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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.

Snow Tubing

Safety briefing
The view from the top

A thrilling time was had by all on the ski slopes in Craigavon today, despite driving through fog to the venue we found sunshine waiting for us when we arrived!

After our safety briefing the kids trudged up and skimmed down the slope over and over again.

We followed the excitement with a picnic, a play and a thorough investigation of the maze at Tanaghmore Gardens.

Events like this, as well as being exciting and novel (and great exercise!), are opportunities to make social connections, support each other and exchange information. 

We all appreciate the work that goes into giving our children these opportunities, and the friendly receptions (not to mention group discounts!) we get from the venues!

Many thanks!

A visit to Streamvale Farm

Barrelling along in the distance  - children being towed by the tractor

Streamvale Farm kindly accommodated our home education group this week. It certainly lived up to its great reputation. 

A large group of us were first taken to the petting area were we fed rabbits cabbage and petted the really well looked after animals. 

We then went on to hold the baby rabbits in straw filled open baskets, the children found this part especially exciting. 

After a play around in one of their many designated play areas the children went on go carts, played with diggers in the sand and then went to see the puppies play. 

Soon after the children enjoyed free barrel rides, were the lovely staff member towed them on a quad! 

After a quick stop for lunch and indoor play in another great area the vet came and played hospital with a few of the children. 

Pony grooming, sliding into hay and two full rides on the towed tractor carriage followed. Seeing and learning about the deer and the antlers was a particular highlight. 

 We ended our day in the largest play area shooting soft balls out of the machines and playing on the toy tractors. 

Streamvale was an exciting opportunity to learn about farm life and just have some proper outdoor fun! "

Lisburn Fire Station Visit

One of the Fire station groups in front of a fire engine
One of the Fire station groups in front of a fire engine

Our visit to Lisburn Fire Station was fantastic and very informative for both parents and their children. 

There were around 60 children so we were split into two groups with different hour slots. 

The firemen tailored the talk to the age range attending importantly educating us about fire safety. 

They were absolutely amazing with the kids. They had them firing the water hose at a cone and dressing them as a firemen and firewomen.  

They let the kids get inside the engine and then took us through a detailed tour of every piece of the equipment in the vehicle and it's uses. 

I think we all came away with something we hadn't known before. 

All in all a brilliant day out for home educators in Northern Ireland.

Not Back To School

Construction at W5

This is the time of year when we welcome new home educators and reconnect with each other after a busy summer. The museums, parks and swimming pools are emptying during 'school hours', the classes and groups are starting up again and of course our Not Back To School celebrations are underway.

As always there is a packed programme this week, too much to do everything! From treetop adventures and museum trips, to gymnastic and sports taster sessions, and of course social meet ups of all sorts.

We wish you and your families a wonderful year, full of fun and learning! For the community as a whole we hope that the upcoming new guidance on home education and the consultation will be a positive step forwards towards greater trust between home educators and the Education Authority. 

To get involved we suggest that you join the HEdNI Facebook group to connect socially and find out about events.

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