Thursday, 20 November 2014

Evacuee Workshop

It's been a full-on week this week with a Home ed groups every day. Monday, The Girl went bowling with the new teen group; Tuesday, we went to Bankfield Museum in Halifax to do an evacuee workshop; Wednesday was our local HE games group; today was Ninjas and tomorrow we will go to our last film of the Into Film Festival. I think next week will be a bit quieter and I'm planning for them to do some actual written work. Boykin has mostly spent his time playing out or making games and animations on Scratch when he has been at home this week. The Girl has mostly been sleeping (as teenagers do), listening to music, drawing and making games on Scratch.

The evacuee workshop was fun. I think it is the fourth one we have done over the years and each one has been different. As a family, we enjoy dressing up and they both enjoy the role-play aspect of these types of events. Not only did we all go in costume, we even packed a 1940s wartime lunch in a proper picnic basket. I did cheat a little and put a piece of cake in our basket because I decided that if my children were being evacuated, I'd use the whole weeks sugar ration to make sure they had a good feed on the train :)

The session was divided into two parts. The first part of the morning they looked at what an evacuee might pack and had a chance to try on some of the clothes. They also had to be inspected and receive their billets.  My children were going to work with a barber and they sent a postcard 'home' to let me know and also to tell me that Boykin had been sick on the train ;)

They also got to look at the kinds of toys that children in the 1940s would have played with. I was quite surprised to see Boykin's hand up insistently to look at the wooden spitfire. I hadn't realised that he liked planes quite so much. We also listened to a short section of The Children's Hour and learnt the song "Run Rabbit Run".

The next part of the session took place upstairs with an Air Raid Warden who showed them how to use a gas mask and what to do in the blackout. They were given the opportunity to handle gas masks, headlight covers and shrapnel. There were four stations with different activities to do on each. They all had a go at building a Morrison Shelter; working in the hospital; trying on Home Guard uniforms and investigating Fire brigade equipment. The ARP showed them how a stirrup pump worked and got them to form a human chain to put out a fire.

We went back downstairs just in time for the air raid siren when we all got taken to the dark air raid shelter where we had a sing-song with a rather out-of-tune rendition of "Run Rabbit Run" :)

This was definitely one of the better evacuee workshops we have been on and I was reassured by The Girl's knowledge of all things Home Front. It shows that our rather haphazard style of studying history is working and that not only is she learning stuff, but that she is also retaining the information. We first visited World War 2 in a deliberate way when she was only 4 with one of our very early local HE group themed sessions. It's very much been an ongoing topic that looks to have no end in sight.

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Saturday, 15 November 2014

Bingo maths

Bingo is a great game used in all kind of learning. We've used it for learning foreign languages; shape and number identification; letter recognition; matching words and pictures as an early reading game; we've even got an Animal Soundtracks version.

My children often want to play maths related games instead of doing their workbooks - especially for what they call Friday fun maths. They can be quite inventive sometimes :)

The Girl came up with a great way to play Bingo. We have a basic set with a pretty large selection of cards. We played a few times coming up with several variations.

The basic premise is to cover the numbers on your bingo board. The caller draws numbers from a bag and the other players cover that number if it's on their Bingo card. The caller also covers the number on his Caller Board to keep track of what has been called and to check when someone shouts Bingo!

The Girl put only the numbers 1 - 12 into the pot to be drawn. She then pulled out 2 numbers which we had to multiply together. The product was then the 'called' number. As we continued playing, we extended our equations to include addition, subtraction and division so that we could get all the numbers on the caller's board. It worked pretty well :)

You can buy a print-and-play version of The Girl's game with full instructions for variations and extension activities here.


Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Maths Manipulatives - Pattern Blocks

We have a nice large set of sturdy, wooden, pattern blocks that Boykin got for his birthday one year, probably when he was about 2 or 3. (Thanks Mum :D) The shapes in our set are hexagon, equilateral triangle, two sizes of parallelogram, square and trapezium. Did you know that in America they call the trapezium a trapezoid?

They have been very well used over the years. When we were doing workboxes, they appeared quite regularly along with a selection of printouts for Boykin to make pictures on. I put the printouts in a clear plastic A4 page protector, changing the top one so that he had different patterns to work with each time. He simply placed the pattern blocks on top of the page protector which helped make the printouts more durable, so durable that they are still perfectly usable 5 years later :)

We've used them to explore symmetry, both by looking at the shapes themselves and by creating symmetrical patterns.

This is what we got when we played the symmetry version of game 3 below.
We've used them to create and explore repeating patterns and sequences as well as using them to explore shape, area and angles.

The blocks have been used as building bricks, and even glued together to make a sculpture.

And, of course, we have used them to explore tessellation. There's something so satisfying about creating a pattern from just a small selection of shapes that could go on into infinity, if only we had enough tiles :) They came in very useful for the maths activities in Picture Book Explorers - The Mousehole Cat.

Yesterday, the Girl came up with the idea for a game, which we have further developed today giving us two or three variations. What other variations can you come up with?

Game 1:
Start by placing a hexagon on the table.
Take it in turns to draw a shape from the box without looking or trying to identify the shape by feeling.
Place the shape on the table so that it touches at least one other shape on the table.
How big a pattern can you create with no gaps?

Game 2:
Follow the instructions given for game 1.
The variation is that you have to keep a running total of the sum of the internal angles of the shapes as you place them.
For instance, there is a triangle and a square on the table. Their sum of their internal angles is 180 degrees and 360 degrees respectively. This gives a total of 540 degrees.
Younger children could add together the number of angles/sides.
Useful information:
The internal angles of a triangle = 180 degrees.
The internal angles of a quadrilateral = 360 degrees.
The internal angles of a hexagon = 720 degrees.

Game 3: The most popular version in our house.
You will also need two different colour dice - we used red and white.
There are 6 different shapes in our set, so we gave each one of them a different numerical value.
The white dice determines the shape to be used and the red dice determines the number of that shape to be used.
For instance, using the picture below, a white 6 and a red 5 have been thrown. The hexagon is number 6. Therefore, 5 hexagons would be added to the pattern being built.
Take it in turns to roll the dice and build the pattern.
To make it more challenging, try working together to keep the pattern as symmetrical as possible.

Other Pattern Block Activities:
Click on Pattern Block Pictures at Kelly's Kindergarten
Ideas for using pattern blocks to explore shape from Scholastic
More pattern block printables from ABCTeach - not all are free
Online pattern block activity at Math Playground
Game and sequence pattern printables at the end of this post from Confessions of a Homeschooler
Using pattern blocks to explore fractions
Pattern blocks matching game
Exploring tessellation

Friday, 24 October 2014

Don't Forget the Discount!

That was the subject heading on an email I received today :) You may remember I posted about Picstick photo magnets about a month ago?
Well, the discount code WEATHER25 is only valid until November 5th 2014. Don't forget to use it to get 25% off at the checkout at Picstick

Monday, 13 October 2014

Round Up the Week

It was a very busy week last week, and seemed to involve lots of film related stuff. Strange that, cos it's not even the Into Film Festival for another month :)

We started Monday by going to see Ten Pieces at the cinema. It's a BBC film aimed at KS2, designed to get them to engage with classical music. My children very much enjoyed it and we had some debate over whether or not the final modern piece was really music at all, with Boykin being of the opinion  that it was really dance. In the afternoon we came home and played Agricola for a couple of hours before they had to get ready for cubs and drama.

Tuesday we went to see some filming that was happening in our area. The film is a full-length feature with stars like Liam Neeson and Sigourney Weaver in it. (Not that we saw either of them). It was really interesting to see how many people were involved and how many times the same scene had to be filmed from different angles. It's made us all watch films in a different way now. One of the other onlookers likened it to Groundhog Day. Consequently, we came home, lit a fire, made big mugs of hot chocolate and sat down to watch Groundhog Day. I'd forgotten how much I liked that film and it lead to more interesting discussions as to why the main character had to keep repeating the same day; what changed within him; what would it be like to get so many chances to achieve the perfect day; and which day would you change.

Unfortunately amongst all that, I forgot that we were supposed to be at book group. Sad to say, we missed it. Sorry folks :(

Wednesday was our local themed group. The theme this month was Time & Clocks. The activities on offer were: make a paper plate clock; make a lemon clock; make a water clock; make a timeline of time and clocks; play some time related games; estimate a minute; design a time machine and write a story about it.

Thursday Boykin went to Parkour and they both went to Ninjas. In the afternoon, we delivered the Harvest festival donations to the local food bank before The Girl had a singing lesson. Boykin then went to dancing whilst The Girl went to choir and we all spent the rest of the evening visiting my eldest son and his girlfriend :) That was a busy day, that was!

Friday was a pyjama day :) We did stuff at home. All day. They did maths, biology, handwriting, made chocolate croissants and drank hot chocolate. And I read to them. A lovely relaxed HE day at home :) Until The Girl went to scouts that is.

Saturday we went to play in the woods with my brother and his children where they climbed trees and swung from ropes while we drank tea brewed in a Kelly Kettle. I love Kelly Kettles :) And then The Girl went litter picking with scouts at a local music festival.

Sunday was church, a bit more of the music festival, games with friends and hot baths, warm fires and a film.  

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Panda Drinks Review

We were offered the opportunity to review a  range of still drinks from Panda, a brand I associate with brightly coloured fizzy pop and blue tongues. I had no idea that they produced anything else and was curious. My kids were pleased to receive the drinks and very much enjoyed testing and reviewing them :)

The bottles are a handy size, small enough to fit in a lunch bag, handbag or the little side mesh pocket on a child's rucksack. We do quite a bit of walking and I like my children to carry their own drinks, so the small sized bottles make this easier for them. I also quite like the flip tops rather than the push-up-and-down tops, which invariably lose their plastic lids and are, I think, a little less hygienic.

We received two samples from each of the two different ranges - the juice drink range and the Panda Splash range, which is flavoured water. Both ranges are made with only natural fruit flavours and they contain no added sugar and no artificial colours.

My children really enjoyed the drinks. Words they used to describe the Panda Juice drinks were sticky, sweet, syruppy and yummy. The Girl preferred the Raspberry flavour and Boykin preferred the Blackcurrant flavour. Personally, I preferred the Raspberry flavour because it did actually taste of raspberries (not that the blackcurrant didn't taste of blackcurrants though). However, I was put off by the very obvious taste of sweeteners which I really don't like. When I buy bottles of dilute juice, I usually go for the 'sugar' version rather than the 'no sugar' version because of this.

In the Panda Splash range, we were given Blackcurrant and Orange & Pineapple flavoured waters to try. Again, my children liked them, with Boykin preferring the blackcurrant and The Girl preferring the Orange & Pineapple :) Words they used to describe theses drinks were very sweet, quite nice, tastes of orange and sweeteners. Apparently they like the taste of sweeteners and so this doesn't put them off at all. I found the flavoured waters much more refreshing than the juice drinks, although overall the Raspberry juice drink was my favourite - despite the sweeteners.

Oh, and I'm very sorry for not being able to show you the actual product. The package got returned to the Post Office, so we had to go and pick it up and we drank them on the way home :)

You can follow Panda Drinks on Twitter and on Facebook

Disclaimer: I received 4 bottles of Panda drinks at no cost so that I could give you an honest review. No money changed hands for these opinions, which are entirely my own....and my children's.