Thursday, December 19

the chiffchaff

A late breakfast today after a cough-disruptive night. Lots of cuddles. Brave read-along with her porridge. Flower Fairies Alphabet mini-book on her desk, which she read through.


***

The Great British Year people were giving away a seasonal poster to whoever asked for one. She eventually decided that the Chiffchaff was her favourite, as it was cute and chubby.


So we discovered what the Chiffchaff sounded like, what it looked like, and it's basic behaviours. She recognises that it has a black streak from beak, across the eye, and back.


She picked out a few more bird clips to watch. We chatted about the importance of bird feeders and how much we love cats but the danger that cats pose to garden birds.

When we were done she went off to make a cut-out bird feeder. She invited me to come birdwatching. So with a tp roll I quietly watched the little bird tweet (a proper chiffchaff call) and feed.

***

She then spotted her computer and asked to do Reading Eggs... focus on oa sound (coat, goat, float). I see her getting fidgety, so offer a snack of buttery wholemeal toast.

Lunch is just around the corner...

Tuesday, December 17

oh the things... Dec 17

Learnt
  • The song and call of the Chiffchaff.
  • The sneaky nest-stealing tactics of the cuckoo.
  • 'Yo soy' (I am), in Spanish.
  • Started on Reading Eggs. Easy and fun. (she knows how to read but this will be fun while gently helping her spelling.)
  • Learning new pieces from Mozart, with this album.... Eine Kleine Nachtmusik has been a favourite for some time now, and I need the child to start humming something else!

Did

  • Library visit with Xmas card-making.... where she made, and explained to the librarian, a Solstice card, because "That's what we celebrate". She was also the only child who didn't have her parents making almost the whole thing for her. hmmm
  • Built a nest out of cushions and Amazon packaging... inspired after watching the cuckoo video.
  • Cleared out unused and 'bitsy' toys together.
  • Trampolining class.
  • Has an imaginary friend, Kim, who has become a sister I think. Inspired by Jessica. She read that months ago, but only now this creation.She openly says it's her imaginary friend.


silly poses on gym mat


Said

Defiantly, in response to something her father said...
"I can be whatever I want to be. A doctor, an artist, or a dragonologist"

On suggestion of a learning topic...
"Great!! You're creating a good adventure for my brain!"



Read

The Egg, M. P. Robertson
Just okay. Better if he had left out the tormenting girls bit. Miss5 loves eggs and dragons, and hasn't picked this up again. That says a whole lot.
Night Tree, Eve Bunting
This is our new tradition. I will never cut down a tree for decoration, so I love this alternative, but even if your family does, this could be a nature-connecting addition.
Rainbow Magic series. Bella The Bunny Fairy. Georgia The Guinea Pig Fairy. Lauren The Puppy Fairy.
I find these really unimaginative and dislike the whole troll focus. However, they are a series that contains appropriate topics for the young, and yet are reading age 6-9. Hard to find this combo for my 5.5yr-old girl. And she loves them.
Why Snakes Shed Their Skin (I Wonder Why series)
Shine, Moon, Shine, David Conway
Very sweet, nicely told and lovely illustrations.
Lila and the Secret of Rain, David Conway
The message is opaque for little ones, but leaves lots of room for discussion. Good from the library.

Friday, December 13

a solstice snowflake

A paper snowflake that a child can make. We're keeping the few decorations pre-loved and home-made.

Miss5 struggled with cutting straight lines by sight, so I marked out some quick lines for her to follow. It ended up a craft that helped with scissor skills.


Looks fancy but actually easy, fun, good for motor skills, and a lovely decoration at the end of it.

There are many online tutorials (especially easy to find on Pinterest), but I was glad to find one offering a video with children giving the instructions. My girl definitely responds well listening/watching peers being arty or informative.

The blue stars you see up there are tissue-paper folded stars. Also easy and fun. Enchanted Tree has a tutorial.

It's utterly impossible to shake ourselves of Xmas, and it's confusing I find. So many many messages and images, even when we are mostly indoors these days. We read and chat about how we celebrate the Winter Solstice, and she gets that. What I do appreciate is how so many of us are celebrating a magical occurrence of some kind, around the same time. That does make for a little more magic sparkle, to be shared by anyone.

Thursday, December 12

children's herbs

I've had the children's herbal for quite some time (yes, enthusiastic mama). I've left it sitting on her bookshelf, tucked away at the very end. This week she came across it and just started reading it on her own. On her first day she announced, "Mama, you could give me some black pepper for my cough!".

I just loved how she wasn't just reading the words but taking it in and picking up what was relevant for her at this moment.

It includes the expected facts, recipes, and illustrations, but also stories. She especially enjoys finding Mr Greenleaf (a herby gnome) hidden in the pages.

Of course, she has grown up with herbs as medicine. Without our own garden, not growing them herself. But of course we can try some pot herbs.




A friend reminded me of the Herbal Roots zine/course. She was enthusiastic at the suggestion of learning a herb a month. I've purchased 2 archive annual collections (I was lucky to get in on a 50% discount too!). I will pull out the pages most appropriate for her age. I want to keep it as organic as possible, so we will do songs, stories, poems, and the hands-on activities. The facts can come along the way.

Herbal Roots Zine



Wednesday, December 11

oh the things... Dec 11

Learnt

  • That humans are also mammals.
  • Greetings and head-related body parts in Spanish.
  • The Cuckoo bird of Great Britain migrates from Scotland, Wales, and England, to the Congo.
  • How to measure (our hands, arms, and feet), with a measuring tape. Basic idea of centimetres. Because she had a toy one.
  • Clockwise and anticlockwise (while stirring her porridge to cool it down, she does 10 of each).
  • Changing the font size and style in Windows Notepad.


Did

  • Made a penguin from cardboard, her own design.
  • 'Composing' her own songs on her inherited keyboard.
    My neighbour and friend (artist and piano teacher) has offered her a wonderful discount if she so chooses to take up lessons. However, I'm wary of lessons killing her joy of just bashing keys and making 'songs'. Let's just hold off for now, ye?
  • Gave fish-cakes a try. So-so. The lime flavoured salmon ones were a thumbs down. 
  • Decided to start a long-term-add-as-I-feel-the-urge, giant drawing (I took down some lining paper from the wall I had been using to keep the wall clean from my canvases)
  • Dressed as a Rose Fairy and made a paper rose to carry... inspired after reading her Flower Fairies book.



Said

"I shudder to think."
(?!)

"Mama you were too stern!"
oops

"Tortillini gives me an extra lifespan."
the secret to immortality is out!


Read

Camels Have Humps (I Wonder Why series)
The Shortest Day, Wendy Pfeffer
Nothing special but so few solstice books around. For a book-loving child, it's a nice way to affirm what we do.
A Year Around the Great Oak, Gerda Mulle
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Grace Lin
Buy this. yes, just buy it. I read this one a few chapters a night to her. She'll read it next herself.

Tuesday, December 10

not school

I really wanted to home-educate my child. I am a born teacher-type, I have an insatiable hunger for learning, and I just didn't gel with the institution called school. I did so much research and collected many resources, while she grew in my belly.

Yet theories and wishes need to become reality. Reality was that my child slept badly, I slept badly, she was amazingly clingy. I gave her my all, grasped to retain my Self, and at the end of 3 years I was beat. I was zapped of vitality and the thought of staying home all day every day and playing with little figurines made me want to run screaming for the mountains.

Yet ordinary school was never an option... and so I came across Steiner, we moved back to England (after almost 4 yrs in Montenegro), and down to Devon, all for the best (in my eyes) school I had ever laid eyes on. It was not an easy start for either of us, but we settled in eventually and the whole Kindergarten set up is magic.

But.

They don't begin academics until age 7, in line with some European countries. Which, in theory, I agree with - cognitively, the child is ready for words and numbers and the learning sticks. Ordinary schools push too much, too soon. We rob children of their number 1 job - to play.

In practice though, I had a girl who was bright and curious and wilful and logical..... she adored letters from an early age and learnt reading skills following the words as I read her books.



Summary - she reads for age 8, knows basic maths, knows a ton about the human body, tons about nature and animals, she writes a little. This is 85% self-directed and self-taught. What would she learn with more support and instruction?! Basically, not a Steiner student. In trying not to accelerate her learning and thereby leave her with little to do in Class 1, I discouraged her from stronger academic concepts.

It never felt right but we were there for the long haul - leaving wasn't on the table. Yet in saying no, I was moulding my child to fit the school. This wasn't simply a bright child, this was a child hungry for learning.

So when anyone asks, why did you leave? The simplest answer is; I got tired of saying no.

The 2+ weeks of chesty-cough illness and spending more time together, and with lots of Stuff I've recently released.... I was in a clear space to think and feel. And it was just the most natural response when she asked to learn more addition. I said, yes. And I knew even then the full extent of what that simple word meant.

So we have left the school.

We are learning organically. Which to me means being led my our interests, enthusiasm, intuition, learning style, and mood, as well as by ordinary daily living.

....

"Mama, I want to learn aaaaall day!"

And so you shall my sunshine girl.

Friday, December 6

oh the things...

Mother Earth and her baby, my first big needle-felted toy



Learnt
  • That dragons fly above the clouds to keep out of sight of humans.
  • Leaves lose their green as sap dries up.
  • Every combination of addition that can be done on two hands. (self-directed -discovered)
  • The meaning of the Winter Solstice.
  • Bats can eat 3000 bugs a night each.
Did
  • Created plays with her magnetic theatre. Performed for me and our neighbour.
  • Made tissue-paper 'solstice' stars.
  • Decorated her mini Solstice tree.
  • Mama made felty things, including a Mother Earth (finally!)
  • Composing her own songs more and more (often in the loo!).. and performing on her return.


 Said

"Mama, I've grown really fond of you"

"I love how you let me be whatever I want. I appreciate that"


Read

The Snow Children, Sibylle Von Olfers
(so popular but I find them dull. She loved the idea of the little snow children, so I worked with that wonder)
Sun Bread, Elisa Kleven
(nothing special, but makes a good support for the tradition of making the bread and even getting outside to throw up the crumbs as offerings)
I Wonder Why Trees Have Leaves
(we're getting more of the series. nice encyclopaedia-style books. yet short and very visual, aimed at 4-8 yrs)
Worst Witch audio book
(a little advanced for her age and I wasn't keen on it, but she has heard it 4 times)

The Great British Year, Spring, documentary


Tuesday, July 23

Inspiring Girls: books for 4-7yrs

My personal preferences for books featuring strong and inspiring girls, (that I would pay for and have on our shelves to read over and over again):
  • The girls find their strength from within and do not need to say or do unkind things to get the upper hand.
    (I'm surprised by how many stories rely on that)
  • Lifting up girls does not mean stomping on boys.
  • Beauty is downplayed or irrelevant.
    (Often strong girls are still exceptionally beautiful. Think modern Disney.)
  • A different culture is a bonus.
  • They're looking for something other than romantic love.
  • Ordinary girls, alongside the fantasy stories.

I also don't believe that these are just for girls. Our young boys ought to read about active, creative, and independent girls too. It's just as important.

The age range I've indicated covers what I find age appropriate in content. Reading age has to be an individual thing.


The Apple-pip Princess
A practical princess at least. Small loving actions can change the world. Beautiful illustrations.
Amazon.uk
Amazon.com
On Meadowview Street
Where's the meadow or view? There's nothing growing in Caroline's front yard except grass. Then she spots a flower, a butterfly and a bird and Caroline realizes that with her help, maybe Meadowview Street can have a meadow after all.
Amazon.uk
Amazon.com
Kate and the Beanstalk
Not only a female protagonist but also a twist in that the child isn't a thief but rather is retrieving stolen property.
Amazon.uk
Amazon.com
Ladybug Girl
Lulu wants to be entertained by others, but as no one will accommodate her, she needs to create her own entertainment. Encouraging creative thinking and self-reliance.
Amazon.uk
Amazon.com
Fanny
Fanny and her friends learn that using your imagination and working with your own two hands can result in the best toy of all!
Amazon.uk
Amazon.com
Isabella: Star of the Story
Isabella turns a library visit into a journey through classic stories. She pretends she's Alice, Peter Pan, and Dorothy. At the end of the day, she's happy being Isabella, the girl with a library card and stack of books.
Amazon.uk
Amazon.com
Loud Emily
Enough of telling girls to be quiet and 'sweet'. Emily saves the day with her loud voice.
Amazon.uk
Amazon.com
Me...Jane
The story of a young Jane Goodall and her toy chimpanzee named Jubilee. She observes the natural world around her with wonder, and dreams of a life living with and helping all animals. Biographical.
Amazon.uk
Amazon.com
Clever Beatrice and the Best Little Pony
Clever little girl that is able to use her wits to outsmart a mischievous troll.
Amazon.uk
Amazon.com
Miss Rumphius
Tackling one very big question, providing an answer.
Amazon.uk
Amazon.com
The Samurai's Daughter
The brave daughter of a samurai warrior and her journey to be reunited with her exiled father.
Amazon.uk
Amazon.com
Mirette on the High Wire
Mirette learns tightrope walking from Monsieur Bellini, a guest in her mother's boarding house. Bravery and focus.
Amazon.uk
Amazon.com
Mirandy and Brother Wind
Mirandy is sure she'll win the cake walk if she can catch Brother Wind for her partner, but he eludes all the tricks her friends advise. She sparkles with energy and determination.
Amazon.uk
Amazon.com
Trouble with Trolls
An intelligent and quick-thinking female protagonist, who outwits trolls.
Amazon.uk
Amazon.com
Ruby Nettleship
Ruby and her friends want a place to play, but their playground only has one old swing and a broken slide. Magic always finds its way to Ruby - when she plants her ice lolly stick in the ground, a magnificent playground begins to grow!
Amazon.uk
Amazon.com





All Amazon links are connected to my account so I receive some pennies if you purchase from clicking them. If you find this list helpful it's a nice way to say thank you at no extra cost to you.

Monday, July 15

recently

i placed her treehouse on the windowsill and now she plays with it again.
location, location,location


Girl

May 7th - Last couple of weeks got into mama with baby role-playing.
May 6th - First beach visit this year. First real beach explore in our new area, as we only ever visited the popular (i.e, loud, brash) Paignton.

After starting to sleep in her own bed last Summer, she's been asking for me to sleep with her. I alternate nights, and crawl out after she's dropped off.

She's infiltrated everyone with her imaginary creature - a Boible (cat-like, faster than a leopard, can pick up houses, eats everything but allergic to stew, some have wings). Her creature is strong, powerful, fearless. A wonderful representation of what she wishes to/knows she can be?

Began trampoline-ing at local leisure centre, but now switched to gymnastics (very easy fun stuff).

I bought goggles to get her to start having her face wet and into the water, in the bath, as a prequel to swimming. She just hates having water on her face. So teeny baby steps still. Trying her in the shower with me so that she gets used to the water splashing her face.

I introduced her to a young version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - she adores it. Now we're reading the whole Narnia Chronicles, lent to us by my neighbour.

Last Thursday, she completed her first year of Steiner Kindergarten. A whole year of school! I find that the school calendar really makes time so prominent that it's difficult not to watch it fleeting.

She's 5 and 1/4 this month.


Me

This Mercury retrograde (in my 2nd House - of tangible things and resources) has seen me lose money (super big as well as small), mysteriously lost an expensive purchase from the shop to my home and my daughter's bathing suit from the beach carpark to our home, had 2 unexpected and complicated bills.


Wednesday, April 17

Five


It's a common phrase from a mother's mouth - where has the time gone? But honestly, I don't feel that this year. Perhaps because our first 3 years were so crazy challenging and full. Perhaps because she's old enough to ask 'when am I five?' several times a month. Perhaps because we have slowed down, finding simplicity in our days. Perhaps it's all of the above.

I may not be amazed to have a five year-old, but I still shed the tears of over-flowing love.

Currently, her favourite things are:

bones
robots (special wall-e crush)
snakes
body organs
toilets
chocolate ice-cream
the letter x
pink, white, gold
dinosaurs

Most recent favourite books:

Don Quixote (Usborne)
Any body book
The Lost Thing, Shaun Tan
Tag Books still

Has just started learning Spanish. She's 104cm. Reads for age 8.
She has an imaginary creature called a Boyble (sp?), which looks similar to a cat cross chameleon, with wings. She has managed to get all her little friends to play Boyble games!

Recent saids:

"I love life mama"
"Mama, can you explain the world?"

Today was a quiet day with mama and tata, and presents. Tomorrow is her birth celebration Steiner-style in her class, and Saturday is her party with friends. As she just told her cousins over the phone - it's a birthday week!

Monday, February 4

Currently...

Time I injected some words into this space.

The Pixie has come through a rough patch at school and all the children in her class seem to have found their groove. I hear certain names mentioned, about what they did, what they played. She has released anxieties. In her case, especially evident in not feeling she has to help, or monitor everything. When I asked her whether she served the snack recently, she shrugged and said - "I just want to eat."

Her reading is extraordinary. As she was growing out of picture books and the local library is small, I picked up some 'early reader' type books. Not for her to read, simply for their content. She ended up reading them on her own. Not only reads the words, but includes appropriate intonation on the second read through, and has full comprehension. We do no reading teaching at all, other than when she asks what a word is, I tell her. I believe she's reading fluently at age 6-7 (she's 4 3/4).

Just shows that you can't stop children learning when the desire is there! No need to shove it down their throats.
Her Steiner teacher is aware and is untroubled. In fact, she was impressed. I am glad we attend a more relaxed Steiner school. They certainly have their education principles, but they're flexible.

yoga - giant body book

She was insistent I teach her maths and so we have gone through the two hands and adding. She seemed satisfied with that. (I mean, leave something for Class 1!).

She is interested in the human body as much as ever. I gave her a human body 'toy' for Xmas, that she can dismember the rubbery organs, and she loves it.

Her current favourite book is Germs. Yep, still a body/health theme.... that's my Virgo Moon girl!


We're moving to a new apartment end of Feb. Going from 5mins to 20mins school run. Not ideal, but a very easy drive. And the place is situated right on the edge of Dartmoor and woodland walks, walking distance to library, swimming pool, and shops. As well as 20 mins from major city (museum, art galleries).

So much has occurred, for me, emotionally, in recent weeks, that I know this move mirrors and supports a brighter future.