Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Salamander Room

The Girl chose The Salamander Room as our last FIAR book before Christmas. I looked in the FIAR Vol 3 manual and saw that it was very light on certain days and realised we could do this book in 3 days - which was handy because we were out and about 2 days last week :)

It is the story of a little boy, Brian, who finds a salamander in the forest and takes it home to keep as a pet. The rest of the book is a conversation between him and his mother about how he will care for the salamander.

We briefly discussed the mother/son relationship as recommended in the manual and concentrated on the Language Arts activities instead. We looked at parallel construction  and used a mini-book from HSS for The Boy. Meanwhile, The Girl wrote a short story that involved a change of setting. We also discussed reading for knowledge and looked at some of our non-fiction books that had entries on salamanders.

They enjoyed the Art activity in the manual (as always). We looked at the pictures and they noticed for themselves how the illustrations spill further and further out into the frames which made that day go very easily. The Boy made himself a minibook and then wrote a short story which he illustrated in a similar style, with the pictures slipping further and further into the surrounding frames.

The Girl devised her own activity. She looked at an old book on sketching and used the ideas in it to draw something from nature with a fantasy twist. She thought that the illustrations spilled more into the frames as Brian's fantasy grew larger and so she wanted to incorporate fantasy elements into her drawing.

We skipped the Maths section completely and went straight on to the science activities. We went on a nature walk, not on the beautiful sunny Autumn afternoon when I suggested it. Oh no, we had to go the next morning in the rain :/ Actually, it was lots of fun. They put their wellies on and declared it a water walk and splashed through puddles and squelched in mud. Very amphibious ;)

Back home, we talked about vertebrates and got out a pack of Animal Families cards, dividing them into vertebrates and invertebrates, along the lines suggested in the manual. We also looked at the lifecycle of the Salamander and its place in the food chain. The Girl did some beautiful illustrations and The Boy did a minibook from HomeSchoolShare.

Seeing as how The Boy only had 3 minibooks and a picture, we made a Really-Mini-Lapbook which basically consisted of a piece of A4 card folded in half. We stuck one minibook on each half and then sewed his story into the middle, like pages :) He's very pleased with it.

We watched a 1920 film showing the development of a salamander from egg to adult, and were sent a link to this catchy little number from a friend. I think this song inspired the Boy's story. Thanks J :)

After all that, I thought it would be fun to go and look at some real salamanders. They're not native to this country so I rang The Manchester Museum to see if they had any in their vivarium. They were very helpful and I booked us in for a vivarium tour.

What a fab day we had!!!! We were the only people on the vivarium tour and this gave us the chance to see lizards and chameleons close up and out of their tanks. We even got to see the chameleon being fed, I was so excited I clapped (blush). The museum staff were great, very friendly and enthusiatic about their work. I never knew amphibians could be so interesting :)

Then, as the salamanders aren't on public display, we were taken into the back room where they care for and breed many rare species of amphibians - mainly tree frogs - of which we saw some amazingly colourful ones, some that had been thought to be extinct until recently. And we got to see some fire salamanders from Corsica. Fantastic! The kids said it was their best afternoon EVER ;)

Baby salamander

Adult salamanders
Useful Links
BBC page
Kids National geographic page
List of Facts page
lifecycle printable
Colouring sheet
More colouring sheets
And more colouring
Make a paper salamander
Online jigsaw

Useful Books

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Silent Stir Up Sunday

Friday, 23 November 2012

Currclick Cyber-Monday Sale

 Just in case anyone doesn't already know, Currclick are having their annual Cyber Monday sale and there will be 8 freebies to find and 2 extra on their Facebook page. This is a 48 hour only event starting on 26th November.
And yes, I'm plugging this because I'm an affiliate, so if you click on the little advert above, I might get a few pennies if you spend some money and it won't cost you anything extra :)
Cheers :)

Friday, 9 November 2012

Reed Boats, Patchwork and Fossils

We've been so busy around here. Too busy to blog, it would appear :/
Mostly, they've been carrying on with all their usual activities - cornet, singing, swimming, drama, Little Ninjas, beavers, scouts and more singing, as well as extras - Jazz parades, HE workshops, Scout camps, Halloween, Bonfire Night and two weeks of free cinema with National Schools Film Week....
The Boy and friends' Egyptian reed boat
The Girl and friends' Egyptain reed boat
And when at home, we've been trying to do music practice - cornet for the Girl and xylophone for The Boy, maths, spy school (The Boy), Story of The World (we finally made it to the Greeks), English (The Girl got newfound enthusiasm and did 15 pages of her book in one day!), Five in a Row and lots of crafty stuff.
I've mainly been knitting gloves and mittens and The Girl has been learning how to do American style quilting thanks to another HE mum :)

We've also been doing some work on fossils and learning about Mary Anning for our next bookgroup session. The book this month was Stone Girl Bone Girl: The Story of Mary Anning of Lyme Regis by Laurence Anholt. Conveniently, the BBC put on some Mary Anning related programmes - True Stories Part 1on iplayer, a secondary schools programme, the 1st of the Dinosaurs episodes of Time to Move on BBC schools radio. And yes, I do have to dance around the living room with them....it's cheaper than a gym ;)
The BBC also have an audio slideshow of her life, and a news article of the ichthyosaur fossil that she found returning to Lyme Regis after 200 years..
We looked at our fossil collection and used the Fossil Detective Field Guide to identify them. This was a free publication from the OU via the BBC a few years ago (I knew it would come in useful one day :D) but you can download it for free from here.