Phonecian Dyed Pasta


The Phonecians were famous for the purple dye they made. It was made by boiling down a mollasc, sort of like a marine snail. Not having any of these handy, we decided to use berries. We but a good half cup of berries in a saucepan with some water. After boiling for about an hour, we strained it. My children insisted on eating the berries with some yogurt but I don’t think I would! Anyway, the resulting syrup was brightly coloured. we dropped dry pasta into it, leaving it to sit for a good ten minutes before fishing it out and placing it on a cake rack to dry. I think they came up really well, but it is tricky to tell. You see, most of them were eaten by the dog. Sigh.


A Traveling Education


One of the perks I hadn’t considered when we chose home education was that we would be much more free to travel. We wouldn’t be bound to expensive school holiday periods or fighting with all the other parents for holiday leave. We have the freedom to take up opportunities as they present themselves.

We recently returned from a trip. I admit it wasn’t the best holiday ever – it was plagued by bad luck and fire alarms – but it really got me thinking about the ups and downs of a traveling education.

I don’t think we will ever be a permanently traveling family. I am too addicted to my comfy bed to be without it too long. But I do love traveling. Travel with children IS hard work but it is intensely rewarding. A child’s presence changes the way you look at things. It forces you to travel more slowly, to seek out playgrounds and meet locals. You find yourself exploring not just the tourist listed sights, but the cute parks, the slightly unkempt fringes. It is a different way of traveling.

For children, traveling is an education in itself. Not to mention all the museums and other interesting involving places to visit. So much to take in!

I love, too, how travel binds you as a family. There are so many fewer stresses and so much more shared experiences. It can be a part of the shared ethos of your family, develop a shared family culture, the in-jokes, the memories and the laughter or tears of a holiday can stay with you for a long time.


I am not a expert on travel with children, but over time I have picked up a few tips I am happy to pass on.

1. Pack masking tape. Its a great baby-proofing material, and it can even be used to keep small people occupied.

2. You will need more clothes than you did before children. You will end up with food/mud/something on you. Children are mess magnets and somehow it ends up on you too.

3. Bring toys for children. They miss having self-directed play.

4. Bring about twice as much food as you think you could possibly need. Expect said food to last half as long as you think it should. Expect said food to run out when you have not much hope of finding more with ease. Something about travel seems to make children eat constantly.

5. Chocolate after the children go to sleep will be mandatory. Trust me on that.

Travel doesn’t have to be far or long to be interesting and involving. It doesn’t have to be expensive or extensive. Just moving out of your comfort zone is enough. It really is worth it.



The Phoenicians are not as widely studied in the primary years as say, the Greeks, but they are covered in a chapter of “The Story of the World” and so we have found our way there.

Or first activity is was to make coloured ‘glass’. Primus wanted his bottle-shaped. It is made of greaseproof paper filled with crayons shavings, ironed and cut out. We also incorporated some tissue paper. It looks very effective on the window.


Up next, making purple dye!

Quick, Easy and Fun – Juggling Balls.

With illness in the house, we needed something that wasn’t too much work for anyone, but that would get the boys outside to enjoy the sunshine. Given that juggling was a sport enjoyed by Ancient Greek girls, we could even tie it in to our current interest area.

You’ve probably made these balloon and rice juggling balls before, but just in case, we used the instructions here. They were very easy. There were only a few steps that the boys needed adult assistance to complete. This project uses only a few easy-to-come-by materials, it’s a great inclusion into an Emergency Box.

Our juggling balls

It’s All Greek To Me

This week we went back to Little City Kids Curriculum We are moving very slowly with this, but we are up to the topic ” It’s All Greek to Me”. We have already looked at the Minoans, and the Mycenaeans, and this unit is looking at Greek culture in general. What I love about it is that it exposes children to big ideas yet lets them work at their own level, so I can use it with both Primus and Secondus. We used some old sheets to create Ancient Greek clothes.

Dressing up ideas. There was also a whiteboard with further information about common clothes for men, women, children and babies.

For younger children, such as Secondus, doing up pegs is a challenge in itself, developing finger strength and co-ordination.

Pegging up

We also looked at some Geometric designed pottery from the Greek dark ages.

Plate decoration materials ready to go.

We have recently raided the library for books and  ideas – this is on topic that has plenty.
My current plan is to move more quickly through Little City Kids, spending about a fortnight on each topic. This will leave plenty to do when we revisit later but will help give a broad sweep of history. Later specific details can be filled in more thoroughly.

Kings, Queens, Knights, and Castles

The boys have suddenly developed an interest in kings, queens, knights and castles. It wasn’t sparked by the recent royal wedding but a combination of Mister Maker, and reacting to a book (The Knight at Dawn) we borrowed from the library.

By the way, these books are great. There is a whole series of them, and each book is set in a different time period. The language is not especially rich, but that makes it very good for beginning readers.

Anyway we needed something fun to do and we latched on to this. We aren’t tackling it in a particularly accurate way, but happily muddling fantasy in too.

So far we:

  • have made crowns, robes and swords (out of card).
  • Made a coat of arms.
  • made fantasy maps of our kingdoms.
  • are making a castle model.
  • introduced castle and knight vocabulary
  • played fantasy games in the backyard
  • building castles with our wooden blocks

I would love to introduce some architectural things, like building the Roman arch. I have some three-part cards for the parts of the arch but I need some blocks. I’m not willing to spend that much when it unlikely to be used in the long-term, though. Any ideas would be appreciated!

Some other things we may doo, as interest dictates include:

  • looking more closely at the meanings of various coat of arms
  • Investigate stories/fairy tales

The great thing about this, is that I know we can continue while the boys are interested, and then we will return to it again later. It will pop up again in our Little City Kids curriculum again, and in many other things too.

Back Again, With Some History Activities

We have been busy lately greeting newest arrival, so I haven’t posted much, but we have also been having a lot of fun.

We were looking at early writing systems. We compared papyrus scrolls with cuniform, creating one of each.

Making a papyrus scroll

One of the cuniform tablets LE. made
Then we experimented with what happened when we left them outside, heated them in the oven or put them in water, to show why not many surived to the present day. This idea came from the activity books that go with the Story of the World: Ancient Times. These books do have a lot of ‘schooly’ aspects, such as comprehension questions, but the hands on learning activities are great. To be honest, you could probably find a lot similar ideas elsewhere, but having them in one place and linked to the story books, they do make it easy to locate ideas, and quicker for me.

And right now, that’s a huge bonus!