Picture book round up | January 2018

It’s hard to believe that January is over already. Here are a selection of the many picture books we’ve been enjoying so far this year.

Ruby’s Wish, by Shirin Yim Bridges
A wonderful story which encourages little girls to aim to excel, as well as giving an insight into Chinese culture.

The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams

A House in the Woods, by Inga Moore

God’s Very Good Idea, by Tillia Newbell

The Most Wonderful Thing in the World, by Vivian French

Angelo, by David Macaulay
A story which touches on the subject of death in a gentle and moving way (I cried a little bit!).

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But what do you do with them all day?

Since we started homeschooling last September (or, more accurately, since we declined to send our daughter to primary school – because otherwise what were we doing for the first five years of her life?), this is one of the most common questions I have been asked by non-homeschoolers:

‘But what do you do with them all day?’

(Along with, ‘What curriculum do you use?’ and ‘How is homeschooling going?’)

It’s a question that has typically sent me diving for cover, because I really struggle to articulate what we actually do all day every day, and I feel vulnerable, exposed, and judged when people ask it.

Our days and weeks seem to go by so fast – so fast – that I haven’t had a moment to think about what we are actually doing, let alone a reasonable way of articulating it to others who aren’t even homeschoolers themselves. It’s not as if we struggle to fill our time! The exact opposite, in fact. But putting a finger on some concrete things that I could talk about with others – not so easy.

So let me tell you what a blessing it was to review my scribbled notebook of the last four months, and see all the many different things that we’ve been doing, all day, every day.

What do I do with them all day?

Reading aloud (me), reading aloud (her), writing, reading the Bible, going on nature walks, gardening, moving house, cleaning up the new house, exploring our new area, decorating, playing number games, visiting the library countless times, maths time with papa, learning to help with chores (cleaning, laundry), baking cakes and bread, watching and listening to and reading about The Nutcracker, listening to Beethoven symphonies, reading poetry, painting, going to the theatre, sewing, finger knitting, building flat-pack furniture, making Christmas gifts, playing board games, memorising Scripture, swimming lessons, gymnastics classes, ballet classes, book club, listening to science podcasts, making things, scootering, playing at the playground, flying kites, playing Lego, making origami…

What we do all day is not rocket science. It is simple family life, done together, done with (we hope) ever-increasing intentionality, with each of us learning at our own pace and digging into the world and the Word together. (And honestly, I think I am learning more than they are!) For us, it’s more about contemplation than knowledge. It’s about delight: in a story, in God’s creation, in number patterns, in working with our hands.

So, when you ask me what curriculum I follow, if you mean what topics are we covering, I will shrug my shoulders because we are focusing on learning skills rather than information.

When you ask me how homeschooling is going, if you mean how I am testing my children’s progress and attainment, I will tell you I’m not.

And when you ask me what we do all day every day, I will smile and say there are too many things to mention.

Picture book round up | December 2017

We love reading picture books in our home and homeschool. Every day we read at least a couple in the morning, two or three or four after lunch, and some more whilst dinner is cooking. Oh and bedtime stories! My children have many familiar favourites on our shelves, but we also like to raid our small but excellent local library about once or twice a fortnight.

I thought I’d share a few we’ve enjoyed recently. I might even make it a regular feature for the blog. That way, I’ll be able to remember what that really good book was that we were reading way back when… πŸ™‚

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The Paper Dragon, by Marguerite W. Davol

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The Story of Holly and Ivy, by Rumer Godden

 

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Pattan’s Pumpkin, by Chitra Soundar

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The Nutcracker, by Jane Ray

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The Miracle of the First Poinsettia, by Joanne Oppenheim

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The Story of Christmas, by Jane Ray

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The Selfish Giant, by Oscar Wilde (retold by Alexis Deacon)

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The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, by Susan Wojciechowski

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Saint George and the Dragon, by Margaret Hodges

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Beauty and the Beast: Stories Around the World, by Cari Meister

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Babushka, by Dawn Casey