History meets technology

Creating a timeline to develop a sense of the past
Creating a timeline to develop a sense of the past

Another busy fortnight in home school, and the uniform is slipping away.  No longer do I have to teach my son looking like a street urchin from Dickensian days!  Having said that, we started a new topic on The Great Fire of London and he did decide that this warranted a fire damaged outfit and so the shredded shirt made an appearance on Tuesday.  Tuesday is our home ed group day when we meet up with lots of other families and last week C went along armed with props and costumes to encourage his friends to take part in a photo shoot so that we could create a photo story of the Great Fire of Rochester.

For the last two years in my school the Y2 children have done something similar using comic life on the iPads.  As I am loosely following the curriculum that I know they are doing I thought it would be fun for C to do the same.  It took a bit of persuading for his new friends to join in but this again was useful learning for C as he had to think creatively about how he was going to encourage them without forcing them.  He decided  (after a couple of sulks) to make a start and let others see what ‘fun’ he was having with his fake coal and paper flames and hope that curiosity would lead a few over.  Success!  3 boys fully engaged in recreating their own version of events, some great acting and a fantastic comic produced.  He worked with focus and showed such resilience when creating the comic (Fire (1)), overcoming some technical hitches and not giving up when we (I) lost a whole page of his work.  Such resilience is key to successful learners, if young children don’t learn to persevere and overcome challenges early on then they can find it extremely difficult to cope when work becomes more difficult.  I have seen very able children give up so quickly after experiencing ‘failure’ and so have tried to make sure that this is seen as part of the learning process.  If we fail and give up, how can we improve?  Not long ago I heard Matthew Syed speak at a conference and have since bought his book, Bounce. It’s a thought provoking read that challenges our common beliefs about success and questions talent vs the power of practice. He sums up better than I could the importance of allowing children (people) to fail.  Being a sportsman he writes a lot about other sports people and considers, when we marvel at the ability of an ice skater for example, how many bruises and crashes have gone into the making of an elegant and polished performer.  It’s not quite the same for a writer, or a small boy trying to organise some drama but it makes you think about the setbacks we have to face as part of the journey towards success.

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The plaque marks the spot
The plaque marks the spot
Tourists in our home town
Tourists in our home town
trying out a firefighters hat of long ago
trying out a firefighters hat of long ago

No Fire of London topic would be complete without a trip to Pudding Lane to see where it all started, and from there we headed onto the Museum of London for a short journey through the

Roman ages up to the present day. Obviously spending the bulk of our time n the Fire of London exhibit.  Grandad came too and I’m sure we all learnt something new, another great message for my little learners – learning never stops!  Further to the comic, we have stained and burnt some paper and written a diary entry, having a go with a proper ink pen to fully recreate Pepys’ writing.  C gave up after the title as it was too ‘splodgy’ and is pretty impressed that people could write at length with a dip pen or feather quill.

having a go at writing using a dip pen... not easy!
having a go at writing using a dip pen… not easy!
Getting the hang of this...
Getting the hang of this…

We had an unexpected invite this week and were lucky enough to go to a back stage tour of Billy Smart’s circus.  It was fascinating; topped off with discount vouchers to see the show and free popcorn in exchange for a picture depicting the visit.  Great! The show itself was amazing (no animals), such talented performers:  The boys quite literally sat with their mouths open for long periods of time, amazed at the somersaulting, balancing, spinning, juggling, bouncing… Just hope they don’t try anything at home.  I can just picture the two of them trying to balance on one another’s shoulders, or leap off the sofa into one another’s arms…

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The circus visit has led to a quick departure from the Fire of London as we have incorporated circus maths (word problems to put all that we have learnt so far into context) and we have begun brainstorming some vocabulary ready for some poetry writing.  I can’t quite make the link between the two topics so we’ll have to get back to the plague another day!

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