The Barber Institute of Fine Art (by Cana, age 7 and three quarters)

At the barber institute of fine arts we were looking at sculptures and the first sculpture we looked at was a nude sculpture of Aphrodite. The Goddess of love and we were looking at the sculpture and the guide said to the younger children if they wore clothes and one little boy said “ I normally wear a top and trousers and a vest and pants!” and the guide said with a little laugh “ha you can tell me more about that later.” She said in a kind voice and then we moved on to the next piece of art.

aphrodite

Alex Gr8

The next piece of art was a painting of Alexander the great, well, I don’t think he is very great because the guide said he chopped peoples heads off which is a bit gruesome so I am not going to go through all of the chopping part. So, I think somebody would want to know about this! As you can see in this picture Alexander the great is holding his arms in an unusual way. Our left hand side but his right hand is on his hip and his left hand but to us it is his right hand is drooping on his scabbard because it’s to show that he is very clever. And he doesn’t have a beard because in war people would grab your beard and then stab you, so he of course didn’t want to be killed so of course he shaved his beard, that was the good reason and now I will tell you the bad reason he wanted everyone to see his face so he was showing off.

hercules real

This nude person is called Hercules and his story starts off sad but ends up ok. So this is the story of Hercules, Hercules’s Daddy was called Zeus and Zeus was a god but Zeus was a very naughty god in fact he was so naughty that even though he had a wife he went down to earth and fell in love with another lady and his wife who was a goddess called Hiera was very cross she thought that Zeus was her husband but went and married another lady and had a baby with her. So she was very cross and so she wanted to kill baby Hercules so in the night she crept down to earth and threw some poisonous snakes into the cot and hoped that they would eat him up. But what she didn’t know was that Hercules was very strong and baby Hercules woke up and then played with the snakes and the guide thought that in Hercules’s head he might have been thinking“ Wow a new toy to play with!” so first he swung them round and round by their tails and then he found out that their tails rattled so he rattled them a lot and then let go so they went flying across the room over to the door and the snakes fled away from Hercules and when Zeus found out that Hiera had thrown poisonous snakes into Hercules’s cot he knew that she would come back so he hid Hercules until Hercules was a grown man obviously he went to university and college and school and nursery so he only did sitting inside his hiding place most of the time. When he was a fully grown man there was a Nemean lion attacking the people.

Herc n lion

Hercules came as quickly as possible and started to fight the Nemean lion he couldn’t do anything that included weapons because a Nemean lion has very tough skin so can you guess what Hercules did to kill the Nemean lion? Well if you said no I will tell you because I know what he did. Do you remember I told you that Hercules was really strong? Well he used his strength to do it he held open the Nemean lion’s mouth and the Nemean lion couldn’t breathe so he died.

chair

This is a sculpture did you know that? And did you know that sculptures can be made out of anything? Well they can and do you know what my Mummy said to me about this sculpture? If that was a no then I will tell you right now
she said “A toddler could make that if they knew how to use a drill!” which, in my mind, is quite true. It’s quite a silly thing to make because chairs are for sitting on not to roll off onto the floor with! And who would want that thing in their house anyway? Certainly not me I think it’s quite ugly.

miss clara

This rhino is called Miss Clara and this is quite a nice and kind story. When Miss Clara was a baby some mean men came and killed her mummy and a Dutch man came along and found Miss Clara and felt really sorry for her and said “I can’t leave this poor Rhino here by herself” So he took her home not just in his back garden actually in his house like for example in his living room! This Dutch man was very kind and did you know that you could train Rhino’s? This is a photo of the Dutch man training Miss Clara he is probably saying sit to Miss Clara I told you, you could train Rhino’s! The Dutch man even taught Miss Clara how to eat off a plate! The Dutch man invited lots of ladies to tea and when they came and saw Miss Clara eating off a plate they screamed and ran as far as they could from the Dutch man and Miss Clara! Now, Miss Clara as you would know, grew and grew and did poo’s and poo’s and the Dutch man said to his friend “I love Miss Clara but her poo is everywhere and I don’t know how to pick it up so soon my house will be flooded with Rhino poo and I know that won’t be nice!” and his friend who was very nice said “don’t worry, I am taking a ship to England and I can take you and Miss Clara with me and you can show royal people Miss Clara!” And the Dutch man said “Thank you so much!” and he went straight to Miss Clara and told her every single word that his friend told him he was so excited, he had taught her how to dance by the way! And he danced with Miss Clara till it was tea-time! When the day arrived they got on the ship but it wasn’t a very good start because Miss Clara was sea sick! So when they got to England can you guess which Royal person she met first? Well I am going to tell you anyway she met Queen Victoria! And guess what she did in front of Queen Victoria! Now this you will laugh at she did a pile of poo in front of Queen Victoria! And did a pile of poo in front of the King of France too! In fact she did most of her poo’s in front of people! And the rest of her life she was just going around in and out people so I shouldn’t tell you just all about that!

(Editors note: After the tour of the Art gallery we took part in a workshop where we made our own rhino sculptures)

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This is Jude my brother who made this Model Rhino and he is only 6 so I think it is quite good for his age don’t you think so?

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Now can you see the big photo of a girl with a model rhino well she is my sister and she is only 3 and she partly made that all by herself! Can you believe it!

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Now this other photo of a girl is me the one who told you all these stories about Aphrodite and, Alexander the great and, Hercules and a kind of story of the chair with wheels on the seat and, Miss Clara and now I had just shown you the photos of my brother and sister and now I have come round to me now I will introduce myself my name is Cana and my sister is called Mae and my brother if you didn’t know is called Jude and I am 7 and everyone there made their own model rhino and it was actually quite fun making models!


Teaching Writing – Letter Reversals

Just wanted to write a quick post about letter reversals because looking at Jude’s recent writing showed that he is still occasionally doing it at the age of six. My boy loves writing his own stories, he has suddenly taken to producing these books with stories in. This is his first little book, which he made by himself a few weeks ago…

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Five scraps of paper (about 7cm square) stapled together, with illustrations of course.

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I have lots of old notebooks or partially used school books so he writes in those now and recently spent a long time composing a story for my birthday, all his own idea by the way. Obviously, when your child makes you a gift you can’t point out mistakes, however much my teacher brain winced at the sight of the mix of upper and lower case letters on the front and back covers and the fact that he had reversed the letter P. I wrote a while ago about how introducing the Letterland characters helped him with this when he was initially learning his letters as they have a ‘story’ about how to form each one. He can usually remember that Bouncy Ben has tall sticking up ears but when we write Dippy Duck we stroke her back first. Here is Jude’s book cover…

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…yes, this wonderful work of fiction really is entitled “Helen’s grump”! And here is the back…

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Love the little self-portrait on the back, showing off his afro, while I look a bit like Voldemorte on the front. Anyway, after pretending to be impressed with the cover, I really was pleased with the writing inside. Of course it’s not the best six year old writing I’ve seen, but considering it was independent and I haven’t been pushing writing much this year at all as he seems to like it and I don’t want to ruin that… considering all that I was delighted to see, apart from clear evidence he is using his phonics (he does phonics online and has six spellings a week to learn which is also his handwriting practise) he has joined almost all of his letters and look – no reversals!

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It is possible to reverse joined letters but it is much less likely as the join becomes part of the letter. I worked in a school this week where the nursery children were learning joined letters, in inner-city Birmingham too, it really does work and I would bet that if he wasn’t joining he would be reversing a whole lot more.

Jude’s idea of sentences is still a bit shaky and he hasn’t got the whole capital letter thing sorted as you can tell by the next page…

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I’m just giving him the tools as and when he needs them, without pushing. He loves writing stories and he is confident enough to sound out pretty much any word, and if it looks wrong then he asks me and then changes it (on the first page you can see where he wrote ‘grumpee’ and changed it after asking me). It’s like coaxing a flame to life, this writing, gently feeding in ideas without extinguishing his enthusiasm. I think it was a pretty amazing birthday present!


One Thousand Gifts – shared writing (Cana, age 7, and Mummy)

We are doing the One Thousand Gifts challenge, Cana and I. Finding One Thousand things to be thankful for. Ann Voskamp wrote a book about her own attempt, it made the New York Times Bestseller List, and, more importantly for me, it won my own Book of the Year award last year.

Everyday,after we’ve read a bit of whatever it is we are reading together (just finished Little White Horse by Elisabeth Goudge and starting on White Boots by Noel Streatfeild) we think about the things we are most thankful for. It probably makes very boring reading, our shared talking and writing, but it’s a fun thing to do with your children. We only started last week so here are our first twenty-five… only, erm…nine hundred and seventy five to go…

Weds, Feb 5th
1. I am thankful today for snuggles with my son in bed this morning, his sweet curly head tickling my nose.
2. I am thankful for my big girl who reached silently over and took my hand in her slim, brown one. She told me afterwards she was praying for me.
3. I am thankful for my three year old who prayed for her godmother today who is very ill in hospital, “Thank you for Auntie Sue to get better again – no Jude, don’t interrupt me – in Jesus’ name, Amen.”
4. As I walked past the reservoir tonight in the wind and the twilight, I saw that the water was covered with white gulls which rocked on the waves and wheeled in the air just above the water, their white wings changing to black as they swooped above the skyline and were silhouetted against the dark grey sky. The wind was too loud in my ears to hear them at first, but as I stood and watched them I could just make out their faint calls, wild and free in the half-light.
5. And for old friends who care about my children and send them parcels in the post.
Thurs Feb 6th
6. I am thankful for muffins and strawberry jam
7. And ice-cold milk which tastes so delicious with muffins and strawberry jam.
8. For Mama because she is the best godmother in the world.(Cana)
9. For the warmth of distant friends and their kind words online.
Fri, Feb 7th
10. I’m thankful that we don’t drink dirty water like the children in some other countries.(Cana)
11. I’m thankful for Christian’s nice warm back in bed, last night I dreamt I was lying on a bench with my back tucked up against the back of the bench, it made me feel all safe, and when I woke up the back of the bench turned into Christian’s back, solid and warm against mine.
12. I was so thankful today at the park to see some crumpled leaves bursting out of the end of some bare twigs like flames of green in the bright sunlight. I could suddenly believe that Spring would come, not yet, but soon.
13. It’s a lovely feeling, when you discover a book you haven’t yet read by a favourite author, for that I am thankful indeed!
14. For the ‘mothers’ I have been given in my life (Debs and Vonny), who are grandmothers to my children and who bless us so often with their practical love.
Sat, Feb 8th
15. I am thankful, that on this cold, windy day, we have a deliciously warm house to come back to. Having lived in a few large, draughty houses, our snug little dwelling seems an especial blessing on a day like today.
16. I am thankful for my husband and children on a rare family evening together watching a film.
17. I am thankful that I met another new neighbour at drama today.(Cana)
18. I am thankful that we can choose whatever we want for tea, it feels like a luxury.
Sun, Feb 9th
19. Every night, before I get into bed I have the delicious job of going from bed to bed to check on each of my sleeping children. The oldest lies like Sleeping Beauty, her face serene in the lamp-light, breathing lightly. My boy is always twisted up in his duvet, I have to excavate him, unearth his tousled head from under piles of pillows. He is always, unsurprisingly, flushed with warmth, his long dark lashes fanned out on his pink cheeks. The little one is usually in my bed and she always lies sideways so that she takes up the maximum amount of space and normally in an unnaturally contorted position – her back arched and her arms flung out on either side. In sleep she is immovable, her chubby little body planted on the bed, a dead weight to move. If you shift her to make room for your own body, she moves back and lies against or on top of you, heavily. How blessed I am. Every night I get into bed, smiling a little and feeling incredibly rich.
Mon, Feb 10th
20. I am thankful for our new rocking horse, Periwinkle. She rocks better than any other horse I’ve been on. (Cana)
Tues, Feb 11th
21. We are thankful for snow this morning, well, not my husband because he works for a travel company and the British Transport system is renowned for being throw into chaos by a millimetre of snow, but the children and I. We were woken by squeals of excitement this morning.
22. I am thankful for the sound of running water, which was everywhere in the park this afternoon as the snow melts into the swollen stream.
23. I am thankful for bright winter sunlight that dazzles the eyes, sparkling on the water drops on all the twig-tips.
24. I am thankful for Vivienne’s delicious cake at Cake-church. (Cana)
25. I am thankful that mummy let me take my Spider Man to cake-church.(Jude)


Forge Mill Needle Museum and the Abbey – by Cana (age 7 and a half)

Jude and his friend, Elizabeth in their costumes.

Jude and his friend, Elizabeth, in their costumes.


I went to a needle museum, with Mummy and Jude. All the children had to dress-up as people, from the Victorian times. And we went into a place called The Scouring Mill and there we had to clean the needles. You couldn’t be rich and go to the scouring mill, you had to be very poor .There was also a lady called Mrs Boldon, she was very important. Her real name was Debbie, because she was just acting, we were doing a sort of play. First we put all the needles into the evening tray, there would be about 500 needles and the evening tray would only be around two twelve inches wide and twenty inches long! We shake the tray so that all the needles have their points to the ground and the flat parts nearly at the at top .My favourite part was when we did the second set because it had a thing called putty powder and there was olive oil ,and I put olive oil in my hair! The girls wore white hats with lace at the end that went round the whole hat. The boys wore brown or grey caps.

Getting ready to go excavating.

Getting ready to go excavating.


In the afternoon we went to a ruined Abbey. And we wore hard hats, police men jackets, rucksacks and in them we had a cumpas, a tape measure, magnifying glass. My favourite part was, well I liked all of it because, I felt like a real explorer. I had to find a mark in stone and it was a cross, mosaic tiles and the night stairs, the night stairs are called the night stairs because that’s where the monks went to their bedrooms.


Writing by myself! By Jude (age 5 and a half)

One of the most rewarding things about homeschooling is watching your child begin to express themselves in writing, just for the fun of it. I noticed that Jude was becoming more confident with his writing as I started finding notes around the house like this…
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Back in February I gave both the older children a notebook for Valentines day so we could write notes to each other…DSC_1375

Cana, at 7, has enjoyed this but Jude has not been so forthcoming. He wrote me one note…DSC_1376

…but mostly, the pages in his notebook are being filled with pictures like this…DSC_1381

The other day he wrote me a letter all about his nightmare – “To Mummy this is my bad dream it is about Gruffalo child. The mouse was running from the fox and I was in it and the fox thought I really wanted the mouse and the fox thought that I was the mouse. Love Jude.”DSC_1378

And then one all about cake… “I had cake I had coffee cake it tasted like chocolate cake I like coffee cake I don’t know why Love Jude”DSC_1379

Then one just telling me he loves me with a ring of the hug bell in the middle (As I always complain my husband doesn’t hug me enough he bought me a bell to ring whenever I wanted one for Valentines day. The children use it regularly.) “I love you mummmy ring ring, Oh time for a hug and why are you scared of dogs? Love Jude”DSC_1380

When he writes independently his spelling and his handwriting are not as good as they are in a structured activity, but that’s very normal for young children. The important thing is that he is writing, and all by himself! Yesterday I stooped to pick up what I thought was litter on the living room floor, a scrap of cardboard. When I turned it over it was in fact a story that Jude had written for his cousin! It’s a little hard to follow as he had no lines but he is quite clear about what he has written… “Once upon a time there was a tiny fairy it woke up it went to Tinkerbell but it got lost but Tinkerbell found her and she took her back to Pixie Hollow and they lived happily every after but a fairy knocked on the door and Tinkerbell opened the door. The End of Part 1.”DSC_1374

One proud mummy!


Thomas Land by Cana (age 7) and Jude (age 5 and a half)

Cana

Cana


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Jude

Jude


cranky 2
Holding hands on Cranky

Holding hands on Cranky


Up we go... by ourselves because neither of our parents like this ride...

Up we go… by ourselves because neither of our parents like this ride…


Jude

Jude


Cana

Cana


Riding in Peter Sam

Riding in Peter Sam


Jude

Jude


Big Wheel

Big Wheel


Flying Ships

Flying Ships


Jude

Jude


Bulstrode the Barge

Bulstrode the Barge


Jude

Jude


on the carousel

on the carousel


Cana

Cana


Cana in Diesel, Jude is still   not sure about Diesel and won't go on this ride (he is a baddy in the films!)

Cana in Diesel, Jude is still not sure about Diesel and won’t go on this ride (he is a baddy in the films!)


Jude

Jude


on the dinosaur trail

on the dinosaur trail


more dinosaurs...

more dinosaurs…


Jude

Jude


Harold the Helicopter

Harold the Helicopter


Cana

Cana


I think Jeremy Jet was the favourite ride of the day

I think Jeremy Jet was the favourite ride of the day


Cana, flying her own jet.

Cana, flying her own jet.


Jude

Jude


yes, they really do kiss Lady, whenever we visit.

yes, they really do kiss Lady, whenever we visit.


All of us on Lady

All of us on Lady


Jude loves to watch the miniature trains at Thomas Land.

Jude loves to watch the miniature trains at Thomas Land.


Cana

Cana


Cana and Jude in the pirate ships

Cana and Jude in the pirate ships


Daddy and Mae in the pirate ships

Daddy and Mae in the pirate ships


Jude

Jude


Jude driving Terence the Tractor

Jude driving Terence the Tractor


Cana

Cana


Cana driving Terence the Tractor

Cana driving Terence the Tractor


Jude remembers the doughnuts...

Jude remembers the doughnuts…


Cana

Cana


Daddy and Jude

Daddy and Jude


Birthday girl

Birthday girl


Little Miss Mae

Little Miss Mae


Sky (by Cana, age 7)

Sky is a nice dog, she sometimes lickes me and she sits when she sees I have a treat in my hand . we got sky from the rspca and we saw her on the computer and me and Jude liked her first and we asked Mummy and Daddy if we could get her. Mummy wanted a husky and Daddy wanted a German-Sheperd but when they saw what breed she was she was a Husky and a German – Sheperd so we got her.

Now, after a bit I was allowed to hold the lead and one day when we didn’t know she pulled on our road she just started to pull and Mummy started to have to be a bit stern . So , me and Mummy had to both be a bit stern on her , and we had to do it ever since. Now , one Wednesday I was holding the lead and she was hardly pulling at all!!

When we took Sky to the vet the vet had to feel on her tummy and I thought he was going to lift her up by her back legs! And Mummy had to hold Sky s mouth shut while the vet opened the side of her lips to look at her teeth. I felt happy that we have a new dog!

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