Sunday, April 29, 2012

Travel book review: Let's Take the Kids to London (4th Ed)

Disclosure:  I received a free copy of this book with the expectation that I would provide an honest review.

Having traveled to Europe several times (including to London) with our own children (aged 8 and 10 at the time), we have a pretty good idea of how to see London with kids.  We can enthusiastically recommend this book as not just a great guide for taking kids to London as well as a valuable resource for planning any trip with children.  It will certainly help the travelling family get the best experience for their money.

The book is laid out in typical guidebook fashion, with sites grouped by theme (parks, museums, history, etc.) with each site briefly described with good comments on its value (some are described as tacky, which is certainly true) as well as a summary of hours, cost, transport, and other details.  This book has few pictures and is printed in black, white and pink.  It reminds us of the format used by Fodor’s.

The author suggests a couple walking tours which are well-designed.

A couple things that the author left out which we think are helpful:  At Westminster Abbey, they have a kid’s scavenger hunt that really keeps the kids occupied while helping the adults (who are helping the kids) really see the detail of this magnificent building.

Our criticism would be that in an effort to avoid publishing actual prices (which admittedly can change quickly) for various attractions, he has only provided a qualitative statement (e.g. Moderate, Expensive) without providing a range of what these costs might be.  However, these comments are enough to give you a general idea of cost, especially in relation to others.  Since he has provided web addresses for most locations, the prudent traveler can check prices ahead of time at home.

It’s certainly worth spending some time to get the kids of the couch for a few weeks before your trip to exercise so they can keep up with the walking. It would be useful to discuss culture and history before you go in order to appreciate and put things in context.

The more general travel tips at the back of the book provides great suggestions and well-learned tips on how to plan for execute a trip.  Chapters on Money, Internet and phones, British terminology and transport are useful for anyone making their first trip to the UK—with or without kids.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Far East Study

Someone once asked me if my kids would study anything more than Southwest Asia, Europe, North Africa and the USA. Well, that's where my interest is, so it seemed obvious to start there.  But, SOTW Ancients helped us find India and China this past 2 weeks for four chapters, and the notebooking pages are filling with interest beyond my expectations.  First, each student listened/read the four SOTW chapters, and then they either went to Gombrich's Little History of the World or Hillyer's Children's History of the World depending on content materials.  There was a resource that Jimmie at Notebooking Fairy provided free that enticed handwriting and composition about both Buddhism and Hinduism. The content for each subject was added to by Schlessinger Media and their teacher guides on Ancient India and Hinduism.  I also included a Discovery Education video about ancient China.  A couple of Dover Publications resources included fashion and art.  Top that off with a map from Dr. Bauer and it made for a rather complete view of Ancient India and China before going back to Ancient Rome next week. 

I also included Michael Palin's Full Circle videos this week.  I enjoyed his visits Around the World in 80 Days and Pole to Pole.  So when I found this travel video around the Pacific Rim and to many of our Asian flag countries for this year, I made time for media.