Thursday, 18 September 2014

First Week Back

Back to school with a vengeance here. We had our best 'not back to school' activity yet - raft building.

This was followed by our first week back after the summer break - we managed to work on multiplication (with Lego),

did domino math,

studied biomes

worked on the noun presentation with Tulip and Rose,

and learnt how to make a dress pattern.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Summer School - Balloon Science

Can't have summer without lots of balloons : )

We have done a number of science activities over the last few weeks using balloons. We first discussed the theory (annotated on a white board) then went ahead with the activity when we understood the science behind it.

Balloon car races and balloon rockets

 Balloon helicopter

Balloon bounce (they had to keep an air filled water balloon in the air by blowing through straws)

Magic Balloon (two painted bottles, one white and one black, left in the sunlight - the air in the black bottle is heated and causes the balloon to expand.)

Balloon water pump

This one caused the most surprise - they decided that squeezing the bottle would cause the pump to work and it did but wasn't very exciting. However when we attached the balloon the water overshot our bowl! 

They were so impressed with this experiment that they decided to design a larger pump with numerous spouts as a toy for water fights.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Aliens in the garden??

The kids exploring nature and every now and then they stumble on something amazing. This was Tulip's find yesterday

after researching it we think it's some kind of seed pod but they did think it was an alien to start with : )

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

UberSmart Math Facts - TOS Review

I am always happy to improve our math skills so was quiet excited by the chance to review UberSmart Math Facts from UberSmart Software

UberSmart Math Facts was created by David Kocur, a homeschool dad. His wife asked him to find a math fact programme for his kids but he couldn't find one that guaranteed to cover all the math facts so decided to create his own. 
He created a downloadable software programme for Windows (XP, vista, 7 or 8 - it doesn't work on Macs.) that teaches mastery of addition, subtraction, division and multiplication facts.This is a review program, not a curriculum and is designed to be used daily for best results.

We received the 4.0 version which is available from Sept 1st. It's really easy to download and fairly easy to use. Once loaded the first task is to set up profiles for each student (up to 8) - I set up a four profiles for the girls.

The icon now sits on our desktop (you can download to multiple computers in the same home but I've just set it up on one) when they click on the icon, it opens to a tabbed page where there are several options to choose from:
  • Learn
  • Practice
  • Test
  • Compete
  • Report
  • Maintain
There are two options - Beginner or Intermediate. Beginner covers addition and subtraction using dot cards. Intermediate uses flash cards and covers addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. You simply view the problem then click show to view the answer. 

This section is again divided into Beginner and Intermediate but it also allows for keyboard practice - they show you a number on a flashcard and you have to type it in the allotted time.

(Rose did get stuck on this section for a while - in fact she got so frustrated with keyboard practice that we skipped it and moved onto the 'real' section where she just read out the sum, told me the answer and I'd type it in for her.)
Practice is similar to learning (beginner get dot cards and intermediate gets flashcards) except the student has to enter the answer before moving on to the next question. If no answer or the wrong answer is entered, the correct answer is shown (you have about 7 seconds to answer). These sections are about 2 1/2 mins long.

This has 2 sections. First an assessment test which looks at counting dots, odd/even numbers, counting forwards etc. The second section is the mastery test, this is a timed test but you can opt to hide the 'time bar'.

This allows you to compete to be ranked against other users scores. You get to answer a series of problems on flash cards and you can compare with other UberSmart Math Facts users globally. This is not a live competition but when all of the questions are completed, your score and rank are shown. For this, you can also choose grade level (elementary, middle, high, or adult) and user.

This details the progress of each student by topic and is really useful if your children use this independently.  It shows a series of smiley faces and highlights areas that need more work.

This is a password protected admin area that lets you add new students and get updates. 

I will be honest and say that Lilly and Tulip didn't really 'enjoy' this, but regardless of that it has worked - I've noticed a vast improvement in their ability to recall facts and they are much quicker with their math work since using it. Sunflower on the other hand, loves it! she is obsessed with getting 100% and starts over if she makes a mistake.

I am really happy with this, it does exactly what it says on the tin - It teaches math facts mastery.
I loved that once downloaded it is there until I've finished with it, so I can wait a year and then use it for Rose when she is more ready for it. I also liked that you could select different levels of problems in multiplication and division (up to times 20) for each individual. UberSmart provides a simple, easy way to drill your kids independently.
UberSmart Math Facts is aimed for children from K to grade 6 but would suit anyone who needed to review their math facts. It is available for $24.95 but there is a discount code for 30% off the new version, valid until Sept 30th  - v4 Early Bird 

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

Friday, 22 August 2014

Afician Drumming

We had an African Drumming session last week. Our drummer was from Senegal and bought  all the drums and instruments with him.

They started by explaining how to drum - the outside makes a high noise and the middle a deep bass noise. After practicing they learnt a couple of tunes,

played a few rounds 

and finished by learning some traditional dances.

In the afternoon they had access to various worksheets to learn about Africa.

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