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.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

With patience and love comes...

Progress and the giving the gift of a love for 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.  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 and sharing our adventures with the world!  I do hope you've all been well.  I have missed all my readers so much. 

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! 

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 Slime

In this post I am going to show you how to make slime that is safe for young children to make and play with, the other than needs adult assistance. 

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.


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.

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

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...


Monday, 11 July 2016

Butterflies day 1: Maths through art

We woke up this morning excited about the arrival of our caterpillars!


The first thing we did, even before getting dressed or eating breakfast was finding the hungry caterpillar puzzles!

Once we had eaten breakfast we started on our project.  This weekend I popped to town when I was child free and found, in The Works, these lovely butterfly masks...


This morning they started to colour them in. We talked about symmetry familiarizing the younger two with the word that they will find in their maths workbooks.

We then got the paint out and experimented with other ways of using art to create symmetrical butterfly shapes!  Just the simple old fashion method I remember from when I was small.  A folded piece of paper, paint on one side squish it together - the sort of craft that never loses its magic!

So much fun.

They used there feet to make a giant one too that is now on my kitchen door...

Then we found out that we don't get the butterflies today.  They are coming on Friday.  Something I had miss read no doubt - I can be ditzy at times.

Still we continued to have fun.  We made those carrot cakes inspired by Hugly and Friends book, and turned some into butterfly cupcakes.  If you click on the photo (after 8pm tonight) it will lead you to the recipe!


We are going to spend the next few days preparing for our caterpillars instead, so as promised I will continue blogging about butterflies over the next few days but no photos of caterpillars until Friday now!

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Book Review: Hugly and the Missing Carrots

The other day we received a special something in the post...


Hugly and the Missing Carrots!

It's a book written by two dads, Ian Hamilton and Sam Frith, their aim for this book, they say, is to encourage children to learn about nature and its surroundings, growing fruit and vegetables and cooking in which I think they have completely accomplished with their book which has been possible using crowdfunding.  

It is such a lovely tale of love and friendship.  Before we even began reading the book she noticed the special little envelope...

Saturday, 9 July 2016

The Butterfly Project

Last year, for us as a family, was occupied with so many things that we missed out on our Butterflies so this year we are doing a project on them.  

Our caterpillars will be arriving on Monday and my girls are really looking forward to it!  

Over the next few weeks, starting Monday, I will be back to blogging every day:  I will update this blog with photos of the caterpillars and putting step by step instructions of the crafts and parts of the project we will doing along the way for the next few weeks.

We will be filling a scrapbook as we go through this project - there will be fun facts, activities and arts and crafts to try.

I will have a few free printable pdfs for anyone to use that's great for going into a scrapbook, if you fancy joining us on our learning adventures too!  If you want to know where we bought our butterflies from go to or

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Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Science: Sticky Static

Static electricity is an electric phenomenon that is well known.  It is where charged particles are transferred from one place to another.

Here's something fun you can try when you are learning about static electricity and is great as an introduction to electricity.

When you rub a balloon against your hair or a jumper, charge transfer happens, this is when static electricity is made; when you rub a balloon against your jumper or hair, the balloon steals electrons (negatively charged particles)  when this happens you leave the jumper, or your hair in a positively charged state and the balloon is negatively charged.

The balloon will be attracted back to the sweater because opposite charges attract like opposite pole attract with magnets. 

The reason that the balloon will stick to the wall is because the negative charges in the balloon will make the electrons in the wall move to the other side of their atoms (because like charges repel) and this leaves the surface of the wall positively charged. Because opposite charges attract, the negatively charged balloon will be attracted to the positively charged surface of the wall.

Something else you can try:

Try using different materials to negatively charge your balloon.  Which material works best?

Scientific words learnt through this experiment:

  • Static electricity
  • Protons
  • Electrons
  • Negative charge
  • Positive charge

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Science: Experimenting with Copper Sulphate

First of all Heating copper...
One of my friends who come along to my science groups back in 2012,  asked me if we could do some experiments on heating materials.  She said she had tried heating a copper coin and couldn’t get it to spark green and didn’t know why.  Well, this is why it didn't produce that green flame...
If you heat a modern copper coin it will go black, no green flame.  This is because you have formed copper oxide; the black formed during the heating of the coin in flame is the copper oxide. 

When it is cooled down obviously, you can clear away the copper oxide.

Then I was left with the question: how could I make a green flame using copper?  How I did this was not using a copper coin But I did use  copper sulphate.  Using a spoon and an alcohol burner I heated it and voila green flames!  Fab.  Be sure that you’re in a ventilated area when you do this.
What else can we do with Copper sulphate? 

We could put an iron nail in it.  What happens?  The liquid turns from blue to green.

When an iron nail is placed in a copper sulphate solution, iron displaces copper from copper sulphate solution forming iron sulphate, which is green in colour.

Therefore, the blue colour of copper sulphate solution fades and green colour appears.

When we take an iron metal nail and dip it into a blue solution of copper (II) sulphate, firstly it changes the solution to iron sulphate which is green in colour.  If you leave it the nail becomes covered with a reddish substance. This reddish substance is metallic copper. The equation for this is:

Fe(s) + CuSO4(aq) -> FeSO4(aq) + Cu(s)

This is what is known as a redox reaction, or otherwise known as a oxidation reduction reaction.

This post was first written 11/07/2012 revised: 11/02/2016

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Science: How to make glue from milk

This is a fun experiment, it does involve heat so you do have to be careful and have a responsible adult when carrying out this investigation.

As you can see in this photo the glue we made was strong enough to stick two boxes of eggs together and hold the weight of the six eggs in the bottom box!  Pretty impressive!


For this scientific investigation I will take you through step by Step explaining the science behind it as we go.  First you will need:

Monday, 11 January 2016

Science: How to make Carbonic acid

When carbon dioxide is added to water, the gas adds acidity to the water.  The reaction between the Carbon dioxide and the water is a synthesis reaction, sometimes known as a combination reaction, and creates an acid known as Carbonic acid.  

In this post I will talk you through Step by Step on how to make Carbonic Acid and the Science of the reaction as we go...

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

One thing I REALLY love about home education...

So what is this one thing I love most about Home Education?


  • Flexibility with when we learn and when we play.
  • Flexibility of what we learn.

  • The flexibility to look deeper into a subject that sparks interest!
  • The flexibility to study topics at different levels allowing for family bonding time while learning!
  • The flexibility to stop when things get intense - after all my aim is to keep learning fun. 

Our Home Education Journey has been just that, a journey...