Our home education journey
Moving on to what's inside Lizzie's learning drawers, we try to do something from the Phonics, Writing & Maths drawers daily, and loop through the other drawers. We also loop through the activities in the drawers to keep things interesting.
We always start out by practicing the sounds she has already learnt and then focusing on a new sound using the phonics toolkit, then play one of the activities that comes with the kit, and finish up with practicing the high-frequency sight words. (Hopefully this toolkit will be available in our shop shortly). After using the toolkit, we do some reading practice either using the Moffat Girls 'I Can Read' booklets, or one of the readers which I switch out regularly. We don't often use the Fairy-tale Phonics book, I've left it in for now, but if it's still not being used I'll probably remove it for next term.
I'm really pleased with how the writing drawer has come on. She has pretty much finished our home-made Star Wars handwriting boards so I'm working on a new handwriting practice book for the shop which will be added to this drawer shortly. We are also loving the addition of the wooden letter boards from Treasures from Jennifer. I've kept in the story cards, although should probably swap them out for another topic but have also added this wipe clean story starters book, as we are beginning to work on written composition.
This term I've thinned down the contents of our maths drawer a lot, this is Lizzie's favourite subject at the moment, but she had definite preferences as to what she wants to do. We currently have two maths courses in here, the Star Wars maths skills (she LOVES this book, it's a treat) and the Heinemann Year 1 books. I've also added in the Moffat Girls Telling the Time pack to stretch her knowledge in this area. We use the wipe clean cards a couple of times a week to practice her teen numbers. At present we don't use my own maths toolkit very much, so I need to put some more work into that and get the challenge cards complete to see if she'll enjoy it more then... so it's still in fine tuning.
Our Grammar drawer is probably the one that is not pulling it's weight. While I love the Good and the Beautiful Curriculum, we also seem to get stuck on this drawer, it seems to break our rhythm and neither of us particularly enjoy it. I'm leaving it as is for now, but suspect this drawer will be recycled into another subject for next term.
This term we are learning to recognise some constellations and revisiting the phases of the moon in more depth. This will be combined with the planetarium she received for Christmas. We always read through the RSPB magazine as well for ideas of crafts and activities we can do in the garden. Lizzie loves the How Things Grow book, it's a science packed fun sticker book (we completed the Nature one earlier in the year and she's excited to start this new one.) and the Get Out! book we found in a charity shop but it's full of seasonal nature themed activities and puzzles.
Lizzie loves her Spanish lessons, and I love how easy they are, we simply read the stories (or even better listen to the included digital audiobook), after just the first reading of the book Lizzie has grasped new Spanish vocabulary :O it's that simple. There's also a fun activity book and flashcards for new words. This is sold as a monthly subscription box with a new book sent each month... they are AMAZING!
For History we're just beginning to develop a concept of time ready to begin more in depth history study in the future. We'll be reading the books 'When I was Young' and 'The Pebble in my Pocket' - we also read through the English Heritage Children's Magazines and visit many of their sites.
Our Geography drawer has remained pretty much unchanged, we are behind in the earth tales book so we'll be pushing to get that finished this term. Lizzie loves receiving her Letters from Afar in the post and that always causes impromptu geography study and research. Lizzie is now able to place the continents on the world and has learnt some of their names so we will continue with learning the continents for map drill. The game Landmark Lotto should have been cycled out, but Lizzie insisted we keep it in longer.
We fell behind with our sign language as Lizzie began to find some of the hand positions difficult, so last term we focused mainly on making the different hand shapes. We'll begin this term by recapping the Greetings & Manners then moving onto learning some family signs. We use the painting flashcards for some short, informal picture study and the music flashcards for learning about the different music notes.
This term we'll be finishing off the Jesus Storybook Bible reading to move onto a different version of the bible next year. We don't read the devotions daily, but read one whenever we loop to the drawer. Lizzie is also working on memorising the 'Our Father', we have no materials in here for other religions at the moment, as we will usually cover that through the playroom.
This term we're focusing on Manners, so we will be reading 'Mind Your Manners' and 'Do Unto Otters' (essential for any otter-addict like Lizzie). We will also be reading happy which is another beautiful book about feelings. 'I Miss You' is a child's book about death, which Lizzie has been asking lots of questions about lately and has been getting very hung up about, so it seemed a good time to look into this book and discuss it together.
I'm taking on a lot this year... heres a peak at the challenges I'm going to try and participate in.
Classic Reading Challenge
This challenge is from
I'm not yet registered but plan to, I really wanted to read more classics so this was fun choosing books to fit each category. This is my preliminary list although it may change as I go through the year...
1. 19th Century Classic. Any classic book originally published between 1800 and 1899.
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte 1847
2. 20th Century Classic.
The Hound of the Baskervilles - Sir Arthur Conan Soyle 1902
3. Classic by a Woman Author.
Murder on the Orient Express - Agatha Christie 1934
4. Classic in Translation.
The Odyssey - homer
5. Classic Comic Novel. - This was a tricky category, I hope this selection works
Adventure of Huckleberry Finn - mark twain 1884
6. Classic Tragic Novel.
The Picture of Dorian Grey - Oscar Wilde 1890
7. Very Long Classic.
Moby Dick - Herman Melville 1851 *585 pages
8. Classic Novella.
Animal Farm - George Orwell 1945 *112 Pages
9. Classic From the Americas (includes the Caribbean).
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee 1960 - just squeezing in the requirements
10. Classic From Africa, Asia, or Oceania (includes Australia).
Siddhartha - Hermann Hesse 1922
11. Classic From a Place You've Lived.
Dracula - Bram Stoker 1897 - 'Whitby'
12. Classic Play.
Hamlet - William Shakespeare
I wanted to fit in Les Miserables - Victor Hugo 1862 *1400 - but with that page count my be a step too far this year.... I really hope to read all 12 of these during the year.
Read the world challenge
I'm continuing with my read the world challenge and want to read as many countries as I can. I've listed my choice for the next 12 countries on my reading list. I've altered my challenge slightly, I'm not restricting it to only children's books (I felt I was skipping too many countries) but I'm still prioritising them whenever possible.
1 Albania - Chronicle in Stone
2 Algeria - The Stranger - Albert Camus
3 Andorra - The Land of Right Up and Down - Eva-Lis Wuorio
4 Angola - Brazzaville Beach - William Boyd
5 Azerbaijan - Ali and Nino - kurban Said
6 The Bahamas - Thunderball - Ian Flemming
7 Bahrain - Yummah - Sarah A Al Shafei
8 Bangladesh - A Golden Age - Tahmima Anam
9 Barbados - Sea of Teas - Floella Benjamin
10 Belarus - Down Among the Fishes - Natalka Babina
11 Belgium - Belgravia - Julian Fellowes
12 Belize - War Star Rising: Legend of Toucan Moon - zoodoc
100 Books Bucket List
I receive a book bucket list poster from a friend for christmas and was really disappointed with my achievements on it... so here is a list of those I most want to read (or re-read... I only used books read in the last 5 years) to tick off that list... yes this is the year that I'm finally going to get through Lord of the Rings, one of my stumbling books for year. No idea how many of these I'll get through this year, so to match above I made a list of 12 books.
1 The Lord of the Rings (trilogy) - JRR Tolkien
2 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - John le Care - re-read
3 The Help - Katheryn Stockett
4 Goodnight Mr Tom - Michelle Magician - re-read
5 The Boy in Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne
6 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
7 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden - started this years ago and never finished :(
8 The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
9 Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Eyes
10 A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
11 The War of the Worlds - HG Wells
12 A Game of Thrones - George RR Martin - being on my to-read list for too long, but I doubt I'll get this far.
Whats on the SHelf Challenge
I have FAR too many unread books on my shelves, so each month I'm using random.org to select a shelf by random and pick whichever book grabs my attention on that shelf to read... I need to read at least one unread book on my shelf a month.
I'm also challenging myself to read at least one book that I'm considering for Lizzie's curriculum each month, I still have gaps to fill in the upcoming years or books that I want to pre-read or compare before making a final selection, so each month one of these will be added to my reading stack.
I will show you my stack selections each month and hope that you will follow along with me. I'd love to know which reading challenges you're taking on this year or your personal goals for the reading year ahead.
It's that time of the year again - here are my top 10 books from 2018. All 5* books
This year I read 54 books!!!
I'm super proud of that and I beat my Goodreads target by 4 books :) anyway without further ado here are my favourite... and there were some surprises in it for me. And oh my have I read some amazing books this year, I struggled to cut it down to a top 10 and then ranking them was hard... SO many of these books have really touched me and stuck with me.
10 Kaspar: Prince of Cats - Michael Morpurgo
9 the little house in the big woods - laura ingalls wilder
8 The breadwinner - deborah ellis
7 JURassic park - michael crichton
6 The Green ember - S.D. Smith
5 Race to the pole - meredith hooper
4 pocahontas - joseph bruchac
3 all quiet on the western front - erich maria remarque
2 roll of thunder, hear my cry - mildred d taylor
1 homegoing - yaa gyasi
First up are a few activities aimed to keep her 'hand in' at our main subjects over the month of December (which is a 'down' month for us school wise), she has a couple of the Dash into Reading Books that she has already mastered and can confidently read alone. A Wild about Maths number writing book to practice number formation. The Cursive Handwriting is a wipe clean book which has tracing and copying activities for her to have a go at.
The next one is defiantly her favourite, the Usborne Christmas Magic Painting book, is a great way to add some creativity into the box with minimal mess (I include a water brush so she can get on with this all by herself and no spills). We also have the Usborne Wipe Clean Activity book as she really enjoys the wipe clean books. As well as The Night Before Christmas activity book (as this is the poem we are currently using for memory work), is has stickers and puzzles based around the poem in it.
While I haven't read this book cover to cover yet, I have dipped in and out. The text is accessible but clearly suitable for a much older child (I plan to use this as an RE text in KS3), however we grab it from time to time to go alongside bible stories. The book is packed with beautiful art prints, photographs of the Holy Lands, maps, artefacts and Biblical quotes, that accompany the life of Jesus. It includes historical information about the world and politics at the time and gives a greater understanding of the world of the Gospels.
To start with for 'tales' we are reading '100 Classic Stories' and 'A World Full of Animal Stories' which we tie in with geography.
We're currently reading through 'Talking Like the Rain' for poetry and using 'The Night Before Christmas' as our memorisation work.
For classics we are finishing off 'Brambly Hedge' and 'The Jungle Book' which have over-run from November (we're finding the Jungle Book quite slow as Lizzie is struggling to understand some of the language in this book, so we're taking it slow and steady and reading just a few pages at a time... so it will probably remain in the basket through next term as well).
I always like to include a few other books that 'go along' with our Classic read for when we need a little break and to give us a wider understanding of the themes of the book, (most of these we have finished with now and are ready to come out the basket). We have read 'Expedition Diaries Indian Lowlands' which included lots of interesting information, illustrations, photographs and maps of the Indian Jungle and added a great Geography Element to our reading. I also included 'Maya, Tiger Cub' as a beautiful story and a counter-balance to the 'bad guy' tiger in the Jungle Book. We used this book to learn about tigers and visited a local zoo to see some real bengal tigers. I always like to try and find books that balance out the view point in anything we're reading...
I bought 'You're Safe With Me' purely for the stunning illustrations, but it fits in perfectly and adds a few more animals for us to focus on. It also talks through the water cycle and introduces those concepts. Usborne's 'Illustrated Stories from India' was another lovely read which added a few other tales to our learning and provided a nice break when the language began to bog down our progress - we haven't read all of this one and I'll probably keep it in the basket as long as we're still working through the Jungle Book.
Lastly here are two extra books we've added for December to enjoy over the Christmas break. 'Mary's Little Donkey and the Flight to Egypt' is one of our favourites (this book was mine as a child), we read it last year and Lizzie was super keen to read it again. And 'The Reindeer Girl' by Holly Webb, seemed like a nice fun and relaxing read... we haven't read it yet, so I'll let you know what it was like afterwards.
The book is split into sections about each continent. Always starting with a map of the continent to trace it then goes on to have different activities to learn more about the people, places and animals on the continent. It includes work on languages, land marks, rivers, mountains and wildlife.
What we're reading
November was the 100th anniversary of the end of the first world war, so naturally last month we focused on reading a lot on the subject - sadly I also only had a couple of books in my library so this also meant I got to have a bit of a book buying spree (any excuse...)
Lizzie and I used these books for her lessons on Remembrance Day. 'Poppy Field' was a beautifully moving story and prominently features the poem 'In Flandres Field' and was a wonderful way to introduce our poppy work. 'Where The Poppies Now Grow' is a lovely rhyming story that covered the first world war in a child friendly manner. And finally 'The Poppy Lady' was a lovely story telling of how the poppy came to be the symbol of remembrance.
Here are the three other picture books that I fell in love with, all of these have been added to my home library. 'The Best Christmas Present in the World' is a touching story around the 1914 Christmas truce, told in classic Michael Morpurgo fashion and guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye. 'One Boy's War' was an amazing story based on the life of one real solider (who came from a relatively local town), a touching story that really helps children to understand the war. And finally Michael Foreman's 'War Game' which again tells the story of the 1914 Christmas truce but is packed with information, told in an engaging narrative way. If you were only going to invest in one book of these I would defiantly make sure you had this one.
Obviously I had to feature some children's novels in this feature too. 'Private Peaceful' is one of my all-time favourite books, it's raw and heart-wrenching and has you crying all the way through. Along with Michael Morpurgo's 'War Horse', which is an excellent choice for children who prefer to read animal stories, both provide children with the knowledge and connection needed to this time period. I love the way the stories are told from both 'sides' and help children understand there are no winners in war.
I also read 'True Stories of the First World War', this book was amazing, each chapter told a different story featuring a different aspect of the war, I personally learnt so much from this book and will defiantly be including it in Lizzie's curriculum when she comes to studying the First World War.
And for myself these are the books that I read as well, I've had 'All Quiet on the Western Front' on my shelf for nearly a year (meaning to get to it), but our poppy and Remembrance Day lessons on the 10th were what I needed to spur me on. Once I picked it up I couldn't stop. I read the entire book through the day of the 11th. It was a moving and poignant read, I was expecting it to be a much tougher text, language wise, but found it surprisingly readable. It left me with many poignant memories and probably the best understanding on the subject I could have hoped to read.
I also chose a couple of poetry books to accompany the month. 'Poems from the First World War' is a beautiful selection of poems written at the time by people affected by the war, it includes the 'classics' as well as lesser known gems. I shared many of these with Lizzie during our Poetry time, and will defiantly be keeping it to come back to when we study the First World War again.
I also bought this stunning penguin clothbound edition of Wilfred Owen's Poems. Such a stunning copy and a classic book of beautiful poetry.