Thursday, 16 August 2018

5 Minute STEM Activity 16 - Scared of soap

This is a great little activity which takes seconds and, like the Gluten activity earlier, it helps children understand what it is that really makes up the foods they eat. We are going to scare colour into running away...

Scaring away the colour in milk - with soap

A breakfast bowl
About 2oz milk - enough to cover the bottom of the bowl. Any milk should work, although I've not tried them all!
A tiny amount of food colouring
2 drops of washing up liquid

48 Months #TBCSmiles

It is time for this month's smiles, and it has been a pretty hard month for us. The Summer holidays are full of memories and waiting for results is very difficult to stomach, even if you disregard anything about the stress of the actual outcome.

Our young people, no doubt like yours, worked so hard and all had to keep going when they already had more than enough stress. Our household was not a happy place yesterday and one of our teenager's future career depended on really tough entrance qualifications. Thankfully that wait is now over and it's with a huge amount of pride that I say we will have 3 young people at University next month.

Not getting what you hoped never makes you a failure, it just makes it more difficult to take that path. There are a million more routes and a billion other options. You are so much more than your exam results.

Yesterday marked 4 years since we lost our 16 year old, Elspeth, and it made this week especially hard. I wrote about that yesterday, and I have to thank everyone who sent messages, replied to posts, commented, changed their profile photo or shared a sunflower. You are always there for us, and we couldn't be more thankful. To have so many people who care makes us richer than any amount of money ever could. Thank you.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

48 Months, 208 Weeks, 1461 Days. 4 years.

It's been 4 years since we lost Elspeth.

If you have a 4 year old, all that time they've been alive, she's been gone. While they learned to walk and talk, make friends and use a crayon, she's not gone any further. It's such a long time and she should have done so much, but she didn't give any of it a chance.

Our kids have grown. Our big kids are all grown adults now. Work and thoughts of Uni are filling their heads and it's so hard not to be seeing Elspeth off for her 3rd year. She should be going. She should be getting wasted and staying up all night to finish assessments. Living on 17p noodles and bringing all of her washing home, and expecting me to do it (which I do, because I'm soft).

She should be playing board games with her little brothers, she loved to play and they're both old enough now to play proper games. She should be watching her favourite movies with them, and they should still be happy to belt out songs from Les Miserables.

What I really want to say is that it's all just a bit shit. It's really crappy and unfair. We should have her with us, but because at the moment she decided she'd had enough, no-one happened to ring or send her a message, or knock on her bedroom door, she's not here.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

5 Minute STEM Activity 15: The Spinner

Back in the old days, before plastic and huge toy companies filled our toy boxes, children had to make their own toys at home. Here's one we can all make which can also help us understand colours...

The Spinner
Can you make it hum? Hmmm? 

Large cardboard pieces - cereal box or pizza box is great. If you have no card then stiff paper works too.
A small plate - the cardboard must be at least as big as the plate.
Colouring pens or pencils
Ruler or a straight edge
A small book
A teaspoon with a plain handle
Sticky tack

Monday, 13 August 2018

5 Minute STEM Activity 14 - The Diver

This project helps you to understand some really complicated Scientific principles, including pressure, volume and buoyancy - but it is really easy and it's fun... And you don't need anything special.

The Diver
Neutral Buoyancy

A water bottle with a screw top lid.
Small square interlocking construction bricks - 4 stud LEGO or similar.
Sticky Tack or Dough

Sunday, 12 August 2018

5 Minute STEM Activity 13; Floaty Paper Boat Challenge

Playing with water is great fun, but always make sure you are safe. Never lean your body over water more than 5cm deep without a safety harness or a responsible grown up, in case you fall in. You actually only need a sink half full of water to test your boat, but safety first...

We Are Sailing
Make a floating boat

A4 Paper - it will not survive it's bath, so scrap paper is perfect.
Wax Crayons

Hopefully you've made a paper boat before, and if not then it's definitely time. Paper isn't generally a very floaty material, but our boat can float for 5 minutes or more...

Saturday, 11 August 2018

5 MInute STEM Activity 12 - Cleaning With Acid

Every child has to make their coppers shiny at least once, it's a right of passage. This is a very effective experiment to make us all consider what we are really putting into our mouths and tummies...

Shiny Pennies. 
Cleaning the filth from money

Money - only coins. 1p and 2p 'copper' coins work best.
Small cups or jars - NOT metal. Glass is best.
Acids - for example, Cola, vinegar, lemon juice

Sgt. Stubby Movie Review, Activity Sheets and Plush Sgt. Stubby Giveaway (3 winners)!

Sgt Stubby was released in cinemas in the UK this weekend. An animated movie which is a more grown up film than you might at first expect, especially as the star is a very cute little stump-tailed Terrier dog. This is the story of the official mascot of the 102nd Infantry Regiment (United States) and America's most decorated dog.

The movie is set in wartime and features wartime events, including frontline battles and infantry in trenches. It's noisy and honest, and my boys at 8 and 9 understood the storyline with depth.

The film tells the story of the real four-legged American hero, Sgt. Stubby, and when it starts he is a stray, rescued by a young 'doughboy' just as America declare war they are joining World War 1 and havoc really begins. The young man takes Sgt. Stubby with him as his infantry mascot.

Friday, 10 August 2018

5 Minute STEM Activity 11: Mind Control

Human beings think we have free-will to do whatever we want, but nature has other ideas. We are bound by instinct and our bodies' will in just the same way as fish returning to their spawning grounds and birds flying South for Winter. Most of it is necessary to keep us alive and protect us from harm, or at least used to be necessary, and we often take our cues from people around us...

Mind Control
Control your family

Another person
We react to what other people do and even copy their actions - it is built into us and has protected humans from potential danger and made us 'part of the pack' for thousands of years. There is safety in numbers, not only because our mates can help us fight off bears, but they can help us spot potential dangers too.

There are absolutely loads of things you can make other people do without discussing it. Not everyone will fall for every trick, and a few people won't be completely caught out by any - but you should get some degree of success with anyone. Here are a few to try. If you want to prove your powers, write down what you are going to make them do, and show them afterwards.

Nerf Laser Ops Pro Alphapoint Review (age 8+) for Hasbro

We love Nerf and their latest release is the Laser Ops Pro range. Brand new laser battling blasters which bring Nerf, Laser Tag and augmented reality together in a brand new and very different type of battle to any other Nerf we've ever played with... and it's really rather fun.

In the box are 2 x Nerf Laser Ops Pro blasters and 2 x rubbery armbands to hold smartphones - which are optional. You will need 8 x AA batteries - 4 for each blaster. The packaging is great. Plastic-free and you have storage for your set afterwards to keep it all safe.