Archive Post: Firecrest


I thought I would share what we’ve learnt this morning.

We were reading about the ‘firecrest’, which is apparently one of the UK’s smallest (if not *the* smallest) bird, though I had never heard of it before now.

I checked it out on the RSPB’s website, and was pleased to find that they have a sample of its song together with lots of information:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/firecrest/

We’re just on the edge of being in the right area to find the firecrest, so I will have to make a note to look for it when we go out towards the south-east.

The book we were reading, by the way (if any of you are interested) is ‘366 and more Nature Stories‘, published by Brown Watson.

The author is Anne-Marie Dalmais with illustrations by Annie Bonhomme. It seems to have been written originally in Europe (printed in Milan) and is translated into English and edited by Colin Clark. It is a great book for nature study, with short and sweet little stories every day of the year.

It is available through used booksellers.

 

 

[Originally posted on my Multiply blog]

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High Culture: Closed for the Winter

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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.

Birthday Fun

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We have a birthday coming up this week, and we’re heading out to a second showing of Star Wars as one of the birthday treats. It’s always a challenge to organise presents and parties for birthdays so close to Christmas, and it’s difficult to make them memorable, as they’re normally quiet, family affairs.

When birthdays fall during the ‘school’ week, though, it is nice as home educators to have the freedom to take time off from academics to go on outings, or just to chill out for the day.

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I thought I would share this birthday memory from the Svengelska Hemskolan archive:

We’ve been gearing up for a birthday this week, so we have managed only to get very little formal ‘schooly’ work done. On Tuesday we received a CD of stories and nursery rhymes from a toddler-group we used to go to (produced and recorded by the group and the Library service), which proved to be really popular. It reminded me that we used to sit down everyday and have music-time with nursery rhymes and action songs, but we haven’t done it for a long while.

On Wednesday, the birthday boy got to choose all our activities, so we ended up watching “The Blue Planet” on DVD (one of his presents) most of the morning, and in the afternoon we went for a walk in Salcey Forest with a group of friends. The children particularly enjoyed running and jumping along the tree-top ‘Elephant’ walk and jumping in muddy puddles! (Mummy was slightly less enthusiastic!)

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More recently, I have tried to re-introduce music time or circle time as part of our ‘Morning Time‘ (see Cindy Rollins’ lovely Ordo Amoris blog for details.) But right now all our music books (we love the books from A & C Black such as ‘Okki-Toki-Unga’ and ‘The Jolly Herring’ amongst others) are all in storage so I’m not sure what shape our music time will take from now on. Dragon-tamer has discovered that he loves the Beatles, so we may learn some of their songs to sing, just for fun. I remember learning ‘Yellow Submarine’ at school myself. Thank goodness for the internet! I don’t know how we ever coped without it!

Celtic Homeschooling

It is no secret that one of my greatest joys is the discovery of Celtic Christian spirituality.

When we left the city, I was no longer able to attend a Messianic congregation, so I was essentially presented with three options: Anglican, Methodist or stay at home.

For most of the first three years, I stayed at home. Eventually I tried the Methodist and didn’t like it, but then I tried the Anglican and found that for various reasons, I loved it, and then out of Anglicanism I stumbled on Celtic Christianity, and I fell in love. 🙂

For anybody not familiar with Celtic Christianity, here are just some of its essential elements:

– A hopeful, positive outlook
– Love for nature and the outdoors
– An admiration and enjoyment of great stories, whether heard, read, or seen
– An emphasis on the ties that bind—kinship, friendship, anamchara (soul friend or mentor), community, and hospitality
– A lack of authoritarianism and compulsion, and thus freedom of conscience

What does this have to do with home education, I hear you ask?

Well, gradually it has dawned on me that one of the reasons that I feel so at home in Celtic Christianity is that I am by nature Celtic – both by ethnic heritage and by temperament – and it got me wondering about Celtic education.

As one does, when one suspects one has an original idea, I googled Celtic homeschool, and of course it does already exist, but in much the same way as the Celtic peoples and languages, it is small and on the fringe. It hasn’t been taken up in a big way like Classical (Latin / Roman / Greek) education has been. (Take a look at my page on Celtic homeschool above for links.)

I plan to write a longer post to discuss what Celtic home education might consist of, but for now let me suggest the following ideas:

– An emphasis on oral, rather than the written word
– Storytelling
– Celtic languages
– Celtic history and geography, preferably through hands-on, living experience
– Music, especially Celtic folk music, preferably through hands-on, having a go at playing and learning through doing
– Irish dancing
– Nature study
– Learning outdoors

That’s just a quick list of the top of my head, and I’m sure there is more that could be considered. But you can probably see immediately that there is some overlap and affinity with Charlotte Mason education (and although it is less obvious, I have also seen a deep affinity with Jewish thinking and being and learning), and I think that is one of the things that has made the whole concept of Celtic education appeal to me. It’s not a huge step away from what we are currently doing and what we have always naturally leaned towards.

Having moved house again, this time to a new build, we have been left once again (for six weeks so far) without telephone, internet and – because we only access it via the internet – television.

It has been painful, but it has forced us to look for other styles of entertainment, and we have found ourselves naturally singing more, listening to music more, making music more, talking more, reading more aloud, and it has struck me that this has been a natural (though enforced) move towards a Celtic kind of lifestyle, and it is something I would love to maintain and encourage even when (if!) we have our technological services restored.

On that note, I will leave you with a quote from Ian Bradley’s lovely book “The Celtic Way”:

“Only by recovering the Celtic values of imagination, instinct and identification with nature […can we…] have any real hope of breaking out of the alienation and exile caused by technology…”

January Nature Notes

One of my favourite resources is a very old cloth-bound book, “Enid Blighton’s Book of the Year“. My revised edition is dated 1950 and is a classic that really ought to be reprinted. Enid Blighton fell out of favour, of course, and many of her stories would be considered inappropriate nowadays; but she was very knowledgeable and her writings on nature are very Charlotte-Mason-esque, so I’m rather fond of her, on balance.

enid-blytons-book-of-the-year-1Each month has its own chapter, which includes a motto for the month, stories, puzzles, plays and songs and – the reason I love it so – nature notes on weather, birds, trees, flowers, animals and insects.

We started our week by filling out our RSPB Big Garden Survey form (which we’ll post rather than register online, as we’re old-fashioned like that).

And I thought I would share with you today’s poem, from Enid Blighton’s book:

“The Blackbird is Singing”

Here’s the new year – now what will it bring?
Apples in Autumn, bluebells in spring,
Pussy-palm soft as a grey kitten’s fur,
Poppies-a-dancing when summer winds stir,
Yellow-clad fields where the butter-cups gleam,
New little ducks on the chattering stream,
Eggs in the hedgerows, lambs skipping by,
Woods full of primroses, little and shy.
Yellow bees droning in summery heat,
Early nuts ripening, blackberries sweet;
All these and more the New Year is bringing –
Really, no wonder the blackbird is singing!

We are invited to write out the poem and then underline the first letter of each line: “Read them downwards, and you will find there is a message for you from the blackbird.” 🙂

Review of the Week

Just a quick review of the week, because we still haven’t quite got in a new routine in our new house in this new year yet!

We’ve been to the library a couple of times, and taken out more books than we can carry. Ds12 said half-jokingly that he though we already have more books than our tiny local library, and if we had another house next to our house, we could open our own library! 😀

Library book topics this week include: birds and insects, and Denmark. (I know, odd collection!) This weekend we’ll take part in the RSPB Big Garden Watch Survey, counting the birds in our garden, and I’m aiming on starting regular Nature Walks again.

We’ve visited with some other home educating families, and played with their chickens and rabbits and the children have started back at their weekly after-school and evening activities (at the moment, we’ve got climbing, swimming, dancing, drama, choir, scouts and a little church group between the 4 children) and we’ve been to beach a couple of times.

We haven’t done a whole lot of academic work yet. A bit of reading (me to them and them to me) – literature, a bit of science etc. but no formal lessons yet.

Our book of the week is “The Avion My Uncle Flew” which is a lovely story of an American boy who ends up living in France with his Oncle and the clever way in which he learns to speak French. By the end of the book there is a section entirely in French. We’re not quite halfway through yet, so we’ll carry on with this one next week too.

Then to finish the week, we’re watching “War Horse” to kick off this year’s centenary of the First World War. I’ll be gathering resources over the next little while to do a study project – recommendations would be welcome.