221B Baker Street - Learning with Sherlock

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We are about to solve a case. The clues have brought us to a place we visit quite often, but until recently have known nothing about. The clues have also brought us back in time: 80 to 100 million years back in time, to the Cretaceous Period of Earth’s history, when volcanoes were part of the landscape just west of Colorado and magnificent creatures we now call dinosaurs roamed the coastal plain of Western Colorado, leaving behind muddy footprints we can still see today. (La Junta, CO)

The spot we are standing in now used to rest underneath several hundred feet of seawater. (It's what the article we have looked up online tells us.)

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It's quite impressive really. Or as the kids say: So cool !"

But we're here on a case, and we're about to close it. All we have to do now is to look at our map and count out the steps. And so we do. Twenty-three steps later we see something sparkle. It's the little pink box we have been looking for. The case of the missing candy is finally solved. We had to follow the clues. Along the way, we learned about volcanoes and dinosaurs, about rock formations and local history. We had to count and to multiply. We had to learn how to read a map. We also know now that we absolutely without any doubt just have to" buy a better microscope, because Sherlock is not an amateur!".

They might never know it, but Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have opened a door for us by bringing a modern day Sherlock to life (and to BBC). And Benedict Cumberbatch (as Sherlock) has pushed this door wide open. It's a door to exploration. 221 B Baker Street. My son has a picture of the door on the wall in his room. (It's my door, Mama!")

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When my son first told me he wanted to watch Sherlock, I was not sure what to think. He usually does not like to watch movies. Screens are not his thing. And was Sherlock really a show suitable for children?

But my daughter had seen a video on youtube and showed it to her brother and they both really liked this Sherlock, who was so funny and different and very cool".

So, Lesson One: Let's look up BBC's Sherlock online and find out how we can order a DVD.

When the first DVD arrived, we settled down with pop-pop (outside our family also known as popcorn). And my son (unlike my daughter) did not want to watch the whole movie. No surprise. But he did want to have a Sherlock coat and to learn more about this Sherlock and to learn to follow clues and to solve cases. So did his sister.

The next morning we talked about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (22 May 1859 7 July 1930) and decided to read the, as my kids call it, old day detective stories. We found a version adapted for younger readers. We also found a hat and a pipe. (Because that is what an old day Sherlock needs).

Since then we have learned so much. We are currently working on our map reading skills. (Something I am not good at myself.) We are trying to figure out how to work with a compass and also to navigate without a compass. (Also something I am not good at yet.) The microscope is next on our list. My kids both have problems with the eyepiece, but thanks to technology, there are now those beautiful and again, very cool looking microscopes with screens attached to them. (And the Internet as well as the library really help with research of any kind.)

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What I really love is that this new version of Sherlock also got us to talk about disability activists and disability rights, about why being different is okay and how we should accept each other. Questions like What kind of behavior is accepted in our culture and how might it be different in other cultures?" came up, because Sherlock's behavior often seems to be out of place and misunderstood, although he is a loyal and caring friend to those close to him.

The episode of the The Abominable Bride" made us look into the history of women's rights and started a discussion on how our view of the role of a woman within society has changed (or not). I doubt that my kids, at ages 5 and 8, would have heard about the Suffragettes, if Sherlock would not have jumpstarted their curiosity.

My little girl wants to watch this particular episode again (it's too spooky for her brother's taste) to make a list of things that are different in the Victorian Setting compared to the Modern Day Version of Sherlock. What kind of new inventions came along? When were those things invented? How did the clothing style change? It seems to fascinate her.

The door of 221B Baker Street opened into a world of exploration and learning. And we intend to keep this door open.

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