One of the great things about home education is the opportunity to go along on grouptrips with other families. Yesterday we joined a group heading to the Cutty Sark and Maritime Museum.
I have vivid memories of visiting the Cutty Sark myself as a child, so I knew the boys would really enjoy it, but the guide for our group made it so much better even than expected as she expertly blended history, geography and role play activities.
The Cutty Sark is a boat that was built in Victorian times for the tea trade, racing to bring tea from China faster than her rivals and in so doing get a better price for her cargo at market.
Our guide asked the children to plot where the Cutty Sark would sail to get to China. The first child who volunteered sailed the boat up around
the top of the map – good idea but too much ice. Toby was next up, he plotted a course down the Suez canal, again good idea but this time not enough wind in the Red Sea between the two close land masses. The third child who tried got it correct, sailing all the way down past South Africa and round to China the long way, a return trip of around nine months.
The Cutty Sark only traded tea for seven years before she became obsolete – Toby wasn’t the first to realise that the then newly build Suez Canal was a faster route, and with the rise of paddle steamers the Cutty Sark just couldn’t compete. She had some masts removed, had her crew reduced, and spent the next part of her life bringing wool from Australia.
After visiting the Cutty Sark we explored the nearby Maritime Museum. Another great mixture of history and geography is provided by the giant map on the second level. You can borrow tablet computers which you use to navigate the map using augmented reality, collecting crew and cargo for your voyage and receiving promotions as you go along.
The boys were also fascinated by the huge paddle steamer engine on display, and thoroughly enjoyed playing in the two play zones.
The technology part of the day was provided by exploring the materials used to construct the Cutty Sark and the items on
display in the museums, and learning about the different forms of communication technology used by the Navy, including signalling towers and on-board telegraph machines which communicated between the bridge and the engine room. There’s a chance to design virtual elements of a racing boat in a gallery dedicated to racing catamarans, and to drive a virtual ferry in a separate gallery. There are also galleries with beautiful artwork and artefacts relating to maritime history and trade.
It was lovely seeing the kids getting really stuck in during the guided tour and with all the hands on elements of the museums, asking lots of sensible questions and communicating great ideas and answers to us.
Of course, when our friends (who kindly made us dinner after our trip) asked where the boys had visited earlier on, apparently neither could remember anything about what they had done, or where they had been, or even the name of the ship. This will be familiar to anyone who has ever picked a child up from nursery or school “what did you do today honey?”, “nuthin”. What they really mean is “I did lots of cool stuff, but I’m tired now and I’m doing something else and don’t want to be your performing monkey”. So to prove they didn’t in fact do “nuthin'” here are a couple more pics of what they saw and did.
This post has not been sponsored, all images and opinions are entirely my own. We got a group discount for our visit to the Cutty Sark, it’s worth getting together with friends or family to make day trips or see shows as a fortune can be saved and you often only need a minimum of 10 people to qualify, check each specific attraction’s websites for details. The Maritime Museum was free. Both the museum and the Cutty Sark have lifts for buggy/wheelchair access, toilet facilities, cafes and gift shops. If you are in need of a run around outside, the nearby Greenwich park has a lovely play park, plus loos and places to picnic. It’s all a stone’s throw from the Royal Observatory, which we hope to visit another time. Our warmest thanks to the lady who organized this trip for us all, and to our guide on the Cutty Sark.