Thursday, 31 January 2013

Project Day - Stick Bombs

After watching a couple of you tube videos the girls have become enamoured with stick bombs. So much so that they devoted a large chunk of their project day on Monday to making and releasing stick bombs. They patiently built them again

and again.

It takes approx 25 mins to use all our sticks and about 10 seconds to 'explode'

I'd say a definite way to teach them patience and keep them amused on a rainy day : )

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Oceans week 2 - Salinity and the Arctic ocean

Our second week of ocean studies focussed on looking at the salt levels in the ocean:- we looked at what made the oceans salty, how salt water is heavier than fresh water (the dyed salt water sinks when added to fresh water - our control was to add dyed fresh water to a second cup)
and we also replicated the salt levels in the dead sea (just over 30% salts which works out at 340g of salt per litre of water) which led to a great game of  'what can we make float that normally sinks' - yes I know that game needs a new name, any suggestions?

We did get sidetracked by the snow so decided to use it to our advantage by studying the Arctic ocean and the wildlife found there - this naturally led to a discussion on how the animals keep warm - cue the lard activity, Rose was most impressed that the lard kept her hand warm in the snow : ) 
This also led to a quick study of the poles and what makes them different - land under ice in the Antarctic compared to just floating ice in the Arctic.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

More Secret Writing

The girls decided to take the secret writing a step further and see if other juices would have the same result.

In case you can't make it out we tried (in order) lemon, apple, lime, grapefruit, grape and pineapple.

The girls guessed it was the sugar burning before the rest of the paper but after some research it turned out the 'inks' weaken the fibres of the paper so the they discolour first. (the same article  in About Chemistry suggested ironing your paper rather than heating over a fire, to prevent mishaps - now why didn't I think of that).

So one simple line from a story book has opened up a whole can of worms - turns out there are methods for using milk, onion, saliva and playing with acid and base reactions to hide your messages - something tells me we will be doing this for a long time yet : )

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Secret Writing

Sunflower and Lilly are currently reading through the 'Lady Grace Mysteries' series.

Sunflower came up to me last night because she had read something and wanted to know if it is true - in the story Lady Grace is a young Maid-of-Honour to Queen Elizabeth and she keeps a daybook (like a diary), she comments that she wanted to write in seville orange juice so her writing would remain secret - apparently it only shows once heated. 

Cue today science lesson, totally unprepared as I have no seville oranges but couldn't miss a chance like this. 

I juiced a clementine and set the girls to writing

once we had left the juice to dry naturally,
we gently heated it over the fire to reveal the secret message.

After that they had to try various heat methods - candle heat, radiator, hair dryer and stove top (some worked and some didn't). Personally I think it was just a good excuse to do some more drawing in juice : )

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Project Day

I've had a few people ask me questions about how I expect our new project day to work; how much planning I will do for it, how involved will I be with it, will I encourage them to do projects on specific things etc.

I thought it easiest to post about it and show what they did.

I've always believed the best learning you do is when you 'choose' to learn something and make all the decisions yourself. With this in mind, the idea behind 'project day' is to encourage them to develop their research and planning skills and fuel their passion for leaning.

For example, Sunflower decided to learn about mythlogical creatures. Luckily I had a few books about the subject so my planning consisted of digging out the books, printing off a world map and putting it all in a pile with some paper and pens.

I pretty much left her to it with the instruction that she had to do some reading and writing about her subject. She decided to draw pictures of the animals on the world map and started to write a journal about them.

Lilly choose to write a book so she just needed paper, pens and a quiet space to write.

Tulip was more hands on - I showed her how to draw the shape onto Styrofoam and then cut it out to stick onto a cork. After this she was happy to be left working on her own and trying out different things.

Rose wanted to bake which was fairly hands on for me but also very tasty  (mmmm scones) 

So overall I left them to it, they seemed to really enjoy themselves and are quiet keen to do more. It has worked well so far and my hope is that it will develop their research skills and help them to better plan their time (fingers crossed).

Friday, 11 January 2013

Health - Teaching children how to prevent Diabetes

I have a special treat for you all today - my first guest blogger : )

Carolyn Fallon has kindly shared how type 2 diabetes has affected her family and their lifestyle.

Teaching Younger People To Prevent Diabetes

Health and fitness is a very important issue for me. I love working out and eating healthy with new recipes I find and try. Unfortunately, not all of my family is as diligent with their health as I am. One of my younger cousins was recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and it has been very difficult all of us. After doing some research, I have become alarmed at how serious this disease is and the type of effect it can have on my cousin’s life. In fact, according to St. Joseph’s Hospital Cardiac Center, if left untreated, diabetes can cause heart disease, eye problems or blindness, and even neurological problems later in life. Seeing the seriousness of this disease, and also because November was American Diabetes Month, I have take it upon myself to help my cousins live healthier through better eating and exercise habits.

Eating Healthy

My family and I are trying to eat better every single day. The first step is to make a change one meal or snack at a time so we are more likely to stay with it. We're switching out candy and snacks for fresh fruits and veggies, and we're choosing healthier options when we eat out (which I try to limit as much as possible anyways). When the holidays rolled around, we put more emphasis on the vegetables and healthy options at the family table than all of the higher calorie treats available (which we made sure to limit). Although we have a way to go with eating healthier all the time, its important to take things at a pace that people are willing to stick with, and to try to be open to trying new and creative food options.
Being Healthy

I'm also finding it incredibly fun to workout with my family members a few times a week. With the weather being so cold, we like to workout at home to a good fitness DVD or video we've found online. My cousin enjoys spending her free time looking for challenging workout videos on the Internet so that we can try it the next time we all get together. We even incorporate some of the kids video games – such as Wii Fit or Just Dance! It’s a blast, and we love to have dance competitions for fun – which also gives us a great workout just from laughing so much! It has been an amazing experience for all of us and I've even made some slight changes myself to live a healthier and more fulfilling life.

I absolutely love being able to eat healthier and exercise more regularly with the ones I cherish. I'm finding it especially motivating since the holidays came and went and we were able to all ring in the New Year as healthier individuals. 

I think it's essential that parents workout with their kids and start healthy eating habits early so that their children can grow up with these habits intact. It's much easier to live healthy when you've done it for your entire life and were taught about it by your beloved parents!Type 2 diabetes in children may develop gradually. Some children experience: 

  • Increased thirst and urination.
  • Increased hunger. 
  • Weight loss. Despite eating more than usual to relieve hunger, your child may lose weight. · Fatigue. 
  • Blurred vision. 
  • Slow-healing sores or frequent infections. 
  • Areas of darkened skin.  These dark patches often occur in the armpits or neck. 

Your child may be at high risk if he or she:

  • Has a body mass index (BMI) above the 85th percentile - you can calculate BMI here
  • Has a sibling, parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or cousin with type 2 diabetes
  • Has signs of insulin resistance, such as darkened skin on the neck 

Carolyn is a 20-something year old with a passion for life, fitness and overall well-being. She is an avid cycler, golfer and has been known to bust some serious moves on the dance floor. Check out Carolyn’s blog at

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Ocean unit - week 1

We started our Ocean unit this week - we got to have a good look at the difference between an ocean and a sea. We also looked at how much of the earth's surface is covered in water,

they drew a circle and divided it into 10 sections

and coloured 3/10 green for the land and 7/10 blue to represent the water. 

The girls also explored estuaries - they looked at the specialised plant life found there and did a cute activity to see how salt and fresh water mix.

One bottle was filled with salt water (we used bottled water rather than tap), another is filled with fresh water coloured blue. When the fresh water is first introduced into salt water it briefly forms a slight layer on the top then mixes together. 

They also worked on naming the oceans.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Animal Day

We went to a great co-op today all about animals.

The kids got to learn all about stick insects
 made pipe cleaner animals (snake and deer in case you are wondering),

explore different animal tracks and make their own in clay,

learn about and draw food webs,

play various animal games

and identify some animal scat.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Planning a new routine for 2013

After being ill all over the Christmas break, I have finally got my head back in the game. One thing that really struck me when I was planning was how much my girls love a routine - I don't know where I slipped up on this one or how I forgot but when I reintroduced it today it was eagerly accepted : )

Our new routine is fairly loose but here goes:

Monday - project day. They can learn about anything they wish, my only criteria for the day is they do a mini maths activity and some reading.
I love this idea because it can incorporate so many different thing and plays to each of their strengths - the girls have already planned what they want to do next Monday; Rose will be writing a book, Sunflower wants to learn about mythical creatures, Tulip want to make stamps and Rose wants to learn baking.

Tuesday - Friday. 
9-12 is learning time followed by lunch and outdoor playtime. 
1:00 - 1:30 is reading/quiet time (non readers can do puzzles or colouring).
1:30 - 3:00 will be for Art, Music, Swimming or Spanish depending on the day.
Thursday morning will be an exception as they have a class from 11-1.

I am hoping they stay happy with this structure because it makes time for all the activities I keep forgetting to do (like official art lessons as opposed to 'lets get the paint out') 

How do you structure your day?
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