Thursday, 28 April 2011

The Curiosity files

I was offered the chance to review a product from The Old School House  The Curiosity Files - Quicksand
This e-book is designed for ages 8-13 but we used it for 4 - 8 and I must say it was fairly easy to adapt for younger ages.
The unit included:
  • Bible study and copywork
  • Math (this did prove abit tough for DD6 so she skipped it)
  • Geography
  • Suggested Literature (and some great web links)
  • Essay writing
  • Spelling lists and vocabulary activities (set out by grade level)
  • Science Experiments (including physics)
  • Craft and activity ideas
  • Mini Lapbook/notebook pages
  • Singing activity
  • Great discussion questions
  • A Special Needs adaptation section
  • And not forgetting an answer key for us oldies who need the help : )
For $6.95 that’s alot of e-book. You can purchase the e-book here and don't forget to check out the full curiosity files range - there are currently nine titles available covering everything weird and wonderful (from Zombie Fire Ants to Blue Diamonds) to spark your child’s imagination - some are even in the sale for $1 so grab a bargain  : )

You start the exploration with Professor Ana Lyze (that got a real giggle from DD8) who poses and answers alot of questions about quicksand followed by a quick test to see what they absorbed.
We played around with the layout slightly here and introduced the hands on quicksand activity next (as quicksand is something they haven't encountered before and I wanted them to really grasp it before we tackled the Bible work.) 

 As you can see DD4 wanted to 'discover' what it was like to tread on quicksand (aka play)
DD2 got very upset when they used her giraffe as a prop - she spent ages trying to pull it out.
We then moved back to the structure and did our bible and character studies including some amazing copywork (also in cursive).
Math was suitable for DD8 and it challenged her nicely but DD6 skipped this.
We then left DD8 to her writing exercise and spelling while DD6 used the wordsearch/crossword and DD4 and DD2 opted to do some of the craft activities - TIP - when making sand crafts use a plastic sheet for the floor at its a real pain to clean sand out of carpets : )
We joined together again for the science experiments - they loved the surface tension activity

followed by the geography activity then finished up by leaning the song and utilizing the craft ideas.(but I learned my lesson and we did the remaining sand crafts outside!)

So what did I love about this product:
  • Although designed for ages 8-13 it is easily adaptable for younger siblings who want to 'do school' with their big sister.
  • It is a true unit study (and one of the better ones I've used) as it covers all areas of the curriculum.
  • They provided some great links to encourage further independant investigation and research.
  • Ease of use - just print and go (without too much prep from me - BIG PLUS)
  • The Bible studies section was full of thought provoking questions.
  • Hands on learning - which always goes down well in our house.
Is there anything I would change about this product? Not really, although a few more titles would be nice then I could have a whole terms work with no prep  :) (we can all dream)
This product was provided free to me for the purpose of review. I was not paid for this review and all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Rock/Mineral Studies

We started our Rock Study with a 'dig and discover game' to grab their interest (plaster filled with small gemstones that they have to dig out, combined with a gemstone poster to help identify them)

Next we used salt dough to create a model of the earth which we cut in half to examine the layers along with some 3 part cards and discussed how the rocks around us originally came from the molten rock within the earth that had cooled.
I love that they decided to make a volcano showing the lava coming out and cooling into rocks.
We moved onto reviewing the parts of a volcano and creating a lift the flap drawing of one.

Now that they had a better understanding of where rocks came from we moved to the 3 main types and used these experiments/activities to cement their understanding.

Igneous Rock - we created a volcano out of  foil around a tin and used icing sugar mixed with water to create lava (both thick and runny) poured it down the sides and then left it to set while we watched brainpop, wrote up about igneous rock and looked at photos of pahoehoe lava (like our thick icing).
Once set we looked at how it had hardened (like lava turning into rock) and how in some places the top had set but the underneath was still runny.

Sedimentary Rock - We started with a discussion about erosion - their initial ideas on how rock broke down were quiet amusing (someone stepped on it, used a hammer to break it, it rolled down the mountain and smashed etc) - so we came up with some activities to show how rock breaks.

Freezing and thawing - Discussed how water expands when it frozen then they gathered a selection of rocks and placed them in water and popped it in the freezer. Once frozen they took it out to thaw - this step was repeated 3/4 times and the final result was compared with a photo of the rocks prior to freezing.

Water absorption - I asked then how water would get into a rock - the first response was spot on 'does it have small holes/pores like our skin?' proof that they do occasionally listen : )
To prove this they weighed a piece of chalk then popped it in some water for 15 mins and reweighed (when the chalk goes into the water you can see all the air bubbles coming off) Next they popped some pumice into water, left overnight and reweighed in the morning.

For those who want to incorporate some math into this unit you can work out how much water is absorbed as 1g = 1ml of water  (or so I'm told, please feel free to test this with a graduated cylinder, scales and pumice and let me know)

They also decided it would be fun to put the waterlogged chalk into the freezer to see it crack. Who am I to argue : )

Once they understood erosion we discussed how sedimentary rocks forn and used a hands on activity to show an example of this. Spoon some soil, sand, gravel and small stones into a jar. Cover with water and pop the lid on - give it a good shake then leave to settle. They measured the depth of each band and re shook, this kept them amused for ages (we still have the jars on the side)

Then looked at the layers in some sedimentary rocks
We also discussed how most fossils are found in sedimentary rock and why they thought this was. Followed by making their own fossils - make an imprint in damp sand and pour plaster over, leave to set and look at your result.

Metamorphic rock - We first reviewed the two types of rock we had discussed then I asked if they could guess what the name of the third kind meant - metamorphic; when they couldn't I asked if they knew of any other words that sounded similar (metamorphosis) and what it means. Eventually they realised that metamorph was change so metamorphic rock was rock that had been changed. Examined some metamorphic rocks and discussed how heat and pressure change rock (a great example is coal changing to diamond) and used the following activities to reinforce the concept.

Take 2 slices of white bread and two slices of brown bread, place them on top of each other and observe (soft, layered, pliable, depth etc) next place the bread under some heavy books, once squished place it in the microwave or oven to harden and observe and compare with your original observations.(hard, flat etc)
Place some candy balls in the bottom of a jar, In a slightly smaller jar place some weights - observe. Pop in a low oven for a while (beware - burnt candy STINKS) remove and allow to cool - observe and compare.(goes from soft to hard and glassy)

We discussed Moh's scale of harness and used our rock detective pages to identify and learn about different rocks/minerals.(with the help of some guides)
We finished by completing a Rock and Mineral workbook from School Express, reading various books and watched different documentaries about the earths structure, volcano's and rocks.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Love/Hate Relationships

I have a love/hate relationship with Hama beads.

I love that they can keep the kids amused for hours.
I love that they can be so creative with them.(the black and white one is a photo frame for DH for Easter - they have drawn a cute picture to go in it)
I love how they use them to make gifts.
I love how they can be used for fine motor control.

I hate that DD2 drops them all over the floor when she uses them.
I hate that they never stay sorted by colour (this has to be my biggest peeve).
I hate when 'someone' drops them before they are iorned and I then have to recreate their masterpiece perfectly.
I hate when I step on them

What love/hate relationships do you have in the school room?

Monday, 18 April 2011

Easter Tot Craft

A nice and simple craft to make a chick - you will need a paper plate, yellow paper/card and glue (we used staples but glue would look better)
Fold your paper plate in half.
Draw around the child's hands - cut them out to make the tail.
Cut a circle out for the head.
Cut out beak and feet.
Decorate as desired.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Large Bead Frame - place value and long multiplication

The older girls have been working with the Large Bead Frame today.
DD6 has been using it to perfect her place value to millions by playing a game - she would make a number for me to guess and if I guessed right it was then my turn to make a number for her to guess.
DD8 has been using it for long multiplication and as a precursor to two digit multipliers.
They used the frame with the accompanying bead frame paper (available on my download page).

Easter Workboxes / Trays

As promised here is a look at some of the trays/drawers they have for Easter.
We have a spooning activity

Counting eggs

Sweeping flowers
Number sorting eggs
Beads threaded onto pipe cleaners and shaped into eggs

DD4 also decided this should be a colour sorting activity
Sound eggs - I saw this variation of sound boxes over at Elle Belles Bows and loved it (she links to a number of other sites with these on). I filled them with rice, bells and beads - she had to shake and match the sounds.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Tot School

I noticed DD2 hasn't appeared much in our posts lately. She has been here in the background doing all her usual work activities.
She's been using the apple tree game for fine motor control and colour sorting,
working on her rolling skills - her first attempt to roll the rug didn't go so well
when she picked it up it collapsed so she started again
and persistence paid off : )
She has also had some sewing lessons
She has been working on various PL trays - I will try and take pictures of them all tonight and load them on.

Egypt Study

We've started our unit for Ancient Egypt.
So far the girls have examined papyrus and compared it to paper.
drawn the Nile, marked the main cities and learnt why it was so important to Egyptian society.
started their Evan Moor workbook
examined some Egyptian jewellery
created their display board (borders are free from Teachers Pet )
and read some great books (Mummy Mysteries and How to be an Egyptian Princess).
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