At the beginning of the Month, I sat and wondered what our next subject was going to be and as always Twinkl had their Topic and events calendar filled with ideas.
This section on their main menu is always my first check list for upcoming subjects in which I find myself building projects for to keep the children refreshed and ready and when I came across an event called VE Day , I knew it would bring a whole new and wonderful area of questioning and learning for the children so I got set on preparing their work and by the time I had it all printed out and ready for them to start on 1ST May , I had a whole World War 2 project filled with many interesting facts and resources to last us the two weeks I initially wanted to use to cover the subject for .
After finding our subject I got straight onto our Work And Show wall which I added into our new Dining room (new classroom).
We have one wall for displaying our work and one wall for the white board which my father in law was so generous to give us last month so work is more organised and the children love being able to see their finished projects when complete or in progress.
We are still trying to get our room just right for them but now they have plenty room , I just need to work on the storage side of things for their work and resources.
You can always find great ready made Display banners and borders to add onto your wall to get started but Twinkl have a lovely feature where you can create your own which is sometimes a really fun task for the children if they like to get a little artistic , after all it is their wall , so why not allow them to design it ?
Picking one subject to work on throughout the week is always the easiest way for me to get the children to work in all other areas such as math , English, science , social studies, health and well being , expressive arts, technology, history and geography as well as many other areas.
To be fare I do not use the feature such as Home education and tend to use the search bar which is the quickest way to find my way to finding everything I need usually .
By typing the subject name in the search bar , (in our case World War 2 ), an array of wonderful work ideas come right in front of you ready to download or print for use now or later on .
A great feature in Twinkl is that they tend to have many lesson plans for people like myself who home educate or for teachers and so while it is sometimes hard to know everything (and I am sure most do not), I'm not very intelligent myself so I tend to learn with my children and we do everything together meaning when someone has a lesson plan there for you it makes things a lot easier to organize and understand as well as giving you , the teacher more time to sit and help the children with the work . Twinkl have some fantastic plans their and ready to print and download for all areas and abilities on their site and we found around three which varied in types or resources and activities for all ages of the children to enjoy so I worked from all of them on this occasions , bouncing from one sheet to another , keeping them all busy and full of learning , usually I would only use one though.
I find starting with a timeline always brings a great starting point and helps the children to understand the subject and what we are about to be talking about and these are always a great first activity that are usually ready for you depending on what subject your looking for , we printed ours out and put it straight onto the wall so they could see it at all times .
We needed to learn all about who was involved and where it all happened so we looked at Allies and Axis, the main people who fought in the world war 2 and looked at each countries differences in culture, their flags, their places on the map and even their National Anthems , the children chose a different country each and researched them on their own using books and online resources that were freely available to them .
During their first week they looked at the timeline, who the Allies and Axis were and where it all happened and also the Evacuation .
There were many available resources and activities but the children loved their math project which involved building a Respiratory box for the gas mask that their uncle had also hidden away to borrow us for this subject.
They learned about Anne Frank, watched her movie as well as Goodnight Mr Tom and Carries War and built shelters.
They wrote letters and diaries imagining that they were children in the war being evacuated or hiding in an Anderson bomb shelter and learned that life back then was very different to what it is now .
On our second week we looked at Rationing and what woman's roles were.
They learned that food was not as available as it is today and jobs were more hours with less pay and so the recipes were a little different to the ingredients they get so easily today .
Lord Woolton became a great area for us and they learned all about the 'Dig for victory campaign' and the 'make and mend schemes' that were brought in during the World War 2 era.
They made propaganda posters to show of their artistic sides for rationing and also getting people to help fight the wars and they learned some fantastic sentence building with modal verbs worksheets and Newspaper articles that they had to create.
They now know that woman and men were brought up very differently from the start of a young age , even in schooling to what they are now , they understand it used to be very stereotypical to our now very equal living these days.
We have had a fantastic fortnight on our subject thanks to Twinkl and their resources and can not wait to share with you our next display .
SO Ester holidays were not so great and we found a great few days of nice weather last weekend , however most of it has been terrible weather for going out and enjoying the fresh air so we have had to keep ourselves entertained indoors and what better way to keep busy than to put a fantastic puzzle together.
As you know this Ravensburger is the leading puzzle brand and in our family we are never without one or two projects at one time . The one thing that we can all join in on together is putting a puzzle together it gives us special bonding family time as well as keeping that mind ticking over , we love our problem solving lessons.
On this occasion , we have Happy Days at Work , The Hairdresser, 500 piece.
This is an adult puzzle and can be bought for as little as £7.99.
It came at a time I felt I needed to be reminded to make a hair appointment due to our holiday coming up.
I somehow felt the picture on the box was a feeling of tranquil relaxation and pampering , whereas I currently feel rather flustered and in need of such thing.
Luckily , a good puzzle makes us feel relaxed instantly as we try to separate the corner and edge pieces from the central pieces and sit comfortably at the table.
My youngest son tends to try pop his head in and steal a piece but luckily I grab it before he runs of with that one vital finishing decorated part .
Lucky for us , there is a replacement offer and we are fully aware now that if he does , we are safe in knowing that if he wanders of with a part of our puzzle and loses it in his place of wonder which we never ever find , we can have it sent out no problem .
The thing about these puzzles , especially the ones that hold character and a little bit of history or dating like this one which depicts a typical 1960's Scene of what a hairdressers experience would have looked like .
Those beehive , high soft round curled up do's and those over head , gigantic hair dryers that you would sit for hours underneath while reading an old fashioned paper or chat to the nearest person also in for the days experience. The Puzzle really does show a true likeness to how it used to be at the local salon and I am sure if you put it to the side of a today's salon , it would look very different.
The puzzle , as all of Ravensburger puzzles has that fantastic strong , put together pieces, that even stay strong when a little ones tries to pull it form the table edge and also is great for keeping and hanging like my mother in law is currently doing with all of her puzzles .
We loved this puzzle , I wonder what is next?
We've done it , we are now celebrating a full year, in fact , a whole 15 months, a staggering 66 weeks of home education and wow what a journey we have had so beware if the post seems a little long this time .
We've shared lows and highs but mostly some big and wonderful adventures and I have to say it would not of been possible without help form family , friends , my husband and children but more importantly those resources that have helped us make the journey a lot easier than I ever imagined possible .
Over the past 15 months we have endured so Much and it would be hard to choose our favourite or most loved bits but overall the changes in our children we see daily are most definitely the most rewarding.
At the beginning of our journey we never really took into concideration the extent of hard work and complications that may occur but it did not take Us long before routines were put into place and understanding of their needs were more visible .
We started by preparing our needs and initially I had no idea where I was going to start but with some help and guidance from extensive online researching of home education, I soon found that everything I needed was in fact very little .
You see there’s actually no rules to home education , no curriculum to follow , no times or days you need to work by , no tests or exams have to be take, no need to Even be marking or recording what you are doing , in fact some people choose not to use
Schooling as a method of learning at all and some use every day life skills to teach and educate their children .
There’s no rules or regulations other than children must be appropriately learning suitable To their own ability and as we all know , each child is different, they all have different levels and needs and wants as they grow and in my Opinion we have been able to find each of ours in many different ways .
At first , I sat down and looked into online subscriptions for multiple education sites , I thought about buying multiple learning tools such as books , printers and other learning resources when in fact all we needed was ourselves and the world around us .
I had no need to go and buy anything , no books, no desks or uniforms , no white boards or stationery that would have cost a ridiculous amount if I was left to think I actually needed those things.
You see , although schools are funded and a certain amount of money is given for each child to attend and be educated , home education is not and so we have to ensure our budget fits our lifestyle .
Luckily , I work from home and my husband works a full time job so I was able to stay at home and home educate my children just as I felt I wanted to teach them.
I have many reasons for home education , I could go into them all but I feel it would just be conflict of interest and this is not what my journey is all about . I actually really enjoy teaching my children and seeing the rewards as they learn and grow , I am lucky to be able to do that , I know that .
My biggest reason for home educating my own children is that they are my children and I feel it is my responsibility to teach them everything they need to know , I prefer to have my children with me , learning and enjoying things as a family .
We decided the best and first thing to do was to visit our local library and sign us all Up .
It’s free and it’s readily available and not only Could we go anytime and borrow books but we later found out that there was in fact an application we could all put into our iPad's ,phones or computers that allowed us to order , borrow , read and return books at our finger tips making it even more accessible for us conveniently .
Now if the children want to learn about something they can hire a book freely from their online library anytime they wish without feeling that they’re tied to just books they have when for example taking one from the library itself .
My children had the best start they could at their fingertips , whatever they wanted to learn about they could , whenever and where ever , all I had to do now was to ensure they wanted to learn and get them Into a routine where their minds felt continuously stimulated and eager to learn .
This was the hard bit .
As you can imagine , In the beginning , telling a child that they no longer needed to do extensive school work and could learn at their own pace and interests makes way for them starting out with changes such as being more laid back and doing the things they enjoy Doing more freely such as watching tv , playing computer games and playing to their own leisure, even having lie ins and staying up late .
I wanted to ensure this was not going to happen , I have heard of the term unschooling among the home educating chatter but allowing my child to do as they wanted without reaching for a book or some sort of learning resource or subject was not something I felt was the best for my children , in fact I thought it would cause chaos and being a large family , bigger than most to start with would have inflicted more harm than good without routine and stability so I made rules from the start and from day one I stated to them that although they could learn at their own speed and interest, I still wanted to see them putting pen or pencil to paper and working on something .
To be honest , I really had no idea where to start , especially seen as though there were 7 children and all at different levels of ability, some needed special educational needs, some were more introvert and some were basically able but uncaring for the lessons schools were forcing upon them so we sat down and asked the children what they wanted from us with reasoning that we had to be fare and the whole idea was they needed to learn but more freely and definitely in a more comfortable environment.
I had no idea where I got the idea from but I went with it and It seems to have stuck , doing us well for the past year with more reward than I thought .
With weekly visits to the library on a weekend , we came across the idea that if we chose one subject of interest , we would use that as our structural base and introduce subjects such as math, science and English into it .
I struggled trying to find the same work for all the children at different levels and at first we found the older children were left stranded as all my attention was taken with the younger ones or the other way round and so we needed to find a different path . I suppose having 7 children played against me at first .
This is when Twinkl came along .
I came across it on a home education Facebook page where advice was being handed out regarding free or low cost subscriptions to help find worksheets or make subject based work easier and so I revised my options and every time I was directed to another site , I always ended up back at Twinkl so took the decision to join them and I am so glad I did as I really feel if it was not for them I would have struggled and not have been able to do what we have achieved in this past year .
We literally use Twinkl for everything from Early years to key stage 4 / GCSE and even Sensory, emotional and neurological difficulties and we always make a weekly display wall now that we have all the resources there ready for us as the children really look forward to showing of their work and seeing their finished projects .
Twinkl makes our learning more fun , they save me time and help me whenever I need something from a subject that may not always necessarily be there already, the're willing to find or add something if they are able to and are available 24/7 , they really do care.
There's so many ideas and initiatives and inspirations for home educators and teachers or even just parents who want to help give extra work or fun learning activities to their children .
Twinkl even have a book club where you can be sent Books each half term which really comes to life if used with their special augmented Twinkl app. Twinkl have plenty of resources available to match each of their books so you can make a lesson or two and enjoy the books to their maximum potential , we even made a pie to add to our theme of the Ronald the Rhino week .
We have done so much , we've learned about special events such as St Brigid's day , British Science week, Charles Dickins birthday and many more as well as the many other subjects such as the historic timeline we are currently still working on which includes interests such as Anglo Saxons, Vikings, Normans and the Mesozoic era to pick just a few .
We've worked on Space and the environment , joined in on events such as First Aid course and Epilepsy week and visited so many interesting places over the past year including York , Durham Cathedral and numerous museums and parks, We've taken interesting visits to places like South Lakes Safari and Madame Tussaud, Sealife center and even attended a religious education and cookery course at our local church.
I never actually thought I would be here still today saying I wish to carry on , I really thought I would have given up and sent the children back to school due to the fact it has been stressful and I have been judged on my choice of home educating but if anything (bar the odd self indulged , lack of educated know it all ) we have had immense support from 99% of people who we have came across during our journey .
The children are so much happier now , I can see their confidence is extended and their abilities are increased in areas they had difficulties in before.
We recognize their areas they need improvement are are seeing the benefits and improvements every single week we work with them .
We have had a fantastic first year and look very much forward to the next , but first, we are enjoying the sun while it lasts .
Happy Home Educating
Ravensburger are always a great source for our puzzles , in fact I do not think we own any puzzle that is not a Ravensburger puzzle and it is because I feel the quality is at its best .
Not only has Ravensburger over the years developed a wide range of designs and ideas ranging from children's puzzles with wooden pieces to puzzles with 500, 1000 or 1500+ pieces, but they have also developed 3D puzzles, round edged puzzles such as the puzzle ball and also the pyramid puzzles.
This week we have been looking at a new puzzle and it is one of the children s favourite movie characters , Alvin and the Chipmunks.
This puzzle is as bright and cheerful as the characters themselves and it really does show incredible detail as if the characters themselves are jumping out of the puzzle and onto your desk.
This puzzle is specifically designed for children ages 6 and over and is an xxl 100 piece puzzle which means when built it is an approx 49 x 36 cm.
This puzzle was great fun to sit as a family and do together .
We are going to put it in a frame and put it on our wall near our musical corner .
Price - £8.99
Ages - 6+
Available from most leading retailers
Pieces - 100 XXL
I would like to add that Ravensburger also do a replacement scheme for missing pieces , so if your child or yourself loses a puzzle or game piece that belongs to this brand and their products it can be replaced , just click here and fill in the form .
Over the years we have had many toy trains but this is a new and wonderful Train that helps the construction for even the smallest and unsteadiest of hands.
The Magnetic Train by Brio is aimed at children 12 months and over and is only £23.99.
It is available from all leading retailers and comes in 11 pieces .
In this wonderful set you get two carriages with 4 movable wonderfully build wheels on each and nine addition building/stacking pieces in various shapes , colours and sizes.
The idea is to build your own train then take it apart and rebuild it in a variety of different ways depending on how you want your train to look .
Each piece consists of a beautiful coloured and well made wooden block and is very eye catching for those young senses , encouraging them to engage in the creativity that building and fine motor skills need to bring that imagination to life.
The wonderful thing about this train is that it does not need a track , it also does not need locks or any other difficult additions that could cause those little minds to be confused on how to put things together.
My son has a wooden train and on the carriage there are two tallish beacons where each block has to fit onto to ensure the train is secure and stays together .
The magic of this train is that it is structued together strongly by the magnetic parts hidden within the blocks themselves , unseen to the childs eye and out of reach meaning they are safe to play with .
My son is now 2 years old and is currently very hands on and visual with everything he can see and feel.
He is especially going through a phase of putting things together and taking them apart and so building and construction is something he currently enjoys doing especially with his siblings as they can join in too.
When I look for toys for him to engage with I think about durability and adaptability and this train has top marks for both.
I have no concerns about things falling apart or being a hazard, usually I have concerns of paint chipping or things falling of , especially while so little still, but they are built to last and so I am guaranteed that my son will be safe during play .
This is a lovely little toy that does not take up a lot of space and so it can be taken with you on holidays or family visits. We will be taking ours with us on our camping trip we have planned later on this summer.
We absolutely love this toy and its great for dexterity and hand eye coordination skills.
We are currently using ours to learn Joshua our 2 year old how to count and identify colours and shapes.
He really enjoys it and adds other toys into his imaginative play when using it .