Category Archives: Blogging Community

100 Ways to Home Educate – Doing it our way

Over the last week the 100 ways to home educate blog hop has celebrated home education and has already shown how no two families are the same. We’ve seen autonomous, unschooling and structured home education and read about how these styles work for each family, and yesterday Katie from At Home with the Grays talked us through her semi-structured approach. Today is my turn…

Our style of home education is, well autonomous I guess. But our days will be nothing like the previous family’s. And that is what I love. Our days are ours to do with as we please. If we are feeling really keen we might sit down and do some work at the table. Most of the time screen based learning works best though and so we use Reading Eggs and Khan Academy on the computer and occasionally Apps too. We usually have a semi-project type thing on the go, but the learning around this can be anything from project folders of colouring, writing, craft, worksheets etc, to solely verbal discussion based learning. We have two large display boards in our living area and I always have one based on our current topic/project. At the moment this is Africa as we have friends who spent Christmas in South Africa with family and the kids spent a lot of time looking on a map to see where they were and asking questions about it. This is how I/we usually choose what the next topic will be .. someone will show an interest in something and we go from there! Some of the things we’ve done in the past include the Stone Age, the human body, life cycles, energy, WWII and the Great Fire of London.

We have several group/planned activities throughout the week. Some of these are paid for termly activities that I am slightly more insistent that we attend such as swimming and Forest School, some are paid for but I am more relaxed about (Brownies/Cubs/Beavers) and some are pay-as-you-go ones such as our HE group and HE ice skating. While we do usually go to all of these every week, if something else comes up we will amend our week to fit. We normally also have a couple of social get togethers/playdates with friends throughout the week too, both indoor and outdoor, but these are very much ad-hoc and are arranged on a weekly (sometimes on the day!) basis.

One thing both Gordon and I are quite keen on is limited screen time and more outdoor time. While the kids do have access to computers, TV, adapted iPhones (no SIM so more like an iPod) and we do own a PS4 and Nintendo DS we limit the time the kids can spend on any device and don’t really let them play many screen-based games. And, to the great annoyance of all 3 kids, we have a blanket ban on Minecraft because it seriously affects their behaviour. Jasmine’s personality in particular means that she struggles to switch off from the game, she gets very cross when she can’t do whatever she wants with a game, and she frequently ends up crying because of a game. This is no fun for anyone, including her (although she doesn’t always see it like that!). TV is limited less than “devices” but I know how lucky I am that the kids all love watching documentaries (especially Planet Earth/wildlife type ones), Horrible Histories, wildlife based kids programmes (Deadly 60, Naomi’s Nightmares of Nature) as well as the usual stuff like Pokemon and CBBC. We also all play Pokemon Go every day and the kids have an account between them. I am fully aware that the reason I let them do this is because I want to play and that makes me a hypocrite of huge proportions! I justify it to myself by saying that we are at least outdoors, and we do have rules around it such as if they look down at the screen when there in nothing going on and they are just fiddling with the game, then the phone gets taken away for a while.

And then while we probably have more screen time in the winter, when the weather warms up we can usually be found in the garden, in a local park or woodland, or exploring the beautiful countryside we are so lucky to live close to. And we can go days in the summer with no screen time at all, including no TV (the kids that is… I admit that Gordon and I do struggle when we can’t at least check our emails and Facebook!)

So, autonomous for us means no “typical” day as such. We can spend a few weeks at a time doing similar activities but then the season will change, our mood will change or an interest will change, and with it our “typical” day will change.

You can see what this week has looked like so far here, here and here. Thursday included french homework, a quick Pokemon Go walk, HE group (including a french lesson for Jasmine and Thomas, a Trivial Pursuit team quiz that J&Ts team won, and a group Happy Birthday to Ben!), Beavers for Ben and Cubs for Thomas, Harry Potter aloud and quiet reading before bed for Jasmine and Thomas. Today is more relaxed and so far we’ve had super quick breakfast eating and getting dressed so all the kids can get on and finish building Ben’s birthday Lego model. Now their friend has arrived and they’ve finished the model they are all upstairs playing Lego Nexo Knights and I imagine that’s where they’ll stay until it is time to go ice skating this afternoon! (EDIT: I was wrong, they’ve had an argument and now come down to watch TV!)

Ice skating will take up the majority of the afternoon.. it includes a 20 minute lesson and probably one and a half hours play and skate with a group of their friends. After that, well I don’t know.. probably more Lego, maybe some TV, definitely more Harry Potter, chores, maybe a walk out for Pokemon gyms or Chansey catching if it stops raining!

And that’s us. That’s our way of doing it and at the moment it works. Next Monday, head on over to Paper and String to find out about how she facilitates learning with her two girls.


I’m going to Britmums Live 2014

In June this year I am going to my first ever blogging conference when I attend Britmums Live 2014! As I won’t know many people there I thought I would take the opportunity to join in the meme and introduce myself:

Name: Jo

Blog: 3 Kids and a Gluestick

Twitter ID@joclarker

Height: 5ft 3 or 4ish

Hair: Depends on whether I have had it cut or got round to dyeing it. I would like it to be short and red but it is currently long and brown.. I have 8 weeks to sort it out!

Eyes: Blue. Sometimes glasses, sometimes contact lenses.

Is this your first blogging conference?


Are you attending both days?


What are you most looking forward to at BritMums Live 2014?

Meeting people I have got to know through blogging and hopefully learning some stuff too. I am also looking forward to spending a couple of days doing something just for me. I love blogging but it has to fit around everything else I do and so I usually end up writing in the middle of the night (yep, it is 11.50pm right now!) so to be going to a blogging conference is very exciting!

What are you wearing?

Um, clothes! Honestly, I imagine jeans and whatever I can find in my wardrobe on the day but I really have no idea.

What do you hope to gain from BritMums Live 2014?

I hope to improve my blogging skills and my technical knowledge and I really hope to pick up some photography tips.

Do you have any tips to pass on to others who may not have been before?

Er no! Please feel free to pass any you have my way!

BritMums Live! 2014

1983 to 2013 – 30 Years of Me

1983. Now that was a long time ago! I began the year aged 4, a loud confident pre-schooler. That September I turned 5 and started school. I was quite cute wasn’t I!Me, aged 5

1983 was also the year that Special K first appeared on our shelves. I was still eating my weetabix for breakfast though so I knew nothing about it!

To be honest, until a couple of weeks ago I still didn’t know much about Special K. But then I saw the Britmums #SpecialK30 Challenge and it sounded quite fun so I thought I’d give it a go.

I have changed quite a lot since 1983, but Special K hadn’t. Until now. Now Special K contains three grains, rice, wheat and barley, and is made with wholegrain. I was sent a box of new Special K to try out, and challenged to show how I have changed in 30 years.

New Special K

First things first, what is the new Special K like. Well actually it is pretty good. All 5 of us have been enjoying it for breakfast and it is a satisfying change from our usual Rice Krispies or Multigrain Boulders. (As you can see, usually the kids choice of cereal wins in this house!) But do you know what? The kids would happily choose the new Special K over the others. Mostly I think this is because it is very sweet. We compared the sugar content to Kelloggs Rice Krispies Multigrain Shapes and they are virtually identical, as was the amount of calories. In fact the only difference was in the amount of fat, where Special K was lower. Thomas and Jasmine have been calling the Special K “Special Frosties” 😉

So, how have I changed.

Well, instead of being 5 I now have two 5 year olds! I have fitted quite a lot into that 30 years when I look back.

When I was 6 I went abroad for the first time. We went to France with Key Camp and had such a lovely time we did it again the following year. I have very fond memories of those holidays.France holidaysOur holidays gradually got further and further from home and at age 11 I went to the USA for the first time. Meeting Mickey Mouse was amazing! I have been to the States several times since and the second photograph here was in 2004 at Niagara Falls.


At age 7 I became a Brownie. I then didn’t leave the Movement until I had the twins, so Guiding has been a big part of my life for a lot of that 30 years. I was a Brownie, a Guide, a Young Leader and a Guider.Guiding

In 2005 I met Gordon. We got engaged in Maui, Hawaii in 2006 and married in Las Vegas in 2007.Engaged and Married

9 months after getting married (to the day!) Thomas and Jasmine were born. 2 years later we were crazy enough to have another one, Ben.KidsAnd now? Well now I have two 5 year olds and a 3 year old. I do not have mousey brown hair, I have red hair. I do not live in Cheadle Hulme, I live in Sutton. I do not holiday in the USA, I holiday in Norfolk!

I would define my change by hair style and weight. My hair has been short,  long, curly, short, long and is now getting shorter again. My weight.. well lets just say that a twin pregnancy followed shortly after by a singleton pregnancy, and a love of sweet things has not do me any favours!

Gone is the cute 5 year old. Here I am now. Maybe I should eat Special K more regularly.. it is low in fat but still will satisfy my sweet tooth.. hmm, now there’s a thought!

1983 - 2013


This is my entry for the Britmums/Special K “How I’ve changed Linky challenge.”


A Mile in Memory of Matilda Mae

Today we went to the Rare Breeds Centre in Kent. We walked a mile in memory of a beautiful baby girl, Matilda Mae, who died at just 9 months old. We walked with her mummy, her daddy, her sister and brother and many other people who, like us, wanted to support Jennie and raise money for The Lullaby Trust.

We walked through beautiful fields of bluebells. Thomas said it was like walking next to the sea on a pier. We saw sheep and lambs, fields of rapeseed, we walked over bridges and saw a totum pole.

Mile in Memory Walk

It was a beautiful walk.

At the end of the walk the kids were all given bubbles to blow up to the sky; bubble kisses to Matilda Mae.

Bubble kisses in the sky

After bubbles and singing we headed to the playgrounds. The kids loved the playgrounds and spent a long time climbing, swinging, balancing, exploring.

In the playground

But we never forgot the reason we were there. To remember Matilda Mae.


Today, as well as the walk, the Matilda Mae Memorial Auction opened. This auction, run by Tots 100, is raising money for The Lullaby Trust, the trust that supports families affected by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and carries out research into preventing it. Please take a look at the auction, or you can also donate to The Lullaby Trust here

Matilda Mae Memorial Auction

Enjoying Numbers

I don’t have time to write much tonight as I am trying to pack our picnic and bits for the Mile in Memory of Matilda Mae walk we are doing tomorrow to help raise money for The Lullaby Trust.

But I needed to record something that happened today.

Recently both Jasmine and Thomas have been exploring numbers and addition sums. Well actually Thomas has been doing it for a while but recently Jasmine has joined in and, as is the way when they both do something, they are getting better and better at it as they bounce ideas off each other as well as talking to me.

In the car on the way to Forest School today they started asking me and each other some addition sums. They have both got really good at mental maths and love “doing sums”! They can add 1, 2, 3 and 4 to any number easily now by “counting on” and Thomas is starting to be able to add 10. Jasmine loves making up story sums so today she was asking “If I have 3 teddy bears and I get 2 more, how many teddy bears do I have now? and such like. I did, at one point, get asked “If you have 200 teddy bears and you get 1,000 more, how many will you have?” and I have to admit that my initial answer was “Too many teddy bears!” 😉

I have noticed over the last week especially, that they are also remembering some number facts. They can both now tell me that 5 add 5 equals 10, and I am fairly certain Thomas can double numbers to 5 from memory.

The number stories and sums continued after I had picked them up from Forest School and as they were doing so well with addition I thought I would introduce some subtraction as well. Again they both did well considering we’ve never really done it before and they started asking each other some “take away 1” questions and getting the right answer.

At dinner we were still going strong and Jasmine was enjoying subtracting amounts of food as she ate! With almost every part of her dinner we had something like “I have 3 bits of pepper and I have eaten 1 so I have 2 left. I had 3 bits of pepper and I have eaten 2 so I have 1 left…..” etc. She was loving it and it had the added bonus for me of getting them to actually eat every bit of food on their plate!

One other really nice thing that happened today was that after Forest School I was speaking to the leader and she told me that Thomas had been mixing and interacting with the other children really well in today’s session, which was really lovely to hear!

I do love watching my kids learn, grow and develop in their own time, at their own pace 🙂


As I said above, tomorrow we are taking part in the Mile in Memory of Matilda Mae at the Rare Breeds Centre in Kent. If you would like to donate to The Lullaby Trust you can do so here, or tomorrow also sees the launch of the Matilda Mae Memorial Auction. Please do pop over and take a look x

Matilda Mae Memorial Auction

A Tuff Spot full of Gloop!


Today we took our Tuff Spot outdoors and played with Gloop. Made simply by mixing cornflour and water, this strange mixture is sometimes solid, sometimes liquid, but always lots of fun!

For each bowl of gloop we used one box of cornflour and one cup of water. I stirred some food colouring into the water before adding it to the cornflour, so we started off with one bowl each of red, blue and green gloop.

We played outdoors with our gloop for the best part of two hours!

I set the area up so each of the kids had their own bowl. They each made their own gloop (with some help mixing it when it became hard!) and they all played by themselves for a while, exploring the properties and experimenting with what they could do. Thomas was the first to get his hands in and really explore, and Ben wasn’t far behind but he wasn’t quite so sure at first. I knew Jasmine in particular wouldn’t be keen on getting her hands in straight away so I had brought some spoons and pots out so she could still get stuck in without getting messy! I also gave them some funnels so they could pick up lumps and watch it pour through.

After a while the kids started to mix the colours together and explore what happened. They initially did this with little bits of each colour and Jasmine made some pictures with the different colours.

Then the boys began tipping the gloop out of the bowls onto the Tuff Spot and really began playing with it. It was mud, it was a river, and a swamp. The dried bits that Jasmine was playing with turned into food for the animals that lived in the various places. We poured it into pots and as they overflowed they became fountains, waterfalls and volcanoes. We stopped the water and lava with our hands, then released it and watched it flow away.

We drew shapes and letters in the gloop and watched them disappear quicker than we could finish drawing them. It was this drawing that finally got Jasmine to put first one finger, and then her whole hand in. Once she had done it once she did it over and over again. She loved it! My clean child, getting really truly messy with gloop. It was wonderful to see!

She has always enjoyed messy play. As a toddler she always got her hands messy and never minded, but as she has got older she prefers to be clean. Sometimes she just needs gently reminding how much fun getting messy really is!

I have to admit, I had just as much fun playing with the gloop today as the kids did! I loved the way it felt when you picked it up and squeezed it between your fingers. I loved placing my hand on top and it being sucked down.

I loved the way it changed during the time we were playing with it. The sun finally made an appearance today and so the gloop dried quite quickly once it was on the Tuff Spot. We kept adding more water so the consistency changed numerous times from very runny to, by the end of the 2 hours, quite dry. We frequently added dry bits back into the wetter bits and watched them become gloop again.

Gloop really is amazing stuff and we will definitely be playing with it again, even if it did turn us all green!

Green hands!



This post is part of Edspire’s Messy Play for Matilda Mae Linky


From One Multiple Mummy To Another

Tonight I am eating chocolate and thinking of Kerry from Multiple Mummy. From one twin mummy to another.

In July Kerry suffered a brain hemorrhage due to an ruptured aneurysm and unfortunately since then, has suffered a number of setbacks in her recovery and rehabilitation.

I really hope Kerry can get home this Christmas and be where she belongs, with her husband and children.

This post is part of a blog hop hosted by New Mum Online