Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Boat school update.

Don’t mention school!

Literacy with Thomas the tank engine.
We have just come to a natural end with our sea life topic which the children have been following since the beginning of the spring term with great enthusiasm and a very wide ranging scope. We have covered all sorts from food webs and how sand is formed through to the people who use the sea including different types of fishermen, tourism, pirates (historical and current) and the Romans. Many times as we’ve been researching Mark and I have found ourselves saying ‘I didn’t know that’, the boys enjoy teaching us new things and we’ve enjoyed finding out, it’sw such an overused phrase but you really do never stop learning. We’ve seen many creatures in their natural habitat on the beach or out in the sea, and they’ve done pictures, poems, essays and craft we even had a design and technology challenge to make boats from junk which we then raced.


Tarquilla 2

There is still some slight reluctance introduced by the idea of school work even though any other hint of numeracy/science or general discovery will have the boys working really hard so boat school has been rebranded! Out has gone school time, school work and school bags and in with brain training and discovery time (although the term brain bags is not in frequent use yet….). We’ve also been finding that it has been useful spending some time doing quite intensive one to one work exploring things with the older two like how to actually construct an essay or poem or piece of work and looking at how to plan and break work into stages. This seems to have been time well spent and we are seeing the results in their writing.

An idea from the internet of a lift the flap book was really popular with the four year old. We created a story of a little boy walking along a beach and finding different creatures under rocks, in pools etc which he did the pictures, created the flaps and enthusiastically labelled all the pictures for creating a really wonderful and individual story.

We have had some great trips out poking around on beaches and visiting a sealife centre. We’ve also had some really interesting discussions and the older boys are forming very definite opinions on the importance of the sea and its inhabitants and the responsibility we all have for its future. Looking at issues such as pollution and overfishing really struck a chord and they have shown real compassion for fish populations and the destruction of the sea bed – future conservationists or scientists - who knows?

Visit to Oceanopolis sealife centre, Brest.

Water has given us lots of opportunity for science experiments – a float or sink test using buckets of water out on the pontoon on a freezing cold day, surface tension where we tried to balance paper clips and made opening flowers, wave energy, dissolving things (good excuse to make a cup of coffee) and changing states have all been experimented and discussed.

As the weather improves there are more people around on the pontoons and we have more hatches etc open, although the children sitting on deck reading always gets smiles I’m not sure what the neighbours have been thinking as we work our way through a noisy game of times table bingo or competitive multiplication. It’s always nice to have a change of scene and it’s great to be able to be flexible, one day we decided it was too hot to work indoors so we packed up the school stuff and headed off to the botanical gardens where the boys did numeracy under the shade of a tree then after a short wander and snack we set up on a sunny bench by the pond – lovely!

Botanical Gardens, Brest. Literacy by the pond.

Enid Blyton remains as popular as ever on the boat but has strong competition at the moment from Michael Morpugeo. Having read Arthur High King and a bit of war horse I have to agree he is very good. The youngest is delighted with his new reading books ordered by Daddy – a pack of I can read spider-man phonics books and once again as with previous new readers the entire family can quote big chunks of Dr Seuss at the slightest chance.

Helping their little brother to share their enthusiasm for reading.

It’s now time to take down our sea life display, put away the nature encyclopaedias and get ready for the next topic. The plan is to use the Jubilee as a jumping off point looking at monarchy, castles and anything else they fancy – child led education (with a little bit of direction at times), lets see where this topic takes us.

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