Monday 28 May 2018

Project 36: Poetry

As this week included a trip to the North East for a wedding, we decided to have a primarily paper-based project so we could take resources with us. We chose Poetry.

The start of the week included the usual TED-Ed videos and BBC Guides, looking at things like rhyming, alliteration, metaphors, what makes a poem a poem, and the poetic form:
Following on from the introduction to alliteration, we looked at a variety of tongue twisters, and followed a simple guide on how to write your own tongue twister. After which Solomon wrote his own tongue twiser:
Hungry Harry had a hot and hairy house, in the house Harry had a ho ho hula hoop.
The Poetry Society have an extensive collection of education resources. We worked through the guide to The Jumblies, watched an animated reading of the poem, and drew our own interpretation of the Jumblies:
Solomon's Jumblie

We also explored the Missing: Daisy poem in the Poetry Train booklet, with Solomon writing his own version about a missing parrot:

Anyone seen my parrot?
Small and red,
Blue and yellow,
Squawk the smelly parrot. 

She loves her babies,
She likes her cage,
She hates her poos.

Anyone seen my parrot?...

I miss her talks,
I miss her squawks,
I miss her lovely feathers.

Anyone seen my parrot?...

Next week's project: Metals

Sunday 20 May 2018

Project 35: Biology

This week's project made use of another one of the science sets we bought in Maplin's closing down sale (see earlier Electricity Master Lab), the Thames & Kosmos Kids First Biology Lab:
The lab is primarily a microscope, instruction booklet, blank slides and the tools you need to prepare slides. If I had one criticism of the set, it would be the limited number of pre-prepared slides; there's just the one with a sample of wool, silk, and cotton threads. Preparing slides is quite tricky, so it would be nice if there were a few more to look at.

As Solomon was covered in chickenpox we started the week with some Ted-Ed videos on cells and viruses, and how the immune system works. We then watched a video on microscopy and did a number of the suggested experiments, including:

Looking at some cells from a human mouth:
Daughter's cheek cells
and comparing bacon fat and meat:
Bacon fat (left), bacon meat (right)
We finished the week by watching a video about DNA, and did an experiment from Usborne's 100 Science Experiments to extract the DNA from an onion using washing up liquid, salt, and surgical spirits.
Equipment for extracting onion DNA
Next week's project: Poetry

Monday 14 May 2018

Project 34: Dictionaries

Dictionaries were chosen as this week's project for a couple of reasons: 1) Solomon is at an age where he needs to start looking up spellings for himself, and 2) having been stuck inside for a week with chickenpox we wanted something with a nice trip out, and Dr Johnson's London house is easily accessible by train. Unfortunately, whilst the dictionary section of the work went well, two more of the children got chickenpox, so there was no big trip out.

We started the week with a trip to town, and Solomon picked his first dictionary, The Usborne Junior Illustrated English Dictionary. There was a good selection of dictionaries in the local Waterstones, with illustrated versions from Collins, Oxford and Usborne, each of which had versions for different age ranges. The Junior Illustrated version is aimed at ages seven to eleven, defines over 6,000 words, has 650 illustrations, and a selection of spelling tips and word origins scattered throughout. It's a nice accessible dictionary, and after watching What is a dictionary? Solomon practised looking up a random selection of different words. We also compared his new dictionary to some of the other dictionaries we have: Oxford Reference Dictionary,, Oxford Spanish Minidictionary, and a Dictionary of Trade Name Origins. 

We watched a video on where new words come from:

And after watching the video we got Solomon to create three new words, based on the three ways identified in the video. Solomon's words: 
  1. Dance-prance
    To describe when his sister is putting on one of her shows.
  2. Potnot
    To describe when his brother sits on the potty and doesn’t wee or poo.
  3. Krankgan
    To describe when you don’t want to play Minecraft when you’re feeling a bit poorly (derived from the German word Krank, meaning ill).
Similarly, we created a set of adjective and noun cards that could be put together to make new compound words, and discussed what the new words might means.
Cards for new compound words. 
We're not sure when we will get to Samuel Johnson's house, but as Solomon's dad is a bit of a Johnsonian, we undoubtedly will eventually and will update the blog post appropriately. 

Next week's project: Biology

Update 23/07/2018: We finally made it to Dr Johnson's house for Project 43: Museums.

Monday 7 May 2018

Project 33: Ancient Greece

Solomon chose Ancient Greece as this week's project as he wanted to re-read The Wooden Horse and there hadn't been time when he had previously asked. Obviously there's a lot more to ancient Greece than that, and whereas with the Egyptian project you felt a week was enough, with the Greeks you were left feeling you'd barely scratched the surface. We were housebound (due to a case of the chicken pox), so we mostly focused on reading and watching videos.

We already had Usborne's Greek Myths collection, with versions of The Odyssey, Perseus and the Gorgon, Hercules the World’s Strongest Man, The Minotaur and The Wooden Horse, and these have always been loved by the children. There is, after all, a very good reason why these stories have lasted so many thousands of years, and Usborne is without doubt our favourite children's publisher. We supplemented this with some additional books from the library and also bought the Usborne's Ancient Greeks from their beginner series. The Usborne book was good because although it was simple, it allowed Solomon to get an overview of ancient Greek life in a single sitting.

Most of the videos we watched were from the TED-Ed channel, which had a wide range of videos on ancient Greek life (e.g., Athenian, Spartan), myths (e.g., Prometheus, Midas), and of course the Olympics. Solomon's favourite TED-Ed video of the week was one we watched in conjunction with reading Hercules and watching Jason and the Argonauts: What makes a hero?:
Solomon was also given a choice of watching either Jason and the Argonauts or Disney's Hercules this week, and whilst we expected him to pick Hercules, his interest was piqued by the skeleton battle in the trailer for Jason... This also turned out to be his favourite part of the film. Even in today's world steeped in computer graphics, the stop motion animation sequences hold their own.

We also got them to design their own Greek vases, and as Thursday was the local elections in the U.K. we compared ancient Greece's version of democracy with the one we have today.
Greek vases
Next week's project: Dictionaries