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Thursday, 7 April 2016

Let Kids be Kids

Let kids be kids.

I have actually always agreed with this sentiment, but not in the same way some people mean it. 

Sadly I frequently see this phrase used in a way that is more synonymous with "Restrict kids to basic things, don't trust them or their abilities."

Don't make kids learn about sexual education and puberty and the like. Because, Let kids be kids. 

Kids shouldn't be learning about LGBTIQ issues. Let kids be kids.

Kids shouldn't know anything about current big world issues, like war and death. Let kids be kids. 

This is just a couple examples of how this phrase is often used.  And it drives me crazy.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Home Ec Cooking

As part of our homeschool routine, we do a cooking "lesson" at least once a week.  These can be the most basic of lessons - like frying eggs - or things more complex that require specific amounts or ratios - like cookies.

We do our shopping on Fridays, so I try to do our cooking lessons on the following Monday.  This way, depending on the food to be made, I can use up any fresh but soon to be not fresh ingredients, such as the remnants of the BBQ chicken I almost always buy already cooked from the supermarket.

The following is just some of what we have made.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Clever DIY Review

In the past I have bought the occasional little crafty kit - plaster mould fridge magnets and the like - but my kids always managed to sneak out at night, find the kits and use the goods inside, such as the paint pots, to "decorate" their bedroom walls.

Their bedroom walls are so beautiful and artsy they make me want to burn the house down.

Anyway, because of a few such incidents, I just stopped buying such kits.  I decided to not buy individual craft products, such as paints and glitters and sequins.  The thought of the kids decorating the rest of the house was just terrifying.  So awesome crafts, not a big thing in our house in the past.

This year is different.  At the end of last year I managed to get through to the Monster, for the most part, and get him to stop the sneaking and using of things he shouldn't be using.  The Wench, being the adoring little sister, follows his lead and is behaving better as well.

So in January, when I read a review of a monthly crafty subscription box, code for the first month free included, I decided to give it a go.  It's a month to month subscription, so if my trust in the kids was misplaced, or the crafts weren't any good, I could cancel it with ease.

I have not cancelled the subscription.


Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Mathematical


You can learn how to add and minus, multiply and divide.  You can learn the process to figure these out.  You can learn how to look at a maths problem and find the answer.

These things don't mean anything if you can't figure out how to create the maths problem in the first place.

Life isn't going to go around handing us maths problems to figure out.  We are not going to be given maths questions to answer.  We need to know how to create the maths for ourselves.  We need to know how to figure out how much our shopping will cost us.  Sometimes we need to know how long something will take to finish.  But we can't figure these things out if we don't know what to add to what, or what to multiply by what.

Having a calculator doesn't help you either.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

A Day in Our Life 2016


Tuesday
The second day of our homeschool week.

7:00am

I lay in bed pretending, no, attempting to stay asleep while the kids rummage around in the kitchen for breakfast.
The Monster, in his new Big Boy capacity, cooks eggs on toast for his breakfast.  The Wench chooses to have the ever so nutritious and filling coco-pops instead.
I continue "sleeping."

8:00am

The Minx awakens.  She isn't crying.  I am still "asleep."  Then her Daddy decides to bring her to me where I sleep.  Sigh.  There is no staying asleep when little baby hands are scratching your face off, and whatever remains of your face after that is eaten by a slobbery baby mouth.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Our Newer Homeschool Area

Last year, as part of the NBTS Blog Hop, I shared our Homeschool Area.  A nice look at our very messy area.  This week I am going to do the same, again for the NBTS Blog Hop.

I am happy to say that our area is quite different this year.  Not necessarily any neater, but it is different.  Now that the Minx has joined us I have had to move us out of the comfort of the loungeroom and out into the kitchen.  I figured, the Minx will likely begin her crawling in the loungeroom and therefore I needed to get all of that highly interesting (to a crawler) stuff away from prying hands.  It also means less mess on the carpet.

It is significantly easier to clean up tiny little pieces of paper from the linoleum than from the carpet, I guarantee you that!  Pencils shavings are the same, pencil leads too.

I am not going to show you the state of the loungeroom today, because in all honesty it is still quite messy right now.  Let's call it the transitional period haha.

Monday, 8 February 2016

They Aren't What We Make Them

I read an opinion article today titled What I'm never going to tell you about homeschooling.  In many ways it's a lovely article, I agree with some of the points it's trying to make.  At the same time it is heavily, and I mean heavily Christian.

Now there is nothing wrong with Christianity, and nothing wrong with Christian Homeschooling.  But for those of us who are not Christian, not of an Abrahamic faith, it is often extremely difficult to read good articles and blog posts that are heavily religious.  We tend to miss the point of the post because we are sitting there going, "ugh, no, eww, what in the hells?!?"  Or we just stop reading after the third time God is mentioned... In the first sentence.

This is our problem.  Not yours.  Keep on writing your Christian posts.  We'll keep on ignoring them.

Sometimes, however, ignoring a Christian post means that we are missing out on some good information, advice and knowledge.  The linked article is, I believe, one such post that we could all benefit from reading.  But we won't, because "Ugh!"  So, since I did read most of it, I thought I would share the salient point in a non-Abrahamic friendly way.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Why I am Grateful for Homeschooling



There are several reasons that I homeschool, but being grateful for homeschooling is something I haven't thought of.  Don't get me wrong, I am certainly grateful for it, for the chance to be able to do it, but I haven't really thought of what about it I am grateful for.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Resources for 2016

The Wench has been doing great with phonics and we will continue learning that, but I have realised she needs to learn some sight words as well, so we will be doing some work on that this year.  The Monster is flying along with his reading of individual words, big, small, easy, complicated, he does well.  His next step is comprehension, that is, the ability to read a sentence or paragraph and then explain what he just read.  He isn't so great with that yet, so lots of reading to come this year - including me reading aloud to the kids more often to promote listening skills.  We will also begin working on pre-cursive handwriting, and of course do some work in grammar, punctuation and spelling.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Starting 2016

Today was our first day of sit down formal school work for 2016.  It was also our first day ever homeschooling with a baby, the Minx being almost 5 months old now, 20 weeks today in fact.

I did want to start the school day at 9am, but of course, as is usual for me, best laid plans don't always go well.  It wasn't so terrible, it's just the Minx chose to sleep until 8:30am and I slept in, gratefully, happily and without guilt.  Ah sleep, I love you. Though the kids had been up and ready since 7am, I needed to look after the Minx and get myself ready and fuelled (read caffeinated), so we didn't start school work until 10:20am.

Tomorrow is Australia Day, which is the anniversary of when the British arrived to colonise Australia.  Because it's Australia Day, we will be spending this week looking at the First Fleet, that is the voyage and arrival of eleven ships full of convicts and colonists in Australia.

We started at 10.20am and we finished at 2.20pm, with a 45 minute lunch break from 12:15-1:00pm.  So four hours, 3 hours and fifteen minutes of actual work time.  That's about what I would want on a normal day starting at 9am, so it worked out okay.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Looking Back on 2015

It's been a turbulent year.  Here is some of what happened, small and large.

We started out homeschooling well.
I fell pregnant.
Our cat went missing, never to return.  Bye Loki.
We went to our first homeschool meetup.
Our pet rat died.  RIP Ratti.
Pregnancy fatigue and morning sickness.
We took a break from homeschooling.
We rescued some baby wild rabbits.
We were about to get back to homeschooling again, but then...

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Toothscapades of the Monstrous One

Note - this is not a homeschooling post, it's a parenting one.

Losing teeth is not a simple process, or so I have discovered this past year.  My kids have chosen to believe in the Tooth Fairy, and I go along with this for their enjoyment.  For various reasons we don't do the pillow thing, we put our lost teeth into a cup of water on the bathroom sink and hope the fairy drops some money in there.  So far only the Monster has lost teeth, the Wench is not yet old enough.  For fun I am sharing the stories of how my Monster has lost his teeth so far.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Our Homeschool Area

For the final week of the Aussie Not Back to School Blog Hop we've been asked to post about our learning spaces.  I love dreaming about big empty rooms that I can convert into a dedicated homeschool room, I love looking on Google and Pinterest at those rooms.  Oh yes.  I once set up our narrow front room as a dedicated learning area, and it worked well enough, we just didn't really use it.  So I let it go, which is probably for the best as I need to convert it to a nursery soon anyway.

I am as you will find the majority of homeschoolers to be.  We have no real dedicated space, we learn all over the place, and when I set up a room specifically for it, it doesn't get used for anything more than storage.  That said, the majority of our formal sit down work gets done in the loungeroom (living room).  The kids will sit on the floor or on their canvas ottoman/stool thingies and work at the coffee table.  This won't work forever, they will soon get too big for that sort of working area.  We'll probably move to the kitchen in a year or so, I have no idea how I will adapt that yet, as we do not have a dining room, just a kitchen with enough room for a small dining table.  I will adapt, I always do :-)

Monday, 16 February 2015

A Day in Our HS Life

I sit here setting up the draft for this post on Saturday morning, Valentines Day.  I could give you a look at today, but it's not one of our formal school days so it would be mostly boring.  Nonetheless I will share my first bit of the morning, just for fun.

6am and I am considering ignoring my alarm, but I hear a rustling sound in the lounge.  Wondering if my kids are up to something I drag myself out of bed to check.  No, its the Daddy.  He looks at me intently and randomly says, "I have a duck."  That's it, that's all, no explanations, just "I have a duck."  I curl up on the end of the bed and tell him, "I... I don't know what to do with this information."  Now, there is a duck sleeping in my bedroom.



Flash forward to Monday, the start of the Homeschool Week.

6.00am

Awake.  Or something similar.  Coffee assures me that I am awake.  Check Facebook, Emails and Words with Friends (hey, what better way to start the day than to figure out some anagrams).  Check the Veil and make a few comments on some discussions.  Pretend not to hear the stirrings of my children waking up.  Was that really an hour?

7.00am

Make breakfast for the starving children wasting away before my very eyes.  Yay another coffee.  Multitask some more Facebook and some random googling of homeschool stuff, blogs, resources and the like.  Check and finish making my plans for the day.  The kids begin to terrorise me.  Can I have some paper? Can we turn the heater on? Can we go outside? Can we, can we, can we..? They do random things whilst asking for everything.  I realise I forgot to sharpen the pencils last night and now, well it's a disaster Mummy, a disaster.  Put some washing in the machine and ignore the baskets of clean washing I have yet to put away.

9.30am - Circle Time

Change the day and date on the wall
Check the moon phase and change that
Check the weather and record it in our books
Recite the alphabet together, along with the Auslan alphabet
Count from 50 to 70
Skip count by 10s from 3 to 93
And forgot to recite the days of the week and months of the year - oops

9.45am

Wench reads her CVC words list, and then decides on her own to read another 4 lists on top of her usual one.
"Test" the Monster on what Dolch words he knows, so I can figure out what he might need to work on next.
Words "a" vs "an" - sight words for the Wench and language arts for both Monster and Wench.  We will continue this small focus for the full week.

10.00am - Morning Tea

Feed the starving children again who, anyone would think, haven't eaten today

10.15am

Fairy Lore - we learn about Leprechauns, I tell them some short Leprechaun stories and give them some Leprechaun colouring sheets.  We discuss and record, if we caught a Leprechaun who had no gold and it had to give us three wishes, what would we all wish.  Monster, "Bag of lollies, money and popcorn. Wench, "money, pony, lollies."  Extra bonus points, ask Daddy, "Lots of money for all of us, new house, motorbike."

Daddy comes home from a quick day of work and decides it's time to let the duck go since it's doing fine now.  Let it out in the yard and we'll check soon to see if it has flown away.

Solar System - We learn about Uranus, they each colour and cut out a picture of Uranus as we discuss some small facts about the sideways planet.  We hang the pictures and some info cards on their bedroom walls for our "wall posters".  Draw last weeks planets and Uranus in our scrapbook solar systems.

Game Time - We played a new game, a Snakes and Ladders reading game I grabbed from Sightwords.  Dear gods this went on forever, or it felt like forever, everyone would get so close to the end and land on a snake head, down we all go again.  We gave up after we all went down in one round, for the third time.  But what a fun way to do some extra reading.

Maths worksheets
English worksheets

Check to see if our pressed shamrocks are good to go yet, yay they are ready and the kids made some little cards from them.


12.00pm

Formal school work is done for they day.  I sit and type our day so far into this blog post as I have a little break.  Check if the duck has gone, it hasn't, it's still there. Some people turn up for a few minutes, they have a laugh about seeing me and the kids last Friday running into the local panel beaters to get out of the hail storm.  Then I go down to the servo to grab an excessively expensive cheats lunch.

Not lunch, just for reference.
It's the rescue duck who the kids have nicknamed Quackers, though "Hissers" would be more appropriate.


12.30pm

Lunch time.  Oh my stomach is exploding and my wallet is empty.  Won't be doing that again anytime soon, even if it was yummy.

1.00pm

The kids are pretty much free for the day, so they go outside and play, jump on the trampoline, run around, sneak around to pick flowers and leaves they probably shouldn't be picking (including the one in the neighbours yard, stop it!).  Oh and some more four leaf clovers, awesome.  And a thistle flower, great more seeds spreading through the yard.  I'll just sit for a while and vegetate.....

I forgot to get the washing out of the machine!  In the dryer it goes.  Sit and do my HS records.  Laugh evilly as the kids torture Daddy, kind of like this, "Mwahahahahahahaha." Eventually I rescue Daddy from his loving kids, which results in a tantrum from the Monster. Awesome.

2.00pm

Quiet Time.  Oh Quiet Time how I love thee.  Quiet Time is one hour each day, from 2pm and 3pm where everyone in the house must be quiet.  Kids in their rooms, playing quietly, or "reading", drawing, sleeping, whatever. I am out in the lounge, being random on the interwebz, reading a book, or something. But this time I am finishing this blog post and planning to sneak into my room for a little nap.  The rest of our day will be unstructured, perhaps boring, probably filled with fighting children and a tired mummy.  You know, just like any home.



So that's our day, up until 2pm.  As you can see, we don't do a lot of work during our formal school work time.  Most of it consists of reading, a bit of maths and our mini units.  It's still the start of our school year, so we're just beginning, as the year goes on we will add more stuff to our days. And, to be honest, I am working with a 5yr old Prep girl and a 7yr old stubborn as hell Grade 2 boy.  We don't need much time to do what is necessary as we don't have as many distractions as mainstream classrooms do (duck notwithstanding).

Our afternoon won't be so productive, probably will consist of some Life Lessons, ie. Cleaning! I'll leave the idea of two kids having to clean their rooms up to your imagination.


This post was done as part of the Aussie Not Back to School Blog Hop, co-hosted by Our Worldwide Classroom and Every Bed of Roses.




Saturday, 14 February 2015

Resources for 2015

We don't use a set curriculum, I plan what we will do for the year, loosely, and then I gather resources, make resources, grab freebie printables and put together a rough plan of how to implement the work.  I don't really want to go too far into what we will be doing this year because I plan to, hopefully, make individual posts for each thing we focus on.  I also don't make full plans of everything for the year, at the start of the year, so I haven't compiled all of our resources yet.  Still I have a few I am looking forward to using, and some we are using now, so I will just flash some photos.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Socialisation


What the hell is socialising anyways? I feel like socialising is interacting with people on an informal level.  Making friends, hanging out, partying, meetups in the park and the like.

Is a job interview a social situation? Is a job a social situation? Is it a social situation when you sit and talk to a therapist or counsellor?  Is that a social situation for the therapist?

Personally I don't think these are social situations.  I think they are, what I am currently calling, false social situations.  Situations that people, mainstreamers usually, use as examples for why homeschoolers shouldn't homeschool, why our kids need to be in school.  It is important to be able to communicate properly and interact with people on a human but professional level in these situations.  But that is not socialising, that is not making friends, talking about random nothings.  In a job you should be doing your job, you should be able to interact with your co-workers in an amicable way, and you should be able to communicate your needs efficiently.  But that is very different to talking about your favourite sports team, TV show or the weather. Not to mention delving into far more personal things.

I am an anti-social introvert, I could happily be a hermit out in the woods.  I am not great with people or socialising.  This is not because of my childhood, I was actually very social as a kid and teen, its only as an adult that I have become this way.  In the end, I can make friends.  Despite not particularly enjoying the social life, I can make friends if I wish to.  I can talk to people I am friends with and comfortable with, people I have know for a long time, and sometimes people I have known for almost no time at all.

And I can very easily navigate a job interview or other interview, a job itself and I am pretty sure if I needed to, I could talk to a therapist.  I can do these things easily enough, way more easily than I can hang out with a group of people I am supposed to be socialising with, but don't really want to socialise with.

Isn't that all that matters?  Is it really necessary for us all to know how to perfectly navigate a room full of strangers and make pretend friends with all of them, for no reason other than that is what is expected?  If you can make friends, be a friend and keep friends.  If you can interact and communicate effectively in non-social areas, such as jobs and interviews, then isn't that all you need?

I think so.  It's not about socialisation so much as it is about effective communication.  And, sad to say, faking it when necessary.  Probably it is important for some of us anti-social introverts to learn how to grit our teeth, subtly, and just put up with it without exploding.  And I suppose school is a great place to learn how to fake it. But it is not the only place to learn it, it is not the only way to learn it.

It's not necessary to force ourselves or our children into mass groups of people to teach them how to socialise, they can actually learn that by interacting with one person at a time.  It isn't needed to force ourselves and our children into mass groups of people to teach them how to communicate effectively, they can learn that by interacting with one person at a time, or a small group.  It isn't necessary to force ourselves and our children into a large group of people to teach them how to fake it, because they will learn how to fake it anyway.

I don't need to be socialised.  My kids don't need to be socialised.  My kids can interact with people of all ages and in that moment of interaction, they get to decide if they will make the interaction a social one, a formal one or a fake one.  They just need to know how to communicate, and I am pretty sure I can teach them that.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

2014 - Week 27 and 28

The past two weeks haven't actually involved much in the way of formal homeschooling.  We have had what I call, Life Interference.  I have been busy plastering over our old fireplace bricks (there is no fireplace, just the ugly messy hapdash bricks on the wall and a hearth).  Because our main learning area is the lounge and our HS materials are stored on the hearth, the place has been too messy to really get into anything properly. Then too both of my kids are currently coughing, sniffling and sneezing from colds that came out of nowhere.

But we have still managed to do some things along the way.

I have read aloud a few stories.  Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Three Little Pigs being the main ones.  We also watched the Disney Cinderella movies and the Disney Sleeping Beauty.  I am not sure I know of any pigs movie I would want to add at the moment, so we didn't do that one.

The Three Little Pigs led to the most interesting conversations.  We discussed the obvious, what is better to build with, taking our time rather than rushing.  But we also moved on to discussing how there are no wolves in Australia, except in the zoos.  This then led, somehow, to discussing the fact that dinosaurs are no longer alive and that humans never lived at the same time as dinosaurs.

The information about no humans with dinosaurs led to my son wondering where the first baby came from and he suggested that perhaps an animal turned into the first baby.  Which, if you believe in evolution is quite an interesting assumption on his part.  So I tried to explain evolution in the most simple way I could, using generic terms and the conversation ended with the Wench saying, "But I don't want to be a monkey, I don't like monkeys, I like giraffes." - Yes, she did kind of understand the concept, she just didn't like the idea of being somehow related to those awful monkeys.

The Wench has done a little bit of work on CVC words.  She wants to read, she wants to learn, so I thought it was time to give it a try.  Personally I think she is doing well.  Sometimes she is able to figure out the word, when she listens properly, other times she can't find the word.  This is fine, it took a month or more for the Monster to figure out the connections and truly listen to the sounds to form the words, so I figure the fact the Wench has managed to connect some sounds and words is actually really good.

We did some work on rhymes, Row Your Boat was a failure last week.  The Wench was unable to say "merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily" and the whole thing ended in tears - I tried to explain that its a bit of a tongue twister, but she felt personally offended by the rhyme, so we had to stop.  We moved on to the Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear rhyme, which also involves following the bears movements and we had a lot of fun with that one.  After all that the Wench comes to me yesterday and shows me she has apparently been practising the whole week and can now manage to say the merrily part of the rhyme, so both kids are adamant we go back to that one again soon.

We cooked pancakes, it's about all I could manage with no stove, just an electric frying pan, no large oven and,then our kitchen light blew so we were in darkness for a few days.  There has been a lot of art work, the kids have spent their "free" time drawing, colouring, cutting, gluing and then cleaning all the mess such things entail. Of course they have also had the fun of watching me get annoyed when a plaster mix doesn't work out properly, when plaster drips from the wall and gets wasted, and then the fun of watching me scrape, scrape, scrape.  The wall looks much nicer than it did though, and it isn't even finished yet, so that's good.

I am hoping it will all be finished before next week, and the kids feel better, so we can get back to work.

Monday, 30 June 2014

2014 - Week 26

This our first week with a new routine.  I haven't got everything in place yet for our routine to work properly, and given that it is new I am easing our way into it.  I will add more and more to it as the weeks, and probably months, go by.  I will make a post about it once I have all the more permanent materials finished, like our new Morning Board for a new Circle Time.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Book Review - Storytime and Favorite Rhymes

Storytime and Favorite Rhymes

- Goldilocks and the Three Bears
- Henny Penny
- Hansel and Gretel
- Little Red Riding Hood
- Mother Goose
- Jack and the Beanstalk
- The Boy Who Cried Wolf
- The Velveteen Rabbit
- The Lovable Ugly Duckling



After spending time trying to compile my own fairytales epub book for our storytime use at home, I found this book secondhand for about $1 and of course couldn't pass it up.  I still plan to use the epub I have made, but I have been using this book for a couple days now, kids love pictures after all.

It's a nice quality book, even secondhand it is beautiful.  The pictures are quite nice and each page has only a small amount of text with a large image, some with only images and no text.  This means it actually would be a great book for young readers to try themselves, the pages are not filled with large amounts of text and so aren't too daunting to young readers.

But for my purposes, it doesn't quite work.  The stories are nice.  Therein lies the problem.  You can see it just from looking at one of the titles of the stories inside, "The Lovable Ugly Duckling", which I haven't read yet, and to be honest the name puts me off a bit. Lovable?

First we read Goldilocks.  It's pretty average really, the usual version you see in many books, Goldilocks does her thing and gets woken by the bears and runs away screaming.  Certainly nothing scary in this story.

Then we read Hansel and Gretel, and this is where I realised I don't like this book.  Hansel and Gretel are playing in the woods and get lost, find a candy house, start to eat it, are confronted by a nice old lady with a wart on her nose who feeds them wholesome food to fatten them up and then she enslaves them, a little bit, and they think she must be a witch because she makes them clean and gather wood.  They hear her muttering to herself about eating them one night and so they push her into the oven, the house catches on fire and as they run away they find stacks of gold and gems and, when reunited with their father, all live happily ever after.

Here were my issues with this story...

There is no child-abandonment in this story, the kids just get lost - twice, to account for pebbles and bread crumbs, so at least that was normal.  She fattens them up with wholesome food.  What happened to force feeding them candy?  She makes them clean and gather heavy wood for the food she gave them.  Where are the cages and real enslavement?  They find gold and gems whilst running away from the burning house.  What?  Just, what?!?

Forcing them to do menial chores means she must be a witch, and "witch" here is made to be synonymous with "evil".  Yes usually she is a witch, but really, my Witchy self is feeling quite offended by the idea that asking kids to clean and help out around the house means you're an evil child-eating witch, and that the term "witch" is used in place of the word "evil" or "mean".

I am not naive, I realise that in every version of this story she is an evil old hag witch, however, in many fairytales there are good witches.  In this particular one, witch is simply evil, there is no distinction.  It's not even confirmed in the story that she is a witch, it is just assumed by the kids that she is because she makes them clean and haul wood for the fireplace.  This is before they realised she wanted to eat them.  Suffice to say this particular story had me feeling very awkward whilst reading it to my kids, who know that I am a witch.

Lesson learned - pre-read everything!!!!

Immediately after we finished Hansel and Gretel I flipped through to look at Little Red Riding Hood, the end has the Granny escaping from where the wolf hid her and chastising the wolf who runs away ashamed of himself.  So I won't be reading that one.

The Mother Goose chapter however looks great, each page has a nursery rhyme with corresponding images.  You can't change them much, so they are quite beautiful to read and look at.


For my personal usage, other than the Mother Goose chapter, I don't really like this book.  However, trying to be impartial about it, if I look at it from another perspective, one that lacks literary snobbery, I would say this is a great book for the majority of families (minus the witch = evil).

If you don't care if the stories are close to the originals, if you are looking for the nice versions of the tales, non-scary versions, then I certainly would suggest this one for you.  But if you don't care about scary or non-scary or want more original versions, or if you are Pagan, then I would say no to this one, or at the least, edit certain pieces of it to fit your life (ie. change the word "witch" to something else).

All that said I will be keeping this book for later, whilst I don't like this for now, for our read alouds, it will be handy for later when the kids are reading to themselves.  The text is well done, not daunting, as I mentioned in the beginning, so they will be good for that.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Fairytales

I am trying to compile, for personal use, a complete ebook of old fairytales.  Fairytales are easy to find in the public domain, go look at Project Gutenberg and you will be inundated with large lists of compilations.  However, each of those compilations is far from comprehensive, and many of them will have odd names for common tales making them difficult to find, and of course one compilation will have a different version of one story to another compilation.  So I am copying and pasting to make my own.

This is a difficult process.  Not so much the copying and pasting, that is easy, though tedious, with the right software - for reference I am using an Epub editor called Sigil, it's freeware and very handy.  The difficult part is finding the stories you want.  Of course I want the common classics, Briar Rose/Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin, Snow White, Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Pied Piper, etc.  You would think this is easy.  But as I already mentioned, there is more than one version for each story.  Which should I use? This is the problem.

Should I read to my children the watered down Disney-fied tales? Or should I read them a story of a girl comatose in the woods, found by some prince who has his way with her and she wakes up much later having given birth to his children?  My kids aren't easily frightened, and probably would have no inkling of what happens to Briar Rose in the original story, but I am not sure I want to read them a story that is shadowed by rape.  At the same time, I like the idea of reading original stories rather than the watered down, politically correct, versions.  So, as I said, its a difficult process.

Add to this extreme example, you also have minor things.  Should I read them Hansel and Gretel or Hansel and Grethel?  Should I read them the Pied Piper of Hamlin, or the Rat Catcher (of Hamel)?  Should it be Sleepy Beauty or Briar Rose? Not many people know who Briar Rose is after all, but everyone knows Sleeping Beauty.

Another thing that I look at is the length of the story.  Depending on the version, and this happens with watered down and classics, some are very long stories and others are a few paragraphs long.  I know right now my kids don't have the best attention spans, so I will go for short versions, but I feel sometimes those short versions are missing too much.

Now I plan, or hope, that in the future, when my kids are older, that we will be able to look at multiple versions of certain stories and compare them, great literature study in my opinion, not to mention social study and even media when you compare stories to movies and shows.  But right now, they are only 4 and 6 years old, so it wouldn't work that well.

So that is where I am right now, trying to compile an ebook that contains specific version of fairytales.  How many times today have I read Snow White?  I couldn't say, but now I remember why I haven't read them many fairytales before now.