Hello, and welcome to my monthly newsletter!
What a glorious month April has been! No April showers here, but some rather arctic winds. We've also had a good stretch of lovely, warm spring weather, which has made it feel easy to be outdoors. We've even caught the sun on our cheeks!
This past month has been somewhat dominated by childminding as we had one of my ex-mindees join us for the duration of the school Easter holidays. It was so, so lovely for Bean to have a friend to play with for such a long stretch. She's really missed the type of play where she can get down on the floor with a good friend, in her own home, and play together with her toys.
It's been interesting to reflect on how my provision is having to evolve to meet the changing needs of the children as they grow older. These two nine year old's enjoyed revisiting some of the play that filled their days when they were little. However, this type of play alone was not enough to sustain their interest for the entire day, as it often did in the past.
I offered cooking, arts and crafts, games and gardening too, which was useful when they came looking for something novel to do, but they did spend a lot of time chatting, gaming, reading and writing, and playing imaginatively. They also spent one entire afternoon in a cupboard, which reminded me that whatever I might plan, they have their own ideas of what they want to do!
We have also had my little goddaughter and mindee return for her first 'in person' session this year, having spent the past three months meeting only outdoors. She'll be spending every Friday with us now, until the end of the academic year in July.
We had beautiful weather on the day that she came, so spent the majority of our time outdoors. In the photographs below you can see Bean showing her our tadpoles (she scooped some out of the pond for us to observe more closely) and the beginnings of an epic mud kitchen session. These days with my goddaughter are so precious, as she'll be off to school in September.
Our Courage Project is still ticking along nicely, with us finding opportunities to read from the books whenever we can. We've finished reading Break the Mould which we both really enjoyed. The last few chapters we read were about the steps we can take to come into our own power and change the world. I liked that the emphasis was very much on finding your people. The people who light you up and fight your corner. The people who give you the confidence to speak your truth.
We are still reading and enjoying Politics for Beginners. This book has really taken me by surprise, as it is a subject often perceived as boring and possibly too complex for children to understand. I don't remember learning anything about politics at school, and I think that's just unacceptable. It's no wonder our youth are so often disengaged with it. This book explains tricky concepts in a clear and accessible way. I like that it explains how corruption can lead to power, which I think is so important to understand. It's also refreshing to read about how institutions such as schools, the police and courts, can also be to blame for bad behaviour.
This Book is Anti-Racist, is also really excellent. It is recommended for ages 11+ and I think that is quite an accurate recommendation. Bean is fast approaching 10 and is just about coping with it, but I think she will get more out of it when we revisit it in the years to come. Each chapter centres around a specific theme (a lesson) with a reflection exercise at the end. The last three chapters have been about our personal and shared history of racism, and about how we have the power to change the history for future generations.
Here's a little peek inside each, so you can get a sense of the style and the content. You'll find more examples in the Courage Project story highlight on my Instagram grid.
The first, I nearly sent straight back, as the print quality is quite poor (it's printed by Amazon) and the illustrations are a bit flat too, but I thought I'd give it a try. The stories are actually quite good. Bean really likes them and after reading the first, she asked for more. The refugees and migrants book is one of a series by Michael Rosen, and I feel confident will be excellent, although we haven't started it yet.
I have also reserved Big Ideas For Young Thinkers from the library. This book has been on my wish list for some time, but it's a pricey one to buy, so I was delighted to discover that it's available at the library. I'll let you know what we think of it, but it looks great.
Creative Writing Project and Language Arts
We're still enjoying our Creative Writing project, although have slowed down with it a bit now that we've started our new Language Arts curriculum. We've worked our way through three of the projects in Show Me a Story (which I'm going to review on the blog next week, as it's excellent). We made story discs, which Bean has been using to tell oral stories that I have been typing up on her behalf. We have made a set of story cards, featuring characters, objects, settings, problems etc. which we are yet to try out. Bean also worked on the This is the Story of my Neighbourhood activity, which you can read more about in this post on my social media platforms.
Our new Language Arts curriculum is going well. I wrote another post on my social media platforms about our initial thoughts on it, which you can read here. I haven't quite figured out how to fit it all in to our weekly rhythm, but we're slowly working our way through, and I'm sure it'll all become clear. We're only two weeks in, so it's early days, but we're both enjoying it.
Over the Easter weekend I gave our house plants a bit of tender loving care. I hauled them all out into the garden, gave them a good water and left them for a bit in the sun.. Some had a hair cut, many were re-potted and all had some fresh compost. I love house plants, but am not always that great at taking care of them (I like them to tell me if they need watering) but this seems like just the right number of them for me, for now.
We've made a bit more progress in our garden this month too. We transplanted all of our strawberries out of the raspberry bed, and planted a cherry tree against our new fence. We also dug over one of our beds and planted carrots, broccoli and various salad leaves straight into the ground. We've got loads of seedlings coming under our outdoor covered area too. As soon as it warms up a bit more reliably, we'll begin to plant some of them out.
April has been a repeat of March it seems, with another trip to the park with friends and another trip to the beach. Apart from that, we have pretty much been at home. We're looking forward to day trips becoming a bit more of a feature over the summer months.
Easter fell just a week before travel restrictions were lifted, so we were not able to have family visit, or head off on a holiday. On Good Friday we had a lovely afternoon hunting for chocolate eggs in the beautiful communal grounds of a friend's house, where we shared a picnic lunch and chatted while the children roared around the gardens, burning off their chocolate.
Easter Sunday itself was quite quiet. I set up a hunt around the house and garden with written clues, then we spent the rest of the day relaxing, decorating Easter biscuits, eating and playing.