Category Archives: Self-led learning

Magna Carta

A fantastic trip to Salisbury to see the Magna Carta.

It was a glorious day and we went on the train, which was a lovely trip. Salisbury is such a lovely place anyway and we went via the park and river in the sunshine, with plenty of wildlife about

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We wandered around the cathedral first, looking at the points of interest on the leaflet, there is a lot there and it is a beautiful building.

view from the cloisters
view from the cloisters

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The World's oldest working mechanical clock (1386)
The World’s oldest working mechanical clock (1386)

This mechanical clock has ticked more than 4.4 billion times since it was built.

We also saw lots of statues and tombs which were really interesting. We saw the tomb of William Longspee (1226) who was the first person to be buried in the Cathedral, he was the half-brother of King John, and his advisor at the 1215 Magna Carta negotiations.

After a good look round the Cathedral we then had a go at writing with a quill and ink and making a seal (with soft modelling clay)

Writing with a quill
Writing with a quill
An Original King John Seal
An Original King John Seal

We then got to see the Magna Carta display, which included a draw containing this above. We couldn’t believe how neat and small the writing was.

It was then time for the big event, which was seeing the Magna Carta itself, which is surprising small and took over 50 hours to write out.

The Magna Carta
The Magna Carta

There was a full transcript on the wall with some very interesting bits. There was also more information about how the Magna Carta was used and renewed at various points in history and how it was used in the English Civil War against King Charles I.

Also how it was used by the Suffragettes.

We finished will an ice-cream and a paddle in the stream which was fab.

See also: LiberTea and cake

Some very good resources here about it all:

British Library Magna Carta Resources

See here for more history

Oodles of History

 

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Algebra means less writing

What an excellent way to sell algebra to a dyslexic child!

Instead of writing: Think of any number and then double it, then add five.

You can just write 2x+5.

This appealed enormously to R and we worked through how to write out quite a few expressions. We also worked on simplifying fractions which appealed to her as well.

R finds reading and writing hard work, and as she reads to me I can tell that she is seeing words in a very different way from me, she can recognise some very complex words and then stumble on a word that looks simple to me. Thankfully maths doesn’t produce the same issues, although we do still occasionally have a backwards 3 or 2 and also mixing up of which word means which operation. Sometimes it is just a lack of confidence and she does know, she’s just not sure enough.

It has been confidence building for R to realise that she understands and is capable of much of what L is doing at school (especially in maths).

In school R would struggle so much more though, one-to-one is so beneficial for her – I’ll do the reading while she focusses on the mechanics of the maths problems. It seems that combining too many different skills at once makes it harder – so processing reading, writing and maths all at once is very difficult.

The same with writing things herself, if her brain is concentrating on the content it makes it extremely hard to also concentrate on word formation and spelling, so dictating a story to me helps, or writing practice just for actually writing, rather than content makes it easier for her.

R read some more Secret Seven to me out in the garden with chin-ups on the swing frame as little breaks. I then read more of Ghosthunter, the final book in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver – R had listened to a CD of it but then wanted me to read it as the CD had been quite intense, with scary mood music, with me reading we can stop and talk about bits. We did both well up a bit as it got quite sad, but it gets happier at the end 🙂 Fantastic series, based around 6000 yrs ago, really exciting stories.

More playmobil playing, some minecraft, chatting, playing with the guinea pig, plus a bit of tidying and cleaning.

R set up a spy game for friends coming round after school, with disguises, walkie talkies and pens and notepaper, we had two lots of two friends round today, one lot after the other, so the kids all had a good play, spies in the garden and Wii U too.

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Weekend Spying and Equality

I went to the first WEP meeting locally (Women’s Equality Party) at our library. There was a good turn out, 30 something people (mostly women), interested in what it is all about. A lovely and very interesting group of people, many of whom I would like to get to know. I will be going back… especially if the cake is that good every time!! I recognised a few people, but lots I didn’t.

It led to some excellent chats with R especially about equality and what that means, and what is still not equal in our society. She is very astute and has her own ideas about it all already, she was very interested and she brought up the generational differences and we talked about that. Also talked about being involved at the start of setting up a political party and how exciting that could be, and what would be good things to suggest. Love how in-depth our conversations get… she is a deep thinker (I was going to say … for a 10 year old…. but actually I think she is just a deep thinker, regardless of age.)

Lots of reading, chatting, computer, and then we all watched ‘Paddington’ I don’t think we would have picked it if other people hadn’t raved about it…. we all really enjoyed it. Funny and sad. Lots of famous faces too.

Clean fish and guinea pig today. Then I sat in the sunshine reading the paper while the girls played spy games with walkie talkies, changing what they were both wearing several times, with different props as they were in disguise.

S, R and L also did the next in the YouTube Minecraft series ..

Minecraft Tutorial YouTube videos made by R

S cooked a lovely roast tonight and paella yesterday. We all needed a quiet weekend as all cough and coldy, so it was just about the right level for us all. Happy days.

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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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