After our trip to the beach at the weekend we had plenty of new loose parts to investigate. Cherry classified her shells by colour and shape, then tested their properties against sandpaper. This was also a good opportunity to add to her sight-words. For Violet, the sea-themed loose parts became incorporated into her nonstop storytelling.
Although it was a cold and wet week, we headed out every day and enjoyed slipping and squelching in the mud and testing the varying degrees of friction on wet and frozen surfaces.
The beginning of the week is now very busy for all of us! Violet has preschool on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. Sessions last three hours which gives Cherry and I a little time together. On Mondays she goes to sports class and on Tuesday she started gymnastics in the mornings and has drama in the afternoon, giving Violet and I an hour together.
Then on Wednesday afternoon Cherry has two hours of Forest School, another new group, which gives me another two hours just with Violet.
This week it felt rather like a lot of rushing around. The challenge for me is making the most of the time I have one-on-one with each of the children rather than using it to run errands, which are much easier with just one child in tow! I am making a list of ideas for these times, so I can have something set up and ready for us to dive straight into.
Thursdays and Fridays are far more relaxed - thankfully! We all go to our home education group on Thursdays. It's an outdoor group all year round - even in the torrential rain we had this week.
Then on Thursday evening the snow came and, ever curious, Cherry and Violet brought some into the house to explore. I gave them each a tray of food colouring and water and some pipettes and watched them experiment with adding colour to the snow. Cherry noticed that as she added more water to her food colouring, it got lighter, so we talked about the concept of dilution.
The snow settled overnight so Friday was an official Snow Day. We headed out as soon as we got up and spent the entire day in the snow.
On Saturday we went to the RHS gardens at Wisley to see the butterflies in the glasshouse and have a wander around the gardens.
An icy puddle in the car park had to be investigated on the way out. The light was beautiful. Watching the children I thought once again how learning for children at this age is all about experiences.
I have struggled a bit with 'learning' as a wider concept. I have always linked it with classrooms, and with reading and writing and sums and discernible, measurable outcomes. By watching Cherry and Violet closely and reflecting on what they do and how they do it, observing what grabs their interest and what doesn't, I am starting to see the bigger picture. I can see how many things we feel we know 'intuitively' could in fact be shaped by our childhood experiences and the connections we make at this age.
This week I re-read Learning Together With Young Children and was able to take much more from it than my first reading. The more I learn about the Reggio Emilio approach the more I like it, and this book is very Reggio-inspired. Although written for early years practitioners it has much that can be incorporated into home education.
I have also become very interested in loose parts and how they fit into learning. Cherry and Violet are irresistibly drawn to loose parts - as their collection from the beach demonstrates - and I am keen to explore more ways to incorporate them. I will probably do more reading around this. Cherry and Violet aren't the only ones learning all the time!