Chemistry on SciFri

Chemistry is fun!

While LE has been into physics and biology, this was our first ‘official’ foray into chemistry. I have talked about the science we do in this post.

Today’s activity was to find and discuss the states of matter: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. (In case you were wondering, plasma can be shown in a plasma ball or a fluorescent light bulb. The glowing is actually caused by glowing plasma. In nature it is seen as lightning and the stars/sun.) DH also talked about Bose-Einstein Condensate. (JGI!) We filled balloons (solid) with water (liquid) and gas (air).

We also wrote these words up on card and put them on the wall. This is new for us, but something I have been trying to do more often as both a vocabulary building and reading practice exercise. It’s also something LE enjoys, as he loves to go to the wall later and ask questions about the words.

The experiment was to explore the weight of  eight different but similarly sized items, introducing concepts of density.

But the hit of the day was the periodic table videos! I showed him a periodic table, then let him loose on this site. I love this site for visual spacial learners! It features a periodic table, and each element is linked to a short video about it. The videos are well done. Each is very different and might contain experiments, stories about the discovery of the element and how it is used in real world applications or in the human body. The presenter has a sense of humour a lot like mine.  (Is that good or bad?)

I wouldn’t say LE got everything in those videos, but enough to really enjoy them, and for me to have a hard time getting my computer back!

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Chocolate Playdough

In honour of Easter, this month I made chocolate play dough. It was very simple, we just replaced a few tablespoons of the flour with cocoa. (Even better, it was a cocoa that was awful and not much good for cooking!). There are plenty of play dough recipes around, and they are all fairly similar.

Play dough is a fantastic toy for younger children. It is great for sensory development, hand-eye co-ordination and hand/finger strength. It is so versatile and FUN!

If you have a low tolerance for mess, I would suggest the use of a plastic place mat underneath that can then be put in the wash. If it gets on soft furnishings, leaving it to dry, then vacuuming usually works for me.

It is totally irresistable. I dare you to make a batch and NOT stick your own hands into it!

Our “Pink” Tower

I have been inspired!

I haven’t done very much in the way of making Montessori materials lately. I was overwhelmed. There seemed so much to do! Then I was reading “The Brain that Changes Itself” and thought how much Montessori style learning really suits this research, and in one of those weird coincidences that happens sometimes, someone else posted on a forum I use about Montessori homeschooling. Plus we have been spending a lot more time at home lately and we all need to do something new.

So I needed to I start somewhere. I needed something small and something I could actually accomplish, and something that could be used by both the children. So I sat down with my computer and trawled some email lists and albums and Montessori catalogs, and decided to start with the iconic pink tower. I didn’t have pink card, so I made a Green Tower. Yes, there probably is a reason it is pink, but with the effort involved in getting out of the house lately I figured something was better than nothing.

The pink tower is a set of ten wooden cubes, ranging in size from 1 centimeter cubed through to 10 centimeter cubed. They are designed to help the child develop sensory discrimination.

The Green Tower is made of green card, printed from a yahoo group I belong to. In order to simulate the ‘real’ pink tower, where weight is a factor, the Green Tower cubes are filled with rolled oats. (I needed something not too heavy and not too light). As soon as the glue dries, I think I will need to sure up the edges with some thick, clear tape. This is a method I can’t take credit for, I borrowed it.

And the results? I love the elegant simplicity of them. They will never be exceptionally strong, but I actually thought this might be a bonus for a few reasons. First, I didn’t think it would hurt the children to have something that they had to handle very carefully, and secondly I thought we wouldn’t be tempted to use them as simply another set of building blocks.

Tomorrow I will introduce the to the boys. I’m hoping my pride in my accomplishment will spill over into at least a little enthusiasm from them!  There is a little bit of information about how use the tower in this online Montessori album. (A Montessori album is an outline of the plan of lessons, materials etc that might take place in a Montessori setting.)

I am already planning to make some Brown Stairs using the same method soon. As soon as I get some brown card. In the meantime, I’m planning some rough and smooth tablets and some fabric matching.