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Preschool Curriculum Ideas: Colour Blue... This week Colour of the Week is: Blue. To enforce this colour we will be doing blue themed crafts, playing with blue play dough, and singing blue nursery rhymes. Blue Craft I made a picture of a fish (thankfully young children do not mind terrible art skills!). I gave The Knight Boy some blue paint, a blue milk bottle top, and a toilet roll tube. He used the bottle top and toilet roll tube to paint the fish. Blue...
Introducing Shakespeare to Children... The work of Shakespeare can seem a daunting prospect. And yet to give children a route into enjoying and understanding his work is precious. Few can argue Shakespeare’s importance to the English language, to be able to read his work and enjoy it, and not look upon Shakespeare as a punishment to be endured as part of one’s education, is a gift indeed. There are a number of resources I have used to help my children access Shakespeare. My...
Winter Reading Ideas for Children and Mama... With long cold nights what better than to snuggle up with a good book? Here are some suggestions- past and present- to give you some inspiration. Lets start with some seasonal reads: I saw Three Ships by Elizabeth Goudge. This short little chapter book is perfect for the run up to Christmas. Light hearted, and beautifully written. Fantastic for all the family to enjoy. The Bakers Dozen: A St Nicholas Tale by Aaron Shepard. A lovely picture book with...
Remembrance Day Worksheet This remembrance day I want The Girl to have more of an awareness of why people wear poppies, and what it means. She has been reading the poem “In Flanders Field” by John McCrae. I also put together a little worksheet with some basic information. remembrance day worksheet Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...
Preschool Line and Shape Tracing Practise: Free Worksheet... To help a child progress to letter formation, allowing the child opportunities to strengthen hand muscles and improve fine motor neurone skills are important. These can be achieved through playing with play dough, cutting, drawing and colouring in. However, I have made some worksheets to help improve pencil control. This one also reviews shape recognition: reviewing the square and circle. You could also use them for cutting practise. line shape tracing practise Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...
Multiple Children: “How Do You Cope?”... It’s interesting going places with four children- you do see people looking as you go round the shops, and you are guaranteed at least one comment, normally along the lines of “How do you cope?”, or “You must be brave!” The funny thing is I don’t feel like I have a big family- I have friends with eight children! This is normal for us. But had you told me when I had one or two children that I’d be...

Best Reads of 2017

Well reading wise this year has been a bit of the old, “best laid plans of mice and men…” I had planned to read a lot more than I have; but that was probably wildly optimistic, as in January 2017 I was heavily pregnant, and by March I had a newborn. Babies have a way of annihilating our plans. But that being said I think I did rather well. The best thing in my reading life was being given a Kindle Paperwhite for my birthday. With a baby who has not been a good sleeper and spending large amounts of my day attached to a sleeping baby, in a darkened room this has saved my sanity. If I had a choice I would always choose a book book, but under the circumstances my paper white has been my best friend! My Best reads of 2017 The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp I began 2017 reading Ann Voskamp’s latest book. This is a powerful, profound book. She touches the broken, hurting places in our lives and seeks to draw us into a place of wholeness. It is not always easy but I think this is an important book for any Christian to read. I will be going back to this book again one day, when I can sit quiet and alone and read slowly, meditating on the ideas and truths hidden here. Voskamp’s writing is always beautiful and in “The Broken Way” she is unflinchingly honest dealing with hard issues like self-harm, mental illness, cancer and death. These may sound too hard, but I think anyone who reads this book will come away glad that they did. The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch This short book is full of wisdom on how to manage technology in our homes. Crouch does not lay down a list of laws to follow but shares what they do in their family; honestly outlining the things which work great and those they struggle with. We have not adopted everything in this book, different families in different stages will have different problems. However I liked the general philosophy of his book, which can be summed up in the phrase “easy everything”. Crouch argues that technology is a sign that we have a society where we want to choose the easy option in everything and that this is not always healthy. Middlemarch by George Elliot I have been wanting to read a hard book for a while. And I have been wanting to read Middlemarch for a few years. I tried a couple of years ago and...

Homeschool Activities for Christmas

The streets are glittering with Christmas lights, the advent calendars are in position, and Christmas carols are playing on the radio. Despite children looking impatiently at the unopened doors on their advent calenders, we parents know the Big Day will be here before we know it. That is why this year I have a plan to do at least one Christmas activity per week. Annually I tend to be quite good and reading Christmas books, but Christmas crafts and activities tend to be not so good. Here is a not too overwhelming (I hope) list of things to do. Crafts Christmas Tree Paper Strip We did this lovely little craft the other day. It is simple, and there is very little prep needed. 3D Paper Christmas Trees Giant Paper Snowflake We made these giant snowflakes last year. I was surprised by how simple it is, it looks like it should be very complicated. Christmas Cards This website gives lots of really nice Christmas card ideas. However, last year I set out a load of craft materials, pens, paint, glitter, sequins, etc and the children made a lovely selection of cards to send to relatives. Books There are so many beautiful Christmas stories. I love a beautifully illustrated, well crafted tale. I have a stack of books that I bring out at this time of year, and I try to add to it every Christmas. Here are three of our favourites: Holly and the Ivy by Rumer Godden This is a charming little story about the need for a loving home. It is the story of a little orphan girl and a doll wanting to find her “little girl”. Rebekah says it is a lovely story. This year Jude enthusiastically asked for a re-reading: proving there is no such thing as a “girl” book! The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski This is a beautiful story about a man consumed by the grief after the death of his wife and baby, but who finds healing and love through the lives of a widow and her son. Noah read this and told me a blow by blow account of the tale. He then sat through a re-reading as a family read aloud. This was my first reading of it, and I highly recommend it. I Saw Three Ships by Elizabeth Goudge This is another beautifully written tale. A book which explores the pain, loss and healing within a family. This little book left a deep impression on my heart. I would highly recommend it. Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

Homeschool Ideas to Celebrate St Andrew’s Day...

As a Scottish home educating family you would think St Andrew’s Day would be an annual celebration. However this is not the case: we have read a lovely book about St George on St. George’s Day and we have even made Welsh Cakes on St. Davids’s Day, but beside the occasional colouring in of a saltire and a brief mention about it, we have done very little. So this year, as St. Andrews Day approaches here is a mini-guide to celebrate. The History of St. Andrew St Andrew was one of Jesus twelve apostles. It is believed he was crucified on a x shaped cross, called a saltire, in Greece around 60AD. Relics believed to be St. Andrews were taken across Europe by pilgrims throughout the Middle Ages. Many made their way to Scotland, and were taken to a monastery built by a Pictish King on the site of where St Andrews now is built. Andrew was offically made patron saint of Scotland 1320 at the Declaration of Arbroath, however he was revered as a saint for centuries before this time. It is said that during the reign of King Angus Scots and Picts joined forces to fight the Northumberland King at the battle of Athelstaneford in East Lothian. It was said that King Angus prayed to St Andrew asking his help in battle, as the legend goes the sky was blue apart from the shape of a saltire of clouds in the sky. Hence the Scottish flag. St Andrew has also been adopted as patron saint of many other countries, Greece and Russia for example. However in Scotland St Andrew’s day is now a celebration Scottish culture. Activities for St Andrew’s Day Recipes Personally I think haggis is the food of satan and his minions. However, I live with those who would think otherwise. So if you want to be ultra traditional go for the haggis neeps and tatties. However there are plenty of other Scottish recipes to have a try (and I would recommend you do!) here are a small selection. Stovies. Stovies is a traditional Scottish dish made with potatoes and left over meat. I make mine with sausages, many people use corn beef, but any left over meat will do. Gamekeepers Pie. This is a bit special! Cock a Leekie Soup. This is a lovely healthy soup, perfect for a cold, damp November’s day. Shortbread. Super easy and super yummy. St Andrew’s Day Crafts and activities The Activity Village website has a range of crafts for younger children. These include make a Scottie Dog mobile,...

Easy Homeschool Science Ideas

For many parents doing science in their homeschool can seem daunting. It is a subject which conjures up different preconceived ideas about expensive equipment, dangerous chemicals, or perhaps even just lots of mess. However there are many simple, yet interesting experiments that can help spark a kids interest in science. Here are a few simple experiments in the different fields of science to begin with. Biology Seed Germination Take a jar and fill it with cotton wool, place a butterbean seed down the side of the jar. Add enough water to moisten the cotton wool, but not so much that the seed is sitting in a pool of water. Leave the jar in a warm place to watch the seed germinate. This experiment can be taken further. For example, you can set up a few jars: one that is left dry, and also leave one in the fridge, but with moistened cotton wool. Doing this allows you to see the affects temperature and lack of water have on seed germination. Bird Watching Keep a journal of birds that visit your garden. To do this set up a bird feeder and record the birds that visit. Doing this will enable a child to learn the names of different birds. It will also be a practical way for a child to help local wildlife and begin to learn about conservation. The RSPB website have some excellent resources. Chemistry Density Density is the weight of an object in a given volume. A solid will sink in a liquid if it is denser, and float on a liquid if the liquid is denser. This experiment explores different liquids and solids of different densities. Take a large glass and fill it with water, vegetable oil and maple syrup in equal portions. The three liquids will separate out according to their density. The most dense will fall to the bottom and the least dense will go to the top. Next drop in a stone, a piece of cork, and a grape. These will order themselves according to density. Elephants Toothpaste This is an experiment which explores catalysts. A catalyst is a substance that seeds up a reaction, but does not take part in the reaction itself. To do this experiment you will need hydrogen peroxide, 3% concentration. This is labelled food grade and is safe to use in an experiment at home, but do not consume and supervise young children. Hydrogen Peroxide is the stuff used to dye hair “peroxide blonde”. It can be bought on Amazon or eBay. Hydrogen Peroxide slowly decomposes into water...

Teaching Spelling in a Meaningful Way

The last two periods of Monday afternoons in Second Year at High School were English. Part of this class was weekly library time, but not for me. I went to Learning Support, I couldn’t spell well. I remember the embarrassment, trying to hide my spelling book, and trying to slip into the Learning Support room unseen. My 20 spelling words were written out 4 times, and now I had my spelling test. I am still not convinced how effective this was. Then, whilst at University I had a holiday job doing secretarial work. On my first day, my first email, I misspelled the word “tried”, the shame of not being able to spell such a common word! I have never spelt it T-R-Y-E-D since. As a result of these experiences in my own life, and the subsequent reading about dyslexia, have made me reluctant to teach spelling in the conventional way. Therefore I have been looking for a method which is more effective. Phonics Training Phonics is an obvious place to begin. To have a systematic rigorous foundation in phonics makes the teaching of spelling much easier. I have used Jolly Phonics with my boys. This has helped me with my own spelling and understanding of the English language, as well as my boys. For example the long vowel sound-i can be created using ie, igh, y, or i_e having this list of possible ways to create the long vowel sound-i is a start makes it easier to decode how to spell words with this sound in them. However, how do we know which one to use? And even with a comprehensive list of different digraphs there are still the tricky words to deal with. In addition to Jolly Phonics I have used the book Uncovering the Logic of English: A Common-Sense Approach to Reading, Spelling and Literacy. This book also gives lists of spelling rules, which open up the reasons why we spell words the way we do. For example, most English words do not end with c, that is why words with the /k/ sound almost always end -ck. Or the rules for the soft g, and soft c sounds in words. I have found that by using these rules to explain difficult words to spell, slowly begin to enforce how to spell these words. Tricky Words However there are still the tricky words. I have a list of the most common sight words. This list is used as the foundation of a weekly spelling lesson to teach these difficult words. I write the word on a...

Investing Time in Things that Are Good

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8 This is one of my favourite passages in scripture. It has shaped my parenting and our homeschool in profound ways. I use this scripture as a litmus test as to what resources I use, which books I read, the places we visit, and the things we watch. I do this to make the end goal more achievable: to think on these things. We cannot think on things that are not permeating our being. We cannot be expected to dwell on the noble, if we have no notion of nobility. In modern culture how can we expect a child to recognise virtue, and value it, unless there is a model of virtue to aspire to. I believe this is true for moral virtues, but also the ascetic. A soul gazing on beauty will be richer for it. If we are exposed to the awe-inspiring richness of creation we are more inclined to worship the awesome God of creation. How to Invest in Good on a Tight Budget? It is all very well and good having lofty thoughts and great ideals, but such aspirations can be expensive. To take a large family to classical concert, a ballet or art exhibition can be very expensive. How to feast on the best affordably? Nature I choose wisely where to spend the budget. I want to take the children to places of outstanding natural beauty, therefore I invest in the diesel to take us there. So when we go on one of our adventures in the wild I pack a picnic so we do not need to stop and buy food, and I make sure we have enough snacks and drinks for the journey home. It also means I choose not to spend money on more expensive family pastimes. These times of exploring natural beauty store up a treasure of beautiful memories. It reminds me of William Wordsworth’s famous poem The Daffodils: For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils. By intentionally filling our mind with natural wonder we can draw on these memories at other times. Art and Literature Art galleries are often free to visit, although special...

Online Resources That We Use

We use a few online resources in our homeschool. Over the years we’ve tried some that haven’t worked for us, and other that are now firm favourites. English My favourite site that we use is Reading Eggs. This has helped my boys a lot with their reading. The lessons are fun, and in depth. They compliment our Jolly Phonics/Grammar really well. This is not a free resource, but I have had my money’s worth from it. And renewed our subscription last year. It is also a British site, which is also helpful when teaching phonics. Computer Programming To get my lot started in computer programming we have used Scratch. We have used it both online, and I have downloaded the program onto the computer also. This is a free resource, and is fun to use. We have just started to use Tynker. I have been looking for better resources to move onto after scratch. This is free, but also has a subscription option. Currently we are looking into whether this would be worth doing. Science The Mystery Science site has been one of my favourite finds of this year. These engaging lessons have been fantastic for my younger two boys. They have captured their imaginations. And the activities have been simple and achievable as well. French My daughter has used DuoLingo for a few years now and I have been really impressed by it. It is not only French you can learn from this site, but various modern languages. This is also a free site. Maths This year we have used XtraMath. This is not a flashy site, but it is a good free resource to improve mental arithmetic skills. A few minutes a day for each child is all it takes. We have also started to use Nessy Maths. Again this is not a free resource, but it is inexpensive for a year’s subscription. Nessy maths focuses on multiplication skills and telling the time. We have used it for a couple of months now and I am seeing the improvement in multiplication skills. Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...

Easy Mild Chicken Curry Recipe

I’ve fiddled around with many curry recipes over the years. I go through phases where I have a favourite. This one is my current favourite. Although I mainly use chicken other meat can be used. I sometimes add chick peas to bulk it out. I often make this to use up leftover meat, and just put whatever amount I have. My children are not great spice fans, the boys hear the word spice and immediately decide they don’t like it! But this is very mild, but very tasty. I also really enjoy using the mortar and pestle to grind the spices, I find it therapeutic, I love the smell of the freshly ground spices filling the kitchen- especially the cardamon. I serve this with rice, I also really enjoy having naan bread or roti to go along with it. I recently discovered the website Global Table Adventure and would love to make this Eritrean bread to go with this (this bread tastes amazing!) Ingredients 300g of chicken thighs or breasts. This can be altered to suit family size, with leftovers it is whatever amount I have left over. 1 onion, chopped 1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, grated 2 fat cloves of garlic minced 1 large tablespoon of coconut oil (if you don’t have this use vegetable oil) 2 teaspoons cumin seeds 1 teaspoon garam marsala seeds of 5 cardamon pods a pinch of cayenne pepper 250 ml chicken stock 1 tablespoon tomato puree 75g ground almonds 2 tablespoons mango chutney 150ml single cream 4 large tablespoons natural yogurt Begin by grinding the cumin seed and the cardamon seeds together. Fry off the onion, garlic, and ginger in the coconut oil until softened, make sure not to burn the onion. Add the chicken and the spices. Stir in the stock, the tomato puree and the mango chutney. Cook until the meat is tender. Stir in the ground almonds, this will thicken the sauce. Finish by adding the cream and the yogurt. Share this:PrintFacebookTwitterEmailLike this:Like...
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