Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Beatrix Potter Summer School

Last week we had Beatrix Potter Summer School! We spent five days studying the life and works of Beatrix and doing all sorts of fun activities. We did this with one other family, a first for me, and I have to say that everything worked out so well! It was the highlight of my summer and the epitome of what homeschooling is in my mind. Too bad every week of homeschooling can't be this fun!!! (Good thing it isn't or this mother wouldn't be alive!) I think it is something I would like to do again -- maybe once a year on a different subject. It would even be fun to do this as a first week of January term too!

We began each day with a PowerPoint lecture on the life of Beatrix Potter. Living out my dream of being a British History professor, I created notes for the kids to fill in and got Andrew to show me how easy it is to make PowerPoints. :) 

And we all drank tea while we listened. John and Christina were able to join us for three days.
Then we moved downstairs where my friend gave us the background of each of Beatrix's stories and read aloud to the kids. We all enjoyed this so much!

The first few days we then sent the kids to the table to do some drawing and painting of their own. Later we figured out that it was best for them to draw while they listened to the stories.

Each day we had an activity planned for after lunch. How fun that the Royal Prince George was born during Beatrix Potter week!!!! We couldn't let that pass by without celebrating so we combined a welcome home lunch for Grandma with a welcome Prince George celebration!

Blue and white teacups were called for!

And, since Grandma had just spent three weeks on a sheep farm in Maine, it was timely to hear all about life like Beatrix Potter would have lived!

 Oh yes! Meringues and tea are good!

Friday lunch was themed around British and Victorian food. The main course was steak and onion pie with green peas. Oh was it good!

I felt like we were eating in England!

Front and center for dessert was the Roly Poly Pudding with custard. After reading Samuel Whiskers we all thought eating this pudding would be just the thing!

We also enjoyed shortbread and Dundee cake, most certainly things Beatrix would have eaten.

Here we are enjoying our Victorian tea.

 On Monday we took our lunch to a local park,

and went around their nature center, enjoying all the animals and displays.

 Tuesday we took our lunch down to our secret beach for some true enjoyment of nature.

Including paddling around in the boat!

 Wednesday we took our lunch to the Art Museum gardens to have a  birthday for David as well as remember Beatrix's birthday which was a few days later.

We came up with a few Victorian party games like an egg hunt and croquet.

No one can resist an egg hunt! Neither can she resist stealing all her brothers' candies.

We even had a beautiful moth fly down and let us inspect him.

And there were presents.....

And a Victoria Sandwich Cake!

Afterward we toured Oldfields and pretended it was a house Beatrix's parents had rented for their summer holidays.

 And here is the roly poly pudding all ready for cooking. It looked quite like the illustrations in the book!

Rachel spent a lot of time on one of her drawings:

We ended the week by watching Miss Potter.

Some of the books I found helpful and enjoyable for this study were:

Beatrix Potter: The Story of the Creator of Peter Rabbit (World of Beatrix Potter) by Elizabeth Buchan was a very short biography with photos that was easy to read and gave enough information. It would be suitable if you had only a short amount of time for reading or wanted to give this to an upper elementary student.

Beatrix Potter: Artist, Storyteller, and Countrywoman by Judy Taylor was my favorite biography this time around. It had enough information to give details without getting boring and it was full of pictures. Definitely recommend this!

Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature by Linda Lear is a full-length biography I read several years ago and enjoyed very much. If you want all the information, read this book.

At Home with Beatrix Potter: The Creator of Peter Rabbit by Susan Denyer is a beautiful book that talks about Beatrix's homes and shows lots of photos of what the rooms in her homes look like and the furniture she collected.

Beatrix Potter's Art: A Selection of Paintings and Drawings by Anne Stevenson Hobbs was a lovely book to flip through and admire Beatrix's artwork from all stages of her life.

Ultimate Peter Rabbit by DK Publishing is such an amazing book! This is one I want for myself! In typical DK style you will find all kinds of information on the stories as well as photo after photo of the props Beatrix used, things from Beatrix's life, and Peter Rabbit paraphernalia that was created.

Walking with Beatrix Potter: Fifteen Walks in Beatrix Potter Country by Norman and June Buckley is a beautiful book detailing 15 walks in the Lake District all themed around Beatrix's books. If you are going to the Lake District, it is a must!

Please note, this post contains affiliate links.


Heather Anne said...

How fun! What a delightful way to enjoy a time of learning! You are such an inspiration Heather!

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I would have love to come to the party!

Have you seen Susan Branch's A Fine Romance, yet? The publish date is mid-August but she has shown a peek on her blog.

All about her trip to England, including Beatrix Potter's home.

Reneelynn said...

Heather, looks like you had a busy, fabulous week!! How fun! Things that are taught in fun will never be forgotten ;) . I'll be watching to see the sheep farm inspiration in your mother's new paintings !!!

HeatherMavis said...

Hey, it looks like Rachel's got the artist gene from you and your mother!

Lovella ♥ said...

You are amazing! I so enjoyed seeing your Beatrix Potter summer school. I wanted to come too and just enjoy it from the back of the class.
My daughter in law's proper name is Beatrice. (quite close I think)
Your finishing touches on your wooly friends are just darling.
We are heading back out to go camping again after a week away. This time our grands will be joining us and I just know there will be some photo taking of their time with us. Enjoy August! It is lovely to see you are enjoying your time.

Stephanie said...

Wow - looks so fun, and educational!

Susan Branch said...

This is so wonderful! look at the inspiration you have provided for your children in almost every way! History, cooking, traditions, you helped them feel the experience, not just read about it. Everyone needs a hero, someone to look up to, you have just done something rather heroic yourself, with this in-depth exploration of the life and times of Beatrix Potter. You made history come alive for your kids. I can't tell you how great I think that is!!! Lucky lucky kids to have you for a teacher. xoxo Good on YOU! Susan

mari1017 said...

Hello:-) found you through Susan Branch's tweet share this morning - what wonderful ideas you have! Blessed children & adults who participate :-)

Susan Branch said...

Happy to see you on my blog Heather, and I just replied to your comment! I know there are heroes working quietly amongst us every day, in hospitals and in schools all over the world. It's lovely to see one in action. xoxo Susan

Lynn said...

I am at the end of my homeschool journey and I miss the days of little folks. What a wonderful unit study! Makes me want to curl up with a cup of tea and read Peter Rabbit again. What a gift to have given these children and what a treat for you.

Diana said...

What a wonderful way to spend the summer, with marvelous ideas. I wished I would have thought of that when my children were young. How lucky are the children!

Cathy said...

Enjoyed your post! Please tell Rachel her drawing is great! I've never wanted to make the Roly Poly Pudding that is in my Beatrix Potter Country Cookery Book (by Margaret Lane) because it calls for "suet", and since I have no idea what that is (except for what you feed the birds!) I've passed on that one. Do you use a different recipe?

Anonymous said...

How wonderful! Almost makes me wish my (long grown) kids were little again so I could home school and do things like this!


Anonymous said...

IWhat a delight to read this blog along with the photos! I too would have loved to be in this Beatrix Potter class. Such joy in our harried world! Peace to you and yours.

Unknown said...

What a great way to integrate understanding for your children! This model will help to cement the learning in each of the children so they will never forget it. Years later, it will continue to resurface and inspire them.

amy said...

Via Susan Branch I am also here:) and so very glad that I am! I too am a homeschool mother and this is absolutely brilliant what you have done here. I adore Beatrix Potter and the way you have brought her to life for your little chicks is grand. Have a lovely and blessed rest of the summer!

Pat said...

Great idea to have the kids learn and enjoy at the same time. Susan Branch's new book "A Fine Romance" is a wonderful book filled with history, countryside, food/recipes, and her love of Beatrix Potter and her home and the English countryside. It is a must read.

Jane S said...

I love the huge sunflower decoration on the Victoria sandwich as well as knowing there is a book for lovely Beatrice walks in the lake District.

Ann said...

Hello from another Susan Branch visitor! What a great week of learning those children had. I commend you for teaching your children so well. Please tell Rachel I loved her drawing.

Kiki Nakita said...

Oh, how much fun. I'm sure they (and you) will have a lot of memories of this week.

Visiting Oldfields must have been fun, will have to look and see where that is, I love touring historic homes!

Unknown said...

Another visitor from Susan Branch: so inspiring to see your successful project and a lot of work. A good way of making the history alive for the children.
Regards from a Danish School teacher

Pat Johnson (CA) said...

Good day to you all! Found you on Susan Branch's post - I, too, am a Beatrix Potter fan and absolutely loved sharing your journey through her life. You were so creative. Keep up the good work. Kids, you were outstanding and I am sure you had FUN learning.

Kimberlee Conway Ireton said...

What a fabulous week! I am slightly intimidated and very much inspired. Thanks for sharing what you did and, especially, the books you read.

paperfusion said...

Made me want to join you, but felt every part of being there on your journey through your blog! I SO wish I were able to homeschool my 4 children. All grown and some with babies of their own. Proud Grammy to my three angel baby girls.

P.Jay said...

Hi Heather! What a fantastic Summer School ... I wish I had been there too. I follow a lot of homeschooling moms and am in awe of all that you accomplish and how great you all are in teaching. Shower of Roses is a fav of mine also. Keep up the great work, the future looks bright because of you and many others who are al so devoted. Paulie

Kate said...

You are a great mother and teacher. How blessed are your children and such fun for them. Where is Oldfield? I am from the Midwest and have never heard of it.

Unknown said...

It's a TON of work to put together a curriculum like that! How fun for your kids and something they NEVER will forget! Congrats on a job so, so well done!

Cathy said...

Thanks Heather for answering my question about the suet!

Nellie said...

Such fun this was! The children will really remember Beatrix Potter. Lots of work to plan, and you did a super job.

Nellie said...

This was such a wonderful way to teach Beatrix Potter! It was a busy time for you, but the children will really remember this.

Jeannette said...

In addition to all the delights and inspirations and nature and art and fun...what a great excuse for lovely meals!