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
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!
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!
If you’ve been watching the news recently you will have noticed that The Bayeux Tapestry is coming to Britain in 2020. There has been great excitement in our house since we heard, as we are right in the middle of studying the Norman Conquest of 1066. Continue reading
Happy New Year!
Many of us are making resolutions and hoping to try new things as we plan for 2018. One thing I was reflecting on as I looked back on last term was that museum trips and art exhibitions were real highlights in our homeschooling life. Continue reading
You may have worked out by now that I love lists, so here is another one for you:
Some stories that have stood the test of time and that have been enjoyed in this house.
I would recommend them for independent young readers somewhere in the 6-9 year old bracket. Obviously all children are unique so you’ll need to work out whether they are appropriate for your child – some might be for younger children, some might be for older.