July 25

Spinning in Space

Last term we learnt about how the Moon,


the Sun

and Earth

spin and rotated in space. We also learnt that from all this spinning and rotating, the positions of the Sun and Earth played a big part in how we experienced day and night.

Relative sizes

It was important that we understand exactly how big these objects are. Now that is kind of tricky because we really can’t see Earth as we are standing on it, as for the Sun and Moon, well at a distance they can play tricks on your eyes.

We are fortunate in our Solar System to have the Moon and Sun exactly where they are because they actually look the same size. We know the Sun is huge, but it is 400 times further away than the Moon. The further something is away from us the smaller it looks. That is why when he Moon moves in front of the Sun we get a perfect eclipse.

Actually things in space are big, really, really big in fact somethings are so big our heads can’t get it at all. This is what we mean.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Checking this idea out

We had a go at using a basketball to represent the Sun and a tennis ball to represent the Moon. In teams we worked together to move the Sun away until it appeared to our eyes to be the same same size as our Moon.

I had my eclipse glasses handy so we all had a couple of safe looks at the Sun. Although this mighty sphere was shining brightly, it looked indeed no bigger than a full Moon. Some children even saw the Sunspots.

Understanding shadows

How much fun is shadow tag! But there is a lot of science in shadows.

Why don’t shadows stay put?

On a sunny morning, we went outside and traced around each other’s shadow.

Then we played some shadow tag. That was challenge, they never stayed put!

Back in the classroom we discussed and recorded what we thought we knew about shadows.

Time to return outside to checkout our shadows….oh no!  They had moved. We needed to trace them again.

We noticed that all the shadows that we could see had moved from the base. To start with, they were facing west, later on, they were moving Easterly. That was odd. Why did this happen? Ah, the Sun moved. Of course, that was it!  Or was it?

Time to get serious with a scientific investigation.

I gave each team member an investigation planner, together they discussed and recorded their plan. This is a summary of our discussion, once planning had ceased.

Luckily for us the day was one of the last sunny days before the cloudy days of winter settled in.

We went out every hour on the hour, as best we could, throughout the day, sharing jobs to complete the investigation. To make it a fair test, we needed to place the cardboard in exactly the same place, have the same equipment and record the shadow line carefully. Teams worked collaboratively to complete their observations.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The following day, in our teams, we analysed the information together.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We had some interesting data that we were able to place in a table and record graphically such as this example. We know that tables are useful to sort out information and graphs show us data that we can see clearly.

We discussed our observations and concluded that as the Sun moved across the sky from East to West, the shadows moved in the opposite direction. Our proof was the marks we recorded on our cardboard posters. We found out that the shadows were longest when the Sun was lower in the sky and shorter when it was high in the sky. Our proof was the measurements we took each hour. Our claim based on our data was that the Sun’s movements caused all this. So the Sun did move!


We knew better though. Earth is really the object that moved, not the Sun, that object stays in the centre of our Solar System  and rotates. It is the rotation of the Earth that caused the Sun to appear to move in the sky, which then caused the shadows to lengthen and shorten.

You see we’d also been learning about the spinning and revolution of Earth. There was a lot to remember. Everything spins in space. You can get dizzy trying to remember everything.

We found this clip to be a great reminder.

We learnt a great deal about our neighbours in space and how they affected our life. At the end of the unit, I asked the students to design a scientific poster that explained how we get day and night. Here are a few.


Here are some things to think about.

What did you enjoy most about the science unit? Can you remember an impressive fact?

What didn’t you like?

Are there things you still are curious about and have more questions?

How did you feel about giving your oral presentation?

What do you think of space and the things beyond Earth?

What impressed you?

June 12

Camp Illawonga 2017

We were busy packing on the weekend. There was a lot to bring to school!

Mickey courtesy of Tumblr

Week six had finally arrived. The day we had been waiting for since we started in grade three.

We were going …. Camping!


Most of Mrs Woolford’s year 3/4 class would be joining our excited campers. We left our families for three days and two nights. Would they survive without us? They would just have to be brave. But it was okay if some parents needed extra hugs good-bye.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We had a long two hour journey to get to Camp Illawonga in Swan Reach, which would be our new home for the next few days. Thankfully the coach had comfortable seats and seatbelts.

Map from Illawonga home page

The road trip was fabulous, but travelling made us hungry, so we stopped to stretch our legs, have a bite to eat and of course have a little playtime. Angaston was the perfect place.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Another short ride, well sort of …… and we were soon settled into our dormitories at camp. Our class was on lunch duty so it was straight to work. Yum … Tacos.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Mark, the Camp Leader, gave us a lot of information and instructions about being safe for our stay and expectations around the camp site. Soon it was back on another bus for a short ride. We were crossing the Murray River on the punt to visit The Murray Aquaculture Centre. This was an interesting place where we learnt about almond farming and yabbies.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

That was fun because we also had a challenge  to see which team would catch the most yabbies. Yabby catching sounded simple enough, but there were some tricks to learn…… patience.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The girls were Yabby catching heroes, how did they do it!

The sun was going down, and it was getting cooler, but there was still so much to do… more duty groups for tea.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After our delicious meal, we went into the gym for some outrageously exciting fun. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring the still camera!… But trust us, we worked up an appetite for a yummy supper with twisting and jumping, turning and rolling, hanging and falling…… before it was time to hit the sack. We had a huge day planned so we needed our beauty sleep.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Some of us slept soundly. Poor little Scarlett.

Up and at em, the next morning was quite eerie. A mysterious fog crept in, it threatened to hide the sun… but we found it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lucky the Sun burnt off the fog by the time we were ready for our river cruise. We needed our floatation devices before we could walk down to the boat.

While we went on the cruise, the other groups went on a caving expedition and a Safari ride. We would all rotate activities throughout the camp. Once again, I left the still camera behind for the cruise… but I remembered it for the ride to the caves.

Those hard hats were fabulous protection, without them I think we would all be a little shorter!

After that adventure we had a short bushwalking to a HUGE river red gum. That tree was so big we just fit around it! We had enormous fun building Tepees with all the twigs and sticks lying around.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Each time we visited the river, it meant a short but steep 400m walk down a gravel path… naturally we had to walk back up too. That was tiring, luckily Ellen makes us do fitness each week so it was a piece of cake.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We needed to get back to camp quickly, as we had to get ready for an exciting adventure at Sunny Dale sheep farm.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What a whip cracking great time we had. We really earned our tea that night. In fact some us sang after supper! Karaoke was so much fun, we have stars in the making. Stay tuned for the videos.

It was a perfect night for a camp fire.. but oh,we forgot to sing a Letter from Camp! Still the planets were smiling for us in the night sky. Then of course the marshmallows needed toasting… yum.

Time for bed, it was a big day indeed and it isn’t over, there’s more to come. To bed!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Getting up wasn’t that easy, lots to pack and clean up before breakfast and be ready for our last activities. I missed the Safari ride, but I did managed to check out archery. We had some bullseyes. Bravo.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All too soon we needed to pack the bus and say our goodbyes to Mark and the team. Camp was the best. Three cheers for Illawonga.

We reckon it was sad to leave, but we were glad to get back home to our loving families too. Thanks to our brave Dad, Shane Brow who gave up his time to help with the boys and group C.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dear Families,

Apart from a few sore tummies, there were no problems just loads of fun and learning. Thank you so much for allowing me to borrow your precious ones for those few days, we have some wonderful memories. Stay tuned for some great videos the kids will be working on. I might have a go too.

Warm regards, Ellen

April 1

Classifying living things

As scientists, our job is to record our observations. So before we began investigating our topic for this term, we brushed up on our scientific drawing skills. Ellen gave us an interesting specimen to look at closely and we had a go at drawing the object with as much detail as we could. We added labels another helpful notes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our Topic for investigation this term has been

Feather, Fur or Leaves

We began by checking out a scientists journal entry. Were things living or not?  Was it an insect? Was it an animal or plant? How could we tell? Did we agree with the observations and recordings? Why? Why not? Questions, questions…?scientists should always questions. That also makes them think of answers, so we should be able to give an explanation of why we think what we do too.

We shared and recorded our ideas of these journal entries in different groups according to our understanding.

 We thought our explanations were quite thoughtful, given the limited information.


We got excited by the different specimens that we compared, so we set up our own nature table.

Phoebe’s Grandmother bought her a Venus fly trap to observe, Phoebe kindly added it to our collection.


Taxonomy anyone?

So what do you call it when a scientist sorts out stuff? We sorted lots of living things into two groups plants and animals. There seemed to be a lot of animals, they couldn’t all belong to one group, could they?

We were given some animals cards and in groups we stared looking at similar features. We made a list of features we could use to separate animals into groups.

We shared our thinking with the class.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It is hard to be a complete expert and remember everything, so having tools to help makes our life easier. We were introduced to a branching key. That unlocked the door to any problems we had.

By answering yes no questions, we could slowly refine our search until we had the exact group. For example.. Start at the first question…

This animal, Does it have bones in its 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

We had a go using more animal cards. It was quite challenging. How do you know the answers, sometimes we went down the wrong path?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Time to collect some real animals and put the table into action. We set up an investigation. Searching for animals groups in the leaf litter at Grange School. To get us on track, we predicted what we thought we might see. To be fully prepared, we read our procedure carefully, making sure we had everything we needed. For a successful investigation we all needed to know our jobs, so it was time to negotiate.


But wait, field work can be hazardous. So we armed ourselves with eye protection and wore gloves in case of any bites. We were ready to go out and collect a couple of scoops of leaf litter to see what animals we would find.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Back in the laboratory, or the classroom as we usually refer to it, we looked closely at our leaf litter and checked out what specimens we could identify. Then we needed to work out which animal group it belonged to.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We found a variety of things living under the leaf litter such as:- millipedes, ants, spiders, worms, bugs, moths, caterpillars. Each team recorded their own….eg.

Using the branching key we discovered that there were only four animal groups. We made a table to record this information and the total animals found in each group..

Making a Claim – stating a case

Tables are useful tools to help sort out information. From this we have evidence and can make a claim.

We claim that there are many different animal groups found in the leaf litter at Grange Primary School. We also claim that it is highly likely that you would find myriapods such as millipedes and slaters, as well as insects such as ants and beetles. We know this because in our total samples there were more myriapods and insects, compared to the small amounts of annelids and arachnids found.

We also thought that there were variables (things that might change our results) such as rain, time of day and time of year might effect which animal groups we would find.


What did you think of our unit?

Questions for you to answer and let me know how you felt about science this term.

What did you like most about this unit?

What didn’t you like?

What questions do you still have?

How could you solve some of the team issues you experienced in the research?

Which scientists do you believe would need to investigate in the field or use tools such as a branching key or table?





December 1

Were we Lost in Space?


In term three and four our science topic had to do with What creates day and night, so it made sense to also investigate other cosmic ideas. We had enormous fun investigating these science ideas. We had a go at recording what we thought happened in space, before learning new information.

To begin with, we had to get our heads around the different ways things move in space. You would think that we would know if we were spinning and moving on Earth, as we live here, but oh no!  Our eyes can play tricks on us and our brains often get tricked too. This great Crash Course Kids clip on how the Earth moves, did help us clarify a few misconceptions.


Trying to understand the differences between and remember, rotation, revolution, orbit did make our heads spin.

So next it was our turn to investigate these celestial bodies for ourselves and really see things in action.

Space is REALLY, REALLY BIG and Things in space are really big and it’s hard to get our heads to understand that. We used these relative sizes pictures to understand that size is indeed relative. That means compared to each other. Ellen is bigger than us, we are small, but compared to a baby we are giants! The Moon is big, but Earth is bigger and when we looked at the Sun, it was the biggest… or was it? Check these out.

Still, hard to get our brains to think of anything that BIG! But distance in space can affect the size of what we see too.

So getting back to the three objets we were studying Sun, Earth and Moon we checked out their sizes. We used a basketball for the Sun, tennis ball for the Moon in this activity. Using our eyes to measure and working in teams we took turns to see how far the Sun would have to be moved away, so that the Moon and the Sun appeared the same size to the observer.

Now I told them that even though we know the Sun is enormous, it is also far away and that it appeared the same size as a full Moon in the sky. Just as their basketball looked the same as the tennis ball from their activity… they weren’t convinced.

It was time to prove it to them. Luckily I had my eclipse glasses and making sure they operated within the safety rules, they each checked out just how small the Sun actually looked in the sky.. it really is no bigger than a full Moon.  Cool!  Amazing, they even saw the Sunspots.

So it is true, the Sun and the Moon appear to be the same size! Incidentally that’s why we get Solar eclipses. These are fascinating events indeed. If ever you can, be in the path of totality.


What do Shadows tell us?



Well a lot really and it turned out we already knew a lot about shadows.


Ah, so now it was time to investigate light and shadows. It was tricky to get our room dark enough, but we experimented with torches and making shadows. Some of us were exceptionally talented at shadow puppetry.

From our observations, we reconfirmed many of our scientific ideas about how light works and what created a shadow. Light does travel in a straight line and anything getting in the way of the ray of light blocked it, creating a shadow. This gave us lots of information to get us thinking of what we could investigate.

Getting back to the sun and the shadows we saw around the school, we decided to set out an investigation on how these shadows in the school changed over the day.

In our teams we planned to go out every hour on the hour and measure the length of a gnomon. ( shadow stick, much like a sundial) Each team found a sunny spot. Lined the gnomon/poster to the North with a compass and set about recording the time and length of the shadows cast by the gnomon throughout the day.

Eventually with shared team work, our boards looked a little like this.


Once we had all our recorded observations, we could look at the information closely and see if we noticed any thing interesting. This is called analysing data.

In our teams once a gain we set about analysing the information . We discussed our ideas and made our claims based on the data.

To make our observations clearer, we organised them into a table and from that, we could create a graph.


This graphic record made it easier for us read and come up with some claims and conclusions it was the proof and evidence we needed.

We claimed that:-

Shadows changed length over the day long to short then long again.

That when the Sun is low in the sky, the shadows are longer and when it is high in the sky, the shadow are shorter.

The Sun moved from East to West over the sky because the shadows moved West East.

Our Conclusions

We know that the Sun is in the Centre of the Solar System. It rotates but doesn’t move. So that meant the Sun didn’t move, it was Earth’s rotation that made it look like the Sun was moving.


So as the Sun continues to shine light and we know the Earth spins once every 24 hours. We get day when we face towards the Sun and we are in night when we are in the shadow of Earth.

But we also know that we are orbiting the Sun and as we go on our year long journey around the Sun, we take our Moon with us. That combination of rotations and orbits does get our heads dizzy thinking about it.



Understanding how all this works is tricky, but we enjoyed learning about our near celestial neighbours and working scientifically.

We also had the opportunity to give an oral presentation on a topic to do with space. We had a great variety of themes planets, rockets, space travel, famous astronauts etc. These were well researched and shared confidently for the most part.

Space Art

For a creative challenge, we could make an alien from plasticine and perhaps their pet, if they had one.

What do you think of our modelling skills?

Somethings to think about.

What did you think of this science unit?

What didn’t you like investigating?

What would you like to do more of?

What are you still puzzled about and would like to learn more about?

Would you like to work in space?

September 28

Lost in Space


Grange has another fundraising activity that was fun to do. Kids Arts Works turns children’s art into various objects such as calendars, diaries, cards, mouse mats or sketch pads.


We supply the art, they make the products and for every one sold our school gets a percentage. As we have been learning about objects in space for science, we thought we would use that topic for our theme. Check out their adventurous astronauts…. who got…..

We thought families would like to see before you buy.

I thought they did a great job. What do you think?