Solar eclipse

Today we watched the partial solar eclipse.  It was cloudy to begin with, but just as we got to the time of greatest coverage, the clouds broke for a moment.  The clouds came and went over the following hour. Here’s what we saw. We were using binoculars to view the sun on card.

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Autumn Garden

The garden is still going well this autumn. After years of trying and failing to get runner beans to grow, this year I have an excess of them.  I’ve put some in the freezer.


The peas have been producing well as well.  Next year though I must support them better as they have all fallen over making it hard to pick them.


We’ve also got loads of blackberries so the kids made blackberry and apple crumble.


The social side

The Girl has been keen to do activities with other kids this year.  The Boy was less keen, but has been going to some classes as well.

The Girl wanted to do a drama class.  I persuaded The Boy to try it as well and he came back very enthusiastic after being quite reluctant to try.  So that’s working out well so far.

The Girl is doing a ballet/jazz dance class which she seems to be enjoying.  I don’t know anything about dance so this is all new to me.

Last week they both had their first horse riding lesson and both enjoyed it.

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There have also been the usual home-ed meet ups in the park and play centres, and bowling.

Not back to school

Thursday morning last week was brilliantly sunny. After many wet and miserable days I thought it would be good to get the kids out of the house.  A look at the weather forecast told me it might not last past lunch time, so we set off straight after breakfast. 

I decided to take them to the Forest Park in Boyle.  We haven’t been there that much this year so hadn’t had a chance to get out on the lake.  Since the boats will soon be packed away for the winter I thought this was a good time to go there while we still could.

On our drive there we passed many children in school uniforms. I hadn’t even realised that the schools were starting back last week.  Turns out some started Thursday or Friday, while others are going back on Monday. During the day we heard many people saying how it was a shame that the first day the kids are back at school and it’s sunny.  Not my kids though! 

We played for a while in the adventure play kingdom.  It is a much nicer playground that many of the others around and the kids love going to it.  But having to pay to enter means we don’t go often.

Then we had ice-cream before going down to the lake to feed the ducks. The little ducklings have nearly lost all their downy feathers now, but were still following their mums around making their little peep peep noises.


The weather seemed to be turning as the wind was getting up, the clouds gathering, and a few drops of rain.  But we braved it on the row boats anyway.



The wind made the rowing hard work and the boat was being blown across the lake.  Both kids had a go at rowing, but I kept having to take back the oars to keep us off the island and the shores.  The rain stayed away though and they had a great time.  It was hard work rowing back up the lake against the wind though!


Once off the boats The Girl wanted to go back into the playground again.  Since the clouds seemed to have blown over we went back in for a play before lunch. The Boy’s balance is improving and it’s good to see him getting all the way around the balance/obstacle course with no help.

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After lunch in a local cafe we went to the library to get the last stamps on our summer book challenge competition entries.  The rain really started then; pouring down very heavily at times.  Just in time for the kids to get out of school.

We’ll be back at the books on Monday, but we’ll have Tuesday as our day off.  

Science 2014-15

Last year for science The Boy worked through the Schofield and Sims KS2 science books.  These books are quite clearly written and he found them easy to work through without much help.  The first thing I intend to get The Boy to do this year is read through the revision book and then do the KS2 test papers.  As the KS2 books are split into different topics, the books we did earliest were finished quite a time ago and I would like him to do a quick revision of all the topics before starting on the KS3 work.


Once we finish with the KS2 revision, we will move onto the Lonsdale Essentials KS3.  I have picked this course as I liked the workbook structure of the Schofield and Sims books and this course also has workbooks to go along with it.  The coursebook also has questions in and can be used without the workbooks, but the workbooks give much more practise.  The questions in the year 7 books go from level 3 to level 7, so there is quite a range of difficulty.  I am hoping The Boy finds the work interesting. Here is a sample page from the workbook.


The Girl will be using Book 1 of the Science series by Prim-Ed.  I like the look of this book and that it has a teacher page for each topic giving background information, a list of what preparation is required, lesson plans and answers.  The worksheets are copymasters so need to be photocopies to use.  There are loads of cutting and sticking activities, which The Girl likes, as well as some observational activities and basic experiments.


For practical activities I will be using the Science Quest books.  These are a series of books with practical work and write ups based on experiments that can be done with household or easy to get hold of items.  I have intended to use these in the past and keep forgetting, so I will have to be more organised.  When we have used them in the past we have often added to the experiments, adding controls and changing other variables to see what happens.  The activities in these books are real science experiments in that they don’t consider fair tests and controls, they are really just activities that demonstrate some principle or the other.   


Here are a couple of sample pages from the Science Quest 2 book.


We shall also continue carrying out experiments as and when they come up during the year, as we have this year.  The kids love looking through experiment books and carrying out experiments.


I’ve also bought a few different science kits for this year, so I’ll be looking at what experiments are in them. Once kit is called ‘ecology lab’ and one called ‘chemistry lab’. I would like to look at some pre-prepared microscope sides this year as well, but haven’t ordered any yet.

HEN conference 2014

Yesterday we went to the HEN conference 2014.  We went as day visitors just for Saturday. 


The Boy has been wanting to go sailing for ages and the conference was being held at the Petersburg Outdorr Education Centre in Co Galway. This meant there were a number of activities on offer, including sailing. So The Boy and The Husband went sailing for the morning.

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The Girl was not old enough for the activities, so she did a drumming workshop in the morning.  While they were all having fun, I gave a talk and answered questions about our home education style along with 3 other home educators.

In the afternoon I went to the HEN AGM while The Girl did a drama workshop.

It was a tiring day, but both kids enjoyed their activities.


Rathbeggan Lakes Heritage and Adventure Park

On Tuesday we woke up to a sunny day, so I thought I would take the kids to a Heritage Park. The Boy will be covering the Iron Age in history sometime this year and I wanted to take him somewhere that had a replica crannog for him to see before they all close for the winter.

I found 2 options for heritage parks about 2-3 hours drive away. The kids of course wanted to go to different ones. The Boy wanted the one with a castle. The Girl wanted the one with the activity park and pony rides. In the end The Boy agreed to go to the one The Girl wanted.

So we set off for Rathbeggan Lakes Heritage and Activity Park.

As we drove from West to East the sky’s got darker and then the rain started to pour down. We might have been better off in the one on the west coast! It was a bit late to change our minds though. The torrential rain slowed to a drizzle as we arrived, so all was not lost.

The kids wanted to start with some of the activities. Since the website had said that activities might stop running in poor weather I thought it might be a good idea to do a few before we went to the heritage park part.  The activities all have to be paid for individually.  I knew this before setting out and had decided that they would be doing only a few activities each as we would be in the heritage park park for much of the time.  So I got them a token each for The Girl to do a pony ride, and The Boy to go on the jeeps.

First though we went on the pedalos, the only activity that I did as well as the kids. The Boy helped me peddle and steer while The Girl was in the back of the pedalo. Both kids thought this was a great activity.


Then The Girl got her pony ride on a fairly reluctant pony.


The Boy decided to use his token for a pony ride as well after insisting that he wouldn’t go on the pony.  The jeeps had quite a long queue and he didn’t want to have to wait around for ages.  I am thinking I might take them to a few riding lessons next term if I can get a decent school-time rate for them.  The Boy has been fairly reluctant to ride a horse at all since going on quite a large horse a few years ago so if he is over that then I can hopefully take them riding.  Both kids fell off a friends horse back in June so it’s good to see it hasn’t put them off.

Then we went to look around the heritage park part of the place.  It was quite disappointing. There was no information to say what we were looking at.  Their website says –

Historical replicas include an ogham stone, a stone-age camp, a Crannog, standing Stone Circle, a Passage Grave, a Dolmen, a Bog Road, a Fullacht Fiadh, a Souterrain, a Ringfort, a Lia Fáil, a Norman Fort and Motte, an Island Monastery, a Holy Well, a Nature trail and a reconstruction of an Archaeological Dig.

We found some of the promised things, but could not figure out where the bog road, holy well, island monastery, souterrain or archaeological dig were.  And I’ve no idea what a Fullacht Fiadh or Lia Fail are.  The kids complained that the replicas were too small and poorly made.  The Boy pointed out that the roof of the crannog wasn’t properly thatched and would let in the rain, and that they wouldn’t have had steel wire to connect the pieces together.  Before long the kids were asking to go back to the ‘fun’ part, and to be honest I was agreeing with them, but made they walk around the entire heritage park section just in case we could find something else to look at. I got the impression that the heritage park section has been neglected in favour of the activity park section.

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The only hands on part of the heritage park section was some posts and pipes they had set up to try at weaving walls with.


So we went back to the ‘fun’ part and I ended up spending far more than I’d planned.

The Boy wanted to go on the zip line.  It was E7 a go so I was a bit reluctant to pay given that last time he’d tried something like that at height he had got scared and not done it. The zip line platform was much higher than the last place where he wouldn’t do it. That was over a year ago though, and in the end I let him have a go.  They wouldn’t give a refund if he didn’t do it, but they agreed that if he wouldn’t do it he could have a go on the climbing wall, which was cheaper than the zip line. I pointed out to The Boy that he didn’t actually have to step off the platform, which was the problem he had at the last place, but that if he just picked his feet up. gravity would do the rest. This is what he did. Now he wants to go on the zip lines in the local forest park!


Both kids then went in the inflatable cylinder on the lake. Most people were putting 2 kids in at a time and they weren’t getting anywhere with it as they kept falling over each other.  I was concerned than given the size difference that the would hurt each other as well falling on top of each other, although other kids of different sizes were going in.  Since I had to pay for each kid anyway it wasn’t going to be any more cost to put them in separately.

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They did seem to get on better than the other kids who were in 2 at a time.

Then they went on the electrical diggers, which they both enjoyed.

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They didn’t get to go on the jeeps in the end, as they had shut them down due to the weather by the time we went back to them.

Overall the kids thought it was a good day out. I think we were there for about 4 hours in the end. I’m not sure it was good value for money, especially when factoring in the cost of fuel to get to the place and the poor heritage part section. I’m pleased though that The Boy managed the zip line, and that they both wanted to go on the pony ride.

 adventures in homeschool home education link up

Looking Up

Last night was the second of 3 ‘supermoons’ this year.  On the last supermoon it had been cloudy so The Boy was disappointed not to see it.  Last night was lovely and clear though so we good view of the moon.


We also saw the ISS go across, following the ATV that is due to dock with it tomorrow. The Boy found the ISS in the sky before I did.