Tag Archives: science

Sunday. With cavemen.

I have decided to change our PEP (personal education plan) because Mr. D. is complaining that he is bored.  Of all things.  It doesn’t surprise me that what we have been trying has not engaged him but the battle, now, is finding what will.

We’ll be dabbling in the Story of the World (Wise) Ancient Times and have the activity book to give us lots of hands-on time; at the same time, we have Ancient Science (Jim Wiese) and have made a small start on that.  We are going to continue with Life of Fred‘s elementary series and the school is providing a unit on Structures which we will expand by adding Engineering is Elementary (Museum of Boston) and their book on Bridges.  That should keep him happy for a while (please).

Today we tackled one of the earliest ‘science’ experiments, giving hands-on experience of what daily life was like in the Stone Age.  Mr. D. and his father took a 1.25cm diameter piece of dowel, about 90 cm long, and tried pushing it into a fairly soft and grassy area of our yard. They managed to get this primitive tool into the ground by 5cm.  Dad then sharpened the point of the stick, somewhat, and they tried again.  This way they were able to penetrate up to 10cm deep; perfectly fine depth for digging up some root vegetables but not for anything requiring a deep anchoring.  Using a flat stone found at the beach as a mallet, they were able to penetrate 60cm deep!

Whilst human life is thought to date to approximately 4 million years ago, the use of stone tools is generally dated to about 2.4 million years ago.  Very crude stone tools were used for scrapping and hammering; these simple tools (and machines if you count the wedge) were what separated humans from other animals.  We had invented technology!  Not quite a smart phone but a big leap forward.  The act of sharpening the point of a stick took humankind a few thousand years to perfect.

When the dowel is pushed in by hand, the force (or power) is spread over the thickness of the dowel.  When the dowel is sharpened, the same amount of force gets concentrated in the point, making it easier to penetrate the ground.  A pointed stick would definitely make it easier and faster to dig up dinner!

It took another 1.1 million years to progress to the hand axe (sharpened stones).  Invention and creation were slower because so much energy was expended just staying alive.  By the end of the Neolithic period, we were able to make secondary tools (sewing needles, fishhooks) out of wood and antlers, using the first primitive tools.

Mr. D. drew a picture of a ‘caveman’ hammering in a stick, using a big, flat, rock.  The caveman had many bulging muscles drawn on because Mr. D. figured you would have been physically fit to survive!

Unfortunately, all this wonderful work we’ve done today:  going to the beach to search for appropriate rocks, marking up the measurements on the dowel, doing the experiment, taking photos, drawing pictures, discussing all the results and their implications has taken a grand total of approximately 30 minutes.  Less time than it has taken me to type up this post (with interruptions, I’m not that slow).  Wonder how I can slow my son down to caveman speeds?  I think he would have been a very successful stone age dude!

Image

The action shots:

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Small gainFirst tryMarking and measuringSharpened

On his way to 60 cm penetration!

On his way to 60 cm penetration!

Using tools

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Flu Flown

It finally feels as if the stomach flu is leaving our building.  Finally.  We’ve been slack on the home school front during this time.  Lots of movies (War of the Worlds followed the next day by E.T. the Extraterrestrial), more “Merlin”, a haircut, a few play dates, some sentence writing, some Life of Fred, and lots and lots of reading.  This is improving really fast and in no small part due to NIDES and his marvellous EA there who tutors Mr. D. twice per week.  Ploughing through RAZ online reading – started the school year in level AA (still) and now is finishing off C.  Yay!

Science at the Museum has been concentrating on the Solar system and we’ve done some background work on Pluto and dwarf planets.  Lots of posters made.

Greek mythology is being revisited – and the Mensa for Kids mythology unit.  Contemplating Duke University TIP courses online for Mr. D. – there are a couple I think he would like and be capable of, especially those dealing with mythology and with King Arthur.  It would stretch his writing – which is still slow – but we would do this in another medium, perhaps.

Off now to upload some photographs Mr. D. has taken with his camera; NIDES is having its annual photography competition, which is great fun, and this will be his first time entering.  Not sure of the quality of the photographs – I wasn’t around when he took them – but he did take some wonderful photographs with his father’s camera the other day.  An improved camera may have to be on the cards for this year.

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Slime and stuff and fun

Yet more photos – the kids both making slimy and snotty concoctions!  All in the name of science, of course.

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So let us start with dissection!

Oh my goodness – have I got a lot to post; not even going to do it in chronological order because I can’t be sure I would get it right.

So – we’ll start with a recent dissection lesson.  Daddy and Mr. D. tackled a chicken leg & back, peeling the skin, removing and pining down the skin, identifying the parts, separating bones and then cutting meat off bones.  A lot of fun was had even though the chicken was still a little cold to the touch.  Fun?  Yup.  That’s one of the things that passes for good times around here.

Unlike the last few days for Mr. D.  You see, his little sister turned 5 yesterday.  The big party was Saturday and then family dinner and gifts last night.  You know how most kids are not angelic and dislike other kids getting gifts when they don’t?  You don’t?  Your kids aren’t like that?  Take that bad attitude and pump it up on ‘ROIDS because we are talking serious meltdowns because we only gave him two gifts for his sister’s birthday.  It isn’t as bad as it sounds – he isn’t a bad kid and frankly was not completely in control of his own reactions – we know it is a stressor for him, we’re just not sure what to do about it.  Anyway, we have survived and now only have Christmas to get through until the birthday blitz starts again in March.  Phew.

The photos:

Our Glossary of words learnt, or re-learnt, during this process included:  muscle, skin, membrane, fat, blood, veins, nerve, bone, tendon, joint, kidney, spine, and hip.

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Slack Mummy

Boy, have I neglected this blog!

Mr. D has been learning up a storm and mummy has had trouble keeping up with the documentation for the first time.  It doesn’t help that quite a few of the photographs I would normally used are actually stored on hubby’s camera and/or computer system and I haven’t had time to ask him to ship them out via thumb drive.

Therefore, for now, there will be no shots of the wonderful cooking Mr. D has undertaken.  We stick with recipes we adults know or we go with Jamie Oliver; his recipes are generally easy to follow and he is just “easy peasey, wibbly wobbly, chubbly bubbly” enough to appeal to kids.  Looking forward to having a chance to check out Alton Brown on YouTube – his kid’s recipes are apparently a real treat.  So far, Mr. D. has helped with lamb roast – including sliding the large knife between shin bone and flesh to add seasoning; cooked roast chicken, again creating cavities along the spine and over the breast and pushing in butter and herbs; he has cooked Spanakopita and salad from scratch and there are more but I can’t think of them without the photographic prod.  All cooking has included the use of a new utensil or knife of some sort, reminders about hygiene and raw foods like chicken, safety instruction, independent measuring, and new cooking techniques.  If Mr. D. can easily handle pastry at 7, I am confident he will be able to take care of himself when he is older.  The biggest bonus?  He LOVES it.  He loves being in the kitchen, he loves cooking itself, and he loves having a product he can not only show off but that can “do what mummy and daddy do”.  To feed us gives him great pleasure.  Yay.

During this time, Mr. D. has made great bounds in reading.  Using the RAZ reading system (online and paper) he finally conquered Level AA, which has taken 2 years.  Then he completed Level A in one day!  Now he is powering through Level B.  His increased confidence is wonderful to watch and he delights in reading between 2 – 4 books to us and his little sister at bedtime each night.  Now he is not only tackling the graded books but last night took over reading “Aliens Love Underpants” – one of the underacknowledged classics of kid giggles.

At the Courtenay Museum and Paleontology Centre, his class has completed a 4 week study of Octopus, including a lot of classification work and are now nearing the end of their study of Light and Luminescence.  Now that he is in the Advanced Science class, he is feeling a lot better and more confident at answering and participating rather than just trying to dominate.  Improved social skills – yay, Mr. D!

At home, we have been continuing our study of the human body by using the Magic School Bus Germ kit and doing an experiment with growing mold.  We’ve also had great fun with the Glow Germs kit and using the black light to see how effective our hand washing is.  Mr. D. was surprised to see my hands were a lot cleaning after washing – this led to me demonstrating a full surgical scrub.  A lot of hygiene videos from BrainPop and Discovery Streaming followed and the upside?  Mr. D. now washes his hands when asked and has taken a full interest in actually brushing his teeth (flossing and gargling) every night now instead of once per fortnight!

Gymnastics is wonderful, although we are missing today because mummy isn’t well.  He has the right size and shape for gym and has developed amazing muscle control; at 6 he was using the rings apparatus and is able to fleetingly do that nasty-looking cross thing they do that looks as if it will rip your arms out of your arm pits.  Balance beam is a doodle, swinging on the uneven bars is progressing to using both bars, and straddling is becoming easier and easier.  Mr. D’s favourite activity is the rope swing – grab the long, long, rope with arms and legs, hold on for dear life, and swing across a 30-40 ft gap, landing safely on the other side (eventually, Mr. D. likes the swinging).  Not all the kids, especially the smaller ones, have the arm and leg strength to do this, but Mr. D. is at it repeatedly!

Guitar is progressing.  He is learning slide technique still, at his teacher’s request, because his hands are still quite small.  To keep it interesting, the teacher brings in percussion instruments and concentrates on guitar classics like the theme from Spiderman and Marsupial Sue.  I don’t think his playing is improving much – he isn’t there developmentally – but the exposure to music in a non-judgmental environment (teacher is also a music therapist) and the chance to listen to instruction are both priceless.  Like most things, Mr. D. will amble along, not seeming to be paying attention or learning, then, out of nowhere, BAM!  He’ll master it in what seems like nanoseconds.  Just the way he is.

Latin is leaping along.  On the day that Mr. D. completed his A level in reading, he also translated a who page of Latin for me and read it!  Never ceases to amaze me.  Ms. E is having fun showing off her French and Mr. D. is showing off his Latin so they are both learning a lot.  Minimus the Mouse continues to amuse with Latin and both kids have enjoyed learning “mus, exit” when the mouse runs away from the cat!  Random times during the day you can hear one or t’other saying “mus, exit” out loud.  Three cheers for Minimus the Mouse.

OK – have to get lunch happening for hungry lad so I will post more of the photos this afternoon, if given a chance!

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How did that happen?

Where is all my time going?  Seriously, that’s not rhetorical – where is my time going?

Well, some of it has been spent on these activities:

Remembering how to count by 2’s and by 5’s.  Repeating how to count out loud by 10’s.  It is this rote work that is the killer for my lad.  Using manipulatives has made it more concrete to him and more like a play activity.

A lot of time has been spent ferrying lad between guitar lessons, gymnastics, extra tutoring provided by NIDES, science classes at Courtenay Museum and Paleontology Centre (lots of Octopus so far), and all sorts of fun things like visits to the Pumpkin Patch!

Guitar lessons are progressing slowly.  When we measure progression we aren’t talking about his ability to play, rather, we combine a few things like paying attention, retention of material heard even if he is moving around furiously while listening, respect to his teacher, and other ephemera not normally the focus of music classes.  After three lessons, he is progressing.  Yay, team!

We’ve spent some time on Dolche words and words in connection with our major interest at present (Pirates, don’t ya know!) and unit studies from ABC Teach and EdHelper and other online resources.  Thankfully, NIDES has a huge choice of subscriptions for us ‘facilitators’ to take advantage of.

In math, we’ve started our Life of Fred “Apples” unit and Mr. D. continues his new-found love affair with math.  We’ve also done some flash card math and made a tiny start on Mathletics for the year.

Our main science focus, aside from the classes at the museum, is a curriculum provided by what used to be Los Banos and it is an elementary, multi-level course on the human body.  We are very, very, close to finishing the section on cells; Mr. D. is in a rush to get to germs and organ dissection, so I’ve deliberately slowed this down so other things can get done.   Another source of great ideas is “Sandwich Bag Science” by Scholastic.  We’ve done desalinisation and attempted replicating a human stomach, but this latter had to be abandoned after the muscular action on the sandwich bag turned into direct squishing of the contents!  We will replicate this experiment in a week or two!

Here are our photos of the ‘action’.

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Onward and Upward, troops!

Well.  A new school year is finally here.

One of the best summer’s the boy has had; many camps, many friends, doesn’t remember any of their names!  Nothing unusual there.  We have seen a huge blossoming of his social skills and his confidence.  Finding he was good at joining in at camps, good at games, good at gymnastics, good in the homeschooler’s production of “Wizard of Oz” even if he was a flying monkey named Rascal!  Our lad has forged through summer and now, on the penultimate night before his 7th birthday, we can proudly say he is hitting his stride more and more often.  Yay!

Schooling has started and Mr. D. has fallen in love with Math.  We are using Life of Fred – there is a new elementary series – and whilst the work is easy so far, the concepts behind are not.  Second lesson in and, in a round about way, we’re looking at how easy algebra can be.  Except it isn’t called algebra.  It isn’t called anything special at all.  That helps make it easy, methinks.

Science has been a slower start; lots of reading at the beginning and he really, really, really just wants to dissect the sheep’s brain we have for him.  And the heart.  And the eye.  And various other mammal organs.  Unfortunately, I think Daddy has claimed brain dissection as the one (read that right, one) class he is willing to take over.  Bummer.  I was looking forward to that.

On the sensory planet, Mr. D. is trying more textures of food.  Still doesn’t like the ones he didn’t like before but he is willing to concede his tastes may have changed and that he should try – even a morsel – to see if foods like potato, egg, rice, etc. are okay to eat.  Rice is the only winner and then it is only with soy sauce.  With his preference for bitter, Mr. D. has never liked bland food.  Doesn’t like spicy, either, but he does love bitter and salty.  Bring on the reduced sodium, please?

Labels in clothes are still an issue.  I try and cut them out or buy without but Mr. D. will often still be found with his underwear inside out.  To make it worse, this strange summer has played havoc with his skin and his eczema has been more pronounced.  Woe.

Anyway, in between keeping track of our learning via Homeschool Tracker (free software for the basic model), Mr. D. has been raring to go with the extra-curriculars.  Tomorrow is gymnastics.  He will also do swimming, museum science, and for the first time:  guitar lessons.  Lovely lady who is trained not only as a musician but as a music therapist; she gets that Mr. D. isn’t going to be a straight-forward lesson type of guy!

On our first day of schooling, two days ago, I needed 10 or 15 minutes uninterrupted for preparation.  I sent Mr. D. out into the sunny yard to amuse himself.  He made a bow and arrow – it has been an ambition for a while now.  He deliberately didn’t sharpen the point of the arrow because he only wants to knock apples out of our trees, not actually hurt someone, apparently.  We cheered on his resourcefulness.

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