Thursday, 12 June 2014

Over the wall was the jungle

Lord Yama threatens to take Princess Savitri's husband

This week, we've continued to read Jamila Gavin's enchanting retelling of three Hindu tales, Three Indian Princesses. The first tale, about Princess Savitri, appears in its original form in the Mahabharata, an ancient Indian epic.

It was this passage in particular which captured our attention when we read it in the Galore Park textbook:

Her home was a magnificent palace with large beautiful rooms to explore, and cool courtyards with fountains in which to rest. And all around were the palace gardens with their intricate flower beds, avenues of cypress trees, and shady paths among the guava groves. But over the wall where the sun always set, where the rest of the world spread away to the shimmering horizon; over the wall was the jungle.

When we reached the end of the chapter quoted in the textbook, both Charlie and I wanted to know what happened next, so I ordered the book. The first story describes how a brave princess uses her intelligence to outwit the greatest enemy of all: death, or Lord Yama, as he is called in the Hindu tradition. It is a great story to read aloud, beautifully written and with chapters that left Charlie begging me to read "just one more".

Charlie has also been reading more about how people live in modern India. He read and answered questions on an extract from the book, The Changing Face of India by David Cumming, quoted in our Galore Park textbook. Then he compiled an information sheet on India. I taught him how to use Word - opening a new document, saving it, copying images and text from the web and so on. He took a lot of information from this page on the Woodland School website, which I often use for child-friendly materials.

I became a bit too involved with Charlie's work on the factsheet (it was hard for my proofreading/editing eyes to watch him making mistakes without correcting them) and he told me, quite rightly, to stop butting in. So I left him alone to work independently. When he called me back, he said, "I'm really proud of this." He had successfully downloaded lots of relevant text and images and organised it into an informative leaflet. He was rightly proud.

One of the hardest things about home ed is 'to stop butting in'. It frustrates me to see something unfinished or with mistakes. But I know that Charlie needs to be allowed to make mistakes and then learn from them.

For lunch one day, I served vegetable samosas and onion baajis, in the spirit of our studies. Charlie, suspicious of anything that he doesn't eat on a regular basis, refused to touch them, so Tom and I ate them instead.

Although the work on India was initially part of the English exercises in the Galore Park book, it also neatly encompassed Geography, IT and religion (as Charlie ended up finding out about Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism).

We finished our visit to India by watching some some YouTube clips about the country, ending with one of my favourite clips of all time - the final dance sequence from 'Slumdog Millionaire'.

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