Saturday 24 January 2015

Adding Sparkle to Home Education

This is the last post in the Virtual Curriculum Fair. This week, we are looking at anything that adds beauty to our home education.

This week the hosts are

 Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Lisa @ Golden Grasses
Last week, I wrote about our history curriculum. The week before about maths and the first week about English.

This week, I want to talk about those things that add a sparkle to learning. Often these will be topics which range across the curriculum. I hope to add some links and inspire some ideas. Many/most of these ideas are UK based because that it what I know about but hopefully, these ideas may spark inspiration even if the actual events are not available for you. There are so many more ideas: I can only scratch the surface. Please add activities that your family has enjoyed in the comments.

 I will arrange items roughly into subjects. 
  • Booktime provide free book packs for UK children of reception age whether or not they are in school. The application form for home educators is here.  My younger two both received their free books when they were reception age. It is always exciting to have books in the post!
  • John Betjeman poetry competition for 10-13 year olds, again in the UK. 
  • The Shakespeare week takes place from 16th-22nd March. Home educators can sign up in the schools section once they have emailed to verify their email. This took less than 24 hours for me. There a plenty of ideas and events in the list.
  • Local productions. 
  • World Education Games have a Literacy Day.
  • Poetry picnic or a poetry tea party.
  • London has some great book activities: we enjoyed the Book Benches, last summer and Paddington Bear more recently. I see that a Shaun the Sheep trail is coming to London and Bristol.

  • Grow your own potatoes is a scheme for primary aged children which provides potatoes and bags to learn about the process of growing potatoes. We used this for a couple of years but tend to grow so many potatoes anyway that it wasn't really much of a learning experience and I resented having to dig the potatoes up early to weigh them! However, if you don't usually grow potatoes this is worth doing.
  • The Royal Institution has its famous Christmas lectures which are also available on line. It runs events: both lectures and hands on sessions which are open to home educators.
  • RSPB BirdWatch-free and can be done at home!
  • The RSPB also have children's membership with attractive magazines.
  • The Nature Detectives site has many free activities around nature and the great outside.
  • Displays of birds of prey. We have been to two different free displays in our local area-watch the flyers!
  • World Education Games have a Science Day.
  • James Dyson Foundation have free ideas cards and engineering boxes which are loaned out.
  • Science Fairs


  • There are so many places to visit. Please check out my links to Days out. In the UK, both English Heritage and the National Trust have special deals for home educators. The terms and conditions can be a bit restrictive: National Trust visits all have to be in term time.
  • Many venues run hands on sessions which are open to home educators. We enjoyed a Tudor Day at the Museum of Kent Life.
  • I've not been but the Tudor re-enactments at Kentwell Hall are popular with home educators.
  • Local museums: we have been to tours with actors dressed as characters from history. Some museums  are to be avoided in school holidays as they are so packed but this is also the time when there are many worthwhile events. We have particularly enjoyed the Roman themed days at Fishbourne Roman Palace. The British Museum children's packs are only available outside school hours: I know from sad experience!
  •  I haven't tried this yet but there is a Young Archaeologists' Club with regional branches.
  • The Protestant Truth Society has a history club for children: Time Travellers' Club. They produce high quality booklets about various historical figures. Obviously, this is written from a Protestant viewpoint.

  • We joined a culture swap and exchanged packages with people around the world. This was fun, very educational although not cheap. The items for the boxes tended not to be particularly expensive but postage was another matter. Sadly, the site though which we arranged our swap doesn't seem to be functional but this is something that it worth pursuing. 
  • Postcard swap-we arranged our own postcard swap when we were learning about the United Kingdom.
  • Travel! Not always easy but definitely worthwhile.
  • Following the travel of others. We spend time over Christmas, following a journey through Russia as well as plotting the temperature in Russia and the temperature here, in England, on a graph.
  • Sponsor a child and find out about their country.
  • We've learned much from hearing about local pastors supported by our church as well as meeting them when they visit.
  • Cooking meals from other countries. This is always popular!
  • Many world famous galleries can be visited free of charge. In London, this applies to the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, The Tate Modern and Tate Britain.
  • The Big Draw is an annual festival, each October, with different drawing events through the country.
  • Lunchtime concerts are often free.
  • The Classical Spectacular schools matinee at the Royal Albert Hall has tickets available for home educators although I see that this year's event is sold out. I have taken children much younger than KS2 to the event very successfully!
A group of other bloggers are also writing about adding beauty to home education. I hope to add specific links on Monday.  Please feel free to link to any posts that you have written about art/music/handcrafts or anything else that adds beauty to your children's home education. The linky is here.

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  1. This is a great list and resource. We got our potatoes yesterday in the post. I remember growing them as a child but I don't think my children have done it so it will be fun for them.

  2. What a wonderful list, even though I am not in the UK, it is awesome to see the resources available around the world :)