World Poetry Day

In celebration of World Poetry Day today, Viking Direct kindly sent us a box of goodies to help inspire us to write some beautiful poems. 

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Squiggle has previously written several poems and we have discussed different types of poetry before too. For example, we talked about what a cinquain poem is and wrote one together. We have also made a shape poem, and Squiggle once wrote a descriptive rainbow colours poem using a poetry template from Twinkl to help her. But Squiggle’s personal favourite type are acrostic poems; she wrote one about nature as part of our 30 Days Wild challenge last June, and has written plenty more since!

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To celebrate World Poetry Day this year, firstly we revisited different types of poems that we had already learnt about previously. Then we moved our discussion onto poetry form and structure, so focused on rhyming couplets in particular. We picked a favourite topic to write about (Squiggle chose Sylvanian Families!) then started jotting down ideas and rhyming words that fitted the subject, before turning them into simple rhyming couplets. 

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Here is one of her rhyming couplets:

Sylvanians are such fun,

I love to play with them out in the sun!

Next she made up an acrostic poem about seals, which are one of her very favourite animals, to celebrate both World Poetry Day today and International Day of the Seal tomorrow.

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It says:

S ea and sand

E (a) ny seal is my favourite, I don’t have a favourite out of my cuddly toy seals but if I had to pick; Pierre, Seal Seal and Dots

A seal of mine jumps for cuddles

Love them

S ays uf, also mum! 

(I didn’t think it was the time to remind her that any starts with a, bless her!) 

Squiggle is very creative and comes up with wonderful ideas. Once she has inspiration, she tends to write fast in order to get her ideas down quickly before she forgets them! As Viking Direct explain in their article about The Importance of Writing, writing is an art form, and it helps us to make connections and process our ideas. I feel it is far more important to allow Squiggle the freedom to let her creative ideas flow, rather than interrupt her thoughts to remind her about presentation, or correct mistakes. So her writing tends to be huge and messy but it’s the content that matters!

However, once she had finished writing the poems, we got out the calligraphy set we were sent to have a try at some fancy writing!

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She found it quite a challenge to use the calligraphy pen but she had fun having a go at writing with it and enjoyed decorating it too!

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Happy World Poetry Day everyone!

Do you have a favourite poem or your own poetry to share? Leave them in comments. 

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Join in with the poetry celebrations on social media using the hashtag #VikingWorldPoetryDay

100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 41 (Emma)

I’m Emma, married to Paul and mum to Chloe (18) , Ethan (14) and Tabitha (8). 

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At the theatre to watch Matilda

I started home educating when Chloe was 5. She wasn’t enjoying her reception year at school, so we decided to home educate. My other two have never been to school.

We don’t really have a typical week other than our regular activities (swimming, basketball, piano lesson, Sea cadets, Brownies, dance classes are some of those!). We have just moved, so our routine has been all over the place for the last few months. My oldest is now at university, so I just have my younger two at home. My 14 year old is pretty much unschooled, whereas my 8 year old prefers much more structure to her learning. Home ed has allowed me to educate my children according to their needs and abilities. Even within our little family I haven’t been able to use a one size fits all approach.

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Sketching at a local museum

Home education has given us so much freedom. We are able to plan our days.  Be it a holiday, museum trip, theatre visit, or simple spending the whole day in the garden or absorbed in a book or craft project. There are no bells, and no rush to move on to the next thing.
I am also grateful for the time home ed has given me. To be with my children for their younger years. It goes so fast. My advice to new home ed parents would be to slow down and enjoy it. There’s no need to sign up for everything or spend time rushing from one activity to another. Just being together is enough.

100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 40 (After Home Education: Going into Adulthood)

Please note this was originally published in March 2014 and has not been updated.

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People often wonder whether being home educated will somehow prevent access to higher education or otherwise limit future career prospects in some way. However in reality this is far from the case.

Here are some examples of various subjects that older home educated children have recently taken at university: Art, Medicine, Music, Veterinary Science, English, Child Development, Humanities, Psychology, Sociology, Media Make up and Special Effects, Law and Photographic Journalism.

These are a few of the careers that home educated people are now doing: Musician, IT technician, IT consultant, photographer, shop manager, professional athlete, carer, cinema manager, artist, music producer and BBC technician.

One such person was home educated in America from aged 9 onwards, using a part autonomous and part structured approach. When he got to high school age, his parents gave him the choice of going to school or choosing between various home school programs which would give him a high school qualification. He chose a program which had some structure and his general life experience also counted towards his studies.

He then took dual credit classes at a community college (university) that counted towards both high school credit and an associates degree. He now lives in England with his wife and children, where he works as consultant for a company’s Cloud product and is also mid IT degree, via part time study with the OU.

Compare the two lists above to any group of schooled children and you will see very little difference in the type of higher education courses typically taken up or in the nature of employment opportunities after compulsory education is complete. The only difference is that home educated children, generally speaking of course, often have greater freedom to pursue their own interests and gain life experience sooner. 

The alternative approach to education might also enable individuals to tune into their unique strengths earlier on, which perhaps might enable them to develop a particular expertise sooner. This means that in some cases these children may be more likely to follow personal passions and/or find their particular niche in life earlier on. In these instances, being home educated supports long-term career satisfaction and personal fulfilment.

Lastly some famous people who were apparently home educated:

  • Hilary Duff (actress, singer songwriter, author and entrepreneur)
  • Tim Tebow (quarterback for Denver Broncos)
  • Venus and Serena Williams (tennis players)
  • Agatha Christie (author)
  • Thomas Edison (inventor)
  • Franklin Roosevelt (president)
  • Jennifer Love Hewitt (actress, producer, director, singer songwriter)

100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 39 (Why Do People Decide To Home Educate?)

There are lots of reasons why families initially decide to home educate. For some it is a lifestyle choice made from the beginning, whilst others take the plunge later on for other reasons, often unforeseen. Here are some of the most common reasons for ditching the system and joining our ever-expanding home ed community…

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Lifestyle choice

For some families, home education is their first choice. The decision is made early on and they home educate right from the beginning; their children simply don’t start school. Sometimes this is because they were home educated themselves and had a good experience so feel it is the right path for their own children too. Others feel it fits better with their own personal parenting philosophy, as these parents explain:

“It never crossed my mind to send him to school… we followed natural parenting philosophy, it didn’t feel right to suddenly change everything about his life at 4 years old.” ~ Bx

“I felt like at 4 yrs old J was far too young to go to school, I wanted him to have a childhood of freedom to play and play and play some more, I don’t feel like early years education is child centred or based on up to date research about how our children learn and thrive. I also wanted my boys to be together as children and sending J off to school whilst L was home with me didn’t feel right to us.” ~ Maria

“My husbands career plan involved travelling and we wanted to be together as a family.” ~ Katie Jo

“FREEDOM!!!!” ~ Samantha


SEND 

Another common reason is that parents feel that the school is not meeting their child’s needs and/ or there is no suitable provision available. Often parents of SEND children feel that the school system tries to make their child fit into a mould that they are just not designed to fit into. This can result in all sorts of issues; it can affect behaviour, lead to bullying, cause damaged self-esteem and mean they start falling (often drastically) behind developmentally/ academically. These are just a few examples. Whilst some SEND parents make this decision early on, others resort to home ed only after multiple failed attempts to find adequate provision. 

“Inclusion… lack of.” ~ Sam

Bullying or other school issues

Sad but true; bullying is another common reason that parents remove their child from school and opt to home educate them. Often they have tried to approach the school to tackle the problem but feel they are left with no choice but to pull their child out of that environment before further damage is done.

Of course there is often actually a combination of the above reasons!

100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 38 (Rebecca)

Introduction

I’m Rebecca, I have two boys. Stanley is 5 and Ronnie is 2. 

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How long have you home educated for and what made you decide to do it?


We’ve home educated Stanley from the beginning. It started when we were offered a school place at a school which was not good at the time. Once we looked into home ed I fell in love with it and we decided to go for it! 

What was your highlight of home ed last week?

Stanley getting out the art basket and creating freely and experimenting with different materials. 

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What is your favourite thing about home edding your children?
Spending my time with them and watching them grow and develop 💙

What do you find most difficult and why?

At first it was being different that scared me, I didn’t have faith in myself I guess. Now I’ve seen how amazingly Stanley is doing, I don’t doubt our decision!

What advice would you give to other home educators?

Have faith in yourself and your children! There will be harder days but it’s all worth it!! And get outside lots, it helps with concentration too! 

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Here is my YouTube channel. I’d love you to follow our journey. 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ7XiEI2hNfPGl6lr-JKH-w

A Quick Cuppa With… Eco Fluffy Mama

Today my guest is the absolutely lovely Tamsin. She is a fellow blogger who writes about green living, eco products and aiming for a zero waste. She is truly inspirational. Read on to find out some of her top tips…

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Introduction

My name is Tamsin, I’m 29 and I live in Suffolk with my son and fiance. I used to work in the motorcycle industry, but sadly lost my job in 2011 before having my son in 2012. Before my son was born, I was really into power lifting but unfortunately had to give that up when my health declined suddenly. I suffer from multiple chronic health conditions and at times I find things hard. But lucky for me I have a supportive family and the most wonderful readers who constantly spur me on.

Name one random fact about yourself.

I hold a full motorcycle license.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

Amanda Tapping

Tell me about your blog. Have you always been passionate about green living and working toward zero waste? What inspired you to start the blog?

I’ve always been interested in natural skincare and holistic healing. But it wasn’t until I was pregnant with my son that I found out about cloth nappies, which opened my eyes to green living. I had no idea how truly wasteful our society is. Like many others, I never truly understood that there is no such thing as ‘away’, and that rubbish is a huge problem. After discovering cloth nappies, I kind of fell into the world of green living and have progressed towards a zero waste lifestyle (although I am absolutely not perfect or 100% zero waste! – I am still making progress, too!)


I started the blog as a diary of sorts for my working out and talking about my experience as a first time Mum. I wrote about cloth nappies and babywearing as it was something that I really wanted more people to know about. From there I expanded my topics to include reusable menstrual products. It’s what really what launched my blog from a little space of internet for waffling, to a trusted site for others also seeking information on living a greener life.

What is the best piece of advice you would give someone just starting out on their journey to zero waste?

Don’t panic and remember to start small. It’s all too easy to find out about zero waste, then realise about how wasteful society is and feel like we need to make loads of changes immediately. You will end up overwhelmed, stressed out and feeling defeated.

So my advice is to make a couple of changes at a time. Start with analysing your rubbish and work out what it is you’re throwing way – from there you can easily work out simple solutions. Also, invest in reusable bags and drinks bottles. You’ll make quite a big impact by just refusing single use plastic bags and drinks bottles.


Remember, it’s not all or nothing. Do as much as you are able.

How do you relax/ spend your ‘free time’?

I am a really keen amateur photographer, so I enjoy taking photos whenever possible. I also really enjoy reading and crochet. For me, crochet is a great stress reliever and I have found it has helped my mental health a lot.

Since Living Life Our Way is a family lifestyle blog, I’d love to hear more about yours…

What are your favourite family activities?

As a family, we really enjoy going on adventures (As my 4yo puts it). We pack a lunch, go for a walk and just enjoy the beautiful countryside.

Where is your favourite outdoor place to visit?

Clare County Castle – it’s in a little village and has a big hill with the ruins of the old Clare castle. There’s also an old railway and a park, too. It’s just a lovely area to visit.

Best family day out?

Gosh, tough question. I couldn’t possibly pin point one as I struggle to get out due to my health. So every time we’re out as a family is special to me. Especially the simple things like watching the sun set from our garden and the deer walking up past out back garden. Our place backs onto a field and all you can see for miles is fields and forests.

Find lots of useful advice, support and info on green living from Tamsin here:

Blog: www.ecofluffymama.com

Twitter: @EcoFluffyMama

Facebook: facebook.com/ecofluffymama

Insta: instagram.com/ecofluffymama/

This is the final Q&A in this series for now, but I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have… and do keep your eye out, as it might well make a return sometime! 

Imposters In Paradise by Maxine Barry – Blog Tour 

About the book

This standalone, gripping romantic adventure is the first in the Romantic, Passionate, Thrilling Escapes series. Fast-paced plots with strong heroines, sexy heroes and sinister villains in exotic locations – they’re the perfect escape!

Click here to purchase via Amazon.

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Guest post by Maxine Barry

The first book you ever have published is always special, and I remember it well and to this day. My agent had already told me that my debut romance had been given good reviews by the publisher’s Readers and would be up for consideration for publication at a specific meeting. And that she confidently expected good news. So I went out and brought a bottle of champagne (the first time I’d ever done so) in anticipation and waited all afternoon (the meeting was for 3.00pm) for the telephone to ring. They never said so, but my poor long-suffering Mum and Dad must have been fed up with my treading a line in the carpet. And when I finally got the call and learned that I really was going to be a published author, the feeling was utterly wonderful and amazing – and something that can never be repeated. It meant that all the years of hard work, hoping, trying, failing, and trying again had finally paid off, and that my stubborn self-belief and refusal to give up had finally been vindicated. And I could at last call myself an ‘author’. I then poured out two glasses of champagne for my parents, and a glass of white grape juice for myself (I’ve always been teetotal) and spent the rest of the day on cloud nine.

(Not that this is relevant to my life as an author, but just in case you were wondering why I’m teetotal, it’s because, as an 11-year-old, I inadvertently gave myself a dose of ‘aversion therapy’ where alcohol is concerned. On the occasion of my big sister’s wedding, my 10-year-old cousin and I found a pack of Babycham, and sneaking it away and around the back of the village hall – where the reception was being held – promptly proceeded to down the lot. And the next morning, as you can imagine … oh my. Take it from me – suffering a hangover when you’re not really old enough to understand what a hangover is – let’s just say, from that moment on, even the scent of anything alcoholic sets off alarm bells!)

Anyway, as I was saying, you never forget your first book. And when your complimentary copies come in the post, and you get to hold your first published novel in your hand for the very first time – well, let’s just say that it is an experience I can recommend to anyone! That’s why, when people who have yet to succeed in getting their first novel published ask for my advice, I always tell them not to give up. It can take some time (for me it was nearly five years from the moment I first decided to bite the bullet and seriously try my hand at writing, until I held my first published novel in my hand) but boy is it ever worth it. And if you have the writing bug, as I do, then you are going to write stories anyway – because how can you not – regardless of whether or not they get published. So it makes sense to keep on trying. Either in finding an agent, or in submitting your manuscript to publisher after publisher. And it’s always comforting to read how other, now famous and high-flying authors, were rejected by the first 3, 4, 5 or 20 publishers that they tried!

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About the author

Maxine Barry lives in Oxford. She is a full-time author and also practises calligraphy. 

100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 37 (Tracey)

Introduction

I’m Tracey. Mother to 2 boys, step mum to 1 girl and wife to Dan.

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How long have you home educated for and what made you decide to do it?

2 years. Deregistered Feb 2015. My eldest is autistic and has ADHD. School was not supportive at all and nearly broke me mentally with the constant fighting for help. My son lost a significant amount of weight and wasn’t sleeping. Verbal and physical bullying was being ignored by the school. I wish I had took him out earlier.

Briefly describe your home ed style. Do you have a ‘typical’ week and what does it include if so?

Unstructured except for the regular groups J attends. Weekly forest/coastal school, weekly media & history, weekly swimming and weekly Spanish. Everything else is based on whatever J is interested in at the time or going out on bike rides/beach walks/playing with his friends.

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What was your highlight of home ed last week?

J teaching himself to solder by YouTube videos and making a little circuit to power a fan.

What is your favourite thing about home edding your child/ren?

Seeing him light up when finding something that inspires them. Seeing him become independent, happy and finally making real friends.  Having his community paed lower his medication due to his anxiety lowering and his concentration improving.

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What do you find most difficult and why?

Having to defend my decision to HE and prove we are not weird hippy hermits.

What advice would you give to other home educators?

Relax. Have faith in the deschooling process when they are glued to screens and video games and never forget that children are ALWAYS learning.

November Rain Poncho: Review and Giveaway 

November Rain is an awesome stylish brand of poncho that launched back in November 2016 in USA, and are now available in the UK too. I was kindly sent one of these funky ponchos to review and also have a giveaway for one lucky reader to win one too! (See further down to enter).

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November Rain poncho – Ocean Blue design

November Rain ponchos come in a choice of three lovely designs. I admit I deliberated for sometime on my decision before opting for the plain Ocean Blue design (because I have lots of patterned tops and figured this would be more versatile if I might want to wear it partially unzipped anytime!) I was genuinely really drawn to both of the patterned designs too though; love them!

The poncho comes in a little pouch so it is easy to keep it in your bag then throw it on quickly when needed. (Make sure it is dry before you pop it back in the pouch though of course!) It is made with enough room that it can fit any size and shape, and will fit over layers too. It was abit shorter than I imagined; given the fact that I’m only 5 ft 1, I was surprised it didn’t go at least to my knees to allow for taller people. At least that meant Squiggle could also use it too if really necessary lol! 

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Squiggle wearing the poncho.

They are very well designed, with poppers to make ‘sleeves’ and a zip fastening at the front, plus a detachable hood too. The ponchos are printed using sublimation, which is an eco-friendly waterless method of printing. They also have reinforced stitching and heat sealed seams, meaning they are heavy duty and fully waterproof. It feels comfortable and lightweight to wear though, and looks stylish compared to most!

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With and without the detachable hood.

The poncho retails at £49 in the UK but, as I said, it is great quality and is intended to be quite the opposite of the cheap disposable ones you usually find; this eco-friendly poncho is designed to last a lifetime. This is one of the main reasons I like it; it is much better for the environment to invest in one that will last, rather than create more waste using disposable or short-lived versions. 

But my absolute favourite thing? The brand pledges a full 10% of all turnover to water projects in developing countries. And November Rain is not limiting the resources given to just clean drinking water, they are also funding irrigation projects for crops in areas where water can be the main limiting factor for people being able to put food on the table. Thanks to their popularity, the company has already funded a hydroponic vegetable growing system at a children’s rescue mission in Northern Thailand valued at $3,000USD.

November Rain ponchos are born from Belinda Coker, the same founder of Envirosax – the original designer reusable bag. She explains: “After the success of Envirosax, I realized the importance of sharing the wealth created with those not so fortunate. It’s not all about the money, it’s about creating something that people love with benefits that keep flowing to those in need.” It is so important to make conscious choices, and I totally support brands who actively protect the environment, especially when they also give back in some way. So I am really impressed with this brand!

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You can also purchase these ponchos from Amazon UK or via the November Rain website for USA. 

Last but not least, one lucky reader can win a November Rain poncho! To be in with a chance of winning, enter my giveaway via Rafflecopter below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Open to UK and USA residents. Competition closes on 2nd April 2017. Other T&Cs apply.

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Disclosure: I received a poncho free for the purpose of this review. Thoughts and opinions are all my own. 
*This post contains an Amazon UK affiliate link. 


100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 36 (One Word To Describe Home Ed)

I asked a selection of home educators to name one word to describe home ed. Interestingly, the word ‘freedom‘ came up alot of times! So I guess that would be the one word that really sums up home educating!!!

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In the interest of keeping it real, I of course included the two less positive words that were contributed; frustrating and exhausting. And let’s be honest, parenting in general really can be both of those of those things at times – regardless of home educating! We have all been there! 

I loved the range of words people offered though – and, incase you didn’t already know, the Oxford dictionary definition of ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ is extraordinarily good/ wonderful. Nice choice! 

So there you have it; home ed summed up in one word! 

Thank you to @KatBroon Mumma HE Green and Happy Handley for taking part (as well as all the other home edders who contributed of course – huge thanks to everyone!)