Quantum physics, GIMP and slime

C(10) learning to use GIMP

C(10) learning to use GIMP

I was going to write about our family’s approach to screen time last week. I must have been writing further outside my comfort zone than I realised, because I kept procrastinating and – well – here I am ten days later with a post about some other fun stuff we’ve been doing recently. Quantum physics, computer art and an old favourite, slime.


C(10) had a friend to sleep over on Thursday.  I find weekday playdates a great excuse to try fun projects we’ve been meaning to get around to. This week we made slime with borax, using Sci-Toys’ fun with boron recipe.  Everyone found it very cool to see their slime instantly coagulate when they added borax solution to their glue.


Pretty slime. I love food colouring.

The older kids looked at the structure of the borax molecule and we talked about polymer cross-linking. Our slime didn’t turn out like the shop-bought kind. It wasn’t as stretchy and snapped more easily. We’ll have to experiment some more. 😉

Do you know a good slime recipe? What makes for stretchier slime? I’m hoping one of these polymer recipes will work.

While making their slime, my kids reminisced about the many times they’ve mixed cornflour and water. C(10)’s friend had never made cornflour gak, so while I cleared away the borax mess, they made a bowlful each which they happily played with for ages.

Unschooling science - making slime

The best activities are always the messiest

Quantum physics

J(8) asked to learn about quantum physics this term, which led us to the Uncle Albert trilogy. In the first of these entertaining chapter books Uncle Albert and his niece Gedanken discover the theory of relativity. The second book is about black holes and the shape of the Uncle Albert and the Quantum QuestUniverse. And in the third book, Uncle Albert and the Quantum Quest, Gedanken finds herself in (Lewis Carroll’s) Wonderland, where she becomes small enough to examine close up the behaviour of electrons, photons and other tiny atomic components.

All three of us enjoyed the Uncle Albert books immensely. We now know a great deal more than we did about the science of the very big and the very small. We had fun testing our knowledge in the quizzes weaved into the end of each story.

On busy days when we have to leave the house at, say, 10AM, it’s easy to round everyone up for a few chapters of a good book (compared with, say, an open-ended maths session). Which makes for efficient use of time (and better maths later in the day, with a relaxed mum who isn’t watching the clock).  (How do people manage to get everyone out of the house for school by 8AM?)

What will we read next? It might be Albert Einstein and Relativity for Kids: His Life and Ideas with 21 Activities and Thought Experiments. Or perhaps The Mystery of the Periodic Table.

Learning to draw with GIMP

C(10) has spent many hours over the last few weeks creating art on the computer.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen my all-rounder daughter so passionate about one thing. She’s inspired by Canadian (homeschooled) artist Fin, whose FinsGraphics YouTube channel she’s been following for a long time.

Like Fin, C(10) likes to create Minecraft-style “blockhead” art. Fin uses Photoshop, but C(10) has found she can do most of what he does using the free GIMP software instead.

Watching C(10) learn how to use GIMP has been interesting. The complex interface frustrated her at first.  So I grabbed a computer and sat down alongside her, and we figured it out as we went along.

When C(10) saw me researching my queries I think she realised that (1) you need a bit more than intuition to use this kind of software, but (2) all the information you need is out there if you know how to look for it. Good learning.

Unschooling - computer art with GIMP

Blockhead art by C(10)

Unschooling - Computer art with GIMP

C(10)’s drawing of YouTuber Mumbo Jumbo

Here’s the picture I made on that first day we messed around together. I’m not at all artistic so I’m rather pleased with it as a first attempt, but you can see how unpolished it is compared with C(10)’s – that’s all the manual work-arounds I had to resort to because I don’t know my way around GIMP.

Unschooling - Learning computer art with GIMP

My GIMP picture (inspired by an avatar I found online but can’t find now, oops)

As well as leaving me behind on GIMP, C(10) has been using social media to share her creations with her global artist network in a way that has left me feeling rather technologically backward. Oh well, at least I know where to go for help.

March woods collage

We’ve  been enjoying the  recent spring weather too, playing outdoors with friends. (Although following our strange, wet winter it looks more like autumn, with all the leaves  still on the ground.)

I’ll keep at it with the screen time post. 😉


I’m appreciatively linking up here:

The Hip Homeschool Hop

Entertaining and Educational at Highhill Homeschool

Collage Friday at Homegrown Learners

Weekly wrap-up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Science Sunday at Adventures in Mommydom

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