Month: October 2016

Kinetic Sand Building Set – Building Made Fun

Kinetic Sand Building Set – Building Made Fun

B was beyond excited to receive a box of Kinetic Sand to try out and couldn’t wait to get stuck in. We’ve been looking at buildings as part of our home education journey after B decided he wanted to do a project on them so the timing couldn’t have been better. There are a range of different sets available so you can veer towards whatever your little ones are interested in. The sandcastle set is is great for girls and boys as the colours are neutral, ideal if you’ve more than one child to please.

With everything you need to get started B got on with the job in hand. The sand moulds so well, we had creations in no time. There is enough sand included to create all the plastic moulds that are included which pleased him no end. Sometimes there’s nothing worse when having to choose to build one, you need to destroy your other creations!

One of the first things you notice with the sand is that is has a really pleasing texture. Over the years we’ve played with many modelling toys from moon dough, to sand, through to plasticine and none of them feel as nice as this does on your hands. When sensory issues come into play when choosing toys, this one was a hit for us.

A favourite thing about kinetic sand is just how well you can mould it. B managed to make them all without the familiar despair of a castle collapsing too soon!

With a handy tray to play and store everything in, this is a toy that parents needn’t fear being brought out either!
**We were sent the sand to review, but all opinions are our own **

Unschooling and Structure

Unschooling and Structure

In September we thought we’d try a more structured approach to our daily routine. We set aside times for maths and English and I went crazy printing off a million and one worksheets. Add some brightly coloured lever arch folders to the mix and I was in an organising and filing frenzy. I thought it would be the perfect solution to adding the structure we thought we wanted and I’d made some lovely spreadsheets to tick off everything we were learning about.

Needless to say a couple of months later and we are having a major overhaul yet again. Does that mean our heavily structured method failed? I don’t think so. We’ve drawn from it the things that we both liked. I like the fact that should we choose to follow the curriculum strictly I have all the resources to hand, and B loves a worksheet like there’s no tomorrow.

But what about the unschooling?

I was desperate to free B from the constraints of following something rigid. I thought that we could dip in and out of things as interests changed. That we could choose a topic and get lost in it. I’d noticed so many benefits over the summer from stepping away from the formal learning and spending lots of time outside, but this is not what he wants to do.

So after much discussion we’ve put together a timetable of when and what we are doing. It’s all led by B, and he wants to know what he’s doing and when. So our child led learning may look completely different from what I envisioned, but isn’t that always the way.

Changing Your Home Education Style

Changing Your Home Education Style

I’m going to say it, and it’s one of those things I’m not too keen to admit to, so I’m going to have to get the words out and move on.

I made a mistake.

When I say I don’t like to make mistakes it’s not that I’m so arrogant I think I never make them, it’s just that I’m a researcher and a planner. I like to know the ins and outs of everything I do. If I don’t know about something I’ll find out all I can, or I’ll admit I don’t know. I’m a mistake avoider if there’s such a thing.

I’m not sure whether it’s a big one, or a vital one to stop me veering off in a direction that’s unmanageable, but it’s a mistake nonetheless.

I’ve spent the last month happily planning out our maths work for the year, printing away worksheets from Twinkl and neatly filling out spreadsheets as we completed each task. So far, so good. We’ve happily ploughed through lots of work and my system worked wonderfully for September. Then last night whilst working out our work for October I realised we couldn’t work on what I’d planned without knowing what I’d planned for the month after!

In the grand scheme of things it’s really not that major. We’ve picked it up early and I’ve managed to have a re-jig of our timetable to accommodate our new plan.

What it has shown me however, is some of the things I’d forgotten about from those many years ago when I was at school. It’s strange how the fear from over thirty years ago has a way of creeping over you. I’m not sure why I have such a hang up with maths. I was in top group at school, I passed my GCSE and I had a career in financial services. But still I don’t consider myself a numbers person. I find myself worrying that this is where I’m going to let B down. Which is ridiculous as B’s dad is an accountant and constantly reassures us that he can help where I can’t.

Where do these labels come from and how can we help to overcome them? I don’t like the idea of being identified as the person who’s good at this, but can’t do that. It’s the fear of growing into this preconceived idea of someone else’s that I don’t like. I’m not sure if it comes from my family structure or not. I don’t recall being pigeon holed at home, but I can tell you now we have very different and distinct personalities and maybe subconsciously I’ve chosen this box for myself. Almost as if all the good labels were taken and I’ve had to become what was left.

I know that I don’t want to pass this fear onto B. At the moment he is still in the delightful phase of where he believes everything and anything is possible. Every now and then he’ll have a wobble, usually when faced with his 6 weekly ice skating tests, but on the whole, it’s him against the world. Anything that can’t be solved can be put in the dustbin. Right now he has enough faith in the pair of us to get through so I’ll go with that

The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark – Unicorn Theatre Production

The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark – Unicorn Theatre Production

When it comes to theatres The Unicorn Theatre is fast becoming my favourite. There’s not a single detail that hasn’t been thought through. From the graduating basins in the bathrooms, the fabulous illustrations on the walls, the craft table in the lobby, and the actions inscribed on the floors. You know that this is a place where you are going to have fun.

Last Saturday we were lucky enough to get to see a production of The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark. This was one of those stories that I couldn’t wait to share with B. I had simply adored it when I was a child and we had read the book together a while back. I have to admit I was slightly nervous about seeing a production of a book that held such dear childhood memories to me, but the production is absolutely perfect. With the story taking place centre stage whilst we sat around the edges of the theatre, it was totally immersive theatre. Plop the owl was played to perfection and the mother and other characters portrayed so fluidly I’d say I enjoyed it as much, if not more than the children in the audience! There are some fabulous moments, which we won’t tell you all about as they make such fun surprises.

Here is B’s review of the production (and journey)

Chapter 1 – Transport

We drove to Canary Wharf then got on the tube. We took the tube to London Bridge.

Chapter 2 – The Start

Plop was afraid of the dark. Plop’s mum said “What do you know about the dark Plop?”

“It is black.”

“No, its blue, silver and grey.”

On the wall there were fireworks.

Chapter 3 – The End

At the end Plop went star gazing and looked for Orion. Then he met a cat called Orion. At the end he liked the dark.

The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark is on until 21st November. Its such a magical performance, we highly recommend you go and see it. Tickets are available now

Book here

Disclaimer – we received complimentary tickets but all opinions and comments are our own.

The Bank of England Museum

The Bank of England Museum

As part of our adventures this term we are on the lookout for museums and places of interest that are a little more off the beaten track. Not that we don’t love the huge museums that spring to mind when you think of London, it’s just this term we are celebrating the niche and unusual!

Making the most of the last of the warm days we had planned to have a look around Bank and St Pauls before B’s drama classes which he does each Thursday in London. That morning on the wonder that is the Internet we discovered that the Bank of England has a museum, so we decided to pay them a visit.

We decided to walk from Liverpool Street station so we could look at the buildings along the way. Its a bit of a trip down memory lane for me after years of working in London, and I was regaling B with tales from my youth.

You need to keep your eyes peeled as the entrance to the museum is quite discreet! Once inside and through the security area (it’s a bit like airport security) you can collect an activity worksheet for your child from the reception. With a selection for children of all different ages, there’s one for everyone. With our visit being unplanned, the worksheet was useful for us to give us some ideas on what to look out for. I wasn’t sure whether a museum like this would appeal to B but there is so much for the children to do. From money jigsaws to assemble through to interactive inflation tools it’s aimed at the whole family.

Personally my favourite part was getting to hold a real solid gold bar. With a value of over £400,000 we began to wonder what we would buy if we had one. B particularly enjoyed checking out whether our money was counterfeit or the real deal.

With so much going on its a really interactive fun place. We spent around an hour and a half here and enjoyed every minute. 

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