Bells, Bangs, Skulls & Potions.

Regrouped for our WedEd? ;) meet this week, which was lovely in itself but made even better for me by Fran being on half term and so along with us. I do miss having her about, even if I am pleased she is doing well at school.

The kids started off with a Day of the Dead art thing just to warm up (not sure where Zoe got it, but this also looks good) while a collection of slightly discombobulated adults got sorted out and drank some tea. (Photos to follow but you can see one of the table here). During this HH did a round of conversational French with them which they nearly all joined in with. Loved that.

Once they’d done that, I took a mixed age group off of kids to do poetry; I hit (slightly haphazardly) on the witches speech from Macbeth which I read to them a couple of times first. I tend to prime them now to listen to the cadence, the words, the feel and the rhymes and then try to form a picture in their heads of what is happening and what emotion it is supposed to provoke. I didn’t tell them anything else about it, so they’d have no preconceived ideas.

They did very well with all of those things and then someone said they were sure it reminded them of something… what was it… what WAS it? I KNOW… that episode of Doctor Who with Shakespeare and the witches! I’m not sure if that is a greater testament to Shakespeare or Doctor Who but I thought it was quite a result :lol: That led on to a discussion of the Scottish play, a brief plot outline of Macbeth and so on and then we went back to the poem.

Having no other ideas, I went for the rather adventurous “now write your own” approach – and all the kids did a BRILLIANT job. Below are two photos, of Maddy’s and one I led Josie and BB through but all the kids did really excellent ones, following the basic brief of a witches spell, shopping list or recipe. We also spent some time looking at onomatopoeia and thinking of words which sound like the thing they describe, prompting Maddy to say “I just don’t know how you keep all this stuff in your head!!!!”

I just love doing the poetry with the kids we have; I finally feel like I have found my niche and have something to offer that widens their experience and I can do well.

(No one brought the art in from the car, so I have photos still to take!)

Meanwhile HH revisited the firework/gunpowder experiment of a previous session – I avoided this but apparently this time it worked brilliantly and had lots of bangs and flashes and fizzes.

The kids went of a nature walk and collected ‘stuff’ and made a gorgeous outdoor nature art collage collaboratively.

There was still loads of time for a leisurely lunch and lots of play and bouncing. It worked really well.

Last of all, Em gave them a bells lesson, after first letting them work together (really well) at sorting the bells, making scales etc. It was lovely to watch and hear.

This short video clip does, I hope, help to bust that “how do home ed kids ever learn to do things in groups?” myth.

The answer? Because a group is not often too hard to find and because their parents are generally not idiots and make sure they do! And because, most of all, home ed kids are lively, interested and enquiring and love opportunities to learn new things.

I think all the kids agreed it was an excellent day which ticked all the boxes; Fran said, very wistfully, “I really miss days like that. It feels more real.”

French/Science/Latin/Poetry/English Day

We might need to come up with a catchier title for this. This is now a very long time ago in my head, so I’ll keep it properly brief. We reformed for an ad hoc day of trying out some new things and a different way of getting the kids together to enjoy some education and company.

First up (mainly as I was late :blush: ) was science from HH which was chromatography. The first version, from the book, didn’t work too well, so my late book signers got to do the working version from HH’s head :D Michelle had worksheet word puzzles and spelling tests, which rather amazingly, they all liked :lol: Chloe was persuaded to run a shop in French and everyone had to take turns in buying things from them. I think a bit of Skoldo got done too. HH did Latin Secundus with them; I’ve not really heard much of the Latin up to now, so was really impressed by how much had evidently been learned at Latinetc. I love the idea that they all think of Latin as something to be yelled out and laughed about, in a very living way, not tests and translations and exams. But then, I really don’t care much about those things or value them, so I like to see them living the moment and dipping into so many other things.

I did the poetry; with the younger ones (and French R) I did The Owl and the Pussy Cat. We read it a few times, hunted for nonsense, talked about the rhythm and the type of poem and I got them to describe what they would draw if they had to. R did particularly well… although she did them point out a drawing of it on the front cover ;) :lol: With the older ones we did The Road Less Travelled and they has some brilliant thoughts about it. I got them to listen twice, trying to imagine the physical side of the poem first and then listen again to decipher what the poet was saying. We discussed the language, the mood of the poem and the impression it left, the beat and the use of language. We talked about the difference in what was being said and what was meant.

I asked each of the children to come up with, if they could, a time when they made a choice or had an experience which would permanently change them; they are a diverse bunch, with 6 month exchanges, joining and leaving school, going on holidays alone, losing brothers, leaving important groups and talk about why the change altered them in a way that meant even when the moment reverted to the original status quo, they could never be the same. I was really impressed by how eloquently they spoke, the depth of understanding they had of the poem and their interest levels. It’s a poem often used to describe HE and we discussed why that was a bit.

After that Zoe got them doing some sewing and I brought out the Fimo bit box and they crafted, played and bounced. I have no photos of the day at all, so will leave you with the dragons made after the previous week!

Poetry Study #1 – Ballad, by W. H. Auden

At Latinetc last week I made a start on doing some poetry study with the older kids. I managed to forget my book, so grabbed one from Katy’s shelf and luckily it had one of my absolute favourite poems in it, which my mum used to read me when I was very young. An odd choice, actually, since it is quite a scary poem, but it was probably her favourite and being read it by her means that unlike many of the poems butchered by school poetry lessons, I do really love it.

Interestingly, in her book, it was called ‘Ballad’ whereas I have only ever known it is “Oh, What is that Sound?” which is the first line of the poem. Fran, Skye, Jand I talked a little about the word ballad, unpicked it from ‘lullaby’ and talked about what this word gave us expectations of. In general, they expected a gentle poem, perhaps about love. I think they might be influenced,some of them anyway!, by X-factor power ballads :lol:

Once we’d discussed that, I read the poem too them; it was not what they expected and Fran and Skye looked quite shocked by it. We tried to place it in history, talking about when it was written and then what clues there were in the poem. Initially expecting it to be WW1 ear, they collected the clues on red coats, flashing weapons and drumming quickly and we talked about the pictures in their heads that gave them. This poem has always provoked a strong visual image in my mind and I was interested to see what it might do for them.

Looking at some of the web writing on the poem now is fascinating as the poem has always been read to me in two particular voices, the man and the woman – this snippet reverses them and I’m curious next week to get them to try reading it reversed to see what different meanings come out as it would put the woman’s voice in the more powerful, controlling situation. As it was, we discussed rhythm and beat, the repetition of words and the feelings the poem provoked. The three of them came up with some good stuff; the sense of threat, anxiety, fear and the sense of the soldiers coming closer and all the hope of each possible diversion being dashed as the soldiers came closer. We talked about the idea of love in the poem and the deception and betrayal. We discussed whether the soldiers were coming peacefully or in violence and how to find clues from the poem to support their theory.

I left them with the option to find out more about Auden and perhaps another of his poems or to do a piece of art inspired by Ballad if they wanted.

Plan for next time is to be organised to do an older group and younger group poem if they feel inclined. Initially I was just going to read poems for kids to dip in and out of but the older ones seemed to enjoy picking it apart so hopefully we’ll make time to do some of that. made me feel marginally more useful anyway :lol: