Tag Archives: Victorians

The South Bank

As most of C’s old Y2 school friends seemed to visit the Florence Nightingale museum over half term, we thought we’d go up today to see what it was all about for ourselves.  Even J was enthusiastic, on the promise of a gruesomely realistic black “toy” rat like the one a friend had brought back  last week.

The museum is lovely, with plenty of thoughtful little touches  – peepholes, a treasure hunt,  stethascope audio guides – to engage young children.  It seems to work best with where we are in our home ed journey if I allow C and J to experience places like this in their own way without too much up front discussion beyond some basic context-setting.  I then enjoy noticing, over the following weeks and months, how they begin to refer back to what they experienced, prompting lively discussions on all kinds of subjects; it’s a delight to watch and listen as their mental maps are created, amended and connected.

We escaped the cold and wet of the last day of February (winter is back) by picnicking on the London Eye, eating our sandwiches as we admired the views of the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey (you couldn’t see much further than that! We didn’t mind though as the trip was “free” with our Tesco-points Merlin Passes and there was no queue; we’ll go again soon when it’s sunny).

Our South Bank adventure was rounded off with tea and cakes at the Royal Festival Hall.  I’ve never been an arty-type, though I’d like to be  –   not enough to actually do much about it, but enough to experience a pleasant wave of wellbeing in places like the Festival Hall.  Today I was rewarded with a double feel-good hit: as we enjoyed the “Shoebox Living” exhibition that had attracted me (colourful junk-model shoebox rooms made by children), some sort of public professional ballet class was going across the lobby. I’ve no idea what it was all about (the children were hurrying me back to Waterloo Station by this point), but there was good-sized audience and I do like the thought of all this Art going on, and being appreciated – even if I, for the time being, am otherwise engaged!


We went to a wonderful event at Fulham Palace this morning – a sort of living history presentation in which the children dressed up and took part in various scenes which would have taken place within the palace in the Victorian era.  The main enactment involved the children taking various roles as servants preparing for and serving at a large garden party.  C took the part of head cook.  As part of her duties she had to liaise with J’s gardening team who grew most of the food, including of course cucumber for sandwiches. Some of the children showed us, using tongs, carbolic soap and wooden “dollies”, how washing was done in pre-washing machine days, while others took the parts of the butler and housekeeper and members of their respective teams of footmen and housemaids.

While I know that the best learning takes place when as many senses (“rep systems”, in neuro-linguistic programming speak) are engaged as possible, and try to adopt this approach with my children, I have always personally been quite happy to learn sitting down, from books.  (I used to put this down to laziness but I now know it is actually quite common among introverts, especially highly visual ones – sounds like a good excuse to me.)  But even I thoroughly enjoyed being at an imaginary Victorian party, and I can’t deny how much we all learned through being immersed in the sights, sounds, costumes and artefacts of the period.

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