Summer Picture Books

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver

Doesn’t Mary Oliver capture the spirit of summer so well?!  Summer is here. What better way to celebrate with your little one than grab a blanket and a pile of books and head outside?! 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

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Introducing Shakespeare

We probably read Shakespeare in the first place for his stories, afterwards for his characters, the multitude of delightful persons with whom he makes us so intimate that afterwards, in fiction or in fact, we say, ‘She is another Jessica,’ and ‘That dear girl is a Miranda’; ‘She is a Cordelia to her father,’ and, such a figure in history, ‘a base lago.’ To become intimate with Shakespeare in this way is a great enrichment of mind and instruction of conscience. Then, by degrees, as we go on reading this world-teacher, lines of insight and beauty take possession of us, and unconsciously mould our judgments of men and things and of the great issues of life.

— Charlotte Mason

It feels as though we have just taken the lid off a treasure chest as we have opened William Shakespeare together this term. Continue reading

An Abundance of Christmas Stories

“Always winter and never Christmas;
think of that!”
“How awful!” said Lucy.

— The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis

Lucy is right. It would be awful!  Christmas is most definitely the light in the darkness. Such joy amidst the long winter months. 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

Poetry with Children

‘They must grow up upon the best… There is never a time when they are unequal to worthy thoughts, well put; inspiring tales, well told. Let Blake’s ‘Songs of Innocence’ represent their standard in poetry; Defoe and Stevenson, in prose; and we shall train a race of readers who will demand literature–that is, the fit and beautiful expression of inspiring ideas and pictures of life.’

— Charlotte Mason

The British educator, Charlotte Mason, held that poetry was a key element of the feast of learning that children should delight in.  Young children don’t need to dissect and analyse – that comes later – but they do need to be helped to appreciate some of the variety and majesty and tragedy and comedy that exists in (and between) the lines of great poems.  And so we spend time enjoying them.  We read lots of poems, focusing on one poet a term, and try to learn one or two along the way.  Anthologies of different poets’ work are wonderful but we have found that taking time to explore one poet at a time has meant we have got to know the poet more deeply.

Here’s a list of nursery rhymes, anthologies, poets and books that we have enjoyed: Continue reading

Classic Christmas Stories & Poems

So many wonderful authors have written of this special time of year – some of the Nativity itself, others around the legend of Father Christmas and others are heartwarming fireside stories. Why not have browse and snuggle up with one of these books and read to the family during Advent?

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Embracing Autumn

The morns are meeker than they were –
The nuts are getting brown –
The berry’s cheek is plumper –
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf –
The field a scarlet gown –
Lest I sh’d be old-fashioned
I’ll put a trinket on.
— Emily Dickinson

No sooner had we returned from our summer holiday, than we felt the autumn chill in the air. The blustery wind has been tossing the crunchy leaves around our garden. It really feels like autumn has arrived, although unlike Dickinson’s description our roses are still blooming. To cherish the turn in the weather, we drew our first ever chalk pastel pictures of ‘An Autumn Walk in the Woods’ with help from  www.chalkpastel.com. We loved using a new medium for our artwork.

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