Tuesday, 21 February 2017

“People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible and childish... but that's only if it's done properly.”

Making the decision to homeschool Opeie wasn't something we just dived into without thinking a lot about it. There was a huge build up to taking the plunge and many things that were steering us in that direction. Both Mrs M and I have very strong views on how we wanted Opeie's learning to be during his formative years. In my opinion (and I know I'm not the only one) there is far to much pressure put on children at an early age and I strongly believe that the education system in this country is failing these amazing little minds.  Home Education gives us so much freedom to adventure and it is this kind of organic learning that is the reason why we have a 5-year-old who is always happy and excited about learning.

The last few weeks have been exceptionally fun as we have visited a few museums that we've not been to before. It's been a while since I have been to Walsall but while I was online looking for interesting places to visit around the Midlands, the new Art Gallery popped up. As it is only 40 minutes drive from ours, we loaded the Micro Scooters into the car and set out on an arty adventure.

When we're out investigating places we don't know well, the scooters are a must. They are great for manoeuvring around quickly and if we do happen to get lost a distance from the car then it takes the strain off of those little legs if he's been walking around the museums etc. The great thing about visiting art museums is listening to Opeie's opinions on each piece. I've got to admit that the two exhibitions that were on (as some of the floors were closed) were really not my cup of tea at all, apart from some of the Idris Khan pieces. The gallery was somewhere different to visit though and even if you have a negative opinion about certain art or you simply just don't understand what is going on, it sparks conversation or debate which is great for learning.

While walking around the gallery we passed a window and noticed some graffiti covered walls out back. So after looking at the exhibitions, we headed outside for more Micro Scooter adventuring. Graffiti is definitely an art form that interests Opeie more and I can see why. The vibrant eye catching colours in places that you don't expect them is really fun. We had tried some graffiti at home on slabs a while back during an 'Art week' and I think it is something we will be looking into again very soon.

Opeie was really excited to see a Pokémon piece on a wall as we scooted by and couldn't wait to get a picture with Gyarados to show Seth when he got home.

Our scooting adventure then hit the streets and we continued looking for things of interest, all the while Opeie was asking question after question, it was the sort of effortless home schooling day that I love. We passed a war memorial while scooting along the street and Opeie stopped and asked if the statue was of the same person who is in St Peter's Gardens in Wolverhampton as they wore the same uniform and hat. It was great that he had remembered the memorial so we checked online and it turns out that both Douglas Morris Henry HARRIS A.B., R.N.V.R. and John Henry Carless VC sadly lost their lives in 1917. I was genuinely impressed that Opeie had paid that much attention to both memorials.

As much as I loved visiting the art gallery, sometimes we get so much more out of investigating a city on our scooters. Home education opens up doors that state schooling can not offer and in my opinion being outdoors and learning from experiences for some children is so much more productive and natural. If I had had this style of learning from a young age I think I would have been a lot more focused and motivated. Like many children, school never interested me, I didn't feel inspired by my teachers and that was something that I feel hindered me at the start of my adult life. Things are definitely different these days though and Opeie's home schooling is opening my eyes to many things I never thought I'd be interested in myself.

Scooters and Home education go hand in hand and I can't wait for our next adventure.

Monday, 20 February 2017

'Your friendly Neighbourhood Yoshi'

 I'm a professional when it comes to procrastinating when I need to be writing. For the last few nights I have come up with all manner of things to stop me doing the one thing I need to be getting on with. My favourite though has been playing Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World, to say I am loving this game would be an understatement. Last night Mrs M wanted an early night and I should have been the perfect chance for some quiet time to get my head down and write, but I decided to join here and take my 3DS. I had planned to play a few more levels but found myself hooked when entering the 'Yoshi Hut' on the game. The game itself is AWESOME, but being able to create your own Woolly Yoshi's  is such a great addition to the game. 

It started with Wolverine Yoshi and then when I looked at my phone I realised I'd got a little carried away. It was 1am and I'd been creating marvel Yoshi's for a couple of hours. Anyway, I thought I'd share them with ya'll.

Friday, 17 February 2017

"I need to get in to LEGO mode"

It's no surprise to anyone that I am an enormous LEGO geek,  These awesome bricks have had an amazing impact on the way the boys and I play together and they have been an never ending fountain of creativity. Lately though, they have become a big part of Opeies homeschooling too as they have given him a chance to express his creative writing in a very interesting way. After writing and creating his Scarecrow and Bane dress up post a week or so ago he has been craving writing another post and creating a story with his LEGO. So as we had the Iron Man: Detroit Steel Strikes waiting to be built we sat down together and started a new story. Over to Opeie...

"I love writing blog posts because they are fun and I love playing lego. I love making up stories and pretending that I am a lego man and I love building lego cars. Here's my super hero story..."

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

"If it's right then it's right If it's wrong then it's wrong Let's keep playing the song 'til it's over"

There was a time long ago when my weeks were taken up by travelling about, seeing various bands all over the country. Music has always been a huge thing for me and going to gigs back then, was how I loved spending my time. It's amazing how much your life changes when you have children and you no longer have that sort of time to do the things that you want. The love of music is still there, I'd take the tunes I love, over any movie or TV show and this is something that has definitely rubbed off onto Opeie, that boy of mine is always singing and dancing and he has quite the eclectic taste.

I've written many posts about what Opeie is listening to and although he loves a little from most genres, country is definitely the music he favours. We are thrilled about this as Country music is also a big thing for me and Mrs M too. While listening to Spotify last weekend, Mrs M clicked on a link to one of the bands that Opeie loves (Old Dominion) and found that surprisingly they are touring the UK. I had looked on their website so many times hoping they would cross the pond, with no joy. It turns out that they are supporting another singer (Thomas Rhett) that Opeie loves too. So Mrs M, being the awesome woman that she is has bought tickets, and I couldn't be more excited about taking Opeie to his first gig.

 The gig isn't for months, which gives us plenty of time to design some awesome T-shirts for the show. Being a dad to such an amazing little dude is the best. I feel like the luckiest guy EVER!

'Take it, One stitch at a time'

There are so many reasons why for me Nintendo have been the console of choice for most of my life. I could spend hours talking about why they have had such a huge impact in my life, but their latest 3ds release sums up the main reason why I adore them so much. Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World is everything I love about Nintendo, bright colourful graphics, adorable characters, a playful soundtrack and fun well thought out levels with hidden things to find. This is none threatening, none aggressive console gaming at its best. It is what I was brought up on and it is a valuable lesson that I have installed into the boys. you can be a gamer without all the realistic violence that you get from other consoles.

Sometimes I am surprised it has stuck, especially with Seth as he goes to school with a lot of children who's parents are happy with them playing the latest first-person shooter or violent action adventure game, but Seth and Opeie are both very intelligent and emotionally mature children who understand why, as parents me and Mrs M are the way we are about the games that they play. Plus there are so many educational values that can be taken from none offensive games like Super Maker Maker, Pokemon, Tomodachi Life and Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World.

Anyway... a little more about the game. When I wrote about Super Mario Maker before Christmas, I wrote about how excited I was that the game had made the Wii U/3ds crossover. Most of my personal gaming time is on the handheld console and I absolutely adored Mario Maker on the Wii U so to have the game released on there was really awesome. I felt exactly the same about Yoshi's Woolly World, so when I read that Yoshi and his canine companion were getting the 3ds makeover I was overjoyed.

I love Nintendo's style of platform gaming, especially for the 3ds as they are the sort of games that you can pick up, progress a level or two and then put down to squeeze into short spaces of time you may have to game. This is how I play as I don't always have time to sit in front of the TV for extended gaming sessions and it is this style of gaming of mine that is getting me so excited about the release of the Nintendo Switch next month. A console that you can play at home and then continue on the go, to me, sounds like the perfect way of gaming and I honestly can't wait to get stuck in.

I've gone off course again... As expected Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World has been my game of choice for every spare moment I have, I'm shocked though that it has been played even more that Super Mario Maker and has been the game of choice most evenings in bed for an hour of play before I drop off. Apart from the Open world area in the Wii U version the game is very similar in game-play, but as you can tell from the title, Poochy is a much bigger part of this game. One of the things I love about the game is how quickly you can jump between a Poochy free mode where game play is a little more challenging and having a never ending supply of poochy pups who help sniff out hidden items and can be thrown like the yarn balls to help younger players progress through the levels (Opeie absolutely adores the game). There are also new Poochy Dash levels where you have to whizz through, collecting items while being timed.

Aside from the main game-play you can also design your own Yoshi to share via street pass and there are also animated shorts to watch at the scrapbook theatre. Making this game full on entertainment.

Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World is everything I want from a game and it reinforces everything I adore about Nintendo and their amazing gaming ethos.

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