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October Newsletter: The One With Our Self Isolation

Hello, and welcome to my monthly newsletter!

October has been a difficult month for us. We've had various appliance issues (first our boiler, then our washing machine and vacuum cleaner - why is it so difficult to get things repaired these days?!) Bean has been unwell with Covid symptoms, so we had a week of self isolation while she rested and we waited for her home test result (it was negative). She's feeling much better now, but is still not sleeping through the night (multiple coughing episodes) so combined with the clock change we have both been feeling pretty wiped out.


So, the inevitable has happened and earlier this month Bean developed a fever and cough. These symptoms are not unusual for her at this time of year, but you can never be too sure right now. We opted for a home Covid testing kit, mainly because I didn't want to put her through the ordeal of taking her out to a testing centre when she was feeling so unwell. The whole process, from first symptoms to a negative result took just over a week.

So, we had a very quiet time at home, just the two of us. For the first 48 hours, Bean was very unwell, and spent almost all day in bed with audiobooks and the iPad. Our home has never looked so clean and tidy, as that is what I tend to do when I am feeling worried. The rest of the week passed by quite pleasantly, with lots of play, stories, arts and crafts and treats to eat. I struggled the most with the lack of time outdoors in nature, especially as the weather was very wet. I was obviously very happy and relieved to receive that negative test result.

Baskets, Trays, Bowls and Boxes

With Bean being unwell for the best part of a week, I seized the opportunity to clean, organise and purge our collection of baskets, trays, bowls and boxes. After umpteen years of preparing invitations to play for children (first in my classroom, then in my childminding setting and for my shop) having an array of baskets, trays, bowls and boxes for presentation has been necessary, but also joyful.

Left is the before photo, once I'd wrestled everything out of our utility room, and gathered any strays from around the house onto our dining table. I have to confess that I felt a bit overwhelmed at this point! Centre photo is my clean and organised 'keep' pile. I'd have liked to have been a bit more ruthless really, but still find it difficult to part with things. The photo on the right is a satisfyingly large pile for repurposing, selling or donating. Two weeks later and those have almost all left the building. I find decluttering so therapeutic.

North America Project: Native America and Early European Settlers/Colonisation

This October we have moved on from learning about Canada to learning about Native America. I've written a whole blog post about this part of our project, which you can read here. As you can imagine, with our difficult month, it has been a bit stop and start. We are about two weeks behind where I imagined we might be with our North America project, but since we have nobody to be accountable to, it doesn't matter in the slightest.

This week we are going to be reading a small stack of books about the early European Settlers and Colonisation (see video below), before moving on to slavery and the important part that African Americans have played in shaping modern day America.

Childminding Days

Just this past week we have finally been able to regain a bit of normality by resuming settling in sessions for my little mindee. For one reason or another, she hasn't been able to attend for much of the autumn term, but she has settled in very quickly. As it has been half term, we have had both of her big sisters each join us for a day, which has been very lovely for all of us.

This week we have been playing with Autumn Spiced Play Dough (one of the invitations to play from my Autumn Play and Learning Guide). We've done wet-on-wet watercolour paintings, and made creations with cardboard shapes (both prompts from my 31 Days of Process Art guide). We've baked bread, built structures with blocks, read lots of stories and taken our first trip out of the home to our local playground.

November's Invitations to Play Challenge

Next month I will be running a brand new Invitations to Play Challenge! The idea is that you set up an invitation to play for/with your child, inspired by the prompt word of the day. You can choose to challenge yourself to the full 30 days, or just dip in and out when you feel inspired.

I'll be sharing ideas in my Instagram stories. Use the hashtag #invitationstoplaychallenge if you would like to be featured. Alternatively, you may like to post your photos and share ideas in my Facebook community page.

Winter Themed Loose Part Advent Calendars

This coming month I will be busy painting peg dolls and packing up the last of my Winter Themed Loose Part Advent Calendars. These make a lovely alternative (or addition) to a chocolate advent calendar. 24 little brown paper envelopes, each containing an element for loose parts play. I will be discontinuing these once my current stock has sold out (part of my plan to reclaim my home) so if you are keen, this may be your last chance to purchase one.

The collection is also available as 'loose parts only', in a natural cotton drawstring bag, for you to add to your own advent calendar, as a stocking filler or gift, or simply for winter themed loose parts play. Just select 'loose parts only' when adding to your basket.

I will also be running my 24 Days of Advent Magic daily email PDF guides this coming December. Sign up is now open. Advent inspiration landing in your inbox every day in the lead up to Christmas. For newsletter readers, you can type in the coupon code NEWSLETTER20 for a 20% discount.


We've only had the one new addition to our morning basket this month, as my focus has been very much on sourcing books for Christmas, beginning to gather books for our Spring topic and re acquainting myself with the library reservation system.

After devouring WildLives: 50 Extraordinary Animals That Made History, we have moved swiftly on to Rebel Dogs: Heroic Tales of Trusty Hounds. This compilation of true stories about dogs has exactly the same format as the cat version I reviewed earlier in the year here, and is proving equally as popular. I think we may have exhausted the catalogue of true animal stories now!

This month has seen our local library reopen! I visited alone, as we are not yet able to browse, but it was satisfying to pass back the stack of books we've had on loan since March and exchange them for the few that I had reserved. I begged the librarian to add a few early/beginner readers too as Bean's interest in reading has taken off since lockdown. Now I need to get myself back into the habit of ordering books, which is going to save me a fortune, but comes with many frustrations too.

We've already made a start on reading Wave Me Goodbye, which we are both enjoying enormously, and I am already anticipating it sparking an interest in learning more about the Second World War.

I've only managed to read one book this month, Untamed, but by golly gosh, if you only manage to read one book this year, make it this one! Reviews seem to be quite mixed, but I loved it, and found Doyle's writing inspirational and empowering. This is a book for women, especially mothers, who feel that they may have been trapped in a life that was not really of their own making. A guide to rediscovering your true self and taking back your power!

Audio Books This month Bean has listened to two books on Borrowbox, both recommended by the lovely Natalie @wildforeverfamily The Time of Green Magic and The Wizards of Once, neither of which I'm able to fully review as Bean listened to these in bed while she was unwell, but both were very well received. I think, if your child is into magic and wizards, then these are both worth a try.

For those of you who use Spotify, we have been really enjoying the playlist A Beautiful Childhood - Sweet Autumn by Eloise Rickman. We've had it playing every morning over breakfast, and whenever we settle down to work on craft projects together. It's a beautiful collection of gentle, sweet, Autumnal songs for children. Also, if you follow the Exploring Nature With Children curriculum, Sarah Bacchus has created a playlist for each week, which you can find by typing in ENWC (+ the name of the specific week, for example ENWC Autumn Equinox).


Here are the blog posts I published this month, just in case you may have missed them.

You may also enjoy reading the interviews for series two of Advocates of Play. It's so interesting to read different play perspectives and approaches to home education. Series three will be coming in January.


If you have enjoyed reading this monthly newsletter, and don't want to miss another one, perhaps you might like to subscribe? I can promise not to flood your inbox with spam (but I can't promise that I'll remember to send newsletter reminders either!) Scroll down to the bottom to subscribe. Also, if you have a specific request for the blog, please drop me a message at

Next month, I'll be sharing another update on our North America project (learning about slavery specifically, and the important part that African Americans have played in shaping modern America), as well as the highlights of our November Invitations to Play Challenge.

With love,

Rowan x

This blog post contains affiliate links. If you do click through, Bean and I will receive a small amount of commission which will contribute to new books and resources for her home education. You can, however, find all of these resources elsewhere, including other online retailers, second hand selling pages and your local library.

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