Tuesday, 16 August 2011

World War I letters from the trenches and our Home Educating plans

[for WWI letters see the end of this post]

It must be that time of year.

The desire to purchase books, stationery, new shiny shoes and scented rubbers (that's erasers if you happen to be in the US), is overwhelming. All these years out of school and I still can't quite shake off that 'new school year' habit.

To ease the addiction and avoid spending a fortune on books at Amazon marketplace I've been putting together a bit more of a plan for our home ed. At the moment ds1 is looking at WWI and has been for a month or so. I've posted the WWI resources we are using here.

It's on a new blog I've created and called Home Education Themes and Resources . I'm hoping to use this as a basic website to post infrequently the resources that we are using and/or have found helpful for various themes.

Sometimes it can be hard work finding, for example, children's fiction on a particular theme and if someone has trodden that path before you they have a small responsibility to help out others behind them. Hmm...that sounds very rightous and do-gooding, but in essence what I'm saying is that anything that makes HE a little easier is a good thing. Been there, done that, here's what I did in case it helps you.

As most of you may know we aren't terribly structured in our approach to home education. We have long periods of something close to autonomous education, interspersed with brief periods of panic and then usually followed by more structured periods of involving projects, outings, activities. A sort of eclectic mix of whatever interests us. At the moment it seems the right time for us to lurch into something a little more organised. (Please Note: organised doesn't mean imposed or taught. We don't do lessons and I am not my children's teacher. )

So...our plans.

Ds2 is currently 'doing' Japan, particularly ancient Japan and Samurai. No post for that on my HE themes and resources blog yet, but when I get a chance I'll add the one with the resources and links we've found useful.

In addition to this the boys are doing a rifle proficiency course so we are gently working our way through the handbook in anticipation of the final exam in a few weeks time. (Yawn...but they are enjoying it)

Handwriting. Well we try. Peridically. And usually give up. But it's on the list. And we all know that lists look good on walls. Maybe the fairy godmother of literacy will arrive and give my children the gift of neat writing one day. Until then I'll keep writing lists.

Chemistry. Having completed the fab course The Elements from Ellen McHenry's Basement Workshop, we are now starting the Carbon Chemistry course from the same website. These are our attempts at constructing allotropes of carbon from sweets and cocktail sticks:

(the above is a totally new allotrope designed by dd

and then promptly eaten afterwards!)

And cooking. Yes, we will be cooking. Anyone who has read this blog for a few years will know how much I hate cooking with the kids. However....I have decided we will use Posh Boy's (Hugh Fearnly-Whatsisface's) book The River Cottage Family Cookbook as a basic guideline to a cooking course. It has heaps of background info to the ingredients and, well, it actually makes sense and the recipes are do-able. Starting with the topic of flour and yeast (see photos below)

(note: this is the best loaf of bread produced in our kitchen

for years - must be all the sweat off those 'helping hands')

we'll work our way through 'milk', 'cheese', 'eggs' and so on. There are masses of free resources and vids online to support these topics (lots of organisations whose self-interest it is to promote the benefits of a particular food item). We'll see how long it takes before I ban all small children from the kitchen again.

And going back to the theme of WWI...yesterday I found in a box, among old birth certificates, old photos etc) several letters written during the first world war, including one written from the trenches.

This morning the children and I opened up the letters and sat deciphering them at the table.

The pile of papers included a home-typed Northampton newspaper (First Edition) written several days after the great strikes of 1926 started, describing the situation and the ban (? I didn't know there was a ban) on newspapers. All interesting stuff.

I don't think these papers come from our family, more likely something we picked up at a car boot sale at some time and never got a chance to look at. Neither of us can face leaving 'house-clearance' photos or papers on a trestle table at a car boot. Something compels us to take them home. As it did with this selection of papers, bundled up with string.

Fascinating pieces of history, particularly the WWI letters, some of which the writer states were sent illegally to avoid censorship. Once we get more time I will transcribe the letters and post them somewhere online so others can read them too.

Above, the writer talks of being issued with a bayonet:[a] 'most bloodthirsty looking weapon and I fear I am far too faint-hearted to relish the idea of pushing it into a German.'

Breaks your heart, doesn't it?

1 comment:

homeschool family said...

The WWI letters look great, you can't beat that can you. It is REAL history after all.
Also can I say thanks on behalf of the home education community for setting up your themes and resouces blog, and all of the work it will involve.
Good luck to the boys with the rifle proficiency course........(and good luck with the cooking) x