Nature Schooling: Rainbows

Well, I didn’t get to deliver my activities on beetles in nursery this week as I tested positive for Covid so I have been isolating. I don’t seem to have suffered as badly as many accounts. My head has been hurting. I’ve been aching but not had a temperature, only coughing a little bit. So, it is worth getting tested even if you only show some symptoms.

But, while I haven’t got to teach the children in person we are still providing ideas for the parents home-learning. It’s uncertain exactly when I’ll be back at work but the next topi is rainbows. Of all the topics this has been the one I’ve had the least interest in. Alice, on the other hand, is very excited for rainbows. But to me, rainbows are just natural phenomenon. They serve no purpose, they do nothing, they just look pretty. So, I’ve invested more time into this one to look at exploring every possible avenue of rainbows as a topic to try and find a hook that engages me. It obviously lends itself to the teaching of colours but I wanted to find more opportunities.

Rainbows feature within folklore and the bible. In Norse mythology Bifrost, the burning rainbow bridge reaches from Earth to Asgard. Leprachauns gold can be found at the end of a rainbow. The rainbow bridge featured in poems in the 1980s and 90s as a route for deceased pets to go to a pet heaven. In Tibetan Buddhism the rainbow body is referred to as levels of realization. Since the 1970s it has been used as a symbol by the LGBTQ movement. Then in the last year it has been adopted by the NHS as a symbol of hope and the hard work they have done through the Covid pandemic. ‘The world made a rainbow‘ is one of the better stories I’ve found featuring rainbows and it supports the work of Save the Children.

Suggested books:

    • Planting a rainbow-Lois Ehlert
    • Elmer (and Elmer and the rainbow)
    • The rainbow fish
    • The world made a rainbow
    • The rainbow bear (ages 5-7)

Craft

Rainbows, as a topic, are obviously good for craft and artwork. Though more for home learning than in class. Trying to get 10+ children to make rainbows is not fun. It either ends up being too directed with a stressed out teacher or lots of colours mixed together or in the wrong place. While that has a great value for exploration, I like craft activities where the children can indepently achieve something that looks like what it is meant to be. But at home working one to one with Alice we have spent the last week making rainbows in just about every medium she can lay her hands on. She has painted them, used felt-tips, collaged, crayons, built from Lego, and even minature polymer clay rainbows.

We made rainbow paper chains and decorated the windows again to add a burst of cheer while we are isolating and to hopefully bring some cheer to people going past. It’s also ended up as a bit of local art display with a glass rainbow and knitted rainbow made my locals. The glass rainbow was dropped off with a tag for Alice. We still don’t know who kindly gave it to her. But I think it is the work of Jude Howe.

Sorting

With all the colours the rainbow topic lends itself well to sorting and pattern work. I have been painting wooden acorns to make a set of rainbow acorns. This seemed like it would be a nice activity to do with Alice to make a useful resource. However each has needed a few coats of paint and it’s been more of a faff.

But, she has a nice set for making patterns with. She is currently very keen on making symetrical patterns with them.

Having messed about with painting the acorns I decided to use felt tips to make a rainbow family to add to the objects to sort.

Science

I think one of my reasons for not liking the topic is that you can’t take the kids out and find a rainbow. Topics like the moon, birds and beetles I can pretty much guarantee we will find these things. However, rainbows I can’t make happen outside. So I’ve looked at the best of the home learning options for creating rainbows. Using a prism is pretty much the best way but a bit expensive for a one off.

CD’s and DVD’s have been the best I’ve found so far. By either letting the sun shine on the discs or using a torch you can create a rainbow in your own house. With a little bit of angling back and forth you can project a rainbow onto a wall or surface.

You can achieve different effects by placing the disc in water. You can then project the rainbow in the water.

We’ve also looked at felt-tip colours. Felt tip pen colours are made by mixing a number of colours to create the desired colour. You can separate the colours to see the different colours that have been mixed to make each pen. It’s a nice quick activity for discussing colour names and encouraging scientific enquiry.

You need:

    • Paper, coffee filters work well, kitchen roll, thick tissues and toilet roll can be used but are not quite as good.
    • Feltips
    • Bowl or cup of water

Place dots of pen or a line along the bottom of the paper.

Place the paper with the bottom in water. The water will soak up the paper spreading the pen ink as it rises.

The longer you leave the water to soak up, the more the colour separates. Discuss which colours you can see. Different colours will achieve different effects. Black works particularly well as this is often made by combining many colours.

Rainbow hunt

A good activity for inside or outside is a rainbow hunt. It’s a little tougher at this time of year outside but that fills a bit more time and we have no shortage of time currently. You can do it altogether looking for the colours or add an element of competition seeing who can find a colour first. I’ve been pretty lazy with this while recovering from Covid using Alice’s buns and sending her to find objects of the different colours.

Rainbow tree

A simple little threading activity I saw through Mud and Bloom to develop your child’s fine motor skills.

Collect sticks.

Wrap sticks with coloured string, hair bobbles, electrical tape.

Thread beads onto the branches being careful of the stick ends.

Display in a jar. I’ve used the jar we made for Diwali/the lightbringers as seemed appropriate for the activity.

I feel like I have fully explored the potential of this topic. Alice is still working on making rainbows in more formats. We are painting a wooden rainbow set and I may try and make a rainbow of butterflies ready for the next topic. But, I am feeling the rainbow fatigue. Hope you’ve enjoyed our rainbow explorations. And to finish a rainbow playlist. Rainbows are a lot more popular with song writers than beetles. No shortage of songs for this week.

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30 Days of Wild: Day 15-Spells

Having made the stick wands I thought we’d carry on with the magic theme and have a go at spell books and some time in the mud kitchen on potion-making. Alice had started playing this at the den and when we returned home so I was looking to extend her play with a few more ideas.

We started with the wonderful book spells by Emily Gravett. This book tells the tale of a little frog who finds a spellbook and dreams of being a handsome prince. Each page is split in half and can be turned to make different spells. The illustrations of lovely. The book design with the half pages is playful and the story is funny. It’s a good starting point for any magic lover.

I did a bit of prep work on this project preparing some special paper to make a spellbook. I used two special spray paints to give the paper an aged effect but you could easily use tea bags or buy the paper that already looks aged.

I then folded to construct a book.

I’ve said before that I like to introduce tasks through letters. I thought this one would suit a scroll. Children often really buy into messages delivered this way. They are no longer doing a job for you. They are doing it for the person you’ve suggested whether that be a fairy or messages from the teddies. So long as you buy into it they go along with the silliness. So the plotline I created was that the witch had accidentally cast a spell on her book and she had made all the spells vanish. She needed our help to write some new spells.

Then I engaged in a bit of roleplay pretending to hear a noise upstairs. She went upstairs to investigate and found the scroll delivered by the owl. She can pick out her name and the pictures are so she knew who it was from. She really bought into this one talking about the witch and how she was a good witch and adding lots of extra detail to the character of the letters sender.

Back downstairs we worked on one spellbook together with me modelling a few examples to spark her own imagination.

Alice came up with lots of wonderful ideas of her own for spells.

She had a good go at copying a few words as well as writing lots of numbers for quantities for ingredients. So we got lovely mark-making, imagination and maths from this part of our play. I particularly like her frog.

It kept her attention for a good while and she filled two books with spells before taking her book off to find her wand and cauldron.

All kitted up we headed out. Alice was keen to find a stick as she felt Amy missed out on a wand yesterday. She found one quickly and got a basic wand constructed.

She had a good play around the den making her spells.

And then a bit of a rest and a snack together.

Amy took some spectacular bee photos with the macro lens.

Mine less so, but I was using the mid range lens rather than the macro.

All in all a magical adventure out. The fact that Alice referred to it as an adventure when we returned home makes me feel I did something right.

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30 Days Wild: Day 14-Stick wands

I was asked yesterday if I’d like to feature as a guest blog on Little Acorns website. They are an online shop selling nice open-ended wood toys. Lots of nice toys for young minds to explore. They are looking to feature several dad’s blogs about 30 days wild and they asked if they could feature my Ladybird Maths blog. So, it’s up on their site. It’s nice to know the blogs are being read and even nicer that people feel there worth sharing.

For tea earlier in the week we made our own pizzas with bases we got from the eco pantry at Alice’s nursery. They’ve carried on opening it during lockdown with social distancing in place. The eco pantry gets given food from the supermarkets that for various reasons isn’t going to be sold. It’s either about to go out of date or the labels were done wrong or they’ve just got too much of something. It would contribute to the problem of food waste. So for a pound a visit we get to choose 7 items. These schemes are massively useful for helping the environment as it means perfectly good food doesn’t go to waste, so more food doesn’t need to be sold in its place.

Alice enjoyed the process of making it though she was fussier about eating it.

Then we started yesterday with a quick craft job. We had a pile of circles left from our fish plates and I’d mentioned we could make a very hungry caterpillar.

Then Alice decided she wanted to make a chrysalis and draw a butterfly.

A nice little picture.

Then as the rain was looking like it would hold off and the wind had died down we made it out for a walk. We found a delightful little hoverfly straight out the door on the ferns.

On the walk to the park, we spotted plenty of wildflowers in the wall that borders the park.

Ivy leaved toadflax scrambling along the wall.

I think this is yellow cordalis, a member of the poppy family.

And a tiny Asplenium scolopendrium in the wall.

One of the activities I’d had at the back of mind for 30 days wild was to play stick wands and we found a perfect stick as we entered the park.

The meadow area is still in full buttercup glory mode.

There are still lots of ladybird larvae to be found.

And a few moved onto pupa.

The den area had been moved around a bit again and Alice decided she was going to make potions with the grass seed heads.

Then using a bit of florist wire we added a few found items to her wand.

And she cast lots of spells.

Across the bigger of the fields a sea fret was blowing in. Possibly as a result of Alice’s spells and potions.

Back at home we looked at adding to the wand from the craft box. A bit of ribbon, a flower hair slide and some string around the handle for ease of grip.

A pretty snazzy wand.

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30 Days Wild: Day 2-Leaf man

Yesterday we read the lovely story Leaf Man by Louis Ehlert. All the pictures are made from leaves. Leaves from different trees and different colours. Some were used as they were. Others are cut.

It injects life into what starts as just a pile of leaves.

We headed out in the garden to collect a variety of leaves.

We collected a variety of leaves of different shapes, sizes and colours.

Back inside we assembled the leaves to make a person. Alice used some of the circle hole punches for eyes and a nose.

We assembled it all together using glue and double sided tape.

We then scanned it on the computer and printed so Alice could see how the book had been made.

A nice simple craft activity that didn’t take very long but encouraged her imagination.

As well as it being 30 days wild it’s also growing for wellbeing week. The lovely Anabelle Padwick has put together a pack of activities ideal for teachers or home schoolers. Worth a look of you’re in need of some ideas for teaching your children.

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