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Our Home Science Lab

A couple of months ago, I started thinking hard about setting up a mini science lab at home. I knew that it must be at the corridor if I wanted to allow the boys the freedom of playing scientist whenever they felt like doing so, instead of waiting for me to set up or waiting for me to be free to ‘catch’ the mess. Because I also knew that it would be pretty impossible for me to agree to spontaneous requests when I was usually rushing around like a headless chicken -.-”

So, I bought a foldable table. It’s supposed to be a picnic table, so it can withstand some outdoor abuse, like the monthly block wash or other liquid spillages. Initially, my idea was to leave all the ‘chemicals’ out at the corridor, but I did not want the boys to start playing with them without permission if they were out at the corridor playing with sand or mud or water.

Finally, I decided to prepare everything and keep them all in a tray, so that I would be ready whenever the boys asked to ‘be scientist’.

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(But actually, it’s not really ‘whenever’. Kor Kor has two slots a day for such activities, i.e. when he’s not busy with lessons or chores and I am free to assist/prepare/clean up.)

Most of our ‘chemicals’ are from the kitchen. Took me a while to think of a variety of ingredients! The essentials are definitely baking soda and vinegar. Other ingredients seldom give much visible reactions other than the physical ones like dissolving or changing colours. And so many flours all look the same.. all white and powdery.. quite boring.. So, what’s in our DIY Chemistry Kit?

  • baking soda
  • vinegar
  • cornflour
  • rock salt
  • pepper
  • turmeric
  • effervescent vitamin
  • alcohol
  • dishwashing detergent
  • tap water
  • tap water with various food colouring

 

  • test tubes (glass for Kor Kor, from Artfriend. Plastic for Didi, from Learning Store)
  • test tube racks
  • straws (as stirrers)
  • disposable droppers (but I reuse unless it’s too dirty)
  • glass droppers
  • glass beakers
  • various plastic & glass containers (some storebought, some recycled)

I also bought a microscope recently. But I find that it takes intentional effort to prepare minuscule amount of tiny stuff to look at through the microscope. Furthermore the view isn’t exactly exciting 😛 Thus, for preschoolers, I recommend using magnifying glasses instead, which the child can grab anytime to look at anything that catches his fancy.

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I know that the younger ones will want to do whatever Kor Kor is doing, so it took me some braincracking thinking to free up the time slots. Very limited if Kor Kor can only do it during the younger ones’ naps. So, ta-ta! Meimei gets her own science kit! Just mixing of colours for now, and she’s happy!

The reason why the lab must be outside!

The reason why the lab must be outside!

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What We Are Learning Now

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Daily chores, topics for morning readalouds, & after-lunch activities

Our ‘school’ schedule for now. It has contributed greatly to accomplishing more, because in general, I prefer to have a longer stretch of time when I do anything with the boys, instead of just sneaking in five minutes here and there. That means I hardly got any chance to sit with the boys previously, cos we seldom had more than five minutes.. or they would be so engrossed in their play when I happened to be available that I chose not to disrupt them.

Now, I will just Make It Happen. Including ‘school’ time in our routine means that the boys know what to expect and they don’t need much prompting to appear at our school table. And if reading to the kids for the allocated 30 minutes means that lunch will be late, so be it.

School schedule.. school time.. school table.. Does that mean I am no longer unschooling? Hmm, I like to think i am still doing that. Firstly, our ‘subjects’ aren’t the regular primary school syllabus. Secondly, like most homeschoolers, I don’t think we can be so neatly categorised. And most importantly, the ‘category’ is not important to me, who cares what other people call us, right? 😛

I wish I could end off with ‘and we live happily ever after..’. But I am already feeling problems with this routine and this timetable. There are other things which I want to do with the kids but I can’t find the time (or breathing space!) for them… I have got all the equipment ready to start woodwork with the boys, but no time.. The kids need more nature walks, but no time… They should have more outdoor time, but no time.. (not necessarily nature, I don’t consider nice manicured parks or plasticky playgrounds as nature.) Ideally, we should visit the library more often, but no time….

I know it’s about priorities. Which means I have got a Big Think ahead. I just read my own post ten months ago, and I am so glad I penned my thoughts down. I feel the same about my priorities now. Time to re-focus.
(Speaking of time, I had to really push myself to write this post. Not because I didn’t want to.. I wanted to! But I have so many books to read! Some of them, I have already read before, but as the kids grow, I need to read them again for new insights. But I don’t wanna give up this blog.. boo hoo.. As it is, I have already given up my 6am+ jogs. Which I shouldn’t, since health should be the foremost priority. But my body really can’t take the early mornings AND late nights. Time, time, time.. I need more time!)

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Revised Routine 5.0

Been very quiet on the blog, cos I have been very constructively engaged since I started this new routine. Constructive, meaning I manage to get quite a lot done and at the end of each day, I feel accomplished. It also means I am much busier and do not have as much time for the blog. Priorities, priorities, hmmm.

830am Breakfast (or earlier if the kids are hungry)

(The kids wake up around 7.30am and after giving them their milk, I just sit around because I haven’t completely woken up yet. And don’t wanna wake up. Blah. But must get breakfast started by 830am latest.)

9am DVD

930am I read to the boys

10am The boys help with lunch prep

1030am Free play while I cook

11am Lunch

1130 I wash up

12nn Boys help with housework and keep away toys

1230pm Meimei goes in for nap. Activity time with the boys

130pm Snack

2pm Boys go in for nap/quiet time

3pm Go out for lessons or nature walks

Then we either meet hubby for dinner or eat the dinner I cook during the boys’ nap and pack along. The kids are usually in bed by 8.30pm.

OK, that’s all for now, while I try to get my blogging engine started again! Vrrooom, vrroooom!