Tuesday, 29 June 2010


Things are gearing up with regard ownership of our home and although I'm positive everything will work out in our favour, I nevertheless have moments where I allow myself to worry about it too much.

Yesterday I had to take care of a few financial affairs, speak to a few necessary people, along with one or two other things. As the day wore on, I could tell I was starting to think too much about "things" and realised I had to relax and let it go. So, to wind down from the day's activities and get myself back to my 'happy place', I sat on the computer and ended up changing the look of this blog. Perhaps you've noticed?

As I busied myself on the computer, I got to thinking (for whatever out-of-the-blue reason) about movies. I checked what was on and decided to ask Nana Nancy and Nana Maureen if they'd be so kind as to take the three big kids to the movies (today).

And this is what they all went to see (oh, except it was the 2D not 3D) ...

The kids had a great time, so I'm hoping the Nanas will take them more often. That's one of the things I was looking forward to with my mum. Mum used to take my nieces to the movies every school holidays and I always assumed mum would be around to take our kids when they were old enough, too. Oh well ....

... Okay, so that has nothing to do with school work, and as a general rule I try hard not to share anything personal, but I threw it in anyway because I guess for the main part, it's a small example of knowing when to stop school and take a breather. Although I had the kids start their school day while I organised myself in the morning, I was so pleased to get the kids working for a short time because I'm sure I would have snapped at any one of them over the smallest thing otherwise.

As the day went in the end, though, no one was any the wiser that I was actually 'stressing' which meant I ended up having an enjoyable evening and a peaceful night's sleep.

I awoke this morning feeling brighter, happier and productive. The kids and I have enjoyed a mini-break the last couple of days. Perhaps there's a moral to my story ...
"When you feel confident your children are learning each and every day without the need for formal school work every Monday to Friday, and cut yourself some slack to deal with what life throws at you, then you understand the science of harmony."
I dunno ... pretty corny attempt huh?! lol

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Friday, 25 June 2010

Bird Survey 2010

Time for the annual bird survey run by Landcare Research.

If you're like me and prefer to load your data directly to the web, then I can certainly confirm that the site is very well laid out and you'll find recording the information really simple.

For those who are unsure as to what kind of bird you're identifying, then simply follow this link to help you.

So, it starts tomorrow, and I hope as many Kiwi families as possible will take part.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Friday, 18 June 2010


Tamāhine 1 and Tama 1 enjoyed their readings this week.

Let's see ... how about we start with tamāhine 1 who finished her second Goddess Girls book - Persephone the Phony?

I agree with the book's description that it's best suited for an eight or nine year old girl. There were a few words and phrases we had trouble with and for a lot of them I simply let them slide as she read rather than interjecting (other than to pronounce correctly) to define. Why? Because tamāhine 1 is only seven and for the most part she picked up on the relevant points of the story and as I've said before, she can always return to the book once she's gained more vocabulary, life experience etc. So why let her read something that is better suited to an older girl? Because I liked the style in which she learns some of the Greek Gods and Goddesses. Besides, it was tamāhine 1 herself, who wanted to read the book. She really enjoyed it and that's all that mattered.
(There's another story book in the Goddess Girls series but it's on back order and we won't have that until August.)

... I mention tamāhine 1's current reading book a little further on ...

Tama 1 read the next two books in the same amount of days:
Both books were funny and very entertaining. Easy language with great illustrations. I don't mind building up a collection of Roald Dahl, now that I see the kids enjoy them - well me, too, actually.

... I mention tama 1's current reading a little further on, also ...

Last weekend we watched the movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs:-
Although my original idea was to read the book first before watching the movie, we kind-a ended up doing things back-to-front. The weather last weekend was absolutely perfect for movie-watching, ie rain, rain, rain.... but minus the meatballs and hamburgers, lol.
The aim of the exercise was to show the kids that movies are (by-and-large) based on books and they can be miles apart from what they think the story is in the movie.

Another example of the point I'm trying show the kids is of course Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (which happens to be the current book tama 1 is reading).

The kids have only seen the 'newer' version of the movie (ie the one below with Johnny Depp):-
I'm looking forward to tama 1 reading the story and pointing out the differences as he discovers them.

I love the make-believe language Roald came up with, for example 'Oompah Loompah'. It's a great way to engage a child's attention.
Speaking of making up a language, tamāhine 1's current read ...
has a made-up language also. The Giants are Groils and the little people are Iggly Plops. At the end of the book it even has a Groil to English dictionary and an English to Groil dictionary, eg "bimple" is a bean, and "bimplestonk" is a beanstalk. It's a cute little book. We're up to chapter 10, and one of the great things about this book is the enthusiastic voice tamāhine 1 uses to bring the story to life. So far I guess you'd say it's based loosely on Jack and the Beanstalk only from the perspective of the giant (Jumbeelia) coming down the bimplestonk and taking the three Joneses - Stephen, Colette and Poppy - back to the land of Groil.

Now, other than the real "hold-in-your-hands" books the kids are also reading whatever free books we find online.

Even though the local paper isn't expensive, we don't buy it simply to save cost. Instead, I'm "trying" to find time in my day to start reading it online. I've also decided it's time for tama 1 to read a newspaper. Yesterday, I found the following newspaper:-
I've only subscribed to the free mini-newspaper, so at this stage I can't really give my opinion on it. But from the brief reading of the archived articles, I think it has a nice kid-friendly format.

Well, I think that about wraps up our reading discussion, so I'll leave it there and catch up with y'all next time.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Monday, 14 June 2010

Terminal Velocity

I meant to add this very short post on Saturday morning as soon as tama 1 spoke to me, but as usual I got waylaid. It's only a short post, and really it's only for my interest to record, but this is the question posed to me.

We hadn't even been downstairs long enough to set the table, let alone make toast or even wake up properly before tama said to me, "you know how when a parachutist jumps out of a plane and reaches terminal velocity ..."

[at this stage his father thinks his question is "what is terminal velocity?" so I quickly interrupt him (whaiāipo) and say, "no, he (tama 1) knows what terminal velocity is ...]

So, tama 1 quickly defines terminal velocity and then asks the question he wanted to know originally ... "when a parachutist reaches terminal velocity, is that when they open their parachute?"

Heck, I dunno son! Let's find out ..

So that's how our Saturday morning started.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Saturday, 12 June 2010


As kids, my brothers and I regularly heard the phonetic alphabet (a set of words used instead of alphabetic letters in radio communication; each word stands for its initial letter).

Because of our kids continued interest in planes and airports I thought to write them on our whiteboard this week:-


In keeping with this theme, (and also because we got a warrant for our van this morning) I thought of aircraft registration - a unique alphanumeric string that identifies a civil aircraft, in similar fashion to a licence plate on an automobile. I'm not going to write about the history of the whys and wherefores to do with it, but simply mention that in New Zealand the prefix on our aircraft are ZK. There's a bunch of different presentations depending on what kind of aircraft it is, eg historical aircraft (eg ZK-A), helicopter (eg ZK-H), balloon (eg ZK-FA), gliders (eg ZK-G) etc.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Career Day; well, kind-a

With tama 1's interest in flight and air traffic control I bought the following game for him some time ago:
Then, this morning, while he was studying the Airbus A380 (again) I decided to google some online air traffic control games for him. There's a truckload of the blasted things! So, I did the ol' eeny, meeny, miny, mo and chose this one:-
and this one:-
Although today's lesson was purely fictional, it did at least highlight the point I was trying to make:- that an Air Traffic Controller is incredibly skillful. I emphasised that if they wanted a career as an ATC then it is absolutely attainable; and what they "played" with today would at least give them a basic idea of what it must be like in real life.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Sharing a few highlights

In our home, school mornings pretty much run the same way each and every day.

But don't worry, this post will not be about sharing my list of daily chores. No, I just wanted to mention how grateful I am to have kids who show initiative and do independent studies until I'm ready to work alongside them. This makes all the difference to our day(s) because while I'm busy doing the mundane, the kids manage to busy themselves (most days) working on something constructive.

One of the great things about independent studies is that we may end up taking a roundabout way to start our day. As you know, our #1 daily lesson is Math, yet we can easily take a detour because of something the kids may have drawn, read or discussed that morning, so we investigate it and then suddenly it's nearly lunchtime which means Math starts a lot later in the day. I love that about homeschooling. No tight timetable to live by.

You may like some examples to back this up, but really they blend in with what we studied so I'll just cover in broad terms what we've been up to.

I'm pretty sure I added our hovercraft experiment the other week, so this time I'll share our magnetics lesson.

Firstly, we mixed the sand and filings on one side of the container and then, using the appropriate tools, we separated the filings from the sand. Lesson learned: Magnets separate magnetic from non magnetic materials.
Levitation Roller: Needed adult assistance with this experiment. Getting the balance "just right" is tricky for smaller hands. The kids experimented turning the magnets, ie the unlike poles, toward each other which meant they attracted. Then we turned them again so the like poles would repel and therefore levitate.
By placing a ball bearing at the end of the yellow tube, (again, very tricky and definitely requiring adult assistance) we had it spinning for more than 30 seconds. It took a while to get the knack of "gently" turning the tube without the bearing slipping out.

Magnetic Field Tumbler: As we tumble the iron filings, we could see them form threads and strands as they followed the magnetic force lines between the magnets. Then we turned one magnet around and saw how the lines of force went in different directions.
Compass: What happens if you don't have the magnets pointing the same way? Exactly. So, you need them pointing in the same direction.
Magna Dome: I had to trim this clip down to only a few seconds because the game does require a lot of skill, ie slow and steady wins the race, but too long to sit and watch on here me thinks.
Floating in Space: Probably the trickest, fiddliest experiment of the lot. Trying to film this was practically impossible. I couldn't get them to spin at the exact same time when we filmed, but this little clip gives you the general idea. Being able to hold it "just" far enough back from the magnet was the trick. Full marks to the kids for correctly answering the question, "if you cut the thread, will the bird fly up, or fall down?"

Yes, the answer is up!

Well, that's the bulk of our magnet experiments. We had a lot of fun and it certainly had us talking about the power of magents.

Language Arts
Tama 1 finished reading his first Roald Dahl book. It took less than a fortnight as I predicted. I'm sure everyone knows the story, so I won't go into detail about the plot or the characters involved. But I do want to point out how exciting it was to listen to tama 1 read the story with such passion. The funny parts especially (of which there are so many) we would laugh and laugh and laugh for ages. For me, listening to our kids read aloud is waaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy better than me reading to them and to hear them laugh before me because they're reading the words first, is fantastic.
So,we'll now pick and choose from some of the quizzes and activites in the Lesson Pathways Planner to complete our adventure with James and the Giant Peach.

Tamāhine 1 continues with her Goddess Girls book. We're steadily progressing; tamāhine 1 really enjoys these stories even if they present a wee challenge at her reading level. She wants to read them so who am I to say she can't?

Funnily enough, tama 1 knows the locations of more countries than me. Not surprising when he was drawing and naming flags of lots of countries at the age of five eh?

Here's an example of their independent studies. We hadn't even started any work on Africa for the week, when for whatever reason, the three big kids were making flags one morning.

Tama 1 had to help me to name countries on a couple of quizzes we did this week!!! How cool is that, huh?! He really enjoys this kind of challenge. I used to, too, when I was a kid, so it's great to see a little bit of me rubbing off on him.

We spent the week's lessons revising. Some of the vocab slipped with the week away from it, so we simply revised, revised, revised. The important thing to me is not how fast we get through the lessons, but rather, to know the vocab without thinking about it. There's plenty of time to move through lessons. I want vocab to be immediate. The rest will slip into place as we get to it.

Great work from everyone.

I must say, neither tama 1, nor I, enjoyed place value notations with trillions! Soooooooooooooo many zeros! Aargh! Mind you, I'd be counting them if I had a trillion dollars, lol.

It's almost tempting to skip some of the lessons with Gamma because tamāhine 1 - like her older brother - knows her timestable well enough that it's almost too tedious do some of the lessons. However, I didn't skip through any of them with tama 1 and I won't with tamāhine 1. The word problems are what the kids all need to practice. They can be jolly tricky at times and although I'm pleased with her skill to interpret them better, there's still margin for error when some of the wording can trip her up. Other than that, she's got it down pat.

Tama 2 is making his own progress. I don't push, I don't coax with tama 2. I leave it at whatever stage he's reached each day, knowing he'll do better, tomorrow. With his stubborn attitude, I am still trying to figure out our method of teaching/learning this particular subject. I don't think it's a bad thing to be stubborn, it just means I have to tweak our lessons till we find the right balance. Eventually we'll find our groove.

Phonics and Manuscript Handwriting
Tama 2 is rocking along with his phonics now. I'm really pleased with his progress in this area. I still keep the lessons short and sweet each day and even though he's made a giant improvement in this subject, I will keep going with this method because it's working well for him.

I probably haven't been as diligent about his handwriting practice as I was with his older siblings, but for the most part I don't sweat it. On the days we do practice, I'm happy with the work he produces.

What else?
Lots of small things but I'm running out of steam to blog about it. Finding time (and energy) to blog is getting more and more difficult. Even though I try to draft some posts, they always end up being trashed because I don't get back to them for days on end. Such a nuisance because I know I'm missing some special moments ... but one thing I can recall is the kids interest last week when New Zealand celebrated 50 years of television. Tama 1 stayed awake with whaiāipo and I as we watched the programme. Tama 1 laughed at so many things. He especially enjoyed the old Kentucky Fried Chicken and Chesdale Cheese ads. He laughed so hard he had his father and I laughing along with him. The next morning he googled and showed the ads to his brothers and sisters who had slept through the programme.

Then there's the activities around flying. The kids have enjoyed making paper planes, experimenting with the width of the keels etc. With all the wet weather we had over the weekend this was a great boredom buster. (In saying that, they're throwing them around as I type.) As soon as we had fine breaks the kids tested the planes for distance and tricks (like loops, rolls and boomerangs). Tama 1 and I even experimented by joining two planes together using a glue gun and wooden skewers (for the length) . It flew really well. We gave it a test flight over in the shed cos we couldn't wait for the rain to stop!!! Loads of fun.

Tama 1 learned pre-flight procedures and how to fly a plane. Following another example of independent studies in which tama 1 learned a little about distance (scales on maps) we took that a step further and pretended to be an air traffic controller and worked on distances of planes on a radar.

Lots of neat things, and this was just a taste ...

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano