Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Picture Books about Asia

Our local home education group has been studying Asia, this term, so I have been collecting picture books that we can use for reading aloud. This is a collection of those that we have used or plan to use.

Asia: Rookie Read-about Geography Rebecca Hirsch 
This is a simple book with many photographs.

Asia Gary Drevitch 
More complex than the first book and is divided into chapters. 


The Story of Ping Marjorie Flack
 A classic story of a duck on the Yangtze River.

Tracks of a Panda Nick Dowson 
A picture book is about the life of a giant panda.

Could somebody pass the salt?: Hudson Taylor Catherine Mackenzie 
A child's biography of the famous missionary, Hudson Taylor.

Yikang's Day: From Dawn to Dusk in a Chinese City Sungwan So 
A pictorial day in the life of a modern Chinese girl.

Elephants of the Tsunami Jana Laiz 
The retelling of a real event when elephants saved some people from the 2004 tsunami. This has references to the many deaths but it is written sensitively and focuses on those saved from the water.

South Korea
If you were me and lived in South Korea Carol Roman
 One of a great series of books with basic information about countries.

A pair of Red Clogs Masako Matsumo A tale of temptation to deceive.

Grass Sandals: The travels of Basho Dawnine Spivak. This chapter book is aimed at older children and is a gentle introduction to haiku poems.

Grandfather's Journey Allen Say A poignant book about two different cultures. Deservedly a Caldecott Medal winner.

Tigress  Nick Dowson Another natural history, non-fiction book.

Can brown eyes be made blue: Amy Carmichael Catherine Mackenzie A biography of the missionary, Amy Carmichael.

Please let me know about any other books about Asia that you recommend. We are hoping to look at Africa, next term, so feel free to recommend picture books about Africa. I have some ideas and books on the bookshelves but could do with more suggestions!

Thanks to Lizzie of  Peaches at Home for devising and directing the production of the cookie dough Asia map, in the photo.

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Friday, 9 October 2015

Brownsea Island aka Kirrin Island

One of our children loves Enid Blyton's Famous Five series so on our trip to Dorest we visited Brownsea Island. Brownsea Island is one of five islands in Poole Harbour and one of the places reputed to have inspired Enid Blyton's Kirrin Island which plays a large part in several of the Famous Five books. It is also reputed to have been the source for her Whispering Island.

There is debate about the origin of Kirrin Island. Some suggest that it is based on Corfe Castle and the Isle of Purbeck. My personal view, and I'm no expert on the subject, is that the description of Kirrin Castle is closer to Corfe Castle than Brownsea Castle but that Brownsea Island could well have inspired Kirrin Island!

Brownsea Island is approached by boat. No, we didn't row but went in the standard commercial boat to the island.

The crossing takes 20 minutes out and double that back. This is due to the shipping lanes in Poole Harbour and the tour around the other four islands within the Harbour.

Brownsea Island is fantastic although my youngest was disappointed to find that the trees don't whisper. Perhaps, there wasn't enough wind or perhaps, the relevant trees have been cut down.
It is one of the few places in England where red squirrels can be found and we found a bush which evidently had a great attraction for green finches. 

On the downside, it does have resident free range chickens and peacocks who took a great interest in our picnic. No, we didn't have ginger beer and spam.

We wandered round. 

There were plenty of views of the sea. Remember those times when the Five were watching for boats from the Island?

There is a Natural Playground with a dugout from a trunk, a wooden racing car, piles of logs and a wooden castle. Probably, the sort of thing that Julian and Dick would have built.

On the way back, we saw cormorants and the four other islands. These are now homes to millionaires and oil wells. Surely, Enid Blyton could have made an adventure from these?

Thank you to Middle Son for the four larger photos.

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Nature Study extra: Deer

We have just had a trip to the West Country. A friend recommended that we visit the South West Deer Study Centre so we booked our tour and drove off down winding lanes, where thankfully we didn't meet a tractor, and arrived at the Centre.

The Centre is run by Mike Gage who has worked with deer for years and hand reared many of those that we saw.
The hand reared deer are tame. We were able to touch them and feed them. Youngest Son was in his element!

Now, it so happened, that our trip was in the middle of rutting season which meant that the sounds and smells of the deer were intensified. The stags can become quite aggressive at this time and don't eat, drink or sleep for about a month until the season is over and the does are pregnant. The stags running with herds of does were behind wire fences

but close enough to be able to see these splendid creatures.

This is a 100 acre site so there was a fair amount of walking on uneven ground. We appreciated on a clear autumn day! I was glad that we missed the previous day when there had been tipping rain.

We loved this trip and recommend it. Do note that visits have to be booked in advance. There is no specific charge but the Centre appreciate donations from visitors as there are a fair number of expenses running the place. We found that they were very welcoming towards us as home educators and said that they have had groups of home educators visiting before.

Other places where we have enjoyed seeing deer are

  • Knole Park
  • Richmond Park
  • Greenwich Park
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Tuesday, 6 October 2015

October Inspiration

I love October sunshine, scrunching leaves and the colours. 

 Fitting in with enjoying the outside, Gwen, at An Island Family has posted a list of 10 nature study resources.

Reading aloud is something that we enjoy as a family. Starting to read aloud, from a young age, has seemed to help my most active children to concentrate. However, wriggly children can still struggle at times. This post from All about Learning Press has some helpful tips. 

Having just fledged readers is an exciting time and finding the books that kindle their interest and which they can read can be a challenge. There are some useful ideas in this post Books in a series for Early and Late Beginning Readers. 

We are in birthday season here so I liked this volcano pinata cake recipe from the Imagination Tree. Choosing birthday cakes is a major occupation for my younger children!

The Unlimited Space Agency is about to launch a challenge for KS2 children. This is open to home educators. Do check the time commitment-the programme sounds exciting but involves three lesson sized challenges a week!

I am planning to update my UK Home Education Resources page. Please let me know if there is anything that I should add.

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Thursday, 1 October 2015

October Books

As usual, there are plenty of read alouds on the go.

Autumn is here and to fit with this we have pulled out the Ladybird book What to look for in Autumn. This was dated when I was a child but it is fun to get the children to notice changes: the stooks of corn, the old tractor and so on. These books tend to be popular with a picture on each double spread.

Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingals Wilder, starts in deep winter. As always, the food eaten amazes me but then the family worked so hard and the weather was cold. Realistically, my eight year old enjoys this more than her younger brother. The same seems to be true of our latest read linked with the Veritas self-paced history course, A Door in the Wall.

More successful books for my youngest are The hen who wouldn't give up by Jill Tomlinson, Tim to the lighthouse by Edward Ardizzone and The Pied Piper by Henriette Barkow and Roland Dry.

We have just finished volume 1 of A Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos. I am often asked to read an extra section and it is clearly told. The pictures are odd. I remember disliking the pictures as a child and I haven't changed my mind.

For our home education group, we are reading Return of the White Book,  which I recommend, and a selection of picture books about Asia.

Please recommend books especially any that are likely to be particularly enjoyed by a six year old boy.

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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Ten Poems for Children

We've recently started having poetry teas but even before this, poetry has been something that I have enjoyed reading to the children. These ten poems are some of our favourites. They are all available on line hence the links. This list caused a great deal of discussion and one of my children wanted to have a much, much longer list-perhaps for another time!

Cats sleep anywher,e by Eleanor Farjeon. This is a great poem for cat lovers; very easy to learn and true to life.

Excuses, by Gareth Owen, is a poem that I read aloud almost daily as the children love its humour.

Chocolate cake, by Michael Rosen, is relatively new to us but has become popular. Children may appreciate parallels between this and the story of Bad Harry's party in My Naughty Little Sister.

Stopping by woods on a snowy evening, by Robert Frost, is best read with the beautiful illustrations by Susan Jeffers.

Sand in the sandwiches, by Shirley Hughes, is a poem that gets quoted every time we go to the sea and comes from the lovely anthology Out and about.

What is pink?, by Christina Rossetti, was about the first poem one of my children learned. 

The Lion and the Unicorn is a traditional rhyme. This link gives fascinating information as to its origin. 

Macavity: the mystery cat, by T.S. Eliot, is probably the most famous poem from Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.

The Painting Lesson, by Trevor Harvey, always causes amusement and comments about Mum's appearance!

Buckingham Palace, by A.A. Milne,is a poem that I remember from my childhood.

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Friday, 25 September 2015

A snapshot of our week

Just a few pictures from our week.

Crowns to go with our history about Charlemagne.

Play dough volcano for science.

Sunset nature walk while learning about the Harvest Moon. We didn't go at quite the full moon. That is on Monday with a lunar eclipse.

We saw so many bats. There are two just visible in this picture near the top.

We've just finished Castle by David Macaulay. This has so much detail and really fits in with our study of the Middle Ages. The vocabulary is complex and my eight year old enjoyed the book more than her younger brother. For the first time, I now have some sort of understanding of the structure of castles.

Augustine: the Farmer's Boy of Tagaste is a book that Younger Daughter and I read. His mother, Monica, was an amazing example of a praying Christian mother. 

Alfred the Great  is an old Ladybird history books. I have said before how much these are appreciated by our children. They have a picture on each double page and seem to light an interest in history.

My reading has slowed down. I'm finishing Sketches in Church History but need to be inspired about something to read next. Ideas?

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