A Summer Shakespeare Club: Introduction



I am always surprised when I hear young people saying they think Shakespeare is boring.  To me he was one of the wittiest people to walk this earth.  It is this sense of fun and his intelligent repartee which I hope to share with the children this summer.

We have all been impatiently waiting for summer Shakespeare club to begin.  It was due to be ten week unit study but I am finding five weeks to be a better time scale based on the children’s interest (and mine) on any one given subject.  This decrease in time means we have a lot to fit in.  Really a lot.  Too much.  But I’m thinking we might just manage it, and if not, we won’t have lost anything.

Lorna and her two children are joining us for whole days for the first week (to familiarise themselves fully with Midsummer) and then just for the project based learning in the afternoons for the rest of the term.  They will be participating fully in the end project and will put on Midsummer Night’s Dream with my children for their presentation.

Here are my plans:


A Play a Week

I have chosen four plays to study each morning (Midsummer Night’s Dream; Romeo and Juliet; Taming of the Shrew; and Much Ado about Nothing).  I chose these because they are my favourite four and it’s always handy if the teacher is enthusiastic, yes?  I adore Shakespeare and am almost bouncing off the walls with excitement!

Shakespeare should primarily be watched and performed rather than read and studied…….but, really, I don’t see why we can’t do both!  That said, we will be leaning heavily on the watching and performing side.

Each play has five Acts and we will focusing on one play per week, one Act per day.  I have a thousand ideas of what we might do with these plays from improvisation, literary and character studies as well as compare and contrasting interpretations of each play.  We will be reading the whole plays aloud, taking different parts, as well as watching a variety of interpretive media from ballet to modern takes on them.

I’m thinking we might be sick of Shakespeare by the end of the five weeks.  It will be intensive and I hope hugely fun with some very serious learning going on too.

However, these plays will only be the focus of our mornings.  I will plan these down to the very last minute.  Each play will be full on, non stop learning.  I have very different plans for the afternoons, which will be much more student driven and require far less input from me.


Project Based Learning

My guys are really looking forward to this part of their Shakespeare study.  I have asked them to prepare Midsummer Night’s Dream for their presentation in September.  Although I will be on hand to help out when necessary, this play will be for the most part all their own work.  They will have to figure out everything, from interpretation to scenery, from programs to actors.  It will be all down to them.

The first week we will be focused entirely on Midsummer Night’s Dream, morning and afternoon, giving the children a chance to fully understand this play before working on their own projects to prepare for the presentation.  I will be sharing more about their project based learning very soon.

Posts Over the Summer

I plan to write a post each day outlining exactly what we have done that particular day so it can be easily replicated (should anyone want to).  If it all works out well, I will reuse these plans with my little ones when they are older.

I have decided not to write any other posts (such as Season of Joy) because I don’t think I will have the time.  Normal posting will probably return in about five or six weeks.

I hope you all enjoy reading about our Shakespeare adventures as much as I am sure we shall enjoy having them!

Weekly Wrap-Up

South America: Cookie Map

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south america unit study

I use the same cookie dough recipe every time I make a cookie map or gingerbread house.  It makes a very hard, solid biscuit which can be rolled very thin and still remain in tact after baking.  It tastes good as well!

Dough for Map Making


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • pinch salt


Preheat oven to 180

Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Sift in flour and add egg, salt and vanilla essence.  Mix thoroughly together.  Gather dough together and refrigerate until hard.

Making the Map:

Roll out dough onto floured surface and transfer to paper lined baking tray.  Photocopy a map of South America, cut around the shape of the continent.  Place cut out over dough and using a small sharp knife cut around the continent shape.  Place continent shaped dough onto greased baking pan and bake at 180 for 15 or so minutes until light golden brown.  It will harden as it cools:


Adding Details to the Map:

We used Toblerone squares for the Andes Mountain Range, yellow sugar cake decorations for the Atacama desert, blue icing pen for the Amazon river, green gum sweets chopped up for the amazon rain forest:


We were quite pleased with the result:


The girls were able to name and place all the main geographical features, although neither remembered the name of the Atacama Desert:


A good job girls!

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South America Unit Study: Where in the world?


south america unit study

I used as many ways as I could come up with to reinforce their previous knowledge of the Polar regions as well as teaching them where in the world South America was.

  • Wall Map

The first place to go was the huge wall map.  I first asked the girls to point out where the Arctic and Antarctic was, and then to take a guess where South America was:


  • Night Light Globe 

We then went to their bedroom for them to attempt to fine the polar regions and South America on their globe:


  • Atlas for Children

We own three different ones.  I read each page linked with South America, as well as looking and chatting about the polar pages also.  These contained really interesting information and a variety of maps giving the girls the perfect introduction to the South American Continent:

Ribbet collagewhere1



  • Google Maps

I love google maps.  I helped them to find both the polar regions and then South America.  I left A6 to explore the South American continent by herself.  I also printed out an image for both of them to pin onto their pin boards by their bed:



  • Our Large Home-made Map

We pulled down our huge paper mache map and together the girls found South America.  I had them label it and together we marked the desert with gold glitter, the main rivers using blue felt, the mountain ranges using red pompoms and the rain forest using green feathers:



  • Map of the World Puzzles

We have a few of these so I helped the girls build them up and to find the two continents we have learnt so far- Antarctica and South America:


  • Globe Trotting Game

This is a useful game for reinforcing all the continents of the world.  We played this a few times:


  • Labeling Map Print Outs

I gave A6 a nice clear map to label.  She found, coloured and labelled the Arctic Circle, Antarctica and South America:


Hopefully both little ones would now remember where South America is on the map!  Tomorrow I will be posting about our South American Cookie Map.

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South America Unit Study: Summer Adventure Box


south america unit study

I have already outlined my plans for my youngest two for this summer, and you will know that I am having a lot of help from my mum, Sarah and Lorna (Aren’t I blessed?).  This Summer Adventure Box needed to be extra special for just that reason.  There will be more people than just me using it.  This means it needs to be interesting for all, easy to use and with simple activities which all of us are capable of implementing.  I had huge fun creating it so I am hoping the girls will have lots of fun using it.

jungle fun summer adventure box


The books I chose were all linked somehow to South America.  You can check out the individual titles in my last two posts, and I will also give particulars of books we read as we progress through the study.  Suffice it to say, there are lots of lovely books on offer (imagine me gleefully rubbing my hands together!)

Lego Models

I have bought in two kits which together make multiple different rain forest animals.  I got these for A6, who is showing interest in building, engineering and science – everything her brother was interested in.  I will be asking her to do these on her own following the instructions:

Ribbet collagebox1

Cocoa Tree

We will be doing a side project based on the Magic School Bus book about how chocolate is made.  As part of that project we will be making our own cocoa powder from beans and also designing our own chocolate bars:

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Sewing and Crafting

Again A6 just loves to create with her hands and B4 is catching the bug for all thing yarny, so these two kits should suit them down to the ground:

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Colouring, Stamping and Dressing up

B4 is ALL about colouring in.  She adores drawing, colouring, painting….and I really do think she is rather good.  So to satisfy her need to hold a felt tip I have dug out the following:

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We already own a couple of jungle and rain forest puzzles as well as our trusty animals of the world puzzle, which we pull out ALL. THE. TIME.

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Plastic Animals and Play Dough Cutters

These were left over from our Curious George study we did three years ago.  I know they are likely to enjoy them just as much now as they did then:

Ribbet collagebox9

I will also be searching out some silicone plaster cast molds of monkeys and bears which the children used all those years ago, and which I know I kept for such an occasion as this!


This is another blast from past schooling days.  Muzzy is an elementary Spanish course which my dad bought for the older children yonks ago for Christmas.  As Spanish is the most commonly spoken language in South America we will be attempting to learn some:


Jungle Food (y’know, just in case we get hungry)

I was looking back at my old BFIAR posts to make sure I remembered all the resources we had previously used and that I would have stacked away for later use and I came across some home made chicken feed (for human consumption, of course), and thought making some similar jungle feed would be fun, fun, fun!  Here’s a picture of a very young (4 I think) A holding her chicken feed:

All done!

It’s made almost entirely of cereals so isn’t too unhealthy.

I’m sure I’ve probably left out something, but for now this is the contents of the girls’ Summer Adventure Box.

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Project Based Learning: South American Animals


south america unit study

Whilst the older children dig deep into Shakespeare and all he has to offer, the little ones will be focused on South America.  It will be a primarily literature based study, with the exception of the project based learning the littles will do.  They have attempted to do projects before with my help but they needed so much more time than I had to give, none were completed to any degree.  This time I am using my strength.  And that strength would be other people :)

Project Based Learning

I have asked mum to join in and, having completely got the home school bug herself, she happily agreed.  Thank goodness for the addictive nature of home school!  For four weeks she will be having the little ones over for three hours each morning.  She will be focusing mainly on their projects which will be all about the animals of South America.

The goal is for A6 to read the following three books out loud to her:

Ribbet collagesa2

I think they are pitched at just about her reading level and it will be good for her to maintain her reading to Granny.  B4 will be colouring or sticking from these books whilst listening to her sister:

Ribbet collagessa1

I think Granny has A6 read to her for half an hour each day, so I imagine she will try to keep to that.  After A6 has read for her half an hour, Granny will read to both girls a book of their choice from the adventure box.  Granny usually treats them to milk and raisins to nibble on whilst she is reading, which I am sure will continue over the summer.

They will then be free to choose an activity or two from their Adventure Box.  I have tried to keep these activities as simple and mess free as possible to save mum any stress of mess and marks on her furniture :) and I will be posting all about the Adventure Box and its contents tomorrow.

A6 will be doing her writing at Granny’s house because the quiet there encourages her to concentrate.  Her main writing will be the completion of this South American Animals Lap book.  The lap book contains a mini book of forty animals which are found in South America, along with some fun facts.  Mum will choose whether to read out the fun facts or help the girls find the animal in their encyclopedia and atlas:

Ribbet collagessa3

These two books will make up the main texts for the girls’ project, so I anticipate them being used a lot.  After they have read or listened to the information about a particular animal, A6 will write the information required in her mini book.  It is likely that I will have gone through and created copy work in advance to enable her to fill them out without needing too much of mum’s time, who I am certain will be required by B4 at this point.

I also have the following books to help them along with their project work for their display board (for their presentation), the rain forest collage as well as any pictures they may like to draw themselves of the animal in question:

Ribbet collagessa2

The children, Granny and I will work together and help them create their own presentation of their project work.  I am also hoping to be able to complete some junk modelling with the girls each afternoon, making some of the animals they will be learning about with their Granny.  These will be on display during their presentation.

Sarah will be joining us Friday afternoons as usual, and Lorna has said she will help out (Lorna and her two children are joining us for the Shakespeare summer – so it’s all hands on deck!).  I am hoping between Granny, Sarah, Lorna and I the little girls will have lots to keep them busy and out of mischief this summer ;)

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South America – Learning through Literature


south america unit study

Whilst the older ones are studying all things Shakespeare, the littles will be focusing their time on South America.  The unit study will be two pronged using both literature and project based learning.  This post will be about our literature based learning and tomorrow I will post about the projects they will be attempting.

Literature Based Learning

I will be using FIAR books which are or could be based on South America (using much artistic licence!):

Ribbet collagesa1

We will also use the Magic School Bus: In the Rain Forest; Dr Seuss: If I ran the Rain Forest and the Magic Tree House: An Afternoon on the Amazon:

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In addition I have sourced a few wonderful picture books:

Ribbet collagesa3

As well as using the FIAR manuals, we will be doing a few extra activities to go along with the book as well as cooking a South American Recipes and adding lap book pieces to their main South America Lap book.

The older children will join us in the final week.  They will be expected to read all the books (very simple books for them, so it shouldn’t take them long) and between them I will be expecting a lap book and a short, joint project – for example a paper mache map showing the geographical landscape (deserts, rivers, rain forest, mountains etc).

Goals for this Unit Study

  • English:  I will be expecting A6 to read a lot of the books herself, although I shall probably read the non-fiction science and FIAR books out loud to her.  I will be asking for verbal narrations from both girls and copy work from A6.  We will also be studying the South American poet, Gabriela Mistral:

Ribbet collagesa4

  • Science: Apart from the children’s PBL on South American animals, we will be using the Read and Find Out science books  in any topics which look interesting and relevant:

Ribbet collagebox5

Ribbet collagebox6

  • Design and Technology: The children will be designing a diorama of a rain forest as part of their Dr Seuss school, as well a rain forest collage and Make your own Rain-forest from the following book:

Ribbet collagesa6

  • History: We will be briefly looking at South American history through the lap booking.
  • Geography: We will be focusing on Rain Forests and Rivers but will also look briefly at deserts and mountains, as well as the oceans surrounding South America.  Our lap book covers the countries of South America and their flags.  I have also bought the non fiction companion books to the Magic Tree house and the Magic School Bus.  I intend to briefly cover two countries per week and as we finish them we will stamp our passport to say we’ve been there.
  • Art and Design: We will be doing some traditional South American crafts, maybe making a puppet or two as well as studying Henri Rousseau as an artist (he tended to paint jungle scenes):

Ribbet collagesa7

  • Music: I’m hoping to combine the spanish language and music by learning one or two South American songs.
  • Physical Education: We will be learning a few traditional South American play ground games.
  • Computing: I hope to find an inexpensive Spanish app to put on their computers to reinforce their very basic knowledge of Spanish.
  • Foreign Language: Learning some basic Spanish Words using Muzzy and other children’s Spanish videos which the older ones used when they were the girls age.
  • Home Economics: The girls will be making many recipes from the South American region.


The girls will be expected to do a short presentation based on the work they will have done over the summer.

I have also created a South American Adventure Box which I will post about on Wednesday and contains all the books mentioned along with some fun extra activities.

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Arctic Circle Unit Study


arctic unit study Due to some pathological need I have to complete a subject before I feel I can fully move on to the next one, you may have noticed I have been posting madly all week about the Arctic unit we have been doing.  I had been trying to school plan the littles’ summer but was completely unable to because we hadn’t fully completed the Arctic work.  We have now, thank goodness, which means I can now focus on their summer.  Here is the whole of the unit all in one place: Week one: Arctic Circle Unit Study: Resources Ribbet collageantarctica2 Week Two: Where in the World? Ribbet collage1 Week Three:  Antarctica verses Arctic DSC_0238Anva5 Week Four: FIAR: Owl Moon and Alaska owlmoon5 Week Five: FIAR: Stopping by woods and Norway stopping by woods 2 Week Six: FIAR: Katy and the Big Snow and Greenland katyandthebigsnow Week Seven: FIAR: Very Last First Time and Canada verylastfirsttime Week Eight: FIAR: Snowflake Bentley and the Arctic Circle snowflake bentley Week Nine: Make Ice Cream in a Bag icecream3 Week ten: Dr Seuss School – Ice is Nice ice is nice Further Polar Activities: antarctica buttonHomeschool Preschool: Preschool and Kindergarten Community linkup at Homeschool Creations

Weekly Wrap-Up

Further Inspiration: https://www.pinterest.com/5scalliwags/arctic-and-antarctic/

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