Saturday, 27 July 2013

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Thursday, 18 July 2013

Poetry With Children

Poetry has always played a large role in our home. We have enjoyed it in various forms over the year & now it is very much a part of who we are.

We used to have 'Poetry Tea' usually once every couple of weeks, sitting around the table, sharing tea & cake.
We have now graduated to 'Poetry Supper'. This is a much anticipated event & we make time for it every week. We settle down on my bed, (tea & cake still play an important part of course!)
Everyone choses a book from which they wish to read & selects a poem or three.

I usually try to read the girls poem's for them first; then we read together, then they read alone. This is a tip I read in The Well Trained Mind & is useful for improving both fluency & the lyrical tone a child puts into their words. MY girls tend to want to dive straight into the poem, however. Everyone gets to have a turn, we read all sorts of poetry, by many authors (our current favourite is Edward Lear)

Children adore poetry. It is so natural to them, to play with words. Reading poetry aloud allows them to hear wonderful & rich language that may be above their own reading level. The language & rhythms can be exciting, comforting, silly, beautiful - many, many things. And this exposure is precious for developing life long readers.

Allow me to share with you our most favourite poetry books & the very simple recipe we use for Fairy Cakes:

The Oxford Book Of Children's verse

Favourite Poems Old & New

Poems To Read To The Very Young

A Journey Through Time In Verse & Rhyme

For our Fairy Cakes, we use the 'all in one sponge cake' recipe from Delia Smith. This is quick, easy & utterly delicious! Instead of making one big cake, we spoon it out into paper cases & make individual fairy cakes instead, baking for around 25-30 minutes.

Chef hat optional :)

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Ancients History Song

Here is our history song that we have been learning this year - The Ancients

We got the audio from Classical Conversations

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Plans for 2012-2013

I have finished our plans for 2012-2013
I have spent a lot of time thinking, praying & generally mulling this over :)

I have two daughters, aged 6 & 9. I think that our scriptures for memory work are rather short, as this year they have memorised much longer passages, so I most likely will update those through the year.

This is the year I decided to bit the bullet & go for a formal maths curriculum. So far we have used living maths & other resources, but no curriculum. Being hopeless at maths myself, I was worried about the girls having huge gaps in their knowledge.
My youngest, Rose, seems to be spot on, with grade level. Elianna is way ahead in some areas & way behind in others, so I have started her on G3 Math Mammoth. I am quite nervous about this formal curriculum, but really looking forward to it.

Without further ado, I present our gentle learning for the next year...

Plans 2012-2013

Daily read from ‘The Book For Children’ & each child to narrate

I will be looking to develop the following traits in myself & my girls J
Table manners
Mental effort & perseverance
Being punctual

Memory Work
Ps 145:3
Dan 2:20
Ps 23:1
Luke 1:30-31
Ps 9:2
John 20:29
1 John 4:19
Matt 6:9
Ps 119:105
Ps 69:34
Deut 4:39

Poetry – a poem per month by Christina Rossetti
How many seconds
Hope is Like a harebell
Oh Lady Moon
In the bleak mid-winter
January cold & desolate
The dog likes his kennel
Oh wind, where have you been
Boats sail on the river
There is but one May in the year
A pin has a head
What is pink?
Hurt no living thing
Hope is Like a harebell
Oh Lady Moon
In the bleak mid-winter
A motherless soft Lambkin
On the grassy banks
When the crows come home
There is but one May in the year
The city mouse
What is pink?

Artist Study
Waterlillies after 1916
Water lilies(Nympheas) 1907
Waterlillies 1916-19
Water lilies(Nympheas) 1916
London: Houses of parliament. The sun shining through the fog 1904
The Japenese bridge (part of a series of 236) 1899

Van Gogh:
Starry Night
Self portrait with straw hat
The Spinner
Still life with sunflowers
Autumn landscape with four trees

Dante Gabriel Rossetti:
The blessed damozel
Dante’s dream
Ecce Ancilla Domini
Lady Lilleth
Beata Beatrix

Composer Study
Benjamin Britten – Young persons guide to the orchestra
Sergei Prokofiev – Peter & the wolf
Paul Dukas – Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker
Handel: Water Music

Seasonal & Handcrafts
Celebrate the seasons & festivals of the year
Knitting mittens & hats
Ellie to knit bedsocks

Phonics & Reading
Keep revising phonics:
Ai, au, aw, ay, ea, ee, ei
Eigh, ew, ey, ie
Igh, oa, oe, oi,
Oo, ou, ough, ow
Oy, ui, er, ir
Ur, or, ear, our
Ed, ar, or
Ci, si, ti, sh
Dge, kn, ph, tch
Ch, ck, gn, ng, nk, th, wh, wr

Daily practice from ‘The Ordinary Parent’s Guide To Reading’
Daily quiet reading
Ellie to keep a reading notebook – 40 book challenge

Copy Work
Daily copywork – copy the current poem in cursive

Follow the program from Anne Elliot

Read a bilingual book each day (monthly selections)

Read the following Ruth Heller books:
Mine, All Mine! A book about pronouns
Kites Sail High : A book about verbs

Elianna: Math Mammoth 3

Elianna: The big book of Lively Latin Vol.1
Rummy Roots

Literature & Poetry
Pilgrim’s progress

Poetry Tea each fortnight.

The Story of The Greeks
The Story of The Romans

Arctic Circle
Arabian Desert
Switzerland (mountains)
China (rivers)
Africa (Grasslands)
Germany (river valley)

Review the continents
Memorise European countries
Creating/Working with maps

R.E.A.L.Science – Life (Human body / animals / botany)

Nature Study
Weekly nature walks & keeping a nature notebook

Out & About
Regular places we go – Brownies / Youthclub etc plus monthly field trips
Elianna's art lessons

Quiet Reading

Quiet reading in our home...
I have prepared a set of rules for us to discuss as I intorduce a 'formal' quiet reading time into our morning school. We havent had this as a formal time before. The girls can chose any book they like for this reading time.
I am going to be setting a 40 book challenge for my 9 year old this year - more on that later :)

Quiet Reading

Looks Like:
Our family sitting wherever they are comfortable, reading their book.

Staying still in one place ‘till reading time is up.

Choosing another book if you finish the one you are reading.

Using your ‘Strategies’ bookmark if you need help with a word.

When reading time is over, finding a good ‘stopping place’ in your book.

Using your bookmark to keep your place in your book.

Treating books nicely.

People putting their book away on their own shelf when Quiet reading time is over.

Sounds Like:
People reading to themselves in a quiet voice, or in silence.

Touching mummy on the arm, if you are stuck with a word & cannot work it out with your ‘Strategies’ bookmark.

Thursday, 17 May 2012


Things are ticking along nicely at the "Raising Little Shoot's" Home School...

I have been considering how we will progress in the next 'school' year & it will be very much a continuation of what we are doing right now. I have just finished my annual report for our Local Education Authority (did I mention that I now work for them?!?!) and I thought I would share here... I have explored many different styles of education over the years, but I am always called back to the beautiful, gentle style of Charlotte Mason.
 I am not a purist by any stretch of the imagination, employing ideas from Classical educators & even Steiner, but it is Miss Mason that wins my heart : ) I find her ideas inspiring & refreshing for our day to day whole - life needs.

  Key ideas that I employ - Discipline I hope to instil good habits within my girls such as working hard, honesty, manners & so forth. I find that a regular rhythm with our schoolwork helps with the ‘working hard’ part - they know what is expected of them & this (usually !) keeps complaints about settling down to work at bay. They have daily & weekly chores for which they are responsible. Keeping up with these & doing them well is cause for a celebration - we have a fortnightly ‘ice-cream party’ as a reward for jobs well done!

  Free Time I work our schedules to allow plenty of free time - as much as possible to be spent outdoors (weather permitting) Our academic work is done in the mornings when we are all fresh & rested. Afternoons are for further reading / handcrafts / baking / playing etc.

  Wonderful Books I use textbooks occasionally as a ‘spine’ for our studies, but much prefer what Miss Mason referred to as ‘Living Books’ - quality books that were written by people who loved their subject matter and brought their subject alive through action and character development.

  Narration The art of ‘telling back’. When I read to the girls, I require them to tell me about what I have read on many occasions. Elianna is a master at this, Rosie is just getting to grips with it.

  Short lessons We don’t do ‘busy work’. I don’t expect the girls to complete reams of worksheets etc. Everything we do has a point. I do require the girls to focus & give me their best for short periods of time. This does not exclude getting deeply into projects, stories, games etc.

  Our Days - Mornings for us are when we focus on our studies. We have a timetable that I try to follow most days. Mon-Thurs are usually as follows - We start our days with Bible Reading. We do this as we eat breakfast & the girls narrate what we have read. Once chores are over & we start 'School time'- we begin with memory work - Bible passages, poems, phonics, math facts (currently Elianna is working on her times tables, Rosie addition & subtraction facts. Sometimes historical or geographical facts. We also have a ‘word for the day’ I chose a word from the dictionary & we have fun using it throughout the day.

  Latin Elianna has just begun a very gentle study of Latin. I shall see how this goes. I am hoping it with give us a greater understanding of our own language & help with other languages in the future. We are using ‘Getting Started With Latin’ by William E. Linney

  Language Arts
The girls have spellings to learn each week, which they spell out orally & also write out as practice. I make the lists myself, either using the particular phonics rule we are looking at that week, something they are having difficulty with, or choose a high frequency word.

 Read Alouds

I read aloud to the girls each day from a chapter book, as does their dad. Current read alouds are Sea-bird by C.Holling Holling, Well really, Mr Twiddle by Enid Blyton & The Goblet of Fire from the Harry Potter series.


Elianna & I work on grammar daily. So far we have looked at sentences, punctuation, nouns & verbs. I have just ordered a formal grammar curriculum - Ridgewood Grammar Book 1. I have also ordered a fun looking pop-up book called ‘The Great Grammar Book’ by Kate Petty


Elianna has begun to work on various writing projects. We have been looking at the elements of stories (Genres, settings, characters & so forth)Currently she is writing her own sequel to ‘The Billy Goats Gruff’ She has an idea for her story & has developed her characters. She hit a problem with the ‘climax’ of the story. We are reading several traditional renderings of other fairy tales & looking at the plots to see how they handle plot development. (A lot of trickery & deceit!) This is one of the beautiful aspects of home education! Working on a project like this - no rush, really digging deep into a topic of interest.

 Copy Work

Daily the girls practice their handwriting. Much to Rosie’s chagrin - this is her least favourite thing to do! Both girls write in cursive for copy work - I taught Elianna print first when she was younger & then she progressed to cursive. With Rosie I chose to begin straight away on cursive, one of the main reasons being that she is left handed & I hoped this would make life easier for her, preventing letter reversal. Most of the copy work we do is letters to the girls pen friends, or letters to family members. They also copy the poems we memorise.


Each child reads to me daily & also has some ‘quiet reading’ time were they read by themselves.

 Maths I began the school year using Kumon workbooks, internet print outs & various books for maths. We now mainly use for the girls daily maths lessons. This is a great website, with super tuition for a math-phobe like myself! The girls love to do their work on the computer & I love that they are working at a level that suits them & stretches them, allowing them to master topics before moving on, with plenty of opportunity for us to review.

  Afternoons are a time for exploring.
Here is an idea of how things *usually* go (read sometimes, but certainly not always!)

  Mondays & Thursdays
we read a wide range of books that lead us deeper into history, geography, science, art history etc— just simply sitting & reading a pile of books. This sparks interest & the girls often follow up with projects, experiments & such. They are also encouraged to explore crafts & we have a full-to-bursting art cupboard at their disposal. They both knit & both have their own spinning wheels.

  Tuesdays we have our ‘Poetry Tea’s’ - we set the table & have a tea party complete with Strawberry tea & either home-made cakes or shop bought biscuits. We get out our stack of poetry books & sometimes we work to a theme (such as the weather, animals, season etc) or just pick out at random. We read, eat, drink & chat to our hearts content. Elianna has been attending a place at an Art Class for home educators fortnightly on Tuesday afternoons.

  Wednesdays The girls usually visit my parents & go swimming.

  Fridays Fridays we break from the routine of the rest of the week. In the morning we have spelling tests & the girls read to me. Then we have our nature study time - getting our doors if possible, or bringing nature indoors to observe & draw. We keep a year-round nature table which the girls display their find of rocks, mosses, flowers etc. The girls each have a nature journal in which they sketch & paint. Friday afternoons we meet with other home educating families or just hang out together & live our life.

 This year I hope to continue in the same vein as last year - concentrating on basic skills - the Three R’s, I suppose! Mastery of topics is really important for me & something I am prepared to invest time into.
Elianna has really excelled at her drawing & I hope she will continue to seek to develop her skills. She will certainly be encouraged by her dad & I. She is my dreamy, creative girl & we will encourage her skills in creativity -drawing, stories, painting, crafts etc. Her maths are very solid, though she would say she is not very good at it. To me, I think a more accurate meaning would be “I don’t like this very much!’ When doing a more complicated equation, long division, for example, she occasionally needs me to help her think through the process, so she doesn’t forget part (keeping track of the remainder, for example). This is where mastery comes in - keeping reviewing until the idea is solid but still review often.
 This year has been a big one for Rosie! She has joined Elianna for academics in the mornings & has learned to read & do basic maths. (she has gone from saying 1+1=4 - ‘because I want it to’ (!) to competently adding & subtracting ‘simple’ 3 digit sums & beginning multiplication & division. Rosie has a passion for both animals & people - she loves to be outdoors holding toads, insects, caterpillars etc & she really enjoys weekly youth Club. This year our French lessons haven’t worked for us. They just have not been something we have kept up with. It is something I will
considering coming back to.
I look forward to hearing your plans!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Natural Dyeing

One of my intentions for 2012 is to explore natural dyeing.
I have dabbled a little, but this year I would like to take it further, experiment more & keep great notes ; - D

I currently have some lichen (Parmotrema perlatum) fermenting in an ammonia solution (1 p ammonia 2 p water)
It started off a lovely golden colour, has changed to rust & then deepened. Will I get the elusive purple? or red? Only time will tell!

I also have a pan of catkins soaking (the male parts of the Alder tree)

They gave colour into the liquid on about the third day. I plan to soak them for about a week & then simmer for an hour, before testing with a little fleece that has been treated with alum (as a mordant) to see what colour the catkins have given.

Today we had a wonderful walk. Yesterday it snowed & then rained & was bitterly cold. Today we had a thaw. As we were walking through the woods I saw this:

The dye actually running out of the female cones of the Alder trees!

I have picked some of the cones & they are steeping as I type:

It will be very interesting to see how the colour compares to the catkins.

Last but not least, I have collected a little more lichen, but I have not yet identified this one. It was abundant & I was lucky enough to find some on fallen branches.

I recently went along to a spinning workshop at The Threshing Barn
& purchased a lovely Ryeland fleece, which I scoured on a warm sunny day last week. My plan is to dye the fleece with various natural dyes & spin it into a 2 ply fingering weight & knit a Fair Isle something or other for one of the girls.

Happy Crafting!