Understanding The Four Learning Styles To Better Support Education

Whether you are a teacher, a home educator or a parent who simply wants to understand your child’s learning, familiarising yourself with the four primary learning styles can make a massive difference to how we support and offer education.

Different people learn in different ways – when it comes to teaching, there is no one-size-fits-all method. The four primary learning styles are visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinaesthetic and, with all four styles prevalent in any learning experience, a delivery that caters to every style is important.Primary Learning StylesRead more: Understanding The Four Learning Styles To Better Support Education

Frida Kahlo Inspired Mexican Folk Art Pendants

Supporting our Frida Kahlo learning, we’ve been looking at Mexican folk art. A simple Google of the term brings up pages and pages or examples, so we identified a few things that  were clear to us when looking at Mexican art:

  1. It is bright and colourful
  2. There’s incredible attention to details
  3. They use a lot of dots
  4. There are a lot of skulls used in art.

Using this information as a basis, we made ourselves some Frida Kahlo and Mexican folk art inspired air drying clay pendants and I’ve got to say, I don’t normally count myself as terribly artsy, but I’m really happy with how these turned out.

air dry clay pendant

Read more: Frida Kahlo Inspired Mexican Folk Art Pendants

Frida Kahlo Inspired Paper Flower Headbands

We’re learning about Frida Kahlo at the moment and two of the things that stands out about Ms. Kahlo are the fact that she was fiercely patriotic and proud of her heritage, and the bold, bright colours she wore. 

Often wearing flowers and using them in her paintings as a celebration of her national heritage, their symbolism of fertility and fecundity was also pertinent to Kahlo who was unable to have children herself as a result of the accident in her teenage years. 1

Frida Kahlo contracted Polio as a child, and this left her with one leg thinner than the other, so much so that she was quite self-conscious about it. This also played a part in her wardrobe choices into adulthood. Frida might have hobnobbed with the high-society of New York and San Francisco and even, later, Paris, but she never adopted the ‘flapper’ style dresses that were popular at the time, choosing to stick with the long skirts and maxi dresses of the matriarchal Tehuantepec society of her Mexican heritage.

I find my children concentrate better when their hands are busy, so we were able to chat about Frida Kahlo, patriotism, disease, and the obstacles that come up in people’s lives while we folded tissue paper into carnations for Frida Kahlo inspired headbands. 

To make the headbands, you require a rectangle of tissue paper per flower, some sellotape to hold it together and – I had hoped to use elasticated headbands, but I couldn’t find any locally – pipe cleaners  with hairclips.

To make the flowers, fold the tissue paper lengthwise to make a long narrow strip, then fold it in half down the middle. Starting at the closed end fold the paper about an inch, then flip the unfolded bit underneath and fold an inch again. Repeat over and over, creating a zigzag out of the paper. When it’s all used up, pinch the bottom closed bit together and use a bit of tape to hold it all together (you could also sew a stitch in it, but we don’t have the patience for that just now!)

Pull apart the top part of the zigzagged tissue carefully (tissue paper tears easily) to create a fan, then gently separate the layers, pulling them as far out as they’ll go, creating your paper flower.

For the ‘headband’ we twisted together two pipecleaners, making a loop at the end of each (the ends can be quite sharp, so bending it inwards should help protect little skulls from being stabbed!) Once it’s all twisted together, create a gap between the twists, and place your flower in it, then twist it back together again.

Put a hairclip or pin through each end – through the loops – and use those to clip the ‘hairband’ into the hair. 

Click on the image below for more on Frida Kahlo and other inspirational women in history

Women Who Did

Follow our Women Who Did series on Pinterest:

  1. Davies, L. 2010, March 2, Frida Kahlo and Flowers, http://www.anothermag.com/fashion-beauty/1812/frida-kahlo-and-flowers

Make A ‘Not Back To School’ Tote With Pencil Holder And Notebooks {BostikBloggers}

The theme for this month’s #BostikBloggers is Back to School, which is obviously a bit problematic for us, so we decided to do a Not Back To School craft instead. For this month’s #BostikBloggers we’ve made a Tote Bag with a playful ‘Not Back To School’ checklist, decorated two notebooks and made a pencil holder to sit on our desk. We’ve also made an on-the-go pencil case for when we’re out and about, but I’ll pop that in a different post.

I’m actually really pleased with how this month’s craft worked out, not least because it’s something we’ll actually be able to use over the next few weeks. Not back to school

Read more: Make A ‘Not Back To School’ Tote With Pencil Holder And Notebooks {BostikBloggers}

Dear Home Ed Mama Who’s Decided To Send Your Child To School

My children have been educated at home since pretty much the day they were born, and as such, we’ve always mingled with people who intend, or do, home educate their children. As a result, we’ve come across pretty much every ‘type’ of home educator known to man, I’m sure. From those who do it for religious reasons to those that do it for anti-establishment reasons, from those who do it purely while they wait for schools to come available, to those who do not intend to send their children to school, ever.

We’ve met and engaged with all the styles too, from the extreme unschoolers who don’t even like ‘themed’ activity days at the home ed groups, to those who follow a strict curriculum, from those who teach nothing at all formally, to those who have flashcards for their two year olds. We have met them all.

The biggest shock for me in the home learning networks has been the difference in parenting styles. Our first home educating network consisted mostly of the style of parenting known as attachment parenting or gentle parenting. Subsequent groups introduced us to much stricter, more regimented parenting styles.Read more: Dear Home Ed Mama Who’s Decided To Send Your Child To School

5 Websites To Keep Older Kids Busy While You Home Ed Younger Siblings

Websites To Keep Older Kids Busy

One of the first questions people ask me about home education or homeschooling my children is how I manage to ‘teach’ children of different ages and at different levels at the same time. I’m going to share with you 5 websites that I use to keep my 7 year old busy while I’m doing structured learning d Before my youngest was of school age, it was easy – she’ll happily potter about on her own, colour, play with her small world toys and so on, so being able to spend 40 minutes ‘teaching’ her sister was easy.

Now that she’s also ‘of school age’ and there’s a ‘requirement’ to ‘educate’ her, I focus more on doing some structured activities. At the moment we’re learning the alphabet, which involves a lot of colouring, sticking, gluing, so not really high intensity, but still good for her to have some undivided attention.

To facilitate this, we use one of five websites that Ameli can self-manage her time while I focus on her sister. These are the websites and programs we use most:Read more: 5 Websites To Keep Older Kids Busy While You Home Ed Younger Siblings

Learning About the Hindu Festival Of Diwali

I can’t claim to have grown up with much awareness of religious diversity, and I can’t claim to be one way better or worse off for it, but I do know that my children are growing up in a much different way and in a very different place to the close, conservative, and supportive  community that I did, so I think it’s important for them to learn two things: 1) Tolerance for other religions, 2) an understanding of other religions in relation to what I believe, and what I hope they will believe. Religious observances are also different now, and sometimes more commercial – for example the Colour Run, based on the Holli celebration, or locally, we have Electric Woods, where Robin Hill lights up the autumn nights inspired by Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights. While we could just go and enjoy the prettiness, I think there’s value in explaining what it is that we’re exposing ourselves to, so that the children can learn something about ‘other people’. As it was, the Electric Woods event saw us walking through the woods at Robin Hill enjoying the cold evening air, listening to music and looking at light displays. It was a lovely evening out, fuelled by hot chocolate. dewali-robin-hillRead more: Learning About the Hindu Festival Of Diwali

Learning Games: Using Go Fish For Anagram Words

We’ve been working on a bit of a loose ‘ocean’ theme the last few weeks, so I decided to let the literacy activity for this week be ‘go fish’.

For this game, we used a magnet to pick up our magnetised fish – say, 5 fish, or pick a number – then make up as many words as we can from those five letters. Pretty simple, really, and great for word exploration, spelling and a general word-building exercise, without looking or feeling like learning.Go Fish Game

Read more: Learning Games: Using Go Fish For Anagram Words

10 Things Children Learn on Holiday

Just after the recent furore about school holidays, I actually took the children to France for a much anticipated holiday. We booked it back in December, in the doldrums of winter, about to move house, and in the midst of a lot of personal upheaval. I figured if we survived to May, that would be a great way to celebrate making it to this point.

We are home educators anyway, so it being term time made no major difference to our lives but given the whole ‘term time holiday’s debacle, what children learn on holiday was on my mind a lot. Here are some of the things that stood out to me most on our trip:

1) Exposure to new things

Things Children Learn On Holiday

Children see new things when they go to a new place. For example, they saw the impressive wind turbines that dot the countryside in the north of France. These gargantuan structures prompted a discussion about fossil fuels and renewable energies among other things. Not something we discus on a random Tuesday in May.

2) They learn non verbal communication

On our first day in France, it poured with rain, so we spent most of the day in the heated pool on site. Six year old Ameli picked up a little friend, an 8-year old French girl called Juliet, and for two days, these two were inseparable. They had so much fun together. They barely spoke a word of the same language. They very quickly learned that they could communicate by gesturing, by describing, by pointing. By the end of the second day, when Juliet was leaving, they had even picked up a few words from each other.

3) They learn new language skills

Which leads me here. They also learn new language skills on holiday. Whether that’s a different dialect in a different part of the country, or a new language, Ameli’s French improved significantly over the course of 7 days. (Considering she could say Bon’jour and Merci on arrival in France.) Ameli found the inability to understand and communicate frustrating, so what did she do? Downloaded an app that translated for her. That came in really handy at times, when we had to ask full sentences to people who didn’t understand any English (there was a fuel shortage while we were there.)

4) They learn about budgeting

We had been in two minds about actually going on this holiday, even though it was fully paid up front, because there are always expenses on holiday and having just moved house, we have very little spare money floating about. As a result we went in with a very tight budget of €30 a day for food and entertainment – and between 3 people, that’s not a whole lot of money, really. So we had to budget and the children had to make decisions and prioritise. After I’d bought our meals every day, we would look at how much was left. Having spent the first two days in the pools and taken some food from home we had a little ‘extra’ money, so our budget went up to just under €40 a day, which suddenly seemed so much more. On the day we went tenpin bowling we had a little less, so didn’t buy ice creams. On the day we went on the canoe and on the motorised race track we had a meat free (but local tomatoes, local mozzarella and fresh baguettes!) dinner, on the day we went to Parc Asterix we were stung a little by tolls we hadn’t realised we were going to have to pay, so only had one ice cream and a tiny souvenir each. But we still got to do all those things, and we enjoyed them all – we just had to work together and decide together what to spend each day’s money on.

5) They learn about planning & cartography

If you want a six year old to learn to read a map, draw an X over the ice cream shop and let her lead the way.

Or sit down together with a big map and find out what’s in the area. We stayed in a really lovely resort. Many people were there and didn’t leave for their entire stay. Others hopped on the day trip bus to Disneyland or to Paris. Those weren’t in our plan for the week – or our budget – so we arrived in Berny-Rivière and unlike me, we had no plan. I had no idea what was around us. So we picked up a map of the commune (county) and poured over it together, making note of big towns, landmarks and tourist highlights. We chose the closest three and decided to visit them. We chose two in the same direction for one day, then another in the opposite direction for a day where we also wanted to attend an event on site. Planning. Together. That’s a valuable life skill.

6) They learn about different fauna and flora

Things Children Learn on Holiday
A few days before leaving home we picked up a book about popular British trees in the Poundshop (like a Dollarstore or the Reject Shop). Ameli decided to take it with and see if we could find any of the French trees in our book (we did). But we also discovered trees that aren’t found in the UK. (Or at least not in our book.)

7) They learn their limitationsThings Children Learn On Holiday

Aside from the fact that (at least this part of) France is much more relaxed about Health and Safety, and Aviya was allowed to go down a water slide she has never been allowed on in the UK holiday parks, she discovered very quickly which ones she liked and which ones she wasn’t ready for. We’ve been in a park in the UK where they didn’t allow her to go down the water slide and she spent the entire week sulking about it.  On the contrary, in this park she was allowed to go down the slide with parental supervision, and she only did it one time, deciding it was too fast for her and she didn’t like it. That was the end of that conversation and it was her choice.

8) They experience a bit of history

Things Children Learn On Holiday

Remember the three towns we decided to go to? One was called Soissons – I’ve never heard of it, but what we did learn was that it was actually the capital before Paris was! The girls learnt all about Clovis and his wife Clotilda and the Vase of Soissons and it’s legend. At ages 6 and 4 they know more about French history than I did before this trip (although if you’ve been watching Vikings on Amazon Prime it’s a great place to visit as it must hail from roughly the same period!) We climbed up a castle turret called Septmont. We discovered a magical chateau in Pierrefonds. History, all around us, alive and basked in Spring sunshine. In the future we will return again, because there is so much World War 1 history in that part of the world too.

9) They unplug

Having no wifi for a week meant no TV for a week either (since we only watch Netflix or Amazon). It also meant no computer games, no phone games, no ‘white noise’ from having the radio on. It meant reconnecting with nature, with each other.  It even meant reading to themselves when they wanted some down time.

10) Family TimeThings Children Learn On Holiday

Of course it’s entirely possible to have a holiday with not a single one of these things happening. You could spend all holiday on the park by the pool if that’s your thing. There were families that did just that. They had board games, books, picnics. They swam together, ate leisurely meals, played games. They had good, quality, family bonding time. And that is valuable for a happy life.

Bonus: And as an added bonus, for me, my step counter counted almost double the amount of steps I do at home every day of the week we were away! So there’s a health benefit to throw in there too!

Are holidays of any value to children? Shouldn’t they be in school instead? Or learning at least? I don’t know – I think there are many things children learn on holiday.