Friday, 22 January 2010

Amaryllis Study 22nd January 2010

I love the bold amaryllis but a combination of forgetfulness, frugalness, toddlers, pets and lack of airing cupboard have put me off growing them for the last 13 years!  However last November I saw one for sale at just the right moment and managed to get it set up in the airing cupboard as just a bulb and a small dead-looking stump and this is what happened:

I moved it from the airing cupboard a couple of weeks ago and put it on top of the bathroom cabinet (where the cats can't get it!) and we now have 4 very arresting bright red flowers from one stem and the second stem is starting to blossom too.
As dd1 has croup and it is cold and raining outside Nature Study Friday is being held indoors!  So, under strict supervision and whilst the cats are blissfully sleeping I have brought the beautiful amaryllis downstairs for closer inspection.  We have observed that each flower has 6 petals and either 6 or 7 stamen with powdery pollen (some of which is still on the bathroom wall!).  We have looked at a very old, second-hand copy of The Usborne Complete First Book of Nature to learn the names of the parts of the flowers and then we drew them:

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Read the Bible in 90 days!!! 21st January 2010

I came across Read the Bible in 90 days recently and just knew this would be something I would never get out of the back of my mind if I didn't at least attempt it. 
I'm one of those types of people who wonders what they will regret not doing when on their death bed - sorry to be so morbid! - and the one thing that has remained at the top of the list year in, year out is not to have read the whole bible, so reading the bible in 90 days would certainly help me out in that department (God willing that I'm still around at the end of 90 days of course!).  I think I probably have read the whole bible over the years, just not cover to cover and as I can't be 100% certain, I really want to get it done for sure.  Now, going against me is that I am quite a slow reader, I don't have lots of spare time (who does?) and I am easily distracted and tempted by other seemingly more attractive tasks.  However, despite these hurdles I am going to go public about my intention to read the bible in 90 days and accept that I may make a fool of myself if I don't complete it - but making a fool of myself for Chirst is something I can live with.
I am going to listen to the lessons for each week (under Hear Weekly Lessons on the home page) as each week begins - I have already listened to week one and that was very helpful.  I have printed off the schedule on our rather ropey printer and found myself a notepad and a pen to jot down questions and interesting points so that they are all there at the end for further study rather than distracting me as I go along.  The website recommends using the NIV and I have thought about this a lot.  I used to find the NIV quite easy to read until I discovered the ESV at its publication time and since then has always been the bible I use by choice.  So right now, I think I am going to use my ESV as it suits me better and I want to give myself the best possible chance of completing this challenge.  Also I have a paperback copy of the ESV which is easier to carry around.
So, I am going to start on Sunday 24th January and aim to finish on Friday 23rd April.  If you would like to do this challenge with me around roughly the same dates then please let me know.  I would love to walk this road with a companion or two!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Castles Lapbooks 17th January 2010

We have FINALLY finished our Castles Lapbooks.  I was beginning to think we would never get there, but the day has come!  This project was chosen by the girls after several trips to Leeds Castle in Kent.  I wasn't really sure where to either begin or end with this project, but the size of a lapbook certainly helps with controlling such a big subject, especially with young children.  They would have liked the portcullises to actually go up and down on the lapbooks (and probably at Leeds Castle as well!), but I managed to persuade them to settle for a drawbridge with 'ropes'!
This is the website where I got the parts of the castle picture - we added a few more parts on ourselves (e.g. moat).  These lapbooks were compounded by the fact that our printer has taken to decorating anything in colour with horizontal magenta stripes and anything in black and white with vertical white strips so I ended up drawing and writing a lot by hand which would have been far quicker on the computer.  However, they do seem to have learnt various useful bits of information about castles and I hope to top up that learning when they are older and we can look at the whole topic in more depth.
And finally, here they are:
Front covers

Inside - Who lived in a castle?  Parts of a castle.  The drawbridge.

Back - Castles in Kent - map and key (legend).

I don't tend to check off subjects within projects before we start, but in case anyone is interested, this is what I think we covered:
History - clothes, jobs, buildings, lifestyles
Geography - local, certain buildings for certain places
Technology - constructing drawbridge within lapbook, observing Technology in castles
Literature - reading non-fiction and fiction on castles, writing (dd2 traced letters and numbers)
Maths - spatial awareness to lay out lapbook, numbering castles on map, pattern of portcullis and colouring it
Science - using a key (legend) in recording information
There's probably more but my mind's gone blank now!

Our next project will be Afghanistan.  This may seem an odd choice with a 4 year old and a 6 year old but for us it is very personal right now and is something they have asked to do.  It is personal for two reasons - firstly, at the church we attended before we moved from Devon we twice met the link missionaries who were working in Northern Afghanistan and they gave us a fascinating insight into the land and culture.  And secondly is the fact that my eldest nephew, the girls' eldest cousin is currently serving a 6 month tour of duty in Afghanistan with the British Army.  Obviously he is in our prayers every day and this has made the girls very curious about why he is there and what it is like, not just for him, but what the whole country is like.  Although we won't be making a field trip, I'm hoping we will learn a lot from writing and photographs in books and websites.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Snow Science 8th January 2010

Science is not my strong point but I am very blessed to be married to a Physics and General Science teacher.  I know however that not everybody has that blessing so I thought I would share with you a little science experiment which dh did with the girls (aged 4 (pre-school age) and 6 (Y1 age)).

This investigation is to find the most suitable method to preserve a snow dome.

The equipment is all things we readily had available and could easily be adapted or modified to suit what you have to hand.

We used a sheet of newspaper, a jay cloth, a ladle (any kind of scooping tool will be fine for this), a thermos flask and its cup, clingfilm, kitchen foil, a plastic chopping board (only used to protect the carpet and as a tray so anything similar will do) and a car window scraper (this could be replaced with a dinner knife or similar tool for levelling the snow).
Then we collected ladlefuls (is that a real word?) of snow and levelled it (to make it a fair test) with the car window scraper - thus making a snow dome and put each snow dome into a different container:

The thermos flask cup was simply a small container for the larger container of the freezer!  The rest of the containers stayed on the plastic chopping board and were placed on the drainer.

We discussed which might be the most effective container and then kept an eye on the snow domes to see which was melting first.  At the time of writing some have completely melted and others are intact.  We'll check again in the morning.

This was, for us, a very informal science lesson, but could be far more thorough if you wished it to be e.g.
Make predictions, make a table for results, check every five/ten minutes (initially anyway!) and record results at each interval, scientific vocabulary could be used to write up the investigation.

I'd love to hear from you if you have a go at something like this.

Snow in Art and the Art of Snow! 8th January 2010

Having moved from a warm and wet urban city in Devon to rural Kent last summer the girls experienced their first 'proper' snow in December. We were inspired by previous posts on this blog to produce the following artwork of trees and snow in differing media:

Above is oil pastel and tempera paint.

Above is acrylic paint. (Look at this post for instructions)

Above is water-colour paint - and as you can see there are 3 paintings, so even I have to have a go now! (Look at this post for instructions)

And we were inspired by weeks (or was it months?!) of hoping and planning to create this!:

Monday, 4 January 2010

The best laid plans ... 4th January 2010

My plans for Advent were about half succesful!  We didn't manage to do any of the advent book - I suspect this was because we were away for the first few days of December and were therefore behind before we'd even begun and also because The Jesse Tree book I had borrowed from the library turned out to be very rich so there was a lot to be taken from it and this felt like enough.  The readings and drawings from this book took us into January - the book isn't advent specific so this worked out okay.  My plan of hanging pictures on a twig turned out like this in the end!: