School's Out

Monday 23rd March 2020

Today marked the first day of school closures and for us, the second week of being in isolation. This diary entry is being written as the children are doing the same and reflecting on the day. I’ve used Google Docs and chromecast to let them see what I’m writing as I write it and to hopefully inspire them to use interesting language.

This morning we went for an early walk. It was bright sunshine but still quite cold. The absence of aeroplanes and trains meant that we could clearly hear the birds singing. It was a beautiful chorus. We saw squirrels and robins and some frost on a log which was glittery and reminded us of strictly come dancing.

I really enjoyed my bowl of crunchy nut cornflakes for breakfast. I put sliced banana on top which was perfectly ripe and very delicious. I also had a frothy coffee and a large glass of orange juice.

After breakfast we did a live karate workout in the living room thanks to Kazen Kai on Instagram.

Then they started on their core "school" work: maths, English, reading, spelling and piano.

Just a bit of each to make sure they cover some of everything each day.

They use different platforms and resources each day and they each have a tray with booklets and resources in. Much of which I've printed from Twinkl, which has a FREE month offer while schools are closed.

Today they used Khan Academy for maths which worked well and is free. They each have a login which is set for their level and there are videos and quizzes which are motivating and non-patronising. Then they worked on Night Zookeeper for writing, which they enjoy because it doesn't feel like a writing app but it is. That's a paid resource. My seven-day free trial expired so I've signed up for the year as it has been worth it so far.

I had some work to do while the children played. I had to create a map, which is one of my new favourite things to do at work. The children were making a chain reaction with balls and books and a marble run. They had been inspired by a video we saw on Facebook which was about 5 minutes long and ran throughout the house and garden. The children's one was considerably smaller, but I was very proud of them for working well together and persevering when it didn’t go to plan. I’m sure this will continue to keep them busy in the coming weeks.

While we ate lunch we watched YouTube videos from a series called Science Max. The episodes were about light and lightning. The very enthusiastic presenter gives great descriptions about science which are appropriate for both BatBen and TheSmallOne. The one about light looked at mirrors, reflection and refraction and used mirrors to bounce an infra-red remote control signal from behind the TV. Which apparently was "epic".

Today we tuned into the live feed from a zoo in China to watch a mother panda and 2 cubs playing on a swing. It’s very soothing to watch them and fun to anticipate them falling over each other and clambering around. We’ve had it on the TV in the background while we do other things.

Continuing on the theme of light, I found instructions to make a kaleidoscope. We used toilet roll tubes, plastic beads and tin foil. The activity lasted only about 15 minutes, so don’t expect this to kill much time.

We made bread in the bread-maker according to our tried-and-tested recipe:

Place the following ingredients into the machine bowl in the order given then put on setting 2 on medium for the fast loaf. It takes 1 hour 55 minutes and comes out perfect every time. My machine is a Panasonic SD-2501. This loaf works out at a cost of about 30 pence and lasts 2 days. Then when it goes stale I use it for garlic bread or croutons and I save the “knoblers” in the freezer for making bread pudding.

1 teaspoon fast action yeast

400g strong flour (300g white, 100g brown)

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

280ml tepid water

During the course of the day we’ve had some tears, some cross words, and time outs, but we’ve also had giggles, exercise, laughter, cheers and cuddles. One day at a time and we'll all get through it.

Now I can smell the bread cooking. Bliss.