American Modernism

The latest exhibition to come to our local museum, the Ashmolean, is ‘America’s Cool Modernism’.

So for our ‘artist of the term’ we have expanded that to a broad sweep of a movement.  The tag line for the exhibition is ‘O’Keefe to Hopper’. Quite a spectrum! Whilst we have not delved deeply into American Modernism before going to the exhibition, I have tried to introduce the children to a very different flavour of paintings to what they are used to. We have benefited from browsing through the catalogue to familiarise ourselves with the works, ideas and concepts. The Ashmolean have also produced some helpful notes for teachers, which have given us some insights too.

These short picture books about Georgia O’Keefe have been enjoyable.

We finally managed to get to the exhibition today and it really did not disappoint.  It is truly wonderful to see the children maturing in their appreciation for art.  I do still keep the visit short and sweet but whilst we are there they are really engaging with the work. The children and I were excited to see familiar friends hanging on the walls and get a better feel for the movement.  Edward Hopper was definitely a favourite.

Charles Demuth’s I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold, 1928.

If you are passing through Oxford, the exhibition is on until 22nd July.

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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Artist of the Term: Michelangelo

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.

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Getting Ready for the Ballet

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

The Ballet

Tchaikovsky’s ballet of  ‘Swan Lake’ is coming to our city next week.   Continue reading

‘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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Easter Traditions (part 1)

With Easter fast approaching I’ve been thinking about traditions.

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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.

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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

The Bayeux Tapestry

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