Home Education – Project Ocean & Flotsam

We love using themes in our home education and The Ocean was no exception! I have seen Flotsam the book recommended a lot. It’s a visual book, no words. I wasn’t sure my kids would be interested but they loved it!

Flotsam is basically a story of a boy who finds an old box camera washed up on a beach, he gets the film developed and makes lots of discoveries before taking his own photo and throwing it back into the sea for someone else to discover.

When the book arrived I sourced an old family heirloom box camera to give the book some authenticity and really capture my boys imaginations.

The box camera was a hit and they spent a long time investigating it before we delved into the book.

There were so many untold stories and questions within the book that it really got their minds thinking and wondering. We told each other what we thought about each photograph within the book: location, age, profession, name. They thoroughly enjoyed this part.

I made up a few Flotsam Discovery boxes for the boys which included a photograph and a few clues as to what the person liked and/or their profession etc. I printed off a few factfiles for them to fill in about the person they had discovered.

One of our Flotsam discoveries was an engineer so we did some research on famous engineers and chose our favourite one to write a short bio on.

We then moved on to discussing the ocean and how important it is to take care of it. We watched the Blue Planet and researched ocean pollution. The boys decided to make their own posters promoting the welfare of the ocean.

We made a jelly fish out of a storage bag and an elastic band using blue coloured water in a glass jar. This was really effective.

We explored the layers of the ocean and then made our own with the corresponding sea creatures.

We explored the coral reef and the dangers it faces today due to water pollution. We discussed coral bleaching. The boys then used watercolours and charcoal to show the effects of coral bleaching.

Bioluminescence was really interesting topic the boys were keen to understand, once we had the basics we then decided to do a few little projects using neon paint and a black light. We created a puffer fish and neon jars.

One of my boys was really keen to make a felt sea creature so that’s exactly what we did, but first we had to practice a few stitches. Then we designed our felt creatures and made a template. We cut them, sewed them, stuffed them.

We even took our theme into our cooking and we made sea creature shaped bread!

We really enjoy art here so I couldn’t let the topic go by without a little art history! Silhouette art was our topic. We researched and wrote a few bios, then had a go at creating a sea creature silhouette.

This ocean themed learning went really well and we all enjoyed it so much!

I really recommend the Flotsam book!

Home Education – Project Dragon

We have home educated now for 17 months and we are loving every minute. It was the best decision we have ever made. It took a while to find our feet and de-school but it’s safe to say we know what works now and what doesn’t.

Our home learning is usually based around a theme or two, and I plan a couple weeks in advance which really helps us. I follow a lot of teachers and home educators for inspiration, but my favourite to follow is Teacher Glitter over on Twitter. Her ideas are amazing and this is where Project Dragon came from! She inspired us immensely!

Project Dragon was so well received by my boys despite them being ten and eight! You’re never too old for a bit of magic!

We’ve learnt how to paint in watercolours, draw in pastels, we’ve modelled with clay, researched artists & places, we’ve used our imagination, we have written poetry & stories, we have invented, we have experimented and read books, and we have had fun!

Having Dragons as a theme has really given us purpose in every area of our learning.

After looking at different types of dragons and dragon eggs on the internet we discovered Andy and The Dragons of Wales. His illustrations are incredible created!

I created a paper mache dragon egg to getvis into our project…they weren’t sure what to believe, but believe they did!

Paper Mache Dragon Egg

We researched the anatomy of a chicken egg and labelled all of the parts from memory. We used our exercise books to record the 4 stages of a dragons egg with labelled drawings . We designed our own dragon eggs and started a display board.

We then discussed the myth of dragons eggs exploding if they get too hot. This led us into our experiment testing out the effects of hot and cold on playdough. Twinkl had a great printable for this we used!

Hot & Cold Science Experiment with Playdoh

I then challenged them to invent a machine that would keep a dragon egg cool so that it wouldn’t explode. They got to work straight away thinking about the materials they would need and how their machines would work.

Dragon Egg Cooling Invention

I created a little box for our dragon egg ready for him to hatch…and hatch he did!

Pet Dragon

He became our new pet for a few days to take care of. He came with a new book about dragons by the wonderful Andy Shepherd, a letter and some hot chocolate sachets. The kids couldn’t decide on a name so they wrote a few and we pulled the name out of a hat; Rhaegal! The book, The Boy Who Grew Dragons, was to read each night as a family.

We took part in a dragon drawing tutorial online and then practised our watercolour skills again.

Dragon Art with Watercolours

Dragons are often found in Wales (didn’t you know!) so we decided to explore Wales, a country we love and visit often!

We decided to explore eyes as part of Project Dragon. We researched eye anatomy and labelled diagrams. We then decided to research artists who involved eyes as an integral part of their work. We came across Margaret Keane and we wrote a short bio on her through independent research.

We drew our own dragon eyes and used watercour on them. The boys knew the anatomy of a human eye so they incorporated the parts they wanted to. Then we progressed to clay dragon eyes.

Clay Dragon Eye Sculpting

With our whole theme being magical I challenged the boys to create a magic jar. Once they had created them they used them as a story creator. Their imaginations ran wild!

Magic Jars
Magic Jar Story Writing

This theme has worked so well and the possibilities are endless! I really recommend trying out themes!

One of our next big themes is The Ocean! We cannot wait to share it with you!

Should I Home Educate My Children?

Home Education is a taboo subject. Frowned upon, misunderstood. People envision home educated children to be feral, with no social skills outside their own home and no understanding of the world. But in all honesty that’s a load of rubbish.

Home education isn’t for everyone and that’s ok, but it’s definitely for us. We are only a year into it and the only regret I have is not doing it sooner!

The UK education system is a one-size-fits-all suffocating institution with more and more pressure added onto teachers daily. Teachers who once loved their roles are now leaving the education platform defeated and stressed. Paperwork and grades are deemed more important than mental health and a love for learning is no longer the goal. Where will it end?

Schools are full of standardised tests but yet there are no standardised children. You can’t teach a fish to walk!

This pandemic has forced so many people into educating at home but it’s not been real home education. Even we have struggled. The added mental and emotional pressure has been harsh. Our groups have been cancelled and our outdoor freedom banished. We love exploring but that’s been on hold. Enthusiasm has dwindled. But it will return along with normality.

I’m a big advocate of promoting mental health awareness, and it starts with the young. If we can teach our children to take care of their mental health then as adults they will have the tools to recognise when they need a rest or intervention from their doctor. It’s as important as literacy and numeracy. Even more so infact.

My boys love exploring, being free to jump in mud and climb trees. They enjoy playing in streams and trying to catch fish. They love collecting rocks and sticks. They enjoy being creative and using their imagination. They can turn a simple stick into a game that lasts hours. They love rope swings and slides. They love the beach. They love swimming. They love painting and chalking. They love cooking. They love story writing. They love junk modelling and clay modelling. They love reading. They love Lego and building cities. They love castles and historic facts. They love sensory trays and treasure hunts. They love running free. They love papercrafting and sewing. None of which they did at school other than rare occasions, but was never their choosing or ideas. But they were losing their love for their life. They were always tired, exhausted, anxious. Anxiety is crippling. My one child suffers immensely and the school environment was the majority of his anxiety. It was painful watching. I was handing over my two babies for the majority of their day to an institution I knew stifled everything about them.

In school they are a number, a statistic. They are above expected, expected, or below expected. But only in the things school taught. Things that didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of living a happy life. And in the end that’s all that matters: happiness. These grades test your memory and your memory alone. They don’t measure kindness, respect, manners, emotional regulation, befriending the lonely, how helpful you are, your creativity. They simply test your memory.

I’ve thought about home education since my boys were born but school is the ‘norm’ here in the UK so we carried on with the rest of society. Until this year. I finally had enough of my boys going with the flow and being drowned in the process. I researched home education and a light bulb switched on. It wasn’t about replicating the classroom at home, it was about a life of learning. And in July I de-registered my children after a few fiascos regarding school policies that were detrimental to their well being. We took the plunge. And freedom reigned. It was a breath of fresh air. Anxiety went away within weeks. The kids were relieved.

Our plan is to take our first year slow and find our feet. We are going to loosely follow a curriculum for english, maths and science but with a hands on approach. Children learn most when they are the ones doing. The world is our oyster and our home is not a prison (unless there’sa pandemic lol) .

People always ask about socialisation. The way I see it is my boys are no longer confined to the same classroom with the same 30 people every day. They are not hermits. They are not locked in a cupboard. They are free. Free to be themselves and nurture their interests and taLents. We’ve made so many friends in the last year it’s been refreshing! There’s a whole community of people.

It has been the most nerve wracking decision to make but it has been the best decision I’ve ever made. We love our new life. It was the right decision for us as a family.

So, if anybody is considering home schooling the only advice I’ll give you is go for it! You will not regret it!