Wednesday, 30 April 2014

April wrap up - fossils, historic sweets, trips and another broody hen

April has been a nice relaxing month - we reduced our schooling over the Easter break and spent more time out on nature walks. The kids were happy to spot some wild plantain - we have planted this herb in our garden as a remedy for if Hubby's bees sting us.

We managed a trip to the beach - supposedly to look for shells but in reality it was to enjoy some early sunny weather.

We did a great literature based unit study on Mary Anning using Stone Girl, Bone Girl - Branch Out World's Picture Book Explorers. I think the girls would be hard pressed to pick out just one as their favourite activity from this study but my favourite was the fossil making. 

Sunflower now wants a trip to Dorset just to hunt for fossils.

Our local Home Ed group had a fun activity based on the history of sweets where we got to make some old fashioned marshmallows,

design their own marchpane sweets (Tudor sweets),

made Egyptian sweets (spiced stuffed dates)

and had a tasting session

The girls also attended a weaving workshop

and spotted some Morris dancers.

Top that off with a broody hen, a new queen bee and making beeswax candles (Bday pressie for me from the girls) and that wraps up April : )

The Brinkman Adventures - TOS Review

We love learning through stories so being offered the chance to review The Brinkman Adventures - Season 2: Episodes 13-24  by The Brinkman Adventures was great, not only do they educate and entertain but they also teach the importance of values and have honest discussions about how God uses people to do his work.
The Brinkman Adventures is a radio drama based on true missionary stories. It follows the large Brinkman family as they visit missionaries worldwide. During their journey the Brinkmans' experience various problems and setbacks, but God’s hand is over them, There are 12 episodes in season two and each episode lasts approximately 25 mins so there is over 5 hours of stories. They are available as CD’s or digital download – we got the download to review.

I decided to use these in the car because the length tied in perfectly with our 30 min car journeys to and from our various activities but they would work equally well in the home as a group story time or family night
Their first adventure starts at their local water hole, where the children find a huge gold ring and the excitement grows from there as they travel to Hong Kong, Mexico, a pirate island, a French castle and beyond.

A couple of the episodes do tackle sensitive issues (like slavery) but there is a verbal cautionary note prior to those episodes – I did choose to listen to them prior to trying them out on the girls so I was prepared to deal with questions and concerns that it bought up.

The girls LOVE them. They have bugged me constantly to listen to the ‘next one’ even to the point where they wanted to go home early just to listen to the next episode : )

I liked that the episodes occurred all over the world – it was a great, secret geography study. I loved how they have a gift for making you feel like you are right there with them living the adventure and making those choices. The best feature for us is that they are all based on real stories and they have a links where you can read more about the real stories they are based on.

We did struggle a little jumping in with season two and I would have preferred to start with the first season so we had their full story but otherwise couldn’t find fault with these. They tackle sensitive issues like still birth and slavery sensitively and introduce missionary work in an engaging way.

I asked the girls what their favourite episode was and we have a divided camp – Lilly and Sunflower loved the story where they smuggle Bibles to where they are needed. While Rose and Tulip’s favourite was the French castle mystery.

The Brinkman Adventures is available on 4 CD’s for $25 or $17 for downloads. It is suggested for all ages and it worked very well across our age range (5-11) as they were all hooked.

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

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Does air weigh anything?

Rose made an interesting comment this week
"it's full of air so it's not heavy - it doesn't weigh anything"

I knew we'd discussed the weight of air vs helium previously but thought I should come up with a quick recap for Rose.

I made a hanging scale from a lollipop stick, some string and a nail. Next took two balloons and blew on of them up - we stuck a balloon to each end of the scale and observed.

She now knows that while air may be light it does at least weigh something : )

Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Wise Woman - Literary analysis

We have  always used narration in our homeschool but I thought taking a more structured approach to reading and analysing literature might be a good idea, so when I was offered the chance to do a review for Home School Adventure Co I immediately opted for The Wise Woman - with Literary Analysis Journal Questions.

Home School Adventure Co is the brainchild of Stacy Farrell - she is a veteran homeschooler whose focus is to create resources designed to encourage children to be compassionate, strong and wise. She has taken 'The Wise Woman' by George MacDonald and created a programme to encourage students to analyse what they read and look beyond the obvious to find deeper meaning while encouraging critical thinking.

'The Wise Woman' by George MacDonald is a fable about two girls, one is raised as a princess and the other by shepherds but both are spoiled. They both encounter the Wise Woman and the story describes their interaction with her and the lessons they learn - it's a tale of transformation and discusses issues like pride, arrogance and superiority.
I got the Ebook PDF version but it is also available as a spiral bound book. It is designed to work either equally well as either an independent study or as a family read aloud. Home School Adventure Co have sensibly included 'The Wise Woman' in the journal (so you don't have to purchase the book separately) and have broken it down into 14 chapters - each chapter begins by reading the story and then answering the literary questions for that chapter, there are on average 20 questions for each chapter and they vary between simple comprehension questions (what happened when...), through interpretation questions (what do you think the author meant by...) to more thought provoking, deep questions - they really push you to think beyond the obvious and question your own behaviours/attitudes.

I decided this would suit us best as a family read aloud so the younger two could join. I would take turns reading aloud along with Lilly and Sunflower (11 &  9) while Rose and Tulip (7 & 5) listened, then I would read the analysis questions and they would discuss their answers within the group. I did also print off the questions a couple of times so Lilly and Sunflower could write down their answers.

The language is very descriptive and George MacDonald's writing style could be considered verbose or flowery by some, so reading aloud gave us a great opportunity to discuss words they hadn't encountered before. It's worth noting that there is a vocabulary section at the end which does list the more unusual words by page number and chapter while providing you a space to write your definition.

The girls have been completely hooked by this and have begged for extra readings. All of the questions have been thoughtfully put together and have resulted in some interesting discussions (my favourite being whether there was a difference between being nice and being kind). I think that Stacy Ferrell has done an amazing job, she really has created an engaging way to encourage critical thinking. Her work really makes you think deeply about the story and what lesson you can learn and apply in your life. I also love the format, having both the text and questions together in one volume makes it so much easier to use. I would like to have seen the vocabulary sections included with the chapter analysis questions to perfect the format.

The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Journal Questions is suitable for ages 12 through High School, however can be used as a read aloud for ages 9+. It is available as an Ebook for $14.95 or as a print version for $28.95 (there is a promotion code for $10 off any download purchase. Use code CREW-10 offer expires 15th May 2014.)

You can see what my crew mates thought of this and other Homeschool Adventure Co products over at the TOS Blog

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Fibonacci and an Algebra game

We have spent the last week exploring Fibonacci. As we love 'living math' we first turned to a couple of really good books,

 then we attempted to draw a Fibonacci spiral (much harder than it looks), we started by drawing the squares on a piece of graph paper (which turned into 3 stuck together) before attempting the spiral - it went wrong but rather than start again we came up with the great idea to cover in tracing paper to draw the spiral (which worked on the 3rd attempt).

We looked at the two spirals in a pine cone,

cut apples and lemons in half and explored the segments (they are both supposed to be Fibonacci numbers although our lemon was a freak and had nine segments not eight),

and attempted a modelling of the rabbit problem.

The girls were quick to point out that Fibonacci may have been a great mathematician but he wasn't a good biologist, in their words " if you tried to bread loads of rabbits from just two they would be sick and die from genetics".

We then explored the Golden ratio (if you divide a number in the Fibonacci sequence by the number immediately before it - i.e 21 divided by 13 - your answer is a number close to the golden ratio) and examples of the Golden Spiral in nature.

I also downloaded the 'Dragon Box' math app this week and I can't get the kids off it : )
If you haven't seen it then it definitely worth a look - it claims to secretly teach algebra to your kids. Mine are addicted and after playing it myself I can see why, it's simple to play and really does hammer home the process much better than a page of drills ever would.

I also read a great measurement book with Rose.

It has encouraged her to 'measuremeter' everything she could find this week : )

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Rock Cycle Unit. - Earth/Volcano/Mountains

We've been looking at the rock cycle again but more detailed than last time (you can see our previous activities here)

We started by looking at the structure of the earth. As we'd previously done the playdoh earth, I decided to do the boiled egg version this time (also I couldn't find enough playdoh) 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 got the girls to do a drawing to show earth's structure

Next came Volcano's. We made a plaster volcano with a length of plastic tube in for our 'exploding volcano'
and attached a bottle filled with vinegar and bicarbonate of soda to the other end of the pipe.

The girls also made a paper mache model of half a volcano
which they painted and labelled it to show the structure of a volcano. We also read a number of books and looked at our old 'lift the flap' drawings.

We revisited the different types of lava (again with icing sugar)

and discussed how when the surface of lava cools the underneath can still be soft and moving

Then looked at mountains, how they are formed and the parts of a mountain - I made a mountain in the front room and got the girls to write a label and definition for each part of the mountain (peak, base, slope, face, ridge etc)

before getting them to draw their own.

We also looked at the highest mountains on each continent - they made playdoh representations which they had to place correctly on the map while naming them.

we finished by using some types of mountain cards from Montessori Print Shop

 next week we move onto types of rock, weathering etc.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...