Friday, 23 October 2009

More reading

Here's one of the sites we haven't been back to for a while, but it was nice to drop by for a catch-up today...

This afternoon I thought I'd get Tamāhine to read this cute book entitled, "The Giant Mushroom."

We've obviously not been to this site for some time because the following feature didn't exist the last time we were there. You can enlarge the print by clicking on the text area. That's brilliant. Makes reading soooooooo much easier and more enjoyable for the children!

You can choose by age, language, short or long story etc. There's a great selection and like I say, being able to enlarge the text area makes a very big difference. Something for everyone.

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ka kite ano

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Free Reads this week

This week's free reading from


Tamāhine 1 read the above book. She only had trouble with the words:
  • Chinese (she may recognise China, but not Chinese)
  • wear
  • Cinco de Mayo (when I asked her what the word for five in Spanish was, she said cinco, so was then able to identify the rest of it, lol)
  • Native (well, she didn't really have a problem, just stumbled/hesitated)
  • carve
  • July (kept saying Julie ... a name she has read a few times in books recently, so I think she was simply getting confused over the two)

Edgar, Allan & Poe

Tama 1 read the above. I explained to him that Edgar Allan Poe was a famous American writer and that the author of this book has been ingenius in her use of Poe's name.

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There's just something to be said about ...

... seeing your child sit down with a dictionary to find a word/phrase.

Tama 1 didn't even ask for help to look up the word. We'd been talking about adaptations and he wanted to figure out what physical adaptation meant without interrupting me as I worked with his younger siblings. It took quite a while before I realised he was engrossed in the book so I took this photo without him even realising it!

For me, this was a powerful moment. Although he's looked up the dictionaries and encyclopaedia for a while now, this was really quite a big deal for me because he had gone off to figure it out without me being aware. It's kind of on a par with him no longer needing me to read with him. It's a rare moment indeed that he reads a book to me anymore. He simply finds a book and reads.

The title of this post should probably have been "They grow up so fast" eh?!!!!

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Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Continued with learning about deserts today

This website is a great resource. We followed this link as part of tama 1's Lesson Pathways Science programme.

I scrolled down and found a section "Habitats: Desert and Forest." So, we started on that after our MUS lessons. We learned more about what types of cacti are located in different deserts and how they retain water. Interesting to learn that the Saguaro Cactus has a large net of roots which extend far away from its trunk. It has a pleated expandable stem, so water keeps the saguaro alive until the next rain.

We read about many different animals in deserts all around the world. My least favourite so far is called the Thorny Devil from Australia. To quote from the website "the grotesque thorny devil is the only species in its genus and one of the strangest of lizards". Grotesque is right!!!!

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Monday, 19 October 2009

(Mostly) Deserts and (a little about) wetlands

We didn't achieve as much school work as I would have thought today, however, I'll share some of what we did discuss during our science lesson from this afternoon.

[NB: The bulk of our lesson covered
Deserts although
we did touch on Wetlands also.

I have more notes on deserts because I don't know much about deserts. Considering we only have Rangipo Desert (known more affectionately as Desert Road), it is the closest NZ has to a desert but that's only because of the poor soil quality and drying winds.

One of the first things I [we] learned about was something called a "Rain Shadow". Some deserts are made from what's called the rain shadow effect. When warm moist air rises over the mountains, its water vapour condenses into rain or snow. The mountains catch all the moisture so the air reaching the other side is dry as a desert.

The next thing we learned were some of the animals found in a desert. Okay, I've at least heard of Roadrunners and Jack Rabbits but I didn't know why the Jack Rabbit has such big ears!!! Well ...
You know how a car radiator cools off hot water from the engine? Some desert animals have big ears which do the same thing. When the warm blood moves through their big ears it gets cooled off in the same way...
Some of the animals I've never heard of before are Collared Lizards, Gila Monster or a Horned Lizard. I admit also that I didn't even realise there was such a thing as a Desert Tortoise!!! I couldn't see how a tortoise could handle the heat ... Hello!!!! They have an underground shelter (yes, a tortoise burrow). How clever's that?! Here's me thinking they only live near water!!!!

I did at least know that when the sun goes down the desert totally changes, ie different animals appear.

Oh, here's another animal I hadn't heard of ... Peccary - a desert relative of a pig!!! I think they come out at night? Could be wrong about that, but hey, it's okay to be wrong ... like I tell the kids all the time ... we learn from our mistakes.

So we learned that animals learn to run fast, or have spikes to avoid being eaten. Put another way ... Everything in the desert has adaptations to help cope with life in the desert.

And of course, we talked about the fact that although it may not rain often in the desert, it does receives some water at some point in time. One of the most prominent plants we would ever associate with a desert is cacti. We learned that it retains the water and has a waxy exterior to help keep that moisture in.

Really clever how the plants and animals adapted to meet their requirements. It's all a case of survival.

So, okay, like I said at the beginning, the bulk of our lesson we spent on deserts because there was a lot to learn. Wetlands we are somewhat more familiar with, and the vital role they have for many species of wildlife. Without their wetland environment, they simply wouldn't survive. Plus the plants themselves have an important role, eg cleaning the water that passes through to streams and rivers etc.

Anyway, we may not have spent a great deal of our day doing formal 'classroom' type activities, but I will happily say we did actually learn "something".

Gosh, I know I did at least!!!

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Sunday, 18 October 2009

My weekend playing Mauri Ora catch-up

I managed to bowl over kete 3 in less than two days. I'm absolutely stoked!

I thought I would share some of the websites I used to do my research on my chosen Maori leader. If anyone is interested in learning something about our culture, heritage and leaders of the past, then you may find the following websites of interest, and good starting points. I chose Sir Maui Pomare because he was our first Māori doctor. Well, that's pretty much my main reason. That and the simple fact I felt he was an important enough character in our history.

The first website is an interview with his great grand-daughter. I like reading first-hand personal accounts. They bring the character to life and you read things you wouldn't find with other write-ups eh?

Puke Ariki
NZ History
Te Ara
The plan was to work on the kete all weekend, but Nana Nancy rang Saturday morning to say she and Maureen were coming over for a visit. Of course I wasn't going to be rude enough to study while they came, so my plans were changed. This meant I couldn't start on the kete until 5ish that afternoon. In my typical fashion, it became "head down bum up". I stopped at 8.30 and decided to get stuck in straight after breakfast on Sunday. And that's exactly what I did.

With all the breaks I took I'm surprised I finished it at all, lol. But by 8.30 Sunday night it was done.

I received the final kete last week so I opened it up this morning and I have to say I'm at a loss as to how to work on this assignment. It's absolutely nothing like the previous kete but I have to reserve my initial comments until I've really looked over it in more depth. Knowing me, I've misread or misunderstood the instructions. It's probably easier than I think, but it's a bit of a headscratcher at the minute.

But anyway, I wanted to share the above to encourage any kiwi who happens to pass by this blog, to sign up for this free one year course. I hope like anything it does make it into the school system because the history of our country was presented poorly when I was at school. I had to go to university to learn it properly. In saying that, I perhaps didn't need to do this course, but I am truly grateful I did. Not only is the entire course free, with FANTASTIC free resources, a kaitiaki to help guide you when needed who will also pick up and drop off your assignments!!!!, but also the satisfaction of gaining a better understanding of our country's history. Considering we're still a very young country, it's surprising how little of our TRUE history is being taught in the school system. Luckily, as homeschoolers, our children will learn the real history without having to wait until they're a young adult!!!!!

So all you New Zealanders, I present you with this challenge ... sign up with the Mauri Ora programme and learn your history. The journey you will experience will not only benefit yourself, but your family AND anyone you feel brave enough to broach the subject with.

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On dad's watch ...

I'm late in publishing this particular post, but I've put it into chronological order anyway.

This is from the weekend 17-18 October when I was playing catch-up with Mauri Ora kete 3. Nana Nancy came over on the Saturday and then I got stuck into my mahi on the Sunday.

As I got on with kete 3, whaiāipo enjoyed being responsible for all five kids...

Whaiāipo read books ...

Did Maths ... teaching the kids about projection ...

The above is a pyramid to scale which I asked them to work on. Then whaiāipo decided ...

To get out the protractors, rulers ...

Scissors and dividers ...

To make a cone and cylinder. He showed them how to join the two ...

Whaiāipo also showed them how he makes what plumbers colloquially refer to as a Chinaman's hat to go at the top of the chimney flue ... the correct term is a flue termination.

When the weather cleared they spread some dirt around the pool in preparation of pavers to be laid at some stage in the near future ... weekend weather permitting ...
The following is a little story of what happened while they were collecting the pavers...

Whetu, a young neighbour from along Rangiteaorere way, came over to see what everybody was doing. The kids were all helping whaiāipo load our free pavers onto the trailer to bring closer to the pool area. [The truck drivers dropped them way-away from the house; you might be able to make them out in the very far, far background of photo. I guess the truck drivers thought they were being helpful placing them where they did? Who knows, but when you receive things for free, there's no point getting annoyed about having to move them is there?!]

The kids and whaiāipo were just in the process of bringing the first trailer load back to the house when Whetu asked, "I wonder how many bricks there are?"

Tama 1 responded, "About 150."

Whetu:"Whatever!!! ... How do you know that?"

Tama 1: "Well, there's 6 across and 8 deep so six eights are 48. There's three layers, so that's 144. So if you estimated it's 150, but the exact figure is 144."

Whetu turns to whaiāipo and says, "Wow! He's brainy!"

Whaiāipo, being the proud dad that he is, couldn't help himself ...

: "That's nothing... tamāhine 1, how do you get the circumference of a circle?"

Tamāhine 1: "Diamater times pi" (d x π)

Whaiāipo (turning to Tama 1): "How do you get the area of a circle?

Tama 1: "pi times r squared" (π x r²)

Whetu: "What's tama 2 like at maths?"

Whaiāipo: "He's only 4, but tama 2, what's 8 x 11?"

Tama 2: "eight eight" (that's his way of saying double digits ... 88 is said as "8", "8". We find it easier to understand him like this as eighty-eight doesn't sound quite so clear. He does this for most of the 11's come to think of it.)

Whetu was impressed!

Whaiāipo !!! What a show-off !!!

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Working with Temperatures

Working with Temperatures

We had fun creating this thermometer and practising how to read in Celsius and Fahrenheit. We watched the weather report last night to see what they said the temperature would be for today and noted their prediction of 16°C. Using our thermometer print-out, we worked out that would be 60°F. Then we [tried] to check the real thermometer around lunch time to see if it did in fact reach 16°C.

We kind of missed the best time to check because whaiāipo came home around 12-12.30pm. He had a fall during work hours and had concussion. So, school went on the backburner for a while eh?! When we did check the thermometer however, it read 14°C-15°C, so that was close enough. We'll try again for tomorrow but there's a high probability whaiāipo will be home tomorrow to rest from his ordeal. He has quite a lump on his head and a saw jaw from where he knocked himself.

Because he was home, the children were allowed to finish work a little earlier than I planned because I wanted to keep an eye on whaiāipo as best as I could.

The children revised some math facts this morning. As much as I might say it was a waste of time what we covered, I would also say it is important to cover even the simplest of facts as often as possible to ensure the children haven't forgotten such basic skills. If there's one thing I have learned - it doesn't take much to forget certain facts once you move on to new facts.

In the afternoon we moved into Language Arts and Social Studies. We learned a little bit about Alaskan Inuit. I didn't even know that Inuit = "the People" or the "Real People", so I learned something immediately!!! We touched a little bit on what physical characteristics means and why they live near the sea (for hunting and fishing).

I will leave the post here as I am keeping an eye on whaiāipo. Whether he goes to work tomorrow or not, I am unsure - hopefully he doesn't for his own sake eh?!

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ka kite ano

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Autumn Unit Study

Get in quick and download a free copy of this Unit Study called Autumn Treasures from The Old Schoolhouse.

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ka kite ano

Face challenges with courage and conviction

When our friends were packing in preparation of their return to Reporoa, we were the lucky recipients of much needed clothing etc. [BTW, a very BIG thank you guys!!!] In amongst some of the wonderful things we were given, I found the following and decided it was too good to leave lying around anywhere, and thought perhaps it may be encouraging for us all to read from time to time and what better place to store it, than on your blog!!!!

I have the courage to embrace my strengths get excited about life enjoy giving and receiving love face and transform my fears ... ask for help and support when I need it spring free of the superwoman trap make my own decisions and choices befriend myself complete unfinished business realise I have emotional and practical rights talk as nicely to myself as I do my plants communicate lovingly with understanding as my goal honour my own needs give myself credit for my accomplisments love the little girl within me overcome my addiciton to approval grant myself permission to play quit being a responsibility sponge feel all of my feelings and act on them appropriately nurture others because I want to not because I have to choose what is right for me insist on being paid fairly for what I do set limits and boundaries and stand by them say "yes" only when I really mean it have realistic expectations take risks and accept change grow through challenges be totally honest with myself correct erroneous beliefs and assumptions respect my vulnerabilities heal old and current wounds savour the mystery of spirt wave goodbye to guilt plant "flower" not "weed" thoughts in my mind treat myself with respect and expect others to do the same fill my own cup first and then nourish others from the overflow own my own excellence plan for the future and live for the present value my intuition and wisdom know that I am lovable celebrate the differences between women and men develop healthy and supportive relationships make forgiveness a priority
but most of all, accept myself just as I am now
(from the courage to be yourself) by Sue Patten Thoele

As I read some of these lines I could relate to many and although I would enjoy discussing them, the one that stands out above all in our current circumstances is "grow through challenges". The thing is, I do not fear our future because I know our family is strong and united in love, but that doesn't stop one from being concerned about making the right decisions does it?

Our friends face the challenge of employment. Our family face the challenge of keeping our home. My prayers and best wishes I pass to our friends and for everyone really who face any challenge at the moment.

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ka kite ano

If you haven't tried Reading Eggs then take advantage now

View an online version of this email

Friday 9 October 2009

Dear Parents and Eggsplorers,

We are proud to announce that ABC Reading Eggs has received Kidspot's Best Website for 5-7 year olds for the second year in a row!

What makes this award so special is that parents who use and love the ABC Reading Eggs program took the time to vote. ABC Reading Eggs is parents' Number 1 website for 5-7 year olds! The feedback from parents, carers and teachers has been overwhelming. It has encouraged the ABC Reading Eggs team to continue working to produce new content for the program that is fun, interactive and educationally sound.

Tell your friends and family about ABC Reading Eggs!
If you are enjoying ABC Reading Eggs, why not tell your friends with children aged 3-7, about the program?

For each new unique user who registers on the site by the 31st of October 2009, using the code below, we will donate $1 to the Children's Cancer Institute Australia


The Institute has a fantastic record in researching ways to improve the chances of children fighting cancer. The vision of the Institute is to cure 100% of children with cancer through world-class research.

To access your FREE time on ABC Reading Eggs, simply sign up by clicking on the Register button located on the top orange bar at Then add the code: KLW99SAT by 31st October 2009.

Not only will your friends thank you for helping improve their kids' reading skills for up to 3 weeks absolutely FREE, but you will also be helping a great cause!

Help us raise $10000 this month!

Yours sincerely

Matthew Sandblom
Chief Eggsploring Officer

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Friday, 9 October 2009

They "do" listen even if you don't realise it

π is pie
by Tama 2
Last night, while whaiāipo gave tama 1 and tamāhine 1 another math lesson, our little man, tama 2, hovered about doing his own thing and (obviously) picked up on what was being discussed. While daddy was in mid-flight with an explanation about this and that, tama 2 came over to me and showed me these π equations. He made such a fantastic attempt at it that I simply couldn't resist sharing it to this blog. Of course "π" is "pie"!!!!

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ka kite ano

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Getting better (organised) with e-learning

More on the above a little later in today's posting

It is not our intention to be solely computer-aided learners, yet it would seem of late that my posts are about exactly that ... e-learning/online learning/call it what you will. Aah well, it's like any fad I guess --> when it's working well and you have loads you want to share about what's new and exciting, you kinda end up talking about it for as long as you need to huh?

Today was such a muddle. Thursday mornings I check the bank accounts, move funds around if needed and pay the bills online. This means the kids get to do whatever they like for a little bit longer. The bills don't actually take too long, but I always like to get that side of finances organised so that by the time we do the groceries in the afternoon, I'm sorted knowing exactly how much I can spend.

{Ooh, that reminds me!!!! We went into Pak 'n Save and I am not entirely sure if this is relevant to all Pak 'n Save stores, or whether it's only the Rotorua store, but just in case you are doing your groceries, and spend $150 or over then get in before Sunday and you will get 20 cents off per litre of petrol!!!!}

Tamāhine 1 (above) working on her maths
Tama 1 (below) reading about Greece at Big Universe
Tama 1, Tama 2 and Tamāhine 1 happily working on their individual lessons.
It felt good to see them all engrossed in their mahi, asking me questions if needed
and/or answering my questions to them to keep the learning momentum going.

Mid-afternoon we headed into the city to the supermarket, return library books and rendezvous on my parents street address with the

Mobile Library to find a book that was supposed to be on there!!! I scoured the shelves but do you think I could find it? Not a chance. Oh well, my search may not have come up trumps, but I at least grabbed some other reading material for the children. The bus was less than 100m from my parents house, so we didn't have far to go to pop in for a visit.

Now to tell you about ...

I had planned to discuss the e-learning website I joined in recent weeks called LessonPathways. Like most things, it's American-based and I haven't a problem with that. It's like every other good thing I find, you simply have to modify/tweak what you need to, to add the Kiwi flavour.

It's very early days with this curriculum and the first thing I would emphasise is that this is not our sole curriculum. I am wanting to blend it with the other things we use. I've grown accustomed to tweaking things to suit us here in NZ, but for the most part, I can find ways to have it work for us.

I will let you in on a little secret though ....

My decision-maker to join this particular online learning, was the fact that I jumped on board while they offered an over 50% discount. You have to appreciate that what looks incredibly cheap in USD, can look considerably different when you convert into NZD. In saying all that, I do think it's a respectable price even on a monthly basis.

Because, why? Because it's not per child. (Golly, I hope I'm correct about that?! Yikes, you better not quote me on that!!) I've made planners for the three big kids for that one price, so that's a huge advantage to take into account when comparing to some other online learning courses.

So in a way, I guess what I'm saying here is that it's still a trial period for me. If at some point (which at the moment I don't think will happen), but IF at some point I decide it's no longer what we requiret, then I know I'll walk away saying I got a good deal for the length of time I used it for.

But, as we move our way into this new curriculum, I will introduce what we learn along the way. I'm not entirely sure how long it's been going, suffice it to say, everyone is encouraged to help develop it as we are asked to suggest what we'd like more of etc.

The forum is semi-active which I'm hoping will be an area to meet as many of the other users as possible. It's at least an area where I get to ask my dilly questions without being shot down as a dodo for not knowing something, lol.

For the most part, I am quietly confident I will be able to use plenty of subjects from this curriculum with the other things we use. Lesson Pathways does require the parent(s) to be organised, ie to organise lessons and have resources available, but this is something I personally need. To focus and follow a process. At the moment, let me just say I am still trying to learn about the whole thing, so I haven't introduced it properly to the children. Once I feel truly comfortable, or feel like I'm on track with understanding it, then we'll be into it with gusto.

I'll keep you posted, and if anyone feels like participating, then follow this link and try the 14 day trial. You don't have to use your credit card (like other sites you may trial), so there's no risk involved other than you may like it eh!!!!

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano