Age: 7 & 10

Science Session 1 week 5: The Sun


  • Picture book – 射向太陽的箭 Arrow to the Sun
  • Solar Eclipse Overview
  • DIY Solar Oven
  • Manga Encyclopedia – 星空大搜密 Secrets of the Sky

After the First Great Lesson and a quick overview of the moon, it time to focus on the sun this week.

I’m amazed we managed to pull off an interesting project for the children for this weeks focus on the sun. As the weeks progress it takes me longer and longer to prep for my science co-op.   I really need to plan it all out in the beginning.  Prepping takes a lot of effort and is easily side tracked by life.

射向太陽的箭 Arrow to the Sun

This book was such a great find from Yabook.  Written by Gerald McDermott is translated from English about Pueblo Native American’s myth on the sun.  It’s a very simple story that is quite different from other myths we’ve heard.

It is very hard to find non-fiction books that fit homeschooling because most best sellers aren’t geared toward school.  It requires actual browsing.

Solar Eclipse Overview

Since everyone was talking about the eclipse I figure I should be good about covering it.  Even if the kids kind of learned about rotation of the earth and sun two years ago already.

They basically just spent 30 min cutting out circles and tacking them together and then I explained how the eclipse works.

It’s nice when kids are focused and quiet.

Hmmm. Am I fit for teaching when I just like them preoccupied?

The link for the Eclipse PDF is here.  It’s off of Once Upon a Learning Adventure website.  I would show a pic of the finished product, but that would mean I did not throw it away right after.

The Tuesday after, the kids all went out and observed the eclipse, which I consider a win because I usually cannot be bothered with more activities that require me to move (or drive in this instance).

Solar Oven

I then showed them 3 options they can choose for making their solar oven.   It was my attempt to be “Montessorieque”, by offering kid choices.   Lavender also reminded me recently that science experiments need some compare and contrast to make kids think, not just activities that follow instructions and have an end product.

I showed them 3 options on my computer:

  1. Poster board solar oven
  2. USPS box solar oven
  3. Pizza box solar oven

Here’s what one should not do, show kids finished product of one item (USPS box solar oven) and expect them to all want different things.  They saw the USPS box solar oven I made as a test and all decided they wanted that one. Since I did not specify from the start that everyone must pick something different, I let them be.

They thought it was easy because all they had to do was put aluminum foil on it.  But in reality, it took longer than the pizza oven option that Fleur made and the poster board solar oven I made.

Once they were done, the kids had an option.  They can try to put either marshmallow, chocolate chips, or an egg into metal bowls.  One gets placed inside the box and the other outside, as control.

Before I let the kids loose to work, I walked them through writing down on their notebook hypothesis, test, observation, and conclusion.  We talked about how this is what scientists do.  (Not that I know for sure, I just got this from the web.)

On a funny note, this involved busily looking up these words in Chinese on the spot because none of us really knew what they were either.  One reason we no longer do our co-op exclusively in Chinese.

Because we only had 6 bowls, Astroboy and Mochi got to try their creation first.  He chose chocolate chips (of course) and she chose eggs.  We put them outside and they decided they wanted to come back and check after 15 minutes.  We came back and checked around every 15 minutes and then later on every 30 minutes.

The eggs got completely cooked after about 1.5 hours, with the egg whites cooking already after 30 minutes.  I think having those insulated metal bowls definitely hurried up the cooking time.

You  need to make sure to add a saran wrap to the bowl.  I also learned that the pizza box one did not work, likely because of lack of the bowl.  Chocolate chips and marshmallow so have as much of a dramatic effect because they hold their shape even though they have melted inside.

星空大搜密 Secrets of the Sky

While they waited for their experiments, we ate lunch and I read them another book.

I finally had a chance to use the manga science encyclopedias I got from 東方出版 Eastern Publishing 2 years ago.  I read them the section on the sun.  And they were suitably impressed by the sun’s high temperature.

You can click on the image for bigger pic.


The kids all kind of ran around after lunch so it was a bit hard to rein them in to finish their experiments, especially because some of the later kids didn’t even get to do theirs but by then didn’t really have their focus on it because they wanted to just play with each other.

What I Learned

Given that I didn’t prep till the day before, I was really happy this week’s lesson really came together.  The kids seem to be more used to the routine of the co-op and have not been running off as much.

I continue to need to slow down my explanations when I talk to the kids, really break down the steps and make sure they understand.  In grade school, I hated waiting for the teachers to explain or answering other kids’ questions while I’m itching to get started.  It’s probably why I tend to rush.  But when you’re teaching more than one child, and you don’t want them to either not follow instructions or get constantly interrupted later by the same questions from every child, it does require that time up front.

However, it’s also why I want to continually push for every kid to do their own chosen work during class, because every child completes their tasks at different speed and it is a waste of their time waiting.

For this year’s co-op, another thing I’m doing differently is to make sure I test my experiment before hand.  I was kind of lazy two years ago and did not do that.  I would fail in class and I would be busy trying to figure out why and not involve the children.  The children then all lost interest ran away.  Things work out better when I try it first and make sure I have all my ducks in a row before presenting to the children.

Those Korean metal bowls are a must in this experiment.   It’s double insulated and will definitely cook your food in the sun.  If you don’t want to build your own because you have a really young child, another option is one from the Solar Oven Kit from Amazon.

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