Category Archives: Books

A Girl With a Plan

As soon as H had headed off to work this morning, BB was agitating for us to find an old top of hers and  sock as she wanted to make and elephant cushion for SB for her birthday. After much rummaging in bags of old clothes, we found a suitable top that was near enough in colour to the sock to be acceptable.

So then she settled down to sew (no time to get dressed of course):





They had made sock animals at Wodensmeet the day before, and she had  a plan in her head  :-) And she pretty much did it all herself, bar a bit of help with tying knots onto the ends of the thread. And she shew me various ‘tricks’ she had learnt making the sock animals as well. I love that she was able to plan and execute this pretty much all by herself :-)

BB is a much more focussed child with such things than her sister, and doesn’t like doing a bit and then coming back to it, so  5 hours later, with just a  couple of breaks for food really, she had a rather cool sleeping  Elephant cushion :-)





P1020199Elephant Cushion










Meanwhile, I had been prising SB out of bed (no mean task, that girls is hopeless at waking up and getting up) She did her normal morning faffing about.  Did a couple of bits of book work - Collins Primary Grammar on Adverbs and the Spelling book. Something, else of which I’m blank right now.  A decent piano practice and then she wanted to bake some cakes to take to guides as it’s her birthday on Saturday. After some umming and ahhing, settled on Banana Muffins as easy and we had a stash of very ripe bananas.

After  bit of toing and froing to the shops – first for eggs, then for cake cases she settled down to bake:


Banana Muffins

And they turned out well, though I could notice the salt in them. We don’t tend to add salt a lot to cooking, certainly not into things like Muffins. But sshe had been following the recipe and it had had salt in obviously. Guides were a bit low in number tonight as some school event on so plenty came home again :-)

She is a good baker, but not very quick. So by the time they were in the oven, and she had done a good tidy up on the kitchen I was desperately in need of lunch. So some quick beans on toast and then BB went off to get dressed and SB disappeared upstairs as well – either playing with Cindy/Barbie or reading a book – she is re-reading the the Stephen Bowkett The Wintering trilogy(that I read as bedtime books a while back) and is on the second book, The Wintering: Storm.
I got on with cooking curry for dinner – including a very nice Moong Dall based on a recipe from a book I bought recently, Hansa’s Indian Vegetarian Cookbook as felt the need for some more inspiration on the recipe front. Hansa’s is a vegetarian Gujarati Restaurant in Leeds. We went to it  a couple of time, though I was never that impressed by the food. But the recipes in this book seem pretty good, and they are fairly simple and practical recipes (and probably simplified/ tweaked for the UK market somewhat)   compared to some Indian recipe books.


Got them back downstairs, SB did a Clarinet practice, BB pottered around a bit in the garden annoying the fish in the pond, and indoors with some Lego. And then before you know it, it was time to head out for BB’s gym.  SB did a bit more book work whilst there, mostly Galore Park Science. I forgot to take in the collection of bits I have to pass back to the Deep Enders who we did see there briefly, as BB has moved up into an older class.

BB also received her Certificate and Badge for the  proficiency award they did before half term.




Then it was home,  for a 30 minute turnaround,  quickly warm up the curry so that SB could have dinner before Guides. Back home BB settled down with Walking with Beasts on the TV, whilst beheading Lego people with a Lego knight. Followed by a bit of a late bedtime as SB not back from guides until past 9pm

Resources Post – Greek Myths and Legends

this should be a short set of links, but we all adore greek myths and legends, so have got rather a number of different lovely books of different styles. Some for younger children, some for older/all ages, some cartoon and some read aloud. love them all :) Will also link at the bottom to other books we have enjoyed reading in this ‘greek phase’ of our historyetc/story of the world. I hope you enjoy the Greek myths and legends as much as we do :)

Older readers/read aloud

We love read alouds, and these have beautiful illustrations, and are also well written and captivate both my 6 and 10 year old. I think the Penelope Lively and Rosemary Sutcliffe books are particularly gorgeous though, and recommend them highly.

Mixed/younger age groups

We love Marcia Wiliams cartoon books, and have quite a collection of them now :blush: We had the 2 usborne books for years, and they have also been very well read.

Loosely Based Around books [older]

we don’t have the percy jackson books as yet, though did enjoy the film. the terry deary fire thief books though are excellent.

Other Media

Please add your must reads to this list as well in the comments box :) I love amazon window shopping :)

Previous resource Posts


board games




Thinking Dinosaur

History resources

Resources overview

petits haricots is a participant in the the amazon Europe s.a.r.l. associates programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Twilight at the Museums

I am trying to do lots on this holiday at home, so that it seems that i have really made the most of my time off. [tho perhaps should have pencilled in more bed time!] This does mean that if I blog the next day, I may have forgotten what we did!!! We had meant to go to a NT property, but the day was v miserable and awful! so we decided to do some home ed in the morning and go shopping with christmas vouchers in the afternoon. This is pretty much what we did – though not sure exactly what! SB and I did make a cake for DH whilst he was out picking up BB’s glasses. SHe is very happy with them, in mr bump styling. She is long sighted, so they magnify her eyes. SHe looks gorgeous, but v different! We tested it out by reading some more level 2 books :) . SB def did some maths on turning decimals into fractions and vice versa.

After lunch we went out to the city to waterstones and wh smiths to spend vouchers. SMiths first, where bb made herself v happy buying 2 lego things, which were on buy one, buy second half price :) and a winnie the witch in space book. SB bought the missing two harry potters and 2 enid blytons. We then went to waterstones, where BB v quickly bought herself an animal sticker book, the latest astrosaurs book, and the latest winnie book rather than picture book ‘for when she can read’ . SB took aages longer :) and in the end bought 3 jacqueline wilsons, a enid blyton audiobook, hmmm not quite sure what the other 3 were! would have to check :) [sometimes i can't bear to look at amazon price!! however, this was xmas tokens, and the girls love doing it person, as adds excitement to whole deal]

We had a restorative cafe stop before heading for the twilight at museums event [dropping baggage in the car on the way :) ] It is a good thing we had a restorative cup of tea, because allthough we arrived within 10 mins of starting, the queue was just over 30 mins! AND it was drizzling progressing to light rain. BB in particular was NOT iMPRESSED! Unfortunately, although we started at the dinosaur museum for her, this turned out to be a BAD PLAN as on entering she moaned that she had been there before, seen everything before, and it wasn’t that dark! not an auspicious start. we others happy tho, so she had to drag her feet around! I did like the lighting effects, but think that perhaps a something different – trail or craft or something – would perhaps have been nice.

P1120612 P1120610 P1120620 P1120631

We then moved on to queue for the zoology, after 20mins we met lecielrouge coming out, and had a jolly chat before they headed off to join the dinosaur queue. soon after, we were told the queue was prob an hour, and there was no queue for the bijou science museum around the corner. We decamped since both BB and DH had lost their will to live with queuing. [it had at least stopped raining!] . I loved it. Not been there before. txt to lecielrouge saw them abandoning their queue to join us, and the fishes also arrived, so a merry party :) children much happier as there was a sheet to go and find out things. BB happier as not been there before, and played with the zootrope and various other visual effects. Z and I completely failed to use a slide rule cylinder :blush: and we all got our happy back :)

P1120663 P1120686

SO much so that when we saw only a tiny queue on the way back to the car at the zoology, we decided to go there. it was still 20 mins tho! and so only 10 mins actually in, and they switched lights on after 5, oh well!! Kids happy making an angler fish head band, and actually queuing with friends :) .

so actually, what had seemed like a v stressed and over sold evening whilst queueing for zoology ended up being fun and happy :) and also the cause of BB’s griping became clear in the car – she was just desperate to make her new lego!! A chippery tea and late bedtime. I fell asleep on the sofa, woke up at 1am, plodded upstairs to hear SB switch off her light and pretend to be asleep!! naughty naughty! I think she couldn’t wait to read new books :)

yeah yeah, sure sure, yip yip

as SB says all the time :) . today was a day spent at home with girls, doing presents, home ed, chatting, playing cuddling etc etc. I was feeling a bit blue today. miss my sis, needed really to have a more going somewhere holiday to focus my gaze externally etc, etc. But threw myself into doing stuff with girls. We did some fab home ed in my lovely conservatory :) and BB successfully read ‘the’ a few more times :) – we are classing this as a MAJOR achievement :) .

SB getting happier at doing her junior galore park [on book 2] which also bodes well [yes, i know for her school year she should be book 3, but orig she hated writing, so have been gently gently introducing :) ] she did some music theory also, but her fav bit of home ed today was her choice of fact book.

which she got for xmas but only just explored [she has been reading back to back canadian girl stories i think!] and surprised me with just how much she knows about this already. we do lots of talking, lots of reading but negligible testing, so it is always a relief when you see how knowledgeable she is. BB peering over her shoulder at one point selected a spiral galaxy to be the milky way because it was the ‘right shape’. SHe also did some of her dk project book, which she still loves, currently minerals, cleaned the rabbit hutch and did a great piano prac with me. Also finished [more or less as we need the printer to work proplerly to actually finish] P amd M’s birthday presents and also M-I-L’s.


BB started with piano prac, having heard me do some [yes, we must tune piano] and i must make sure to encourage this regularly as she remembered all what we had done and was ready to move onto a new note. She had the great reading breakthrough as above :) and we read why do spiders… She also did a lot of drawing with her watercolour pencils in her sketch book, and played a complicated weighing game with cuisinaire rods and a balance as well as making a birthday presnet for M-I-L.

P1120603 file0.jpg.png

DH excavated the room of doom, M-I-L the hallway, and as well as home edding and reading to girls [oh, we did 2 chapters of story of the world after swimming lessons] I sowed some more seeds, as blogged, caught a v disgruntled snowy rabbit [lol] and ‘found’ things :) . F-I-L seems to be better pain wise but a long way off mobilisation, predicting at least a week more in hospital.

tomorrow hoping for a going out day :)

some other books semi factual semi historical that SB enjoying that others of similar might

Resources Post – books about Canada!

we are going to Canada to visit relatives in the summer – woohoo!! SO we are learning a bit about Canada before we go. Last summer, whilst my sister was dying, I was at a conference in Toronto. [yes, that is one of those things that i would like to be able to edit] There I bought a couple of books of a large series. Now I have a wishlist of potential other ones!!

SO, ones we have

The fact books I am considering…

when we are there, will hopefully borrow some wildlife spotter books from family as well

Fictionalised History books i am considering

And for BB :)

All of these would possibly be easier to decide yes or no about if i could see them in the flesh tho. Fairly certain i would like the exploration one, so might buy a couple and then see if the others in the big waterstones in london to look at first! Particularly keen if anyone has any good ideas for fictionalised history – ie life in the times, but not necess ‘real people’

Previous resource Posts

board games




Thinking Dinosaur

History resources

Resources overview

petits haricots is a participant in the the amazon Europe s.a.r.l. associates programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Resources Blog – Art

I wondered what to do a quickie resources post on, and decided for art :) . Partly on the basis that I think my schooling and upbringing has left me with zero confidence in practical art myself, so i have bought a lot of books :lol: and partly because Kirsty reminded me of Harmony Art Mom, one of the 2 non UK home ed blogs I have on my RSS feed. SO here is a small selection of the books we have used a lot and found valuable :)

Beautiful art appreciation books for children

I think nothing beats going to a variety of art galleries and installations, because there you can see how big and impressive or small and detailed the various pics are. Historic houses – like Burghley that we went to recently as well, as SB was v keen to focus on the art and wants to go back. But it is also nice to pour over pictures, get ideas and inspiration from them, as SB has often done, with matisse, van gogh recently.

Artist Story Books

I have to confess to a complete love of the Anholt Stories about artists, as well as the Katie books. They can be read purely as stories or jump off to new and different directions. We have quite a few different ‘story’ books which are particularly good for BB now. The book people did some good deals on them a while back, so often in libraries.

How To… Art Books

Feeling terribly useless at art, I have compensated with books :) well, i had no idea how to use oil paints or watercolour pencils for example when the girls asked! SO some of these are ideas books from Usborne – owned by myself or friends! S0me are suggested by harmony art mom as well – thankyou.

SO go and enjoy painting, splodging and sketching, no excuses :) ALso please link fav’s in comments.

Previous resource Posts

Thinking Dinosaur

History resources

Resources overview

Thinking Dinosaur

BB got a new top today, a hoody with dinosaurs on the front. She does really adore dinosaurs, and it made me think of all the dinosaur resources we have, and decided to do a resource post! I realise from twitter that it is non-fiction day today, so really should have done this a bit earlier, never mind! [in my head friday is the resource post day!] So, where shall i start! Well, since it is non-fiction day, I guess that is where i should start :)

So I have started with assorted fact books, all of which BB likes, and all have a slightly different angle on them. The dk book is very vivid, with lots of imagery, facts and BB particularly likes it because she won it! SHe can’t read yet, but she has memorised many of the dinosaurs, and their diets, ferocity, size and postulated behaviour, and the pictures in this book allow her to jump in her imagination, and she does sometimes let me read too! The usborne book is also v fab, with some overlap with the DK book, but is far more geographical, placing the dinosaurs both in the pangaea gondwanaland etc of jurassic/triassic but also the modern continents where they are found, leading us on imaginary dinosaur hunts. We have particularly taken note of the fossils in england section! Again a beautifully designed and illustrated book for your dinosaur mad child! [and lots of facts for the older child too!] the dinosaurium book i am not so fond of, tho BB is. This is because it has those little books in the middle that get lost round the house, and it seems to be too bitty for me! Clever tho! We do like the final book though, with the 3d pop out and dinosaur sounds :)

we also like some of the stories about fossilisation and dinosaur finding :). The monster stones book is ideally pitched at BB, with a very cartoon/graphic approach that she appreciates, often making her own story to go with it. The various Mary Anning books are lovely, and we enjoyed visiting Charmouth too. the next book is a little bit more gritty about dinosaur hunters and their rivalry. The last book is again ideally suited to KS1 learning, and is part of a much wider and great series of books, and takes you through the process of finding and piecing together a fossil. great :)

Dinosaurs books in story form – particularly astrosaurs :) as well as colouring and games books are also important to BB, and she has enjoyed all the books here. The colouring one does keep her pretty quiet as well! She also subscribes to the magazine dinomite for regular dinosaur updates :)

And she has loved these DVD’s too.
Thus ends my quick round up of dinosaur resources, tho it has to be said, we have quite a few more, these are our favourites!

Previous Resources Posts

History resources

Resources overview

Resources Post – History

Focussing on how we consider history!

This is one of my, hopefully monthly, resource update blogs!

We have 2 main strands to our history provision in our home ed. The first is the planned chronological approach to history, with Story of the World as our main text. The second is the ad hoc watching or reading something or visiting somewhere that then fires the imagination and we look into it.

Story of the World

I have very much liked using this as a chronology backbone to history. We are now working our way through book 3 with SB [9]. SB snuggles up and listens as i read the stories to her, and we often but not always supplement this by looking at other books we have for more details for that chapter, particularly if it grabs our fancy. She rates Story of the World as one of her favourite things, and I tend to think that that is a great recommendation for a history core book! It is written in an easy read aloud style, with short chapters, further subdivided, making a chapter per read pretty easy. What we then do depends on our level of interest, for example, after reading about Louis XIV we then looked at pictures of Versailles and thought of French chateaux we have been to and their different architecture, but you could springboard to all sorts of different options. This is our ‘first read through’ of the book, in Classical Education terms.

I imagine there are lots of ways of using this book, and certainly a quick google search brings lots of options! we are prob going for a fairly common approach! we started when she was 5 – a fairly common start time! we have done less of the activities than i planned tho! The History of the World is divided into 4 main sections, with a core text and activity book.this series is ‘designed’ to learning spiral around, and read 3 times in total in the classical way, but doing slightly differently on each turn, as the child is correspondingly 4 years older.

my youngest is 5 already, and so we have started reading book 1 to her, SB often reads at least one part of the chapter and does more of the narration answers with the activities, and actually working it with one older and one younger child is going really well, as they are both enjoying it. We read story books and look at other reference books to go along with it for both children, according to their interest and the focus of the other books. SB is also working at the corresponding chapters of galore park junior history, to add additional material in on this second run through. We are still snuggled together, and it is a great family centric approach.

one of the other parts of the activity books are suggested crafts, and we have set up a home educators group to come together and have fun doing 3-4 chapters worth of crafts and discussions. This is in its infancy, but working really well, with some whole group activities as well as separate. We have also done some cooking in the period, and clothes design, and hope perhaps to have the opportunity for the older children to recreate some of the fiddly technology crafts. [this is quite a mixed age group].
History 1 prehistoric, first writings, early Egypt
History 2 Egypt of the Pharoahs, Sumer, Assyrians, Babylonians

I think I am quite excited! [again a good thing to be for a home educator!] We are hoping to tie in more visits – grimes graves, stonehenge, british museum, various roman bits and pieces whilst we go through the books as well!

As a side note, we are an agnostic/atheist family using this book, and know of many other christian, agnostic and atheist families using it, but there are some subtle ‘christian overtones’ in places – most noticeable with the use of some old testament stories and in the crusader bit, and although we haven’t got to book 4, this is a world history with not a uk nor europe-centric approach but an american one. We therefore spend additional time going sidewards to explore some things from more angles – ie when we looked at the crusaders, we found Crusaders (Usborne Young Reading: Series Three) had a different base viewpoint and discussed a little bit why this might be so. We also step aside sometimes to look at British specific interesting history. I don’t think there is a core text perfectly suited for all families, and i am quite happy, since this is a read aloud, to sometimes read it differently phrased, or have the alternate viewpoint ready as required :) . I am not sure that this series would work so well with significantly different base points though.

Where the Whim takes us

We have a lot of books in our house, and the library has a lot of books. We watch interesting programmes on DVD and TV, and we visit interesting places. Some, but not all of these spark a desire to read more, and so we then aim to provide the facilities for reading more :) . Here are some of the books we have used when we looked at Vikings in more detail as an example:


Previous Resources Posts

Resources overview

Fancy sharing your history loves and hates?

a setback

TBH, although i had nightmares about it for the last few nights, i had hoped to be back at work and getting going again, however difficult. i had an occ health appointment, and i did a few of the objective tests, and she recommended not. slightly too anxious to be reliable on good decisions, and as she said, as soon as i start, the job takes no prisoners. :( i imagine the managers are going to be ecstatic :( so have 2 more weeks then a short phased return. hmmm. so, with that, and then the visit to gp for sicknote and then the emailing and phoning ppl that i had said last week i would be returning… we were nearly at lunchtime

SB, bless her, spent the morning in bed with a hurty head and tummy [reading avidly, so head can't be THAT hurty!] . she is so imprecise that it is difficult to work out why things hurt, but they seemed to get better when i got home… SHe finished reading the magicians nephew and is most of the way thro the lion, the witch and the wardrobe anyway. She snuggled up to me and did grammar before going to her bikeability session with chris. She really enjoyed this, and told me all the accidents other people had had, what they did, in that breathless it was great fun speech, and she has new boots :)
I love having snuggles anyway :) After her bikeability, she snuggled up with her galore park science too :)

Whilst SB off for her bikeability in the afternoon, BB and i did some bunny care – the little bunnies do look all cute and little :) and it is amazing how much less food is eaten, and correspondingly how much less poop there is :) . BB is such a cutie pie, and so adoring of the rabbits. We then did piano practice. BB has a current like of getting the metronome going and then making a funky rhythm with her 3 note repertoire. i love it :) must surreptitiously iphone vid it sometime [she usually stops!] and then she will sometimes do a bit of jibbedy f, but its up to her. She has a fairly natural musician flow, so i am working on just encouraging her to play, whatever, with the option of looking at new notes etc if she wants. it is really lovely to do together :) we then snuggled in the conservatory :) to read a fact book - i wonder why the sea is salty – together, and then we did some fimo. BB was making a fimo rabbit for her secret santa, but liked it so much, she is keeping it… this is not a surprise, she has kept the last 2 birthday presents she has made too :)


SB coming back and snuggling with me persuaded BB to do something on her own, and so she played falconer to her peregrin falcon cuddly, and that was v cute to watch. i do love watching the imaginative games :) . we finished the day with tea in front of horrible histories, each girl choosing a box book for getting the required number of ticks – bb v happy with a dinosaur maze book, and SB with the georgian horrible histories – the box set seems partic cheap currently :)

And i have watched a grand designs in falmouth – fab house! and then looked at videos of sis. But it was also a day of all those weird home ed conversations where lots of things flow on, and yet when you come to blog, you just can’t remember any of them!

Changing science at latinetc

i have loved doing the science bit of latinetc. doing crazy fun experiments and seeing happiness and laughter on the faces of the children there, as well as talking, discussing and enjoying science really has given me a buzz.
Latinetc orig started in oct 2007 had had a freeform starting point. The families were slightly different, we didn’t do science each time, and children way way smaller! We did taste testing then!

the families changed slightly, and as the children got older, we grouped them, and made it a bit more formal, but we have covered such a lot! I am grouping the flickr set here, mostly for my benefit!


acids and alkali 2007,1
acids and alkali – 2007, 2
starch and spies – 2009
atoms and molecules – 2009
volcano experiments – 2009
polymers 1 – 2009
separating – 2009
more polymers – 2009
acid base 2 – 2009
working out the substance – 2009
making invisible inks – 2009
reduction reactions with copper sulphate – 2009
chemical flames – 2009
chromatography – 2009
crystal structure – 2009
microscope crystals – 2009
co2 – 2010
acids plus alkali – metal salts 2010
density – sugar rainbow solutions 2010
cornstarch gloop polymers 2010
acids and metals and testing for hydrogen – redox 2010


senses – taste 2007
heart – measuring and dissection 20082008
heart – anatomy and circulation 2008
lungs – physiology 2009
lungs – anatomy 2009
CPR and bones – 2009
fossils – 2009
anatomy craft – 2009
DNA – 2009
microbiology 1 – 2010
microbiology 2 2010
fish dissection – 2010
microbiology 3 – 2010
roots and shoots microscope – 2010
microbiology 4 – 2010
chlorophyll – 2010
choice chambers – 2010
pond dipping – 2010


floating and sinking 2008
cartesian divers 2008
magnets 2008
electricity – circuits etc 2008
energy – 2008
forces – 2008
forces 2 – 2008
forces 3 – 2008
forces 4 – 2008
optics – 2009 fieldtrip
heat/fire – 2009
waves 1 – 2010
waves 2 – 2010
optics – 2010 [no photos!]

yeah, i think that is a good list to be proud of! i have a few more ideas planned, but talking to group and then firming up, it is felt that perhaps having a going away and thinking about it, and perhaps formailising experiment write up may be helpful for some. SO having chatted a lot and discussed with other friends, we are going to do it slightly differently. i think i have used up lots of my top-of-head ideas, so we are going to be trying out real science 4 kids. level 2 chemistry for older group, and level 1 for younger. this has the advantage of being internet accessible, for a trying and not buying option unless sure is working for us. and also the interesting ‘cog’ add ons. not sure whether the levels quite right, as we are a bit age diverse, but can see… I am hoping they will have had the reading bit done at home, i can check with the questions, and then we do the lab work, and if i can find other speriments to fit i will, to keep the sessions fun and practical. If it doesn’t work for the group, we can think again.