Thursday, 7 November 2013

Playing detectives

As a homeschooler, while I'm pretty clued up on the dry facts that National Curriculum* expects kids to know and the age at which they're expected to know them, I'm far from clear how teachers in the UK actually go about instilling these facts in the children.  If housemate's son is anything to go by, they seem to use a lot of dry, dusty, b o r i n g worksheets and "one size fits all" big publisher textbooks, so it's no wonder his eyes glaze over every time the "school" word is mentioned.

Contrast with the USA, where the teachers seem to be able to create whatever resources they like, so long as the end result is that the kiddos have met whatever Common Core standard the task sets out to achieve.  The range and diversity of the "work" created for the children to help them reach these targets is amazing.  One of the learning fun tasks they play is "Read the Room".  Do kids in the UK do this?  If so, I've never heard anyone mention it.  Anyway, it looks great fun so I decided to try it with Small.

The object of the exercise is to hide word cards, or math cards, around the room for the kids to find.  They then go around with a pencil, magnifying glass, clipboard, and in Small's case a flashlight, and "find" the hidden words, letters or sums, and write their answer on the recording sheet.  Obviously our house is rather smaller than a classroom so I had to double up in places, but he had an absolute ball playing detective, finding all the letters of the alphabet, and writing them on his sheet.

In fact he loved it so much, he made me promise I'd "hide" them all again tonight so he can "find" them again tomorrow morning.

This is also a great exercise for those kids who find it difficult to sit still - Small being one of them.  He much prefers to do his writing standing up, and this educational game was perfect for him.  He was playing, learning and moving around at the same time.  Winner!

*  I should make it perfectly clear that home educators in the UK are NOT required to follow the National Curriculum in any way, shape or form.  It is entirely up to the parents and the child what is learned, and you can choose to do all, some or none of the curriculum.   We do not really follow the curriculum per se, but I do keep an eye on the levels that children are supposed to reach just to make sure we're on target, especially in math, English and science.  We much prefer to use the many free (and usually great fun) resources downloaded from TeachersPayTeachers and elsewhere than dry, dusty textbooks.  We do buy the odd resource or two as well ;)

Until next time. x


  1. My housemate is at Uni training to be a primary school teacher and she says the NC tells them what the children should learn, but not HOW to teach it. Some brilliant teachers can instil knowledge in children in an enjoyable way, but some simply don't bother. I think that's what wrong with the schooling system right now, lack of direction. It's great that Small enjoys his learning!

  2. As an only recently retired infant school teacher in Wales I can assure you that we were encouraged to make any teaching aids we thought might be useful. I made vast numbers of games, flashcards and a host of other materials and equipment. I collected all sorts of everyday objects for use in mathematics work, particularly. You can encourage a love of words and stories, and also reading, by many means. I'm glad your son is enjoying word games, my grown up sons still enjoy a good game of Scrabble and we still have our Junior Scrabble and the Kan- U-Go (cringe at the spelling but the game's a good one) which I have had since I was at junior school.....

    1. Thank you for your comment. It's good to know there are some teachers out there who go the extra mile. I think I'd have enjoyed your class; it sounds a fun place to learn in.


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