Thursday, 21 February 2008

Thursday's effort

This morning I asked DS1 to start writing out the first verse of The Owl and the Pussy Cat while I worked with DD1.

Little did I realise he had carried on until he was up to the third verse.

I gave him the opportunity to leave it where he was, but he chose to persevere. By the end of the poem he was quite relieved AND pleased (as well he should be) with his effort. What a champion!

Although we have covered a few things such as punctuation marks, when to use capitals etc, I was certainly pleased with his work and wasn't interested in picking it apart by saying "you didn't do this, or you didn't do that ..." At the moment I'm just working on hand-eye coordination for copywork and neatness.


DD1 had a good try with her handwriting. When she traces over the letters she does very well, but I want her to now write on her own. There's far more concentration when she's got to write by herself as opposed to writing over the dotted letters and I think she's ready to tackle it.


I couldn't resist adding DD1's freehand drawing from last Wednesday when we started learning The Owl and the Pussy Cat. I'm utterly hopeless at drawing but I tried drawing a cat on the whiteboard; more to fill in the white space than for any other reason. Anyway, DD1 sat down and copied my drawing. Didn't she do a brilliant job? She doesn't turn five until April. What a clever biscuit she is!

To finish off school for the lunch break the kids came up with loads of verbs. Once DD1 understood the doing word she was right into it. It was all for a bit of fun to keep them occupied as I sat here to start composing this post, but it turned into a better learning exercise than planned. lol

Well, lunch time is over and the kids have had their trampoline, running and biking exercises. They've made paper kites as well. They were about to go outside to do some flying with them but have now decided to make a third for DS2.

That gives me time to think of what school work we will do this afternoon!

I've also decided to add a photo of a world map with some postcards we've received to date with postcrossing. With very little wall space it's gone up above one of the bi-fold doors. Quite an awkward spot to take a photo of it, but you get the general idea?! We haven't been compulsive about the cards as it can become an expensive as well as time-consuming activity. I'd rather we do a few here and a few there so the kids and I don't lose interest too quickly. [I've mentioned postcrossing in the past, but I thought I'd throw it back in the arena should anyone happen to pass by and decide they'd like to do it too. After all, I was introduced to it via a friend, so it's only fair to share it with others too.]


The day was finished off with loads more play and spelling from 3.15 to 3.30pm (give or take the drink stop).

Et voilà! That's pretty much the end of today's school day.


Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano
Maree

Monday, 18 February 2008

Feels like a long week already - and it's only Monday

Silence please! School is now in session!

Saturday, Sunday and Monday have been spent mainly dealing with scanning the children's work and starting up separate blogs for DS1 and DD1. It's been great putting anything and everything to their blogs not having to worry about whether I've put their Christian names anywhere. I realise a lot of folk are okay with sharing names and combining their personal life in their school blogs and there's nothing wrong with that, it's just that this is the way ours has panned out.

But anyway, I've had fun creating the blogs and it's quite exciting to think that one day they'll be able to take over their own blogs and watch the changes within themselves as they grow. How exciting is that? I guess I get a similar sense of that excitement when I look back at my diaries I have written since a child and reminisce (and giggle) over the language and style of writing I used.

I bought some recorders on TradeMe last week and they've all arrived now. So the children are learning their first "real" instruments. They're very excited and have had fun giving a few notes a shot. Although we have a piano which the kids have "tinkered" on, I decided to choose the recorder to start with, more for the reasoning that I know when one is practicing, they can all practice. With the piano there is only one and they all clamber for it, so this way we can all have the same instrument and all practice together. Now I just want to make sure I hold their interest.


When it comes to arts and crafts I would put my hand up and admit neither are my strong suit. I need to follow someone else's ideas and instructions but I'm trying to improve in this area. The kids have always enjoyed drawing and making things so it's just a matter of mum trying to participate. And why wouldn't I when I have great kids who can make such uplifting comments like, "wow mum that's great!", or "that's a great idea mum!" Gosh, it feels nice getting compliments, doesn't it!? lol

Here's a look at DD1's A to Z train. With a little help from big brother and mum to finish it yesterday we had a lot of fun watching the train grow over the last fortnight.

The kids always get plenty of exercise but the latest toy has certainly been getting its share of use ... DS1 even gets his baby sister on there without trouble ...





and that's the beauty of having nets!

Tell you what too! I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to move when I was mowing the lawns on the weekend! Granted daddy did come over to help in the end, but it's good to know I can shift it to mow.

So, school is centred around arts and crafts and as always loads of play with a dash of bookwork thrown in for good measure. DS1 is working on learning the correct spelling of words now. DD1 is still coming to grips with "a-t". It's like one step forward, two steps back with her. One minute we're away then the next she forgets so we start again. Oh well, it hasn't bothered me. I've now learned to let her go at her pace and find a groove that works for her.


Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano
Maree

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Adding Library Books to Blog and starting Blogs for the kids

Not sure if anyone has noticed, but I've started to add my library books to our blog. (Scroll down on the right-hand side.) It's a good idea for the mere fact of locating, as well as reminding oneself what one is building up in one's library now. Like so many of us, our book shelves start bursting at the seams, yet we continue to purchase more books, games or anything that is helpful for school. This week for instance I've bought half a dozen more items ... books and recorders ... oh, and the trampoline and trees if you want to be pedantic. It's interesting when I note some people will say "I don't know how I did it, but I've doubled up on buying ..." So I figure by having a list of books then perhaps, P-E-R-H-A-P-S, I won't get caught doubling up on anything. Well, one can only hope so at least.

Two hundred books is all you can load before you have to pay on LibraryThing. Without wanting to use the p-word again, but I will anyway, it all depends how pedantic you want to get about all your books. Depending if you want to go hard out and put EVERY book on there, then for a reasonable price of $10 per year otherwise $25 for a lifetime, one can load all the books one thinks necessary. BTW, that's USD not NZD. Overall, if that's your kind of thing, then it's not a huge outlay is it? Google has something similar, but I chose LibraryThing because it just seemed better thought-out.

But hey, I'm not here trying to promote or demote anything, just chatting about what I've introduced on my blog and why. And, just to let you know, I've only loaded 18 books to date! Trying to catch up with my blogs, get school work going and every other general chore I have on a daily basis, 18 books is good for me. It is S-O-O-O cool the way you can pop in the ISBN number and voila there's the book! I've never found much use for ISBN's before, but this is terrific cos you get the right publication.

So, we've established I like LibraryThing. Terrific, let's move on to my other chat for the day. Starting new blogs for the kids...

This is still in the "thinking" stage. I haven't worked out what or how to do this yet. All I know is, it's a good idea to start splitting off the school work. Take this past fortnight for example, the kids have been really productive with their arts and crafts. I'd like to record everything and this would be an easier way to go about it. Let's think about it for a minute, I mean, when we went to school we had different exercise books for different subjects, so this is along the same train of thought. My only dilemma is what to call them and do I make one for DS1, DD1 etc? And if I do that, do I make separate ones for art, nature etc? It'll turn into a tree with loads of branches ... just thinking out loud.

Perhaps one my readers (all three of you!!! lol) could leave a thought or three about it. Whatever happens, I will start new blogs very shortly, because if you take a good look at this photo of my workstation, I just HAVE to create the blog/s because inventory is about to lose control ... everything is building up waiting to be recorded!!!! AARGH!!!!

As I write this, the kids are STILL creating things. I'd never think up ideas like this lot. They are so creative with just the simplest things ... paper, sticky tape, crayons and if they manage to find a use for anything else, yep, then that too!!!

Right-oh, DS3 has awoken, so that's a good reminder to hop off the computer.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano
Maree
Here's an after-thought ... individual blogs for each child, but just use tags on blogs to indicate subjects. Okay, now just to give blog names that won't tie me to this idea, ie if I decide the subjects are worth moving to their own category then the name of blogs "now" need not confuse readers (and writers) in the future if we chsnge. Confused? Not to worry, I understand what I mean.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Crafts - Crayon Cookies

Firstly, the following is borrowed from a blog I found way back in April or May of 2007. Unfortunately I cannot give credit where it's due because I copied the post for myself to follow the directions without thinking I'd ever post it here. However, thank you to whomever you were for the idea.

Secondly, please note I didn't pop the tray into the freezer as suggested because I forgot!!! However, I managed to get the majority of them to pop out without difficulty.

So, here is the borrowed segment...


It's been hot enough to melt a crayon around here. And the only thing worse that the heat are the whiners who complain all the time about it (like me!).

In weather like this, I like to find indoor projects for the kids and I to tackle. While sorting through our homeschool books, I rediscovered
Scribble Art and its recipe for Crayon Cookies. Seeing as we had a gallon Ziploc full of crayon bits, I knew this would be a winner.

We started by peeling the paper wrappers off of all the crayon bits we scrounged up. My lovely littlest offspring used to do this all the time as a toddler, driving every one else using the crayon bin crazy, so she was a natural to be first up as a Crayon Cookie designer. The peeling was by far the hardest part. Apparently if the paper wrapper was still on, it had somehow fused to the crayon and was impossible to remove. I swear I sprained both thumbnails, and anything that might interfere with knitting is strongly frowned upon, so we moved on.
We used mini-muffin tins and filled them with snapped off bits of crayons of 2-3 colors per tin to make a more coherent Cookie (The photos are a bit blurry as I didn't know how to use the close-up function yet when I took these!). See if you can find the (University of Virginia) Wahoo Cookie, the Preppy Cookie, and the Pretty Pony Cookie.
We pre-heated an oven (gasp!) to 300 degrees F., turned it off and popped in our tray. (We should have just topped with aluminum foil and sat it on our front steps). Things got goopy very slowly, so I relit the fire for a few minutes. And then things got very liquid.
The cookies solidified in their pans on the counter (so as not to have liquid crayons running down the sides on my freezer!) and then I popped them in the freezer (Ahhhh!) for about a half hour. They just about jumped out of their little muffin cups and the true artistry could be seen.
We scribbled them to make sure they worked, and then packaged them up for gifts for friends. We made another batch the next day and they came out even better. Here are a few tips if you want to try this yourself:
  • Use only one brand/kind of crayon. The batch we made of only regular Crayolas melted more evenly. When you throw in the washable ones (very hard to melt) and all the freebies from dining establishments, differential melting becomes a problem as some melt to water-like consistency while other are rock hard. Also, some are more brittle (the washable ones?) and didn't make very strong Cookies for the over-active scribbler.
  • Don't refire the oven if you are too impatient. Just wait and get over it. It'll be a character-modeling lesson for the kids. Right, the kids.
  • 2-3 highly contrasting colors gave the best scribble. The all-shades-of-blue Cookie looked great, but was a little underwhelming when it came to performance testing.
  • 3 full crayons are about all that you'll want in a mini-muffin tin. It looks like it will hold more, but you don't want them coming over the edge and spilling in your oven. Use a pan underneath while the Cookies are in the oven.
  • Last hint: Hit the back-to-school sales now for supplies for Christmas crafts.
If you try this yourself, please share any pictures of Cookies you make - I'd love to see them!
Now if you happen to be interested, here are the after photos of mine ... view from the tops and bottoms ... I like the upside down view best. The brown coloured ones look like chocolate ice cream.

Note the little hand appearing in the bottom right-hand corner. That's DD2 wanting (I guess) what she thinks is food.

I liked the idea of being able to reuse the crayons. If your kids are anything like ours, they will whittle the crayons down so much but it annoys you having to throw away unfinished pieces. So for those who can relate, and in the words of Bob the Builder, this is a brilliant way to "reduce, reuse, recycle".


Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano
Maree

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Thinking of Nature Studies

With having baby no. 5 in December I've found myself running out of time (and energy) to sit down and do any posting, but I'm trying to fit some posts in from now on. Considering I don't have a huge following of readers, LOL, it's actually for myself that I try to get some posts done because having the blog really has proven its weight in gold this past year to document the children's progress. So, anyway, what shall I discuss today? Well, how about nature studies?

As I'm keen to know what other kiwis are using in the way of NZ text, I posed the question to the ANZ CM group. I'm not sure if the post NZ Nature Study Guides over on 4girls was in response to me but I'll say it was. Right on Christmas Eve I also received a link to download the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock ... just under 800 pages! Eek!! Huge!!

Thank you to Jane for getting the link to me. I don't know how "rapidshare" works, but that's how Jane got the large file to me. [This is one of the many growing reasons I'm now finding myself wishing I could have broadband ... and yes I have enquired, but due to where we live we're outta luck at this stage.]

We joined the Kiwi Conservation Club at the end of November last year so that should prove helpful also. It's like everything else though, sitting there waiting for me to action/implement ... so one had better hurry up and catch up with this jolly blogging to get school operating more effectively huh?! Absolutely!

Right-oh then, I think I'll leave it there for now. DD2 has played tag to sleep with DS3 so I have him feeding as I try to type this post. I think I've given the general gist with Nature Studies. Basically, the idea for our family is to [attempt] to follow Ambleside as much as possible, adjusting wherever necessary and probably do like other bloggers and create a separate blog for our subjects ... well, nature at least.

Oops, one last thing for anyone interested in checking out a Nature blog. I enjoy it, even if the majority won't be found in our part of the world eh!


Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano
Maree

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Sharing

I enjoyed this wee post from the MOPS group and thought I would share it here.


Mother Moment - In the Cocoon
Our homes are like cocoons. We as parents spin a layer of protection around our children and provide a place where they can grow up in safety and security with a measure of naivety and innocence. Like snuggling in a sleeping bag - warm and cosy. We turn off the television and the graphic images of violence and smut. We censor the music and books that come into the house. We vet their friends and who they spend time with. We will do what is in our power to provide a wonderful childhood for our littlies.

Our homes, like cocoons, also are places of adventure and preparation. We stimulate our children's interests to learning new things. We create safe environments in which they can experience trying and failing and trying again, and we also prepare our children for the change of growing up, older, and wiser. From the time they leave our wombs, there's a 'planned obsolescence' thing going on. We start 'letting go' tiny bit by bit over the 18-plus years they depend on us in varying degrees. We eventually let our butterflies go and live their own life, knowing that we have done our best with the information and resources we had at the time.

In your cocoon, Pray. Pray, Pray. Surrender your children to God. Know that you don't parent alone. God enables us to do what he requires. Live giving hope and affirmation. Foster responsibility. Listen to your children and take them seriously. Enjoy, and have fun together.

The time in the cocoon IS short.


My emotions have been up and down about homeschooling already. Come to think of it, my emotions about have been up and down about mothering. I've been having self-doubts; you know, "Am I serving our children, Rob, God properly?" I look at my surroundings and sometimes I can feel quite positive and other times, like now, I feel they need/deserve better. The hurdles Rob and I have overcome in the past five or six years have been huge and although they tested my relationship with Rob, we have come through the other side. However, the thing about character-building experiences is that they leave scars no one else can see except oneself. The types of scars they give you play heavily with your emotional being - in other words they give you plenty of self-doubt. Regaining confidence is a hard one, basically it requires daily effort and this morning just happens to be one of those "I don't feel confident about anything" days. Hopefully my morning coffee will do the trick. I usually perk up after a coffee, so let's try to think of our day ahead and think positive.

My home is my cocoon, and I feel safe in my cocoon.


Thanks for dropping by
ka kite
Maree