Autumn Books and Inspiration

October
O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.
— Robert Frost

Doesn’t Robert Frost capture the beauty of the season beautifully?! The leaves are falling and the skies are grey.  Autumn has arrived. Continue reading

An Afternoon with Michael Morpurgo

Just before Easter we got to hear Michael Morpurgo live in conversation with Nicolette Jones at the Sheldonian as part of the Oxford Literary Festival. Morpurgo is one of my son’s favourite authors and was speaking on his birthday, so it was an ideal birthday outing.  The conversation covered topics from the personal to the political and engaged all ages.  

However there were three things that he emphasised as being key for today’s children: Continue reading

Spring Picture Books

A Light Exists in Spring

A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay —

A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.

— Emily Dickinson

Continue reading

Winter Picture Books

The Snowdrop Fairy

Deep sleeps the Winter,
Cold, wet, and grey;
Surely all the world is dead;
Spring is far away.
Wait! the world shall waken;
It is not dead, for lo,
The Fair Maids of February
Stand in the snow!

— Cicely Mary Barker

Continue reading

Autumn Books

The Harvest Moon

It is the Harvest Moon! On gilded vanes
And roofs of villages, on woodland crests
And their aerial neighborhoods of nests
Deserted, on the curtained window-panes
Of rooms where children sleep, on country lanes
And harvest-fields, its mystic splendor rests!
Gone are the birds that were our summer guests,
With the last sheaves return the laboring wains!
All things are symbols: the external shows
Of Nature have their image in the mind,
As flowers and fruits and falling of the leaves;
The song-birds leave us at the summer’s close,
Only the empty nests are left behind,
And pipings of the quail among the sheaves.

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Nature and Wildlife Games

Board games, card games and dice games are played a lot in our house. Winter seems to be when games really come into their own, but they are equally perfect for a quiet summer afternoon when trying to get respite from the heat. Continue reading

What do you do with your preschooler?

Homeschooling is always a great conversation starter. I am pretty good at anticipating people thinking that I’m mad, so I normally preempt the look of surprise by saying, “Yes I know – I’m crazy aren’t I?!”

The questions very quickly come to, “How can you teach your older two with your little toddler around?”, or often more bluntly phrased as, “What do you do with her when you are teaching?”  Continue reading

Butterflies

“Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.”

— Hans Christian Anderson

With spring in full bloom here in Oxford, the bees and butterflies are now out in the garden. They add a wonderful sense of beauty, productivity, life and purpose.  When it comes to butterflies, we are very much amateurs, but loving learning all the same as we spend time outdoors.

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‘These are the days when birds come back’

Observing

We have been studying birds this term – learning names of garden birds, spotting them wherever we go, listening out for the ever increasing bird song as spring takes up residence, learning about their homes, nest making, migration and more.  We are total amateurs and our garden’s most common visitors are wood pigeons, blackbirds, robins and magpies, but all the same we have delighted in having time to actually observe them carefully.  As well as enjoying the birds around us, this morning we visited our local RSPB Nature Reserve, where a delightful retiree took time to point out oyster catchers, herons, a yellowhammer and some grass snakes!

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