Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Ocean Unit week 3 - A glittery currents lesson

Sorry - just realised I am really behind with the posts for our ocean unit. We spent week three looking at ocean currents and how they distribute warm water around the globe.

They started by sprinkling flour on the surface of a bowl of water - when you gently blow up the middle of the bowl you can see the Coriolis effect

We decided to see if we could create a better version of this by using food colouring - red for the southern hemisphere and blue for the northern - the idea being that we would see the 'warmer' water mix with the 'colder' water and the overall temperature (colour) of the water would change.

Sadly this just proved a flop : ( 
Our colouring just sank to the bottom of the water but at least it led to a good discussion on deep ocean currents.

Not to be deterred we tried again but this time with glitter sprinkled on the surface of the water,

this not only showed the Coriolis effect beautifully but also allowed us to see how the warmer water from the equator changes the temperature (aka colour) of the colder northern waters - yay for glitter : )

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Knowledge Quest, Sacagawea - TOS Review

Everyone knows we are a house full of bookworms (when we moved recently I counted 31 boxes of books) so when Knowledge Quest offered us a chance to review their latest ebook Sacagawea (Brave explorers every child should know) by Karla Akins, I was more then happy to do so.

I will be honest and say this is not the first ebook from Knowledge Quest we have used, nor will it be the last - they make history really come to life and are a staple part of our homeschool curriculum. For those of you who haven't yet discovered Knowledge Quest I should explain that they are a company dedicated to helping you enjoy and be inspired by history, they provide fantastic products including interactive maps, time lines, books and more - defiantly worth checking out.

The story is told from the perspective of Sacagawea retelling her adventures with Lewis and Clark to her son. It is written as a historical novel based upon the true story and is full of hyperlinks to explain aspects and encourage further pursuit of the topic.

The book is an engaging tale and well written but it does touch on a couple of delicate topics that will require a degree of maturity to understand (slavery & beatings) however these are mostly handled sensitively and they were accepted attitudes of the time. That said the story is inspiring - Rose has loved reading it and been fully engaged by this wonderful heroine. I have loved the additional research she has done prompted by this book and its links
 : )

Sacagawea (Brave explorers every child should know) is aimed at readers 10+ and is available for $3.99. Knowledge Quest do offer a free sample chapter to give you a feel for the story.

You can see what my crew mates thought over at the TOS Blog

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Supercharged Science - TOS Review

We love science so when we were offered the chance to review Supercharged Science we got very excited, especially when the girls discovered that Aurora (the mastermind behind it) was previously a real life rocket scientist with NASA !

e-science is an on-line, hands on, science curriculum. There are currently 20 units to work through with more being added. The units include; mechanics, motion, matter, energy, sound, astrophysics, chemistry, light, electricity, magnetism, alternative energy, thermodynamics, electronics, life science, biology, earth science etc. As you can see its a fairly full curriculum : )

Each unit comes with lesson plans, reading, video demonstrations, hands-on experiments and finishes with a quiz which includes some very amusing questions. 

We started by looking at the Scientific Method, where Aurora explains how to keep a scientific journal and what the scientific method is.

We then moved straight into the first unit - Mechanics (Force, Gravity and Friction)
I printed off the lesson plans and materials list for the first unit (but didn't bother with the subsequent units). I would read aloud the text to the girls (more for the benefit of Rose our non reader) then we would watch a demonstration and do the experiments.

We started by working though the units systematically but the older girls quickly realised they could ditch my help and find loads of fun experiments - they jumped around the site doing various activities with density and microwaving a grape to see plasma.

Aurora is very passionate and really relates well with children - the girls found her engaging and she managed to spark their imagination. She firmly believes in 'learning by doing' so all the activities are hands-on and are designed to excite kids and get them loving science.

I loved the variety of experiments on this site and the best thing is she tries to make sure to use simple items that you have at home - none of this searching for expensive ingredients. She also has a comments section at the end of each unit where you can ask her questions and get feedback.  I also liked the way she explains 

e-science is a wonderful way to help develop a love of science and give your kids a comprehensive science grounding (and it doesn't require you to have a deep knowledge of science)

It is designed for k-12 and is available for k-8 $37 a month and k-12 $57 a month and you can try a free sample to see how it works for you.

You can see what my crew mates thought over at the TOS Blog

Friday, 12 April 2013

Old British Penny giveaway

I have been sorting through my coin collection again and discovered a few too many old pennies.

I have 10 spare that I can giveaway so if you are interested pop a comment below - if there are more than 10 I will do a random draw : )

You have until Friday 19th April to comment - please remember to leave contact details.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Dairy Day

Our local Home Ed group ran a dairy activity this week.

The kids got to make butter whilst learning the science behind why it forms

and ice cream, again learning the science (and yes they thought it was hilarious to make a green, strawberry flavoured ice cream)

We have also planned a trip to a local dairy where they will get to see cows milked and taste some of the products - can't wait : )

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Living History Trip - Tudor style

We were really lucky a few weeks ago and were able to attend a living history workshop in Fountains Abbey.

The kids worked with actors to produce ‘Lady Caroline’s Cargo’. They used Fountains Hall 

and the Mill to investigate the lives of the mistress of the hall, the miller, a seafaring adventurer and the steward as well as discovering the differences between the lives of rich and poor people in Tudor times and the effects of Tudor exploration.

Sunflower got to be a waiting gentlewoman (a companion - a bit like a lady in waiting)  and spent time with the mistress of the hall.

They learnt about the costumes and manners of the time,

money system, dances, servants duties, food, herbs, water wheels, milling,

privateers, mazes, formal gardens, symmetry, music

and foods discovered by the Elizabethans.

The girls loved it and I can't wait for next years production.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Computer Science for Kids - TOS Review

Computer Science for Kids provide simple computer programming tutorials that make writing code easy.

We opted to review their Beginning Microsoft Small Basic. This is an 11 chapter, self- paced curriculum that teaches you basic programming skills - you learn how to programme a noughts & crosses game, number guessing game, card game, state capital game, basic video game etc. 

Beginning Microsoft Small Basic came as download ebook that included both PDF and Word documents for each chapter, as well as all the "code" needed for the lessons (came as a zip so was very quick to download).

You do not need any prior programming experience to use this course but they do advise that you be familiar with using windows.

Each chapter has easy to follow step by step instructions including screen shots of what you should be doing. The course is self paced but they do advise completing one chapter a week for 10 weeks. Each week's class should take around 3-5 hours - that said, the first two were fairly easy and took just over 1 1/2 hours to complete but the latter chapters are more involved and are taking longer (about 4 hours)
I printed the first chapter, sat down and we started going through it together. It is fairly easy to understand, basically you open Small Basic, type in the code from the lesson and once you have everything entered hit run, then the programme you wrote opens in another window. If you have made an error in the code the program tells which line/character is wrong so you can correct it. Lilly was really pleased when she input the information correctly and her program worked. I didn't print the subsequent chapters but opened them in a separate window alongside the working window which made it much easier.

I must to confess, I was very nervous prior to this review as I have no programming experience and was unsure how well I would cope with overseeing this programme. I am glad to say it was much easier than I imagined : )

Don't let the fear of programming put you off - this is a wonderfully easy curriculum to use and  it has given Lilly great confidence and encouraged her to experiment more with our computer.

Beginning Microsoft Small Basic is $59.95 but it is currently on sale for $34.95 until July 4th and is recommended for ages 10 and up.

The course requires XP-SP2, Vista or Windows 7 and the ability to view and print documents in Microsoft word.

You can see what my crew mates thought over at the TOS Blog

Thursday, 4 April 2013

When Baking becomes a maths lesson

The girls love baking and I love cake : )

They decided to make my birthday cake themselves this year which was great as all I could hear from the kitchen was them patiently trying to double the cake quantities while Rose and Tulip carefully counted out all the candles I would need.

I even heard Sunflower step in and patiently explain that 27 isn't enough and that 37 is actually 10 more. They were doing really well until I heard "Wow, Mums really old!" when she saw all the candles : (

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

A Journey through Learning - TOS Review

A Journey through Learning was started by two homeschoolers who were disappointed with the quality of hands-on learning projects available so they decided to make their own.

They have created a series of lapbooks and we were offered the chance to review some of them. I chose the Knights and Castles downloadable lapbook as we haven't covered this time period in our history lessons yet.

The pack starts with a 'things to know' page which gives tips on how to create and store lapbooks for those who haven't used them before. Not only that, but the individual chapters/mini books also have step-by-step instructions along with a 'map' of where it would sit in the finished article.

Knights and Castles is divided into ten lessons - each contains a printable read out and the lapbooking components. This lapbook covers the fall of Rome, a knights training, weapons, armour, battle, heraldry, castles, lifestyle/ feudal system, housing and Christianity during the middle ages.

At the back of the pack there is a suggested list of additional books and resources that could be used to expand your study of the subject. There are also narration pages for both younger and older students, a book log, a biography sheet and a NICK sheet for note taking (Notes, Information & Comments and Key words) which the girls found really useful.

The girls used this twice a week and averaged 30 mins for each lesson. The directions were so good that they didn't need any input from me, I just gave them the print out and left them to it : )

I liked that there is enough information in the reading pages to just use this as your resource however the list of suggested reading let the girls explore further. This really sparked their interest so it encouraged them to do even more reading! 

You can tell the authors have used a lot of lapbooks as these are so well organised - they have a unique layout that makes them really easy to use.

Lilly and Sunflower both liked doing the lapbook - they were grossed out by the bug beds (servants sleeping on rushes infested with bugs) and enjoyed learning all about heraldic symbols and creating their own. They have asked to do another which I always take as a good endorsement for a product : )

The Knights and Castles lapbook is aimed at grades 2-7 and is available for $13 as a download, you can also opt to have a printed version or buy it on a CD.

A Journey through Learning has a wide variety of lapbooks available including some which are curriculum based for Maestro, Apologia, Truthquest etc.  They also run a number of special offers including a $1 express lapbook and $5 lapbook of the month.

You can see what my crew mates thought of this and other Journey through Learning products over at the TOS Blog

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