Tag Archive | projects

Pick a pet pet shop project

For a few weeks now, I have been thinking about writing a post about how we are getting along with home educating Buzzbee, but between creating creative ways of helping him learn, in a way which is going to boost his self-esteem and confidence, and also trying to keep up with the unending housework, attend post adoption and school meetings, be a mother/wife/daughter ………. I have not really had the chance, until this weekend, to really sit down and piece together the work he had done during his most recently completed project on ‘Pets’

I have probably written this before, but very quickly after removing Buzz from mainstream education, I learnt that Buzzbee is not the kind of child who can sit at a desk and work through workbooks or worksheets – I can get him to sit for short periods of time writing or completing maths questions, but if I want results from Buzzbee, I have to be more hands-on with his learning, and using projects to do this is providing positive results and is allowing to cover as many of the National Curriculum subjects as possible.

Working independently or reading and writing is a challenge for Buzzbee and one that he would, given half a chance, avoid, but with a compromise of mummy writing down what he wants to say and then he copies it out in his own handwriting, he really enjoyed designing and writing his own ‘Pet owners guide book’ featuring not only how to care for his favourite four-legged canine, Beedog, and our resident felines, but our neighbours’ Guinea pigs have also made a guest appearance. In the pursuit of trying to encourage his literacy skills, I am finding that I need several tricks up my sleeves, but one discovery I have made is that Buzz finds too many words on one page overwhelming and so I have one very important piece of stationary that has turned a stressful exercise into one of relative fun and therapeutic  benefit – ‘post it’ notes.  I can write a sensible amount on a sheet then stick it to the page I want him to write on and then once he is finished he simply can remove it from the page and do what he wants with it (often this means him trying to toss them into the bin and Beedog intercepting his attempts)

pet owners guide

Buzz’s projects tend to develop a pattern of their own and is always driven from whatever has popped into Buzz’s head that morning – and trust me his curious mind is never short of questions and, as I have said before, no two days are ever the same and often the original plan for the day goes out the window when something else catches Buzz’s attention. One example of this is a day that I had set out earmarking the day as a sneaky history of pets lesson, rapidly turning into a lengthy discussion and research about artists and their painting styles. By the end of the day Buzzbee had become a wacky artist and produced his own ‘Pup – Casso’ and ‘Kitty cat’ pop art canvas masterpieces.

wacky art

Another day it will be obvious from the moment Buzz has woken up that today would be a tricky day and creative thinking would be needed to make sure he felt at the end of the day that he had succeeded in one way or another – he particularly enjoyed trawling through Pinterest researching handmade pet toys and treats and then making them (sadly the dog ate all the treats before I could take a photo but it is safe to say there were no complaints from her either for the treats or her handmade crinkly toy).


The original inspiration for Buzz’s ‘pet project’ came from his curiosity about who had pets and how they took care of their own pets. He started off creating a questionnaire and including all the burning questions he had and then with my help he bravely shared his questionnaire on my Facebook page and to his delight received more than 20 responses including the children of The boys behaviour  (Mini and Dollop) , and The puffin diaries (Stig and Tink).  When I say Buzzbee was delighted maybe a better description was that he was amazed and taken aback by the generosity of people he didn’t know, who were prepared not only to take the time to answer his questions but to send him supportive messages along with it.  For a child who is mistrustful of pretty much all adults (Yes, even his dad and I) to suddenly experience and comment on the kindness of people he has never met, is a huge step for him. I cannot describe the feelings that overwhelm you when you hear your mistrustful son saying “Why did so many grownups want to help me by answering my questions? Maybe not ALL adults are as mean as I thought and don’t think I am a naughty little boy”.

Once the responses stopped coming in, Buzzbee and I began collating the information, and putting the answers into tables, which at some point turned into windows on a house and a roof (one window for each question/answer).


This then opened the door (apologies for the unintentional pun) to expanding his project using first maths and later creative thinking and 3D design with the help of Minecraft.

Buzzbee decided that using the information he had about the different variety of pets that people have owned and how many pets were in each group, he wanted to design his own ‘pet shop’. First we agreed that he needed to work out how much space he wanted to give to each pet and then work out how much space each group of animal’s enclosure would need – he chose a scale of 10 squares for each pet. As he was designing his pet shop, Buzzbee used his research and knowledge of pets to decide where each enclosure had to be – i.e. cats not placed near the birds, or dogs near the cats.

And as a reward for all his hard work (or so he thinks) Buzzbee was given a ‘free day’ and allowed time on Minecraft to make his ‘Pick a pet. Pet shop’ complete with inventive substitutions for a handful of the pets

  • Fish were replaced by Squids
  • The Bearded dragon was replace by a Spider
  • Rabbits have been replaced by Silver fish
  • And can you guess what the Guinea pigs have been replaced with? Yes that is right they are now just Pigs


While some who read this #WASO post will just see a post about Buzzbee’s home education journey, for me (and Bumble) this post is not so much about what he has been learning, but about his journey in gaining confidence in his ability to learn, which is something he lost whilst in main-stream education.




Project: The Little Volcano

As some of you will know a little while before the end of Term 2, Bumble and I made the difficult (but definitely the right) decision to remove Buzzbee from his primary school and begin home educating him.

When we deregistered Buzz, I believed I had a moderate understanding of where the gaps were in his learning ability and needs, and I’d like to think I still do.

At some point I will write a post focusing on what these needs are and how his early years experience and lack of understanding by school, has had a dramatic and profound effect on his ability to learn.

Having said this, I am not above taking any opportunity that I can, to use learning activities as ways of helping bridge the self-esteem and emotional gaps.

This week’s #WASO theme is ‘The work of my child/children’ and ties in very nicely with the end of the first part of Buzz’s latest topic – Ferocious Volcanoes and Dinosaurs.  With Buzzbee, I very quickly learnt that it was pointless me trying to get him to sit down to a desk with workbooks and follow the national curriculum guidelines – admittedly at first I was as stubborn as him and we endured several very stressful and unsuccessful mornings locked in a battle of wills.

Buzzbee prefers to be very hands on and visual – maths and science are by far his favourite subjects and his is relatively confident in his own skills in these 2 areas.  Currently his biggest barrier is his reading, which then impacts on everything else, but we have found ways around this.  Buzzbee’s handwriting is actually quite good and his ability to remember and translate factual information is far superior to mine (he is a little sponge), but he lacks the confidence to write his ideas down independently and he tells me what information he wants to add to his project, I write it down for him and then he will sit down and copy it out (although he will try his best to write as little as possible). For now this works for him and allows him to be in a position where he can succeed and feel good about his work.

little volcano

Where self-control for Buzzbee is difficult, at times he can demonstrate an incredible level of self-awareness and on several occasions while discussing/researching volcanoes, he has identified similarities between his reactive responses and the warning signs that a volcano is about to ‘blow’.  Cue mummy moving into reflective dialogue mode: “I’m wondering if there is anything that maybe the little volcano or others around him could do to help him calm down the hot bubbling lava before it starts exploding and spilling out over the sides and burning something or someone?”  Rather than using his usual distraction/shooting down techniques – an outpouring of ideas came flooding out from Buzzbee. Most were, understandably, unachievable, some were absolutely hysterical (put him in a Yoga position, open his mouth and pour in slush puppies until steam comes of his ear or he gets brain freeze), but then there were a couple of gems which, with support, he could use (jumping jacks or squeeze a teddy bear)  – he is a star, and I only wish he could believe that himself.

Buzzbee has several challenges to overcome when it comes to his learning, and there are days when I wonder if I am the right person to help him with this, or if we should have pushed harder while he was at school to get him the assessments he needs so we can understand whether his barriers are down to his anxiety and fear of failure or if (as I suspect) there are other contributing factors holding him back (be that sensory or cognitive), but for now Buzzbee and I will keep trying to do the best we can and we will wait to see what the future holds.

The Weekly Adoption Shout Out