Thursday, 22 July 2010

We made butter...

   We have just had a hectic three weeks, with three birthdays and a wedding anniversary, we've been a little run off our feet. Things are now settling down a little though, and we have been enjoying the program escape in time. It is about life on a Victorian farm, and how modern families would cope with the work challenges.

    My son has been watching this program and at the moment there is a little spark of interest which I'm hoping will grow into a big research project. This is the way things usually work for him, it happened with the Romans, something sparked his interest then for a couple of months it was his big passion. We read every book we could find, did Internet research, watched documentaries, played games, made mosaics etc. At the end of this history session he had retained a lot of information and had a lot of fun.

     So at the moment I find myself trying to 'fan the flames' so to speak, hoping that our next history project will be about the Victorians. In the 'escape in time'  farm program one of the tasks was to make butter, so we thought we would give it a try ourselves. It is very simple all you need is a jar which you fill with cream to about a third full and shake it.... a lot!

      This works best if the cream has been at room temperature for an hour, it takes about 10 minutes to turn into butter, you then need to separate the butter from the buttermilk. The butter needs to be rinsed and squeezed to get rid of all the buttermilk and can be lightly salted if you choose to.

       The children loved making butter, especially the taste and we have now made it several times. I would highly recommend giving it a go... in the interest of education of course. If you would like a more detailed guide on making butter you can find one here.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


   For every single home educator / unschooler that exists out there, there will be a slightly different way of doing things, sometimes learning methods are different even between the siblings of each family. I think that for someone outside this community looking in, it can sometimes cause confusion and wonder as to why there is this difference, when all children in schools are taught the same!

   When I first started to communicate with others from the home educating community, I was at first inspired by their strength. I mean... wow, they had taken the huge decision to educate their children themselves, sometimes against extreme adversity, and the accepted mainstream. They had put their children's best interests first, and spent the time getting to know how their child learns and precisely what it is that interests them most to facilitate the type of education that each child needed.

   That is NOT an easy job, the many different ways exist because every child is unique, each has a unique way of looking at the world and learning about it. There may also be specific learning problems which each parent has a different way of approaching in THEIR own unique way. So as you can see everything will look different from one family to the next, this does not mean any one way is better than any other way, or any one person is better. It's what works best for YOUR child.

     Whilst I was admiring their strength, and the fact that home educators are  fiercely Independent, it suddenly dawned on me, that person is also... ME. I had the same strength and independence, I may seem slightly quieter but... yes, it was still there. My children love to learn new things in their own way, it's this love of learning and awe inspiring enthusiasm that I hope to keep over the years. We had given them this opportunity to be free to learn.

     It seems my confidence was the only thing lacking, I worried if I was good enough, if I was doing it right, Is my way the best way for MY children, you know, the usual parent worries. It seems I really shouldn't have been worrying so much, my children are having a great time and learning absolutely everything possible about the world with a passion. Remember there will always be somebody out there who thinks their way is better, but you only have to read some of the success stories to realize this works.  Stand tall together...



Monday, 5 July 2010

off to the woods

   On Friday, we visited the woods, thinking it would be cooler in the shade of all those tall, leafy trees. We went to the woodland that was closest to the spot where we had previously found the baby grass snakes, dead in the road. My son was hoping to spot some more in the undergrowth alive this time, so that he could watch their natural movements and take photographs, but it was not to be.

    It was quite eerie as it was a new wood to us and quite dense in places. My son was convinced that we would become lost forever... continuously going round in circles, but we managed to find our way home again. We spotted many creatures and traces that they had been there before us with the binoculars and magnifying glass. As you can see my daughter has the philosophy, "examine ALL things closely"

     We saw these strange looking black and yellow caterpillars on the ragwort in a sunny clearing, which appeared to jump if we got too close to them. They are the larva of the cinnabar moth which we spotted nearby too.

     My son just loved running up and down the hills, and didn't mind too much that we didn't find any snakes this time. Maybe next time...

     All todays photographs were taken by my husband (found here) on location in the dark, scary woods!