Unschool Log - August 2019

For those of you that have been following us for a while, you will know that we used to upload a monthly unschooling log, documenting all of our activities and resources that helped us on our unschooling adventures. Over time we got so involved with our YouTube channel that we ended up documenting our goings-on via video instead of via the blog.

Recently we have decided to turn all of our attention to the blog as it is where our heart is at. So, we thought that September and the back to school time of year was a perfect time to reintroduce our ever-popular unschooling logs.

So without further ado, let's get into August 2019...

The month of August has been a strange one for us. A crazy mix of summery activities blending into autumn nights. We have keenly felt the change of season go back and forth as it makes up its mind what it wants to be. It has made it difficult to settle into any one vibe. A long weekend here of water play and sunshiny days out balanced awkwardly against the forest walks and cosy autumn style games evenings.

Although we have been on this strange weather rollercoaster it has allowed for an exciting array of activities. As with all of our unschooling logs, we aren't able to share every single thing we do but we will always share our highlights and most valuable experiences and resources to help inspire and support you on your educational journeys.

We have had a very spiritual and creative month. We have started practising self-care rituals to help teach the children ways to manage stress and/or mental illness in the future. I am an anxiety sufferer and I have found that these new morning routines have helped me to reduce my anxiety symptoms. Here is a Day in the Life video that includes a detailed description of how we approach these new practices but here is a summary of how we start each morning:

We journal first thing. We write down 3 things that we are grateful for, 1 intention and then we check off the amount of sleep, water and exercise we have had.

  • 10-minute meditation (or quiet time for Fin.)

  • 10-minutes of yoga

  • Positive action card reading

  • 30-minutes of crazy dancing to our favourite songs! (So much fun!)

  • These positive action cards for the kids are so much fun!

Both of the kids love our morning routine. I think they enjoy having that dedicated time before we start each day to have our 100% attention, to have mummy and daddy do silly dances with them and to see the positive effects it has had on all four of us. I think it is so important to teach life skills like this from an early age. There are so many emotions to contend with when growing up and quite often the skills needed to support emotional balance can be overlooked even in us adults. I feel confident that this is one set of life skills that will carry them through to a more confident and balanced future.

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Following on with the same vain of mental well being, the kids have started learning about crystal healing. We had a wonderful day out to Bourton-On-The-Water this month and besides from getting some awesome shots of Fin being a superhero there we also found this wonderful little shop full of treasures of gemstones and crystals. The kids went crazy for them and wanted to buy the whole shop. (Eek!) I was aware from friends that practice crystal healing that they all contain different qualities and that some were more appropriate for children than others so we decided to go home and do some research. Our research turned into a wonderful project on crystals, gemstones, rocks and minerals. We loved learning about all of the different types of stones and the effects they could have and returned to buy the correct stones for each of us and our home. We use them in our daily practice of self-care and we even held a crystal cleansing party for ourselves which involved a flower sensory bath, freshly picked mint tea from the garden and some journaling for the month ahead. (Yes, I am fully aware that I'm a hippy! Haha!)

 

Here are the books that helped us with our crystal and rock projects.

The kids have been loving painting this month. We normally approach art with carefree abandon but this month we thought we would try and learn some new skills and hone our artistic skills via different medians.

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I gave the kids a few lessons on different painting effects and they thoroughly enjoyed seeing how different paints and brushes can make different magic appear on the canvas. Their most favourite class though was the acrylic pour painting. We had seen this done many times on YouTube and Pinterest but each time it was using harsh chemicals that we didn't feel comfortable letting the children use so we thought we would try a little experiment. Here is a quick how-to for you guys if you would like to have a go our acrylic pour painting:

What you will need:

  • Paper cups

  • Dishwashing liquid

  • Water

  • Acrylic paint in at least 3 colours (It's good to include white for definition.)

  • Paintbrushes for stirring

  • Canvas

  • An old painting sheet

  • Something to raise the canvas off the ground eg bucket, brick or flower pot. (We used a flower pot as it will get covered in paint and we thought a rainbow flower pot was at least reuseable.)

Method:

  1. Take one cup for each colour paint.

  2. In each cup put a couple of inches of acrylic paint.

  3. Then add in a small squirt of dishwashing liquid

  4. Add a small splash of water and stir to thoroughly combine. You should have half a cup of pourable solution. Adjust your quantities to achieve this.

  5. Do the same in separate cups for each colour.

  6. Set up your painting mat, flower pot and canvas ready for the pour.

  7. Now take your cups of paint and pour them into one of the cups so they are all layered up in one cup. (Do not stir.)

  8. Lay your canvas on top of your cup and then flip it over and rest it on your flower pot. (The way you would if you were turning out a cake.)

  9. When you are ready, lift the cup and watch the magic happen.

  10. You can manipulate the colours by moving the canvas a little but if you have used enough paint this shouldn't need to happen. (Adjust your paint quantities according to the size canvas you used. We used small square canvases.)

As you can see from the photos these turned out beautifully and they are now pride of place on my kitchen wall. Thanks, kids!

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We have been getting very busy in the garden this month. We picked our potato crop and our pumpkins are getting huge now! We have also had so much kale growing this year that we now have a freezer full of delicious broths and leafy green goodness. Also, the kids decided that they wanted to take some cutting of our herbs and aloe vera plant to see if they could propagate them into bigger plants in time to give as Christmas gifts this year. (Apologies for mentioning the C-word in August!) It has been a very interesting lesson and so exciting for them to check each morning on the roots forming and deciding when it is best to pot them into the soil. I have even learnt a thing or two myself! (Did you know that baby aloe vera plants are called pups? So cute!)

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One of our favourite days out this month was fruit picking. We had intended to go strawberry picking but they were a little thin on the ground. So, instead, we ended up blackberry picking. It was the kind of day when the temperature was perfect and the juicy stains on our fingers added to the feeling of summer changing to autumn. It felt like a relief from the scorching days of summer and filled us all up with a joy we didn't realise we needed. We tried to sample a few of our collection but they were so sour we spent more time giggling at each other's faces than enjoying the taste of the berries themselves! We headed home and decided the only way to enjoy them was to cook them up so in true British style the kids got making a crumble as I dusted off the custard tin!

Every time the darker evenings begin to set in we find ourselves watching more movies and having more cosy games nights in. For those of you that know us well you won't be surprised to hear that we have been watching the Harry Potter movies again this month. There is something about the magic in them that seems to suit the autumn and winter. Inspiring thoughts of pumpkin pasties and butterbeer make these movies perfect for that first feel of autumn. In honour of our return to this obsession Pops came up with a fantastic Harry Potter-themed game and we have been playing this all month. On car journeys, in the bath you name it! (Yes, I am a little bored of it now but the kids don't seem to be tiring of it yet!) Here is a link to the game.

We made soap! It is something that I had wanted to do with the kids for a while now but assumed it was too tricky, however, I was so wrong. It is so simple to make using this melt and pour kit we found. The kids had great delight learning about all of the different ingredients that they could add to the soap. They decided that they wanted to make a soothing bath soap and an antibacterial kitchen soap. They researched the different properties of essential oils, flowers, herbs and kitchen ingredients and settled on two different recipes. I will share them here with you:

What you will need to get started:

  • A mason jar

  • A wooden spoon

  • Melt and pour soap base

  • Moulds

  • Any ingredients to determine the fragrance and composition of your soap

Orange & oatmeal soap ingredients (makes approximately 5 bars depending on your chosen mould)

Lemon, mint and tea tree soap ingredients

Method

  1. Slice up your soap base into small pieces.

  2. Add the soap pieces into your mason jar.

  3. Pop the mason jar in a large pan of boiling water and wait until it has fully melted. (You can also use a microwave to melt in 20-second increments. We don't have a microwave so we have not experienced this ourselves.)

  4. Once fully melted CAREFULLY remove the jar from the water using oven gloves and dry off the edges.

  5. Get your little helpers to CAREFULLY add in your oils and remaining ingredients. (You could also get younger ones to add the ingredients to the moulds so they keep completely away from the hot items.)

  6. Pour into your moulds and allow to set in the fridge for one hour.

  7. Turn out your moulds and keep your soaps at room temperature to prevent sweating.

Always research essential oils to confirm they are safe for your whole family. They are medicinal and can cause a reaction in certain individuals.

If you find your soap has bubbles on the underside during making these can be removed with a spray of rubbing alcohol but it is not necessary unless you were hoping for a perfect finish for gifts.

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We were gifted a wonderful book from Quarto Books to review and it started us on a lovely project about Sir David Attenborough. I will leave a link to the video here so you can see the project in full but long story short we were inspired by the book to think of any men who we think have positively changed the world. We all immediately thought of Sir David Attenborough and had such fun learning about all of the wonderful ways that he has impacted the natural world. The kids printed out a picture of him and traced over the lines in a similar style to the book illustrations. They then coloured it in, in bold colours just like the book and proceeded to draw up a spider diagram around their artwork to demonstrate the facts they had learnt. I love how books can inspire projects. Sometimes if you suggest an idea to a child and it has no context it can seem empty and uninspiring. However, if you have a book full of ideas, artwork and magic it can spark something in them that may not have been there before! This was a classic example of this.

There seems to be a running theme to this log but our yearning for the autumn to set in was delightfully embraced with our most recent nature walk. We decided to embrace the wet and windy weather that had broken that morning and set off on our favourite local trail to see what the trees were telling us about the seasons. Most of the trees were still a luscious green, ripe from summer but much to the kid's delight they found conkers and pinecones which confirmed to them that Halloween and Christmas were on their merry way. (Sorry I mentioned the C-word for a second time. Brace yourself as it will only get worse as we head into the cooler months!)

Moving on I wanted to share with you our most used books and resources. I know you all loved this part of our unschooling logs previously. I love being able to share the inside of books with you all as so often we don't get to peek inside before buying. So let me share with you our must-haves this month:

Books

It is always so hard for me to narrow down the books we loved. We visit the library often, buy charity shop books each week and we are also sent books to review so we are always found with our heads down reading some amazing titles.

The first book I want to share with you is an exclusive peek into the most beautifully illustrated book we were sent from Quarto Books. It is called Mythologica by Steve Kershaw and Victoria Topping. It is an encyclopedia of gods, monsters and mortals from Ancient Greece. I can not convey to you how much I love this book. The imagery just draws you into this magical world and all four of us have learnt so much from its pages. We are going to do a creative project next month that has been inspired by its pages so stay tuned for that. This book is so special that we have been gifted a second copy of it ready to give to a lucky winner over on Instagram for an upcoming giveaway so make sure to subscribe over there so you can find out the details which will be coming soon!

Next, in our line up of favourite books is a range called 'Little people, Big Dreams.' These books are a glimpse inside the words of famous men and women and their stories of how they came to be. Pops adores this whole range and we have quite a collection going right now. Here are a couple of her favourite titles.

Fin is obsessed with this book right now. It is the Usborne Big Book of Colours. He loves the pages that allow him to mix colours and the colour wheel is a complete fascination to him. Now, whenever he paints he talks about warm and cool colours and uses contrasting colours inspired by his colour wheel. He makes up new names for mixed up colours and would rival any paint company for the names he comes up with. Blushing flamingo anyone?!

We have used some amazing resources this month. We found these awesome kid-safe knives that have been used on the daily. They are serrated enough to cut up salad and bread but safe for little fingers to use.

Our charity shop finds have included a flags game. We thought it may be too tricky for Fin to play but boy was I wrong. Each night before bead he studies his globe and had got so clued up with the continents and countries. He floored me the other night when we played this game by pointing out Norway, Sweden and Finland and correcting me when I got Chile wrong! He is now avidly learning the flags of each country and he is a tricky opponent to have whilst playing this game! It goes to show that a suggested age for books, puzzles and games should be deemed simply that, a suggestion. You know your child and their capabilities and sometimes they will even surprise you with how much more they know than you thought they did!

The kids have been puzzle crazy for the last few months. We always seem to have a table somewhere covered in little jigsaw pieces. I wanted to share with you what amazing skills can be learnt from doing puzzles that you may not have known before. Then I will share our two favourite puzzles this month:

  • problem-solving skills

  • project management skills

  • self-management skills

  • visual skills

  • cognitive skills

  • roleplay

  • character development skills

  • social skills

  • collaborative skills

  • confidence building

  • planning

  • reasoning

  • spatial orientation

  • self-reflection

  • process of elimination

  • fine motor skills

  • sorting

  • prioritising

  • patience

  • perseverance

  • memory

  • hypothesizing

  • hand-eye coordination

  • comprehension

  • comparison

  • categorising

  • concentration

You can see from this list that what appears to be a simple play resource is actually a serious learning tool. I find that doing puzzles is a great way for them to relax after a busy day of activities and eases them gently into the dinner, bedtime routine.

Here are their most loved puzzles this month:

Pops loves this fairyland one.

Fin loves this space one.

Lastly, I will finish off sharing our most inspiring YouTube videos, TV programmes and apps this month:

Blippi

The kids have been loving This YouTube channel. Be warned he can be a little annoying for grown-ups but he is great for educational videos that cover lots of topics.

The Blue Planet

We have always loved this series and all of Sir David Attenborough but we decided to revisit them as it supported our project on all that he has done. I highly recommend.

Google Earth

Fin is all about Earth at the moment and will quite often ask to use Google Earth while we are shopping. It isn't unheard of to hear a child shouting "here's what Russia looks like mama" whilst browsing down the frozen aisle!

Toy Story 4

We took the kids to the cinema to watch Toy Story 4! It was so much fun and it inspired the kids to make these little fun guys!

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I hope you guys have enjoyed hearing about our month of unschooling. I'd love to hear what you guys have been up to so please let us know in the comments section or share with us over on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Have a magical September guys! Happy learning!

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