Saturday, 30 June 2007
I mentioned to Hermione this morning that we were moving on from our slavery studies next week to something a little lighter - Beatrix Potter. I've now got a copy of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, the Beatrix Potter book from the 'Real Lives' series and whats more Craig and Hermione are planning a trip to the Lake District this month and may well make it to the Beatrix Potter Museum - so, no time like the present to check out Beatrix! She was full of enthusiasm and keen to make a start, so we did. We read The Tale of Peter Rabbit and talked about some of the moral issues - how Peter didn't listen to his mother and consequently almost found himself in a pie like his father had.
Hermione made a story disc and located England on our big map of the world. We also discovered this website which kept her busy for a long while listening to story snippets and playing online games.
Soo watched a dvd about the life of Beatrix Potter the other day. She thinks it may be suitable for Hermione and Lily to watch. I'm going to check it out. Here is the theme tune with some good images of the Lake District.
Following this flurry of activity we made bookmarks with food coloring and kitchen roll. Once our flimsy creactions were dry we added a couple of shiny stars and laminated them. I think one will be winging it's way to Uncle Brian very shortly.
Here they are in production
and here's a couple of the finished product
Friday, 29 June 2007
We had a Shiny Show style quiz (for anyone not familiar with the Shiny Show that's a very light hearted multiple choice type affair). This prompted discussions in which both of the girls enthusiastically told me all about plantations, things that grow on plantations, how the slaves were taken from their homes and forced to work elsewhere and how many who tried to escape headed north to Canada where they would be free.
Now, I know that the books we have read are not all factual and were we sitting A levels or something our information may be way off beam. However, I feel really pleased that both Lily and Hermione have gone from knowing very little about slaves and slavery to now knowing a reasonable amount through reading these books and discussing the information in them. Whether they are wholly factual or not they have triggered interest and encouraged a thirst for knowledge about slaves and slavery.
We had wonderful salad for lunch today. Home grown lettuce, radishes, beetroot and even baby courgettes (which were picked after some confusion about whether they would grow any bigger or not).
On a not so positive note we have had another field mouse casualty - dead one offered to Nana by one of her beloved cats. She knows it is an honour when cats do this sort of thing but still would have prefered not to open her door and almost stand on a dead mouse!
Wednesday, 27 June 2007
Yesterday we read The Drinking Gourd and looked at some pictures of gourds. We also looked at a poster advertising a reward for the return of run away slaves. A discussion about morals ensued. Hermione decided she would help the slave. Lily felt inclined to take the money given the chance. We discussed what things wold help the slaves on their journey to freedom. We covered the obvious things like food, water and clothing but also went on to discuss the importance of being able to speak the language spoken in that region and the good fortune (or otherwise) of meeting people who would help and support them.
We placed our story disc on America with a big arrow pointing north to Canada.
Out in the garden we noticed that the courgettes are really starting to form and grow. We also harvested the first of our beetroot crop. It was delicious in salad today.
Today we looked at some art by Richard Haynes Jr inspired by the Underground Railroad. This in turn inspired us to get out the watercolours and do a bit of painting too. Hermione did a picture of slaves hiding in a cave.
This afternoon the girls tried to get out to do some garden rubbings with crayons. They made some good leaf rubbings and a did few pieces of bark but it kept starting to rain so they ended up just being in and out and in and out - not getting done what they hoped.
Later it was Rainbows. They made paper and talked about recycling.
Monday, 25 June 2007
We listened to the song here - we liked the Weavers 1951 version best. It would have been nice to find the whole of the song somewhere but I've not managed as yet.
The illustrations in the book are simple and bold. They evoke the American folk traditions.
We discussed how this wasn't a real railway and drew comparisons between passengers - the escaping slaves, stations - safe houses where people offered shelter and conductors - people who helped to guide the slaves on their way.
By this afternoon Miles was climbing the walls with frustration. He loves staying home and pottering around providing the door is open and he can wander in and out of the garden. The rain and winds have been so bad the past couple of days he has not been able to play out much at all. Consequently we headed off to our local soft play place which I'm not at all keen on but the children quite like.
Hurried home to get Hermione ready for Badgers. Today was to be a trip day. They were going to the park to make a crazy golf course. I didn't imagine for one minute that they would still go in the strong winds and beating rain - but they did. She arrived home happy but absolutely drenched. Never mind, she had fun.
Sunday, 24 June 2007
Saturday, 23 June 2007
Our herb garden is coming along nicely right now and the apples are really swelling.
We also have mushrooms sprouting up all over the place. Lots of small ones under the trees but also some big ones on the lawn. No doubt helped by all of the rain we have had the past few weeks.
It has been a really busy week this week. We've nothing much planned for next week and I'm looking forward to chilling out.
I came across a quote I like today. Thought I would share it here.
"We do not stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."Author unknown
Friday, 22 June 2007
Today we started the day with our normals followed by another reading of Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt. After this we talked about the importance of maps and how people have used them for years to find their way from place to place. Brief chat also about navigating stars but we didn't go into much detail. I think we'll leave that one for when we read The Drinking Gourd. Hermione made her own map complete with key and compass which apparently shows you the way to France and Chad (independent of Africa) via the North Star.
After circle time we headed off to a nearby spot where there are masses of elderflower bushes, far away from the road and fumes. We picked about twenty flower heads and hurried on home to start making elderflower lemonade. We washed the flowers well and then snipped the flowers away from the stalk.
We added, sugar, the juice of a lemon plus water and stirred well.
We put it to one side to stand for about half an hour before straining it and drinking it with lunch. Delicious!
Craig's handyman friend called by today to do a few jobs around the house and he made us a garden swing. He just put it together with some bits of decking while Hermione was out at her dancing lesson. She was very impressed when she arrived home. We are all very impressed.
Thursday, 21 June 2007
The day started with a bit of reading practice and some Horizon Maths. We haven't done any Horizon directly from the book for over a week. We've just been incorporating what we have done so far into games and the likes to reinforce what we have already learned. I see no point in whizzing through something just to finish it quickly but arriving at the end with no real understanding of what we've done.
When Miles went to sleep Hermione and I took a wander down to the Village cafe where we drank juice and had a good chat about life and the price of Oatibix of all things.
In the afternoon Hermione, Lily, Soo and Nana headed off to the Discovery Museum in Newcastle. Having seen on their website that they were hosting school assemblies to celebrate the anniversary of the abolition of slavery I rang them up and asked if we could go to one. The long shot was that we were not allowed (something to do with the schools rather than the museum from what I can understand) but an Education Officer offered to let us have a look at a handling box if we went along this afternoon.
We expected to see a couple of bits and pieces left in a box at the reception desk so we were very pleasantly surprised with what unfolded. The Education Officer guided them around the slavery exhibition which although was not very big was apparently very interesting. He then spent forty minutes with girls showing them all kinds of different things from his handling collection. They saw manillas, wrist shackles, leg shackles, neck shackles, cotton, string tobacco, a monkeys fist rope used to whip the slaves, sugar nippers and a tea block. He explained all of the objects to them and went on to explain how in rare circumstances slaves were able to buy their freedom with the money they made from market on their one day off a week. He went on to answer a few questions which they had.
There was a video display within the exhibition with a man re enacting life as a slave, talking about his life and conditions. The girls noticed a map within the exhibition and were able to discuss the triangular trade. I feel so pleased at times like this when I see that are our discussions are meaningful to them and don't simply wash over.
I must say I am extremely impressed. Whilst some organisations in this region are very accommodating of home edded families others are not. I never expected Tyne and Wear Museums to make an Education Officer available for the benefit of only two children (and they knew there were only two coming along to look at the handling box). I intend to write and let them know how impressed I am and how much the girls got out of their visit.
Back home and there was just an hour or so to play in the garden before getting ready to head off to the Faerie Summer Solstice Party. Here were the two faeries as they left. They're not back yet.
Miles has spent the day playing in his sand pit and drawing. I bought him some very nice chunky wax crayons which are rather natural and seemed ideal for him. He has other ideas. Try as I might he cannot be deterred from using Hermione's felt tips. He's into them in a big way. He managed to draw all over his clothes, legs, sandpit and wheel barrow today. When I came to undress him this evening I found he even had spotty soles!!! It's nothing contagious I assure you!!!
Wednesday, 20 June 2007
Yesterday we read Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt again. I really do feel that the girls absorb loads of information from the books we read. I guess it underlines the need to choose books wisely. Even times when we don't do any sort of follow up activity from the books we read they still take so much on board. It's like learning by osmosis almost!
After reading the story I read a translation of a slave letter which I found on the Internet. I've lost the link to the site but the letter went like this -
I will now try to write you a few lines to let you know that I am enjoying good health and hope that you are enjoying the same. I had a child about three months ago, he is a fine little boy and he keeps well.
I am worried that you are going to move farther off from me. If you do you must write often.
My master tried to get your master to sell you but he would not agree to it. It is impossible for me to come to see you. The children all send their love to you. They miss you mighty bad and talk about you all of the time.
Your Affectionate Daughter
After listening to the letter we thought about how we would have felt if we had been around over two hundred years ago when this sort of thing was happening. Hermione felt that the slaves should have been set free and taken back to their home country. She proceeded to write a rather odd letter which said Dear Master, let four slaves go home at a time. From Lucy. When I asked her about the letter she explained that if the masters allowed too many to go home at one time the boat that took them from Africa in the first place would once again be crowded. She went on to say that she had signed the letter off as Lucy just in case a master did still exist she did not want him to know she had written it.
Following the strange letter conversation we looked at this site which shows what a typical family eats in a week in a given country. It also tells you how much they spend on food and pictures them in their kitchen so you can gain an insight into living conditions too. It was interesting.
On the afternoon friends came round to play. The weather brightened up a little so we were able to spend some time out doors. All in all a really pleasant day.
This morning everyone headed off to TVHE meeting leaving Miles and I at home. We pottered quite blissfully here whilst Hermione made guns and things from mechano and ran wild with the gang apparently. Big release of energy I figure, possibly something to do with being cooped up in doors for days on end over the past week while it has rained persistently.
On the afternoon Nana discovered that some of her radishes are ready for picking too. She is incredibly proud of the veg garden and rightfully so. It's doing ever so well thanks to all her hard efforts. We still have a glut of lettuce. I'm sure I saw Gillian McKeith once make lettuce soup I must find the recipe.
This afternoon Hermione went to Rainbows and made a pompom which she fashioned into some sort of hair piece. Lots more playing in the garden after that before being called in to go to bed at a reasonably early time since she will be out late tomorrow night celebrating the solstice.
Monday, 18 June 2007
Much of today has been taken up with climbing and sliding. We bought a second hand climbing frame and slide at the weekend and it has been a big hit so far.
Today we started reading Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson. It tells the story of Clara a slave and seamstress who makes a quilt which is essentially a map to help lead slaves to freedom.
We talked about the triangular trade and looked at it on a map. We marked the triangle with thread and added some trade goods which I had found and printed from the internet last night. We also looked at some pictures of handcuffs, slaves walking in chains and cramped conditions on board ship.
This evening was Badgers. I've not heard a lot about what went on but I get the impression they were writing and telling jokes, again working towards their entertainment badge.
We went to the chemist today to buy some citric acid as all of the recipes we have come across for elderflower cordial require it. They didn't have any. We will have to get something sorted out soon as the flowers are beginning to deteriorate.
Our broad beans have lots of flowers on and lots of bees buzzing around. The beetroot and radishes are really swelling and we have a couple of flowers on our courgettes too.
Sunday, 17 June 2007
Another thing changed this week, I grew a year older. I received some lovely presents including a garden bench, a papasan chair for my study, silk paints and a Deva Premal cd amongst other things. On the evening I debated what to do and in the end decided to go it alone to one of my favourite beaches. It was quite a hike and I worried the whole time in case Miles woke and wanted milk as well as his Daddy, but it was worth the drive and worry to walk along that beach and taste the spray.
I'm reading Celebrating the Great Mother by Cait Johnson and Maura Shaw right now. I say 'reading' but it's really one of those books for dipping into rather than reading cover to cover. I can recommend it to anyone with an interest in earth connected parenting.
Wednesday, 13 June 2007
Our new Five In A Row books arrived today from Angela at Conquest Books. Excellent service as always. Don't be put off looking at the site if like me you are not a christian. There are some good books in the home ed catalogue for Christians and non Christians alike.
Hermione and Lily have spent most of the day playing save for a short time when we did some 'work' and when we went to Rainbows. They have played with their cardboard cut out dressing up dolls and regularly popped up to the attic for 'meetings.' One meeting this morning was particularly important, so much so that they both decided they need to wear make up!?! I like it when they are engrossed in play. I think it is good for them. I remember reading Do Not Disturb by Deborah Jackson about five years ago and having a real 'lights on' moment. There are times when I know I haven't always given the children enough space. Thankfully I no longer feel the need to be constantly doing something with them. I know a lot of society considers 'doing' with the children to be 'quality time' but I've now found the confidence to define what we consider to be 'quality time'.
This morning we spent more time with Horizon Maths and tally marks. Hermione is now counting in fives as a direct follow on from her tally mark fascination. I'm impressed.
We read Who Owns the Sun? Hermione was sad at the end and became quite weepy when we talked about the conditions some slaves live in and particularly when we talked about how sometimes families are separated and sold. We left it at that as it was all very intense. I want her to know about slavery but at the same time I have to remember she is only six and don't want to overburden her with information which is very distressing. It's difficult to always strike a balance.
We'll be sticking with a slavery theme for a while. I have a few books lined up - The Drinking Gourd, The Freedom Quilt and a book about Martin Luther King. I've not heard back from Tyne and Wear Museums about joining in their ativities to mark th anniversary of the abolition of slavery. I may have to give them a call tomorrow.
Tuesday, 12 June 2007
We had planned on starting to read Who Owns the Sun? by Stacy Chbosky today, a book written and illustrated by a fourteen year old. It recounts conversations between father and son about who can own the sun, wind, rain, flowers etc - no one owns them, they cannot be owned. The young boy then finds out that his father is a slave and is owned by his master. He asks his father if he is also owned by his fathers master. His father begins to cry. It's a very moving and thought provoking book.
However things never quite seem to go exactly as planned. After doing our Horizon Math we spun off on a tally mark tangent. Hermione and Lily devised their own game of sorts with the make shift tally mark flash cards we have and this kept them happily occupied for a long while.
We started to talk about Who Owns the Sun? and I explained that the story was written by a fourteen year old girl and even more extraordinary is the fact that she illustrated the book herself too. We spent time looking at the illustrations. There are lots of wonderful sky pictures which we thought were most likely watercolours. We decided to do our own watercolour skies. Hermione is really starting to take her time with watercolours and it is reflected in the finished product. She loves blending the colours together, blotting them up and experimenting with shades. She called her painting 'Windy Sunset'. Once the impromptu painting session was over lunch was almost ready and Miles was stirring from his nap. We cleared everything away and will attempt again tomorrow what I thought we may do today. Ho hum, what's it matter? Why educate otherwise if you can't be flexible?
Monday, 11 June 2007
* Attended a workshop for home edded children at The Centre for Life in Newcastle. The workshop was about forces and friction.
* Went into Durham to buy crafty bits to make invitations for a Rainbows get together. Later made the invites.
* Ordered the next volume of Five In A Row
* Had lots of hose pipe and mud play in the garden
* Visited friends for play and chat.
* Picked lettuces out of the garden
* Researched how best to keep slugs off said lettuces without using any chemicals - we're going to give garlic a try - adding to watering can and complimentary planting
* Visited Metroland
* Went to Badgers and took part in a tape recorded radio broadcast from Badgers FM. Hermione read out the traffic news, '..this is the traffic news, there is a hole in Durham..'???? This is part of the ongoing work towards the Entertainment Badge.
* Emailed Tyne and Wear Museums to see if we could partake in any of the schools activities to mark the anniversary of the abolition of slavery.
* Hermione made a quilt out of pieces of card with a note on each piece about something which is special
* Put up our new world map which we bought from these people. I'm very impressed with it at £6.99 for a nice clear 100cm x 140cm map. We transferred all of our story discs.
* Noted the apples on our apple tree really starting to swell.
Thursday, 7 June 2007
We read The Rag Coat again. We are both really enjoying this one. When we finished we talked again about how bad it an be for our lungs to breathe in dusty contaminated air. We looked at where our lungs are located. We looked at a healthy lung and a diseased lung. We nipped our noses and breathed through a straw to try to understand how it would feel to be short of breath as may be the case in someone suffering from a lung disease.
I was quite surprised with Hermione's maths today. She casually started adding sets of three numbers together in her head - and getting the answers right. She's mastered tally marks this week too.
After lunch Miles and Hermione spent a long while making mud pies in the garden. No matter how much space there is and no matter how many toys are available, I always feel that nothing seems to draw children in the same way as a hose pipe and a patch of bare earth can.
Later in the afternoon Hermione and Nana made beeswax candles and very nice they are too!
Wednesday, 6 June 2007
On Tuesday we talked about how the girl's father died from 'black lung' which he had developed as a result of working in the coal mines. We talked about how coal came about, the compressed remains of huge swampy forests which thrived millions of years ago. We talked in simple terms about renewable and non renewable forms of energy. We looked at pictures of renewable forms of energy such as windmills , wind turbines and solar panels. We hope to have a wind turbine in time. We have installed a particular type of heating system in anticipation and apparently we are just waiting for some imminent changes in planning regulations and suck like which will enable us to have a slightly larger turbine than we could have at present. I'm quite excited about it. Particularly in light of how much wind we get here on top of the hill I suspect we could be charging back to the National Grid!
We went on to think of other things which are mined from the ground. We thought of crystals, chalk, gold, diamonds, oil and metal.
I had some strange urge to recreate my childhood and suggested we all go in the garden and jump rope like the girl in the story. We headed off out and gave it our best shot, singing the 'Twenty Four Robbers' rhyme as we jumped (or should I say tried to jump) over the rope.
We are more than half way through our Five In a Row texts now. I decided to ask Hermione what she would like to do about this. I do find it odd how I could start out with such an unschooling style philosophy and yet end up following curriculum's of sorts. I suppose the main thing is to remain child lead. Hopefully that way I won't go too far wrong. Hermione said she would like to continue with our story lessons. I guess it's time to start looking at the catalogue again.
On the aftrenoon I headed into Durham with Hermione and Miles to see the Mind Mapping Exhibition which she helped to create. I'm not cretain if photography in the library is allowed but here it is -
In the course of writing this post there was a knock on the door. It was two men who asked if they could take any scrap metal out of our skip. I told them that they were welcome to take anything they wanted out of the skip but to leave everything else. They rummaged through the skip and took nothing but as they were wandering down the drive one of them picked up the horse shoe which I had dug out of the border and placed at the side. He pocketed it. I don't know why but I feel quite emotional about this. What is it with people?
Tuesday, 5 June 2007
All in all though a good day!
Friday, 1 June 2007
We looked at pictures of sugarcane and talked about how they can grow metres tall. We also looked at pictures of sugarbeets.
On the afternoon Nana, Hermione and Lily headed off to the Gala Theatre to see The Wiz performed by Durham Stage School. They enjoyed it but interestingly it wasn't the traditional production they had expected. The Wizard of Oz was an Elvis character and there were many other modern twists.
Today was an early start as we headed off to a workshop at an Arts Centre in Darlington about the Aboriginal way of life. We heard about possums, gathering insects to eat, how to encapture a kangaroo and lots of other fascinating things. One of the men presenting the workshop played the didgeridoo.
This afternoon was spent pottering in the garden. I am amazed at how the veg is coming on at the moment. We have had quite a few heavy downpours followed by sunny spells which is no doubt helping. Some radish seeds which Nana planted directly into the ground last week are already showing through and I think some lettuces will soon be ready to be picked - very exciting!