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….. We make
….. We explore
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Three children *** One big, grey dog *** Two parents *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That’s us!

We’ve been blogging since January 2010.

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Just a thought….

“A moment spent in wonder is worth a lifetime spent in awe.”

 

Life

Thank you….

  • K I think that dress is great. Very sophisticated. The color and texture of the fabric work perfectly. Had to laugh about the dog because mine... 26 Jul
  • Kate Thanks for sharing your tips. Put cream on the strawbs and you will be fine 26 Jul
  • Musings of a tired mummy...zzz... I love experimenting with filters on Instagram and then just put it back to normal when I post! I do like black and white pics... 25 Jul
  • Helena Love the colour of the material and the fish. I also think it's great that you've taken something and put your own twist on it.... 25 Jul
  • Craft Mother That is inspirational. Gives me hope that I can do it. Interesting about flexibility. I hadn't thought of that. Possibly I need to look into... 25 Jul
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Time to smile

"God has an inordinate fondness for stars and beetles."

- J B S Haldane

Debs Random Writings

education

Investigating map contour lines – Education Craft

I love maps. I love opening them out on the table like a cloth. Leaning forward and scanning every inch in detail. I can quite easily lose time pouring over a map. Reading the names and studying the lay of the land. Each teasingly hint at long forgotten stories. The most tantalizing ones duly noted to be explored on foot one day.

You need to be able to read a map to fully appreciate it. The key to the symbols is found at the side, but to bring the map to life, you need to be able to turn the flat 2d representation into a 3d version in your mind. It takes practise.

The other day we were pouring over a map. The Teen was off on an expedition. Seeing as she had a heavy pack to carry, we were paying close attention to the contour lines.

Youngest joined in. What were contour lines? I explained that the closer the lines were the steeper the land would be. The further apart, then the flatter the land.

Then he gave me that “Ah” that I’ve heard so many times before. The one that means he kind of understands, but he doesn’t. It’s the same “Ah” that sent me off, a few years back, baking castle cookies to explain erosion and why castles become ruins.

So I came up with a plan. One to make sure he truly understood map contours. I’d chose a set of map contour lines that would fit completely on a piece of A4 paper, that he would recognize and we could turn them into a 3d model. I chose Glastonbury Tor. It was ideal. A hill surrounded by flatter land. It stands out in the Somerset Levels landscape. Plus it’s a landmark we often use in our local travels, so the Boy knows it well.

Here’s how we made a 3D model from a map

Step 1. Photocopy part of a map and scale up one part of it that will be your model. We used 1:25,000 map and scaled it by 10.

Step 2. Using blue-tack, we temporarily fixed the map, face-up, to a piece of cardboard. Cut all the way round the contour line nearest the edge.

Step 3. Remove the middle part of the map and fix it to another piece of cardboard and repeat step 2 and 3 until all the contour lines have been cut around.

Step 4. You should have a pile of cardboard map sections, increasing in size. Number them now, before they have a chance to get out of order. Make sure they are flat.

Note: You don’t have to be too precise, it’s up to you. If it is very steep, then contour lines run into each other and can become difficult to separate when you are cutting. This is not meant to be a perfect scale model, just a way to introduce contours.

Step 5. Check the height between each of the contour lines on the map. On our map it was 5 metres. I roughly worked out that the scale we had made, we could space our different map layers by 1cm. Youngest was sent scurrying around the house, with a ruler, to locate suitable spacers. We found jam jar lids and bottle cap were just about right.

Step 6: Build up the map layers with a spacer in between each one. (The Tor doesn’t look quite so tall in real life, so I think our calculations or measuring may be slightly too generous, but the Boy didn’t mind. He got the idea)

3d model complete!

Extension Learning:

» Looking down on top, we saw how the contours of the model resembled the printed map.

» We took out layers and left every third one. The hill has now lower, but it was also less steep. We compared it to the top five layers of the original model. Same height, but one was steeper than the other.

» We looked from on top to see how the contour lines were now spaced further apart.

»The Boy asked how would we know if it was going up hill or down. We looked back at the real map and saw the numbers on the contour lines. The numbers decreased as they went down hill and increased as we went up hill.

I do love a project that starts with a question. I have a feeling that next time we go walking, the Boy is going to be a lot more interested in the map.

Sharing. Good idea.

Recharge

Have you ever noticed how a tech gadget recharges faster if you don’t use it at the same time? Or software downloads in no time, if you’re not googling cookie recipes? A page loads in seconds, if you’re not flicking to other apps? It’s the same with us humans. We recharge so much quicker if we’re not multi-tasking. This week, I’ve done just that. Apart from an hour sending out emails, I’ve switched off work.

A chance to rediscover how much I love to pin and cut out fabric ready for sewing. Using my hands to make something real. Using my old, hand cranked, Singer, sewing machine to stitch up pyjamas. Slow, but that is good. It’s easy to concentrate on the finishing line and forget to enjoy the journey.

There have been walks and bike rides. Spotting the changing season. Books read. Games played. Eggs hunted.

A visit to a church. After a busy day in the garden, we had lunch at a pub near Cheddar, to recharge. Followed by picking up strawberries from our favourite roadside stall. We were happily munching the strawberries, overlooking the Somerset Levels, when we spotted a church.

Making a model of a church is on the list of homework to complete, so we decided to do a bit of research. Wrong era, as it turned out. When we went in, we found a team of lovely, friendly people getting the church ready for the Easter service. First time I’ve ever been offered a broom on entering a church!

We were so lucky, as one of the busy helpers took us on a tour of the church. Pointing out features we would have overlooked and telling us the history. The children loved it. Soaking in all the information. They discussed so many points on the way home in the car.

We were really struck at how the scene in the church would have been repeated for the last five hundred years. Cleaning the church before the Easter service.

It may have been the wrong era, but it gave a boost of energy to her history homework.

Wednesday we headed to Wells for school essentials. I popped into my favourite charity shop (OK, I have several favourites.) I’m on a hunt for interesting egg cups at the moment. While there, I spotted a clutch of biscuit cutters. There is one here that really caught my attention. Not quite showing, but I’m sure I’ll be posting up the results soon.

I’ve not baked biscuits for a while. Finding the cutters refired my enthusiasm.

The coming week and next is going to be very busy. I’m really glad I had time to recharge. Not just me. I know the children have too. They have busy terms ahead of them.

It’s not quite over yet. Still time to stock up on a bit more fun. I’d say “make hay while the sun shines”, but slightly too early for that.

The Reading Residence
Sharing. Good idea.

Dear Daughter: About running the wrong race

Dear Daughter

This quilt block (Contrary Wife) very nearly escaped being made. After the last block, I had enough patchwork pieces to make up your Dear Daughter quilt. Albeit, as a square, but a chance to finish the quilt. Hooray, I thought. Then I remembered a letter I wanted to include, which meant another block had to be made.

My square quilt no longer worked, with this plus one. I need to sew more blocks to make the quilt into a rectangle shape.  Six more required after this one. It would have been even more if I’d wanted to make it square again.

The upside is that I can choose more patterns to include in your quilt. Play with more combinations of fabric. Maybe dig out a few bits of advice to share, in the form of letters, which brings me nicely onto the subject of this latest Dear Daughter letter.

(Contrary Wife quilt block no 21 and harp tuning key)

I’ve told you this story many times. You even join in on the punch line, but it seems amiss to not include it as one of my Dear Daughter letters. It is a lesson I learnt too late. If I could send a letter to my younger self, this is the one I would choose. Without a doubt.

I’ll start at the beginning. In secondary school, at the stage they now call KS3, I found school work relatively easy. With a little bit of work, I could get good marks. I’d be one of those students that everyone automatically assumed would be in the group, getting the top test scores, each time. It was great. I liked it. It opened doors to other learning opportunities. I was in top sets. Before long, this meant that the work I was set was challenging and that was spot on for keeping me interested and focused.

There was, however, one fly in the ointment. I could never reach the accolade of first. Leader boards were posted up on classroom walls, telling us who came first, second, third, etc. Awful when I think back to it. I don’t want to think about the long term effect of these lists on the students that tussled for last place each time.

In reality, it really didn’t matter if it was posted up on the wall or not. We all compared scores and places among ourselves. We all knew who was doing better than us or who we were beating. I know it’s the same for you. You tell me who did better than you. Sometimes adding an “of course, X got a higher score than me”.

I’m jumping ahead. In my story, the fly in the ointment was one particular person. We’ll call him D. I could never beat him. It got to a stage when even fellow classmates were aware and would joke as test marks were handed out. I didn’t always come second. There were a group of us that jostled around to get the top positions, but none of us broke through to the top spot. There may have been the odd occassion, but there was always a good reason, such as D hadn’t taken the test, which would mean I still hadn’t beaten him.

I was competitive. I wanted to beat him.

To such an extent that my actual score became unimportant. What was the point of getting 89%, let’s say in the test, if I only ranked 2nd or 3rd?  Getting the first position was all that mattered. Now this is not a good mindset, to say the least. It is unsustainable. To run a race everytime for first place and, at best, achieve second each time, eventually something had to give in my young mind. It took me years, but eventually I gave up. I stopped caring. I was never going to win. I was beat. I no longer cared if I did well.

I dropped. Not to the bottom, but I left that top group, scrabbling for first place. It was easier and less pressured. I did enough to stay off the radar. I wish someone had noticed. Given me a guiding hand. Instead I just cruised along. Distracted by other aspects of being a teenager. Not entirely happy. Not achieving my full potential.

It wasn’t until years later, as I flicked through a magazine, that I realised that I had been running the wrong race all those years ago. How did I not realise? This is the message I would love to go back and tell my former self. Oh, for a time machine. Who knows what I’d be doing if only I had known. Maybe I’d be inventing the time machine. One thing I’m pretty sure about is that I would have been happier at school.

So as I flicked through that magazine, a photo caught my eye. It was of D. Older now and smiling out of the pages. Face tanned. He had his arm round a girlfriend. Judging by the background and their clothes, they were on holiday. Maybe in the far east. Wherever it was, it was hot. He had chosen to send in a holiday snap to our school Alumni magazine. I was curious. Of course I was. Here was the person that I could never beat. What had he done with all my that success?

He was now a surgeon.

At that moment, the great, big, proverbial penny dropped. Oh my goodness. Why had I not realised? I had been running a race against a future surgeon. What was I thinking? Why did no one tell me? Of course, no one could have told me the future, but if I had known, I would never have tried. I had been running the wrong race, and the funny thing was that the race track I was on, I had been the winner. I had been winning all the time.

thunk

You see, I came top in the race of future programmers, my future career. All that time, my eyes had been on the wrong race track. I didn’t know it, but that was the one for the future medic. I was me. Not him. There was only one person on my particular race track that I had to beat, and that was me. I shouldn’t have been comparing myself to anyone else but me.

If I was to go back in time, I would give one piece of advise. Beat your own personal best. That’s it. It’s OK to see how others are doing. Not to wish to beat them necessarily. More to spur yourself on in your study and keep you on the right track. Check you are putting everything of yourself into doing your best. If they are beating their own scores by studying in a certain way, maybe you should try that too.

I wish I had known.

I wish I had tackled every test or homework with the attitude that I wanted to get a better score than my last one. I wish the league table on the classroom wall had shown how I was beating my personal best rather than showing I had beaten so many other people in my class. It could have been a graph, where I would have willed it to get higher as the line went from left to right. That should have been my race. To beat my personal best.

Yes, there are exams approaching. You have a year until you sit your GCSEs. Yes, your score will be compared with others. Thousands and thousands of others. Most of those people, you will never know. They may have all sorts of advantages that give them a better chance. It will be the one and only time you will run a race against them. How do you prepare for that? How do you prepare for a test against future surgeons/astro-physists/aero-engineers/professors and goodness only knows who else?

You don’t. You can’t and you shouldn’t. That would be the wrong race. You need to beat your personal best on the day. You need to beat your personal best on all the tests and homeworks running up to that ultimate exam, so that when you take the exam, you are doing your best. To reach your full potential. Reach for your sky.

Like they say, if you look after the pennies, the pounds will look after themselves.

If you take care of your personal bests, then the grades will look after themselves.

I hope D is doing well. He was a nice person. It would be good to know that he has become top of his profession. If for nothing else, and partly because it is such an ingrained attitude, I find myself thinking that it wasn’t so bad to come second to a future, first class surgeon, all those years ago. Turns out I wasn’t in the same race.

Hindsight. Would be a wonderful thing.

As ever

Your loving mother

This is part of my Dear Daughter quilt project. One quilt block. One letter. For my eldest daughter. To see more blocks, and letters, and the background to the project click here.

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Sharing. Good idea.

Photos

There have been cases when people lifted my photos and words, and used them without credit to me or asking permission first. Using them for their own commercial gain. I have now added a level of security to deter people from doing this. Apologies to people who do play nicely. If you would like to use any of my photos, please contact me.

Copyright notice:

All my words and photos are copyrighted to me. They cannot be used for commercial benefit by anyone else. If you would like to use any of them, then please ask me first and don't just take. Written permission only. Don't pass my words, photos or ideas off as your own. It's not nice.