Young Driver Experience – A day to Remember

Could you imagine learning to drive before the age of 17?

At Young Driver, a center that gives children from the age of 10 an opportunity to get behind the wheel and experience driving with a qualified instructor. Children can learn to drive at one of the 60 UK centers where they are taught in a specially designed training area. The training area includes; sharp bends, mini round-about, parking spaces, traffic lights, and junctions.

Young Driver follow the Driving Standards Agency curriculum, which means that what 10 – 17s learn at YOUNG DRIVER is exactly the same as they will learn on the road at 17. The children are given a Drive Diary to record their progress and this is one of the most important parts of the programme – moving forward is the aim!

Their personalised Drive Diary charts individual progress and current level of driving and is completed by the instructor after each driving session. The instructor talks them through it and explains where they could do with some more help or whether they can progress to the next step. The Drive Diary can be given over to their driving instructor when they begin their official lessons at the age of 17 and the instructor will then know what their experience level is.

 

My son, who is 14 years old, was lucky enough to be invited along to the Bluewater Center to experience for himself what it is like to drive a car. The center itself, is situated within the blue car park at Bluewater shopping center. There is a section of car park outside that is specifically designed for a  beginners’ zone, that has a full road system with traffic signs, road markings, junctions and parking zones. In this way it encourages responsible driving.

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As soon as we had arrived, he was called up by his instructor and taken along to the car that he would be driving. Before he could turn the key he underwent a safety check and was taught how to use the mirrors, signal and when to manoeuvre. He had full control over the steering wheel and pedals, however the instructor had pedals that would over power his if an accident were to happen. He started off slowly, to get used to the feel of the steering and clutch. Not long on the road and he was soon snaking in-between cones and maneuvering the car into a figure of eight in the parking lot. Whilst, he was driving he was continuously given advise and constructive criticism from the instructor. He spent 60 minutes out on the road, building up his confidence and learning some important skills of control and responsibility. He now knows how to drive safely and properly, putting him leaps and bounds ahead of other 17 year olds.

His instructor was fantastic, professional and made him feel safe at all times.

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Since his experience, he has become more road aware and is definitely more confident and prepared for when he can hit the road.

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We made a video of his experience

My son certainly left with a big smile on his face and is now eager to get behind the wheel.

I would highly recommend the experience for any young child who wants to get ahead of their peers and become a much safer driver. A very valuable and worthwhile experience.

30 minute lesson – 10-17yrs – £34.95

60 minute lesson – 10-17yrs – £64.95

To find out more about the experience or to make a booking, head on over to their website www.youngdriver.com

We was given this experience for the purpose of this review.

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Learning Outdoors: Free Gruffalo Teacher’s Pack

Having my own children and especially working within a school has made me realise that keeping children on task at such a young age can be difficult, it is hard to keep children engaged especially those with a short attention span. Taking lessons outdoors can engage children keeping them motivated. The experience of an outdoor lesson becomes more memorable and at an early age children learn through play.

The Forestry commission have launched a free downloadable Gruffalo Pack for teachers, full of activities based around the popular Julia Donaldson story The Gruffalo. Aimed at Early Years, Foundation stage and Key Stage 1, the activities are designed to be taken outdoors, aiming to encourage children to explore the nature world in the forest. All the activities have been designed to be used outdoors, in your local woods, park or school grounds.

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“Following Forestry Commission, England’s research, 83% of teachers said they’d would like to participate in more outdoor learning if it was more accessible. FCE looked at what prohibited teachers from teaching in the woodlands/ forest and how they could overcome these barriers to increase the ability of schools to teach outdoors when they wish to do so. The result, The Gruffalo’s teachers pack”

The Gruffalo Teacher’s Pack aims to teach learners about forests and how they are looked after for the benefits of people and wildlife. It has 4 sections:

1. Introduction: Scene setting

• This section will enable learners to get to know the Gruffalo story, the characters and the forest environment.

2. Programme 1 – Explore and discover the forest

• EYFS – Understanding the world; Mathematics;
• Geography KS1 – geographical vocabulary; geographical skills; place knowledge

3. Programme 2 – Design, make and evaluate

• EYFS – Physical development; Expressive arts & design
• Design & technology KS1 – design, make, build, evaluate

4. Programme 3 – All about animals

• EYFS – Understanding the world; Communication and language
• Science Year 1 – animals, humans, senses

Each section is full of ideas and tips and set out as a lesson plan that you can follow. Each section has a conclusion at the end, what you have investigated and what you have learned about living things. Covering areas of EYFS, curriculum linked. In each programme there are ideas on what you can talk about and also hands on activities. They are easy to follow and full of information, you will also receive the activity sheets to go along with each activity.

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The benefits of outdoor learning

  • Taking lessons outdoors engages and motivates children
  • Makes the learning more real by putting the subject into a context that they can grasp
  • Nurtures creativity and the imagination
  • The experience becomes more memorable, it becomes a hands on lesson
  • All children benefit from the lesson regardless of language, SEN and level of learning
  • Aids personal and social development
  • Being outside, children become more aware of the environment around them.
  • Widens their vocabulary and becomes more confident
  • Engages children with a short attention span

After reading the story to children in school and my own children, we took to the outdoors to make a story map of the Gruffalo. We followed the hands on activity from programme 1, to explore and discover the forest. The curriculum links for this part are mathematics and understanding of the world and it covers KS1 geography. We had to find a flat area and by using 4 big sticks make a frame. Using natural materials that were found from within the surroundings, we recreated the map.

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The stone is the mouse. Turn left and you reach the Fox’s underground home, go straight up and you come to the Owl’s tree, turn right and then you at the Snake’s logpile house and then comeback down to the Gruffalos cave.

We used twigs that had fallen to the ground, moss from the floor, leaves, bark from the trees and stones.

The children loved running around and working together to create their map. They were engaged and worked as a team, discussing what they should look for and what should represent the items in the story. As they were creating the map they retold the story how they remembered it, becoming familiar with the scenes and the forest around them.

After we had made the map we then went on the look out for any signs of the gruffalo and the other characters.

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Learning about the forest and the environment becomes so much easier if you could explore it.

To get your paws on the Gruffalo Teacher’s Pack visit http://www.forestry.gov.uk/gruffaloteaching

We was sent a copy of the pack and the book for the purpose of this review.

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Unlocking phonic sounds with a padlock and key

My little one is 4 years old and currently learning his phonic sounds, he is doing really well and is beginning to master his individual sounds and blending them together to read simple cvc, cvcvv words. We are now moving on to learning digraphs and vowel digraphs, which are two letters that make one sound, eg. sh, ch, th, ph, ai, ow, ee.

Making a game out learning is fun and can really engage the child .

We have made  a simple little game up, using padlocks and keys.

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Place a picture on the padlock and then add the beginning sound onto the key. So it could be a picture of an ant and then add the initial sound on the key, which would be a. As my child is learning jolly phonics in school I used the pictures from the jolly phonics sound card. This way they can not only recognise the sound but also the picture. Using name tags I wrote the sound on and attached it to the key. The pictures need to be fairly small to fit onto the padlocks.

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This game is fun to play and easy to make. Children can play for hours unlocking the padlock, not only learning and recognising sounds but also working on their fine motor skills.

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You can use the padlock idea for number bonds, equations and words.

Hope you have found this post helpful 🙂

 

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Word building with Bricks, learning to read

Learning to read can be tricky, but making it fun can help children learn.

Phonics involves children learning the sounds of the letters and not just the name, how to segment and blend them together to make words, for example s – a – t blended together reads sat. Phonics consists of identifying sounds that are in spoken words and recognising the common spelling of each phoneme (the smallest unit of sound) Tricky isn’t it! And that is just the beginning of learning Phonics.

Learning the initial sounds and building cv, cvc words together is the beginning of learning to read.

I made up our own little word building game using different length duplo bricks.

You will need:

  • Duplo bricks, 2,4 and 6 pronged long
  • A marker pen
  • Sticky labels preferably white
  • Scissors

Use the smaller bricks for the individual sounds and the bigger bricks for the words that you want your child to learn to read and write. Following the Letters and Sounds phases, It’s always good to start with the sounds s,a,t,i,p,n and cv (consonant and vowel) words first. It will help the child to blend smaller words and once they have the hang of it add-on another letter.

Cut the sticky label to the size of the brick. Write on the individual sounds to the words that you want them to build and then on the longer bricks write down the words.

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As your child is building the word get them to sound out the letter, once they have recognised them and found the sounds that make up the word they then build the word. When the word is built they can then try to blend the sounds together and read out the word

DSC_2824_optGet your child to point to each sound when reading

DSC_2826_optOnce your child has mastered the cv words you can then go onto cvc words, like sat, pin, pat and sit. You can then add in the digraph (2 letters that make 1 sound), trigraph (3 letters that make 1 sound) and blends

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This is a fun activity that encourages children fine motor skills as well as letter recognition and blending words.

Thank you for reading 🙂

 

 

 

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Sensory Ziplock Bags

These sensory Ziplock bags are perfect for young children who are learning to write, they are easy to make and are fun to use. There are so many different types of sensory bags to make, you can add items to them such as letters and numbers for recognition, objects for counting or specific letters to make a sound bag.

We went for the plain option as Oliver is just learning his letter formations.

You will need:

  • Strong see through plastic ziplock bags (I used Tesco own brand)
  • Tub of hair gel (we used see through cheap hair gel, bought from the chemist)
  • Food dye
  • Glitter
  • Selotape to seal the bag

Empty half of the tub of gel into the bag, add in some food dye (i used the gel food colouring that comes in a tube) and the glitter. Close the bag up and squidge the mixture around with your fingers, the dye will eventually mix in and you will have an even glittery colour.
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If you feel that there is too much in the bag remove it now before you seal it with the selotape. Remove any air that is the the bag slowly trying not to lose any of the gel out of the bag. Once you are happy with the sensory bag, fold over the top and seal it with selotape.

Now they are ready to use
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You could also add objects into then before you seal the bags up eg: alphabet, numbers, fish, stars or objects that begin with a peticular sound for a sounds bag.

Not only has my youngest boy enjoyed doing his letters and shapes in the gel bag but my other two children who are aged 7 and 12 have equally enjoyed playing with it too.

Please be careful and use strong ziplock bags and also keep any child using it under supervision.

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