Category: Projects

Postcrossing – Postcards From Around the World

Postcrossing – Postcards From Around the World

If you’re anything like me the main thing that comes through your letterbox is junk mail and bills. Which isn’t a great deal of fun for anyone! If you’d like to brighten up your post, and put a smile on someone else’s face too, then you really should try Post Crossing. So what exactly is Post Crossing and how can you get involved? Its a free project and anyone can join in the fun. You send postcards across the world and people send them to you. We’ve received postcards from Russia, Portugal Germany and the USA and have sent out our own across the world.

You never know just when or where the next one is going to arrive from, and it’s great fun when they pop through the door.

The website will track how far your total cards have come and gone too with a handy map feature.

From an educational perspective we’ve discussed what people might like to know about where we live and what we can tell them, through to the wealth of questions B asks when a new postcard lands through our door.

With so much bad news in the world right now, it feels good to do something positive and remember the world is made of people, just like you and me, everywhere in the world.

Test Tube Rainbows – Splitting Colour Experiment

Test Tube Rainbows – Splitting Colour Experiment

We’ve had great fun with this experiment today, and it’s super simple to do. If you have any test tubes to use they are ideal, but you could use any glass container that you have to hand. Appealing to children of all ages, the great thing with this experiment is they can all get involved and take from it what is relevant to them.

Equipment

  • 7 test tubes (or glass receptacle)
  • Red, yellow and blue colours (we used cosmetic colourant, but food colour would work just as well)
  • Pipettes

Method

  1. Fill all of the test tubes around half full with water.
  2. Add the blue, red and yellow colour to three of the test tubes.
  3. Line the test tubes up with the three colours going into their correct places in the rainbow colour sequence.
  4. Using the pipettes, take colours from the primary colour tubes and make up the missing colours.

Conclusion

We managed to make the rainbow from our 3 primary colours! The experiment is good fun in itself, but it’s also good as a place to start further investigation. We’ve been trying to make rainbows with a prism and seeing how close our colours match. If you’ve any further rainbow ideas to add, be sure to share them with us!

The Big Plastic Project

The Big Plastic Project

This weekend we’ve been discussing just how much plastic we go through as a family. I can tell you now, it’s a lot, and I’m pretty dismayed about just how much we are using. Out of all the recycling that leaves our house, the plastic is the most plentiful. Although we’ve always recycled religiously, I’ve never been particularly hot on the “reduce” part of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Over the years I’ve tried to reduce our carbon footprint in other ways, we’ve looked at air miles and being vegan helps our impact somewhat. But there is always more that can be done.

We’ve been thinking of all the plastic things we can do without and we’re a bit stuck on these ones:

  1. Tetra Pak cartons – although these go in with our plastic recycling do they count as plastic? We drink soya, rice, almond milk etc and I’ve only ever found them in these type of container.
  2. Sandwich bags – I’m sure I’ve seen material type pouches for packed lunches. Any pointers would be appreciated.
  3. Pasta, rice, Cous cous, etc. All in plastic packaging. Any alternatives out there?
  4. Tofu – I’ve only ever found this in plastic. We tend to eat tofu once a week and I would miss it. It has a lot of calcium in which is vital for growing bones so I’m not sure how we’d replace that.
  5. Cleaning products. We’ve used soap nuts before so will be switching back to these. I think I could manage with baking soda and lemons to clean with, but what about washing up liquid?
  6. Take away boxes. Ok yes we could live without an occasional take away, but why does Chinese take away food come in plastic and curry come in foil? Is there a reason?
  7. Bread! Due to our problems with dairy intolerance, cross contamination with fresh bread often makes it a no go area for us. I usually bake a loaf at home at least once a week, but sometimes time gets the better of me.
  8. Fruit and vegetable packaging. Are cucumbers always shrink wrapped? Does spinach always come in a bag? Are lettuces always in a bag? A trip to the market will solve a fair amount of our packaging problems with more paper bags available for delicate goods but I’m stumped on the others.
  9. Tortillas – I’ll need a fail safe recipe for these as I’ll miss these!
  10. Bin bags and dog poo bags – ok this ones a bit grim, but I’ll need a solution none the less. We have a fair few pets that need regularly cleaning up after, and cage detritus always ends up in bin bags. Any environmentally friendly alternatives?

I think a tour of the local recycling plants is a must for us to fully appreciate how much waste we make. I’d like to discover just how much of a demon plastic is? Should we choose glass over plastic? What’s the consensus on what causes the least damage?

Looks like we have a lot to keep us busy for now. Keep us posted with your tips!

History Lessons – The Romans

History Lessons – The Romans

We’ve been learning about the Romans recently as part of our home education. B requested that this was something that we looked at when we first started our home education journey back in February. One of my favourite things with home education, is the ability to choose a subject or topic, study it to the length that holds the child’s interest for their age, and then revisit as their desire to gather more detail increases.

We have found some great resources on Twinkl to help and B is currently enjoying reading this book Romans by Usborne books.

We have learnt about Roman numerals and had great fun code breaking with worksheets from Twinkl.

Starting with points that interested B we have looked at aqueducts, Roman cities, emporers, clothing, and food that Romans liked to eat. Who knew that Dormice and peacock brains were a delicacy…rather them than me, that’s for sure!

We’ve visited our local museum and found some great information here to aid our studies.

Its amazing how so many ideas can come from one starting point too. From Latin and looking at how many words stem from their Latin origins, one topic has included, language, history, literacy, maths and most importantly we’ve had lots of fun!

Rocket Science – The Seeds are IN!

Rocket Science – The Seeds are IN!

We had only just started our home education journey when we found out about the Rocket Science project. It was our first time joining in on the Twitter home ed hour (held on a Thursday night 8-9) where we learnt about the project. It seemed ideal as the boy is space mad and we were keen to include gardening regularly in our home ed journey.

I have to admit I wasn’t exactly thinking just how much room 200 seeds might take up when we applied, but we’ve since found a nice home for them all on a sunny windowsill in the living room!


Its been a real team effort between us getting the project underway. B has been able to tackle the practical parts, filling the trays with earth and the watering, whilst I’ve kept up some of the admin type tasks. We’ve incorporated math skills, looking at averages, multiplication, measuring and percentages, all in kinaesthetic learning style which seems to benefit us both. It’s amazing what you learn together doing this kind of thing.

I have a feeling our house may look like the day of the triffids after the 6 weeks are up, but we’ll be sure to keep you updated on how it’s going!

Next step germination….

Space Jars Craft Activity

Space Jars Craft Activity

If you’ve a space mad kid or craft addict these are a great project. Quick to make and not too messy, they got my vote, and didn’t end up looking like the usual “Pinterest fail” we normally end up creating.

You will need:

  • Jars (we found ours in hobbycraft in the baking area)
  • Cotton wool balls
  • Food colouring (we used pink, navy and turquoise)
  • Silver glitter

It’s also useful to have some kind of poking stick and some pots to mix the colours in.

Here’s how the magic works….

  1. Take a small amount of each of your food colouring and mix with water (separately by the way, you don’t want a bowl of brown water!)
  2. Place a couple of your cotton wool balls into your jar and add one of the coloured waters. A funnel can be useful here if you’ve a tendency to pour it all over the table like myself.
  3. Poke the cotton wool down, adding more if need be until all the water is absorbed.
  4. Sprinkle in some glitter.
  5. Add your next coloured water, we layered dark and then light as they do tend to mix. It all adds to the nebula effect though!
  6. Squidge in more cotton wool to soak up all the coloured water.
  7. Add the glitter layer.
  8. Repeat until your jar is full. We managed to fit three different layers in ours.

Ta da!

Fossil Hunting & Rock Collection – Walton on the Naze

Fossil Hunting & Rock Collection – Walton on the Naze

All geared up with our Children’s fossil hunting kit from UKGE, we set off Walton-on-the-Naze to explore. We are so fortunate to live in a part of Essex which is close to the coast for days out like this, and has been a staple of days out since I was little, let alone the boy.

In the past our days to the Naze to see the tower have usually been once the tide has come in and we weren’t quite ready to head home. This was our first expedition down to the beach. We were blessed with a sunny day, albeit pretty fresh, and off we went, haversack on, ready for fossils!

As it turns out, even in an area which is renowned for fossils, they are a little elusive to find. Particularly when you’re 6 and want to run around! So we concentrated on finding items of interest instead. We discovered lots of different rocks and seaweeds, which we can tie in with the Big Seaweed Search.


I love how having a loose plan for a days learning can evolve in so many ways. The things we learnt compared with what I had expected to was much longer…

  • Who knew just how many different types of seaweed you can discover, and how very different they are?
  • That there really are a lot of different birds to spot at the coast. Have to admit, previously I would have classed the whole lot as seagulls.
  • Watching the amazing patterns nature makes in the sand as the tide goes in and out.
  • How smooth muddy rocks compared to shells teach you about friction.
  • The erosion of rocks and coast lines and how man made structures can change this.
  • That most shells are “righthanded” with the exception of the “left handed whelk”.

We’ve been uploading and classifying our finds now that we are home with the help of the Natural History Museum community forums. Which has been a good way to utilise technology with the boy who can be a little tech reluctant.

As we watched the boats come in and out of the docks further along the coast in Harwich we found inspiration for a topic on transport. Its amazing how one thing leads to another, and how we all make connections, usually ones with wheels in our case!