Back in time

Ever since taking part in Oliver Twist my little boy in rags has wanted to learn more about Dickensian times and I’ve been promising this topic for ages.  Lets hope it’s all he imagined it to be!

Having spent a week or two learning about WW1, we looked at what life was like at home; particularly how the roles of women changed which led us nicely back to how men and women had been treated differently prior to the outbreak of war.  We’ve had some interesting discussions about the expectation for girls to look after the home and how poor children were sent out to work from an early age.  In his usual dramatic way he has then wailed back at me (after a bit of an argument about the need to work hard), “don’t send me to work up a chimney…”  and, “You can’t make me go to work!”  We also had a worrying moment when I created some maths problems about sharing coal into groups and he

using smarties to understand fractions of number
using smarties to understand fractions of number

imagined he was a child worker who needed to be quick or the boss would be cross.  He was really engaged in this role play until he got stuck and went into a complete panic that he was going to be beaten by this imaginary boss for not being quick enough… I think my son immerses himself a little too much into character.  Maybe I should look into method acting for him!





We began our new topic with a selection of pictures of Victorian objects spread out over the floor.  C had to sketch them and try to guess what they were.  We had a carpet beater, a bed warmer, a washboard, a cobblers last and a sugar cutter.  This was a good activity for his enquiring little mind and he made some good guesses.

There has been a lot of reading this week again and we’ve made good use of the BBC history site where he learnt note taking and listed similarities and differences between the past and now.  We have also tried to find a Horrible Histories episode on The Victorians but came across WW1 again; we did get slightly sidetracked as we decided to watch this!  Not the best way of teaching chronologically but actually it’s been good for his understanding as he commented that we should have ‘done it the other way around’ and started with Victorians.  He’s probably right, but we wanted to see those poppies!

chimney sweep
chimney sweep

As no trips were planned this week we had a Victorian day at home, where C of course had to be Oliver and therefore treated meanly in our ‘orphanage’ until he could escape.  We did a very formal spelling and handwriting ‘lesson’ where he had to be silent and I banged a stick a lot (hoping nobody looked through the window as it would have looked terrible). He then did some very entertaining miming of cleaning the chimney before he grabbed the opportunity to write a begging letter to Mr Brownlow to come and rescue him.  This was his first piece of writing in a while so I was all ready to fully extend it until I realised that (of course) he was in role as a poor boy and therefore uneducated.  It was only right then, in his mind, that he reversed letters and spelt everything wrong, stating that

“I wouldn’t know how to spell would I mummy?!”

No.  I suppose not.  Smarty pants.

When Daddy came home and got roped into this role play as a not too reluctant Mr Brownlow, we were able to make the switch from poor Victorian to rich and explore the contrast in ‘Oliver’s’ lifestyle; he’s taken in a lot over just a few days.

To try to vary the media a bit more I have ended the week by teaching C how to make a power point presentation and he spent most of Friday collating all his learning into slides and exploring endless animation effects, which he has found incredibly entertaining. I just hope our family do as they are the intended audience I think.  We will be popping it onto a memory stick and ‘All about the Victorians’ will be coming to a screen near you soon!

Not at all connected to the Victorian theme, but something I wanted to mention is some science that occurred today.  I’ve been conscious of how little science we have done since our ‘Deadly 60’ learning and have been trying to source resources to help but today, playing with hot wheels, I was reminded of how easy it is to bring KS1 science into everyday life.  The boys made a loop the loop Hot Wheels track, as they often do, but today it was much higher than usual meaning that not all the cars would stay on the very steep track.  It lead to us investigating which cars went the furthest, were they heavier or lighter, what happened when we adjusted the angle and so on.  I steered the play a little in order to get in some ‘what if…’ and  ‘ I wonder what will happen if…’ questions, but it was a very natural learning process:  The best way to get children exploring their ideas, rather than the very direct and closed questions that adults are sometimes tempted to use, which doesn’t necessarily lead to the creative thinking that we are trying to encourage.  And writing about our learning here means that I have the opportunity to reflect on how much learning goes on with or without my input!

It’s been a busy week all round, a playdate with a home ed friend, moved up a group in football, earned a badge at gymnastics and got lines to learn for the Beavers’ pantomime. We’ve written to Father Christmas this week too, and next week we will be exploring ‘A Victorian Christmas’ at Kent Life which should really help to bring this learning to life.  At our home ed group we have learnt how to make a willow wreath ready for our front door. Time to get the advent calendars down now.  The countdown to christmas is beginning!

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