BFIAR

So I’ve found that I tend to make it hard on myself when doing BFIAR.  I try to fit in every activity I can, all of the printables, etc. and end up exhausted from all of it.  A friend suggested doing BFIAR as a group and that seemed like a great solution.  We’ve got five families who get together to row books.  We read the book and then do an activity or two based on the book.  I’d like to extend the book a bit at home as well with some extra go-along books or with more activities or printables.  So far it hasn’t happened, but I have high hopes for this year!  It will help if I can get the printables ready in advance.  So far this is working for us, it takes some of the pressure off me and the kids like getting together with the other families.  Skeeterbug (8) is obviously way above the intended age of BFIAR but still enjoys the activities.  Unfortunately I don’t have pictures of all the activities we’ve done, but here are a few to help me remember.

The Carrot Seed.  We used carrots with leaves to make carrot prints.  Actually I think only Skeeterbug used the carrots, the others used paintbrushes.  Here’s his:

The Carrot Seed ~ Our Aussie Homeschool 

Ladybug.

The Carrot Seed ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

Jitterbug.

The Carrot Seed ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

Mama. (Mamabug?)

The Carrot Seed ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

We also made carrot muffins and planted carrot seeds.  Our seeds were a bit neglected and didn’t do too well!

Play With Me.  We met at a local reservoir to see what wildlife we could see.

We saw lizards.

Play With Me ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

This one is really hard to see, I promise he’s there!

Play With Me ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

A duck with her ducklings.

Play With Me ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

We tried our best to catch some little fish to look at but I don’t think anyone in our group was successful.

Play With Me ~ Our Aussie HomeschoolPlay With Me ~ Our Aussie Homeschool Play With Me ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

It turned in to a big water play session which was fun for all!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  We painted caterpillars and had caterpillar snacks made out of various fruits.  Kiwi for the body, etc.  This is Ladybug’s caterpillar impression.  See the blue handprint?  :)

Very Hungry Caterpillar ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

And Skeeterbug’s caterpillar pair.  It was a bit windy, thus the splatters.  Jitterbug was too busy playing to be bothered with art that day!

Very Hungry Caterpillar ~ Our Aussie Homeschool  

We also rowed a Christmas book, Aussie Jingle Bells.  No pics.  We made jingle bell bracelets, sang the song,  and made Christmas cookies. 

Great fun and great memories.  We hope to start up again soon.

Clouds in a Jar

Did you know there’s a Great Dark Spot on Neptune?  It’s a big storm like the Great Red Spot on Jupiter, but smaller.  The gaseous planets are covered in clouds.  To help understand why we made clouds in a jar.  This was a very easy activity.  You put hot water in a jar and add a lit match.  Cover the opening of the jar with a bag of ice and watch the cloud form.

  Clouds in a Jar ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

Can you see the mist escaping once the bag is removed?

Clouds in a Jar ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

Fascinating, right?

Clouds in a Jar ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

Give us a smile, Ladybug!

Clouds in a Jar ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

Jitterbug insisted we had to do it a second time.  He loved watching the cloud form.  Love how he climbed up on the table to get the closest possible view.

Clouds in a Jar ~ Our Aussie Homeschool 

So interested.

Clouds in a Jar ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

No, really!

Clouds in a Jar ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

So what does this have to do with the clouds on the gaseous planets?  The gas giants have a hot inner core, gases rise from it but once they hit the cold atmosphere they cool and clouds form.  Of course, the clouds on the gas giants aren’t made of water like they are here. 

Easy science project, fun for mum too because it was so easy and not at all messy!

Expansion of the Universe

Here’s a simple activity we did to help us understand how the universe is expanding.  We’d been reading about black holes and stars collapsing and such, and the Apologia text went on to reassure us that we don’t have to worry about getting sucked into a black hole.  Since the universe is expanding we are moving farther away from any black holes that may be out there.  To illustrate, Skeeterbug drew galaxies on a balloon that hadn’t been blown up.  Then we blew it up to show how they got further apart as the balloon expanded.  Pretty obvious, right?  But he didn’t believe me until we measured the distance between galaxies with a ruler!

Expansion of the Universe ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

This lesson on stars and galaxies is a bit longer than many of the others.  Just one lesson to go after this!

Rockets!

So it is summer here and we are using the month of January to finish up astronomy and do as much as we can in history.  In astronomy we’ve finished up through lesson ten (Saturn) out of fourteen lessons.  (Apologia is designed to take two weeks per lesson, though you can do it faster if you prefer.  We obviously didn’t get to it often enough during the year or we wouldn’t be playing catch-up right now!)  The project to go with the Saturn lesson is to make film canister rockets.  We did this back in December with our homeschool group.  We took it all to a park and all the kids made their own rockets.  I didn’t get any pictures since I was so busy filling up the canisters for all the kids, so I asked mine if they wanted to do it again, this time at home.  I didn’t think I’d get any arguments.  :)

I purchased film canisters on ebay.  I asked at a local film processor and they said they maybe get ten canisters a week.  For this project you need the Fuji-type canisters (generally white) where the lid fits snugly inside the canister instead of the kind that overlaps the side (generally black with a grey lid or white with a black lid).  I didn’t want to visit every film processor in town to round up enough for our project, there was no guarantee of finding the right type or enough of them.  So, ebay it was!

We drew some pictures and then taped them onto the film canisters, lid facing down.  Jitterbug drew a house with lightning and clouds around it.  He asked how to write ‘Kaboom’ and wrote it over to the side, can you see it?  That’s where the lightning hit.

Film Canister Rockets ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

Skeeterbug drew a shark among other things.

Film Canister Rockets ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

When I asked Ladybug what she was drawing she pondered for a moment before telling me it was a swimming pool.  Apparently my kids weren’t going for authentic-looking rockets!

Film Canister Rockets ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

We used Alka-seltzer tablets and water.  The tablets are quite large so we broke them into pieces.  They break very easily and crumble a bit so sometimes we used two or three small pieces.  We learned that the less water you put in it, the higher the rocket would go.  It was slightly windy so our rockets kept falling over in the breeze while we waited for them to explode (in the picture below it is falling over as I snapped the pic.)  We had some explode while laying on their side, it was fun to see the rocket go in one direction and the lid in another. 

Ladybug’s first rocket went as high as the roof.  She kept saying “I win!” because hers went the highest of the first round.

Film Canister Rockets ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

Skeeterbug’s first one didn’t go as high.

Film Canister Rockets ~ Our Aussie HomeschoolFilm Canister Rockets ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

Neither did Jitterbug’s.  After a couple of tries with the rockets they made we changed to plain film canisters.  Without the weight of the construction paper they went much higher.

Film Canister Rockets ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

Here’s Jitterbug placing his canister and running back to watch.  You can just see it on the ground directly behind him.  (It’s white, hard to see.)  The plain canisters were much more satisfying for the kids since they went higher.  As high as the roof sometimes, and we lost a couple over the fence.

Film Canister Rockets ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

When we did this with our friends at the park we also tried baking soda and vinegar.  I read online beforehand to wrap the baking soda in toilet paper squares to slow the interaction.  That allowed enough time for us to get the lid on before it exploded.  We varied the amount of baking soda to vinegar, and sometimes wrapped it in one square vs two.  The results weren’t great.  They often never exploded, or took a very long time to explode.  When we varied the amounts then often they exploded too quickly.  It was tough to get the right ratio, especially when working with so many kids, I couldn’t remember who had tried what.  When we did this again at home the kids didn’t want to do the baking soda version again. 

Be aware if you do this with the lid facing down, some of the liquid will leak out.  We did it this way to be able to tape the rockets onto the canisters.  As long as the lid is on tight it still works.  If you are just doing plain canisters you can turn them either way. 

I’m sure we will do this again sometime, it’s a fun activity.

Solar Eclipse

So way, way back in November there was a total solar eclipse that could be viewed here in Australia.  To get the total effect you had to be much further north than we are.  Here we got about a 40% blackout if I remember right.  It was early in the morning with the peak being about eight o’clock.  We headed to our local science museum to look through their telescopes.  Since it was so early in the morning there was a good turnout, families with kids stopped by before heading off to school.  They gave away eclipse glasses until they ran out, and they even had a sausage sizzle going.

Solar Eclipse ~ Our Aussie HomeschoolSolar Eclipse ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

Jitterbug brought his pal along.  :)

Solar Eclipse ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

They had one telescope set up to reflect onto a whiteboard.

Solar Eclipse ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

This is a colander held up so that you can see the eclipse through it.  So neat!

Solar Eclipse ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

You could even see it through the branches of the trees!

Solar Eclipse ~ Our Aussie Homeschool

Here’s a video of the total blackout as seen from Cairns (pronounced Cans) in the northern part of Queensland.  I think this was taken from the beach where crowds gathered to watch together.

There will be another solar eclipse in May this year, again viewable from northern Australia so I’m not sure how much we’ll see down here in Victoria.

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