Friday, 11 January 2019

Reading Challenge and Advice Please!

Last year, I decided not to take part in a Reading Challenge. Life was busy and whilst I had read plenty of books during the previous year and enjoyed the chance to read more widely, I didn't manage all the categories in the 2017 Christian Reading Challenge.  

2018 wasn't a bad reading year but many of the books were either read alouds to my children or books that I preread to check whether they would be suitable for the home education book club. It was a busy year, after all my eldest daughter was married and strangely enough, this was rather more important than reading!  So, 2019 seems a year for a reading challenge but people, I need advice. My reading is in the doldrums and I don't feel best inspired. 

The plan is to do the avid reader level  of the 2019 Christian Reading Challenge so 26 books not 104. I would like to succeed! Please would you send me ideas. I don't want to buy many books so ideally books from the library/free on line would be great.

The categories follow with my comments. A blank means that I don't know. 

  • A BIOGRAPHY-ideas?
  • A NOVEL-possibly Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
  •  A BOOK ABOUT HISTORY-SPQR by Mary Beard. I have started this but haven't been gripped so far...
  •  A BOOK TARGETED AT THE OPPOSITE GENDER-haven't a clue!
  •  A BOOK ABOUT CHRISTIAN LIVING-possibly a reread of the Loveliness of Christ by Samuel Rutherford
  •  A BOOK WITH AT LEAST 400 PAGES-I have downloaded Dicken's Our Mutual Friend which seems to have over 800 pages according to Amazon.
  •  A BOOK A FRIEND RECOMMENDS-ideas welcome
  •  A BOOK ABOUT CHRISTIAN LIVING-a couple of friends have recommended titles by Jen Wilkin
  •  A BOOK MORE THAN 100 YEARS OLD-Should be easy but I don't know yet.
  • A BOOK BY OR ABOUT A MISSIONARY-Reading Letters from the South Seas by Margaret Patton
  • A BOOK FOR CHILDREN OR TEENS-thinking about Beverley Naidoo's Journey to Jo'burg which is conveniently in the local library.
  • A BOOK OF YOUR CHOICE
  •  A BOOK ABOUT FROM A “BEST OF 2018” LIST-not sure. I need to read some lists!
  •  A COMMENTARY ON A BOOK OF THE BIBLE
  •  A BOOK WRITTEN BY A PURITAN: John Owen's Glory of Christ.
  •  A BOOK BY OR ABOUT A MISSIONARY
  • A BOOK ABOUT THEOLOGY: reading Stuart Olyott's Son of Mary: Son of God
  •  A BOOK YOU THINK YOU CAN FINISH IN A WEEKEND-Doug Bond's new book The Resistance
  •  A BOOK RECOMMENDED BY A FAMILY MEMBER 
  • A BOOK ABOUT AGING-Jennifer Bute and Louise Morse's book Dementia from the Inside.
  •  A BOOK PUBLISHED IN 2019 -Hopefully, Beyond the Thirty Nine Steps: a biography of John Buchan by Ursula Buchan
  • A BOOK ON THE CURRENT NY TIMES LIST OF BESTSELLERS- possibly the Tattooist of Auschwitz but it seems a bit grim.
  •  A BOOK ABOUT CHURCH HISTORY-hope this isn't a cheat but I am reading SM Houghton's Sketches in Church History with my children. I love this book and it has lead to some interesting discussions and rabbit trails. Who would have known that Patmos is 15 days walk from London plus a few ferries-thank you Google maps!
  •  A BOOK OF 100 PAGES OR LESS 
  • A BOOK OF YOUR CHOICE
  •  A BOOK ABOUT MUSIC OR A MUSICIAN-not a clue.
Thank you everyone, in advance for your suggestions!

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Friday, 4 January 2019

New Year and Resources

Happy New Year!

I haven't blogged much recently with plenty of other things going on, and in particular, caring taking more time. I would like to make time to write during this year although what transpires could be another matter.

These are some of the resources which we are using-the ones that I particularly want to recommend.

Oaka Books produce resources for visual learners. We have been using the biology matching pairs game and On the Map which is a global locations game.
The latter has been used on an almost daily basis, only takes 15 minutes to play and has helped the children's geographical knowledge enormously. On the Map is designed for Common Entrance so some of the answers are over simplified, for example, there are more countries in Africa beginning with S than the options given. These cases have proved discussion points.

There is a discount for home educators.

Learning how to learn: how to succeed in School without spending all your time studying is a book which I first about on the Brave Writer podcast. Since I read it, I have been quoting the principles to the children on a frequent basis! At some point, we hope to read though in morning time. 

Seterra is an online geography game. Last autumn, each child had a challenge from this and I plan the same again. This can get a bit competitive and involves Mum having to revise/learn geography!

Duolingo is a free app for language learning. It is aimed at beginners and only takes a few minutes each day. Younger Daughter has begun language lessons, this academic year and supplements these with a daily Duolingo session. Yes, Mum is also working on her daily Duolingo. Who said home education was only for the children!

The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) has a helpful website with ideas for books and poems. I was able to visit the library which was a delight. 
Many of my usual book ideas come from the Read Aloud Revival podcast (definitely worth listening) but these tend to be American and so not available from our local library whereas the books recommended by CLPE are mainly from the UK. Many of these are in our local library system so I have been able to put them on order.

The Daily Poem is a podcast from Close Reads which does what it says. So far, I have listened myself rather than getting the children to listen. My plan is to enlarge my range of poems to share with the children. 

Please add your favourite resources to the comments.

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Saturday, 15 September 2018

Not back to School

If you follow home educators on social media then you will probably have seen #notbacktoschool.

Why do home educators celebrate not going back to school?

  • this is a time to look at the positives of home education.
  • the rest of social media is full of pictures of smiling children going to school and yes, it is easy to wonder whether that is where our children should go too.
  • why shouldn't our children enjoy celebrating their education?
So, yes, many of us celebrate. I also think it is a time to re-evaluate why we home educate. This is often a helpful cure for the wobbles.

How to celebrate? There are so many ways.
  • picnics abound
  • this is an excellent time of year to visit busy museums. Most children are back in school and school parties haven't started in earnest. The Science Museum tends to have special home educator days near the start of terms. 
  • playgrounds are empty again!
  • the cost of holidays plummet. This year, we have just come back from North Wales.
  • Poetry Teatime 
  • and of course, add your own ideas for enjoying a new year of learning.
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Saturday, 8 September 2018

Catch Up

I haven't posted in over two months. We have been busy: our eldest daughter was married in July.


Wedding photos by John Hollingsworth

Our middle son celebrated his 18th on the same day. He is hoping to start university later this month. Elder Daughter has now moved to the West Country with her new husband.

There have been some trips. Beachy Head was impressive but I don't recommend it as a restful trip with children. 

The Postal Museum was somewhere we hadn't been before and is worth visiting.
As usual, there has been loads of cooking, this is part of Younger Daughter's cooking challenge,
 and planning for the new term with one child who is year 5 age and another year 7 age.

 Our morning basket

Our not back to school activities have included a home educator day at the Science Museum, seeing Elder Daughter after her graduation and a trip, way out of London.

Anyway, just a few things that I have been reading.
Se7en has written about lessons she has learned about homeschooling. This is the first of a series through this month.

Frugalwoods has posted about postpartum depression. Some of her description brings back memories of the first year of my eldest son's life when I felt much the same. I have vivid memories of planning my husband's funeral when he was late one day and the dreadful anxiety about my little one and his health, including how my state of mind would permanently scar him. Anyway, please see a doctor if you are feeling depressed or anxious after having a baby or for that matter, at any other time.  

On a more cheerful note, this recipe for cherry chocolate brownies is one of the best!
I am hoping to keep up this blog rather more regularly, especially, posting about resources, articles and books that have been inspirational, challenging or otherwise thought provoking.

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Friday, 29 June 2018

Summer Learning

This summer seems to to running away with learning, a 93rd birthday and of course, wedding preparations. Anyway, this is mainly about learning although life and learning are inextricably mixed.


Morning Time

Currently, morning time consists of
  • prayer
  • learning Psalm 119 v1-8
  • Training Hearts: Teaching Minds: Family Devotions on the Shorter Catechism
  • a hymn from our church hymnbook. This half term, we are singing a different adaptation from Psalm 119 each week. 
  • God's Smuggler. Prior to this, we read Natasha Vins' autobiography Children of the Storm
  • a double page spread from the Usborne Introduction to the Second World War.
On a rotating basis, we read from the children's book club books (The Endless Steppe and The Treasure Seekers), a book about bridges (Who built that? Bridges) and songs from The Pirates of  Penzance. 


Science has involved several components:

  • Mystery Science
  • a science theme at our local home education group. As part of this we had a mushroom kit from Grow Wild
  • a series of lifecycle days at the home of another home educator. We came home from one session with frog spawn and were able to watch our spawn turn into tadpoles and finally, much more slowly than everyone else's, into frogs. The frogs have now been released.

    We now have caterpillars which are proving less stressful than tadpoles!
  • a hedgehog detector from the London Wildlife Trust. Sadly, we haven't spotted any hedgehogs yet.
History has been about the Second World War. I have already written about the resources that we have used.

Youngest Son has finished Dancing Bears! We have been working through this series for a looong time. There have been some interludes, particularly a long one a couple of summers ago with Nessy.  I would recommend Dancing Bears for a child who needs a second line phonics programmes. The stories are rather wacky and we gave up on them near the end of book B but by this stage it is easy to substitute with other books.



Maths
Youngest Son also finished his Galore Park Junior maths book 2 early so has now started on book 3. His daily maths is divided into two or three sections.
  • Schofield and Sims mental maths. This is independent work.
  • Galore Park- this is his main text and I use this to guide me teaching new work and the exercises to practise what he has just learned.
  • If time, either Prodigy maths free programme or a maths game either a download from somewhere like Nrich maths or Trilemma, fraction dominoes or the fraction pizza game. Sum Swamp is much loved but I don't think it contributes to his learning anymore!
Younger Daughter uses Schofield and Sims Understanding Maths series and is currently working through the Stats and Multiplication and Division books. She does a bit from each every day.

Of course, summer has to involve Sports Day. We went to the East London Christian Home Educators' event by the Thames Barrier. Over 120 children took part and it was lovely to meet friends old and new. 

This term, I am especially glad for strength for each day and God's all sufficient grace.

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Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Free days out in London

Recently, I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of a long summer holiday which we plan to spend mainly in London. Looking back, I realise that there are so many London based activities so I plan, partly for my own benefit, to post about activities in London. The first post is about free days out  and I hope to follow this by posts about cheap activities in London, other London activities and ways of reducing the cost and last, a post about reducing ancillary expenses such as travel and food.

These are activities that we have done but please comment with other recommendations.
  • Parks-London has so many parks and they are free. Some are more child friendly than others. I know the South London parks better than those in the North but feel free to make other recommendations. Particular favourites are Coram Gardens (central), Princess Diana Memorial Park (central),  St James' Park (central-the playground is quite small and can get very busy), Dulwich (South), Battersea (South-parking is very expensive best to go on public transport), Danson (South-boating lake),Ladywell Fields (has a zip wire). 
  • Adventure playgrounds. There are a few around including Peckham Rye. Adventure playgrounds tend to have odd opening hours so do check first: we have been caught out!
  • Museums-some of the largest museums are free. In some ways, though, they can be a bit uncomfortably full in school holidays. We have found that this particularly applies to the Science Museum. Other free museums include the Victoria and Albert, the British Museum (look out for their children's Gallery Backpacks. These are only available in school holidays and at weekends.), The Natural History Museum, the Maritime Museum in Greenwich, the Imperial War Museum
    and the much smaller Horniman Museum in South London.
  • Art Galleries. Some of the major galleries are free: The National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the Tate and the Tate Modern.
  • Other Green spaces. Wild London manages many spaces including the enormous Walthamstow Wetlands
    and the tiny Centre for Wildlife Gardening.
  • Swimming. Southwark and Tower Hamlets have free swimming on certain days of the week for residents. It is necessary to register. Hackney under 18s can swim free.
  • The Thames path-a great place to spend a day and free.
  • Central London-it is easy to put together a day touring the sights. This could include climbing on the lions in Trafalgar Square, changing of the guard, seeing Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament. Alternatively,if your children are older, then going round the famous shops is an amazing experience-just make sure that the children know that you won't be buying everything you see! Fortnum and Mason and Liberty are particular favourites. 
Please comment with any free activities for children that you recommend in London.

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Friday, 25 May 2018

May Inspiration

Between home education, wedding planning and caring, life seems to be getting busier and busier. I'm trying not to let the important get wiped out by the urgent but it isn't always easy! 


Anyway, here are a few links.

Pam Barnhill has a podcast about morning time which is amongst my regular listening. This blog post has 100 things to do in morning time. Please note that Pam is a Roman Catholic and this is reflected in some of her choices. However, the "Religion and Virtue" section does include Little Pilgrim's Progress, How God used a Thunderstorm and The Children's Story Bible by Catherine Vos which I would happily recommend. There are so many other suggestions, in different categories: some of which we have used; some I plan to use and some unknown to me.

My Little Poppies has a post with many art appreciation resources. We are hoping to use Vincent's Starry Night and other stories, which is mentioned here, as part of our Morning Time next year.

A very practical post from The Frugal Girl about Reasons your grocery bill is too high.

Like many home educators, we don't have a specific room for home education. We use our living room, the kitchen and the garden. However, I was struck by this post with thought out areas in a homeschool classroom. The Jumping Station particularly appealed.

This list of Morning Time Games has ideas for games which might also work well over the summer. It doesn't include Monarchy perhaps because it is a US list but I would certainly add this  game! Do you have any games that you would add to this list?


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