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 just got round to blogging again after a busy couple of weeks out and about. These pics are from our trip to the Whistlestop Centre at Matlock Bath - part of the Wildlife Trusts. We had the rare opportunity to see inside a bee hive and learn about bees in depth from a beekeeper.

Robert testing out a beekeepers hat - very itchy apparently.

Nell (left) from the Wildlife Trusts and Margaret the beekeeper showing us a how a smoker works.

Robert made a bee life-cycle wheel, identified which differently coloured pollen came from which plant, played a game, tasted different honey from around the world and made this beeswax candle.

Another meet up, this time with some South Yorkshire Home Edders. The location - Chatsworth Adventure Playground. In my opinion an inspired choice. The result one child perfectly happy all day long barely stopping for lunch. Here's the highlights.

Stroking Guinea Pigs. Awe how cute.

Sand and water play. Robert spent ages turning the giant Archimedes Screw.

Bouncing and running about.

Discovering and exploring secret tunnels.

Waiting for the bus home. The bus took us directly from matlock to the house itself. When I was Robert's age or thereabouts we had to walk from Baslow all the way up the long drive to the house. We must have been super fit kids. And just for the record I have walked up that hill to Riber Castle in Matlock aswell.

One very exhausted six year old.

Yesterday we took a bus out to South Normanton, Robert had a great time at the gaming group. He is so thrilled he could try different consoles. I only got lost once trying to find the community centre - we got off the bus a stop to late. I took this picture while waiting for the bus back in South Normanton, Robert is leaning against a sculpture which supports a clock. I had a moment of confusion where I wasn't at all sure if our Derbyshire Wayfarer was still OK to use on the bus back from South Normanton - am I in Derbyshire or Nottinghamshire? When I got home John confirmed I was indeed still in Derbyshire.

Later at home Robert made soft stuff cut outs and watched Jungle Run (his favourite programme at the moment.)

I photographed this beautiful moth as he was resting on the side of our house this evening. I don't know what kind of moth he is though. Any ideas? Robert said he was like a stone. He was quite big too, about 2 inches long.

Now all I've got to do is get him to actually dig up the weeds rather than dig where I've already weeded.

Look what we found in the garden today....the common snail. Not so common for us though, we usually just get lots of slugs. Robert was thrilled with his find nonetheless.

A very literal response to a simple question. What time is it? Robert took this photo so I will "always know what time it was."

Robert was stung on the foot tonight by a very dopey wasp staggering across the bathroom floor. How did that get there? John came to the rescue with first aid, he used vinegar and a plaster to neutralise the alkalinity of the sting. Not to be confused with bee stings which are acidic and require treatment with bicarbonate of soda.

Otherwise we have been playing with papier mache and paint, I've been busy knitting a shrug and John is deeply immersed in a social marketing course.

Robert wants to visit an aquarium this year and I was disappointed to find out the London Aquarium doesn't permit eating indoors. Robert grazes rather than eating set meals because he has always had a delicate stomach so I don't think it will suit us. Sea Life at Birmingham looks likely. We are shortlisting this years 'adventures.'

Robert's been under the weather for the past week with a chesty cough but he doesn't need to go to the doctors because (serious voice, stern look) "they have equipment I don't like." So I went out and got him a Geomag Deco Panels set to cheer him up. (He's been wanting one for ages.)

Fitting the panels together.

Yellow triangles.

Geomag spins.

Red pentagons and green squares.

Yellow squares

Blue Rhomboids

Happy Robert (concentrating hard.)

Here's my recipe for Bean Quiche

Bake 4 oz (100g) pastry blind (I made butter pastry - 4 oz (100g) plain flour to 2 oz (50g) unsalted butter) for 15 mins at 190 degrees with baking beans and a further 5 mins without baking beans. Cool slightly.

Meanwhile, whisk together 3 medium eggs and 250ml creme fresh, season to taste. Drain and rinse one small can of cannellini beans Spread the beans out in the base of the pastry case. Cover the beans with grated cheese (I used red leicester) and pour over the egg mixture (you may have a little left over, depending on the depth of your quiche dish.) Bake for a further 25-30 mins at 190 degrees centigrade.

How to bake blind.

First you need to bake or part-bake the pastry case without its filling. The pastry may be partially cooked before filling, or completely cooked if the filling does not require baking.

1 Prick the pastry base with a fork to prevent air bubbles forming. Line with a large piece of greaseproof paper.

2 Fill the greaseproof paper with a single layer of ceramic baking beans to weight the dough.

3 Bake the pastry case at the temperature suggested in the recipe for 10-15 minutes or until the pastry looks set then lift out the greaseproof paper and beans. Bake the pastry case for a further 5 minutes until the base is firm to the touch and lightly coloured or a further 15 minutes until crisp and golden brown if the pastry case requires complete baking.

Serve Bean Quiche with a healthy salad!

While we were in town Robert spotted the Horrible Science Violent Volcanoes Kit, after the success of the Digestion Kit we were keen to see what other messes we could make in the name of science.

The Horrible Science Violent Volcano Kit in action

We had already watched 10 Things You Didn't Know About Volcanoes on TV. Iain Stewart revealed some interesting but little-known scientific facts about volcanoes. Volcanic eruptions are among the most destructive and deadly events in nature. But there is far more to volcanoes than death and destruction - without volcanoes our planet would be a very different place, lacking not only an atmosphere but also life itself. We saw some amazing 300 MPH pyroclastic flows, ash falling as rain and giant lava fountains.

It was about 2pm when I phoned my mum yesterday to tell her my Rowan Classic knitting pattern book had arrived after quite a long wait. That was the good news. The bad news was I would need a second mortgage to afford the yarn - Rowan Classic Tweed. To my surprise she told me to hang on while she put my sister on the phone. A surprise because Monica lives in Northampton and I haven't seen her in several years. So we met up for lunch and swap knitting tales and chat about yarn cheaper than Rowan Tweed. While I was in town I bought some baking beans for quiche making, a new roasting dish and a cute Ruff and Tumble mug. Robert enjoyed himself, he loves surprises.

Today we hung out loads of washing on the line, went shopping at Iceland, posted the Direct Debit form for family membership to The Wildlife Trust, rubbed a balloon until it was statically charged and observed what happened when it was put next to a stream of water, found out the maximum number of straws Robert could suck water through, repaired some scratched Playstation games and made a yummy pasta bake for tea!

We grew this simple crystal geode from a Crystal Growing Kit (this one's only £2) Quite a good result I think. A different technique from what I am used to, at school we dangled a small base crystal on a piece of cotton into a saturated solution. This kit involved soaking a base rock in a saturated solution contained in a plastic pot. The end result is the same however as you can see clearly the crystal formation.

Harry is growing fast.

Robert says "even though he's mischief sometimes, he's very cute."

Sometimes a bit of time to oneself is good.

Being a Granddad is just plain exhausting.

Robert and I have just got back from a late Mother's day visit at my mums. While I was making tea I spotted this fox through the kitchen window. Looks like he was doing a spot of sunbathing, making the most of the last of the afternoon's rays.

We are sooooooo into Shrek's Quest. Here's our version of the Cat Journal Make from Issue 1

I've been absent from this blog for a while concentrating on other projects and actual real life!

My mum is better btw although her arm is still stiff so she's doing her physio exercises to get it back into condition.

I've just received an email from Early Learning Centre - they are running their book amnesty scheme again.

Last January, ELC launched their Book Amnesty appeal across all stores, which resulted in over 120,000 used books being redistributed to children who needed them. They're running the appeal again until the end of January 2008. It couldn't be simpler to join in:

Take up to 10 books your children no longer read to your local store. You will get a 20% OFF voucher to spend with ELC in February.

Time to have a tidy out.

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