Fun Friday – Magnets Part 1… a favourite magnet game

Fun Friday – Magnets Part 1… a favourite magnet game

We love magnets in this house. Some rainy days my children like to take out my box of magnets and are happy to play away with them for hours. Recently I brought my magnet collection along to local Beavers Club for the children to explore and learn… and play some great magnet games. This game was a favourite so I thought I would share it with you!

Before you start this game you might want to let the children explore how magnets work, how they attract or repel each other and how all magnets have two sides, a North and a South. Explain the invisible magnetic forces at play. Check out this post on magnets before you get started!


“Herding sheep” magnet game


You will need...
You will need…


For this game you will need some magnets* (two per player), a table, some cotton balls and some duct tape or masking tape.

*We used torpedo magnets for this but any magnets will do once they can attract each other through the table… so the choice of table is important. Wood is good, or plastic, but thin and without many/any crossbeams or bars underneath. We used a light chipboard wallpapering table.



The Set Up...
The Set Up…


 Set Up:


Using the tape mark a starting line at one end of the table and a box with a small opening at the other end; this is the “sheep’s pen”.

Place one magnet from each pair on top of the table and the other under the table… the magnet under the table should be held in place by it’s attraction to the magnet above. Each child is designated a pair of magnets, these represent the sheep dogs.

Place the cotton balls (these are the sheep) behind the starting line.



The aim of the game:


The aim of the game is that the children must “herd” the sheep along the table and into the “pen” at the other end. They can only move the “sheep dog” by moving the magnet under the table! The children keep going until all the sheep are transferred to the pen.

You can use a timer for this game if you wish. Time how long each team takes or get a group of children to try again and see if they can beat their previous time.




Ready-Steady-Go… let the fun begin! I have yet to meet a child (or adult) who does not get totally engrossed in this game!

Here is a game in action in our house…


Let the fun begin!
Let the fun begin!


 What do they learn?


This game is great for children’s fine motor skills and coordination, it also teaches children to work as a team. Children learn about the attractive forces between magnets. You can follow on this game by asking the children if they think the magnets would still be attracted through other materials… paper, plastic, glass?


Make it your own:


Once the children get the idea of the game they will probably come up with their own modifications. What else could you try? Adding obstacles along the route? trying magnets of different shapes and strengths? Changing the number of sheep? What about replacing the top magnet with something metal?

The only limit to this game is the child’s imagination… which is usually limitless! I hope you enjoy!

What would you alter? If you come up with a different way to play this game please do let me know!



Eh... which way is North?
Eh… which way is North?



Next week we will share another favourite game and learn a little about compasses too, so see you next Friday for Part 2!



According to the Collins Dictionary, quirky is defined as….

quirky (ˈkwɜːkɪ)

peculiarly individual or unconventional


= odd, unusual, eccentric, idiosyncratic, curious, peculiar, unpredictable, rum, singular, fanciful, whimsical,capricious, offbeat, out there


I was talking to a friend at a party recently and in the course of the conversation she referred to me as quirky. She meant it in a nice way and I certainly didn’t take offense, I was probably pleased in a way, but also surprised.

Quirky, me? I thought I was the boring sensible one!


Now if we had been talking about my husband I would definitely have said quirky was spot on.

I have even used the word … affectionately… when talking about my daughter…. She is highly creative, imaginative, musical, individual and, well quirky.

But me? I thought I was the boring predictable one!


So I decided to ask around, starting first with my quirky husband!

His response was to remind me how often he has come home from work to find me (sometimes literally) knee deep in some experiment or other, usually with the kids involved too but all thoughts of time… or a dinner, forgotten.

He reminded me of opening the front door to find laughing children darting and running as I bombarded them with giant smoke rings; that there have been jars of “muck” on the windowsill for weeks and that I did in fact serve him green eggs and ham for dinner recently!

Okay, I concede, these things  might have happened, but does that make me quirky?


Next I asked my children, of course they needed a definition first!  Once the had the gist of things they all agreed that Dad is definitely quirky (so its not just me that thinks it!) but after a little discussion and consideration they did fell that YES I also fell into the quirky category.

They all found it hard to say exactly why but the word “science” popped up a lot in the conversation.


Another friend of mine called round for a cuppa. She barely had the first sip of tea when I asked her… “So, do you think I am quirky?” Without lifting her head from the cup her reply was instant… “Yes, of course you are?”

Wow, I had no idea – this was becoming quite a revelation!

When I asked her why she said it was because of the way I thought, how I looked at life from unusual angles and my creativity, often  through science.


Finally I asked on line… I wondered how my on line friends would perceive me, having never actually met me “in the flesh”.

The answer? Yes, you guessed it…. “Quirky, quirky, quirky!”

I am reassured though, as the lovely Lucy (over at Learner Mama) pointed out… “Quirky and geeky are all in right now”

Looks like I am accidentally on trend for a change… now that is a bigger surprise than the Quirky bit!


I must concede, yes I am a little quirky, and I think I kind of like that! It seems that science has a large part to play in all this but the question then remains…

… am I quirky because I am a scientist or am I a scientist because I am quirky?



So, how quirky are you? Go on, be honest!

Ten things that parenting has taught me

Ten things that parenting has taught me

There is always plenty of wisdom to be found over on the Learner Mama blog and this week Lucy has shared ten random facts she has learner in Motherhood. I immediately started composing my own list in my head … and as it is a linky I get to share them too!


My educators in motherhood
My educators in motherhood

1. When up against the superior knowledge of a four year old… just accept that you are wrong and they are right. It does not matter how many degrees you may have in the subject… YOU ARE WRONG… accept it!

2. It seems there really is an infinite number of characters in the world, just keep having children if you don’t believe me and you will marvel at how different each child is!

3. Bed time guilt… watching the face of your beautiful sleeping child will fill you with guilt and remorse for being so frustrated and impatient during the process of trying to get them asleep in the first place.

4. However if your sleeping beauties wake in the night all guilt is forgotten and you immediately revert back to the states of frustration and impatience!

5. There is nothing sweeter than a pair of little arms wrapped around your neck in an “I love you Mommy” hug.

6. No matter how hard it might be to understand most of your toddlers words, if they decide to use a “bad” word it will come out clear as a bell, especially if in a public place.

7. It is virtually impossible to suppress a laugh when your child does use a “bad” word for the first time.

8. Throw away the parenting books and don’t ask every parent you meet for advice… remember you have millions of years of evolution on your side… no one really knows your baby as well as you do, so just relax and trust your instincts and you will know what is right! (It took me A LONG time to realise that one!!)

9. All previous eight point can be disregarded as I have learned that every thing I think I have learned since becoming a mother gets disproven by my children, eventually! They like to keep me on my toes so the rules are only the rules until someone decides to change them!

10. The capacity of your heart to love someone completely and unconditionally is infinite. There is no science to explain this one but I have learned it to be true every time I have looked into the face of each of my children for the very first time.


They are just my ten random things but it you want to find out what other people have shared, check out the linky over at Learner Mama (just click on the image below). It makes for great reading, there are plenty of points you will agree with and some that will surprise and amuse…. and if you want to share your own ten points then just join right in!


Fun Friday – Our favourite Sound Experiments and facts for kids

Fun Friday – Our favourite Sound Experiments and facts for kids

This week’s Fun Friday post is a round up of all our favourite sound experiments and facts. Hear it, make it, feel it and even see it… guaranteed for a weekend full of fun!

 Here are three of our favourite sound experiments…


1. Make Sound…

Make a spooky sound cup


We love this simple experiment to make a spooky sound cup… see what kind of sounds you can make with it.

Just click on this link to find out what to do…


2. Feel Sound…

All you need is a balloon and a radio
All you need is a balloon and a radio

All you need for this one is a balloon and a radio or other music player.

Blow up a balloon and tie it. Turn on the radio to a song with low base music. Hold the balloon between your two hands and hold it very
near the speaker of the radio.

What can you feel?

Change to a different radio station and see if the vibrations change.


3. See Sound…

For that extra "WOW"...
For that extra “WOW”…


This one never ceases to get a WOW from everyone, and for a change Dr. How is on the other side of the camera to show how it works … click on this link to check it out.


And here are five fun facts about sound…


photo credit: superUbO via photopin cc
photo credit: superUbO via photopin cc
  • Sound waves travel in water at a speed of nearly one mile a second, which is more than four times faster than sound travels through air!
  • Thunder is the sound made by lightning! Sound travels in air at a speed of about one mile in five seconds. If you count the seconds between seeing the lightning and hearing the thunder you can work out the distance from the source of the thunder! For example, if you count ten seconds between the lightning and the thunder then you can tell the storm is about two miles away!
  • An echo is made when sound waves you make bounce off a solid object and travel back to your ear.
  • Some mammals use echoes to help to navigate and to find food – this is called echolocation!
  • Bats use echolocation to fly and hunt at night; they send out high pitched squeaks and clicks almost constantly. These sounds are called untrasonic, they are too high for humans to hear. A bat can detect an object as small as a human hair using echolocation!


We love playing with sound in this house… hope you have some fun with it too

Our family celebration of Bealtaine (May Day)

Our family celebration of Bealtaine (May Day)

We were delighted with the arrival of Bealtaine (May Day) as the Sun was shining, the air was warming up and we had the hope of warmer days and garden growth.

We have been observing the “unfurling” of nature as a family… the first call of the cuckoo, the arrival of our beloved house martins, the scents and perfumes in the air as the gorse blossoms and our familiar hedgerow plans arrive one by one. The season was bursting upon us and we wanted to mark the occasion, together as a family.

The lovely Rowan Tree
The lovely Rowan Tree


Bealtaine has long been an important event in the old Celtic calendar. The Festival of Fire… it marked the beginning of Summer. We decided it was an event worth celebrating so I gathered the clan and we discussed what we wanted to do to mark the day.

The Rowan tree played a very important part in Bealtaine ceremonies and customs, thought to hold magical powers of healing and protection it was used to protect families, livestock and produce. It was an ancient practice to bring sprigs of the tree into the house on May Day eve and place some at the windows and doors to keep the house safe and bind it in the Rowan’s protective magic.

We have a beautiful Rowan tree just outside our kitchen window. Planted as a young sapling we watch it mark the passing of the seasons as it grows tall and proud. In fact we have such a liking for this tree that it inspired our third child’s name! The flowers are just emerging on the tree at the moment, soon they will delight us with their heady scent. We felt we must include it in our little celebration.

It is also customary to tie ribbon to trees on May Day and it is a good day to make wishes for the season ahead. We decided to combine the Rowan, the ribbons and the wishes into our little ceremony.

For the wishes….. I found some pretty wooden heart shapes and ribbons in a local discount shop.

It was simple to punch holes in the heart (well simple for my husband once I recruited him!) and thread them with the pretty ribbons.

These would serve as our little wish tokens.

Our little May Day "wishes"
Our little May Day “wishes”


We decorated the Rowan tree with our little tokens, each making their own wish as we did so. Obviously nobody wished for good weather, because it has been raining ever since!


Decorating our "May Day Tree"
Decorating our “May Day Tree”


We then gathered sprigs from the tree to decorate and protect our home. This part really upset our youngest who did not appreciate us cutting bits off HIS tree. He was only mildly placated when he was allowed place a sprig on the windowsill of his bedroom!


Rowan to protect our home
Rowan to protect our home


It was a short and simple ceremony, but I am so glad we did it. It was lovely to get the whole family involved in deciding how we wanted to mark this special day.

If you would like a lovely craft project for Bealtaine, check out this post on the beautiful “Where Wishes Come from” blog.


Did you do anything special to mark Bealtaine? If so let us know in the comments below!
Mystery Creature revealed _ the Drinker Moth

Mystery Creature revealed _ the Drinker Moth

How did you do wIth last week’s Mystery Creature? We found it on our little Adventure in our local bog…. it was the DRINKER MOTH CATERPILLAR (Euthrix potatoria).

Although I have not actually seen one of these caterpillars before they are quite common in Ireland and the bog terrain where we found it is very typical habitat. The creature supposedly gets its name from the caterpillar drinking dew from the grasses on which it feeds.

The Drinker Moth Caterpillar
The Drinker Moth Caterpillar

The caterpillars are usually seen between April and July while the Moths (which are nocturnal) can be spotted between June and August.

The caterpillars tend to be more colourful than the moths… the males are a pale brown while the females are a bit more colourful with a yellow hue. The moths have two white spots on the fore wing and a wing span of approximately 70 mm.

photo credit: ajmatthehiddenhouse via photopin cc
photo credit: ajmatthehiddenhouse via photopin cc

To ensure that I had correctly identified this moth I sought confirmation from Michael over at Nature Learn who knows everything there is to know about Irish butterflies and Moths. Michael also had these interesting points to add about “hairy caterpillars”…

 The hairs help them from being predated by birds though the cuckoo is able to eat them

Some hairy caterpillars can cause severe itchiness if touched so best not handled


Check out Nature Learn on Face Book for some wonderful wildlife photos and facts or find out more from this interview.