A trip to London

Colin’s cousins turned 18 and 16 at the end of January, so we went up to London for the weekend for their birthday party. Aaron and Tabitha each took a small rucksack filled with things to keep them amused on the train. I downloaded a Paddington audio book onto their Leappads, along with a new game, which kept them busy for a lot of the five hour journey. We also played Dinosaur Top Trumps, spotted things from I Spy books and had a picnic lunch.

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Colin’s uncle Cliff met us at Waterloo station and took us for a tour around London in his black cab. The children were excited to see Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, the Shard, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge amongst other famous landmarks.

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On Saturday morning we woke up to snow, the first (and so far only) flakes we’ve seen this winter! We wrapped up warm and took the underground to the Science Museum.

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It was very busy, so we didn’t look around everything. The children especially enjoyed the space and flight galleries, whilst Colin was excited to see one of the huge steam engines in action.

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We did spend a long time in the Launchpad, which has lots of hands-on interactive exhibits.

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After leaving the museum, we walked around Kensington and Chelsea for a while and found a nice little pizza place. We ended up doing a lot of walking that day as we had to walk another couple of miles back to the Travelodge thanks to line closures!

In the evening we had a lovely time at Elliot and Haydn’s birthday party. The boys are brilliant with the children and Aaron and Tabitha adore them. They also made friends with another little boy there and had a go at playing darts!

We had to set off early the next morning, as our journey was complicated by several line closures and it took us a couple of hours just to get to Waterloo Station. It did mean that we got to walk past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament though, which the children loved!

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Tabitha spent hours on the train diligently filling in her English and maths workbooks.

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Poor Aaron had a fever and slept for the entire journey. We had an hour to wait in between trains at Exeter, so we bought some Calpol from the nearest pharmacy and then went to a cafe for some food, where he fell asleep on the table! Fortunately his fever began to come down and he even managed to eat something.

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It was only a flying visit, but Aaron and Tabitha loved their first trip to London.

Curriculum and resources 2014/15

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I can’t believe it’s November already, this post has been in my drafts folder since August! I always enjoy reading about what resources other home educators are using, so I thought I would share some of our curriculum for this year.

Bible

We begin our morning by reading a lesson from Leading Little Ones to God. Each lesson includes a Bible story, questions to talk about, memory verse, suggested Bible reading, hymn and prayer. We are also using the free character lessons from Kids of Integrity.

Handwriting

We are still working through Scholastic Literacy Skills: Handwriting Reception-Year 2.  Tabitha loves writing her name and other words, so my focus for her will be learning the correct letter formations, whilst Aaron is showing an interest in joined up writing and needs to focus on neatness. Other handwriting resources include sandpaper letters, wipe-clean workbooks, pegboards and tablet apps.

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Reading

Aaron reads aloud to me either from Biff, Chip and Kipper books or from his Minecraft handbooks. He also uses an app to practise high frequency words. Tabitha knows most of her letter names and sounds, as I discovered a while ago at a visit to the optician. She is also starting to decode some CVC words, so we are using the level one Biff, Chip and Kipper books and Montessori pink series materials alongside other resources. I may resubscribe to Reading Eggs at some point, although I wish they did monthly subscriptions as the children tend to lose interest after a while.

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Maths

As usual, a lot of our maths learning is what I like to call “conversational maths”. We discuss mathematical concepts and problems as we come across them in everyday, real life situations. We also use the materials from our maths shelves for various activities, challenges and games. Aaron uses Komodo on the computer or tablet to practise mental arithmetic. Tabitha hasn’t done much formal maths yet but has a good grasp of numbers, so I have introduced some of the Montessori maths activities to her. She also enjoys doing maths workbooks. We will continue using Miquon Math with our Cuisenaire rods, although we haven’t done any for a while as our printer is playing up and I can’t print out the lab sheets. Aaron has lost interest in the orange book lab sheets, so I have decided to leave it and skip straight onto the red book which will hopefully be more challenging for him.

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Science

Until now, we haven’t done much formal science. Plenty of time outside in nature and lots of inquisitive questions have allowed us to cover the basics informally. However, last week I decided to try out AIG’s God’s Design for Science curriculum, starting with The World of Plants, The World of Animals and The Human Body. We will be able to combine many of the lessons with nature study and additional hands-on activities.

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Other subjects

Colin usually has Fridays off, so we do a four day week and keep Fridays and Saturdays free for days out. Bible, handwriting, reading, maths and science doesn’t take much more than an hour or so each day, as many of our activities are only 5-10 minutes long. That leaves the rest of the day free for play, outings or other subjects such as art, music, French, geography and history. I have no formal plan for other subjects and we tend to cover them in blocks depending on what else is going on. For example, at the moment we are learning about Paris because my parents are on holiday there and the First World War because Remembrance Day is coming up.

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