Saturday, 17 September 2016

Only 14 weeks to Christmas ... bring on summer!

Nau mai, hoki mai and welcome back!

Okay, I figured I should start off with some kind of visuals, so I chose to share some baking. I won't put too many pics though, just in case you get a sweet tooth and feel the desire to head off to the cupboards to bake something.

Monte Carlos by tamāhine 1

Chocolate Lamingtons - I don't think I have photos of the strawberry ones

Some kind of pinwheel.  All I remember is pesto and cheese.
We've made so many types, I'm not sure what we added in this one.
We perfected the shape the more we made.

Milo biscuits made by tamāhine 2 with assistance from tama 1

Edmonds Chocolate Basic Biscuits (foreground) Muesli biscuits in the background

Chocolate Melting Moments - tell y'what, the passionfruit version is super yummy too!

Mint Chocolate Teacakes
So ... that's just a smidgen of our baking.  We've made a lot of cakes, breads and desserts, not to mention lots of new recipes for our evening meals.  The majority of our creations don't get photographed - they simply get eaten within minutes of coming out of the oven. That, or I forget to take a photo.

Kura has been running smoothly enough.


Tama 1 - Geometry completed Lesson 7, therefore he has his test on Monday.

Tamāhine 1 - Algebra completed Lesson 12 and also has a test on Monday.

Tama 2 - Pre-Algebra completed Lesson 18D.  He did not push himself ahead too quickly with this lesson.  He was not satisfied with having anything wrong and spent time this week mastering it.

Tamāhine 2 - We repeat a lot of IXL and use the MUS manipulatives often.  She finds it difficult still, but the gentle pace is what she and I need to do.

Tama 3 - Gamma - completed 30D, so we're on target to finish this textbook next week.  I will order Delta at some stage during the week.

Tama 4 & tama 5 - they both use IXL like tamāhine 2.  Tama 4 is trying to learn skip counting by 10 and tama 5 continues with shapes and counting to a maximum of 10. (Sometimes we count higher, but not too often.)


Tamāhine 2 is edging closer to the end of her Reading Eggs.  I think we'll have a wee party when that happens.  If she keeps up her current pace, she will be finished in three weeks.

To help her along, I started making sticky notes like so:

They have helped immensely.  We haven't had to repeat any lessons for a while which is encouraging.

She is smiling more often now. :)

Perhaps you're thinking it's an obvious thing to have tried, but (without trying to compare, but I guess I am) I've never had to do this with any of the children before, so it's been hard for me. I guess I don't think outside the box as well as I'd like to imagine, huh?  

Hei aha.

Small steps, and they're steps in the right direction.

Tama 3 has enjoyed his read-alouds with me.  Because Roald Dahl's 100th birthday was nearing, we managed to read two books leading up to the celebration, namely: James and the Giant Peach and Fantastic Mr Fox. I've added a photo towards the end of this post with tama 3 drawing BFG (our next book).


The children only have six weeks left!!


Tama 4 has been working through his alphabet.  We follow Easy Peasy as best as we can. (That means we manage one or two things on a good day.)

This is tama 1 leading the little ones in a class for me.  They always enjoy it when tama 1 teaches them something.  Tama 5 didn't want to miss out, so he grabbed the Kindle and attempted to keep up too.

With the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games happening, the kids have enjoyed recognising the European countries they have learned during their geography lessons.  

We managed to do a few crafty things to augment a little more of that learning.

Oh!  I've just realised I haven't taken a photo of the medals tamāhine 1 made.  She followed instructions she found in the HistoriCool magazine.

Tama 5 made a little kiwi.
Don't you just love the extra masking tape he decided to add once he'd finished.
Hmmm .....

My two (too) cute little kiwis.

The three big kids are doing well with their Chemistry, Biology, Science in the Ancient World and General Science.

I'm just waiting for the NCHENZ subscription to Mystery Science to kick in and the younger ones will be underway with their science.

Foreign Language

The kids continue with Duolingo for their languages.  I haven't managed to figure out an alternative for most languages ... I especially miss their Spanish teacher. :(  

IGCSE just feels far too expensive and I need somebody to hold my hand to explain how to follow it.

In order for tama 1 to do Te Kura we'd have to pay big bucks until he turns 16. Ugh!  He's capable of sitting NCEA 1 right now, but financially we can't afford the moolah ... but wait till he's 16?  That just stinks.

Tama 1 continues with his Latin so at least I know how that's progressing.

The three big kids work on their own when I'm busy with the little ones, so I'm not able to keep up with them studying via this method.  I feel I want to be more involved but Duolingo it'll have to be for however much longer.

But hey, our new book for German arrived this week.  Yay, that means we can work together.  That makes me happy to be in the loop with two languages.

IEW Fix-It

Robin Hood is definitely more difficult, and the kids do miss a few things here and there, but honestly, I think they're rocking along pretty darn well.

Brave Writer

For a few years I have wanted to use Brave Writer by Julie Bogart.  Recently I purchased The Writer's Jungle to get my head around how to implement the curriculum with our family.  I'm slowly printing it all out ... almost wish I'd purchased a hard copy, lol.

If anything, I will use Brave Writer with ngā tamāhine.  It would be wonderful to touch base with other kiwis using it.  

Speaking of Julie, I'm reading as much as I can on blogs and watching Periscopes by herself et al.

I'm also enjoying Julie reading (on the Brave Writer Facebook group) a chapter each day from her book A Gracious Space.  (I'm too tired to stay awake to watch live at midnight, so I watch the recording when I get up later.)  

Well, I started off this post with food.  How about we close off with art?

Tama 3 read about steam trains in the 1800s and drew a picture showing the fire, boiler and smoke box.
To celebrate Roald Dahl Day, tama 3 followed Quentin Blake's instructions on how to draw the BFG.
The Roald Dahl web site has a party pack we downloaded.

Tama 3 adding his own flair

The little kids often do art with tamāhine 1 - here's an example of a day's effort.

Tama 3's thrilled to see more of his mahi on the walls.
It's awesome watching his art improving.

Just a few of tamāhine 1's mahi
A few more of tamāhine 1's.

Tama 3 and Tama 4 were going through a minion phase for a few days.
This is the end product of their collaboration.

Yesterday the boys worked on an Artventure project together.
I just found this cute one tamāhine 1 had in her journal.  Figured I'd throw it in. 

Okay, very last one!  A two-handed drawing she did.

Till next time.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Don't ask what happened to term 2

Nau mai, hoki mai and welcome back!

School?  Term 2?  Hmm ... 

 ... Well ... I guess you could say we unschooled?  

Let's just say it was  ... er... different.

What happened?

I became very unhappy with my ability to homeschool.  I was failing.  BIG time fail.

I needed to take a break from it all.

And I did just that.

The big kids carried on without me.  The little ones enjoyed the freedom to explore.  There was minimal seat work for them.

That's enough about that.  I don't feel like going into depth about it all.
Term 2 holidays were nearing and I finally felt okay about getting back into it.

Well, that's not entirely true.  I knew I should be getting back into it, but in all honesty, I wasn't keen to dive into anything in particular.

So, I decided to use Easy Peasy All-in-One-Homeschool with the little ones.  I'm comfortable following this for ... well ... however long I need to follow it.  Five or six weeks into it and I'm more than happy to stick with it.  The little ones enjoy the short lessons and I simply like the fact it's easy to follow.  An asterisk indicates I need to print something, so I can do that ahead of time, and the links to everything just makes my life easier.  I'm not having to look for anything - especially the crafts - it's all there.

The big kids continue to do well.  (Luckily we'd created individual timetables for the three of them prior to my break.  Phew!)

  • They have been using Duolingo for their languages during my break away.  We will start German this week.
  • Tama 1 has read through a good chunk of Chemistry and Biology.  His in-depth study will commence shortly.
  • Tamāhine 1 and tama 2 have also done well reading through Science in the Ancient World and General Science.  Like tama 1, they will go more in-depth shortly.
  • Tama 2 has been working on music using resources on the internet and reading his music theory books.
  • History lessons will commence in a couple of weeks.  I'm just not ready to get into it yet.


I resubscribed to ArtVenture through NCHENZ, which has pleased tama 3.  He enjoys this site - and, again, it's something I can just leave him to get on with.

Tamāhine 1 had a break from her art but is back into it.  Thank goodness!  I'd cleared a lot of the old art pieces from our walls, so they've been looking rather bare for too long. ;)  I'll add some pics to the blog at some stage.  I've only done one lesson of Meet the Masters with her since getting back into things.  That hasn't pleased me to fall behind like that.  But, hopefully we'll get back into our stride.

Tama 4 enjoys grabbing a piece of paper and a marker a few times a day to create his masterpieces. It's a bit sad that a lot of them end up in the recycling, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.


Tama 1 commences the last lesson of MUS Algebra 1.  Just as well I mentioned it.  It reminds me I had better order Geometry. (Done!)

Tamāhine 1 is doing "okay" but she's not mastered her current lesson, but she'll get there. I'm glad we don't push too hard to just finish and move on to the next lesson in order to complete the textbook within a school year.

Tama 2 is a diligent worker too.  He's progressing very well with pre-Algebra.

Tama 3 has a test tomorrow for lesson 25.  So, he's not far away from finishing Gamma.  I'll leave ordering Delta until he's on lesson 30 I think.

Everyone else uses IXL, or some of the worksheets through Easy Peasy.  Tamāhine 2 still struggles and I struggle with her struggling.


We continue with our 4-day lessons.  The kids just finished Hungary.  The big kids use Lizardpoint periodically to quiz themselves.  I'm hoping to do something else next month that I was looking at earlier this year.

Physical Education

Although I took a break from the academic side of education, we did maintain (if not increase) our physical education.  I'm definitely looking forward to longer days and warmer weather.  Some days it's been jolly hard to have the motivation to get out in that colder weather.  For the kids it's no problem.  For their mum ... ugh! very hard, but they keep me accountable.

TKD continues of course.  Tamāhine 1 will be going for her next black belt at the next grading, and has been putting in extra effort to prepare.

Home Economics

During my break from the academics, the one thing I really got stuck into was cooking and baking.   Okay, so what mother doesn't spend a lot of time in the kitchen?  It's just I spent even more hours in there on a daily basis.  We've enjoyed some great meals, desserts, morning and afternoon teas.  I'm mentioning it because the kids have continued to feel encouraged to make things too.  It's not just me who enjoys creating in the kitchen.
Well, that's about all I can think of at the moment.  It's been a long time since I wrote, but I wanted to post something now that we're back in the swing of it.  Perhaps next time I'll add some photos. ;)

Thanks for dropping by ka kite ano

Saturday, 2 April 2016

The last day of Daylight Saving

Nau mai, hoki mai and welcome back!

It's a pretty wet day here in Rotorua, so I'm tidying the school room.

My eldest son just came in and told me about Snoopavision.  He figured it was an April Fool's on YouTube.  I dunno, but it had me laughing.  I like the 3D effect.  Very cool.  I already shared this on the Romankids Homeschool Facebook page, so skip past this guys.

Okay, so I'm cleaning the school room.  I've held on to some drawings by tama 4, so I think I'll record them here ... so they can end up you know where ...

The trouble with discovering things well after they're done, sometimes the artist goes unknown. Tama 3 claimed this was done by tama 4, and vice versa.  We'll say it was a collaboration between the two, eh?

I'm also recording a couple of pages following a visit from koro.  I've held on to them in my folder for a couple of months now and figured it was time to get them on here.  Dad ended up giving tama 3 a little bit of an English lesson.  They were reading, telling stories and drawing. Tamāhine 1 came along and doodled with them.  Really, the only significance of these pages is that they have my dad's handwriting on them.  Six years ago my mum died, and every now and then I discover something that she wrote - whether that be a recipe, an inscription on the cover of a book to one of the kids, etc. I always marvelled at how my mum's cursive writing looked identical to her sisters and a number of my Māori aunties.  Yeah, that's a story in itself, but anyway, my point is you might skip past these scanned images because they're of no significance to yourself, but for me they are a taonga to treasure of my dad, the kids koro and my mum's ever-devoted husband.  In the past I discarded many cards, bits of paper or what-have-you that they wrote on, but this is one way for me to keep it safe.

I'll also add this by tama 1, which he used as part of his assignment this week:

He enlisted tama 4's assistance which we recorded.  A short exercise, but it went really, really well. Tama 4 enjoyed the limelight.

Just some simple momentos, but they're safe and sound here on my blog.

Hey!  It's the end of Daylight Saving tonight.  We turn back the clock an hour, but my eldest tamāhine turns 13.  Can you believe that?

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Thursday, 31 March 2016

The last day of March 2016

Nau mai, hoki mai and welcome back!

{This post was actually drafted before Easter.  I had intended to post it before now, but, well, I didn't.  I've tacked on a little bit to the end to try and bring it up-to-date.}


Because we kept pushing history out, I decided that our lessons will be done in small chunks every day; or, at least, four days of the week.

We have watched the following over the past few weeks to conclude our Chapter 2 and introduce Chapter 3:

Neil Oliver is one of my favourites.  We enjoy many of his documentaries.

Watching this week:

Although I have the set of SOTW books, I decided last year to purchase the pdf versions, together with the student activity books.  I have printed out 20 plus chapters from the Volume 2 Activity Book at this stage and will add more as I feel like printing.  I placed a divider to the back and in that section are the test answer keys.

Another difference is that I am printing out our chapter readings each week.  I hand a copy to ngā tamariki to highlight what they think are important points (the younger boys in particular) as we read and discuss the text.  They then place their copy in their folders, ready for reviewing when they need to.


Tamāhine 1 chose to write a dialogue for her tarea which she had to present a couple of weeks ago.  I suggested she have some fun with it and use some props to go along with her story:

She also created this prop as part of her tarea the following week:

Following Easter, tamāhine 1 presented her La Asignacion de Investigar on La Isla de Fernando de Naranho.  I am very pleased with her effort.  She's definitely come a long with her researching and presentation skills.  Yet another sign of her independence.  That's pretty darn cool I reckon.


Tamāhine 2 is doing her very, very best with maths.  You may recall I mentioned in a post recently that I repeat many of the exercises (year 1 and year 2 levels)?  This means she doesn't receive as many "prizes," but over the last few lessons she's actually moved on to new exercises (I'm moving her through subtractions at the moment) which means she's managed to receive some prizes. :) I decided to take a screenshot of her latest prize:

She asked what kind of bird this was, so I took a detour before continuing with another exercise to show her a photo of a real one.  Cassowaries are native to Papua New Guinea, surrounding islands and even northeastern Australia.  So, we did geography by looking at the world map to see where they are found.  Interestingly, they are ratites, just like a kiwi (the kiwi being the smallest of ratities) - therefore it is a flightless bird as well.  So there yah go, more than just a math lesson, huh!?

When I first wrote this, I would say she really struggled with subtraction.  She's improved, but she's still struggling.  Long way to go ...

Physical Education

The other day week I sent the boys down to the lake for a paddle.  Although it was drizzling, I knew the lake would be relatively calm.  They decided to duct tape the Go-Pro to the kayak. (Whaiāipo won the Go Pro last year but we've never really used it.)  I'm glad they took the initiative to take it with them.  The following are some screenshots.  They actually videoed the whole time they were down there, but it's too long to bore you with that.

Tama 1 took the Go-Pro off the kayak and held it under the water.  Gosh, it is amazing how clear the video is under water.  The photo doesn't do it justice in the slightest.

Really pleased with the results of the Go-Pro.  It will be used for another assignment this week.


Review with tama 3
We have used Song School Latin from Classical Academic Press for a number of years.  It's ideal for younger tamariki.  I didn't have SSL when tama 1 began homeschooling, and I don't think I actually had it for tamāhine 1 either.  I must have started it with tama 3, but we never finished it.  Having another baby I let it slide.  (I found it difficult to keep up Latin when I had another baby.  It always went on the back-burner.  It just took too much brain power and time.)  I can at least say we've retained the songs in our memory banks, lol.  We always picked it up, but it was always the first thing to set aside when the next baby came - or if I just struggled with a new grammar point.  By the time we picked it up again, tama 2 had moved on with his older siblings to another curriculum.

Anyway, fast forward to our new season (ie  no more babies, so I can supposedly achieve more with a three-year-old in tow).

Tama 1 has progressed steadily since last year with his Latin.  He is enjoying it and at this stage is coping extremely well.  He enjoys his independent study which is simply fantastic.  My goal is to prepare the next two to follow this same route.

At the moment, I'm still reviewing with tamāhine 1 and tama 2 much to my surprise.  We've had a number of interruptions this term, so we haven't quite managed to get back to Lesson 20 (or was it 22? ... I'll have to check that ... uh huh, it was Lesson 22 ... we aren't quite back to Lesson 22, so I'm really hoping we get there in the early weeks of term 2.

Tama 3 is using Song School Latin.  He has grown up hearing the tunes, so he knows a lot of it already, but of course, it needs fine tuning.  At the moment, we are in Chapter 4 which is a review Chapter 5.  Tama 4 and tama 5 love singing, or humming the tunes.  They are picking up the odd word here and there.

Fix-It Grammar - IEW

The three big tamariki have completed The Nose Tree.  Only a few minor errors here and there. Really pleased with their efforts.  They are keen to commence Robin Hood, even though I asked if we should start it next term.  Hei aha, I'll aim to start it next week.  It all depends if we finish the EOY project for tamāhine 1.

Geography - Drawing Around the World - Europe

We are at Week 8.  Romania.  This is rolling along fabulously.  Tama 3 is always quick to grab his folder after lunch to do the next lesson.  As I say, they are short lessons and as repetitive as it seems, it is working really well.  I am so impressed that tama 4 can recall the names of the countries (we are up to the 13th country).

Something that's working for me

Having our own comb binding machine now, I have really got into printing and binding all the teacher resources for subjects rather than having them in ring binders.  So much easier for me to cart around. I plan to put stickers down the spine of the comb too because it's just like a ring binder; once you have too many, it's hard to know what's in them without having something written on the spine.

Considering we use a lot of ringbinders, space becomes an issue.  Comb binding aids to free up some space, which pleases me no end.  Although I have discarded some of the kids mahi kura, I am guilty of holding on to a lot.  Binding old work will help me with this hoarding issue.

Another thing I did is used the binding to make some note pads for tama 3.  At Christmas, Uncle Craig gave me two packets of A5 paper.  I hadn't found a use for them, until the other day when I was grumbling about tama 3 cutting up our A4 paper and stapling a bunch together to make a book.  (He does this frequently and oftentimes he only uses a few of those pages.  Grrr ....)  So, I figured if I put used the comb binding, he might like the idea.  It's working a treat so far. :)

I just wanted to record that - for myself really, but perhaps someone might find the idea useful.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano