Author: Kendra
• 9:53 AM
This year the boys are part of an invitation only Lego Club. It was actually their own idea, but took a little help getting up & running. Basically, they wanted to start a Lego Club & invite a few friends over to build things with them.

While I had no qualms with the idea I suggested we brainstorm ideas on how it would all work out & from there we pulled together a few ideas.

We ended up with once a month meetings, we simply picked a neutral type date {i.e. 1st Monday of every month}, a theme for each meeting which would be disclosed upon arrival, & a challenge of what to build. My kids were pretty giddy about it & were open for inviting everyone they knew over, but I suggested a limitation, at least for a while, on how many people were invited to join us. The idea wasn't to be selective, but to keep things calm as we all found our feet. We've been meeting for a few months now & while not all invited have come at the same time yet, each meeting has been a hit for those who've joined us.

While I haven't taken photos of each meeting I did remember to snap quite a few at our latest meeting, & I thought I'd share how simple we keep things. First off all our lego is now housed in our giant rumpus room which is on the second story of our home. In fact it's the only thing on the second story of our home. Pretty much all the lego that is not built in some fashion or another is inside those big drawers on the bottom of the table. There are shelves on the side which hold various containers of other things & built projects on the other side of the room you can't see.  Children are welcome to build wherever suits them, & most choose to build directly on the white table as it's closest to the drawers. The basket in the middle of the purple table holds bases. Lego Bases are pretty expensive here where we live, so rather then shell out a few hundred dollars upfront I spent $40 on a few of the larger square bases. I went with a couple of grey, blue, & green. I then pulled out one of my boys smaller square bases & used that as a guide to cut the bigger pieces into smaller ones. It was pretty quick work with "the knife of exact zero" & a cutting board.

I pretty much kick my kids out of the rumpus room after they help tidy it up the day prior to our meeting. Then I take over decorating & setting up. Why do I kick my kids out? Here's the thing, the idea is for it to be a fun challenge, but my boys would be so eager to delve in they'd start planning all about what they'd build. I haven't got an issue with that, & there are no winners or losers in our challenge, but I like it to be just as much as surprise for my kids as it is for the other children.  The lego table is decorated with some of our Lego Books as well as books about the theme we'll be taking on that particular month. Really they are just for inspiration, we don't read them aloud or anything. Those who finish building can also peruse through them or those who choose not to build can do the same thing.

I tend to flag a lot of lego pictures on Pinterest. My eldest can look at a picture & whip something up in a matter of minutes. His latest goal is learning to make round items from square objects & he opted to google for some help options. It's a slow process, he's learning, but he's really happy with how it's going. As for our club.. I printed out a variety of pictures of winter things for our last meeting. Some included pieces & instructions, some did not. I had a total of 9 pictures hanging up this time I think.

This easel greeted the kids at the top of the stairs & helped block off the office from the rest of the play area. It was just a few ideas of things we, here in Australia, might see in the winter time. Just in case people needed a little extra inspiration. Lots of these ideas were worked into various builds this month! That's pretty much it, then the kids are off & running which can last anywhere from 40-60 minutes. 

Anyone who wishes can put their piece{s} up for display on our table for others to look at. I, personally, love looking at the various lego builds. I'm always astounded by how each person can give a lot of detail in a small amount of time & space. None of our boards were white, children covered them with white lego to represent snow. 

These penguins were a fun & easy build. We had patterns on the wall for 2 different types of penguins, & this was the easier of the two. We had a few in different colours testing out which looked more realistic with the mouth & foot colour, but in the end this was what made it to the table for display.

Jayde made antartica, everyone thought the little white circle at the top was a satellite, but apparently it was an umbrella, thus the blue piece on top was rain! Funniest thing about his build was that I totally forgot we have a beautiful beautiful book about Antarctica I could have put out, but forgot about!

His scientist got stuck in a snow pile. I thought it was a very clever way to show what had happened!

One of their friends built this park scene. I love the way the sidewalk was cleared for the business man, who cleverly remembered his hat!!, to walk down. Did you notice the snow build up in the trees? 

See the tilt to the back of the park bench? This was awed over for days about how clever it was to remember that park benches aren't always made at right angles! 

Our youngest bildet made this fun snowmobile, & then I picked it up to check it out & the front fell off. Oh my goodness, I'm so glad I had a clever builder near by who could help put it back together for me!! We've been impressed with our youngest builder's constant use of wheels! I have a few challenges ahead I'm really curious to see how wheels will be worked in, all though we never require that anyone has to build on theme!

Morgan made this Winter Clothes Shop. There is so much intricate detail in it we all kept finding new things! Seriously, I think this child could build anything out of lego. This is an overhead view of most of the shop. but the two characters on this side are having a snowball fight, see how the lady was splatted in the face with one?

At the back of the shop a happy customer was building a snowman, see her rolling the next portion?

This happy fellow drinking his lovely warm drink threw us all a little. We thought he was, perhaps, wearing muddy boots, but they are, apparently, ice skates.

Shop entrance, I'm surprised that fellow wasn't shouted at to hurry up & close the door before all the cold air got in!

Front window display. Check out those snowpants! Can you also see the front counter there too? That's the screen to the cash register. You can make out the side window towards the right which had tops for sale on it.  Can you see a pile of snow there in front of the window?

We've got some pretty clever builders attending our meetings, haven't we?
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Author: Kendra
• 12:00 AM
The boys weren't the only ones to get a new planner, I made myself one as well. Yes, I did just make one at the start of the year, & yes I was using it, but... 

With the starting of a whole new 36 week theme there were just some needs to fresh a few things up & this was one of those things. When I use a Winter Promise theme I tend to use them exactly as written perhaps adding in an extra book here or there. Thus I didn't really need a detailed planner to schedule things out, that work is all ready done for me. If I want to add in a book I can easily just do that in the empty space in my guide. In fact I've done just that for Our Island Story that we added in. Easy peasy.

Instead, I wanted something to keep track of the other things we do. From crafts & activities to our beach walks. Just a general journal type record. I shared a free one a few years back & another one that I sell as well. Thing is, I really loved the stripes & dots in my new planner & wasn't quite ready to see them go yet. So, I opted to fix up a journal with the same theme as the new planner

The journal was pretty quick to put together as I took pages from the planner for it & then made a few others that I would need. It's undated which means I'll just print it out again & again as needed. However, I did make 12 months worth {4 weeks per month} with different quotes & verses across the bottoms of the page. I really loved seeing some of my favourite verses & quotes in my planner so it was something I wanted to include in the planner as well.

I made a 2 page calendar page, I didn't make calendar pages for the planner, remember? I just printed out some free ones that worked, but I really missed the big squares to figure out what we had going on each month. These are intentionally undated so that I won't need to redo them each year. The stickers are not something I made but found online for free. I keep them in my sticker pouch, which I'll have to share at another time. I'm actually thinking, though, that I may at some point make up some stickers as I would have enjoyed a few different ones.

Sadly, I couldn't find a single picture of the family together, but then again someone has to hold he camera, right?! The pictures I used for my boys are so fitting of each of them. Again, these pages didn't really change, all though I did edit the student page. I felt that it would be more fun to see how their interests change verse more traditional school"y" stuff.

I kept my beloved Australian Nature calendar, & it's no joke that this is a great month for checking out low tides. If you've never explored a beach in the winter when the first tide is out you're really missing out. Maybe it's just our beach, but we find more treasures when the first tide is out then the second. I did slip a notes page next to this so I could sketch out rough plans if I wanted.. Not a huge change.

I kept my prayer page, but slipped it in at the start of each week instead of just the start of each month. I like it better this way & can easily add to it as prayer requests come in or are answered.  I include verses as well in some of the other slots, but this page is exactly the same as the one in the 2014 Planner, I've just added it in my journal more often.

Each week then has another 5 pages. This is where I record down things that we do. I broke squares down by subjects so based on what we did might depend on where I jot it down. If the kids did research on the computer I'll jot it down, programming?  That too. Things like Bible Study where we do the same study all week just get written down as 2 Tim Bible Study M-F or something. Pretty simple.

Each of the pages for the week has different subjects written on it. I figure there are going to be weeks where less is filled in then others, such as our first week back where we concentrated on our history theme & maths. There was still a bit to write on other areas, but not everything was filled in. No biggie.

We tend to read or listen to a lot of books so I created a square for each type of book. Sometimes we listen to a specific number of chapters so when that's the case I may write something like: Our Island Story Chpt 1-4. But in situations where are just listening away it might look more like: 60 minutes Maude March. Whatever works.

The final page of subjects is pretty much electives with our outings, sports, art, & music. I know that art & music are not considered electives in some homes & while we do encourage it there are some necessities in life that must come first. Either way, it's just a place for us to record art projects, music lessons, etc.

The final page of our week is like a wrap-up page. I can use it to jot down accomplishments, problems, or supplies we may need. I've used it for all of the above before. I tend to like a lot of space in my notebooks for jotting things down, so it was a no brainer to include one for each week!

I simply repurposed my tab dividers from last year as well as the spine. It was just the quickest solution for me, & really it made sense too. This planner, for me, starts with August simply because I assembled it & started using it well, last week. So it runs August 2014 through July 2015. However, because it's undated I can easily make it work in whatever way I want. 

I don't have photos of it, but I kept the book list pages too, there's one of those at the start of each month to jot down books each of us are reading as well as our school books. I wanted it to be a monthly list based on it being a journal & seeing what each person was up to in any given month.

I also included some extra note pages at the back of the book, I told you I love having a lot of space to jot things down in! There is also a 2014 & 2015 Year At A Glance page as well as a curriculum page for each year. I also repurposed my planning page for helping me sort out when our school years will start & stop. I'm really happy with how it all turned out!! 

I don't have this one uploaded yet either. I discovered a small snafu while printing it that I need to work out & I thought I might delete the subject headings so people could write in their own. When I get it all cleaned up I'll get it uploaded. 
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Author: Kendra
• 12:00 AM

After much debating on which planners the kids would use & not being satisfied with any of them I ended up making them some Lego themed planners this weekend. Who knows, perhaps, somewhere out there such a thing exists, but not in my neck of the woods.

Not to mention generally a typical planner isn't a grand fit for our family for a variety of reasons that I won't bore you with. It took me about 10 minutes to design the whole thing up, & then I had the kids tell me what they wanted on the covers. That took longer then expected, but wasn't a huge surprise either. Morgan ended up going with the design here to the left. We added Benny into the image of the Lego Movie characters at the bottom & then added an additional Benny to the top where the years are divided. Really not too difficult, all though it's more time consuming if you're battling a migraine at the same time. Just warning you!

Jayden's cover was even easier, but then he's crazy about Benny. I found a super large image of Benny on the Lego Wickepedia & snatched it to use on his planner. The interior of the planners is currently identical. After a term of use we may find we need to change them a bit, but for now this works.  There's a "belongs to" type page where the kids can record their names, a few favourite items based on the questions supplied, & a place to note down what they'd like to do for the year. I was curious what they'd write, but one was too tired to care about anything other then going to bed & the other was holding out, still, for a trip to Lego Land. Ha!

After those pages comes a single page for planning their Term Goals. I sit down with the kids & ask them what their goals are in regards to each subject for the upcoming term. It can help if they have a yearly goal. For instance, both kids wanted to finish 2 math books this year. In each child's case they were nearly done with 1 book prior to starting this year & then of course the one they would start this year.

The term goals help them break down those giant steps into more manageable things. I had one child pick big goals this term & one who went a little more mediocre. I think both picked goals that will work for them, all though we'll see. Both have selected goals for spelling, math, & reading. I reminded them both that they wanted to tackle cursive, in full, this year. One added that, with a plan of action, to his goals list while the other decided he was totally over that idea. I broke the news to him that he's still going to learn it, even if he chooses not to do it now.

After that each week has one of these grid planning pages. The black & white lego man is intentional so they can colour him & design their own mini-fig. Something they do all the time anyway, they've even invented games about it.. Anyway, instead of days of the week we put Day One-Five across the top of the planner. While I have no qualms with days of the week our Winter Promise stuff is labeled as such so I went with it. I also didn't want a certain child to freak out if we did Monday stuff on say Tuesday.. This works, all though said child was a little freaked out by how I'd designed it anyway. You lose some, you lose some more.. or so the saying in our family goes.

Subjects are written down the left hand side. I goofed up LA, but didn't realise until it was printed out & wasn't about to throw the pages away! I included subjects we do as a family more for my child who needs to see his daily scheduled to avoid the "I thought we were done" thing from happening.

At the top they date the page, & can write down the term we are in & what week of the term it is. That helps them see where they are with their goals & if they need to speed up, aim higher, or discuss a plan of action because they aren't going to make it.

There's also this page for each week. I took a few ideas I'd seen from student planners & crammed them onto one page. While my children don't have spelling words, per say, each week they do still use the All About Spelling curriculum & sometimes one word can hold them back from advancing to a new step. I opted to put the spelling word box in so that they can jot down a word they are struggling with. Each time they open their planner then cay spell the word to themselves. It'll also make a great reference point for words they may stumble frequently with.

There's a Notes section. Do you have a child who always say, "I need to remember.." & ten minutes later he's put the leftovers in the washer, the clean dishes in the fridge, & the everything else in the dishwasher?! Oh my goodness, I'm sure this season will pass, but in the mean time he can use the notes section to become a bit more level headed!! 

Both of my kids are doodlers & I wanted a place dedicated for doodling rather then having it all over the book! Of course a larger version of the blank minifig to doodle, colour, or otherwise decorate. Those fellows are, as normal, a huge hit. The top box is just a for fun type box. Each week there's something different there. I wrote silly things like, "If I could invent something it would be..." or "If I could slip into a world in a book I'd go to.." & so forth. I think the one there is something about the best thing they did that week.

The boys love the planners, & my planner was super keen to sit down & fill in all his goal sheets, plan his week out & start using it straight up. All in all not bad for a short amount of time. I need to fix a few things in them & then I'll see if I can get them uploaded to share. 
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Author: Kendra
• 9:40 AM
It was back to school here last week for our house. We'd actually debated starting the week prior, but decided we really needed that extra week off.

Which left us officially starting Term 3 last week. We took a casual, reasonably, slow start to get back into the swing of things. We don't always start back slowly, which can often backfire on me so I was pretty intent to go slowly!

We pretty much just concentrated on our lovely theme & some math work which was enough to get people back into the swing of things. I had intended to work in science, but it didn't happen & really that's okay.

We kicked off our week with reading Luke Chapter 1 as our studies this week were about the birth of John the Baptist as he prepared the way, the birth of Jesus, & the life of some of his ministries. We also read Luke 2 & used the notebooks to record a verse that spoke to us. The notebooks are cute little Eric Carle ones we found at a local cheap shop.

We've owned Parables From Nature for years & read it previously when the boys were considerably younger. Whenever it's pulled out I always hear, "Ooo, that book!" Yet they don't always remember the stories. I found the book on Audible as well this past week & opted to use some of my extra credits to obtain a copy. It's well done & we've enjoyed listening to a couple of the stories this week. This book is currently on special, if you're interested, for $3.95 over at Audible. I have no idea how long the sale will last. 

Despite stating we are gearing up for Middle Ages, we did have a little Ancient Work to finish. 2 weeks to be exact as we wrapped up MOH 1, read about Jesus' life & death, & so forth. Which means We read from each of the above books. My guys have really really loved their time with that crazy Encyclopaedia. While one isn't scheduled with our Middle Ages theme I'm seriously considering looking for one.  We've enjoyed listening to MOH & STOW, which has been a lovely break for me to be able to listen to all these narrators read to me as well. 

Mr S & I were discussing British History recently under the pretext that it has a great bearing on Australian history as well as a reasonable one on the starts of American History. Which led to a discussion of how much of British History he might have learned in school. I had a book on my wish list, which is what started the whole chat, that I was debating purchasing for use next year when we study about kings & queens alongside Renaissance more in depth. While I'm not sure we ended up with a clear cut answer I did stumble upon An/Our Island Story over on Audible this past week & found that the Kindle version of it was .99 which made for a lovely addition to our school days. We enjoyed listening to a chapter of it each day.  If you're wondering, this particular book is on special over at Audible right now, too, for $3.95 which is party how I found it.

Fret not, our entire studies were not done via Audio books! This was our read aloud for the week, & will be for the following week as well. It has a bit of a rough start with lots of sea lingo & a bit of a brutal Uncle, but if you hang in there past the first 12-20 pages you'll be fine! There's also a crude word, all be it one that has been changed to be used crudely these days, in there too. I can't honestly remember the page number, but it's between pgs 21-41. I only remember which day I had to edit on the fly, not which page number it was on!  The story is suppose to be an unusual telling of King Arthur, but is also about Britain seeking horses to help them defeat the invading Saxons.

The boys had a few hands on assignments that I had them pick & choose from, all though I made 1 assignment mandatory for both of them. The rest were open for them to opt in or out of as they desired. One they both wanted to do was an edible nativity. They had grand plans for it & were debating using the cookie cutter set we purchased a couple years back with this very intention in mind, all though we never did get around to it. However, I had a child lolling around being very bad tempered & I challenged him to go build a nativity from lego. This was the end result! I had a picture of it farther back so you can see the star atop it, but the lighting was bad s you'll just have to trust me on that one. I love the face on Jesus there, do you?

This was our crazy table midweek last week. The boys are both working on their taxation poster while I was reading from the encyclopaedia. Or, rather, I was suppose to be reading from it, but instead I was oohing over all the ancient artefact pictures inside & was reminded that I was suppose to be reading aloud. Ha! The posters they worked on were suppose to be their interpretation of what a poster might have looked like when Caesar Augustus sent out his decree to tax the people. I don't seem to have photos of their finished projects, but they both came out really well. They opted to type on the computer with an older looking font & then leave space in the middle to draw a depiction of what would happen if you didn't follow the order. 

Morgan is on his second last lesson in his math book. Truthfully he could have skipped it, but he really wanted to tackle that one & I wasn't about to stop him. He's very excited to be on the final lesson next week as he's hoping to get through the next one by the end of the year as well. Yes, he's wearing mismatched socks & yes he always wears that jumper. He's had a little boy in our local home ed group ask him if it's the only jumper he owns. Seriously cracked me up.

Jayde opted for review in his math book, which was a great idea for him as he started math in the middle of the week. He was pretty annoyed when I went to take his photo because he was somehow convinced I was spying to see if he was doing the math right. When I turned around again I found him hiding under the afghan that was on the back or the chair.  

It was back to swim for us too, we'd missed off during Term break due to Jayde's footy injury. The kids had lessons on Monday, which we were apparently late for. Do not ask me how on earth every clock we own turned out to be 5 minutes slow!! We also hit the pool for practice 3x this week. It's been so delightful to have the pool nearly to ourselves again. The kids also took on the Ocean Challenge the pool offers, but don't be fooled. It's just a blow up item to run through & slide off the end. Jayde cracked us up when he went flying down it & forget he didn't have his goggles on. Whoops!!

We had a couple of beach walks this week as well. Morgan found this rock & was pretty intent we should have a photo of it. Honestly, I don't know why because once we took the photo he's not once mentioned the rock again. He's probably over the whole, "You find it you carry it!" thing. Which was instituted after Mr S got stuck walking home once with a pocket full of rocks, a huge wooden wedge {now nicknamed cakey} & whale rib.

All in all, not a bad start back to our term. We'll have quite a bit more happening next week with the adding in of Language Arts, but the kids have filled out their planners & set their goals! We're ready for it! 
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Author: Kendra
• 10:12 AM

In lue of our new term starting at the same time we were starting a new theme/unit of study it seemed like the opportune time to tidy up our library/learning area. There were new books that needed to be put in the baskets, & books we'd finished that we needed to put away. Not to mention the book shelves were in complete disarray & needed some major help. One thing led to another & I was moving bookcases before it was over.  We're actually in need of building a few more, & we're looking at putting sides on those ones.

I was delighted to find another white board at the same incredibly low price I picked up the first one. Unfortunately it meant rearranging the stuff on the walls which is generally a collage of stuff. It all started as a way to deplete bare white walls in our rentals, but after renting for 11 years I'm finding I don't actually have things to hang upon the walls! Sad, but true. Thus our walls in the learning area remain littered with all sorts of lovely educational stuff as well as certificates of accomplishment.

The stop shelves still hold all our day-to-day items from boxes of books for each child to school supplies. I picked up a cookbook holder for $2 at a local cheap-shop & have used it for a variety of things. For now it works perfectly to hold out my incredibly thickly bound manual. Yes, that manual has our history, two science guides, & a language arts guide in it. I was a little worried about it at first, but I have really enjoyed the way it turned out. It was a bit difficult getting it bound like that, but the results were totally worth it.

I dug out lots of our castle, knights, & other middle ages books to spread out around the room. The kids will often ask what I think they should read or what would make a great book. I beat them to the punch on this one & woke up to find they'd added to the stack of books spread out. The wooden box is a chest my father-in-law made & it's incredibly heavy. We've moved it a billion & one times over the past couple of years & it was on it's way to the tip when I rescued it. It currently houses most of Jayde's playmobil which he loves using while listening to read alouds. See the castle on top? Yep, we had an amazing scene set up in here the other day. It also works as another seat if needed, all though the computer desk is suppose to be there eventually.

The other side of our room didn't change too much, just got a big freshening up. We did remove the big purple chair because we needed more seating in our lounge room. That crazy red chair is actually a camp chair the kids picked up at an opshop a while back & they love curling up in it with a quilt. I found the Civil War quilt spread out on it the day after I took this photo. The book baskets by the fire place have been refreshed, & yes there is a post box atop our fire place. One of the book baskets now houses a few science kits we'll be using this year. We moved a couple into plastic boxes before putting them in there, but it all worked. 

We generally sit on this side of the room to do our reading together & then people move to the table  on the other side of the room to do maths, notebooking pages & whatever else is on task for the day. It's lovely & cosy in this room, but equally sunny thanks to that brilliant window in the front. The only downer is that it can get quite warm in there in the summer as that brilliant window doesn't actually open up. Most likely because there's a huge rose bush out front of it, that despite the icy rain falling one day this winter I went outside & trimmed anyway. Do you have any idea how horrifying rose bushes sound when they scape against a window?!
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