Donoussa is a small island, part of the cyclades in the Aegean Sea, Greece.
It is a paradise island, with beautiful beaches, crystal clear water and blue sky. The perfect location for summer fun.
Clothing & Accessories//Pacific Rainbow, Carrera
Donoussa is a small island, part of the cyclades in the Aegean Sea, Greece.
It is a paradise island, with beautiful beaches, crystal clear water and blue sky. The perfect location for summer fun.
Clothing & Accessories//Pacific Rainbow, Carrera
In our almost 8 months as a full-time Worldschooling family, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many families that travel and homeschool their children. It’s been so incredibly rewarding, and also sometimes tough. As Travel Editor I hope to spotlight how families educate and live uniquely in various parts of the world throughout our 2017 travels. It’s such a colorful and interesting world out there and I can’t wait to dive into that diversity and bring it to Babiekins readers, all the while teaching our own 2 girls!
While in Dublin, Ireland several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet Annemarie and her 2 girls. They are a home schooling family that has plans to travel, all while running an outdoor adventure company, Spirited Adventure, in the UK! Sit back with a cup of coffee and enjoy!
Where do you live, and where are you originally from?
We live in Islington, North London. I am originally from Dublin, Ireland, and James is from North Yorkshire. I have lived in London for over 21 years now, even longer than I lived in Dublin, so both cities feel equally like home to me.
Tell me about your kids..ages…. likes…etc…
Róisín is 7 years old. She is kind, sensitive and very loving. She thinks deeply about things and can get very emotional. I really love that she questions everything, and won’t just do as she’s told unless you give her a good reason why. ‘Because I said so’ doesn’t work with her, and though at times my life would be much easier if it did, that is something I hope she doesn’t lose as she grows up. She is physically quite strong and loves to climb and do gymnastics. Any tree she sees is a challenge for her to find out how high up she can get! After initially being a reluctant reader she now loves to read. Her favourite book is El Deafo by Cece Bell which she has read at least 8 times. She also loves music, her current favourite album is Christine and the Queens ‘Chaleur Humaine’ (she especially loves French music)
Corin is 5 years old and she is the in house entertainment! She is funny and quirky, and will never give a straight answer, but will usually reply in song or a funny voice at least. She often has the rest of us in fits of laughter and is very hard to tell off as she’ll just give you a funny look or start doing a crazy dance to make you laugh. She is creative and loves to draw and make things, and is able to visualise what she would like to do and make it happen. She has recently got very into Lego, and can spend hours creating and taking apart things. She also loves to build with her train track. Her favourite type of clothes are summer dresses and will rarely wear anything else even in winter, so we have to put layers of t-shirts and tights on her in the colder months.
What do you love about homeschooling?
We love the freedom it gives us to be a family, and live at our own pace and to our own schedule. We are able to help our children to learn in a way that they enjoy, and about things that interest them. When they have difficulties getting their heads around things we can take the time to help them understand rather than having to move on to keep up with a set curriculum. Róisín had difficulty when learning to read and got very frustrated and upset, and then refused to even try to read. Because we home educate we were able to take a step back and take off the pressure until she was feeling more confident. Eventually she just started picking up books again herself and now absolutely loves to read.
We also love the time it gives us to spend together. Because James’ current work is freelance his holidays and time off are irregular. He could sometimes be working through all of what would be school holiday time and then have time off during term time. If the girls were in school this would mean no family holidays or time together.
Another huge advantage, especially here in London, is that we get to go to all of the amazing museums, galleries and historic sites when it’s quiet. During the school holidays we tend to avoid all those places as they’re just too crowded for us!
Why did you choose homeschooling?
Initially it came to mind as I just couldn’t imagine my eldest, who was probably about 2 years old at the time, being ready even at 4 years old to go to school. We live in a heavily populated area and all of the local schools are big and full. Róisín was always quite attached as a small child and didn’t like to be separated from me. I knew that if she went to school it would be very traumatic for both her and I and I just wasn’t prepared to put either of us through that. I started to research home education and went along to some of the group meet ups and got in touch with other local parents who were home educating. Meeting like minded people gave me the confidence that it was possible and that I was doing the right thing. It is a decision we haven’t regretted for one second!
What are your travel plans?
We have always wanted to travel more widely with the girls and feel that now is the right time to do it. We have family in Uruguay, Australia and the Philippines and are really keen to bring the girls to visit them and also friends in Canada, USA and New Zealand. We are in the process of selling our home in London. Over the last few years James and I have been building a business offering outdoor activities at a site in Hampshire. We have only been able to do this in our spare time and in between James’ regular work as a freelence television editor, so we’ve made the decision to live in Hampshire during the Spring and Summer in order to get the business running fully, and then in the Autumn and Winter, when we wouldn’t have any active courses running, we will travel. So we’ll be travelling half the year and living in Hampshire running the business for the other half. We will also be doing marketing, admin etc for the business whilst we are on the road.
The first year we are planning to roadtrip around the US, taking in as many of the National Parks as we can. We will also take a trip down to Uruguay to spend time with my family there. The following year we’re planning to tour Australia and New Zealand, and Asia the year after. We envision living this lifestyle for 3 years, and then finding a place to settle and expand our business, but we’re aware that travel can change how we view things and what we want from life and so are very open to everything!
FOR THE GIRLS……
What do you love about your life?
Róisín: I like my family and friends and I also like being home educated because it’s really nice and I get to go on picnics with my friends and my family and see my cousins.
Corin: I love Legoland, but not some rides, and funfairs and beaches. I like drawing.
What do you love about how you homeschool?
R: I like being home educated because I get to go on holidays a lot and I don’t like sitting in a classroom all day doing writing, it sounds boring.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
R: I don’t know what to be but going to Kidzania helps me think.
C: I want to work in a butter factory.
Do you miss not going to school each day with friends?
R: I don’t really because most of my friends don’t go to school. My cousins do and one of my friends does, her name is Amy Wark.
C: I don’t know. I don’t want to go to school but I want a school uniform. My Mummy is going to buy me one.
This year I made the leap and decided I wanted to homeschool my three rambunctious boys. After a lot of research about what the experts have to say — and a whole lot more inquisitive conversations — I ordered boxes of curriculum, stocked the shelves with even more books, bought stacks of ruled paper, and organized bright, colorful art supplies. I was ready to dig in.
Before I even started, I knew that in order to dial down the distractions and stay focused, we were going to need a designated room. While I bought a lot of new things for my boys this year, I also found joy in repurposing vintage books that were my mom’s and my grandpa’s, and finding homes for unique items found at estate sales and thrift stores. This, combined with the book recommendations which keep popping up on the #schoolkins hashtag on Instagram, lead to an abundant library full of nature volumes, historical titles, and biographies. My boys love to pull books from the shelves throughout the week. Plus, the surplus of books keeps my creative heart happy, since I sometimes arrange them by color instead of subject!
And of course, every personal library needs a reading area. Even when we’re not gathered together reading aloud, I’ll often find my boys curled up on the IKEA KARLSTAD sofa, feet up on the TOFTERYD coffee table, lost in a book from our collection. I love that they’re able to combine discovery and learning with the comforts of home even during the times they’re not sitting at our large school table, actively working on worksheets or a particular lesson. I also love how the coffee table’s drawers and compartments lend a little extra storage, which keeps our room tidy — no easy feat with three boys!
Being able to maintain a clean, uncluttered workspace — and being able to close it all up when you’re done — is a must, especially when you work from home like I do. Add in schooling from home as well, and storage becomes essential to survival.
Our bright yellow glass-door IKEA cabinets provide a place to stack books when we’re not using them, while also adding a cheery punch to the room.
More shelves — can you ever have enough shelving? — and an IKEA locker-inspired system add more even more order to a space that could easily become chaotic. I’m a big believer in the idea that beautiful surroundings affect your mood for the better. It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy, but keeping your living space clean and orderly provides a mental boost which makes even chores a little more cheerful. And what busy mom can’t use a boost like that?
One of the most difficult challenges I encountered while designing this space is that so many products intended for educational use rely on primary colors, scrawling fonts, and apple motifs. I really wanted to maintain my own aesthetic in this space while also giving the boys freedom to be, well, wild and free. I also wanted to encourage discovery. Instead of the usual classroom posters, I opted instead to incorporate things like numbers, vintage book pages and a wonderfully creepy-crawly insect collection into the decor. And I injected humor, too, by grouping jars of wiggle eyes, confetti, and bright feathers in between the jars of crayons, pencils, and other school supplies. After all, like Peanuts cartoonist Charles M. Schulz famously joked, “Try not to have a good time. This is supposed to be educational.”
If you have a unique, kid-friendly space you would like to share, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Credit List ::
IKEA :: PINE BOX Knagglig , WHITE STORAGE BOXES Snika, LOCKER The PS Cabinet, SHELVING Ekby Järpen/Gällö, ROUND STORAGE The PS 2014 Series
WATERMELON LAMP + SHADOW BOXES Deco Baby
CACTUS NIGHT LIGHT Talo Interiors
CHALK GLOBE + DIAMOND CRAYONS Target
BOLT LIGHT Fromage La Rue
STOOL Serena & Lily
WOODEN LETTERS Polliwog Learning Products
WHALE POSTER Arminho
ANIMAL MASKS Wonderful Collective
LAMP The Land Of Nod
WILD AND FREE BANNER Little Dovie
EDUCATIONAL CHART My Bearded Pigeon
ANTLERS Yarn Bombed Antlers
I loved celebrating Valentine’s Day in elementary school. Each student would share cards or treats with the other, stuffing them into carefully decorated shoeboxes, anticipating what was in their own. I looked forward to this holiday each year, so as a homeschooling parent, I still make priority for this holiday with colorful crafts and baking infused into our typical school routine. My children carefully create their own handmade cards to share with their friends, which makes them a bit unique each year.
This year, I wanted to find a way to be more resourceful, to repurpose materials and use tools or supplies we already own. Since we order most of home goods and books online, I always have a regular supply of craft paper, paperboard, and cardboard boxes. I pulled out other necessary supplies for them to use, and as often happens, they took it from there and created their own sets of unique cards.
These cards can be strung together to make garland or layered onto another card, or used as a card all on their own. It was easy and flexible for different ages. Even better, it was economical and an environmentally friendly way to celebrate this playful holiday.
cardboard or paperboard
non-toxic paint (strong enough to see on cardboard)
heart-shaped cookie cutter or stencil
Cut the paperboard or cardboard into flat panels.
Let the kids paint as they will. I encouraged my own kids to touch colors but not overlap too much, to avoid brown blobs.
After the paint dries, flip each sheet of cardboard over and trace as many heart shapes as possible.
Cut out the hearts.
Write little messages on the front and back. If you have a young writer, you might write for them.
String them together for garland, layer them onto another card, or use them as a small note of kindness on their own. Happy Valentine’s Day!
I first purchased this book, The First Thanksgiving, when my oldest children were quite young, and it is still a favorite we read again together each year. Although beautifully and simply told, it is not a sugar-coated version of this pilgrimage. Jean Craighead George, the author of two more favorite children’s books Julie of the Wolves and My Side of the Mountain, gives an honest and artful voice to the hardships endured both by the pilgrims and the Native American tribes in this read. Gently, she introduces more complex topics into the story of this feast, such as the freedom of religion, the freedom of a person (European slave trade), the Plague, life aboard a transatlantic ship, establishing agricultural life, and of course Squanto’s peaceful help in these settlements–giving more context to this intermingled, multi-day feast we now call Thanksgiving.
The First Thanksgiving is a broad picture of this bit of history more than anything, an introduction to early colonial America, a springboard for other reading and learning and conversation. As it is a picture book, the illustrations carry their own part of the story as well–gorgeous, emotional paintings of dark stormy seas, lonely Squanto in the colorful woods, the Mayflower, and the golden harvest and feast to name a few. They are excellent fodder for budding artists to copy.
Naturally, we cannot discuss every topic thoroughly each year. This is the joy of returning to this window in American history again annually. When my children were quite young, I may have simply read the story aloud while they played on the floor around me. Some years we have added a project, and other years, we may have simply discussed it. As my children and their context for history grow, our discussions do, too. This is one of my favorite parts of parenting.
This year, as we are re-reading this story together, each is doing their own project with it. One of my children created simple models of the pilgrim ships using clay, small craft sticks, and paper. While the other three illustrated from the book or from their own imagination with pencil or watercolors.
I am adding more writing this year, too. The older boys will write a summary paper, possibly including a bit from other history readings since we’ve been studying some early American history this fall. My oldest daughter, who is still learning about paragraphing and summarizing, will narrate the story to me, which I will write down, and she will copy on her own. My youngest, who is still an early writer, will copy one to two sentences from the story itself. Although the specifics may vary year to year, sharing the origin of Thanksgiving with my children during this season helps deepen both our understanding and gratitude.
When the subject of poetry memorization begins, it generally conjures scenes similar to Chardin’s late 18th century painting The Good Education: frilly dresses, bonnets, serious expressions, and an open book in hand. Although I love that painting (and even have a postcard-size copy of it on my bookshelf), poetry memorization looks quite different in our home full of raucous happenstance. Still we do have a process of sorts for this memory work. Here’s a bit of what it looks like for us:
READ A POEM TOGETHER DAILY // Before we begin memorizing a poem, we read it and talk about it together. Sometimes the poem has unfamiliar words or phrasing, so we’ll talk about those a bit, too. I keep a small collection of poetry books on our shelf, and often read a poem during our snack time or our daily language lessons. Everyday, we read a new poem, even if we are not intending to memorize it. Sometimes the poem is funny or small, and other times, it is confusing or too abstract. When the last bit occurs, we might re-read it to see if we understand it better, but mostly we move on. At my children’s ages, I don’t want them to be bogged down in analysis. That will come as they grow older. For now, the purpose of poetry is to experience language in a new way.
BEGIN WITH SMALL, FUN POEMS // When you are first beginning memorization with your children, choose simple poems they will enjoy reciting. Shorter works will help them feel a sense of mastery and confidence to do it again. My six year old began the year with a two line poem Happy Thought from Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verse. She has since moved on to a bit longer poem by Christina Rossetti–another poet who is a perfect start for young children, as her descriptions tend to be more concrete observations or comparisons with nature.
COPY + ILLUSTRATE THE POEM // If your children are little, this might be more difficult or even unnecessary yet. My children span the grade school years and are all practicing writers, so this works well for us. Copying poetry helps them notice the poetic form itself–capitalization, punctuation, rhyme, and so on–and how it differs from prose. Illustration provides imaginative space for my children to transfer the meaning. Plus, it makes for a beautiful keepsake or reference as they continue memorizing.
CELEBRATE // When our children complete a poem, they recite it for all of us and we applaud them. Sometimes they forget a line or need a helpful nudge, and that’s okay, too. Make note to return to those lines again later. Memory work is difficult, and we love to celebrate their hard work and accomplishment.
COLLECT YOUR FAVORITE POETRY BOOKS // There are so many wonderful poems, so I love anthologies that give a diverse sampling. Here’s a few of the books on our own shelf:
Poetry for Young People series, various poets
A Child’s Anthology of Poetry, Edited by Elizabeth Hauge Sword
Classic Poetry: An Illustrated Collection selected by Michael Rosen
A Child’s Introduction to Poetry, by Michael Driscoll
A Child’s Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson
If you’ve been anywhere — anywhere! — in the last several years, you know nature exploration is a thing. Nature walks and nature journaling have exploded in popularity, and at every corner you can find watercolor studies of leaves, plants, and insects. But this fascination is nothing new. People once crowed by the hundreds into drafty lecture halls, to listen in awe while explorers of old captivated them with tales of just-discovered wonders. Curiosity cabinets, those aptly named display cases of time gone by, were filled with insect specimens, unusual rocks, pressed botany, and yes, even preserved taxidermy. We as humans have always been enraptured by the unknown, the adventure that’s just beyond the horizon.
Today, especially in #schoolkins circles, there’s such an emphasis put on letting your children out into the wild open, and letting them splash through creeks, dig for worms, and forge their own trail through the underbrush. But if you live in an urban setting or an apartment building, like we do, this kind of exploration likely isn’t a natural extension of your day. There are occasional bursts of nature in the city, yes, but the open prairies come alive by reading Sarah, Plain and Tall rather than stepping outside our front door, and the only tree-houses we’re likely to encounter are those in Swiss Family Robinson.
And I know we’re definitely not the only family making our home in a multi-family building, rather than a mountainside cabin. That’s why I am happy to share this little fossil clay project with you today. It’s a nature project, but everything you need can be gleaned from your windowsill plants or collected from the sidewalks that wind their way through your not-so-wild landscape. We just miiight have foraged a little bit of faux-nature — stay with me here! — from the toy box, too.
To create your own fossils, you’ll first need to mix up some sedimentary rock. You can find fossil clay recipes in a number of places around the internet as well as in several books, but here’s how we did it. Make either a single or double batch, depending on how many fossils you wish to create. (Be sure to measure carefully, or your clay won’t be usable.)
1 c. baking soda // or 2. c. baking soda
1/2 c. corn starch // or 1 c. corn starch
1/2 c. cold water // or 1 c. cold water
Whisk together dry ingredients and water, and pour in to a saucepan. With a sturdy spoon, stir mixture over medium heat for just under 4 minutes, until it thickens into a consistency that’s a little less stiff than playdough. Pour the lump of clay onto a glass plate, and let cool for a couple of minutes, then knead until smooth.
Roll the dough into little spheres, then flatten into discs. Place the discs onto a non-stick surface, like a cutting board covered in wax paper or a Teflon-coated baking sheet. Your sedimentary rock is now ready to take the shape of the items you press into it! Before we made our fossil clay, we snipped rosemary clippings from our urban container “garden”, gathered leaves from houseplants, collected twigs and gravel from the sidewalks and the area around the downspouts, and even dove into the toy storage for some little creatures.
After you’ve imprinted all sorts of creative patterns — there are so many different options! — allow your sedimentary rock to dry. In a dry climate, leaving the fossils out uncovered overnight might be sufficient; you live in a humid climate, like we do, it make take a little longer for the discs to fully dry out. (You might also need to gently place the discs on a wire rack once the tops have dried, so the underneath can dry as well.)
Your littles now have a whole treasure trove of fossils, each one as unique and individual as their imaginations — and each one is as wild and wonderful as the place you call home, whether that’s in a secluded village or many stories into the city sky.
If you live in an urban area, what have you done lately to encourage exploration?
Although I spent much time outdoors playing and camping as a child, I never would have termed myself a naturalist. My family and I loved nature, but in all of our time there, I never recall formally studying nature together. Of course, I learned about the natural cycles in elementary school, and in my older school years, I studied animals and plant parts with more detail, but somehow in my young mind, the two worlds remained entirely separate: one part formal academic study and another part an environment for our family life. Years later, when I first began homeschooling, I always wanted to find a way to incorporate more connection between our love of the outdoors and natural learning. Can children and adults enjoy nature without formal study of it? Of course! But what a gift to connect both a love and knowledge of the world around us.
But let’s be honest. Nature studies can feel intimidating. If you’ve browsed social media or the internet, you’ve already discovered beautiful nature projects parents and children are creating together, and it can feel paralyzing if it’s not your own strength. I’m letting you know nature studies do not have to be intimidating or paralyzing. During our many years in homeschooling, we’ve studied and enjoyed the natural world in a variety of beautiful, yet casual manners. The most important part is including it in your routine in a manner which fits your own style and home rhythm. Here’s a few ways we’ve included our love of nature in our own days.
Whether you live in a city neighborhood or a rural countryside, walking is the best way to slowly discover. You may simply notice the types of flowers that are blooming or discuss why the leaves fall. Why are leaves different in shape? What is their purpose? Is the grass in the field the same as the grass in your own yard? Do all the bird songs sound the same? Is one louder than the others? These type of questions can be conversational, and most importantly teach you and your children to pause and notice.
Grammar and preschool-aged children might enjoy collecting various leaves or bugs to touch and observe more closely. Use the internet or your own books to help identify them. We often do this in our garden to identify bugs as friend or foe.
Each library trip, we pick up a few new books on science and nature. In early years, they went through their own interests thoroughly and might not move on until they had read/looked at every book our library had on the subject, be it sharks or turtles or penguins or whales. As they have grown older, I’ve noticed my children are more interested in the processes. For instance, how does a tree grow or a bird lay an egg? Some of our favorite books are: anything by Steve Jenkins, Animalium, Nature Anatomy, and Farm Anatomy and vintage nature books we discover in used book stores.
Draw | Paint | Write
We have not consistently kept nature journals in our home. Like most children, my own love art, so they often draw or paint what inspires them in nature, but we have not organized this in a very tidy way. I’m trying to change that this year, as they’re all getting a little older and are able to keep their own work organized. Our family rarely carries notebooks around with us on our walks or hikes. Instead, we take photographs or collect plants or small insents in paper bags or jars to bring home with us. Sometimes we simply observe and then look at images in books or online afterward. Do whatever style works for you.
As for supplies, if you'd like to bring your notebooks along, make sure to find a bound notebook. Strathmore makes lovely ones in various sizes. We use individual cardstock found at an office supply store and collect paintings and drawings together in one binder (per child). We use Lyra colored pencils–the Ferby tri-grip for little hands and the Rembrandt for the older children–and Stockmar watercolors for our paintings. The children label what they illustrate and often write a sentence of something interesting or even silly they learned about their creature or plant. When it dries, they slide it into a sheet protetcor in their binder.
Form a nature group.
When my children were younger, I met with a local nature group weekly to have a walk with our children and then have lunch together in the park. We met in different parts of our town, and when possible, had someone specific share about the habitat. This was perfect for that part of our life. We don't formally meet with a group in our community now, but we've learned to enjoy one another in this way. As my children have grown older, I realize they want to grow in their own relationships with nature. I'm grateful for our time of study that helps foster it.