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Three children (17, 15, 12)*** Two parents *** one dog *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That’s us!

We’ve been blogging since January 2010, about everyday happenings that bring us joy.

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

 

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science activities for KS2

Brain Lab

Did you know that “a frog’s ear drum is located outside its body behind its eye”?

How about “the human eye weighs about 7.5g”?

 

I know I’m not the only one who loves facts like these ones. How many of us enjoy sharing newly found snippets of knowledge with our nearest and dearest? Me. Me. Whether they want to hear or not. Yep, me too. I know my children do. If they have a good book, full of facts, there will be a constant chorus of “Did you know….” I love it.

Many moons ago, I did a combined degree in Psychology. At an early age, the subject puzzled my children. They couldn’t quite grasp how I could spend three years studying the brain. They were used to the image of the brain as a wrinkly, pulsating blob, usually depicted in a tank, featuring in cartoons and mad scientist programmes. Or hidden, out of sight, in our skulls. It did the thinking.

As they grew and learnt more about science, they gradually understood. It is a strange concept. All your memories, ability to move, perception etc controlled by something that resembles an over large walnut.  A tendency to trick us.

(Plus we use our brain to understand the brain……. Mind blowing.)

With this thought, I was very excited to discover Brain Lab for Kids. It contains 52 experiments and activities for children to do, exploring the brain function. These are broken down into sub categories of the physical makeup of the brain, perception, movement and memory. Each designed to help understand a little bit more about how the brain works, with extra notes to expand understanding.

I tried out a few of the experiments with my 10 year old son. Setting up was easy for him to follow. We tried the eardrum model first. They suggest using a cookie tray to make a loud noise. We found using a cardboard tube made the rice grains jump more on our eardrum model. For the next stage, he really needed an adult. There are interesting facts and explanations, which we went through together. I think he would have skipped this stage, if I wasn’t there.

I can’t blame him. So many other enticing experiments and activities to do.

Next we moved on to the Stroop effect. He had fun with this one, as he tested both his sisters too. Basically two lists of colours. First list contains the words written in the corresponding colours. eg red in red ink. The second list uses any colour to write the words, eg the word blue written in green ink.

We timed how long it took to say each list. Not the word, but the colour of the ink used. He recorded each set of times in a table. It was fun and the explanation was clear.

We went on to look at some of the memory and touch experiments too. Also the blind spot experiment. He particularly liked the memory implanting experiment. He found all of it intriguing and I can see us doing more. He is curious.

Verdict: We had an enjoyable afternoon, having fun and learning a bit more about the brain. There is so much to do in this book that I can see us spending more afternoons having a go at some of the activities. So often with these books, only a fracture of the activities tempt you to try them. Not this one. I don’t think there is one dud in this book.

The experiments and activities were straight forward for my 10 year old to do. The explanations were clear, maybe too lengthy to be called bite-sized which is the format most information is delivered to this age group. An adult is definitely needed.

Age: I think this gives a brilliant introductory to psychology and neuroscience for children. It is targeted at 7 to 11 year olds, but I think this is wrong. Seven year olds will enjoy doing the experiments and models, but I think the explanations are aimed at an older age group. With encouragement my 10 year old took the time to understand. I know my 13 year old daughter would get even more out of this book. Her 15 year old sister is considering studying A level Psychology. I’ll be encouraging her to flick through it, especially for the explanations.

I’m sure the book would appeal to 7 to 14 year olds, with an interest in science. It doesn’t patronize or try to make jokes. It uses the scientific terms.

Price: £12.99

Hopefully, my youngest understands a little bit more about psychology and how the brain works. I’m looking forward to trying the Benham’s disk. Just need to find an old CD and a marble now. Oh, and paint. (edited: we did and it worked. Over on my Instagram grid.)

(*affiliate link included)


Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of Brain Labs for Kids from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I always give my true opinion of the product in reviews.

Additional

(snowdrops from above)

It’s been a week of added extras. Little extras. Nothing major. Nothing bad. All planned ahead. Some we’ve chosen and some imposed by others, but never the less, embraced. When something breaks you out of your routine, it can go one of two ways.  You can either welcome it with a smile or dig your heels in deep. I try the former.

To start with, youngest was offered a day away from school, attending a course at one of our local universities. Only one of his classmates was going. No teachers. He was excited, but also apprehensive of something new. Butterflies the night before, but he hopped off happily when the time came. Probably the best part was having this new experience more than the course itself. Opening his 10 year old eyes to the possibility of going to university.

We also had a next steps meeting for Eldest at school. I’m pretty sure that most of this could have been accomplished by a questionnaire, but a few interesting points came out of it, so maybe it was worth missing an hour at work.

Everything is focused on her exams this summer. She seems upbeat and keen to do well. Even accepting going in to school over the Easter holidays for extra classes that are being laid on.

I’ve bought the Corbett Maths revision cards to give her additional help. She already has two other online practise sites, but this one supplies the equivalent to flash cards, that she can carry around with her. They seem a good way to tackle the subject in bite size revision portions. I hadn’t realised they link to online practise questions (and answers and videos).  She’s started using them and finds them really helpful.

I love adding an activity for them all to do after school. Something that they probably wouldn’t do at school. Used to be art or crafting mostly when they were younger, giving them the chance to paint something of their choice rather than the focus of the art class at school.

One of my favourite activities is riddle solving. I pin riddles to the fridge for them to find, but it’s logic puzzles I love the most. I dug out one of my well thumbed code books from when I was their age and my old code wheel fell out.

After showing them how it could be used, I set up a series of clues. One clue leading to the next clue until they found their prize. The clues were written in code and the code changed in the middle of the trail, to keep them on their toes. I know they would have learnt it otherwise. They worked as a team to decipher the message.

They loved it and asked for more. Hope to get time this weekend to help them make their own code wheels so they can send messages between themselves. I’m also going to start showing them ways to crack simple codes, without a wheel next.

On the same theme, youngest and I had fun creating secret messages using lemon juice. This was fun, and I want to try some of the alternatives to lemon juice, with him.

The best kind of additional at this time of year is when you plant seeds (read old seeds) and more than three come up. That is my kind of additional. Won’t be long until after school activities will include helping me in the garden.

Hope you have a good weekend. Joining in with Jocelyn’s #wotw. What word sums up your week?

Not clock watching

Over half term, we have relaxed. I put it down to less clock watching. More time taken. Even after almost 12 years of doing the school run, I still struggle to be fully productive in the hours between dropping off and picking up. It’s not quite long enough for me. I check time. Estimate if I can squeeze one more task in. A feeling of constant interruption. It’s a pattern for all areas of my life.

So half term is bliss.

We spent longer doing activities. I’m not constantly watching the time, to make sure meals are on time or people picked up. Taking over to speed proceedings up. I’m reminded of their time at a Montessori nursery, where an activity was complete once the child had tired of/finished it. Not cleared away, to start break time. The children controlled the end point. Not the clock.

Over the weekend, I set up a science experiment. Secret writing with lemon, on different paper, with my youngest. It worked really well and lots of science was discussed.

While the paper dried, we used the rest of the lemon to make raspberry and lemon muffins. The muffin baking was my attempt to stop him wandering off and being caught up by another attraction. Screen or book. Either way, it would have resulted in a half an hour or more wait while he finished it. Plus I knew everyone would be pleased to see a tray of muffins.

It worked. He loved the science, as I knew he would, but it was the baking that he enjoyed the most. Taking his time, with only a little help from me.

This is new. His sisters weren’t elbowing him out of the way. They often over shadow him. I wasn’t hurrying him along. It was his project. He was going to see it through. He chatted away happily.

And I stepped back and gave him time.

Once the muffins were in the oven, we used the heat from the Aga hotplates to reveal the secret messages on the now dry paper. He approached it with maturity. Assessing the dangers. Taking his time. Innovating different methods. The writing appeared perfectly and no fires required extinguishing.

He has grown. Again.

At that moment, I heard a familiar cog clunk into place. It started a slow rotation of many other interlinked cogs. All moving in perfect synchonism. A thing of beauty.

I’ve been here before.

The process of realisation had begun. I couldn’t carry on feeling like I need to do it all, to fit in with the clock. I need to let go a fracture more. I’ve helped him grow into the person he is. Now it’s time to step back a little bit more and see what he can do.

In reality, most parents will tell you, that the growing up process happens all the time. The pendulum swinging from the adult leading to the child doing. Continuous. Hopefully effortlessly and with the smoothness of a well oiled machine. Just occasionally, you are present enough in the moment to experience a small jolt as they step up a gear. Changing the rhythm of growing up slightly.

So there you are. Spotting that they’ve outgrown their trousers is a piece of cake. Seeing that they are ready to take more on? That’s more sticky.

It will be interesting to see if my own production increases after September when there will be no more school runs. Will I give myself more time and see what I can do? Only time will tell.

In the meantime, anyone for cake?

Debs Random Writings

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