In a "normal" week today would have been the boys' day of no structure or parent-led activities, but they ended up spending Wednesday doing nothing but tidying their rooms, so no structured work was done that day! Also, with the partial solar eclipse (85% here) due today we just couldn't ignore it, so I tried to find several fun ways for us all to engage with it for a couple of hours. It's ironic that most of my concerns about appreciating the eclipse were to do with whether or not our pinhole viewers would work. In the actual event it didn't matter as there was total cloud cover for almost the entire two hours, rendering the pinhole viewers totally redundant It didn't stop us having fun and learning though, as I had found a selection of activities etc through inspiration from Pinterest, Youtube and the TV listings.
So first of all, after realising there was nothing but cloud visible in the sky, we watched yesterday's episode of "Stargazing" from CBeebies. My boys don't really watch CBeebies any more as they've outgrown most of the programmes, but the quality of their educational programmes are excellent and their simple explanations invaluable. It was a great introduction. We didn't get to see the eclipse at all here, although we did notice it get darker for a while - instead we watched BBC's "Stargazing Live" for live images of the eclipse as it was appearing in other locations, including above the clouds. While we watched we made a craft found on Pinterest using card and split pins, showing how the Earth revolves around the Sun, and the Moon around the earth, which kept the boys engaged...
Once the programme had finished we went out into the garden and enjoyed a bit of kinaesthetic learning, with the boys pretending to be the Sun (Eldest), planet Earth (Middle) and the Moon (Youngest). Eldest jumped up and down doing star jumps to show the Sun's energy; Middle turned around and around, (showing day and night by pretending that a spot on his chest was England, making it night when he faced away from the Sun etc), and while he turned around he also moved around Eldest in a circle to show the passing of a year. Then Youngest ran in circles around Middle - he got a bit over excited at first and ran around Eldest too, but soon got the hang of it. It only took a few minutes but helped the younger ones in particular to better grasp the mechanics of how it all works.
When we came indoors we watched some Youtube clips that I had cued up (the solar eclipse in Varanasi; an eclipse seen from the International Space station; types of solar eclipse; and a 90 second explanation of the eclipse), and then finished up with a very simple piece of eclipse art...
Youngest wanted to draw the eclipse first... I love his spelling
Middle enjoyed it so much he did a second one
It's beautifully bright and sunny now that the eclispe is over, but although it's a bit frustrating, it's still a good thing: the boys are happily running around outside in the sunshine while I type this up!
PS update: Today after lunch Middle and Youngest finished their illuminated verses started a couple of weeks ago - they worked so hard on them, I couldn't not share them...
PPS another update: I forgot to say: as today was the last day of Shakespeare week (we won't be continuing over the weekend), the boys took all of the remaining adjectives and nouns out of the tubs, and chose their favourite two (they couldn't narrow it down to just one), so finally, here are today's Shakespearian insults: "Thou languageless, simpering ticklebrain", and my favourite, "Thou lily-livered, odiferous pantaloon"