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

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