A few weeks back we bought a Railcard so that we could have a few train adventures over the school holidays. Of course, things have changed now that we’re home educating, but we still want to get out and about over the summer. With that in mind, I thought it’d be nice to do a fairly local journey as our inaugural trip. So, yesterday we had a day out in Coventry which is about an hour away.
Although we haven’t officially started home educating yet, today’s day out made me realise that there really are learning opportunities everywhere, whether you’re looking for them or not.
Usually when we have a family day out I get everything ready, but this morning I thought I should include the girls. If we’re going to start having more days out, it’d be good for them to be able to get their own things ready. They decided to take a notebook and pen each so they could write and draw whilst on the train. Snacks and drinks were also requested, of course. It was a boiling hot sunny day yesterday so we talked about the need for sunblock and hats as well.
The journey to Coventry took about an hour and we had two trains to catch. On the walk to the train station station, E suddenly asked, “why do people get diseases?”. She’s always asking questions like this and it led to an interesting conversation about family medical histories, at least on my side, and I ended up explaining what depression is, amongst other things.
After reading a couple of books about home education, I know that I need to be prepared for all kinds of questions all of the time. Both girls have always been very curious and it’s important that we continue to encourage that.
We had to switch trains at Birmingham New Street, so instead of marching the girls off to the next platform I took some time to show them how to work out where we needed to go. We looked at the departures board and then I let them find the right platform. It might not sound like much, but it’s a life skill they’ll certainly need!
On the train, E started to write a story and Phoebe was busy drawing pictures. It was nice and gave me a chance to do a bit of writing myself. I did start to think, “if this is a typical “out and about” kind of home education day, I can totally do this!”. Of course, it’s very early days and I know it won’t all be such plain sailing.
What To Do In Coventry
We had no real plans when we got to Coventry, but E spotted a street sign that pointed us in the direction of a museum. From the station, they both did really well following the signs and directing us all the way there. Another valuable life skill!
The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum
I’ve never visited The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum before so it definitely made our day more interesting for me too. It was so quiet in there, I guess because everyone was out enjoying the sunshine, so we had chance to explore everything. It was free to visit, which was a bonus as I realised I’d left my debit card on the kitchen table!
The girls really enjoyed looking at the exhibits from the natural world, like the rocks and shells. We spent a long time looking at different gemstones and choosing our favourites. We did some rubbings of ammonites, made lots of beach art from driftwood and stones and then had a chat about visiting a real beach to do the same.
There were lots of taxidermy animals that we looked at too, with mixed feelings. The girls are always really keen to explore animals up close but they always feel a bit sad when the animals in question are dead. We talked about how taxidermy helps to preserve the animals so that people can learn about them, especially those that are extinct.
Another thing they really enjoyed was making music. Lots of banging and crashing! It actually got me thinking that I need to consider some kind of music provision for them. I can play the clarinet, but maybe they’d like to learn another instrument? A conversation for another time definitely!
After a noisy start to our visit, we had a wander around and looked at some paintings and sculptures. I asked the girls to choose the paintings they liked. P said she wasn’t really keen on any, which is fine.
E: I like that it’s not realistic colours and it’s bright. I like that it’s abstract.
E: I like this, I think it looks pretty.
There was an exhibition called Wonder (or something similar) and it had a few interesting things to look at. This picture gave me an idea of some artwork we could do after we visit the National Space Centre in September. I like the idea of creating a bright and colourful Solar System in the same kind of style.
Of course, what trip anywhere would be complete without a visit to the gift shop? The girls both chose a mood ring (which I predict will be lost by the end of August). At least there’s almost something educational about it; you need to use the key to work out what mood you’re in!
A Walk Around Coventry
Soon it was time for lunch, so we headed to IKEA for vegan hot dogs. The girls directed us there again using street signs, it was like a treasure hunt! After lunch we just had a wander around, taking in the bookshop and toy shop. We had a brief chat about what “value for money” means when I refused to buy a small Pusheen soft toy for £15!
By this point the temperature had hit 28 degrees, we were hot and uncomfortable. It was definitely time to make our way back to the station. We had a conversation about railway safety after it was announced that our train had been delayed due to trespassers on the line. At least their mood rings kept them entertained whilst we waited!
By the time we got back from Coventry, we’d walked 15km today and then the girls had just enough time to shower and eat before their karate lesson. I think it’s safe to say that we’ll be far more active not being at school!