We took part in the Big Garden Birdwatch organised by RSPB last weekend, which is a huge nationwide survey carried out by roughly half a million people across the country to help gather a picture of garden wildlife in the UK. Carrying out a citizen science project is not only a really valuable form of research to take part in, it is also a really fun real-life educational opportunity too!
So Squiggle and I had already prepared our garden for winter, and ensured it is welcoming, with a bird feeder. So we simply added some fresh sunflower seeds and peanuts right before we begun our bird watching then made ourselves comfortable by the patio door.
It didn’t take long for a couple of birds to fly over and land in our little tree.
Over the course of an hour, various types of birds landed in our garden. We were pleasantly surprised how many we actually spotted in that relatively short time frame.
Squiggle used the RSPB sheet to help her figure out the difference between great tits and blue tits, which we both found really fascinating, and were excited to spot both types in the garden during our birdwatching! We also discussed the difference between crows and blackbirds because Squiggle was abit confused. We also saw pidgeons and magpies too, which Squiggle was able to recognise immediately.
We then analysed our data by discussing how many different types of birds we saw, how many of each type, which was most common etc… Then we submitted our results to RSPB and looked at the visual results chart too.
Squiggle would like to thank the RSPB for organising this and sending us the pack!
Ok, since I have gotten lazy about blogging lately here is April all rolled into one…
We also did lots of Easter activities, which I blogged about separately, and have been to music class but haven’t got any photos of that! Last but not least, we did various circus themed activities, but that needs it’s own post!
This morning Squiggle was awoken by the sound of a loud noise coming from outside. She was clearly anxious but I reassured her it was nothing to worry about and went to investigate so I could tell her more about it. It turned out our neighbours were having their trees cut back by some professional tree cutters. I realised this was something we could either try not to ignore, whilst Squiggle got more and more distressed by the noise, or I could see what I could do to turn it into a positive experience for her. So I excitedly called her to the window and enthusiastically explained what they were doing, then invited her to watch for as long as she wanted. Thankfully, this successfully turned it around and not only relieved her anxiety about the unexpected noise disruption but it sparked lots of interest and discussion about nature, uses for wood and recycling, then led to some lovely role-play with her toys too. It was great how something she was initially ‘on edge’ about and therefore could have caused alot of stress, ended up being a really positive learning experience.
A couple of months ago Squiggle developed a keen interest in seals. Therefore some of her recent learning experiences have been related to seals in some way. Below are some examples of how we have followed this interest in various ways and covered several subjects doing so.
Drama (and imaginative play): Squiggle acted out Christmas day with her seals. (19th November 2013)
Geography: Her lost seal ‘returned’ from Germany, which sparked a discussion about countries and travelling. We also looked it up on the globe. (26th November 2013)
ICT (and research skills): She wanted to know the difference between seal lions and seals, so we researched on the internet (2nd December 2013)
Literacy: She made herself a seal book (2nd December 2013)
Maths: She realised Maths Seeds has a walrus in, which is a similar enough to a seal for her liking, so she played this for several hours over the course of a couple of days. (3rd and 4th December 2013)
Design and Technology: She did some baking with her daddy and tried to make the mixture into seal shapes. (15th December 2013)
Maths: She used scales to compare weights of seals, using mathematical language. (25th December 2013)
More maths: She also used her toy seals for counting and calculating within her games several times.
We then visited the Sea life Centre in Weymouth to see real seals close up and observe their behaviour. She really loved this, especially as she was able to watch them peacefully for long periods so we spent several hours watching them, over the space of a few days. (13th- 15th January 2014)
Last week we visited Butterfly World again. We have been here a number of times both on our own and with friends, as well as this we have attended a lovely toddler birthday party here a few years ago and organised two home education trips also. It has a very chilled out vibe and there is more to see and do than people might assume. Points of interest in addition to the butterfly house includes natural playgrounds, designer gardens, an ant colony and other insects. There are also handling sessions and talks during school holidays and at weekends. Butterfly World is now closed for the season but re-opens next March. For more information visit the website http://www.butterflyworldproject.com/
In reality there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ week for us, we are interest-led and we tend to go with the flow as we feel this suits our needs as a family. The freedom to do this is one of the many reasons we love home educating. I will share more of our personal educational philosophy sometime but that is really a separate subject so I will leave it for now. However, this post aims to give a flavour of the type of thing we might find ourselves doing and a rough gist of what our week might look like. So here is a brief summary of our week:
In the morning Squiggle played outside in the garden with her dad. She also picked some blackberries then helped to clean and feed our rabbits. After this we decided to head to the seaside at Southend for the rest of the day.
We spent some the day at home then decided to pop to Milton Keynes shopping centre for a little while (where she particularly enjoyed the caravan show and studying the inside of a working clock)
We went to London Zoo for the day.
We played at home for a while (self- directed learning) then we decided to go to Paradise Park for the rest of the day.
We had planned to go to a local park to meet up with some friends in the morning then we also went to Leighton Buzzard park in the afternoon.
We stayed at home today so I produced a hidden parcel that had arrived recently, which she was very excited about. It was a zip wire for her hex bugs! This of course inspired her to play with these for sometime, including lots of exploration and discussion about how they work. Activities she later chose included playing Reading Eggs and Maths Seeds on the laptop.
Most of our day was spent at the scout hut for art group then ‘meet up and play’.
We stayed at Weymouth Bay Haven holiday park, which Squiggle particularly enjoyed. Nearby there was a sandy beach at Bowleaze Cove, which also had a quiet little funfair. For more information about Bowleaze Cave see website www.bowleazecove.co.uk and for further details on the Haven site we stayed at view the Haven website here.
However, the highlight of the trip for us had to be the Sealife Adventure Park in Weymouth. Although it was very expensive it was a fantastic day out and we would definitely love to return! It is also worth noting that Sealife Adventure Park is part of the Merlin group so annual pass holders get in free. For more details see their website here.