Wednesday, 12 March 2014

March 2014: Apple and Blackberry Season!

Monday 3rd March - Sunday 9th March

Summer farewelled us with a chesty cold earlier this week, or more accurately, a single morning at school welcomed us with a chesty cold. I’d forgotten what germ breeding grounds schools are! So, we did a lot of resting and reading this week, and with three snotty, sick people under one small roof there were many lessons in patience and forbearance for all of us! 

Once we were feeling better, we bounced back with a very social week. Who said home-schooled kids miss out on socialisation?!

We’ve had lovely settled weather, with warm days and cooler nights. We’ve been blackberry picking almost daily with friends or just by ourselves, and black-stained fingers, chins, and smiles are a sign of the season.

We listened to a lovely Sparkle Story recently called '4 Types of Pickers'. For those familiar with the delightful story, it seems that I am a 'Bird Picker', flitting here and there from bush to bush; Mousey Brown (5) is a 'Bear Picker' going for speed and volume; and Little Deer (3), well, he is definitely a 'Rabbit Picker' - you can always tell a Rabbit Picker by the colour of their teeth! :)

 Late August, given heavy rain and sun
 For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
 At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
 Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
 You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
 Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
 Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
 Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
 Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
 Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
 Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
 We trekked and picked until the cans were full
 Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
 With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
 Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
 With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.
 We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
 But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
 A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
 The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
 The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
 I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
 That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
 Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.
-- Seamus Heaney

In other learning this week, Mousey Brown is currently enamoured with all things gemstone and geological. He has always been an avid rock collector but his interest has really increased over the last few weeks. This week, he put together a “rock scientist kit" to wear around his waist, which includes ‘essential' items such as a magnifying glass, trowel, paintbrush, saw, and lots of pocket for collecting treasures! Our morning walks take significantly longer these days with so much rock investigation required :) but none of us mind an Autumn stroll.

We also made a special trip to the library and found books on gemstones and geology that he loves so much he has taken them to bed with him each night! His grandfather Poppy showed him a collection of small agates found in Lune River in the South of the state, and Mousey Brown is very keen to go agate hunting soon. We hope to squeeze a few more camping trips in before the cool Autumn weather truly hits. There is also a gemstone show coming up in Hobart next weekend, which we are all going to. His excitement is infectious! :)

We also stocked up on beautiful items from Spiral Garden, Windmill Educational and Lyrebird to support our home learning. We bought new modelling beeswax, beautiful rainbow yarn, coloured canvas for stitching, paints in primary colours, chalks, lovely seasonal books, and a rainbow abacus. 

We also found a few ‘science-y' things like magnifying glasses, a magnet kit, and mineral kits. 

And Mousey Brown’s new 'most favourite thing in the whole wide world'? A set of his very own left-handed scissors! Bookstores  art and craft supply stores are definitely our happy place, and I’m pleased my love for them has been passed down to the next generation :)

As soon as we brought our goodies home, the boys were into them...

{ In handwork this week }

Working on a canvas cushion project…

Modelling beeswax…

Beeswax is the most delightful sensory experience. You begin be warming it in your hands to soften the wax and make it malleable. It is a delight to feel the warmth, softness and smell the delicious honey scent while working with it.  <Here> is a great little guide to beeswax modelling. 

{ Story-time this week }

The Little Red House
* This story is meant to be read aloud with an apple for demonstration. Begin by telling the story, and at the last paragraph when the mother is cutting into the apple do the same, so that the children may view the star inside.

Once upon a time there was a young boy who played all day long. One day, he got so tired of playing with his own toys and games, that he asked his mother, “What can I do?” His mother, who was full of wonderful ideas, told him, “I know about a little red house with no doors and no windows, a little chimney on top, and a star inside. Why don’t you try to find it?”

The boy’s eyes grew wide with wonder. “Which way shall I go?” he asked. “How can I find the little red house with no doors and no windows, a little chimney on top and a star inside?”

“Go down the lane, past the farmer’s house, and over the hill,” said his mother. “Come back as soon as you can and tell me all about your journey.”

So the young boy put on his hat and jacket and started down the lane. He hadn’t walked very far, when he came to a merry little girl who was dancing and singing in the sunshine. Her cheeks were like pink blossom petals and she was singing like a robin. “Do you know where I can find a little red house with no doors and no windows, a little chimney on top and a star inside?” asked the boy.

The little girl laughed and said, “No. I don’t know. But why don’t you ask my father. He’s a farmer and he might know.”

So the young boy walked on until he came to a big, brown barn where the farmer kept barrels of fat potatoes and baskets of yellow zucchini and golden pumpkins. The farmer himself was standing in the doorway looking out over his green pastures. “Do you know where I can find a little red house with no doors and no windows, a little chimney on top, and a star inside?” asked the boy.

The farmer laughed and said, “I’ve lived a long time and I have never seen one. But ask Granny who lives at the foot of the hill. She knows how to make gingerbread, popcorn balls, and red mittens. Perhaps she can help you.”

So the young boy walked on until he saw Granny sitting in her pretty garden of herbs and flowers. “Please dear Granny,” said the little boy,  “Do you know where I can find a little red house with no doors and no windows, a little chimney on top and a star inside?”

Granny was knitting a red mitten, and when she heard the boy’s question she laughed so cheerily that the wool ball rolled out of her lap and down to the little stone path. “I would like to find that little house myself,” she chuckled. "It would be warm when the frosty night comes and the starlight would be much prettier than a candle. Perhaps you should ask the wind. The wind goes everywhere, and listens in at all the chimneys. I’m sure it can help you.”

The young boy waved good-by to Granny and began walking up the hill. He was beginning to wonder if maybe his mother had made a mistake about the Little Red House.  The wind was coming down the hill as the little boy climbed up. As they met, the wind turned about and went along, singing beside the little boy. It whistled in his ear, and pushed him along and dropped a pretty leaf into his hands. As, the young boy felt the gentle wind at his back and he called out, “Wind!  Do you know where I can find a little red house with no doors and no windows, a little chimney on top and a star inside?”

The wind cannot speak in our words, but it went singing ahead of the little boy, “WHOOOOOOSH!  WHOOOOOOOOSH!   WHOOOOOOOOOOSH!” The little boy chased after the wind through a grassy field and into an apple orchard. Here the wind blew at the top of an apple tree and gently shook a large, rosy red apple to the ground. The boy picked up the shiny apple. It was so big that it took both of his hands to hold it. Then he knew! He called to the wind, "Thank you”, and ran all the way home, grasping his apple tightly in his hands.

“Mother! Mother!” he called as he entered his house. “I found it! I found a little red house with no doors and no windows, and a little chimney on top!  But Mother, where is the star?”

Mother took the apple (reveal your apple) and very carefully sliced it in half (cut the apple horizontally). “Oh, how wonderful!” exclaimed the happy little boy. There inside the apple, lay a beautiful star holding five little brown seeds.

<Here> is a printable version of the story.

{ In the kitchen this week }

 { Sugar-Free Apple Sauce }
(makes approx1 jar)

5-6 apples (choose sweet apples if not adding sugar)
1 heaped teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
1 cup water (add more if needed)
Dash of apple cider vinegar
2 thin lemon slices
Pinch salt

Peel and core apples (a great activity for children to help with!)
Places all ingredients into a large saucepan.
Reduce over a med-low heat, adding more water if necessary.

Remove lemon slices. Blend to desired consistency.

{ In the garden this week }

{ Nature walks this week } 

I don’t normally post photos of poo :D but this is a Tasmanian Devil scat we found along our driveway, which is very exciting!

{ Autumn Circle-Time }

Opening (Action Song)
Good morning to the sun up in the sky,
Good morning to the birds as they fly on by.
Good mrning to the tree so straight and tall,
Good morning to the nest where the possum rests
Good morning everyone.

* * * * * * * *

O Dandelion (Verse)
O Dandelion, yellow as gold, what do you do all day?
“I just wait here in the tall, green grass, ’till the children come to play.”
O Dandelion, yellow as gold, what do you do all night?
“I wait and wait, while the cool dew falls, and my hair grows long and white.”
And what do you do when your hair grows white, and the children come to play?
“They take me in their dimpled hands, and blow my hair away!”

* * * * * * * *

Windy (Action Song)
Like a leaf or a feather, 
in the windy, windy, weather 
We will whirl around and twirl around, 
And all fall down together.

* * * * * * * *

Go Wind, Blow! (Verse)
Go wind, blow!
Push wind, swish!
Shake things, take things,
Make things fly!
Ring things, swing things
Fling things high.

Go wind, blow.
Push wind, whee!
No wind, no
Don’t push me!

* * * * * * * *

Scarecrow (Action Song)
When all the cows were sleeping

And the sun had gone to bed

Up jumped the scarecrow

And this is what he said!

I'm a dingle, dangle scarecrow

With a flippy floppy hat

I can shake my hands like this

And shake my feet like that.

When all the hens were roosting

And the moon behind the cloud

Up jumped the scarecrow

And shouted very loud.

I'm a dingle, dangle scarecrow

When the dogs were in the kennels

And the doves were in the loft

Up jumped the scarecrow

And whispered very soft.

I'm a dingle, dangle scarecrow

* * * * * * * *

Two Little Blackbirds (Fingerplay)

Two little black birds sitting on a wall. 
One named Peter and one named Paul 
Fly away Peter. Fly away Paul
Come back Peter. Come back Paul

Two little black birds sitting on a cloud
One named quiet and one named loud
Fly away quiet. Fly away loud
Come back quiet. Come back loud

Two little black birds sitting down low
One name fast and one named slow
Fly away fast. Fly away slow
Come back fast. Come back slow.

* * * * * * * *

This is a house for a robin
(make a nest with hands)

This is a hive for a bee
(two fists together to make a hive)

This is a hole for a bunny
(thumbs and pointers on both hands to make hole)

And this is a house for me!
(Arms and hands form roof overhead) 

* * * * * * * *

Pygmy Possum (Fingerplay)
Here is a tree-hole.
(Bend fingers on one hand) 
Inside is a Possum.
(Put thumb inside fingers.) 
See she comes out
(Pop out thumb)
When Banksia blossoms. 

She stays out all summer 
In sunshine and heat. 
She hunts in the bush 
(Mimic picking and eating berries)
For berries to eat. 

When snow starts to fall. 
(fingers fluttering moving side to side)
She hurries inside
(Bend fingers of one hand)
her warm little home
And there she will hide. 
(Put thumb inside fingers.)

Snow covers the ground 
(Place one hand over the other.)
Like a fluffy white rug. 
Inside Possum sleeps 
(pretend to be sleeping)
All cozy and snug.

* * * * * * * *

 Autumn (Closing Verse)
Yellow the bracken,
Golden the sheaves.
Rosy the apples,
Crimson the leaves.
Mist on the hillside,
Clouds grey and white.
Autumn, good morning!
Summer good night!

* * * * * * * *


  1. So much great stuff you're doing Heidi! I printed out the little red house story last week, I'm looking forward to sharing it with my boys! I love Autumn! I'm really struggling to come up with Australian Winter based activities to get us through the whole season, so I'm looking forward to sewing what you've got planned.

    1. Thanks lovely :) I love Autumn and the Star Apple story too.

      I think we are lucky in Tassie to experience the 4 seasons more distinctly than other parts of Australia, so we have the chance to draw on the seasonal changes both native and introduced. I’m never really organised enough to plan too far ahead and I pretty much wing it the night before, although at the start of each month, I have been jotting down a few notes and plans. As for winter, it's not so hard to find Winter relevant crafts for us up here above the snow line! :) Are you on Pinterest? I have some pretty active seasonal boards.

      I'd really like to get more into noticing the subtle changes in our native bush. Which natives are flowering/fruiting in each season - I've noticed Banksia blossoms in Autumn, flax berries turn purple and native currants ripen. And then there's obviously fungi starting to appear. It's not easy to find info online. I really must visit a native nursery with the boys.

  2. So miss the Tassie Autumn season.
    What is that cool looking apple cutter you have pictured here

    1. Hi Gae, It’s a propert brand one, from either Habitat or Woolies I think. They are great for little helpers :)

  3. Wow!!! I am just blown away by the beautiful photos and the wonderful learning opportunities your children have had this past week! Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Thanks so much Suzie! I appreciate the kind words. Now to work out how to follow your blog! :D
      Ah, it's a learning curve! ;)