Sunday, 28 June 2015

Aviation workshop

Our latest activity day was based on aviation.

We explored why paper planes fly and how to make the best plane.

Looked at and made box kites,

explored space ships and made stomp rockets,

played on a flight simulator

and looked at Bernoulli's theory of aerodynamics.

My girls favourite activity by far was making paper helicopters.

They rounded off the day by making hot air balloons in the afternoon.

Monday, 22 June 2015

You've gotta smile (or grimace).....

...when your kids show an interest in taxidermy.

Not my cup of tea, but the girls are good at coming up with excuses as to why this may be a good hobby;

1) There is loads of road kill so it would be kinda recycling.
2) We would learn all about anatomy.
3) Its zoology.
4) Their fur would be soooo soft.
5) Think how much we'll learn.
6) Nanny wouldn't have to miss her cats when they die, cause they're really, really old.

I've so far managed to say no, but have to admire their enthusiasm and reasoning skills. 

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Dynamic Literacy - TOS Review

I was quiet excited when offered the chance to review WordBuildOnline from Dynamic Literacy as they have been on my wish list for a while now.


WordBuildOnline is an interactive, web based programme designed to develop vocabulary and increase comprehension. It works by focusing on morphology, the study of parts of words like suffixes, prefixes and roots (both Latin and Greek), and creates a unique way of learning a multitude of words all from understanding a couple of tiny morphemes (exponential learning at its best).

I received a subscription to both WordBuildOnline for both Sunflower and Lilly, the great thing is the subscription lasts for as long as it takes them to complete all the units : )

Once the account was set up for the girls, it was fairly straight forward for them to use. They would log in to be greeted by Lexi who would introduce them to a new morpheme for the week through a video, then they would be able to start the activities. 

There are a number of different activities for the week, these include;

Affix Adder - you are given a definition of the weeks word and are asked to manipulate it by added either a prefix or suffix and writing the meaning of the new word. They also have to select a correct definition for the word created.

Root Square - a 3x3 grid is provided and the task is to connect the middle square (that weeks word) to different prefixes or suffixes from the surrounding squares to make as many words as possible.

Magic Square - they have to match the definition to the correct word in a sudoku type challenge.

Stair Step - typing the words into the grid to their definitions from the sentences below.

Comprehension Booster - a 'fill in the blank' revision activity

The idea is your child works on one activity each day, each completed activity results in a 'paw print' on your skateboard with the goal of getting five prints each week. The great news for the girls was that it took less than 10 mins a day to complete an assignment. We tweaked it slightly as we school for four days a week so rather than the girls doing an activity each day, they would do a couple on one day and one on the rest - there were some days they had so much fun that they did three or four. If they struggled with an activity and got a particularly low score there was the option to redo the activity. If an activity is completed correctly then are confetti stars and congratulations noises along with some praise from Lexi.

There is a parent account where you can see, in detail, what your child has completed (including date and time taken for each activity), view their lesson, ratings/scores, list of morphemes learnt or even reset an activity (although they do advise against this as the programme does adjust the difficulty level based on their performance). I did receive an email confirmation each time a lesson was completed by one of the girls, however the email is very basic and doesn't give any of the measurable information you find on the parent account - you can opt out of these emails.

I was worried initially by some of Sunflowers low scores until I realised they were from poor spelling rather that lack of understanding - now she takes more care with her spelling (which is never a bad thing).

I love that it teaches them to pull apart and digest unfamiliar words to figure out the meaning. A real benefit is the independent learning, there is no input needed from me - everything they need to know is included in the weekly video and the information Lexi provides.

Lilly really likes the 'word problems' and loves the root square activity, especially trying to get three square combinations.
Sunflower thought the games were great fun - she especially liked that they were so quick - her favourite was the magic square.
They seem to be having fun - for me any educational product they enjoy using and are keen to use is a blessing - and I've seen a real improvement in their vocabulary usage, although quick, the lessons seem to be really memorable and the information sticks in their mind.

WordBuildOnline has a couple of levels in Foundations and Elements which covers grades 2nd-10th or for individuals needing remedial help.

WordBuildOnline is available for $30 per student. You can see what my crew mates thought of this and other Dynamic Literacy products over at the TOS Blog

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Charcoal Camping

We've just returned from a great but exhausting Home Ed camp with our local craft group. Not only did the kids spend an afternoon making rag rugs, they also made some charcoal for our next arty craft meet.

It was a fairly simple process - first collect some wood just a bit thicker than your thumb, they decided that we would try different types of wood like green ash and dried ash, green and dry hazel, holly etc. Once collected they needed to strip the bark off (apparently this makes better drawing charcoal - they also noticed the green twigs were easier to peal) cut into lengths and place into a tin.

Meanwhile the lids of the tins had holes hammered in.

These were then placed on the fire until steam stopped coming out of the holes. 

Some of the first efforts were underdone so the tins went back on the fire.

The finished article was tested, then safely bagged up for next months lesson :)

Just a note - some of the tins appeared to catch fire but still produced great charcoal.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Nature studies - Dandelions, Jam and Newts

We had a glorious day of sunshine this week after a few days of rain so we all jumped at the chance to spend the day exploring nature.

Not wanting to a skive (as it was half term last week so we did less work than usual) we decided to do a nature study session. The girls started by learning to identify dandelions, drawing a dandelion  

and rounded up by learning all about the name, uses of and medicinal benefits of the humble dandelion.

After this we harvested some flowers to make dandelion jam

dug up the root to make dandelion coffee, ate some leaves in our lunch salad and explored the sap from the stem (said to be very beneficial for fungal infections).

As always when we explore nature, we stumbled on something else interesting that sparked their imagination.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

JazzEdge Piano Basics

My girls were over the moon to review Easy Piano Basics from JazzEdge. Lilly especially has been bugging asking me for ages for Piano lessons but they've never been in our budget, so this one was a real treat.

Easy Piano Basics is a series of online piano lessons created by Willie Myette, a major from Berklee College of Music. He has a fun and friendly way of teaching and makes the concepts easy to understand. 

Easy Piano Basics is a series of 32 video lessons, they are fairly short ranging from 2-10 mins with each lesson building upon the last. The lessons include everything from learning the keys (starting with middle C), reading music, scales, low and high notes, sharps and flats, proper seating, playing with both hands, rhythm and more. In the latter lessons printable pages are provided along with sheet music for you to download - the sheet music is a real plus and we printed them out, laminated them and bound them into a little music book for practise sessions.

You will need a piano or keyboard but once you have one it's really easy to use (we used a standard electric keyboard) - you can either log on and watch a streaming of the video online or download and save to your PC. I used my ipad and propped it up on the music stand of our keyboard and away they went, this worked best for us because they could see the fingering and act on it at the same time. The girls watched on average 2 lessons a week (the moved through the early lessons very quickly and spent more time on the tougher lessons) and spent the remainder of the week practising for approx 10 mins a day. 

Lilly (12) has loved this and has already finished all the lessons and is requesting the next level of PianoWithWillie (thinking it would make a nice birthday pressie for her). 
Sunflower (10) and Tulip (8) are both working through this with no complaints : )
Rose (6) has required a lot of help from me and is less keen than her older sisters but is still trying. I have to admit that I've even been watching the lessons and practising for myself - more because the music I heard Lilly and Sunflower playing sounded really good.

I liked how the screen was split and able to show a number of keyboard views at the same time, this worked really well and made things much simpler when trying to sync fingers. I was very impressed with the content and by how much of an impact it had on the girls - they've been practising in their free time and with no hassling from me : )
It's been really nice to see how quickly they have picked this up, we were over at a friends house last week and Lilly disappeared into her dining room to play on their 'real' piano. It was a real treat to listen to and my friend even asked who she was having lessons with.

This is an interesting and hassle free way to introduce piano into your life - it's much cheaper than traditional lessons and really develops a strong foundation in playing and reading music. I think this is a fantastic way to teach yourself piano.

Easy Piano Basics is currently on sale for $59.95 (normally $69.95)  This is a one off, lifetime fee so can be used for subsequent children too. They also have some trail lessons so you can see how it works for your family.

You can see what my crew mates thought of this, PianowithWillie and DrumswithWillie over at the TOS Blog 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...