Thursday, 28 April 2016

April Books

April has been a productive book reading month for me although I seemed to manage to read rather less to the children, over the Easter break. Anyway, I'm trying to catch up on this now.

Our current read alouds are

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. Youngest Son is loving this book although his sister is less keen and I'm realising that I don't understand a fair amount of this book. Nautical terminology is going right over my head. This book should come with a warning that it fuels the requests to go camping again!

Fine Print: A Story about Johann Gutenberg by Joann Burch. This is the Veritas literature selection for our current history. Again, a rather technical book in parts.

South Sea Rescue by Kay Walsh is our current book club selection.

13 Buildings Every Child Should Know by Annette Roeder has been a major success. I intended to read from this a couple of times a week but there have been requests for a building each day. We are due to finish it tomorrow and everyone will be sad. This is a beautiful book about 13 famous buildings around the world. There are details of the construction and reason for each building along with a time line and some simple architectural terminology.

My own reading has been dominated by prereading books for the book club. One of my current reads The Wheel on the School illustrates the issues around this. So far, the book is engaging and would be ideal for the book club except for one thing: it has to be purchased from the US so books will take a few weeks to arrive. I'm wondering whether this is such a problem that I will need to find a different book or whether there is some other way round this.

I've written about The Good Master. 

Stone Fox is a short read and a bit of a tear jerker. Ideal for children probably from about six. Spoiler alert: avoid if your child is sensitive about animals dying.


How to teach Shakespeare to your Children by Ken Ludwig.

I'm not a great Shakespeare fan and this book hasn't changed that but it has helped me understand more about Shakespeare's plays and how to make them accessible to my children.
The main premise of the book is to teach the children short passages from the plays so that something is familiar to them. Along with the passage, the child needs to understand the meaning of the passage and the play. Ludwig uses passages from some of the most well known plays and goes over their background.
At the end of the book is a helpful list of resources including children's versions of Shakespeare and videos of the plays
.

Pitchin' a Fit by Israel and Brook Wayne was a challenging and Biblically based book about getting angry, or rather, not getting angry with children. Some of the questions were challenging in looking at trigger situations and the Biblical view of anger was helpful.

Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Luke volume 2 by JC Ryle. I have written before about how much I like these books. They are pithy, relevant and avoid the wordiness of much Victorian writing. The sections are ideal length of reading in about 10 minutes once a day.

Please recommend books. I am particularly looking for children's chapter books about the continents of Oceania, Europe and South America but any other recommendations are gratefully received.


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Monday, 25 April 2016

Updates for Home Educators

One of the things that I have missed most since leaving medicine is the professional development: the conferences, grand rounds and departmental meetings. These times are for learning, not just of facts, but for discussion and inspiration. Educating children at home is also a professional work and to do this well, we need to keep learning.

Like medicine, to educate well and happily, we, home educating Mums, need opportunities to talk about the best way to educate our children. Over the years, I have found that these opportunities are there and this is a short list of what I have found most helpful. Please feel free to add your own sources of professional development for home educating mothers.

Blogs
One of the reasons that I started blogging was to have a discussion with other home educators much as I would have presented a case in a medical meeting and then had a discussion.

Some of the blogs that I have found most useful for information and discussion are
Angellicscalliwags-Claire is from the UK and manages to fit so much into her day. I often refer to her blog for ideas.
Se7en is a South African blogger who has been homeschooling for many years. Again, there are helpful lists and ideas. 
Every Bed of Roses is the blog of Chareen from Australia. Chareen is a particular expert at resources lists.
An Island Family by Grace posts once a week, meaty posts full of lists of ideas.
Teatime with Annie Kate. Annie Kate is an experienced home educator and originally a physicist who writes helpful reviews.
Education is a Life is a Charlotte Mason style home education blog based on Prince Edward Island. 

Podcasts
I'm quite a newcomer to podcasts, partly, because I don't always find concentrating easy without something to see but they have become my companion while cooking and doing housework. My favourites are

Dawn at Lady Dusk has a series about podcasts around home education called Podcast Addicted.
Social media forums
These can become overwhelming and I find there needs to be a balance between usefulness and time taken. However, these are great for asking questions. We have had great success with educational games from list suggestions and a discussion helped me refine my ideas about a science curriculum. Currently, I find three Facebook groups helpful
  • Christian Home Educators UK
  • Charlotte Mason Conversations UK
  • Well Trained Mind.
Yes, that is classical and Charlotte Mason. We are eclectic home educators! I am finding that Charlotte Mason's ideas fit one of my children particularly well.

These are all closed groups.


Informal
One of my friends has arranged a couple of meetings for local home educators to meet and show their favourite books/curriculum/ideas. Meeting with other home educators, both informally, and at groups has often been a time for exchanging ideas and for enthusing me to look out or at a book or curriculum. 
As iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
Proverbs 27 verse 17

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Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Nature Pen Friends Update

Back in March, I wrote about a nature table swap arranged by Lynn of Raising Little Shoots. The swap is now open for registration so do head over to Lynn's blog for further details.


Hope that many of you will take part.

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Saturday, 16 April 2016

The Good Master

Kate Seredy seems to be a fairly unknown author here in the UK. I had heard her book The Good Master recommended by US home school forums and wanted to read it as I am looking for books about Europe for the book club. The book had a Newbery Honor award in 1936 which made it sound promising.

The Good Master was published in 1935 but is set in Hungary in the years preceding the First World War. The author was brought up in Hungary and it is based on the summers that the author spent on the Hungarian plain. 

Kate is a motherless city child whose father is unable to control her so she is sent out the the country to her Uncle Marton, his wife and ten year old son, Jancsi. The first few chapters have scenes where the cultures clash: Kate thinks that Jancsi in his peasant clothing must be a girl and Jancsi thinks that Kate is swearing when she uses the previously unknown words: phone and taxicab. Kate also turns out to be wild, fearless and determined. Uncle Marton, who is the good master of the book, rapidly succeeds in taming Kate who starts to enjoy country life even though she resists the ten skirts thought necessary for wearing at Easter. The children have many adventures; Kate helps Jancsi and some of the farm hands learn to read by setting up an evening school and there are retellings of Hungarian tales before, of course, a happy ending, set at Christmas time.

In many ways the book reminds me of Farmer Boy: the self-sufficiency, the lack of waste (there is a comment about not wasting one apple), the hard work but also the generally prosperous farm. 

I recommend this book for children aged 7-11. It is an insight into rural life and a long gone style of living.

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Monday, 11 April 2016

April Morning Basket

We have always had a morning meeting. Initially, reading a Bible book and praying but more recently we have added to this. These are our plans for April.



Bible-daily
We plan to start the third volume of The Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos. This is about the New Testament. 
We also use the Trinitarian Bible Society memory work and sing a hymn or chorus.

Art appreciation-weekly

More architecture and history than art, maybe, but I find this book is interesting and the younger children haven't looked at it.

Music appreciation-weekly
We are due to start on the third, of three, composers in this book: Schumann. Once we have finished this, we have the other Ladybird book of composers to use.

Nature study-weekly
This book should fit in well with our science which is about aquatic creatures. I love these old Ladybird books.

Science-weekly
This isn't our main science just the part that happens in morning time.


I'm not sure whether this book won't be a bit too difficult but plan to use it initially to read about submersibles and submarines which are a current interest of Youngest Son.

Maths-daily
We either revise a table or play a maths game in Morning Time.
Games that we play are

  • equivalence dominoes
  • times table matching pairs. The next step is to play this as Snap. The game is from Brain Box. 
  • Pizza Fraction Fun game from Learning Resources
  • Sum Swamp-I want to get away from this game. We have played it so often!
  • Time Lotto
  • Fraction snap from Brain Box
There is so more that we could do but I know that this amount works for us. I have been enjoying Pam Barnhill's podcasts about morning time. These have many more ideas! 
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Saturday, 9 April 2016

Bateman's-a celebration of poetry

One of the most repeated poems at our poetry teatimes is Kipling's Smuggler's Song. In addition, my husband has read The Jungle Book to one of the children. So it was time to visit Kipling's adult home, Bateman's. This is in a lovely part of the Sussex Weald and is owned by the National Trust. 

The house dates back to the seventeenth century



and is close to old smuggler haunts. We drove through Hawkhurst, home of the Hawkhurst Gang on our way. Beautiful now but probably rather unpleasant in the days of the smugglers.

The children loved the rather late Easter egg hunt which took us through the gardens,



to the wild flower meadow,

water wheel

and mill.

Hoping it wasn't too pretentious, we had hot chocolate and scones outside the coffee shop, in the walled garden, and read A Smuggler's Song.


The house doesn't feel enormous. It feels as though a family lived here. 

Probably, though, the most useful thing that I learned is that seven year olds concentrate much better when given a phone camera. Just don't forget to turn the flash off. Anyway, the photos of the house interior are a mixture of mine and my children's.
A clock older than the house.

 Kipling

Kipling's study-see the overflowing waste paper bin.

Recordings of Kipling's works were on this replica radio.

John Kipling's bedroom with his school uniform. He was killed aged just 18 in the First World War.

Model ship

Copies of Kipling's works.

A place worth visiting, partly to put context to Kipling's works and just because it is such a beautiful and child friendly place.





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Wednesday, 6 April 2016

70+ Chapter Book Recommendations

Some time ago, I posted a list of chapter books for older children that my family have enjoyed. Over time, we have read more books and I realised that this list was quite undifferentiated and included some books which were really more suitable for young adults than the 7-12 year old crew. 

This new list is enlarged and is aimed at 7-12 year olds. Of course, families vary in what they consider appropriate for their children so if in doubt, ask or preread. 

In terms of genre, it is difficult to be pedantic. Some books fit into more than one genre. For example, Detectives in Togas could be historical fiction, adventure or a dectective novel. However, I have kept to a limited range of broad descriptions.

There are many lovely books that I haven't read so please let me know about any that you particularly enjoy. 

History
These are roughly in historical order with some series at the end.
  • Milad-the voyage to Ophir Nazan Anhar
  • Theras and his town Caroline Dale Snedeker
  • Lysis goes to the play Caroline Dale Snedeker
  • Detectives in Togas Henry Winterfield
  • Eagle of the Ninth series Rosemary Sutcliffe. Set of three books set over the course of the Roman occupation of England.
  • Legions of the Eagle Henry Treece
  • Outcast Rosemary Sutcliffe
  • Hostage Lands Douglas Bond
  • Beorn the Proud Madeleine Pollard Viking times
  • Single Shard Linda Sue Park. A fascinating book set in Medivael Korea.
  • Saint Patrick: Pioneer Missionary to Ireland Michael McHugh
  • Lord of the Forest BB
  • The door in the Wall Marguerite de Angeli Middle Ages
  • Woolpack Cynthia Harnett
  • The Little Duke Charlotte Young
  • Tales of Robin Hood Enid Blyton
  • King Arthur and his men Enid Blyton
  • When lightning Struck-the Story of Martin Luther Danika Cooley
  • Piet Prin's Struggle for Freedom series about the Eighty years war in the Netherlands.
  • Children of the New Forest Frederick Marryat
  • Crown and Covenant Bond Douglas Bond 
  • Little house on the Prairie series Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Children on the Oregon trail Van Der Loeff
  • Ned Barbara Coyle The fictional story of a Victoria boy living on the streets of London
  • Silver Sword Ian Serrailler
  • When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit Judith Kerr
  • The endless Steppe Esther Hautzig. Again, non-fiction, the story of a Jewish family taken to Siberia by the Russians in 1941 and their battle to survive.
  • Piet Prin's Shadow series about the Second World War in the Netherlands
  • Bronze and Sunflower Cao Wenxuan. Translated from Chinese and set in China during the Cultural Revolution. 
  • GA Henty historical books-there are loads of these for the avid reader.
  • Michael Morpurgo books: some of these are great but look at them first. There are some complex themes; for example, Private Peaceful deals with desertion in war and the treatment of deserters. Adolphus Tips is probably our favourite.
  • My story series published by Scholastic. Some have an element of romance usually obvious if you check the last few pages!
History
  • Our Island Story HE Marshall
  • The Great History of Britain Anne and Paul Fryer
  • Double Take series by Scholastic present both sides of historical events such as the Battle of Hastings and the race to the South Pole. Great for children who prefer non-fiction.
  • Trailblazers series published by Christian Focus. This is a series of biographies for children. There are one or two that I wouldn't have chosen to have written about but generally a helpful series with many titles for voracious readers.
Christian
  • Jungle Doctor series by Paul White. I was brought up on this series about a missionary doctor in Tanzania. The medicine is dated, and fascinating but more important, it deals with unchanging realities.
  • Patricia St John's books. Of these, Rainbow Garden was one of my favourite childhood books and Tanglewood secrets  is a tear jerker.
  • Louise A. Vernon's book The Bible smuggler about William Tyndale and Night preacher is the fictionalised story of Menno Simons. 
  • Mr Pipes  Douglas Bond-I get a bit irritated by some failures to depict UK culture correctly but otherwise they are a worthwhile read and a relaxed introduction to some hymn writers.
  • Return of the White Book and others by Rebecca Davis. These are stories about modern missions. I didn't think that the book about Columbia was as helpful as the rest of the series.
  • Facing Lions JR Williamson and RM Freedman

Adventure
  • Mystery at Witchend series Malcolm Saville
  • Thirty nine steps by John Buchan
  • Railway childrenTreasure Seekers, Five children and it. E Nesbit
  • Robinson Crusoe Daniel Defoe
  • Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
  • The Ivan books by Myra Grant are the fictional adventures of a boy in Soviet Russia. Useful introduction to this period of recent history and very rapid reads!
  • Arthur Ransome books-not my favourites but would appeal to children who are fascinated by messing about in boats.
  • The Boy who biked the World Alastair Humphreys
  • Enid Blyton's Famous Five, Secret Seven and Adventurous Four series. The plots don't seem to change much but these have been great for children gaining confidence in reading and increasing reading speed.

Animal
  • Snow Fox  John Reynolds Gardiner a tear jerker although a very quick read.
  • Gentle Ben Walt Morey
  • Silver Brumby Elyne Mitchell
  • Black Beauty Anna Sewell
Childhood and growing up
  • Anne of Green Gables series by LM Montgomery
  • Little women series Lousia Alcott
  • Dimsie series by Dorita Fairlie Bruce are stories of a girl at boarding school between the Wars and the latter stories are set in Scotland during the Second World War.
  • What Katie did series Susan Coolridge
  • Caddie Woodlawn Carol Ryrie Brink
  • Family at One End Street series Eve Garnett. The hilarious doings of a large family. I can't read this aloud as it makes me laugh too much.
  • Heidi Joanna Spyri
Fantasy
  • Chronicles of Narnia CS Lewis
  • The Green Ember SD Smith
  • Redwall books by Brian Jacques. A long series!
Eclectic
  • Miss Read stories are really adult books but are gentle tales of life as a school mistress in an English village.
  • Around the world in eighty days by Jules Verne. One of my sons tells me that Twenty thousand leagues under the sea is better but I haven't read it myself.
  • Abbey books by Elsie Oxenham. This is a long school series of 38 books so useful for children who read fast!
  • Paddington Bear series Michael Bond

Please add your recommendations!
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