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The Big Home Ed Picnic - a national celebration of learning

Some of the Children at the Belfast Picnic, posing by the trees and hanging aign
Some of the children at the Derry Picnic posing with the sign they made

As home educators all over the country celebrate learning with picnics and events we had two of our own in Northern Ireland.  In Belfast we celebrated in Wallace Park with food and circus skills!

”An excellent day was had at the Big Home Ed picnic in Wallace Park Lisburn. Home educators across the region came together to celebrate home education in the beautiful sunshine. 

The kids participated in a very fun circus workshop after a demonstration they got to learn how to use all of the props. 

Some kids also designed their own t-shirts. 

We ate lunch on our picnic blankets and took a walk down to the ice cream shack and playpark afterwards. 

It was a great chance to touch base with old friends and make new ones, both for the kids and the parents. 

A ‘aren’t we so lucky we home ed’ was a feature on my mind and many others I’m sure. What a fantastic community we have.”

In Derry we gathered at Brooke Park where we played football, enjoyed the playpark and rolled down the hill! We also made a sign with each letter coloured or collaged with feathers.

”We had a fanstastic day in the sunshine, it was such a fun and friendly atmosphere! 

As one of my kids said “home ed kids are the best, there’s always a good game to play”.

We had food, the blue tent(!), art, play and lots of laughter... “

Here’s to a lovely summer and many more picnics to come!

Musgrave vegetable garden

Musgrave vegetable garden

Our weekly meet at Musgrave Sensory garden has begun again. Our vegetable bed has been sown with peas, carrots, pumpkins, leeks, strawberries, red currents, blueberries and potatoes over the last few weeks. An activity that parents and children enjoy doing together. The idea being...you reap what you sow.

The inconspicuous water tap next to the allotment has been a source of many fun water fights. 

Just up the pathway is the beautiful musgrave sensory garden that boasts of a fantastic sand play area and playground. The forestry surrounding the playground and the story circle have been the source of lots of inspiration for the children’s games.

Our visit to the Wastewater Heritage Centre

HEdNI Kids at the Wastewater Heritage Centre

Today we visited the Wastewater Heritage Centre in Belfast. This is owned by NI Water.

First, we learnt about the sewage systems of the past.  The toilets in Roman times were quite hygienic as they had water running under them. It was not all good though, as the sewage ran into a river and polluted it, spreading diseases such as cholera.

The Medieval times were a bit better. If you were rich you had private toilets and the sewage plopped into a moat. The waste was then shovelled out of the moat by men and into a nearby river. The poor people used a bucket and threw their sewage on to the street. You just had to hope you weren’t passing by when a bucket was slopped out.

The Victorian times were better again. Sewers were available to the rich in the early Victorian era. The poor had to use privies, which were outside in their very small yards. The men who cleaned them were called the “Midnight Angels”, coming to clean them at night.

After learning about the history of our sewage system they told us about the 3 p’s, toilet paper, poo and pee. These are the only things which should be flushed down a toilet.

Lisburn Bowl

Lisburn Bowl
Lisburn Bowl

Taking advantage of Lisburn bowling alleys ten pin Tuesday offer again, some home ed families got together for a bowling session over 4 of their lanes this morning. 

It was a great way for the kids and parents to socialise and have some great fun! 

 

A lovely morning was had by all, we'll be planning on going again in the new year! 

Oxford Island - Kinnego Bushcraft Centre

Reptile centre
Reptile Cenrre

Some home educating families visited the Bushcraft Centre in Oxford Island this afternoon. 

Greg was very accommodating to the group inspiring their imaginations and showing the children an array of reptiles. Favourites included a corn snake which they got to hold, a tarantula and beautiful terrapins! 

After seeing the reptiles the group went through the woods while Greg gave a talk on survival. 

The group went on to build a survival shelter and ate some tasty rosehip apple chew (a survival food). 

Home educators are always eager to experience new things, we are thankful to the Bushcraft Centre and the organiser for today's event. 

Riverwatch Aquarium visit

A sizeable catch!!
Fish dissection
A fish heart

*pictures of a fish dissesction in this post* 

A great time was had by all who came along to Riverwatch on the Foyal yesterday! 

As there was such a huge response to the meet-up we were split into two groups both of whom were party to a talk on rainbow trout, why they are non-native here and what can and is being done to combat the fact that thousands have made it into our rivers following the terrible flood a few months ago in the region. 

Allan, the Education Officer, then performed a dissection on a freshly caught rainbow trout, talking in detail about the anatomy. The children (and grown-ups!) were able to get up close and personal holding and touching everything from the liver to the eye lense. 

We were then given a talk by Micheal on a bit about the history of the Loughs agency and their role. 

We toured the building learning about the on-site lab, how poachers are dealt with, viewed a selection of the boats and vehicles including the 'burger van' (a trailer full of equipment that is towed and used whenever an emergency on the waterways happens such as a spillage) and finally a trip to the freezer! Where the kids got to hold a huge (and very smelly) salmon. 

All in all so much was packed into our time at Riverwatch, the children were great and it was fantastic to be able to put faces to names - this being a first group event for many of the families. 

 

 

Ulster Flying Club visit

Planes ready for lessons.
Gliders and private planes

We had a group visit to the Ulster Flying Club this week. 

The airport manager took us through the airports various garages were we got to see a lot of different types of planes, gliders and helicopters. 

One man took us to a helicopter and gave us a very detailed explanation of how it worked, letting a few children sit inside while the rest of us had an in-depth explanation of what fuels the majestic machines. 

Some working planes dated right back to 1941, others had wings made from linen! 

As we were walking around we got to witness several planes taking off and landing. 

In one garage we got to see a crashed plane, and hear the story behind it. 

Spooky Science

Monster Manor in W5- ghosts in haunted house

Despite it being busy for the half term break w5 was a fantastic group outing for home educators in Northern Ireland. 

We started off our visit by viewing the spooky Monster Manor. 

Shortly after we made our way up to level 5, crossed the see-through  bridge and were split into two education classrooms according to age. 

I attended the first group which was for under 7's. It was all about forces! 

Things started off with a demonstration. A volunteer was called to help move eggs into cups without touching them by using force - a witches broom in this case! 

We then had a lid popping demonstration from three children and got to take out big boxes of toys to show us that different toys use forces to work. 

A few volunteers launched a rocket by using the force of their body. Pulling along cars using magnets then followed. At the very end we designed our own colourful magnets with googly eyes. 

The educator especially impressed as she went to each individual asking them questions, showing them cool force tricks and typically being very attentive. I was surprised by how much was fitted into our small hour slot. 

The second workshop was all about forensics! This got a lot of positive feedback from the over 7's and their parents. The children done forensic testing on a suspect. They looked at fingerprints, fibres from clothes, chromatography and DNA. The parents had high praise for the fun forensic scientist who, like the forces education officer, was great with the kids  

After the workshops we went to a private allocated area and had a lovely social meet over a picnic. 

It was especially nice to see new faces. 

Going during half term gave a few families considering home education a chance to see how a typical outing with our group goes. 

Halloween

Pumpkins in the field

A large group of us went pumpkin picking at Streamvale Farm on Wednesday. Availing of their exceptional group rate once again, we also bagged a free pumpkin and carving with admission. 

After picking out pumpkins in wheelbarrows we went inside the farm shed were the kids scoped out and the staff studiously listened to how the children wanted them to look. It was a quick, well done process and best part of all no mess at home! 

After the carving we left our pumpkins and went and explored the petting zone, listened to a spooky story, got free rides on the barrels (a big hit), slid down their hay filled slides and went on a Gruffalo trial! 

We ended our trip with a visit to their large play area and park. 

Once again a fantastic day was had at Streamvale Farm.

Recycling Centre Visit

The Children and Parwnts who visited the centre

Today we went on a visit to the recycling center in Lurgan. 

After we had all put on our hi-vis vests and had a quick safety briefing we were shown around all the different sections for various household waste. They told us what some of them are recycled into and a bit about the sheer volume of some waste they receive. 

Did you know that baked bean tins are used to make railway lines??? Or that broken washing machines could be made into stylish lamps? Or that old used cooking oil is made into new usable cooking oil?

The children really enjoyed seeing some of the machinery used on site and pointing out all the different household items they could recognise in each area. 

All the staff were so friendly and engaging. They made the tour very relevant for the children and their parents. 

We've all been made more aware of how we can recycle our everyday waste and help do our but to save our planet.

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