Butser Ancient Farm

Fantastic Half-Term trip to Butser Ancient Farm with friends.

Iron Age village with Round houses, neolithic buildings, roman villa and lots of hands on things for the kids to try. We had 7-12 yr olds and they all loved it. It had a fantastic quiz to do which the kids and adults enjoyed. Very reasonably priced, a lovely place to visit. Great staff/volunteers who are obviously passionate about history, but not imposing, if you show an interest then they are keen to share knowledge which was brilliant, we learnt an amazing amount about Roman soldiers. We also learnt that there were female gladiators called gladiatrix!! R was impressed with that.

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Mosaic floor in the Roman villa made from Lego!

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Chalk crushing for the round house floor
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jaw bone found on the dig
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Roman Villa
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Roman Soldier
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Iron age round house
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Inside a large round house
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Iron Age village

Butser Ancient Farm

Our Oodles of History

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Grandparents, Badminton and First Ever Parents’ Evening

R went to Granny and Grandpa’s today – they book to play badminton each week and R is getting very good, she really makes Granny run around now, and Granny is a very good player. They spent the afternoon in Granny’s garden, watching tadpoles and fish, gardening and playing games.

I had L’s first ever parents’ evening at school (we’d met her tutor before but not the rest of her teachers…. and as expected they do all look very young!) There were 5 min slots with whoever your child managed to book with. We saw English, Maths, Science, History, Geography and Spanish teachers.

They were all very pleased with her, some didn’t know that she’d been home educated up till now and said I’d obviously done a very good job, which was nice to hear. Sounds like L will be moved up sets in possibly everything as they were slightly cautious with her set planning I think as she didn’t have official SATS results and school reports…. but she has had some super teachers this year and has settled in very happily so we’ve been happy with that. She has friends in the other sets though, and would be changing teachers anyway, so moving up in September would be good.

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Drama, Minecraft and Maths.

R loves her home ed drama session every week, we hire a teacher for 15 home ed kids, they have a great venue and the teacher is lovely. We have tried various drama sessions with different people in the past but this one just really works, it is a good group of kids and the teacher does some great things with them. It is quite an age mix, but works really well.

That was the morning, we walked home in the sunshine, having a good chat about all sorts of abstract things. Walking places and chatting usually ends up with some pretty interesting conversations about the World.

R then wanted to play on Minecraft in preparation for the next YouTube video: R’s YouTube channel Pink Rose Kitty.

We then did some maths on Doodlemaths and watched some science YouTube videos.

Went to a friend’s house for tea, L met us there, kids played and adults chatted. So great to have kept up a weekly meet with our ‘baby’ group!

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Woodcraft folk group

Woodcraft session today which both girls go to, was about Global Poverty – not the most fun of topics and parents decided not to include the really hideous statistics of how many children die per day etc, but even so, just how many children live in poverty was hideous enough.

It was more focussed on how much money some people are forced to live on per day, with a look at prices of food and how hard that would be to manage. Then followed by a game where the children had to make bags (working in three different groups) and then sell them. They were given a certain amount of newspaper and the buyer had to decide whether he wanted to buy their bags and how much for. Various random events would then happen in different groups – an ill member needing hospital treatment – costing x pennies, or a flood wiping out their stock etc.

Paper bags
Paper bags

The girls are in Pioneer group now for age 10-12 and a game like that works well. They’d done a similar Fairtrade game with oranges in the younger group… Elfins.

We’ve been going to Woodcraft since L was about 5 and it is really great. Our group is co-operatively run by the parents, I know some other Woodcraft groups are more run by a leader, without parents, but we love the ethos of Woodcraft, non-religious, peace-loving – a sort of scouts/guides for hippies 😉 S takes the girls so it has become the thing he goes to which is great all round. We usually go to camps with the group too, a lovely load of people.

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Talk, talk and talk

Today has consisted of a lot of talking. We watched a bit of a documentary about Rainforests… it is a long one so we’ll save the rest for another day… then we had long talks about why areas of rainforest get cleared, types of sustainable wood, why the forest would take so long to grow back and the stages it would go through first before returning to anything like its original state.

We watched a few ASAP science videos, again with plenty of discussion… I love the ideas that R comes up with, so thoughtful and innovative.

We watched: The 6 craziest extinctions ever

Along with a few others… it is hard to stop at one because there is always another one lined up that’s looks interesting.

Some will not be suitable for younger children…. but that is usually clear from the title.

We talk so much about everything. I’m sure that this is one of our most effective educational tools. We take time to talk about things as they come up, and we look up things together, often heading off at a tangent. It doesn’t feel like learning, it is just living and having fun… and as a side effect of that we all seem to learn a lot too!

You may also like: Taking the Struggle out of Education

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Loving our Local Library while we can.

We went to our local Library’s anniversary event at the weekend, fancy dress, to celebrate 76 years of being there. So many people have been going there all their lives, but this could be the last anniversary event as it may be closed by next year 🙁

We had over 400 people through the doors, author Ali Sparkes, and we even had a Dalek join our campaign to Save our Library!

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We had our library home ed meet up today, with lots of new faces, lots of little ones and our usual people too. We did some more on designing roller coasters for a competition. Then we did some map work… with a map of the library and x’s marked on it, the kids all went and looked for a letter at each place and then put them together to make a message. The older ones helped the younger ones look for the clues.

There was plenty of interaction with older people in the library, pleased to see children enjoying the environment and learning as they went. We had a few older people asking if they could join in with the treasure hunt!

Then as we had so many small ones a member of staff did a lovely story time for them while the older ones carried on with their roller coaster designs. Our library staff are so important and do so much and yet they, along with our library are under threat of not being there for much longer. So sad. We’re certainly not going to lose them without a huge fight!

See previous post : A lesson or two in campaigning

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Home Ed Group Meet up at Scout hut.

Our home ed group hires a scout hut about once a month for the day where parents take it in turns to run or organise sessions.

Today we had one parent run a music / vocal coaching session, which many of the older kids prepared a piece of music for in advance (they could if they wanted to)

What I think is so lovely about the sessions at scout hut is that none of them is compulsory, children don’t have to take part if they don’t want to, and if they aren’t enjoying a session they can leave. They are usually encouraged to have a look what is on offer, and if they choose not to join in then they do not disrupt the others. R didn’t want to join the music session today (not her thing), so she played in the woods instead. Activities sometimes have a guideline age group but in general children classify themselves as big enough for activities, so it isn’t unusual to have smaller children joining in something if they are keen or interested.

We then had a lawyer come in to talk about the Magna Carta (there was a trip to Salisbury last week to see the Magna Carta), which led on to a discussion where the children had to put forward ideas for their own Magna Carta.

It was a really good activity, and there were some very interesting suggestions put forward. A few funny ones, like unlimited ice-cream for children, but most were serious and there were a lot to do with children’s rights. It was suggested that it should be made law that children be treated with respect, especially by teachers and parents. Also, how children should have more say in decision making, and that children should not be forced into school against their will (alternative childcare would be a different issue). Some children also wanted to only have electric cars, to reduce carbon emissions. Another one that came up was a total ban on smoking. It was a large age range 6-14 and some of the youngest ones had the most idealistic suggestions. The older ones were more realistic about the idea of scrapping all cars apart from electric cars for instance.

There was a school nurse session next about alcohol… which a big group of kids did go in for but R wanted more Wolf game in the woods (an ongoing group game for all ages which happens regularly at scout hut… and has probably been running for over a year or more.)

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Pizza Express with Home Ed group

R went with Aunty M to a home ed session at Pizza express. It sounded great – each child made their own pizza from scratch. R was really pleased with how the crust and base came out and she saved a piece for me.

There were 11 kids there and it sounded like the staff were great with them. All for free! Thanks Pizza Express!

Cake pops
Cake pops

The afternoon carried on in a food based theme with cake pops (cake balls in a special cake pop maker that R got for her birthday) great fun trying to put the balls of cake on sticks and then decorate them with melted chocolate and sprinkles, it wasn’t a bad first attempt. 🙂

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Models, whittling and carving

R is very into making figures from clay and other modelling materials, we have now moved on to some small tools / blades to try some whittling / carving with balsa wood and also soap.

Great discussions about density from the balsa wood and led to looking up about more dense woods too.

I think she could do with perhaps a very small chisel type tool and hammer to carve out with more control?

Wondering what else to try for her?

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