This post was originally published in November 2015. It reappears here in collaboration with million eyez.
We’ve just finished a happy romp through the wonderfully bizarre world of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Having realised from page one that this chapter book was going to be a hit, I gathered a few ideas for activities we could try alongside it. For my four-year-old, it was delightful to dig deeper into the experience of the story. For my 21-month-old, it meant she didn’t keep trying to pull the book out of my hand or take me some place else.
Make a family tree
The book opens by orderly naming the people in Charlie Bucket’s family. I’d been wanting to do a family tree for a while so we took the opportunity to print out photos, cut and stick them and draw lines to show relationships. I helped Talitha with ours but she went on later on to draw Charlie Bucket’s family tree on her own.
Sweetie Swoop game
We’ve been having fun with the whole sweetie theme by playing a board game called Sweetie Swoop which Talitha got for her birthday this year. It nicely accompanies chapter 11 where he goes into the sweet shop. It’s such fun. In general board games and card games are a brilliantly easy way to develop maths skills while doing something together that we both enjoy.
Drink hot chocolate
When you finally make it inside the chocolate factory, meeting the chocolate river calls for a drink. Preferably one offered in a cup by Mr Willy Wonka and not risking falling in!
Make playdough sweets
Most of the time we read, we got out the playdough. Talitha made playdough sweets and both girls generally had fun squishing and making while listening to the story.
The Inventing Room
This was an idea I came across on The Imagination Tree when looking for birthday party ideas. I put together an “inventing room” the night before which was the source of much excitement and creativity. I wish I’d taken more pictures because she got the stapler out and put together some 3D sweets later in the day.
Make real sweets
Of course, who can read about all these amazing sweets and not want to munch something sweet. Better yet, make some! We tied this in with learning about Diwali by making coconut barfi. They were too sweet for the girls, though, so I wonder if we should have gone for biscuits in sweetie shapes instead.
Play with fizz
All the experimentation you observe in the Mr Willy Wonka’s factory certainly tickles the imagination. The science fiction elements of this book are the bits that shine brightest. Talitha was quite taken with the fizzy lifting drinks that make you float upwards unless you burp to come down again. Inspired by this fizzy fun experiment, we got the muffin tin out and had a messy go (should have put a tray underneath as suggested in that post, mind!).
Here are few more ideas I came across but we didn’t get around to:
I’d love if we could share our ideas on how to help kids get into books and this million eyez Photobox offers the perfect medium. With million eyez you can start a photo box in a topic to receive authentic photos you can’t find, just as I’m hoping to do here, curating, communicating and organising to cleverly crowd source what you need. Just upload your photo of your literary kids activity, whether it’s a dress up, craft, baking, creative writing prompt or invitation to play. Let’s inspire each other!
via million eyez
If you’re a blogger, you can also enter million eyez’s amazing giveaway to win your own Olypus PEN camera here!
We’ve chosen to home educate partly because we want our kids to spend their short childhoods outdoors. I have to say, though, that it’s easy to feel convinced about this in the middle of summer and quite another when the world starts getting colder, darker and wetter.
Yet, the children are usually happy to be outside, regardless of the weather, especially Ophelia who hasn’t yet picked up on my aversion to the colder months.
Mostly, I’ve been happy to stick them in their rain suits and chuck them out into the garden while I keep an eye from the kitchen. We found a slide by the side of the road the other day and it’s been a brilliant addition. So they’re often out there sliding, mixing up horrors in their mud kitchen, blowing bubbles and drawing on the patio with chalks.
I’m aware that I need to get out there too, for their sake as well as mine. I’ve lapsed in gardening and shied away from initiating woodland walks. It’s just so easy to become sedentary, holed up indoors at this time of year.
Talitha at her monthly horseriding lesson
I’ve been reading a bit around Charlotte Mason recently (she was a respected thinker on education, in case you’ve not come across her) and the reminder that children should be spending many hours a day outdoors really challenged me. My kids would happily do that.
Would I? I’d probably find it difficult to be fully present, to slow down and really absorb the experience. In short, I think I’d get bored, which makes me think that I should commit to doing this more. I’d also be focused on feeling cold. So, two things need to happen. I need to kit myself out at the charity shop and I need to actually dedicate the time.
Hopefully by the time I write our next home education update, I’ll have more to tell about our outdoor adventures.
I’ve been enjoying reading Learning Outdoors with the Meek Family. It brings together ideas for “Ed-ventures”, getting out of the house (and the classroom) and learning in the real world, whether that be a lake, a castle or an airport.
Some of the ideas work for Talitha’s age, like painting rocks for the garden or drawing minibeasts you find but many of them are geared toward older children, so I think we’ll get lots out of this in years to come.
Life in stories
Talitha has always gravitated towards books in any room. At times, I’ve felt frustrated that she’d choose to sit with books when we’d made the effort to go out to a group so she could play with other children. I’ve since realised that she does both, that it’s about her pace not what I think she should be doing and that I was the same as a child.
We’ve been borrowing Usborne first readers from the library and she’s been delighted that she can read them. Often she reads a line then looks for what she’s read about in the picture or she’ll ask me questions about what she’s read. It’s a real delight to both of us that she’s understanding what she’s reading.
Even better, we’re just enjoying a life in stories, with me reading more chapter books and short stories and listening to audiobooks while playing. She’s been particularly loving listening to a CD of The Cat in the Hat and Other Dr Seuss Stories. The girls have their own CD player and both of them have learned how to operate it, though Ophelia needs a hand and she’s not quite co-ordinated enough to get the CD in.
We’re also taking the stories further by drawing pictures of something in a book, crafts and foods inspired by a story or acting it out with the Sylvanian family or puppets.
Following life’s questions
Questions that naturally come up in our day to day have lead us down interesting paths. We’ve been learning lots (reading and playing) around animal categorisation, starting with the question: “Is a whale a fish?”
Questions around numbers lead us into playing simple maths games. We play lots of board games anyway but I recently printed off some monsters from The Measured Mom and we’ve been finding different things to do with them, identifying, ordering, matching to words and connecting them with real life. Here we made play dough monsters and added eyes to work out some simple sums.
Looking to the season and calendar has inspired a lot of what we’ve done this month, collecting leaves and other objects, cooking and baking Autumn favourites, and drilling pumpkins for Halloween.
For me, it’s helped to plug in to my four-year-old’s natural excitement over all of life’s little celebrations. I don’t have to make her childhood magical. It already is.
Life through creating
A highlight of this month was a paper clothes making workshop we attended at the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol run by the team at Let’s Make Art. I didn’t know quite what to expect but we walked away with so many ideas! I was surprised by how into it Talitha got. She wouldn’t let me help with most of it and attended it with such focus.
I’m looking forward to getting some scrap out (we keep a massive chest full of scrap) and playing a bit more with making clothes and costumes at home. It would be good to get her some beautiful materials too, though, so we’ll need a trip to the Children’s Scrapstore soon, I think.
I also want to do more yarn crafts together because Talitha is so intrigued by anyone doing needlework. When a friend brought her knitting to our house yesterday, Talitha ran for her own needlework. She dips in and out of working on her simple frame but it’s surprising how absorbed she is when she’s working on it.
She’s always making, though, whether it’s drawing (our art supplies are out at child height – for better or worse when Ophelia gets at them!) or Lego, facepainting or Hama beads. It makes me wonder why I’ve only recently rediscovered my own crafting impulse when it seems to be something children naturally want to do.
We’ve been making our way through this Chihuly Art Kit Activity Book my brother-in-law gave me. It’s full of opportunities to look at the work of artist David Chihuly then attempt activities around his ideas.
So, that’s a bit of what we’ve been up to recently. What about you?
Every month, I’ll give a little update on what we’ve been up to as part of This Homeschooling Life, a new linky I’m hosting with blogger friends Jess, Polly and Laura. I’m sure I’ll have lots more to share next time around. Do read more about it below and if you blog, consider linking up.
This Homeschooling Life is a linky sharing either a week, a day or just a moment from your life as a homeschooling family. We are hoping it will be a great way to discover new blogs and learn how we all do things differently.
The linky will open at 8am on the first Monday of every month and, throughout the rest of the month, the hosts will share your posts on their social media channels.
1. Link back to one of the hosts. You will find the code for the badge at the bottom or if you prefer you can use a text link.
2. Link up a post from your month, no more than 3.
3. Link directly to a specific post, not your main blog.
4. Follow the hosts on at least one of their social media platforms.
5. Visit and comment on some of the other blogs linking up.
6. If you share on social media then you can use the #thishomeschoolinglife so we can all find each other.
An InLinkz Link-up
PS: We were sent Learning Outdoors with the Meek Family and given a free place in the Let’s Make Art workshop to review. This post also contains affiliate links which just means I get a few pence if you buy any of the books I’ve linked to, at no added cost to you.
We’re heading into that portion of the year again where fireworks come on the scene. I’ll be collecting a few ideas for exploring fireworks with little ones, I’m sure, but for now I thought I’d share this craft we did last year.
Just before Bonfire Night last year, I wanted to do a simple “fireworks” craft with Talitha. We were in Trinidad and Tobago for Independence Day that August so she got to see a hugely impressive fireworks display there and it was the first time we were far enough away from the action for her to admire the beauty of the fireworks without being frightened by the bang. She talked about it for ages afterwards so I knew she’d enjoy crafting around them. These photos are from when we did this craft a year ago. We might try them again this year.
We looked at a video clip I’d taken of the fireworks we’d seen launched from San Fernando hill in Trinidad for Independence Day and talked about what fireworks are and how they work in basic terms. Then I got out a few photographs I’d gathered for inspiration.
A video posted by Adele Jarrett-Kerr (@adelejk) on
We made our coloured rice by mixing tempura paint into bowls of rice, spreading them out on a tray to dry and breaking them up a bit afterward. We then added some glitter but, actually, adding the glitter while the paint on the rice would be an idea too.
The table was laid with different glue options – a glue pen, a pot with a spreader, and a glue bottle – so she could pick and choose and experiment with what she wanted her fireworks to look like. There was also black paper for the night sky and, of course, our glittery, coloured rice!
I left her to it and, of course, hung the results to dry.
Fireworks feature in so many special occasions: Diwali, Guy Fawkes Night, New Year’s Eve, Independence Day, Chinese New Year and I’m sure there are more! We made New Year’s cards with our coloured rice.
It may seem early for it but we’re already looking forward to the fireworks this Autumn!
With hot air balloons fresh in our minds from the Bristol Balloon Fiesta, I wanted to do a craft with Talitha featuring them. We always have lots of recycling objects around so I grabbed a few milk bottle caps and we got going.
Milk bottle caps
Glitter glue pens
A toilet roll tube
A dark felt tip pen
Polystyrene packaging chips
What we did:
Spread LOADS of glue on the bottle caps and stick them to your card. Talitha did her own, I helped Ophelia. Cut the tube into little rectangles for the basket and stick them on. Decorate the balloons with glitter pens. Stick on the chips for clouds and draw in some details with your pen.
Talitha wanted to do another scene using green card to show hot air balloons that haven’t taken off yet so she drew some people too.
Even Ophelia had a go. I put glue on the paper and gave her stuff to stick on it. I’d have let her do the glue herself but I could only find one spreader and it was causing a bit of a sharing issue! Once distracted with sticking the clouds she was OK.