Rocket Balloons, Big Numbers, and Blossom painting

Today, I went back to planning lessons for us.  I try to this periodically mostly because Ian requests days of actual lessons.

I try to engage all three boys in what we do but I don't ever force anyone to participate.  I probably over planned, like usual, but I was excited about the ideas I found. 

We started with science, since all the boys like doing experiments, and I found a fun demonstration that works with Newton's law of action and reaction.

We made balloon rockets.

I blew up a balloon and, while pinching the ends together to keep the air from escaping, had the boys tape a straw to it that I had already threaded onto some string.

When you let the balloon go it zooms off down the length of string like a rocket.  

I knew they would love this and want to do it again so I actually made three tracks alongside one another so they could race balloons. We tried different shaped balloons, different angles of string, and even adding different amount of air to see how these factors effect how far or how fast the rockets fly.

It was a lot of fun and we talked about what science concepts were involved-- thrust, energy, force, action and reaction, that we exhale carbon dioxide and so that's what inside the balloon, we talked about trapped molecules moving and expanding the balloon.

 It really was a fun engaging lesson and they asked me to leave up the string on our pillars down back so they could pretend it was an electric fence, force field, and whatever else for their playing later on today.

After science we read a bit more of Ralph S. Mouse and then I read a math book called Millions, Billions, and Trillions Understanding Big Numbers.  

We poured a 1/4 cup of sugar onto black paper and talked about how that was approximately close to a million granules of sugar. 

The books gives all sorts of great examples, but this was one concrete one that I could show them. I poured the sugar onto the paper first and asked them how many they thought were there.  Then I introduced the book and started to read.  

Mostly I was afraid to do all the reading back to back and have them loose interest in the math book and this was one way to draw them in by making them curious about the answer plus it's a great way to have them practice estimating.   Alec came closest when he guessed 2 million.

After math all the boys complained because I pulled out a poetry book called the Book of Animal Poetry by National Geographic and read a few.  I think their actual favorite was about a girl who was smiling while riding on the back of a tiger and then the tiger came back with the girl inside and a smile on his face.  They all laughed and smiled and exclaimed "he ate her?!"  I was glad they were enjoying the poem but I wasn't sure if I should be concerned that they found it funny she was eaten by the tiger.  I'm working on the assumption that it's a boy thing. 
For art today we painted blossoms using a soda bottles. 

It's a very quick, easy painting project I saw on Pinterest at least a year ago and I finally decided to give it a shot today.  

They had to paint branches onto the white paper using brown tempera and a brush (though they all decided to paint trees with thick trunks instead.  They also all wanted a really loooong paper to paint them on.  In fact Ian told me he wanted paper as long as Evan was tall so we measured the paper from the floor to the top of Evan's head (math using non- standard measurements!). 

Evan adds many trees to his paper

Once the branches were painted on and somewhat dry we dipped the end of the soda bottle into pink paint (or red, or rainbows of colors) and stamped it on our paper to make blossoms. 

The boys were real impressed when I did a painting.  Evan told me that he had forgotten how much fun it was to paint and I realized it had been a while since we had done art together.

Ian's completed painting

My blossoms

Evan's completed painting

Alec's finished product; leaves and all


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