Archive Post: Lunch på Ikea

We had a fun morning at Ikea with a Swedish friend. It was horribly busy, but after we’d finished lunch, my friend showed me the shortcuts through the store so we could escape without dragging the children all the way round.

We reminisced about all the things we missed from Sweden (that you can’t buy at Ikea!): päronsoda and sockerdricka are my two favourites, but I consoled myself with a couple of cans of Kopparberg non-alcoholic pear cider and a big block of Daim chocklad! Mumms!

We also talked about how hard it is to buy Swedish books abroad, even online, since most Swedish bookshops require a Personnummer (well I do have one, but I don’t actually know it… I probably have a card somewhere, but it goes against the grain to use it really) and most of them won’t actually ship utomlands. Ahp! (with a sharp intake of breath)!

Just for fun, I’ll leave you with a video on pronouncing the Ikea product names!


Archive Post: Dagens Nyheter – Flodhäst

Archive post from the Svengelska Hemskolan blog

I got a notice from telling me that I hadn’t posted in 30 days. Wow, 30 days! I knew I hadn’t posted recently, but I didn’t realise it had been so long. Well, apparently, that’s because I haven’t had anything Sweden-related to relate.

I did meet my local Swedish-Finnish friend briefly in passing and had a quick samtal på svenska, and we both agreed that we must meet again for coffee, but didn’t make a date.

We’re not actually actively learning Swedish for school at the moment, so I don’t focus my thoughts on Sweden and Swedish as I would if we still were. Perhaps we’ll try again another time, but at the moment it’s a struggle just to do the ‘three R’s’.

I do have a poster map of Sweden up on the wall alongside a post-card of Mamma Mu (the singing cow) and a beautifully painted calligraphed Swedish alphabet including the three ‘extra letters’: å, ä and ö, and these caught Pony-rider’s eye a few days ago, so that prompted a little conversation, but no real interest in learning the language.

When I get round to it, I will post some reviews of Sweden-related things that we enjoy.

In the meantime, I thought I would give you a Swedish word to try on for size:

Flodhäst – Hippopotamus

(literally, river-horse) Dragon-tamers is just telling me, “that’s what Hippopotamus actually means!”

pronounced: flowed-hest

When we lived in Sweden, there was a children’s television programme about horses entitled ‘Hippo’.

Don’t ask me why I chose that word, no reason at all that I can think of. Just a word I like the sound of. 😀

Archive Post: Mamma Mu

Archive post from the Svengelska Hemskolan blog:

One of our all-time favourite resources for learning Swedish is the Mamma Mu series of CD’s.

Mamma Mu

I’m not sure this will work, but hopefully you’ll be able to play the torrent of the CD “Visor för hela kroppen” – Songs for the whole body
here. [Edit: that link seems to have disappeared, so here is a video instead]

Our favourite is track 16, “Veckovisan” – The Week Song. I did try to find the lyrics online, but can’t find them so if I get a chance I’ll get them myself and add them here.

In the meantime, here are the veckodagarna – Days of the Week in Swedish:

Söndag – Sunday
Måndag – Monday
Tisdag – Tuesday
Onsdag – Wednesday
Torsdag – Thursday
Fredag – Friday
Lördag – Saturday

Note that Swedish days don’t need a capital letter in the middle of a sentence like English days do.

Ha en trevlig helg! Have a nice weekend!

Archive Post: Sommaren i City

Archive Post from the Svengelska Hemskolan blog:

The summer school holidays are officially upon us, and all of the children’s activities are finished until the new school term starts in September: swimming, gymnastics, trampolining, Irish Dancing, Girls’ & Boys’ Brigade, German and Hebrew. I’m really relieved as actually that level of activity was beginning to create burnout for me, as well as costing way too much, and I realised that we were hardly managing to get anything done at home – both in terms of housework and schoolwork.

I’m weighing up whether or not we should take a long summer ‘holiday’ from homeschool. We have a lot of work to catch up on, but I am *so* tired! So I’m not planning to go back to most of the activities in September, and I’m thinking of getting the book “Homeschool Family Fitness” and trying to do more ourselves, and I’d like to do a bit more with languages at home. Still not sure how – I may use some of the money we’re saving on more curriculum items. I’ll post what I’m planning to use later.

In the meantime, here is some Swedish vocabulary connected with the summer:

Sommar – Summer (en) definite = sommaren
Sommarstängt – closed for the summer (see the original post on this blog)
Jordgubbe – Strawberry, (literally, earth chap) plural = jordgubbar
Smultron – Wild Strawberries
Grädde – cream (to go with your strawberries)
Sommarstuga – summer cottage, typically on the
Skärgården – the Swedish archipelago
Sol – sun (en) definite = solen

I’ll leave you with some very typically Swedish pop-music:

Sommaren i City – Angel

Archive Post: Gunga och Rutschkana på Parken

We met our Swedish-Finnish friend Tieja again for our monthly coffee date, this time at the park by the lake (we thought we’d reserve Ikea for rainy days!).

It’s funny how you remember words you haven’t thought of for years when you hear them – like the word ‘gunga’ – swing (noun and verb, just like in English), and ‘rutschkana’ – slide (just a noun, as far as I know).

When we lived in Sweden and Dragon-tamer was little, the ‘rutschkana’ was their absolute favourite thing in the playground. I can hardly believe it was 10* years ago now.

I asked them if they still had any memories of Dagis (short for ‘daghem’ – day-home; in other words ‘nursery’). They hardly remember it at all really, apart from a favourite toy – an amazing water track contraption. I wondered whether the Dagis teachers were still there. It would be nice to go back and visit. I thought we’d do it last year, but we still don’t even have passports, so it’s looking less and less likely that we’ll even manage it this year, but you never know.

Homeschool is being drowned out a bit by ‘life’ at the moment, but I keep thinking that I would like to try and teach the children some Swedish so they’d be able to speak a little if and when we do visit. They do recognise the sound of it, which is good, I think – they can tell it apart from French or German or Hebrew.

Well, we’ll see how we go. I’m looking out for any good teaching materials for Swedish as a second language for children. If I find any, I’ll let you know.



[This post was originally published on the Svengelska Hemskolan blog, * it is now 20 years ago!]

Studying Health and Nutrition the Fun Way, and Swedish Välling

We are on a bit of a ‘health-kick’ here right now – we’ve invested in a juicer, a manual grain-mill, and we are sprouting seeds, making coconut yoghurt and kefir, brewing kombucha, and having all sorts of fun! My 12yos is even growing wheatgrass to juice (they love the whole process! Though I am the only one who is willing to drink the stuff!)

I discovered that grain is easier to store for longer than flour, and there are advantages to milling your own grain in that the nutrients present in the flour begin to dissipate following the first 48 hours after milling. I’m reading a book called “Nourishing Traditions” which talks about the necessity of soaking grains the old-fashioned way, so we’ll try that some time too.


This got me to thinking about Välling – the staple drink for babies in Sweden. I assumed it was something you had to buy ready-made, like rusks (does anybody remember having Farley’s rusks for breakfast?!) But then I found a really simple recipe:

Skrädmjölsvälling 1port


Skrädmjöl 2-4 tsk
Vatten 2 dl

Gör så här

Koka upp tillsammans under omrörning och söta gärna med honung eller fruktsaft. Önskad mängd vatten kan naturligtvis bytas ut mot mjölk.

Basically, what you do is boil 2-4 teaspoons of flour, it can be wheat, whole wheat, rye, or oats, with 2dl water or milk. Stir constantly. Add salt and sugar (honey) if you want to and think the taste requires it.

Basically, I don’t recommend it – paediatricians in the UK and the US (and, I suspect, the World Health Organisation) don’t recommend wheat for babies under 8 months old, and don’t recommend putting any cereal, no matter how thin, in a baby’s bottle due to the risk of choking. Not to mention, don’t ever give babies salt! (And no honey before 8 months either.)

Another interesting fact that I discovered when my brother was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease is that it is a disease commonly found in Swedish people among others, and the suggestion at least on the Swedish side is too early introduction of wheat – before a baby’s digestive system is mature enough to stop the wheat particles from entering into the bloodstream.

Nevertheless, Välling is something so homely and comforting I can’t imagine Swedish people giving it up any time soon!

If you’re in the US, you can try and buy Välling at (Just don’t give it to your kids) 😉


[Originally posted on the Svengelska Hemskolan blog]

p.s. Although I do love the book Nourishing Traditions, and I’m completely sold on the idea of the necessity of raw fermented foods in our diets, NT also advocates the ‘old fashioned’ eating of meat. I accept that there’s a valid health argument in the book for questioning our modern diets (the chapter on fats makes really interesting reading), but I reject its conclusions on ethical grounds.  So if you’re vegan/ vegetarian, you might want to be aware of that before thinking about purchasing the book.

High Culture: Closed for the Winter


We started the day with Latin: Dragon-tamer orally going through the noun tables and verb paradigms we have learnt so far, and reviewing vocabulary, and finally doing a simple translation exercise that involved placing the correct words in sentences. He did quite well considering we only do it occasionally. Pony-rider listens in too.

As we are fairly relaxed and unschooly, I never insist we do these or any other lessons. My goal in introducing Latin, and other languages, is to give the kids a flavour of the language so if they decide they want to take it up seriously, they can.

We all listened to a children’s classical CD (Bernstein Favourites: Children’s Classics), and Dragon-Tamer dictated a couple of music reviews which I typed up and posted on to our local home-ed reading group website.

We thought that, in the afternoon, we would just ‘pop in’ to the local museum, or gallery, but when I checked their opening hours, I discovered that both are closed: the Gallery for two weeks while they change exhibits, and the Museum for the whole winter (except for education groups of 20 or more children… so possible to organise for a later date but no good for today).

Disappointed, we discussed other alternatives for the afternoon, but nobody could agree, and since Motor-biker was poorly with a slight temperature, we opted for a quiet afternoon in, watching nature programmes and schools maths programmes recorded earlier.

Originally posted on the Svengelska Hemskolan blog.

The Avion My Uncle Flew


‘The Avion My Uncle Flew’ by Cyrus Fisher, 1946

I have been meaning to review this book for ages, as it was definitely a family favourite, and probably our top literature choice of 2015.

The book was recommended to us by a friend as a super way to introduce the French language at the same time as studying the post-war period through children’s historical fiction.

The story is written in such a clever way – the main character is sent to his uncle’s village in France to convalesce and recover after breaking his leg back home in America, and strikes a deal with his parents that, if he manages to be walking again and if he has learned to speak French by the end of the summer, they will get him a fancy new bicycle.

Johnny stays with his uncle in a boarding house in the village because their home had been destroyed in the war, but the uncle is working on making an aeroplane of his own design, to reverse their fortunes, and so he does what he can to help as his leg improves.

So as we follow the story of his recovery, we also follow his learning the language. We start off by learning the odd single word in a sentence, and by the end of the book there are whole pages in French.

In addition, the story is interwoven with a spy mystery and adventure as Johnny discovers that not all is as it seems in the sleepy French village in the mountains.

“Seldom do we find so happy a combination of charm of
Style, local color, humor and thumping good adventure as is set forth in this tale.” – School Library Journal

Lots of fun! Highly recommended as a read-aloud.



When Stora Pojken was little, we were given a beautiful book called “Blå Barnkammarboken” which roughly translates the Blue bed-time book.

When we went to lessons at the Swedish school, one of the teachers was using another, Silver bed-time book of songs which included a CD, and a few weeks ago when I was looking for resources for learning Swedish, I discovered there is now a whole range of books in the series, ranging from anthologies for very young children right through to ghost stories for older children.

When we got our copy of Blå barnkammarboken, they didn’t include CDs, but I have found a place online where you can listen to samples and buy MP3s here. [note, that’s not the link that was in the original post, but that’s lost, can’t find it again.]

Track 3 is a little song called “Små grodorna”, and it goes like this:

“Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se,
Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se,
ej öron, ej öron, ej svansar havar de,
ej öron, ej öron, ej svansar havar de,
ku-ack-ack-ack, ku-ack-ack-ack, ku-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack,
ku-ack-ack-ack, ku-ack-ack-ack, ku-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack!
Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se,
Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se”

And the translation:

“The little frogs, the little frogs are funnny to see,
The little frogs, the little frogs are funny to see!
No ears, no ears, no tails have they,
No ears, no ears, no tails have they!
(And then they sing the Swedish equivalent of ‘rebbit’ or ‘croak’ or whatever it is that English frongs say – ku-ack-ack-ack!
The little frogs, the little frogs are funny to see!”

It’s an absolute must-learn traditional Swedish Dagis nursery rhyme, and you’re really not culturally literate in Sweden without knowing it!

Roligt, va!

Over to you:

Which language(s) are you learning / teaching in your homeschool?

If you or your children are learning an obscure language, how and where are you finding resources and community to help you learn?

How Did We Get Here?

I don’t know what happened to November! The last few months seem to have been a blur – less of frenetic activity, and more of illness and confusion. As often happens in a big family, we all take it in turns to get sick, so we can have back-to-back colds and bugs for weeks on end.

Dragon-tamer and Pony-rider dropped out of their course, as it didn’t seem to be leading anywhere and it was eating up their whole week with no obvious benefit. That seemed to be the right decision, but neither of them have any ideas or plans about what to do next.

Meanwhile, Motor-biker and Baba-zonee have started joining in with our local home ed sports group, and may join in with more if they carry on home educating, but we have been talking and wondering about the possibility – in view of their severe dyslexia – of either going in to school, or flexi-schooling. I feel as though I am out of my depth and can’t help them much further.

We haven’t been on many outings otherwise because I haven’t been well enough to drive, but we do seem to have been out to endless hospital appointments (with Daddy driving), doing a tour of hospitals around Barnstaple, Holsworthy, Exeter and Truro lately! Not really my idea of fun, and not really terribly educational!

Although we have been plodding along in our various curriculum books, we don’t seem to have made much progress, or felt like we have learned much. The most educational thing we have enjoyed during the Autumn term is Stephen Fry’s documentary series Planet Word on language.

We have three weeks left now before Christmas, and I think we will just gently plod on, but then we’ll take a break to think about what we want to do next year.

We have inherited a couple of old black and white border collie sheepdogs from my mother-in-law, so our next adventure is to get used to having dogs again. Hopefully we will be able to take them onto the beaches and out in the countryside which will be educational in itself.