop, and not whizzing off zig zagging out of control everywhere! So today we headed down a wide track that we pretended was a road, and also practised staying on the correct (right) side of it….as you can see from the photos we still need to make progress in that area!! It was a good start though and I just need to get them out more often. I use big sister as a pace setter, who when told not to whizz off actually doesn’t, and they are not allowed past her. It takes quite a bit though to summon up the energy to take both speedy little men out at the same time! We will get there though.
This afternoon we headed back to one of the best natural playgrounds I have ever come across, the main feature being our favourite tree that you can climb inside. The children spent a good while climbing the tree and the massive boulders, while the Kelly Kettle boiled away to make hot squash and we toasted some marshmallows. I love this place. The water is very calm and shows great promise for the warmer months in being a place where we can base ourselves on a rock all day, trying to catch mini beasts in nets, and wade around the shallow fjord. The children love scrambling over the rocks, and climbing the tree. They can climb up, across, and through the inside. It is amazing for imaginative play adventures too. Today, there was an extra play treat for them in the form of huge thick ice areas to break, pick up, throw, smash, and examine. Oh, and the views aren’t too bad either 😉 You can’t help but smile, relax, and let nature restore some energy.
Once we were back home I had promised our little lady I would help her get to grips with her new microscope that she had got for Christmas. We spent time learning (relearning for me!) how to obtain samples, make up sample slides, and then the best ways to view them. We looked at various thread types, synthetic and non synthetic, onions, hair, and a sample from the inside of her cheek. I think it is safe to say she is not only fascinated but hooked. She is now equipped enough, hopefully, with the skills to get this out and indulge whenever she fancies, just asking the odd question, and it is something she can learn from and enjoy….now I am off to learn about the sewing machine!!
Father Christmas seemed to have a bit of a sensible streak in him this year, as alongside the triple whoopee cushions, he also gave them a compass each 🙂 Well, someone’s got to get us home from all these wooded walks safely, and with my track record, it’s just luck every time I manage it!! So today, after spending 2 days working out which way each room, stair case, chair, table, and every other random item in the house was facing, I could stand it no longer, and needed to get the compasses out for a loooooonnnnnngggggg walk!! So we took Dadda up to the nature reserve at the bottom end of the island above us, as he’s not been there before and we walked the trail for 90 minutes, faffing and fiddling with the compasses. At this point we are just doing basic “what direction are we walking in” questions, and getting familiar with them. However, I have started a new board on Pintrest collecting basic navigation ideas, teaching ideas, and orienteering activities for children. So, although I have supposedly learnt advanced navigation skills with our beloved armed forces, someone must have left the door open to that compartment of my brain, and the knowledge marched straight out!! Therefore, I am hoping that by teaching the children, not only will they learn a valuable skill, but my rusty navigation skills might be refreshed 🙂 In the meantime, I will leave you to enjoy some more gorgeous scenic photos of our afternoon hike, enjoy.
I’ve recently been working really hard on ideas boards on Pintrest. So, if you like what we do, or what we are about, hop over to Pintrest and have a look, under the people tab, at Mamma’s School (or type Mamma’s School into the search box). I’ll leave a list below of my boards to see if one would take your fancy, and you either follow that board or Mamma’s School, you will hear about when I add new ideas to them 🙂 I’ll be adding to these boards a lot over the next few weeks, so keep your eyes on them!! Here’s what boards we are compiling at the moment…..
30 days wild, outdoor crafts, nature play, home education, beach play, outdoors, forest school, Halloween, outdoor learning, nature quotes, VW, dinosaur home education, fairy craft, fairy home education, pirates home education, rock experiments, soil experiments, friction experiments, resistance experiments, gravity experiments, buoyancy experiments, magnet experiments, levers pulleys and gear experiments, stone age art, stone age study, iron age study, iron age art, roman art, exploring nature, science, Christmas activities and crafts, Sweden, Scandinavian Christmas, children sewing machine, beginners fishing, microscope activities, creative play, unplugged childhood, creative learning, beach classroom, garden classroom, and finally, play…….have a peak and enjoy some inspiration 🙂
Pretty dresses, antler hairband, flags flying, and tomte painted on the windows…it must be the last day of school before Christmas!! Thank goodness our little lady has an addiction to wearing pretty dresses (fairly impractical for tucking into ski trousers at play times, but she’s stubborn and prefers to look like she’s stuffed a spare tyre in there!!), as it seems everyone gets out the party frocks for the last day of term. I was unaware of this, and as you wear your own clothes every day, it’s not something that is organised by the school, just one of the things that is traditional. We turned up to school and the flag was flying in the playground, and she had her Christmas concert to look forward to (singing in Swedish). She’s done so well, and loved her half term there, despite still not really speaking Swedish. It’s more a confidence thing I think, as she’s been beavering away in her Swedish work books with her written work, and her teacher is very pleased. She’s also singing non stop in Swedish, so maybe I should just get her to sing everything she wants to say! When I picked her up she explained that all the children and teachers in the school had run around the flag in a long snake, holding hands and singing (well apparently there was a lot of shrieking and laughing too), in what seems to be the thing that is done.
While our little lady was celebrating the end of term for the morning, the mini men and I set off to find a nature’s playground on our walk, and it didn’t take them long!!
There is a footpath running along the coast line, but this morning the boys decided that rock scrambling was the order of the morning, so off we went across the boulders, trying not to fall into the freezing fjord! We then got to some big smooth rocks that needed rolling around on…unfortunately I slipped and smashed my cheek and head on one, and apart from being dazed and feeling like my head wasn’t attached to me I was fine. However, it did worry me, that we head to some fairly isolated places and if something happens to me, especially without big sister around, the boys are very vulnerable. So there then followed a panicked in depth lesson on how to make a Swedish emergency call on an iPhone! Probably not the best time or place in the freezing outdoors…maybe I’d better follow that lesson up! But it did make me think and worry about them, closely followed by the thought that Father Christmas wouldn’t get to them if I was knocked out and they’d be heartbroken!
This afternoon it was time for a festive activity and we decided to make peppermint creams. I have a lovely (old) children’s cookbook from when I was little, and we decided to use that recipe. The book has piqued our little lady’s interest though with its colourful pages, so I am sure, after not being used for about 25 years, it will be dragged off the shelf again in the not to distant future. The little lady did all the measuring and mixing by herself today (usually I divide a batch into three, or multiply it by three so all three can mix, but first of all the batch was a bit fiddly to divide up with only one egg white used, and secondly I didn’t want to be eating peppermint creams for the whole of 2017 with so much other sweet stuff around by tripling it!). All three were fantastic though. The little lady is really at home now in the kitchen weighing, measuring, and mixing, and I was pleased with the boys rolling and cutting shapes out…even better that none of the mix got gobbled up for a change.
So, all three are now getting very giddy in the run up to Christmas. How we are going to play it is not that much different from past years, as, with our Norwegian connections, we are used to a similar timetable of events. We try and mix English with Scandinavian and this year will be no different. We will head off to the island’s church at 1100 on Christmas Eve, before returning for a feast mainly consisting of roast pork, large sausage, köttbullar (meatballs), and rice pudding . We will then open presents from each other and my side of the family (Norwegian connection). On Christmas Day, there will be stocking opening courtesy of Santa Claus, and then a large smörgåsbord of cold things (in the past, we’ve then had the traditional English roast Christmas meal as well, but to be honest this has put a little bit too much pressure on the digestive systems, as well as ensuring I live in the kitchen for 2 days!). The celebrations will continue in the afternoon with the unwrapping of presents from English family and friends 🙂 It’s a really nice way of doing things and it really spreads the excitement out.
The story chosen for today was The Snowman….or it was until I realised it was The Snowman and the Snowdog book I was holding, so we did that as well!! We cosied up and sat on the sofa and had a good read of both books, before we headed out into a frozen garden to collect pebbles (they were more random shaped stones from our path in our case!) for our craft.
I had wonderful visions of rustic pebble snowmen adorning our home 🙂 I have three very different interpretations of my vision!! The main thing is they all had fun, and it was something they had not done for a long time. The last time, they painted pebbles from the beach, and they just made them colourful before liberally sprinkling glitter all over them. Today they actually formed a picture (of sorts).
After that it was time to snuggle up and watch the 2 mini movies, and feel cosy and festive again 🙂 I’m liking this idea of reading Christmas books, doing some craft related to it, and then get the fire burning together with hot drinks and sweet snacks, and watch a screened version of the tale :-)….I think they are too, poor screen deprived children that they are!!