Tuesday, 28 April 2009

I could do with Tuesday being Thursday, lol

I felt like I had challenges more often than not today, so I don't have many photos for school.

My so-called challenges were nothing unusual, or of any real consequence but trying to keep everybody happy can have you running from one room to the other ... or one side of the room to the other ... or running outside because the baby decides to enjoy the puddles just a little too much!

Now, I still wouldn't class myself as a veteran homeschooling mum, but at least today I was able to remind myself, "it's going to be one of those days!" So although we accomplished our work, the timetable was thrown about. But that's okay, the kids and I don't notice that it's after 4 o'clock in the afternoon because we simply "go with the flow."

I have a tendency not to interrupt some activities for the sake of saying, "okay kids, it's time to do x, y or z." If I see they are doing something very constructive on their own, I let them carry on. And if one or both of the toddlers decide to throw a spanner in the works, then we adjust accordingly and simply go around another route to achieve the end goal.

The first couple of photos are tamāhine1 and tama 1 working on Alpha and Beta MUS respectively.
Math-U-See (MUS) is just such a great maths curriculum for our family. I enjoy the teaching style and truly believe we are getting value for money.
Granted, we did do a few math lessons over the break, but they were sporadic because I wanted them to enjoy a well-earned holiday. However, if we don't keep math practice up on a regular basis ... holidays, or not ... then it's easy for the children to slip backward. They hadn't forgotten a great deal this time round; just lost their rhythym due to the break. They were back into the swing easily enough this week.

Now, one of the interesting things about my eclectic homeschooling is my reliance on anything free on the internet. The biggest trouble about my internet method is that I have sooooooo many wonderful websites bookmarked that I can easily forget some. However, my friend Auriel reminded me of Starfall.com the other day. Auriel was printing some of their material and I thought, "hmm I should go back and see if I can use anything for tama 2 on there."
It's funny how one advances from the likes of these sites once your children are reading. However, I am always printing things out for tama 2 and it was quite nice to pull some of Starfall's printouts out again.

This is just too cute not to include. Our little tama 3 sat up for lunch and as tama 1 read to me while I prepared some more meals, I glanced across and hello, tama 3 had laid himself down and nodded off!

These are the books tamāhine 1 has read this week; "Mickey Mouse's Picnic" (read on Monday) and "Duck and his Friends" (read on Tuesday). Easily 400 words each. Her reading has improved so much, I'm really, really thrilled with her efforts.

I do like it when the children astonish me when they can read a word I would actually have thought they would stumble on, eg shoulder, mischief, murmured. It was words like oars, knot and heartily that took some thought for tamāhine1.
When it comes to tamāhine 1's reading, she is allowed to take whatever book she would like from our shelves. This week it would appear she has a running theme of Golden Books, lol.

There was one other activity I made with tama 2. Because it involves his name I won't be adding a photo to the blog. I'll simply describe the little exercise. A really easy one ... I made his name on paper, cut it into jigsaw shapes and he has to build his name. Good for those occasions when he asks "how do I spell my name?", but mainly it was something to do for him on a rainy day.

That's pretty much our schooling so far. Hopefully I'll post some interesting tidbits - especially science - later in the week.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Monday, 27 April 2009

Term Two 2009

Term Two started off very well today even if the weather was kinda dodgy. That made no never mind to school work because we knuckled down first thing after breakfast and I'm really pleased to be using Beta Math-U-See with Tama 1. I can't explain why it makes such a difference to use a Student Manual for mathematics ... it just does.

We always have a well-deserved break following maths, during which time I will come over to the computer desk and if I haven't already written out the children's handwriting exercises, I will do it then.

Sometimes while they do their writing I will sneak in some household chores; ie laundry, preparing meals or vacuuming. Once they complete their writing one or either of the older children will read to me while the other can draw or any activity they choose. Then we swap around, by which time we're heading towards the lunch break.

Today we also covered some science. We talked about why a flower opens and discussed things such as nutrients, photosynthesis, and how the weight of the water reaching the flower forces the petals to open. Here's our flower experiment which we used to discuss some of the things I've mentioned.

The weather had cleared up by 1 or 2 o'clock, but we persevered with school work and then it was time to get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air.

Now, the following photos you may think are from Easter, and okay perhaps we should have had a treasure hunt at Easter, but I decided back then I would keep the little activity as a fun way to start term two. So, while the children played, I busied myself around the property depositing their little treasure balls which, as indicated, I made at Easter time. Just as we were about to commence the treasure hunt, whaiāipo rang to say he was at Owhata (only five minutes away). So I asked the children if they'd mind waiting for daddy to get home and he could join in the fun too. While they gathered their "pirate" costumes, whaiaipo arrived home and it was time to go in search of "treasure"...

Very Improtant: Reading the Treasure Map to locate the treasure!!!
What a gorgeous smile! Tamāhine 1 looks so excited, doesn't she?!
"Ah, ha! Look here me hearties! Treasure!"
The children gathered their treasure in their little treasure sacks ...
Tama 2 was very keen to smash his open!!
Tama 1 chose to smash his open after riding on his bike
So did tamāhine 1
There wasn't much time to get any riding practice in ...
but tama 1 loved riding in the muddy conditions!

The first day of term was great. The children put in a lot of effort and were thrilled with their after-school treat(s).

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Sunday, 26 April 2009

On a rainy weekend

The weekend was very wet, with only the occasional fine spell. So what did we do to keep ourselves amused?

We started making flowers
We just need to paint them and add some stems now
Tama 2 decided to have his own fun
Tamāhine 1 drew a picture for her baby sister
We decided to try an experiment
called Inside Cloud
(thanks for the great pukapuka Uncle Craig)

I chose this experiment because:
(1) It's such a simple experiment anyone can do it the next time they want to make a cuppa, and (2) It was relevant on such a wet weekend to discuss the weather.

Simply place a metal tray over the spout as it boils (whaiāipo did this so I could take the photos)
As the water boils and steam begins to appear we discussed the droplets of water are what clouds are made of. We spoke about how the sun heats the air around us which then rises up into the sky. The air eventually cools down, then millions of droplets of water cling together to form the clouds we see. Once the droplets get too heavy they fall back down as rain or snow.

We decided to make a musical instrument ...
The three bigger kids worked together
to build a drum
We will let the glue dry and then paint this also

The weekend was very wet, with only the occasional dry spell. Whenever we had the opportunity to get outside, we certainly made the most of it. But the bulk of our weekend was indoors doing more things like ...

Practicing the alphabet

Making race tracks

Playing "motorbike" mechanic
And reading

Tomorrow, we start term two of school.

Aaaaahhhh, I'm glad we had the break. Now that we've reached the end of our holiday I realise we needed the break; it's definitely helped revitalise everyone.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Friday, 24 April 2009

"Water Water Everywhere" online science class

Postings to the school blog have been slack, haven't they? I'm dreadfully sorry about that; I can't even blame it on the recession can I? lol. Nope, I definitely can't. So what's taken so long to post to the school blog? Well ... life. I've simply been busy with life.

I have at least updated the correspondence-cum-playcentre blog earlier in the month, so feel free to check that out when you get the chance.

Actually, I just have to mention something about the recession. I've been reading and hearing a lot about other people's plight in the news lately, and it reminds me of a conversation I had with my eldest brother (the one in Kuwait). He asked, "how are you coping with the recession?" As I typed a reply, I giggled to myself -

"It's made no difference to us. It's the world that has finally caught up with us!"

Sounds as if I've set some kind of new trend, huh?

By no means do I find it amusing that others are struggling to make ends meet. On the contrary, it's a tough time for all of us around the world indeed. But it's just that it simply hasn't hit us out of the blue because we felt the sting years ago! So I already know how to live frugally, how to do away with luxuries - with many things you wouldn't have considered luxuries, but you end up cutting them because you simply can't afford them. I already know how it feels to live months on end expecting to lose our house. Oh yes, we have lived through a recession already and although there's a worldwide recession at the moment, I am actually feeling more (emotionally) wealthy which puts me in a good position to cope with the current economic climate.

In sharing that piece of our lives, I do extend my sympathy to anyone struggling to make ends meet. I just pray you do not lose sight of what is important. To have faith in God, love your family, cherish everything you have around you already and one final piece of advice: Keep reminding yourself that it will only be for a short time of your life. IT IS NOT INFINITE, so just keep smiling, remain positive and look forward to coming out the other side.

But that's enough about that. Let's get back to school.

Most public schools around the country are enjoying the second week of term one holidays at present. We've basically followed suit, but with the expectation that mathematics be practiced every second day at least and also to involve ourselves with water science projects.

And it's the water science I will be displaying here today; but before I do, I would like to keep on the theme of science and quickly mention a New Zealand science festival, called Incredible Science.

The 'Incredible Science' festival is an annual one-day event held by The University of Auckland's Faculty of Science on the first Monday of the July school holidays.

Aimed at primary and intermediate aged children, their families and teachers, Incredible Science is a fun, free day of interactive activities, lectures and shows highlighting the fun and diversity that science offers.

Also at this website they have some experiments to try at home, and some explantory videos about aluminium, anatomy and the rocky shore to name but three.

{I get nervous about putting links to other websites because I panic someone's going to tell me I'm breaching copyright. I've noticed a few people/organisations have tapped into my blog(s) because I've linked back to their sites and I always wonder if I'm appropriately displaying their details without breaching anything.}

When it comes to this particular website I'm excited about sharing it because it's run by The University of Auckland's Faculty of Science. As the website says, it's -

"interactive, educational, free and FUN"

This is a great way to spend a day! I'd like to think we can schedule it in to our diary. I'll at least pencil it in and keep my fingers crossed on the off-chance we can attend.

We have two experiments to share today. I will discuss them by providing the name for the experiment, with a comment afterwards.


Remember the Water, Water, Everywhere Currclick link I popped in at the end of March? Well, we signed up and anxiously awaited the start date. And I'm sooooooooooooo glad we signed up! The class is just brilliant.

Righty-oh, the first experiment we carried out is called the Wet Glass Experiment. As the photos indicate, this is an exercise in condensation. We prepared our two glasses - one empty, the other with ice (solid) and water (liquid) [and learning from Professor H, when we put our hand over the top of the glass there is gas (air)]. Working with the glass containing water and ice, we allowed the build up of condensation over five or ten minutes. During this time we cut our strip of paper. Once we had enough condensation we placed the strip of paper on the wet glass.

Then we took the strip of paper off, turned it around and replaced
the strip of paper to the wet glass again.
We left the paper on for one minute to allow the water to
collect on our paper as much as possible.
Then we placed the strip of paper onto the dry glass.
Hey presto! It stuck like glue!!!!
The second experiment is called the Steam Experiment.
(We chose to do the experiment without a lid so the children could watch the bubbles appear)
We measured half a cup of water and placed it into the saucepan.
Place the pot gently on gas hob
Water starts to boil at 100 degrees celsius.
Placing a spoon over the pot ...
... then turn the spoon over to see we made water appear (condensation)Pour the water back into measuring container
And yes! We made water disappear.
We only had one-third of a cup at the end of the experiment.
That means we lost one-sixth of a cup of water.
Because we didn't use a lid the first time we did the experiment, we had to wait until we poured the water back into the measuring container to see "a lot" of steam.

The two basic principles we learned about are condensation and evaporation. There were a lot of other points which we learned along the way also. The main thing is we are enjoying the learning process and we are all excited to proceed with week two of Professor H's "Water, Water Everywhere" class. So I hope others have joined Water Water Everywhere like us and are partaking in forum discussions and experiments. Science is fun! Thanks Professor H.

I could probably do with better speakers on my computer though because the videos are just a tad quiet for our little speakers. But never mind, the children and I haven't complained about replaying the videos. In fact, we have learned something new each time we do, lol.

I definitely recommend this online class. From a personal point of view, it is helping me to teach the children. It's been years since I've done anything like this and I wouldn't have had a clue where to start. Professor H takes care of everything: experiements, discussion, experiment notes and at the end of week one not only have the children learned something but I've relearned a number of things.

Now, I mentioned earlier in my post that I am worried about linking my blog back to certain sites. I have covered my bases today by emailing Professor H to make sure I wasn't overstepping the mark by including details of the experiments we carried out. Within five minutes of me emailing him this afternoon, I received his reply to give me the all clear. Phew! Do you ever have those moments where you think it's okay, but you feel better having somebody "tell" you it's okay?!

Over the next few weeks I will be posting as many of the experiments we carry out as possible. I hope you enjoy sharing the class with us.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano