29 May 2008

What to do with a classroom full of hot, fidgety children.....

There are some times when you just have to abandon even the most carefully made plans.  Such a time was this afternoon.  It was hot.  We had worked hard all morning and (well, present company excepted) been racing about all lunchtime.  And now, back inside, we began to steam.  Damp hair stuck up in sticky spikes.  An interesting aroma began to rise ominously.  Not a good time, then for too much mental strain.

OK.  How about a bit of creative fun (with a smidgeon of maths and PE thrown in for good measure)?

  • Take a rectangle of card


  • Choose some lovely bright coloured markers


  • Make a bold design on your card - back and front


  • Have a grown-up (no severed fingers, thank you!) score one or two lines across the card, using sharp scissors and a ruler, to make it easier to fold

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  • Find scissors and string

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  • Measure (carefully) exactly one metre of string (ask a friend to help is you like)

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  • Poke a tiny hole in your card and thread the string through.  Make a little loop and push the end through to tie it securely

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  • Go outside (where at least there was a bit of a breeze) and test out your spinner.  Hold the string at arm's length and.......run like the wind

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and watch

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as it spins

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round and round.


OK - so we all got hot and bothered again - by at least by now it was home time!

And now that we have cooled down somewhat, a bit of science to think about.  Whose spinners spun the fastest?  Were they the fastest runners?  What was it about their design that made them spin faster than yours?  Where did they have their lines scored?  How many folds did they have?  Whereabouts did they tie their string? 

How would you improve your design to make a new one spin even faster? 

Our families in the news - part two

"When we lived in Poland in 2004," began Isabella, "my dad met the president of Poland because he helped the Red Cross.  He bought some cows for the poor people so the people could have milk every morning.


The President of Poland at that time was Mr Kaczynski."

Next, Justin told us his story of being famous.  "It's about my theatre and I did a show in front of a lot of people.  And the first show I was a little bit scared but after that it was a little bit easy.  It was in the newspaper but I don't have it.  I was on the television too."

This prompted Giulia to share something similar.  "I do theatre too.  I do it every Friday.  The play's called The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl." 


We are going to keep our eyes open to see if Giulia's picture gets into the paper after her performance.

"My dad was in the newspaper two times but I am only going to tell you one of the times," said Rekik.  "He was studying demography in Ethiopia not long ago." 


Rekik (perhaps not surprisingly!) wasn't quite able to explain what demography actually was, but we were very impressed with the long word!  In fact demography is the study of human populations.

Max talked to us about when he was in Africa.  "These TV people from Germany, they interviewed me about why I liked it there and all that sort of stuff (sic).  Like what's your favourite animal. 


I didn't really say any animal because I like them all.  I felt proud and not nervous; there weren't many people around!  I think the programme was shown in Germany.  I didn't see it."

Matthew D told us about when his mum was a little girl.  "She played in a band.  I don't know what instrument she played; it's a little bit like a flute.


It was on the television.  I was excited when I found out."

Umar told us proudly, "My dad worked in 15 countries and he helps poor people.  My dad gave prizes to Philippines because they were intelligent; they were listening in school.  It was in the newspaper."


"My mummy," began Per, "worked in this school; Gooseberry Hill Primary School.  She was the captain.  She has medals for basketball and netball and pompoms.  She was playing games with the children."


Christopher ended today's session.  He had come in (very excited!) with a video tucked under his arm.  So after a bit of dealing (please may we borrow the video machine?) and wheeling (the trolley into the classroom) we all about-turned on the carpet to face the screen.

"There are not enough crèches for people in Switzerland ("That's nurseries," elaborated Max) and my mum is making money to make another floor in the crèche where I used to go."  And then he hit the play button and we watched, enthralled as the newsreader outlined the problem and then introduced Christopher's mum.


Even more exciting was when a very cute baby appeared.  "That's me," pointed out Christopher, beaming!


"When my mum showed me the video, first of all I didn't know what it was all about.  But when I found out, I felt proud."

And do you know what?  I felt pretty proud too.

28 May 2008

Fame in the family?

What a talented lot we are!  News this week is being dedicated to a time (or times) when someone in the family has been in the news.

Tanmay was proud to start us off.  "This news is about my grandpa, KL Mehera.  He is a scientist of plants.  We can also call them botanists.  He was the director of the Indian Potato Institute.  After, he also worked in FAO in Rome.  He has written several articles in all kinds of newspapers."  Now that was interesting; we had already learnt about someone on the other side of the news, someone who writes articles that are published in newspapers!


Tanmay told us how finding out about his famous grandpa made him feel.  "I felt maybe I can do the job of a scientist when I am big."

Joe continued.  "I've been in the newspaper three times for swimming.  Twice when I got third and once when I got second.  All of them happened this year. 

joe in the news

In (this) one I am holding a letter which says I can go in the championships."  It sounds as though that won't be the last time Joe gets into the newspaper!  "I felt really good," he told us.

"My brother wasn't in a proper newspaper," explains Matthew W.  "but he was in the Volvo (shameless plug!) newspaper because my dad took a picture of him when he was two; he loved reading the Volvo magazine and my dad sent the picture to Volvo and they put it in the magazine.  And it says 'Welcome to our youngest reader'!"

whistlers in the news

Now, even though Naoya's story came next, I am afraid you will have to wait until the end of this post - just because I laughed SO much when we read it that I think you might forget to read on to the end.  So apologies, but a little patience required.

Instead, you might like to share in my five minutes of fame.....

newspaper articles

The brown and tattered (but very precious!) cutting perhaps gives you a hint that it wasn't exactly last week when I broke that record!

Fiona now.  "My great great grandpa was in the news because he was married for 60 years.  And he won a military medal in the First World War.

fiona in the news

A military medal is awarded for being brave and he won it because he was brave - and not everyone wins one.  He was an ambulance driver in the war, and the motor stopped when he was driving all the wounded soldiers when there was fighting all around.  And he had to get out and mend the motor and then drive away."  Wasn't that a brave thing to do?

We have already 'met' Evie's granddad in an earlier Newsday.  But this story goes back to when he was just 21 years old, and starting out in his soccer career. 

evie in the news

"It happened in Scotland," explained Evie.  "It was in The Scotsman newspaper in 1966.  He was in the newspaper lots and lots of times.  He was a very very famous footballer for Celtic.  He scored lots and lots of goals," we are told, by an obviously very (VERY) proud granddaughter!

Giulia's article is about her great great grandfather.  "He wrote an article about friendship between Spain and Mexico and the jury chose his article and they gave him a prize.  He was a writer born in Spain and he went to live in Mexico.  He wrote two articles; one about men and women who fought in a war 100 years ago, called the Mexican Revolution."

gules in the news

"Before coming to Geneva," reads Michelle, "my mother worked in Mongolian organisations and she appeared several times on Mongolian TV and newspapers.  Now she works in WHO and helps people in the world to have better health.


"I have been in the news with my dad and my mum," Danah explained.  "I and my mum and dad heard this song about Danah because my dad asked the man to sing it.  After he had sung the song, he pointed at me.

danah in the news

I put stars on so you can see."

And now, are you ready for this?  Naoya's almost five minutes of fame.  Brace yourselves.....

"My family has not been in the news," he begins.  "But another Takahashi has.  Naoko Takahashi won the marathon in the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000."

naoya not in the news  

"Unfortunately," he concludes, "she is not my relative."

Well, I thought it was funny!

PS Second installment coming soon.

24 May 2008

Sketching Revisited - and not before time!

With apologies to A. A. Milne, it was 'Quite a long time ago now, about last Friday', that I wrote the following at the end of a post:

'Tomorrow we will compare our two sketches to see which one we think is best!  Then we might decide to go back to the first one and add some of our 'memories' from the second.....'

Well, it wasn't quite the 'tomorrow' I anticipated.  But we have now revisited our two sketches, both to compare them and to see if what we drew from memory would help us to improve what we had sketched 'in the field'.

And here are just three, one in the process of 'being improved'.....


and two held side-by-side for ease of comparison. 



And now, I wonder what you would do if asked to sketch a real-life scene?

(By the way, the ones numbered with a 3 are the 'improved' originals; 2s are the 'memory' versions; we also took a photocopy of the original so that we could see what we had changed; these we marked with a 1)

23 May 2008


It was a beautiful day today.  And even better news; Mira had been able to get to the shops on her way in this morning, to buy us a block of special (and rather expensive!) artists' watercolour paper.  What better excuse did we need to pack our bags with paint brushes, watercolour paints, beakers, paper towels and water bottles.....


tuck our clipboards under our arms.....

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and head off once more to the place of the moment, Chateau de Penthes? 

Once there, we chose our favourite view; a difficult task when everywhere is so beautiful!  Did we want to look towards the fragrant rhododendrons and azaleas, or was our preference the view of the majestic trees or that famous lake?

We finally settled ourselves on the wall around the terrace, perched a clipboard on our knees and set to.

Choose a broad brush and use it to wash the paper with water. 


Switch to a finer brush.  Wet it and then dab it dry on your paper towel.

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Select your colour.....

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and away you go!

Perhaps you'd like a background wash of blue.....IMG_5809 IMG_5816

or green.

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Next, what about some trees?  Mind you look closely at the colours and shapes though!

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And now, how about a bit of detail to show the flowers or leaves?

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Don't forget to keep checking the view, to make sure you have captured it just so.....


and try not to leave any of the paper blank!


Keep going; bit.....


by bit.....IMG_5823

..........by bitIMG_5833

If it's still a bit wet.....


you might need a final few dabs of that paper towel.....


before you leave it in the (dappled) sunlight to dry for a minute or so.....

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.....while you race off to use up a just a bit of a seven-year-old's exuberant energy prior to heading back for (yet another late) lunch.

Oh - and before you go, have a quick look at a selection of our end results.  There are more than a few that I would be very happy to have framed and hanging on my wall at home (in fact Sofia has already offered to sell me hers; sorry mum!)  What about you?  Any offers?

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IMG_5834   IMG_5837

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