Thursday, 20 March 2014

Bridge Building and Leatherworking

This morning, Grace and I went to The Red House Museum for a Home Ed session all about bridge-building, and the World War Two "Bailey Bridge", which was invented and built locally. Grace had a great time; we started off talking about inventions, and the problems that they solved. The children matched pictures of inventions with their particular problems.

Then we went into the gardens, to see a section of a Bailey Bridge (not one from WWII, but the same design) and talked about the attributes which made it strong.

We had a go at making different shaped girders and testing them for strength. Grace proved that you can make any shape strong, as long as you use enough sticky tape!

Then we had to design a bridge - the children got to choose what kind of bridge they wanted to build, and Grace suggested a lifting bridge "just like the Twin Sails Bridge". This is the Twin Sails Bridge!

Not a tall order then!
They designed their bridge (the most important feature seemed to be the traffic lights!) and got to work building the bridge. Most of the fiddly bits were left to the adults, but they did enjoy making boats to sail underneath it!

The final result may not have looked exactly like the Twin Sails Bridge, but it was a moveable lifting bridge with a working winch system, and the kids seemed very proud of it; there was almost a fight over who would take it home!

We popped home for lunch, and Grace and one of our friends practiced the "mirroring" technique Grace has been learning in her drama group - not so ably assisted by Jude!

This afternoon we went into Burley to meet my mum, and after a pink hot chocolate (for me) and apple juice and toast (kids), we popped into one of the only shops open. It seems that Burley really is just geared up for tourists, and at this time of year, it is pretty much a ghost town. 

The shop that had attracted the childrens' attention was a leathercraft shop, and after admiring the animal handbags, Grace spotted that there was a lady actually doing some leatherworking in the shop. Rachael, from Titan Leathercraft spent ages explaining to the girls exactly how she crafted beautiful designs into the leather and showing them different book covers and handbags. 

Creating shadow

Explaining the different tools

A completed handbag
(Grace was very taken with it!)

The piece Rachel was working on today

A completed book cover
The chance moments like these, where the children are completely engaged in a subject, and people are able to spend time with them and talk them through it, are what makes Home Ed so worthwhile. We are able to grab these opportunities as they arise, and often they will still be a talking point days or weeks (sometimes even months!) later. We've been to Burley on weekends and in the summer, and it is always packed with people. I very much doubt that this opportunity would have been available if we have been visiting at another time.

Finally, it always helps to have something up one's sleeve to encourage the children back to the car park to go home, but I couldn't have thought of this trick if I'd tried! They were just starting to drag their feet when they spotted an escaped chicken in the car park, and raced to the car to get a closer look! It did make (thankfully) its way back through the fence shortly after I took a photo.

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