Friday, 29 October 2010

Closing off the week's lessons

As I sat down to breakfast -- without even having my first sip of coffee -- Tama 1 turns to me and says, "mummy, do you know that jelly is viscoelastic? ... actually, honey is viscoelastic too."

Say what?! I don't know how to spell it, let alone know what that means?!!!!

Crikey, after that lesson from our eight year old, I certainly had to question whether I was going to come up with something substantial to teach "him" today.

Honestly, he sure knows how to throw me a curve ball eh?! Viscoelastic!?! Oh my gosh!!! What kind of word is that in an eight year old's vocabulary?!

Don't ask me what it means because I had to use Wikipedia to try and figure it out myself. And look, if I was able to understand what the definition meant, then I would have quizzed him about it, but argh! I didn't even know what half of it meant!!!

So anyway, that was this morning...

In our History lesson this afternoon we used the following website to learn about an archaeological dig:
Çatalhöyük is an ancient city in Turkey, believed to be between 8,000 to 10,000 years old.
"Çatalhöyük means 'forked mound' and refers to the site's east and west mounds, which formed as centuries of townspeople tore down and rebuilt the settlement's mud-brick houses. No one knows what the townspeople called their home 9,000 years ago."
The website has many online activities and watching some of the tour videos really made me appreciate the extensive work and magnitude such excavations entail:-
LOADS to check out, so we'll try looking at it again another time.

Tama 2 found it a little challenging at times, but did his best to follow my explanations for as long as he could. After about 20 minutes, I suggested he take a rest and when he was ready, perhaps he might like to take a look at the Magic School Bus, "Shows and Tells" to try learning it from a different angle. Meanwhile, I had tama 1 and tamāhine 1 use our favourite toy - Google Earth to (1) locate Çatalhöyük and (2) look at the photos to see what connections they could make between the website and Google Earth. Tamāhine 1 immediately jumps up with enthusiasm, "that's the such-and-such picture .... look!" and she immediately draws our attention to the Çatalhöyük website. The two of them had fun exploring on their own while I worked with tama 2.

... Having started this blog post with a word called viscoelastic, I thought I'd finish with a light-hearted story to close off...

On the weekend, tama 2 went with his dad to see our postie. As they drove out of her driveway, tama 2 apparently asked his dad, "if Maylene's a postie, why does she need a post box?" Well, that was something we'd never thought about before eh?! Good question, e tama !!

{Fast forward to yesterday when our same postie popped round in the afternoon}

I told Maylene the story and she turned to tama 2 and explained, "well, I don't work Friday and Saturday, so I have to get my mail delivered to me just like you!"

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Thursday, 28 October 2010

I don't want to call it a review, but I guess it actually is really!?!

I'm not one to write reviews, and although I've read many blogs with reviews, my method of writing one won't follow anyone else's style because I prefer to just chat to you about Youngzine and hope you'll take my thoughts into consideration should you wish to check it out for yourself. I'll simply tell you the four, no five, no actually six reasons why we like this website.

Nota Bene: We've been using it for (maybe) a month hence only a handful of top reasons why we like it. I'm sure that once we use it longer, I could easily add another handful of good reasons about it. For example, we haven't tried the quizzes yet. So I can't tell you anything about them.

But here goes:
  • The BIGGEST reason: it comes EVERY week. That's very different to the other online newspaper for kids website we receive, which is fortnightly. I much prefer having the articles more frequently. That way tama 1 is aware of the news articles because they are still fresh in his mind from seeing, hearing, or discussing events throughout the week, so they are therefore very current.
  • LOVE the bright look of the web page. Okay, so maybe that's a bit of a wishy-washy reason to highlight as a point, but it really does make a difference to have something clean- and bright-looking. It is more inviting and engaging in my opinion. It gives ME the impression the website will be easy to navigate -- which, I believe, Youngzine is, for example subjects are clearly marked and therefore easy to move between one or the other. It's not "busy" with advertising.
  • LOVE the video links -- having visuals is always a helpful device, especially if the younger kids want to participate -- they don't necessarily have to understand the article, but if they can watch a video clip, then they gain some kind of insight and understanding too.
  • The owners/developers have really nailed it on the head being able to write in a style that MEETS THEIR TARGETED AUDIENCE !! I know the owners/developers wanted something for their 11 year old son that would be engaging and educational for him, and it's very obvious they have kept this reason at the forefront of their minds as they publish each newsletter. If our eight year old son can be engrossed with each article, and is able to interpret what is being said, then that makes me very happy.
  • Another good thing about it? Well, Youngzine not only encourages children to express their views (comments section at end of each article), but they can submit their own articles, book reviews or travelogues with the content being moderated by an editorial team. I'm secretly hoping that ONE day, tama 1 (or any of the kids for that matter -- it's just a case of them getting a bit older!!), will consider submitting something.
  • There's no annoying advertising - especially the unsavoury type!! Even on kid-safe websites some will have advertising which none of us want or need, so I think that warrants a mention. For me, personally, Youngzine is just what it says it is: engaging and interactive.
I have searched for months and months to find something which would be useful for our family, and Youngzine provides exactly what I want!!! At long last, our eldest is able to read current affairs -- in a safe environment. I'm not having to panic about what articles might be included because it is meeting the level of it's target audience -- unlike paper newspapers, or television news, etc.

I believe they do meet their goal which is:
"to help parents and educators create a vibrant community of globally aware young citizens in an increasingly connected world. Along with news stories written specifically with our young audience in mind, Youngzine strives to inform using fun trivia, compelling visuals and videos."
All I can tell you is that I searched for donkeys ages trying to find something suitable for us. At long last I feel like we've finally got the exact online news website that I've been wanting.

I haven't mentioned to tama 1 that I was going to write about it, but I will at least close off with what he said to me yesterday as he read some more news articles ...

"I really like this website!"

Simple, direct and straight from the heart. Said with absolutely no coercion from me!!! Can't really top that eh?!

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

BTW: You're probably asking this question: Is it free? The answer? YES!!! Most definitely

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Labour Weekend was so relaxing and rejuvenating

Apologies if anyone has already read the bulk of this post. I must have accidentally pushed publish post instead of save now. So if you're wondering why you've got the same post showing, that's because this is the correct version!!! Sorry about that!!

Waiting for Labour Weekend felt like an eternity, but when it finally arrived, oh my goodness it was wonderful to have whaiāipo home!! Considering he worked on Saturday, it wasn't exactly the long weekend one would have really liked, but nevertheless, we had a fantastic two full days as a family. The weather was just amazing!! so who could ask for more?!

It's pretty hard to come back down to earth after great weekends isn't it?!

Hei aha, look at the positive: we have a short week now! LOL

I had a particularly busy start yesterday morning; we went into the city to get tama 2's birth certificate photocopied, then double triple checked everything was enclosed and signed on the Exemption Application before sealing the envelope shut. Although I'm confident I've done a good job on his Exemption, I still had a slight panic just before sealing the envelope, ie "have I signed everything? included everything? will it arrive at MoE or get lost in the mail?"

With each exemption I always think to myself, "I wish they'd send me a complimentary slip to confirm they've received it." It would put my mind at ease because then I'd know it's at least reached its destination. Instead I have that moment's hesitation and allow panic/worry to seep in for no good reason.

I also popped in to see my old boss to get him to witness the Homeschooling Allowance forms and discuss the situation with the house. I caught up with the latest gossip ... biggest goss of all is that my old boss has sold his practice and will be a barrister. Wow, that was a surprise, and yet not really.

I looked around and for a split second I missed the place ... and then thought, "nah!"

I happily bid everone ka kite, skipped downstairs to the kids and left the city. I decided to post the exemption and allowance forms at Te Ngae Postshop, and as I stood in front of the mail box, I again had that moment's hesitation, asking myself if everything was filled in correctly!? (Crazy waste of energy eh?! LOL)

Anyway, the rest of the day was filled with handwriting and math and reading. We didn't do any Latin due to losing half a day but as long as we cover the basics, then I'm happy. Tama 1 read the news on Youngzine. He laughed at a comment made by someone at the end of The Future, Driveless Cars, Smart Eye Glasses article. It's fun to have him read and understand news articles, being able to relate it to other information he knows and then laugh at someone else's comments because he understands it without me having to explain what things are about, and how something is funny because ... Yes, it's a sign he's getting bigger and brighter. As he read another article about Benoit Mandelbrot, we ended up having a discussion about fractals. Actually, the conversation got started when he was reading about The Gifted Child: "That's interesting," tama 1 said, "he (Mandelbrot) was born in Poland and moved to France just like Madame Marie Curie."

Seriously, tama 1 teaches me more than I teach him!!!

So, it's Wednesday today and we'll have another interruption to our school day because I want to get into the city to The Warehouse Stationery. When I was in there yesterday I asked how much binding would cost, for say 100 sheets. The young guy was helpful and headed off to check a price. He said it would be about $5 and my little brain started thinking of the things
I print out and I thought, 'yes, I do have a use for this service.'
One of the things I will get bound are the sheets I printed out this morning - 2x Math Mammoth books. For a while now I've been wondering about using Math Mammoth (as a supplement to Math-U-See; for tama 2 in particular) and well, to cut a long story short, I decided to buy a couple of books at this stage -- Clock and Addition 1. Although the latter is probably too easy, I decided to get that one so he could do a few pages for practice to understand how Math Mammoth works, and once I know he has the hang of it, I can leave it ready for tamāhine 2 in the near future. As for the clock, tama 2 and tamāhine 1 both need to practice learning the time. For about $5 I can get them spiral bound which will make it easier to work with (and store); rather than putting them into a chunky folder, I decided I'd prefer spiral bind instead. Hence, we will head into the city this afternoon to get that done. We may time it right to go to the library also.

Tama 1 has completed Lesson 30C (Delta) today. I received a newsletter from LearnEx today advising there's still a long delay on fraction overlays coming into the country, but I'm confident tama 1 should understand fractions without relying on manipulatives, but at least I've been made aware they're still having difficulties getting them into the country at this stage.

Tama 1 will easily have Delta completed by the end of the week as expected, so it'll just be a case of utilising whatever supplements until we get Epsilon.

Tamāhine 1 completed Lesson 26F (Gamma) today. I'm happy with her progress; she's getting the hang of everything which is great.

Tama 2 enjoyed working with Math Mammoth. I think tamāhine 1 and tama 2 had fun taking turns answering questions from the clock book, so we'll do some more tomorrow and see how they get on.

Geography and History lessons crossed over in today's lesson. We started to look at Mexico. On the map we had tama 2 find Mexico City, and also Chihuahua. The children were able to tell me that the official language is Spanish. We learned an interesting fact: Mexico City is the highest city in all of North America. So it's higher than the Mile-High city of Denver. Okay, skipping through the rest of the lesson, we got onto the subject of Mayan civilisation -- hence crossing into History. Our discussion about this era will be continued tomorrow and I'll try to add a little of our learning then. We at least learned they had a written langauge; more of a phonetic alphabet of hundreds of symbols as opposed to letters I think -- a sort of hieroglyphic text. We also learned that Mayans came thousands of years before the Aztec civilisation, so just imagine the immense history of this land!?

Evening Update -->

I'm glad I got the workbooks bound...I won't have to worry about pages becoming misplaced this way; it makes for easier storage rather than bulky ringbinders AND it gives the impression of a REAL textbook -- just because it's in compact form, LOL. There's 66 pages (well, 33 back-to-back), and the cost per binding was $3.79. So all up, it's about $15.00 for two very exetensive textbooks.

Pleased with this purchase. I think it's good value.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Sunday, 24 October 2010

SOS: Science on Saturdays (or Sundays)

You may recall I mentioned a few weeks back that I emailed a few people asking permission to download a repeat copy of files due to losing backups?

Well, The lab of Mr Q (or eequalsmcq) was THE one I was particularly desperate to retrieve:
I sent an email politely asking if there was any way Mr Q would allow me to download the files I'd bought from months back. Fast forward: I received a very friendly reply and link to download the files again. Phew!!!! What a relief.

Here's the crazy thing; I'd paid for the downloads way back in January of this year knowing we wouldn't start using it until tama 2 was nearer six years of age. But because I could get them for a jolly good discounted price, I didn't hesitate to buy four of the elementary science courses.

I'm just grateful Mr Q (Scott McQuerry) was such a nice bloke about it all and allowed me access for a second download. Yay! Scott!!!

And here we find ourselves with our first class this morning...

We worked on Earth Science Chapter One. The relevance of starting with Earth Science is because the field trip to the Stardome is still fresh in everyone's mind.
I took into consideration that tama 1 would be very knowledgeable about this subject, so the plan was to have tama 1, and tamāhine 1 take turns to teach the lesson with their father. I floated from my laptop following the readings on screen, to joining them at the table for the quiz. My role today - acting as teacher aide.

I'm so relieved whaiāipo has agreed to make this commitment to our SOS classes. { I thought I was pretty clever coming up with the name SOS: Science on Saturdays, hee hee.} The lessons can be either Saturday or Sunday because we'll be working around whaiāipo and any weekend work he might have on. This weekend was a prime example. He worked on Saturday but not today, therefore class was held on Sunday. No doubt there will be weekends when he will be working both days, but we can deal with those as they come along.

Tama 2 learned that the universe is THE biggest thing and that an asteroid can be as big as Mt Ngongotaha, meteoroids are the height of our house.

I extended my understanding of why toilets in the northern hemisphere flush differently to southern hemisphere. "What is she talking about?"

Well, it was on the topic of the Milky Way Galaxy and the fact that it's best described as a spiral shape. Mr Q suggests we go into the bathroom and flush the toilet. In doing so, the idea is we'd see how the water forms a spiral as it flows down the drain, and that spiral shape is what a spiral-shaped galaxy looks like.

Luckily whaiāipo was taking this part of the lesson because he explained that toilets in New Zealand don't flush in a spiral at all. He then used a term, which I'm pretty sure is just a plumber's colloquial name and that's a "dump toilet" -- yes, that's what he said!! Our hand basins and baths on the other hand, they will have the water go down in a spiral, so let's use them as our example for a spiral shape okay? {giggle} At that point I added my two cents worth and said that the water spirals in the opposite direction in the northern hemisphere to which tama 1 quickly clarified by saying, "because of the Coriolis effect - which is caused by the sun."

[ I spent probably half an hour this evening looking at videos on YouTube which would you believe are about flushing toilets!!! Crazy behaviour!! The northern hemisphere toilets definitely had a swirl. Interesting. The southern hemisphere toilets (not surprisingly, the bulk of the clips are filmed in Australia but in this instance I don't mind that! LOL) are as whaiāipo said, just like ours in New Zealand because ... well, that's where the majority of our toilets are imported from -- okay, there and China, but my story is about spirals so let's keep to the topic eh!! I even found an article someone wrote about her experience of toilets in New Zealand!! Pretty fascinating topic in the end. I laughed to myself thinking, "I cannot believe I'm watching toilets flush!!! Now THAT'S crazy behaviour!! Oh well, does it count towards being part of testing science? LOL]

So anyway, I got side-tracked but it all stemmed from our lesson this morning, yet it is all educational nevertheless eh?

The older kids did a great job being teachers.

I really do hope our SOS classes continue.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite

Saturday, 23 October 2010


This morning, as I was checking emails etc something got me to thinking and one thing led to another. I turned to tama 1 asking, "who was the (US) President we read about in The 39Clues?" ...

Then I made a big mistake, "Was it Ben Franklin?" Oh boy! I got shot down real quick by tama 1.

"He was never President of the United States. He was an Ambassador and one of the Founding Fathers."

To which his dad said, "Well, who knew?"

"I did!" Tama 1 said confidently.

Even though I've learned never to doubt what tama 1 says he knows, I couldn't help myself but to Google it. I wanted to be right and him to be wrong. Okay, so maybe I should've known, I mean, even though we're not American and our country is thousands of kilometres away, we did study American History at school and in today's world you can't help but learn more about America, but heck, was I really wrong that Benjamin Franklin wasn't a President?

Well, as usual tama 1 was 100% correct. I whisphered to his dad that tama 1 was quite right and he laughed -- a real belly laugh -- neither of us knowing quite what to say!!!

... It reminded me of the description I wrote about myself when joining a forum yesterday, "I'm enjoying being taught by my children." This morning's five minute lesson is a perfect example!!

Tino pai e tama.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

nota bene: I didn't really want to blog this out of embarrassment; worried any readers in America would think I'm not very bright. But I reminded myself, this blog is not about me, it's about education. It's about how we learn and what we learn -- that includes ME !!!

Friday, 22 October 2010

After three years I think I've finally got a half-pie decent timetable!!

I haven't bought an Alpha student textbook for tama 2 yet. I'm not sure if I will -- time will tell. At the moment we have managed to sail through to the end of lesson 8 without it. This is how we did lesson 8:

I started writing the sentence questions on the board too, but he answered the first one as soon as he'd read it, so I flagged that time-consuming idea and simply had him read from the {used} textbook instead with me covering the answers.

We finished the week having completed lesson 8F. The main thing for tama 2 to learn is nine wants to be a ten etc which he'll learn next in lesson 9. Once he masters that we can jump ahead a little. I flicked to the subtraction lessons and he answered everything with ease so I've got a pretty good idea what and how we'll do the next few lessons. Depending how that pans out, we may get away with not buying an Alpha textbook for tama 2.

It's nearly the end of October, so I think it's important tama 2 stick with Alpha through to the end of this year. For me, one of the key things is to keep the kids confidence up. Although I know he can do a lot of the equations in the text, I will not skip ahead too much because as much as a child can know something now, they can quickly unlearn it if they move onto something else without practicing enough. { Nota Bene: I'm referring to our tamariki, not anyone else's.}
I snuck this photo as tama 1 helps his sister figure out a word question. He was working on Test 29 at the time, but he gladly turns to help his sister.

It's been months and months since the kids last used our front room (aka classroom.) But seeing as the sun beams through there first thing in the morning, I suggested the kids might like to use that room to work on their math lesson today.

Tama 1 aced his test, so he'll finish Delta without doubt next week. I mentioned in a previous post that I've ordered Epsilon, so with a bit luck, it will arrive just at the right time to roll over from one to t'other. It seems incredible that there's only two more textbooks for him to complete before he moves from the Lower Level to Upper Level MUS! That seems momentous to me -- okay, okay, so I'm jumping ahead of myself!! Yes, you're right, let's just focus where we're at and enjoy the fact he's about to move into Epsilon. How exciting to think he's about to study fractions. I'll have to do some major brushing up of fractions that's for sure.

Tamāhine 1 finished the week on Gamma lesson 26E. At the moment she's happy to do just one page, and that's fine by me. It's quite taxing on them to deal with larger multiplication equations so I think it's good she would prefer to work on one page. Aim to get the answers correct rather than stress you have more than one page to complete eh!?

Speaking of tamāhine 1, she worked on lowercase cursive handwriting today. Both tamāhine 1 and tama 1 practiced uppercase yesterday and the day before. We will work on lowercase again on Monday then go back to writing a sentence. She made a lovely effort of her letters so I'm really pleased we've moved her into cursive writing. I'm also glad I've chosen to print out sheets for them to use rather than me preparing them myself. Now that we have three tamariki working on handwriting, I need to utilise this method to save time -- especially when I see that my own writing looks too hurried on occasions simply because I'm trying to get it done for them.

This afternoon we had Language Arts. Tamāhine 1 and tama 1 practiced prepositions. Then we had tama 2 sit with us.

{ I don't expect tama 2 to participate in any great depth when it comes to the afternoon lessons. Reading, writing and arithmetic each morning remain tama 2's staple lessons, however, I'd now like him to sit up and join in as best as he can with our other lessons.}

Luckily tama 2 is an easy one to read to know he's had enough or doesn't understand. That's really helpful because I'm quickly aware when to say he can hop down and go play.

But hey, Tama 2 at least knows there are nine parts of speech!!!!

He may not be able to tell me what a noun is just yet, or even understand what "nine parts of speech" really means, but that's not important. He's at least locked that bit of information into his brain, which is a terrific start. The seed has been sown, so let's watch it grow.

The final lesson of the day was geography. We used Google Earth as an aid to review some of the places we'd discussed this week. { We were meant to look at all the places we studied this week, but you'll read shortly that didn't happen, lol.}

I think we will try to do this (ie use Google Earth) every Friday. It's brilliant how you can zoom in so close, and click on photos people have included to give you a greater appreciation of whatever town, city, building etc you're wanting to discuss.

We ended up getting very distracted after a while and the kids spent much longer than necessary flying around the world looking at anything and everything. Tama 1 went to Egypt, looked at photos of the sphinx, pyramids and so much more. Then (no surprise!) he found the Rotorua Airport and scrutinised every detail he could.

But, we at least looked at Juneau, Alaska and Vancouver, Canada like I wanted. As for the other places, well, I guess we'll just have to check them out over the weekend. I encouraged the kids to find whatever they wanted with Google Earth. After all, that's why I wanted to introduce it into our lessons. Many of the things we'd be discussing would be ho-hum to tama 2 or simply over his head. With Google Earth I know he'll enjoy learning about the world this way.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Completely OT: Online Gym

For the past month or two now I've been trying to build up my fitness. I don't care for gym memberships, so it's a case of doing my own exercising at home with the occasional walk in the Redwoods or around the lakefront when I get the chance.

I happened to mention my desire to lose weight and get fit again to a friend one day and not long thereafter I received the latest newsletter from ReachMe which had this in it:-

{ double click to get a better glance }

I emailed seeking permission to blog and I got the okay; just use the promotion code: Reach15.

What is WorkoutRightNow?

Well, it's an online gym for mums. By joining (which is free) you get:
  • Video and Audio workouts that change weekly
  • Articles, fitness guides and resources
  • A community section where you can find listings of local fitness groups, sports teams and clubs and fitness events for mums.
Here's what grabbed my attention: The workouts are quick and efficient and focus on post natal problem areas.

Amongst the WorkoutRightNow free resources are a BMI calculator and even a video sample (you just need to have Microsoft Silverlight) and I guess as time goes on they'll increase these resources. Being a relatively new enterprise, it will all depend on numbers, interest and promotion to get more things up and running on there. For me, it's better than facing a "live" gym. If I can get some sort of shape back, and drop to my goal weight size then I'll be happy.

I'll at least try the 15 day free trial and see what happens. I don't think I could afford to pay for a premium membership at the minute. I just paid for tama 1's next Math-U-See text which hit the wallet. It's a case of having to spend it on his education before indulging myself on fitness fees. Tama 1 is only a matter of two or three days away from finishing Delta and then he's ready to head straight into Epsilon. At this level, you not only need to buy the teacher's manual and DVD, but the Student Text AND the fraction overlays. All up it's just over $180. Yowza! I would've bought an Alpha Student text for tama 2, and a Delta text for tamāhine 1, but throwing an extra $100 on there just didn't tickle my fancy today. So no, I won't be paying for any premium memberships at WorkRightNow just yet. But I think it's a great idea and wanted to share. I'll be using what I can and mixing it in with the exercise equipment I have at home here.

If you're wanting to get fit and lose a little weight before summer, then take a look... what the heck!

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

nota bene: I haven't forgotten to blog about school today; I'm working on it right now. Hopefully I'll get a post done tonight to share with y'all.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Hmm, could a timetable be developing?

Okay, today we did Social Studies this afternoon. We had a lesson on the Chilean Miners. We looked at the map to find Chile; where the mine itself is; and locate the countries that helped towards the rescue, eg drill bits from Pennsylvania, America, a drill machine from South Africa, another powerful drill from Canada, video technology from Japan so the miners could keep in touch with the "outside" world etc ....

Once we finished that segment of class, the kids sat up at the computers and took turns reading from Youngzine:
Following the readings, tama 1 carried on reading some of the other articles at Youngzine and we found an interesting one about a newly discovered language called Koro. The kids were fascinated by the word because of course in Māori, koro means grandfather or term of address for an elderly man. The article also said that every 14 days a language dies. Wow! That seems pretty unreal huh?! Although more than 7000 languages are spoken around the world, it's rather frightening to think languages are dying.

This also sparked a conversation about te reo Māori. Tama 1 and I spoke about what we've heard on the news recently -- there are a number of Māori who say that the language is dying out, even though incentives are already in place to promote the language, it is believed that this is not enough and that te reo Māori is very much in danger of being lost. I've heard this one thrown around for years and it's sad that the sitaution doesn't seem to have changed enough. Obviously we're not the only country facing this dilemma...

Handwriting -- perfect. In three days everyone's handwriting has improved before my eyes.

Math -- One page each for math today because we had a pleasant break with Uncle Warrick who popped in with some morning tea. Yay! That was a perfect surprise indeed.

For tama 2's reading, we headed over to We Give Books. Here's what he read:

I Knew I Could by Craig Dorfman has a cute message relevant to not only children but adults too { I think } ... to realise anything is possible if you just put your mind to it! Significant timing in my life at this moment.

Geography -- { The plan is to hold short geography lessons on a Monday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.} I'm thinking short 15-30 minute lessons to try and keep tama 2's attention and interest. Tamāhine 1 and tama 1 are really enjoying the lessons, but today I think today they'd have been happier to keep going. Tama 2 on the other hand was happy to rest up. Kei te pai e tama.

If someone were to ask me what style of homeschooling we use, I would have to say it's definitely eclectically classical, or classically eclectic -- whichever way you wanna say it. In my heart I wanted to be Charlotte Mason-y and don't get me wrong, I'm still a big fan, but the way our homeschool is evolving, then I'd have to say we've steered more towards classical. The only part I'm CM with is sending the kids outside as much as I can to enjoy the outside and explore { lol.} But hey, I'm okay with the style we're following. If anything I'm hoping to tweek it enough to finally have a timetable I'm happy with.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Our first History lesson with tama 2

Sorry there's no pictures today to make this post attractive but blogger has a message appearing to say image uploads will be disabled for a few hours, but rather than leaving it till tomorrow, I decided, ah well, it's really only to record one lesson for my own records anyway ...

World History went well this afternoon with a return to Story of the World.
{ We went off on another tangent -- or six -- with history, but we're back to using SOTW as our staple text; not because of funds holding me back from purchasing another, but because I like it. I just didn't commit properly -- I guess I'm saying I'm ready to make a commitment now.}
From today, tama 2 has joined the class and I'm hoping he enjoys it. The first few lessons will be the learning curve for all of us. I will have to cope with teaching multi-level -- yowza! That's gonna be interesting. I really do hope I can find a groove that fits us all sooner rather than later. I remind myself that if other mums have done it/can do it, then so can I.

We began with defining what we think history actually is ... How can we learn things about our own history? ... What about our parents, grandparents etc? To help me out, I leaned forward and opened the photos folder on the laptop. { The kids were sitting around me on one of the lounge chairs as we read, so it was convenient the laptop was sitting in front of me.}

It felt great to simply click a few buttons and point out my mum as a little girl, and my nana and relate our discussions to the photos. There were a few things that came up in conversation which I was able to illustrate through the use of the photo albums. That felt so good I surprised myself !!

Then we learned the word archaeologist. That's a toughy to pronounce for sure. To aid his learning I had the big kids run through an online resource. Although tama 2 remembers using this resource with his siblings before, I had them run through it again in the hopes that it (again) helped to illustrate our lesson. For the most part, yes it did, so we will discuss things further when we have our next class.

... While tama 2 had a break, I sat with tama 1 and had him read Chapter 11 - Ancient Africa. He read the sections about the Ancient Peoples of West Africa and also the fables of Anansi. Then I used the quiz in the Activity Guide which I've not done before. His narration from the fables was pretty good. I'll definitely have to use the AG from now on.

That's probably all I wanted to record from our lesson. It went very well considering I used it as a wee tester to see how I coped running a multi-level class. I think it's going to work out fine because the AG has something to use for everyone and I think the way the text is written will reach tama 2 without losing him ... well, that's what I'm pickin' -- I guess we'll revisit that thinking in a few weeks to see if I'm right, huh?

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Staying focussed can be hard sometimes

Okay, so it's only day two of a new week, but crikey, I'm asking myself this afternoon if we've done sufficient so far.

Considering I knew this week would be interrupted with me working on personal affairs, and I had a pretty straight-forward timetable planned for the week, I just don't know if I've made it exciting enough.

I know it's probably just me, because my head really isn't in the zone with school properly. The past week I've been busy on the phone, email or Skype and every time I'm using one or t'other, I need to have my wits about me which means I'm not concentrating on school. I simply set the kids a task and try to scramble my thoughts together into some kind of coherent order and tackle the phone call or whatever. That's one of the hardest things about dealing with anything other than school when you have littleuns around isn't it? You can't really take yourself out of the equation, into a quiet room and deal with the matter at hand. Nope, you have to stay in the area where all the kids are to keep an eye on everyone and somehow hold an adult conversation without wanting to yell at the kids, "sush, I'm on the phone," or "keep your brother/sister quiet for me PLEASE!," or "not so LOUD eh?!!!" etc.

... I'll be extremely glad to have this week over and done with. It feels very long ... well dah! is it any wonder? It's only the end of Tuesday for goodness sake! {smile} ...

So, anyway, time to console myself by reflecting on what lessons we have actually covered...

Okey dokey, yesterday I introduced tamāhine 1 to cursive handwriting. Her eyes lit up when I said we'd give it a shot, and for her first attempt, I think she did a splendid job. As a general rule I create my own handwriting practice sheets, however, I decided to use the Westvon freebie from Currlick. I ended downloading a number of the hugely discounted workbooks having received a headsup email that they are offering a very large discount. As soon as I saw the Happy Scribe Combo was about Uniformed Forces I just knew it would be ideal for our kids. Anything to do with the Police, Fire, Air Force etc (doesn't matter that they're American Forces!) I just knew they'd enjoy their handwriting practice even more.
So, manuscript and cursive handwriting is sussed for the rest of the month year decade !!!

Mathematics is rockin' along as always. I started tama 2 with Math-U-See Alpha on Monday. I haven't purchased a textbook for him though -- we're simply using one of the other kids old books as a guide. By the end of day one we'd flown through to lesson 4. Today he worked on lesson 5 and that went really well. I was going to move him into lesson 6 but a phone call put pay to that idea. He busied himself with something else until I was free, by which time I was happy with what he had taken the initiative to work on and told him we'd pick up on lesson 6 tomorrow. As I skimmed through Alpha, I wondered if I should just jump him ahead, but decided that no, we'll try to follow the textbook and do what we've done in the past. When the kids are happy to keep going, we proceed, when they're not, we'll stop. Pretty simple logic there really.

Monday we studied a little geography and tama 2 joined in for a spell. I knew his attention span would waiver at some point, but for the most part he was right into it. He gained a little understanding of cardinal directions -- even if he refers to north as being "up" is good enough to me at this stage.

Tama 2 also found the scale on the { screen } map the first few times, but after about 20 minutes of jumping back and forth to find locations on our { coffee table } world map and telling me the names of the oceans, or cities, or countries he had to find such as Anchorage, Alaska ... he started to get a bit pooped... but I'd kept an eye on how he was going and knew when to give him a rest.

We'll recap when we have our next lesson on Thursday and hopefully he's retained the info he covered with us.

Tuesday we read a few books at WeGiveBooks. Tama 2 read:

Tamāhine 1 read:

They both chose to read a couple more books afterward which was pleasing. I reminded them that the more books they read, the more "real" books will be given to kids in need.

Tama 1 and I are still reading the 39 Clues books. Oh yeah, that's something I hadn't mentioned on the blog, only Twitter eh? .... On Sunday, Tama 1 found all 39 clues as well as completed mission 10. It was a marathon effort, but we're all very excited with the accomplishment. Considering he was able to answer the questions on the very last stage of Mission 10 without having read all the books yet, it just goes to show how much he picks up from reading everything on the websites, listening to the authors interviews etc. I just wish we had a full collection of the cards. There's still a truckload he hasn't got, but oh well, the aim was to find the 39 clues and complete the final mission and we did that. So, that's all done, now it's just a case of reading the remaining books. I'm only up to book 8 (out of 10), so I've a little way to go yet. I've enjoyed these adventurous books and not surprisingly it appears there's a sequel. So I would hazard a guess we'll be involving ourselves with that series too!!! { very big grin }

I'm quite sure the books have helped tama 1 to think even more creatively. I'm hoping they will have prepared him to write his own story very soon. I guess we'll soon see huh?

Tama 2 joined us for Latin lessons today. I took the big kids for a harder lesson, and then tama 2 joined us when it came to the 'fun lesson.' Even though the letter 'v' is meant to be pronounced as a 'w,' I encouraged him to keep going and said it's completely okay to say salve as sal-vay instead of sal-way. He'll pick it up soon enough. A short lesson for tama 2, but a fun lesson. Tamāhine 1 and tama 1 were slightly thrown by the speed of chanting amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant but I tried encouraging them ... practice will make perfect, and besides, listen to me, I can't get it right straight away either !!!

We'll be mixing three curricula ... maybe even four ... for Latin. Variation and FUN is how I want them to learn. Sometimes the nitty gritty can seem overwhelming so I want the option to flick from one to another to keep everyone's spirits high and keen to learn it. If I was a confident foreign language teacher then I probably wouldn't have a problem but considering I couldn't have told you what a first conjugation verb was up until recently, then you'll understand why I'm trying to find as many resources as possible to keep everyone going.

That's pretty much our lessons to date. Reading, writing, arithmetic and a few others thrown in to the mix. Nothing too different to what we normally do, so why on earth did I start the post off saying I am worried we haven't done enough then? ... seems like the kids are doing fine after all that !!! { big sigh of relief }

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Resting up before the start of Term 4

Late last week I had such a pleasant surprise in my Inbox:-

Dear Maree,

Congratulations on being one of Monthly prizewinners for completing one of our recent on line surveys.

You have won your choice of size in the Treasures Ultra Nappy range of New Born, Infant, Crawler, Toddler, Walker, Junior. Please select the ONE size and confirm your address as X-Y-Z so we can arrange for Treasures to courier you out this prize.

Once again, Congratulations and thanks for taking the time to complete our feedback survey, we really appreciate it.

The Team of Mums at REACH ME

How cool is that, huh? Pretty darn exciting - wow! I won something!

[ When I emailed my reply, I asked if it would be okay to mention it in my blog.
I was given the thumbs up. ]

Considering I'm still a few years away from having a nappy-free zone, winning free nappies is a welcomed gift to me. I'm glad I took the time to fill in the online survey!

I've received a couple of goodies with ReachMe, (promotional products) so this is such a bonus! As such, I figure it's only fair to give them a bit of a plug.

ReachMe reminds me of the old days when I subscribed to the Treasures magazine. I'd look forward to the next issue and devour it page after page.

Anyway, I look forward to reading ReachMe -- it's nice to have a bunch of mums to catch up with ... even if I don't know them, lol

On another tangent ... I lost all my backup files and photos a few weeks back. This isn't the first time and you'd think I'd have learned my lesson by now. Well, in a way I had, but it was still annoying that some things are completely gone. For the most part, however, it's just not a bother to me because I've got my photos uploaded to lots of different places. BTW, did you know your photos on your blogs are stored in Picasa? Excellent huh?!

As for documents, well I've got around that too. Most homeschooling stuff I would've downloaded from
Currclick. Once I remembered that, all I had to do was download them again. Then I emailed the other main curricula retailers I use and asked if I could get my files, and one-two-three there you are! Most excellent indeed.
It only took me a couple of weeks and I had all the important documents I wanted.

... It got me thinking about how many computers I've owned in my lifetime, and wow, it turns out I've owned quite a few!!! ...

But anyway, there was a direction I was actually wanting to head with this little tale, and that was to say, if you have backup files, then don't rely on storing just one copy of everything on disks, flash drives, etc. Copy them a couple of times for better safekeeping. Or else, if you're like me, you've become such an old hat about it all, that losing it means nothing anymore. So long as I have my photos uploaded straight away from camera to Harvey Norman Photos or Snapfish, Picasa, Facebook or wherever else, then that's the most important things taken care of (in my opinion).

The other thing it prompted me to mention, is to put in a plug for Diigo. I have all my bookmarks saved on Diigo. Why? Cos when your computer completely dies, all your bookmarks go with it. By having them loaded to Diigo, you can buy a new computer and hey presto, there they are when you start your new machine. [ Well, it's not QUITE like that, but that's the general result. ] The other wicked thing I love about it, is that when I travel away, I can STILL access them. I don't have to remember the names of all the hundreds of bookmarks I have, I can simply log in to Diigo and away I go.

Oh yeah, I finished tama 2's Application for Exemption within a matter of days. His 6th birthday isn't until the end of November, but I decided to start last Saturday morning and I got on such a role, I had a complete draft by mid-afternoon. I'll get that away by the end of this month, but it's a great feeling knowing it's ready to go. Funnily enough, working on the exemption gave me the perfect reason to buy a new printer ... our old colour printer has done its dash. So, I bought new one ... free delivery PLUS because it's a Brother, I get to claim the GST back. What a total win-win situation!! It's been fun printing things out again, especially the exemption. And get this! I can sit in bed with my laptop and print from here to the printer downstairs!!! How totally crazy! [ Okay, so that's probably boring news to some, but to me, that's rather revolutionary. ]

There are a few reasons why I worked on it so far in advance - - the main reason is because I have to be prepared in case we have to move house. I won't dwell on that point too much, but those who know me will know exactly what I'm saying here. So, yes, it was important to get that checked off my To Do List. So yay! I've done that, and it feels very, very good.

My de-cluttering/spring cleaning, is proving to be just the right distraction I need at present, and I'm pleased with what I've achieved to date.
  • Our front room-cum-classroom is a mere skeleton of its former self. I haven't sifted through all the school work yet - - but that's next on the list.
  • Clothes are being handed on to other families.
  • H-U-G-E clear out in the shed. Anything from the old business days has now been disposed of, ie up up up in a puff of smoke!!! goodbye, good riddance.
One of the last tasks I wanted to check off my list was create and order photo albums. Even with losing my files, I was able to access all photos, upload and order both albums. It was a total marathon effort, and for that I'm grateful I have this laptop. The end results are fantastic. I'm very, very happy with that effort.

Our next school term begins on Monday. We ended up taking a school holiday, and it was probably a good idea. I wouldn't have accomplished any of the above without the break. The three big kids spent a few days with Koro and Warrick and I think everybody enjoyed that break. I missed them immensely, but I'm pleased as punch they're getting this valuable time with dad and Warrick every month.

The last thing I want to achieve by this weekend: catch up with all the blogs I have fallen behind reading in Google Reader. That's gonna be quite a mission and a half, but oh well, it just helps I enjoy them all I guess, eh?!

And then ... as soon as I've caught up with all of them, I'll be reading the rest of the 39 Clues chapter books and hopefully help tama 1 find the last 4 clues we [ oops! I mean ' he ' ] needs.

Back to school next week. Can hardly wait to see what we learn ...

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Oh, and one last thing. I made the decision to knock back my coffee intake. I've got it down to three cups a day. Now THAT'S pretty unreal for me !!! I'll be so pleased it I can keep it at three a day.