I can’t claim to have grown up with much awareness of religious diversity, and I can’t claim to be one way better or worse off for it, but I do know that my children are growing up in a much different way and in a very different place to the close, conservative, and supportive community that I did, so I think it’s important for them to learn two things: 1) Tolerance for other religions, 2) an understanding of other religions in relation to what I believe, and what I hope they will believe. Religious observances are also different now, and sometimes more commercial – for example the Colour Run, based on the Holli celebration, or locally, we have Electric Woods, where Robin Hill lights up the autumn nights inspired by Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights. While we could just go and enjoy the prettiness, I think there’s value in explaining what it is that we’re exposing ourselves to, so that the children can learn something about ‘other people’. As it was, the Electric Woods event saw us walking through the woods at Robin Hill enjoying the cold evening air, listening to music and looking at light displays. It was a lovely evening out, fuelled by hot chocolate. Read more: Learning About the Hindu Festival Of Diwali
Over the summer we bought a wonderful little book called the Tree Detectives’ Handbook with which the children are able to identify common British trees by their leaves, fruit and flowers.
Each two-page set has a species of trees, and each set contains vital statistics for the tree in question, including height, location, and fruiting and flowering times. The book contains fifty trees and common shrubs found in the UK including identification tips and detailed illustrations for every tree. There are also interactive boxes where little explorers can record their sightings.
Our first ‘theme’ for the new academic year – such as it is for those of us who learn at home – has been Feelings and Emotions, borne from a few things happening in our family, and a number of occasions where Ameli (6) has said that she can’t explain her feelings, and general outburst of anger from Aviya (4).
I’m never entirely sure how much of what we discus is ‘sinking in’ with the girls, so it’s always rewarding in the days and weeks that follow an activity to see the children refer back to it, or change behaviour based on it. While this theme wasn’t particularly academically approached, more with arts and crafts and fun activities, it was still influential, with both girls coming out of it with a greater ability to ‘use your words’ rather than just shouting.
I chose a range of activities for this week, including foods, crafts, games and activities:
We had two food based activities this week. The first was simple pancakes with fruity faces. You can use any recipe you prefer, and add fruit like blueberries for eyes, bananas or strawberries for a nose and clementines for smiley or sad faces.
Read more: Learning About Feelings And Emotions
We’re nearing the end of our Feelings and Emotions activities, and this particular activity took some planning and a bit of driving around. You can adapt it to what’s local to you, but we are lucky to have ocean and forest equally close to us.
Have you ever felt an overwhelming need to be somewhere specific? For example, when I was 42+3 pregnant with Aviya, I felt a desperate need to be at the coast. We lived a couple of hours drive from the ocean at that point and there is an inherent foolishness to being that overdue and going on a trip away, but I knew in my very bones that I needed to put my feet in the early spring sea water before that little bundle of joy was going to join us. It wasn’t the water, the beach or the drive that was going to ready me for labour and birth, though – it was the feeling of introspection and deep calm I always feel on the water – or at the very least on the water’s edge.Read more: Exploring Feelings In Different Places
It’s almost Halloween, which is kind of amusing because we don’t really ‘celebrate’ Halloween. Or Samhain. Or Day of the Dead. We have two birthdays in October which is pretty much enough for us, but you know… everyone’s doing it. Our Bostik Bloggers Box this month contained lots of Halloween-themed goodies, with a giant foam skeleton, pumpkin and bat. There are all sorts of little scrapbook odds and ends and paper, including Halloween confetti.
For these decorations we used:
- Halloween themed scrap book paper
- Webbed material
- Halloween foams
- Glu Dots
- Bostik PVA Craft Glue
I have a whole drawer full of printed games and puzzles and activities that I can pull out whenever we need something to change the narrative on our day. One of the activities that I recently added to this collection was a faces & feelings matching game (download it free here). I printed it and laminated it and keep them for a quick, five minute activity from time to time.
You can do it either way – lay out the faces and match the words, or lay out the words and match the faces to them. There are more words than faces because some faces can match a variety of words – like terrified and yelling.
You can either pull out extra words so that you can focus on the words you’re interested in, or you can leave it as is.
A few weeks ago I was chatting with a new friend, Donna Jones Mbe. Donna worked with ‘at risk’ and vulnerable teenagers in Sheffield for 31 years, so when it comes to talking about feelings and emotions, she was a font of information and ideas of how to have a meaningful session with the children. One of the activities Donna recommended was to lay each child on a roll of paper and draw an outline around their forms. As it turned out on the day, we didn’t have enough paper on our long IKEA roll, but we did have little person-shaped-foams*, and I decided to use those. Read more: Five “About Me” Questions For Children
This week, on Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday, we combined Matilda’s boats and our feelings and emotions themes and made paper boats, which we set free on the ocean.
I’ve always been particularly fixated on the line from the Matilda movie
“So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea.”
I guess it speaks to what’s always been my attraction to the ocean – the freedom, the weightlessness of water, a whole world of separate reality.
The kids have had some difficult news this week, so I’m very conscious of their feelings and fears right now – more than they seem to be, since they need some prompting about things that they may be worried or upset about. Never the less, identifying your worries and setting them free is a useful skill to have, and one well-started in childhood.
There are many tutorials on-line on how to fold a paper boat, so I won’t remake the wheel, but instead will share one here from Big Enough Umbrella as I found it the easiest to follow: Read more: Cast Away Worries On A Worry Boat
Carrying on with our emotions and feelings theme, we made balloon-stress balls with faces on them for the different major emotions.
We started off filling the balloons with oats, but after a couple decided to do it without – I could just see the living room filled with oats! – and decided instead to only blow the balloons up a small bit – about a quarter of their capacity. This gives them a lot of room to stretch which means they can still squish and squeeze it.