MARCH 2020: STEM AT HOME WITH SHARPERTHINKER
THE "HELP I'M QUARANTINED WITH KIDS" ISSUE!
Here we are and March 2020 is looking a bit different to how we planned!
Stefan and I have been working very hard on our new fun physics kits and you can see these featured in the newsletter: The Marshallow Launcher 3000! (Yes the exclamation mark is part of it). And the Doodle Noodle Drawbot. See more below 🙂
Let's share some fun and joy where we can this month! I hope you enjoy our ideas - you can sign up for this newsletter at the bottom of the page. First up, I've also included the suggested "daily routine" you can follow with primary/intermediate age kids. On a personal note, I've (Sophia) homeschooled for 12 years so I find a loose routine works well for us. I hope it helps. Let's get into it!
Day 1: Periodic Table of cupcakes
Day 2: How the moon works
Well, yes, it's more food. Here's Science Bob who gives all the phases and names for you.
What's quite nice about this is you get the kids to research the names and how to best sculpt their Oreo cookie to match. It means that over your self-isolation time, you could even - gasp! - make nightly observations about which phase the moon is in.
Then eat the Oreo that matches?
Day 3: Make Soap
Obviously we all want to wash our hands like mad.
I stole this photo from PureNature NZ but it's ok because I'm going to recommend their soap making kit. I thought I'd find a recipe for you but it occurred to me that none of us will have the ingredients lying around.
So I googled NZ Soap Kits and, voila! Go here to buy a kit. (Let's support NZ business right now)
But there are some people who still really want to know how to make soap! So, just for you, visit: This NZ Life. It has everything, including the recipe.
Day 4: Upcycled Rainbow Windsock
The wind is coming and if there's one thing you'll have at home, it's recycling. So why not make this cool Windsock from the Kids Craft Room!
You may not have lots of stored Christmas ribbon to recycle for this but there will be something you can improvise with - even if it's simply colouring in some paper and taping it on.
Leave it tied outside the window and enjoy watching it. For a science extension, observe and tell each other from which direction the wind is blowing!
Day 5: Make the marshmallow launcher 3000
NEED A LITTLE FUN? NEED A LITTLE PHYSICS?
It's hard to find kits for the age- group 9+ - we're here to help.
One of the cool things about designing your own kits is that when all the guys get excited about a kit that fires marshmallows at high speed - there seems no reason why we shouldn't make it.
Obviously, it teaches physics as well so you can feel quite justified in buying it for educational purposes.
So far our games have been: Who can adjust the trajectory so it fires the furthest? Who can get it to fire into a cup of Milo? After a few goes, you do need to eat the mallows because they get a bit sticky. So that's a downside...!
Have a look in our shop for all the details of this kit here.
Day 6: POM POM Easter Bunnies
I made so many pom poms as a girl - these look a wonderfully easy method because you just use your fingers.
Make pom poms, cut out some ears and eyes from felt or paper, glue on and boom!
Believe it or not, this really qualifies under engineering and use of materials. Handling wool, string and fabric does help our kids understand what is the best use of these materials.
Find the tutorial at: Wonderful DIY
Day 7: Water cycle in a bag
Thank goodness, Rookie Parenting have done all the work for us.
This link gives you exactly what you need, what to draw and how to explain the Water Cycle to kids.
Another good experiment because you can leave it in place for a few days and observe condensation, evaporation etc. Just make sure the bag doesn't have any holes!
Day 8: make a doodle, noodle drawbot
These are pretty cool and there's a lot of time involved (bonus). Kids put the circuit together - and then experiment for quite a while trying to get their Drawbot to draw in lines or circles or wobble dots!
There are several ways to make this bot.
One is, if you already have a motor, switch and battery box from previous kits, check out Science Buddies and follow their instructions for a Wobbly Bot. (You can also buy motors, switches and various equipment from Jaycar or Surplustronics - or pull apart an old $2 shop fan or motorboat and see if you can use those old bits!)
Another way is to use use our Go Motor Base Kit which allows your kids to make their own wooden battery box, as well as getting a motor and switch tile. All of these can just be blu-tacked or taped on to your plastic container (rather than having to use sharp craft knives). You can also use our free downloadable FACES pdf to decorate your own Drawbot.
Or, make it easy and just buy the full kit. This gives you everything including the pens, rubber bands and neat wooden chassis. It's up to you! Learn more here. And remember, it's FREE SHIPPING throughout NZ this March when you use the code "TOGETHERNZ" at checkout.
Day 9: Still have toilet rolls? Make a Rube Goldberg machine
Who was Rube Goldberg?
"Reuben Garrett Lucius Goldberg...is best known for his popular cartoons depicting complicated gadgets performing simple tasks in indirect, convoluted ways."(Wikipedia).
One of the famous NZ Goldberg machines was "Creme That Egg" - a viral YouTube video by Joseph Herscher showing the best way to smash a Cadbury Creme Egg.
Feeling inspired? Instructables.com have a whole host of ideas for making simple Goldberg machines. Check it out but be prepared for your lounge to become one giant invention!
Day 10: STORIES; HISTORY; NANOGIRL; WE HEART RNZ
I think it was Albert Einstein who said: "If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want your child to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales."
Here's a free way to get more stories from RNZ Storytime. NZ Audiobooks read out loud by accomplished actors!
And while we're on the subject, don't forget their incredible RNZ History Channel on YouTube.
Let's also enjoy Nanogirl's podcast - full of science questions kid's ask. What a rich resource we have in you darling RNZ. All quality. Like us! But free 😉
Day 11: LEGO SECRET CODES
Lego. Secret codes. What else do you need to know really?
I should probably just copy Sarah's entire website onto our page but, once again, I got this idea from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls.
If the kids don't want it to end then head over to Marshmallow and Mint and see Rachel's latest holiday pack available as a download and as a kit. She did Secret Agents this time - remember how much fun spy stuff was as a kid?!
This is also a local to NZ company so we love them.
Day 12: Marble runs
Alright, who stockpiled all the toilet paper?
You're in a good place to make a marble run. No, there's no instructions - let the kids use their imaginations and add to your marble run every time you get another empty roll! Send us photos - we could all do with some inspiration!
Image 2: PowerfulMothering.com
Day 13: Make Marshmallow eggs
It is Easter coming up soon and a reminder to celebrate "new life".
We flavoured half with rose essence and made a white chocolate shell. The other half were orange essence and a dark chocolate shell. I can say these were the best easter eggs we've ever had.
Did you know you can just use good quality (Whittakers) chocolate if you don't like baking chocolate.
Be aware that this recipe calls for a large dish and at least a kg of flour. This is so you can make "molds" for the eggs using a real egg as your shape. Don't worry, you then return all the flour and use it as normal so it isn't wasteful.
You'll also need gelatin and glucose syrup (from supermarket) if you make this recipe.
Image and recipe from: foodlovers.co.nz
Day 14: Connect 4 Fractions
True story - I was uploading this image and my 15-year-old homeschooled child said; "But mum, we never did this and it doesn't look that fun really."
True, Connect 4 is pretty fun and this may ruin it. But I guess this shows that it isn't necessary to always go and buy new games. If you google card or dice games - you'll find heaps of new ways to play.
And if someone in your house needs a little fraction practice, we suggest baking cakes or pizza and cutting it into lots of 1/3, 1/6, 1/2 etc. But this looks more fun to me than writing it out on a worksheet. If you are looking for help and resources for maths, we have an incredible, world best, website in: https://nzmaths.co.nz/families-and-wh-nau
Check out how to make this Connect 4 game at: No Time For Flashcards.
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Arohanui everyone - stay safe this month -
Sophia (& Stefan in Russell says 'Hi')
PS: Despite wearing quite good glasses, they aren't safety glasses. So Stefan insisted I wear these as I watched the lasercutter cut out some speaker kits. Because, you know, light and lasers = dangerous for eyes. I'm sure there's a better solution than this...