Monday, 14 July 2014

PIrates ahoy!

We returned earlier than planned from our trip to the seaside, but we still managed a week there. Most of the time we had sunshine and I was able to take Charlie down to the beach daily. He spent a lot of his time building a 'pier' across a large rockpool which, miraculously, survived the tides, so that he was able to improve on it each day. 

Charlie's pier (those shoes didn't survive the holiday)
We stuck to our daily routine of a little Maths, English and handwriting daily. Charlie struggled with an exercise about giving change on the ConquerMaths website, so we practised using real money and then he had a go at this BBC game.  

During the week, Charlie enjoyed doing some cooking with me, helping Granny with crosswords, meeting up with family and friends, and enjoying the benefits of a large and beautiful garden and a beach nearby. He is hooked on the 'Harry Potter' books now and was on the fourth volume by the end of the holiday.

He also spent a lot of time on creative pursuits. We did another project from the Usborne 'Art Treasury', this time based on Picasso's collages. 

Charlie did some sewing, fashioning a cushion in the shape of a fish.

And he had time to have a go at pottery, using Das modelling clay, which dries to a hard finish when it's left out in the air.

Of course, the beach turned out to provide an education all of its own. Charlie loved building castles and finding out which sand would build the strongest castles. 

He noticed how the sand was swept clean daily by the tides coming in and out. Treasures could be found buried in the sand: pieces of opaque sea glass, polished by the waves; driftwood; seaweed; stones and sea shells. And, of course, there were the sea creatures: tiny fish darting around the rock pools and crabs hurriedly burying themselves in the sand.

This one paused and posed for me as I took a photo
A crab's claw - a source of morbid fascination
We saw lots of evidence of lugworms. Once, when Charlie was digging, he found the real thing.

We also enjoyed using a beach hut for one day (lent to us by a friend) and Charlie was very good at clearing up before we locked up.

Education aside, the beach was simply fun.

But what about the pirates? (This post is labelled 'Pirates Ahoy!' after all). This idea for a theme struck me because the chapter we were reading in the Galore Park 'Junior English' textbook every day had a theme of pirates, which seemed a fitting theme for our week by the seaside also. I had ordered some books on pirates in preparation, but they didn't come in time, which was frustrating. However, we have continued the theme back home this week, where the books were waiting, so it doesn't matter too much.

Whilst we were away, Charlie made his own pirate treasure map by first wiping the paper with a wet teabag, allowing it to dry and then drawing the outline of an island. He added a key to stand for different things on the island and added the image of a compass. Then he coloured it in.

Inspired by the idea of buried treasure, he made another treasure map and put together a bagful of treasure for me to find on the beach.

I did have a nasty few minutes when I realised that he couldn't remember clearly whereabouts in the sand he'd buried it, but, fortunately, we found it. It contained ribbon and scraps of paper decorated with Spanish words from Granny's Spanish phrase book.

It was sad to leave, but we came home with lots of ideas about what to study next, such as crustaceans. We have lots of beaches near us where we can do more practical research.

Today, we started in earnest on our pirate topic. We watched two videos produced by National Geographic, both about Barry Clifford, an underwater explorer who discovered the only verified pirate shipwreck ever found in US waters. The first, ''Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah'  is a short introduction to the story of the pirate shipwreck. The second, 'Barry Clifford: Pirate Treasure Found', is a half-hour talk by Clifford about how he came to find the wreck and includes photographs of the treasure. This was a bit long for Charlie and we sped forward to the end to see the pictures.

Charlie's handwriting practice today involved writing about pirates. He also did a pirate word search.

The books arrived, so he is now reading one of the 'Horrible Histories' series on pirates...

  ... as well as having an abridged version of the classic, 'Treasure Island' to read later.

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