We’ve Been to London to Visit the Queen

While we were on our travels last year, the girls made some rather lovely wish-lists of things they wanted to do when we got back to the UK. These included things like Go to the cinema with Grandad; Build a den with friends; Learn archery and, my favourite, Take Grandma to visit the Queen’s house

Taking Grandma to The Queen's House

Taking Grandma to The Queen’s House

We waited until the school term had begun in order to avoid the crowds and booked tickets for the Buckingham Palace “A Royal Day Out”, which included entry to the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s Gallery and the Royal Mews, where the royal carriages and the horses used to pull them are kept.

We started with the Queen’s Gallery – an exhibition about some aspect of royal history which was, on our visit, the Georgians. Unfortunately a lot of the exhibition was a little dry and not very engaging for the girls, but they did have fun with the family backpack that was provided which included things to spot in each room.

Completing the puzzles in the family kit, in the Queen's Gallery

Completing the puzzles in the family kit, in the Queen’s Gallery

George II

George II

After this was the highlight – the State Rooms in Buckingham Palace. Wow. Just. Wow. It was amazing to see! We all donned the audio guides – adult ones for Grandma and me, interactive children’s ones for the girls, which were great. They also had an exhibition about childhood on and lots of memorabilia from royal babies and children. We were green with envy over some of the fabulous toys!

Unfortunately we couldn’t take pictures in the state rooms, but here is us in the back garden at the palace!

Just visiting the palace.

Just visiting the palace.

We finished off with a visit to the Royal Mews where the horses and carriages are kept. It was dinner time so the horses weren’t feeling very sociable – too busy eating – but the gold carriages and amazing royal cars were fab to see!

Royal Horse

Royal Horse

We finished the day with a picnic dinner at St Pancras station, and the grown ups even managed a small glass of grape juice while we waited for the off-peak train times!

Train home. Reading while travelling!

Train home. Reading while travelling!

Reading and Recipes

J is seven years old and has, in the last year, ‘discovered’ reading. She has transformed into a moany, whiny monster who I had to cajole to read into a complete bookwork with a thirst for more stories!

We go to our local library at least once a week, often twice, and get new books for them both. A recent favourite series is the Bake A Wish series, which is all about two children who bake with their Grandma. Every recipe they try makes them feel better in some way – braver, stronger, less grumpy… the latest one was Get Better Jelly, which helped with a sore throat. When we finished the book, J claimed she had a sore throat (ahem!) so needed to make the jelly.

It’s regular strawberry jelly, but made with lemonade so it has a very sugary fizz to it. J enjoyed making it and we all enjoyed eating it!

The finished book and the finished recipe!

The finished book and the finished recipe!

Artist Study

We cover art once a week. To make for a fun start to the term, we have kicked off by looking at Jackson Pollock. We spent the first lesson reading about his life and studying his pictures. We also found a video online of him painting in his studio in New York, which really gave us a feeling of the movement, excitement and enthusiasm in his painting. The girls then spent some time writing about what they saw in his art.

J wrote: “The big lines and fast splashes make me feel like I am moving very fast”

K decided: “I thought that the pictures would all look similar, but because of the colours some are happy and some are sad. And the drips are different sizes, which makes it different too.”

In the following lesson I decided to let them create their own Pollock-inspired masterpiece. We started by using a website where you can draw your own picture, and talked about the colours they wanted to use in their own composition, Then I let them loose with paint!

They had lots of fun and came up with two very different but both very creative pieces of work!

J and her colourful masterpiece

J and her colourful masterpiece

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To round off this study, both girls created a piece of work on Pollock. J did a poster, with information about his life and her thoughts about a couple of his pieces of work, while K used the computer to create a presentation on the artist.

Bath time!

Bath time!

We Love Science

We have spent a lot if time on science so far this term. We really love experiments: they are fun, involve us all and we even enjoy writing them up afterwards!

Our unit study for the last couple of weeks has been Isaac Newton, which has given us lots of opportunity to try out his laws of motion, and in our regular science lessons we have been studying chemistry.

Our Newton Display

Our Newton Display

J in particular loves experiments, and is really getting to grips with the Scientific Method. She understands what needs to happen to make a fair test and is getting really good at writing up her experiments.

Today we were looking at the behaviour of particles of air at different temperatures. We took a glass bottle and, at room temperature, used a layer of dish soap to form a flat bubble over the rim of the bottle. We put the bottle into a pan of almost boiling water, and were fascinated to see how quickly the bubble rose and expanded as the gas inside the bottle expanded with the heat.

Bubble of Expanding Air

Bubble of Expanding Air

We then removed the bottle from the hot water, and the bubble returned to being flat again. So simple but so effective.

J then wrote up her results. I just love the fact that she sticks her tongue out when she is concentrating!

Working Hard

Working Hard

 

 

 

Our Week

Early last week I worried that we weren’t doing enough. Actually, I panicked and had a full scale wobbly fit. It wasn’t pretty.

So looking back on the first full week of the term, I am so surprised to see how much we are getting done! Phew.

Our unit study is Sir Isaac Newton. We have looked at his life and talked about his law of gravity and three laws of motion. We have had a lot of fun demonstrating his laws with fun experiments! But have also spent time reading and writing about Newton’s life and his work.

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In Maths the girls have been steadily working through their lessons in Conquer Maths. J is aiming for 100% scores – every time!

We have started learning about the Norman Conquest in History. K is looking at the years before the conquest and the reasons behind the invasion. J has looked at the Battle of Hastings and the knights and castles in the period.

In geography, J has been working on map skills and K has started her new text book and has started at the very beginning – with the Big Bang!

We have been studying states of matter in chemistry – J concentrating on water and it’s properties, while K has started investigating other chemicals too.

Both girls are working hard on their keyboard practice and have both started theory work this week too.

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In English the girls have both been completing comprehension exercises and working on grammar and punctuation exercises. They have also both begun completing daily handwriting challenges, although this is not their favourite activity of the day!

We have been looking at Jackson Pollock in art. The girls made some every good observations about his work. K saw different emotions in the different colours and J said it made her feel like she was driving really fast in the car! We had lots of fun experimenting with our own Pollock-inspired masterpieces. It was very messy though!

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So, maybe we have achieved a lot this week, after all!

Timetable

Today was our first day of timetabled lessons this term. Here’s the timetable we are following:

Our week

Our week

Today saw two children having a piano lesson, followed by alternating English (grammar) and Maths (K did long multiplication and division, J measurement). They then both practised some of what they had learned with their piano teacher this morning while I prepared lunch, and this afternoon we did half an hour for each of the three subjects. In Geography, K started her new text book, geog.1, and did some of the accompanying workbook, while J completed some worksheets on compass directions. In science we looked at water droplets and their behaviour together before K worked on a page of Chemistry from her text book and J looked at changing materials in a Schofield and Sims book. We finished off with French, looking together at greetings and then drawing cartoons of conversations.

It all went smoothly! And tomorrow is Friday – our half day!

 

First Day Of School

Where we live, the first day back at school for most children was Wednesday this week. Friends were madly naming uniform, packing lunches, sorting pens and pencils, filling school bags…

We decided to have a special not-back-to-school day! Partly to celebrate the absence of all these things above and partly to reward the girls for their hard work on our recent Ancient Egypt unit. We planned a trip to the British Museum.

J decided she wanted to take her camera and take photos so she can make a scrapbook about her day out. This was great news to me as it meant that she had something besides looking at the exhibits to do and would not get too bored and also that we have a mini-project to work on when we get home.  The results are a rather hilarious collection of selfies all around London!

Photo Journalling?!

Photo Journalling?!

We took our time in the morning. While friends were doing the school run, J looked like this:

Sleepy!

Sleepy!

Then hopped on a train and headed towards London. We shared a set of four seats with an older lady who, rather than being disturbed by us invading her space, seemed very amused by our chatter on the journey. She joined in with a couple of games of hangman and was interested to hear what we have been learning about Egypt.

We took the tube and ended up in Bloomsbury Square, where we ate an early lunch (OK, so I DID make a packed lunch that morning, after all!) before heading in to the British Museum.

On the Underground

On the Underground

Lunch Stop

Lunch Stop

Then we spent HOURS in the Egyptian exhibits in the British Museum. It was fab, and the girls saw so much that they have been learning about. We even took the opportunity to explain the different languages that appear on the Rosetta Stone to another visitor!

Complete Mummy

Complete Mummy

3,000 year old chair. They don't make 'em like they used to.

3,000 year old chair. They don’t make ‘em like they used to.

Papyrus scroll found inside a tomb

Papyrus scroll found inside a tomb

An early mummy. Preserved in the desert sand by 'accident'.

An early mummy. Preserved in the desert sand by ‘accident’.

Taking pictures!

Taking pictures!

The Hieroglyphs and Coptic  writing on the Rosetta Stone

The Hieroglyphs and Coptic writing on the Rosetta Stone

Head of Rameses II, brought to the British Museum by Giovanni Belzoni. The girls knew about this thanks to a BBC documentary we watched.

Head of Rameses II, brought to the British Museum by Giovanni Belzoni. The girls knew about this thanks to a BBC documentary we watched.

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Gift Shop Foolishness!

Gift Shop Foolishness!

IMG_3409I thought they might be a little tired of the British Museum by now, so we stopped for a drink and snack. However, when I suggested moving on somewhere else they both wanted to stay! So we headed into the Greek section and took a look at the Parthenon exhibition.

DSCF1693I took the opportunity to discuss with the girls the ethics of the Elgin Marbles being in the British Museum. K knew a little about it but this was all new to J. We talked about the fact that Lord Elgin rescued the statues and friezes from damage and possible destruction in Greece, but that now the complete set is split up – half in Athens and half in England. There is no doubt that they have been preserved in such good condition thanks to being moved here, but does that mean that they should remain here? Or should they be returned to Greece? An interesting discussion, which led onto talking about the difference between archaeologists and treasure hunters. How much does history belong to its country of origin, or those who discover it?

The plan for the day was to head over to meet Daddy, who works near Old Street, for dinner. We realised that we had an hour and a half to kill before meeting, and he suggested that we should pop into the Museum of London. It is a wonderful place which charts the history of the city from pre-historic times until the present day. There were fossilised mammoth skulls, stone-age flints, mediaeval artefacts, Roman exhibits and Stuart and Tudor displays. We picked up a couple of children’s activity sheets on the way in so spent lots of time learning about Plague, War and Fire so they could complete their worksheets. We had to rush through a couple of the more modern displays about the Victorians and the World Wars to get to the end before closing time, so we will have to return another day! The highlight for K was seeing the Olympic Cauldron from London 2012. We were lucky enough to get tickets to several events at the Olympic Games and so seeing the cauldron, that held the Olympic Flame, up close was a real treat!

Stone-Age flints

Stone-Age flints

Worksheets!

Worksheets!

Roman Londinium

Roman Londinium

The Cauldron

The Cauldron

We were among the last to leave the museum, but J was really happy to hear that it was “Daddy Time!” We went to see his new office and he bought us dinner at a swanky burger place. We got home late, exhausted, sore-footed but happy.

Daddy's New Office

Daddy’s New Office

Dinner!

Dinner!

The journey home. So tired!

The journey home. So tired!

So, how was YOUR first day back at school?!