Last Year I wrote a 5 Favourite New home-ed Items (2017) post and lots of readers really liked seeing which were my absolute favourites so I thought I would write another one for 2018. This post is NOT sponsored – it is a combination of items I have bought and have been given. So here is my Top 5 for 2018…………….
For those of you who read the posts regularly my first pick is not going to be a big surprise – It has to be the How To Train Your Dragon book series. Out of all the resources I bought the kids and the ones we were given, this set of fictional stories sparked the most learning and the kids interest just did not die down, book after book my two loved the antics and adventures of these very colorful characters. As far as good fictional stories go I really rate these books because the author does not shy away from using unusual, descriptive words and she paints such vivid pictures with her words. But these books did not ONLY serve as brilliant fictional reading books these stories have inspired so many of our learning activities throughout the year. The fascination with Vikings and their traditions has resuted in the kids searching for other fictional Viking stories to read (we recommend this one Riddle of the Runes ) but they have also learnt a lot about the Real Vikings. The stories inspired art and crafts – like our Viking Name necklaces and TinFoil Longships, the number of dragons that have been created both in drawings and written about has been amazing and they were instrumental in our current map craze .
The one issue I have with these books is what do I follow-up with ? Really I am stuck !! I am still searching for another set that is going to be such an amazing springboard for my kids and I just cannot find anything.
Staying with books my 2nd great find this year has been the use of the Historical BIG CAT readers as a starting point for our History learning. My daughter LOVES History but my son is, well, not so keen, well not unless I find the right angle to get him into a topic. What I realized this year was using a good quality reader like the Collins BIG CAT books for his History meant he was getting these high quality bite-sized sessions, so they were not overwhelming him and putting him off. But the books actually encouraged him and he would often want to then go and explore what we had read about in further detail. These little readers have been an answer to my History dilemma of still covering the same topics with one child who loves History and another who is a bit more resistant to the subject. For us it really has been about finding the right resources for him that spark his interest and then he ends up loving the History as much as his older sister. (Examples of some of the BIG CAT readers we have used are here – Tutankhamun, The Life and Times of William Shakespeare, Victorian Railways, Mary Anning)
My third big find was buying a family years membership to the Wonderlab at the Science Museum in London. My son has a naturally interest in Engineering type projects and is current fascinated by Space but his sister has often struggled with our Science outings as she finds the Science venues we go to very overwhelming. From a sensory point of view the Science Museum has always been the one Museum that she really struggles in which means we have learnt to go there for short sessions. For this reason I have kept putting off buying a ticket for the Wonderlab because I was worried she would be totally overwhelmed and it would be a total wast of money. But this year we bought an annual ticket and we just went for it.
When we first arrived at 1pm (this time was recommended because of the school groups) we still found it very busy and she really struggled, I had to find her a quiet spot and help her calm down. But then we went into watch a show – which was brilliant and by the time we came out it had calmed down and she was a lot happier. The biggest hit with her was the Gas Bar – she loved watching them work with chemicals, mixing and seeing the reactions. (I also must add that when we went to watch the show which had loud bangs in it, the staff were very quick to hand out ear defenders and before each loud bang they always gave us warning so the kids were prepared – from a sensory mom point of view I was very impressed with this.)
We still need to do manage the wonderlab (ie the time we arrive etc) but by buying a years membership we can do just that we can go as often as we like and just go in the quieter periods. (If you are visiting the Museums in London we highly recommend that you go the V&A Museum for a picnic lunch – they have a stunning courtyard with a water feature that the kids can wade in – it is one of our warmer weather favourites and it is perfect to combine with a trip to the Science Museum or Natural History Museum).
One warning about the Science Museum the shop downstairs is amazing and it is very hard to walk through without wanting to buy some incredible science goodies for the kids.
The fourth item was one of the kids Christmas presents last year although it kind of feels like it was my Christmas present aswell – their climbing fame from CostCo. This climbing fame has been brilliant. In the warmer months the kids are out in our garden every day and they spend ages climbing and playing games in, on and around the climbing frame (we discovered that if you add some sheets to the climbing frame it makes a great den). The reason why I said it feels like it was a present for me is because of the time it has given me. I have been trying to do more of my own activities – like writing some guest posts at Activity Village or my accountancy work, and having this climbing frame in our garden has given me a LOT MORE extra time to spend on my extra projects.
My fifth one has to be our Insect Lore. Wow. This was incredible. We did both the Butterflies and the Stick Insects this year and the whole family loved it. We are definitely going to do it again next year.
Disclosure – As I mentioned above this is NOT a sponsored post in any shape. If I had to choose our Top 5 items from the past 12 months this would be them. I bought the How to Train Your Dragon book set from the Bookpeople, I bought the Wonderlab membership, the Climbing Frame and the Insect Lore. We were given the BIG CAT readers by Harper Collins and they have really been one of our favourite new resources over the past 12 months. I was under no obligation to include any of these items in my list.
Also I did not have a nice clear photo of the Chemistry Bar so I emailed the Science Museum and they kindly the sent the photo that I have included.