June saw our very first Fairy Festival! We love fairies and all things magical, whimsical and otherworldly! At said festival we learned all about different kinds of fairies (the sort you want to invite into your home and the sort it would perhaps be best not to) and what they all do and the various human theories of where fairies come from. Someone kindly brought in a beautiful toadstool table and stools for the day which were well used by fairy bottoms. In fact if you were not a fairy or other related magical sprite when you arrived this was quickly dealt with by means of a speedy name change and crafting of your wings/tutu/wand/headdress (you could choose the flower variety or the rather fetching and dramatic Green Man Stick Headdress).
We decorated fairy doors, made peg doll fairies and gnomes and fairy dust. In the kitchen young elves and pixies whipped up fairy bread, strawberry and marshmallow toadstools, fairy cakes, pesto pinwheel snails and fruity fairy wands. The resident fairies had pinched lots of gems, trinkets and precious stones and scattered them through the ‘enchanted forest’ for the children to hunt for.
The Fairy theme carried over into our art classes with the kids looking at Cicely Mary Barker’s gorgeous flower fairy pictures.
Also this month young artists studied abstract/semi abstract paintings by British artist, Howard Hodgkin. Hodgkin said that he painted "representational pictures of emotional situations". So the kids let their emotions flow…
Japanese artist and printmaker Katsushika Hokusai was famous for his landscapes created using a palette of indigo and imported Prussian blue and his most famous painting is of course the Great Wave so that inspired the kids to create their own wave-tastic pieces. Wait is that Pikachu out there?
The kids were very taken too with Flemish/Netherlandish painter Peter Paul Rubens, in particular at his beautiful portrait of Suzanne Fourment wearing her beautiful hat with feathers.
In Fun Science, Big Dippers and Halley’s Comets had fun with their Space theme. After a discussion about the Big Bang they made artistic impressions of it with little pots of paint and Vitamin C tablets.
Then they carried out ‘nuclear fusion’ equipped with a copy of the Periodic Table and marshmallows to represent atoms of hydrogen. Inside the sun atoms of hydrogen smash together and this creates energy. Smoosh two marshmallow atoms together and you make Helium, Two ‘Helium atoms’ make Beryllium and two of those then make Oxygen, two Oxygens make Sulphur. Cress explained that smashing things together only releases energy up to 26 protons (Iron), after that it would take more energy to put them together than it would create. The implications of this are rather sobering! Eventually the Sun won’t do any more fusion and will implode. Of course the Earth will be long gone by that point for as soon as the Sun starts smashing together helium it will get so big it will swallow us up. The kids took all this in their stride after all it’s many millions of years away!
On a lighter note young scientists also studied energy transfer and how cars work. Chemical Cress has drummed into us all the first law of thermodynamics “Energy cannot be created or destroyed” but it can be transferred and she got the kids doing this by making cotton reel cars. Using chemical energy from the food you’ve eaten you wind up the elastic band on your cotton reel car so it then has elastic potential energy and this is released so you have kinetic energy as your cotton reel shoots across the table! Cress had made a clever gadget involving an empty tin, candles, cornflour and an air pump so the kids could see how a carburettor works and create a fireball into the bargain (don’t worry they were small , regulated, entirely harmless fireballs!)
Strawberries were the focus of June’s Cookability kitchen fun. Apparently you can get yellow and even white strawberries but these were the more common red kind. The kids made a scrumptious Roasted Red Pepper and Strawberry Soup, Strawberry Shortcake Streusel and Strawberry balls. On my that was a berry great feast!
In this month’s outdoor adventure at COACH in French Weir the kids got to play ultimate Frisbee, did an orienteering challenge around Longrun (only one got lost and we found them!!) and worked as a team to build an amazing raft that actually floated and could be sailed. It gets increasingly difficult to get the kids out of the river at the end of the day they always get a much longer swim about than intended!
We ended the month with an informal meet with Ellie Dalwood, County Education Welfare Manager and Duncan Cranna from Somerset County Council’s EHE Team. John Riches the previous Education Welfare Manager who had established positive working relations with us had just retired and we were sorry to see him go but were also eager to see if we would be able to carry on working constructively with Ellie and her team. The answer to that appears to be YES. Unlike many other counties, Somerset works within the Government Guidelines for Elective Home Education and respects our freedom to educate our children in the way that best meets their needs without undue interference. Yes we are always going to have different perspectives, yes there will be hiccups, but we have a modus vivendi and good lines of communication - long may this continue! Hopefully placards can remain in storage....for now anyway.