Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Scavenger Hunt

Yesterday afternoon we and 3 other homeschooling families went on a scavenger hunt on a local bridleway.  The children had a whale of a time searching for mini-beasts, flora and fauna!  To get the hunt going and give it a bit of a focus I created a sheet:
I used this book to help a lot with the sheet and the ideas.  It is a bit dated and not a Christian book per se - I picked up my copy from a charity shop, but there is a newer edition available now.:

and for the younger ones I used this sheet which I'd picked up from Singleton Environment Centre in Kent which is run by BTCV.

This is a great time of year for a scavenger hunt as the insects are still around, fungi can be found (but not touched of course! - unless you really know what you're doing!) and there are plenty of fallen leaves, acorns, conkers etc.  We took along a couple of magnifying glasses and a couple of bug catchers which were very popular!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Singing!

This year I wanted to introduce more music, and in particular singing, into our learning and so far it is proving quite succesful.  One of the real breakthroughs was setting up an old CD player in our conservatory where we 'homeschool' for all but the chilliest months.  We've been using it for worship songs and general background music of various styles to jolly along the workers (me included!).  I bought 3 music books which will last at least this year and no doubt will be picked up again and again over the years. 
The first book I bought is The Usborne Nursery Rhyme Songbook which has words, piano music and guitar chords.  This book is mainly for dd2 who would be in UK school year Reception, but dd1 is secretly enjoying it too.  I manage to muddle along on the piano and hopefully within a few years dd1 will be able to have a go at it too.  Most of the nursery rhymes are familiar of course, but one or two have been new to us.
The second book I bought is The National Songbook which contains all kinds of welll known songs, religious, secular, national, traditional and modern.  It has 2 CDs words, piano music, guitar chords and suggestions for actions, percussion, activities and performance.  This book is mainly for dd1 who will enjoy these slightly more 'grown-up' tunes.  I will have a go at playing these on the piano, but they are noticeably harder than the nursery rhyme book so I might end up relying on the CDs!
The last book I bought is The Welsh Children's Songbook which has a CD, words (in Welsh!), piano music, guitar chords and at the back English translations of the Welsh lyrics (hurrah!).  I bought this book because dh is Welsh and I would like the girls to have more than just their middle names and surnames connecting them to their national heritage!  This book will present the most challenges of the 3 and I'll be leaving it until later in the year when I will rely quite heavily upon the CD!
Another area we are using music in is French - we used Serge the Cheeky Monkey last year which has some songs and are using Lyric Language French (sorry, I can't find our copy on the internet anymore) this year which is entirely songs.  We've been singing the French phrases and the nursery rhymes whilst walking our puppy who listens very obligingly!

Signs of autumn nature walks


Our nature walks still take place on Fridays (I think this is the third year of them now), although to be honest they are the same walk as we do every day of the week with our growing puppy.  Friday is however the day when we concentrate on looking out for something in particular and where possible collect it, bring it home, find out more about it and draw it.  For our current 6 week block we are looking for signs of autumn, which seems to have come particularly early this year. 
Yesterday I started to pack away some coloured pencils when dd2 (pictured above) asked me not to as they are her 'colours of autumn'!  We even found a Fly Agaric fungus in the woods this week which we didn't bring home but copied from a book!
If you would like to start nature walks but don't know where to begin I really recommend checking out a blog called Handbook of Nature Study.