Sunday, 30 January 2011

Victorian Day at Ely Museum and Cathedral

Today the children and I had field trip with some UK home edders at Ely Museum and Cathedral. This was perfect as I was just starting to introduce my daughter to the Victorian era. We had just finish reading Charles Dickinson book Oliver Twist. Once we arrived the large group of children were split into 2 groups. Children 9 and up went with one museum worker and the 8 and under stayed with another worker. I have to admit this was the very first time I have had this happen to us. I chose to stay with my youngest as he still needs some guidance when attending field trips. There were some homeschooling children my daughter recognized and some of their parents went with them so I knew there would be some supervision but still it was a little disconcerting to be watching her go off in a different direction, (think Helicopter parent) plus it meant I couldn't get many photographs of her activities, which I like to use as a record of our activities and of course this blog. I did manage to get a few of her tho.

Before Princess was whisked away I got a picture of her dressed up as a Victorian little girl.

Little Man dressed up as a Victorian boy (as usual he would only wear this outfit long enough for me to snap a picture)

For some reason he hates to wear dress up clothes whereas my oldest loves to try new cloth styles:).

As Princess was was being lead away with her group we were told our group would get to experience first hand how poor children would be treated during the Victorian age. Princess's group would be experiencing how it would be if you were a rich child in that era. Upon hearing this Little Man cried out "I don't want to be POOR I want to be a RICH kid." Thankfully most adults laughed but I was so embarrassed:)! It was then explained to the group that each group would switch in a bit. I would love to say that calmed my Little Man down, but it didn't:(. I had to take him outside the room for a few minutes to talk to him and allow him time to settle down. Who knew he would find this so upsetting and that he even knew the difference between rich and poor at 6 year old. This is not exactly a big topic of discussion in our home! But now it will be!

Anywhoo, after calming down we went back inside and we were given lots of information of how a poor child would live. Several of the children acted out several of the jobs that might be expected of a young child.

First the adults who helped the children. We were pretending we lived in a rich family's house and were meeting the servants. The children would be servants in the house too. It was actually better to be working in a rich family's house than to be in the countryside, we were told.

Young girls were made to work in the kitchen. Their jobs would include sweeping, dishes, errands and things like that. We were told that it was common for young children to be working from 6 in the morning til 9 at night. Their were morning chores needed to be done before they could get breakfast and if they haven't completed their jobs then they would get no breakfast, the same went for lunch and dinner. Often while the rich owners of the house had fancy meals the children were given bread, cheese and onions to eat. Sometimes this would be be all 3 meals.

After a day of hard work the child would then find a place to sleep, it could be under the stairs, in a corner in the kitchen or even in the garden shed. They would only have a small blanket to keep warm if they were lucky.

Children were also expected to help on Mondays which was washing day. Here a child is grating soap into a big barrel of water

The clothes were added and a big stick is used to stir the clothes in hot water. We were told that some children would be forced to stand and stir for hours. It looked like back breaking work. Some children could only manage a few seconds before giving another child a turn.

Cloth being taken from the hot water and wrung out, this was often done be an adult as the children were not strong enough.

An Old Victorian clothes press (dryer). Clothes were pushed thru to completely wring out all the water from the cloth before hanging on the washing line.

On a side note I will never complain about doing laundry again:)!!

Adults usually hung the cloth as children could not reach but as soon as a child was tall enough to reach the clothes line they were expected to hang clothes. We were told that on washing days adults and children's hands were red raw from all the hot water and wringing of the clothes. Children would often pinch their fingers in the Victorian press and could lose their jobs and be put out in the streets which was worse than staying in the rich house.

Next we were told how boys were treated. Young boys around 4 or 5 would be chimney sweeps and climbers. The smallest and usually youngest boys would be forced to climb up the chimney to sweep soot of the chimney walls. This was very dangerous and it was not uncommon to have a boy suffocate inside. Older boys would be below using these chimney brushed to sweep the inside of a chimney. Boys were often put to work in the garden. They told a saying that I think still applies today to boys. One boy is does the work of one, two boys does the work of half a boy and three boys do no work at all. It was speculated that this may have been the reason there were more boys on the streets than girls.

After all the hard work the children were given a snack of bread, cheese and onion. Little man would not give it a try!

Next up experiencing and hearing about being a rich child in Victorian times. Their lives were much easier.
The Parlor where most children are not allow in except for very special occasions. Here the children were asked to help plan a Victorian party.

The lady of the house explaining her clothes and the rules of the Parlor to the children. Such as children should be seen but not heard. No fidgeting etc.

Teaching the children the proper way to curtsy and bow to the lady of the house.

Putting on a party dress for the girls and wearing a top hat for the boys.

Calling the servant to do a task for the lady of the house or for the children. Such as serving tea and drinks.

Using the Victorian doll house to explain to the children the different parts of a Victorian town house and want was done in each room. It was beautiful and fascinating.

After sitting still the children were given a Victorian biscuit called a jumble. I had never heard of if before. Little man enjoy this snack much better than the other:)

All in all I thought this was a perfect introduction to the Victorian era for my children. We are continuing to do our history lessons thru hands on learning. Asking the children later which they would rather be, both said a rich child. What a surprise!

I am linking this post up to

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Venus Science project

The kids and I have been reading and studying up on the Planet Venus this week. While reading this book, we discovered that Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system even tho it is the second planet from the sun. How was that possible? Venus is surrounded by a thick layer of clouds that act like a blanket around the planet. The sun's heat gets trap into the atmosphere and cannot escape. Steven Kipp gave this fun science project to do to better explain the Green House that is occurring on the Planet Venus. This is an easy project you can do at home.

First fill two containers with soil one container should have a lid and the other no lid. We used a glass jar for one and a Tupperware container for another.

Next add seeds to both containers. I had the children use Water cress seeds as they are very quick to sprout.

Next add water to each container

Put lid on the jar and place on a window sill. Basically we built a small Terrarium. However we were testing to see which seeds would sprout first the lidded jar or the open jar. The directions on the seed pack said the water cress would be ready to sow in 8 days.

The next day we saw immediate results the open container the sprouts had barely starting sprouting. However the glass jar there was significant plant growth.

Day 2 there still was a huge difference in the plants. We opened the jar in order to water the seedlings. The open container were all sprouted but just barely above ground. The lidded jar was doing great, must have been the green house effect:) Our jar lid was acting like the clouds on Venus, except on Venus it is so hot no plants or life can survive.

I also explained using this example, on a hot day after a car has been parked outside with all the windows rolled up, what does it feel like when you first get inside the car. HOT! The sun's rays enter the car but the heat is unable to get out thru the windows, just like a glass greenhouse. I think my kids understand this concept...Next week we are studying planet Earth and the Moon.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Star Gazing

A couple of weeks ago, after going to the Cambridge Observatory, we bought new binoculars. We were told that we could see quite a bit in space with just strong binoculars by the Observatory staff. Since buying the binoculars it has been very cloudy here in jolly ole England, so we haven't been able to give it a try. Last night, finally we had a clear night so out we went to see the sky.

Okay this is a bad picture but if you enlarge it you will see a tiny white speck and that is Jupiter.

My husband put the binoculars on our tripod and located the Pleiades's otherwise know as the 7 sisters. To the naked eye is is a smudge in the sky, with the binoculars it becomes much more clearer and you can see the seven stars and many others.

We also found the constellation of Orion and found the nebula inside it but it didn't look like the pictures we have seen in our science books. However, the kids know that in this nebula there were stars being born!

We had fun observing the stars in our own front yard. Looking forward to doing it again.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Derby Car Races

This is our first year participating in Boy Scouts with Little Man and Princess. Our Boy Scout troop allows siblings to participate but they can not win a medal. Saturday were their first participation in the Derby Car race and it has been quite an eye opening experience for me. I had no idea how serious this competition was and all the rules that go into it. As it was our first year I wasn't exactly sure what to expect and really not at all sure what to do at all.

First up was cutting out a Derby car, since my children are still young this was done by me. I used a band saw and cut a block of wood into a car shape. Both car were pretty much exactly the same. I have since learned there are tons of websites with Derby car patterns. I will keep this in mind next year.

Next, was trying to get the children to sand a car. This was a slow and long process. I don't think either child was able to really manage sanding the car for more than a few minutes, and it didn't help that the sand paper I had kept tearing. After a week of the children sanding, I did do a minor touch up on the sanding in order to get the cars ready for painting. But the bulk of the work was done by the children, after all this is a kids race, right. I saw no need to do any more of the work:)

Next up was painting the car. Again, the kids did all the work. They painted and decided to draw pictures on their cars. All in all I thought they were fine, and happy that the kids did the work.

Little Man drew the solar system on his car with the sun on the roof of the car. Princess drew Dragons on her car. I did tell the children they could use more than one color but they wanted solid colored cars:)

At Little Man's troop meeting the children assemble a Derby Car stand which was also painted and sanded. So the children could display their cars at home after the race.

After doing all this, which was a 3 week process, we were scheduled to take the cars in to be weighed and impounded the night before the race. This is were I ran into trouble. Just before leaving the house I got an email message from base saying there was a tanker spill and that traffic was backed up. Once hearing that I bundled up the kids and rushed them into the car, one hour before we were to be at check in! If you haven't lived in England, then you may not know that if there is a accident is can really, really mess up traffic. My husband who was out of town, had just called from the airport and I quickly relayed the problem and he gave me an alternate route to take, warning me that everyone will be taking this route. Staying positive and determine to get my children's cars checked in I headed off. After 90 minutes on the road we had made it to the next village 6 miles away:(! While struck in traffic I was frantically trying to reach the cub scout leader to see what would happened if we couldn't make it. Surely we would not be the only people not able to make it to base that night. Unfortunately there was no answer to the 6 or 7 phone calls I made, adding to my frustration.. My children were in the back of the car getting more and more upset that we were late for check in. Unfortunately the importance of check in was stressed a little too well at the Boy Scout meeting:( trying to keep calm and not lose my temper at the children because this was an important activity for them and they had worked hard, I tried every back road I could find and kept running into more and more traffic. After 90 minutes I called my husband on the cell phone, he had not boarded his plane yet. There wasn't a thing he could do but I needed to vent and be upset of someone (not the children) so I called him. My daughter and I wanted to turn around an go home, but my son was getting hysterical in the back seat at the thought of not making it to check in on time. My husband hearing the chaos in the car was sympathetic and thought the best action was to go home. Hence even more crying from the back seat:(. However my husband, who was on speaker phone, reassured my son that we would go to the Derby car race in morning and Daddy would make sure the children were able to run their cars. To my astonishment, upon hearing this my son stopped crying and agreed to go home. Later that night when talking about our disappointment of not making it to base my son annouced that Daddy would make Boy Scouts run his car no matter what. I told my husband this when he finally arrived that night and he was so proud that his son believed that somehow Daddy would fix it:).

Later that evening I got a call from the Boy Scout leader letting us know that there were several families unable to make it in and that we would still be able to participate in the race. Big relief but we needed to show up one hour before the race so we could weigh our cars and have them inspected. Crisis solved, WHEW!

Check in included:
Weigh your car -- could not weigh more than 5 oz.

Add weights to the car, we used coins.

A trial run down the track and a basic car inspection.

The kids had a great time at the races and can't wait to do it again next year even tho their cars were not the winners.

I am linking this post up to Lynda's

Also don't forget to link up all month to

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Happy Birthday Princess

Today is my Daughter's 9th Birthday. I can't believe how much she has grown. She is nearly as tall as I am. I still remember the day I brought her home, it was one of the happiest days of my life.

My daughter is adventurous, spirited, smart, imaginative, creative, exuberant, active, loving and has the most amazing red hair!

My husband and I are so very lucky to be her parents and it is a job we take very seriously and are proud to be called her Mommy and Daddy.


Friday, 21 January 2011

A blog Award

I received a Versatile blog award from Life/In/Between/The/Lines Maureen posts about homeschooling, cooking and photography. Please stop by her wonderful blog and say Hi. It is always nice to be recognized as it means someone is actually reading what I write (besides my family) no matter how insignificant it might be. I started this blog as a journal for my homeschooling and traveling family and can't believe that I have over 160 followers. Thank you readers for following and commenting it really makes my day.

On to the "rules" of this award:

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award

2. Answer 10 questions

3. Pass it along to 7 blogs you've recently discovered and enjoy

4. Leave your recipients a note, telling them about the award

The 10 Questions...

1. Why did you create this blog?
I started off reading other peoples homeschooling journey and found so many good sites and ideas that I wanted to join in. I first thought it would be a good way to better communicate my homeschooling adventure with my parents who live a way from us at this time. I also wanted to document all the amazing trips my family and I have been able to take while living in England. I never thought I would have so many followers and people reading my blog.

2. What kinds of blogs do you follow?
Mostly homeschooling and inspirational blogs. Homeschooling is different in the UK and I haven't found a real community near me but I have on line. Which is good

3. Favorite make-up brand?
I no longer wear makeup, but when I was a career person I wore Clinque mostly

4. Favorite clothing brand?
I don't really have a favorite brand. I don't worry about things like this, plus I find clothes shopping very burdensome.

5. Indispensable makeup product?
When I go out to dinner with my husband I will sometimes wear lipstick

6. Favorite color?
I love earth tones mostly green, burgandy and golden browns.

7. Favorite perfume?
Anais Anais is my favorite but I don't wear it very much, just for special occasions.

8. Favorite film?
This is a tough one. I haven't seen a movie
that isn't a kid themed one is ages. My husband and I tried to see the King's Speech last weekend (we had a baby sitter) but couldn't get tickets as it was sold out due to being opening weekend, which we didn't know. I still want to see it. Next time we will get advanced movie tickets.

9. What country would you like to visit and why?
I love to travel. Right now we are seeing as much of the European continent as we possible can. My dream trips would be to the Galapagos islands and going on an African picture safari.

10. Would you rather forget to put mascara on one eye or forget blush on one side of your face?
Honestly I rather not put anything on.

And now to pass on the love by sharing this award with a few wonderful bloggers (in no particular order):

Susan's Homeschool Blog

Krazy Kuehner Days

A Slice of Smith Life

A Blackpurl's Knitpickings

My Heart's Desire


Our Worldwide Classroom

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Colchester Castle

Past weekend we went to Colchester castle. There are tons of castles in England and as a family, we love exploring them. We found out some very interesting facts about Colchester, such as it was the capital of Roman Britannia before moving to London. Boudica, The Warrior Princess had a very successful battle in Colchester, in her efforts to rid Britannia of the Romans.

The castle is considered one of the best preserved Norman Castles in England. This is the well in the courtyard. Little Man and Princess dropping coins in the well to hear the water below.

Usually when you tour a historic site in the UK, they have children activities to help the children stay interested in what they are seeing. Little Man finding a cooking pot and answering questions on his activity form. Also some of the sites will award the children with a sticker, candy or certificate on completion of the forms. There are usually several different forms to chose from according to your child's needs and you do pay a little for each form. We always have the children complete the forms as it gets them looking at the artifacts and hopefully learning about them. Some days are better than others with this:)

The castle was laid out in a time line of the history of the castle and the land before the castle existed. First stop was the earliest inhabitants of the area, sorry but I forgot to write down the name. As always Princess loves to dress up in the customs.

Next up the Romans. We learned all about the warrior princess,Boudica and did lots of hands on activities. Little Man wearing a Roman helmet.

Daddy and Princess trying to figure out how to assemble a Roman toga. Even with directions we couldn't figure it out:(. Little Man putting together a Roman mosaic puzzle.

Next up the Medieval Period. A Saxon warrior just like Daddy!

The Medieval Period and constructing a fire place mantel for the castle.

Visiting the dungeons and hearing the stories of the prisoners. Princess found that part gruesome.

I am linking up this post to

at My Heart's Desire.

Don't forget to link up your blog post all month at

hosted by Tracy, Linda and myself. Hope to see you there!