Updated: Sep 20, 2020
Hello, and welcome to my monthly newsletter!
This is a place to document and share a few monthly highlights, along with book recommendations, recipes, interesting articles, links to other blog posts, free resources etc. If you have a specific request, please drop me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org
Playing with collage.
We've been working on a mini collage project this month, inspired by this beautiful book Bean's Granny gave her for her birthday. Playing With Collage is written by Jeannie Baker, an English-born Australian children's picture book author and artist, known for her collage illustrations and concern for the natural environment.
In this, her newest book, she shares her secrets for creating 'artworks of your own from the wonderous world around you', with pages on tools, tips, playing with materials, exploring paper, finding materials in nature, on the beach and in the kitchen, and translucency. It's a beautiful book, packed with inspiration.
Bean worked over a few days on a series of small scale works with the different materials suggested in the book. The first was made with pieces from our random drawer of collage materials, by way of introduction to the process. It reminds me of a world map! The second was made with just paper, and was inspired by Jeannie Baker's book, Window. The third was made with natural materials found in our garden and the last with nature finds on the beach.
I was expecting (and hoping) that Bean would be more interested in this process, and want to explore it further, but this was as far as she wanted to take it for now. I think that, on reflection, there is more that I could have done to support/enable the process and make it more satisfying for her, such as reducing the amount of collage materials on offer, pressing nature finds in advance and working alongside her on my own pieces. I imagine that we will revisit the book in the coming years.
Visiting Granny in Wales.
July saw us take our first post-lockdown trip home to Wales to visit Bean's Granny. It was an absolute treat to get out of Bristol and immerse ourselves in nature for a few days. We spent long days outdoors so that we could socialise with our visiting friends (who had separate accommodation) and ventured out on foot every day to explore the surrounding fields, hills and streams. It was absolute magic.
Adventures Around Bristol
We've been continuing to explore the countryside surrounding Bristol too, working our way through the walks in our Kiddiwalks Around Bristol and Bath book (which is now, miraculously, in stock!) We enjoyed a scoot along the cycle path in Saltford and a rural/riverside walk in Ford.
Then the most spectacular 3 mile circular walk from Wellow to the Neolithic burial chamber at Stony Littleton Long Barrow. We had glorious weather on this day and the children were in and out of the Wellow Brook, culminating in a swim at the ford on our return to Wellow. We had a beautiful walk and encounter with a field of cows up on Dundry hill too.
July has also seen me reopen my childminding setting. It was such a difficult decision to make, with so much to consider, but so far all has been well. For the next 3-4 weeks we will be having some of my old mindees return for a bit of school holiday care, then in late August I will be resuming some settling in sessions for my one and only early years child. You can see more of what we've been getting up to by following my Instagram stories.
31 Days of Process Art
This month I have launched the next in my series of daily email PDF play guides, 31 Days of Process Art. Process art is the best way to encourage young children to engage with and explore art materials. This collection is suitable for children from 2 years (with close supervision) to 12 years (ish), and launches on the 7th August. Sign up is open until August 6th, so you still have time to join us.
We've had a few new additions to our morning basket this month, which we're just beginning to explore. If you're interested in a closer look, I've shared a flick through on my Instagram stories. You'll find it saved in the 'Books' highlight (which I've been exceptionally poor at updating).
Fearless Felines: 30 True Tales of Courageous Cats has been our favourite of the bunch. We're both cat lovers, and have found the short stories featured quite gripping. In between the main stories are lots of interesting facts and funny anecdotes about cats. I don't think this book is going to be in our morning basket for long because we're flying through it.
100 Things to Know About History is another of the Usborne '100 Things to Know About' series. We finished reading the Food one and after consulting with Bean decided to order this one. The others in the series which we are yet to read are about Planet Earth, The Human Body, Science and Space. As the title suggests, these are information books, packed to bursting with interesting facts, but presented in a really fun and accessible way.
The Story of Paintings: A History of Art For Children is one that we have borrowed from a friend. Each double page spread features a different piece of art, starting with a stone age cave painting and continuing through to the modern day. The reproductions of the paintings are lovely, and there's just the right amount of information to not be too overwhelming. It is lacking in diversity, however, with less than a handful of female artists and no artists represented from ethnic 'minority' groups. I have another book specifically about women in art. If you know of any that are more diverse, I'd be interested in your recommendations.
If you're on the hunt for something to keep your creative child at the dining table while you read aloud, then this book may be just what you're looking for. Create This Book is a creative activity book, with open-ended prompts on each page. Bean loves it!
We started and soon abandoned reading a chapter book by David Walliams at bedtime. It's been a lesson for me in not blindly starting a book without pre-reading it, or at least reading the reviews (it was gifted to us from a neighbour). Apparently David Walliam's books are very popular with children, and Bean seemed keen, but I wasn't happy with the content.
Audio Books This month we had a long car journey to and from Wales to visit Bean's Granny. On the way, we listened to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, read by Roald Dahl. This is an absolute favourite for both of us. On the way home we listened to another collection from Barefoot Books called Tales From Old Ireland. We both love these stories. If you're a fan of the Irish accent, that alone makes these stories worthwhile!
I've just finished listening to The Giver of Stars by Jo Jo Moyes, the first novel that I've listened to in a while. I love, love, loved it, and felt quite bereft when it was finished. I read so much about parenting and education that I forgot how nice it is to be swept away with a story that hasn't been written for children!
Here are the blog posts I published this month, just in case you may have missed them. There were FOUR Wednesdays in July, so an extra blog post to read this month!
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Next month, I'll be sharing our plans for the Autumn term. We home educate all year around, but I do find myself making some gentle plans at this time of year. All those years of mainstream teaching have been deeply ingrained in me!