Monday, 28 September 2009

I do like free stuff

[I thought I'd quickly pop this link through while I thought about it. Hopefully I'll return with some discussion about our school day a little later.]

Although I haven't purchased a great from Curriculum Concepts, I will at least take advantage of their free downloads when I can and keep an eye on prices on anything that tickles my fancy.

This week's freebie is called "Sequence Stories Book 1". If you're interested in it then follow any of the links.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Romankids Cyber Café

Bye bye Dora! Thanks for the memories!
Thanks to selling dear old Dora, we were able to purchase our third computer. We might need to start charging for the usage of the
Romankids Cyber Café

My brother Craig and niece Lizzie (my eldest brother's daughter) came down for the weekend. They were here as part of the entourage for Sir Howard Morrison's tangi and kindly popped out to see us on Sunday morning.

Well, typically, Craig and Lizzie merged to the computer without too much encouragement, lol. Both of them are very computer-savvy and are usually armed with their laptops, so I think they enjoyed the fact they could use our Cyber Café today.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Monday, 21 September 2009

More Creativeness Monday

Tama 1 drew this picture about the recycling process. Although he didn't complete it (interruptions and mum moving it), he's happy enough for me to load it on now as he explained it pretty much indicates what he knows about the recycling process. It's rather self-explanatory so I won't go into depth about it.

The following is yet another of tama 1's bridge building ideas. I'll try my best to explain it.

The dark parts are the main bridge. There's a tower which a few cars can park in. You can also climb up inside the tower and have a look at the view from atop using your binoculars. He has a couple of walkways, a boat which can go underneath the bridge, there's a river running on the left-hand side, a tree and garden area for the landscape aesthetics.
This following picture is of a café which tama 1 drew yesterday before breakfast. Actually, there are many things he draws before, during or immediately following breakfast!

Anyway, I looked at this picture and thought it looked particuarly Parisian. I mean, check out this Vincent van Gogh picture to see the similarities, lol.

Okay, this last picture tama 1 drew today. A crane with outriggers, a concrete truck with the chute ... and chute extension on the deck of the truck if you look closely enough. I like the way he drew portions of vehicles and what-have-you to give depth and detail to his picture. So although you don't realise it, there's a forklift up in the top left corner. There's even the indication of a door and window in the bottom right corner.

Tamāhine 1 made a fantastic job of her Felicity Wishes. She was such a good girl too, because she even used the two sides of her paper. That may explain why the photographs don't do her drawings justice.

Then at the completion of school tamāhine 1 made a mirror ...

and a wand ...

They reminded me of the story she had made earlier this morning about a princess and a magic mirror. Quite timely.

Here are the boys returning from their excursion down the back after lunch break. They had a great time exploring while tamāhine 1 worked on her art project. [I think that's the first time I can recall tamāhine 1 staying behind while the boys headed off around the track.]

[Ah well, a girl's prerogative I guess eh, lol?]
This afternoon we dropped off some more of the kids completed reading to the library. Because I had a few errands I decided to head into the city just after lunch. I couldn't stop long at the library though because tama 2 decided to fall asleep just minutes before finding a car park. So rather than wake him I just raced in and did what I needed to do.

Well, I just have to share this little part of our day.

When I clambered back into the car I passed a book to Tama 1. Anyway, he read it within 5kms. The book, I should point out, was actually intended for tamāhine 1, but as always if tama 1 is interested in reading something, he'll read it.

Because he finished it, I handed the book back to tamāhine 1 when driving past Te Ngae shops. By the time we got home she had almost completed it herself. Within five minutes of getting in the house she was heading to the library basket and I (astoundedly) asked, "have you finished it already?"


"Well, how about you read it to me at the bench while I prepare kai?" (because I needed to be sure she read each word correctly).

And sure enough, within 15 minutes she had this book done and dusted. Needless to say I was very impressed with her reading. I didn't have to help her with any words whatsoever.

Level 2 Reading Independently
  • More-complex stories
  • Varied sentence structure
  • Paragraphs and short chapters
Looks like I'll have to look for more Level 3 Reading Proficiently
  • Rich vocabulary
  • More-challenging stories
  • Longer chapters

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Future in Engineering d'yah think?


I tried to get the best copy I possibly could of tama 1's bridge building.
This is the best I could get. Because he uses pencil,
I find it difficult to bring out on the scanner and camera sometimes.
If you double-click on it you'll get a better perspective,
otherwise a little imagination will be required.

The above pictures he drew a fortnight ago.
Tama 1 really likes planes, so maybe he'll design planes or the like?

There are many pictures tama 1 shows his creative engineering thinking. What an exciting process to be part of ... to watch your child develop and wait in wonderment as to who they will become.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Took a few days to get a groove going, but we finally did


Being another lovely spring afternoon I asked tama 1 and tamāhine 1 to read while I helped tama 2 on the computer. Obligingly they settled themselves where they wanted and happily read.

By the time I sat with tamāhine 1 to help, she had read a few pages already of The Monkey and the Panda by Antonia Barber.

We had a few tricky words to learn, such as lithe, havoc, rustle, worthier, straightening, judge, boasting, livelier, enthralled and clamoured. However, it was a lovely story and well illustrated. The book is probably advanced in many respects, but I was happy tamāhine 1 read the bulk of it with ease, interest and understanding. Considering we'd already returned the majority of the library reading the other day without collecting any further books, the remainder are a higher reading level, but if tamāhine 1 grabs a book to give it a go, then that's great. I wasn't going to suggest she find a book in our own library collection that she might find easier, because she'd already decided to give this one a crack and on the whole I was certain she'd manage it.

Tama 1 wasn't feeling well for a couple of days but I managed to get him to try some school work all the same. Motivation was difficult, but one must expect that when one isn't feeling too great eh? Basically it meant school didn't start till late in the morning.

Anyway, the type of school work he did this week (well, this is probably true for tamāhine 1 also), was revision. Although he did some maths, he could only manage a few pages at a time and even then he wasn't enjoying it because he doubted himself when he had areas and perimeters to calculate. So we chilled out and simply did what he could handle.

One of the other areas we revised was language arts. For example we covered at length the use of a dictionary, encyclopaedia and a glossary. We practised putting things into alphabetical order and tama 2 had to indicate in which encyclopaedia volume he could find it. He had to be careful to look at a person's name (eg Albert Einstein) to make sure he put it under 'E' for Einstein, and not 'A' for Albert.

There's probably a few other lessons I wanted to cover, but I think I'll leave it here at the minute. It was a productive week, even if somewhat slow at times. I'm pleased with the children's efforts and I know the three of them are enjoying the computers to work with.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Friday, 18 September 2009

I love our second computer

I don't think I've mentioned yet, just how much I love having our second computer, but I do! Over a month down the track and I am very, very pleased. It has to be one of the best purchases we have ever made. We have utilised each one so much that I confidently say it's not a novelty.

"Why do we have two?"

"Because we can." And I'll follow that up with, "as soon as we can afford a third, we'll have that too!!!"

Call it greed but I would have to disagree.

Since commencing our schooling journey we have relied more times than not on the internet for our daily education. For example, it was many months ... maybe even a year ... before I could even afford MUS, so the means to buy curricula was a long process. We'd never get started if I tried saving up for every textbook/curricula I was interested in.

Put another way...

Back in the beginning I had no idea that I wouldn't actually buy much in the way of textbooks and that's probably because way back then I had no idea what was available for free on the internet. One giant advantage of not buying curricula, is that I'm not disappointed. What I mean is, I don't think there's been anything I have spent money on that I've found didn't work for us. Although that could be put down to researching before getting anything is pot luck. I could easily have researched, saved, bought and then discovered it was a major flop for our family.

By getting on the internet and trying things I find out if they gel or don't gel with the kids and/or if I like it at all.

I'm very much into the 14-day or 30-day trials. That gives me the opportunity to give things a whirl and if they gel, then I might consider subscribing to it, or (as I mention above) if they don't gel, I can simply put it down to experience ... with the satisfaction that other than enjoying it for a limited length of time, I walk away having spent zip, zero, nada on it.

Don't forget, this is what works for us, and I am recording this today so that I can look back and remember for my own personal reasons, not to try and convince anyone else that they should do the same. By the same token I'm not trying to justify why we became internet homeschoolers. We are all in different positions and our financial past was the biggest overwhelming decision-maker as to why we started with a computer in the first place. I was restricted by lack of money. I couldn't even get to the local library (let alone the mobile library). If our circumstances were different, then I am quite sure our style of schooling would be different also. However, we must all work within our means, and for our family we were at home weeks on end but we had two of the best tools available ... a growing library of books and a computer. Funnily enough, we survived with a simple dial-up connection back in those days but I made the absolute most of searching for anything and everything. Luckily our laser printer was working well in those days because I printed out screeds of stuff for next to nowt.

Over time and as the children have progressed with their schooling, our finances may have improved somewhat, but we are still a far-cry from being financially-comfortable.

"Oh yeah, then how could you afford a second computer?"

We budgetted, plus whaiāipo sold a motorbike. I don't expect anyone to appreciate the length of time it took but that's hardly my bother.

It was something that evolved because the children in a lot of ways steered us in this direction, so the purchase was something that became a priority. So, no, it was not a spur of the moment decision.

With no regrets, I am more than pleased with our purchase. Actually, let me re-clarify: it's not just me who loves having two computers. Our entire family loves it. This is something we can all use.

So okay, I could've spent the money sending one of the kids to an activity but for reasons I don't need to put on the blog, this is what we spent our money on with 100% money-back satisfaction guaranteed.

We've established I like using the internet and I acknowledge there's probably a trillion things you use on the internet which I don't know about, and perhaps I use things you don't know about. That's the thing about cyberspace. We can spend forever discovering new things via the internet which is exactly why our homeschooling ticks along. There is something to be found for every subject and interest at the touch of your fingertips. Yes, I have spent a few dollars here and there at different times and when I have it's been well worth it. We spend the majority of our time at home so I feel as though I get my money's worth. More importantly, I know I'm getting our money's worth because the children enjoy themselves. Even when you're sick, you can still sit at the computer when you want, and you're not passing your bugs on to others, or missing out on things.

But yes, if I could send all the kids to lots of different activities, buy a few more textbook curricula, then I'd love to. Perhaps next year our financial position will better itself yet again and we can move into that side of school, but at the moment, we can't afford everything.

This is where we are and it's working out really well for us.

And here's the last word on the matter. By purchasing headphones the kids can be sitting next to each other but aren't distracted working on their different levels because the headphones provide the concentration they require.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Spring is here already

Last week was very productive. Although we were out and about a number of times, we accomplished quite a lot of school work. Knowing that this week would be very muddled it was important to work well last week.

With pencil and paper

or using technology

The children embraced their week of work and I'm glad they found it fun rather than mundane. Touching briefly on only a few topics:
  1. Tama 1 and tamāhine 1 enjoy practising their typing skills.
  2. They still enjoy their math lessons (yay for MUS!) and are becoming confident with their multiplications.
  3. We had a couple of spelling tests; Tama 1 with perfect results and although tamāhine 1 may not have scored 100% she most certainly accomplished over 50% ... if we scored purely on phonetics, she scored even higher!
  4. Reading. It feels odd mixed with a twist of sadness that tama 1 can read on his own, yet one is also pleased and proud that he can be left to his own devices to do things. For instance, as I rummaged through the library books asking which ones have been read to date, tama 1 was able to announce he had read a lot more than I had set aside. And as for tamāhine 1, her reading improves with leaps and bounds. She has already gained confidence to read with lots of expression, so if I'm not mistaken, that would mean she understands what she's reading. Excellent progress.
Then our weekend went a little like this:


Whaiāipo and the three older children were shouted to a helicopter flight. Belated birthday present from Nana Nancy to her son. [The flight was actually meant to take place the weekend prior, but due to bad weather it was postponed.] And what a glorious day for a helicopter flight!

The children were absolutely none the wiser until they heard the question, "and who will be flying today?"
I know they were all excited at the prospect of flying in a helicopter, but for tama 1 especially I was very excited because he has shown an interest in flight in general for a while now, so to have the opportunity present itself was just fantastic.
As you can see, tama 1 is the co-pilot
Tamāhine 1 and tama 2 (sitting on dad's lap) were buzzing They flew from airport out around Mt Maunganui and back

A 12-minute flight but that went unnoticed by dad and kids.

Father's Day

Whaiāipo and the kids enjoyed the day riding together

This week our school schedule went out the window. We had many appointments away from home. We managed to squeeze in a few things here and there, but overall it was a socialising week. Tamāhine 2 turned three years on Thursday also, so the week truly became a busy one and was over before we knew it.

Anyway, that's a very quick overview of the past fortnight. If I don't hurry up and publish this post, it'll be another week down before I sit down to compose something!!!

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

BTW, we're in for a long night tonight. Whaiāipo won tickets to the All Blacks v Springbooks Rugby match. A bus-load of 30+ plumbers has headed up there, so I have no idea what time he'll be back in Rotorua. I guess that's why I've found myself twiddling my thumbs, (well, not really), but it's a way of helping me pass the time without him at home I guess.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Any reason for not blogging lately?

The answer? No. We're simply getting on with life here and I'm just not finding myself gravitate to the computer lately. I'm not like many who have discovered Facebook and prefer to use that. I did sign up but I haven't used it. I simply haven't felt the urgency/need/excitement that many have said they love about it. Nope, I'm happy Skyping when I'm online to catch up with friends and family.... so no, I've not neglected the blog because of Facebook.

A friend of mine asked how life was, followed up with, "or should I just read your blog?" I had to say that actually there'd be no point reading the blog because I haven't updated it for a few weeks. The only thing I have tried to do when I sit at the computer is to update the children's school calendar, but even that hasn't been updated daily like it should be!!!

Today marks the first day of spring, so I have decided this morning to brush off the cobwebs and attempt a posting about the children's schooling over the last few weeks. I will keep it short so that I don't get disgruntled that I haven't finished a posting!!!

As readers know, Math-U-See is our staple diet. If nothing else, the children will always do math at some stage of the day. As I type this, tama 1 is about to start Lesson 13. He's not requiring my assistance which indicates he's understanding it/finding it easy. I won't be skipping lessons though because (1) they aide as revision, (2) I find it rewarding for myself and for the children to let them complete what they find easy to build confidence; and (3) The main part of lessons for tama 1 are the sentence questions. They can throw the kids sometimes by misinterpreting them, so it's important to continually practice sentence questions. Quite often I'm left having to read and re-read the questions before knowing the answer myself!!!

Tamāhine 1 will do the test page of Lesson 20 today. We have slowed down in our workbook with her because although she's answering the equations correctly, she does seem to be finding them hard to get through (ie just a slow-going process as oppossed to non-understanding). The plan today is for her to do the entire Lesson 21, so we'll see how that goes.

Update ...

Typically I found I didn't sit on the computer for too long this morning, so now we've pretty much reached the evening and school has definitely ended for the day.

Math lessons went according to what I mentioned above and then the children worked on their typing skills. They are confidently applying themselves to using the keys correctly and I'm pleased. Of the skills I have learned in life, typing has certainly assisted me throughout my adult life, and I'd like to pass that on to the children.

We had a break after typing lessons and then had a short science lesson. Being the first day of spring the children had been talking about plants, so we spent [about] half an hour talking about seeds and plants. Here's a brief understanding of what we discussed:

"Plants make nectar for insects and then use flowers to show them where it is. An anther is part of the flower. The insects bring pollen from one flower to the another. The bees take the pollen to the top of the female part of a flower. Pollen grows a tube down into the flower. The pollen that the bees brought grows tubes down to the eggs and together they make seeds. Soil, water, light and time help make plants grow..."

Okay, so that's the simple version and I probably could've used Wikipedia's intellectual definition of say, a stamen:
The stamen (plural stamina or stamens, from Latin stamen meaning "thread of the warp") is the male organ of a flower. Each stamen generally has a stalk called the filament (from Latin filum, meaning "thread"), and, on top of the filament, an anther (from Ancient Greek anthera, feminine of antheros "flowery," from anthos "flower"), and pollen sacs, called microsporangia. The development of the microsporangia and the contained haploid gametophytes, (called pollen-grains) is closely comparable with that of the microsporangia in gymnosperms or heterosporous ferns. The pollen is set free by the opening (dehiscence) of the anther, generally by means of longitudinal slits, but sometimes by pores, as in the heath (Ericaceae), or by valves, as in the barberry family (Berberidaceae). It is then dropped, or carried by some external agent — wind, water or some member of the animal kingdom — onto the receptive surface of the carpel of the same or another flower, which is thus pollinated.
That's simply too detailed for me and [I think] beyond their years of understanding just yet!!! Sometimes simplicity is the best means of understanding, nē rā?

Well, that's pretty much how our day went today. I'll try to record a little something of tomorrow's events ... and try to include a photo or two.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano