Blue tea anyone? 

Browing facebook last month I came across a post about blue tea. It was a particularly lovely shade so i clicked through to find out more.

It turned out to be Butterfly Pea flower tea which originates in Thailand but seems to be becoming trendy in certain circles for its unusual properties.

As with the post from my latest dress I gad some spare amazon vouchers and not much I particularly fancied spending them on so I had a look and sure enough this tea was being sold (let’s be reasonable there seem very few things you can’t get on amazon these days).

It took a little while to arrive (travelling from Thailand and all) and came in a resealable packet. I took it into work and showed a few people. One colleague decided it smelt like a lambing shed. It does remind me of hay. I made up a cup to taste but couldn’t taste much either, there was a slight green pea smell though. The instructions said use 3 flowers per cup but perhaps that wasn’t enough.

Anyway, I decided over the weekend to do some experiments with it as the butterfly pea flowers get their blue from anthocyanins. How pretty are the colours below?!

I found the swirling as the blue sank down very interesting to watch.
I then decanted some into a glass cup and added some lime juice (I was out of lemon)…

Anthocyanins can be used as chemical indicators and change colour depending on the pH. In this case we get pinky purple when something acidic is added.

I added some more water to the coffee jug to make the colour comparison easier.


To the left is the colour with acid added (lime juice) and to the right is neutral (just water and flowers).

Other things containing anthocyanins include blackberries and red cabbage. Blend either with water, strain and then you have homemade indicator! The colours will vary depending on which of these you use. The range from red cabbage is particularly pretty. I believe some types of fruit squash work too if they have blackberry juice in- may be worth investigating…

Another dress…

I’ve been seriously tempted by a number of the fabrics by Robert Kaufman for quite some time but couldn’t  justify to myself the expense when I had so many other things to do. I really love the geeky patterns though! I recently got amazon vouchers as cashback from online purchases via Quidco and decided that as a present to myself for getting promoted I was going to buy enough of the science fair fabric to make a dress.
My favourite pattern I own is the one I used to make the space dress but I wanted to try something different so browsing online I found this pattern (Butterick B6086) on offer and was particularly interested in the fact it had pockets.
Amazingly they both arrived on the same day (I was rather excited!)

The pattern was actuall pretty simple and the dress is fully lined. Serendipitously I’d bought the right amount of lining fabric for another project I no longer needed it for. The pockets are huge and robust and well hidden. I can put a work radio in one and it doesn’t ruin the look of the dress.

The only part I hated was gathering but I think I’m getting better at that. I’ve been told that basting 3 lines will give me better control so I’m going to try that next time for sure!

Here’s my finished dress…

Excuse the mess, sewing took priority. I wore it to work with a white long sleeve top underneath and black leggings. I love that it has pockets and that it is lined. It’s pretty comfortable too which is always a good thing!

I liked that the pattern was pretty straightforward and that the top section came in a variety of cup sizes so you just cut out the version that is right for you.  I was half tempted to make the skirt lining electric blue- perhaps that’s an idea for the next time i use this pattern.

It’s been a while…

A lot has happened in the last year and I haven’t felt like writing much. I’ve recently been promoted so I am now an Education Officer- exciting 🙂 

Earlier in the year I won the internal best demo competition where I work and so won the chance to go to the BIG event. It’s a conference for science communicators and it is crazy and busy and packed full of fun! 

I had to perform my demo in front of lots of other sci comms people which was rather nervewracking but though I didn’t win the BIG best demo I got lots of good feedback and it definitely gave me a confidence boost. 

As well as having a great time meeting new sci comm people and seeing some I hadn’t seen in a while, I also enjoyed the fact it was in Belfast. I’ve never been to any part of Ireland before so it added to the excitement.  That, and the turbulence on the flight there!  

I was lucky enough to be able to stay for a few extra days and got to discover more of Belfast and took a coach tour around the Antrim coast to see some of the filming locations used in  game of thrones. 

One day I might get around to elaborating on my demo but for now i’ve got some other things to share… 🙂 

Toucan play…

Each week I try and make time to do something with my daughter, just me and her. It might not sound much doing ‘something’ each week, but with me working every weekend, her assortment of after school clubs and activities and having a two year old and  means it’s tricky to find special time together.

She really loves making things but there are so many possibilities out there that it can be hard to decide on something. It also means forward planning in a lot of cases (she really wants to do bleach art but we haven’t got around to it yet) whereas we often do things more spur of the moment.

I’d seen Toucan boxes advertised online but wondered what they could possibly contain that I couldn’t work out for myself or find with a quick online search so dismissed them. My husband, however, saw them and thought he’d order one for our daughter to try (I didn’t know about it until it had turned up). Having received quite a few of the boxes now I have to say that actually they are pretty good! You get a theme in each box – she’s had pirates, under the sea, decorating a canvas bag, splat pictures and a few more I forget. It’s quite a nice surprise to see what you get each time. In each box you get everything you need to create the item for that week, including glue etc… there is also an activity book related to the theme for that box and a sheet of ideas for follow up activities and inspiration for other things to do e.g. things to look out for on a walk complete with ticksheet. The activity booklets they send are also very handy for keeping her busy while I’m making dinner etc…

The last few weeks we’ve been using the toucan boxes in our special time together partly because they have everything in them that you need so there is no searching for bits of stuff, they don’t take hours to make (we do them in the time between school finishing and  having to go pick up the smallest one from nursery), and because they are fun! She had a few that she hadn’t opened yet so today we did them. My favourite (and hers too I think) was making racing jellyfish, we then stuck them on the window and spent lots of time seeing who would win! I know that when her little brother gets home from nursery he is going to love playing with them too!

She’s also started decorating a canvas bag too.

 

You also get a chart and each box has a sticker you can add to it. When you get a certain amount of stickers you can trade them in for rewards.

If anyone is interested in trying them out you can visit: toucanbox.com/friends  if you use the code andrew-5W6b you can get your first box free =0)

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Tinkering Fundamentals – thoughts on the course

I’ve really enjoyed taking part in the Tinkering Fundamentals course and would definitely recommend it to anyone. Next time it runs give it a go! It does take up quite a bit of time but is well worth it. My daughter certainly enjoyed trying out the activities too.

There was so much that I loved about the course and I’ve shown it to some of my maker and teacher friends who have been looking online at the resources for the course – I do love to share things that interest me.

The Tinkering Tenets made me smile and I very much appreciated them. I really don’t look at objects in quite the same way, often thinking of other uses for them. I’m trying very hard to ‘Be comfortable not knowing’ but sometimes this is hard. I tried to conquer this during the circuit block activity where I have previously mentioned – I didn’t know what a potentiometer was and that scared me a bit. My favourite I think was to ‘Take your work seriously without taking yourself seriously’. I think this could apply to a lot of life, not just tinkering. Actually a lot of the tinkering tenets could. That is still my favourite though.

Working in science communication means that I often have to look at objects and think about other uses than that which they were intended but this course really made me think harder. It also had excellent advice about re-purposing things and stripping them down for parts. It is actually cheaper to buy a handheld fan and take it apart to get a motor and switch out than it is to but a motor on its own.

Being able to explore the activities by doing them was really essential for being able to share them with others for a number of reasons:

  • identify the thought processes a learner may go through and being able to understand the frustrations
  • be able to help better having experienced it
  • have a clear idea of the activity in your head
  • being able to use the equipment confidently and develop new and exciting skills
  • it allowed me to develop my creativity and think about things in a new way

 

What was it like to share an activity with another person?

Sharing the activities with others is very fun. Seeing them enjoy themselves and problem solving felt very fulfilling. A quote from the course that tinkering is ‘being stuck then being unstuck’ really sticks with me and I think solving their own problems makes the activities more meaningful and gives them ownership.

I also found this a bit frustrating at times and it was very hard to sit on my hands. For example, creating scribbling machines with my daughter. She kept asking if she was things right so I had to explain that there wasn’t a ‘right’ way of doing it. She also found things quite fiddly at times, the pens didn’t always stay where she wanted them to and at one point she chose a pot that was too heavy for the  motor to move in the way she wanted it to. Normally I would have stepped in and started fiddling but I tried my best not to and instead talked to her about what she was doing and asked questions that made her think carefully about how she could fix things and what she might like to change.

Moving forwards my plan is to try out lots of new tinkering activities and to develop my skills so that I can share them better with others and develop interesting activities. I’d share these with others to encourage them to tinker too.  I’ve created boxes for each of the activities so I can pull them out and play with them with my daughter and my friends to encourage me to use them again. As I find cool resources to use in the activities I can add them to a box and keep them safe until we use them.

Tinkering as an approach to learning is an interesting one and if someone is really engaged in an activity I can see it being a rich source of development of skills, understanding (though this may be hard to observe) and delight. I think that when I see activities now I’ll be wondering how I can tinker with them, how can they have numerous pathways, are they open and allow exploration? If not I’ll be thinking hard about how I can make them so. Even if the end product is make a paper circuit this still allows creativity on the part of the tinkerer and an exploration of the materials and their skills.

I’ll certainly want to read more about the ideas of Edith Ackermann and the others that gave a pedagogical perspective during the course and love the artists that were highlighted, especially Jie Qi and Leah Buechley. Sewable electronics is definitely something I want to explore more and I was surprised (and impressed) that the Lilypad Arduino is washable.

Sewn Circuits (week 4 – Tinkering MOOC)

A little while ago at work we had a making table area where people could do different activities. It was quite tinkery but without tinkering being in the title. One of the activities was to make felt and another was to create sewn circuits. I combined the two to create this item which I’ve since mounted onto one of those hair clips you bend to open and close. This acts as a pressure switch to turn it on and off. There is no plastic battery holder but instead a few french nots made with the conductive thread on each side of the cell.

 

Hair clip with an LED and pressure switch
Hair clip with an LED and pressure switch

I loved doing this activity and have also made a bracelet too which is switched on and off by the press studs holding it together. Sewing is one of my favourite things to do – the scope for what you can create is near endless. With regards to adding electronics – I love the creativity of this – the sewing is so therapeutic (when it isn’t being frustrating!) and allowed me to be creative and also add an extra dimension to my work by adding the lights.

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I found sewn circuits to be tricky – it wasn’t always obvious where the circuit wasn’t connecting properly but when it did work and I managed to solve the problem it was very rewarding! There is something about there being a problem and then solving it yourself that seems to be more meaningful than doing something really straightforward and then moving on to something else. I do love a challenge! Something I wish I’d known/ thought of before making the hair clip was being able to make loops with the legs of the LEDs to make them easier to stitch on. Trying to stitch the straight legs in place was very tricky and often left ends that were a bit sharp poking out of the edges. Not a good feature on a hair clip or a bracelet! Plus the loops would have looked pretty good on my felt flower I think.

As an activity to facilitate I think it would take quite a bit of time and a lot of patience on the tinkerers part and a bit of tuition (how to sew) from the facilitator. At work this activity was near the under 7s area  – not many people over 7 came along and few under 7 had the patience to create something that worked. The soft play nearby was too much of a temptation – as it would have been for me were I allowed to play there too 😉 We had lots of other activities that they did love on that area though – shadow puppets being a firm favourite! I think something like the sewn circuits would definitely benefit from being in a different area with less distractions though there were quite a few parents who enjoyed finishing their kids projects and seemed very pleased with their results.

The other activity in week 4 of the course was Paper Circuits – I’m very keen to try them out and will share my experimentation but at present I’m still waiting for some surface mount LEDs to arrive. Watch this space!

Tinkering MOOC – week 3 Scribblebots

It’s week 3! and that means scribblebots.

My first thoughts before trying this out or seeing the video was that they were cool but what can you learn from them and is there much you can do to vary them?

Watching the ‘in action’ video made me really look forwards to these and thought that showing them to my daughter just had to be done! There was so much variety. My daughter watched the ‘in action’ video and the ‘Making’ video to show us how to do it/ give ideas and then we jumped right in. One thing I think I will do before we next try this is to solder the wires to the motor rather than just wrap them round. Things will definitely be less fiddly then!

I covered the table in paper – thank you ikea for the paper rolls!

On the table I put:

  • tub of felt tips
  • blu tack
  • motor with wires attached
  • AA battery
  • pipe cleaners
  • a selection of tubs and containers
  • sellotape
  • elastic bands
  • masking tape
  • scissors

I also liked the idea of putting washers and other things there too to use on the scribble bots. Pegs and lolly sticks would be good options I think.

There were a number of ways to build the scribble bots but I thought I would leave Izzy to build her own and see what she came up with. She chose to build the bot first and then add the battery and motor. To begin with she got frustrated because the masking tape wouldn’t hold the pens in place very well so we ended up using the sellotape instead. I think masking tape that wasn’t really old would definitely be better. She also had to rearrange the pens a few times so that the nibs actually touched the paper. She kept saying ‘keep trying, a tinkerer never gives up’ not sure where she got that from but I love it. WP_20150822_002

Once she’d attached her pens we had a look at the motor. She hadn’t really seen one before so we tried hooking it up to the battery. The motor I had spare had a little white cog on the end so it span around when hooked up much to the delight of my daughter. I didn’t have any spare hot melt glue gun sticks so we used blu tack as a weight for the motor. We offset the blu tack so there was a heavier end.

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This moved quite well but she had to rearrange the pens slightly so that they actually touched the paper. She was pretty pleased as you can probably tell from the video.

The resulting picture reminds me of a face.

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Here was my attempt. I had problems attaching everything together though so I’ll try again another time. Tonight was more about letting Izzy play and get a taste for tinkering.

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She tried another design but the pot was too heavy and the motor couldn’t move on the paper. We’re going to try again when we have more containers and it’s not past her bedtime already.

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If you want something that is actually more challenging than it looks but so so rewarding, silly and fun then definitely try making some scribble bots! I’m planning on making a box of kit so we can get it out on rainy (or not so rainy days) and play around. We could even take it outside with some pavement chalk!

Have you tried making scribblebots? How did they go? What do you think of them? Any tips for me?

Reflecting on reflecting

In case it hasn’t already become apparent I am doing a Tinkering course hosted on Coursera and run by the Exploratorium. A big part of the course (particularly if you want to be certified at the end) is to keep a ‘Tinkering Journal’. This isn’t just a journal listing the tinkering done but is an opportunity to reflect on the activities, progress made and what I think about tinkering. I’m mainly keeping my thoughts on this blog, but also considered keeping a notebook handy for thoughts while I’m in my garage actually doing the tinkering and playing with the making of circuit blocks etc… I didn’t have a clean notebook and so I created my own by folding some blank A4 paper and sewing it together. Looks quite plain at the moment but we’ll see how things go…

The week 2 Google Hangout was really interesting to think about how to record a journal and I loved the idea of making your own book to then use. In a classroom it would be awesome – to give pupils ownership of their work and reflections would be a very powerful tool. I imagine it would help to keep them engaged and they would be able to clearly see their progress over a period of time. I think it would be a great and different thing to do for any lesson, I think back to my teacher training and imagine how the kids would have reacted to making a book/journal of their own to keep their own record of what they are doing. Not so much to write facts (unless they wanted to – that’s what science books are for, right?) I imagine at first they would have thought it was a daft idea – I don’t think they’d have come across it before, but once they got into it I think they would have really got into it – I also really liked the idea of having a journal as a shared thing to do as a class or in a group. Getting kids to reflect without just repeating what they think you want to hear can be quite challenging!

A big part of my PGCE was on being a reflective practitioner. There was a whole module on being a reflective practitioner and throughout the course (at uni and on placement) we had to keep a learning journal where we write our thoughts and reflections. Mine was in columns – date, content, and then a final column I could use to highlight questions I had raised or targets I had set myself. That way I could easily pick them out when looking back. To begin with my ‘reflecting’ was a bit rubbish. It was a list of things that had happened with the odd comment on what I thought about something. Not very deep really (not that everything has to be). On placements we had to reflect on and assess at least one lesson we had done each week. I often found this very difficult, it is hard to see sometimes where you have gone wrong or why a particular thing worked. Sometimes it is more obvious. I hated it at first – I found it very time consuming to begin with and I can be incredibly self critical when reflecting  and too often overlook the good things in favour of trying to fix the bad. Even if the ‘bad’ was something very minor. This is a habit that has taken me a long time to get out of and a big part is thanks to an excellent mentor I had when I re-did my final teaching placement. In the end I did find reflecting on what I was doing a very useful thing and it did improve my teaching practise and gave me the opportunity to analyse my thoughts and spend time thinking about things I wouldn’t have normally considered. It gave me the opportunity to critique different pedagogies and come up with my own thoughts about the sort of attitude I wanted to have and how I might develop that. Keeping a learning journal also meant I had somewhere I could easily look up ideas I’d had or activities or websites that needed further investigation. Looking back at this I wasn’t keen to begin with but I can now see the value in it. If I look back at some of the entries I made during a particularly bad time I had it can also remind me of how strong I am to have overcome it and I can now see lots of the good things I missed during that time because of one bad experience clouding my view of things. At the time I don’t think there would have been much I could do to see that but as time has passes it has become easier for me to see things more objectively.

Reflecting on a lesson I think is both similar and different to reflecting on tinkering. Reflecting on lessons may lead to me questioning: Was the content interesting and enjoyable? Did it have a good ‘hook’? What was behaviour like during the lesson? How well did I deliver the lesson? Pace? Tone of voice? Resources used? Did the pupils understand what it was I was trying to teach them? Did they engage? Did they enjoy it? Why? Was the learning objective obvious? Was it fulfilled? Why? Were the success criteria accurate?  Why? Why is a very important question I think in reflecting and one that is hard to answer therefore often avoided. While many of those questions could apply to tinkering I think that having learning objectives and success criteria might be pretty tricky for something that is open ended and the potential to grow and develop in many ways.

Tinkering on this course and keeping a journal is something I will find interesting. More about keeping a diary of my processes – thoughts and tinkering and being able to explore new ideas. I liked the idea on the hangout of keeping a journal with pages ‘what I thought then/what I think now’. It has a nice way of seeing how ideas and learning develops and the what I think now could just keep on evolving (as ideas do). It’s also a good place to store ideas to come back to them later (I often have too many) and a place to record my successes and failures (and quirks) and ponder on them. These ideas being about my personal tinkering activities and also approaches to the facilitation of activities for groups and the environment to do this. Lots to consider! When it comes to reflecting on the tinkering MOOC I think I find this sort of reflection a little easier, thinking about what I’m doing, how I’m feeling and why. It’s personal to me (at the moment at least) rather than me trying to gauge the reactions of a whole class and work out why things might have happened the way they did. I think it is the scale of being in a formal classroom setting that makes it harder, though I can’t quite put into words why. Perhaps that is a reflection for another day.

Recently we had evening training at work and were encouraged to reflect on what we do including our presenting in the Science Theatre. Again I’m going to find this a challenging. It is now something I do without thinking. I haven’t been keeping a journal of Science Explaining (though I think there could be some pretty funny stuff in there, and some very awesome stuff too) but now we have all been given notepads to use if we wish to reflect on our performances in the Theatre. What worked well, what didn’t and WHY??! Amongst other things of course. I think that this is going to be pretty hard to do for performances (like the teaching reflection) as it is hard to think about things you have done. It is hard to see things sometimes until someone points them out – for example I used to sway and rock backwards and forwards a lot when on stage. Distracting I’m sure and made me look less confident but I never realised I was doing it as I’d returned from maternity leave where I’d spent a lot of time trying to rock my baby to sleep or comfort it – as you do. Once pointed out I then noticed when I did it and made a conscious effort to stop. I still find myself doing this sometimes but it is much more rare.

My thoughts – reflecting isn’t easy, but it is certainly useful to be able to do to develop yourself what ever your role in life (or Life in my case). Reflecting is easier if you have someone else to discuss things with such as a mentor, a forum in the case of the course, or an observer who can chat to you about things. Having those things is not always possible though so taking a little time to think about things is worthwhile even if it is much of a challenge. I’m currently challenging myself to consider my tone of voice and the way I play with and interact with the audience while on stage. Assessing this can be tricky when I can’t actually see them for most of the show but having a bit of back and forth is very useful in gauging their feeling. Looking out to see how many people are playing on their phones is pretty useful too…

One of the hardest things I have found is people asking something along the lines of ‘what do you want to improve?’ or ‘how would you like to develop?’ Tricky because, with teaching in particular, it is hard to say you want to develop something if you don’t know about it. For example, my first teaching placement. Setting targets – what do you want to work on during this placement? At the start of the course that is a very big question to ask. At the time I didn’t know how many things I was ignorant of. I think I said something about reading with the kids. A better answer would have been to develop behaviour management strategies, differentiation, or how to structure a lesson but I didn’t think about this because it was the beginning of the course and I didn’t know about these things. Of course I quickly learnt of them but you don’t know what you don’t know about.

I’ve come up with some advice for myself, assembled from my reflections on the reflections I’ve made during teaching, the course so far and Life and life in general. Hopefully I will remember better if I write it down…

Reflecting is there to help work things out and make things better. Don’t let it get you down in the process. Discuss things with people where possible, give them the freedom to speak but stick up for yourself too. Listen, pay attention, be constructive between you. Negatives should always be followed by a goal and an idea for achievement of this. Saying you want to be better is not the same as saying how you could be better and how to put it into action. Reflection can happen in the moment, later, and much later still. Sometimes it takes time to see the really key points of something. You don’t know how much you don’t know until you start looking into something. Sometimes time consuming but always worthwhile.

Pondering over for now. Reflecting on the reflecting I have done in the past has been surprisingly therapeutic and hopefully makes sense to more people than just me. 🙂

Tinkering MOOC -week 2 (cont)

Further to my last Tinkering MOOC post – I have now created more circuit blocks to play with. I’ve been away a bit so I’m catching up now – I’m still waiting for my potentiometers to arrive though 😦

I’ve been playing around with the blocks – the making them and trying some things out.

I found a fan in the pound shop so took it apart and used the motor from it to mount on a circuit block. The white thing I mounted the motor onto is part of an old roller blind – the hole in the middle seems pretty perfect to fit the motor in. I then glued the motor into place with a glue gun. I left the little plastic fan blades attached to the fan. I was hoping to get more parts from the fan – a switch or battery holder perhaps but that was not the case. Paying £1 to get a motor out was still cheaper than buying a motor though!

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I also found some circuit stuff while sorting a box in my garage – particularly some LEDs and adapters to add fibre optics. I had a go at making a block with them…

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It also leads me to a circuit that didn’t work (initially)- the LED has a positive and negative side and I needed to make sure they were hooked up the right way. Hard to tell when I’d bend the metal bits coming out of them and attached them nails so I just had to try both ways! Fun though, when it lit up it kind of reminded me of a little bug.

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One thing I noticed about this and loved was how the light also travels through the glue from my gluegun. I want to now go and play around with this to see what shapes I can make with the glue and how well the light will travel. Certainly an ‘ooooh’ moment for me!

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I played around with the kit I had, and have tried making blocks with more than one bulb on too. I think I might have a bit of a circuit block addiction now – if I pass a charity chop or pound store I have to go in and have a look if they have anything I can use. On the MOOC forum someone suggested chopping up Christmas lights and using them on blocks which I think is a fab idea!

One thing that interested me was that when I attached the motor with the fan blades to the battery the fan actually caused the block to lift slightly and it floated around the surface as far as the wires attached would let it.

One circuit I found interesting was attaching the motor with fan bits, a bulb and battery holder with two AA batteries in a series circuit. The bulb lit up but the fan didn’t move – until I knocked it! Once started it continued spinning round until I disconnected the battery from the circuit. Bizarre! Not enough power I guess.

I wanted to take this further so I also tried making the circuit pictured below. The far left is the motor with fan blades, the middle is a buzzer and the left is a bulb in a holder all attached to a battery holder containing two AA batteries.

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With this circuit the bulb didn’t light, the fan didn’t spin (even when nudged), but the buzzer did sound! I think I need to add more power to the circuit to get all three to work? The electricity must be passing through the motor and bulb though as the buzzer wouldn’t work otherwise. Alas all the other AA batteries seem to have disappeared so I’ll try it out with more when I’ve had the opportunity to buy some more. Interesting though.

These blocks take a little while to make but are so rewarding! They are a bit addictive too! Playing with circuits is also lots of fun! I think this would be so much fun to do with people of all ages – I’d be very keen on seeing if I could take my kit to my daughters after school club for them to try out! I think it is really good to explore the blocks and can lead to a rich learning experience (it certainly has for me!). I’ve gained lots of experience by making the blocks, opening up my imagination to think about fun and interesting things I could put on the blocks (like the LED fibre optic thing) as well as standard things like bulbs, motors etc…

 

 

Summer holiday – Art Gallery visits

Keeping the kids entertained over the holidays can be a bit tricky, I’m finding it all the interesting this year to try and keep a balance of things to do with my nearly 2 year old and nearly 7 year old. The youngest wants to follow the oldest everywhere (when he isn’t clinging on to me or having a strop) and this isn’t always appreciated. I’ve been trying to keep them busy by going out and about – I have found the Primary Times very handy indeed! Lots of listings for things to do all over the North East.

Having had a look through I’ve been particularly impressed by the stuff to do at our local art galleries – the Laing Gallery had a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory crafts day where for £2.50 the oldest got to make a giant sweet (she chose to make a lollipop) out of a wrapping paper tube and lots of tissue and a giant air pouch and do some printing too. She could have made a giant hat but took so long with the others that we ran out of time. That is not to say she was slow, just really engaged in it.

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We have also visited Shipley Art Gallery where the oldest made a sort of clay cup and decorated it (with feathers!?).

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Both of them enjoyed looking around the life size knitted garden. It is pretty darn cool.

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We’re planning on going back in a few weeks – they are going to do things with metal one week and glass another (again £2.50 and worth it).

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Shipley also has a wearable art session running in November which I’m hoping to go to.