We found ourselves in London last week with an afternoon to spare, and took the chance to visit the splendid Museum of London. It’s been a long time since my last visit, I think I was probably still at school, so it was great to go and check it out. Like most of the London museums, entry is free with a recommended donation.
We’ve found history one of the most challenging aspects of our home education journey. Ideally we wanted to follow the curriculum, but B hasn’t been engaged with a lot of the material that we’ve used. To overcome this we’ve compromised and decided to look at history in a way that works for us. I would like B to work on his skills of using evidence, decoding, using existing knowledge for comparison, and remembering what happened when. We’ve decided to look at the history of trains as a starting point as something we can look at in depth. The museums are helping us to learn chronologically when specific events happened, and hopefully spark some enthusiasm for other historic events.
The layout of the Museum of London is great to follow events on a “when it happened” basis. Starting with all manner of bones and skeletons, we read up on how you might have found a hippopotamus in London many years ago! I really like this part of the museum. With artefacts, straightforward descriptions and models to help you picture how things looked, its easy to understand. With the museum relating to how things were in London, you can also put these events into context.
We looked at timelines to see what happened when, and which events are deemed important enough to make the timeline. We moved through Roman times, and I was surprised by how much B had picked up and was telling me what he knew about this time period.
Another event that seems to pique the interest of every child is the Great Fire of London. The enormity of our capital city burning for days is certainly something to capture the imagination. We looked at what they would have had to tackle the blaze and how it shaped London after destroying so much of it.
The Victorian Street area is another favourite of ours. Looking at the shops in comparison to a modern day street, and sitting down in a pretend pub was a hit with B!
I really like the way that the museum takes the history right up to recent history. With a moving tribute to the bombing victims of 2005, this thought provoking display led on to all sorts of discussions. I think its vital that children are taught about attacks like these, but it can be hard to know where to start without frightening them.
A highlight for me was the Model Y Ford that was made in Dagenham. I love the design of old cars, and coming from a car mad family its definitely rubbed off!
As with all museums, I can’t leave without popping in to the gift shop. We found some great books, B picked one on Tube Trivia, and I found one on all museums in London to help us find the rarer and more off the beaten track places to visit.
Looks like we are going to have a busy year of museum frequenting!