Sunday, September 16, 2012

Seven Snippets (9.16.12)


We don't have TV service and we rarely watch anything on Netflix or DVD, but Gerrick was in a viewing mood one afternoon this week.  We scrolled through the bazillion choices on Netflix and he finally decided on Being Elmo, which we found to be fantastic!  He was inspired to make a couple of sock puppets and practice making different voices. He also talked about how he hadn't found his special gift yet (other than imagination).  This film really had him reflecting on the importance of trying new things so that he may find talents he doesn't even know he has.


He spent a lot of Tuesday standing on our picnic table.  He has lots of conflicting emotion concerning this construction.  He is fascinated by the machinery, but upset about the loss of the open land and trees.  Today we were able to walk out and get a closer look at what is going on since they weren't working.  They've been laying sewer pipe under what will be the next street behind us.  It looks like they are also preparing a large pond/small lake in the very back of the subdivision property.


He made his first notes on our new board!  These are things he wants me to help him do.
  • view sand in microscope
  • view germs in microscope
  • make ink
  • shine a flashlight like the sun on his earth ball


He's been making Halloween plans and even called a family meeting to discuss the details.  This year we will be doing lots of decorating.  Gerrick will be a mummy; I will be a vampire; Rick will be Frankenstein.  He wants to stay home and hand out candy to trick-or-treaters, play board games, tell ghost stories, and read Harry Potter!


This week he has spent most evenings playing LEGO Batman on the Wii.  I think he has spent as much time reading the walkthrough guide as actually playing!


Reading about Christopher Columbus inspired him to pull out his loom and start making a coaster for me to keep on my desk!  (Columbus's father was a wool weaver, and when he was young, Columbus worked with him.)

I still love the one he made back in June and use it every single day on the end table in the family room.


There was a good deal of magnet play and exploration at the end of this week.  After our magnet lessons on Friday, he pulled out his Magnetix and has been playing with them most of the weekend.

Have a great week! 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Magnets & Magnetic Fields (BFSU A-5A)

1.  Properties of Magnets

I gave Gerrick a horseshoe magnet and asked him to find things around the house that are attracted to it (reminding him to keep it away from electronics because magnets can damage the information stored on them). After he spent about 10 minutes doing this, we discussed that magnets are only attracted to metals containing iron.

I then gave him the kit I purchased (minus the book, the compass, and the iron filings) and a few of our other magnets.  After a few minutes of play, I explained that all magnets have two "ends" called the north-seeking pole and the south-seeking pole.  Opposite poles attract, but like poles repel.  However, both poles are attracted to iron that is not another magnet.  Together we played with the materials more, paying special attention to these properties.  He then completed a prediction activity concerning whether certain magnet placements would attract or repel each other (pg. 11 of this pdf from The NEED Project).

2.  Magnetic Fields

Using iron filings on a file folder and a horseshoe magnet held beneath, we demonstrated the presence of a magnetic field. 

"This shows what we call a magnetic field around the poles of the magnet.  Each pole has a magnetic field of attraction that affects iron particles. That magnetic field is always there, although we can't see it. The iron filings only make its presence visible." (BFSU, Vol. 1, p. 75) 

(Best we could get it to work)
Next week we'll try it this way!

Magnetic fields can penetrate most materials.  This was demonstrated above with the file folder and in the following activities with cardboard and plastic:

magnetic drawing
moving a magnet under a box lid of iron filings

magnetic painting
moving a magnet under a plastic tub to move the magnetic marbles through paint on cardstock

magnetic sensory bottles
plastic bottles with iron filings and pipe cleaner pieces

Iron basically captures and holds the magnetic field.  For example, paper clips (that contain iron) capture the magnetic field and conduct it along their length.

3. The Earth's Magnetic Field

"Earth itself acts as a huge, but relatively weak magnet.  The magnetic north pole of Earth is in the area of (but not exactly at) the geographic North Pole." (BFSU, Vol. 1, p.77) 

I read aloud the book What Makes a Magnet?, which does a great job of explaining magnets and the earth's magnetic field clearly and simply.

We made a needle magnet and then used it to make a compass as demonstrated in this book, proving that if a magnet can move freely, it will turn so that its north-seeking pole points toward Earth's north magnetic pole.  

We also hung a bar magnet from a two-foot piece of yarn to find North.  This activity is suggested in BFSU and is also the same concept explained in What Makes a Magnet? that some sailors used with a piece of magnetite before compasses were invented. 

You can find more of our BFSU-inspired activities here.
This post will be linked at Science Sunday.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Seven Snippets (9.08.12)


Lots and lots o' LEGO building this week--here are just a few examples:

-A mine inspired by the cover of the latest LEGO magazine-

-a castle and a battle plan-

-a defensive wall and battlefield (with working catapults)-


We also went to the LEGO store so that he could get a cute owl, the free monthly build.


At history club he enjoyed panning for gold in the creek.  He is also super excited that he made a new friend there this month. From the things he told me, she sounds like a great kid!


We've been seeing lots of grasshoppers in our yard.


One morning we saw a pandora sphynx moth on our patio screen door.  It stayed there all day, and we really got to observe it closely.


We enjoyed a quiet afternoon at the zoo, where we got to see a 'gator up close and later met friends at the playground.


He decided he wanted to make a painting with multiple white hands of Saruman.  He taped two pieces of cardboard together and asked me to put my hand print in the center because he wanted one big one in the middle with other smaller ones all around it. 


Today, I did a little updating to the area behind his end of the work table.  I wanted to get IKEA expedit shelves, like in this photo I saw on pinterest, but I decided to not spend the money and, instead, to try to pull together some things from around the house.  We like the outcome.  The map was always there, but I added the bench and everything else.  The bulletin board is a place for him to hang works in progress.  The basket holds various cardstock, colored paper, binders, etc.  There is plain white paper on the bench for easy access, as well as our current picture for artist study and a large glass jar in which I will put cardboard tubes and other items I come upon that I think he may find useful.

Leaned below the bench is our new dry-erase board--made with a re-purposed frame!  As he does his daily chores and we complete lessons, he can check them off.  In the center is space where we can leave notes for each other.  I am also encouraging him to write reminders here about things he wants to do.  At the end of each day, I can just wipe off (leaving any notes that need to remain) and write the lessons list for the next day.  

Have a great week! 


Thursday, September 06, 2012

Day, Night, and Maps (BFSU D-2, D-3, D-3A)

-referring to the zoo map-

Since Gerrick (at age 8.5) is already familiar with the concepts covered in these lessons, I thought I would just skip them.  On further consideration, I decided to just pick up a few library books for review.  We read and discussed the following:

Day and Night and the Earth's Rotation (D-2)--

Reading and Drawing Maps (D-3)--

North, South, East, and West (D3-A)--

You can find more of our BFSU-inspired activities here.

Distinguishing Materials (BFSU A-5)

--We brainstormed and discussed the major categories of materials (according to BFSU, Vol. 1, p.66):
    • Metal (includes iron/steel, aluminum, copper, chrome, lead)
    • Plastic (all types)
    • Wood and wood products (includes paper of all sorts)
    Clay/Stone (includes ceramics, cement, bricks)
    Fibers (thread, string, fabrics and textiles of all sorts)

--We brainstormed and discussed characteristics of different materials (i.e., texture, transparency, hardness, elasticity, etc.) and why a given material may be used for certain items.

--He did the year 2 and year 3 activities on ChemiCroc.

--While at the zoo later in the day, we discussed lots of the materials we saw and why they may have been selected. 

--I've put these books on the coffee table: 
Guitars from Start to Finish
Skateboards from Start to Finish 
Ships from Start to Finish

You can find more of our BFSU-inspired activities here.