acepuppets

Archive for the ‘Education’ Category


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Children already find school really exciting, what with imaginative play, spending time with your friends, practising kissing and of course school playground equipment. After a hard morning doing maths and English, being able to play on school playground equipment is a welcome break. School playground equipment has a duel purpose in the playground and the variety of pieces available reflects this.  School playground equipment can be used to support the curriculum and as entertainment during playtimes.

Music

Children can have music lessons outside with a number of outdoor musical instruments that are both robust and produce pretty good sounds.  Teachers can feel relieved that they don’t have to control the infernal noise generated by music lessons and can have a natural stance to the lessons.  During playtime, children can practice what they have learnt during lessons because the instruments are easily accessible.  Schools can purchase outdoor musical instruments as a group or individual pieces.  If the instruments are dotted around the playground children will, ‘discover’, them at playtime and create music of their own.  If the instruments are installed near to each other,  they are perfect for having a summer music lessons.  Generally choices are made according to space available and the size of the school budget.

Environmental

Teaching children about the environment can often be an abstract affair which can make it difficult to comprehend.  Playground companies have recognised this and developed ranges of planters, compost makers, bird feeders and bug hotels.  Children will be able to plant and nurture seeds while watching them grow every time they go out at playtime.  They will be able to observe birds and see how garden waste is recycled to make food for new plants.  This type of playground equipment is really useful if the school is in an urban area and there isn’t much greenery in the playground.  Also the raised beds mean that they are not prone to having too many unwanted visitors.

Story Telling

Children actually like telling stories, they may not be as keen writing them down but the fact that they love the sound of their own voice means that they love to share stories.  Many schools have story telling corners which are centred around a storytelling chair.  Children can either listen to stories being told to them or they could take it in turns to share stories with the class.  The teacher can guide the children so that they are not so long winded.  Eventually children will start incorporating their story telling skills in their writing.

Balance And Coordination

Using climbing walls and climbing frames teaches children an awful lot about how their body works.  Children see their friends scaling the playground equipment and set themselves goals to be as good as their friends.  In the past climbing frames in school playgrounds were quite terrifying but now they are accessible for all children to enjoy.  Just negotiating different equipment allows children to explore their limits and train their body’s so that they can achieve their personal goal.

Next time you are waiting for your children at the end of the day – have a sneaky peak at the school playground equipment – you will wish that your school playground was just as exciting.

 


Science is exciting, particularly when you can do it at home and make a big mess in the garden.  Some science experiments are so cool that even big kids like to have a go – you know on, ‘Wine Friday’, when you are being a rebel. Science experiments don’t have to involve expensive kits with copper sulphate in them to be great fun.  Kitchen cupboards and the corner shop provide the best ingredients for impromptu science afternoons.

The following five experiments are categorized into items used and different scientific concepts.

Vinegar And Bicarbonate Of Soda

These two ingredients can kick up a real stink when used in experiments, this is why it is advisable to set up a table in the garden and do it there.  These two experiments are really smelly but you will love them.

Bouncy Egg

You Need: Vinegar, uncooked egg in shell, a jar and a peg for your nose.

What to do: (This takes a bit of time so you could start it at the beginning of the afternoon)

  • Half fill a glass of jar with vinegar.
  • Put a raw egg in the vinegar.
  • Leave for two days.
  • Place egg in water and remove shell.
  • Feel how bouncy it is and shine a light through it.
  • Put on plate and cut egg to reveal yoke still intact.

If you haven’t got time to do this experiment – this video shows you what happens.

This happens because the egg is made up of calcium carbonate and the vinegar is acetic acid.  The acetic acid takes away all of the calcium leaving the egg soft.

What do you think will happen if you leave the egg on a plate for a day or two?

Inflating A Balloon Without Any Puff

You Need: Bicarbonate Of Soda, Vinegar, Balloon

What to do:

  • Pour the vinegar into a bottle.
  • Use a funnel to put some bicarbonate of soda into a balloon (That you have stretched a lot).
  • Put the balloon on the bottle neck – making sure it is firmly on.
  • Watch the balloon inflate.

Again watch this video to see what happens :-

This happens because the acetic acid in the vinegar reacts with the bicarbonate of soda and causes an effervescent chemical reaction.

What do you think will happen if you use more bicarbonate of soda?

Diet Coke, Mentos and Eggs

Experiments using these three ingredients cause excitement or are used as a warning about drinking Diet Coke in moderation.

Mentos And Diet

You Need: Lots of packets of Mentos, Diet Coke (still in its bottle) and goggles.

What To Do:-

  • Supervise all children (and silly adults)
  • Simply unscrew the lid off the Diet Coke
  • Put Mentos into bottle
  • Stand well back and wear swimming goggles

If you are too scared to do the experiment this video will give you a clue as to what happens:-

What is the minimum number of Mentos you need to make the fountain come out?

Egg In Diet Coke

You Need: 365 days, a jug you are not going to use for a year, a boiled egg and Diet Coke.

What To Do:-

  • Boil an egg
  • Fill jug with Diet Coke
  • Put Egg In Jug
  • Programme alarm in your phone for a years time
  • Go and enjoy yourself
  • Come back in a year and if it hasn’t been thrown away rince egg and see what has happened.

The egg shell is made from calcium – remember your teeth are made from calcium.

If you can’t be bothered to wait a year here is a time lapsed version of the experiment:-

Does Lemonade cause the same thing to happen?

Hydraulic Systems

A hydraulic system is used to increase or decreasing the force of a push by using different sized hydraulic cylinders.  Hydraulic systems are used all around us.  A good example is a brake in a car – you only put a small amount of pressure on the brake peddle but a lot more is used to make the car stop.

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Children will have probably made a simple hydraulic system at school using syringes, tubing and water. Here is a video showing a girl using a hydraulic system to make a lift.

What other kinds of objects can you move using a hydraulic system?

You can find many more great ideas on the internet for wild experiments.  Children please make sure that you are supervised by a responsible adult to avoid getting hurt.

 


When my son could barely sit up I decided to take him to  Rhythm Time sessions because I had heard that it was good for brain development etc.  As it happened Alistair ended up being the only one in the session so the hour of music and singing was pretty intense and hardcore.  On some occasions tiredness would make playing instruments quite difficult and my son would lie on the floor while we sang around him.  I wasn’t sure how much he had taken in until he was old enough to tell me and show me what he had learnt on his instruments at home.

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Newborn babies recognise music their mother listened to while they were in the womb. children’s music specialist Meredith LeVande of MonkeyMonkeyMusic.com says “More and more studies show a correlation between higher academic achievement with children who are exposed to music,”. This is because “Music simply stimulates parts of the brain that are related to reading, math, and emotional development.”  (Source: sheknows.com).

Singing and playing music is extremely important for children’s all round development while practicing and learning how to play an instrument encourages, focus, concentration, dedication, patience and if they get good at it they can travel all over the world as part of a youth orchestra.  Cbeebies – yes that channel that keeps your toddlers quiet and after a while Mr Bloom and Mister Maker start looking attractive – advocate the benefits of music, singing and making your own instruments.

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Source: Cbeebies

Schools are accommodating natural creativity by installing musical playground equipment so children can create beautiful music at playtime.  Without adult intervention, children will learn how to organise themselves so that they can play successfully as a band.  Children love free creativity and are aware that music does have rhythmic rules that have to be followed so that they produce music rather than noise.

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So next time you hear an almighty crash and terrible noise and your child claims that they are making music then you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that they are increasing their intelligence – honest!

 


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Author Gill Jepson telling her stories about Furness Abbey in the abbey.

When looking at different cultures it is extremely interesting to notice the different ways in which we approach religion, morality, social structure, appearance and of course food.  Fundamentally the needs of human beings are exactly the same but how they are provided is determined by those who rule our societies.  Different belief systems tend to be the greatest determiner of how a country is run.  One element of every culture, that is almost identical, is the act of storytelling.

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Traditionally storytelling was used as a way for elders in a society to teach younger generations about the strife of life and the values of their community.  Stories were passed down each generation like heirlooms changing and growing in each telling.  Cavemen in France told stories about hunting and battles against enemies by drawing on cave walls.  As communication got better and people could share ideas through a common language stories became the main entertainment in any society.

Pow Wow

Before electricity and the microchip revolutionised the world  candle light or the flame from a camp fire was the only source of light groups of people had to gather round.  The most striking image that comes to mind is that of the Native American Pow Wow. Tribes would sing songs and tell stories about the world around them to the flicker of warm protect flames. Without the use of technology and special effects it was up to the storyteller to keep their audience engaged.

Multi Media Storytelling

As society has become more sophisticated, storytelling is presented in the form of; films, plays, computer games, songs and television programmes. I haven’t included books because I am concentrating on the performance side of storytelling.  It doesn’t really matter how good special effects are, if the story is weak then the film will flop.  Stories have maintained their durability due to people retelling them over and over again.

Encourages Anticipation

Being able to communicate and anticipate are two very important skills in life.  Without these skills our lives would exist very much in the present and we would be very vulnerable to the trouble and strife of life.   Retelling stories helps children to structure sentences while they are speaking and get their message across.  Being able to think ahead and consider the implications of any decisions you may make is an extremely valuable skill to learn.  Just being able to sequence a story will help you deal with maths problems.

Written Stories

Eventually people started to write down stories so that they would not be lost by the passage of time.  At first reading and writing was a pleasure that only religious figures and insanely rich people could enjoy.  The introduction of the printing press in the 15th century eventually led to more people having access to books and eventually the existence of schools.  Reading is generally a private activity where one person can immerse themselves into a fantasy world from the safety of their arm chair, while storytelling is very public and involves lots of people.

Storytelling Chair

Schools are very keen to reignite the concept of storytelling because of the many factors I have mentioned above.  As well as storytelling areas in the classroom schools have installed storytelling chairs in the playground.  Sometimes the storytelling chair is surrounded by little seats or benches so that everyone can gather around and enjoy stories being told like our ancestors told them.

Storytelling is always going to be with us and the history of storytelling is one huge story in itself.


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It is going to be so exciting when the children go back to school in September because they will find some new playground equipment in their school grounds.  The PTA and local business Make Us A Website have put money together to buy playground equipment from Playdale Playgrounds.  If my memory serves me correctly when we go back to school in September there will be a new Story Telling Chair, climbing wall and a bird table. These pieces of playground equipment will be great additions to the playground simply because of the play potential the children can have with them at playtimes.

The school playground is quite small really but the imaginative teachers have utilised the space to its fullest potential by having different activities in all of the nooks and crannies.  It would seem that apart from the sand pit and mud kitchen, the favourite playground activity is to build wobbly towers using crates and terrify any observing adult that they may just tumble when they reach the top.  Parts of the playground remind me of the concept of the, ‘The Land‘, in Plas Madoc in South Wales, where children are able to use every day junk to create their own play area.  Whereas only a minute part of Allithwaite school playground is dedicated to this type of play (it would look really awful otherwise) the whole play area in Plas Madoc is devoted to imaginative play.

Apparently when you approach, “The Land. A Space Full of Possibilities.” (Guardian) it looks like a dangerous junk yard and would send chills down the spine of any over cautious parent.  The whole point of the area is for children to learn about risk in their own way and explore activities that they may be prohibited from doing elsewhere.  Children who play in The Land recall exciting experiences where they have built amazing dens and furnished them with mattresses they have found.  Others remember building a huge water slide.   Inspirational youth worker Claire Griffiths set up The Land and with assistance supervises the children from a safe distance, broken bones and grazes are inevitable but that is all part of the learning process.  Play experts from all over the world have visited The Land to observe and gain inspiration from the project.

Plas Madoc is a town stained with deprivation, the local leisure centre has closed and play opportunities are few and far between for children.  The Land gives these children a sense of purpose and achievement that can not be acquired in a structured environment.  Apparently the risk assessment for The Land is huge and is based on risk verses benefits from the activity, the fire risk assessment is nine pages long.  I was lucky to grow up in a time where there was enough space to do all of the things that the children do in The Land before over protectiveness took hold.  Being left to your own devices to play and learn about pain and your limitations gives you a strength and independence that cannot be found in a text book.

As parents we really do need to loosen our apron strings and let our children find out for them selves what they can create.  It is very difficult though because when your child hurts themselves you can feel their pain and you want to protect them for ever – sadly this does not protect them as it make it difficult for them to deal with adversity in real life.