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

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Sunday morning learning with tama 4

Nau mai, hoki mai and welcome back!

As we sat outside eating breakfast this morning, tama 4 started talking about one of his favourite subjects - dinosaurs.

So, tama 1 grabbed the whiteboard and hung it on the fence so he could draw.  My regular followers (I have no idea if I do have regular followers, but it sounds impressive!) will know that we school outside a lot, and hang our smaller whiteboard on the fence which gives us space at the table, and is just easier to view and have the kids go up to the board to do exercises - or draw, of course!  While he did that I grabbed the computer and decided to record his "lecture" and pop it on the blog as an example of how we enjoy using Google Hangouts in our homeschool journey.

I find using HoAs way easier for these types of things.  Our online co-op is another usage. For any projects (like Spanish assignments) that require editing, then, sure we use the video camera etc.

That's all for now.  This weekend has been an emotional one.  We are finally painting upstairs.  We won't have it completed this weekend, but the important message here is WE'RE STARTING TO PAINT!!!!  The kids have been talking excitedly about colours for their rooms.  Me?  I just cannot wait to get back upstairs and have our lounge back to being a lounge!  I may add photos later ... maybe.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Labour Weekend been and gone

Nau mai, hoki mai and welcome back!

Out of my window I can see, this morning ....

Over the last few weeks we have gone from one rabbit to three coming to the south-east side of the house - yeah, around the fruit trees area.  This is the first year we've had them so close to the house. Grrrr....  As for the back of the house, we can see upwards of 10+ adult rabbits and quite a number of baby rabbits this morning!  Want any?

Oftentimes tama 4 will draw before he even eats breakfast.  As I started this post, he did just that. Here is one of the pictures he drew:

He drew a few more pieces, but this first one really grabbed my attention, so I figured I'd pop it on the blog.

Our morning routine is underway.  The big kids are done with maths and now I'm rotating with the younger ones which takes us through to lunch.  The older kids work on art and a little bit of history and science if they're not helping to look after a young one while I work with another.

We will continue our Odyssey reading later this afternoon.  I decided to add this helpful resource to my blog so I can find it when we get into more discussion.

To read the Odyssey, it's good to know how to pronounce names and places.  Some of the versions of the Odyssey have pronunciation guides also, so there's plenty of help available.

In our reading of Johnny Tremain last night, we came across the word repoussé.  We looked at a variety of (image) examples and then I decided to look on YouTube.  I liked this one.

I can almost see tamāhine 1 wanting a workshop like this.  As I watched a different video, I realised one of the pieces of art tamāhine 1 made a couple of months ago with aluminium foil (aluminum for my American friends) is repoussé.  Now I just need to commit the term to memory. ;)

School this year has been such a step up with all the older kids.  They have taken ownership of their mahi.  I told them we would be "doing all things Google" and by crickey, it's working like a dream. We love messaging each other, using hangouts and most of all synchronising documents and files. Tama 1's time management has perfected itself which is what I wanted so that High School won't feel quite so daunting for him.  Tamāhine 1 doesn't have as heavy a workload, but she's coping with everything she needs to, with minimal nudging from mum.  Although he has a much lighter load, tama 2 is enjoying all aspects of independence with the tools available to him.  Term 4 he will have a few more things added, which I don't foresee any difficulties for him.

Right, I must away.  Tama 1's waiting for me.  But hey!  I'll leave you with another one of tama 4's art pieces he just finished:

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

It's not all seat work ;)

Nau mai, hoki mai and welcome back!

Here is the art piece tamāhine 1 made when our young neighbour was here playing the other day.  As usual, the photo doesn't do it justice.  The yellow looks like a mustard colour rather than a lovely bright yellow, plus the effect she made along the left-hand side I can't seem to capture on film.  Hei aha, it looks good hanging on the wall.

On Sunday, tama 4 lost his first tooth.  Tama 3 decided to make him a piggy bank for the money he'd get from the tooth fairy.  (Money from the tooth fairy is the closest our kids get to pocket money.) Anyway, I took a couple of photos as he worked on it.

He figured he'd draw the piggy's mouth with a missing tooth.  I just noticed you can't see the nose because he's covered it before he tries to papier mâché his wee creation.

He showed his little brother where he puts his money in (yes, he cut the hole himself), which sounded pretty exciting to tama 4.

Here is one of the experiments we carried out last week but forgot to upload.  A fun experiment to learn how water will evaporate but the solid doesn't - even though we saw it "dissolve" as we stirred it in.  The kids found this quite fascinating.

Here is another experiment - a simple barometer (tamāhine 1 decided she'd add food colouring just for the fun of it.)  Yeah!  It looks like an actual drink huh?!  Luckily the younger ones have known to leave it.  Either it's the large lump of clay at the top that puts them off, or they're getting used to seeing experiments popping up around the place. ;)

Tamāhine 2 asked her big sister to make some fairy wings.  So, just after lunch tamāhine 1 obliged. Tamāhine 2 enjoyed wearing them for the rest of the afternoon.  Thank goodness for recycling huh?!

As often as possible, we school outside and because we enjoy schooling outside, there has been something I have wanted to test - the use of Google Hangouts on Air - outside.  Considering we had already confirmed it would perform well where we live ie  rural, we were already holding HoAs with success. However, my next question was:

Would the connection hold strong while outside the house?

The quick answer is, "Yes!"

Granted, all the HoAs I've created have been private to date, but the members involved are loving it - aren't we guys? As yet, I've not struck any issues outside.  I'm definitely pleased we went ahead with 4G otherwise this venture would be waiting to get off the ground still.

Speaking of being outdoors, we've had a mean-as southerly the last few days (southerly = cold my northern hemisphere friends!)  It's lovely and warm out of the breeze, but by heck is it cold when you ain't!  Tino makariri.  Although chilly, we have managed to be outside still because it's just so nice to do school out-of-doors.

Today we read through another Book of The Odyssey while enjoying the outdoors.  We started talking about the hero's journey or monomyth, which apparently has something like 12 stages.  To better illustrate these stages, we watched a couple of videos to better understand a hero's journey.

This video only mentions 7 (or was it 8) stages.

Here's another goodun which definitely mentions Joseph Campbell's 12 stages:

From now on, when we think of The Hobbit, Star Wars, Harry Potter - the Lion King even, we will remember there is a commonality running through each storytelling.

Shortly after finishing his maths, tama 2 managed to get the trainer wheels to fit properly on the little bike for tama 5.  The trainer wheels are for a larger size bike, so they were a tad stubborn to adjust to this little bike.

Everybody is moving up in bikes.  Tama 5 has totally taken ownership of this bike.

I had my own bit of exercise not long after taking the photo of tama 5 above.  I climbed the crabapple tree to retrive (well, try to retrieve) the soccer ball and rugby ball (sounds better than saying 'retrieving two balls', LOL).  I managed to reach the rugby ball but I just couldn't get to the soccer ball.  We had to wait for whaiāipo to get home.  I expected him to take the 6m ladder off his work van, but oh no!  He had another idea.  Tama 1 and I both decided this photo will also have to appear on the Pegleg FB page - PVC uses!  HA HA HA.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Sunday, 18 October 2015


Nau mai, hoki mai and welcome back!
  • I made a new friend and I received a gift from another.  Feel very blessed about these two positives.
  • The weather has been lovely this week so we managed a lot of kura kei waho, so that's always a positive.

  • Whaiāipo continues to be extremely busy.  There aren't many positives to that .... Definitely a low for me.  Not so much that he's busy, but .... well, just something else.
  • I'm still failing tamāhine 2 - big time!!!  Only minimal improvement in her mathematics - and as for her reading! Auē!!! 

    I still find myself considering placing everyone in school so I can concentrate solely on her during the day.  Yeah, I think it, but it's actually not an option.
Most of the tamariki are on target with maths.

Question:  do we use the British spelling 'maths' because mathematics has an 's' on the end?

Well, I was brought up saying 'maths.' Then, we started homeschooling and chose a curriculum called Math-U-See.  Plus we become friends with American families and hear 'math' all the time, so understandably, my kids are tending to say 'math.'  I thought perhaps it's because it has an 's' on the end, but I have no idea why really.  Well, this morning I decided to do a Google search and after reading a few things, there's not a very definitive answer.  I also stumbled upon this video which I found interesting, and although helpful, it still leaves the question open really:

So, it still doesn't really give an absolute answer, but at least it raised my idea of  's' at the end of the word.  As for the 'aluminium vs. aluminum' - yep!  That's a doozy too.

English is such an interesting language, nē rā?!

Tamāhine 2 and tama 4 continue with IXL. Tamāhine 2 didn't last long when we started her with MUS.  Last year I purchased Life of Fred to see if she would like that, but nope!   She didn't like it full stop!!  (Tama 3 uses it to read to me; so he gets extra maths practice as well as reading it out of choice.)  Then, I decided to try her with IXL - initially using the free version and then a subscription when I could see she was responding well to the visual interaction.  For myself, I need to look at the progress report to actually remind myself of what she has achieved - especially on the hard days when I am left wondering if we will ever move forward any faster.  Whether we go back to MUS with her is unlikely.  I am working on Plan C.

As for tama 3, he's moving along swimmingly with his mathematics.  He grasps the concepts, works through on his own, needing only minimal input from his mum.

Tama 4 is also doing fine.  I mentioned above that he is using IXL.  His maths is gentle; 10 minutes max per day.  He will move into MUS commencing February 2016. {For my northern hemisphere friends, the school year runs from February-December here in Aotearoa.}

Tama 2 is on target to finish Zeta before his birthday next month.  A couple of months ago I had a good long kōrero with him and we decided to work slightly differently.  Then, within two or possibly three weeks, he was away and somewhere during that third term everything became concrete in his mind and he's been soaring ever since.

Tamāhine 2 continues to take small steps in reading. One day she can be good as gold, but the next day I'm tearing my hair out.  It's hard.  Really hard.  Some days I can stay positive, upbeat and encouraging to coax her along but other days she just drains me and I feel like quitting.  It is so hard when you have the other children going along effortlessly and you wonder what you did wrong - how did I fail her?

But when I consider the alternative???  Oh no!   I know she's better off here and I need to do better. End of.
"We shouldn't be put off by the mistakes we make, we should be encouraged by them so that we can do a better job next time.
We all make mistakes and for most of us we learn and move on.  I continue to make mistakes, and I continue to learn from those mistakes.  I make mistakes as we travel along in our parenthood and homeschooling journey and that's kei te pai.  There are plenty of occasions we feel bulletproof and rocket along, then there are other times you just have a huge question mark above your head.

Two or three months ago, a good friend recommended You Have a Brain A Teen's Guide to Think Big by Dr. Ben Carson.  Big thank you sent out to my friend! :)  Interestingly enough, she no sooner told me about Ben Carson when suddenly I'm hearing his name everywhere within the US homeschooling communities - not because he's a presidential candidate, but because he is an inspiration to all.

Tama 1 is reading You Have a Brain and I'm reading Gifted Hands.  The  rest of the family will read the books in due course, but at the moment the two of us are getting in slightly ahead of the others.

I listened to a discussion held here in Aotearoa in which Dr. Ben Carson was a guest speaker last year.  I discovered he has actually been to our country four times!  What?!  Gosh, I hope he comes again - before, or after he becomes President. ;)  Haere mai Dr. Ben!  Haere mai!

Tama 2 finished reading Almost Home and then quickly read:

A very quick read, but it's a great little story.

Now he's reading Johnny Tremain.

I purchased the audio CDs when I first purchased the book for tama 1, but I think I listened to them and not tama 1, lol.  Tamāhine 1 enjoyed the book when she read it a couple of years ago.  Once he completes Johnny Tremain, I will read You Have a Brain with him.  He has listened to a few chapters, but I'd like to spend time to read it with him.

Tama 3 as I have mentioned is reading Life of Fred.  He still enjoys reading Geronimo Stilton books from the library and I don't mind that (well, not too much).

Tamāhine 1 is currently reading:

We have read three Books so far.  We are listening to the audio read by Gandolf (Ian McKellen) to help us along.

On one of the rarest of occasions, I chose to watch the movie before reading the book.  I found this online:

THE ODYSSEY full movie.FLV from nis-egypt on Vimeo.

Tamāhine 1 is enjoying having a girlfriend.  Our new neighbours have a daughter who is close to tamāhine 1 in age, so they have developed quite a little kinship.  Today tamāhine 1 took some paints and canvas outside.  I'll take a photo once her canvas is finished.  But in the meantime, I'll pop one of art pieces from this week.

To finish off I'll just add one more photo.  We had a lot of fun stuff during lessons.  Here is tama 3 writing notes for a quiz he made for  tama 2:

Always plenty more to write about but I'm ready to head off to be with whānau.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano