Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Circle Time - TOS Review

We were offered a chance to review Circle Time - plan the best part of your day from Preschoolers and Peace

Circle Time arrived as a PDF download and is a 33 page book written by Kendra Fletcher (homeschooling mother of 8) which includes tips to plan a circle time that works for you, strategies for a peaceful time together (always useful), encouragement and advice on how to get your kids on board, experiences and questions posed by other homeschoolers, words of advice, activities and ideas, printable planners and a great resource list.

I sat down to read Circle Time and was pleasantly surprised - its packed full of simple, practical tips and encouragement. The planners proved very useful and encouraged me to really think about how to best utilise our time together (especially useful for the things I want to do but get round to less than I would like: art appreciation, sewing, musical theory etc)

One of the ideas I loved from the book was having the older girls teach/help - this has worked really well for us : )

Lilly and Sunflower have responded well to leading scripture memorisation, supervising activities and even teaching their younger sisters.

I could also relate to the advice she give - one that really struck a cord with me was “It’s all about having a plan and carrying it out” I had fallen foul of just having a basic circle time (prayer, scripture memorisation, calender work and a couple of quick educational songs) before moving onto our 'real' day. Happily I am now cured and this book has really helped me realise what I was missing out on and how to improve it so we all have a wonderful time.

I really enjoyed this book - its full of wonderful ideas and has helped me organise a more enjoyable circle time together.

Circle Time is available for $4.99
You can see what my crew mates thought over at the TOS Blog

Friday, 26 July 2013


Our butterflies emerged this week 

Whilst exploring all the wonder of butterflies, the following observation was made
"Mum, I thought butterflies were insects so why does these only have 4 legs when insects are supposed to have 6?" 
After much research we were relieved to find that whilst most butterflies have six legs there is a class of butterflies (nymphalidae also know as brush-footed butterflies of four-footed butterflies) whose first pair of legs is reduced so it looks like they only have 4.
                                              Tulip loved holding the butterflies and noticed that while the wings were beautifully coloured, the underwings were dull and spotty (she said they reminded her of dead leaves) which lead to a great discussion of camouflage (again!)

Rose thought the 'split, curly tongue' was the funniest part - when a butterfly emerges its proboscis is in two pieces (like a split straw), they curl and uncurl the two parts repeatedly to form a singular tube.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Electricity Activity Day

We went to a great activity day this month  - exploring electricity.

We looked at circuits, 

played with static electricity (jumping snowflakes and dancing snakes),

dismantled an old laptop,

made an electrical musical instrument

and looked at the electrical current in fruit

This one really surprised the girls - they expected the lemon to have the highest result but they were in order....

Apple the lowest with Kiwi being the highest !

this link explains how to set it up and why it works
A wet cell consists of a negative electrode; a positive electrode and an electrolyte, which conducts ions (atoms with an electric charge). In this science fair project copper and zinc metals will be used as the electrodes and the citric acid found in fresh fruit is the electrolyte. The chemistry behind the fruit cell is that zinc is more reactive than copper which means zinc loses electrons more easily than copper. As a result, oxidation occurs at the zinc metal strip and zinc metal loses electrons to become zinc ions. The electrons then flow from the zinc strip to the copper strip through an external circuit. At the copper strip, reduction occurs the hydrogen ions in the fruit's critic acid juice accept these electrons to form hydrogen gas; this explains why the investigator may observe bubbling of gas produced at the copper strip when the two metals are connected by a wire.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Critical Thinking Skills - Number Noughts and Crosses

One of the girls favourite 'free time' games at the moment is number noughts and crosses. 

The normal grid is replaced by a grid containing random numbers

the game is played as normal - the player who gets three in a row scores an extra two points. At the end of the end of the game you add up the points under your counters and the winner is the one with the highest number.
(so in the example below Lilly got 2 for winning +7+3+0 giving her a total of 12 while Sunflower got 9+6+4 giving her a total of 19 so she won)

Lilly was distraught the first time she played as she got three in a row and thought she had won but Sunflower had won by scoring more points.

This added element really changes how the game is played - I've noticed the girls avoid the low scoring middle square in the hopes of scoring more points elsewhere : )

Linking up at:

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Mayan Mysteries - TOS Review

The girls have really enjoyed reviewing Mayan Mysteries by Dig-it Games.
The game is designed by professional archaeologist and former middle-school teacher Suzi Wilczynski and is a fun, puzzle based computer game where children learn about Mayan culture and history as they attempt to solve a mystery. The opening screen is a comic which sets the scene and introduces you to various characters, they in turn each have information to share with you and challenges to set.

Once I showed the Lilly and Sunflower how to load the game they were off - it's really easy to play. The girls worked together to answer questions - correct answers earn points and lead to the next stage in solving the mystery.

The game has plenty of information about the Mayan culture which has to be read during your quest. This information appears as a book on screen and is quite short and easy to read (there is an audio button for non readers). After the information has been read they set different challenges and test to see how much has been learnt. The challenges are varied and include; dig up and identify artifacts, treasure hunts through time, correctly marking ancient cities on maps, making a Mayan calendar, calculating the value of good in the marketplace etc. Topics covered include Mayan calenders, how they calculated time, counting system, cities, culture, social system, sacrifices, artifacts etc.

They both loved this game and have played it through twice. They were disappointed that it's only the first part of the game and that they have to wait for the 2nd instalment. 

I loved that the game encourages critical thinking skills and that the girls really engaged with the game - it has sparked a real passion with them and they can't wait to play part 2 :)
Mayan Mysteries is available for $21.99 for a year or as iPad app at $9.99. Mayan Mysteries is designed for grades 5-9. There is a sample you can play to see how it works for you.

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

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