Friday 30 September 2011


We've been reading The Glorious Flight across the Channel with Louis Bleriot by Alice and Martin Provensen. This is another Five in a Row book.
There has been so much to do with this book.
We found France and England on a map and made English and French flags which were waved at appropriate points in the story.
There are many clues from the pictures that the story starts in France and we looked for these.
Cooking is always popular so we borrowed A world of Recipes: France by Sue Townsend from the library. We did make Nicoise salad but it disappeared before photos were taken.
The book is all about history and there is so much to explore.
  • the flight was 102 years ago. The timeline was useful for this.
  • the picture of a car was fun to examine for the many, many differences from modern cars
  • Bleriot's aeroplanes had Roman numerals. We talked about this and wrote them out although I think I would be kidding myself if I said that either child can use Roman numerals. More an introduction to the fact that they exist!
  • the Edwardian clothing
  • the strange aeroplanes
We read some other books which were , at least vaguely related to flight.
The lighthouse keeper's picnic by Ronda and David Armitage features a hot air balloon.
Roaring Rockets by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker is a book that Mr Exuberance asks for again and again. Fun rhyme and plenty to talk about.

Madeline in London by Ludwig Bemelmans features a more modern flight from Paris to London.

Percy's bumpy ride by Nick Butterworth is the story of Percy the Park Keeper and his amazing flying lawn mower.
The children painted, glittered and scraped some balloon shapes which we made into hot air balloons. They are now flying up our stairs.

We only dipped our toes into what could be done around this book.
We mainly talked about air flow and air resistance using
  • blowing between two flags
  • dropping a scrunched up and unfolded piece of paper
  • different designs for paper aeroplanes

Such a fun week, for me as well as the children, and there is another activity we hope to do at the beginning of next week.

This is linked to 5-a-Day books. Take a look for many more book ideas.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Interview with Bria Crawford

Our family met Bria, a couple of years ago, when she came to London with a mutual friend.
Bria is the eldest of nine children and lives in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains
The Crawford family suffered the loss of their home and possessions during a devastating tornado, on 27th April, this year.  They are now rebuilding their home.
Bria has kindly agreed to be interviewed for Delivering Grace.
Hi Bria,
Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed.
Sarah: Can you tell me what you've been doing over the past two years since we met you?
Bria: As the oldest of a large family I have many responsibilities so I have continued helping my mother school my siblings and care for them. I have been honing my skills in photography, music, cooking, and am still pursuing a wide range of subjects in school. I live on a farm so that brought responsibilities of its own. One included milking the Jersey cow every day and helping keep up chores. I was recently interested in becoming a doula as a source of income, but still allowing me to stay under my father's protection; but at this time in life it would not fit in so I will leave that up to the Lord in the future.

Sarah: We were sad to hear of the devastation after the tornado. How is the rebuilding project going? Has it been difficult to rebuild a sense of normality for your family?
Bria: The rebuilding is going very well. We are about to start the siding and it is almost completely dried in. It has been one of the most difficult things for our family to uproot from the calm life which we've always known to a different and unfamiliar location. I do not think we have completely created an atmosphere of normality. Mostly because we know it's temporary. But we are praying to be in the new house by Christmas. Through all the difficulty this tragedy and uprooting has caused, however, God has shown Himself to us in so many incredible ways and has strengthened our faith as a family.

Sarah: Has the tornado changed your thinking in any way?
Bria: It has definitely changed the way I think of life. I am much less inclined to think or speak negatively about my circumstances. And because of the tremendous blessings and gifts we've received it has opened my eyes to the gratitude I should give to both God and others. Of course you are grateful and somewhat aware daily but you don't have a constant, refreshing reminder until something drastic happens like this. And it has made me so much more thankful that I have family. Not just my parents and siblings, but all my relatives. We could not have gone through this alone. There are some people who lost all their family in the tornado who have no one but friends to help them through. God has just really changed my heart in so many ways.

Sarah: You have been home educated. Have you finished your education now? What are your plans for the future? 
Bria: I graduate next spring, but I have plans to continue my education at home pursuing various subjects I have interest in and prepare to be a mother and wife, if the Lord so wills that. I view the profession of homemaking as a means by which the Lord has privileged women to change the world in only the unique way they can.

Sarah: Some of my readers are home educators and will be interested to know how a “typical” day looks in a seasoned home educating family. Can you tell us about your day?
Bria: Well that's a big question! Part of the privilege of homeschooling is you get to make your own schedule day by day. But we have a regular schedule that we maintain.
We're still working on the everyone getting up early :D. But we usually manage to get breakfast and start our day by around 8 am. Mother reads the Bible with us, and then we do chores assigned to us. What we found that works best with dividing work in the house is that we have 'zones' or certain rooms and areas delegated to specific children. We spend about an hour on chores then start school. We usually have a break in school before lunch. After lunch most of us have the main subjects done and have reading left. And that is also everyone's quiet time and the little ones naps. So we spend about an hour reading and then the afternoon is left for the children to be creative and play outside. Then near supper time everyone has a job to prepare for Dad coming home and helping Mom with supper chores.

Sarah: What does the future look like after you graduate? Will you be going to college?
Bria: After graduation I will continue my education; after all we never really stop learning! I love that pursuit of education isn't limited to a university or "professional". I don't plan to go to college, though if it is a consideration there is the option of participating online. I will pursue different subjects of interest and prepare to run my own family enterprise. Ultimately I desire to rock cradles and rule the world and bring glory to Christ through my family. In the world we live in today true womanhood is scoffed upon.  I want to change the perception of true womanhood.

Sarah: One of your blogs is about books. What are your favourite books?
Bria: Anything by C.S. Lewis, Jane Austen, God Doesn't Believe in Atheists, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Real Lincoln, Anne of Green Gables, Shakespeare, Kidnapped, Lord of the Rings, One Thousand Gifts, Charles Dickens, and above all God's Word

Thank you very much.
Bria blogs at Open Book reviews..  She has an update on the rebuild at  her site. Her family’s website is Generation Cedar.

Tuesday 27 September 2011

The Christian's burdens

I heard such a helpful sermon this Sunday. The topic was on the Christian's burdens from Psalm 55.

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

Really worth hearing. We all carry burdens of some description and this was a real encouragement.

Monday 26 September 2011

Climbing Kansas Mountains

Last week we "rowed" Climbing Kansas Mountains by George Shannon.

I was a bit apprehensive about this book as Kansas is a long way from London and Kansas being flat wasn't at all obvious to the children! I did have to go over the flatness of Kansas several times but this proved an interesting week.

Social studies

We located Kansas on our map.

As well as going through the process of wheat growth and flour manufacture, we read a book about the processes involved in sugar production. "Sticky jam: the story of  sugar" by Meredith Hooper, is unusual for non-fiction in that it is written in rhyme.
We talked about how we can tell that the book is set in the US and not in the UK, looking at differences in language, and also in the pictures. Miss Belle was particularly interested in the driver being on the "wrong" side.
The book is full of metaphor both in word and picture. We talked about this a little and a kind friend brought us a piece of corduroy to help the children understand the corduroy of the ploughed fields.

I've already posted about our gingerbread map.

The grain elevator was as high as "Eight houses stacked" so we built stacks of houses from blocks and from paper.

Of course, we had to make bread, spelt rolls rather than conventional wheat.

There is always so much more that could be done but now we are on to something different!

This is linked to 5-a-Day books at the Imagination Tree and the Hip Homeschool Hop.

Friday 23 September 2011

Lasting toys for children

"Lasting" is relative in this title. What I actually mean is that the toy keeps the child occupied over months and years and is likely to be used by younger siblings in time.

In many ways the best toys aren't conventional at all. Some favourites here are
  • sofa cushions for houses/dens/prisons/cages!
  • the shower cubicle which is a fairly longstanding rocket
  • duvets and pillows for mats/fights/tents/slides
  • mud

On to more conventional toys and games
In our house, these games have endured

  • The Spotty dog game. A fun method of learning numbers and counting to six.
  • Number dominoes.
  • The tummy ache game.
  • Scrabble
  • Monopoly
  • BigJigs and other wooden puzzles with strong boxes. I find tidiness a major challenge and anything with pieces without a strong box is a problem.
These are the toys that have lasted. Our younger children still play with these, some over a decade and a half, after they were originally brought.

  • Brio or other cheaper wooden equivalent train sets.Duplo
  • toy cars
  • dolls' house
  • pop-up tent
  • tea set and cooking things
Would love to know other families' favourite toys.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Gingerbread map

We've been reading "Climbing  Kansas Mountains" by George Shannon which talks about a salt dough map.

Within the last couple of weeks, we made a salt dough map of part of Africa. Eldest Daughter had told me then how much better it would have been if it had been made of cookie dough. I had this feeling that she was right so a cookie dough map it was.

Middle son traced an outline of England and Wales. We didn't put the dough on this but just used it for guidance. It saved the atlas!

We made up some gingerbread dough.

which we shaped into England and Wales-not quite to Ordinance Survey standards-and cooked.
We added cities with purple writing icing, the Thames with blue and the White Cliffs of Dover with white.
I have to say that Wales, Cornwall and the Lake District are no more but it was a fun way to learn.

This is linked to It's Playtime.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Chocolate cake

A little while ago, I wrote about chocolate cake with a couple of links to some favourites.
This is the recipe of the other cake I mentioned. It is a family cake recipe belonging to a friend who has kindly let me post it-thank you!

The cake is
  • moist and filling
  •  freezes well
  • versatile-it can be used for a loaf or round cake or muffins. I have served it with cream and strawberries for a very special occasion but usually serve it just as it is.
  • easy-the ingredients go in the food processor, whizz and cook. Great for busy days.
So here is is

3 oz/85g/ 1/3cup margarine (please note the actual measurement in cups appears to be 3/8 cup but might be difficult to gauge!)
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa-not hot chocolate
3/4 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence


Grease a small loaf tin
Put everything in food processor and beat. (Can easily be put in a bowl and beaten with a wooden spoon).
Cook at Gas mark 4/180 celsius/350  Fahrenheit for 45-60 minutes. Cooked when a fork comes out clean.

This is linked to the dessert linky at 4 Moms.

Monday 19 September 2011

Make believe

This week, our Five in a Row book is, Climbing the Kansas Mountains by George Shannon. This is obviously a metaphor and has an interesting picture at the end combining real and symbolism. A fascinating book. I wasn't sure about the children's reaction beforehand but they were enthusiastic.

To fit in with this, I have chosen some books about imaginary events some of which may be symbolic and metaphorical and some of which are probably just fun.

Andrew's bath by David McPhail is about a little boy taking his first solo bath and the adventures that ensue.

Bear by Mick Inkpen is a fun tale of how a "real" bear visits some children. A story to read again and again.

I puzzle about The tiger who came to tea by Judith Kerr. What does it mean? Why is there a tiger cat near the end? Does it have some link with Judith Kerr's young life and having to flee Germany? Anyway, it is the sort of story that children enjoy and makes Mummy think.

Tiger by Nick Butterworth is one of our Bookstart books. A simple story about a kitten who likes to think of himself as a tiger.

This is linked to 5-a-Day books at the Imagination Tree.

Friday 16 September 2011

Some needed inspiration

This has been a busy, tiring week so other people's inspiration has been needed and orginal thought  has been a bit lacking!

  This is straight out of Miss Belle's imagination: snakes in the water.

This autumn tree seemed such a fascinating idea that we made our own version. Our autumn ideas are
  • a conker hunt-now done
  • scrunch in leaves
  • read autumn books-I haven't quite decided which ones yet
  • celebrate Reformation Day on 31st October
  • plant hyacinths
  • make pumpkin soup
  • rake leaves
  • walk in the woods

Spiders have been a bit of a theme this week, both the beautiful real one on the washing line and with a couple of activities. I've got another activity up my sleeve, thanks to a conversation with a friend in the park, but we haven't done that one yet.
This activity from Almost Unschoolers  was a great success. Mr Exuberance who is 31months was able to paint happily and produce a result worthy of the wall.

Sun hats and wellie boots had another exciting spider activity. I'm afraid that we didn't have a canvas so did this on coloured activity paper. Only a couple of weeks ago, I had seen really good value canvases but passed them over as I couldn't think what to do with them. Anyway, the children loved making these. Miss Belle has decided that she isn't too fond of spiders so made a jelly fish instead but Mr Exuberance and Middle Son, who had decided to join in as a relief from learning a new maths concept, produced spiders.
 Shape made with glue and spread with an unusual implement.
Glitter sprinkled and then more glitter.

Finally, something that we haven't done yet but which has produced much enthusiasm from the children is a unit study about chocolate. Probably a treat for the end of term. I shall look forward to it!

Monday 12 September 2011

In old times

This week, we are reading A new coat for Anna by Harriet Ziefert as our Five in a Row book.

 This book tells the true story of a little girl in post World War II Europe who needs a new coat. Her mother has no money but barters various items so that her daughter can have a coat. A fascinating insight into life at the time as well as the processes that go to make a coat.

There are so many things to do from this book-today we carded wool, collected from the hedgerows on holiday, and dyed it with blackberry juice.
We have some other books of a vaguely historical nature to read alongside A new coat for Anna.

Peepo by Janet and Allan Ahlberg shows life in the Second World War from a baby's perspective and is tremendously popular with the children, and their mother!

The Story of an English Village by John S Goodall is a picture book which shows how life has changed in an English village over the centuries. The only words are those which state the century. A useful book for helping little children tell a story.

The old steam train by Heather Amery and Stephen Cartwight is a simple tale about the reopenning of a railway line. Greatly loved by Mr Exubernace; I read this book four times today.

The rag coat by Lauren Mills has a similar theme to A new coat for Anna. A child without a coat although in different circumstances and how the community helped provide one.

This is linked to 5-a-Day books at the Imagination Tree.

Friday 9 September 2011

Amber on the mountain

I love Five in a Row. It selects some of the best picure books and then suggests activities in different domains to go with them. These domains include language arts, maths, social studies, science and art. It would be quite possible to make up these activities, and some of those below, I have added or altered quite considerably. However, it is great to have this as a resource to point out the parts of the book that I haven't noticed and to give ideas for those weeks when inspiration lags.

My children are at the lower end of the suggested age range. Indeed, Mr Exuberance is younger than the range suggested so I've tended to use the easier activities and we have done very little writing. Mr Exuberance is two and doesn't write yet and Miss Belle is almost five and beginning to write but most of her writing is done separately from Five in a Row. I know that other mothers have done beautiful lapbooks with their children and it is possible to use the books to work with children who are much further advanced in writing.

There is a separate book called Before Five in a Row which covers books for younger children. Perhaps, in hindsight, this might have been better for us initially. Having said that adapting Five in a Row hasn't been a problem.

Amber on the mountain by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Robert Duncan, was our Five in a Row book, this week.

This is a story of a girl who lives an isolated life on a mountain, apparently, brought up by her grandmother. She befriends a new girl, Anna, who teaches Amber to read. A story of friendship, parting and determination.

So our activities:

Monday: we made our own entertainment. This involved improvised musical instruments and probably wasn't so suitable where there are neighbours as on the mountain.

Tuesday: Amber and Anna help Amber's Granny with her quilting. Miss Belle was keen to try quilting but Mummy chickened out, for now. Instead we used squares of fabric to glue to card. A chance to talk about shape and pattern.

Wednesday: On Monday, we had tried to model a mountain road from playdough which wasn't too successful. Using the compost left from our potatoes was far better! Far easier to see why roads snake up mountains.

Thursday: Amber made Anna a clay mule as a parting gift. We used air-dryingclay to make snail shaped mats which we decorated with glitter and sequins. We plan to paint these once they are properly dry. Pipe cleaners adorn everything, at present.

Friday: The book is full of similes. We talked about the concept of saying that something is "like" something else and practised a making up a few for ourselves.

The book refers to the story of Rumpelstiltskin so we read this a few times.

We are looking forward to reading "A new coat for Anna" next week.

This is linked to All of a Kind family FIAR linky.

Thursday 8 September 2011

Pushing the boundary with beetroot

We hadn't tried any new vegetables for a week or so. This week's new vegetable was in the form of a bit of deception. We had beetroot chocolate cake.

The only people who knew that the chocolate cake contained beetroot were Eldest Daughter and me.

 Middle Son had been a bit suspicious about the funny coloured mixture but ate the cake without asking questions.

Was this a success? No really, I felt guilty about the deception and the children gave the cake a score of 4/10 before they had any inkling of its contents.

Better chocolate cakes?

  • Another BBC recipe. We tried this chocolate brownie cake for the first time, this summer, when a kind friend made us one since then we've make it more times than I like to count.
  • Claire MacDonald of MacDonald has a brilliant chocolate fudge cake recipe which substitutes drinking chocolate for much of the flour.
  • We frequently make a friend's recipe, Mrs Ward's chocolate cake which is quick. easy, moist and reliable. Probably another post!

Tuesday 6 September 2011

More grace

Most people have days when everything seems too busy and too complicated. I felt like that on Sunday: the start of term, dealing with a busy time of year in the garden, the increasingly frailty of the relative for whom we care. Just then, completely out of the blue, my husband had to go to the hospital emergency department. Thankfully, he was discharged and is improving. These verses, about God's power, were an encouragement and, I hope, may encourage others who may be feeling overwhelmed too.

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater, 
He sendeth more strength when the labours increase; 
To added affliction He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace. 

His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again! 

When we have exhausted our store of endurance, 
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done, 
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun.

 Written by Annie Johnson Flint who spent much of her adult life disabled by arthritis.

Monday 5 September 2011


Term has begun and we are starting to "row" again.

Our Five in a Row book, this week, is Amber on the Mountain by Tony Johnston with paintings by Robert Duncan. This book is about an illiterate mountain girl who befriends a newcomer. This friendship leads Amber to reading and eventually, after her new friend leaves, to writing. Beautifully illustrated and poignant.

We have a number of activities to do which are linked to this book. Today, we made a mountain road from playdough to illustrate that roads go round and not straight up mountains. It wasn't very successful-we really needed much more playdough for our cars and looked odd in light pink! We plan to try again with compost.

The children did use some improvised musical instruments as they would need to make their own entertainment on an isolated mountain. This was a noisy activity-I did put a limit on its duration. There aren't neighbours at the top of mountains.

We plan to link this with some other books about friendship.

The Snail and the whale by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler is a library book of which we are becoming rather fond. It seems to spend more time in our house than in the library. The rhyming text makes it especially memorable.

Melrose and Croc find a smile by Emma Chichester Clark is a book we have had for 5-a-Day before. Its popularity is undiminshed.

Jonathan Mark in the park by Jacqueline Sibley dates from 1970 and has some fun pictures of a little girl with her apron and the mother wearing a 1970s dress. The story is of a little boy and his struggles both not to quarrel with his friend and to go home at the correct time which seem to be timeless issues in the park. The book covers asking the forgiveness of both the friend and God.

Alfie and the birthday surprise by Shirley Hughes looks at the friendship between Alfie's family and the neighbours, the MacNallys. The MacNally's cat dies and Bob MacNally is very sad. This covers how Alfie and his family help. I love the fact that the friendships are across a generation and between families.

This post is linked to 5-a-Day books at the Imagination Tree where there are many more ideas for reading to little people.

Friday 2 September 2011

Celebrating learning

Miss Belle is now the age at which most children start school We plan to continue home educating her but wanted to celebrate the start of the new learning year.

First, we had pain au chocolat. Sadly, the picture doesn't do justice to the taste.

The children had some new books and stationery, mostly in the drawers we use for their work but some out.

One thing that had concerned me, was that there are so many books for children starting school but, as far as I know, only one about starting home education. That book is beautiful, and we have read it today, but the lifestyle is that of a farm not city life. So, I wrote a short story for Miss Belle about her and home education. I added some of our photos and she was really pleased. It certainly isn't great literature but hopefully will serve its purpose.

Miss Belle was able to decorate the covers herself with glitter paint and sponge brushes.

We had gingerbread men, for lunch.

 Followed by an afternoon in a rather hot and autmnal looking park with other home educators.
Next week, we hope to be down to work. Hip Homeschool Hop Button