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

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Snippets from this week

Nau mai, hoki mai, and welcome back!

Monday, we awoke to a guest:

I didn't rush to find out who it belonged to.  He was happy to roam around and munch and just hang out with us for a few hours. By mid-morning we finally got him home.

Tuesday morning kura was interrupted with:

Going!!!  Going!!!! GONE!!!

Steel is worthless nowadays, which means the scrap guys aren't particularly keen to pick it up.  Gone are the days when they would come out and collect whenever they were passing.  To cut a very long story short, the scrap metal truck rocked on down the drive this morning and at long, long, last the van and all the sheets of metal, an old ride-on and an old quad bike have (thankfully) been removed without costing us a cent.  Such a relief, because whaiāipo knew exactly how much it was all grating on my nerves.

Within minutes of the scrap truck leaving, a contractor dropped in to borrow some equipment. By the time he left it was near enough lunch, so I headed off to make that while the kids finally returned to their mahi.  Because the morning had been such a muddle, I sent the kids to the lake after lunch while I organised their afternoon kura.


No interruptions, thank goodness! (unless you count mum having a long kōrero with the postie)

Tama 3 enjoyed making the six times table
It's important the big kids know their schedules well enough because Wednesdays, in particular, are our busiest days.  I wish I could spread myself to learn with everyone because I honestly do miss learning alongside the bigger kids for all subjects.  Although we learn many subjects together as a family, we now have three tamariki with total ownership with certain studies.  As wonderful as it is to have the children grow increasingly more independent, I need to work harder to ensure we all network our schedules to sustain that family learning time - even on our busy Wednesdays.

This week tama 5 (that's the three-year-old) has come to me seeking some mathematics. He enjoys hovering as I work with tamāhine 2 and tama 3. By the time I work with tama 4, you will find tama 5 has sat down awaiting his turn. This week, to oblige, I had him look at the pictures in the MUS Primer to count and then we tried a little IXL. This particular day I gave tama 4 an easy lesson so that tama 5 could join in:

As my long-time readers will recall, we use MUS and always have done since tama 1 began homeschooling.  However, tamāhine 2 reached a point where she struggled and it became evident we needed something else. I had a dear friend recommend IXL, so we gave it a whirl.  It seemed to appeal to tamāhine 2, so eventually, we opted for the paid version and I would hazard a guess we have been using it for 14+ months.

The paid option records your child's progress and a report is e-mailed to the parent. On occasion, the child receives awards, which is neither here nor there for me, because oftentimes we repeat so many of the lessons that it can take a very long time (ie days) before tamāhine 2 gets another prize. She was disappointed not to be receiving her awards, so I came up with a sneaky strategy which worked brilliantly. Luckily she is no longer fazed with the lack of awards, so I don't need to be creative about it anymore.  Phew!

IXL also has a free option which lets you do a good portion of questions before a message appears advising you have reached your daily limit.  The mathematics can be aligned to the kiwi curriculum when you set up your child.  They also have an English programme which works similarly (reports, free or paid versions etc).  

Tamāhine 2 responds far better to this visual maths programme, and this week she showed tremendous improvement.  My approach to her learning this year is somewhat different to anything I've tried in the past.  Without getting ahead of myself, I will, at least, record it is working much better for her right now.  We shall pursue with this method and hopefully enjoy more weeks like we've just experienced.

Ngā tamariki enjoyed their short Nihongo lesson.  I printed out Hiragana practice sheets. Once they are familiar with the strokes, I will change practice sheets. To begin with, though, I think it is much easier to practice with a large script. Our lessons may only be once per week, but I am sure they will all learn the Hiragana with correct stroke order very quickly.


Something we enjoy with tama 1, is keeping abreast of the US presidential debates.  We watch as often as possible these days, especially now that so many states have been voting.

Thursday we watched the Democratic debate on CNN.  (Certainly made a change from listening to the Republicans.)  Of course, I'm not likely to share my feelings about it all in this public forum, no thank you very much. We simply enjoy following the politics, especially from this super power nation.  And, I count that towards Government Studies, Current Affairs, etc.  Because it's playing in a couple of rooms, the kids can't very well escape it. (Even tamāhine 1 and tama 2 and tama 3 will occasionally stop to take it in and periodically ask a question or two.  We will expand on this next term.)
During the previous presidential election, tama 1 enjoyed his (extremely) in-depth studies of the American Government.  I'm so glad we studied it then because tama 1 maintains that same interest. He is more informed with what's going on in the political arena both here in Aotearoa and overseas than his parents at times! Perhaps political science in the future?  Hope so.


I had these four working with me in the classroom while the big kids were - wherever - doing their mahi.
Tama 5

Tama 4

Tama 3

Tamāhine 2

In the above photo, you can see tamāhine 2 is working on her reading.  We have had ClickN Kids ever since tama 2 was learning to read.  He's 11 now, so that's what? Five or six years?  He loved it and completed ClicknRead with ease (yay!) and then I tried him with ClicknSpell which he enjoyed. (I don't recall if we finished the entire ClicknSpell though.)  

One of the beauties for me with ClickNKids is that it is a lifetime membership.  You simply change a child's name and start all over again.

Not only did I use it successfully with tama 2, but I also used it successfully with tama 3 and he is now using ClicknSpell.  Which brings me to the photo of tamāhine 2.  

I reset her lessons when we started back this year because the break proved too long. Unfortunately, she had forgotten a lot more than I would have liked. (You can reset the lessons under the parent access, just as you do with Reading Eggs).

Her daily reading now is Progressive Phonics after mathematics, then either Reading Eggs or CliknKids in the afternoon following Geography. Whichever one we didn't do after Geography, I try my best to squeeze that in after kai each evening.  It all depends on the day, though.  She enjoys this new format and I am determined to have her reading (more fluently) by the end of the year.

The schooling that I am doing with tamāhine 2 now, would not be able to work if the three big kids did not take complete ownership of their studies (well, in all fairness, tama 1 was already in control of his, I just needed to get the other two completely independent).  It was either they took over, or I send them to school because I was failing my second daughter. And yes! I definitely did look at prospectuses of a number of kura.

From 3.00pm NZ time we watched the 12th Republican Debate.  Tama 1 and tama 2 sat in the lounge reading their science while watching, and I listened as I worked in the classroom.

As I was working my printer ran low with ink.  Hardly exciting!  Yes, that's true.  But, having refilled the ink, said printer decided to pack a sad.  No matter what I tried it didn't work. I've never received a message like this before:

We paid good money for this printer yet it's been a headache ever since we purchased it.  I mucked around for what felt like far too long and then decided to flag it.  The upshot of the printer failing meant I couldn't print our History pages!  Grrr...  As a homeschooler, we can't do without a printer for very long.  As a small business, we definitely need a printer even sooner!

With all that frustration, I decided to exercise and watch the follow-up discussion to the Republican Debate with the boys. Tamāhine 1 joined us once she had finished with some of her kura.  The big kids also made dinner to allow their mum to shower after exercising.

Friday night our family settled in and we enjoyed the final of Masterchef Australia 2015 (yeah, that's how far behind we are.  Typical.). I'm not a fan of reality shows except Masterchef.  I loathe any other reality show.  What a close race.  We loved both finalists and were thrilled Billie won.  We would have been thrilled if Georgia won too!  They were both very deserving of being in the finals. There aren't many programmes we watch on TV yet Masterchef has always been a hit with everyone in our family, and it's nice to blob out at the end of a week in mum and dad's room to watch something as a family. We don't do it nearly enough.


Took the printer back to the shop. I don't have time to have it fixed, so we bought a new one.  I wonder how many printers I've had over the years?  Nothing is built to last anymore.

Right, my youngest son is hinting I need to clean the house.  I said I was going to mop the floors and he's taken it upon himself to help mum with some extra chores:

My fitness this week.  I've run 16km.  A great improvement, but I won't be running any marathons soon.  Am I planning to?  No!!! Seeing as I'm unlikely to have another pēpe I just want to get my weight down to where I'm happy - hence no photos of me on the blog.  Hell no!!

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano