Into Africa with Pie Charts, Geometry, Physics, Poetry, and Pyramids

This week we traveled to the Swahili-speaking region of Africa, brushed up on our African animal facts, grew a crocodile (oh alright, it’s really a lizard- best I could do at the Dollar Store) in our bathtub, made our own Botswana dance video, did our first poem memorization assignment (“How Doth the Little Crocodile”), and explored playground physics at Elms Beach Park.

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Our physics experiment idea came from the Outdoor Science Lab book below.  We learned that when racing a can of liquid against a can of beans the liquid will beat the beans every time due to the greater amount of translational kinetic energy.  The can of beans wastes a lot of energy on rotation because all the beans inside stick together.  We also started working on the geometry of circles because our library just got this great new book about it.

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My daughter is ripping through the Magic Treehouse series as fast as she can (nearly done now).  It was fortuitous to discover that she had missed this one which takes place in Africa.

One of the book assignments this week was Jambo Means Hello which was a Caldecott Honor Book back in 1975.  It is a Swahili alphabet book which prompted us to make our own version of an ABC book.  How about those canary lips?

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Since Grandad learned Swahili in the army (he already knew French and thought it sounded more interesting than Spanish) he made a video for us of himself speaking in Swahili and sent the translation.  The kids loved it because A) Who knew Grandad spoke something as exciting as Swahili? and B) He took the time to share that part of himself with them.

While at the Museum of Natural History last weekend we were able to view a sarcophagus in preparation for our unit on Egypt.  Additionally, our daughter has read Mummies in the Morning (Magic Treehouse wins again) and has been sneaking glimpses at the Egypt books I got from the library.  She was primed to get started.

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Finally, we tried writing our names with our fingers in fine sand atop a plastic tray.  Occupational therapists sometimes do this with kids to help provide a tactile sensation while writing their names.  It seems to cement the process more than using a pencil, marker or something that slides easily.  This was great for my 3 year old who is just learning to write his name for the first time.  And with all that sand it was JUST like being in the Sahara:)

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