We have had a very busy month! A week camping for an orienteering event, then another for a Young Kennel Club dog camp! I am looking forward to some time to catch up on some of the activities I have planned.
I have a real mix of activities for you this month as I am sure some of you will still be taking a break. I hope you find something useful whatever your schedule!
Fuel the Fire in August
Things to Spark an Interest
If you are wondering what field trips to organise over the summer, then take a look at Atlas Obscura.
Whilst a bit thin on the ground in the UK, it contains a "compendium of the world's wonders, curiosities and esoterica".
I have spotted a couple of museums that I would love to see when we are visiting London - and the atlas has such unusual and interesting attractions listed that it may be worth a special trip.
I have been hesitant to recommend the following screensaver site because the free trials only last a couple of days.
However, the screensavers are so beautiful and would fit in well with an art or history project, so I think you may find it worth the hassle.
Fine Art Screensavers have several pages of downloads for artists and art periods. Selections include Leonardo de Vinci, Van Gough and Monet. They are easy to install to I intend to have an 'artist' summer, and use several of them over the next couple of months.
Can't be bothered to keep on downloading? I have collected together my other educational screensavers in one place, so you can choose something else.
Art and Technology
Ever since I read about David Hockney creating art on his iPhone, I have been wondering how we could do something like this.
I have been checking around for PC paint programs and found three great ones to share.
ArtRage is a great on-screen painting program. Not all the features are available on the free Starter Edition, but there is still enough for you to have fun with it.
TuxPaint is another great free painting program - aimed at younger children.
Probably my favourite of the three is the online KineticSketch. Based on gravity, you 'drop' shapes onto the screen. To change gravity use the arrow keys. I loved the results that I the kids got with this.
David Hockney eat your heart out!
Things to Make
Origami Picnic Bowls
We recently had a birthday picnic where I had to travel by train - so the last thing I wanted to do was carry around a lot of plastic bowls. But I wanted the picnic to look nice - and not just have packets of food on the picnic blanket.
The solution? Origami picnic bowls. I chose a simple bowl that could be flat-packed and 'popped' up at the last minute to hold snacks and fruit.
The children and I had a great time making the bowls out of pretty wrapping paper. For 'wetter' foods we used a double layer of paper and tin foil.
Want to have a try? Here is a video of the box we used.
I think these would also be really useful for your Picnic Fix.
Clay Project Ideas
One of the things we always like to do when we can get out into the garden, is to set up a table and get busy creating with clay.
It is easy to run out of steam with modelling once you have built your first few bowls! So I have began putting together ideas for clay projects for kids to help inspire you.
Although they are not step-by-step instructions, I hope it is enough to get you started with some new clay projects.
Also, keep your eyes peeled for 'ceramic' ideas that you like (magazines are great for this) and stick them in your ideas daybook for future inspiration.
Sprinkler Water Toy
When the children were smaller I bought some PVC plumbing pipe, connectors and end stoppers from a DIY shop. I cut the piping into 1 and 2 foot lengths and we used them as a giant 'construction' toy - building weird structures then plugging in the hose to see where the water would come out!
The site has a huge number of downloads available for nature loving children.
There are some great ideas on the site, but I really liked that you could upload photos to the lab to make your own 'spotter' sheets. You could make photo-scavenger hunts for almost any subject your child was interested in. We also liked the Minibeast Top Trumps - you know that mine love to make Top Trump games.
To help you over the summer, I wanted to leave you with a few extra boredom bashers. Here are a few pages from my site to inspire you.
Stick Dolls make a great picnic activity. Get the children to collect some sticks, and when they get tired produce a couple of balls of yarn. A great way to keep them quiet for a while!
Superstacker. A great building block game. Build your tower with the blocks provided, but don't let it fall! (You need to click 'skip ad' to get this to appear).
Blockdrop. Jump the diamond across the cubes to get it on the finish square (alright- it's a bit more complicated than that!).
Dynamic Systems. A physics based game very like the Rube Goldberg machines. Get the steel ball into a basket. You're given a board with a few items in place (some cogs and a basket for instance) and it's up to you to add additional parts and position them to complete the machine.
Boxmen. Incredibly frustrating game! Use your boxman's little friends to help get him to the cube.
The Three Rs!
Resources, Read-Alouds, and Recommendations
In this section of my newsletter, I want to bring you great recommendations that I think you will enjoy in your homeschooling.
Free Range Education
Most of the emails I get are from new homeschoolers, so I wanted to recommend my favourite homeschool book.
Free Range Education is a UK based book (so the law information applies to England and Wales only), but the book is packed with stories from homeschoolers explaining how they go about it.
I think this book is really inspiring. If you are new to homeschooling, or thinking of becoming more relaxed in your homeschooling approach, then it is an excellent read.
Open Learning Courses
My daughter told me she wanted to know more about animals!
This was a bit of a tall order - there are quite a lot of them - but she managed to narrow it down to Hunters.
I set about trying to find a good way for her to learn more on the subject, and came across the Open University's Open Learn courses.
The courses are free, and seem easy enough for an older child to follow. There are lots of subjects available, and you can work through them at your own pace.
Oh my goodness! I am a home schooling mum of 4 and I have NEVER found a better site! Thank you so much. Blessings, Jenny (New Zealand) I wanted to say THANK YOU for your fabulous website. I found your website, and finally I have the confidence to take the plunge and take my daughter out of school and educate her at home, thank you, thank you. Marina (UK) I cannot get over how much great information and super ideas you have here. Fantastic! Ruralmama (USA)