It’s been wonderful to get back into our homeschool curriculum this week, after the disruption of last week! We’ve been learning more about the Vikings, have enjoyed some great works of literature and made loads of art projects from our Toucan box.
Read on to take a look into a typical homeschool week with us, using the Charlotte Mason approach to education and the Ambleside Online homeschool curriculum.
Monday 2nd October
This morning the kids worked through a few lesson of CTC Math, on the computer. They are enjoying the programme and benefiting from the way it approaches maths. My eldest learnt about map co-ordinates and different types of graphs; whilst my younger son learnt about the concept of symmetry. It was a fun morning!
Today in circle time, we learnt about famous viking explorer, Leif Erikson and looked at another famous painting by Hokusai, “Mishima Pass in Kai Province.”
We have been using a wall calendar for picture study, as they are very inexpensive compared to art books, and can hang easily on our wall; allowing the kids to look at it and learn from it throughout our school week.
Tuesday 3rd October
The highlight of the day was the Toucan box came in the post! Thankfully the boys had already done most of their school work before it came, otherwise nothing would have been done! It was all very exciting!
We have recently upgraded to the largest of their boxes, the “Super box”, which contains 4 different craft activities and a picture book. To read a review of the Toucan box and see an un-boxing video we made, CLICK HERE.
For more information about Toucan Box, visit their website HERE and use the referral code GEMMA-9E6X to get your first box free!
Out of the four, the boys decided to do the underwater scene first. It turned out lovely, and we read the picture book that came at bed-time.
It is filled with the most incredible pop-ups that are so intricately designed. The book takes you on a tour of life in a medieval city, and it is full of great information along with pop-ups of a cathedral, castle and bridge. It really sparked my boy’s imagination and has helped them to visualise the scenes in the living books we are reading from.
We also raed about Prophet Nuh (Noah) from the book Lives of the Prophets by Leila Azzam.We discussed how Nuh’s wife and son were not from the believers, and how faith is a gift from God and should be cherished.
The afternoon was filled with activities outside the home; like Quran class and a Muslim beaver scouts meeting.He came back with even more badges for me to sew on! MashAllah.
Thursday 5th October
Along with the usual school work, the boys had a swimming class this morning. The long drive there gave us an opportunity to listen to the literature component of our curriculum Understood Betsy.
We have really been enjoying listening to the audiobook version on Audible. In fact, I have personally enjoyed it so much, I have been tempted this week to put it on for myself to listen to whilst I was getting on with housework! It’s really good!
After swimming, and a Seerah class with their other home-ed friends, we went into our garden to enjoy the autumn sunshine.
Friday for us means nature walk! This week we went out to a patch of scrub-land near the river and explored. It was beautiful!
Along the walk, I noticed some beautiful cowslip flowers by the pavement. I stopped, without saying anything, took a photo of them and walked on. A few minutes later I turned around and found my sons sat down by the same flowers having their own discussion and conversation about them.
There was no need for me to say anything, and “force” a learning opportunity. Instead of saying, “Look at these boys,” or “Do you know what these flowers are called?”, they were able to make the discovery themselves! These are the moments that will stay with them and that they will retain, not incessant lecturing from me!
I have to remind myself often, to follow the advice of Charlotte Mason, and stay quiet! I find it so tempting, in my enthusiasm, to give constant prompting to the boys. This was a beautiful reminder to myself, that they don’t need me to do that! They have each other! mashAllah.
Amongst some other discoveries, we found a few apples trees growing along the route, and a muddy puddle full of different foot prints; different kinds of birds and dogs (although my boys were convinced they were bear foot prints!)
My 5 year-old also found the biggest feather he’s ever seen! He was so excited and, as we had seen birds-of-prey in the area last week, and decided it was an eagle feather!
After a stopping off for hot-chocolate at a cafe, we started walking back to the car. It was a long walk, so I decided to distract them with Quran!
Each of the boys had to recite all the Quran that they could remember. We talked about how the Quran is the word of Allah, and everything in creation wants to hear it. So as they recited, we talked about how the clouds in the sky, the grass under their feet and birds in the trees were listening to them. Subhanullah! Before we knew it, we were back at the car!
We made it to Jummah prayer at the mosque. Although we went to a mosque I don’t usually visit, there is something very powerful about standing shoulder to shoulder with women, whom I didn’t know, praying together. Unity.
We didn’t have time to sketch and paint in our nature journal’s today, but the boys did make a lovely chicken a mushroom pie! It was a great end to the week.
How was your homeschool week?
Please do let me know and tell us all about it in the comments!
Are you intimidated to get started with handicrafts? With small children, they have so much excitement to make something themselves, but we don’t want to present a project that frustrates them and kills that excitement.
Still, we don’t want to wait so long that our child no longer has an interest in crafts of any sort.
Charlotte Mason says:
The points to be borne in mind in children’s handicrafts are: (a) that they should not be employed in making futilities such as pea and stick work, paper mats, and the like; (b) that they should be taught slowly and carefully what they are to do; (c) that slipshod work should not allowed; (d) and that, therefore, the children’s work should be kept well within their compass.
~ Charlotte Mason, Home Education, Volume 1, pgs 315-316
Charlotte offers some suggestions for handicrafts for children under 9, but to be honest, many of them seem antiqued, or would be hard to source. So what handicraft ideas are useful for young children in our modern times?
We’ve tried a few handicraft ideas in our home with my 6 year old daughter: some very successful, and some not as much. Here I’ll share with you what I believe are some of the best projects to get started, in sha Allah.
What are handicrafts?
Handicrafts are more than arts and crafts. Handicrafts are useful items that serve a purpose, or decorate a useful item, like embroidery.
Learning some basic handicrafts helps children:
Learn the value of items, and the work that goes into them, also helping children see the issue with cheap labor to make clothing and household items
Practice fine motor skills
Find passions and hobbies to nuture both their creative and practical side
Teach them valuable skills they can use as they grow older
How did we start with handicrafts in my home? My 4 year old, at the time, saw me knitting one day and begged me to teach her, but again I didn’t want to teach her something where she had little likelihood to be successful. Fortunately, I found a used knitting loom online and purchased that, plus I had some yarn left over from my own projects.
She took to it immediately and has been making hats and crowns (hats without tops) ever since.
At 4 years old she needed some guidance, but overall mashaAllah she did quite well independently, and she had a great sense of accomplishment
Weaving can result in many different types of projects, the most common for kids being pot holders. We started with pot holders because it was really cheap to get the loom and the bands, but I can see it sparked something bigger in my 6 year old and she’d love if I got her a weaving loom for other projects like making scarves, placemats, or bracelets.
You can find many YouTube videos about making your own weaving loom to make a variety of projects to get you started, or find a high quality, affordable kit.
Simple sewing projects
Sewing School is a great book to get ideas for really simple projects. We started with a couple charm squares of fabric, a needle, thread, and some cotton stuffing, and with this my daughter made a pillow for her dolls. A variation of this project is only sewing three sides and not stuffing it to make a pocket, or attach a handle to make a doll bag.
The book offers many other projects kids can work on, but I loved how simple the pillow project was to get us started.
Knit or crochet
I hear many people mention how their grandmother or mother taught them how to knit or crochet when they were 5, 6, or 7 years old, but a common theme is that they didn’t stick with it. I have taught my child how to knit, because she insisted, but with the attention span of young children, it’s hard for them to even see a washcloth project through to completion.
If your child is interested in it, I wouldn’t say to hold back, but until they are about 8 years old, I wouldn’t expect a child to run with it like they would with weaving pot holders.
Yarn or fabric dyeing
Super easy, and super fun for kids! Even more fun? Dyeing their own yarn, then knitting with it themselves on the loom!
There are a lot of videos on YouTube to teach you how to dye yarn, but I personally prefer to pick up a kit from a well regarded source so I don’t waste time and money on a video that may or may not be well constructed. Knit Picks has some books, dyes, and bare yarn to purchase. Another great source is your local yarn shop, and it supports local small businesses.
Advice for starting with handicrafts
While Charlotte Mason suggests only giving a child work that they can perfect, that doesn’t mean that’s it’s perfect the first time around. Offer up some options and let your child choose something in their interest.
Also, in your day to day lives, point out items that the child could make themselves and offer up ideas.
And… the best way to encourage your child to take up handicrafts?
Do them yourself! Invite your child to help sew on a button. Knit while doing your homeschooling lessons. Quilt while watching a movie.
Not into fiber arts? Paint rocks together, garden, paint bird houses, and other useful crafts to spark an interest.
What are some handicraft ideas you’ve tried with your child?
Shannen is an American Muslim convert, homeschooling mother to 4 daughters and mediocre housewife. She enjoys blogging, knitting, quilting, and avoiding housework. Read more on her blog about their Islamic homeschool, green(ish) living, and the ups and downs of parenting. You can connect with Shannen on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.