Friday, 9 October 2015

Brownsea Island aka Kirrin Island

One of our children loves Enid Blyton's Famous Five series so on our trip to Dorest we visited Brownsea Island. Brownsea Island is one of five islands in Poole Harbour and one of the places reputed to have inspired Enid Blyton's Kirrin Island which plays a large part in several of the Famous Five books. It is also reputed to have been the source for her Whispering Island.

There is debate about the origin of Kirrin Island. Some suggest that it is based on Corfe Castle and the Isle of Purbeck. My personal view, and I'm no expert on the subject, is that the description of Kirrin Castle is closer to Corfe Castle than Brownsea Castle but that Brownsea Island could well have inspired Kirrin Island!

Brownsea Island is approached by boat. No, we didn't row but went in the standard commercial boat to the island.

The crossing takes 20 minutes out and double that back. This is due to the shipping lanes in Poole Harbour and the tour around the other four islands within the Harbour.

Brownsea Island is fantastic although my youngest was disappointed to find that the trees don't whisper. Perhaps, there wasn't enough wind or perhaps, the relevant trees have been cut down.
It is one of the few places in England where red squirrels can be found and we found a bush which evidently had a great attraction for green finches. 

On the downside, it does have resident free range chickens and peacocks who took a great interest in our picnic. No, we didn't have ginger beer and spam.

We wandered round. 

There were plenty of views of the sea. Remember those times when the Five were watching for boats from the Island?

There is a Natural Playground with a dugout from a trunk, a wooden racing car, piles of logs and a wooden castle. Probably, the sort of thing that Julian and Dick would have built.

On the way back, we saw cormorants and the four other islands. These are now homes to millionaires and oil wells. Surely, Enid Blyton could have made an adventure from these?

Thank you to Middle Son for the four larger photos.

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Nature Study extra: Deer

We have just had a trip to the West Country. A friend recommended that we visit the South West Deer Study Centre so we booked our tour and drove off down winding lanes, where thankfully we didn't meet a tractor, and arrived at the Centre.

The Centre is run by Mike Gage who has worked with deer for years and hand reared many of those that we saw.
The hand reared deer are tame. We were able to touch them and feed them. Youngest Son was in his element!

Now, it so happened, that our trip was in the middle of rutting season which meant that the sounds and smells of the deer were intensified. The stags can become quite aggressive at this time and don't eat, drink or sleep for about a month until the season is over and the does are pregnant. The stags running with herds of does were behind wire fences

but close enough to be able to see these splendid creatures.

This is a 100 acre site so there was a fair amount of walking on uneven ground. We appreciated on a clear autumn day! I was glad that we missed the previous day when there had been tipping rain.

We loved this trip and recommend it. Do note that visits have to be booked in advance. There is no specific charge but the Centre appreciate donations from visitors as there are a fair number of expenses running the place. We found that they were very welcoming towards us as home educators and said that they have had groups of home educators visiting before.

Other places where we have enjoyed seeing deer are

  • Knole Park
  • Richmond Park
  • Greenwich Park
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Tuesday, 6 October 2015

October Inspiration

I love October sunshine, scrunching leaves and the colours. 

 Fitting in with enjoying the outside, Gwen, at An Island Family has posted a list of 10 nature study resources.

Reading aloud is something that we enjoy as a family. Starting to read aloud, from a young age, has seemed to help my most active children to concentrate. However, wriggly children can still struggle at times. This post from All about Learning Press has some helpful tips. 

Having just fledged readers is an exciting time and finding the books that kindle their interest and which they can read can be a challenge. There are some useful ideas in this post Books in a series for Early and Late Beginning Readers. 

We are in birthday season here so I liked this volcano pinata cake recipe from the Imagination Tree. Choosing birthday cakes is a major occupation for my younger children!

The Unlimited Space Agency is about to launch a challenge for KS2 children. This is open to home educators. Do check the time commitment-the programme sounds exciting but involves three lesson sized challenges a week!

I am planning to update my UK Home Education Resources page. Please let me know if there is anything that I should add.

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Thursday, 1 October 2015

October Books

As usual, there are plenty of read alouds on the go.

Autumn is here and to fit with this we have pulled out the Ladybird book What to look for in Autumn. This was dated when I was a child but it is fun to get the children to notice changes: the stooks of corn, the old tractor and so on. These books tend to be popular with a picture on each double spread.

Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingals Wilder, starts in deep winter. As always, the food eaten amazes me but then the family worked so hard and the weather was cold. Realistically, my eight year old enjoys this more than her younger brother. The same seems to be true of our latest read linked with the Veritas self-paced history course, A Door in the Wall.

More successful books for my youngest are The hen who wouldn't give up by Jill Tomlinson, Tim to the lighthouse by Edward Ardizzone and The Pied Piper by Henriette Barkow and Roland Dry.

We have just finished volume 1 of A Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos. I am often asked to read an extra section and it is clearly told. The pictures are odd. I remember disliking the pictures as a child and I haven't changed my mind.

For our home education group, we are reading Return of the White Book,  which I recommend, and a selection of picture books about Asia.

Please recommend books especially any that are likely to be particularly enjoyed by a six year old boy.

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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Ten Poems for Children

We've recently started having poetry teas but even before this, poetry has been something that I have enjoyed reading to the children. These ten poems are some of our favourites. They are all available on line hence the links. This list caused a great deal of discussion and one of my children wanted to have a much, much longer list-perhaps for another time!

Cats sleep anywher,e by Eleanor Farjeon. This is a great poem for cat lovers; very easy to learn and true to life.

Excuses, by Gareth Owen, is a poem that I read aloud almost daily as the children love its humour.

Chocolate cake, by Michael Rosen, is relatively new to us but has become popular. Children may appreciate parallels between this and the story of Bad Harry's party in My Naughty Little Sister.

Stopping by woods on a snowy evening, by Robert Frost, is best read with the beautiful illustrations by Susan Jeffers.

Sand in the sandwiches, by Shirley Hughes, is a poem that gets quoted every time we go to the sea and comes from the lovely anthology Out and about.

What is pink?, by Christina Rossetti, was about the first poem one of my children learned. 

The Lion and the Unicorn is a traditional rhyme. This link gives fascinating information as to its origin. 

Macavity: the mystery cat, by T.S. Eliot, is probably the most famous poem from Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.

The Painting Lesson, by Trevor Harvey, always causes amusement and comments about Mum's appearance!

Buckingham Palace, by A.A. Milne,is a poem that I remember from my childhood.

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Friday, 25 September 2015

A snapshot of our week

Just a few pictures from our week.

Crowns to go with our history about Charlemagne.

Play dough volcano for science.

Sunset nature walk while learning about the Harvest Moon. We didn't go at quite the full moon. That is on Monday with a lunar eclipse.

We saw so many bats. There are two just visible in this picture near the top.

We've just finished Castle by David Macaulay. This has so much detail and really fits in with our study of the Middle Ages. The vocabulary is complex and my eight year old enjoyed the book more than her younger brother. For the first time, I now have some sort of understanding of the structure of castles.

Augustine: the Farmer's Boy of Tagaste is a book that Younger Daughter and I read. His mother, Monica, was an amazing example of a praying Christian mother. 

Alfred the Great  is an old Ladybird history books. I have said before how much these are appreciated by our children. They have a picture on each double page and seem to light an interest in history.

My reading has slowed down. I'm finishing Sketches in Church History but need to be inspired about something to read next. Ideas?

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Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Living Water in the Desert

Living Water in the Desert: True stories of God at Work in Iran is the latest book in the Hidden Heroes series written by Rebecca Davis and published by Christian Focus. This book is about God's work in Iran.

The book starts with the work  of Henry Martyn back at the beginning of the nineteenth century and then follows through the succeeding years with mini-stories of Kurdish and Iranian Christians. The major struggles of people coming to faith in the Lord Jesus are described as well as the clear witness of the lives of Christians. There a remarkable testimonies: the chief who purchased a Bible from a missionary and was converted through reading it. Twenty years later, when he was well known as a Christian chief, the missionary who had sold him the Bible found out what had happened and rejoiced at how God had used an apparently barren time in his life.

Living Water in the Desert continues with modern day testimonies including believers who have lost their homes and lives for the sake of the Gospel. I hadn't been aware of the large number of people who have turned from Islam to the Lord Jesus, in Iran, since the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

This book is a challenge to pray for believers in Iran. They are an example to us with their willingness to suffer and even die for the sake of the Lord Jesus. Yes, they do often seem poorly taught-there are frequent mentions of dreams/visions and lack of clarity around believers not marrying unbelievers. This is all the more reason for us to pray for them. It is encouraging to hear that many people have turned to the Lord Jesus even in a land which seems so against the Good News of the Lord Jesus.

Like other books in this series, Living Waters in the Desert finishes with some background information about the sources of the stories. Finally, there are questions for each chapter. These are useful but it would be useful to have added some about the authority of Scripture and thinking through the reliability or otherwise of dreams. 

The age range of the book is said to be 6-7 for reading aloud and 8-14 for reading independently. I think that this book is probably best suited for the older end of this age range and as an easy read for adults.

Overall, this is a book which encourages us to give thanks for God's work and urges us to pray for His people in Iran.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Living Water in the Desert for review purposes. The views are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

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