Christmas is Coming 2021

…the most startling thing about this wonderful tree was that hundreds of tapers glittered like stars in its dark branches, and the tree itself, shining with an inner light, invited the children to pick its blossoms and fruits.

The Nutcracker, E.T.A. Hoffman Continue reading

Getting in the Picture

“To really instil a love of art, children need to be encouraged to have a go and be creative themselves.”

— James Mayhew

In the last three blogposts I have shown how James Mayhew brings life to museums in Katie’s Picture Show, and now in this final post I want to explore how he brings life to the artwork itself.

Katie frame 1

Mayhew’s story begins in the Classical world. Continue reading

Over 10 More Children’s Books 9+

I opened a book and in I strode
Now nobody can find me.
I’ve left my chair, my house, my road,
My town and my world behind me.

I’m wearing the cloak, I’ve slipped on the ring,
I’ve swallowed the magic potion. Continue reading

20 Children’s Books 9+

Those who write for children are trying to arm them for the life ahead with everything we can find that is true.  And perhaps, also, secretly, to arm adults against those necessary compromises and necessary heartbreaks that life involves: to remind them that there are and always will be great, sustaining truths to which we can return.

— Katherine Rundell, Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise

Rundell’s words are ringing in my ears. Continue reading

Oxford Stories

Excerpt from “Oxford” by Tom Lovatt-Williams

I see the coloured lilacs flame
In many an ancient Oxford lane
And bright laburnum holds its bloom
Suspended golden in the noon,
The placid lawns I often tread
Are stained and carpeted with red…

These lines from Lovatt-Williams’ poem ‘Oxford’ capture perfectly the beauty of this city over the last few weeks.  Lockdown has definitely made me far more appreciative of the  way nature is changing around us here in Oxford as we take our ‘daily exercise’. Continue reading

Tudor Books 8+

It’s all about the Tudors this term in our house.  There’s nothing like well-written historical fiction to bring history alive for young ones, alongside visiting museums and relevant places of interest. Continue reading

Read Alouds with my 4 year old

There are few stronger family bonds than this habit of devoting an occasional hour to reading aloud, on winter evenings, at any rate. The practice is pleasant at the time, and pleasant in the retrospect, it gives occasion for much bright talk, merry and wise, and quickens family affection by means of intellectual sympathy. Indeed, the wonder is that any family should neglect such a simple means of pure enjoyment, and of moral, as well as intellectual culture.

— Charlotte Mason, Formation of Character

Happy New Year!

With my elder two at school since Easter, it has been very special to have time in the day to read longer chapter books to my four year girl that are pitched just for her. Continue reading

Children’s Christmas Stories

The Magic of Christmas
— Tom Krause

‘Joy to the World’, the carolers sang out
as last minute shoppers scurried about,
desperately seeking that one special gift
that would give Christmas morning a magical lift.

A old man standing still listening to the song,
amidst all the madness of the bustling throng,
in a shaky hoarse voice began to join in
singing the words of the famous old hymn.

One by one people stopped with their madness
to join with the old man for a moment of gladness.
By the time the carolers finished singing their song
the whole throng was united as they all sang along.

And as if by magic from out of the sky
church bells rang out from a chapel near by.
When the song finally ended the people greeted each other
with messages of good will they shared with one another.

You see that magical gift the shoppers sought for so long,
was not in the shopping or scurrying along.
That magical gift so desperately sought
was the Spirit of Christmas -which could never be bought.

Continue reading

Maths through Stories and Games

The mathematician’s patterns, like the painter’s or the poet’s must be beautiful; the ideas, like the colours or the words must fit together in a harmonious way. Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics.

— G.H. Hardy

In a world that thinks of education through a post-Enlightenment lens, we need to hear Hardy’s words more than ever.  Maths is beautiful. Continue reading