Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Home Ed, Ancient and Modern

It's been a good day today - we started off with the boys gleefully fiddling on my ipad.  I'm still a little nervous about letting them loose with technology as they outstrip my limited understanding easily, seemingly by instinct (such as Youngest managing to activate some music, that then took me several minutes to work out how to turn off).  I have found the parental locks though, so hopefully they shouldn't be able to spend money or watch/listen to anything inappropriate...

I have to say, it's been totally brilliant as a home ed resource - I have stacks of free apps loaded.  The first one was Eggy Words - a word recognition app from Reading Eggs.  Youngest had only been on it for a couple of minutes when he had mastered the word 'the'.  He has struggled with this one since starting Reading Eggs, because it was one of the few 'sight words' introduced right at the beginning, and he just didn't get it (but refused to repeat any lessons), so has consistently failed to recognise it ever since.  Not once he'd been on the app though - he has no problems now.  Such a little thing - such a big difference!  Other apps we have include Hungry Fish (basic arithmetic), WatchKnowLearn, which has a huge range of educational videos (like the ones you can get on Youtube, but without the risk of them accidentally clicking a link to somethig dodgy), Horrible Histories magazine app, with one free magazine to enjoy - and the only app I have paid for - a year's subscritpion to a magazine called Sea Urchins, about ocean life etc.  They do paper versions I think - but by using it as an app, the boys all get to have a look without one of their brothers having trashed it first.  Eldest was particularly excited when I showed it to him.

Well anyway, I tried to make sure they all got a turn, but of course their turns couldn't possibly be long enough, so I motivated them to share by letting those not "playing" help me to bake some cheese scones and chocolate cinamon crumble cakes... just the kind of distractions I like!

After eating our yummy produce for lunch, we went from one extreme to the other - from a morning of modern technology to an afternoon spent engaging with a great chunk of the past at our local museum.  We've somehow never been before (probably because in my mind it's not the first place I think of taking exuberant boys), and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised: yes, the boys were excited to be out somewhere new, especially as their much-loved auntie was with us, so at first they sped around as expected, and I thought we were going to be in and out again within ten minutes, but then Eldest and Middle found a computerised game to design a town, Youngest found some boxes of themed toys for under-fives, and generally that slowed them down enough to notice the more interactive elements around them.  After that they had a lovely time: Eldest found a quiz that could be answered by investigating some of the exhibits, Middle did some coin rubbings and made a mosiac, Youngest tried on lots of different hats and costumes, Eldest tried on a milkmaid's yoke for size (even without pails, it was too heavy after a minute or so), and Middle and Youngest took turns in the stocks.  It's one of those experiences that is tempting to wonder "how much did they learn, fact-wise" - but then again, they interacted with history in a positive way, and found out some interesting trivia that left them wanting to know more - and in my mind, that's what it's all about: introducing them to something and seeing where their interest is sparked.  We were all amazed by the severity of punishment in "the old days", as demonstrated by the exhibit below - and that has already prompted further conversation - so that was one successful (and fun) trip out. 
Looking back over the day I found it really pleasing to think on how the boys interacted just as easily with ancient history as they did with the most modern of technology. Days like this are just wonderful (apart from my tumble dryer dying in the middle of "rainy season", but that's another story... technology is great - when it works).
Finally - not in the 'ancient and modern' theme, but I have to share anyway - when we got home the day was rounded off nicely with a visit from a black squirrel - we know they live in Herts, but we hardly ever see any, so we felt very privileged to have this little chap spend about half an hour in our garden, noseying about and gobbling up any spilled bird seed that he found - just gorgeous! And by the way, no, we didn't have an on-the-spot chat about genetics, mutations, melanism etc: we were just enjoying the moment, and it would have been too forced for me to introduce it - but you know what?  The boys will remember the day we watched a black squirrel in the garden (if they don't, I took lots of photos!), and when they do want to chat about genetics etc, I will remind them of him and they'll have a great frame of reference! 
 Tumble-dryer notwithstanding, that was a lovely, lovely day.


  1. Wow, don't think I've ever seen a black squirrel before, what a fab photo!

    1. thank you :) he's still here this week too: looks like he's becoming a regular - we're thrilled! xx