Sunday 25 February 2018

Project 23: Ancient Egypt

We started the week with a home education workshop at the Puppet Theatre in Norwich. The theme was ancient worlds and Solomon decided to make a puppet of an Egyptian king, which decided the specific ancient world for the rest of the week's project.

It's the second Puppet Theatre workshop Solomon has attended (see also Project 10: Puppets and Theatre), and he's really enjoyed it both times.
Egyptian king puppet
We watched a selection of videos about Ancient Egypt on the BBC Teach YouTube channel, and the Prince of Egypt on Netflix. The Horrible Histories Awful Egyptians sticker activity book was one of the most popular sticker books Solomon has had, and he also liked Terry Deary's The Phantom of the Nile which he sped through in one sitting (although it's only 64 pages, so it didn't last long!) and we started the classic Horrible Histories Awesome Egyptians

All three kids made their own Egyptian headdresses, and had a go with some hieroglyphic stamps (bought on a previous trip to the British Museum).
Solomon's Egyptian headdress

Hieroglyphic stamps 
Finally, we finished the week with a trip to the British Museum to look at the Rosetta Stone and some actual mummies. We're lucky that the British Museum is only an hour away on the train, but you inevitably spend too much money in the museum shop and Solomon was disappointed that the mummies' bandages weren't generally as distinct as they tend to be in book illustrations.
Some mummies at the British Museum
As can be expected for a civilisation that lasted over 3,000 years - we will have to return to the topic in the future!

Next week's project: World Book Day and the Wizard of Oz

Sunday 18 February 2018

Project 22: More programming in Scratch!

Half-term meant an extremely busy social calendar this week, so we took the opportunity to do some more programming in Scratch rather than a big standalone project.

We continued where we'd left off with in December (Programming in Scratch!) using Usborne's Coding for Beginners using Scratch, and Solomon was soon back up to speed. Particularly nice this week was the fact that Solomon started to create his own sprites (both bitmaps and vector images).
Solomon's Sprites
We plan to use Solomon's interest in computer programming and designing sprites to get him to draw more in the future.

Next week's project: An Ancient World!

Monday 12 February 2018

Project 21: Writing a short story

Project 21 was all about writing a short story, for BBC Radio 2's annual 500 words competition.

We started the week by exploring the elements of the story, creating our own stories using Rory's Story Cubes (the actions set and the Moomins set), and watched the BBC Live Lesson 500 Words whilst doing the accompanying worksheets.
Rory's Story Cubes

Solomon then wrote, and worked on, his own story for the rest of the week: Solomon, the Desert, and the Librarian.

Version 1 was short and to the point:
Solomon was exploring a desert and found loads of books. He tries to eat them all. But it takes a long time. And there’s a rock librarian chasing after him. So he runs away. 
Although by Version 4 it had filled out a lot more:
Solomon was exploring a desert and found loads of books. He was hungry so he tried to eat them all. He ate the first one, and it tasted good because it was a recipe book with recipes for sweets. He ate a second book, but it tasted of poo, because it was a book about different types of poo, so he didn’t like it. He ate a third book, and that was another recipe book for cakes. He ate it, but it made him poorly because two recipe books in one day are too much.
But it takes a long time to eat books, and just then Solomon heard a noise. A rolling noise. It turns out it is a rock librarian chasing after him. He knows it’s a librarian because the rock has got headphones on made out of books.
So Solomon runs away and the librarian throws books at him whilst rolling towards him. One of the books is a blank book, but that’s no use so Solomon throws it at the rock librarian and it makes him bash into the sand. One of the books was about feathers, but that was no use because it just tickled Solomon’s nose. So he threw that back at the librarian. One of the books was about how to use glue and Solomon caught it. Solomon runs off around the corner and the librarian keeps rolling forwards the wrong way.
Around the corner there is a little wooden hut. Solomon munches the glue book to get the information and so makes some glue in the little wooden hut. Solomon runs back out and pours the glue onto the sand, the rock librarian rolls into it and gets stuck! The rock librarian can’t roll anymore and so Solomon grabs more books to eat and runs away.
Books can be very useful, and very tasty, but some taste of poo.
It was an enjoyable project, and Solomon was enthusiastic about returning to the story again and again. We did have to work hard to dissuade him from setting everything in the world of Mario Odyssey and populating it with a host of other computer game characters, but I guess most five year olds have a limited understanding of the intellectual property rights associated with fan fiction!

Next week's project: More programming in Scratch!

Tuesday 6 February 2018

Project 20: Local Wildlife and Birds

The local wildlife and birds project was spread over two weeks in the end (22nd Jan - 4th Feb) as we had a few days away in York half way through.

We started with some videos (, and worksheets about food webs, and went into the local museum to see their exhibit on urban, woodland, and wetland wildlife.
Urban exhibit at Peterborough Museum
We followed the Wildlife Trust's instructions on how to make your own birdfeeder, and hung them in the garden to entice the birds in for the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch. We watched the garden for an hour and saw a total of one measly pigeon!
Birdfeeder Fat Balls

The second week coincided with BBC's Winterwatch, which was a great way to introduce the children to the variety of wildlife that can be found around the country. We also went on a couple of nature walks in the local area, firstly around Woodston Ponds and then around Ferry Meadows using some of the Nene Park Trust's worksheets. The bird hide was a particularly big hit, especially after the measly returns from the big garden birdwatch.
Woodston Ponds

View from the bird hide at Ferry Meadows

Finally, we finished the project by making the RSPB's food chain mobile of an owl, a mouse, and a nut.

Food chain mobile

Next Week: Writing a short story.