“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.
Every child should leave school with at least a couple of hundred pictures by great masters hanging permanently in the halls of his imagination . . .
— Charlotte Mason
Last term our ‘artist of the term’ was the magnificent Michelangelo di Ludovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475-1564). This was a treat, if a little brief for such an artistic giant – sculptor, painter, architect and poet.
The fine arts find their origin in God, the Creator of language, color and music. Fine arts reveal within us an intrinsic need for beauty that is a part of God’s image stamped on our being.
— Clay and Sally Clarkson, Educating the Wholehearted Child
Tchaikovsky’s ballet of ‘Swan Lake’ is coming to our city next week. Continue reading
Our 8 year old daughter was given a beautiful doll for Christmas. She is absolutely besotted with her, and takes great care dressing her, brushing her hair and including her in all that she is up to. It’s very special to watch. She has even written a story all about her. Of course now she is scouring the bookshelves at home and at the library for stories about dolls. So I thought I’d share those that she has enjoyed in case there are other readers out there that would appreciate them too.
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!
Having grown up in a Russian Orthodox home, Lent and Easter was a time filled with traditions (mostly involving food!) that we enjoyed year on year. I have warm memories of these and have continued many on with my own family as well as adding some more along the way.
Here are some of our Easter traditions:
With Easter fast approaching I’ve been thinking about traditions.
Traditions and celebrations throughout the year are important to our family – patterns of life that give shape to the onward movement of time. Traditions that we repeat and seasons we observe situate us within a different mode of time – one that is more like a circle than a line – bringing us back to times and places we have been to before.
‘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
With Lent underway and Easter approaching, I’ve been digging out our Easter stories to enjoy over the next few weeks. Here are some we read last year and will do so again through February and March as we prepare to celebrate. My Russian roots are very dear to me at Easter time so you may notice an eastern European flavour in my book choices.
Valentine’s Day is around the corner. I’m not here to encourage you to buy cards, flowers and chocolates, although I’m sure they’d be appreciated! Rather here’s a short post to recommend this book that we read last year and intend to do again on 14th February. Beautifully illustrated short picture book telling the life of Saint Valentine from the 3rd-century – the man behind our celebrations.
Happy Valentine’s Day!