Friday, 28 December 2012

Lessons from home education in 2012

2012 marked our third anniversary of home education. In many ways we are still newbies and on the learning curve. I hope my children have learned something but what have I learned this year? Of course, some fascinating bits of information from the children's work and the revised Latin but what else?

  • Some materials work well for us but other, quite popular materials just don't. Being able to choose materials that suit us is the beauty of home education. We finished using Five in a Row with some sadness. I'm hoping to use it again from autumn 2013 for out youngest son but Miss Belle has asked if she can join in too. All three of us love these books. 
Ingredient map to go with "How to make an apple pie and see the world."
  • The most important work is the daily and steady. Every school day, we do maths and English/phonics.  The phonics has seemed particularly difficult; my knowledge of phonics isn't great and I've had to learn alongside my daughter. By the way, can anyone explain to me why the "ch" in Christmas and chronological isn't pronounced as in church and chime? I don't know. Presumably it is something to do with "chr". However, the long slog does seem to be bearing fruit.

  • I need a backbone text or curriculum. Without a backbone, I deviate and worry that I'm not being thorough or consistent. With a background text, I have the freedom to ignore it, add to it and decide to skip bits but it is there for those dark days in February and gives me confidence on jolly days in June.

  • To have maximum benefit from home education groups, we need to align our learning with group themes. This may seem obvious but it only really dawned on me when we were learning about the Ancient Egyptians while the group was learning about the Hundred Years War. Recently, we've concentrated our efforts on the late Middle Ages-easier and less confusing. 

  • I really miss continuing education meetings and conferences from my professional life. They are a source of inspiration and energy for me. The time has come to sign up for some on line educational conferences for 2013.

  • Seasons change-this year, trips have been so much easier without a stroller. Middle Son's programming is way beyond me and his German is taught by distance learning with a little help from my husband. My help is limited to making sure files are labelled correctly and that the distance learning term is the same as ours.

Trip to the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
  • This end of the year, there seem to be a fair few new Christian home educators around and I'm thankful.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Christmas in review

Boxing Day, 26th December, is a good time to take stock. Christmas Day has happened but is still fresh in the memory. Here, in the UK, Boxing Day is a public holiday so there is a bit of time to think as we aren't on usual schedule.

So why do I need to review Christmas after the event? We had a happy, restful family day. We went to a reverent and helpful service. Later, at home, there was time to read and play board games.

We keep Christmas as a remembrance of the birth of the Lord Jesus. We exchange gifts and have a special meal but central to this, or should be, is thanksgiving for the birth of the Lord. As usual, I struggled with this.

The day that we are commanded to keep is the Lord's Day-a weekly celebration. Christmas isn't commanded and so has to be less important. The preparations for Sunday take a day or probably less-clean, best clothes, meal ready to go in the oven as we go to church and a special cake. Christmas isn't a command but the preparations can take weeks. To be honest, my focus can, and does, shift from the reason for the celebration to the practicalities: from a Mary to a Martha mindset.

It is easy to get so busy that the important is overtaken by what appears to be necessary-those presents that have to arrive on time, the newsletter, the cards, decorations, food and so on.

Home educating makes Christmas easier. I well remember, the years, when I sat, uncomfortable, in a church or assembly hall, struggling with whether I should be there in some semblance of worship that seemed to bring dishonour on the Lord.

I'm not going to be a popular person for saying this but I am thankful  that home education means we don't have a round of nativity plays. Nativity plays are irreverent, almost always break the second commandment, and probably the third. They are not God's way to present the Gospel, His good news, and tend to be an amazing blend of the holy and profane. I'm not proud of the fact that, in years gone by, my children have participated and certainly, as time passed I became more and more uncomfortable with having children in Nativity Plays.

Still, there is far more that we could and probably should do to make our celebration more Christ centred. Just being home educators doesn't sanctify our celebration-the challenges are different.

This is a time of opportunity for the children to learn of the place of the coming of the Lord Jesus in history and of the prophecies. We have spent time reading about the nativity of the Lord Jesus but perhaps, should spend more time on the foretellings and purpose of His birth.

If we are are Christians and plan to celebrate Christmas then it needs to be a Christ centred celebration.  Everything has to go through the sieve of God's Word.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

You, your family and the internet

Like many parents, we've been a bit overtaken by the internet. We brought our first computer when I was expecting Eldest Son, over nineteen years ago. That computer had no internet access and was really just a word processor. Now we use the internet for work, shopping, education, listening to services and leisure. The children know more about the internet than I do. This isn't necessarily a bad thing but can mean that they may not be as protected as we would like. Yes, we've used filters from the completely unusable (so strict that we couldn't buy normal children's clothes on line) to more generic varieties but none of these can deal with the insidious worldliness of much of what comes in.

We've also encountered attitudes that anything to do with the internet must be wrong. One of our children was told that he shouldn't read his Bible on his phone. Why should this be worse than a print version? Maybe a scroll would be best.

So I was delighted to have the opportunity to review You, your family and the internet: what every Christian in the digital age should know by David Clark published by Day One publications.

 Mr Clark is an IT professional and has approached the topic of the internet on the basis that Biblical principles apply to this as much as to anything else. In doing this, he has been able to avoid mindless blanket condemnation but has been very challenging as to motives.

The book starts with a simple explanation of the internet and its history along with the encouraging statement that

Being effective parents has little to do with understanding technology. The Bible speaks of bringing up our children “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). But how can we do this if we do not communicate and spend time with them? We must avoid the danger of only laying down rules and exasperating our children.

Chapters examine communication, Facebook and social media, pornography, advertising, internet games, gambling and news via the internet. Areas where the internet can be used positively or negatively are examined along with safeguards whereas the dangers of pornography and gambling noted without flinching.

The last couple of chapters cover principles for internet use. These are practical and include ways to be aware of the dangers of the internet both to ourselves and our children and also ways in which the internet can be used to the benefit of God's kingdom. Mr Clark gives the illustration of using e-mail, Skype and Facebook to make sure that missionaries and their families feel less isolated and makes the case for the internet being used as a tool in God's Kingdom in the way that Paul used Roman roads.

This is an important book to read for all Christian parents. You may find there is much to challenge you personally.

Appropriately the book has a website with a trailer from the author. Even better the e-book is available free until the end of the year from Please note that  I haven't ordered books from this site myself. Alternatively, it is available as a paperback from Day OneAmazon or Christian bookshops. This is the sort of book what you might well want to have lying around to encourage discussion so a paperback might be advantageous.

I was given You, your family and the internet as an e-book for review purposes. All views are my own.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Three generations celebrate-12 thoughts

Celebrations are an important time for families. Many families become three or even four generational at Christmas and New Year even where usually only two generations live together.

 Last year, I wrote about some of the practical issues around managing. This post is more about making celebrations a happy time for everyone. Please note that we don't always get things right but these are some thoughts from experience.

  • Go to basics-why is this celebration happening? Christmas is coming and as a Christian, this is to remember the birth of the Lord Jesus. We try to focus on this-all three generations go to the service, health permitting, and listen to Bible readings. 

  • I guess that most people reading this are in the "middle generation". It is very easy to feel sorry for oneself-I know, I've been there. This isn't helpful and the celebration isn't about me. Other people can and should help but be realistic about what other people can do. An older relative may not be able to do anything; a six year old may not to able to peel vegetables but probably can lay the table. Children can be a great help and they need to know that the celebration isn't all about them either.

  • Allow plenty of time. Most of us rush around all year. It is good to have allowed enough time to talk, relax and even sleep. It doesn't matter if tea is an hour late.

  • Make the present opening accessible to everyone. Grandparents like to see children open their gifts. We try to make sure that this happens at a relatively reasonable hour for everyone although doubtless compromises will have to be made.

  • Keep a list of presents received. Do you need to make a tactful list for grandparents or greatgrandparents or will they remember who gave each gift?

  • Meals should be a time for everyone. This isn't always easy. The combinations of deafness, training children and disparities in rates of eating can be challenging. It is worth thinking beforehand about what will be difficult, for example, if one child hates Christmas pudding, it may be worth providing an alternative. 

  • Clearing up can involve as many as possible.

  • Everyone doesn't have to do everything. Children may need a walk whereas this may not be feasible for the frail elderly.

  • Simple games can, theoretically, involve everyone although it never seems to work that way for us.

  • Photographs and reminiscences can help create ties between the generations. 

  • Don't plan too much. Frailer people and children will find hoards of people and a relentless timetable very tiring and being honest, so do most of us.

  • Things don't always go to plan. People do end up seeing the emergency doctor or you may end up collecting tablets from the 24 hour pharmacy. 
I do hope that you have a happy and restful holiday but that even if you don't, you will look to the Lord God for strength. If we love Him, we can rely on His promise

My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12 v9

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Black Forest snow

Middle Son and my husband have just had a few days in the Black Forest so that Middle Son could have a chance to practice his German and have some exposure to German/Swiss culture.

They saw snow,
 more snow,
yet more snow, from the train this time,

and ice.

Chalets-this reminds me of Heidi.

A railway system that worked even in the snow.

I particularly asked for a picture of a clock shop-this has a bit of reflection as it had to be taken through glass.

The Rhine

Famous buildings

and churches

and more snow.

Thanks to Middle Son for the photos.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012


I was delighted to be asked to review  Schoolhouse which is part of the Old Schoolhouse Magazine. The Schoolhouse Teachers site is so much more than "just" the magazine. It is an Aladdin's cave for home educators with children of all ages.


The site has sections for PreK/Elementary, Middle School and High School as well as Dailies, Library and Teachers. There are also sections for use with children with special needs. Schoolhouse Teachers claims that it can be used as a curriculum or for add-ons. We haven't used it instead of the rest of our curriculum but I have no doubt that it could be used in this way.

About 25 subjects are covered using a variety of methods including videos, lesson plans, writing prompts and suggested activities. Various teachers have contributed lessons. These cover subjects including high school maths (with videos), French, guitar, geography, history and literature. There is a fascinating 18 part series about helping struggling readers grade 3 and above. I haven't tried this but found some of the principles for teaching longer words useful.

The Daily section has so much to offer. We have used the spellings which are far superior to the lists that we were using. The spellings are divided into grade level from preK/K to High School. The Elementary lower list even has subdivisions of difficulty within it. However, all the lists seem to have a common theme-this week plurals which is useful  for discussion around the table with children of different ages. Some of the high school words are seriously challenging.

I suspect that the daily writing prompts is somewhere that I will frequent, probably not to use on a daily basis, but rather when a different type of title is needed.

Another feature of the Daily section is the Everyday Easels which also are linked from the sidebar as Noon Recess. This uses the Charlotte Mason idea of a picture a week with questions and activities from the picture. We have enjoyed using this. The early photograph of The American Barque "Jane Tudor" Conway Bay was a particular hit with children who love Wales where this photograph was taken and are fascinated by the Tudors.

I've been gradually exploring the downloadable planners. There five different planners: three for different grade levels, one for special needs and one for mothers. As well as a diary/planner function they contain lists of award winning books, lists of parables, a Bible reading planner and much much more.

Other features include reading lists, e-books which seem to arrive in batches every month. I'm almost relieved that they don't arrive in one go-there are so many books that reading them in one go would be overwhelming.

Photobucket I was really impressed with the contents of the site. There were a couple of technical things that would make it easier to use: it would be useful if the link to the picture for the Everyday Easels opened in a new tab making it easier to go between the picture and the day's activities. The preK/K section included "College Choice guidance" which probably isn't necessary for most children of this age.

Schoolhouse is like a resource library for home educators. I plan to return to it most days.
Costwise an annual subscription is currently discounted at $49 which is just over £30 at today's exchange rate. There is a special offer on the first month of a monthly subscription at only $1 which is great for trying out the site.

Disclaimer: I received a free annual subscription to Schoolhouse in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are either my own or those of my family.


Monday, 10 December 2012


I've been rather absent from here as life has been busy: one child home from university, another on a trip with my husband and a third about to go on a trip. We haven't been doing nothing here: there have been trips and concerts as well as work. I'm not a great enthusiast for a long run up to holidays. Long anticipation seems to lead to over excitement. My Mother used to say "If you get excited and silly, you will end up in tears." I'm really sure this is true, at least here.

One recent trip was to the Science Museum-no photos of this as the camera is currently away! This is a great place to take children-we did the Garden which is billed as being for 3-6 year olds as well as the Launch Pad which is said to be for 8-13s. The younger two aged 3 and 6 were with me and yes, the age for the Garden was about right.

 I'm not convinced about the age range for the Launch Pad-there were a fair few younger children there and many of the activities were quite suitable for slightly younger children. The explanations may have been a bit over their heads but it is definitely worth trying with children younger than 8. The Space section was a big hit with a certain boy who wants to go to the moon one day.

I'm wondering whether we should do the Sketchbook Project next year. Half of me says that I'm such a lousy artist that it isn't worth a go and the other half says that it could be a joint effort with the children/nothing venture and all that.

The Christmas pudding is cooking-a bit late, yes but we had a bit of a disaster last year with a pudding that I hadn't kept in the fridge. No alcohol means poorer preserving properties. I've updated the recipe with some advice on storage. This recipe was my most read post for about a year-it has been overtaken by several other posts now but here is Grandma's Christmas pudding.

The Ice Hotel is an amazing concept and one that seems to have caused a fair amount of discussion here. We aren't planning to go but the pictures of the cold accommodation are fascinating.

The Old Schoolhouse Crew review home education products. I'm delighted that I've been invited to join the 2013 Crew and look forward to reviewing some different products.


Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Mummy reading

Like many mothers of young children, I read aloud picture book after picture book.

As a home educating mother, I read aloud many chapter books. Initially, I read these to Middle Son. It was fun rediscovering the Thirty Nine Steps and the Little House on the Prairie series but Middle Son doesn't really need me to read to him now. Now, I read aloud to my six year old daughter, mainly shorter chapter books including some from my own childhood. There is a little list in my head of more books to read her.

Last, I read to myself.  I've just been evaluating this and thinking about what I should be reading.

So what do I read? The Bible is first and far, far the best. I use the M'Cheyne reading plan. (I know nothing about this site just that it has a link to the plan)

What else?

  • Biographies
  • Children's books so I can discuss them with Middle Son or to see whether they are suitable read alouds.
  • Christian books
  • Novels-hmm
  • Home education books 
I would like to get through more "weighty" reading especially around theology, Christian living and education. 

So why are certain books easy to read? What would it take to get me reading heavier books?
For me, a successful book 
  • has large font
  • is easy to read after midnight
  • breaks into sections 
  • Isn't too long

My best reads from 2012 are

  • Christian living: Friends and lovers by Joel Beeke

  • Devotional:The secret of communion with God by Matthew Henry
I have a list of books that I hope to read but am always looking for more suggestions. What should I add to my want to read list?

Monday, 3 December 2012

7 thoughts about a God centred education

We've had to think through what a Christian education really is.  Please note that these are aims that we consider right but we are sinners and fall far short of these.

Some of these points are completely contrary to much of popular educational philosophy. Many of these philosophies have some great practical ideas which we use but we can't espouse their underlying principles.

For anyone who is interested, I have put references to the places in the Bible that we find these ideas.

  • A Christian education is God centred. (Matthew 22 v37-38) 

  • Education should be God centred but that doesn't mean that children are unimportant. Children should be treated with dignity and respect. (Ephesians 6 v4,  Mark 10 v14)

  • Children need to be taught to show respect and love to others. (Matthew 22 v39)

  • Education is a 24/7 process. (Deuteronomy 6 v7)

  • Biblically, parents are responsible for their children's education. There is nothing in Scripture to say that parents can never send their children to school but they still retain that responsibility. (Ephesians 6 v4)

  • A child isn't a blank sheet or intrinsically good. The Bible makes clear that all have sinned and that includes little children. (Romans 3 v23) However, they are image bearers, even though fractured, of the Lord. (Genesis1 v26-27)

  • Children should be taught the right way. (Proverbs 22 v6)

  • A Christian education doesn't make children Christians. (John 3 v16, Ephesians 2 v8-9).  

This, earlier post, is about how we became convinced that we needed to give our children a Biblical education. Yes, a flawed education because we are imperfect but one in which we try to point them to the One who is perfect.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Making a periscope

Seeing over objects and round corners is a fascinating concept so today we made a periscope. In reality, I did most of the making as the cutting and measuring wasn't easy for the younger children. Miss Belle did the decorating and she and Middle Son have been busy looking at ceilings and over sofas.

 Two 7x7cm safety mirrors
Carton-we used a UHT milk carton but a juice carton would also be ideal. A taller narrower carton will work better than a shorter broader one.
Ruler and biro
Scrap paper and stickers for decoration

Wash out the carton carefully.
On one side of the carton, draw and then cut two parallel lines the same length as the mirrors. It is better to make these cuts too small and have to enlarge them than to make them so big that the mirrors fall through. The cuts should be at 45 degrees to the side of the carton.

On the opposite side of the carton make parallel cuts in exactly the same places. This is where the ruler is very important.

Place the mirrors in the slots. The top mirror should face down and the lower mirror should face up-the periscope won't work unless they are placed like this.

Make a large square hole just beneath the top mirror on the front side of the carton (the side at right angles to the slits for the mirrors). My square isn't square!

Make a small hole just above the lower mirror on the opposite side.

At this point the periscope will work but needs decoration.  So we set to work with paper and stickers.
 The periscope is ready for spy missions!

A periscope works by light entering by the square hole reflecting off the top mirror onto the lower mirror and then into the eye of the observer.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Home made Kaleidoscope

With our set of mirrors, making a kaleidoscope was too good an opportunity to miss. It has provided Middle Son and me with some design challenges and, I'm sure, there are further improvements to be made.

3 or 4  safety mirrors- ours are 7x7cm
brown parcel tape
greaseproof (waxed) paper

Tape the mirrors together-shiny side inwards
We experimented with having the mirrors as in the picture and as a ring structure.  In the end the ring structure was probably best. We have experimented with a triangular prism and with a cube. We ended up with the triangular prism although via several cube versions.

Cover one free surface with card and tape this down securely. Make a hole in the card using a pencil or scissors.
 Place the sequins between the cling film and the greaseproof paper. Secure carefully over the remaining side of the cube with the clingfilm on the inside and the greaseproof paper on the outside. Do be careful with this as if it isn't secured properly you will end up picking up sequins off the floor-voice of experience!

Hold the greaseproof paper side to the light or shine a torch through this end. Look at the sequins through the viewer.

Shake and look again.

 I had hoped that the images would be as dramatic as a commercial kaleidoscope. There are some rather different designs around using plastic rather than conventional mirrors. I would be fascinated to know if anyone has made these as I wonder how well the plastic works as a mirror, as it must for this design to work.
I guess that the best design would use a flexible mirror in a tube.

Have you ever made a kaleidoscope? Any thoughts about the design?

This is linked to the Home School Scientist share and tell.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Of art and cells

In our home education this week
I loved seeing Middle Son get involved in his research for an essay on the Mariana Trench. He was so keen to tell us about the pressures and the the sea creatures deep, deep under the sea.

We've made another jelly cell model. The first was some time ago when Middle Son was learning about cells. This was good revision for him and hopefully, consolidated what the younger children learnt. I do have doubts about this though-it can lead to a sugar rush! This version was rather rich in ribosomes.

Places we've been
We've been to the library and found Julia Donaldson's Highway Rat. The younger children acted this out with the aid of soft toys and a little rocking horse. The children were a bit vague about echoes-I need to find somewhere that they can hear them.

We had a Home Education group outing to the Tate Britain. Miss Belle loved this and came out with a picture which she had made which incorporated coloured transparent paper, pen and Plasticine; it wasn't easy to carry home. Middle Son found a few paintings that he enjoyed.
We always like walking near the Thames and as the Tate Britain is right by the Thames, on Millbank, we had this as an added extra.

Mr Exuberance was too young to go on the artist led visit but had a great time scrunching leaves in a playground right by the Houses of Parliament.

What's working for us
Books and more books for Mr Exuberance. I don't count how many I read him but it is a fair few. He really likes the Finger Phonics books that I brought for his sister. In addition, he has just started listening to audio books too which is convenient at times. The library provided us with a little collection of audio books, this week.

Things I'm working on
Those Tot trays. I made some this week but they didn't really capture Mr Exuberance's imagination. I need to do some more work on this and add in some things that he already enjoys. This probably just needs a bit more thought.

Thoughts I have
Miss Belle enjoys reading a few Bible verses far more than the rather forced early readers. This was how people used to learn to read for many generations. I've got a really large print Gospel of Matthew that one of my aunts gave me and we have been using this as well as readers.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012


Middle Son has been studying light and co-incidentally, I picked up five small mirrors at a recent sale, for the princely sum of 50p.

The younger children set up this activity and I used it to get Middle Son to give explanations.

First, they set up three mirrors at right angles to each other using blue tack and tape. They put a triangle of paper on the horizontal mirror and observed how many images they could see. They put other objects on the horizontal mirrors. There appeared to be four triangles,  and four of everything else, as the reflected image was reflected.

The next step was to add in the final two mirrors to make a cube with a side missing. We tried to count the number of images. At this point, there should be an infinite number due to multiple reflected images reflecting. My camera doesn't give the number of images justice but gives an idea.  You are looking into a cube of mirrors and it is possible to see at least nine images of the camera.

This activity was good for us as it worked, at different levels, for the children. The younger children learnt about reflection and Middle Son had to give explanations.

I may well repeat this, for the little ones, as they enjoyed making patterns with the mirrors.

Monday, 19 November 2012

November Inspiration

This November ,we've had some wonderful mellow sunshiny days. Walking outside through the leaves in the cool sun is a wonderful gift.

November always seems a hard working month so the first three links are about learning.

Debbie has produced an amazing resource in her geography book list by country. This is worth book marking.

Claire, at Angelicscalliwags does the most amazing work with her children. I loved the Simon Says for angles and modified it for numbers, using fingers, for my little ones.

She also has a fascinating post on Viking runes.

Annie Kate has inspired me with her reading week. I'm not sure that my voice is up to reading aloud all week but once the younger children are independent readers I don't think I can imagine a more pleasant way to spend a week at home.

Naomi is a friend whose third child was diagnosed with leukaemia, last year. She has written Lessons in the darkness about this. She shows how God has been with them in the trials and talks about the "Why" question.

This term, I've needed to find many, many occupations for my youngest. Of course, I read and play with him but he does need activities whilst his sister has her reading time or help with her maths or when his older brother needs to be taught a new concept or go through work with me. I've been reading about Toddler Trays. I've looked at this concept before and even got some vaguely suitable drawers but never quite incorporated it. Probably now is the time!

Happy Thanksgiving to my US readers!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Pinterest board for home educating older children

Pinterest is a great way of collecting ideas and keeping them in one place.

There are a plethora of boards with ideas about toddlers, preschoolers and younger school aged children. I've found fewer for home educating older children although there are some great ideas to be found. I have started a Pinterest board Home education for older children. It would be great to have some collaborators. I've deliberately been a bit vague about older children but this would generally be children of secondary school age although if you have ideas for children who are almost this age I am very happy to add you.

If you would like to be added to this board please leave a comment with your e-mail or leave a comment on the Delivering Grace Facebook site. I won't publish comments with e-mail addresses and will delete them once I've added you to the board.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Ned-Barnardo boy

Ned was "nobody's child". He turned up in a poor alley, in the East End of London sometime in the late 1870s,  and was given food and a space on the floor by the women of the alley but he had to earn a living. Ned's job was carrying parcels for the middle class and wealthy people arriving at stations. Life was hard: there were bullies, little work, little food, difficulties with accommodation and certainly not a home.

Barbara Coyle has written a children's novel around Ned whose adventures lead him to a Ragged School, then Dr Barnardo's home in Stepney, before emigration to Canada, via the Barnardo's scheme. This book would certainly qualify as a living book-it is full of history, geography and a very clear Christian message. It led us into interesting conversations about icebergs, Barnardo homes, poverty, food banks and tapping for maple syrup. There is plenty more that could be explored.

The story has a satisfactory and happy ending although it is clear that that wasn't the case for all the boys sent to Canada. I find the ending a bit of a tear jerker much to the annoyance of my children. Does anyone else find that tears or laughter interfere with reading aloud?

There were serious issues around the emigration schemes to Canada and the book covers this as well as notes at the end covering this as well as the dreadful conditions for lone children in Victorian London. Whilst the book is a great read aloud from about age 6, I have chosen to omit these notes when reading this book aloud to younger children. They might form discussion points for older children.

My six year old loved me reading this book to her and kept requesting further chapters. There is enough in this book to appeal to older children and I have enjoyed rereading it, for the fourth time now, I think! Warmly recommended!

Ned is obtainable in print or for kindle.

Ned is a book that we have owned for some years. I was involved in a little of the background research around London but have no commercial interest in the book.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Learning about the British Isles with postcards

Over the last couple of months, we have been exchanging postcards with friends around the British Isles in order to start a project about the country.

This was a bit two pronged in that Miss Belle wrote a fair few of the postcards from us as part of her writing practice. Kind friends then sent us postcards of their local area. We've now arranged these round a map. This involved Middle Son locating the venue of each card.

So far to add to this project, we've made a gingerbread map and looked at some terms around physical geography as well as locating the high points in each country. We hope to explore more of the geography of our country over the next few weeks.

We've used these books:

Beautiful Britain by John Burke
Usborne First book of Britain
The Dairy book of British Food

Friday, 9 November 2012

November week

In our home education this week,
we started back after the lovely half term break and yes, this has been a solid working week.

 Middle Son finished his current English curriculum (Little Arthur) before going back to the UK based Galore Park as an outline guide. There are other things planned to go alongside this.

We started work on the timeline that has been on the agenda for ages. It is very long with a metre per millenium.

What's working for us

We've been using the Usborne First book of art. This book has been inspiring and I loved the elephant Miss Belle made.

Questions I have

Miss Belle loves history. We have been working through ancient history but at a group we attend, she is learning about the Battle of Agincourt and Joan of Arc. Should we carry on with both or should we drop the ancient history for now so she can give her full attention to the group work? There are some interesting background activities for the group. I don't want to confuse her.

Things I'm working on

As usual, I'm looking for sufficient activities for Mr Exuberance. This week, we brought out Daddy's old fort which Mr Exuberance had never seen before. This was a great success and many knights were sent to the dungeon!
There was a less successful episode with paint while I was working with Miss Belle on phonics. Lesson learned by Mummy!
Other activities that have worked have been
games-the Shopping List game especially
read alouds-as usual
stacking bobbins and counting how many could be added
drawing round shapes

Realistically, I ought to plan about 4-5 things to do each morning and well, I'm not planning enough. The afternoons are easier as he can usually join in.

I'm reading 
Joel Beeke's book Parenting by God's promises. I've been reading this for a while although quite slowly. It has some helpful pointers and covers children of different ages.

I'm grateful for
time with my children and sunlight in autumn.

This is linked to the weekly wrap-up and Homeschool Mother's Journal.