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Home education resources

Education at home doesn't have to be taxing. There are many resources available that will stimulate the mind without it feeling like a classroom lesson. Try some of these to supplement your home education.


Poly-Chromatic Rendering, what is that?

Probably the best excuse to practice Geography that one could think of. A fun exercise for all ages and abilities. The Ordnance Survey map colouring. Of course, for those geographers out there Poly-chromatic rendering is the smart way of saying Colouring-in.

Colour-in your own map

What to do

  1. Visit the Ordnance Survey 'Map Colouring' page.
  2. Choose your preferred map (or register and download the whole booklet)
  3. Print and colour

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Light and Shade

Ages: 4–11 years old

Idea inspired by: Karel Komárek Proměny Foundation, Prague, Czech Republic... nadace-promeny.cz

This creative activity helps to capture the changing images that light creates around us. It is a fun activity that ask simple questions about those simple things that are happening around us.

Materials

Chalk, crayons, pencils, charcoal, plain paper, black paper (any drawing materials)

What to do

Begin by watching the shadows in your garden (or window sill or desk if you can't get outside). Get your child to think about what they are seeing and discuss what might be creating the shadow. Ask questions about the shape of the shadows, how they might change and what might be affecting the shape of the shadows that they see. Consider what these shapes may remind you of, and do they represent the expected shape of the object casting the shadow?

Ask more searching questions like:

  • When do the shadows emerge and disappear?
  • How do you expect the shadows to change throughout the day?
  • Do the shadows have hard or soft edges?
  • What might the shadows look like within different seasons?
  • Which shadows change slowly? (perhaps those of buildings)
  • Which shadows constantly flicker? (perhaps those of leaves on a tree blowing on the wind)

Draw your shadow

  1. By tracing over the shadow cast across a sheet of blank paper, ask your child to draw the outlines of the shadows as they are cast.
  2. Try different materials Pens, crayons and pencils to see which style works best. Try also coloured pastels on black paper or charcoal on white.
  3. Sellotape your child's paper down and ask your child to trace the outline of a moving shadow, see how they interpret this difficult task.
  4. Try revisiting your shadow picture every 15 minutes and see if you can redraw the shadow in layers on the same piece of paper. Layering the drawings can result in some wonderful designs. Try drawing each new layer in a different colours.
  5. What original designs can your child create with these different paintings and sketches?

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Finding North with a stick

Did you know you can work out which way is North, South, East & West are simply by using a stick and the sun.

What you'll need

Sun, stick, stones and 30 minutes of your time. If you want to check your results then get a compass or an app on your phone.

 Finding north with a stick and the sun

What to do

If you know that the sun will be around for 30 minutes, strong enough to cast a shadow then this is guaranteed to work.

  1. Push your stick into the ground so that it will cast a shadow somewhere on your lawn or patio.
  2. Wherever the end of the shadow (from the stick) is cast, place your first small stone or pebble.
  3. Wait 15 minutes to 30 minutes (for the sun to move across the sky) and place your second small stone or pebble at the end of the stick's shadow. 
  4. Draw an imaginary line that travels directly through the two stones. This is the West-East line.
  5. From West-East you can now easily work out the North-South cardinal points.

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Make your own charcoal pencils

This is a great project for all ages. It combines creativity, science, experimentation and finally art. You will need a open fire in the garden to cook your charcoals and so an adult will need to supervise this project. 

What you'll need

  1. Fire wood for an open fire.
  2. Pencil length size cuts of hazel or willow sticks from a mature tree
  3. Baked-bean tin
  4. Tin foil
  5. Sand
  6. Something to cut your hazel/willow sticks to length

What to do

  1. Light your fire in a safe place away from buildings and animals (continuously supervise with a bucket of water close-by)
  2. Cut your willow/hazel into suitable short lengths that will fit into your baked-bean tin.
  3. Half fill your tin with sand and push your sticks deeply into the sand.
  4. Cover the remainder of the sticks with more sand, so that the tin can is now full of sticks and sand.
  5. Cover the can with several layers of tin-foil so that the sand is secure within the tin.
  6. Carefully place the whole can deeply into the fire and leave for 35-40 minutes.
  7. Remove the tin-can and patiently wait for it to cool down. Tip the contents out of the tin-can and expose your wonderful charcoal pencils.

What to do if you only have tin-foil

  1. Light your fire in a safe place away from buildings and animals (continuously supervise with a bucket of water close-by)
  2. Cut your willow/hazel into suitable pencil-like lengths.
  3. Wrap each of your charcoal sticks in tin-foil so that they have a least two complete layers of tin-foil.
  4. Carefully place each of your tin-foil wrapped sticks deeply into the fire and leave for 10-15 minutes. Observe from a safe distance. Steam should quite quickly start to be driven out of the tin-foil wraps. Wait until all the steam has stopped and then extract your wrapped charcoal parcels.
  5. Allow to cool and inspect the contents of one or two of your charcoal parcels.
  6. If you find they are under-cooked then re-wrap and replace in the fire for a further 5 minutes. You won't have to wait long before you have perfect charcoal pencils to use in your artwork

Should you find that your charcoals fall apart then you may have over-baked them. Try again but with a shorter time in the fire.

What's the science?

To create charcoal you need an anoxic (without oxygen) environment. By placing the sticks in a tin-can full of sand -or- by wrapping them in tin-foil you are preventing the sticks from being burnt in the presence of oxygen. 

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Garden ABC

This activity is easy to setup. It can help while away several hours of anyone's time, and will certainly get the inquisitive mind working. Better still it will test the cryptic and lateral thinking of any participant.

Garden ABC project

What you'll need

A large sheet of card or paper with an alphabet grid marked out. The grid should provide enough space for items to be placed alongside each of the letters.

How it works

  1. Create your alphabet grid on a clean piece of  A3 paper, 2 sheets of A4 sellotaped together would work equally well.
  2. Hunt throughout the garden -or- house to find small items that begin with each letter of the alphabet. As you find them place them against your grid of letters.
  3. If items are too big to collect then draw your answer in the space provided
  4. Skip past letters of difficulty until you reach the end of the alphabet.
  5. When you have run out of objects to find in your garden or house, start thinking laterally. For example; Can you find colours like; 'L'ilac or 'V'iolet. Could you find something with 'Z'ebra stripes or 'Z'ig'Z'ag edges. something that looks like an 'X'ray when you hold it up to the light.

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