Blog 2021



We have looked at the World Wars with Button previously, but mainly from a Remembrance angle. It became clear as we did our topics on Africa, Asia and then even the Space race, that Button had a giant Adolf Hitler shaped hole in her knowledge. She literally did not have a clue who he was. We therefore decided to focus on the two World Wars before we head in to studying Europe. 

So the first weekend, Button and I learnt a bit about the First World War. She was impressively mature in her approach and I think she took on the facts and human aspects well. We read an overview of how the war started and did a worksheet. We then looked at some videos about the trenches to give Button a sense of how awful they were. Button was especially stunned at how the men slept with their legs sticking out in case the trench collapsed and they needed to be pulled out. 

To lighten things a bit, Button did some work on writing, characters and adjectives in English as we used @nightzookeeper. Then the afternoon was maths. Button worked on her 3 and 4 times tables using the cards we got from @happylittledoers. I'm so proud of her attempts to learn them. Meanwhile, I worked with Bear and Buttercup on numbers 10-20. We looked through the number cards (also from @happylittledoers) to discuss the names and order. Then I used the ones with dots to give them a number each to count and tell me the number. Bear was really good but too obsessed with the number 16, while Buttercup struggled a bit. Next, we made teen numbers out of the Twins and Button, til Buttercup got upset as she wanted to make 3 not 13 ?‍♂️. So we moved to counting shuttle runs. They took turns to be the 'counter' and the other two ran from one side of the room to the other the number of times on the card I showed them. Hopefully this all started to reinforce those tricky teen numbers.

As we moved on to World War Two the following week or so, we wanted to cover the following:

Look at her trench homework, 
Ww2 overview video on YouTube, 
Read about holocaust and answer questions on Twinkl worksheet, 
Dunkirk video on YouTube, 
Blitz video on YouTube, 
Cryptogram and Morse code using Twinkl sheets, 
Evacuees video on YouTube, 
Key event sheets from Twinkl, 
Air raids video on YouTube, 
Vr activity from YouTube, 
Rationing video on YouTube, 
Rationing activity with Twins using worksheet from Twinkl, 
WW2 recipe booklet from Twinkl, 
Churchill BBC bitesize, 
Spitfires and battle of Britain, 
Raf video on YouTube

Button and I started by covering causes, Hitler, the Nazis, Dunkirk, concentration camps, evacuees, the blitz, Morse code, Cryptograms, rationing and propoganda. Button worked really hard and took it all in her stride. I was really impressed with her attitude and sensitivity. It felt like this really filled in some gaps and tied together some of her existing knowledge. She especially enjoyed the Cryptograms and seemed really interested in the lives of children either in the Blitz or those who were Evacuees as well as Rationing. 

Again we wanted to balance the heaviness of the topic so we then focused on 'love day' as the kids call it. (Valentines Day to the rest of us or cash cow day to card companies and florists). 

Mummy and the Twins had already baked the brownie for dessert. So I took them to get some rosemary from our garden and we began to prep our starter. We cut garlic and then stabbed the camembert with the knife-poking the garlic and rosemary into the holes. Finally, they poured on some white wine after watching me in fascination as I opened the bottle with a corkscrew. The cheese went back in the fridge til dinner time.

Button and I then prepped the main. We started with a simple garlic mayo coleslaw and then prepped the semi hassleback potatoes. Button sliced the mozzarella and studded with garlic before selling the chicken thighs. Finally she stuffed the thighs with the mozzarella and wrapped in prosciutto. These also went back in the fridge.

At dinner the kids loved their rose I got each of them. Buttercup was not overly keen on the baked camembert, but ate the bread and the rest of us wolfed it down. The main was delicious, though Buttercup only ate the chicken and potatoes and Bear just the ham, potatoes and coleslaw. I was so impressed with the brownie, though it was so rich, the Twins couldn't finish theirs.

Once the dishwasher was loaded (it was a treat night), Button wanted to put on a mini heelies show. She sang a song she wrote herself while demonstrating her new skills on her heelies. We then all had a sing and a dance which was amazing. It was been a great day.

Button and I came back to looking at World War Two. We started with one of her @horrible.histories.official books that she has been reading as she obviously wanted to do the 'test your teacher' quiz with me. I think I did OK getting a just a couple wrong. We also clarified a few of the bits she had read and not understood or misunderstood.
We then used @bbcbitesize to learn about Winston Churchill. Button took on the information well and was keen to do the little activities on there.

Next, we moved onto the Battle of Britain. We watched some videos and did a worksheet, learning about our Spitfires and Hurricanes taking on the Lustwaffe. We learnt about the RAF's role in Dunkirk, the design of Spitfires and how they had wings that kept getting upgraded and we also discovered that flight command wanted a 'V' formation but that pilots often broke that to better (and more safely) engage the Lustwaffe. Button then had the challenge to create an radio advertisement to promote Spitfires to the public and boost public morale. She chose the backing song, wrote the prose and performed the advertisement. 

Having told the Twins about the 'V' formation (and obviously all acted it out) , we then all made paper spitfires, which really excited Bear. Before getting out some model planes to fly to each other.

Button and Daddy also learnt about explanation words on @nightzookeeper this month and she did some really good writing. We then looked at some war poetry from around Europe and Button drew a picture of the image that one poem, 'Burning' created in her head. We also continued reading the brilliant 'the girl who drank the moon' which we finished this month. It was very well written with characters that were three dimensional. Even the 'baddies' had their problems and good side. It was surprisingly deep and very emotive. Button really bought into it and Daddy loved reading it to her. 

We all also played lots of games. Was great to see Buttercup playing with their word matching tiles and even better to have all three playing the memory card game. Then we were so proud of Button as she played @settlersofcatan with us. For a first attempt, she did brilliantly, taking on the rules and some of the tactics. When we played a second time, she did even better. Mummy and Button also played a few games of battleship as it tied in a bit with our topic. We also attempted the card game FILL IN NAME, but I don't think any of our knowledge was good enough to play it as intended. So instead we used it as a learning tool. 

We finished off our topic with our Ww2 escape room. Mummy enjoyed it but Button said she had had more fun learning about it all than doing the escape room. We think it was because she was a bit tired. It certainly stressed Daddy and kept him on his toes as we had lots of technical issues and it did not flow as he had hoped. Mummy really struggled with the Morse code but loved the rest. Afterwards I showed Button how fast Morse code would have been sent for real (I had slowed it right down) and she was amazed that anyone would be able to follow it. 

So all in all I think we covered a potentially deep and depressing topic quite sensitively and achieved quite a lot. It is definitely one of those topics that the more you study it, the more you discover you missed, or forgot, or would like to cover in more detail, but this will happen organically as the kids get older. It certainly puts us in a strong position to head into Europe. 

Radio message
Radio message
Albert's disc
Morse code translator
Albert says 1= C
Radio messagel get message
ready to print
(Western front)
(Poppy field)
The hare is swimming at night
Radio message
Morse code
(Wireless radio)
3. 19 9 24. 1 14 4.7 6 15 21 18. 6 18 15 13. 6. 19 9 24
(C six and G four from F6)
Launch the attack Feb 27
Radio message
Caesar cipher
If you have been successful in your decoding efforts
your Bombe machine should be ready for use and to
turn on using the switch at the top.
Caesar says Wtmxjmvi..
Now enter any future decoded messages into the
enigma machine to uncover the date of the German
Congratulations, your hard work
has saved 468 men.
Pigpen cipher
(Hitler plans to take over the whole world)
Welcome to Bletchley Park. You two are the crack team we have recruited to help us win the war.
You come with a reputation as the best code breakers in the Country and your Country needs you.
Please listen to the wireless for further instructions.
Radio message
We are constantly intercepting German messages, but alas they use a code created by their enigma machine. We have managed to acquire some of these machines but
unfortunately they are no use currently. The settings for them change daily at midnight and it is incredibly difficult to crack the sequence due to the incredible number of potential
However, Alan Turing has devised a brilliant code breaker called the Bombe. He has left a version of his machine there at Bletchley. However, he deconstructed parts of it before he
left in case it fell into German hands.
There are spies everywhere and so you will receive coded messages to inform you where to find the pieces you need and you need to place them in the number order you find
Once the Bombe machine is up and running we will be able to learn which ships they are planning to attack and we can adapt our own plans. We will need to know when and what
coordinates they plan to bomb and where their u boat is.
Please await further coded messages. The light will flicker when we need to send you a message. Use the volume knob to turn the wireless on and off. Any future telegrams will be
delivered at the front door so stay alert.
You also need to blackout your windows in case of air raids.

What a month January has been. Our main topic was space, as the Twins have shown a huge interest lately. You can read all about that under topics - science -Space 2021 for a lot more detail on what we got up to from the planets to Constellations, zodiacs to astronomers, space shuttles to astronaut food to an escape room. 

    Daddy now has Fridays off which has really helped our home ed routine. With childminding three mornings a week it was becoming stressful to juggle everything, so now Button does her normal English, Maths, reading and now Lego filming each morning still then the days we don't childmind are filled with baking and art.

     Fridays and Saturdays have now become about topic learning and more English for Button with Daddy. The Twins, meanwhile, have started doing reading eggs and mathseeds each morning as well. This frees up our afternoons to explore the topic related toys we have out, board games, gardening and whatever else the children want to do. It's a lovely balance of structured work and child led learning and play. 

    This month the children came up with loads of fun space games for their free time but we also fitted in board games, letter crafts and writing and some number games.

    Daddy also set Button a task to learn about an artist each week: how they paint or draw and then to do her own piece of art work similar to theirs. Her first week she went for Frida, her second favourite artist. She studies the artist on her own for a bit of independent learning, but the art work we all do together. It's a nice activity for the Twins as well as it starts to expose them to artists and their work. We're not expecting them to be able to copy the art work but it's nice to give them some time to express themselves and to practice their mark making. This week she selected a picture of a fruit bowl done by Frida so I choose the orange with a slice taken for her to focus on. Button did amazing with this, taking her time and really focusing on the lines and shades. The next day I gave them all a cut apple to draw. The Twins drew brillant round circles with a line for a stalk and coloured them in red and green. Buttercup even added a person in her picture grabbing the apple. It's great that they are taking on board what we are drawing. 

    We have only just started the Twins with reading eggs and mathseeds and they are loving it. We were lucky to get it free for a month for them to give it a good trial before we bought it. In that time they have managed to do ten levels on mathseeds and love the games and videos on reading eggs. It's been brillant to see them so excited to learn. We were in no rush to do this sort of learning with them but rolled with it as they were so keen. 

     January also saw us plan our veg patch. This was brilliant as all the children planned what they wanted to grow after reading our Osborne book on planting veg and then we drew plans of our veg patch. I loved watching them get so passionate about it. 

     More exciting news in the children's eyes is that we set up their fish tank which was their Christmas present. They now are the proud owners of a cat fish and 5 guppies. 

  The Twins also had their first learning subscription this month. We have signed up for them to receive a letter from Banjo Robinson, a travelling cat. It comes with a map of the world to follow his travels, stickers, a recipe card and paper and an envelope so they can reply to him. You can then add a p.s to his letters so he can reply to any messages etc. They were so excited to get something that was for them through the post. They drew him pictures and wrote their names. It really encouraged them.


It's been a pretty successful month with all three kids really buying into it. Next month, the Twins will be studying 'Tiddler' and learning about winter. Button, meanwhile will be learning about the World Wars. Then we will all be starting on our Europe project. 

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