Thursday, 31 October 2013

Newton's Law, balloon rockets and parachutes

We have been looking at the science of Newton's third law. We started this by making parachutes at our Tuesday group and carried on at home.

I liked these instructions for the parachutes and the website has lots of other activities too. We made the parachutes using tissue paper canopies. These were reinforced with tape at the corners then a hole was punched. We tied string through each hole, joined the strings in the middle and tied on a Lego man. The purpose of this was mainly to have fun, as the boys loved it, but also to show how the opposing force of air resistance inside the parachute acts against gravity to slow down the fall of the man.

We made our balloon rocket using these instructions. This was fantastic. The balloon would have travelled at least 3 times as far given unlimited space! The purpose of this is to show that the air rushing out creates the opposing force of thrust to force the balloon forwards, like a rocket is forced upwards.

As this had worked so well we decided to try a vertical launch. I tied the string from a stool to the ceiling light and this worked just as well, it's a shame we don't have higher ceilings! This is Harry counting down the launch.

After doing these activities, we also watched a video from Khan Academy about Newton's third law. Harry really enjoyed this, although it was quite advanced and he watched it through twice.

Crest Star Science Award

We have signed up to membership of the Crest Star science award scheme with several other local home educating families. There are three levels and we have started with the lowest - the Star award as Harry is only 5 but the other two levels cover KS1/2 and KS2. We have to complete 8 investigations from a selection of 20 and there is an organiser card and activity card for each. These activities are good for getting us thinking at an early stage in terms of proper scientific investigation and there are useful prompts for further questions to ask on the sheets.

We have done 2 investigations so far. 

Confusing Cans involved taking the labels off a variety of food cans (we used 5) and trying to work out the contents by rolling them down a slope, listening to the contents when shaken and feeling the weight. We then also compared the cans without labels to the same food cans with the labels still on. These photos are terrible, sorry!

I made a record sheet for this activity to record the children's estimate of which can contained which food, how far each rolled and which can actually contained which food.

Our second activity was Slippery Shoes, which involved using a variety of shoes with different soles to see which slid down a slope and which gripped. This led to discussions about friction. We also changed the surface of the slope to observe the effect and talked about what might reduce friction and where friction might be useful.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Friends, library and magazines

We have spent a few hours at a friend's house today, catching up with some of Harry's friends who go to school, as it's half term here. The four children of Harry's age were all boys and they spent lots of time creating rescue scenarios with an array of emergency vehicles and lots of siren noises! 

Before we went Harry wrote a nice note to post to his Great Grandma, asking if she enjoyed her birthday. We also went to library to return our books and we read several while we were there.

We called into the supermarket on the way home and Harry and Peter both chose some fish for their tea and a magazine. We did the magazine activities at home and Peter managed some lines with a pen. Harry made an effort to read the instructions himself, which I was pleased about.

Harry read to us at bedtime and did really well with some difficult words, including through, rattling, reversing and surprise. He is getting better at attempting longer words now rather than just huffing immediately and saying he can't do it.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

An 80th birthday celebration

We have been in Harrogate today to celebrate my Grandma's 80th birthday with my family. It is always lovely to be together. The boys love seeing everyone - they were tired out and fell asleep in the car on the way home.

Tidying up the allotment

Music class finished last week for the half term break so we had a free morning yesterday and we spent it tidying up the allotment. There are just a few parsnips and leeks left in the ground now. We brought home the last of the sweetcorn and cleared the plants into the compost. We also spread compost around the rhubarb plants as their leaves had started to die down. I cut the runners and brought the strawberry plants we have potted into the greenhouse. 

The soil is all looking nice and dark and rich and we will be excited to start again in spring! It has been a good year, most things have grown well, and we have gained lots of experience. The beetroot and squash failed to grow so I will try again with those next year.

I need to plan better next year too, with the aim of a longer harvest by staggering the planting. We also need to get a hosepipe to allow us to water more effectively over the summer as I think the potatoes suffered due to under-watering. 

Friday, 25 October 2013

Police education talk and flexible home education

We had a police education session today with other home educating families. We have found that most organisations running school sessions are happy to bring the session to a home ed group too - in this case the organiser just needed to find a room to hire - so the children do not miss this kind of event by not going to school. Harry did his reading and cello practise before we went.

The police ladies talked about safety in respect of getting lost, the importance of knowing your name and address and various elements of their job. We have talked about this at home before but I think it's always worthwhile to hear this kind of message from someone else, especially someone with authority. They also brought a big bag of uniform for the children to try on. Some of the children volunteered to try on handcuffs and have their legs tied together too! 

We had planned to play in the nearby park afterwards but the weather was terrible so we came home and made gingerbread cake instead as a gift for my Grandma's birthday. Harry then spent the next 2 hours solid listening to The Magician's Nephew! He has listened to it once through and started it again. I did have some activities planned for this afternoon but I generally don't interrupt if the boys are engaged in something themselves. The flexibility of home education makes this possible. The planned activities can be rolled forward to another day and Harry has not missed the opportunity he wanted to take to listen to a classic story being read very well (Kenneth Branagh is now on my list of favourite readers of audio books, along with Stephen Fry!). 

He did get out in the garden for half an hour when the rain stopped and built a shelter for his cars. He also had his enjoy-a-ball class at 3.45pm so we went back out to that and Peter and I read books for the hour. There is another 3 year old sibling there too so it was nice that they sat together and listened to stories.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Hundred square maths, games and a farm

We did some maths this morning using a hundred square. I found a nice one for the wall recently, which we put up, and Harry completed a workbook page involving identifying missing numbers. We also completed the Conquer Maths lesson on the hundred square, looking at the patterns of tens and ones. Harry had to complete number lines counting forwards and backwards in tens and ones as part of the lesson. I am getting more comfortable with Conquer Maths now. At first I found it strange that the lessons were only a couple of minutes long but we are doing more around each lesson now and they are giving me activity ideas too.

I also set up some pots for Harry to fill with the correct number of conkers, according to the question on the slip of paper underneath. He enjoyed this last time we did it and was really fast at filling the pots.

Peter had been very good at keeping himself busy with balloons and jigsaws while we did maths, but was starting to get bored so we all played some games together - Crazy Chefs and Red Dog, Blue Dog by Orchard Toys. I love their games - they are great for learning and playing games teaches other important skills like turn-taking and losing gracefully!

Harry and I also played snap with some animal cards and fungi trumps, printed from the Nature Detectives website. He was delighted to beat me at this and we had a look at the cards afterwards, imagining stepping on the smelliest and slimiest ones!

Harry got on with designing some birthday cards for friends and his Great-Grandma while Peter had a nap.

We went out for the afternoon with friends from music to Bill Quay Farm, a local community farm. The children all had a great time looking at the animals and playing in the nearby playground and woodland, where they all worked together to collect sticks and build a 'bonfire'.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Bede's World follow up and other activities

We followed up our visit to Bede's World yesterday morning. Harry chose three facts to write about it - this took quite a long time as he wrote it very brightly! He wrote that the monks had to grind their own wheat to make bread, that they used quill pens and that they ate a lot of fish. 

As the wheat grinding had been Harry's favourite part of the visit, we watched this YouTube video about modern wheat grinding. We also made bread. We used this recipe for soft rolls - we have tried a few of the recipes from this website and they have all worked well for us. This was mixing the dough.

While the dough proved, we finished building Harry's Lego mine and he played with it while I read books to Peter. Playing with Lego is difficult for Harry at the moment as Peter won't leave him alone so I had to provide a distraction!

We then went to knead and shape the bread. They loved this part.

We brushed them with milk and scattered flour and semolina over the top before baking - you can see that I had shaped Peter's for him as hunger got the better of him and he had to go for a snack! They made a very tasty lunch.

While Peter had a nap, Harry and I played sound spotting. I said a word and he found the correct sound. We did a Conquer Maths lesson on right angles and looked for some around the house.

He also practised his cello before playing some cbeebies games on the computer.

Harry had his gymnastics class at 5pm and the boys rode their scooters there and back. We were given the dates for the Christmas gymnastics display, which made Harry very excited! He read one of his Oxford Reading Tree books to us at bedtime.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Bede's World education group

We spent today with the learning team at Bede's World, a local museum based on the medieval monastery life of St Bede. The education staff ran a variety of activities for us and there were over 30 children, which was great. 

We tried quill pen writing 

The children handled medieval objects, including a stone ink well, stone eraser and calf skin paper and looked at how they were used. This was a hand-written bible.

The museum was set among some lovely parkland and trees and the children enjoyed running off some energy in the playground. We also walked over to the church and looked at the stonework and glass, some of which is 1300 years old.

There was a really good outdoor area too, showing life on a monastery farm, with animals such as oxen to pull carts and geese as guards. There were thatched farmhouses where we tried grinding wheat using quern stones and a pestle and mortar to make flour. Harry loved this and did it for a long time.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Beach and kite flying

We had a trip to our local coastline at Whitley Bay today and the boys both had a turn of flying a kite. They managed to get it quite high and really enjoyed it. It was a very nice trip and nice to be by the sea, even in October when it is no longer swimwear and suncream weather!

We also went down to the beach for an hour and collected stones to throw and seaweed.

Harry and Stuart dug a channel for the water, as the tide was coming in. They started with hands but soon realised that big stones were more effective.

Harry and Peter both managed to get very wet! We came home to the lovely smell of Christmas cake baking in the oven. I have been getting all my advance baking done this month and have now made all my three cakes (not all for us!) and mincemeat for mince pies. These are tucked up in an upstairs cupboard to mature.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Autumn leaf craft and optical science

I have been meaning to post all week but the task hasn't found itself at the top of my priority list, so here is a brief summary of our week!

We finished our Autumn leaf pictures we had started last week, using card, felt and sticker leaves.

I also cut out some leaf shapes, in order to fill the holes with tissue paper to stick at the window. Harry wasn't very imaginative with his colour but the light shines through nicely still.

Harry and Peter are both enjoying jigsaws at the moment and they have turned their bedroom floor into 'puzzle land' by making nearly all the jigsaws we have. This was half way through and it is difficult to tiptoe around them on the floor now so we may have to pack away tomorrow!

We have been using the free Oxford Owl e-books for reading practise this week. Harry likes choosing and reading on the iPad for a change - there are 250 at various levels so it is a great free resource. He has read two this week. We also set up these cards with sounds written on. I said a word and Harry had to find the correct sound. This was good listening as well as phonics practise as Harry had to hear the word and identify the different sounds.

We baked cakes, always a popular activity!

We walked to the post box in a break from pouring rain and the boys had fun splashing in the puddles. They got VERY wet! Their wellies were suctioned to their feet due to the water in them!

We had a look at some optical science and made a pinhole camera. We looked at flick-book animation and some optical illusions. We both liked one where you were asked to count the black dots but when you blinked the dots moved around the page. 

We have been using torches to make shadows on the wall and we looked at the beam of light from our torch when talcum powder was sprinkled into it. I think we will make some shadow puppets soon to follow this up as they both love using torches.

We also made kaleidoscopes using a shiny prism inside a tube, with beads at the end, using these instructions.

We played a place value target maths game from last week again and Harry correctly worked out two of his three hundred value numbers without help this time! He has done a Conquer Maths lesson relating to identifying and drawing 3D shapes. We will do some real drawings of 3D shapes to follow this up.

Harry has also practised his cello twice so far and has started listening to an audio version of The Magician's Nephew. I thought he would enjoy the Narnia stories now and he did - he took it to his bedroom for an hour today, so I read lots of books to Peter downstairs at the same time. 

Stuart was using the car for work today so we went to the City Library on the bus and we had lots of new books to read this afternoon from there. We sat on the floor going through them while tea cooked.