Forest School – A Different Type of School

So while I try to do all the formal stuff like Maths and English, Topic and Language, I have to admit that there are some subjects I’m not that able to teach because a) I don’t have the resources, b) I don’t have the space or c) I don’t have the ability.

We love the outdoors and we live in an amazing place to do walks and such, but I don’t like being outside when it’s cold or raining too much, so when my friend suggested forest school I was curious as to what that was.  She told me it’s held at an eco centre and that the building they use if it’s absolutely dreadful weather was made from hay bales and lime by the home ed community.  She also added that most of the time they are outside whatever the weather learning about their surroundings, making dens, cooking on an outside fire and generally doing all I used to when I was 10.

So one day a week, both girls go for the whole day to a safe place with trusted adults where they do all this fun stuff that we are unable/unwilling to do at home.  They both absolutely love it. They get to play with clay and make stuff with willow, (Elsa made a hoopla game). They make swings and play in mud.  They learn about what plants are safe to eat and drink.  They make dampers (I hear a lot about dampers). It all sounds great fun doesn’t it?  Well here’s some pictures to show you that it’s as fun as it sounds. 🙂

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This kind of place makes me wish I was young again. It looks so much fun 🙂

 

 

Vikings – An Interesting Topic – Part 1

Each term I ask my girls if there is anything they would like to learn as a topic.  This term they asked about Vikings. There is quite a lot of Viking history in the County we live in so I hit the internet to find a curriculum to base from then we went to the library  to borrow some books and we were ready.

The first thing we talked about was the most obvious. The longboats.  We talked about the history of them, the size, why they had the shields on the outside and why they burned them.  We completed some worksheets about them then made an origami one to finish that part of the topic. We went to Sheringham which had a replica (small), which they set light to in the evening.

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We talked about the different foods they would have eaten, then we made some Viking bread from a recipe we found in one of the books we got from the library. It was very salty 😀

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Next we talked about weapons and armour.  We visited our local museum where they have an extensive array of weapons and videos which was really interesting.

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Then we made a shield and some swords out of card.

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The display of work we have been doing.  This includes a timeline through history, some research on runes, food, longboats, weapons and armour, and where the Vikings attacked the UK.

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Letheringsett Watermill

We went to Letheringsett Watermill to have a look at how flour is made.  We saw the different cogs which move the stones and through the glass we could see the watermill moving too.

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There were some scales which are used to weigh the bags of flour.  The lady showed us the flour they were making and the shoot it comes down to go into the bags.  The day we went they were making whole wheat flour which felt courser than white flour as it used all of the grain.

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The stones are used to crush the grains and they have a different gap depending on the different flours they make. They are closer together to make finer flours. The lady then showed us some stones which had been used before.  They were very ground down.

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The flour they make in this mill is sold in the mill shop and also in local shops around the county.

It was a very interesting day.

Science – DNA

In January we had a special science lesson with a DNA expert.  She explained all about DNA, how many there are, where it is, what it looks like and how big it is (it’s tiny).

We then did a DNA extraction experiment. We were extracting DNA from a banana. Firstly we had to peel, chop and crush the banana.

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We then added some warm water and mushed the banana some more.

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We then filtered it into a beaker so we just had the liquid.

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When we had just the liquid, the lady added some pure alcohol to it.  This caused the DNA strands to separate from the liquid.

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The DNA strands floated on the top of the liquid.

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They separated instantly from the liquid once the alcohol was added.

This lesson was lots of fun.

Tie Dyeing T-shirts

We did some tie dye because we have been learning about rainforests and all the colourful birds, flowers and animals that live there.

First we wet our t-shirts in warm water so that the dye would sink in to the t-shirt.

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We twisted our t-shirts into two different patterns.  In this one we have called it a sunflower fold and did it by twisting from the middle.  We had no rubber bands so we used string to stop it from undoing.

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We made the dye by mixing the dye powder with warm water and salt.  We put the dye in squeezy bottles so it was easy to put the dye on the t-shirts.  Next we dyed our t-shirts by squirting the dye in random places.  We suggest wearing gloves or something on your hands so you don’t end up with colourful hands.

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We put our t-shirts in a bucket of cold water to set the dye into the cotton.  Then we rinsed them in warm water to get rid of any dye that didn’t soak into the t-shirt.

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Final results.

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Left to dry on the washing line.

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We really enjoyed doing this, it was really fun and we had great results.  We didn’t think they would turn out this well but they did.  They look amazing.  We can’t wait to wear them.

Rainforest Cocoa Bean Madness Game

We have been learning about the Amazon rainforest.  Part of our topic was to create a game.

We brainstormed our ideas on a board about what we might see or come across if you were in the rainforest and then we chose the best ones to make our game.

We decided to make a game where you had to collect cocoa beans as you went through the forest, but you met good and bad things as you went.

We called our game Cocoa Bean Madness.

Firstly we cut out lots of cocoa beans and coloured stones and other bits, which we had printed from the internet.  We used the stones to design the game and we used various bugs, villages and animals as ‘to do’ spots.  We made our own spinner which worked well.   We chose and printed out our own explorers as our moveable piece.  We also decorated the board to make it more colourful, with trees, rivers and other animals and flowers.

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The rules were, you use the spinner to move around the board and every stone you land on you collect a cocoa bean, but if you landed on a tiger you had to go back to the start, or if you landed on a spider you had to lose all your beans.  If you landed on a village you collected 4 extra beans and if you landed on a parrot you get to go to the nearest village.  The winner was the person with the most cocoa beans when everyone had finished.

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It’s a lot of fun to play this game and the coolest thing about it is we created it and made it ourselves.

Making Big Bubbles

While we were in Wales, we bought some big bubbles but we decided to see if we could make own mixture for when we ran out.

We found a recipe on a website called Steph’s two girls and decided to see if it would work for us.

This is the recipe we used.

  • 6 cups of water
  • 1/2 a cup of cornflour
  • 1/2 a cup of washing up liquid
  • 1 tbsp. of glycerine
  • 1 tbsp. of baking powder

First we put 6 cups of water in a big bowl.

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Then we added cornflour  and stirred it well.

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Next we added baking powder, glycerine and washing up liquid.

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Then we stirred it gently and our spoons got caught together which made us giggle . 🙂

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While we left it for a hour to settle we used straws and string to make another big bubble blower. We slid the string through the straws.

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Then we pulled funny faces through the big bubble blower.

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We had fun, we managed to blow bubbles in all shapes and sizes.

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We made BIG BUBBLES which was fun.

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Some of our bubbles just floated about.

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WE LOVED IT!

Homemade Blackberry Jam

We live on a farming estate and therefore there are lots of lovely resources we can look at, find or use.  This time of year is good for wild fruits such as blackberries and elderberries.  We thought we’d make some jam.  I had never made any so it was experience for all of us.

First we picked some blackberries.  Anna proceeded to eat them as she picked but we still managed to collect plenty. We soaked them overnight in water and ice and a bit of salt to kill off any bugs.

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Today we rinsed and put them in the blender and then added jam sugar. Next we put it on the hob to melt the sugar.  When the sugar had melted we added some butter and let that melt.

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When the butter had melted, we brought it to boiling and let it boil for 4 minutes.

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We put it in some jars to cool down.

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Then we had some on tiger loaf for lunch.

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The verdict was, it was easy to make and delicious to eat.

Human Body – Our Insides

After completing our skeleton we next decided to do our insides, so Elsa drew around Anna (the keeping still part was pretty difficult) 🙂

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We had already ordered some information from the British Heart Foundation, which was brilliant and free (donation if you choose).

We discussed the different organs and what they did, then I asked the girls to put the internal organs where they thought they went.

Anna’s attempt was not bad, but I guess having your brain in your neck could cause a problem and maybe having the oesophagus that way round might make it difficult to eat. 🙂  Elsa’s was near on perfect with the placing of them, not the order though.  Well done girls.

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Next we drew the organs onto the life size drawing of Anna, which the girls had fun doing.

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We discussed the large and small intestines in a bit more in depth.  To give perspective, we measured out the actual lengths of them with wool.  The small intestine is 4 times as long as you are tall, and the large intestine is as long as you are tall,  The girls found it fascinating trying to fit it all in the little space in the body.  As you can see we did it perfectly 😉  We also watched a short video which shows the route of the digestive system, which was funny.

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Next job was talking more about the heart and what job it does (very important if you didn’t know) 😉 We did an experiment involving pulse rates, we took resting pulse, then did a minute each of star jumps, running, skipping and dancing to see what happened to our heart rates.  The girls enjoyed doing this and even made me do it.

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We talked about the respiratory system and how that works.  We drew and labelled the parts on our body drawing.

The final part of this topic was a discussion about muscles and tendons.  We talked about how they work in pairs, how many there are, what the tendons are there for and then we made a tendon hand which was fun, then Elsa wrote down what she remembered about what we had learned.

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Our completed drawings look great (and very busy) 🙂

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This has been a very interesting topic and we will come back to it in more depth in the future.

Matisse – Art Project 2

The art curriculum we are using had several art pieces to do by Henri Matisse.  This one was inspired from his Icarus cutout.  We decided to use paint instead of paper for the main part of the picture.

Firstly we drew round Anna to get the rough outline of our painting.

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Next we changed the shape so it was more fluid and similar to the original then started painting it in the same colours he did his cutouts from.

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Next we cut out random stars and stuck them on.  Elsa painted on the heart.

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Final painting.  This turned out really well.  The girls enjoyed doing it, it was lovely to spend time outside in the sunshine.

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