Friday, 27 November 2009

Last autumn pictures ... 27th November 2009

The stunning colours of autumn can't help but make me awed of my maker.  I think this will probably be our last autumn art activity, but I was so inspired by a couple of blogs I came across recently that I was determined to squeeze this in!
This blog post has the instructions on how to make crayon cakes - which I did - which make it much easier for small fingers to draw or rub with wax crayons because they have a lot more to hold on to. 
This blog post motivated me to create a large leaf rubbing picture activity for a group of children who we meet up with every Tuesday afternoon.
This is how it went for us:

If I do this again (which I probably will next autumn) then I'll experiment with other types of paint - the water and food colouring was very wet and this isn't great weather for drying soggy paper!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Preparing for Advent 17th November 2009

Last year I prepared for Advent at the very last minute, so I am trying to get organised very slightly earlier this year!  In the spirit of encouraging and inspiring others, here are three of the resources we are going to use:

1     This is the advent ring we made last year:

2    I have ordered this book from the library and am hoping it will get here in time!  I'm planning that we will use a branch for a Jesse Tree and I will let the girls design their own Jesse Tree pictures/symbols.  There are lots of websites with free resources available for this activity - I just put 'jesse tree' into a search engine and found plenty with varying degrees of help.

3     This advent calendar and activity book which we used last year and will re-use this year are made by The Good Book Company, but I notice they do two other Advent Calendar Packs.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Nature Study Friday and it's raining cats and dogs! 13th November 2009

I'm no Charlotte mason expert, but I'm pretty sure that she encourages children to go out in all weathers, but it is just TOO wet and windy here in Kent today, so our nature walk had to be adapted ...

Sometimes it is only after the event that I realise God has been helping me in small ways and I think yesterday was one of those times.  We made a rare trip to the shops as I wanted to get an alphabet frieze for dd2 (didn't find one, so will make one instead) but ended up unexpectedly buying oil pastels and pastel paper instead - to be fair, I've seen quite a few oil pastel posts on other blogs and thought I might be able to get my not-very-artistic-head around it, so it must have been lurking at the back of my mind somewhere.  Last night I 'youtubed' my way through various demonstrations for beginners, including this one, and this one and then had a go myself:

So today, with no possibility of a nature walk we set about trying oil pastels using conkers from our nature basket and a brilliant fresh leaf dd2 had found on the pavement yesterday at the shops and brought home with us.  Here's how the girls got on:

The whole thing was a lot easier than I had expected and I'm looking forward to doing it again. 

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Delivery 12th November 2009

Having finished putting together our shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child and wrapping the boxes as per the instructions we set off today to deliver them to our nearest collection point.  I was really thrilled to discover that for us our nearest collection point is the national distribution centre in Ashford, Kent.  We were made really welcome and shown where the checking happens and the enormous warehouse which has just a few shoeboxes at the moment but which will no doubt soon be filling up.  The lady who showed us around had been to Belarus last year to help with building work and had seen the circumstances in which some of the children live who will be receiving shoeboxes this year.  The shoebox they receive this year will be their only Christmas present.  From the little I have seen of Operation Christmas Child it seems to be really well organised and it is very humbling to have an insight into it and to see how the people involved are living out Christ's love and taking it to the lives of so many children and families in this amazing way. 

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Learning to sacrifice ... 3rd November 2009

A few weeks ago one of the families in our homeschooling group brought along a DVD from Operation Christmas Child / Samaritan's Purse which we all watched. You can watch a shorter version of that DVD here. Since then the girls have been very keen to make shoeboxes full of small gifts for this cause and although I was very pleased for them to take part I've been racking my brains as to how to make it more than just a shopping trip with them picking out goodies and dh footing the bill!
Last night while dh gave them their bath I did an emergency tidy and clearout in their bedroom. This must have inspired me because today I suddenly realised that they could 'earn' the money to pay for the gifts for the shoeboxes by picking out soft toys to send to the charity shop. I made them each a very improptu chart so they could see how they were progressing. They could earn a maximum of £5 each:
We got all the soft toys out and spread them out over the beds and floor and then it was up to them to find toys they were ready to let go of - different sized toys were awarded different multiples of 10 pence until finally the £5 goals were met. This is what we managed to get rid of:
Yes, that's a whole black bin bag FULL!
They both found the last few toys quite a struggle but with the thought that there were children who had never ever had a present they knew that it was a sacrifice they could make.
We're off to start buying the gifts tomorrow!

Friday, 9 October 2009

Taking opportunities 9th October 2009

One of the things I really like about homeschooling is that it has given us the ability to take up opportunities that could never normally be organised at short notice in a school. One of those such opportunities arose for us on a sunny October day when Nature Study Friday became Nature Study Thursday, and tree study was exchanged for fish feeding! After an irresistable invite, we walked from our house, through our village, along the bridleway and across two fields, straight into the garden of one of our new friends from church. She and her husband live in a rural property and look after a very large pond inhabited by moorhen and carp, amongst other creatures! The carp are very tame indeed - look at them eating the bread we took with us:

Both the girls, but especially dd1 were totally enraptured by this spectacle and here are their drawings:

I especially love dd1's picture (above) because she has drawn the fish as she saw it - from above - and not as it would be drawn in a book!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

My new Header photo ... 26th September 2009

was taken in October 2008 in a very large city park in Devon. It is of Ginkgo leaves as they had naturally fallen on the grass below. When the yellowed leaves were still on the tree it looked like a brilliant, glowing, golden beacon - a startling reminder of God's power and majesty. It was by far my most favourite tree at autumntime in that park .

Friday, 25 September 2009

Nature Study Friday 25th September 2009

This academic year I have scheduled Nature Study for a Friday so we went on our first organised nature walk in our new village in Kent today. I have been incredibly inspired by this amazing blog which in turn inspired me (after some considerable thought) to purchase this book:

It is such a wealth of information and ideas that I knew after a first flick through that I would be getting way more than my money's worth from it as I would be able to use if for many, many years. I bought this book too late for Autumn last year, so I am making the most of having it for Autumn this year. Today we did our first tree study following Lesson 172: Tree Study on p623 and tackled Exercise 1. I will pick and choose from the rest of the exercises in this lesson as the weeks go by - my girls are too young for some of it, but can access other parts at their own level.

Here are some photos of our chosen tree (which I am still yet to identify!) and of what we did:
And this is what the girls did afterwards!:

And for when it's not Friday, well, we put our collected treasures from our travels around and about in a basket, simply to be gazed at, handled, and generally admired whenever the mood takes us!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

September and back to school. 17th September 2009

We went back to school on Monday 14th September after a long break during which we finally moved house. We are now living in rural Kent, which is a huge change from a large city in the West country. We have met some lovely homeschooling families and believe we have found the church where the Lord wants us to serve.

We are blessed now to have a garden full of mature trees and shrubs and here are photos of our first harvest of plums and pears and another one of the teasels we collected but don't know what we can use them for (any suggestions welcome!):

For our first week back at school we are having an Introductory Week - trying to ease the change from holidays to structure! We have finally finished our Creation Books which we started last term:

DD1 has finished the National Numeracy Strategy Foundation Review Goals and we have have been baking and reading from the bible. DD1 is currently using Keys for Kids which was recommended on a yahoo group I am part of. DD2 is using The Beginner's Bible.

On Wednesday we had a very special treat and went to see We're Going On A Bear Hunt at the Gulbenkian Theatre in Canterbury which we really enjoyed. For Thursday and Friday we are doing a mini-project on our locality, incorporating lots of different subjects from the curriculum.
Next week we will move up a gear and start using some books from the Ambleside Online Curriculum, start learning French and many other exciting things.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Creation Study Part Four 9th August 2009

We finished our dolphin and shark mini-books some time ago but due to the pressures of being mid-house move it's taken me a while to get this post uploaded!

Here is dd1's dolphin mini-book:

And here is dd2's shark mini-book:

For the fifth day of Creation we had a brilliant (but extremely wet) family trip to Paignton Zoo in Devon and have almost finished putting the photos into our Creation scrap books.
We are taking the rest of August and probably the first two weeks of September off from homeschooling. We've already had a couple of brilliant walks on Dartmoor. Yesterday we managed a 3.6 mile walk - the longest the girls have ever done - followed by ice creams and a paddle in the river! Here are the girls on top of the Dewerstone Rock:

I hope you all have some good weather over the coming weeks - we've certainly loved the last 5 days of dry weather!

Friday, 24 July 2009

Creation Study Part Three 24th July 2009

To finish our work on the fourth day of Creation using The Creation Story we painted pictures of the 8 planets using I Love Space as a guide.

To start the fifth day of Creation we looked at pages 18 and 19 of The Creation Story (link above) and tried to name as many sea creatures as we could. Then each child chose a sea creature for a mini-book project. DD1 chose dolphins and DD2 chose sharks. We went straight to the library and took out books on sea creatures to help us learn more. We have been working hard on our mini-books and my next post will hopefully include video clips of them!
Studying sea creatures is easier rather than harder where we live as we are very blessed to currently live quite close to the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, Devon, UK. We often visit and here is some still and video photography from a recent visit (including sharks!).
First of all, here is our absolute favourite, Snorkel the Loggerhead Turtle - read the story of how she came to be in captivity here.

Secondly, a short clip of a Sand Tiger Shark.

Thirdly, a clip of a Black Tip Reef Shark.

And finally here is a still photograph of what I think is a Conger Eel in a pipe.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Creation Study Part Two 29th June 2009

We have been carrying on with our study of Creation using this book.

For day three of Creation we went to see where the land meets the sea (and had an ice cream whilst enjoying the view!) and discussed other types of land surface where the land meets the sea eg sandy beach.

We looked for seed bearing plants and grasses in our local park and planted some beans which are just beginning to burst forth.

We have just started day four of Creation and have enjoyed using a planetarium made by National Geographic which my sister gave dd1 for her birthday last year.

We also read I Love Space which we picked up quite cheaply from our local branch of The Works. We found it very interesting, but it won't suit every Christian family! I'm hoping we will be able to do some art and craft on space later this week.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Creation Study Part One 19th June 2009

This week we have started a study on Creation using a beautiful book called The Creation Story, illustrated by Norman Messenger and published by Dorling Kindersley. We picked up this book from our library when it was selling off old stock.

For the first day of Creation we discussed the differences between night and day inlcuding things like temperature, nocturnal animals and why we sleep at night and are awake during the day. We used black paper with white and yellow chalks to show the light bursting through the darkness.

For the second day of Creation we went outside with tubs of water and tried to separate the water into two piles, which was very funny. We printed out copies of this cloud chart and looked for different types of clouds and drew what we saw with white chalk on blue card. I also found this blog with amazing cloud photos.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Amazing Rockpool Ramble Finds 2nd June 2009

A couple of weeks ago we went on a rockpool ramble organised by the Wembury Marine Centre near Plymouth in Devon. We have been on a couple before, but this time we had our best finds by far.
Amazingly, dd1 found a shore crab (I think that's the correct identification!) which had just shed its shell, so in the tub you see the old empty shell which has come apart and the crab in its new and much bigger shell - I'm amazed it fitted in the old shell!
If you look carefully at the photo of the underside of a rock, towards the bottom in the middle. you will see a lovely little cushion starlet amongst the molluscs.

We've been using Usborne Spotter's Guides; The Seashore to help us with identification and have found it to be just about the right level for us!

Rockpool rambles are a real family treat for us and a humbling experience when we get a glimpse at the complexities and enormities of what the Lord created.

Sharing a Shell by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks has been a firm favourite and ties in nicely with our crab find - I originally got it in the vain hope it would help with sibling sharing!

Monday, 11 May 2009

Making Maths More Fun Part 5 11th May 2009

We finally managed to have the right weather and be organised enough to combine our weekly Nature Walk with some Maths this week. We went to our local park and collected flowers that had fallen to the ground and picked some weeds and brought them home to make bar charts based on the number of flowers of each colour. Some of the stages (including spelling corrections!) are shown in the pictures. I found some free printable grid paper here. The paper I used was grid paper large.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Bears Lapbooks 7th May 2009

Last November we made our first lapbooks using cardboard folders bought very cheaply from our local supermarket. We had been doing some work on Goldilocks and the Three Bears and wanted to find out more about bears. Firstly we found pictures of the 8 types of bear on the internet, printed them out, mounted them on card and made them into small flaps, sticking the name of each type of bear underneath. We marked on a world map where we would find each type of bear and put that onto the back of the lapbook.
After that we learnt about hibernation and watercolour painted a hill with a flap with a hibernating bear underneath.
Then we learnt about what bears eat (I know fish, berries and bamboo isn't the entire list!) and did some wax relief watercolour pictures.
Finally we did the cover (with a lot of help from me!) and cut out bear shapes from fur fabric.
The yellow lapbook is by dd2 who was 3 (only just) at the time - I did the writing and helped her a lot with the rest.
The pink lapbook is by dd1 who was 4 (almost 5) at the time and had some help and a lot of guidance from me.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Making Maths More Fun Part 4 (and other lessons learnt!) 5th May 2009

We have been looking at rectangles recently and ended our study by cutting out rectangles and making a skyscraper scene. I think in the end though that dd1 learnt far more about using the right tool for the right job and perseverance than she did about rectangles!