Learning about the ocean, and a message from Miss 6

Yes, I said Miss 6! Since my last post she has had a birthday and is now 6, and she makes me more and more proud, every year.
Miss 6 has declared her Ocean unit is finished, and she wants to learn about Australia. In her words “because, you know, I actually live in Australia, and I should know all about it, right?” Yes indeed.
So as we move on to our new unit, I am writing up what has been accomplished in the last couple of months.

Miss 6 has been immersed in all things ocean-related. She has become fascinated with sharks, and thanks to a brilliant app I found for the iPad, called “Ultimate Sharks”, she can visually identify around half a dozen, and is full of facts about different species of sharks. She has studied coral reefs, and now understands how a reef starts, how it grows, and how it dies. She has learned about the different levels of the ocean and can name them, describe them, and name animals or plants that can be found in each level. It would have been nice to have done this unit (or be continuing this unit) in the warmer weather. But the cold has not stopped us from taking trips to the beach for beach combing or exploring rock pools, and she also had a day at AQWA with her friends to support her learning.

We did lots of reading this unit. In fact, Miss 6 did hardly any “book work” at all, most of her learning came from reading out loud, reading along with the apps on the iPad, watching documentaries and hands on exploring at the beach. We did do a couple of science activities. The first of which was to grow our own coral reef. I bought a kit from the Little Passports website. She started this within a week of beginning her unit, as it took a couple of weeks to grow to maturity. Miss 6 read the instructions, followed the steps and put together the frames for the “reef”, then she added the chemicals. Over the course of the fortnight, she observed the blooming of the reef and made comparisons between the one she grew in our kitchen, to the ones in the ocean.

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In explaining how the ocean moves, I discussed with Miss 6 waves, tides and currents. She could understand the science behind tides, as we had already touched on it during her unit on space. She also had no problem grasping waves, as her favourite naturalist, Steve Backshall, mentions waves in one of his episodes, and does a demonstration on waves and wind, involving paper aeroplanes. So it fell to me to explain currents to her. I talked to her about warmer water and colder water, and what happens when the two temperatures meet and mix. I then set up a little demonstration for her. Miss 6 and Miss 3 filled a dish with ice cold water, then I filled a jug with boiling water that we had coloured blue with food colouring. Miss 6 slowly poured the boiling water into the ice water, and was able to watch how the water moved and pushed through the dish. We were also lucky enough to see a small eddy in our miniature ocean. Miss 6 thought it was a great “experiment”.

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During the course of this unit, Miss 6s reading and writing took another leap. She is not only more inclined to suggest sitting down and doing some reading or writing work, but is also displaying a marked improvement in her sounding out, spelling and penmanship. One of the “lessons” she did, which still had a scientific spin on it, as that’s her “thing” and that’s what keeps her interested, was a morning of playing sinks or floats. We gathered up around eight different items. She divided her book into two columns and wrote her guesses down, and then systematically ticked off whether she was right or wrong. We talked about the salinity of the ocean, and whether salt water would make some things float when they sank in fresh water. We used almost an entire 1kg bag of table salt to try and prove this theory, but it didn’t work. Which Miss 6 thought was hilarious. So we googled the Dead Sea and read about that instead.

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A standout in her workbook, was her picture of the different levels of the ocean. She spent the better part of an entire day, drawing her picture, reading through her books to help her decide which animals she would draw in each level, and colouring it in. When she was done, she dictated some information about the picture she had drawn. I was thoroughly impressed with the detail of her drawing and the information that she was able to give me.

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As we were winding up her work on oceans, I asked Miss 6 if there was anything else she wanted to do, before we moved on. Her response was “Mummy, the coral reefs and the oceans are in trouble, and I want people to know, so that they can help to make it better”. I asked her how she thought she could do this, and she came up with making a poster and writing a message to her friends on our blog 🙂 Her poster shows a polluted planet with smoke and cars and dirty oceans, with a big line through it, and the words DON’T WANT underneath. Then it has a happy healthy planet, with clean oceans, a big tick and the words DO WANT. The message she wanted to pass on, is this;

Carbon dioxide is covering the Earth, and making the planet too hot and sick. Carbon dioxide comes from machines and factories. Did you know that, because there is so many, cars make more carbon dioxide than planes? When the planet gets too hot, the coral reefs start to bleach. This means that it will die. The coral reef is important to us, because it is the home to 25% of the worlds ocean life. 25% means a whole quarter. If the reef dies, the animals that live there all die. The reef also takes the carbon dioxide out of the water, like trees take it out of the air. This keeps our oceans healthy. Please keep our oceans clean. If you see any rubbish at the beach, or in the water, please pick it up. If you live close to school, or work, or the shops, please ride your bike or scooter, or walk. Three arrows in a triangle shape, is the symbol for recycling. Please try and make the world better by recycling, and helping your kids to plant a tree. If every single person in the whole world, picked up one piece of rubbish, or planted one tree, the sea, and the planet could be healthy again.

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We are off to Sydney to visit family, soon, and my little girls are all very excited! Miss 6 has started her unit on Australia, and after some thought and discussion about what she is interested in, I have a loose plan for the next couple of months, including some great excursions. I think the next unit will be a little lighter on the science component, and a little heavier on maths and English. I have selected some Australian poems and songs, a well as bought some play money for her. We will cover geography with a lot of mapping and travelling, and I have a basic, introduction to Indigenous culture and art, put together for her too. And even though our unit on the ocean is finished, I have a feeling that she will revisit it at another time. I also know that it will be reinforced every time we go to the beach 🙂

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And the survey says….

Last Wednesday I had a moment of vagueness, where I thought I had forgotten to fill out the national census the night before. As it turned out the census was due to be completed on Tuesday, but it was this Tuesday, not last Tuesday 😐 Oblivious to my mix up, I settled myself on the couch with the iPad and logged into the census website. Miss 5 is quite interested in technology and spends a fair amount of time on science, museum or other educational websites, or doing her reading eggs and maths seeds programs. So when she saw the iPad come out, she wandered over to have a look at what I was doing. Seizing the opportunity for a chat I invited her to sit with me and help me fill out the survey.
She, obviously asked what I was doing and what it was for. I explained that the government collected the information and used it to help them make plans for the future of the country. We talked about statistics (numbers that give information), and why someone would use statistics. We discussed how Daddy used statistics at work, to help him keep his workers safe, as well as to help him estimate the cost of a job, or to help him decide how many workers he might need to do a job. I asked Miss 5 who else might use statistics, she came up with;
– Restaurants – they would need to ask people what types of foods they like, so the restaurant would know what type of food to cook.
– People who build parks – they would need to find out where most of the little kids lived, so they would know where to put the playgrounds.
Miss 5 asked me if the people in the government were the only people who made surveys, to which I told her no. I have answered so many surveys for so many different things. This intrigued her, even more so when I confirmed that you could ask just about anything in a survey. Obviously the next question from Miss 5 was “Do you think I can make a survey, Mummy?”. As I’ve mentioned before, Miss 5 is aware that I have to report to our Department Moderator “School Margaret”, and she is aware that to assist in this, I use this blog and our facebook page. Miss 5 asked if she could make a survey and put it on our Facebook page to see if we could ask people to fill out her survey. I told her to come up with 10 questions while I figured out how we would do it. My first thought was to put a poll on Facebook, but a bit of googling led me to a site called Survey Monkey. It seemed easy enough, and it was free to sign up. With our free membership I had access to a basic survey template, as well as analysis of up to 100 responses. Together, we decided that we would leave the survey open for 3 days. Miss 5 read her questions to me, and I typed them out in the website. I couldn’t help but have a little giggle at her questions 😄 During the course of typing them up, I asked Miss 5 if she would like to include an “other” option. I explained to her that it was something that gave people a way to say they like “something else” other than the options that Miss 5 had come up with. She loved the idea of an “other” option – which she called the or else button 😂 – so much so, that it was added to almost every question!
When the survey was completed, we posted it on our homeschooling facebook page, as well as my personal page, asking our friends and family to fill it out if they had a minute spare. When the link was posted, I told Miss 5 she had to get ready for her swimming lessons. Just before walking out the door, she begged me to check, to see if anyone had filled out her “monkey survey”. She had 8 responses. The first thing she asked when we returned from swimming, was to check her survey. She had 35 responses. She was thrilled, and we spent half an hour going through the charts to see what answers she was getting. By the time she went to bed that night, 6 hours after posting the survey, she had 85 responses. I got as excited as she did. The thought that she could possibly get 100 responses was pretty thrilling. I emailed a few friends who aren’t on Facebook and asked them to fill it in, hoping to push her over the 100 mark.
6.30 the next morning, and Miss 5 was tapping me on the shoulder, asking me to wake up, because she wanted to check her monkey survey. She woke up to 235 responses. There were squeals. We poured over the answers over breakfast, seeing what responses were receiving the most votes, what percentages they were getting, whether the percentage had changed overnight, and guessing what would ultimately be the “winner” 😊 By Thursday night she had 290 responses, and by the time I closed the survey on Saturday morning, she had received a total of 420 responses to her survey. I had to purchase a months subscription to Survey Monkey to access the results of her survey, as the free site only gave me the first 100! 😮 Her proud and excited statement – “Mum!! The internet is BRILLIANT!! 😂😂
We have spent the last few days, looking at the responses, and discussing whether they met our expectations. We have discussed the distribution of numbers, as well as percentages, and factors that may have changed the answers she received. We have plans to go further into detail with the results and do some graphing work. It has been a fabulous exercise, not only for her mathematics component, but social studies (learning and understanding how people, other than her own immediate circle, might live), as well as English (writing the questions and reading the responses), and digital media (a lesson in using technology to assist her learning). And it made her so very happy 😊
Because we had such a great response, and because I know a lot of the people who helped us out, read this blog, and more than a few have contacted me asking what the results were, I thought I’d add a short list of what the questions were, as well as the results:

1) What is your favourite Play School window? It was neck and neck the whole way, but the diamond window just scraped in to the lead position with 143 votes. The Arch window was a very close second with 141.

2) Have you ever been scuba diving? This has been on Miss 5s mind a bit lately, as she wants to learn to snorkel and eventually to scuba dive (I have a feeling that our next unit of study will be the ocean!). 82% of people surveyed have not been scuba diving. But as Miss 5, very cleverly, pointed out, if the majority of our respondents were children, then this might account for the overwhelming “no” response.

3) Which one of these do you live on? The options given were Place, Street, Avenue, Way, and Other. This was a tricky question for her, as her knowledge of possibilities is limited to her own experience, which is why I suggested the “other” option. The most popular for the options she offered was 144 votes for Street. However, as she had missed things like “Road” and “Drive”, the “Other” option received 201 votes, with Road and Drive the top two answers 😂 One response she did receive which excited her imagination to no end was no fixed address because “I have been travelling the world on my motorcycle, for three years” Miss 5 thought that was just about the most awesome thing possible!

4) What do you like to put on your toast? As the majority of people we reached are Australian, it’s really no surprise that 40% of her responses were voting for Vegemite. She did enjoy reading the results for the “other” option though. She tallied the majority of these to be “avocado”, but she also came across some new items, “Chelsey bite” and “cheese whiz” were two that she had never heard of. I also had to explain to her that we had obviously reached someone in America, as one of the responses was “peanut butter and jelly” Miss 5 was picturing a piece of peanut butter toast loaded with aeroplane jelly 😊 Cheese and jam was one response that elicited a big “Ewwwwww”!

5) Who is your favourite Wiggle? This is the question that I’ve been asked about the most. And mostly from grown ups 😂 The yellow wiggle was in front for the majority of the time the survey was open. The purple wiggle made a surge for the finish line in the last few hours. But in the end, the Purple and the Yellow wiggle ended up tied, with 125 votes each.

6) What is your favourite type of restaurant? The options given were Miss 5s favourite! Japanese, Thai, Indian, Italian, Chinese, and – of course – Other. Italian came out on top here, and the most popular response in the “other” field was “Australian”. Miss 5 was a little confused by this response, and wanted to know what they served in an Australian restaurant. After some thought we decided it was probably things like steak or seafood. We did receive one response that said French, and one that said Ethiopian, both of which are now on her bucket list of foods she wants to try 😊

7) What is your favourite season? Being that we’re in the throes of winter and everyone is cold and sick at the moment, I thought – for sure – that Summer would prove to be most popular. When Miss 5 and I made our guesses, we both agreed that most people would say Summer was the best season. We were proved wrong. Spring was the most popular season from start to finish, with a total of 181 (43%) of the votes in the end.

8) Where would you prefer to visit? Being that Miss 5 came up with these questions, the options were her favourite places to visit. Playground, Theatre, Your friends house, Beach or Other. “Your friends house” was the popular choice initially, but the beach ended up taking out 40% of the votes. When we were going through the responses for the “other” field, we found that the bush was the most popular response. One response was “A Viking Metal concert” I’m not sure if that was someone trying to be funny, or if it is actually a thing. However I listen to heavy metal music, and so does Miss 5s Aunty and Uncle, so she didn’t bat an eye at the response, she just casually said “that must be like the stuff you like Mummy” 😉

9) Who is your favourite Disney Princess? Again this is one that a lot of grown ups have asked for the results, and one where a lot of people made mention, if their own personal favourite wasn’t on the list! But, Miss 5 knows the ones she knows, and being that we don’t watch a lot of television, and I particularly have a little issue with Disney princesses (mainly because in most of the movies Disney kills off one or both of the parents, has a “handsome prince” come in and save the day and the “helpless princess”, and then marries off the princess in her teens – 16 in the case of Ariel!!) her experience with them is limited. She was magnanimous enough to include Merrida, for my benefit (one of the few that has two living parents, saves the day all by herself and refuses to marry 😊), along with Merrida, there was Ariel, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Elsa/Anna and Rapunzel. Let’s face it, we all thought Elsa was going to trounce the competition! But the winner was Ariel (28.5%), followed by Cinderella (25%). Merrida came in 3rd 😉

10) What do you think is the most important thing for little kids? Her options were Be Free, Play, Have Good Manners, Learn to Cook, Learn to Read and Write and Explore. Gleefully our biggest response was for “Play” (40%), with “Explore” not too far behind (34%)

A giant THANKYOU to everyone who helped us out by filling in Miss 5s survey. Not only did you offer plenty of data to help with her lessons for the next couple of weeks, but you also put such a giant smile on her face. She had so much fun, and she truly thinks that the Internet is amazing and the people who use it are just wonderful 😊

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