A soggy carnival

Jax, over on Making it up asked what you do when it rains. And given that I still direct the occasional nod towards being a Home Educating blog, or at the very least a blog that belongs to a family who Home Educate I thought I’d join in. What with rain being a fairly recurrent theme here on Rum.

Years ago when I had younger children and lived in a house with electricity a rainy day would be a reason to stay indoors and see where an inside adventure took us. That might mean sticking on one of our many dvds – a film fest complete with home made popcorn, drawing the curtains to close out the grey day outside and turning the lounge into a cinema. A wildlife documentary, filling our ears, eyes and brains with David Attenborough’s dulcet, soothing tones educating us and taking us on adventures around the globe, under the sea, inside the microscopic world of bugs. Either of these could result in a spin off activity – getting out all the toy dinosaurs and creating a habitat for them, lining them up on opposite sides of the room depending on whether they were herbivores or carnivores, getting out the art supplies and painting, drawing and cutting out the star characters from the Pixar movie of the day then laminating them to play with. Heading off to the dressing up box to turn into those characters themselves and act out the on screen action using the house as a movie set. All of these are true and regular examples of what went on in our house.

Or we might curl up with a huge towering pile of books and work our way through the lot, reading until my voice grew hoarse and the last page on the last book was closed.

We might embark on a culinary adventure. For a while we worked our way through the River Cottage Family Cookbook which if ever I was to follow a curriculum of any sorts would be high on my list. If you don’t have a copy you should get one
We spend many happy hours writing shopping lists, heading off to the supermarket for supplies and then making a mess in the kitchen. We baked bread, made our own pasta, shook milk to churn it into butter, spent time measuring out a teaspoon, tablespoon, ounce and gram and then working out how to do the same by eye and testing ourselves. We made sourdough starter, experimented and learnt.

Talking of experiments they were a popular rainy day activity too – making rainbow solutions from sugar water and food colouring, volcanic explosions from vinegar and bicarb or Scarlett’s personal favourite of potions from random assorted things she could find in my bathroom cabinet and glitter! We grew crystals, allowed white flowers to suck up coloured water to shade their petals and testing gravity by flinging things down the stairs!

We had toys, oh so many toys. But the winning items time and again for rainy days when we were stuck indoors were Lego and Geomags. Adaptable, able to take on whatever flight of fantasy the kids imaginations took them on and be endlessly pulled apart and put back together again while teaching them about architecture, building, the laws of physics, design and improvement, building and aesthetics.

But that was if we happened to be stuck indoors on a rainy day. We had a car and access to all sorts of resources in all four directions. Museums, art galleries, libraries. Places geared up for learning opportunities at every turn with interpretation boards, resources, people on hand to ask questions of and point you in the right direction, to interact with and to soak up knowledge. The less obvious but no less valuable resources of the local supermarket, the local pet shop. Engaged, interested children are not a liability in these environments, rather a willing audience to learn yet more about the world around them. Looking at the labels on food in the supermarket to see where it came from, working out the raw ingredients for a meal, pricing up the different brands and choices on offer. Understanding why some food was chilled, some frozen and some just on shelves. Looking at all the different animals for sale and what type of care that pet may require, looking at life expectancy of different creatures and understanding how the home they might need within your house replicated their natural habitat in the wild.

Finally celebrating the weather and mother nature. Understanding that without the rain we’d all very quickly be in trouble and putting on wellies and waterproofs and heading out to find the biggest possible puddles to splash in. Heading to the beach to see what happened to the sand and the waves when the rain poured down on them. Making sure that the turn of the season was something we felt, were part of and experienced fully by seeking out the daffodils in spring, the turning leaves in autumn and the crunchy frost hardened winter ground.

Here in this life rain is such an every day part of life that if we pressed the pause button just because it was raining outside we’d spent a lot of our lives suspended. Living in a caravan means it is not practical to head out and get soaked if we can help it – drying clothes is not easy and mud is best left on the outside. But we probably have more of an in touch with the seasons rhythm now than ever before as the summer is for being outside, stretching those incredibly long Rum days when it is still dark at 11om and the sun rises again before 4am to the limits. Tending livestock, growing crops, soaking up the sunshine and being productive. It is peak tourist season so there is always plenty to be done from collecting eggs, filling up the honesty table and supplying the shop, ensuring our craft supplies at the Craft shop in the village are topped up, manning the weekly Market Days at the hall to sell our wares and harvesting, baking and foraging. Autumn is for gathering the harvest and bringing in winter supplies, making sure we have firewood and winding down for the season.

Winter – and the most rainiest time of all is for crafting – creating next seasons items for sale – for Davies this will be designs of postcards and other artwork, for Scarlett it will be turning this summer’s haul of seaglass and other beachcombed treasures into keyrings and other trinkets. Rainy days also mean drawing and other crafting for craftings sake. There is writing to friends to keep up their correspondence by post friendships they both have, making props for the films they like to make, art for pleasure rather than for sale or sending, writing stories. There is still dvd watching, online time spent on youtube or minecraft or other online games. There is time spent on games consoles, listening to music, reading books. There is still creative play, still use of resources and I have to admit still a fair bit of putting on wellies and finding the biggest puddles we can to splash in!

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