English Group : First Lesson With Fire

We are moving from air, to fire now.

We started the lesson with a walk down to the lake, followed by the grilling of marshmallows over an open fire. We built the fire, lit the fire, kept it ‘alive’ by blowing it gently from underneath, we discussed the colours in the fire and how the sparks flew, and generally just enjoyed it…   

 Then we lit a hot air balloon! Yes, I found one – a big one – of about a metre long – and we managed to get it up into the air! And it was magic! We cheered and clapped our hands, and watched it fly away…..

Typically my phone has ran out of batteries by now.. 😐

But what did we learn?

That fire needs air.

That warm air rises (thus, the fire warming the air and helping the balloon to rise).

That bodies can shelter fire from the wind.

And that teamwork is important!


A Beautiful Evening..

We are so lucky to live so close to the lake….

On Wednesday evening we were joined there by 22 young scouts, where we spent the next (almost) two hours learning how to be safe on the frozen lake, drilling holes in the ice, doing a torch lit quiz about the stars, grilling bananas with chocolate on an open fire, and just playing, playing, playing….and I was so glad Alfie joined our group this evening…it was truly wonderful…. 😊  

Still Frosty Outside…

We can tell that the kids are growing up, because sometimes we’re just left with Ted at home! 😂

While Leon and Alfie were away at friend’s houses, and Maya was away at scout camp (yes! In this cold!), we took the only one we had left, for a walk in the forest….  

 Despite the lake still being frozen over, we strangely managed to find a running stream…which Ted thought was great to play in, of course…..😄


   We came across a frosted over golf course…      


..before returning in to the forest to walk back to the car…  

It always amazes me the amount of nature we have in Sweden! 

English Club : Star Walk

We finally managed to go on our star walk tonight (the heavens were good to us, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky…).

Armed with hot chocolate and biscuits, we walked down to the forest, where we looked at a variety of constellations, particularly the winter ones…

I had found an excellent book in the library on ‘first constellations’. It gave you the details about what each constellation looked like, and how to find it, and the mythical story behind it – which I, of course, translated in to english. Fascinating!

Later we started making planispheres, which we will finish in the week…

O is for Octopus

Ted enjoyed focusing on cats so much when we did letter C – so we’ve decided to focus on (mostly) simply an animal beginning with that letter, in our alphabet. 😊

This week we did letter O, so apart from ‘orange’ (both the colour and the fruit)…

…we focused on the ‘octopus’.

We read some books with octopuses in (as well as other ‘O’words)….  

Ted liked the last book the best, ‘Zebbe Dyker’ (Zebbe Dives), but I was less keen. It depicts the octopus as a scary, dangerous animal, instead of the intelligent, amazing animal it is. However, stories with octopuses in were hard to come by…

To counteract this however, I showed Ted some short educational clips about octopuses on ‘Youtube’, which he loved, and then inspired him to draw a picture from….

I love it. ❤️

We learnt that octopuses have eight legs, can squeeze through tiny holes as big as their head, are incredibly intelligent, that pacific octopuses grow to an enormous size, and that they eat scallops and other shellfish, and change their skin colour and texture to communicate. 

We then made some octopuses from salt dough…..


Ted’s octopus only had six legs. We’re still working on counting! 😘

What Is Valentines Day?

I don’t believe telling someone “I love you” should be about a card company telling you to do it on a specific day. I believe you should tell someone that you love them, and surprise them with gifts, when you most feel like it.

But it would be boring of us to ignore Valentines day. So for our family, it has become tradition over the last few years to have a ‘family Valentines dinner’ with festivities and fun… 😄

This year we made heart shaped pizzas and all decorated our own.

I gave everyone a treat bag with Valentines sweets and heart shaped balloons.

We made chocolate muffins in heart shaped cases.

And you can’t go wrong with heart shaped ‘connect 4’! 😆

It’s important to tell someone you love them – whoever they are! ❤️

Learning With Alfie

As always, I try to make sure that I teach my children what I am able – being that my dream is to homeschool, but that we unfortunately live in a country where homeschooling is forbidden.

The older two have a lot with school, homework, and with Maya in particular, afterschool activities. I also think it is important for them to have social time with their friends, in an unstructured setting – and I’m happy for this to take up a big proprtion of their time.

I count ‘afterschool activities’ as part of their ‘home’ learning – they both do a sport (riding and climbing), and Maya is still a member of the scouts which ensures she gets time in nature, in the forest, camping and cooking over an open fire, fotunately for her, with three very good friends. She is also an avid member of a youth theatre group, and presently two book clubs at the local library – her dream is to be a writer, and she spends most of her free time reading. And has lately taken up the piano. Plus of course there is the ‘English Club’, which she thinks is mostly fun – plus of course, there is the learning element in the topic.

But Leon doesn’t enjoy masses of activities ; he doesn’t like big social situations with people he doesn’t know, and the long school days, often with homework or the need to revise for tests, often makes him feel tired and under stress. He needs time on his own, and time to de-stress. He still needs to learn simple social ‘code’, despite being fourteen, and so I see his social time as one of the most important things for him. When he does his climbing, he can focus as an individual, and doesn’t have to make conversation – but when he is in my ‘English Club’, he needs to converse, to be social, to work in a group and share ideas, and to help and encourage others with their english language. So, despite it being ‘my’ group, and him not learning much english that he does not already know, he learns to socialise, to create (and to use his imagination) and yes, he learns about the topics we are doing! 

So, while I make sure that my older two are having appropriate social time, and activity time, according to their needs, with school, and homework (though to be fair, they don’t get a lot), I don’t get a lot of time to ‘homeschool’ them anymore. My english clubs comes in handy however, as I can sneak in a little learning there, according to topic – and I must say, they have learnt quite a bit… 😊

Alfie, however, is different. His school day is shorter, and he is not one for after school activities – right now it is swimming, and scouts – both of which he is luke warm about, because he would rather not have any weekly commitments. Which includes school. He would rather not go to school. Why? Because he finds it boring. Here is a child who is grades ahead of many of his peers, yet the teacher seems to be taking a long time to grasp this. He is also a child who is young in age, and needs to move…but that’s another story….

So, with Alfie I continue to encourage him in his learning at home.

We try to do some maths.. 

The book on the left is a ‘ten minute a day’ book (though we don’t get around to doing it every day). It is for 6 – 8 year olds, Alfie turned 8 in December – but he doesn’t find it too easy. It’s not too hard either – just right – and a variety of tasks – which he enjoys. Especially as he can set a timer to do it! 😄

The book on the right is for 5 – 8 year olds, and is about multiplication. He doesn’t enjoy this as much, and thinks parts of it can be tricky – though has more of a grasp of it now than when he first started.

These books are originally written for an ‘audience’ in England. And looking at the age groups, I wonder how far behind we are in Sweden if we were to compare? In retrospect it doesn’t matter, because children learn different skills at different rates, and so it should be….but when you are stopped from learning naturally, being pushed to learn before you are ready, or in Alfie’s case, have already grasped the concept, and are sitting waiting for others to catch up – it is soul destroying, and not okay. 

Recently we finished reading Robin Hood in the evenings…

It is an abridged version, but still far from easy. Some of the wording is very old fashioned, but he loved it!

And now we’ve moved on to African folk tales. I found these in the library (yes! In English!)…

These are simliar in content to Aesops fables and other animal tales we have read, in that the animals show their characters, often being ‘tricksters’, which appeal to Alfie, being a little trickster himself! 😂

And so it is. I havn’t yet figured out how to enthuse his writing, but right now he is happily writing reels of information about ‘Geometry Dash’ levels in his free time…..  

These are instructions on how to play and complete his own ‘Geometry Dash’ levels. Limiting computer time definately has a bonus – Alfie simply continues to ‘play’ by creating his own levels on paper. This is simple ‘coding’ I believe? 👍😄

For a child who is at traditional school, and doesn’t feel thrilled about the work they offer, I feel it’s important not to ask him to spout out reels of pointless writing. He certainly needs to learn to spell, and to punctuate, and to write in different ways – but I definately think the writing should have meaning, especially to him – which is exactly what he is doing himself right now. 

I have also been toying with doing some activities from this book…

Esentially I bought it for my younger english group, to tie in with their project – and it is excellent, but much of the activities require a great amount of preparation (and cost), which is fine, but probably more appropriate for an individual. Which is why I think about Alfie – playing with the ‘elements’, rather than learning the serious science behind how it works probaby makes sense right now. Observation is important, and making your own conclusions about ‘why’ something happens is important, but I think some of the ‘real’ science might go over his head and best be saved for when he is a bit older – which is why it is also good for my younger english group (10 – 12 year olds), who are learning mainly about the science behind the elements.

Alfie’s fine motor skills have always been excellent, and although I should probably do a little more crafting with him (he really wants to do more sewing!), often there isn’t always time (mainly because he is so social and always wants to play with friends!), but also because this is an area where Alfie is often happier to create his own projects (and does so often) ; drawing, making books, making films, making bead plates, creating with playdough, building, etc.

Gross motor skills is interestingly an area where he is less confident. He needs to become a confident swimmer, and to learn to ride a two-wheel bicycle. His climbing skills, and confidence in playing ‘team sports’ lacks – he worries about ‘not being good enough’. Something to continue working on…and especially this summer. 😊