April 30

Is your child’s screen time excessive?


computerkidLast term students in Ms Wilson’s grade six class began asking some interesting questions after having listened to some startling statistics on how much time children spent in front of electronic screens. I believe it hinted at being quite excessive. This created much discussion in their class, which then led to the need to begin an investigation. They needed volunteers so we helped out.

Two year six students, Billie and Finlay, needed answers to find out if indeed what they heard was true. As part of their Mathematics investigations they designed some questions to ask a sample of our year three students. From these answers Billie and Finlay collated the responses and analysed their findings. This survey took a week.

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You can read their full research and analysis here.

Year 6 survey results

In summary they found the boys were over the recommended screen time and the girls were under. They acknowledge the group was small, but were surprised at the amount of time the boys put into playing computer games. Billie and Finlay also came up with some alternate activities.

Interestingly enough as I was thinking about collating this post I came across a Behind the News survey on the ABC written by BTN reporter Amelia Moseley which pretty much repeated Ms Wilson’s students research, although their sample size was a lot larger 18,000 young Australians.


They found 3 in 5 children spend more time in front of a screen than recommended by national guidelines.  National guidelines recommend two to five year olds no more than one hour of screen time, five to eighteen year olds no more than two hours a day.

The study did find the same trend in that boys were clocking up more time on technology 4.2hrs compared to  girls 3.7.hrs. They also noted that technology usage increased with age.


Kids with tablet

Kids with tablet

One in four people surveyed would find it impossible to go without technology for a week, while 15% couldn’t go without for  day.


Playing games, watching movies and watching TV or online videos topped the list. Others said they were doing homework, but nearly the same amount was using their time for social media.

Somethings to think about.

Do you agree with the results?

What is your favourite device to use?

How much time do you spend using your device? What are you doing on your device?

April 13

Feathers, Fur or Leaves

Getting Started

Being Observant – making decisions

This term as budding scientists we investigated the biological sciences where we sharpened our skills in classifying things around us.

We began by sorting things into living and non-living groups. We checked out some copies of scientific notes that were incomplete and made some decisions based on what we thought we knew and what we read.IMG_0280 IMG_0281 IMG_0282

We started our own collection of natural objects and created our Natural Science Table which is a very interesting place indeed.IMG_0274 IMG_0278 IMG_0275

We had to decide what would we look for that made something classified as a living thing. We had lots of discussion using various images of different living objects.IMG_0223 IMG_0225 IMG_0222

Once we had a go at sorting out living things, we used a table to record our observations of similar features. We learnt that sometimes a graphic organiser is a useful way to keep track of our observations quickly and  that makes it easy to interpret/read  and understand our data.

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It was easier than we thought. Amazingly enough in maths the next day we used tables to work backwards for some problem solving. We started seeing tables being used in lots of other places.

We shared our team findings and as a class we discovered that..

All living things

  • move
  • grew
  • reproduced
  • ate/produced waste
  • breathed

Once we had these criteria to use in working out the difference between Living and Non-living things, it was important to look closely at the different special features living things may have.

Being Taxonomists

There are many hundreds of thousands of different animals and plants on our planet and finding ways to sort life can be tricky. When Scientists come across an animal, they need to classify it by trying to work out which animal/plant group it belongs to. One way to do that is to have different categories of features. They use a series of questions and follow the path of their answers until they get to a group name. This is called a key. We used a simple version of their branching key to see if we could identify special groups of animals.Branching Key

By observing closely and answering yes no questions we can locate the animal group.  For example try this specimen

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Does it have bones inside it’s body? – No

Does it have a hard body?- Yes

Does it have antennae? – Yes

Does it have more than two antennae? – No

Does it have six legs? – No  Its a Myriapod

It sounds easy enough and we found that sometimes we weren’t sure of the correct answers and that led us down the wrong track. Does that mean we need to observe closely?

Taxonomists in the field.

We had a go at being field biologists and as a team went out in search of leaf litter. Our job was to collect a sample of damp leaf litter and soil and observe the sample closely to identify which animal groups we collected.


Before we began we predicted the animal groups we would find. most teams agreed we would see insects, arachnids, worms, reptiles and birds.

Of course scientists need to be protected from dangerous substances, so we made sure we wore gloves and had eye protection.IMG_0247

Each team negotiated where they thought they would find a suitable amount of damp leaf litter. Then we set off.. Sadly excitement got the better of some teams and they couldn’t help running to their areas, an impulse scientists would be able to manage. They’ll think differently next time… they agreed.



Once we had collected our samples it was time to investigate the living animals we may have scooped up. Before we analysed our specimens we recorded the date and area the sample was found. An important part of collecting data.

Using magnified glasses we observed closely to identify what we had trapped. We tried using the branching key to give the animal its proper scientific name. We made sure we recorded our data using a tally as we identified them.IMG_0261


There was a lot to do and it took a couple of lessons. As we were concerned for the safety of the animals we trapped, we completed the final analysis the next day.

Sharing and collating data

It took a little time to finalise and collate our individual teams observations and there was much scientific discussion using and checking the animal group with the branching key.IMG_0256IMG_0259

Each team tallied their collection. As a class we combined the findings.

We found

  • 10 arachnids
  • 16 myriapods
  • 83 insects
  • 2 annelids

From this result we could make a scientific statement which is a claim based on our data, which is our evidence.

The students had a go at interpreting the data and making their claim.

“Probably the most animals in our school is insects an we have proof. The annelids is the least.”     Wil

“The most is the insects probably because we found the most 83.” Zahra

We think there are more insects the myriapods but more myriapods than arachnids. There are more arachnids than annelids. But in our sample there are more insects.”  Fin

” We think that annelids are the least animals in the school and there are more insects, some myriapods and arachnids because there are 83 insects, 16 myriapods 10 arachnids.” Lakeisha

Learning how to classify living things does need lots of scientific thinking, sorting and observation. As a final check of our skills I gave students some images and asked them to create a poster that sorted the objects into groups.

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Some things to think about…

What did you think about the study of Feathers, fur and leaves?

What activity did you find the most interesting or enjoyable? why?

What activity did you find the most challenging?

What are you still wondering about?

April 6

Chess with Alan


This term we have been fortunate to have Chess expert Alan Goldsmith from Knights & Bytes teaching us all about the game of Chess. He has been teaching Grange kids and staff the skills of how to think logically and strategically  in order to capture the opponents King for many years.


We have had to learn how to set up the board, always making sure we place the correct Queen on her colour.IMG_0152

Alan taught us about each piece and how to move each piece. We also needed to know how much they were worth if we captured one.IMG_0240While we knew the information, winning a game is about careful thinking, planning and strategy! We found out it is important to think about the opponents next possible moves. We gave it a go.

Alan taught us to read the board as if it was a map and we could move pieces according to their position. for example Q to F4.


Did you know you need to do CPR in chess? That means if you hear that your King is in Check there are three things you should do.

  • CCapture Can you capture any piece? If you can, then do that and the King is safe, if not then…
  • P – Protect Move a piece in to protect the King, if you can, then the King is safe, if not then…
  • R – Run The King needs to flee to safety!

Chess is all about protecting the King.

Later this term Alan will put our class on chess kids.com

But if you want to do some extra chess playing go to www.chesstempo.com that is a site that will teach you exciting strategies.

gmlogo If you really want to get into more chess then checkout  www.knightsandbytes.com.au   Alan has a host of chess information and activities available for you to peruse.

Next term we are having a chess tournament to find the top players in year three. Will it be you?  Start practicing.

What have you learnt about Chess?

What would you still like to know?

Do you think playing chess is a useful activity? Why, Why not?