Friday, 30 September 2016

The Mousehole Cat

My children have always loved extension activities from picture books although we don't do many of these nowadays. Towards the end of the summer, they needed something extra to do so I purchased Branch Out World's unit on The Mousehole Cat. 


The Mousehole Cat is written by Antonia Barber and illustrated by Nicola Bayley. It tells the legend of the Tom Bawcock, the Cornish fisherman who saved the village of Mousehole from starvation, with the addition to this retelling,of his cat, Mouzer. The picture book is aimed at an older audience than many of the genre and was appreciated by my seven and nine year old. 

We didn't read the story each day that we worked on activities although we both read it and watched a reading of the story on Youtube. 

The Branch Out World unit comes as a pdf. It has an introduction to the unit, five days of activities and an appendix with maps, timelines and printables. The days of activities are divided into

  • Exploring the setting
  • Exploring the words
  • Exploring the pictures
  • Exploring science
  • Exploring maths, crafts and more.
I must say that there is vastly more in this unit than we managed to do. The introduction suggests deciding how many activities to do depending on the age and interests of the child.

This is just a little flavour of the activities which we did
  • found Cornwall and Mousehole on the map and investigated more about Mousehole.
  • we collected some brochures about Cornwall and looked at these.
  • looked at photos of the celebrations in Mousehole
  • found pictures by the artist
  • explored the concept of stippling, looked at a picture with a magnifying glass and drew a picture of an egg and used stippling to show shade.
  • narrated this picture 



  • made a list of items that cats love.
  • made a ripple tank to show diffraction.
  • planned a weekly menu. 
  • Made a regional recipe. We made Cornish pasties. The unit gives a couple of fish recipes but the children were keen to try pasties. I'm not sure that they were my favourite but my attempts to get the children to try star gazy pie failed! 
The Branch Out World unit was well thought out and saved me loads of time. I doubt that I would have been able to come up with so many activities. It was very easy to customise for my own family. The children were engaged by the activities.

Branch Out World sells from its own website, in sterling, or from CurrClick, in dollars.

Disclaimer: I purchased the Branch Out World Picture Book Explorer for the use of my family. The opinions are my own and those of my children.

If you enjoyed this post you may like to follow Delivering Grace by Google Friend Connect, G+,FacebookPinterest or e-mail.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Chiltern Open Air Museum

Several years ago, we went to an open air museum. The children haven't forgotten this and still talk about that day. Recently, I realised that there is another open air museum, a little closer: the Chiltern Open Air Museum. This is in Buckinghamshire, close to the M25.

This year, our history is about the period 1600 to 1850. Once I had looked at the website, I knew there would be plenty of social history from this time but the other reasons that I wanted to visit were around being outside in the autumn and enjoying the sort of museum where children can run and handle items. The Museum didn't disappoint.

The first old building that we saw was this old public convenience.

It was actually in working order although high cisterns and difficult, old fashioned locks weren't popular!

The Museum has buildings which have been moved from the surrounding area, often in a poor state of repair. They have restored and rebuilt them. The collection is fairly eclectic but has been grouped in a village type structure with a Nissen hut,

prefab

and 1920s garage close together while a mission hall


sits beside a cottage, just across the way from a farm house
near the village green. 

A bit further from the centre was the farm
and Iron Age house.


There was plenty to do: toys to play with in the prefab, First World War uniform to wear in the Nissen hut, wooden scythes to use in the barn
and  a wagon wheel to assemble in the cart house.
There was a themed playground with a shepherds hut climbing structure and Anderson shelter for play.

We could go into houses and see the living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms and even the privies. This is in the toll house.

A brilliant child, friendly place. There were a few school visits but the place didn't feel too busy. We couldn't go into the Iron Age house due to a group activity but otherwise, the school activities didn't hinder us. 

Recommended for a historical day out.


With thanks to Younger Daughter for the use of some of the photos.

If you enjoyed this post you may like to follow Delivering Grace by Google Friend Connect, G+,FacebookPinterest or e-mail.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Carry on, Mr Bowditch

Carry On, Mr Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham is a children's biography of the American navigator and mathematician, Nathaniel Bowditch. The book was originally published in 1955 and won the Newbery Medal in 1956.
Image result
Perhaps, because I am English, I hadn't heard of Nathaniel Bowditch before. However, he was an important figure and responsible for saving the lives of many sailors.

Jean Latham tells the story of a boy who came from a poor background. Nathaniel desperately wanted to go to Harvard but instead was indentured to a chandler for nine long years. A studious and determined boy, Bowditch applied himself to study of maths, science and even taught himself Latin so that he could read the scientific books of the day. His method for learning Latin and later other languages was to acquire a Latin Bible, dictionary and grammar and teach himself from there. Thankfully, he did have a Frenchman to help him with his French accent.

Later, having finished his apprenticeship, Nathaniel went on voyages where he discovered a more efficient way of of working out a ship's location using the position of the moon. He also discovered that the charts in the current sailing text, Moore's Almanac, contained thousands of errors. These errors could, and did, cost lives. Eventually, Bowditch wrote his own navigation text The American Practical Navigator. According to Wikipedia, this book is still carried on US naval vessels.

I enjoyed this book. It is ideal for children who are less keen on fiction and shows the importance of maths in real life. Highly recommended. Suggested age range 8+.

If you enjoyed this post you may like to follow Delivering Grace by Google Friend Connect, G+,FacebookPinterest or e-mail.

Monday, 19 September 2016

The Beginning of Term

We've been back at more formal home educating for over two weeks. Two weeks of getting used to having an older sibling abroad and another in the sixth form. Lunch time has been for messaging and talking with the sister in another time zone. Hurray for the internet!

We've had our  first outing of the year to the Fire, Fire exhibition at the Museum of London. This was topical and fitted in brilliantly with the history that we are studying and was followed by a picnic beside the walls of London.


However, there have been challenges:

  • Phone calls/door bells/talking to carers and hospital appointments. 
  • Realising that some subjects continue to need reenforcement.
  • Seeing the government target for physical activity in children which is an hour a day and realising that we don't hit this every day. I'm not hide bound by government targets but for many reasons this makes sense for us.


As usual, planning has had to be modified. I don't think this is a reason not to plan. For me, not planning would mean that we would subside into doing nothing but that doesn't mean that the plans can't be altered. One of the benefits of home education is that education can be customised for the children's needs at any particular time.

So what has needed changing already?

  • Spelling. I had hoped that Nessy would be sufficient but realised that both children could do with some extra, regular spelling practice so decided to use All about Spelling again. I have added this to morning time and both children are learning together. So far, this is working well.

  • Adding in a new daily exercise slot-this has been really positive. In addition, we have continued going out for nature walks often focused around conkers!

  • Latin. This was always going to be a stretch and it became obvious, within the first week, that it would be sensible to use the gentler Minimus rather than starting with Galore Park. Minimus seems to be going well. Learning vocab is always a challenge. Just writing the word didn't seem to work but adding a picture seems to  help. Minimus also has a great website.

  • It really isn't possible to do everything every day. We do English and  maths daily and I have no plans to alter this but there just isn't time to do Latin and English literature every day. 
Do you plan too much and end up having to modify too? I always think that we can do more than is really possible.

If you enjoyed this post you may like to follow Delivering Grace by Google Friend Connect, G+,FacebookPinterest or e-mail.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Elin's Air

My husband is from Wales and exploring its history and landscape has always been important to us so I was delighted to review Elin's Air by Emily Stanford. 
Elin's Air is set in North Wales in 1903. At this time, North Wales was turbulent with strikes, gold mining and revival.

Elin is the daughter of a miner and her father is a difficult man from over use of alcohol and over exposure to dust in the mine. Elin's life alters when she has to leave school and go out to work. She learns of the revival and also of a potential of a find of gold. Through the novel, Elin grows and faces difficulty, death and a substantial amount of hard work.

The book has a fascinating portrayal of the 1904 revival in Wales showing both the striking interest of the people but the small role of preaching and the comparatively large role of words from the congregation. Alongside, the story of the revival is Elin's own spiritual growth and conversion.

The book has a  mixture of pictures of early twentieth Welsh life: cockle collecting, mining, farming in addition to the revival and issues of cross class relationships. The story builds up to a satisfying end.

There are a fair number of phrases in the book in Welsh. Do note that there is a glossary, at the back of the book, with translations of these. The end of the book also has a note around historical accuracy which is worth reading after the book.

Recommended for older children and above as there is a slightly disturbing part about a grave and also mild romance. A book has many areas for discussion, particularly, around issues in the revival and in early twentieth century Welsh life. 

Elin's Air is available on Amazon or from Hillman Publishing.

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of Elin's Air for the purpose of the review. I was not required to write a positive review. The views stated are my own.

If you enjoyed this post you may like to follow Delivering Grace by Google Friend Connect, G+,FacebookPinterest or e-mail.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

A Summer in Children's Books

Over the last few months, I have been reading a selection of children's books so that I can recommend books to the children in the book club.

This is a quick outline of my summer reading. Stars from 1 to 5 and are the rating that I will use if I ever get round to posting these on Goodreads. The books are aimed at children from 8-12 unless stated otherwise.

The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss. * True story of Jewish sisters who were hidden by a Dutch family in the Second World War. Fascinating story but completely spoiled by a large amount of swearing.

The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong.*** A tiny school in the Netherlands tries to attract storks back to their village.

Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner **** Emil has his money stolen. Can he and other children find the thief? This would also be suitable for slightly younger children and despite its subject matter is only very minimally scary. It is being used in our younger children's book club with children from five.

Moonfleet-J. Meade Falkner **** This book is scary and is better for older children. I first read it at 13 which which probably the ideal age for this book. I have reviewed this book in a separate post.


 Five Little Peppers and how they grew-Margaret Sidney ** A Polyanna like book about a poor Victorian family whose circumstances improved. Not scary but a bit insipid.


From the mixed up files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler-E.L. Konigsburg*** Two children run away from home and hide in a museum. There is a mystery around a new exhibit which the children decide to solve. Positives of this book: much of the book is around one of the main characters, Claudia, coming to understand herself. Negatives: the children put themselves into dangerous situations (going to a stranger's home) and get off scott free. Incidentally, one of the things that began to frustrate me over this summer of reading children's books was the number of times that I had to suspend belief when children got into dangerous situation and got off without any harm.


Still more stories from Grandma's attic-Arieta Richardson***** These stories don't require the suspension of belief as they are from real life and funny. Written from a Christian point of view and one of these contained a beautiful and respectful story about hospitality to an elderly neighbour suffering from dementia.


War in the Wasteland by Douglas Bond.**** This is a book for teenagers and I have reviewed it. Link in the title.

Number the Stars-Lois Lowry**** Historical fiction from the real story of how the Danish Jews escaped from Denmark in the Second World War. There is one phrase which can be interpreted as either taking the Lord's name in vain or an emergency prayer. It is worth skipping this if reading aloud or discussing if children read this. The rest of the story is well told and memorable.

Duncan's War by Douglas Bond **** First in a trilogy about a Scottish family in Covenanting times. More suitable for the older end of the age range as there is some fighting. 

The year of Miss Agnes-Kirkpatrick Hill** I had heard great things about this book but found it disappointing. An inspiring teacher comes to a deprived community and everyone is encouraged to seek learning. Sorrow fills the village as her year in post comes to an end. Sad that the change seems so dependent on one person.

A Country Child by Alison Uttley* A year in the life of a child living deep in the country in, presumably, the early years of the twentieth century. An interesting read but I can't recommend it. It is full of a syncretistic mix of Christianity and paganism.

Rebecca Stubbs: Vicar's Daughter-Hannah Buckland**** Better for teenaged readers. Historical fiction about a Victorian vicar's daughter who is left alone after the death of her parents. My review is here.

The Chocolate Money Mystery-Alexander McCall Smith*** A children's detective story by an author more well known for his adult books. A quick read and suitable for the younger end of the range. 

The Family with two Front Doors-Anna Ciddor***** One of the best books that I have read this summer. The true story of an Orthodox Jewish family in Poland between the wars. The time sequence is the time preparing for and up to the arranged marriage of the eldest daughter. The amount of food detail reminds me of Farmer Boy. There is plenty of detail about the closed community but also overtones of increasing anti-Semitism outside the ghetto. Certainly, a book that I hope to read with my own children.

Marie Durand by Simonetta Carr***** Highly recommended biography of a French Huguenot. Review here.

Elin's Air-Emily Standford Review coming very soon. You will have to wait for this!

Guns of Thunder-Douglas Bond****The first of a trilogy about a Scottish immigrant family in the US. This covered a period in history of which I know little, preRevolutionary America, so I found this particularly interesting. Some fighting and probably best suited to the older end of the age range.

The King's Book-Louise Vernon** Fictional story around the time of the translation of the Authorised Version. Deals with issues of religious toleration but really isn't Vernon's best. Her book about Tyndale is much better.

Swallows and Amazons-Arthur Ransome*** I enjoyed this book more as an adult than as a child. Personally, I think that I found this difficult before as so much of the sailing vocabulary was beyond me. I must say that this series has never been particularly popular with my children. Worth trying though particularly if you have avid readers as there is a whole series.

Pirates of Pompeii and Assassins of Rome by Caroline Lawrence *** A series of mysteries set in Ancient Rome and its surrounding area. Very popular with the children and are full of background information about the Romans. They do require the suspension of belief as the children seem to escape from incredible danger on a regular basis.

Escape from Rome by Caroline Lawrence**** The first in a new series from Caroline Lawrence. Some children flee to Britannia in search of their uncle. Will they survive in the dangerous Britannia? This has the same issues of improbability as the other series but the character development is better which makes the story more compelling. The next in the series is due out in October and is on pre-order!

The book on the window sill and other stories-Damaris*** Stories of how people, often children came to know and love the Lord. Some of the stories are beautiful but they are all rather old. Some of the characters to whom the author refers as well known figures are unknown today. 

Feel free to ask questions about these books if you want more informaton. Which books would you recommend?

If you enjoyed this post you may like to follow Delivering Grace by Google Friend Connect, G+,FacebookPinterest or e-mail.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

September Inspiration

September is a working month! We are back to home education as usual although with one less now that Middle Son has gone to the sixth form. It always takes a while to settle back and fine tune. We are in the fine tuning process now: trying to fit in time for daily exercise, working out the best way of learning vocabulary and so on. It is also the time of year when it is most possible to loose the wood for the trees: to forget our reasons for following this less trodden path and get too involved in the nitty gritty of teaching maths and English.



Se7en has some words of wisdom to home educating mothers. Who hasn't tried to squeeze in more?

I have a child who loves to build so thought that this post with 100 invitations to build had his name on it.

Marianne Sunderland has produced another useful post, this time about teaching children with dysgraphia.

Who hasn't had a distracted child? Ben and Me has a post about just this topic.

Lisa, at an Ordinary Life, has a post about a Lego model of soil. The link to an older post about investigating soil is also worth following.


If you enjoyed this post you may like to follow Delivering Grace by Google Friend Connect, G+,FacebookPinterest or e-mail.