Spring is in full motion in our corner of the world. I’ve woken to hear the most amazing bird songs, this week, and find myself not rushing up, but enjoying the songs. Not chirps, but full on musical movements! Like an orchestra is playing outside my window.
In the garden, bulbs are popping up overnight. Not really overnight, but I swear they weren’t there the day before. If they hadn’t been there the year before, then I’d begin to think that someone is sneaking into the garden and planting them while we sleep.
(Cyclamen with tiny bug on edge of petal)
Just buds mostly, at the moment, but full of the promise of colour and scent, ready to attract all manner of bugs to visit them. The garden will soon be full of life again.
(Lesser celandine in the woods)
On the home front, I’ve been aware of a change in the children. Especially my two daughters. If you’ve read my previous post , you’ll know that we went to see Hidden Figures over the weekend, as a family, and loved it (I’ve reviewed it, if you’re interested). Go see the film, if you haven’t already.
This week, both girls seem more confident in themselves. Just little things, mostly, but I have noticed that they seem to believe in their abilities a little bit more, especially in maths.
(pulmonaria in the garden)
Maybe I’m imagining it. Wishful thinking, but maths homework has been done without me being asked for help. They come home saying that they understand the topic they are doing in maths, more easily. They’ve helped fellow classmates. They even express the ambition to do well in the subject and how can I help them?
Has the film inspired them? I didn’t see that coming.
I took them hoping to broaden their minds to the racial issues. Giving context and a historical view, which I think it did. And more, it appears.
There is a fine line in parenting. So easy to push, when really what is needed is for eyes to be opened. It makes me wonder how else I can open their eyes to opportunities without appearing to lay out a carved-in-stone career plan. I guess that is my challenge. The fine line we all walk, bringing up children.
So not only is the garden budding up, but children as well. Reminds me why I love so much being a gardener, and a parent too.
Word of the week – budding.
I’m back with the 24th quilt block and 21st letter for your Dear Daughter Quilt. I’ve chosen the Broken Sugar Bowl block, this time. I like the pattern, but I struggle to see why it’s a sugar bowl. Is it just me? I guess I can see a break, but if you showed me this quilt block, I’d be unlikely to guess the name in a million years. It could be the fabric I chose, making me see a different pattern in the finished block.
Maybe it’s like looking up in the sky and seeing a cloud in the shape of a snapping crocodile, while the person next to you sees the same cloud as a person lying down in a hammock. As humans, we are set up to search for patterns and try to make sense of them, which brings me almost too neatly to the subject of this letter. Science and patterns.
Made up language
Science is about recognizing the patterns in the world around us and within, and wondering.
Numbers, equations and scientific terms are our way to express, manage the understanding and communicate these patterns. It is a made up language. The number 3 is made up. Two horse shoes, one sat on the other. Another symbol could easily be universally substituted and it would not change the value. So long as we’re all using the same symbol, we can communicate.
We use the language to explain the rules of the universe, or, in other words, the patterns they make. The patterns are already there.
Do you remember when you were younger and you used to add glitter to your Christmas cards? First you would add glue to the card. Arranging it carefully. Depending on the type of glue you used, you might find it difficult to see where you had already glued. Then you would sprinkle the glitter on and shake off the excess. Almost by magic your pattern would appear.
That is the same with science. It is already there. More than we can see yet. Using our made up language, experiments and observation, we can reveal it.
Learn the language and patterns/rules
Science, at your stage, is learning the language (and wondering).
You are unlikely to make big scientific breakthroughs at this stage, in exactly the same way that you were unlikely to write a best-selling novel while learning to read and write. Not impossible. Just unlikely, but maybe one day.
You are learning the basics and beginning to wonder. You need this knowledge. You need to know the patterns so that later you will notice when something doesn’t fit. It may seem to break the rules. Also you’ll need the basic rules so that you can use them to their full potential and apply them. Maybe putting different patterns together, to make something amazing. (Thinks aeroplanes)
You will have moments when the penny will drop and those will be wonderful moments. Savour them. There will be plenty more of them, given time.
You love science. You always have. You always loved joining in the experiments that we have tried at home. Leading the others and helping to explain it to your younger siblings. Teaching me a new way to express it, in some cases. I really liked that. I know that you are finding one of your science lessons boring. A bit dry.
May I suggest that you look at this subject slightly differently? It involves the use of maths. Maths is a useful language for expressing a pattern. Don’t believe me? Let me try and explain.
Imagine an algebra equation. A mixture of numbers, letters and signs. The letters represent numbers that are either unknown or could be a whole range of numbers. If you were to repetitively substitute numbers into the equation, and work it out, you would begin to create a pattern. (Think graph.) That is a formula. All it is, is a few (hopefully!) well placed letters, numbers and signs that represent a bigger picture, or pattern.
Maths allows this science subject to be expressed. It makes/reveals the patterns. The patterns help you to solve the puzzle. If you approach this subject as if it was a series of puzzles to be solved, would that make it more interesting? Your teacher, unknowingly, has become the clue giver.
I hope I’ve offered you a different way to look at science. I hope it inspires you to tackle your studies with fresh insight.
Look for the patterns.
Your loving mother
There are more quilt blocks and letters to read here. Some funny. Some serious. You can also read about why I started the Dear Daughter quilt for my daughter.
When I travelled as a child, I always had a clutch of books. While others couldn’t read in the car, I would have my nose in a book with no ill effect. I would read for most of the journey. Once finished, I’d gaze out of the window enjoying the moving scene.
I am the youngest of four, it eventually reached the stage where my older siblings found other pursuits more interesting than holidaying with the family or they were away at school. Suited me as, I tended to have the back seat of the car all to myself. No one to argue with. Room to spread out.
Later, I travelled by train and plane for work. I looked forward to these journeys as I knew I’d have plenty of time to read. I went through shelves full of sci-fi and discovered the best train station book stores to buy my favourites from.
In contrast, my children prefer to have travel entertainment which is more interactive and collaborative. They like I-spy type of games that they can all play together. I make spotting lists for journeys, or they will make up stories together. Sometimes there are arguements but mainly they are happy. A good job as all three of them sit along the back seat together.
This summer, to help break up the journey, I’ve made a drawstring patchwork travel bag with nine squares. I’ve used fabric, from my stash which are nature themed. My favourite bees and fire fly fabric among them. They are 2.5 inches squares, allowing a 0.25 inch seam allowance. I picked out my blue seashell fabric as the backing, which I used for my pin cushion. I must use it more. It gives a perfect holiday feel.
Inside are more of our collection of pebbles and stones. I am determined to find uses for our previous seashore finds. This time I’m putting them to work as markers for noughts and crosses, or tic-tac-toe. My version is Pebbles and Shells.
There is something about holding a pebble in your hand that is truly calming. They are all the perfect size for the squares. If any are lost, we can replace them. I won’t even have to worry about littering.
This bag has a secret. On the under side of all the pebbles and shells, I’ve marked on numbers. 1 to 9. This set can also be used to work on the magic square. If you haven’t come across the concept before, the idea is that each row, column and diagonal should add up to 15. It is great for practising adding up and stretching logic muscles. It could be timed and played as a competition.
Yet again they are having too much fun solving the puzzle to realize they are practising their maths again.
Alternatively, they could use it as a memory game, matching number bonds. Finding 2 and 8, or 4 and 6 for example. Or make up stories about the different patches. I remember my sister doing this for me when I was younger than them.
I’m sure the children will dream up other games to play with this travel bag. I’ll add in a deck of cards, so I can teach them a few card games too. Also a ball of wool. Finger knitting is a great way to pass the time and literally keep little fingers busy!
Hopefully, this summer we will take it on journeys, and maybe into restaurants, to play as we wait for our meals to arrive. I love how the patchwork turned out and I certainly won’t mind bringing it out of my bag for us all to play with. Even in the busiest pub. It is light and small, making it perfect for travelling.
What do you take on journeys or holidays to keep children entertained while they travel?