Sunday, 7 February 2016

Back to school 2016

Nau mai, hoki mai and welcome back!

Truthfully, I am thankful we had Auckland Anniversary last Monday as we started back at kura more fully.  It was a long week for everyone, but none more so than whaiāipo who worked a hideous amount of hours - even on Saturday!

Sunday should have been our day of rest which it was for the most part.  We just had Uncle Russell come over with a couple of the family's Velocettes for whaiāipo to work on. We also had whaiāipo's sub-contractor here for a about three hours.  The phone seemed to ring constantly also.

The week simply flew by, and I'm amazed we achieved everything I had planned.

This weekend is another long weekend - Waitangi Weekend.

(For my overseas friends: Until last year, Waitangi Day (and ANZAC Day) were not Mondayised, which obviously means, if it fell on a Saturday (which it does this year) - or a Sunday for that matter - you simply missed out on the Public Holiday.)

On the same weekend, the annual Classic races are held in Pukekohe.  We aren't going this year, because whaiāipo has a lot of mahi to do.  Maybe next year?  ... that's a fairly big maybe though! But I do know that one of these days whaiāipo will get the other Velocette going.  It doesn't take a genius to see he misses spending hours doing all things Velo.

Monday (tomorrow) is tama 1's birthday.  Fourteen!!!!

He received his birthday present already.  Whaiāipo picked it up this afternoon - a kayak. There was no time for a paddle today though.  Whaiāipo no sooner arrived home and dropped the kayak off before we all bundled into the van venturing into the city to the stationery store.

Kura went really well.  Tama 1 commenced the second semester of HS Spanish III.  I can't remember if I mentioned tamāhine 1 started HS I; four weeks ago now already!   She'll have to practice her current assigned literatura every day to really get the pronunciation down-pat as there are some rather tricky words this time, such as religiosas.  Actually Generalife was tripping her up the first few times we practiced, but she sounded fine when she practiced today.  She hasn't required my help with tarea.  That goes to show how independent she's become.

I must remember I want to go over the use of nadie y alguien as opposed to alguno y ninguno.  Actually, we could do with revising siempre, nunca y jamás. 

I find Señor Jordan's videos very helpful:

Tama 1 has certainly zoomed ahead with his understanding of the language.  I will even call upon him nowadays to listen to his sister recite, to check she is stressing the correct syllable.  In comparison to tama 1's literatura, tamāhine 1's is a walk in the park. Pretty amazing how far tama 1's come in just a couple of years.  I am quite sure she will be amazed at herself as she advances.

Yep! I'm so glad we took a step back with Latin all those years ago and commenced Spanish instead. Tama 1's understanding of grammar has just soared, which has reflected in his Latin.  He jumped in leaps and bounds last year.

I introduced Japanese on Friday.  You will recall I mentioned we will be going super slow with this language.  Our first lesson was so super slow in fact, that it was finished within five minutes.  We simply looked at ichi and the vowel a.  I explained a little about romaji and how to write the kanji, emphasising how crucial the stroke order is.  A little practice at writing and that was the lesson completed!  With everything we are studying, the length of the lesson was perfect.  Nobody felt stressed. It was just like having a casual conversation over a cuppa.

German will be introduced either next week or possibly be pushed out to the following due to the four-day week.  Like Nihongo lessons, our German studies will be super short.  To begin with, we will look at words we recognise in English together with learning correct pronunciation.  I'm looking at some YouTube videos to help with that, for example:

I feel quietly confident ngā tamariki will enjoy this phonetic language.  Tama 1, especially, will relish connecting the dots between German and his English History studies.

French recommences this coming Tuesday for the older two.  At the end of this semester we'll probably definitely head in a new direction.  There are three or four online sources I have in mind to choose from, but will cross that bridge when we get to it.

Tama 2 picked up his next Music Theory textbook.  I'm glad he's persevering with this and if he gets stuck, eek!  I'll no doubt be hunting on YouTube for helpful tutorials, lol.

Everyone is doing well with their maths.  I'm glad we didn't have too long a break with this subject. Tama 3, in particular, has forgotten a little bit of his times tables, which meant the first day or two were spent revising the eight and nine times tables.

Tama 3 is on Lesson 11.

My two Pre-Algebra -

Tama 2 is on Lesson 3
Tamāhine 1 is on Lesson 23

Tama 1 is back into his MUS Algebra.  He did really well with the online co-op, but at this stage we will pick up where we left off in MUS while I figure out a convenient time with his co-op group. Hopefully we can tee something up.

I have tama 2 and tama 3 using the IXL English for 5-10 minutes per day (the free version).

Tama 3 is enjoying his spelling lessons.  He even reminded me on Friday afternoon that I'd forgotten to do his lesson.  He's always liked spelling, and I certainly want that enthusiasm maintained.

Our first week with Fix-It Grammar was fantastic:
The first day we ONLY did Week 1, Day 1.  That was it.  By the time everyone understood exactly how we will be approaching it and then putting that into action, well, it was over the 15 minute time slot.  It took more time than I expected for tama 2 to grasp the concept properly, but that may have been my fault for choosing to introduce it at 6 o'clock at night, filling in time because whaiāipo was going to be working really late (he arrived home after 9.00 pm actually - second time this week!)

There are 33 weeks, but we have scheduled our lessons to move through The Nose Tree as quickly as possible.  If anyone shows signs of difficulty, we will slow down, but by the end of the week, the three big kids were comfortable with the system, and agreed we could keep the pace for the time being.  I have an older version of Fix-It which we attempted this time last year, or was it the year before?  Whatever it was it doesn't matter.  I decided to invest in the newer edition because it is split into six books and clearly laid out.  Here's a good video which includes a sample of work:

Tamāhine 2 is making progress with her reading.  The break did her wonders.  I'm surprised at how well she did in revisiting Progressive Phonics this week.

Rather than going back to Reading Eggs at the moment, I decided to try PP again because ... well ... I can't really explain why.  Perhaps it's because I used it so successfully since tama 1 began his learning all those years ago.  For some reason I feel compelled to attempt it again with her.  I'm trying a different tactic this time around though.

For a kid who needs regularity, she has accepted the change without fuss.  (Huge sigh of relief!) That's not to say I've ruled out Reading Eggs.  I'll probably renew her subscription, because it is very cheap through NCHENZ.

As for her writing?  Hmmm, that still leaves a lot to be desired, but compared to this time last year, I can see a marked improvement.  She seems to have muddled up b and d which she never used to do, so the break we had in writing has not done us any favours, more's the pity.

Geography is very short and sweet.  This semester we are:

I purchased the e-book version.  Major saving! :)

It begins with Iceland.  Everyone did a great job with their maps.  Tama 3 (age 8) and even tama 4 (age 6) produced brilliant work like their older siblings.

Day 1 probably takes the longest because we look up information and fill in the sheet.  Days 2-4 are map practice.

As each week progresses we will add another country to the map.  Although we only spent a few minutes each day on it this week, it won't be too long before we are all scratching our heads wondering the location of such-and-such-a-country and 'hello!' half an hour will pass which is plenty long enough.

This is a far cry from any in-depth study, but this term is all about introducing subjects with as little information-overload as possible.  I don't have the same amount of time to spend on World Geography by BJU Press like I did with tama 1, but the kids will still benefit.

To go along with our geography studies, the plan is to cook or bake some kind of dish from as many countries as possible.  We have included this sort of thing in the past, and is one area we continue to enjoy as a family.

Tamāhine 1 pushes herself experimenting in Art.  We also got back into Meet the Masters.

This week we learned about Henri Matisse.  What an interesting character.  I loved the way he painted directly on to the walls in his old age - and what about the way he did cut-out art?  Go figure!

Tamāhine 1 will put some thought into her art piece over the weekend.  I'm looking forward to seeing what she creates.

I have finally taken steps to really ask others about IGCSE.  Oh my word!  Talk about trying to get my head around all of this!  No, seriously!  I'm feeling like a fish out of water.  I also touched base with Western Heights High School to ask what subjects we can sit at their kura and what they require from us.

Then I asked for advice over on the Cambridge Homeschooling NZ Facebook group - as you do - and I am gleaning from the wealth of information one member in particular has kindly been teaching me. I am more informed but still a long way off from feeling like I have it figured out, if I'm brutally honest.

Definitely kicking myself for not digging deeper when I first looked into IGCSE over two years ago!!! Gulp!!!  Don't you just hate that?!

In the meantime, tama 1 is working diligently in Latin, Physical Science, English, Art etc.  I'm leaning towards trying him with Business Studies, History, Coordinated Sciences (that's what the lady from WHHS told me it's called) and some form of English.  I'm not sure which paper to look at for English.  If I'm correct, there's a couple of different English papers to choose from, so I have yet to figure that out.  I'm fumbling my way through CIE, as well as trying to figure out which books I'm meant to get.

What are we doing for PE?  Well, while it's still summer, we have swimming, cricket, the new trampoline and of course TKD.  As for myself I started getting back into a little bit of jogging.  When I say little, I really mean little.  I only ran 12 kms this week.  I cut myself a little bit of slack because every week I hand mow, but I don't have a fancy pedometer to gauge my distance.  It takes me just under two hours to mow, so I know I have a good workout.  Just a pity I don't know how far I've walked.

I'll have to scroll back up to see if I mentioned History.  Did I mention History?


Well, it doesn't matter anyway because we haven't actually started.  I know I mentioned we'll be doing IEW Medieval History-Based Writing to coincide with our SOTW. The kids will be keen to do some more hands-on activities.  Those are always fun, huh?

Hopefully I'll add photos from some of the science experiments we're doing next time.  It's very late and I've spent a lot longer than I expected in writing up this post!

Please note:  Any links I have added in this post are not affiliated at all.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Happy New Year

Nau mai, hoki mai and welcome back!

Belated New Year greetings to you all. :)

I have tried making time to sit here and compose a post over the last month, but the summer holidays have been spent with family, friends, helping with the plumbing business, and of course painting the interior.

I will at least share a photo of our library area to show something I accomplished:

We liked this colour so much, I surprised whaiāipo one day and repainted our lounge/dining area.  He got quite a thrill when he came home.

I have prepped all the trims and cabinetry, so by the time we finish upstairs completely, I am ready to paint the final coats.

As I sit here in the classroom and look through to the kitchen I realise I should clear my clutter from the hobs bench:

Look at all my buckets of paint brushes, drills, stanley knife (utility knife)!!  Right, I'm going to stop right here for five minutes to take everything to the shed.

Okay, I'm back.

Oh, I know something I can share with you.  Here's my chalkboards I have painted:

Needs a trim around the edges for sure!

This board is hidden throughout the day because the door is generally open.
As you can see I have yet to put a trim around both of them.  I'll be buying that on the weekend. Then I can tick that off my To Do List.

Whaiāipo chose the green colour for the chalkboard in the classroom.  I was keen on both boards being black, but, I let him win this one.  Seeing as our classroom is a light greenish colour, I guess I can cope with a green chalkboard, lol.  (I also painted down very low so the little ones can enjoy drawing on the boards as well.)

Saying goodbye to a whiteboard was easy.  The cost of whiteboard markers adds up, and disposing of them isn't particularly environmentally-friendly is it?  We seemed to go through markers quicker than saying 'whiteboard marker,' so yeah ... I'm stoked to have chalkboards.

That'll do about the house I reckon.  There's still plenty to be done yet, but it's nice to share a little something with you.  My job at the moment is plastering the remaining two bathrooms, so there'll be no photos for about a month.  Did I mention whaiāipo is installing a new shower in our main bathroom?  Seriously, there was nothing wrong with the old one, but hey! some girls get diamonds, I get a shower. LOL.  He's tiled 90% of the bathrooms, so we're making progress ... it's just hard when he gets called out all the time.  Last weekend he couldn't do anything on the house at all because of calls.  Hei aha!  We'll get there.

The kids have all been making the most of the summer weather, swimming in the lake as often as possible and generally just enjoying their break.

Our new trampoline arrived today, so the kids and I spent who-knows-how-long erecting it.  It certainly felt like it took forever.  It must have been at least two I guess.  Luckily it's not a scorching hot day, so none of us had to battle the heat too much.  Phew.

As soon as I finished erecting the trampoline, I quickly got started on kai.  The kids return to TKD tonight, so it's time to get myself back into the routine of early meals on TKD nights.  The next three youngest kids decided they wanted to go along tonight.  So, I'm sitting in a quiet house.  Tama 5 is fast asleep.

Having finished painting upstairs for the moment, I figured it was time to sit down and get organised with some kind of plan for our 2016 school year.  How are your plans going?  I'm a long way off from being satisfied with what we will do, but we have at least started back with maths (MUS still going strong here so nothing to report differently), science (the three big kids), Spanish for tamāhine 1, Latin for tama 1 and art for the arty ones.  Although tama 2 broke his collar bone about three weeks ago, he's certainly able to get back into school work.

We will all begin French (at our different levels) probably in a fortnight - basically when Aotearoa schools officially go back.  By that same stage I should be ready to start Latin with the others as well. Having so many levels I found it hard to keep up last year, and, not wanting to repeat that mistake again, I am going for the "less-is-more" approach now.

History I will tie in with IEW:
(Not an affiliated link)
The above should be arriving in the next few days.  We will be reading a lot of literature from this period also.  There's heaps of things I'd like to incorporate in History, but I am still nutting it out, but I will try to record that more this year.

We will begin very short lessons in Nihongo (Japanese).  Again, I am going for the less-is-more when it comes to introducing another foreign language.  We dabbled with Irasshai a few times in the past, but this year we will be using textbooks.  I'll be looking at the Hiragana textbook as soon as I finish this post.

Right, well, although I could sit here and sound vague about what we're going to do, I will actually sign off and accomplish planning Nihongo at least and pick up with you when we are all back in the swing of things properly.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Friday, 11 December 2015

Winding down the 2015 school year

Nau mai, hoki mai and welcome back!

Last week I finished reading:

NOT an affiliated link
This would have to be one of the best books I have read in a very long time. Tamāhine 1 read it ahead of me.  We no sooner received it in the mail, when she grabbed it, so I had to wait my turn, lol.

We enjoyed it so much, we will now watch watched the movie I found online:

Also, did you happen to catch the documentary on Shine TV last night?

I also found a Torchlighters movie trailer:

You can buy or rent at Amazon.  Just thought I'd mention it should anyone be interested. Oh, and no, it's not an affiliated link.

Kura has slowed down for most of the kids. Everyone will at least continue with mathematics till this time next week.

We finished up with the last of our science for 2015 and will pick it up again in the New Year.

Tama 2 has been helping me do some mahi around the property while tama 1 and tamāhine 1 continue with their remaining subjects.

Tama 1 takes a break following the completion of lesson 30 Saxon in our online co-op.

We learned Honduras is his assigned Spanish-speaking country.  That's not due until the end of next week - the same day we have the flooring guys here!

We will finish up French, Spanish, Latin and art next week.

I'm looking forward to spending summer reading and planning next year's lessons.

I now have my sixth exemption accepted without question by MoE.  Big shy of relief.

A very big sigh of relief!!  We can begin next year securely in the knowledge tama 4 can continue to enjoy his education at home.

I must include a picture from tamāhine 1's art journal.  This is just one of her latest pieces and seeing as I've scanned it, I'll share it with you:

As for myself, what have I been up to?  Well, I've been painting the house every day; accomplishing more on some days than others.

I've done a lot, but there's still a lot to go.  However, it is all enjoyable and I take pleasure in knowing we are getting closer and closer.

I've been leaving the trickiest part until last.  Over the stairs, trying to get into the very highest pitch is ugh! hard! hard! hard!  Once I've given the wardrobe shelves their second coat, I need to brave it and just get up there.  UGH!!!  (Can you hear the pain?)

Oh well, once I arrange the other beams to stand on that's half the battle won.  Why leave it till last and not get the hardest part out of the way first?  I mean, I do normally tackle the hardest things first, but for some reason, I dunno.... it just felt so daunting.  But, now that I see so much of the upstairs actually painted (oh, and by the way, don't forget! we're only talking sealer coat here ... the colour coats are yet to follow!!) I feel encouraged to tackle it now.

Yesterday I paused with painting and had a cleaning session, after which I made muffins for lunch and decided we'd go to the library.  When we got home I painted a sealer coat on the shelving for the boys' wardrobe. I painted them outside which was lovely to be in the fresh air and watch the kids playing.

The last of the birthdays have been celebrated for 2015.  Tama 2 turned 11, tama 3 turned 8 and tama 5 turned 3.  Their birthdays are within days of each other so everyone ends up eating too much cake, ice cream and lollies.  Oh boy!!!  Gotta love birthdays huh?!

Hmmm not the best pic.  I tried to grab a quick screenshot playing one of the videos.  Hei aha.

Christmas is fast approaching.  For our family, our gift is to move back into our completed bedrooms. (My close friends and family will understand the deep significance of such a statement.  We are counting down to the day now!!!)

By rights, this will be the last time we have the large tree in the classroom.  (Gee, I could have tidied before taking this webcam shot this morning! LOL.)

Right, well, the clouds have burned off and the sun is in a good pozzy for me to do that second sealer coat on the shelves.  So, time to crack on.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Looking forward to the end of Term IV

Nau mai, hoki mai and welcome back!

You will recall from my last post, tamāhine 1's Spanish-speaking country research assignment was on México. Well, we wrapped it up yesterday with our own extra study. On the weekend we watched The Perfect Game.  It is based on a true story about a baseball team that made it to the Little League championships.  Our family enjoyed it very much.

This next link will take you to an article that gives detailed accounts of events. Interestingly, Monterrey won the Little League Championship in 1957, 1958 and 1997.  Ka mau te wehi!!!

We did a little research on the city of Monterrey. Here's just a few of the details we learned:
  • It was founded in 1579. 
  • The city's wealthier suburbs have houses built of stucco in a style derived from Spanish colonial and called Monterrey
  • It's the capital and largest city of the northeastern state of Nuevo Léon.  
  • We knew from the movie it is an industrial city.  Looking a little deeper, it is apparently one of the most important production and trade centres in México!!
  • The population in the '50s was around 375,000 compared to today of over a million.  No wonder it's a powerhouse business city.
One of the other things we took a look at was the cuisine of Monterrey. We thought we'd try and make something, so searched kai from the area.

One dish we discovered is called cabrito which is based on a Jewish cuisine from the founders of the city. (We can't really access kid goat, so we looked for something else.)

Two further dishes we learned are from Monterrey are machaca con huevo and carne asada. They both look easy enough to make, with the exception of having to come up with alternatives to any ingredient unavailable in Aotearoa. Apparently carne asada is still a weekend traditional kai in Monterrey, so we reckon we'll try making that next weekend.

As part of our SOTW studies, we read about Emperor Constantine. Perhaps you know the story of when Constantine was in a battle, he and his soldiers look into the sky and see a golden light that appeared to be in the shape of a cross?  Yes?  Okay, so then you may also know that the Chi-Rho is not only a Christian symbol but a military standard also.

One of the activities the children did in relation to this part of history, was making a cheesecake in the shape of a shield and make the Chi-Rho using strawberries.  Well, they did make a cheesecake but not surprisingly the kids didn't like it, lol.  So, I suggested we make a pavlova.  Yummos.  So, anyway, I chose to use the photo of the pavlova rather than the cheesecake. :)

I shared the following video with the class also.  It's excellent ...

The boys' room

The girls' room
Although we continue with mahi kura, we have been painting as well.  We have two bedrooms finished so far.

Decisions for flooring are just about made, and we are all praying we can be back upstairs before Christmas.

As always, there is plenty to talk about, but I'll just have to catch up another day.  I haven't recorded anything about French, Spanish, Latin in such a long time. I haven't put any other science experiments either.  I'm a bit tired after mowing the lawns this afternoon.  I sat down to take a breather and decided to write a post, but now I've run out of oomph. 

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Thursday, 12 November 2015

I am grateful to be at home with my kids

Nau mai, hoki mai and welcome back!

Too often I ask myself, "Am I doing right by the kids doing this homeschooling gig" or I make comments like, "we're just not doing enough," and other negative thoughts.  Then I look at some photos and scans of work and it gives me that boost to tell myself, "Yes, Maree!  You are doing the right thing, and the kids are doing fine.  They are learning! ...."

So here are some photos of what tama 2 and tama 3 made for SOTW.  (I thought I better photograph them before they are destroyed by little hands - or make their way to the recycling sooner rather than later.)  They are from Chapter 39 if I remember correctly.

Tama 3

Tama 2
Another activity that the little kids did with tamāhine 1 was making a lyre.

Lyre by little ones and tamāhine 1
Oh!  I just remembered something else ....

Going back to Chapter 38, when we discussed the Destruction of Jerusalem, I found this great video:

Here's tama 1's creation:  I guess the red depicts the plumes atop the Roman soldiers galea (helmet) as they march towards the Temple.

Hmmm ... did I ever add this video we used when we read about Caesar Crossing the Rubicon back in Chapter 35?  Oh well, nothing like working backwards ....

This week tamāhine 1 has been working on her La Asignacion de Investigar for her High School Spanish class.  This time around she has the country México.  I won't be adding it here, but I will at least include her drawing of the flag:

I couldn't draw an eagle as well as that!
(just sayin')
The story behind the coat of arms is very interesting.  Its origins stem from an Aztec legend.  In short, a leader of a nomadic tribe was told to settle in an area where they would come across an eagle that would be perched on a cactus eating a snake.  They did so, even though it was a swampy area.  It became known as Tenochtitlan - which of course is México City today!

We have enjoyed the research assignments over the years, learning a great deal more than we ever knew about Spanish speaking countries.

Tama 1 and tamāhine 1 did really well with their speeches last week.  Here is a photo of tamāhine 1:

For our makeshift podium we used an old school desk with the lid open, covered with a sheet and my mum's typing stand (does anybody remember those things? or am I showing my age? LOL).  Pretty fancy podium if you ask me!

Maths continues well.  Tama 2 will definitely finish Zeta this month.  He will complete the test for Lesson 29 today and I do not expect any difficulties there.  (Done!)  He certainly has shown mastery.

Tama 3 is working on "area" this week.  After a few lessons he became more comfortable with it.  As always, we try to use real life examples to explain it.  The floor tiles have certainly come in handy for that.  He doesn't need me to draw the boxes inside the square or rectangle anymore, so that's good.

Tama 1 is doing well with Algebra 1.  I had no hesitation in moving him from MUS to Saxon.  That is not to say he wasn't doing fine already in MUS.  But establishing the co-op has meant he now has a study buddy and a live tutor to work with, so we were happy to move across.

Tamāhine 1 is slowly working through Pre-Algebra.  She will continue with this for a good part of 2016 by the looks of things.  Nobody has to rush with their maths; progress will be at their pace.  I would try her with co-op but can't afford another Saxon just right now, so we will continue with MUS.

Tamāhine 2 continues on her snail pace with IXL.  Speaking of her, I had better wrap up this post soon so that I can work with her.

Spring has finally made a decent appearance.  We are all working hard, but it's nice to stay outdoors until the sun goes down.  This photo was taken by tama 4.  Not a bad job!

Photo by tama 4
Here's a couple of photos of our strawberries.  This year we're growing them in PVC pipes:

It's lovely to see them through my kitchen window to help brighten my day.  Especially today.  I needed some brightness.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano