Friday, 21 June 2013

What does air weigh?

The girls have come up with some interesting questions lately but the one yesterday morning really threw me.

"if helium balloons float because helium is lighter than air then what does air weigh?"

after much searching on the Internet and loads of explanations about density, temperature and  elevation, we found a great site all about how helium balloons work :)

We're off to play with some balloons now.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Shadow Science

Keeping with the theme of spending time in the sun, I thought it would be a good idea to do some shadow work with Rose and Tulip.

I set a number of questions then came up with some ideas that would help them find the answers.

Question - What makes a shadow?
Activity - Shadow Animals.

They discovered that shadows are made when light is blocked, their hands had light on one side but were dark on the other.

Question - Why do shadows move?
Activity - Living Sundial. 
We drew a 'foot' position on the ground so they could always stand in the same spot then proceeded to draw around their shadow and write the time of day next to it. I asked them to make a note of where the sun was and repeated the activity at hourly intervals throughout the day.

They discovered that the shadows move because the position of the sun (the light source) changes during the day and that light travels in straight lines. This also lead to a discussion about sundial clocks and a trip to the local park to look at one in action.

Question - Why are shadows black? 
Activity - Shadow Casting. 
They had to select a number of objects from my 'shadow box' and observe the shadows they cast. I did cheat and add a few transparent items (easily seen through) to my opaque items (Impenetrable by light).

They discovered that light cannot travel through opaque items (they block all the light) so you are left with a dark shadow but the transparent items let some light through so resulting in a coloured shadow.

Linking up at After school party

Monday, 10 June 2013

Motherboard Books, Lets make a web page - TOS review

Phyllis Wheeler is the Computer lady behind Motherboard Books where she has created a number of products all designed to teach kids real computing skills. Her aim is to encourage computer literacy in every homeschool.

I was offered the opportunity to review Let's make a web page which is a project based ebook that makes building a web page simple and engaging. It introduces your child to programming in a fun way and encourages basic skills including how to add sounds and animations.

Once I had downloaded the ebook I printed it out for ease of use, I thought it would be simpler for the Lilly and Sunflower (8 & 10) to have paper instructions rather than looking at a split screen, however I think older children would be fine looking at a split screen.

I next used their link to download a free 30 day trail of the Coffeecup software (a drag and drop software compatible with Windows XP, Vista, and later (not Mac)) which took about 15 mins and we were ready to start.
The concept behind Let's make a web page, is to interview someone and design a web page about them - the girls decided to do a mock interview of Thomasina (our chicken) about hatching and raising her chicks. They came up with some questions and researched what they thought her answers would be as well as taking photos to use on the web page.
Once that was done it was time to jump on the computer and get to work.

I did expect to have a lot of involvement in this but was pleasantly surprised to find the girls could do most of it without me : )

I loved her style of writing and we found the explanations simple and easy to follow. I liked that she imparted some Internet wisdom throughout the ebook (safe online navigation and explaining the proper use of other’s work etc.) 

The girls had great fun with this and I am sure they will be making many more web pages over the next few weeks.

Let's make a web page is aimed at 8-12 year olds and is available for $19.95.

You can see what my crew mates thought about this and other Motherboard products over at the TOS blog.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Math Mammoth Light Blue - TOS Review

I've had my eye on Math Mammoth for a while so when the chance came to review it I was really pleased : )

Math Mammoth is the brain child of Maria Miller, she is a math teacher turned homeschool mum who realised the market was missing a conceptual based math program.After looking over the products they offered, I opted for the Light Blue complete curriculum grade 5 which came as a download consisting of two student workbooks, answer key, tests, cumulative reviews and an additional worksheet maker. The download version is enabled for annotation (students can fill them in on the computer) but I printed them out as I like to have a paper record to look back on.

We used this as our main math curriculum for both Lilly and Sunflower. I printed out each section for them to work on rather than as a big book.

As you can see in the photo, the chapters start with an explanation followed by an annotated example - this gave the girls the information they needed to work (mostly) independently. It took them on average 35-45 mins per chapter. There were a couple of new concepts introduced that I had to assist with but otherwise they were happy to get on with it. So far (touch wood) I haven't had to print out any of the additional worksheets as the chapters are so well explained that they have mastered them quickly.

I loved that it focuses on mental maths and that it explains the 'why' and not just the how. I also liked that it doesn't make you do endless pages of the same kind of problem. : )

The girls liked that the lessons were short and had visual explanations - this helped them to quickly master a topic and move on. They seem to be enjoying math a bit more and even took the time to do a couple of notebook pages to record what they have learnt. 

The only thing they missed were the math manipulative's from their previous math work. 

I think this makes a excellent main math curriculum to act as our study spine but I will add some additional activities to appeal to the hands on nature of my girls.

Each Light Blue grade curriculum is a real bargain at $34.

You can see what my crew mates thought of this and other Math Mammoth products over at the TOS Blog

Monday, 3 June 2013

Hopscotch Learning

We finally have some sunshine : )

The last few days have been really warm and the girls just want to spend their time outside -  so it was time to rack my brains for some outside learning activities.

Tulip needed to do some work on her sight words so we came up with sight word hop scotch.

The rules were extremely simple - using the star as home base, I started by calling the sight word and she would jump to it then back to the star. She progressed to calling the word herself whilst jumping to it.

It was enjoyed so much that Rose decided she wanted one of her own as well.

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