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.
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:
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.
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'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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.