Sunday 19 December 2021

Project 209: Weapons

Solomon picked this project as it was the week of his birthday. 

They learnt about how weapons had changed over time with a very detailed The Military History Book and some YouTube videos:

They built a working trebuchet using instructions from Historic Environment Scotland:

They learnt about the Gunpowder Plot with some Twinkl worksheets, and created their own firework scratch paper:

We finished the week with the children's first trip to laser tag, which they all enjoyed!

Next project: Drawing

Project 208: Hibernation

 As we wanted a project with a bit of an autumnal theme we decided to learn about hibernation.

Along with the usual Twinkl worksheets, they did a hibernation picture:

Built a bird box at a Ferry Meadows workshop:

And visited Lattersey Nature Reserve, which we hadn't visited before:

Next Project: Weapons

Project 207: The Human Body

As we were all locked down for a second project with Covid-19, we decided to study the human body. With the help of a few books, Operation Ouch!, and a lot of Twinkl sheets we explored the main organs of the body, muscles and skeleton, and some of the systems of the body. 

Along with other worksheets, they built a heart model

They made blood slime:

And Solomon even made a Lego model with internal body parts: 

Next Project: Hibernation

Sunday 28 November 2021

Project 206: Plundering Paradise

Unfortunately we returned from the North East with Covid-19, so we were necessarily confined to the house for the next project and just decided to read through Plundering Paradise by Geraldine McCaughrean (an author we have previously used for Project 115: Christmas and The Pilgrim's Progress, Project 125: World Book Day and 1,001 Nights, Project 157: Knights and Fantasy). 

It's a story about pirates, morality, and the island of Madagascar. As well as reading the book they did various Twinkl worksheets on Madagascar and its wildlife, and recovered from Covid with the three Madagascar films: 

Next project: The Human Body

Project 205: Lighthouses

 As a trip to the North East was planned, we decided to learn about lighthouses with a visit to two: Roker Lighthouse, and Souter Lighthouse. While Roker Lighthouse can only be viewed from the outside, there was a guided tour around Souter Lighthouse which incorporates a museum. 

The children also did some differentiated reading about lighthouses, and made a lighthouse model.

Next project: Plundering Paradise

Project 204: Spain

 As Lidl were having an Iberian Peninsula event, we decided to do a project on Spain, overlapping with some of the previous projects (e.g., Project 94: Sir Francis Drake and Project 149: Don Quixote).

As well as trying some Spanish food (unsurprisingly churros were more popular than gazpacho!) and learning about Spain, they learned about the Spanish Armada, Christopher Columbus, and Salvador Dali using lots of  worksheets and resources from Twinkl. 

We also watched three films with a Spanish theme: Ferdinand, The Road to El Dorado, and the less well-known Spanish animation Donkey Xote: 

Next Project: Lighthouses

Sunday 26 September 2021

Programming 203: Programming with Game Builder Garage

We're always trying to find innovative ways of introducing programming concepts to the kids (see Project 190: Turing Tumble and Programming), and this week's project made use of Nintendo's Game Builder  Garage, a way to create your own games on the Switch. 

It's a 'blocks' programming language and as the eldest two (aged 7 and 8) are already programming in Python it might be considered a bit of a backwards step, but it nonetheless gave them the opportunity to solidify programming concepts and get a bit more creative. The main thing is, they all really enjoyed it. 

Next project: Spain

Project 202: Rivers

Following on from the success of the previous week's fishing project we decided to continue with the riparian theme and have a project on rivers. 

We went through a very comprehensive introduction to rivers book from the library, and did a Rivers reading comprehension from Twinkl. The book also included a number of activities to try, and we attempted to build a dam, although it turned out to be trickier than we imagined!

We also had our first family fishing trip, although unlike the previous week, it poured with rain and we didn't manage to catch anything!
Nonetheless the licence and local club membership last for a year, so we'll be trying again!

Next Project: Programming with Game Builder Garage

Project 201: Fishing!

This week's project was selected because we had signed up for a fishing session from the Canal and Rivers Trust

We started the week with a closer look at fish, reading, watching videos, and doing some Twinkl worksheets about parts of the fish.:

The first of two fishing trips this week was to a local stream where we could catch some minnows with nets:

The big event of the week, however was the children's first rod fishing experience, at one of the Hampton lakes:

The children all loved the experience. They all caught lots of fish, although Monica caught the most with 33 in 50 minutes! They held fish and maggots, and all expressed the desire to do it again. 

Next project: Rivers. 

Project 200: Cats!

 As it was another week with lots of meet-ups we needed to have another focused project, so we picked the film Cats! as there were appropriate resources at Into Film

As well as watching the film, we read the book and explored some of the more difficult words:

Finally the children made some wanted posters for Macavity.

Next Project: Fishing! 

Project 199: Little Lord Fauntleroy

Little Lord Fauntleroy is a name that is often taken in vain, but was a story we didn't know. We picked a book project, as it was a very busy week with lots of meet-ups and trips planned, and we wanted to make sure we didn't pick a project that got overlooked. 

It was a really enjoyable story, and Little Lord Fauntleroy is a much nicer character than you would expect. 

Next project: Cats!

Project 198: Magic!

It was a bit of a left-field suggestion for this week's project, but Solomon suggested 'Magic' and we decided to go with it. 

As their mother was away for the first half of the week (it was August - we're a bit behind with the blogposts!), the children were tasked with putting on a magic show for her return using an old magic set from the back of the cupboard.

It was definitely not a high quality magic set, but the children managed to put together sufficient tricks to put on a good show: card tricks, mind reading, and even pulling a rabbit out of a hat! It was a good opportunity for them to practice some less 'academic' skills. 

They also learnt about magic more broadly with videos and the Children's Book of Magic, which included both more tricks (e.g., 'cutting a person in half'') and a history of magic and some of the most famous magicians.

Next project: Little Lord Fauntleroy

Wednesday 18 August 2021

Project 197: The Bible

As this week coincided with the Virtual Sunday School Holiday Club, and a camping trip to Worcester for the live event, there wasn't much opportunity to incorporate a totally unrelated project, so we decided to have the bible as the project. 

We started the week by giving the children a presentation on the bible, what it tells us, and how it was put together. This incorporated a number of videos from The Bible Project.

We also bought Portals and Prophets (which we had to get imported from America) which helps players place the biblical events geographically and historically. We're big fans of board games in our family, and this one turned out to be a very enjoyable board game, with good game play 

The Virtual Holiday Club was (loosely) based on Paul being shipwrecked on Malta, and there were lots of crafts to do throughout the week, from making musical instruments to creating a desert island. For the children, however, the highlight was seeing the filming of the show live, and watching the presenters get gunged. 
Most fortuitously from the perspective of the project, Monica even won a new bible from one of the Virtual Holiday Club competitions, and has already rattled her way through Genesis! 

As The Bible was this week's project, it seems appropriate to include our Sunday School craft for once (which we think is a good one), a Lego diorama of Jesus and the paralytic man.

Next project: Magic!

Project 196: The Moon

This project was inspired by a moon installation and current activities at Peterborough Cathedral: One Small Step

We started the week by reading about the moon, and the solar system more broadly, and learning about the phases of the moon with a Twinkl worksheet. 

There were a number of activities at the cathedral to coincide with a large art installation of the moon that people could walk on. At the One Giant Leap event the children were told about the moon landing and had to design a mission badge. There were activities on communication, and how difficult it is to do things in space, and it finished with a teddy bear parachute jump back to earth.  There was also a Safe in Space show run by the Cambridge Science Centre that explored how rockets get off the ground and into space and what materials space suits and rockets are made of to keep people safe.

Next project: The Bible

Project 195: Butterflies

Although three nature projects in a row was a bit over-the-top, the idea for a butterfly project coincided with the Big Butterfly Count and it was the right time of the year for releasing our own butterflies. 

The kids learned about the life-cycle of a butterfly with a Twinkl worksheet and a BBC video, before going on their own butterfly hunt. They spotted four different butterflies altogether: small whites, ringlets, gatekeepers, and red admirals.
The highlight of the week (and the following couple of weeks) was rearing our own Painted Lady butterflies from some caterpillars bought from Insect Lore. They send a cup with tiny caterpillars and their food in, and within a week they had grown significantly before turning into chrysalides. It then took another week for them to hatch before being released. 

Our craft activity for the week was some butterfly prints:

Next project: The Moon

Project 194: Owls

Sam has been wanting to do a project on owls since he first started home education, and with the ease in Covid restrictions, and the nice weather, it seemed a good opportunity to visit Baytree Owl & Wildlife Centre.

The only downside to the day was that it was a bit too hot and it was mainly all outside. Nonetheless the children all had a great time and learned lots about different owls and their habits. There were lots of other birds of prey there too, and they saw a falconry display, which was very engaging and informative.

We also bought an owl pellet for dissection, as owls regurgitate parts of their dinner that they cannot digest such as bones and fur. We extracted the rodent bones (which the children enjoyed trying to identify) so that we could rearrange them into a skeleton.

We watched the film Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, which the children all enjoyed, and Solomon is particularly keen on reading the series of books.

As always, we like to finish the week with a craft: 

Next project: Butterflies

Project 193: Reptiles

As we had a home education trip to Johnson's of Old Hurst organized, as well as a family trip to see Dippy at Norwich Cathedral, 'Reptiles' seemed to be an appropriate project to bring the two trips together.

Viewing Dippy itself didn't take that long, but there were a few other activities to do around the cathedral, and the children enjoyed it. There was also a dinosaur trail around Norwich:

Johnson's of Old Hurst is a bit of a local curiosity, combining a butchers and crocodile farm, alongside a shop, restaurant, woodland walk, play area and a selection of other animals. The children all enjoyed the opportunity to hold a tortoise and touch a snake, along with hearing a talk on meerkats and feeding the donkeys:

We finished the week with some reptile crafts:

Next project: Owls

Sunday 18 July 2021

Project 192: The Indian in the Cupboard

With family members visiting we thought it'd be good to do a book project, as that ensures the project can't get totally overlooked. We chose The Indian in the Cupboard as it seemed a nice follow-up to the last book project we'd had (see Project 186: The Borrowers) with plenty of opportunity for additional activities.

In addition to reading the book, there was a suggested activity in the back of the book to create a native American style hand print artwork. We also got them to write their own stories, imagining one of their toys coming to life. 

They went to see the local 'totem pole'.

And finally watched the film adaptation of the book.

Next project: Reptiles

Project 191: Home economics

As lockdown restrictions started to lift, and visitors started visiting, it was time for a (late) spring clean and to get the children more involved in helping out around the house with some cleaning, weeding, and more cooking. 

As well as the usual cooking activities....

... we wanted the children to think more about the costs of things, and they were each given the task of coming up with a family meal with £10 at the local Lidl.

They also had to create their own menus. 

Taking responsibility for one of the family meals turned out to be a very popular activity, and they'll now take it in turns to go shopping for one meal each week. 

Next project: The Indian in the Cupboard

Sunday 27 June 2021

Project 190: Turing Tumble and Programming

Programming is one of those subjects the kids love when we do it, we always claim we are going to do more of it, but it inevitably gets pushed to one side. So after coming across Turning Tumble, an introduction to programming with ball bearings and switches, it seemed a good opportunity to revisit the topic. 

The children enjoyed the Turing Tumble, while the early puzzles are quite simple, they quickly become challenging and require plenty of thought and team work. They particularly enjoyed the binary calculator (although the instruction book would have benefitted from a more extensive introduction to binary).

We also include some more traditional programming, with Solomon continuing with Python, Monica finishing off her Scratch books and starting Python, and Sam starting on Scratch Jnr.

Next project: Home economics.