Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Book Catch-up: Read alouds

It is a while since I have written about books. We usually have several read alouds running at once. 

The current read alouds are

The latter is a strange read aloud but is much loved by Younger Son. We only read a page or so at a time and it usually provokes discussion. 

Other recent read alouds have been those for the Book Club. These were Gentle Ben for the older group which Younger Daughter attends and Charlotte's Web for Youngest Son. Youngest Son loved both of these books. 

A friend recommended Gentle Ben some time ago and it has been a great choice for our North America topic in the book club. It is about a friendship between a boy and a large brown bear. The book is set in Alaska where livelihoods are dependent on the annual salmon run. Fascinatingly, the Swedish authorities refused to screen the television programme made from the book, as they were worried that it might encourage people to befriend a potentially dangerous animal.

A few weeks ago, I finished reading The family with Two Front Doors with Younger Daughter. I have written about this book before but recommend it. We hope to study the Second World War next year and reading this book, is helpful background to some of the antisemitism which existed between the wars and the effect of the Holocaust on families. Yet, despite this the book is mainly happy and centres around family life and a wedding.  Having read the book, we are hoping to make challah.

We have also finished a children's biography of CS Lewis:The Story Teller by Derek Bingham. My children all love the Chronicles of Narnia so finding out more about CS Lewis is an obvious extension. Younger Daughter is keen that we read War in the Wasteland next. This is a fictionalised telling of the atheist CS Lewis's time in the trenches in the First World War and his thoughts about faith, at that time. 

I would love some recommendations, particularly, as I am putting together some ideas for reading around history from September when we hope to look at the Victorians followed by the First and Second World Wars.

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Tuesday, 7 March 2017

5 Ways of Helping Children show Care to Older Family Members

Most families will have some members who are elderly and frail but helping children to show love and respect can need thought. It is easy if Granny can go out and talk to the children but when someone is housebound and challenged cognitively then this can take more thought. These are a few thoughts from personal experience. Please do add more ideas in the comments. Sometimes, our efforts feel woefully thin.

I have started from the premise that children shouldn't be involved in personal care but should be able to help add joy to life.
  • Visit but just for a short time. Generally, people love to see younger relatives but they find them tiring. My eight year old pops into see his Grandmother on most days. He will talk to her for a minute or two then go out. When we went down to see my Mother in a nursing home, I usually didn't stay as long if I had the children with me. Sometimes, we broke the visit into two, split up by a playground visit! On other occasions, the children visited for a short while and my husband took them out while I stayed longer.

  • Help choose presents. Finding presents for very frail people can be difficult, especially, if they are on a modified diet. Sometimes, a child can suddenly hit on a great idea especially, if this is something that the whole family has been discussing. One of my children spotted a lovely illustrated book which was ideal as a gift. Some people may appreciate pictures and cards from the children although do handle this sensitively, particularly if there is cognitive impairment involved and Granny/Grandad can't be relied upon to say the appropriate thing!

  • Read/recite part of the Bible or a favourite poem. The children and I recently practiced and read Daffodils: I wandered lonely as a cloud.  Make sure that you also provide a large print version and that hearing aid/reading glasses are used, as necessary.

  • Look at old family photographs together. The children will be amused at the sight of their parents as children or older siblings when much younger.

  • It may be appropriate to involve an older child in meal preparation. One of mine has been able to puree a roast properly. This means pureeing all the components separately and shaping them so that the meal looks attractive. Realistically, it is not possible to do this and serve up at the same time! While normal fish and chips were still on the menu, one of my older children was always happy to go to the chippie for his Grandmother.
Don't forget to encourage the children to pray for their older relatives.

Be sensitive about
  • cognitive impairment. Remind the person you are visiting of your name, even if you are a son or daughter. Don't test them on the names of the grandchildren/greatgrandchildren. People can enjoy your visit even if they can't remember your name. 
  • Hearing issues. Avoid background noise and speak clearly.
  • There may be times when it isn't appropriate to take children to visit. They are few and far between but if the older relative is distressed or in pain then a visit may not be right. Generally, though it is better to visit.
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Wednesday, 1 March 2017

March Inspiration

This February doesn't seem to have been as grey as some and now we are in March! Very almost the end of winter.
Photo by Younger Daughter

We are always looking for more science activities to do at home. We enjoyed this video and have already done several including the lovely Skittle investigation.

Yet more science! Last year, our home education group book club took part in the Royal Society Young People's Book Prize as a judging panel. The application form for this year is now up. Any children's group which can read, discuss and vote on the shortlisted books is eligible to apply.

This year is the five hundredth anniversary of the Martin Luther pinning his theses to the door of Wittenberg church.The Trinitarian Bible Society has produced some quizzes for children and is awarding children who complete the quiz correctly with a copy of the Commemorative Reformation Bible.

This Reading Mama has a useful chart for analysing fiction. I can see myself printing this off for my book group. There is a similar non-fiction chart.

If you have children 10 or under who are interested in learning languages then this Junior Language Challenge may be for you. It starts on 10th March but sign-up is happening now. 

There is almost too much going on! Shakespeare Week is also on in March. I'm not sure that we will do Shakespeare Week, this year-I'm struggling to fit everything in! Anyway, the site has plenty of ideas for learning about Shakespeare. 

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