On Creativity

Hunca Munca by Rosie
Hunca Munca by Rosie

There is a really great guest post by Anne White on Brandy’s blog. Part of a series, it is called “Myth: Reading and narration are the sum total of a Charlotte Mason Education.”

I first became acquainted with the ideas of Charlotte Mason when my eleven year old was a baby. Wonderfully inspired, I began to learn about, and follow her principles. As we moved into & progressed through formal education I was tempted to add other things in…the sorts of things Anne discusses in the article:

“We assume that it won’t work to simply teach the Middle Ages from a book of history, or to read an entire book about Robin Hood, and to do copywork or keep a Book of Centuries, because that’s not what the public schools do when they study the Middle Ages. We should be spending a great deal of time on the innards of castles, and doing dragon art. We should be including time-travel novels and fictional diaries of imaginary young squires or princesses, because that’s what children will relate to. Perhaps we can even have them film stop-motion videos based on those books. Or, if we’re looking for more serious work, we can buy study guides filled with questions and vocabulary, maybe a crossword or two, and assignments for research papers.”

I have found, with my own children, that when I strip back the busy work, and focus on the skills that Charlotte proposed; reading, narrating, copywork, & dictation etc, my children use the time they have available, and the space they have in their imaginations, to go on to create.

Creativity is the highest level in Bloom’s taxonomy. I see it expressed in other systems of learning too:

In Lectio Divina, a a traditional Christian practice, we see three stages of learning:scriptural reading, meditation and response in the form of prayer and action. This is discussed in the wonderful video from CAP featuring Jenny Rallens “Liturgy of the Classroom” This video is a must see! So very inspiring.

In the Trivium we see three stages; Grammar – obtaining the basic facts and skills Logic – which addresses the ‘why’ of a subject & finally Rhetoric – the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing; the ability to create a well reasoned argument.

In Reflection, self awareness & critical thinking – Ebby 2000 the three stages are shown as “self awareness, critical thinking & reflection”

In The Private Eye the stages are Explore, make analogies, theorise.

Charlotte Mason’s lessons follow a similar pattern…First read the new text, then narrate, then discuss…enter ‘The Grand Conversation’. Create in one’s mind thoughts that connect with other ideas & experiences.

Watercolour in the Garden
Watercolour in the Garden

This is so very exciting to me! And I am struggling to put into words the the ideas I have on this subject. But these very simple, age-old steps, lead to a great & rich education. These unadorned steps that Charlotte would have us follow, lead to creativity within our children.

The Nine Norse Realms
The Nine Norse Realms

Simple, though does not always mean easy. My homeschool requires a lot of effort on my part. I would like to compare my efforts to a swimming swan…serene on the surface, with a lot going on behind the scenes! I spend time pre-reading our read aloud choices, making copious notes, researching allusions etc. This gives the preparedness I need to be able to discuss ideas with my girls. Not just tick the books off the list… My youngest daughter acts out the stories we are reading with puppets & soft toys, she draws pictures & paints with watercolour. My eldest creates poetry, paintings of mythological worlds & most recently a clay model of Jotunheim.

Making Jotunheim
Making Jotunheim

Creativity is the highest level in these various ideas & the fact that my children are doing this of their own accord is so greatly encouraging to me!

“Self-education is the only possible education; the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child’s nature” Charlotte Mason

Poppies by Rose
Poppies by Rose

Little Passports

Little Passports
Little Passports

Rosie’s first parcel from Little Passports arrived this week.

It was greeted with much excitement & fervour, opened immediately, and the activities completed within the hour!

The initial package contains a letter from Sam & Sofia; the imaginary children that are writing to your child from various destinations around the globe, a passport, boarding pass, stickers, wall map, activity sheets and finally a Little Passports suitcase. This is designed for the child to keep all of the items sent in future packages. It is sturdy & well made & Rose was soooooo excited to have one!

She first added the stickers of Sam & Sofia to her suitcase, then completed her passport, filling in her name & address, plus the other couple of questions in there which really engaged her. Next she chose to play the activities online. The ‘boarding pass’ the child receives has a special code, which allows them to access various online games, puzzles, quizzes, and other activities. Rose whizzed through these, playing them all, then she wanted to complete the activity sheets, which she had fun with. One of the games on the activity sheets lets your child know which country Sam & Sofia will be visiting next. Oooh! The excitement!

I am really delighted with Little Passports. Rose whizzed through this first package, but she is able to go back & play all the online activities at any time. I think the main benefits for me are the following; I was looking for an activity for Rose that she could work on at her own pace & have me as involved or uninvolved as she liked. The first package is of really high quality and & I pleased that this structured activity will be dropping through my door once a month.

Being a Charlotte Mason inspired family, of course there will be books! Here are the main resources I will be using to go with Little Passports:

If The World Were A Village: A fantastic, thought provoking book, which explains facts about the world’s population in a simple and fascinating way.

Material World:This book shows ‘average’ families from various countries, photographed with all their possessions.

Hungry Planet: What The World Eats: Again, a book filled with informative photographs, revealing what people eat during the course of one week.

I will also be taking books out from our local library each month, to read about the individual countries, and I plan for Rose & I to create some national dishes from the various countries.

I hope this gives a little insight into what is included with Little Passports. Here is a link that gives more information about the various packages.

Happy Weekend!

Week 5 ~ Reading & Creating

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October is here! We have had gorgeous weather again, mixed with rainy days…perfect home schooling weather…

We read a lot of poetry here..one of our selections this week was from ‘Around the Year’ by Elsa Beskow

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We ate Blackberry jam tarts and dragon bread on Michaelmas

Blackberry Jam Tarts
Blackberry Jam Tarts

The girls have spent a lot of time reading

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Our reading time is early in the morning…7am to be precise! I get up between 5 & 6 am, have some quiet time & a shower, then I wake the girls, & everyone troops downstairs in their pyjamas. I read to them from our current read aloud & from our poetry books, then they read to themselves for 20-30 minutes. I also read with Rosie during the day. This is where Beatrix Potter is coming into our day right now. We cuddle up together on the sofa & read ‘popcorn’ style ~ taking it in turns to read a page.

Ellie tends to do her assigned reading at bedtime, with a cup of tea & a biscuit! At the moment, she is reading Twilight ChildThe Story Of The Romans and Age of Fable. Twilight child is usually read one chapter a day, The Story of The Romans & Age of Fable are a couple of chapters a week. Age of Fable we read together, again popcorn style. It is an extremely ‘meaty’ book, with complex sentence structures, rich vocabulary & big ideas to consider. She is very taken with Astraea, & wants to create some art inspired by her, so we shall see where that goes. Ellie is very deeply interested in myths and has a real passion for them. She has been reading D’Aulaire’s Book of Norse Myths and D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths, which are both beautiful, classic books.

This week has brought several new books into our home…The Orchard Book Of Roman Myths  & D’Aulaire’s Book Of Trolls for Ellie, these wee ‘fact’ books for Rose; Dogs, Cats and Farm Animals. We literally have heaps of these Usbourne books & Rose devours them. More Beatrix Potter books arrived too. We have all her tales in our Treasury, but Rose prefers the wee individual books. Squirrel Nutkin, The Story Of a Fierce Bad Rabbit and Little Pig Robinson all arrived.

There has also been a lot of creating going on this week…Rose has been working on her water colour, plus freeform painting in the garden.

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She made monster puppets…

Rosie's Monsters!
Rosie’s Monsters!

Masks…

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Sketches…

Sketches by Rose
Sketches by Rose

And Elianna has been working on a clay model of Jotunheim.

Jotunheim
Jotunheim

Both girls are working on small tapestries; Elianna is working on something to hang on her bedroom door – it says ‘Warning! Danger’ & Rose is working on a tapestry of a wee squirrel.

Tapestry
Tapestry

I chose this one as it ties in nicely with The Tale Of Squirrel Nutkin. Rose has also enjoyed lots of imaginative playtime with finger puppets this week. Using an owl & a squirrel to play ‘Squirrel Nutkin’.

Last week I mentioned I was changing up our science plans. Building foundations of scientific understanding is the resource I am planning to use. I really like the idea of laying down foundations, mastering a topic before moving on. It does, however, require a lot of teacher prep for the science-phobe such as myself…I shall see how I get on, if I can do it, it will be worth the effort.

We began with the Physical Science thread – Energy C1 Making things go.

Fortunately as we began the lesson Rose dropped a full jar of tiny golden cake decorating balls all over the floor! This made for a great example of gravity & movement (mechanical) energy!

Can you spy the teeny golden balls all over the floor?
Can you spy the teeny golden balls all over the floor?

We worked through the lesson, then played Energy Flows, the girls wrote in their science notebooks, & we finished off by watching Bill Nye The Science Guy – Energy.

Little Passports arrived this week! That deserves a post all to itself 🙂

Little Passports
Little Passports

Some of the books we have been reading this week:

The Tales of Beatrix Potter

The Water Babies

The World of Columbus & His Sons

Twilight Child

Age of Fable

The Story Of The Romans

D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths

The Orchard Book Of Roman Myths

D’Aulaire’s Book Of Trolls

Mountains of Usborne Beginners fact books.

Various comic books

Lots & lots of poetry ~ focusing on Beatrix Potter & Walter de la Mare.

Happy Weekend!

Beatrix Potter

Hunca Munca by Rosie
Hunca Munca by Rosie

Rosie is going through a delightful phase of being enchanted by all things Beatrix Potter. The tales were read to her when she was smaller, but now she is enjoying reading them to herself. They make for delightful reading & the sentence structure, & language sometimes challenges her.

I wanted to make the most of this interest & have come up with some ideas to keep this love burning for a little while. This is not a unit study by any means, just some ideas to enrich her reading.

Discussion

I usually ask Rose to narrate her readings & I found a handy-dandy Story Chart to use for narrations about the tales of ‘naughty’ animals. Simple, but useful for furthering our discussions about what has happened in each story.

Read

For me to read to Rosie:

My Dear Noel The story of how ‘Peter Rabbit’ came to be

Nothing is Impossible. The Story of Beatrix Potter

Poetry

Appley Dapply’s Nursery Rhymes

Cecily Parsley’s Nursery Rhymes

Writing

Copywork from her favourite tales

Have Rosie write her own simple ‘naughty’ animal story. Again, another handy-dandy story planning chart!

Art

Drawing & painting inspired by the illustrations of Beatrix Potter.

Nature Study

Time for her to observe wildlife & also our pets. As a wonderful home educator pointed out to me; Squirrel Nutkin was so hysterical because Beatrix captured what a naughty squirrel would be like & that talent came from hours just observing squirrels.

To consider:

How does Beatrix Potter’s life compare with Rosie’s life?

The personality traits of the naughty animals

The difficulties they got into

I am really enjoying infusing our days with the richness & beauty of these timeless tales and Rosie is thoroughly enjoying herself.

“Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.”

Beatrix Potter

Week Four

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The week began beautifully with the scent of Autumn in the air! Tuesday was the Autumnal Equinox and the nights have begun to draw in..

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But back to Monday…Monday saw our Pond study. It was a glorious afternoon, sunny & warm. We had been at the pond a little while, then suddenly a duck came scuttering out of the reeds, clearly in distress. Its head was bobbing under the water, then its whole body would follow. It was a very sad sight to see. Ellie quickly pulled of her boots & tights & waded in with a net & brought the poor fellow out.

Rescuing The Duck
Rescuing The Duck

He was in a poor state; a small wound to his neck, his head he could not hold up, and he was exhausted.

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We made him as comfortable as we could in Rosie’s jacket & drove to our local vet.

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The vet confirmed my fears. His neck was broken & he was put to sleep. We were all very upset. He was one of the baby Mallards. This would have been his first winter.

Rest in peace Jonathan Puddleduck

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Ellie Working in Her Latin Sticker Book
Ellie Working in Her Latin Sticker Book

In happier home education news, Ellie took a break from her regular Latin book & worked in her Latin Words Sticker Book. She has made flash cards for the new words, so we can practice those with the rest of our memory work.

Can You See The Square Numbers Model?
Can You See The Square Numbers Model?

As we have been memorising square numbers, I got the girls to make a model with cuisenaire rods of the square numbers to 10. I have to confess that until recently, I did not know why square numbers were called square…

More Cuisenaire Rods
More Cuisenaire Rods
Rsoie Working On 'Hunca Munca'
Rsoie Working On ‘Hunca Munca’

Rosie has done quite a lot of watercolour this week. We had a good play with our palettes, seeing what different colours we could create.

Hunca Munca
Hunca Munca by Rose
Poppies by Rose
Poppies by Rose

I have decided to change up how we are studying science, so after a little research I have decided to go with the Building Foundations Of Scientific Understanding Series. I have purchased the first two books, but at the author’s recommendation, we will be starting with book one (even thought this is for K-2!) It is very parent intensive from what I understand, so I am looking forward to spending the weekend reading through the introduction & planning out the first ‘thread’ of the book that we will be following.

We have begun a demonstration from Cool Chemistry Concoctions ~ hopefully making stalactites & stalagmites!

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The girls also painted their batiks that we began last week. Once they are dry, we can wash out the glue.

Aslan by Rose
Aslan by Rose
The White Witch's Sleigh
The White Witch’s Sleigh by Ellie

Some of the books we have been reading this week:

The Tales of Beatrix Potter

The Water Babies

The World of Columbus & His Sons

By Pond & River

Twilight Child

Age of Fable

The Story Of The Romans

D’Aulaire’s Book of Norse Myths

Various comic books

Lots & lots of poetry ~ focusing on Beatrix Potter & Walter de la Mare.

Rose is really taken with Beatrix Potter’s Tales right now. She has been playing with our old dolls house in the attic since re-reading The Tale Of Two Bad Mice. She has a little stuffed mouse that has become ‘Tom Thumb’ so I picked up my knitting needles & got cracking on knitting a Hunca Munca for her. Hopefully she will be done this weekend!

We are off to our home ed group meet up this afternoon to spend time with friends….

Happy Weekend!