Thursday, 27 February 2014

Mentos and Diet Coke eruption

We did a Diet Coke and Mentos eruption in the garden this week. This even has its own Wikipedia page, which was useful in explaining why the reaction happens. We read the page and watched a couple of examples on YouTube before taking ours out into the garden. 

We had a leftover juice bottle with a wide lid in the recycling and we used this first, having decanted the Diet Coke into it. The foam seeped copiously but gently over the sides. 

The proper Diet Coke bottle created the effect the boys had been waiting for! We discussed how the build up of pressure, combined with the small exit hole in the Diet Coke bottle vs the wide exit hole in the other bottle created an upwards spurt rather than the previous gentle foaming.

Harry and Peter rode their bikes to the local playground after this and had a great time running around. We also did some stick investigation and collection, as we have spent lots of time this week doing activities based on the book, Stick Man. We will be finishing these tomorrow so I will post them all together.

Place value and Lego maths

We have had a busy and lovely week and unfortunately I haven't got around to posting any of it so I am going to do a few updates! 

We played a new version of one of Harry's favourite maths games - place value target - this time using numbers into thousands. We took turns to throw 9 coins onto the target then recorded our score in columns before writing it as a number. We have only played this so far with units, tens and hundreds but Harry didn't struggle much at all with moving into thousands. He is genuinely better than me at tossing the coins with the result that he usually wins; I suspect this is one of the reasons he likes playing so much but I am willing to sacrifice my competitive pride for his numeracy!

Harry has also done 3 Conquer Maths lessons, on measurement and fractions. 

We followed up the fractions work with some Lego maths. We looked at a whole piece and used smaller pieces to represent quarters, thirds and halves. Harry likes using Lego bricks as maths manipulatives.

Peter did some Lego maths at the same time. I asked him to make a tower of four bricks then find the correct numbers from a choice of three cards. I then asked him to make a taller tower and count the bricks, then find the correct number. He also built a really tall tower and counted correctly to twenty, which I didn't know he could do yet - I love being amazed by the abilities they acquire themselves! Peter enjoyed playing with the Duplo so he went off to build walls on his big board afterwards.

Peter is very keen to join in with work when Harry is doing something, so I am starting to prepare things at his level when thinking about Harry. This activity was really quick to prepare, I just had to gather a small tub of Duplo and write out the numbers 1-10 on card.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Starting enjoy-a-ball

Peter had his first enjoy-a-ball class this morning and he loved it! He has been so excited to start after watching Harry for months, so he is now in the youngest class with other 2/3 year olds. Peter has great co-ordination and often a better throw than Harry but I think this class will be good for him to start listening to instructions and practising waiting. I took the iPad and Harry did some maths while he waited. We then went to the post office to post Nanna's birthday present and Harry took it to the counter, asked for first class post and paid himself.

We had an early lunch as the boys were both really tired after a bad night of sleep (me too!). Harry did a Reading Eggs lesson and I read a new alphabet book from the library to Peter. We also looked at magnets for the letters he can identify. I put them in small groups and asked him to find certain ones.

After this we had a FaceTime call with my mum then Harry and Peter went to bed for a nap. If we don't have afternoon activities I just put them to bed early when they are tired but Monday is Beavers day so they needed a rest.

This afternoon, Harry has played his cello and completed the assessment section at the back of his stage 4 phonics workbook. I have put this away for filing now and we will start the phase 5 books soon. We also spoke to my sister and finished building all Harry's Lego mine vehicles, which we have been doing for a few days.

They made models of robots at Beavers tonight, as part of their imagination badge. Peter and I did his Octonauts magazine - adding stickers, counting and reading stories.

I spent the evening at a meeting for the Scouts/Cubs/Beavers group, where we discussed development actions and I will be discussing in more detail whether there is a role I can take to help out.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Sledging, baking and painting

Harry went to a sledging birthday party yesterday at Whickham Thorns outdoor centre. He had a great time. The sledging slope was dry ski slope fabric and they all got some good exercise running back up the hill afterwards! We were lucky that it was dry and bright or the parents may have had to take shelter inside! 

We baked a lovely chocolate cake this afternoon, using this new recipe from BBC Good Food. Harry did all the weighing.

Peter mixed and broke the eggs. The cake was really nice with a fudgy texture and we all had some for pudding after tea.

Stuart had gone to help the leader from Harry's Beavers group unload several hundred books for a book sale so we spent the rest of the afternoon painting. The boys made fingerprint flower pictures as a birthday present for their Nanna.

They also spent over an hour creating their own art.

Peter made some very colourful creations, including one with strips of tissue stuck on and painted, which gives a nice effect.

Harry used sticky gems to display in his painted museum jewel section and also painted some stripy rows of ties in a tie shop.

He painted some trees and covered them with tissue to create a foggy day effect. This looks quite good in real life.

They always enjoy painting and both got quite messy, so they had a quick bath before tea. I like doing a bath before tea as it means we can spend more time reading before bed. Harry read two stage 6 Oxford Reading Tree books tonight. He finds them quite easy now and I will be getting some more difficult ones for him. 

I have been busy tonight thinking of some World Book Day ideas. I am going to create a crossword for Harry based on books we have read recently and a verbal quiz for Peter, with prizes. We have also started reading Five Children and It, which is the book we are going to discuss at our Tuesday group in World Book Day week.

I have also started planning upcoming work we need to do at our allotment and made a list of items to be ordered. Stuart and Peter went there yesterday while Harry and I went to the birthday party and they cleared lots of rubbish to the tip. We will be getting started with our planting in March and I have planned which crops will go in which beds tonight. We are looking forward to getting started again with the hard but rewarding work! 

Friday, 21 February 2014

Winter beach trip

We visited the beach at Whitley Bay this morning with some friends. It was cold and very windy but we managed almost three hours as all the children were having such a great time with sand, water and kites. We are lucky to live near some beautiful coastline which has clean, safe areas for the children to play. There was a large rocky shelf left behind by the tide today which they played in and around.

Peter loved flying the kite!

Harry was making 'cement' from wet sand

I am looking forward to many more beach visits this year, in cold and hot weather!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Gymnastics, friends and French

It's been a very busy start to the week and we have been out of the house most of the time so I was pleased to be spending a morning at home today, building and playing with Lego! Harry also did three Conquer Maths lessons on addition and measuring after breakfast. 

Harry went to a full morning gymnastics session at his gymnastics club yesterday, which they always offer in school holidays. Peter and I went to a local park, which was really nice and came home to prepare lunch before going to collect Harry. One of Harry's friends from gymnastics came back with his little brother and mum for lunch. They all had a play with Lego, train track and we also did an hour of crafts, using flower printed paper to make collage and threading beads. It was great fun. Peter is really enjoying using scissors at the moment and he did lots of cutting and made more letter monsters. He rather likes the roll of eye stickers that came in the last craft order, as you can see from his creation!

Stuart and I had a rare night out together to the cinema with a friend babysitting last night, which was great. The boys were both asleep by 6.35pm, so I think they were feeling the effects of the busy few days!

After our relaxed morning we went out to French this afternoon. We have been listening to French songs by Maurice Chevalier at home too. At the class they looked at different coloured flowers and butterflies and sang a body song. We went to the park afterwards with our friends and the children all used up lots of energy while we mums had a chat! 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

WW1 activities and a polar bear!

We had our home ed group session this morning and continued from last week thinking about World War 1. We don't stop our home ed activities for half term unless any families are planning to be away.

We listened to BBC schools radio dance activities. It was movement rather than traditional dance. We had to tiptoe through trenches, be a factory production line, pose in battle scenes and dance American ragtime. It was great fun and the children all joined in. It was very informative too and I think it was a great way to absorb some facts about life in WW1.

The children are posing as a war memorial here, with a battle scene on a plinth.

We also looked at some pictures from WW1, which I printed from the internet. We thought about three themes - the role of women, aircraft and communication and discussed how the war changed these aspects of life and how different they are today, compared to 100 years ago.

Peter did some activities with another mum and her 3 year old too. He cut out fish for a fish tank and counted them. He was really proud showing Harry and me what he had done! 

We took advantage of one of the special half term activities at the Hancock Museum in Newcastle this afternoon with some friends. Bjorn the polar bear is a life-size, walking, sniffing, grunting bear which is very realistic! The 'handler' gave a talk about polar bear habitat and characteristics and the bear came round the children to be patted and to smell them! We didn't do much at the museum after this show as we were all tired after our group morning and it was very busy - we will go back in term time! 

Monday, 17 February 2014

Spelling app and visit to Harrogate

We visited my family in Harrogate today. We spent the morning at the Valley Gardens with my mum and sister, which was great fun and then went for lunch at my mum's. It was a quick visit as she had to go to work this afternoon but it is only 1.5 hours drive so we were home for normal tea and bedtime.

Peter was very brave and went on the big climbing castle for the first time.

Following a friend's recommendation, I bought the Squeebles spelling app for the iPad recently and Harry did his first list at home. I really like this app. The parent can set up custom lists of any words, with audio recording as well. The child sees and hears the word then spells it using the keyboard. They earn squeebles, which are small creatures, by getting correct answers. I think we will continue to do written spellings but will also be using this for as long as Harry enjoys it. I have set up the next list too, including the ones he got wrong this time.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

A great weekend

We made our first family visit to the cinema yesterday to see The Lego Movie. We all loved it and Peter sat through it no problem so we are looking forward to going again. The word 'awesome' has been used a lot today, which is the phrase of the main character, Emmet! I really liked the message of the film too, which suits our boys - use your imagination, don't be afraid to deviate from the instructions and everyone can be special.

Stuart took the boys on an outdoor National Trust adventure today to Wallington. I stayed home as I have had a cold all week and had a late Saturday night babysitting for a friend. I got lots of niggling jobs done at home and they all had great, muddy fun playing in the three adventure play areas and in the woods, which were awash with snowdrops. They also bumped into some friends with their children and they played together. 

Harry read his second stage 9 Oxford Reading Tree book this weekend too. He did really well and read some difficult words without pause and worked others out. This one was called Rescue. Stuart started reading George's Marvellous Medicine to him tonight, which will be the third time we have read it. I am really pleased he is enjoying Roald Dahl books, as I love them and don't mind how often I read them aloud! 

Friday, 14 February 2014

Centre for Life, Russia display and bread

We have had two contrasting days - we were out nearly all day yesterday and in nearly all day today. We visited the Centre for Life yesterday morning before going to French class. They played lots with blocks with their friend and Peter always loves the sand tables.

Harry enjoyed exploring the new DNA exhibition. He made and scanned his own DNA creation and saw it on screen and answered a series of questions to determine how many other people have the same set of characteristics. Some of this exhibition was quite advanced so it will be helpful to go one day with an extra adult or without Peter!

At home this morning we got out our scraps box and the boys made collage pictures.

Harry made a Russian flag and cut pictures from an Octonauts magazine to make a collage. The two gold coins form a map when they are put together, he said.

Peter used scraps of fabric and Octonaut pictures.

We started a Russia wall display too, as we have been watching some Winter Olympics. We used some parts of this lapbook from Homeschool Share. We read parts of this library book to start with. 

Harry used the internet to search for the time difference between Moscow and London and we looked at pictures of St Basil's Cathedral and The Kremlin. We have a few more pieces to add which we will do over the weekend, showing geography, culture and animal facts.

I had put some bread dough in the bread machine this morning for lunch and Harry and Peter shaped it into rolls and a plait, glazed it and sprinkled it with flour and semolina.

It was very tasty, despite the haphazard shapes!

Playing with the dough was very popular and Peter was reluctant to give his up so we got the playdough out too. Peter cut out lots of letters.

Harry made a tray of letter 'o's for Peter to count

And carried on making them in his 'doughnut factory'.

We did go out this afternoon, after an hour of rest time, which we spent reading. Harry had his enjoy-a-ball class which he loved as always. There is a side room I can take Peter into and he did some more of his dot-to-dot book and we played Insy Winsey Spider.