Science Club – Pneumatics 2


Arrival Craft: Air colouring sheet. air

Introduction: Gasses can be compressed more than liquids or solids, but there are still limits. If we try to squash air too much, it will rush away.

If I blow up a balloon and let go of the end, what will happen?

The air will rush out of the balloon. The force of the air rushing out will push the balloon away in the opposite direction. This is one of the big rules of energy: every action has an equal and opposite reaction.


If you inflate a balloon and attach it to a CD, then the air will rush out through the hole, pushing the CD into the air, like a tiny hovercraft. These are easy to make, but there’s a YouTube video on @Bristol’s site, which is very good.

Individual Task: Make CD hovercrafts.

Break for drink and snack.

Second Part: If we don’t give the air any way out, then we can use it to push things.

This is called pneumatics.

Individual Task: Make pneumatic hoists out of tech card.

Science Club – Plants


Arrival CraftMake leaf mobiles. leafmobile

Introduction: Plants are the beginning of all food chains, because they are able to make their own food using the energy from sunlight. This is called photosynthesis.

We can’t exactly see it happening, but we can come close. In photosynthesis, leaves take carbon dioxide and sunlight and produce glucose and oxygen.

Individual Task: Children try leaf disc experiment and observe the bubbles that show oxygen is being produced. leafdisc

Break for drink and snack.

Second half: Show cress that has grown in light and dark and ask children what plants need to grow.

Individual Task: Children plant cress on cotton wool to make little cress heads.

Science Club – Food


Arrival Craft: Make origami Protein Channels. I found this fantastic craft online here. There are videos to help you! 

Introduction: We need to eat a balanced diet, which means we need to eat different types of food.

We need: Carbohydrates, Proteins, Vitamins and Minerals and Fats.

Some foods obviously belong to one group or another, but other foods can be in several groups at once.

I have iodine, which we can use to test for starch; and bieuret solution, which we can use to test for protein.

We’re going to test some foods to see if they contain starch and / or protein.

Egg white is a good source of protein, so we’re going to use egg white and water to show the difference between a positive protein test and a negative protein test.

Individual Task: Test for proteins. (The Biuret reagent contains: Hydrated Copper sulphate, Potassium hydroxide solution, Potassium sodium tartrate) foodtesting

Children then mash up different foods with water and test them for protein.

They should also test a sample of only water – as a control.

Gather Together: Which of the foods contained protein?

Is that what you expected?

Break for drink and snack.

Second part: This is a potato – obviously, it’s going to contain starch. When I add iodine to it, the iodine goes blue, indicating the presence of starch. We’re going to use iodine to see which of these foods contain starch.

Give out worksheets for children to predict whether foods will contain starch. foodtesting


Science Club – Insects


Arrival Craft: Make insect models with jointed legs. insects

Introduction: There are lots of different types of insects.

People discover new ones all the time, and new species are often discovered by amateurs. (

You could easily hunt for insects in your own gardens. We’re going to make some pooters to help you safely collect creatures to study.

Individual Task: Make pooters.

Practice picking up grains of rice.

Drinks and snack

Second Part: How many legs do insects have? (6)

But, what about a caterpillar? Is a caterpillar an insect?

Of course, a caterpillar is the pupa stage of a butterfly. Pupa do not all have six legs. It is all adult insects that have six legs.

The life cycle of an insect isn’t quite the same as the life cycle of a mammal (like us).

Does anyone know the life cycle of an insect?

Make insect life cycle plates.

Insects are a huge part of the animal kingdom and very important for keeping everything going.

We can see how insects fit into the ecosystem by making a food web.

We’ll lay out these names of animals and plants (I printed off pictures from Wildlife Watch), and then we’ll use bits of string to connect each animal with what it eats.

Science Club – Wind Up Toys

Arrival Craft: Jumping frogs, an origami craft. I found lots of fun templates online like this one! No automatic alt text available.

Introduction: There are different types of energy. Potential energy is stored energy that can be used later. This is very useful for lots of things.

When we wind up an elastic band, or a clockwork motor, we are turning our kinetic energy into potential energy that can be stored until we want to turn it back into kinetic energy again.

Individual Task: Making wind-up dinosaurs. I got these in a kit from Baker RossNo automatic alt text available.

Older children can also complete an energy worksheets. energystories

Break for drink and snack.

Second part: When we wind up the clockwork motors, a metal spring inside gets wound tighter and tighter, our kinetic energy is turned into elastic potential energy. When we release the spring, it quickly returns to its original shape, turning the potential energy back into kinetic energy that moves the dinosaur forwards.

The metal spring is inside a box, though, so we can’t actually see this happening. It’s easier to see this effect, if we wind up an elastic band. Demonstrate rubber-band powered boat. 


Individual Task: Make boats powered by elastic bands to take home.

I gave out styrofoam plates, and the children cut boat shapes out. They then cut a small square to be the paddle out of the back of the boat. They wrapped an elastic band around the paddle and the boat to power the boat.

I covered my boat in duck tape, which made it quite jolly.

Science Club – Telescopes


Arrival Craft: Use numbered axes to make a curve out of straight lines.

Use grids to expand pictures.

Introduction: We’ve looked at light before when we built periscopes and saw how light always travels in straight lines. Today we’re going to look at how light can be bent.

Individual Task: Lay a piece of clingfilm on top of some paper. Carefully put a droplet of water onto the clingfilm.

Look at text through a droplet of water and see how the water magnifies the text.

Gather Together: Light bends when it passes through a different material because light moves at different speeds in air and water (or in air and glass).

Set up ray box, show how a lens can bend light and move the focal point. This is how glasses and contact lenses work to help people see.

We can see how that works if we pretend to be light.

Get six children to stand in a line holding hands. They should walk forward taking the same size steps. They will walk from one side of the room to the other and stay in a straight line.

Then put a masking tape line diagonally across the floor. As they cross this line, the children must begin to walk in tiny steps, only a couple of inches at a time. Since the children will not all cross the tape at the same time, some of them will slow before the others and their line will bend.

That’s how refraction works! It’s also why light doesn’t get refracted if it hits the glass straight on, e.g. coming through a window.

Break for drink and snack.

Second Part: Lenses allow us to focus light where we want it, we can use that to correct vision problems, but we can also use it to make microscopes for seeing tiny things or telescopes for seeing things that are a long way away.

Individual Task: Making telescopes. There’s an amazing website that sells a whole range of telescope-making kits, they’re great value and really awesome! AstroMedia

Poetry Course Second Part

It’s been a while since I put details of home ed stuff up here.

We’ve been busy with our various clubs and home activities, but I am very behind in blogging about them. So, I thought that I would try and get back into the habit.

Some time ago, I began describing the Poetry Course that I ran for our home ed group. I only put the first session up here. Here are the remaining five sessions.

We had a lot of fun together, and all the children made great progress in understanding rhythm and rhyme.

Week Two – Rhythm

Arrival Activity Give out syllable cards set one syllablecards1, ask the children to arrange the syllables in groups of three to make up names for monsters. They can draw their syllable monsters.

Introduction Last week we learnt about rhyme and listened for it in poems. This week we are going to listen for the rhythm of poems.

If you look at page 9, you should see ‘Jack be Nimble’ at the top and ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ at the bottom. Would anyone like to read these to us? One has a faster rhythm than the other, which do you think it is?

Does anyone think that they could clap the rhythm of ‘Jack be Nimble’? Can anyone clap the rhythm of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’?

In groups, look at pages 5, 6, 7 and 8; choose two rhymes that you all know, then one person claps the rhythm of one of the two rhymes and the other person has to guess which one they are clapping.

Dividing words into syllables can be tricky. So, don’t worry if you aren’t absolutely sure right away, with a bit of practice, it won’t seem so strange.

It’s obvious that some words are short (like ‘hat’ and ‘pig’) and other words are longer (like ‘beautiful’ and ‘extravagant’). The cards that I gave you each had one syllable on, when you put three in a line you made a monster name with three syllables.

Let’s have a go at counting some syllables together.

Give out lots of cards with syllables on syllablecards2 and ask the children to build some real words. See if each table can build a one syllable word, a two syllable word and a three syllable word. Then feed back the words and see if all the tables found the same ones.

Regroup Ask the children how many syllables there are in the words they built, then try some different words and see if they can count the syllables in those too. When we speak, we stress some syllables and not others, that’s what creates the rhythm of speech.

Look at ‘Kicking up Leaves’ on page 367. Would anyone like to read this poem for us? That was very well read, and with the stress on the correct syllables. If I read it again and put the stress on the wrong syllables, hopefully, you will hear that it sounds odd.

It takes practise to hear where the emphasis should be. So, let’s try this one together.

Annotate the poem, showing where the stressed and unstressed syllables are. We used a whiteboard to have a go at scanning poems together, the children love writing on whiteboards, and it’s not so terrifying to make a mistake!

To make it easier to talk about rhythm – and to write about it, since you can’t clap in an essay – we have special words for different patterns of stressed and un-stressed syllables.

Dee-dum is an Iamb

Dum-dee is a Trochee

Dum-dee-dee is a Dactyl

Dee-Dee-Dum is an Anapest.


If a poet uses lots of the same feet in their poem, then the poem has a strong rhythm.

Scan ‘From a Railway Carriage’, page 505, together. 

(I printed out some extracts from poems so that the children could have a go at scanning them scansionsheets.pdf)

Everyone can try to scan ‘Fruit Picking’, page 401.

Younger children can use the lacing letters to build words.

Week Three – Parts of Speech

Arrival Activity Madlibs. Some of the children had done these before and some needed a bit of guidance. But, they all enjoyed this activity a lot. madlibs

Recap We’re going to remind ourselves of what we’ve learned so far. I’m going to give out some cards with single syllables on and I want you to see if you can make a one syllable word, a two syllable word and a three syllable word.

Give out the word fragment sheets. syllablecards2

Introduction We’ve learnt a few technical terms so far, but the most important terms for talking about language are the parts of speech.


Individual Task Make flip books with a selection of words that can be formed into many sentences.

I didn’t make a print out for these, I just showed the children an example and let them make their own. It’s very simple!

Regroup Poets choose every single word with care. Sometimes, if we try to imagine a different word being used, it can help us to see why poets chose the words they did.

I’ve taken some words out of these poems, I would like you to put your own words in to complete the poems, then we’ll compare the choices we made with the choices that the poets made. missingwords

Poems don’t have to be made up of full sentences. ‘Ten Things Found in a Wizard’s Pocket’, page 257, is missing a particular type of word. Can you work out what it is?


Week Four – Sound Effects

IntroductionSo far, we’ve looked at rhyme and rhythm. Today we’re going to look at some of the other sound effects that poets use to make their poems sound good.

Has anyone watched ‘Peppa Pig’ on the television? All the characters names have the same pattern. Their first and last names all start with the same letter. When two words start with the same letter, it is called alliteration. We’re going to make up some alliterative names for my cuddly animals.

Give out cuddly toys and post it notes so that the children can give the toys alliterative names.

Let’s have a look at a poem and see if we can find any alliteration in it. Summer page 42

Let the children have a look on their own, then mark the alliteration on a shared poem.

Sometimes a poet repeats a sound in the middle of the word, rather than at the end (rhyme) or the beginning (alliteration). When they do this, it is called assonance.

Find some examples of assonance in Summer.

Individual TaskGive the children some words and let them see which are rhymes, which are alliteration and which are assonance. soundeffects

Gather TogetherRhyme, Alliteration and Assonance are the three ways that poets can make poems sound interesting by repeating sounds.

Some sounds, however, are pretty interesting on their own.

Read On the Ning Nang Nong page 331.

Some of the words in this poem are sound effects all by themselves. Words that sound like what they mean – like ‘splash’, or ‘knock’ are called onomatopoeic words. Can anyone find any in this poem?

The idea of an onomatopoeic word is that it sounds like the noise it’s describing. We’re going to perform this poem together, replacing this onomatopoeic words with actual sound effects. I’ve brought some things to make ‘bong’, ‘ping’ and ‘clang’ sounds.

Give out sound effect tools (I offered bells, saucepan lids, boomwhackers) and encourage the children to practice a couple of times, then read the poem and leave spaces for the sound effects.

Week Five – Imagery

Arrival Activity Hand out sheets with nouns written on them, ask the children to write an emotion in front of the noun, then try to draw what that might look like (e.g. a sad tree, or an angry sun). figuresofspeech

Recap Rhythm and Rhyme Let’s have a quick recap of some of the stuff we’ve done so far. Some of you may have had a go at analysing the rhythm of ‘The Lion and Albert’ at home. Let’s have a look together. Let’s draw the rhyme scheme in first. I’ve drawn in the stressed and un-stressed syllables for you, can anyone see what feet we have?

Introduction Things like trees and clouds don’t have emotions, people have emotions. So, when we attribute emotions to an object, it’s called Personification. It’s a kind of metaphor. Does anyone know what a metaphor is? A metaphor is when you describe a thing by saying that it is something else. Look at ‘It’s Spring’, page 183, see if the children can spot the metaphors. 

A simalee is different from a metaphor, in that it’s where the writer describes something by saying that it is like something else. Look at ,’As Tasty As A Picnic’, page 171, see if the children can spot the simalees.

Individual Task Look at ‘Morning Meeting’, page 146, and try to spot any simalees and metaphors you can.

Regroup: There are some metaphors that have their own name, like synechdoche, where a whole is represented by a part (like when we say ‘the crown rules’ when we mean the king or queen not their hat), or where a part is represented by a whole (like when we say ‘England is playing football’, when we mean the English football team, not the actual country).

Final Task: Imagery is about playing with words and seeing how they can mean different things. We’re going to exercise our ability to play with words with a game called Dingbats.

Letters are arranged in a box to create a sort of picture of a word. See how many you can solve! Hand out Dingbats sheet. dingbats

Week Six – Voice

Arrival ActivityMake simple cards and write them to someone.


IntroductionAs you arrived, you were making cards. When you write a card for someone, you choose who the card is going to be to and you write who the card is from.

When we read poems, we should remember that they are also ‘to’ and ‘from’ someone. Two of the big questions that we ask when we look at poems are: who is speaking here and to whom are they speaking? Who is the poem to and who is it from?

Let’s look at the poem on page 345, ‘Dear Mrs Spider’. Who does this poem appear to be to? Whom does it seem to be from? How do we know that the author isn’t really a fly?

In poetry, there can be more than one person speaking at the same time. There is the author – and sometimes we know a lot about them and sometimes we know very little – and there is the narrative voice of the poem.

There can also be more than one audience for a poem. Obviously, if you’re reading the poem, then you are the audience of the poem! But, many poems are written with a particular reader in mind. We call that reader ‘the intended audience’.

John Coldwell was a teacher when he wrote this poem and he said in an interview that he wrote his poetry to entertain his children.

Most poems aren’t written as letters, and it can be hard – as well as fun – to try and work out their intended audience.

Individual TaskHave a look at ‘Hurt no Living Thing’ on page 298, see if you can decide who the intended audience might be.

Gather togetherWe know quite a lot about Christina Rossetti, she was a lively child and sometimes rather tempestuous. As a young woman, she nursed her sick father for several years. She wrote books of poetry for children and devoted much of her time to voluntary work with sick people in London (this was before the NHS, when doctors were very expensive). Does any of this change your opinion of who this poem might have been intended for?

Final ActivityChoose ‘The Dark Avenger’ from page 475 or ‘Conversation’ from page 480. Make puppets to be the characters speaking in the poem and decide which character should say which line. puppets

If anyone is brave enough, they could perform their poem for the rest of us.