Once a half-term I run a home education bookgroup from my local library, which has a lovely self contained childrens area and on a Monday morning is usually deserted. I try and pick books that I have not read and that have something we can hook onto in the local area where we can go afterwards as some people travel for a fair distance.
So far the books have been a great success with Sam at least (he is 3 books into the Swallows and Amazon series now and is learning to swim as he wants to sail) – if mixed responses generally. But the point is to challenge them to read something they wouldn’t normally pick up.
This half-term I picked a book I’d seen someone mention on ALBOS as it seemed fitting to the time of year. The book is a collection of 7 (I think) short stories which follow the form of conversations between animals who live in the hedgerow. However, sweet and fluffy it isn’t! Animals discuss their homes, their adaptations and there is a lot of being eaten going on. I thought I’d lost Sam early on as he looked quite traumatised half way through the second story when a baby hedgehog met it’s end in a badger (and it got worse from there!). But after a lot of discussion about the balance of ecosystems and how if they didn’t eat other animals then some animals would die out, he really got into the book (although hates rats now!) and we have two more of the series Woodland and Country Tales on order.
Numbers for book group were thinner on the ground than normal due to holidays/illness/other commitments but space is very limited and we were bit crushed last time so not necessarily a bad thing and we had enough for a nice gentle low stress meeting.
We normally open with a discussion on what people liked and didn’t about the book. This time as we were low in numbers and half the group were new and their book hadn’t arrived I read one of the stories instead (the one where nothing got eaten!).
We then stood in a circle with everyone being a different plant or animal, with me in the centre as the sun. We passed balls of wool around following the track of some of the food chains illustrated in the book to make a big food web.
Then we played ‘hedgerow bingo’ – children had cards with 9 creatures mentioned in the book and but rather than call out names I read descriptions of them (trying to pick things mentioned in the books).
I had ntended that we stick them to card and write a conversation between them, but the beauty of small groups is that it is much easier to adapt to individual needs and sensing we had reached our limits I decided to leave it and we packed up and went for a walk to look at some real hedgerows – blackberry picking over Browndown ranges.
http://www.ecoenchantments.co.uk/mycraftypage1.html (I LOVE the ice decorations definitely something to try if we get a real prolonged cold spell).