Nature’s Day

natures_day-500x500

We had a surprise package through the post.  Imagine our joy when we opened it (bemused as to what it could be) and discovered this beautiful book inside!  We had been sent it by Wide Eyed Editions to review. As this blog and my coffee-come-nature table (also in the photo above) attests, we love to get out and about learning about the nature that surrounds us, so this was a great choice of book to send us!

Nature’s Day is a children’s non-fiction book and it takes you on a journey through the seasons of the year based on eight different locations: the garden; the veg patch; the woods; the farm; the fields; the pond; the orchard and the street.  Each season sees a visit back to each location to see what is happening and what one might see there at that time of year.

The book is recommended for readers of 5+ years, but is also very approachable for younger children – Minnie (3yrs) had particular fun picking out the various animals and plants she recognised and asking what the other ones were.  Even Arty was attracted by the bright and colourful illustrations (as you can see from below).

Part of Wide Eyed Edition’s ‘blurb’ for themselves is that they:

Believe that books should encourage curiosity about the world we live in, inspiring readers to set out on their own journey of discovery.

And this book did that.  Reading it had Minnie out into the garden checking that we had some of the vegetables in the book.  She didn’t believe that we had a courgette plant until I pointed it out to her in a sunny corner, complete with yellow flowers as the book promised!    It certainly acted as a young child-accessible springboard for further investigation and I can see it being used again and again for ideas on what to look for when we’re out and about on our walks.

Judging by the quality of this book and the ensuing enjoyment, we’ll certainly be looking out for more Wide Eyed Editions books in the future (there are some lovely-looking ones on their website).

Useful Information:

  • Title: Nature’s Day
  • Author: Kay Maguire
  • Illustrator: Danielle Kroll
  • Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions
  • ISBN: 978-1-84780-608-6
  • Recommended for readers 5+ years

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Getting young children outdoors

I came across this video at the Sew Liberated blog – a short documentary on the experience of some kindergarten children in Tromso, Norway.  It is an example of what ALL kindergartens/nurseries/pre-schools should be doing – getting small children outside into the world not just for an hour or so, but for days at a time.

Edited (December 2014) – the original video I shared was no longer linked to, so I’ve updated with what I think is the same video (elsewhere on YouTube).

Odds and sods

The latest thing in this house are paper dolls.  Inspired by a Christmas present from her granny, a book called “Black Apple’s Paperdoll Primer” by Emily Winfield Martin (who you can visit at her wonderful blog: “Inside a Black Apple“;  Nin and Ted have been busy copying and printing out paper dolls to cut out and play with.

The book really is wonderful as it has a selection of paper dolls to copy and print out (male and female and also Ted’s favourites: a ghost, a hedgehog and an onion-headed little boy) but also ideas for making your own paper dolls and instructions for making a paper theatre, backdrops and more.
Oh the concentration involved!
And here too:
Lets just say that finger knitting isn’t necessarily Ted’s favourite activity and he’s sat next to the radiator because it’s on and he’s a boy who likes his warmth (although we’ve not needed central heating for a few days since this picture was taken).
He much prefers building.  I walked into the dining room one day to find this (it was apparently set up for their small monkeys to climb on.  They spent quite some time playing with it.
Yachtzy is always a favourite maths activity here. For Nin the emphasis is on her practising her addition and multiplication.
Ted is only just 6, so still in Kindergarten.  However, he would not be one to be left out of a game and so he counts his scores (this can take quite a while in the case of results such as the below!)  He is rather good at basic sums up to 10 (and sometimes up to 20) though – not uncommon for younger siblings, who, although Kindergarten age, will listen in and copy what their siblings are up to.  I have a feeling that come the time he starts Grade 1, maths will be far more of a favourite than knitting ;0)
As the weather dries and brightens there’s been the making of nests (not just a job for birds, Nin is insistant that her small dolls/toys need a home outside too):
I’m really welcoming the sunnier days – they bring with them, not only the increasing warmth and light, the flowers and first greening of many plants, but also a brighter, sunnier mood for me 🙂

September – October Circle Time

I change our circle times (and Main Lesson Blocks) by the Moon Cycle. The below is what we have been using since last week. Some of the verses are repeated from the last circle time (indeed, some feature in every circle time for a while), some are expanded upon, others are old favourites and still more are completely new:

Come to the circle where dreams are found,
Take my hand and we’ll dance around.
Round and round and round we go.
Hello, hello, hello and hello.

Good morning dear Earth and good morning dear Sun.
Good morning dear stones and dear flowers everyone.
Good morning dear beasts and dear birds in the tree.
Good morning to you and good morning to me.

(this is sung – I’d be happy to record a .wav if it’s helpful)

***

In small green cup an acorn grew,
On tall and stately oak.
The spreading leaves the secret knew
And hid it like a cloak.
The breezes rocked it tenderly,
The sunbeams whispered low,
“Someday the smallest acorn here,
Will make an oak, you know.”

The little acorn heard it all,
And thought it quite a joke;
How could he dream an acorn small
Would ever be an oak?
He laughed so much, that presently
He tumbled from his cup,
And rolled a long way from the tree,
Where no-one picked him up.

Close by him was a rabbit hole,
And when the wind blew high,
Down went the acorn with a roll,
For weeks in gloom to lie.
But one bright day a shoot of green
Broke from his body dry,
And pushed its way with longing keen
To see the glorious sky.

It grew and grew, with all its might
As weeks and months rolled on:
The sunbeam’s words were proving right,
For, ere a year had gone,
The shoot became a sturdy plant,
While now the country folk
Can sit beneath the spreading leaves
Of a mighty forest oak.

(The Acorn – Anon)

(This is also sung with some actions)

***

Yellow the bracken,
Golden the sheaves,
Rosy the apples,
Crimson the leaves,
Mist on the hillside,
Clouds grey and white,
Autumn, good morning!
Summer, good night!

(sung to the tune of “Rock-a-bye Baby”)

***
Ten little squirrels (finger play – I already have this written down on the blog from the last circle time)

***
October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came –
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.

(George Cooper, “October’s Party”)

(sung)

***
John had great big waterproof boots on.
John had a great big waterproof hat.
John had a great big waterproof mackintosh
And that, said John, is that!

(AA Milne)

(spoken)

***

On Monday I will LEAP up high,
Then STAND and STRETCH UP to the sky.
On Tuesday I will CROUCH down low,
Then like a flower SLOWLY GROW.
Until on Wednesday, I’m so TALL,
That I can CLIMB right up the wall.
On Thursday I will SKIP around,
Then slowly CURL UP on the ground.
On Friday I will BEND MY KNEES,
Then GALLOP off among the trees.
On Saturday I’m going to HOP
Then SPIN AROUND just like a top.
On Sunday, I will NOD my head –
A day of rest, it’s often said.

***

One step to the LEFT I readily take,
And one to the RIGHT I also make.
A step to the FRONT I take with great speed:
To step to the BACK more courage I need.

My arms I stretch UP high from the ground,
And make a half circle by SWINGING them round.
A straight line I make from hand to hand,
Then DOWN to the ground where I do stand.

***

We then do various maths ‘games’ – including singing, clapping or hopping out times tables. Sometimes we’ll use percussion instruments too.

***

Open them, close them
Stretch them in the air.
Open them, close them,
Place them on your hair.

Open them, close them,
Give a little clap.
Open them, close them,
Place them on your lap.

***

We then move to be seated and on to the main lesson content of the day.

***

An owl sat alone
(Hold up one finger)
On the branch of a tree.
He was as quiet
(Hold finger to lips)
As quiet could be.
It was night
And his eyes were round like this.
(Make circles over eyes with thumbs and index fingers)
And when he looked around
Not a thing did he miss.
(Look from side to side)

I’ve been using this fingerplay to transition to the story of the day.

***

I have to admit, Circle Time is one thing I really wish I had more of a talent for – I’ve seen some beautifully written ones (although for Kindergarten) that follow a far better integrated theme than mine, telling a story woven through the verses – they really are works of art! But I stick with verses and songs I know that my children will enjoy, including a few that get them moving and dancing around (although we also move around during the maths portion of the Circle Time.)

Nin also does daily written maths practice, reading (typically a short poem), art and craft. She is currently knitting a bag, that will be knitted and then felted.

Music has been a little sporadic as really I want her to learn to play a Choroi flute, but till they can be afforded (as I will also need one), I’m a little concerned that recorder-playing will confuse her if we go with the Choroi-fingered flute.

Of course there is so much else, from baking, to gardening, to the very many stories she writes outside of ‘lesson time’.

I really should write something more of what Ted gets up to. That will have to wait for a later blog post.

Little Furry Rabbits

We have rabbits on the field behind us.  We grow vegetables.  This is rarely a problem for our vegetables as we have Gilbert. Sadly this means we have a season of dead small rabbits, but for once, a few weeks ago, we managed to rescue one.

When I caught up with Gilbert, this little one was lying prone, but otherwise looked ok.  S/he spent some time in a box on my kitchen table just to keep him quiet.  He soon perked up and was released back on the field (hopefully) to never return again.

I managed to record “The Little Furry Rabbits” (still haven’t worked out how to convert to MP3 yet – sorry Mac users, but I will get there). You can listen to it here: Little Furry Rabbits

The little furry rabbits keep very, very still
They peep at me across the grass as I go up the hill.
But if I venture nearer to watch them in their play
A flash of white and they are gone, not one of them will stay.

I can’t remember where I got the poem from, but will keep on looking to credit the author – sorry! In the meantime, if anyone knows, please let me know and I’ll amend the poem with a credit