Officially now KS2, and unsure when or whether he will go back into school, I do try to loosely follow the curriculum. It is, after all, what I have known for so long: It’s hard to get it out of my system! Having spent time looking at how to structure the new history curriculum in school, I have decided to follow the same structure here at home. As such, we have started with the Stone Age and a read of the book, Stone Age Boy, by Satoshi Kitamura (who wrote Angry Arthur, remember him?) which appealed to C and his time travelling aspirations!
Total immersion into the era (sort of!) began with a visit to Butser Ancient Farm. A place I can fully recommend. Not only for the hands on learning, reconstructed buildings, and incredible organisation, but what a welcoming team! We don’t know many people here yet, so to organise a large group before the weather changed was going to be difficult. Poor weather would result in a more limited range of activities at the farm as so much is outdoors. The lovely team at Butser suggested that I might be able to join a smaller school group. A just as lovely team at Deepdene school welcomed my two little stone age boys (yes they were dressed up!) into the group and we had a wonderful day out, crushing chalk, making daub, engraving stones, exploring stone age art, and experiencing an archaeological dig.
squeezing into a ball
Learning how people find out about the past…
Back at home there have been a lot of cave pictures being drawn, L is quite the expert, along with boney type of writing, quite remarkable when you’re 4 and can’t actually write yet!
Tagging along with the school group did make C in particular feel a little self conscious (I did try to warn him that they would probably be in uniform!) so we turned this into a positive experience with a story about a class going on a school trip, who meet a time travelling boy. I started it for C to finish. It was fun to talk through, and he had lots of ideas but putting them down on paper is still something he finds difficult when it comes to stories. I think an audience will help. You may find yourself reading some of them here!
Armed with information books from the library, we have undertaken more research and from this have picked blackberries to make paint, painted some stones and have created a ‘yummy’ stone age menu. We’ve had a small feast of seeds and berries but the boys are now trying to persuade me to buy deer to cook. Regular readers, yes you’ve read that right: He’s no longer a vegetarian. One extreme to the other here!
We have also embarked on a time line, having read ‘The Pebble in my Pocket‘ a beautifully illustrated picture book which tells the story of a pebble from it’s formation millions of years ago, taking us on a journey through history , rock formation and erosion. It was accessible for both ages, stimulating lots of discussion and a real sense of wonder. Cue LOTS of questions! Our timeline starts with the present day and works backwards through key events in our own life time, to develop a sense of chronological awareness. We then jump to dates in history that C has learnt about before taking a huge jump back to the stone age. Our plan is to then add to this as we work through different periods in time.
The highlight of this unit so far has been the making of a stone age board game. I was running out of ideas for how to make the learning and research purposeful. There’s not really anyone to write to. A leaflet? Well we could make a leaflet, but again we have no genuine audience. Fact sheets – we’ve just done with lego, and stories aren’t really his thing at the moment so to write a story and get accurate historical facts into it could be tough!
The game idea has worked well. L created the back ground, and numbered all the stepping stones. Together we made lots of paper mache rocks and long grass. Using his research, C has created lots of cards to pick up on the way around the board. These include penalties such as:
‘build a house, get poo-ey hands, miss two goes to wash’ – based on the fact that cow poo was mixed into the daub mixture and a trip to a river may be necessary to wash it off!
‘Stop to do some cave painting, miss a turn.’
‘Get stuck in long grass, miss a turn.’
‘Chased by a….. go back 2 spaces.’
L had some interesting ones… ‘If you are on step 1, go on 10 more spaces’, and ‘if you are on step 10, go back 1 space’!
The cards also have rewards:
‘Catch and eat a deer. Get energy to move on 3 spaces.’
‘Make fire, have an extra go.’
It’s been a really worthwhile activity for checking facts, researching new ideas, and of course having some fun with our learning. We played it once to evaluate, improvements were made (after several arguments) and C has now drafted the instructions, ready to type up. L, as you can see from the photos has managed to write 2 digit numbers accurately, and seems to have now grasped the teens when previously he got stuck after 11.
We join forest school after half term, which includes cooking over the fire. It should tie in nicely with some of this work. I wonder if they will cook deer for me…?
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