Enquiry based learning

Do your children ask endless questions about absolutely everything?  It is such a natural part of their development and yet it can be so easy to end up dismissing many of the questions with a brief ‘I don’t know’, or ‘because it just is’.  Hopefully not too many of us resemble those neglectful parents in ‘Not Now Bernard’ but some days can start to feel like that!  It’s been all about the questions here for the last ten days or so.  It’s been tempting to respond like poor Bernard’s mum but we’ve duly written down the questions generated with a view to continuing to investigate over time.

The solar power car incident (it is now an ‘incident’ as we have no car produced) has most definitely led to a lot of questions. It transpired that not only were the instructions misleading (a misprint which complicated matters slightly!) but one of the parts was actually the wrong size, hence the axle slipping through.  We used this experience to learn about formal letter writing and have written a letter of complaint to the company.  A positive outcome, as this gave a very clear structure to a teaching sequence for literacy.  We looked at the layout of a letter, how to organise paragraphs and then unpicked some of the formal terms we could use.  Next C brainstormed some powerful adjectives and adverbs to help explain how he was feeling which led to some useful dictionary work.  Finally the letter was planned using a template, drafted out and then typed up ready to send.

Inside the roof of the Fisher Price Garage.  Yes, I've taught them to take things apart to investigate.  This could be a bad move...
Inside the roof of the Fisher Price Garage. Yes, I’ve taught them to take things apart to investigate. This could be a bad move…

Not to be defeated by this process I have still managed to encourage him to continue his research about gears, although admittedly he did just want to get out the circuit board and make a start on electricity!  Little L has had a lot of small world set up in the lounge this week, including the Fisher Price Airport; remember those?  Conveniently it uses a simple gear mechanism in it’s roof to control the helicopter and the radar.  Once I realised this, out came the screwdriver and off came the roof.  Both boys were fascinated for ages!  Back on track, C has since drawn a lovely, clearly labelled diagram of this and some further reading on the internal workings of a car, as well as more on the history of the invention of the motorcar.  He’s also got excited about spotting other similar mechanisms in unexpected places which is great!

Next up it will be a closer look at circuits, since he’s been playing with his new circuit board independently already.  He wants to look at how a recovery truck works, possibly due to our 6th AA callout of the year happening yesterday!  We have building a torch on our list and a trip to the Science museum planned.  The writing is proving to be more difficult with this topic.  My intentions were to get him to re write the instructions for the solar power car but we may have missed the moment.  I am toying with having him post on here, having read another HE boys blog which was really engaging.  Either way, some more formal, factual writing will be happening, we just need to find the audience!

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weekly timetable
the beginning of our weekly timetable

We’ve been working on time for our maths for the last week or so, and to consolidate made this very useful weekly planner.  It’s worked well for accurate drawing of clocks, working out lengths of times for activities and is helping to keep us all organised.  It has also highlighted the fact that maybe we do too much.  I think I have overcompensated for leaving school friends with rather a lot of social activities!

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