crafty · education · family fun · Homeschool

Day 238: Illuminating

I’m highly amused. Right now, N is jumping on the trampoline while reading on the Kobo. I should probably stop him for safety reasons (or at least for the safety of the trampoline) but instead I’m watching from my desk and reflecting on how perfectly it sums him up.


Today was yet another day of shorts weather in November. We did the bulk of homeschool outside today. Around eleven I packed everyone up and went to the park for a change of scenery, and then delivered an awesome lesson (if I do say so myself.)

In honour of Remembrance Day (which is tomorrow) tonight’s Poetry Teatime will feature poems about war, mostly WWI. I decided to introduce the kids to the reason we wear poppies on Remembrance Day: John McCrae’s iconic poem In Flanders Fields.

I don’t have a copy of the poem in any of my books, so I turned to the internet. Appallingly, there are actual published posters and prints for sale that are simply not what McCrae wrote—the punctuation is wrong! I won’t rant too much about it here, but you cannot just replace a semicolon with a colon: they impart two entirely different meanings.

So the first lesson, as we sat at a picnic table in the park, was about punctuation. We reviewed why the poet chose to use semicolons and colons (he does use both) where he did, and how the meaning might change if the punctuation was altered. We also talked about how the lines of each stanza rhyme, and yet if you read it so that you pause after each rhyming word, you’ll have cut off the end of the thought (another reason why the punctuation matters so much.)

Then, a very little bit of botany: we learned that poppies are very hardy plants that thrive on neglect. Apparently their seeds can lie dormant in the ground for a long time, and they grew in the battlefields because all the heavy shelling churned up the earth, giving the poppy seeds the soil conditions they needed.

(Brief digression: is that why Kalaniyot, red anemones, grow in such great numbers in the minefields of the Golan Heights?)

Next I introduced the kids to Illuminated manuscripts. We divided up In Flanders Fields so that each child would illuminate one stanza of the poem, thus doing both art and handwriting practice, and giving the kids a chance to spend enough time with the poem to commit it to memory.

We stayed in the park for two hours; most of that time was spent working, although the kids were allowed to take breaks to play in the playground whenever they wanted. When I announced that it was time to leave, there were groans and complaints all around.

The artwork we did today will make a beautiful decoration for tonight’s Poetry Teatime. Here are our manuscripts, in order of artist’s age, from left to right.

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