Sunday 26 August 2018

Project 48: Puzzles!

This week we looked at some of the wide variety of puzzles that are available for testing a person's mental agility: from Sudukos  and Crosswords, through to standalone puzzles, to the Rubik's family of puzzles.

A selection of puzzles

Solomon enjoyed most of the puzzles, although the difficulty is finding that 'Goldilocks' puzzle: one that's not too hard, not too easy, but just right. As Solomon commented on the Rubik's puzzles: "the Rubik's Junior is too easy and the others are too hard". Solomon has a lot of patience when it comes to puzzles however, and he has been regularly proposing solutions to a chess puzzle that has been set up throughout the week. Most impressively, he hasn't been tempted to look the solution up in the back of the book, in fact he was disappointed in his father's recourse to the internet for a solution to the Rubik's cube.

Solomon created his own wordsearch and crossword puzzle, incorporating those subjects that he is most interested in, i.e., computers games.
Minecraft Wordsearch & Mario Crossword

We also began to look forward to next week's project, and introduced the concepts of focused and diffused thinking when it comes to solving puzzles.

Next week's project: Learning how to learn - a year of Home Education!

Sunday 19 August 2018

Project 47: Astronauts and space flight

The Soyuz capsule that took Tim Peake into space is currently sitting in Peterborough Cathedral, so it would have been a bit churlish not to visit and make spaceflight the subject of this week's project. We previously did Project 8: Space and the Planets, but this week we looked a bit more closely  at spaceflight.

We watched What's Up In Space: The solar system for kids on Amazon Prime, and dipped into FindOut! Solar System to read about the history of the space race, manned spaceflight, and the International Space Station. We also watched the TED-Ed videos on Who Won the Space Race? and the Collaboration behind the International Space Station

We also looked at an overview of Tim Peake's mission, the rocket launch, and capsule landing, before finally seeing his capsule and spacesuit at the cathedral.

Soyuz Capsule
Tim Peake's Spacesuit
It was actually the second time we've seen the Soyuz capsule as it was at the National Railway Museum when we had a few days away in York in January, but despite our best efforts Solomon refuses to be inspired by the exploits of Tim Peake or SpaceCamp (which we also watched again).

Next week: Puzzles!

Sunday 12 August 2018

Project 46: Peter Pan

As we had a busy week of activities already planned for this week, we decided to have a book week: reading a classic of children's literature, and looking at how it had been interpreted in different films (similar to Project 24: World Book Day and the Wizard of Oz).

A few months ago the Carnegie medal winner Geraldine McCaughrean complained of the focus on children's book publishers being on creating 'accessible' books, saying instead children should be:
"...bombarded with words like gamma rays, steeped in words like pot plants stood in water, pelted with them like confetti, fed on them like Alphabetti spaghetti, given Hamlet’s last resort: ‘Words. Words. Words.’"
I think Peter Pan is the sort of book she had in mind (especially as she wrote a sequel!) - as it has plenty of new vocabulary and was a real push for us to get through in a busy week. It was a far cry from the Beast Quests that Solomon usually consumes if left to his own devices.

We watched two films: Peter Pan, and Pan. Solomon enjoyed them both, but particularly likes Pan, a far larger-than-life prequel.

Coincidentally, a trip to Knebworth House this week was also an opportunity to demonstrate how ingrained Peter Pan is in our culture, as there was a Neverland crocodile there.
Neverland Crocodile
No week is complete without at least a little craft activity, so this week we taught Solomon to make a paper hat!
A Peter Pan hat
Next week's project: Astronauts and space flight.

Sunday 5 August 2018

Project 45: The Weather

As the heatwave continues we decided to look a bit more closely at the topic of the weather this week. As we don't particularly watch live TV we had to start by watching a weather forecast, before going on to look at the water cycle, the climate, and climate change.

There are a wide range of videos available about the weather, from the History of the Met Office to Why we love the Shipping Forecast, as well as videos on different climates, climate change, and why we have different seasons.

The nice thing about the weather is there are also plenty of little experiments that you can do.We had bought a simple weather station in Maplin's closing down sale earlier in the year and took measurements throughout the week, and plan to do so on a weekly basis over the year to see how the weather changes.
Weather Station
It's a cheap weather station (currently £10.73 on Amazon) and you get what you pay for. The plant on the box is a bit misleading, as neither it nor the pictured bottle are part of the kit, and the wind speed meter is purely to help you gauge whether the wind is calm, light, breezy or strong, rather than a proper anemometer. Nonetheless, it's good enough for a 5 yr old learning a bit more about the weather.

To accompany the video on the water cycle from the Met Office, we also did the "It's raining inside" experiment from Science Projects: Weather. It's a simple experiment with some very hot water in a jug and a bag of ice resting on top. As the water vapour hits the bag it condenses and 'rains' back down.

Making rain inside

Science Projects: Weather has just ten experiments in total, and if I had a criticism it would be that it is a bit wordy, but if your kids are a bit older the additional information and suggested further reading would probably be useful.

We used the cloud spotting guide from the Met office to spot different types of cloud when we were out and about; although it's actually quite difficult for the novice spotter to distinguish between  a cirrocumulus and an altocumulus, and I'm not convinced we always got it right!

The weather also provides plenty of craft opportunities. Solomon created a picture of his favourite type of weather, and Monica created a weather dial to keep track of the day's weather.
Weather crafts

Next week's project: Peter Pan.