My children have been educated at home since pretty much the day they were born, and as such, we’ve always mingled with people who intend, or do, home educate their children. As a result, we’ve come across pretty much every ‘type’ of home educator known to man, I’m sure. From those who do it for religious reasons to those that do it for anti-establishment reasons, from those who do it purely while they wait for schools to come available, to those who do not intend to send their children to school, ever.
We’ve met and engaged with all the styles too, from the extreme unschoolers who don’t even like ‘themed’ activity days at the home ed groups, to those who follow a strict curriculum, from those who teach nothing at all formally, to those who have flashcards for their two year olds. We have met them all.
The biggest shock for me in the home learning networks has been the difference in parenting styles. Our first home educating network consisted mostly of the style of parenting known as attachment parenting or gentle parenting. Subsequent groups introduced us to much stricter, more regimented parenting styles.Read more: Dear Home Ed Mama Who’s Decided To Send Your Child To School
Our first ‘theme’ for the new academic year – such as it is for those of us who learn at home – has been Feelings and Emotions, borne from a few things happening in our family, and a number of occasions where Ameli (6) has said that she can’t explain her feelings, and general outburst of anger from Aviya (4).
I’m never entirely sure how much of what we discus is ‘sinking in’ with the girls, so it’s always rewarding in the days and weeks that follow an activity to see the children refer back to it, or change behaviour based on it. While this theme wasn’t particularly academically approached, more with arts and crafts and fun activities, it was still influential, with both girls coming out of it with a greater ability to ‘use your words’ rather than just shouting.
I chose a range of activities for this week, including foods, crafts, games and activities:
We had two food based activities this week. The first was simple pancakes with fruity faces. You can use any recipe you prefer, and add fruit like blueberries for eyes, bananas or strawberries for a nose and clementines for smiley or sad faces.
Read more: Learning About Feelings And Emotions
We’re busy reading The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford which starts off with a passage describing the landscape around Ontario, Canada, and the wildlife found in the forests. I decided this passage was a great place to do some ‘classifying living things‘.
“… all these human beings together are as a handful of sand upon the ocean shores, and for the most part there is silence and solitude and an uninterrupted way of life for the wild animals that abound there: moose and deer, brown and black bears; lynx and fox; beaver, muskrat and otter; fishers, mink and marten. The wild duck rest there and the Canada goose, for this is a fringe of the central migratory flyway. The clear tree-fringed lakes and rivers are filled with speckled trout and steelheads, pike and pickerel and whitefish.”
I grabbed a bunch of photos from Canadian Geographic and put together a sheet of pictures with categories to divide them into.
I recommend laminating the cards.
Create columns and sort by:
⦁ Bipedal animals and Quadruped animals
⦁ Nocturnal or Diurnal animals
⦁ Terrestrial or Aquatic animals
⦁ Herbivores, Carnivores or Omnivores
⦁ Conservation Status – Common or Endangered
And because most of us haven’t done Animal Sciences in some time, here are the Cambridge Dictionary Definitions to help you out. (Us mamas have to stick together!!)
- Biped – an animal that walks on two legs
- Quadruped – an animal that walks on four legs
- Nocturnal – active during the night
- Diurnal – active during the day
- Terrestrial animals – living on the land rather than in the water or air
- Aquatic animals – living or growing in water
- Herbivore – animal that eats only plants
- Carnivore – animal that eats only animals
- Omnivore – animal that eats plants and animals
I am so excited to hear that we’re expecting a solar eclipse in the UK. We’ve missed things like meteor showers and lunar eclipses over the years usually due to cloud cover, but with the sun – well, dark is dark, so we’ll experience something no matter the weather. In my corner of the world we’re only expecting a 40% darkness, but as you head further up into the UK, there’ll be more to about 94% darkness in Scotland. The last time the UK saw an eclipse like this was in 1999, so this is pretty epic.
You can learn more about what to expect in your zone here:
I intend to take full advantage of this eclipse and make it as engaging a learning experience as possible. I remember seeing a full solar eclipse with my mother as a child, and I intend to make the same memory for my girls.
Here are a few of the Solar Eclipse resources I’ve pulled together so far:
I’ll add some more here if I find more resources to use – and if you have any you’re planning on using pop the link in the comments and we’ll add it here!
Building on the success of our coloured pasta, I thought we’d try the same thing, but with rice. I only made a small amount the first time round to test it and makes sure it worked and I am so thrilled with the result. It looks so good, we think, anyway.
So, the process is simple: mix rice, a little white vinegar and a few drops of food colouring, the more you use the darker the colour will be. And don’t use too much vinegar – you don’t want your rice to go soggy.
Mix it well, then leave it to dry. Once dried, you should have deep and rich colours that are non-toxic to your child.
Don’t they just look so bright and inviting?
Then, mix it all together and you have this gorgeous looking mix of coloured rice, perfect for:
- sensory play – Just run your fingers through it. It’s rather addictive!
- sorting into colours – It is a colour learning exercise, after all.
- fine motor skill development – Try using tweezers or chop sticks… or even little fingers.
- simply playing and having fun – Sit back and watch!
- arts and crafts – Glueing this on to pictures could be great fun too. Try a colour by numbers glueing experiment!
What have you done with coloured rice? Can you think of fun games to play?
Continuing on our current theme of colours, and learning colours, we decided to make a ‘book of colours. This took a little bit of ‘setting up’ on my part, but it wasn’t too hard.
- First I had to make a ‘book’. You could use a ready made one.
- Then I had to prepare each page, which I simply did by writing the names of the colours in the right colours on each page. (Children learn lower case letters first, if I recall, so I wrote it all in lower case).
- I cut loads of pictures of different colours from magazines. Ours are a bit dull as we’re not magazine subscribers, apart from one natural parenting oriented magazine, Juno, which doesn’t really have masses of pictures and I don’t want to cut up, so we just used catalogues that come through the door and pile up in the recycling.) You could print pictures, but this seems a waste of resources to me.
- Our first colour was red so I found all the red crayons, pencils, markers, and pens (and a paint, which hubby vetoed at the last minute!) and laid them all out, ready for use.
- Daddy sat with Ameli and for about an hour, they drew and coloured and pasted together, using and repeating the name of the colour red a myriad of times. They dug through all the cut out pictures looking for red pictures, and glued them, and coloured around them. (Daddy doing most of the drawing, of course!)
- And over a number of days, we’ve introduced a new colour each day, and repeated the process. (Not consecutive days though – we’ve been alternating the Book of Colours with other colour based games too as we don’t want it to seem like a chore!)
Aside from being a good indoor activity, a great way to stay entertained, and a fun thing to do together, it’s made a vast difference to Ameli’s recognition of colours.
For other colour book ideas, check out these then amalgamate the ideas to suit your own needs!