Wednesday, June 28, 2006

High Elms

Well, that was lovely! We ended up going to High Elms, which turned out to be both beautiful and educational.

I used to go there myself as a teenager, with one of my biker friends, whenever I needed space to be (scream!) and had thought it would make a good place for a walk. But I had forgotten all the historical links with the place.

High Elms is famous for its ownder from 1808 - the Lubbocks. John William Lubbock was a friend of Charles Darwin (who lived next door at Downe House) and is famous as an entomologist, archaeologist and botanist, as well as being a social reformer. He introduced the Bank Holiday Act in 1871 - giving us our August bank holiday, and - appropriately - worked on the first Education Act. He saved Avebury Stone Circle from developers, and was created Lord Avebury in 1900.

He had some fabulous ideas on education. These two quotes of his could go on the wall of every homeschooling household:

Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.


The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every child should be given the wish to learn.
We enjoyed the Sight, Sound and Smell walk. The different stones were brilliant - including a piece of the Millenium Stone pictured with the boys - and we had a discussion about metamorphic rocks, quartz, slate and granite.

Along the walk, we also discovered some great smells, such as mint, lavendar and sage. Lubbock had planted many conifer trees in the park, including Douglas Fir, Wellingtonia, Coast Redwood, Cedar trees and Corsican Pine. With the help of a leaflet, we identified them all.

Our favourite was this massive Wellingtonia - did you know that the thick spongy bark is fire resistent, as it doesn't contain resin? It took all five of us stretched around the tree, holding hands, to circle the bark of this giant! Fabulous!

After a brief rest for a drink, we continued our walk around some of the grounds. We are planning to go back to do the whole 2 1/4 mile High Elms Trail with the group.

In the afternoon, Roarke went off to work and the boys worked through the links I'd found (used above) and then each did a worksheet and a wordsearch that I had quickly made. They were intended to be taxing, but I have found that doing a multiple choice and a wordsearch after something like this is a good way of fixing what they have learnt in their minds - plus it makes another part of the record of our learning progress.

Tonight I am cooking liver, which the boys have not had since they were babies (it was one of their favourite baby foods, as I used to make all my own, and make individual little liver casseroles for them!). I have been marinating it all day - it is the recipe my mum used on me as a girl and it was the only way I have ever eaten liver! If it works, I'll post it tomorrow.

Oh yes - I forgot - yesterday William chose some Hama beads so we are now picking little beads out of the carpet (as he insisted on buying the 5+ size beads, rather than the chunky 3+ ones which he thought were "babyish").

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