Thursday, 30 October 2014

Clued In Kids - TOS Review

We love games so when the chance came to review the treasure hunts from Clued In Kids I had some very excited girls. I browsed the ones on offer and finally chose Multiplication Dragons and the Winter Treasure Hunt.

These treasure hunts are so simple to use and bags of fun!
Each hunt contains twelve clues/puzzles to solve, each clue solved reveals the location of the next hidden clue until they reach the final treasure of your choosing. 

Setting up was simple, as I chose the download versions all I needed to do was select a 'treasure', print, cut and hide. There are two clues to a page so once printed you cut the paper in half and hide the clues (each clue tells you where hide it - this could be in the cutlery drawer, freezer, on the washing machine, under a table or with the shoes). There is an answer key (just in case anyone can't find one of the clues) so I didn't cut this page up but rather folded it in half to create a pocket and placed the first clue inside - I kept this with me so I could hand the clue to the kids so they could start (and have the answer key handy). 
It took the girls roughly 30 mins to complete a hunt.

Multiplication Dragons is a set of five treasure hunts, each one is for a specific times table from 2 through 6. Each week as we learnt/reviewed a table, we would use the treasure hunt on a Friday as a fun alternative to drilling - interestingly they became quiet motivational, the girls would be eager to practise during the week so they could have their hunt on Friday.
These are aimed at 7 plus but Rose (my 5yo) used them and she was fine as long as one of her older sisters helped with reading and spelling.

The Winter Treasure Hunt is, as its name suggests, one of their seasonal hunts.
Although not winter yet, I thought this would be a great way for us to get in the festive spirit and get ready for winter. To solve these clues they need to use addition, multiplication, code breaking, telling time and riddle solving skills.
Even though this is recommended for age 4 plus, both Sunflower (10yo) and Tulip (8yo) loved it. 

I loved that I could 'assign' a clue to a specific child (using the name space) so that smaller siblings could get a chance to answer too. It was also great to be able to chose my own treasure - we did use a special snack but also opted for small notebooks, Lego figures, sparkly pens,a movie night and a trip to the museum. By far the best aspect of these treasure hunts was the learning that happens along the way - they encourage logical thinking, riddle solving, spelling and math skills. 

Multiplication Dragons is available for $19.99 and the Winter Treasure Hunt for $5.99. They do have a number of other hunts on offer, most are printable but a couple are physical sets that can be delivered (great for slumber parties, birthdays, presents or even a special Christmas gift).

The girls had great fun with these treasure hunts and they provided a fantastic way to learn.

You can see what my crew mates thought of these and other Clued In Kids treasure hunts over at the TOS Blog

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Middle Ages - Egg Painting

As part of our middle ages study we were reading Marguerite Makes A Book which is a lovely, Illustrated story about about a young girl helping her father make a 'book of hours'.

In the story she tells how she prepares the paints - so we decided to have a go.

We started by whisking some egg white, leaving it to the side to settle and pouring off the separated liquid.

We crushed parsley, wrapped it in linen and soaked it in egg to make green.

Soaked Madder root in warm water then added the water to the egg to make a pinky, red.

Soaked Saffron (wrapped in linen) directly in the egg for yellow.

Crushed Lapiz Lazuil and rolled it in wax to attempt blue paint - although this failed to make a blue paint, it was still an interesting experience (I discovered after that this is the hardest paint to make)

I couldn't get hold of any vermillion so we just used a vermillion powder paint added to the egg instead.

After we were finished, it was time to start painting. The first step was to apply gold leaf and once that was dry and polished it was time to add the paint to some pictures I downloaded from a 15th century book of hours.

The egg white paint worked well but seemed to lack a depth and appeared more like watercolour paint. After some research online we discovered that the great painters used egg yolk paints and applied them in many coats to achieve a real depth of colour - we made some additional yolk paints and they did work a lot better.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

SDAccelerate TOS Review

We love visual learning and over the years have used many 'video' clips to boost our lessons, so when given the chance to review Standard Deviants Accelerate I was interested.
Standard Deviants Accelerate is the brainchild of Cerebellum Corporation where they believe in a "Teach, Test, Re-teach, Laugh, Rinse and Repeat " style of learning. For over 20 years they have provided educational technology culminating in their interactive, online teaching resource, the SD Accelerate programme.

We were given a years full access to their SD Accelerate online elementary and high school programmes. These courses include: 
Arithmetic - Grades 3+ 
Fundamental Math - Grades 4+ 
Earth Science - Grades 6+ 
Nutrition - Grades 6+ 
Algebra - Grades 7+ 
Biology - Grades 7+ 
Chemistry - Grades 9+ 
English Comp. - Grades 9+ 
U.S. History - Grades 9+ 
AP Biology - Grades 11+ 
AP Chemistry - Grades 11+ 
AP U.S. Government & Politics - Grades 11+ 
AP U.S. History - Grades 11+ 
AP Eng. Composition - Grades 11+ 

Each course is divided into chapters with sub-topic lessons. Lessons are a fast paced movie of students presenting the concepts in a witty manner. It switches between different students and graphic presentations. Each lesson is approx 6 mins long. 

I started by creating my teacher account, I selected the classes I wished the children to study - I opted for Biology, Chemistry and Earth Science. Both Lilly and Sunflower were enrolled via their email address and logged in to work independently 3-4 times a week as a supplement to our other science programmes. They would watch the video (with the option to have full screen or a smaller view and read / highlight the notes alongside if they choose to). 

Any notes they make in the bottom box can then be saved to their student locker.

After the video portion of the lesson they would go to the vocab tab where they can listen to the words and meanings and I asked them to copy the definition into their notes. 

The next part of the lesson is the Diagram tab where they have to drag the correct label to the right part of the picture.

After that is the Quiz - a section of about 6 multiple choice questions. If an incorrect answer is given, it is highlighted with a small clip from video which had the right answer in.

The final tab is Written Answer where you are presented with a question and have to write an essay type answer.

We did watch a number of the movies on TV (via our pod) and discussed the questions/answers in a group setting as both Tulip and Rose wanted to join in (7 & 5). They particularly loved Earth Science and seemed to absorb a large amount of information and got right answers in the quiz section :)

The girls have enjoyed these lessons, the combination of humorous videos and reviewing their work online has made these an appealing choice of lesson for the girls (and me). Their favourite review activity was the 'diagram game' and they did say it would be nice to have more of these.

I love that the grading is immediate and that they can 'see' where they went wrong and review what the right answer should have been. I also like the easy to use teacher page - it gives red flags when scores are below standard, shows grades and even lets you input grades for the written assignments (using a rubric).

The only issue was keeping track of which lessons were already completed. Sunflower would often ask me where she was up to - it would be a nice feature if there was a little icon/tick against the lessons they had watched and completed the answers to.

Annual subscriptions for the courses above are $99, but you can also purchase monthly subscriptions for $24.95. They even offer a free trail.

You can see what my crew mates thought of some of their other courses over at the TOS Blog

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Time activities

Our home Ed group ran an activity day all about time.

They made fruit clocks,

played time bingo,

made paper plate clocks,

learnt about time zones,

discussed lunar calendars 

and made an Egyptian water clock - with an interesting discussion around how the Greeks adapted the water clock for the different length of days they had with different sized holes, (bigger for the winter when they was less sunlight and smaller holes for the summer when the daylight was longer - you can find a great description over here)

they even got to make a couple of lids for each clock with different sized holes

Friday, 10 October 2014

Chore Chart

We have nicely settled back into our school routine but I felt the housework was suffering a little. After begging hubby for a cleaner to no avail, we decided that the girls should do more housework than they were doing.

I spent a good few weeks trying to find a chore chart that I could modify for 4 kids and rotate their chores - I eventually settled for this.

I painted a board white then stencilled on a quote with a black sharpie pen ('Nothing will work unless you do' Maya Angelou). I added four hooks with a name above for each child and stapled a string to the back for hanging.

Whilst searching for my perfect chart, I stumbled on some great, free icons from Today's Mama. I cut the black icons out and laminated them in sets of three. (I had to use a bit of creativity here - for example the toothbrush doesn't mean clean teeth but tidy the bathrooms and the mirror means dusting.)

Now each child has a set of three chores each day (on top of making their beds and tidying their room). We've been using this system for two weeks now (Mon through Fri) and I've got to say I'm loving it, in less than 30 mins a day the house is tidy. While the girls do their chores I can focus on the hard and unpleasant tasks like cleaning the toilets : (

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Week 3 - cheesy speech marks, quill pens and ink

The girls worked more on punctuation, covering commas and speech marks (using cheesy wotsits)


Revisited the water, nitrogen and carbon cycles - my fave is the lift the flap water cycle.

We rounded up our history unit on King John and the Magna Carta by making a quill pen.

It's very simple to do - remove the lower feathers,

work out how you want to hold the quill and mark off the point then cut at a 45 degree angle 

and finally remove the membrane from inside.

We also made some ink to go along with this 

using a cup full of berries (blackberries, raspberries, cranberries etc) squished through a sieve

then added salt and white vinegar to preserve it.

They kept at it all afternoon : ) 

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