Monday, 14 August 2017

New Nature Journal

Lynn Seddon's Exploring Nature with Children is the best resource I know for learning about nature with a family. As part of this, Lynn suggests making a nature journal and now, to help with this she has produced a guided nature journal to help you and your children keep a record of what you have learned and seen. The journal is set up by seasons with a section for each week and includes
  •  a page for a picture about the nature walk. This page has a box to record the weather
  • a poem to copy
  • an art study page
  • pages for extension activities
  • a place to record nature books read 
  • a calendar of firsts
The journal comes as a pdf and is available in printing and cursive versions. 

I am looking forward to using the journal with my family and creating a record of our year. 

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Thursday, 10 August 2017

Sources of Home Education Inspiration: History

This is the fourth in a series about resources in home education. 
Part 1: Sources of home education inspiration.
Part 2:English
Part 3: Science
This post focuses on history. There are plenty of materials around so I have concentrated on those which we have used.

History Curriculum

  • Veritas self paced. We used this curriculum for a couple of years doing the Greeks,Romans and New Testament year followed by the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation. These are all on the computer and require a daily slot to get through the sessions over a year. In addition, to the computer programme, history cards are needed. There are optional literature selections which I highly recommend. This programme was very popular with my history loving daughter. Both she, and I, learned so much. In addition, to the actual teaching there are map activities, a history song, revision games and more. Highly recommended. Sadly, the latter years tend to focus on US history which is our only reason for leaving Veritas self paced. If they had a parallel world history unit then we would be very interested!
  • Story of the World. We have used this curriculum in a couple of ways. First, to add to parts of history which we had learned out with Veritas. This worked well and second, as a history curriculum over the past year along with the activity book. Sadly, this has worked less well for us. This has been for several reasons: there are many topics but no built in revision so it has been difficult to hold the information and also because the activity book has been overwhelming. There are too many book choices, very few of which are available in the UK. We haven't used the first volume much but please note that some of the Bible sections are not Biblically accurate.
  • Story of God's Dealings with our Nation by Christina Eastwood. This is a Christian, UK history. We did find its format a little dry and worksheet based but I plan to use it again, alongside other books.
Books

There are so many books which can be used. These books are most relevant for primary aged children.
  • People in History and other titles by RG Unstead. These books have been around for years. I remember reading Unstead's histories when I was in school. Unstead was actually a primary school head teacher after the Second World War and wrote easy histories for his pupils. The older editions also tend to have large font.
  • Our Island Story by HE Marshall is the history of the UK. It is available as a book or as an audio book. The pluses of this book are that it is very readable and that it has more detail about the Middle Ages than many similar books but the downside is that it stops at the end of Victoria's reign. 
  • The Great History of Britain by Anne and Paul Fryer is suitable for children from about six and is another book with large font making it ideal for early readers.
  • Ladybird history books are generally out of print but cheap second hand. They have a picture on each page.
  • Usborne and DK have many illustrated history books which we often add to learning about any particular time period.
  • Simonetta Carr's Christian biographies for Young Readers are beautifully produced books around characters in church history. Each book includes maps and timelines.

Fiction

We have found historical fiction an amazing way to raise interest in history. This list could be enormous so I will limit this to the books which have had most influence here.
  • Roman Mysteries by Caroline Lawrence. These have been read by both older and younger children. One of my younger children is a real enthusiast about these books and Roman times. Reading the Roman Mysteries has piqued an interest in all things Roman.
  • Veritas historical literature lists. We used these when we used the Veritas self paced curriculum.
  • My blog post on chapter books contains many more suggestions.
Other
  • Timeline. We have sometimes used timelines and tend to make our own using wall paper lining paper which is cheap and cheerful.The Trinitarian Bible Society have produced a rather more beautiful timeline of the Reformation.
  • Visits. Adding visits to museums and historical sites is easy. English Heritage allows free educational visits although these do have to be booked in advance. Many museums are free.
  • Book of Centuries is really another way of keeping a timeline. This link explains. We haven't made a Book of Centuries yet.
  • History file. This is an idea from a friend which I hope to start in the autumn. This involves keeping a file of history work, pictures and leaflets, perhaps from somewhere which you visit, in chronological order. It sounds an easy way of keeping everything in order, both physically and intellectually. 
  • Young Archaeologists club. This is a fantastic resource. There are branches all over the country. Our club meets once a month and also has trips to exhibitions as well as talks which usually include some sort of activity and often the chance to handle archaeological artefacts.
  • Themed meals. For the last couple of years, we have had a meal themed to the history which we have been studying. The first year was a Medieval banquet and the second a Thanksgiving dinner to remember the Pilgrim Fathers. Both involved dressing up and relevant cooking as well as investigating music and wall decorations.  This has been an amazing learning experience.
Please share your favourite history resources. I'm always looking for more!

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Thursday, 3 August 2017

Exploring Nature with Children: Exciting News

Nature walks form part of our week. Over the last couple of years, we have used Lynn Seddon's book Exploring Nature with Children for weekly inspiration and guidance. I have written about Exploring Nature with Children before. 

The nature walks don't have to be anywhere special or difficult to get at: the back garden or local park are ideal venues. The book provides so much more than just ideas for nature walks. It includes a poem and picture suggestion for each week as well as titles of books for additional reading. There are also many ideas for additional activities which cover art, science,writing and more. 



Lynn is now about to bring out another volume called Exploring Nature with Children: a Guided Journal. The aim of this book is to take a child through a year of nature journaling. I am excited about this new book and will let you know about it as soon as possible. 

Exploring Nature with Children can be started at any time of year although it begins from September. This is an ideal addition to a home educator's week but could also be used with schooled children after school, at weekends and holidays.

Disclaimer: These are affiliate links but this is a resource which we have used and enjoyed.

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Wednesday, 2 August 2017

August Inspiration



August is here. A month of planning, being outside and trying to make sure the children don't get bored!
In July, we've had a fair few days out as well as our lovely holiday in Wales. 

Brogdale, near Faversham, has national fruit collections and has amazing tours where it is possible to sample the fruit. We ate lots!



The Jewish Museum was fascinating and fitted well with a read aloud from earlier in the year, the Family with two Front Doors.

We haven't been to the brand new Postal Museum yet but this article has information and pictures about the old postal railway under London.


The National Gallery have a scheme for schools called Take One Picture. Schools study and do cross-curricular work around one picture. Apart from the teacher training, I can't see any reason why home educators can't benefit from this resource. Various pictures have been used in the past and the notes on the picture and ideas for activities are on the website. The picture for 2017-2018 is Joseph Wright's An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump but pictures from previous years could also be used.

Morning time is an important part of our day and I have written about what we do here. I have recently come across a post about how another family have arranged their morning time.This post has links to a couple of books about morning time. I haven't read either so this is more of a comment than recommendation!

Kate from Kate's homeschool math has produced an excellent post about the nitty gritty of how to actually teach a home education maths lesson.

Hope that you are having a happy summer!

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Friday, 21 July 2017

The Singing Tree


Over the next year, one of our history topics will be the First World War so I have been looking for some child friendly historical fiction about this time.

Earlier in the year, the book club read The Good Master which is set in Hungary in the years preceding the First World War. Most conveniently, there is a sequel, The Singing Tree which is set in the First World War.
The book starts with arrangements for a wedding in traditional Hungarian style, however, the wedding takes place on 28th June 1914 and as the villagers go home, the men hear the news of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. Of course, over the next few weeks, war starts. No one, on the Hungarian plain really knows why they are fighting but the men gradually disappear to war. The farm work is increasingly left to the old and young men and the women. In particular, thirteen year old Jancsi has to run a large farm, as the Little Master. 

As time passes, Jancsi's uncle becomes a prisoner of war in Russia and his father is missing. The farm acquires Russian prisoners of war as farm hands and then hungry German children as evacuees. 

The book has themes

  • the pointlessness of war
  • ordinary people on both sides are much the same
  • people are worthy of respect regardless of race.
  • the psychological effects of war
An interesting motif, in view of what happened latter, is the important role of the Jewish shop keeper in the village. There are points when there is some foreshadowing both of Jewish persecution and of communist sentiment. 

This is a fascinating and sensitive book which should cause some thought. Ideal for children aged 8 to 12. There are no vivid descriptions of fighting in the book although some minor characters die and a major character is in a military hospital.

Highly recommended.

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Monday, 17 July 2017

July Inspiration

I've been missing in action. Our school year has now finished. This year hasn't been a stellar year. In many ways, it has been hard work, particularly, trying to balance the needs of the children and of a frail elderly person. At one point, I decided that what would really help would be a butler to answer the door to the carers, nurses, therapists, deliveries and more that seem to arrive daily. Sadly, I'm not sure that a butler is going to happen.

Last week, we had a week away. It was complicated to arrange but it was so refreshing to have a break in one of our favourite places, the Welsh borders. If you haven't been to this area, I highly recommend it: countryside, not over crowded, reasonably accessible and beautiful.



Like many others, I struggle to find clothes for my preteen daughter. Recently, we found Purple Parcel and have been delighted with the skirt that we ordered.

Summer is time for the Big Butterfly Count.

Shelly has published the most enormous list of unit study resources.

Some children are busier than others. Amy has a post about occupying high energy preschoolers. I could have done with this post a few years ago!

Something completely different, these are really old colour photos.

How about this for building a library?

I'm hoping for a few slower weeks and time to plan for next year.  Two years ago, I put in a couple of items which have worked well and I would love to add to these. These added extras are a longer morning time and poetry tea. If you have any components/parts of the day which work particularly well, please leave a comment.

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Thursday, 22 June 2017

English Heritage Visit

Today, we visited Apsley House, otherwise known as One London, which was the home of the Duke of Wellington.
Like many other properties, this belongs to English Heritage and we were able to have a free self guided educational visit. This is the first time that we have organised one of these visits for ourselves. Today, I didn't organise a group beyond children as I wanted to see how the system works.

The most daunting part of the visit was filling in the booking form with our educational objectives. My children had been learning about the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars in history so in many ways, this wasn't difficult. I was a bit concerned about how much detail was needed but it seemed to pass muster!

Having booked the visit, I was entitled to a free visit as the educational leader and had the opportunity to pick up a classroom kit

which was aptly stored in Wellington boot shaped bags.


Prior to going, I was a bit concerned about the trip. One of the children doesn't always enjoy historic houses but thanks to a great audio-visual guide and helpful room guides, the trip was a success. The children were keen to do everything on the guide and didn't want to leave a room until all was complete.

More information about English Heritage education visits can be found here.

Disclaimer: These views are my own and those of my children. I was not asked to blog about my experiences.