Little Star Homeschool

"Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each." Plato

I've found the perfect cure if you are feeling down in the dumps. And to celebrate the return of big Brother (which I vehemently loath and detest) a return to the good old days of innocent but mindless violence on TV.

We spent the evening making paper planes from the Paper Plane Kit that came with todays Guardian newspaper. Designs were contributed by Nick Robinson and Mark Bolitho. Here's one of Nick's designs if you missed todays Guardian, just click the image to see it full size.

I came home from work yesterday to find this strange concoction in the kitchen.

I wondered what it was and Robert was keeping quiet on the subject. An empty sugar packet was a clue. Then John came in and said he had wondered why Robert's hands were blue earlier. He thought it might be felt pen.

So here's the recipe - don't try this at home!

Half a packet of caster sugar (oh yes not just any sugar but my baking sugar)
Several drops or maybe a splash of blue food colouring (I don't know the exact amount)
Some seedless grapes (mushed up of course)

Mix well with bare hands and grin when its done.

Robert has spent most of today sleeping and watching a bit of TV because he is poorly. The usual symptoms, runny nose and sneezes yesterday and general malaise today.

Monday night I had a dream. I dreamed huge rabbits were flying, using their large ears as helicopter blades. They flew towards me through a beautiful field of daisies. On Tuesday I told Robert about this dream because I knew it would make him laugh. After the giggles subsided he said, "you know Mummy. You had the dream because you watched Curse of the Were-Rabbit and that had a giant rabbit in it and Sonic Heroes and that has a rabbit that flies with its ears in it."

Thank you Sigmund.

Bugguide is a great site for bug fans. Its focus is US and Canada insect life but worth a look at if your kids are doing a project on mini beasts.

Bugguide is hosted by Iowa State University Entomology and is easy to use when beginning to learn about species classification. The photos are high quality showing the detail you need when studying insects.

The community is run by an online community of naturalists who enjoy learning about and sharing our observations of insects, spiders, and other related creatures.

Robert's latest mathematical quest is to know the names of every 2 dimensional geometrical object. If you are curious too, here they are (courtesy of Dr Math):

1  monogon                  (Monogon and digon can only
2 digon be used in rather special
3 trigon, triangle circumstances. Trigon and
4 tetragon, quadrilateral tetragon are alternatives to
5 pentagon triangle and quadrilateral;
6 hexagon the adjectival forms trigonal
7 heptagon and tetragonal are more common.)
8 octagon
9 enneagon

10 decagon
11 hendecagon
12 dodecagon
13 triskaidecagon
14 tetrakaidecagon, tetradecagon
15 pentakaidecagon, pentadecagon
16 hexakaidecagon, hexadecagon
17 heptakaidecagon
18 octakaidecagon
19 enneakaidecagon

20 icosagon
21 icosikaihenagon, icosihenagon
22 icosikaidigon
23 icosikaitrigon
24 icosikaitetragon
25 icosikaipentagon
26 icosikaihexagon
27 icosikaiheptagon
28 icosikaioctagon
29 icosikaienneagon

30 triacontagon
31 triacontakaihenagon
32 triacontakaidigon
33 triacontakaitrigon
34 triacontakaitetragon
35 triacontakaipentagon
36 triacontakaihexagon
37 triacontakaiheptagon
38 triacontakaioctagon
39 triacontakaienneagon

40 tetracontagon
41 tetracontakaihenagon
42 tetracontakaidigon
43 tetracontakaitrigon
44 tetracontakaitetragon
45 tetracontakaipentagon
46 tetracontakaihexagon
47 tetracontakaiheptagon
48 tetracontakaioctagon
49 tetracontakaienneagon

50 pentacontagon ...
60 hexacontagon ...
70 heptacontagon ...
80 octacontagon ...
90 enneacontagon ...
100 hectogon, hecatontagon
1000 chiliagon
10000 myriagon

One of the things we like to do when we are not in the garden is to trawl round the net for any freebies we can find. Looking through the exhibitors for the Chelsea Flower Show this year we came a cross a charity courtyard garden. They are trying to encourage gardeners, especially children by giving away a free pack of pumpkin seeds.

The garden is based on a children's book called Where The Wild Things Are. This is one of those truly rare books that can be enjoyed equally by a child and a grown-up. If you disagree, then it's been too long since you've attended a wild rumpus. Max dons his wolf suit in pursuit of some mischief and gets sent to bed without supper. Fortuitously, a forest grows in his room, allowing his wild rampage to continue unimpaired. Sendak's colour illustrations (perhaps his finest) are beautiful, and each turn of the page brings the discovery of a new wonder.

The wild things - with their mismatched parts and giant eyes - manage somehow to be scary- looking without ever really being scary; at times they're downright hilarious. Sendak's defiantly run-on sentences - one of his trademarks - lend the perfect touch of stream of consciousness to the tale, which floats between the land of dreams and a child's imagination.

We took Robert for his first swimming lesson today. He was excited before we went, nervous when he first got into the learner pool and more relaxed as the hour progressed. He enjoyed getting used to the water and towards the end was confident enough to slide into the water from the edge without using the steps. John is an excellent swimmer so he is teaching Robert at the moment and we plan to go once a week. I am a non-swimmer unfortunately but I like to float near the side lol. Saying that, as little as I did my stomach muscles ached when I got out of the pool.

The lifeguard asked how old Robert was and then why he wasn't at school. So we explained about home education and had a moan about the state of our local schools, I guess they see lots of school kids at the baths. Indeed when we were in the cafe that overlooks the pool we had the chance to watch a class in action. Organised chaos was the word. Swimmers swam, non-swimmers floundered and those in-between messed about. Three adults supervised this group of a dozed or so kids. It took me back to when I had swimming lessons in the last year of junior school, I started out as a non-swimmer and as I said I still am. Another addition to my growing list of areas in which school failed me. I won't let this happen to Robert.

On the way home we chatted about swimming. John said to Robert, "Uncle Steve says he'll take you scuba diving when you've learned to swim." Robert replied, "I can't swim with SHARKS!"

Where did that one come from?

The weather seems a bit topsy turvy this year. April was hot and sunny like May usually is and May is wet like April should be. Well, I've always been the sort of person who can make the most of a bad situation so this week we made a rain gauge.

Its just a two litre plastic lemonade bottle cut in half. The top half inverted to make a funnel to catch the rain and prevent evaporation if the sun does shine. Insulating tape holds it together and also makes 10mm markers to measure rainfall.

We will plot rainfall on a graph weekly. With all this weather it should be a good experiment.

Yesterday Robert read about tornadoes in this book about Weather he wanted to know what tornadoes looked like in real life so off we popped to youtube to find clips of twisters. He was in awe of their power and quiet relieved we don't have them in England.

Today I mentioned to Robert how tall he was getting (122cm) he can reach all the light switches in our house now. His reply, "but I am not as wide as a bush."

Went into town yesterday to get a 3D graphics card for the computer and found a twin pack of Learning Ladder CD Roms for Robert, two discs - years 1 & 2.

We had to buy the graphics card so john could play his Call of Cthulhu game which he bought on Tuesday. On trying to run the game he discovered our onboard graphics chip just wasn't up to the job so he got a Sapphire Radeon X1650 Pro

So a £19.99 game cost altogether about £95 to run. I said we could take the game back to the shop. John didn't agree, it was obvious the computer needed upgrading. Its got to be a man thing.

We stopped for lunch on the Thames Embankment, cheese and tomato sarnies and coffee in the fresh air you can't beat it.

We pointed out the OXO building, ST Pauls and I explained to Robert that this was where his Nana (my mum) walked to and from work and also where my dad courted her. That would have all happened in the 1940's.

The OXO Building

A relic of London's industrial past, the OXO Tower building has been inventively remodeled to engage with the busy cultural and commercial life of the city.

Once lined with grime encrusted warehouses, London's South Bank has gradually evolved into a modern cultural and commercial riverside strip. The stalwart functionalism of industry has given way to a heterogeneous assortment of buildings baying across the River Thames. Just east of the beton brut grandeur of the National Theatre and the execrable King's Reach Tower lies the Oxo building, preserved like an archaeological specimen as the sole reminder of the area's past life. Originally constructed at the turn of the century as a Post Office generating station, it was extensively remodeled as a meat warehouse between 1928 and 1930, acquiring, in the process, its famous Art Deco tower. Punctuated by a trio of glazed apertures that might look like innocuous noughts and crosses, they actually spell out 'OXO', the name of the British meat products company. Designed by A. W. Moore, this brazen appendage cunningly circumvented restrictions on advertising along the river and has now assumed the status of minor London landmark.

After a long period of uncertainty, the original building has now been inventively remodeled for mixed residential and commercial use. Five intermediate floors provide 78 flats for Coin Street Secondary Housing Association (occupied by people who either live or work in the local borough), while the lower three storeys have been refurbished to house designer studios and small speciality shops. On the second floor overlooking the dramatic sweep of the river from St Paul's Cathedral to Charing Cross Station, is a cheerfully demotic cafe designed by Apicella Associates.

Lisa brought Harry up from Wales for a visit for a few days, I forgot how exhausting babies can be. Harry is 7 months old now, starting to push up ready for crawling and very lively and wriggly. The visit was a complete surprise and Robert was thrilled to see his sister again.

I have given my Freebie Blog a revamp. new template and new discount codes.

I have also been busy redesigning JS Discounts this is a site I designed for my brother in law's company and he's very pleased with it.

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