Sunday, 22 November 2020

Project 159: Photography

 After Solomon rediscovered his v-tech camera at the back of the cupboard, we decided it would be a good time to do a project on photography. 

The week started with a presentation and videos on photography and the history of photography.


The children then helped making their own pinhole camera, following instructions from the National Geographic's Guide to Photography


The children were also given three photographic assignments:

  • Self-portraits with composition and framing (not for the blog!).
  • Monochrome and shades (following this week's BBC Your Photos theme)
  • Textures, curves and patterns.

All the children enjoyed getting out and taking photos, although special mention for Sam who won the household photography competition for his monochrome graffiti. 

Next week's project: Wassily Kandinsky


Project 158: More Cooking!

 We don't do as much cooking with the children as we would like to, in fact the only project specifically on cooking was over a year ago (see Project 87: Cooking), so we decided to have another project on cooking. 

Each of the children were expected to help with a breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as make a dessert. 

Solomon made a pizza, a golden syrup cake, added some scotch pancakes to the lunch, and pineapple with breakfast. 


Monica made a korma curry, added some pancakes to the breakfast and cheese straws to the lunch, and made some homemade ice-cream. 


Sam wanted to help make a lentil curry, added some melon to the breakfast and chipolata wraps to the lunch, and made some gingerbread men. 


The children all enjoyed the project, and we're working on cooking becoming more a part of their regular routine. 

Next project: Photography

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Project 157: Knights and Fantasy

We wanted a relaxed project for this week's project as it coincided with Solomon's birthday, so we settled on knights and fantasy, focusing primarily on the tales of King Arthur. 

We made use of numerous online videos to explore what it means to be a knight, and some of their literary depictions. 



We also read knightly tales in the form of Morpurgo's Arthur: High King of Britain and McCaughrean's George and the Dragon. Morpurgo just about manages to safely skirt some of the more salacious aspects of the King Arthur stories, although as a parent you do find yourself concerned throughout about what might be coming next!

There are obviously also a lot of King Arthur films and we watched two: the classic Sword in the Stone, and the modern interpretation with The Kid Who Would Be King.

Finally, as a craft activity the children designed their own heraldic shields (the elder two had previously designed shields back in Project 100: The Middle Ages).

Next Project: More cooking!

Sunday, 1 November 2020

Project 156: Mushrooms and Fungi

 As it was half-term this week, and the school children were expected to be filling the local parks, we decided to get some exercise a bit further afield with a mushroom hunt. 

We started the week with the usual raft of videos exploring the fungi kingdom, and by the time we went on our mushroom hunt the children had a far better idea of what fungi were and the important role they have in the local ecosystem. 


We spotted a wide range of fungi in the local woods, and Sam was particularly enthusiastic about the hunting process. 

Once they'd seen a few of the wide varieties available, they made some Play-doh models (using pictures from a book) and drew some mushrooms.
We also did three different mushroom science experiments. Using guidance from Twinkl we collected spores from a mushroom:

Monday, 26 October 2020

Project 155: Light and Space

After the children enjoyed Project 146: A Wrinkle in Time we thought it would be a good idea to look at some theories about light and space a bit more closely. Although we have done projects on light (see Project 107: Light) and space (see Project 8: Space and the Planets) previously, this was a project more about our understanding of space and light, and the change brought about by Einstein's theory of relativity. 

It was a project that made use of a lot of videos and a lot of books, although we did finish with a some practical gravitational experiments at the end of the week. 


There were a number of different strands to the week's work. 

1) We looked at the lives of Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein with two accessible biographies aimed at children: Isaac Newton; The scientist who changed everything, and Albert Einstein. As well as an online BBC introduction to Einstein

2) We explored the theory of relativity and some of its unexpected behaviours as you near the speed of light with The Time and Space of Uncle Albertmultiple online videos, and the classic 1980s film The Flight of the Navigator.

3) We explored alternative perspectives on higher dimensions with Edwin Abbott's classic Flatlands.

4) And finally we read about, and did some simple experiments on, our more usual experience of gravity with Usborne's Junior Illustrated Science Dictionary and 100 Science Experiments

In the back of The Time and Space of Uncle Albert there was a quiz on the theory of relativity, and the  children's combined efforts achieved a score of 15 out of 18, so we can rest assured they picked up something over the week. Obviously with children aged 4, 6, and 7, we don't expect them to remember everything, or come up with a theory of everything, but we do like to put certain ideas and concepts on their radar for future reference.

Next project: Mushrooms and Fungi. 


Monday, 19 October 2020

Project 154: More Board Games

 Like a lot of people we've ended up with far more board games than we generally have time to play, so we decided to have a week of playing board games. We last had a board game project back in Solomon's first year of home education (see Project 32: Board games), so it was a good opportunity to introduce some games to Sam, and hopefully clear the cupboards of some of the most childish games. In the end, however, the project stretched over two weeks, we still didn't have time to play all the games we wanted, and only managed to persuade the children to give one game to the local charity shop. 

Week 1

We set off at at good pace in the first week, and managed to play 41 different games, from simple snap card games suitable for everyone to more complicated strategy suitable only for the big two. 

  1. Mousetrap
  2. Tummy Ache
  3. Mr Men Card Game
  4. Guess Who
  5. Snap (animals)
  6. Snap (numbers)
  7. Dominoes
  8. Hare & Tortoise
  9. Operation
  10. Pass the Word
  11. Frozen Memory Game
  12. Paddington
  13. Rummikub
  14. Pass the Pigs
  15. Memoir '44
  16. Rockin' Robot
  17. Wall Game
  18. Junior Scrabble
  19. Upwords
  20. Destination Norwich
  21. Mastermind
  22. Pop Up Pirate
  23. Connect 4 Flip
  24. Monkey Business 
  25. Picture Tri-onimoes
  26. Don't Rock the Boat
  27. Countdown
  28. Where is Moldova?
  29. Frozen Labyrinth
  30. London Underground Game
  31. Top Trumps (Marvel)
  32. Monopoly (Despicable Me)
  33. Ants in the Pants
  34. Spinergy
  35. Around the World in 80 Days
  36. Timeline
  37. Hungry Hippos
  38. Dobble
  39. Ticket to Ride First Journey
  40. Catan
  41. Mario Match



Week 2
We found we couldn't quite keep up the pace in the second week, and only managed to play another 28 different games, partly due to playing pandemic three times. 
  1. Shopping List
  2. Mario Monopoly
  3. Carcassonne
  4. Snakes & Ladders
  5. Pandemic
  6. Kerplunk
  7. Picture Lotto
  8. Scotland Yard Jnr.
  9. Tell the Time
  10. Backgammon
  11. Loopin' Chewie
  12. Stratego
  13. Fortnite Monopoly
  14. Ramses Pyramid
  15. Downfall
  16. Staying Alive
  17. Scrabble
  18. Ticket to Ride
  19. Robochamp
  20. 3 in a Row
  21. Flag Dominoes
  22. Cubeword
  23. Boss Monster
  24. Bugs in the Kitchen
  25. Othello
  26. The Peterborough Game
  27. Risk
  28. Subma-Fight



Pandemic was the only game we bought specifically for the project, and everyone enjoyed it. We think Monica was particularly attracted to the collaborative nature of the game, rather than having to face the competitive nature of her older brother, so we'll definitely look out for more collaborative games in the future. 

The children were asked to pick their favourite top 3 games out of the 69 played over the two weeks.

Monica's top 3:
  1. Frozen Labyrinth
  2. Mastermind
  3. Monkey Business*
(* mostly picked because this one was designated for donating to the charity shop)

Sam's top 3: 
  1. Risk*
  2. Subma-Fight 
  3. Marvel Top Trumps
(* also Solomon's favourite pick during the first board game project)

Solomon's top 3: 
  1. Pandemic
  2. Subma-Fight
  3. Memoir '44
Subma-Fight, picked by both of the boys, is a 2-player submarine strategy game that Solomon designed for his mum's birthday; it was high praise for Pandemic to knock Subma-Fight off the top spot. The Peterborough Game is another game you won't find in the shops, a game from 1992 that we picked up in the local charity shop; it actually turned out to be an interesting game with some novel elements, although it's a bit tricky to win, so now mostly being kept for historical reasons. 

Next week: Light and Space

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Project 153: Stuart Little

Our first book project of the school year was picked because it was suitable for all the children, from the youngest to the eldest, and they'd all enjoyed the author's work previously (see also Charlotte's Web). 

Most of the week was spent reading the book and watching the three films (Stuart Little 3 was on Amazon Prime).


As a small craft activity the children created their own little mice on sticks.



We also spent some time learning about mice and mouse-like creatures. Solomon particularly liked the sound of the grasshopper mouse, while Monica pointed out that jerboa appeared in Into the Jungle, so we read that section of that book too. 


Next project: More Board Games