Wednesday, 20 May 2015

10 money saving ideas

What ever the economy is or isn't doing, most people haven't got too much money in their pockets. These are just a few money saving ideas, starting with those that save small amounts and going up!

  • Use loyalty vouchers. It isn't worth buying just for the vouchers but it is a shame to let them go to waste. These are often useful for days out.

  • Shop the house. There may be something already in the house that can be used for the art project/wrapping paper. 

  • Grow your own. It is worth working out the saving for different crops. We have found that there are major savings on salad leaves and herbs along with fruit but that, for us, tomatoes can be expensive to grow.

  • Buy from discounters. We tend to stock up every few weeks on items which are particularly good value. We have found that Lidl is particularly useful for passata, washing powder, coffee, chocolate, fruit and vegetables. Our local farmers' market is an expensive place except for the vegetable stall which is excellent value.

  • Cook from scratch. This is particularly relevant for larger families. We particularly save when making soup, bread and pasta sauce.

  • Eat less meat. Meat is expensive so having some vegetarian meals and making the meat in a casserole go further by adding pulses makes economic sense.

  • Avoid wasting food. I find that often waste comes by putting too much on a child's plate. The answer is obvious! Left over vegetables can often be added to a soup or casserole. Mashed potatoes can be shallow fried in patties. I coat these with flour or cornmeal. 

  • Pass on used children's clothes and gratefully accept, and use, clothes passed on to you. 

Please do add your tips!

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Monday, 18 May 2015

Facing Opposition

One way or another, home educators, and perhaps, particularly Christian home educators, face opposition.

 Not all is bleak, as there is also encouragement and we have found that those who have encouraged us are not always those from whom we have expected encouragement. Still there is opposition and downright hostility. Yes, sometimes this is for a reason and it is sensible to think about why we have encountered a particular reaction but often the negativity is not well thought out. This leads to sorrow and hurt feelings especially as the decision to home educate has usually been made after months or years of thought and seeking the Lord's will. 

I was struck reading 1 Peter 3 about how apt these words are for those of us who face, have faced or will face hostility and railing.

Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. 
For he that would love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 
Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace and ensue it. 

May the Lord help us to show this spirit.

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Tuesday, 12 May 2015

UK Christian Home Education Bloggers-2015 list

My post about UK Christian Home Education Bloggers is the most popular post on the blog but it is time for an overhaul.

This is a list of UK based Christian home education blogs. 

My criteria for inclusion are
  • home educating family
  • evangelical Christian although inclusion does not imply that we are agreed about doctrine
  • posting relatively frequently
  • some content about education 
  • I've come across the blog-obviously! Please let me know about other relevant blogs and I will add them.
The blogs are in alphabetical order. Do visit them and be inspired!

Angelicscalliwags is written by Claire about her children's history based home education but there is so much more: a pond study, science, Before Five in a Row.

 An Island Family by Grace is a blog which is relatively new to me. Gwen's posts tend to be full of links to resources and frugal ideas.

As He leads is joy is where Beth writes about home educating. She educates her child with Down syndrome and writes about this as well as her trips around England. Beth hails from the US and it is always fascinating to see ourselves as others see us.

Another blog by a Beth is the eponymous Beth Baker's blog. This is subtitled Homemade. Homegrown. HomeEd. Beth covers these three areas in her writing. I love her phrase Like Joseph's coat, home education is many coloured.

Boyschooling, not surprisingly, has an emphasis on teaching boys although this isn't exclusive. This blog has helpful book recommendations and ideas for home education outings. 

Ellie at Create with your hands writes about home education and play based activities.

Delivering Grace, well that is me! And this is about why we home educate.

Helen writes at For His Glory. She features unit studies done by her daughters as well as some resource recommendations.

Gracieschool posts about teaching her young children. I especially like the posts about early writing and art.

Home Education Novice is written by Kondwani, a pen name meaning "for ever rejoicing" about her journey educating her young children. She has thoughtful articles about learning from children and motivations. 

Jenny at Home schooling for a Dozen or more posts about educating her 10 children and often features book reviews which are always refreshing.

Homeschool on the Croft is written by Anne and has the most beautiful pictures of the scenery around her island home. 

Organic Education features Alice's family's home education but is also useful for links to topical and political articles about home education.

Our cup of tea is from Debbie who is an American living in the UK. This is a tremendous resource for geography and a blog I visit when putting together a country unit study.

Sarah at Pyjama School writes about Montessori based home education for her two young children. She has tutorials for making DIY Montessori equipment: a particularly helpful frugal resource for home educators.

The Frog-Academy is about a large family in the North of England. The art ideas are worth exploring and I enjoy reading about another family with teenagers.

Caroline at the Joyful Keeper writes both about the Christian life and about home educating her children. 


Through the Lattice is a blog from an older home educating family. I love the pictures although I dare not show the pony pictures to Younger Daughter. She already has schemes for keeping a pony in the back garden!

Shirley posts at Under an English Sky. She has the most organised and attractive looking planner that I have seen and loves to post about her garden.

Young Hosannas is a blog by Kirsty who home educates her five young children. She has practical ideas for learning with little ones and the learning is naturally and clearly rooted in God's Word.

Please do let me know about other UK Christian home educator blogs. 

You may also enjoy my page about UK home education resources.

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Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Bitesize Biography: Ulrich Zwingli

My children are about to start learning about the Middle Ages and the Reformation so I was delighted to have the chance to do some background reading about Ulrich Zwingli. 

Ulrich Zwingli by William Boekestein

Evangelical Press has produced a series of short biographies and this is a new addition to the series, written by William Boekestein.

First, a disclaimer: I am neither a theologian nor a historian.

This book introduces us to Ulrich Zwingli, man of the late Middle Ages and to some of the history of Switzerland. 

Zwingli was born in Switzerland, spent most of his life there and died in a Swiss civil war. It became obvious, early in Zwingli's life that he was academically gifted and he was given a Renaissance education so that he was well versed in Classical writers and later in the Church Fathers. 

At the age of twenty two, Zwingli was ordained as a priest, apparently without theological training. Through his early charge, Zwingli moved away from Roman Catholic belief to a more Bible centred faith. A trip to Milan seems to have sparked interest in whether the Roman Catholic church could sustain latitude in theological matters as well as a desire to learn New Testament Greek. 

I am still rather vague about Zwingli's personal faith. The book states

In Zwingli's embrace of the Greek New Testament we see evidence of his continuing conversion. His was not abrupt like that of Luther. Rather, God brought him gradually into a deeper and more sanctified relationship with himself.

Zwingli was a powerful man and from his first charge seems to have been consulted about national affairs. In time, he became minister in Zurich. Whilst in Zurich, he lead the reformation there and was an advocate for restraint in the way images were removed. Like most reformers, he had enemies and those who disagreed with him. Luther and Zwingli were in many ways not so far apart theologically but disagreed on the physical presence of the Lord's body and blood in the Lord's Supper. Sadly, this lead to a rift between them, probably more of Luther's making.

 The Anabaptists were persecuted in Zurich, as elsewhere, and the most important issue appears to have been the separation of church and state with the Anabaptists believing in a church with a regenerate membership. 

It is thought that Calvin used some of Zwingli's work when writing his Institutes of the Christian Religion.

Sadly, towards the end of his life Zwingli became very involved in politics and making war with the Roman Catholic Forest Cantons. He died fighting for Zurich. Ultimately, this lead to Zurich ministers not being involved in battles

My thoughts about this book:
  • It was helpful to learn about the Swiss Reformation.
  • Obviously, this is a secondary source but it would have been helpful to have more primary source material quoted. This is particularly important in the following areas:
  • Zwingli's conversion. I was quite unsure about what Zwingli's faith meant to him personally. There is a quote at the end of the book, in Zwingli's legacy which partly remedies this but more quotes would have been helpful. The inference from the last chapter about Zwingli's Legacy suggests that there is far more evidence about a personal faith.
  • Zwingli and morality. Zwingli did fall into immorality, on more than one occasion, and there is a quote which suggests that he was deeply repentant about this. Yet, one of the hall marks of his reformation preaching was about immorality in the clergy. Was he a hypocrite or was he preaching about an intolerable situation where he was trapped in a vow of celibacy that he couldn't keep? Supporting the latter, he certainly campaigned for priests to be allowed to marry.
  • At the end of the book, I wanted to know more about this large and complex character which may have achieved the aim of a bite sized biography!
The Bitesize biography of Zwingli is available from Evangelical Press and is 164 pages in length.

I was provided with The Bible is God's Word for the purpose of this review. The opinions are my own. I was not required to provide a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

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Monday, 4 May 2015

May Inspiration

May is almost the start of the summer. For most UK home educators and certainly for people with children in school, there is still a couple of months plus to the summer break but US homeschoolers start to tantalise us by talking about the start of their summer break-now! Anyway, since I'm in England there are no summer lists in May.

Still, I've found some helpful reading. Home Education Novice has written a post about applying the Bible to discipline and behaviour.  

We've been talking to our children about the earthquake in Nepal and its effects on the people as well as reading letters from Christian believers who have been affected. It was fascinating to find a website which documents all earthquakes above 2.5 on Richter scale. In the education section, there is an explanation of the logarithmic nature of this scale. 

Allied to this, is a look at the structure of the Earth and how to make a simple model of the Earth's layers, from Lisa at An Ordinary Life.

This link isn't new but is a helpful look at the early signs of dyslexia covering some of the positives as well as the more challenging features. Yes, it is possible for a child who struggles to read to love books. I had always assumed that teacher know all about dyslexia but the writer, a teacher, seems to not have been especially knowledgeable about the subject prior to her own child's struggles. I wonder whether this is different in the UK?

Finally, a recent post about preparing children for teenage years by Gwen at An Island Family by Grace. Whilst I don't know all the resources suggested, I was interested in the idea of a teen challenge. I have a few years to prepare for our next teenager but this is an idea to mull over. 

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Friday, 1 May 2015

Spring outside

This week, there has been a flurry of bike rides. The younger two seem keen to cycle before they start work each morning-I haven't decided whether this helps or hinders the rest of the day. The cycling though has lead to some impromptu nature study. 
We have seen goslings and ducklings,
  a heron,
 now flying away
 and a cormorant, in the tree.

We got talking to someone who told us that the heron was probably after the duck and geese eggs. The cormorant was an exciting sighting as we haven't seen one locally before.

Back to more traditional work, Younger Daughter has discovered a new way of practising times tables. She records them on my phone which gives her a time. We have found that it takes about 15 seconds to say a table clearly and without hesitation. It is possible to say them more quickly but they tend to get gabbled! Anyway, this is proving an excellent way of becoming more proficient.

We have almost finished the Veritas Self-Paced history on the New Testament, Greeks and Romans. Younger Daughter has loved this course; I have learned a fair amount and Youngest Son knows the history song well. We are signed up to start the Middle Ages course soon. The main issue around using this course is the time commitment. It takes about 40 minutes a day. Recently, I have found that fitting everything in is challenging. We have a daily Bible time, reading, handwriting and maths sessions but I am struggling to fit in creative writing and would like to have a daily spelling session. Against this, the children need time to play and I like to keep the afternoons for reading aloud, science, geography, art and exercise. Any suggestions? 

This week's science was meant to be looking at stems, water uptake and transpiration. I have a long history at failing at the "easy" demonstration of water uptake using coloured water. This is the current effort. Looks the same both sides to me. I now have different food colouring on order to see if I can get this to work.

What I'm reading:
What Your Year 2 Child needs to Know
Bitesized Biography of Ulrich Zwingli-review coming soon.

Weekly Wrap-Up

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Thursday, 30 April 2015

April Read Alouds

We've had a bit of a Roman theme to our read alouds linked with coming to the end of the much loved Veritas self-paced history course on New Testament, Greeks and Romans.

Hostage Lands by Douglas Bond was one of the books in the historical literature part of the course. I've written about this book before.

We have just finished Hostage Lands and started the beautiful book by Simonetta Carr on Athanasius
which fits so well with the Veritas week about the Council of Nicea. Our reading is a bit behind so we have just started the book as we finished the history about the Council. It shouldn't really matter.

My husband reads to the children, in the evening, and has also been reading a Roman book: Legions of the Eagle by Henry Treece. Younger Daughter tells me that this has been one of her favourite books so far, this year.

This year, we have read several Patricia St John books. This month, we read the lovely  Treasures of the Snow set in Switzerland and definitely one of her best books. Younger Daughter prefers Rainbow Garden but I'm torn between the two. Patricia St John seemed to understand what was going on in children's hearts and minds and produced real classics in the area of Christian children's literature. I discovered that we had a lesser known St John book on our shelves: Where the River begins. We are currently reading this story of a sad little boy from a troubled background.

 I've realised that I need to read more to Youngest Son. He was having plenty of read aloud time but this seems to have slipped a bit. He does listen in to some of the books but I need something that will really engage a six year old boy. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Famous Five and Adventurous Four have been very successful but he doesn't like the Secret Seven which is a shame as we have loads of these titles! Recommendations are gratefully received.

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