10 Things Children Learn on Holiday

Just after the recent furore about school holidays, I actually took the children to France for a much anticipated holiday. We booked it back in December, in the doldrums of winter, about to move house, and in the midst of a lot of personal upheaval. I figured if we survived to May, that would be a great way to celebrate making it to this point.

We are home educators anyway, so it being term time made no major difference to our lives but given the whole ‘term time holiday’s debacle, what children learn on holiday was on my mind a lot. Here are some of the things that stood out to me most on our trip:

1) Exposure to new things

Things Children Learn On Holiday

Children see new things when they go to a new place. For example, they saw the impressive wind turbines that dot the countryside in the north of France. These gargantuan structures prompted a discussion about fossil fuels and renewable energies among other things. Not something we discus on a random Tuesday in May.

2) They learn non verbal communication

On our first day in France, it poured with rain, so we spent most of the day in the heated pool on site. Six year old Ameli picked up a little friend, an 8-year old French girl called Juliet, and for two days, these two were inseparable. They had so much fun together. They barely spoke a word of the same language. They very quickly learned that they could communicate by gesturing, by describing, by pointing. By the end of the second day, when Juliet was leaving, they had even picked up a few words from each other.

3) They learn new language skills

Which leads me here. They also learn new language skills on holiday. Whether that’s a different dialect in a different part of the country, or a new language, Ameli’s French improved significantly over the course of 7 days. (Considering she could say Bon’jour and Merci on arrival in France.) Ameli found the inability to understand and communicate frustrating, so what did she do? Downloaded an app that translated for her. That came in really handy at times, when we had to ask full sentences to people who didn’t understand any English (there was a fuel shortage while we were there.)

4) They learn about budgeting

We had been in two minds about actually going on this holiday, even though it was fully paid up front, because there are always expenses on holiday and having just moved house, we have very little spare money floating about. As a result we went in with a very tight budget of €30 a day for food and entertainment – and between 3 people, that’s not a whole lot of money, really. So we had to budget and the children had to make decisions and prioritise. After I’d bought our meals every day, we would look at how much was left. Having spent the first two days in the pools and taken some food from home we had a little ‘extra’ money, so our budget went up to just under €40 a day, which suddenly seemed so much more. On the day we went tenpin bowling we had a little less, so didn’t buy ice creams. On the day we went on the canoe and on the motorised race track we had a meat free (but local tomatoes, local mozzarella and fresh baguettes!) dinner, on the day we went to Parc Asterix we were stung a little by tolls we hadn’t realised we were going to have to pay, so only had one ice cream and a tiny souvenir each. But we still got to do all those things, and we enjoyed them all – we just had to work together and decide together what to spend each day’s money on.

5) They learn about planning & cartography

If you want a six year old to learn to read a map, draw an X over the ice cream shop and let her lead the way.

Or sit down together with a big map and find out what’s in the area. We stayed in a really lovely resort. Many people were there and didn’t leave for their entire stay. Others hopped on the day trip bus to Disneyland or to Paris. Those weren’t in our plan for the week – or our budget – so we arrived in Berny-Rivière and unlike me, we had no plan. I had no idea what was around us. So we picked up a map of the commune (county) and poured over it together, making note of big towns, landmarks and tourist highlights. We chose the closest three and decided to visit them. We chose two in the same direction for one day, then another in the opposite direction for a day where we also wanted to attend an event on site. Planning. Together. That’s a valuable life skill.

6) They learn about different fauna and flora

Things Children Learn on Holiday
A few days before leaving home we picked up a book about popular British trees in the Poundshop (like a Dollarstore or the Reject Shop). Ameli decided to take it with and see if we could find any of the French trees in our book (we did). But we also discovered trees that aren’t found in the UK. (Or at least not in our book.)

7) They learn their limitationsThings Children Learn On Holiday

Aside from the fact that (at least this part of) France is much more relaxed about Health and Safety, and Aviya was allowed to go down a water slide she has never been allowed on in the UK holiday parks, she discovered very quickly which ones she liked and which ones she wasn’t ready for. We’ve been in a park in the UK where they didn’t allow her to go down the water slide and she spent the entire week sulking about it.  On the contrary, in this park she was allowed to go down the slide with parental supervision, and she only did it one time, deciding it was too fast for her and she didn’t like it. That was the end of that conversation and it was her choice.

8) They experience a bit of history

Things Children Learn On Holiday

Remember the three towns we decided to go to? One was called Soissons – I’ve never heard of it, but what we did learn was that it was actually the capital before Paris was! The girls learnt all about Clovis and his wife Clotilda and the Vase of Soissons and it’s legend. At ages 6 and 4 they know more about French history than I did before this trip (although if you’ve been watching Vikings on Amazon Prime it’s a great place to visit as it must hail from roughly the same period!) We climbed up a castle turret called Septmont. We discovered a magical chateau in Pierrefonds. History, all around us, alive and basked in Spring sunshine. In the future we will return again, because there is so much World War 1 history in that part of the world too.

9) They unplug

Having no wifi for a week meant no TV for a week either (since we only watch Netflix or Amazon). It also meant no computer games, no phone games, no ‘white noise’ from having the radio on. It meant reconnecting with nature, with each other.  It even meant reading to themselves when they wanted some down time.

10) Family TimeThings Children Learn On Holiday

Of course it’s entirely possible to have a holiday with not a single one of these things happening. You could spend all holiday on the park by the pool if that’s your thing. There were families that did just that. They had board games, books, picnics. They swam together, ate leisurely meals, played games. They had good, quality, family bonding time. And that is valuable for a happy life.

Bonus: And as an added bonus, for me, my step counter counted almost double the amount of steps I do at home every day of the week we were away! So there’s a health benefit to throw in there too!

Are holidays of any value to children? Shouldn’t they be in school instead? Or learning at least? I don’t know – I think there are many things children learn on holiday.

Little Passports Early Explorers – Famous Landmarks

Our second Little Passports Early Explorers box arrived, and it was just a wonderful box. We loved it so much. Little Passports Early Explorers

This one was themed “famous landmarks” and came with five ‘mini figures’ – little figurines of five well known landmarks: The Great Wall of China, The Leaning Tower of Pisa, The Taj Mahal, The Great Spynx, and The Eiffel Tower.

Along with them comes collectors cards with information on each landmark, ,and a printout with more information on each one. There are also stickers that can be stuck on the continents map, on Asia, Europe and Africa.
Little Passports Early ExplorersRead more: Little Passports Early Explorers – Famous Landmarks

Little Passports Early Explorers {Review}

I wrote a post recently about Little Passports – the World Explorer subscription – and how much we loved it. We have also been receiving the subscription for Early Explorers and if it’s possible, I love it even more.

The Early Explorer Little Passports set is aimed at pre-schoolers, roughly aged 3 – 5, but I would say that activity books aside, it’s also perfect for anyone with little or no previous knowledge of geography. little passports early explorersRead more: Little Passports Early Explorers {Review}

Mother’s Day Activities From Twinkl

We’ve been spending some of this week indoors, getting our Mother’s Day crafting going on – it’s a bit early, but if you have things to post it’s useful to get it done in advance! A really useful resource for easy mother’s day activities is Twinkl, an educational resource for schools and parents, and particularly useful for home educating – or homeschooling – families.

mothers day activities

Read more: Mother’s Day Activities From Twinkl

NEW! Andy’s Amazing Adventures Magazine Review

If your little one is a fan of Andy’s Wild Adventure on CBeebies, Immediate Media have a treat in store for them: The new Andy’s Amazing Adventures Magazine which launches today.

What they tell us about Andy’s Amazing Adventures Magazine:

Andy's Amazing AdventuresThis magazine is aimed at 3 – 6 year olds, and the magazine is based on the extremely popular CBeebies shows Andy’s Wild Adventures, Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures and the forthcoming Andy’s Prehistoric Adventures and will cover all of Andy’s adventures.

In each issue, Andy will be their trustworthy guide as they explore the world and even travel through time, meeting creatures, facing dangers and solving problems along the way. It is packed with puzzles, stickers, colouring, stories and comes with a great free gift with every issue.

The magazine is based on the 7 key areas of learning that support early years development so it’s full of fun things while also supporting the readers’ learning.

What did we think of Andy’s Amazing Adventures Magazine?

We’ve received the first edition in advance of today’s launch, and the first thing I noted about the contents were that they are spot on for their target. My 6 year old finds all the puzzles and activities easy, but not boring and my 3 year old finds them challenging enough to do together, so I think it’s perfectly targeted.Read more: NEW! Andy’s Amazing Adventures Magazine Review

The Incredible Journey Board Game

I’d been trying to think of a way to do a story board around The Incredible Journey that showed the highlights and the progression of the story, but everything seemed to be a bit over Ameli’s (6yo) head, so I had the idea that a board game with the general outline of the story could work and so The Incredible Journey board game was born.

To play this game, you’ll need to print out the image below (landscape is best). You will need a dice and two or three markers. You can use small animal toys or pompoms or whatever, really. The game works well with two or three players.

The rules are pretty simple – start at Longridge’s House, throw the dice and move the required amount of spaces. If you land on a text space, follow the instructions and if not, carry on, each taking a turn until everyone’s helped Bodger, Luath and Tao find their way home.* The bad things that happen to the animals might cause players to have to miss a turn or go back a few spaces, while helpful humans help them progress. The only exception is when Tao is swept away by the river – land on that one and you can immediately skip 7 spaces to meet up with the canine friends.

We found that only playing with the dice up to 4 made the game last longer, so if we rolled a five or six, we just rolled again.
The Incredible Journey Boardgame

Click here for printable version of The Incredible Journey Board Game

*In the movie, Homeward Bound: The Incredibly Journey the animals had different names, Bodger is the young dog instead of the old one and is called Chance, Luath is the old dog, instead of the young energetic Labrador, and is called Shadow and Tao is called Sassy.

We designed this game and have been playing it as part of our study unit on The Incredible Journey

We hope you enjoy this little DIY board game!

Incredible Journey

Valentine’s Craft Ideas #BostikBloggers

I was really pleased to find out that we’d been selected to be Bostik Bloggers again this year, and our first box is Valentine’s themed. It may be about a month off the celebration of love, but it’s never too early to get started, so here are some Valentine’s Craft Ideas for you!

Valentine’s Heart-flakesHeart Flakes

These are as individual as snow flakes, but they’re fun to make.

You’ll need equally sized strips of paper, preferably of the double-sided variety. Fold them in half without squashing the middle, and glue the loose ends together. Once they are secure, glue the strips together – you may find it easier to glue them at opposite angles (so in a figure of eight) rather than all together like in the picture bottom left.

When they are all glued together you’ll have a circle of loops (bottom middle) and then push the middle of each loop to the centre, giving the middle a little squeeze to make a heart.

Add a loop or string to hang the heart-flake from. Read more: Valentine’s Craft Ideas #BostikBloggers

Money Saving Jar Ideas For Children

This time of year there are lots of goals floating about and one of the ones you’ll often see on Pinterest is a money saving jar, where you save 1p on the 1st of January, 2p on the 2nd January and so on. I think this is a great idea, especially for children as they can clearly see how the savings are adding up. Of course you’re starting small so it doesn’t feel like much of a sacrfice initially, but as the year goes on, you head into summer months and later on towards Christmas, and having to drop £3 and more a day into the jar, it will quickly start adding up.

I know this wouldn’t work for me and the knowledge that I’d have to suddenly ‘find’ an extra £20-plus a week for the money jar is quite stressful for me, and I know I’d give up probably somewhere around the £2 a day mark. So I decided that we would try it, backwards.Money Jar Savings

That means that January, with it’s short, cold days, where we tend to stay in more and spend less anyway, is the hardest month for filling the jar. Filling your money jar backwards means that no day for the rest of the year will require quite as much money as today, or yesterday did. I find that quite positive and uplifting! My daily ‘sacrifice’ will get smaller, but my savings will be ever increasing.

Of course that means that by the end of February I’ve had to magic up almost £200 to put into the jar, but actually, it’s the perfect time. There’s no rule that says you *have* to put money in every single day, but if you’re decluttering the house, getting ready for spring, cleaning out after Christmas and so on, you can take that money and put it in the jar in lump sums as you receive it, just keeping track. Obviously that’s not the real spirit of the jar, but does it really matter? Taking a £5 note and breaking it on some sweets you didn’t need so that you could put £3.39 in the jar isn’t really saving.

Holiday Treats Fund

Holiday Treat Jar

Since for me this is an exercise in saving for the children, I actually did take a £20 and exchange it for £1 coins. I’m hiding the coins so that we can put one in the holiday jar every day. Of course if this was for me, I’d just do transfers from my bank account so that I don’t have the temptation of physical cash, and so that I could be earning interest where I can, but again since this is for the children, I think the physical visual of a jar (two in our case) is useful.

Christmas Penny Jar

Christmas Penny Jar

That means that January, with it’s short, cold days, where we tend to stay in more and spend less anyway, is the hardest month for filling the jar. Filling your money jar backwards means that no day for the rest of the year will require quite as much money as today, or yesterday did.

Because I’m a sucker for punishment  it seemed practical for us, we actually have two jars on the go: a Christmas fund, counting down from £3.65 and a £1 jar for our holiday in June. This is our ice cream fund, according to the girls. By the time we go on holiday, we should have £130 in the jar. Lots of ice creams for 7 days! It’ll be nice to have a little bit of ‘frivolous’ money though.

For the big jar, where you’re supposed to have over £600 saved by the end of it, we’ve set a date of 15 December, at which point we’ll add the last two week’s worth of coins on one day – totalling £1.34. That way we still have 10 days left to buy Christmas presents and food. I can see this as a really good way of making big things not break the bank when they come round – though I’ll probably just use my bank accounts for non-child projects!
Whichever way you choose to do a penny jar, it’s a good way to save some pennies and get the kids “hands on” involved too. And if we achieve it, we’ll have a financial stress free Christmas and a lot of ice cream on holiday too!

Pizza Express School Visits & Home Educators

Some time during last summer, we booked a home ed visit for one of the Pizza Express School Visit sessions, and though we had to wait several months for our session, we arrived on the agreed date and had a fantastic and informative visit.

Pizza Express School Visits offer groups the opportunity to not only see how pizza is made but also to get hands on and involved. For some children this is a brand new experience, of course, and for our group there was a mix of abilities too, considering our participants ranged from about 3 – 14 years.

Obviously the details may differ from visit to visit, but for ours on the Isle of Wight, the children were decked out in chefs hats and aprons, and given loads of flour to flour their work surface – a set of tables in the restaurant. Each child was given a ball of dough. The chef – whose name I sadly can’t remember – was amazing. He had such great rapport with the children, and was engaging and informative and did a fantastic job of managing such a range of ages.Pizza Express Visit

They spoke about the different steps they went through, the chef demonstrated, and the children were able to take their own dough ball, and knead it, twist it and shape it into circles – they even got to toss it up into the air. Read more: Pizza Express School Visits & Home Educators

Autumn Leaf Crafts #Bostikbloggers

I’ll admit up front that I cheated with this craft and didn’t use real leaves. All the leaves, buttons and embellishments were provided in the craft kit from Bostik as part of the #BostikBloggers challenge, and we did a few Halloween crafts, but we also did two Autumn crafts (you can buy similar leaves here on Amazon*:

Autumn Carry BagAutumn Crafts

For this craft you will need:

  • A cotton bag
  • Leaves
  • Buttons
  • Owl decal or other designs

There’s no real trick to creating a bag like this, except sitting down and doing it. Here are a few tips to help you though.

Depending on the glue you’re going to use, it could be useful to put a page of paper inside so that the glue doesn’t seep through sticking the two sides of the bag together.

Lay all your embellishments out without glue so that you can decide on the pattern, then glue everything in place.

Set aside for a few hours, to allow the glue to dry

Leafy Candle Holder


For this craft you will need:

  • Leaves
  • Glue Dots
  • Glass Jar
  • Tealight candle

This really couldn’t be simpler. Lay the leaves onto the glue dots, then stick them onto the glass jar. If you’re not using glue dots you’ll need to be sure to use a glue that is adhesive to glass.

Add a candle, then bask in the beauty of backlit autumn leaves.

We were sent a box of goodies for crafting with, including Bostik Micro Dots and Craft Glue.