Monday, 15 December 2014

Although the weather has turned cold, Charlie still wants to go out on walks across the Downs with me or his Dad. As the nights draw in, we have watched the sun go down during our late afternoon walks.

At home, Charlie has been studying science by completing his first Crest Star challenge. I signed him up for it because he loves science and enjoys being creative and inventive. Crest Star is described as 'a UK-wide award scheme enabling children, usually 5 - 11, to solve science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) problems through practical investigations'. You can sign up through the British Science Association website. It's not free, but there are free investigations available on the website if you don't want to pay for the full scheme.

Charlie's first challenge was to build a 'band roller'. This experiment demonstrated the physics of forces and motion, as well as exploring the need for alternative technologies in the face of climate change.

Before starting on the challenge, we looked at a wind-up lantern to see how it worked. We also watched a video about Trevor Bayliss and how he invented the clockwork radio. 

After laying the required equipment out on the table, Charlie set about creating his own version of an energy-saving 'clockwork' gadget.

Work in progress
The completed band roller

The model worked first time. After playing with it for a bit and seeing how fast it could go and what would slow it down or speed it up, Charlie set about making some modifications.

The material from the British Science Association also features extra challenges to encourage thinking and creativity.

In History, we have been studying Boudicca and her revolt against the Romans. We explored how people form different opinions on historical events, depending on their viewpoint. In particular, we looked at the different ways Boudicca's rebellion was regarded by the Celts and the Romans.

 Charlie drew a comic strip describing the events of Boudicca's rebellion.

In between lessons, we have found time to play a game we have just bought called  City of Zombies, which has had excellent reviews and won numerous awards, including Best Family Game Gold Award and Best Numeracy Game Gold Award. Charlie has grown up with talk of zombies, thanks to having a much older brother, so I thought this might appeal to him. One of the advantages of the game is that you have a choice of either cards featuring cartoon-style zombies, for younger or more sensitive children, or cards featuring more hard-core, gruesome zombies for older children. Charlie chose the former.

The game is easy to set up and play, with a simple premise: you are a hero who has rescued a number of survivors (represented with survivor cards and your chosen hero card). You are sheltering behind the barricades, waiting for the rescue plane to arrive and carry you to safety. In the distance, six zombies (each zombie card featuring a number) are approaching you. You roll three dice and try to work out the best mathematical combination to zap the numbers on the zombie cards. You must use all three dice, but you can use any kind of maths: adding, subtracting, multiplying and so on. You can even 'power up' (square) the numbers on your dice. If you manage to match the number on a zombie card, or two, they are removed to the zombie graveyard. As you and your partner or team finish each round, the zombies move closer, but so does the rescue plane. Can you kill all the zombies before the plane arrives?

This game has been a good, fun way for Charlie to practise his mental maths.

Cartoon-style zombie

From zombies to Christmas preparations: Charlie enjoyed making a gingerbread house at the end of last week.

He wanted to eat it all straight away, but I persuaded him to put it up for decoration. After all, it really does look too good to eat.


  1. What a huge amount of resources you have shared here - thank you:) I'm glad that you didn't use dormouse - tee hee. I often use cookery as a part of our history studies as well because it really helps bring the time period to life.
    I am really interested in the passport thingy and will be looking into that myself tomorrow.
    Thanks so much for sharing all of this and I will be bookmarking this page to refer back to for ideas.

    1. Hi Pru, glad you liked the resources. No, we couldn't find any dormice to use for our Roman cookery. Maybe next time...! The Little Passports subscription is fun, but not very in depth. I use it as a springboard to further discussions and my son enjoys receiving something in the post for him and especially likes the little gift included each time (eg. an origami set and a camera featuring photos of Paris).