Homework for new pupils - Joining Junior Club in September 2017

To be completed by September 2017 – please bring separate, completed worksheet (sent by email) with you to the first class.

(Children who are not my pupils are of course welcome to complete this 'work' too - I hope you find the suggestions useful)

Please note - all underlined entries below are easy links to help you plan your journeys - please click on them!

You are welcome to email me photographs (Jpeg format if possible) of your adventures, if you would like them to be posted on the website.


1)      Visit a wooded area or forest.

These will be found in many country and local parks, including in Cannon Hill Park . The woodlands in Cannon Hill Park can be found directly opposite the MAC and lake, on the side of the park closest to Russell Road. You can also find local woods to explore via the Woodland Trust website.

There was a time when most of England was covered in woodland. Have you heard of Robin Hood and his merry men? Can you imagine them hiding out in Sherwood Forest? While in the woods, what sounds can you hear? Can you make a den? Either a big one for you or a tiny one for a fairy or elf? Can you read some poetry about the woods? The Woodland Trust Facebook page usually has great examples. Why is woodland important for our environment? 


2) Visit a 'large' natural body of water; the sea, a lake, or a river.

Some ideas for lakes nearby are Bosworth Water Park (which also has an artificial beach) or Kingsbury Water Park (which also has bikes for hire) or Earlswood Lakes. There is also Ragley Hall, a country estate with a boating lake, although this has an entry charge.

Ideas for rivers nearby are the River Avon, which has walks and boating available at St Nicholas Park, Warwick  or the Birmingham River Cole, which can be seen running through Small Heath to Shard End at Kingfisher Country Park 

As Birmingham is at 'the heart' of England, it's generally at least a two-hour drive to the sea. Suggestions for beaches to visit would be Weston Super Mare, Tywyn, or, if you prefer somewhere a little 'quieter', Aberdovey.

When standing by the sea/lake, river, think about your five senses. What can you experience with them? Why are seas/lakes/rivers important to people? How are they used for leisure? How are they kept clean and protected? Can you find poems based on the sea, or lakes or rivers? 


3) Visit a building of historic interest; a castle or stately house.

Nearby castles are Kenilworth Castle (£25 family ticket), Warwick Castle  which is, in my opinion, very expensive at approx. £70 for a family ticket (2 children) booked online in advance. Other local castles - some free of charge to visit - are listed here  and here

Local buildings of interest are Blakesley Hall , Aston Hall, Coughton Court,  and Packwood House. Other historical places of interest can be found via English Heritage and the National Trust.

There are also Shakespeare's houses, cared for by the Shakespeare Birthplace trust in the historic city of Stratford Upon Avon.

In which century was this house or castle built? Who lived there? Why is it important? What did you find fascinating about it? How did the previous inhabitants live differently to how we do today, in modern times? 

4) Visit a museum. 

The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in the city centre offers free entry - of particular interest are the Staffordshire Hoard (a treasure of historic gold dug up relatively recently in a local field) and the top floor exhibition on Birmingham's history.

There are many other local museums, helpfully listed here.

The Sea Life Centre is rather expensive, but a saver ticket can be purchased jointly with Warwick Castle if you wish to visit this too.

The Black Country Living Museum and Ironbridge Gorge museums are less pricey and offer a huge amount to see and do.

The London Museums are free of charge and are among the best in the world. Trains will take you to London in under two hours, and can be booked (including London tube and bus passes) from around £36 per family. The Trainline website is easy to use to find the best fares. If you need help navigating the tubes to the museums, please ask as I've made this journey from Euston and Marylebone with my own children.

The main museums are The Natural History Museum, The Science Museum, The Victoria and Albert Museum, (these three museums are next to each other in South Kensington) and the British Museum, a short walk from Euston station. 

Which displays at the museum were the most fascinating to you - and why? Did anything surprise you? What would you like to find more information about? Why is it important to maintain museum collections? What kind of museums do you prefer? 


5) Visit Sarehole Mill and the Shire

This is a rather specific request, possibly made because we're all Tolkien fans at the Literacy Club! On a serious note, Sarehole Mill not only carries with it the history behind the author of the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, but also a beautiful mill pond, working waterwheel and a fascinating visual history of the urbanisation of the area. 

What can you learn about Hall Green and JRR Tolkien? Before you go, read Keepsake Mill by Robert Louis Sevenson . RL Stevenson imagined that the rural way of life, with the village, river and mill, would continue for ever. Was this the case in Hall Green? 


6) Watch the London Olympic Opening Ceremony from 12.15 to 34.10 with your child.

So much of the literature and poetry that we will study has roots in British history - from war, monarchy, and of course, the industrial revolution, so vividly portrayed here.

Discuss the historical events which are acted out, with an adult. Why was Isambard Kingdom Brunel (played by Kenneth Branagh) and engineering important? Who were the suffragettes and why are they important? What is special about the National Health Service? Notice the portrayal of immigrants beginning to arrive in Britain from the 1950s - how was and is their contribution important too?

Every culture and country has a rich and varied history - if your family has roots in another country or countries, you may also wish to research this - the Victoria and Albert Museum in London has displays from around the world which could be a starting point. Or you may be able to look at old photographs or interview an elder.


7) Make something

Craft activities are readily available from shops such as The Works, Hobbycraft and pound shops. You could make a card for a friend or relative, complete a small cross-stitch pattern, or make candles or paint a watercolour. You could try out knitting or crocheting - or a wooden sculpture or a pretend volcano. There are numerous possibilities. Your child should read the instructions independently but may then require some explanation to follow them.


Once you've made your item, what was the most fun - and the most challenging part? What would you do differently if you made it again? 


8) Cook something

Again, the possibilities are endless, but it is even better if your child can try something new. Your child needs to cook an item 'from scratch' (i.e. not a pot noodle!) This could be a no-bake cereal bar, a cake, a main course, or simply a loaf of bread. Ensure that your child follows written or spoken instructions to complete the task, and obviously they will need to be supervised when handling knives or heat.

Who did you share your cooked item with - and what was their response? How did you feel having cooked something for others? What would you do differently next time? Would you like to cook a few more dishes?


9) Plant and grow something

Seeds are readily available from supermarkets and other stores. The fastest to grow are cress seeds. Or you could try something quite new. You don't need to have a garden - many plants can be grown on a windowsill. Ensure that your child reads and understands the seed packet instructions. You can also try plug plants, available from garden centres and DIY stores. It may take a few months before you have a full plant/vegetable/flower. You may wish to take photographs of the plant growing. 

How did you care for your plant? Did it grow quickly or slowly? Were there any disappointments? How did you feel once the plant had grown? If edible, did you eat it when it was ripe?


10) Memorise this poem:

Come to the Edge by Christopher Logue

Come to the edge. 
We might fall. 
Come to the edge. 
It's too high! 
COME TO THE EDGE!
And they came, 
and we pushed, 
And they flew. 


These tasks are not in any particular order but should all be complete by Sunday 10th/Monday 11th September 2017 - I hope that you enjoy completing them with your child.