Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Geography Lessons Minus the Boring Text Books!

Recently I had an idea to make geography more interesting by using Google Tour Builder. With this tour builder the children are able to plot places on the map, zoom in close to see the street view or zoom out for a global perspective. They can add photos and videos to each location along with their own written description. It's easy to add links to relevant websites to each place. You can use your own photographs and videos or those found on the web.

I can see this being used in many different ways in geography and the beauty of it is that the children can share their work with their friends or even their home-school inspectors. There's no boring text books to read, the children can easily type in their text avoiding the dreaded pen and paper and it's all presented on the computer in a medium they enjoy.

This term we are going to be studying World news and events.We will add news items to our map each week after watching "Behind the News" on ABC. We have started with the austerity measures in Greece. The children located Athens and pinned photos and videos of the riots to the location. They added some images of Euro coins and notes and wrote in their own words what is happening in the country. Next they "flew" to Mt Raung in Java where the volcano is currently spewing ash into the sky. They enjoyed looking around the crater at ground level and adding images and videos of the eruption. Flying on once more we came to the Lords Cricket Ground in England for the Ashes match. We'll add more items to our tour as the weeks go by before sharing it.

If you wanted to study a particular country you could pin items to the map from your research, photographs, your own drawings, graphs, films and websites. If your topic was local studies it would be fun to add photographs that you yourself had taken to the map, perhaps with images from local news papers. If you really really wanted to you could put in some information from your boring old textbook!

You could scan in postcards and letters you receive from around the world and add them to their departure points. You could look at food labels and plot the locations where items were grown or manufactured, perhaps even following a raw material on its journey from harvesting or mining through to the end product in your local shop. You could add photographs of family and friends places of birth or plot the route for a family trip. I'm sure there is much more you could do that I haven't even thought of.

You'll need to have the Google Earth plug-in to get the full experience of zooming from place to place. Get it here.

You'll also need a Google account so you can save your tours

Beware, Chrome does not work properly with the tour builder site, you'll have to go back to rubbishy Internet Explorer. It will ask you if you want to allow the plug in to run. Say yes!

To get an idea of the things you can do in the tour builder check out the gallery on the Google Tour Builder website for some professional tours that have already been made. Don't forget use Internet Explorer for the "fly around" experience.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

More Games on Scratch

The kids have been making more computer programs on Scratch. Here are their latest games:

By L

Use the arrow keys, avoid the walls and the magic carpet.

Use the space bar to rise, avoid the walls.

By R

Use the arrow keys, avoid the walls.

Use the space bar to rise, avoid the walls.

Planning Term 3

Term 3 is almost upon us and I have just about completed the planning.

This term we will continue on with Story of the World and our study of the middle ages. We'll combine story of the world with unit studies from Intellego.

In science we will be looking at materials and their uses and this will also link to art where we will experiment with lots of materials and techniques to make some themed smashbooks.

For geography we will be looking at news locally and around the world and making Google Earth tours to show what we have discovered.

For technology we will be looking at sandwiches and their packaging and making some up for our friends.

We'll be doing lots more cooking in food-technology and health. We will be using the curriculum from the amazing Food a Fact of Life website.

In IT we'll carry on with computer programming from Scratch and also used Word to explore different forms of writing.

English and maths will continue as they are using the Jolly Grammar, Targeting Maths and Maths Online resources.

We'll fit in some visits to galleries and the science festival and hopefully a camping trip too.

Keep your eyes peeled for our next update!

Hand Sewn Fairy

L has spent many hours lately working on this fairy in back stitch and cross stitch.

WOW Festival 2015

Once again we attended the free children's art festival; "WOW" at Casula Powerhouse. Above is a huge tree sculpture that the children helped to extend by adding more plastic pipes. They also had the chance to "play" the sculpture by blowing air through the pipes with a leaf blower.

Below L is looking at sculptures in the garden.

The children made these origami flower pots.

We saw a stage show, art exhibition, robots and 3D printing, a trebuchet that catapulted paint at the building and much more!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Soft Toys

We have come to the end of our toys project today. The children spent the whole of the day making these stuffed soft toys. We found the pattern in a magazine at the library. They are made with felt and embroidery cottons.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Parachutes and Magnets

Today we have been experimenting more with forces. First we tested different materials to see which made the best parachute.

Then I challenged the children to drop an egg from the balcony protected by only 4 sheets of newspaper. They could try any method of protecting their egg including making a parachute and wrapping the egg up in paper.

We tried keeping water inside an upturned glass using air pressure.

We demonstrated inertia with this tablecloth experiment:

Later on we experimented with magnetism. The children made a magnetic maze game:

Friday, 3 July 2015

The Owl and the Pussy Cat

The children have been working for several weeks on this collaborative textile art piece based on the owl and the pussy cat poem. They have done all the sewing themselves either by hand or on the sewing machine. R even tried some free machining.

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat
By Edward lear

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
   In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
   Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
   And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
    What a beautiful Pussy you are,
         You are,
         You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!"

Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl!
   How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
   But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
   To the land where the Bong-Tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
   With a ring at the end of his nose,
             His nose,
             His nose,
   With a ring at the end of his nose.

"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
   Your ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will."
So they took it away, and were married next day
   By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
   Which they ate with a runcible spoon;   
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
   They danced by the light of the moon,
             The moon,
             The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

First they took a piece of cotton and dyed it blue. Whilst the dye was still wet they sprinkled on some salt crystals which gave a mottled effect as they soaked up some of the dye.

Once the base colour was dry and the salt brushed off they used stencils and paint to add the sea and some stars.

L designed the cat character whilst R worked on the owl. They drew their designs onto fabric pieces with dissolving fabric markers. The cut out pieces were layered and glued together with a thin layer of gel medium.

L also designed the pig

R made the turkey.

They worked together to make the boat, moon, and the trees. Everything was stuck to the background with gel medium.

They used the sewing machine to outline all the pieces. R free machined the difficult curves. L added some hand stitching for the birds' legs. We stuck on a paper £5 note.

After all that hard work it's now on the wall.


The children have been working with Dad to make some automata toys. To get an idea of the amazing things that can be made, watch this video from Cabaret Mechanical:

And here are our toys in action:

Gym Open Day

The children's gym had a open day this week which gave me the chance to take some photos which I can't usually do during class.

Toys - Forces Experiments

This week the children have been learning how to use these force meters available form any of the educational suppliers.

They designed an experiment to see the effect of friction. They pulled a laden box over different surfaces to see which needed the most force to keep it moving.

We also investigated the friction on slides by trying out different materials to make our slide.

Today we talked about air and water resistance.

Here L is running with a large piece of card to feel the effect of air resistance:

We made helicopters and dropped them down the stairs:

We weighed objects in air and water to see the effect of water pressure. We'll try some experiments in the pool next time we go.

We'll be working on parachutes next...

Toys - Making Cars

The kids worked with day to experiment with different materials for making wheels and axles. They came up with these car models.