11 December, 2010

Pohutukawa, the New Zealand Christmas Tree

This is a Pohutukawa tree, native to New Zealand. Because of its beautiful red flowers it has come to be known as the "New Zealand Christmas tree." This is also partly because it flowers in summer, mainly in the northern parts of the North Island, which is around our Christmas time! The image of the flowering Pohutukawa on a beach is a typical scene at this time of the year.

See The Bushman's Friend for more information on the Pohutukawa tree.

07 December, 2010

Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival

Welcome to this edition of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival! I am hosting from little New Zealand, down in the South Pacific. While some of you are experiencing the first snow of the season, we have been experiencing some early hot weather. Last week felt like February weather to us, with some days reaching 30 degrees celsius!

The Pohutukawa, New Zealand's "national" Christmas tree

Anyway, let's get on with the carnival!
We have had a few "technical" issues with submissions not going to the right person, so if your submission is missing, please accept my apologies!



Katey lists the books her family is using for various subjects at Crazy Homeschool Mama: on our bookshelf posted at her blog: Crazy Homeschool Mama.

Pamela describes some of her family's adventures reliving the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder in Just Like Ma Ingalls at her Blah, Blah, Blog.

Dawn shares a great list of Advent Books at her blog, my4sweetums.


Nancy shares a medieval Christmas poem, The Canticle of the Bees, at her blog, Sage Parnassus.

I share a post on one of our poet studies: Poet of the Week ~ Phillis Wheatley


Jimmie shows us how we can succeed at: Teaching Geography Without Buying a Curriculum in her post at Jimmie's Collage.


Robin presents some great Ideas for Photographic History Projects posted at Crack the Egg.


Jimmie also presents Da Vinci Picture Books at Jimmie's Collage.

Shannon Cook shares Artist/Composer Group: Georges Seurat at her blog, Song of My Heart.


Susan shares her plans for A Term of Study for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, including copywork and narration exercises, at her blog, Stitching Life.

I posted my plans for our Shakespeare study of Henry V in Preparing for Shakespeare.


Tricia shares her family's joy in Autumn nature study at Autumn OHC # 10: November World posted her blog, Hodgepodge.

Cindy describes a nature scavenger hunt in A Preschool Walk posted at Shining Dawn Books.

If you've always wanted to know what an "ootheca" is, Amber will uncover the mystery at Nature Study -- Praying Mantis Oothecae at her blog, The Mommy Earth.

Annie Kate presents Nature Study at Tea Time with Annie Kate.


Melissa shares the rewards of composer & orchestra study in "Concerto! I know who that is!" at her blog, Bugs, Knights, and Turkeys In the Yard.


Jen shows us what our children can achieve when their minds are inspired by history, and are given leave to be creative: When Homeschoolers Go Unsupervised at her blog: Best Family Adventures.


Shannon presents Christmas in Mexico: Making Ojo de Dios posted at Song of My Heart.


Amy has put together an in-depth post on Narration... in Spanish or French, hard?! at Fisher Academy International ~ Teaching Home.


And last, but definitely not least, Nancy shares her final post on her Truth, Beauty, Goodness co-op, with an overview of what the group has learned throughout the term: Gazing on Many Truths posted at Sage Parnassus. It is a beautiful example of a Charlotte Mason homeschooling co-op!


That's it for 2010! May you all have a blessed Christmas, and a wonderful holiday break!

06 December, 2010

Red Pepper Quilts: Oh Dr Seuss!

On a totally random note, if you like Dr Seuss, check out these neat quilted placemats Rita has made with Dr Seuss fabrics:

Red Pepper Quilts: Oh Dr Seuss!: "The wonderful world of Dr Seuss - Robert Kaufman fabrics: Celebrate Seuss! and Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss Enterprises! I do love these aw..."

01 December, 2010

Drawing Lesson - Portraits

The last lesson from our DVD, "How to Draw Really Well" by Graham Braddock, was a portrait. Needless to say, this was the lesson we all found the most difficult. I did find it easier to draw portraits when we had our live lessons with Graham, rather than watching the DVD. When we had the lesson with Graham in person, we had a large photo of the model on a screen. This meant we could look to the photo itself, rather than just at Graham's version on the DVD. You did see clips of the photo of the model, but it was much smaller.

Here are our portraits of a girl called Emma:

Portraits by (from left to right): Bethany, me, Ainsley.

30 November, 2010

Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival

If you ever wondered who Charlotte Mason is, and what she wrote about, check out the latest edition of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival here.

26 November, 2010

Handicrafts - Sewing

It's amazing what can be done with a bit of fabric, some thread, and a needle. Bethany in particular has been hand-sewing for several years now. She loves making clothes for her beanie bear and Sylvanians.
Here are some of the outfits made for "Pinky" this year:

These are some pictures from a Sylvanian wedding. Most of the outfits were hand-made by Bethany:

The girls all love to use my sewing machine too. Ainsley (8 yrs) designed and made her own apron:

Bethany has adapted a tote bag pattern we have used to make little bags of all different sizes. Here is the latest one. Beth made the tassel out of a skein of embroidery thread:

08 November, 2010

A Shakespeare Resource

One problem I had when deciding which Shakespeare play to start reading through was that I didn't know what most of the plays were about! I had studied MacBeth and King Lear in high school, but I didn't think the girls would enjoy them first up.
I found this lovely book on Trademe a few months ago, and I'm so glad I did. It has short summaries on every one of Shakespeare's plays, all written by Marchette Chute. The summaries are all around 10-12 pages in length, some shorter, so they are quickly read. Published first in 1960, my edition was published in 1979 and features a lovely dustjacket with illustrations of some of the characters from the plays.

04 November, 2010

Dixie Cook is a Winner!

We got a parcel in the mail today. Bethany won the Dr. Suess Poem Competition for her poem, Dixie Cook! She received a book of New Zealand stories called Pick 'n' Mix: Assorted Kiwi Stories. Emily also received an achievement certificate.
The winning poems have been published here: Tararua Library Dr Suess Poem Competition Winners.
I posted the girls' poems here.

29 October, 2010


These are the results of our drawing lesson yesterday!
From left to right are kittens by Emily, Bethany & Ainsley.
Posted by Picasa

27 October, 2010

Poet of the Week - William Blake

This week we have chosen to read some poems by William Blake. He wrote some beautiful poems for children. This is one I love:

The Lamb

Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee,
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed
By the stream and o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing,
woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice
Making all the vales rejoice;
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb, I'll tell t
Little Lamb, I'll tell thee.
He is called by thy name,
For He calls Himself a Lamb:-
He is meek and He is mild;

He became a little child.
I a child, and thou a lamb,
We are called by Hi
s name.
Little Lamb, God bless thee;
Little Lamb, God bless thee.

The poem is taken from Anthology of Best-Loved Poems, selected by Andrew Lang.
It is a lovely hardcover book with poems by many of the great poets:

18 October, 2010

Drawing DVD pics

We enjoyed another lesson with Graham Braddock via his wonderful DVD last week. The latest lesson was how to draw a still life picture. We were all pleased with the results!

Top left: Ainsley (8yrs), top right: Me (30+yrs), bottom left: Bethany (12 yrs) and bottom right: Emily (10 yrs). Ainsley was allowed to use a layout guide, but the rest of us were on our own (apart from Graham's exceptional instruction of course!)
Posted by Picasa

15 October, 2010

Book Review: One Hand, Two Hands by Max Lucado, illustrated by Gaby Hansen

I have recently signed up with Booksneeze, to recieve free books for review on my blog.

After a few weeks of waiting, our first book finally arrived. It appears that somehow the small detail of our country of abode had missed the address on the box! The book went all the way to Japan, but eventually managed to find its way to us here in New Zealand!

One Hand, Two Hands is a gorgeous, hardcover book written by Max Lucado. Aimed at pre-schoolers, the book tells about how little hands can used practically in everyday life, then goes on to give suggestions on how little hands can be used to bless others, thereby also glorifying God. Written as a poem, it lends itself to memorisation:

"Button your shirt. Tie your own shoe.

Play in the band! Do-dee do-dee-do!"


"One hand, two hands, five fingers, ten...

God, thanks for my hands. Please, use them again."

The watercolour illustrations by Gaby Hansen are just beautiful. This book would make a great gift for a pre-schooler; my littles really enjoyed this book, and I'm sure it will become a favourite read aloud.

Disclaimer: Booksneeze have sent me a complimentary copy of this book. I am under no obligation to publish a positve review, and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

14 October, 2010

Poetry a la Dr. Suess

To those who have had copious instruction,
I am sure Dr. Suess needs no introduction!
Last week we were privileged to view for our pleasure
Many of Dr. Suess's prints, at our leisure.
We travelled by car - a short expedition,
To Woodville, to see this great exhibition.
We thought that an opportunity like this
We would be very sorry and silly to miss!

Enough of that! The exhibition was fun to visit, rather like looking at giant pages out of Dr. Suess's books hanging on the wall. There were also what he calls "unconventional taxidermy" - sculptures of some of the strange creatures he invented.

Along with the exhibition the local library is running a poetry competition. here are the girls' entries:

Skandagupta Clovis

by Emily

Skandagupta Clovis is a funny sort of man,

He went with Marco Polo, to see a far-off land.

He travelled with Mansa Musa, to Mecca and back again,

For he was indeed in charge of all the great king's men.

He helped William Caxton write his book of chess,

In the Wars of theRoses, he fought with the rest.

Oh Magellan's ship he sailed, to discover India at last!

He was one of the lookouts, high up on the mast.

Then he settled down in Brazil, where he works at a mill,

And he lives there happily still.

The End.

Dixie Cook

by Bethany

Dixie Cook was a cook.

Dixie Cook was a rook.

Dixie Cook was a rook who could cook.

Dixie Cook cooked for the King.

Thrice every day the King would ring

A bell for his favourite snack.

Herb-sprinkled, sun-dried, smoked lamb rack.

He ate it for breakfast, for dinner and tea.

In the morning, at night, whenever, really.

At last Dixie Cook made a decision.

“Lamb rack, O King, is bad for your vision.

Why not eat something different instead?”

The King was having breakfast in bed.

He threw back the bed-clothes.

“Certainly, Cook! You are a very intelligent rook.

Make a new dish in time for my dinner!”

Dixie set to work. It had to be a winner.

She mixed up a pie made of beef and cheese.

Lettuce and breadcrumbs and lemon and peas.

The King ate the pie. He let out a sneeze.

“Dixie Cook! This won’t do! Disgusting! Please

Cook something different without any cheese.”

Dixie Cook mixed a soup, with vegetables and meat.

She tasted it. It was tangy and sweet.

The King sipped the soup. His face went green.

“Horrible! Awful! Disgusting! How mean!

You meant to poison your King and your Queen!

Guards, take Dixie away! You’ll stay in prison

For a year and a day!”

Poor Dixie. In prison, she thought very hard,

Then sent the King an apology card.

The King sent one back to Dixie Cook,

It read, “To Criminal Rook Dixie Cook,

You’ll be freed if you can do as I say.

You have a whole year and one day.

Think of a dish that I would like.

Call it Super Extreme Delight.

Cook it and send it to me,

And I will eat it for afternoon tea.

Dixie Cook was a brilliant rook,

So she thought for a year, very hard,

Then sent the King the dish and a card.

The King ate the dish, “Fantastic!” he cried.

“It’s super! It’s brilliant! It can’t be denied!

Guards, release Dixie cook. She’s a very clever rook!”

He rewarded her with a golden crown.

She became the Head Cook in the town.

Many years later, the King still likes

Eating the Super Extreme Delight.

But once when he rang for his favourite snack –

“If you don’t mind, can I have some lamb rack?”

27 September, 2010

Lessons from Jane Eyre

Image from the 1996 BBC miniseries of Jane Eyre

I have recently, for the first time in my life, finally read Jane Eyre. Needless to say, I loved it, and have learned a lot from it. I would like to share part of a conversaton Jane has with her fellow student at the Lowood School, where Jane spent 8 years of her life. Lowood School was a "charitable institution", but the girls were not well fed and the buildings were never heated satisfactorily. Some teachers were kind, others were harsh. This is an excerpt of a conversation between Jane and her friend, Helen Burns, shortly after Helen had been harshly punished for her "faults":

"You must wish to leave Lowood?" [Jane]

"No! why should I? I was sent to Lowood to get an education; and it
would be of no use going away until I have attained that object." [Helen]

"But that teacher, Miss Scatcherd, is so cruel to you?"

"Cruel? Not at all! She is severe: she dislikes my faults."

"And if I were in your place I should dislike her; I should resist
her. If she struck me with that rod, I should get it from her hand;
I should break it under her nose."

"Probably you would do nothing of the sort: but if you did, Mr.
Brocklehurst would expel you from the school; that would be a great
grief to your relations. It is far better to endure patiently a
smart which nobody feels but yourself, than to commit a hasty action
whose evil consequences will extend to all connected with you; and
besides, the Bible bids us return good for evil."

"But then it seems disgraceful to be flogged, and to be sent to
stand in the middle of a room full of people; and you are such a
great girl: I am far younger than you, and I could not bear it."

"Yet it would be your duty to bear it, if you could not avoid it:
it is weak and silly to say you CANNOT BEAR what it is your fate to
be required to bear."

I heard her with wonder: I could not comprehend this doctrine of
endurance; and still less could I understand or sympathise with the
forbearance she expressed for her chastiser. Still I felt that
Helen Burns considered things by a light invisible to my eyes. I
suspected she might be right and I wrong; but I would not ponder the
matter deeply; like Felix, I put it off to a more convenient season.

--from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Chapter 6, here.

What a great example of bearing up under adversity! Jane is later put to the test when she is falsely accused of being a liar, and made to stand on the stool for hours.

Phyllis Wheatley by Ainsley

Here is Ainsley's narration on Phillis Wheatley:

Phillis Wheatley

by Ainsley (8 years)

Phillis was born in Africa and captured when she was 8 years old. She was sold to an American tailor in Boston (his name was John Wheatley).Phillis became attached to the tailor's wife immediately after she became her servant. Mr & Mrs Wheatley had two children called Mary and Nathaniel (they were twins). Phillis got her name from the ship she went in from Africa to America, she got her last name from the Wheatleys. Her first book was "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral," and was printed in London. When Phillis returned from her trip to London the Wheatleys freed her and she stayed living with them. Mrs Wheatley died in March of 1774. In 1778, Phillis's tutor, Mary Wheatley and her father John Wheatley died and Mary's twin Nathaniel was living overseas in England. That same year Phillis married a free black Bostonian named John Peters. Phillis dies on December 5, 1784 at about the age of 30 and her baby passed away a short time later. And that is the story of Phillis Wheatley.

17 September, 2010

Poet of the Week - Phillis Wheatley

This week we are looking at the poems of Phillis Wheatley. We have been learning about the early settlers to the New World in our history, and this week's lesson was about the first slaves brought to America.

Phillis Wheatley was one of those slaves. Here are some narrations the girls have written about her life.

Phillis Wheatley

by Emily

Born in around 1753 in Africa, Phillis Wheatley was the second woman in America to publish poems. At the age of eight, she was captured to be a slave, and a Boston tailor, Mr. John Wheatley, bought her. After learning the English language in just sixteen months, Phillis wrote her first poem, an elegy, when she was thirteen. It was called "On the death of the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield." In 1770 Phillis published her first poems. She wrote many poems describing her being brought to America from Africa. When Mr. & Mrs. Wheatley died, Phillis was released and married a freed black man, John Peters. Two of her three children died in infancy, and in 1784, when she was thirty-one, Phillis and her last child died in poverty.

Phillis Wheatley

by Bethany

Phillis Wheatley was named after the ship that took her from Africa to America. She took the last name of Wheatley from the people who bought her. Phillis was eight when she became a sevant to the Wheatleys. She wrote lots of poems and elegies. Before they could be published, she had to go to London and have several men's signatures on her work to show that she had actually written it. When she grew up, she married another African-American called John Peters. Two of her three children died, and at thirty-one, Phillis too died.

Phillis Wheatley

by Ainsley (8 years)

Phillis was born in Africa and captured when she was 8 years old. She was sold to an American tailor in Boston (his name was John Wheatley). Phillis became attached to the tailor's wife immediately after she became her servant. Mr & Mrs Wheatley had two children called Mary and Nathaniel (they were twins). Phillis got her name from the ship she went in from Africa to America, she got her last name from the Wheatleys. Her first book was "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral," and was printed in London. When Phillis returned from her trip to London the Wheatleys freed her and she stayed living with them. Mrs Wheatley died in March of 1774. In 1778, Phillis's tutor, Mary Wheatley and her father John Wheatley died and Mary's twin Nathaniel was living overseas in England. That same year Phillis married a free black Bostonian named John Peters. Phillis died on December 5, 1784 at about the age of 30 and her baby passed away a short time later. And that is the story of Phillis Wheatley.

Phillis had a strong faith in God, and this was the basis for most, if not all, of her poems. The following poem was written regarding her being brought to America as a slave.

On Being Brought from Africa to America

'TWAS mercy brought me from my Pagan land,

Taught my benighted sould to understand

That there's a God, that there's a Saviour too:

Once I redemption neither sought now knew,

Some view our sable race with scornful eye,

'Their colour is a diabolic die.'

Remember, Christians, Negroes, black as Cain,

May be refin'd, and join the angelic train.

We all enjoyed reading Phillis's poem about David and Goliath. Here is an excerpt where she describes Goliath:

"When from the camp of the Philistine foes,

Dreadful to view, a mighty warrior rose;

In the dire deeds of bleeding battle skill'd

The monster stalks the terror of the field.

From Gath he sprung, Goliath was his name,

Of fierce deportment, and gigantic frame:

A brazen helmet on his head was plac'd,

A coat of mail his form terrific grac'd,

The greaves his legs, the targe his shoulders prest:

Dreadful in arms high-tow'ring o'er the rest

A spear he proudly wav'd, whose iron head,

Strange to relate, six hundred shekels weigh'd;

He strode along, and shook the ample field..."

~ Phillis Wheatley, Goliath of Gath, Samuel chapter 17.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

A free PDF download of Phillis's poems can be found at Poem Hunter.com.

25 August, 2010

Preparing for Shakespeare

We are reading our first Shakespeare play this year. I would like to share with you some of the ideas and books I have been gathering to prepare for our study.

We have read a few of Shakespeare's plays retold by Charles and Mary Lamb in Tales from Shakespeare.

But this year, I wanted to read through an original play with my two oldest daughters. They are now 10 and 11 and are both strong in their English and reading aloud skills, so I thought we'd give it a go.

The next question was which play to study. In The Well Trained Mind, Susan Wise Bauer recommends starting with a history play, as the storyline would be more straight forward and understandable. Since we had recently studied King Henry V in our History studies, I decided that would be the play to start with, as we had a good overview of the storyline. Another factor in this decision was that Susan Wise Bauer and others recommend the movie by Kenneth Branagh as suitable for older children to view. I found a copy at one of our local stores and previewed it for suitability. I will show the girls most of the film, just leaving out some of the gory battle scenes.

My next mission was to find the books to read aloud. I wanted to have three copies, so that we could each have one to read aloud from. The local library would have some, right? Wrong! I was quite disappointed. Granted, we live in a small town, but considering the size of the library I was disappointed to find only one copy of the complete works of Shakespeare in the classics section - which only consisted of about 20 or 30 books! So I had to resort to buying some copies. Susan Wise Bauer also recommended the Oxford Shakespeare editions as they have the original text accompanied by notes and explanations of the many old expressions and words used. They also include other historical background information and pictures from various performances and movies. These I found via my trusty Fishpond, a kind of Amazon based in New Zealand. They happened to have emailed me a voucher for $10 off my next purchase that very day, so I ordered two copies.

I planned to read from the huge complete works that I had borrowed from the library, until I found a Wordsworth Classics edition on Trademe. It contains five of Shakespeare's history plays, and is much easier to hold and read aloud from than the mammoth book from the library.

There are several homeschooling mums whose blogs/websites have been invaluable in finding material on Shakespeare. Jimmie has a great Squidoo Lens on Shakespeare for Children. I have visited many of the sites Jimmie recommended. It is a wonderful guide to beginning the study of Shakespeare with your children and includes links to printable pictures, notebooking pages and much more.

LindaFay has a very helpful post on Shakespeare movies.

This book, Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare is a lovely introduction to Shakespeare's life, and the illustrations are beautiful.

We are now several scenes into our reading of Henry V, and have thoroughly enjoyed the rich language and the many "bardisms", insults and expressions and are looking forward to reading more.

13 August, 2010

Stained Glass Window Art

We finally got around to finishing our "stained glass windows". We did this craft to go along with a medieval history lesson, but it also tied in with some of our art studies. Thanks to Dana's and Barb's wonderful posts we found some great patterns at Chantal's Stained Glass website to use for our "windows."

We printed out the patterns onto regular printer paper, then traced them onto tracing paper. The pad of tracing paper was much cheaper to buy than acetate pages, which probably would have been better.

Next we drew over the patterns with black PVA glue. This was trickier than it looks. The glue tended to come out of the tube in an irregular fashion, but I think it added a bit of originality to our designs. We laid them out to dry. We didn't get around to finishing them until this week, because I needed to purchase some white glue to stain with watercolours, so that we could colour in the designs. Spot the Mondrian on the bottom!

Well, it turned into one of those things that sat around unfinished, until I found some cheap coloured glue sticks at the local Warehouse store.

The girls got them out earlier this week and finished them off. Needless to say it was a messy job, but they look beautiful hanging up on the window. Here are some of the girls' designs. One day I might get around to finishing my Mondrian style design.

22 July, 2010

Poet of the Week - Christina Rossetti

We are looking at the poems of Christina Rossetti this week.

Christina was born in England to an Italian father and and English-Italian mother. She was also the brother of the great artist, Dante Rossetti, who often used her as his model. Christina never married, turning down proposals from two men because of her faith. She was a devoted Anglican and loved nature and many of her poems reflect those two loves.

This is one of our favourites so far:

A linnet in a gilded cage,-

A linnet on a bough,-

In frosty winter one might doubt

Which bird is luckier now.

But let the trees burst out in leaf,

And nests be on the bough,

Which linnet is the luckier bird,

Oh who could doubt it now?

Male Linnet
From the Royal Society for Protection of Birds

21 June, 2010

Art Workshop!

Last month, we again had the pleasure of participating in a wonderful art workshop by Graham Braddock.

We were guided through drawing pictures in 3D, and focussing on perspective and vanishing points.

We drew a 3D picture of "Butch's Kennel", and Huntly Landscape and a Kenworth truck.

Here are our pictures:

Ainsley was old enough to join us this year, and I think she did a great job!

Top left: Ainsley (7 yrs), Top right: Emily (10 yrs), Bottom left: Bethany (11 yrs) and Bottom right: Mine.

06 June, 2010

The Habit of Reading Aloud

One of the things my husband and I believe has made a huge difference to our family life and to our children's vocabulary has been reading aloud. We are grateful that when we first were considering homeschooling we discovered both Charlotte Mason's ideas and Classical methods. Both of these stress the benefits of reading aloud good literature (CM would call them "Living books") as often as possible. Since then (about 5 years ago) Eeuwe has attempted to read aloud to the girls every night that it is possible. It doesn't happen on night when he has to go out to church meetings or other things. It always takes place after dinner each night, and after family devotions. Occassionally he'll make up a chapter on a Sunday afternoon if we don't have visitors. So on average he probably gets to read to the girls about three, maybe four nights a week. It is amazing now to look back at all the books he has managed to get through in this time. I am often asked for ideas for read alouds and usually pass on my favourite lists. I thought today I would brainstorm and try and remember all the books that have been read aloud in the past five years!

The Complete Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ~ A.A.Milne

The Chronicles of Narnia (second reading at the moment!) ~ C.S.Lewis

Several Paddington Bear books ~ Michael Bond

Stuart Little, Charlotte's Web, The Trumpet of the Swan ~ E.B.White

Pinnocchio ~ Carlo Collodi

Many of the Beatrix Potter tales

Treasury for Children (several stories) ~ James Herriot

Most of the Little House on the Prairie series ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

Caddie Woodlawn ~ Carol Ryrie Brink

The Treasure Seekers, Five Children & It ~ Edith Nesbit

The Incredible Journey ~ Sheila Burnford

The Secret Garden, A Little Princess ~ Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Courage of Sarah Noble ~ Alice Dalgleish

Shadrach ~ Meindert de Jong

Just So Stories ~ Rudyard Kipling

The Cricket in Times Square ~ George Selden

Heidi ~ Johanna Spyri

Odd and several other titles by Amy Le Feuvre

Many "Twins" books by Lucy Fitch Perkins

Swiss Family Robinson ~ Johann Wyss

The Hobbit ~ J.R.R.Tolkien (and The Lord of the Rings are sure to come when the girls are a bit older!)

The Little Pilgrims Progress ~ John Bunyan, abridged

Mary Poppins ~ P.L.Travers

Pollyanna ~ Eleaner Porter

The Tanglewood's Secrets ~ Patricia St.John

The Sheep-Pig (Babe, the book), Ace, Daggy Dogfoot ~ Dick King Smith

Lassie Come Home ~ Eric Knight

Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass ~ Lewis Carroll

The Borrowers, The Borrowers Afloat ~ Mary Norton

Anne of Green Gables ~ Lucy Maud Montgomery

The Veveteen Rabbit ~ Margery Williams

Five Little Peppers and How They Grew ~ Margaret Sidney

King of The Wind ~ Marguerite Henry

The Silver Brumby ~ Elyne Mitchell

There are probably a few more, but this gives you and idea of how many books a committed Dad can read to his children over five years, just a few nights a week! Many of these have enriched our lives deeply, we can refer back to favourite characters, funny sayings, and the girls are often acting out the latest book. I asked each of the girls which book was their favourite, and they each named one of the Chronicles of Narnia. Bethany's & Ainsley's favourite is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Emily's favourite is The Horse & His Boy. I'll have to ask Eeuwe which is his favourite! Well, surprise, surprise, Eeuwe's favourites to read aloud are the Chronicles of Narnia (he especially likes C.S.Lewis's sense of humour) and The Hobbit.

Happy reading!

21 March, 2010

Poet of the Week - Walter de la Mare

I have had the best of intentions to study one poet at a time. Today we chose Walter de la Mare, for no other reason than that he happened to be the first poet listed in our Anthology of Poetry for Children. We also have one of his anothologies, Peacock Pie, which the children have often used for copywork.

Here's a silly poem we read today:

Alas, Alack!

Ann, Ann!

Come! quick as you can!

There's a fish that talks

In the frying-pan.

Out of the fat,

As clear as glass,

He put up his mouth

And moaned, "Alas!"

Oh, most mournful,

"Alas, alack!"

Then turned to his sizzling,

And sank him back.


11 February, 2010


Here's a quick question for all you history buffs out there:

What happened in England in 1066?

That's right - the Battle of Hastings, when William the Conqueror from Normandy successfully invaded England and defeated King Harold.

The Bayeux Tapestry was a huge embroidery made depicting the events surrounding and including the Battle of Hastings. It is an amazing work of art.

Well, here in little old New Zealand, a keen historian has re-created the Bayeux Tapestry - but it is not a tapestry, it is an amazingly intricate mosaic made up of the most unlikely material.

Michael Linton and his daughter, Rachael, completed their mosaic copy of the Bayeux Tapestry using tiny pieces of spring steel - the offcuts from patterning disks used on a very large industrial knitting machine. The pieces are approximately 7mm square. The mosaic took Michael & Rachael 25 years to complete and is almost 34 metres long. It is currently displayed in Michael and Gillian's shop, "The Giant Jersey", in Geraldine, in the South Island of New Zealand.

Well, my parents have just been on a holiday in the South Island and brought back a set of amazing CD-roms with a wealth of information about the Bayeux Tapestry and the surrounding events. There are high resolution scans of the mosaic, scene by scene descriptions, a comprehensive study of the history of the tapestry, activities and games for the kids, as well as a large library of related books - including hundreds of Aesop's fables, Our Island Story and many more! There are also images of beautiful illuminated manuscripts, medieval hymns along with their music as well as poems about the events and much more. It is going to provide us history nuts with hours of fun & enjoyment!
Check out Michael's website for more information and pictures of the mosaic - oh, and the "Giant Jersey"!


UPDATE APRIL 2012!  Please visit Dana's blog to see an animated version of the tapestry, it's great!

28 January, 2010

Where have we been?

We've been enjoying our long summer break! Here's a peek at what we've been up to over the extended Christmas break we have here in NZ:

The girls (with the exception of Ruby) sewed their own Christmas stockings

Thomas enjoyed opening his Christmas presents...

and helping Dad clear out a corner of the yard

and eating morning tea with the girls...

We had a bit of fun at the river one day...

once they managed to get into the "cold" water

The girls each got some fabric for Christmas, so we've been busy sewing:


and aprons

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