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Shakespeare Shuffle and other March fun

We love Shakespeare. We do. We love Shakespeare. We Do. We love Shakespeare. We Do. Shakespeare, we love you!

Such is our enthusiasm for the bard, his wonderful plays, sonnets and his lasting legacy to the English language, that we decided to have a day dedicated to all things Shakespearean. Queen Elizabeth I – a previous visitor to home ed events – was of course determined to host. She even made pottage for us to her own exclusive recipe. Although initially complaining this was peasant food, she herself found it rather delicious.

Naturally sword making was on our agenda. Shakespeare loved dramatic duelling scenes which often led to tragic consequences for a play’s characters. We made story cards so kids could re-enact famous duels from Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet and Richard III.

On the culinary front, in addition to scoffing pottage the kids hit the kitchen to bake traditional Tudor yummies – Jumbles and Elizabethan Naughty Cake.

Shakespearean insult kits were provided and for once kids were encouraged to deploy said insults.

No self-respecting Elizabethan would have been seen dead without a ruff and luckily we had reams of those white pizza bases on hand from which it is a simple matter to fashion a very authentic ruff using only the base, some concertinas of white card and the good old glue gun.

Hornbooks of course were vital to the proper education of youngsters in those days and so we made some of those as well as covering carpets and chairs with ink as scribes made their own quill pens and got scribing.

The new ‘Curtain Puppet Theatre’ put on extracts from Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer’s Night Dream for us with mini-Shakespeare himself introducing. As well as our own puppet theatre we also have a model of the Globe, fashioned in haste from cardboard for the day.

Home-made juggling balls, masks and pomanders completed our series of Shakespeare-inspired activities, while the Shakespeare Trail tested mini-bards’ knowledge of his life and works, theatre in the 16th century and life for rich and poor in Shakespeare’s times.

In matters other than Shakespeare…. In Fun Science we made two different kinds of chalk - one you can draw with and a more chemically accurate version - and then explored its molecular structure with lego. Then we made LED decorations and played with conductive playdough to learn about short circuits and engineering. Cress brought her ever-popular Van Der Graaf generator with her and this time, parents got to have a go at making their hair stand on end.

In our Art History classes the children kicked off the month by entering the surreal world of Marc Chagall a Russian-French artist and early modernist and making their own pictures of a dream like existence.

Next was a session on the artist Pablo Picasso and Cubism... all the right things not necessarily in all the right places!

Also on our agenda was British Art Nouveau artist and illustrator, Aubrey Beardsley. We talked about the era that he and his fellow creatives lived in (Oscar Wilde being one of them) and how they went against the Victorian norm and produced amazing work as artists and writers. The kids looked at his work/illustrations that support the written word and produced their own Beardsley style creations.

Finally the kids made some cool folding picture books inspired by Tracy’s friend Rebecca Weeks - Spike Island studio's (Bristol) artist, printer and bookmaker.

One of families who have recently moved in to a 800 year old National Trust property, The Treasurer’s House in Martock, were on BBC Somerset in Charlie Taylor's Hidden Treasures feature this month. The interview was about living in a historic building but they managed to sneak positive mentions of home education in there. You should visit the Treasurer’s House if you haven’t already it is looked after by a lovely HE family and you will have a wonderful visit with a warm welcome! This is a view of the house which takes in the kitchen garden where the family has planted herbs which would have been used there back in the 13th century.

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