Exploring the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre

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The Sci-Bono Discovery Centre is an extraordinary, all-weather family destination situated in the vibrant and safe precinct of Newtown, Johannesburg.
With more than 350 interactive maths, science and technology exhibits it is the largest and most visited science centre in Southern Africa. In addition to the hundreds of exhibits it also offers a wide range of leisure and educational activities and events.

Koko recently finished building a clay scale model of the solar system and to finish off the astonomy theme science lessons, we took our group to Sci-Bono Discovery Centre.
The kids loved it. There are so many interactive exhibitions that the kidlets were a little overwhelmed. We did, however, have a guided tour and our tour guide was wonderful with the children.

The kidlets loved the Microsoft exhibition. Koko played on the Kinect and the girls alternated between the laptops and the tablets.
Our favourite interactive exhibition, by far, was the Mind Ball game.
Koko couldn’t relax enough and eventually got frustrated sitting there watching the ball roll towards him. We could see immediately when he started over thinking and eventually lost. He wanted to go again, but there just wasn’t time.
Fifi and Daniel drew a tie (they hit the time limit). Daniel was amazing, I’ve never seen such focus from a 7 year old in my entire life! Watching his brainwaves on the monitor fascinated me. Fifi was concentrating so hard, she stopped breathing and went red in the face! Silly girl. These two monsters had us all in awe with their determination to win. They were thrilled that they had tied!

Mindball is a two-person game controlled by players’ brain waves in which players compete to control a ball’s movement across a table by becoming more relaxed and focused. Mindball is produced by the Swedish Company Interactive Productline. The concept, introduced in 2003, originates from the prototype Brainball which was developed by Smart Studio at The Interactive Institute, also in Sweden.

We were treated by a science experiement show by the Sci-Bono resident scientist. The kids loved watching things explode, change colour and expand. Watching these little faces in awe of what you can do with “simple” ingredients had me worried we might have explosions going off of home, LOL, but they were expressly told that they were not to try any of these at home. Thankfully Koko is a very careful child, so I don’t have to worry about that and Fifi and Pixie weren’t that interested until he made a helium balloon explode!
Once our group left, we spent a further 2 hours just exploring the centre and all the exhibitions. Even with 4 huge school buses arriving full of school children, we had plenty of space to explore and didn’t have to wait for turns at the exhibitions.

All in all, we highly recommend this facility. Its educational AND loads of fun!


The Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, Southern Africa’s largest science centre, is affiliated to the Gauteng Department of Education to support maths, science and technology education and to help build to South Africa’s science, engineering and technology capacity. Sci-Bono is responsible for implementing the Gauteng Mathematics, Science and Technology Education Strategy.

Sci-Bono started as a partnership project of the Gauteng Department of Education and various private sector partners. Located in the historic Electric Workshop in the cultural precinct of Newtown, Johannesburg, Sci-Bono annually receives hundreds of thousands of visitors to its a large collection of interactive science and technology exhibits and exhibitions. Sci-Bono also offers a broad programme of science and technology related events, activities and programmes for both the general public and the school community. Sci-Bono is now one of the most popular leisure and educational destinations in Gauteng.

Sci-Bono is a Non-Profit Company funded by its principal, the Gauteng Department of Education, It also benefits from grants and donations from donors in the broader public and private sector. Sci-Bono is also supported by various scientific and engineering bodies in industry and by the diplomatic community in South Africa.

To rent a car with Around About Cars and explore this incredible region of South Africa click here: Car Rental South Africa




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Poppins Book Nook ~ Awesome Space Fact files by Miles Kelly and GIVEAWAY

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Poppins Book Nook main image 2014 - 2015

A few weeks ago I shared Koko’s story about his interest in astronomy. This week I’m sharing our Astronomy centre. This month’s Poppins Book Nook theme is “Beyond Our Planet” which is a perfect fit for Koko’s fascination of all things astronomy. We read through the book Awesome Space Fact files by Miles Kelly.

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I have set up our astronomy centre on our chest freezer which is high enough for the kidlets to view, but high enough to keep out of Pixie’s reach.

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I received the bulk of the items you see here from South African Astronomical Observatory for free in 2009, in celebration of the International Year of Astronomy.

I made these booklets for Koko and Fifi. You can find them here and I can’t, for the life of me, remember where I got the Solar System booklet download (if you know who the file creator is, please leave a comment below so I can give the proper credit).

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I made these booklets for Pixie. You can find them here and here.

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Next month’s theme is “To the kitchen” and we’ll be cooking up a storm with the book, Made by Manisha and Me!



Beyond Our Planet Bundle Giveaway! Every month the Poppins Book Nook group will be offering readers a chance to win a brand new storybook or product that ties in with our theme for the month. This month one lucky entrant will win a bundle of fun for the theme of Beyond Our Planet. This bundle will include a copy of the storybook The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons and a Space & Astronauts Bucket Playset.

Entrants must be 18 years or older and reside in a country that receives U.S. Postal mail. This giveaway is brought to you by the company Enchanted Homeschooling Mom who is owner and founder of the Poppins Book Nook. By entering this giveaway you are also acknowledging that you have read and agree to all of the Rafflecopter terms & conditions as well as Enchanted Homeschooling Mom’s disclosures found here. Just enter the Rafflecopter below to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Previous Poppins Book Nook posts:
September 2014: White Fang & Giveaway
June 2014: Treasure Island {Part 1}
May 2014: How Old Jackal got the Pigs {African Folktale}
April 2014: The Story of Cars
March 2014: Alice in Wonderland
February 2014: 2014/2015 Introductory post
July 2013: Penguins
June 2013: The Amazing Machines a Truckload of Fun
May 2013: Dinosaurs
April 2013: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
March 2013: Princess Petunia and the Good Knight
2013/2014 Introductory post

Poppins Book Nook


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Montessori Madness ~ Astronomy Resources

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Koko wants to be an ASTROPHYSICIST when he grows up and has shown tremendous interest in Astronomy. At first I didn’t know what resources to provide him since he is only 7, but he has read his Space Fact book from cover to cover numerous times. His favourite TV series to watch at the moment is Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and continuously checks to see if his book is correct or if he needs to research a particular fact. Neil deGrasse Tyson is his hero and will watch anything he appears in. However, I digress…

Since we have been following the Montessori for the entire duration of his schooling, I have decided that we’ll be adding an astronomy subject to his schooling next year. I thought that I would struggle to find Montessori material to go with this, but have been pleasantly surprised at the amount of resources (both free and $$$) that area available to us.

Astronomy Resources for the Montessori Classroom on Montessori Nature
Space, Planets, Stars, Constellations, Spacecrafts and Astronauts you can download for free. These perfectly suit the Montessori Classroom purposes.

Montessori-Inspired Astronomy Units on Living Montessori Now

The Planet Hue by Primary Grafiti on Teacher Pay Teachers
This adorable adventure called The Planet Hue will take students on a magical journey through a world that transforms from a dull and drab planet to a colorful vibrant place to live!

Corkey Hay DeSimone, author of Cherry Blossom Friends, has a unique perspective in celebrating diversity while using three primary colors to help teach the message.

Included in the unit:
Book Introduction
Think Maps
Solar System
Planet Classification
Planet Flashcards/Basic Facts
Solar System Craft/Model
Celebrating Diversity
Color Wheel
Complimentary Color Art
Ordering Hues Center(ABC order)
Rhyming Center (using book vocabulary)
Out of this World Center (Time)
(Time to the Hour-K/1 Time to Quarter Hour-1/2)
Planet 8 Center (Number Stings)
(Match to Correct Sum-K/1)
(Match to Related Multiplication Fact- 2nd)
Planet Hue’s Candy Castle (Fractions)

Solar System Trading Cards, Jr. Edition by Amazing Space
This collection of cards depicts solar system objects such as planets, comets, asteroids, the Moon, and the Sun. Also included are cards with common misconceptions, Hubble trivia, online resources, and instructions for a game.

Comets and Asteroids on Education.com
What is the difference between comets and asteroids? Find out with this stellar space science worksheet! Read up on what makes a comet a comet, and then take a quick comprehension quiz on page 2.

Space {Expanded} on a Teaching Mommy
Here are some of the printables that MAY BE included in this unit:
Patterns (ABAB and AABB)
Planets Graph
Letter Sort
Writing Maze
Beginning Writing/Cutting Practice
Size Sort
Number Order Puzzle (1-10 and 11-20)
Spelling Book and Puzzle
Count & Clip

Tot Pack
Planet Match
Sun Shapes
Count the Stars
Rocket Colors (mini book)
Size Sequencing
Astronaut Picture Puzzle

Space Centers on a Teaching Mommy

Preschool Lesson: Space on Mrs Home Economist

Wonderful Do It Yourself Ideas for a Solar System Unit on Montessori Print Shop
A fantastic idea for a DIY solar system mat that was shared at the “Let It Be Montessori” blog. Learn how to make this brilliant solar system mat as you’re taken step-by-step through the process of making it (with pictures too) – which makes it so much easier to follow along! A fantastic addition to your culture area. Go take a look.

Making Moon Craters on Fumbling Through Parenthood

Space Lapbook on Fumbling Through Parenthood

Planet Positions on Jump Start
Teach kids about the solar system with our ‘Planet Positions’ science worksheet! This science worksheet has a picture of the solar system and a list of instructions given below. Kids need to follow the instructions and color the planets accordingly. This worksheet will not only give the kids more information on the positions of different planets but will also teach them ordinal numbers.

Astronomy Unit Homework by Science from Murf LLC on Teachers Pay Teachers
This is the 14 Page bundled homework package that chronologically follows my Astronomy Unit that I offer on TpT. This homework bundle includes many short answer questions, draws upon student research, includes fill in the blanks, completes diagrams, games, and more. Also included is the answer key page and generous unit preview.

Mini Unit – Space on Counting Coconuts

Space 3 part cards on Monkeyin’ Around

Solar System Work – An Easy Art / Science Project Great for the Montessori Classroom or Homeschool Environment on Sunrise Learning Lab

Connections Outer Space on Homeschool Share

The Planets Song by KidsTV123 on YouTube
It’s a song to help children remember the order of the planets.
This song was written and performed by A.J. Jenkins. Video by KidsTV123
Copyright 2011 A.J. Jenkins/KidsTV123: All rights reserved.

The Solar System Song by KidsTV123 on YouTube
It’s a song about the Sun and the planets for children of all ages.
This song was written and performed by A.J. Jenkins. Video by KidsTV123
Copyright 2011 A.J. Jenkins/KidsTV123: All rights reserved.




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Space Travel

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As part of our Astronomy Theme for July, I decided to put a Space travel lapbook together to add a little fun and interest during our lessons. Our space ship will be flying through our solar system and we will map our “trip” on our solar system poster we received from The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) as we get to learn all about it.

Our Space Travel lapbook is also in the shape of a rocket ship.

Our rocket cover I created.
Our sequencing pocket I created.
The worksheets inside the rocket from Lapbook Lessons and Homeschool Share.