Friday, 26 January 2018

How to make a simple catapult with lolly pop sticks

I run Science Crazy Clubs in Ipswich and we've been having so much fun learning hands on.  I sometimes even share a few of the projects we do on the Science Crazy Blog. 

The last Science Crazy club was all about how catapults worked and so we made some fun catapults and had fun testing them.  The most recent blog I have shared on Science Crazy is this fun Catapult made from Lolly pop sticks and elastic bands!

The link to the instructions for how to make one yourself can be found by clicking on the photo.  All you'll need are lolly sticks and elastic bands and find something to propel... a marshmallow will do!  Do let me know how you got on if you try it - I love to hear from my readers!

This is my daughter playing with her own catapult.  I love to make our home education as hands on as possible as learning through play is the best way, especially through their younger years I think.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Happy Christmas!

So just when I was ready to get blogging, the very next week my 2nd born gave me a fright.  She was rushed into hospital for all kinds of checks as she had a severe headache that hadn't gone for weeks.  She still has it but after blood tests, eye examinations and scary MRI scans.  They have confirmed it's nothing serious which is a huge relief!  Unfortunately, the doctors don't know what's wrong with her but we're hoping she'll be feeling better in the new year.

Then there was her big sister's birthday!  So many teenagers in my house all at once but I survived! Ha!  They are all such a lovely bunch, I'm so pleased my girls have found a nice group of friends.

We had so much fun on the run up to Christmas this year with Christmas crafts, hot chocolate treats, Christmas films and more.  Oh and of course the snow that came just before Christmas this year.  They did have fun making and destroying snowmen and sledging down the hills!   

Only one of my girls wanted to see father Christmas this year.  I booked her in to see the Father Christmas at Christchurch mansion and I am so glad I did.  She loved it and they had all sorts of crafts and activities to do before and after we went to meet the man himself.  I was actually nice to just spend time alone with my little one too.

Business has been busy...  Science Crazy had an amazing Slime making session in November and the Christmas Special was jam packed with fun experiments for everyone to try.  The best part of my job is seeing those children smile and when they tell me I've got the best job ever!

Christmas this year for us has been full of friends, food and I am proud of my kids who were grateful for each one of their gifts.  I don't know about you but I don't like to spend a lot of many on Christmas, I like to focus on family time and love.

I still buy the little ones a little too much maybe but it won't be long before the magic of Christmas leaves them so I am savouring every moment I can and lingering on every hug I get from my smallest ones.  I think my favourite part of the day was when my youngest humped into her bed, with her new princess bed covers on, and said "Mummy!  This is the best Christmas EVER!" How my melted.  I do love my girls so much!

I hope you all had a wonderful day and I wish you all the best for the new year!

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

With patience and love comes...

Progress and the gift of the love of learning.  One of my main reasons, although I have many, for home educating my girls.  I am so pleased to be back here again.  It's been too long!

I haven't been blogging but as usual the girls and I have been having adventure after adventure in our home ed life.  I've been busy with so many things being a single mum still and starting the new business, so I decided it was time to take a step away from this blog and put as much time and energy I could into spending all the quality time possible for my girls instead, as they are my world.

So much has been going on and maybe I will blog a bit about that too soon, but for now I'm going back to what I miss the most...  Blogging about our home ed life!  I do hope you've all been well.  I have missed all my readers so much.  I will be blogging about what resources we have found useful and maybe even a project here and there.

What we have been busy doing is too numerous to say but... I can tell you we've been crabbing and pond dipping, on visits to the museum, seen petting zoos and funfairs among the many other things.  I've used photos to document our memories that you may have seen if you follow An Ordinary Life on Facebook and Instagram through this time but how I have missed blogging!  I'm not going to be able to update you on everything that's happened as it's been over a year and neither am I going to be able to promise a blog post every day as Science Crazy has got so busy but I will be blogging again!

If you used to read my blog, you will know that I was considering the fact that my youngest might be dyslexic, turns out she is but we have come a long way... No.  She has come a long way.  She has gone from someone who hates to read - although she always loved a book read to her, to reading and loving it.  She's not just been reading the small books either but the short chapter books.  I've never put any pressure on her; I've always believed in her and always listened to her stories that she would verbally tell me over the years, proving her imagination and articulate ways.  However, now being able to see her writing her stories now fills my heart with joy as she does it with such excitement.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Science: Lego Soil Layers

So, I was inspired by a photo I saw floating around the web the other day and just had to fit it into our learning on Monday.

My 6 and 8 year old loved it so I thought I would share so you can have a try too!

If you like you can follow this activity up with another more scientific version, called: What's in Soil? that can be found by clicking on the photo below...

Thursday, 25 August 2016

STEP by STEP How to make silly putty

In this post I am going to show you How to make Silly Putty that is safe for children to make and play with. 

WARNING: Making Silly putty with borax might be really effective however, it is dangerous to breath in and when touched is a skin irritant!  This recipe is made WITHOUT the use of BORAX.

You will need:
  • Starch Spray
  • 2 CUPS (clear cups or glasses are better as the children can see what's
  • FOOD COLOURING (optional but adds to the fun)

important to practice.  Also, wear aprons or get yourself a lab coat 

and be like a real scientist!  It will protect you and your clothes 
from being damaged.  This silly putty can stain and ruin, 
clothes, carpets, curtains etc.

Here's the video but scroll down for the written instructions...


Put about 30 ml of PVA glue in a cup, mix a little food colouring in. 


In another cup spray the starch spray until you have about 40ml of liquid starch settled in the container.


Add the liquid starch to the PVA and colour and stir until it all binds together.

When it's all bound together it should be ok to pick up without it being a slimy mess.  You may need to remove excess liquid to achieve this .  It will then bounce like a ball when it's like this...

Or stretch, if you pull it really slowly so it looks like this..

What happens when you pull it fast?  It breaks cleanly apart rather than stretch right?

If you do chose to use borax, if you can get hold of any that is, just be careful as borax is a chemical and is a skin irritant so it's best to use gloves!

Liquid Starch is much safer to use, especially when doing this with young children!

What is a Polymer?  How is it so rubbery? 

Spaghetti is a very useful way of showing how and why polymers act the way they do. 

Spaghetti is made of long strands very much like the molecular structure of a polymer. 

When you boil up the spaghetti it runs like water, but then you take it out of the water and the starch makes it sick together and feel a bit sticky. 

Leave it a bit longer and you can bounce it!  This is due to the starch in the pasta. 

Why is spaghetti such a good example?

It is a great example because the molecules in the crazy putty are a linear polymer.  Which means the molecules are all in a line rather than branching.  Linear in this sense does not mean a straight line but one like cooked spaghetti that curls about.

Something else I like to do when there are plenty of people about to join is, is to make a model of a polymer using HUMANS!!

Ask at least 5 to stand in a row holding hands.  Now they are like a linear polymer molecule.  It's that simple.

You can try adding the PVA glue to the starch liquid instead of the start to the PVA glue...



HOW TO MAKE MAGNETIC PUTTY - and   a video of how magnetic putty works!

First posted 5 August 2011 - Updated 25 August 2016

Friday, 29 July 2016

The ButterFly Project - Painting caterpillars!

So everything got a bit exciting over the last few days!  Our Caterpillars turned into Chrysilade!  

So, we're on day...  Oops, I lost track but we are still doing our butterfly project - we did take a bit of a break to enjoy this lovely sunshine.  So, over the next few days, I will try and post some of the Butterfly project activities we've been doing.

First, here's a video of one of the caterpillars as we caught shedding its very last caterpillar skin...

The girls had a go at making Hama bead caterpillars and I thought of Lego Caterpillars too but that hasn't come into fruition.  However, today we had a lot of fun with making our own paint and making these lovely caterpillars...

So first of all here's how to make your own homemade paint!  Click on the photo below for step by step instructions...

To make your caterpillar...


Find a piece of paper at least A4 size 


Make a spread out hand-print by using a paintbrush to cover the hand in green paint. Get ready to make your hand-print by spreading out your fingers a bit so when you press your hand on the paper, so that they look like legs of a caterpillar (well sort of).

Do three green hand-prints, making sure to line up the 'legs' as you go to make the caterpillar body and legs - the True Legs and the Prolegs! 


With the other hand now, paint it red with a paintbrush.  With the fingers squished together but still facing the same way as the green printed 'legs'  make the head of your caterpillar.


We wanted ours to look like The Very Hungry Caterpillar so, to make the eyes I used pipe cleaners, I cut off a but of green Pipecleaner about 6cm long and a yellow piece about 8cm long.


Curl the green piece of pipecleaner like a snail shell, the twist one end of the yellow pipecleaner around the end of the green and then curl around the green until you have eyes.  Glue this to the painting with PVA glue.


Draw on the nose.

Then we used a blue pipecleaner, cut it in half, then bent the two pieces so they folded in two and twisted the ends.  We used PVA glue to stick it down.

You've finished!

This project was so fun and led to a discussion ab out the different parts of the Caterpillar body, especially about the Legs.  I have a Free Printable tomorrow, covering the anatomy of a caterpillar.  

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

STEP by STEP: How to make paint

This paint is easy to make and very safe for even tiny babies.

This is for a small amount of paint per colour, but if you are wanting lots of this paint just use more corn flour to boiling water ratio.


First you need a tablespoon of corn flour.

Add a teaspoon of food colouring - I use powdered food colouring because the colours are far richer than the liquid food colouring you get in the supermarket!

Mix a little water in the cornflour and food colouring mix bit by bit until it forms a thick paste.  

Now you will need boiling water - pour 100ml of boiling water into the paste you have made and whisk fast - If it needs more heat, you can transfer the liquid to a pan and heat it for a minute or two while whisking - as soon as you see it start to thicken remove it from the heat and keep whisking until it's smooth.


I try and keep little pots around the house for keeping the paint in, anything air tight will do.  I find this paint particularly good for printing projects; it's really good with projects like hand-printing and potato printing.


Science Fact:  Cornflour is a type of polymer.

When you add cold water to corn flour, the cornflour is unable to dissolve in the water, so all those tiny particles float about making the mix of the other cold water and the cornflour act both in the way of a liquid and a solid: a non-newtonian liquid.   This reaction changes when you add heat; as the heat increases so does the cornflour's solubility.  Once the corn flour has dissolved into the water, the mix will only act like a liquid.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Day 11 of the butterfly project - caterpillar progress

So I've skipped blogging for day 9 and 10 of our butterfly project - the heat has been too much for us in our house so all our time has been spent enjoying this beautiful sunshine, trying to keep hydrated.  I'm not complaining though, the weather is absolutely beautiful! 

I have been taking photos however so you can all check out how quickly they are growing, and see what has been happening to our caterpillars over the last couple of days.  My six year old gasps every morning asking how they grow so quickly - we told her they eat all the breakfast lunch and dinner haha!! (she's not a great eater)

The days are based on the day the caterpillars arrived, sorry for any confusion but they are for the scrap book so we know when they were taken.







They are so big and have ventured up to the top of the jug!  They're about 2 inches so I think they will be turning into Chrysalides very soon!
    FACT:  It only takes 10 to 12 days for a caterpillar to go from a small only just hatched caterpillar to one that is 4cm to 5cm long!

Thursday, 21 July 2016

The Butterfly Project Day 8 - Kite flying!

It has been too hot to do very much apart from enjoying the sun and finding ways of cooling down so, yesterday, before we headed out on our adventures, we made some kites...

Only the younger two were very excited about this so we made simple kites in the end, still involving maths, creativity, reading skills and science.  They had so much fun with their designs but we only ended up with one butterfly kite: Honi wanted to make her's a kitten!

How well they flew!  Do you see how high my Honi's kite went?! She was a very happy girl indeed!

So off to the beach we went and how lovely it was to see them fly their kites so independently and full of excitement.  It's so much more lovely when you make your own kite too!

If you want to know how we made ours click on the photo of our butterfly kite above, and it will take you to the tutorial. 

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Butterfly Project Day 7 - Words and things...

Yesterday, I awoke to my youngest two children beside my bed screaming their heads have fallen off!  

My first response was 'whose head has fallen off?' whilst wiping the sleepiness from my face.  

'The caterpillars!' they gasped, serious concern on their little faces! Still slightly in sleepyland myself, I then panicked...

'Their heads are fallen off!!!!  Does that mean they are turning into caterpillars early?!  Then I remembered that this is what caterpillars do when they grow bigger they shed their outer skin to allow for them to grow bigger, like snakes do!

Despite this being our second lot of caterpillars we were still surprised by how much they had grown in just a day, we were still reminding ourselves of the processes in the lifecycle of a butterfly!  

We decided, as it was a hot day and everyone was too hot to do very much at all we would have a game...

We played to see how many words we could make out of CATERPILLAR!

Not one for my 6 year old, but she still tried bless her.  Then it was off to the park to find the water fountains for us - this weather rarely lasts long in the UK so we're doing our best to enjoy it to the full!

Today we are making butterfly kites.  I will be posting that one out as a STEP by STEP how to make your own post next time!  Enjoy this beautiful sunshine people!

Monday, 18 July 2016

Butterfly project day 6 - THEY ARRIVED!

I would have blogged over the weekend but I felt quite ill for most of it.  I felt better this morning though and finally the caterpillars came!

When I first opened the caterpillar box with the girls I thought they were all dead but before long they were out and roaming the cup...

It's going to be exciting to see the girls faces in the morning as caterpillars do goes tremendously fast.

I'm still not 100% so a short post tonight but I am going to be blogging tomorrow with the next activity in the butterfly project.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Day 5 of the butterfly project - Caterpillar cake recipe!

So we waited in all day for a delivery which never came but we did get on with a little more of our butterfly project.  We made this yummy treat!

(My daughter Naomi drew on the leaves)

It's a caterpillar cake but this one is super chocolaty.  The cake is actually brownies which I made today and the recipe can be found here: Chewy Chocolate Brownies

We then sliced two 3cm slices of the Brownies when they were cooked, then simply melted some white chocolate and covered it and used raisins for the eyes and straws for extra decoration.

They loved it!

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Day 4 of the Butterfly project - Maths: STEP by STEP caterpillar geometry

I've been trying to think of ways to get maths into our butterfly project as much as possible and came up with this project.   

As we learnt yesterday, caterpillar eggs come in various shapes sizes, some are tubular in shape, some round and others oval, so in this project we make a caterpillar egg and the turn it into a caterpillar...  Just for FUN!  Here's how we made ours...



Draw a rectangle.  Make it 3cm by 14cm.

To ensure the angles of your rectangle is right use a protractor. All the angles are meant to be 90 degrees.

Maths fact: All the angles on a quadrilateral adds up to 360 degrees 


Using  a compass set it to 1.5cm like this...

Then draw a semi circle at both ends of your rectangle.


Now measure two centimeters in from one end of the rectangle we made in STEP ONE and then draw a line to make a small rectangle within it like this...



Measure and mark with a pencil 2cm from the top of the inside line of the small rectangle and 2cm from the bottom of the line joined to the semi circle.  Use these marks and the corners of the small rectangle to make triangles like in the photo below.


These two bigger triangles are isosceles and the smaller ones are right angle triangles.

Maths Fact: the three angles inside a triangle always add up to 180 degrees!


Mark 1 cm down from the inside line of the small rectangle and 1cm up from the inside line of the small rectangle and then join the dots to the corners of the newly made isosceles triangles to make smaller right angle triangles, like so...



Now colour it in!

We were thinking of 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' by Eric Carle, when we made ours so we coloured the semi circles in red, the large rectangle in green and the triangles orange.



Then we cut it out carefully.  

If you like, before you rearrange the pieces and put them back together, you can draw a background on an A4 piece of paper.  Something like this...


Then stick your shapes on the picture to make a caterpillar shape like this...

What we learnt from this project:

  • Counting
  • Measuring
  • Shapes
  • Angles
  • Practicing using a compass and ruler 

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Day Three of the Butterfly Project - Fun facts about Butterfly Eggs

TWO days until our caterpillars arrive!  Today, To to into  the Scrapbook we started looking into butterfly egg facts and found these!

Facts we learnt about butterfly eggs:

They are not all round some are oval!

They come in different colours mostly white, green and yellow.

Female butterflies lay as many eggs as possible to give only a few of their eggs a chance of hatching a surviving!

When the female butterfly lays her eggs she secretes a special chemical which glues her eggs to the leaf of a plant that she has found suitable.  The female butterfly checks that the plant she's on is the right one by scratching the leaf with her feet and smelling the odour that comes from it and if's the correct plant she then lays her eggs.

If a butterfly lays 100 eggs how many do you think will survive?

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Butterflies day 2: Egg on Leaf craft

So today wasn't all about butterflies (only 3 days to go!) but, after our maths and English workbooks, we did do a quick craft for our scrapbook to keep the theme going...

We made a fun craft painting the leaves, then drawing and colouring tiny eggs using photos we found on the internet. It was amazing to see all the different shapes and colours of butterfly eggs there are.

WE cut the egg drawings out and using glue stuck them to the leaf.  I talked to them about how the female butterfly, when she lays her eggs, secretes a special chemical that acts like a glue to secure her eggs to the leaf she chooses.

This was their finished egg on a leaf art...