Learning in Lockdown – Meet Bolt!

Lockdown 2021 has hit harder than ever. People are struggling and some parents trying to home school their children are feeling frustrated and confused. Many are feeling guilty that they aren’t ‘getting it right’. Part of that is due to parents obviously wanting to do their best for their children but not fully understanding the emphasis that is placed on things that ‘weren’t around’ when they were children. The Guardian article by Michael Rosen this week about ‘fronted adverbials’ highlighted that by stressing about Education in this way we are forgetting the joy of learning.

I understand, I really do, I’m trying to home school my grandchildren and even with 35 years’ experience as a teacher and working in education I’m having to work hard to not get bogged down by what is ‘expected’ or what I feel is being seen as ‘expected’ and concentrate on what I know works.

I said to my granddaughter 5 – ‘shall we do some writing now LJ as Miss B has sent us some sheets’ she smiled and said very politely ‘no thank you mama’ and carried on playing. 

I need to add a disclaimer here – Miss B has been awesome, worked really hard and given us a variety of tasks and stories/songs and this is in no way a criticism.(In fact I emailed her to thank her for her understanding and hard work last week.) LJ did however, devour the story ‘Aliens love underpants’ and we ended up with a washing line of different paper underpants as well as a range of aliens strewn around the kitchen for days – imagination sparked and the learning flowed.

I had a bit of a lightbulb moment when I was scrolling through Instagram. My friend Nick anualdaydreamharvest posted a photo of a Bolt he’d found and turned into a character with his son Sid

I’ve worked with Nick several times and am in awe of his talents but couldn’t help adding – I can feel a book series coming on here! Fast forward a week and, meet ‘Bolt’ our hero -he’s really just a piece of metal. He’s made with 2 screws 2 sticks and a wingnut -but that’s because we are adults, to Sid he’s a character – the questions flowed immediately – how old is he? Where does he live? Who are his friends? Well Bolt’s world will be created by the children themselves – he might live in a cereal box or a wash basket, it might be a hole in the garden or under a plant pot, he might have cardboard man as a friend – the story isn’t fixed. Unlike characters from books that you then buy soft toys or plastic models of (again not a criticism I’m looking at several of these as I type this) any props or other characters will be imagined and created by children from what they can find outdoors on walks or in the depths of their toy cupboard or recycling bin at home.

Bolt is currently on his way to Barnsley – packaged carefully by Sid – what will he need for his journey? He will need nuts as they are his favourite food, something to keep him warm as it’s very icy in Barnsley … you get the idea. Google maps has shown where Barnsley is located and Sid can track his journey.

Once Bolt arrives LJ can make him somewhere to live here – and he will definitely need something designing to keep him warm.

The scenes of Bolt’s story can be anything from collage, paintings, photographs – the only ‘rule’ is the children paint or photograph or make it themselves.

There will be story starter questions – Bolt is a bit bored where can he go on an adventure today?

There will be problems ‘Bolt and cardboard man want to go out today but cardboard man is worried as he remembers what happened last time he went out in wet weather… does he need an umbrella a special suit or vehicle to go out in?

We are very much in the planning stages but I’m caught up in this, enthusiastic and can see ideas everywhere I look- exactly what we want to happen when the children join Bolt’s world. 

The postman has just been but Bolt hasn’t arrived -I hope he’s safe and doesn’t get lost as I don’t know what I’d do then, I’ll have to ask Sid .

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