Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Building Relationships

It's always been a goal of mine for the children to build strong relationships with each other.

Because the children are together so much there is, of course, bickering and tension, but when I see these two big guys of ours - still friends, and still enjoying each others company, then it gives me tremendous strength to continue with the next batch!   And I love this photo, showing our youngest sitting on a session with his big bros, learning how it's done.

I've noticed that other home educated families often have strong ties - shared experiences (good, bad and disastrous) and hours (and hours ... and HOURS) spent together, the older ones caring for the younger ones often.  If anyone dares to say how terrible this is for the older ones, then perhaps they might consider the skills an older one learns whilst helping, but not being ultimately responsible for, younger siblings.  Skills that cannot be learned elsewhere.

If you are in the season of having all small children, and you feel exhausted with the role of referee, peacemaker, and law-upholder, then I urge you to find strength to continue.  These children have a lifetime ahead of them, and the bonds they forge whilst they are all young and living at home will probably hold fast till the end of their lives.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016


It's not just me.   Seems there is a whole slew of mothers with children at home who are not looking forward to winter's dismal, dark, wet days with washing hanging on all available surfaces, and children who would normally be content with their own games, but now prowl around the ever-decreasing space of a damp home making mahem and creating chaos on every turn.

So do we like winter?


Do we like being home most days with children who get cabin-fever when the weather is foul?


The answer could be more trips out!

Does the budget allow that?    

The answer could also be JUST GET OUTSIDE! 


So, with winter a'comin it's time to get organised.  Clear the clutter, order your Vit D supplements, stock up on jigsaw puzzles and read aloud books, train your toddler to LEAVE IT when people have games on the table ...

and  PERHAPS - consider getting your children together every morning after breakfast for something STRUCTURED!   Horrors!!!!  Natural Education with Structure??    It can work.  It can be necessary.  It CAN EVEN be enjoyable.

Of course, it depends on your children.

There's no use lassoing them and tying them to the couch, but some children will genuinely be interested in 30 minutes of games or activities first thing in the morning.   Hint:   some reticent children are drawn into games or activities if YOU start playing them, and genuinely enjoy yourself.

And then, of course, it depends on their age.

Little ones may love finger-plays, poems, songs in various languages and the same book read every day for 5 days so it becomes their "own".

Older ones may want more challenging games, different activities.

Now ... if there were just some sort of QUICK REFERENCE guide to hundreds of different games an activities that one could grab off the shelf and flick through ...



Sadly, it's still on my computer, waiting to get to the printer!!!

And so, for your previewing pleasure, and for the sake of your children who might want something new to get on with - here are some of the "springboard" ideas in my new book which is called 




Encourage your child (through example) to draw simple objects onto cardboard and cut them out. Then give your child a shoebox to keep all their cut-outs in. Some children love to get them out and play with them – arranging them all on a table-top. Ideas for cut-outs: bulldozers, diggers, cars, trucks, houses, people, shops, trees, aeroplanes, animals, rockets, pirate ships, characters from a story you're reading, – whatever your child is interested in. These are wonderful to keep and look back on when the children are older.

Make board games and use flat pebbles as counters. Game could be going along a path to reach somewhere. Could have move ahead squares and miss turn squares, also squares to sing a song, recite a poem, say scripture, run and touch something, pat head and rub tummy or other activity.

Rule a piece of paper into about 6 columns across the page. Down the side of the page put the following categories:
boy's name, girl's name, plant, animal, place, food, colour.
Someone calls out a letter. Write that letter at the top of the first column. You must then fill in each category with something that starts with that letter.
E.g. If someone calls out F then for boy's name it could be Frank, for girl's name Frances, plant could be fuchsia, animal could be fish etc.

Each player takes a turn to say what they bought at the imaginary market. But you don't say what YOU bought until you have remembered what everyone else before you bought. Each item is accompanied by a miming action – this is fun and it also helps fix the items in your mind!
1st player: I went to the market and bought a rabbit (mime rabbit ears).
2nd player: I went to the market and bought a rabbit (mime), and a shovel (mime digging).
3rd player: I went to the market and bought a rabbit (mime), a shovel (mime) and a hat (mime putting hat on).
1st player again: I went to the market and bought a rabbit (mime), a shovel (mime), a hat (mime) and a hankie (mime blowing nose).

Similar to the game above, but each player just says the “purchases” from the players first, then when they get up to a new thing for their turn they mime what they bought. It helps to look at each player and try to remember what they mimed as trigger to getting the purchase right!

Give two players a well-known simple song each. Have them face each other, looking right at each other on the count of three they should start singing their own song, trying hard not to laugh, forget their song, or miss anything out. See if they can both get to the end of their songs successfully.

Same as above – each player has a tune they must whistle instead of sing. Make sure players are far enough apart so they don't whistle into each others faces.

Take a piece of paper and a compass – draw a circle on the piece of paper with the compass. Now close the compass and give it to your child. Have them guess how far open you would need the compass to be to make a circle exactly the same size as your one. When they have guessed, take the compass from them and positioning the point right in the centre draw a circle with their guess. Put their name by it, and give the closed compass to the next player and continue in this way until all have had a turn.

9.   HOW MANY?
Call out a letter. The first player has to call out as many words as they can beginning with that letter. They raise their hand when they have run out of words to say. Move to the next player and call out a different letter.
You can play this one with beanbags. Sit in a circle with a beanbag. Throw the beanbag to someone and call out a letter at the same time. The catcher must say at least five words starting with that letter, and then throw the beanbag to someone else and call out a different letter. That player must say at least five words … and so on.
You could make it harder by narrow it down to using categories – say only words with more than 3 letters – or animal names, or plants.

Children need to understand the concept of “words that rhyme”. This is a tricky concept for some children! But practice it and they'll catch on.
1st player: “I'm thinking of a word that rhymes with cat.”
2nd player: “Does it fly at night?”
1st player : No – it is not a bat.”
2nd player “Does it look like a mouse?”
1st player “No - it is not a rat.”
2nd player “Do you wipe your feet on it?”
1st player: “Yes – it's a mat.”

One player leaves the room. The others then decide on a verb: (a verb is something you can be “to” in front of: to run, to swim, to jump, to hop, to fly, to skip, to crawl, to stand, to give). When then absent player comes back into the room he has to try and guess what the verb was by asking questions substituting the verb for the word sausage.
Say the verb was “fly”.
Q: “Does a dog sausage?”
A: “No.”
Q: “Does a person sausage?”
A: “No.”
Q: “Does a building sausage?”
A: “No.”
Q: “Does a bat sausage?”
A: “Yes.”
At which point the player may wish to guess what “sausage” is.

12. ALPHABET DOGS (or cats)
1st player: “A - my dog is an active dog and his name is Arthur.”
2nd player: “B - my dog is a beautiful dog and her name is
3rd player: “C – my dog is a crafty dog and his name is Conroy.”
4th player: “D - my dog is a daft dog and his name is Dudley.”
and so on.
It helps younger players if they can see the alphabet – either on a card, a wall poster, or lay scrabble tiles out in front of them in alphabetical order.

Using scrabble tiles or magnetic letters each player takes one letter at a time and places it face upward on the table. Other players must watch to see if they can make a word from the letters already chosen – not necessarily using all of them but better if you can. Call out when you see a word.

Using a pack of cards take one of each number out and put into a basket. Player 1 chooses a card. If it is number one, then it goes on the table. Player 2 must get a two. If the card is not a number 2 then it gets returned to the basket and player 3 gets to pick another card out and see if it is a 3 and so on until all the cards are out and in a row on the table.

137.  MEMORY
Spread a pack of cards out, individually, face down on the table – either scattered or in neat rows. Each player is allowed to turn two cards over. If they match they keep that pair, and have a free turn. If they do not match they turn the cards back to their “face down” position. The next player turns two cards over and the game continues that way. All players must watch to see where the cards lay.

A my name is Angela, my husband's name is Alfred, our children are Algernon and Annie. We're going on holiday to Australia to buy an lovely albatross and dine on delicious apples.”
B my name is Boris, my wife's name is Betty, our children are Brian and Belinda. We're going on holiday to Blenheim to buy a lovely bucket and dine on delicious bananas.” etc

First player names an item. Next player says the first word they think of that is relevant to that item … and so on.
It may go something like this:
1st word: bicycle
2nd word: road
3rd word: car
4th word: steering wheel
5th word: sticky
6th word: orange
7th word: juice
8th word: apple
9th word: tree
10th word: monkey
Then, after about 10 rounds go backwards. You do not say your word, but the word of the person before you. So if you had 10 players and the last player said “monkey”. The backwards round would start with the player 10 saying “tree”.
Then player 9 would think “yes, I said tree, but why did I say tree – what was the word that made me think of tree? - ah yes – apple.”
And player 8 thinks “yes, I said apple, but why did I say apple – what was the word that made me think of apple? - as yes – juice.”
and so on till you return to player 2 saying “Car!”

Players speak back and forth to each other - 2nd player must make the FIRST word of their sentence(s) rhyme with the LAST word in the sentence given to them.
1st player: “Looks like it might rain tonight.”
2nd player: (rhyming with “tonight”) “Might it? Yes I think it will.”
1st player: (rhyming with “will”). “ Hill and mountain will be covered with water.”
2nd player: “Oughter get the washing in before it starts.”
1st player: “Hearts that are happy to serve in that way are a joy.”
2nd player: “Boy and girl should do jobs like that.”

One player is timekeeper. Each turn takes one minute. Player one begins a story and speaks for one minute, then timekeeper says “Next” at which time player one must stop immediately and player two must continue the story. No ums or ahhs are allowed, and players must speak smoothly and articulately, without gaps.

One players thinks of an item. For example – a cabbage.
Other players ask questions and try to guess the item.
The first question they ask is “Is it an animal, a vegetable or a mineral?” To which the answer would be “Vegetable.” The questions following that can only be answered with either “yes” or “no.”
i.e., “Does it grow in a tree.”
Do you have it in a cup of tea?”
Can you eat it raw?”

145. GUESS
The following objects are placed on the table: box of matches, ball of string, bag of marbles, bag of buttons and a box of pebbles. Players must write them down and then guess how many matches are in the box, what length the string is, how many marbles are in the bag etc.

146. REMEMBER 30
Place 30 objects on a table (go through your junk drawers and put various items out from there – pencil, paperclip, stapler, rubber band, pocket knife, ruler, business card, cork, marble, baby's sock etc.) Players observe all the items for one minute, then they go away and write as many as they can remember.

Play peekaboo with babies – but keep playing it with them when they are toddlers and young children too! Use a blanket to hide behind, around a door, behind a cushion etc. This can cheer a child up when they are needing a little comfort, or a grumpy 5 year old.

Tactile children LOVE this game. However, some children CAN'T STAND IT!
Place squares of different things on the floor for children to walk on: paper, cardboard, bubblewrap, silver foil, cushions of different fabrics, fabric, carpet sample square, doormat. Make a path, make it straight or wavy.

Get sheets of bubblewrap that have the large bubbles in them. Let your children jump on them to pop the bubbles.

Draw a design onto paper with a white wax candle or white crayon. Paint over the design with brightly coloured runny (but not watery) paints. The white design will show through the colours.

Wet a piece of paper thoroughly. While it is still wet drop some paint onto the paper and juggle it around to make the colours run. After it is dried look for hidden shapes and figures and draw around them with a black marker pen.

Method One: Beat ½ C of soap flakes in ½ C of water. Divide the mixture up into shallow containers. Add a different colour of food colouring to each container. Press blank paper over the bubbles then lay them flat to dry overnight.
Method Two: Pour detergent into a container and add enough paint to give a strong colour. Using a straw blow into the container until bubbles rise above the container. Roll your paper gently over the top of the container.
These make lovely “card mats” for cardmaking, or larger pieces of paper can be printed in this way for wrapping paper.

Use chalk or crayon and walk around the house with a piece of paper finding interesting textures. Hold the paper on the surface and rub the chalk or crayon over it.

Draw on a sheet of wet paper with pieces of brightly coloured chalk. Try also drawing with the coloured chalk on paper that is both wet and dry in different areas – achieve this by wetting paper with a spray bottle, or painting water onto the paper with a brush.

On a sheet of plastic or a plastic table spread paint – one or more colours in a way that pleases you. Use your finger to draw a pattern, ensuring that the paint is actually pushed off the area with your finger. Wash hands.
Gently lay a piece of paper over the design and carefully press down making sure you do not move the paper around. Carefully peel it off and lay it flat to dry. Try with wet paper and dry.

Cut a picture from a magazine that doesn't show too much small detail. Place the picture face down on a sheet of paper. Paint the back of the picture with turpentine. Whilst it is still wet scribble evenly and firmly over it. Carefully pull the picture away and you should have a print of the picture on your paper.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Activities for an Older Child

  • drawing,
  • painting,
  • cooking,
  • photography,
  • birdwatching,
  • reading,
  • making plant displays in vases,
  • making playdough,
  • writing,
  • making charts,
  • lists to tick when out,
  • brushing the dog,
  • hide and seek,
  • teaching the dog tricks,
  • finding out new stuff about camera,
  • writing people letters,
  • making a swing,
  • copying fancy fonts,
  • posters – one for each bird,
  • making soft toys,
  • making dresses for dollies or teddies,
  • crayon rubbings,
  • chocolate leaves,
  • trimming bushes,
  • planting a little garden,
  • making a nature movie
  • making a hut,
  • eating,
  • making people files,
  • making a miniature garden,
  • looking for owl pellets,
  • making a book,
  • making a costume,
  • writing a script,
  • putting on old clothes and getting muddy (only with permission!),
  • looking through old notebooks,
  • making a weather station,
  • making a treehut,
  • cutting down a tree,
  • practicing falling over painlessly,
  • painting with water,
  • making a boat to sail on pond,
  • wall art in bedroom,
  • knitting a scarf,
  • looking at the stars,
  • make an ant house,
  • make a miniature scene,
  • start a diary,
  • illustrate poems,
  • paint by numbers,
  • decorate an old shirt with markers,
  • bible journaling,
  • learn shorthand,
  • pressing flowers,
  • making bookmarks,
  • making little nature things to sell,
  • make birdy afternoon tea,
  • go far from house and do silly singing,
  • make a giant nest to sit in.
  • crosstitch,
  • gathering seeds,
  • learning/practicing an instrument,
  • memorising scripture,
  • biking,
  • nature collection (in basket),
  • make paper for letters,
  • make a leaf crown,
  • rubber stamping,
  • finger painting,
  • cardmaking,
  • woodworking,
  • weeding the garden,
  • painting,
  • making a balm,
  • make a bird feeder,
  • paper planes,
  • make a puppet,
  • box television,
  • bubbles,
  • paper plate masks,
  • make a castle

Can You Find Whoville?

In one of our 6 year old's favourite books "Horton Hears A Who" a terrible thing happens to all the Whos in Who-ville.

Their speck, on a clover,  is picked up and dropped in a great patch of clovers a hundred miles wide by a black-bottomed eagle named Vlad Vlad-i-koff.   And Horton must find that clover!

I thought of this when we were out playing the other day, and as I happened to have a pen handy - this was the game I invented.

First, I drew Whoville (artistic talent not necessary - it's JUST A GAME!!)

Then I "flew" over a patch of "clovers" and dropped the leaf.

The children had to find Whoville!

Friday, 6 May 2016

Not Back To School

I wrote this post a few months ago.  The Greengage tree is almost bare and most of the cicada cases have been found and played with.  It's lovely to see how our place has changed in just a short time.


Normal life continues here as other children return to school after the holidays.

We took the doggy for a gentle walk around the paddock - he was neutered last week and mustn't run yet.  Along the way we found the Greengage plums were ripe.  Yummy!

Then we discovered more cicada cases in a favourite shady place to play.

One of the boys decided to run back and get the pruning saw as the oak tree had some annoying little branches that needed to be cut off.

 We found the nectarines almost ready - very exciting as its the first year we've had nectarines from this tree.

We also collected some camellia leaves for a project.

Back home we sat around the table, had a bit of morning tea,  and attempted to have "Cozy Time" whilst also chasing the baby away from the drawers, the dog's bowl, getting bits of Lego out of his mouth that had been accidentally left out and calming one boy who just wanted to get to the bit of Cozy Time where we would be discussing supernovas.

(I'm going to do another post on Cozy Time soon).

We all went our own ways after Cozy Time whilst Esther melted some chocolate for us.

One of the older boys looked after the baby whilst we had fun putting the chocolate on the leaves, then into the fridge.

We ate the chocolate leaves with a cup of icecream each at afternoon tea time.

It sounds easy when I write it out like this, with Esther's beautiful photography making our lives look picture book perfect - but we're just real people, with some very real challenges.  There were a lot of lumps and bumps in the road today as there are every day.   However, I just wanted to share our day to encourage others who have a hankering for a simple life, a belief that they CAN do this natural education thing, and for those who have NO CLUE what natural education looks like!   I am happy to answer any questions if I can.

The Necessity of Splitting Up Into Teams At Times

Because of the number of children we have, and the challenges some have, we've learned that sometimes its best for us to do activities in teams.   We used to do most things together, but times change, and in this season the "separate team" thing is working.

Last year a team of us went to the local Community Centre and helped with their book fair.  That went well and was good fun.

Today, a small team stayed home, and the "adventuring" team went out with Daddy.  Esther didn't take the big camera due to the treacherous terrain she knew they would have to traverse.  But she still managed to take some nice pictures on her little phone camera.

It was lovely and shady on this part of the walk.

Daddy needed to help the little guy up this steep bit.

Sibling support.

Nice bridge.

After the bush walk, the team went for a long, long beach walk.

Interesting finds.

Back again, and chatting to some people who were camping.

Very, very lovely morning, building memories.

And unusually quiet at home.  Bonus!

A Child-Friendly Home

I have been known to move the furniture around a bit.  Well, quite a lot actually.   Some evenings my husband would come home and have to search for his favourite chair.  One day he asked if perhaps I could always leave his chair in the same spot.  So we do now, but everything else gets moved around and changed according to the season, the interests we have, new things ... I just like to change it around.  
One of my children doesn't like their bedroom changed around, I understand as I was the same when I was younger.  My Dad was wallpapering my room once, so my things were moved into the spare room for the night.  I was horribly HOMESICK and cried and cried!  Dad came in and told me a funny story till I was laughing and somehow I managed to get to sleep.  Another day I thought it would be fun to move my bed against the wall, and turn my desk around to face the door - playing at being secretaries (I ALWAYS wanted to be a secretary ... and when I was, some years later, I was a very GOOD secretary!)  The game was nice, and the novelty of having my room changed was fine ... until bedtime.  I was homesick again and yes, crying once more.  Dad must have been out that evening because it was my older brother and my Mum who had to haul the furniture around, back to where it had been.  I very, very gratefully got into bed that night.  How blessed I was that I didn't have a harsh mother who might have said "Tough luck, you moved it, you deal with it."

Somewhere the years, at my own pace, I managed to learn to deal with change, some change.  And in many ways I can even enjoy it!  I see that in my children now when I move a small bookcase into a corner and throw some floor cushions down - or take a chair out of the lounge and add some children-sized desks and chairs.

Currently we have a large round table in the lounge - custom-fitted with short legs so the children can work at the table when it isn't piled with rubble:  sewing things, cushions, library books, pens, a basket of odd bits I have collected from the floor, a police truck, baby's dolly, a small blanket ...

Some time back I wrote the following article when I became concerned about the fact that some people don't think about what their home looks like from the viewpoint of their children.  Too much Pinterest, too many perfect blogs, too much looking at other people's homes ... it can put an unrealistic expectation in a parent's mind.


Each room in your house that your children use must be welcoming to them – consider the children when you set it up – or re-set it. 
Can they reach the taps? If not, what can you provide to help them?
Is there a place for the towel to hang? If the towel keeps falling down (or getting pulled off the rail) can you peg it in place?
If the towel is wet are they able to take it to the correct place and put a new one up? 
Are the placemats low enough for them to reach? What else can they put on the table to help set it for meals – and where can you store those items so they can reach easily?
Are your art things available and on display to encourage use, but out of reach of very small hands?
Is there a stack of appropriate paper that the children can help themselves to anytime for making books, cutting up, letter writing, sticking things to? 
Is there a small rubbish bin for them to use when they are making art?
Do you really need a couch plus four lounge chairs and a huge expensive glass-topped coffee-table? They might be taking up valuable floor-space! Would it be a better use of your space to take away two chairs and the expensive coffee-table and replace them with floor cushions and a lower, more useable table? The type of table you choose is very important as it will be the centre of many games, it should be able to be moved by the children to make game areas (house corner, art centre, vet clinic – whatever they are playing) and it should be easy to wipe off.
Look again with fresh eyes at your living spaces and see if you can re-arrange things to make your home more exciting for your children. 
If you want your house to look like a show-home, then wait a few more years until the children are grown up. Don't make the children suffer through their whole childhood just because of your preference for a home that impresses other people. A creative home doesn't have to be a chaotic home – but it can be a haven of rest and peace and excitement for children who love to be there, work there and gain more sense of their place in the family with the work they accomplish there.
Keep these words in mind as you re-organise your home:
light – sun – windows – quiet – organised – cozy – space
I feel qualified to write that because I know it can be achieved even in small spaces. There are eight of us living in our small house! I have friends who live in smaller houses, and it is very difficult, especially home educating, but they still manage – with inventive, cheap storage systems and an eye on what is clutter and what is necessary to keep.
Sometimes a very large house is far more unpleasant to live in (hellooooo? Where is everybody? Come to the kitchen if you can heeeearrrr meee!), and a lot more work to keep tidy and clean! I have a feeling that if we had a bigger house, we'd very quickly make a bigger mess!

Real peace and joy comes from contentment with where God has us right now, and using what we have to make our family comfortable.

PIVOTAL information with regard education and your child PLEASE READ!!

Regular readers will be aware that the Ministry of Education and I had dealings a few weeks back.

During those dealings the lady from the Min asked me:  

"I have looked back at the applications on file for your older children and I can see that you have made some changes in your approach to home schooling over the years to the point where you have adopted the planned approach for Joseph. I am very interested in how home educators make these decisions and changes over time and  I would like to hear more about this. I know that many home educators do change their approach over the years from the time of applications and it would be useful for my learning to hear more about this aspect."

She also asked, at one point, how we would know if Joseph will be learning as he should be.


This is some of what I said to her:

How we will know he is progressing as he should be across the learning areas:
I really have trouble with the “as he should be” part of this because in my experience of many different learning/teaching styles, and many different children I am confident that putting an expectation on a child of what should be achieved at a certain stage is unhealthy.
I am sure you agree that nobody puts constraints on a baby as to when they crawl, stand, speak etc – however I also understand that if a baby was not walking by 2 years old, then something may be a amiss.
When I look at our older children I am given more and more confidence that despite the age at which they learned to read, multiply, speak a foreign language, research, debate, memorise etc – then the learning happened over their younger years – and most importantly that the learning happened WHEN THEY WERE READY TO RECEIVE the learning, and therefore it is remembered.
It’s safe to say that I don’t notice every success and sign of progress that my children make as they can be naturally very gradual and smooth.  The progress does not need to be noticed/noted  for it to continue – the children move ahead very naturally in their own ways, enjoying the feeling of getting better at something or gaining some new skill.
Of course, big milestones like riding a bike by himself, or learning all the words to a poem and reciting it, or completing a whole colouring picture by himself, or following along with a story and knowing where all “his” words are and reading them out loud, bringing me the results of his workshop project – these things ARE noticed by me, and I celebrate them appropriately with him according to his mood (whether he needs a smile, a tickle, a high-five, a whoop or great bursts of clapping).
You mentioned you were interested in why families might change their learning style over the years.  Here are my thoughts.
Above I mentioned the fact that a child will remember things if they are learned during a time a child was interested in a subject – this is the crux of natural learning, and I believe it is why many families go from a more structured learning style (wherein the parent feels more “in control” of the learning, feeling more that they can achieve a successful result because everything is laid out in a specific order to ensure the main points are covered) to a more natural (unschooling/delight directed learning) style.    
Natural learning can, on the face of it, seem rather messy, chaotic or perplexing from those looking from the outside, but the depth of learning and the excitement and enjoyment the children have results in much learning being absorbed and subsequently turned over and over in their minds later.  
As an example the other day before I could get out of bed I had four little boys in with me.   The baby was playing quietly, Joseph was on and off the bed playing with cars, our 8 and 10 year olds were cozy under the blankets.  Our 8 year old asked me about Winston Churchill and the bad guy that he couldn’t remember the name of.  Then they both listened very intently as I told them about Hitler, and the state that Germany was in after WWI, and Jewish people, concentration camps, gypsies, gas chambers, Corrie Ten Boom, Churchill etc etc.   If I had an expectation that everything I said would be remembered, then I would perhaps become exasperated that some of it was forgotten.  However, I see life learning as a  large number of “jigsaw puzzles” in a child’s mind.  Every time the children hear some new information they might taken in a bit of it – or all of it depending on their interest and their ability to take it in and relate it to other information they know – they gain a piece (or pieces) of one or some of the puzzles.  Next time the subject comes around they may already have many pieces of that puzzle and they will gain some more and start to see the picture more clearly.
An example of that was when I was speaking about Churchill I mentioned the BBC Documentary “Wartime Farm” that the children enjoyed, and I said about Churchill keeping the hope of English people live, that they needed to believe they could win the war.  The children remembered the bits in that documentary where the folks did without things and endured hardship.
Therefore, if I could see into their minds, and I could view their “jigsaw puzzles” I might see that the “WW2” puzzle had more pieces in it since our talk about concentration camps, and their “Winston Churchill” puzzle had more pieces in relation to making noteworthy speeches, and their “Hitler and commanding officers” puzzle had a few more pieces in relation to cyanide pills.