Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Slow Return to Normality

Just as we were getting back to normal, ever so slowly, after the holiday, poor Emily's developed a stinking cold and is holed up on the settee losing her voice. Meanwhile, a hospital appointment for Grandad tomorrow morning further knocks on the head any plans I had for the week. Still, two "normal" days, Monday and Tuesday this week, is a start.

On Monday morning, Emily had a good old root around the garden, spotting new things that had burst into flower while we were away, collecting seeds from dried seed heads and investigating some weird white bugs on the kale plants. We've got a garden full of poppies of various types at the moment.I *love* poppies. Some of them, Emily grew from seed this year in little pots before we transplanted them outside. Her sunflowers have suddenly burst into life too, and the runner bean she grew in the glass, and which was transplanted into the earth before we went away, has shot up. Her pumpkins are practically taking over the vegetable patch!

One of the sunflowers has developed a strange double head; not two complete sunflower heads on the same stalk, but one large oval with two separate seed heads and sets of petals contained within it. We also have a couple of very clever sunflowers who grew accidentally (as in we didn't plant them) behind a group of poppies; they've grown horizontally along the earth right through the poppy clump before starting to grow upwards at the front once they'd found the light :-)

Emily spent a happy hour or so out in the garden drawing the life stages of poppies in her nature notebook and writing about the sunflowers. On Monday afternoon, we went to visit Hazel, Romy and Tansy, which was lovely, as we hadn't seen them for ages.

Yesterday morning Emily continued on her garden project which has somehow included birds of prey, not that we see many of those around here, alas. She read about birds of prey in general and then went off to research her chosen bird, the Merlin (what else?) on the internet, before preparing a lovely little report about the Merlin and its habitat and habits, including threats to it, illustrated with cut out pictures she'd found from various sites.

In the afternoon, we had another wander around the garden and spent some time playing with the cats out there - but just as we were about to come in, a beautiful little bright yellow bird landed in the middle of the garden. It could barely fly, so Emily rushed to get the cats shut in while Jon and I tried to catch the little bird. It must have been someone's pet canary/budgie, I should think; it certainly didn't look like a wild British bird. It's just as well we got the cats out of the way; it hopped all over the garden but really struggled with taking off. Eventually, it managed to flutter its way to the top of the garage. Jon climbed up with the cat basket, hoping it would fly into it and we could keep it pending finding out who it belonged to, but it wasn't playing that game. Sadly, we then completely lost sight of it. I hope it managed to find somewhere safe and that whoever it belongs to has been able to find it :-(

Later yesterday afternoon, Emily and I did some word play and poetry exercises from a great book I found, very cheaply, in a charity shop when we were away: To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme - Teaching Children to Write Poetry. I've seen (and tried to use) various help-kids-with-poetry type books before, but this one is by far the best I've seen; it's a long way from the fill in the blanks nonsense drivel that seems to pass for poetry teaching these days, and it's full of exercises and ideas to really encourage children to love playing with language. We barely ever touched on writing poetry when I was at school, which with adult hindsight I think was such a shame. I'm thrilled that Emily seems to love trying her hand at poetry; we must have done quite a lot of it over the last four years (and have we *really* been home educating that long??)

There's been quite a bit of reading going on; Jon has just finished reading Marco's Pendulum to Emily, which they both absolutely loved. It's very dark in places, set in Glastonbury and dealing with the myths and legends surrounding Glastonbury Tor. Very grown up stuff. They're looking forward to reading the sequel and other books by Phil Rickman. Now they're half way through Cat Kin by Nick Green, which is based on pashki, which as far as I can tell has something to do with the ancient Egyptian cat goddess Bast and the life force, chakras etc. Meanwhile, Emily's currently reading Scarlett by Cathy Cassidy, having recently finished the audio book of Dizzy and much enjoyed it; she's also starting Midnight by Jacqueline Wilson and Deep Trouble, the fourth book in the series by Debi Gliori. I'm not a huge fan of Jacqueline Wilson stuff myself; I'm sure they're well enough written, but the subject matter is always so depressing - I'm more a fantasy/mythical/magical person, I guess. Cathy Cassidy's books are also on a lot of serious themes/real life issues. Not really my cup of tea either, but Emily's really enjoying them, which is after all what counts. She seems to be developing a very varied taste in reading matter, which can only be a good thing!

[This post did have pictures, but it seems blogger isn't playing fair today. I'll have to re-add them later]


kaicevy said...

We've got a garden full of poppies of various types at the moment

Elle said...

Hi Nikki,
Did you and Emily do some Latin a while back. We're thinking of starting "next term" and wondered what books you'd used and whether you'd recommend them. Elle

Nikki said...

Hi Elle,

We did do Latin, yes - we're hoping to get back to it soon. We used and very much enjoyed Book One of the Cambridge Latin Course, bought cheaply from amazon; we got to about unit 6, I think. Website is - my Mum bought the course DVD for us too, which was fantastic, but pricey at around £50. The website has some games and vocab tests and things on it that go with the books.

We also used Galore Park's Latin Prep Book 1. Found that one very thorough and more rigorous with grammar, but Emily didn't like it anywhere near as much as she enjoyed the Cambridge Latin course. CLC only covers the grammar as you need to know it, so you get started much faster, whereas the Latin Prep book is a much more traditional approach, probably because I think it's meant for use in common entrance exams.

Hope this helps - have lots of fun! Nikki xx

Elle said...

Thanks Nikki. Lovely to hear from you. Elle