November was another crazily busy month. The Highlight had to be the Taunton HE Drama Group’s production of Peter Pan at Oake Village Hall. In just seven weeks Karen Turner assembled and rehearsed her cast of 25 and created a fantastic piece of theatre. In Karen’s words it was a ‘rollercoaster journey’! The hall was jam packed with HE families who had all come to be seriously entertained and show their support. All the kids did supremely well, including the fantastic stage management team and bravo too to the mums and dads who helped fashion the set and costumes. You can watch the performance on Acey’s YouTube channel here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqHQL-oCGT8
A new HE Code Club started this month thanks to an HE dad who is a programmer and his partner. Kids bring their laptops along and have been creating animations and games using different programmes. They love it!
Julie organised a trip to EDF Visitor Centre in Bridgwater which was a big hit – the kids enjoyed lots of different hands on activities including 3D printing, circuitry, heat-seeking equipment, making lip balm , making a smoothie with pedal power, constructing gliders. Future planned events are to do a site visit and a weekly Robotics workshops just for home educators.
We also enjoyed two trips to Bridgwater College’s 14-16 Centre in Cannington this month as part of our mission to pin down the various options open to our older kids. Jane Taylor who runs the centre and her colleague Teresa could not have been more welcoming. They showed us around their classrooms and workshops and talked us through their ethos and approach – respecting the different learning styles of each child, providing small class sizes ideally tailored to kids who find mainstream formal education inimical to their needs. We watched a video about kids who completed the two year course and were amazed at the range of things they went on to do and study. A number of home educated kids have done really well there and many more of us hope to follow – as of next year though it will be a part-time deal, meaning our older kids will get the best of both worlds: the freedom of EHE plus some great added learning opportunities and qualifications to take them on to FE.
22 November was the start of UK Disability History Month and that was the theme for our November Fun Day in Taunton. We had our own Disability Equality History Timeline and trail and lots of information about how people with different impairments and health conditions can be included and respected – there was a lot of active learning going on, so many of us have personal experience of disability in one guise or another and lots of expertise to share. Kids and parents whipped up some luscious Jamie Oliver recipes (why Jamie Oliver? Well he is dyslexic and is a great role model) – including hummous, yummy garlicky flat breads and super-quick raspberry and lemon cheesecake. As many of us need to deal with anxiety, stress and meltdowns (whether our own or our kids!) we had lots of fun things to make to deal with those: gorgeous glitter jars, stress balls, coping toolboxes and cute worry dolls. More disability-equality related activities maybe in the pipeline for 2017…..
Taunton Home Education was invited to create decorations for a Christmas Tree in the Brewhouse Theatre’s ‘Global Forest’. We had great fun making decorations for our England-themed tree. We made little crowns, little books by famous English authors, little robins, decorated baubles and figures made out of fimo, made Coldstream Guards, hama bead decorations and beautiful roses. England at its best is super creative, eclectic, eccentric and diverse – so perfect to make decorations for. We are so excited about decorating our tree on 1st December! Everyone who goes to the Brewhouse over Christmas will be able to see it.
In our BSL classes with the wonderful Coralie we’ve now learned how to describe our pets and say who is in our family as well as how to ask someone to repeat something or go slower in sign if we don’t get it the first time. We are getting a lot more confident and fluent.
In Fun Science this month Cress set the kids a number of engineering challenges including to see if they could launch eggs into space and get them to land safely back on earth without breaking. Oh yes. This was a great success. The kids got into teams, designed their rocket launchers with great care and every single egg was successfully blasted into the skies above Taunton and landed safely. She also got the kids into food scientist mode and conducting experiments to see which foods have the most calories, fat and protein. They made their own butter and popping corn which went down a treat!
Thanksgiving and Christmas food were on the menu at Cookability this month. The kids made cowboy beans, sweet corn pie plus toffee apples with a special toffee sauce at the start of November and in our last session they made delicious Christmas tree pizzas with polenta, brussel sprout baubles and scrumptious Yule logs.
In our art class the kids started the month studying 'The vanishing point' (adding more perspective detail to their repertoire)and in particular the work of Camille Pissarro, Danish-French Impressionist painter.
Next they became ‘fauvists’ for the afternoon. After looking at the artwork of Andre Derain - a French artist, painter, sculptor and co-founder of Fauvism with Henri Matisse -they studied colour wheel theory, then used primary and secondary colours in our their work.
The following week, they designed their own book covers inspired by Beatrix Potter.
Tracy brought in an original work by Alce Harfield which was very beautiful and the kids looked at the different textures and layers she used. Then they created their own vibrant paintings.
In our last art class Tracy introduced them to Raymond Briggs' magical snowman storybook and film that is without spoken word and they painted their own magical snowmen.......then we had a Christmas party with lots of food and crackers!!