Week 1 The moon
The Twins are really into space at the moment so we decided to go with it as we both feel children learn better when they are interested in the subject. It all started when we found some space songs on kids learning tube and it has grown from there.
Week one was all about the moon, we have a lovely book from Usborne all about the moon and we referred to it a lot throughout the week. We also have a few story books based around the moon which the children love: "the Man on the moon", "the first hippo on the moon" and "moon zoo" all have lovely stories to encourage their imagination and space passion.
Daddy and Button began with learning about Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space. We learnt that he was the son of a carpenter who joined the Soviet Airforce before training to be a Cosmonaut. He orbited the Earth for 108 minutes in the Vostok 1. Button was very impressed that Yuri stayed conscious despite a very difficult descent back to Earth.
We then learnt the start of the theme tune to '2001: a space odessey' on the keyboard. This was a lot of fun and Button did really well considering her small hands. She really seemed to enjoy the music too.
We then started working on the Space race, looking at the Cold War and the relations between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Button took on the information really well and showed her understanding with her worksheet.
We then had a picnic before all heading to the learning room. Buttercup and Bear learnt about the orbit of Earth around the Sun and the Moon around the Earth. Button and Bear explored the Moon using the VR glasses and Buttercup explored some of our books. Buttercup and Bear learnt that the first four planets are solid and second four made of gas.
We spent a lot of time in the learning room this week just playing with our space bits, we spoke about the orbit of the earth around the sun and the moon around earth. We also spoke about the phases of the moon and this came up all throughout the week as we painted or made bread. It was a relaxed atmosphere where they could ask questions that came to them and explore at their own pace in their own way.
Another day, I took Button up to the learning room where we did some more worksheets on the space Race that we started reading about previously. I was so impressed with her attitude and approach. With Asia I felt like although she listened and engaged, when it came to the writing parts I was having to spoon feed her a lot. It felt like dictation exercise. Today though, Button took a bit more ownership. There wasn't a lot of writing, but she chose what she wrote, just asking me for spellings. It also felt more like real Home Ed as she used Google to find the events for her time line. She has used Google a bit for her work on animals in our Continent studies, but this felt more natural.
How are craters made?
When reading one of the story books, Bear noticed the craters on the moon and asked what they were. So I decided to how them how they are made. For this I used flour and Coco powder, not packed too tight, and some marbles and stones. I used a round dish and explained that it was the moon, I explained the marbles and stones were meteors and as they travel fast through space sometimes they hit the moon and when they do they leave a crater behind and demonstrated this by dropping the marbles or stones into the flour. The children loved this and soon took over making their own craters.
After they had made a few I gave them some of their space toys to play with in the flour. Buttercup started to tell me about an alien who lived on the moon and built it a house. This was a brilliant activity to learn a key piece of information but also for their creative minds to let loose. It was great for language skills, story telling and even building skills, as the flour made the surface uneven to build on sometimes. They spent a good hour playing before I had to bath them as the flour was everywhere.
For this we used tin foil. We manipulated the tin foil into a mushroom shape. The stalk was the handle and the fat part of the mushroom was flat for the stamp. I gave them a light and dark grey and a white pot of paint. The children set to work to create moon surfaces by stamping the colours using the tin foil stamp. They loved this activity, Bear is loving the shade of black at the moment so seeing lots of grey got him very excited. Once their pages had dried I cut out different phases of moon: a full moon, a Cresent and a gibbous. Then I used string to attach them to a hanger to make a moon mobile for them to see the difference phases of the moon.
A brilliant activity for keen bakers. Our three love making bread, all the kneeding, they punch and push the dough around. It's a simple bread recipe we used but for the second prove we poked holes into it to form the craters. We also sprinkled with fennel and caraway seeds because we were planning on eating it with our homemade curry that night. The children loved creating their bread and were super excited when it, "grew very big" in Buttercups words. They all loved eating it as well.
Fizzy moon rocks
You will need:
Baking soda 2 cups,
Black food colouring,
Vinegar (white wine or malt does the same thing),
Place two cup fulls of baking soda into a bowl (this is make 6 decent size moon rocks, so you can do less or more depending on how many you need) and add your glitter.
In a seperate cup mix the black food colouring with the water. It will get lighter when you mix it with the baking soda, so you will need to add a lot of food colouring if you want them dark.
Now slowly added a small amount of water at time and mix until you get a crumbly consistency. You want to form balls but it be able to crumble and break up.
Once you have formed your balls wrap them in foil, film or wrap and freeze them for half an hour. This will help them keep their shape.
Now give them to the children in a tub which can hold the liquid and resultant mess, a pipette and the vineger. We started with white wine vinegar but soon run out and just used malt.
The children loved the reaction as the vineger hit the baking soda and fizzed everywhere. It's such a great, easy science experiment for little ones which gives an exciting reaction for them to create themselves. This is great for discussions about space and the moon, telling stories of aliens and far off planets.
Daddy also took Bear and Buttercup up to bed one night (or several night in reality) and read about the emotional journey of Pluto from a planet to a dwarf planet ('A place for Pluto') and about dwarf planets in general and Bear's (rather random) favourite Makemake in particular in their new book 'my first book of planets'. It is a joy to see both Bear and Buttercup so interested and excited about space.
Button and Daddy started their new book, 'The girl who drank the moon'. We had hoped to read more than the three chapters we managed. However, I needed to explain bits and its more important that Button understands the book than we rush through it. We instead read some more at bed time. This continued as we read the book, bits here and there.
We then did some work on adverbs. Button picked it up pretty well, and probably grasped it more than verbs bizarrely. I wouldn't say she is 100% on them but I was impressed with her.
We then finished by doing a worksheet on John F Kennedy and his role in the space Race. It involved watching one of his important speeches. I hadn't realised how long it was but Button did well grasping most of it. We stopped it at points to discuss the points and ensure Button's understanding. Button then answered the three questions on the worksheet. Interestingly, Button referred back to one point in Kennedy’s speech (about the more you learn, the more you learn you don't know), a number of times throughout this topic.
Week 2 - The solar system
This week was all about the solar system. We had posters, YouTube videos, books and a puzzle to help us. The Twins are really into their kids tube music and can tell me most of the planets' order now and are learning about some facts that interest them now. Bear has informed me that Jupiter has a raging storm and Venus and uranus spin backwards, two facts I didn't know. So they are as ever, teaching me.
Their first two activities were really simple ones but really effective. The first was cutting and sticking the planets in the right order. They did this rather well, we had our planets book out in case they needed it but they didn't.
Their second sheet was colouring, they had to listen to instructions to complete the picture. This helped with their maths and listening skills. I read the instructions to them, "colour the 2nd planet from the sun yellow," we counted 2 planets together and they coloured it in with the colour stated. They did really well with this as well but Bear became bored just before the end. Buttercup loves colouring so was happy to finish it.
Brownie solar system
This was so cool to do, my three love baking so when a friend gave us a brownie recipe to try I knew we had to make it into a solar system. It was such a clever idea, just using some smarties to decorate the top of the brownie. The children made the brownie together with I just instructing them. Once they were cooled I drew the circles with icing and got them to place the planets around the sun. We spoke about the order and what colour we thought each should be it. I loved how it turned out and was super yummy.
Make a solar system
We got a kit from Baker Ross to create a solar system. I love Baker Ross though I always found their sets either to big or too small. However, this one was perfect. It was enough to make two solar systems and as I was only doing this activity with the Twins it was just what I needed. We first spoke about what colours we wanted for each planet and laid them all out. Then I worked out which planet was which and set them up with the planet, this way painting would run smoothly, I wouldnt get in a pickle and the Twins would not get impatient. We painted them in order of closest to the sun, so we could talk about each planet as we painted. Some planets were small enough to dip and roll others were big enough to paint with brushes. The Twins really loved this activity. We left them to dry over night then the next day I sat with each of them on their own to build their solar systems. This way they had some one on one time with me and could tell me what they knew. They turned out brilliant and both twins loved what they had created.
While the Twins made a great solar system with Mummy, Button learnt about it with Daddy. She did really well with her worksheets and took in a lot. She was able to describe the relationship between various celestial bodies in our Solar system, do a crossword and (mostly) differentiate between facts and fictions about Earth.
We read more of 'the girl who drank the moon' and also learnt about sentence clauses. Button was too hard on herself at first but got there and made me really proud as she grasped the difference between the main clause and subordinate clauses.
Playdough space counting
This was a quick activity I put together when the children were playing with their playdough. I drew ten planets and labelled them one to ten. I then made enough balls of playdough to fill each planet. I did this activity with the Twins one at a time so I could guage how well they knew their numbers. They loved having all my attention and showed off what they knew. Buttercup did clear counting out as she placed each ball on the planets, Bear found the right planets very quickly but thought he could cut corners by just putting a handful of balls on each planet. They both did really well though and I'm sure doing mathseeds the past week has really helped.
In an important update, Bear seems to have changed his favourite dwarf planet from Makemake to Haumea.
We also had the opportunity this month to test drive a new kids book before it is published in March.
It is called 'Let's tell a story: Space Adventure' by Lily Murray.
It fits our current space theme perfectly and is in the same vein as the You Choose books. However, I felt it took this style and improved it as it encouraged the kids to have more of a storyline running through. Button(7), Bear(3) and especially Buttercup(3) loved this book on first reading tonight. They really got into it and were laughing and being imaginative which was great to see.
I can definitely see us looking to buy this once it is published.
Week 3 - constellations
This week we decided to look at constellations with the Twins. I found some printouts on Etsy from Papaslon. They were great for little ones- a poster, some flash cards, some dot to dots and a matching game plus the instructions and printouts to make projection tubes.
The Twins found it really interesting that the stars made pictures in the sky but I'm not totally sure they grasped it. They loved doing the dot to dots and the matching game though.
We also touched on galaxies with all three of them. For the Twins we kept it simple: a galaxy is a cluster of stars and our galaxy is the milky way. For Button we spoke about how many stars are in one galaxy and the different types. We then googled some pictures of galaxies and the children painted their own ones. I then laid out a purple sheet and gave them their coloured pebbles to create their own galaxies. The Twins loved this activity, naming every planet they could think of even the dwarf planets. Then they used their rockets to play with their galaxy. It was so lovely to watch them play and incorporate what they had learnt naturally into their play.
Sticks and stones
We decided to make some of the constellations out of sticks and stone. The stones being the stars and the sticks the imaginary line joining the stars together. We used the printout from Papaslon to copy. This printout is great because the Twins could shout out the animal they wanted to create and then I would tell them it's real name. Button was fine reading them all and went for her star sign and then any that sounded like they came from Harry Potter. The Twins really enjoyed this activity, they needed a lot of guidance as to where to place each stick or stone but that didn't put them off and they created a few each. A brilliant idea to include nature with learning. If it wasn't pouring with rain I had planned to do it outside but hay ho.
Another day Daddy had a successful morning looking at the Zodiac with them all.
We started with a moon walk (I'm starting to think every school day should start with a moonwalk).
We then discussed our signs (Buttercup and Bear are Cancer, I'm Libra and Button is Pisces) and listened to our Horoscopes. Apparently I could look forward to being treated to a takeaway tonight?! Alas, I was disappointed.
It was now time for Button to do some worksheets, so I set up the twins with some mosaic pegs and @kapla to make constellations. I was really impressed with their efforts and how long they stuck at it.
Button did some great work with her worksheets looking at the signs in general, writing an acrostic poem, doing a word search and looking at her own sign and how accurate the traits are. She looked at both Western and Chinese Zodiacs as well as their connection to the four elements.
Our last space activity for this week was making some star crackers. These were simple to make, using only five ingredients and tasted yummy. The children loved making them and are a great snack for when they get peckish. The ingredients are stuff you probably have in your cupboards too.:
8oz of cheese
4tbsp of cold butter
Pinch of Salt
1 cup of plain flour
4tbsp of cold water
Chop the cheese into small pieces and blend until creamed. You might want a high setting on your mixer. Then add the butter and salt and cream them together. Once creamy add the flour and make a crumbly texture. Next add the water slowly, (you might need less, you don't want it sticky) and start to kneed it together into a ball. Flour your surface and roll out. You can cut them into any shape you like. Bake at 190 for 15-18 mins. Then enjoy
Week 4 - astronauts and space shuttles
This week is all about astronauts and space shuttles. We spent the weekend turning the learning room into a space shuttle as a surprise for the children. I used one of our old cardboard display tri-folds as the control panel, corks for buttons and knobs, cups as lights and printouts for the keyboard, temperature gauge etc. I even made a hand print key pad for them to use to blast off or sign in or whatever their imagination ran to.
Along with this we had a moon rock examination table, with rocks, weighing scales and magnifying glasses. We had flight plans for them to practise their handwriting skills as well as checks lists and observation sheets to really encourage their imagination. They could write or draw what they saw on their travels. We had some pictures of space equipment for them try and build using their blocks. We used emergency blankets around the room to give the feel they were in a space shuttle, made pouched space food from felt and printed job tags to wear around their necks. It was very cool and I can say it was a huge success. They loved playing astronauts and took it in turns to be the "captain" as they named it. Then the other two would do the flight plan and the check list. It was brilliant watching them play and tell me all the planets they were going to visit.
They then explored the rocks, all three of mine are rock mad so most of the time was spent with them, weighing them against their bears, drawing them and exploring them closer with their magnifying glasses, it was brilliant.
Button was set a little homework from Daddy so while she cracked on with that we built space shuttles and satellites from our blocks.
When they were starting to feel tired we settled down to watch a video we had found on YouTube about astronaut food- how and what they eat in space. It was two people who work for NASA eating an astronaut's diet for a week with clips from the space station and meal times. They found it really interesting and they asked for more. I then came across children trying astronaut food which they found funny. At this point they did not know we had some for them to try later in the week.
One day when we decided to get the @scarletts.sense playdough out, Button started to make a space cake, which I thought was an excellent idea and gave me the idea to encourage the Twins to make space rockets. We started by rolling a long sausage and then a cone or point to go on top. We added two wings and then decorated with some loose parts. Buttercup did really well copying me, which was great as it showed she was listening and taking in what I was doing. Bear created his own space craft which I loved, it showed he knew what I wanted them to create but did it in his own way. He made his using three balls, the biggest in the middle and then two smaller for the wings. Almost like something from Star Wars. He then decorated it with the shiny squares and was very particular where they went and which ones he used. Button went all out and used some of the stamps as her wings, I was so proud of all of their space crafts.
We then looked up some space yoga and space work outs on youtube and had a huge giggle trying to do them all. The children loved it.
Our last week of space was tinged with sadness as the kids (and us) have loved it. I'm amazed at how much the Twins have learnt in a few weeks and Button has covered loads too.
We finally got around to finishing Button mars expedition stem box we bought her from Amazon in the final week. She really enjoyed learning about magnets. The experiments are done in a really cool way with lots of extras like building the rover and it has a story to go along side the experiments, Button really loved it and asked if there was other sets available which is positive. Button said her favourite experiment was making Pepper float using a magnet and some string.
Button and Daddy did some great work about Early Astronomers. She learnt about Ptolomy, Aristotle, Copernicus and Galileo. The geocentric and heliocentric theories, the role of the church, telescopes and chose her favourite astronomer, which was Galileo.
???Astronaut food ???
We finally revealed the astronaut food to the kids during the last week. We have been so excited about this part of their learning. We gave them some rules just to give the feel of being in space:
1. The tray and the food packaging were magnetic, so if they place the food anywhere else other than the tray, it will float away. (Daddy would 'float' it away)
2. They can walk around and eat but they have to look like they are floating.
This helped them feel like they were real astronauts.
Before we started I reminded them of the YouTube video I had shown them earlier in the week, of the two people living on astronaut food for a week. I asked them if they remember what the people added to the food, Buttercup remembered it was water and we needed to add water to our pasta dish. I asked them if they remembered what would happen if we tear the top clean off the pouches and they said the part we ripped off would float away. So I was very careful as I ripped the pouches open.
We started with the fruit and veg bites, but they weren't keen. They were chalky in texture and were very strong in flavour, which we explained was because your taste buds are less effective at high altitudes. We then tried the pasta which everyone loved. Buttercup wasn't keen at first and normally she wouldn't go back if she disliked it but she did come back to try more and enjoyed it. We then tried the freeze dried grapes, these were probably the favourite food to try. They were demolished very quickly, mostly by the Twins but only because the rest of us were too slow. The last thing we tried was the ice cream. This was the most interesting one for the children. It wasn't frozen, or cold, or soft. Button said it was similar to meringue. Everyone loved the ice cream and Bear shared happily with the girls, feeding them bites before going in for more.
It was a brilliant experience for them, we floated food a few times for them to try and catch with their mouths which Bear loved. Definitely recommend for any space lovers.
The finale for Button was the space shuttle escape room Daddy had set up for her and Mummy to do.
The astronauts awoke on Apollo 27, having been hit by a meteor. Their crew had just been to the Moon collecting samples. They were almost two and a half days into their return journey to Earth when a meteor hit and spun them. The shuttle had lost power and was plummeting towards the sun. Houston could only get occasional video links to their ship to assist them in their six missions.
The video is now live on YouTube if you fancy a giggle:
It went really well apart from a couple of glitches (such as exploding fuel capsules) and Mummy and Button really enjoyed it.
Hopefully we can do something similar in the future, but it took a lot of planning so we will see.
Button's worksheets for this topic were from:
• <a href="https://kidskonnect.com/history/space-race/">Space Race Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com</a> - KidsKonnect, September 4, 2019
• <a href="https://kidskonnect.com/science/solar-system/">Solar System Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com</a> - KidsKonnect, May 4, 2018
• Kidskonnect.com <a href="https://kidskonnect.com/social-studies/zodiac-signs/">Zodiac Signs Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com</a> - KidsKonnect, January 14, 2019
• <a href="https://kidskonnect.com/people/early-astronomers/">Early Astronomers Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com</a> - KidsKonnect, May 8, 2019