Christmas Gift Ideas For Nature Loving Children

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We are fast approaching Christmas, and any parent who values their sanity, looks to buy gifts that will last long after the holiday season, rather than requiring a new set of batteries every few weeks!

To help make gift giving that little bit easier, here is a list of wonderful presents that will delight your nature-loving child.

Binoculars and Birdwatching Book

RSPB children's binoculars blue

A smashing combination that will have your child out of doors over the Christmas holiday, instead of cooped up indoors. Add a small notebook and pencil if your child is writing and they can record all the birds they see.

Bug Hotel and Bug Barn

 Gardenon Natural Insect Hotel Bee Bug House Hotel

A great way to teach respect for living creatures, whilst allowing your child to explore and observe them.

Parts Of a Flower Puzzle

Outlet Parts of a flower puzzle

A beautiful wooden puzzle, perfect for small hands that need to be busy on bad-weather days.

A Nature Magazine Subscription

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Eco Kids is a high quality nature and wildlife magazine for children aged 7-11

Flower Press and Wild Flower Guide

 Legler Flower Press Playground Equipment

More useful in Spring and Summer, but your child will be able to make some beautiful pressings of evergreens over the Winter holiday.

Indoor Bulbs for Winter ForcingNarcissus 'Sacred Lily' (indoor flowering) - 5 per pack

Enjoy the beauty and fragrance of flowers during the dreary, cold months by giving your child build suitable for forcing indoors during winter time.

Singing Soft Toys

RSPB singing robin soft toy

These soft toy birds with their authentic bird calls were a real hit with my children when they were younger!

Nature’s Collection 1000 Piece Jigsaw

RSPB Nature's collection 1,000 piece jigsaw

A smashing jigsaw for older children featuring some lovely nature photography. Perfect for cosy afternoons at home after a brisk morning walk.

GoPro Camera

 GoPro HERO Camera - English-French

A more expensive option, but this would make a smashing family gift! Fantastic for filming local wildlife, and will film underwater, too.

Gardening tools and gift voucher
Small Foot Company 1710 Garden Tool Bag

Get your child all fired up for spring, with their own gardening tools. A gift voucher for a local garden centre will allow them a morning choosing their very own packets of seeds; there are some types of flowers and vegetables that are particularly easy to grow & interesting for young children.

America’s National Parks – A Pop Up Book

For my American friends, or those who love America, this is a smashing book that brings the parks of America to life, whilst raising funds for their upkeep.

Finally, consider my book Exploring Nature With Children, as a gift for the whole family.

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A complete, year-long curriculum designed to guide you, step by step, through an entire calendar year of nature study. Completely self-contained, this book has all the information you need to make nature study happen regularly for your family.

As an early Christmas present to my readers, enjoy a 30% discount by using coupon code CHRISTMAS15 which is valid until December 25th.

The Autumn Book Basket

The Autumn Book Basket

The Autumn Equinox is almost upon us, so I wanted to share with you the children’s books that I have collected over the years. They are very much family favourites, and I hope that you will find a favourite or two here also.

Brambly Hedge Autumn Story by Jill Barklem

The Brambly Hedge stories are an absolute treasure, and these books were my own as a child. The stories are sweet and the illustrations are truly outstanding.

Mousekin’s golden House by Edna Miller

Again, beautiful illustrations. This is a lovely story for the younger child on Halloween.

Ox Cart Man by Donald Hall

A gentle, rhythmic story about seasonal nineteenth century New England farm life. This is my own personal favourite, one that I look forward to having grandchildren to read it to!

Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington

A great introduction to the lifecycle of the pumpkin, a little boy plants a seed & waits for it to grow..

Halloween Is… by Gail Gibbons

A book about the origins of Halloween, & modern celebrations. Beautifully told.

The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons

Another smashing book from Ms Gibbons, all about..pumpkins 🙂 Bright pictures & very informative.

Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes

A simple tale of a kitten seeing the world bathed in moonlight for the very first time.

We Gather Together by Wendy Pfeffer

A glorious telling of Autumn celebrations from around the world & over time. A must!

Hello Harvest Moon by Ralph Fletcher

A beautifully written tale that is essential reading for the Harvest Moon. One you will read year after year…

Woody, Hazel, and Little Pip by Elsa Beskow

Another delightful nature tale from Elsa Beskow.  Two acorn children who get carried away by the blustery autumn wind. A wonderful, curl-up-by-the-fire Autumnal read.

Please note, the booked linked is the mini edition

The Pumpkin Blanket by Deborah Turney Zagwym

The bitter-sweet story of a child giving up her treasured blanket. (Though I confess, I didn’t really think she needed to!)

The Dandelion Seed by Joseph Anthony

One for all year around, I choose to keep this wondrous tale in our Autumn basket. A smashing read about the plant lifecycle.

A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston

Inspiring illustrations (think your nature journal!) and packed with information for all ages.

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

A magical story that will inspire your child’s creativity. One to pull out & read before heading out of doors on an Autumn day.

Thank you for sharing with me my favourite Autumn books. I would love to hear about your own; please do share in the comments section.

Please note, I have linked to the books on Amazon.co.uk as I am in England 🙂

Some of the books may now be out of print, which either makes them super-cheap, or super-expensive!

Book Review On A Charlotte Mason Home

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Exploring Nature With Children has been reviewed on the wonderful blog, A Charlotte Mason Home.

You can read the review here. Debi’s post includes a 30% discount code, which is valid until October 18th.

Please do pop over and have a peep around Debi’s blog; it is a real treasure for the Charlotte Mason home educator.

Exploring Nature With Children: A Complete, Year-Long Curriculum

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The last few months have been busy..very busy.

I wrote a book!

I have written the book that I have always wanted to buy; a book that really does take the hassle out of nature study, the book that I can just open and go.

I am so very excited to present: Exploring Nature With Children

Exploring Nature With Children is a complete, year-long curriculum, that will guide you step by step, through an entire calendar year of nature study. It has been a true labour of love, and one that I know will make nature study actually happen for many home educating families out there.

Inside Exploring Nature With Children you will find:

An entire chapter devoted to getting you up and running with nature study. This will get you all fired up and ready to go.
Forty-eight weeks of nature study; four weeks for each month of the year, organised by season. Exploring Nature With Children can be used as a whole year’s study, or dipped in and out of as you please. Each study comes with a complete list of
Each week’s nature study contains the following:

A themed nature walk.
Exploring Nature With Children will take you step by step through a themed, Charlotte Mason-style, nature walk. There is no need to hunt through various books and websites; all the information you need is there, leaving you free to enjoy being out in nature with your child.

References to the Handbook Of Nature Study.
Exploring Nature With Children is completely self-contained, but we have also included references to related pages in the Handbook Of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock, should you wish to delve a little deeper.

A themed book list.
With books for children of all ages, you will find a comprehensive list of living books related to the week’s nature study theme. Again, Exploring Nature With Children is a self-contained course, so the book list is a bonus, not a necessity.

A poem
Related to the nature theme of the week; a classic piece of poetry that can be used for copywork, dictation, or simply to just read aloud and enjoy.

A piece of art
The name and details of a piece of art that relates to the nature theme of the week has been included. This can easily be looked up online, or in art books available from your local library.

Extension activities for your child
Here you will find a list of activities, written directly to your child, that will extend their nature study throughout the whole of the week. You will find ideas for crafts, writing, science and more, with absolutely no busy work.

I have written the book that I have always wanted to buy; a book that really does take the hassle out of nature study, the book that I can just open and go. I have tried to make Exploring Nature With Children as user friendly as possible for all families. The book gives you the necessary scientific information for each week’s nature theme, then the parent can present that information to each individual child as they see fit.

The extension activities included vary; venn diagrams, writing poetry, making models. A child that is old enough to keep a nature journal would get the most out of this book, however, the reason Exploring Nature With Children came to be written, was because I have been looking to buy something like this since my twelve year old was a toddler. I would have jumped at this book, even with such a tiny child, because it would equip me as a mum to talk with my child about nature, without having to go through a pile of different books first! To know what to be specifically on the look out for each week, with out a lot of extra information that overwhelmed me!

If you click on any of the blue links, it takes you to the page where you can buy the book. On that page is a preview page. Click on the preview (the top right-hand corner) and you can view the table of contents, plus a whole week’s activities. It should give you a good idea of whether the book would be a good fit for your family.

Exploring Nature With Children is currently available as a PDF. Click on one of the blue links in this post to see a preview of the book or to go ahead and purchase.

The regular price of the download is $15, but I have a coupon code for 30% off the price that runs until August 31 2015. Please enter coupon code: Earlybird15 for your 30% discount.

Please feel free to join my FaceBook page & do let me know what you think.

Update:

Here is a review from a happy customer:

I am so thrilled to be reading “Exploring Nature With Children: A Complete, Year-long Curriculum” by Lynn Seddon. It came out exactly when I needed it as well, being a first time home educator of a very spirited four year old boy. While Charlotte Mason advocates waiting a few years before starting formal education, I believed my child would benefit from learning about the rewards of patient observation and he could certainly make meaningful drawings for himself in a nature journal. Armed with two other wonderful CM based books on the subject of Nature Study, I thought I was completely ready to deliver Nature Study to my son.

However, I found myself overwhelmed when it came to trying to figure out where to start. I was afraid of missing very relevant details and was unsure about when to commence certain parts of study. For example, its said that winter is the best time for studying bird song. When exactly? What other activities could we be doing in winter? How often should I be taking my son to revisit pond study? What if I completely forget to do this particular nature craft which is holiday themed, in time for that holiday?

I learned a lot about Nature Study from my existing resources as an overview, but when it came to the week by week nuts and bolts of putting a comprehensive lesson plan together, I often found my enthusiasm for natural wonder waning, bogged under the practicalities of actually having to pull it off.

Lynn Seddon’s book solves a lot of problems for me. First, it is written with gentle, loving reverence for the study of nature which makes it an enjoyable read. At every step, she offers suggestions for adapting the lessons for younger children and then for older children. In Lynn’s lesson plans, she asks questions that encourages the use of all of the senses that invites more inquiry and curiosity. The lessons are all laid out complete with equipment lists of everyday, inexpensive items and additional related activity suggestions that build upon what’s being learned, using many different skills from many adjoining disciplines. I find the extensions engaging and I look forward to sharing these with my son.

JGC

Week 37 ~ Our Last Week!

We made it! We made it to the end of our school year!

Our last few weeks have fizzled slightly..we have had a lot going on here; I am currently working on a project, and we had the girls changing bedrooms, which was a lot of work.

This week has been minimal; reading, Latin, maths, and a little science for my big girl.

Rose was intrigued by her eyes this week and took many, many photos so she could look closely at the colours.

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She also set up scenes for her guinea pigs, and took lots of photos to tell a story. This one features Nibbler as a bank teller:

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And here is Prince Albert. His story was all about his day, beginning with shots of him in ‘bed’.

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Rose got another new fish: Bob. This of course involved another trip to the pet shop, which is Rosie’s favourite trip out 😉

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We had friends over one afternoon and watched the Big First Aid Lesson by St. John Ambulance. This was a smashing little course to raise awareness of very basic first aid.

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Listening to the Faraway Tree and playing with her toy animals

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We took a trip to The Lady Lever Art Gallery. I was so very excited to see The Scapegoat by Holman Hunt, The Blessed Damozel by Rossetti, The Beguiling Of Merlin by Burne-Jones, and Snowdrift by Onslow Ford. Elianna particularly liked the sculptures & was fascinated by the way the body could be sculpted in marble. Rose loved whizzing ’round and seeing everything! They had the hand-held ‘telephones’ which presented a short talk about varying art works, so this was right up Rosie’s street.

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Here are our sketches from the museum:

Elianna’s sketch of the sculpture ‘Venus’ by Lorenzo Bartolini

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Rosie’s sketch that she did not write down the name of the painting.

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My Sketch of The Scapegoat by Holman Hunt

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For our last day of lessons, we met with friends and went to have ice-cream, and then on to the park.

Here are the girls doing their best superhero poses 🙂

 

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Books we are reading this week;

Rose:

The Magic Faraway Tree

I struggle to keep track of Rosie’s reading; she tends to read a lot of nonfiction, dipping in and out of what appeals at any one time.

Gazzilions of the Usborne Beginners. She completely adores these books & we are usually getting a couple of new ones each week.

Plus many others..

Elianna:

Percy Jackson & The Lightening Thief

Horrible Histories Woeful World War Two

The View From The Oak – This is a smashing book, recommended by a wonderful friend. A great living science book.

We are now officially on our summer break 🙂

Happy Summer!

Week 33 ~ Plants & Animals

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Little Passports arrived this week! Rose was very please with her India themed package – especially as it included a wee tiger. Apparently, one cannot have enough soft toys…

Here is Elianna working on her end of unit (Chemical Fundamentals) science test. I was really pleased with how fully she answered the questions…years of narration are paying off!

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At the park

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A huge hit in our house this week has been Animalia: Welcome To The Museum. A museum of living things in a book, it has kept Rose enthralled for hours this week. She has  measured almost every creature in the book. I have the accompanying activity book on pre-order 🙂

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Here is another lovely activity book. Smashing activities, gorgeous design, and quality paper. What more can a girl ask for?

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Elianna is still reading Mockingjay

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3D shapes have been another huge hit with Rose this week. We got them our for our maths lesson & they just caught her imagination. She built a ‘coal mine of the future’ which was complete with a restaurant & playground (Rose gets the important things in!)

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She went on to build lots of other imaginary buildings & had a delightful time.

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Architects wear red hats, apparently.

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In other news the caterpillars have all cocooned. Here they had begun preparing. We are all very excited!

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The girls began a Botany unit in Science Club this week. We are using Botany In 8 Lessons, but we are working slowly through the text, so it will take longer than 8 sessions 🙂

Today we covered photosynthesis, respiration, & the girls began to make plant cell shrinkies…to be completed next time.

 

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Plus all the regulars; English, maths & Latin. The new resource for Rosie’s Latin & Greek roots I began using last week is still going strong, though she is annoyed at having to write sentences (our previous work was all done orally) Getting this child to write, is like pulling teeth! Thank goodness for Charlotte Mason & short lessons!  This is a smashing printable, with really great graphics to colour in.

Books we are reading this week;

Rose:

The Enchanted Wood

Gazzilions of the Usborne Beginners. She completely adores these books & we are usually getting a couple of new ones each week.

Animalia: Welcome To The Museum

A Child’s History Of The World

Elianna:

Mockingjay

Anne Frank: The Diary Of A Young Girl.

Almost done!!! We are taking a holiday next week, so fingers crossed she will have finished it by the following week.

The View From The Oak – This is a smashing book, recommended by a wonderful friend. A great living science book.

Happy Weekend!

 

Week 28 ~ Creativity Abounds!

We are back on track this week; last week we had our Easter break, and the week before that I did not post as everyone was poorly at various parts of the week!

This week has been lovely – we have had some days of sunshine which reminds us that spring is really here!

Primary Language Lessons had Rose write a letter this week, which she really enjoyed, so much so that she wrote two more letters to family of her own choosing. 11

We all played Math Wars several times this week, after not having played it for a while. (One of our guinea pigs is peeking from his wee sleeping bag on the table, but unfortunately the photograph is too dark to show him)

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The girls did a fun activity together – The Leak-proof Bag Trick which was all about polymers, a smashing activity that was fun & required no prep (other than sharpening a few pencils!)

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Rose rescued a tired Bumble Bee this week. She found it on the lawn, tired out & unable to fly, or even walk. She gave it some honey & watched closely as it used its proboscis to feed. It was soon waving its wee legs around & was flying away in no time at all.

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There has been much creating at our house this week – both girls made signs to put on their bedroom door (they share a room)

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Elianna made a card for a dragon loving friend

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And Rose is working on a secret painting for me for my birthday (here she is drying it part way through, with my heat gun) Clothes are not essentials for artists 😉

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I have been doing quite a bit of painting myself this week. Here are some water colours I have been working on

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Friday is Science Club day. We are working slowly though this KS 3 text which I am pleased with. I loved Building Foundations Of Scientific Understanding so much, and honestly think it is the better book. But, it required too much prep for me & therefore was not getting done, so ultimately the Letts text is turning out to be the better option.

This week was more about atomic structure & we watched some great videos: Models Of The Atom Timeline & This Atomic Structure Activity. Science club is a real hit, I am pleased with how the girls work together & I think they are enjoying working together. Rosie’s friend came over again, so they took our dog to the park & played ‘wars’ while the big girls got on with science 🙂

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Little Passports turned up for Rose, which is always exciting. She decided to organise all the postcards she has received into a scrapbook and played all the online games for this month, which is South Africa.

We did some Nature Study earlier this week. Rose found a caterpillar to study & Elianna drew a fading blossom from our Magnolia tree. Elianna has been reading about Constantinople for history & outlining in her history book.

Plus all the regulars; English, maths & Latin.

Books we are reading this week;

Rose:

Poems To Read To The Very Young

Grimm’s Fairy Tales

Annotated Classic Fairy Tales Fairy Tales are going down a storm with Rose right now – she is lapping them up, making great connections, asking thoughtful questions, & even coming up with scientific ideas, such as the porridge in The Three Bears cools incorrectly (the Middle Bear’s being the coolest)

Gazzilions of the Usborne Beginners

A Child’s History Of The World

Elianna:

Mockingjay

The Annotated Anne Of Green Gables

Anne Frank: The Diary Of A Young Girl

I am finding these ‘teacher guides’ helpful:

Anne Of Green Gables Teacher Guide

Anne Of Green Gables Teacher’s PDF

I have completed my plans for the 2015-2016 school year, which I am very excited about. I really must post them soon!

Happy Weekend!

Week 26 ~ Coal Mining

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The weather has been rather mixed this week, but we have had a couple of lovely nature walks, including one with daddy. As per usual, Rose was off into the water splashing about. Spring has sprung!

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Rose collected lots of lovely, fresh Ramsons, which became part of a lovely dinner that evening.

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Elianna & I travelled on the train to Manchester to meet another home ed family on Monday, so Rose had fun with Granny & Grandad. Tuesday was another day away from home as we visited a local Colliery Museum.

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Rose still has her interest in coal mining, so I was delighted to discover that we actually have a local mining museum!

3What an eye opener, and it really ins’t so far removed from me in both locality & in time. How very different our lives could have been, had we been born a century or two earlier. Most humbling…4

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We had a smashing day with our local Home Ed group, it was a fascinating trip & we ll learned so much. How times have (thankfully) changed.

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Here is Rose ‘clocking on’ for her shift 😉

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10Here is Rose, listening to Fairy Tales. It looks like she is giving the thumbs up sign, but look closely, & you will see her scratching Michael the cat’s chin.12

 

Elianna met with two friends this week for ‘Science Club’ This week we reviewed the particulate nature of matter, atoms, molecules, elements, and compounds. We had some great discussions. The girls are all very enthusiastic & a joy to teach!

 

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Rose got on with some nature study in the garden whilst the big girls worked on their lesson…

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Elianna wrote an ‘Eclipse Myth’ based around British culture. It was a comedic take on the British love of tea & had the moon & sun meeting for afternoon tea…

Plus all the regulars; English, maths & Latin.

I have very little to report in the way of reading this week;

Rose:

The Song OF Hiawatha

Grimm’s Fairy Tales

Gazzilions of the Usborne Beginners

Elianna:

The Children Of Odin

Anne Frank: The Diary Of A Young Girl

I am currently working on my plans for the 2015-2016 school year, which I love to do…I am pretty much there…just undecided on my Literature plans for Elianna…I shall keep you posted

Happy Weekend!

 

 

Week 24 ~ A science-y Sort of Week

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Rose completed her egg experiment by leaving it to soak in coloured water & then after a few days, bursting it. We talked about osmosis & she was utterly fascinated. And it was messy – always a bonus!

Maths is coming along…Rosie is working steadily through Graded Work In Arithmetic, a vintage text which is very solid. This is done orally, or on our whiteboard. It is working right now…

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Greek Myths have taken a back seat this week & lots of Grimm’s Fairy Tales have been read. LOTS. She loves the gore…

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Plus lots of non-fiction reading from her favourite series:Usborne Beginners

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Ellie is really enjoying her reading…The Children Of Odin (Norse Mythology – her favourite) & she is still reading & enjoying Anne Frank: The Diary Of A Young Girl.

We made more ice-cream this week, in honour of our read aloud, Anne Of Green Gables. Essentially, you just make a custard & freeze it. It was utterly delicious!

Rose went through the box in which I keep special items for our nature table. She re-discovered the wooden eggs we have & promptly decided to build a bird’s nest. She wrapped up one of the eggs in cling-film, popped it in the nest & has put the nest in a tree in our garden to see if a bird will use it. I love that child…

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Rose cut up the last of the seeds from her bean experiment & added a wee booklet to her notebook (Parts of a seed shape book)

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There have been lots of froggy goings on in the garden, with Rose keeping a close eye on them

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She has observed them, sketched them, & generally just enjoyed being with them, dancing around with glee each time a new globe of frogspawn appears.

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Elianna has been drawing a lot…still inspired greatly by mythology…

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This week I tentatively invited two friends of Elianna to join us for science once a week. This week one of them was poorly, so I was eased into it with just one extra student! We began with states of matter. The girls worked hard & it all went well. Everyone is really looking forward to these lessons as this week I ordered a bunsen burner! Yay!

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More molecule modelling from Elianna….

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All the regulars, English, maths & Latin & another week is over.

Some of the books we have been reading this week;

Rose:

Favourite Poems Old & New – this is my most favourite poetry book, of all that we own!

The Song OF Hiawatha

Grimm’s Fairy Tales

What Is A Living Thing?

Gazzilions of the Usborne Beginners

Elianna:

The Children Of Odin

The Annotated Anne Of Green Gables

Anne Frank: The Diary Of A Young Girl

I am finding these ‘teacher guides’ helpful:

A Guide For Using D’allaire’s Greek Myths In The Classroom

Anne Of Green Gables Teacher Guide

Anne Of Green Gables Teacher’s PDF

We are meeting with our home ed groups this afternoon…

Happy Weekend!

 

 

 

 

Week 23 ~ 100 Days Of School

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Wednesday was our ‘100th Day Of School’. We always make it a special day; special breakfast, lessons worked around the 100 theme, a little educational gift…but this year I had forgotten all about it until the day before! So, I played it cool & surprised the girls with a trip to a local farm. (Don’t tell them I forgot!)

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As a bonus, Elianna got time to photograph the Banana Snake they have there. She was so excited, as this will be useful for her ‘Mythical Creatures’ art project.

 

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In other news, Rose is making the Herman The German Friendship Cake, which is the activity for week three of Lent in the 40 Acts family guide.

Essentially a sourdough cake, she made the ‘starter’ on Monday & each day we have to tend wee Herman..

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Elianna has made more molecule models

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Rosie with the white board cloth on her head for maths (it helps!)

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Making hydrogen gas with a 9V battery. We used this video.2

The terminal releasing impure oxygen.

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Rose is here with the results of her ‘egg in vinegar’ experiment. We discussed what had happened (the egg shell – calcium carbonate & vinegar – acetic acid, reacted which produced carbon dioxide gas – lots of bubbles – & dissolved the shell!

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She has now added the ‘naked egg’ to a bowl of coloured water…we shall keep you posted!

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Rose dug out our continents jigsaw, which she hasn’t played with for a while…

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Rose & I have read quite a bit of poetry this week. I ordered a lovely book which arrived this week, so we read Hiawatha’s Childhood again, this time with this lovely picture book.

I read some more of The Annotated Anne Of Green Gables to Elianna. She wrote a description of her own playhouse, as was suggested in this great Anne Of Green Gables Teacher’s PDF, and we made ice-cream!

She has also been busy drawing & painting this week:

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Plus all the usuals – narrations, maths, & English for both girls, Latin for Elianna, Latin & Greek roots for Rose.

And finally…our first frog of the year showed his face in our garden pond!

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Some of the books we have been reading this week;

Rose:

Favourite Poems Old & New – this is my most favourite poetry book, of all that we own!

Hiawatha’s Childhood

D’Aulaire’s book of Greek Myths

Grimm’s Fairy Tales

A Little Garden Calendar For Boys & Girls

Gazzilions of the Usborne Beginners

Elianna:

The Children Of Odin

The Annotated Anne Of Green Gables

Anne Frank: The Diary Of A Young Girl

I am finding these ‘teacher guides’ helpful:

A Guide For Using D’allaire’s Greek Myths In The Classroom

Anne Of Green Gables Teacher Guide

Anne Of Green Gables Teacher’s PDF

We are meeting with our home ed groups this afternoon…

Happy Weekend!