Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Some Math Freebies..

SuperBear, the Principle, & I had a little chat. Okay, so really SuperBear and I had a chat, and we brought the Principle in on it after we were done. It's not that we didn't respect the Principles opinion, it's just that the poor principle has been up to his eyeballs (or more) with work this week. We won't complain in a time when so many are without, nor will we complain because next week we go on vacation! So anyway, there was SuperBear and I in the school room having a chat. I mentioned to SB (oh the irony in such initials!) that while I loved our new methods of math, I was slightly worried about my how little we had to show for it other then heads full of numbers and knowledge. He agreed. Why? His little paw print was eager to stamp upon something. He missed leaving his notes and he wondered ever so much what we'd been up to. It's been a few weeks since he had anything to note, prod, stamp, or smile over. So, while nursing an extremely sore back today I whipped up a few math papers. Don't groan, they aren't workbook papers. Rather they are papers for the games we play often and the things we do.

The Game Log has to be one of my favorite sheets. We play a LOT of games for math. Our collection is constantly growing as well, and most of them are homemade type games. I don't want to turn them into tiresome worksheet style games. That completely defeats the purpose of what we're doing. Yet, I needed a way to keep track of what we're doing. Enter the Game Log. I can simply jot down what we played when and we can keep a running list in the boys math notebooks. I also made a second one where we can record the name of the game and the date, and then the boys can jot down their notes or anything they wish about the game. I like that idea for the first time we play a new game. For times when I want them to consider what we're playing and why. I think it will be equally handy for games we've played often for them to jot down patterns, theories, strategies, and the likes about it. Really nifty thing is I can use either page for game planning too!

This might seem odd, but we've discussed various terms and words in math and needed a vocabulary page for it! The boys have remembered each one, but I thought it might be fun to jot them down anyway. Not sure how they'll feel about that, all though Morgan probably won't care. For instance, the other day we discussed the word digit (for Jayden's sake) and we discussed the word strategy. Tomorrow we'll write those words down on our new Math Vocabulary Pages. They can always go back and look them up in their notebooks should they forget the term when they run across it later.

We play our Piggy Bank Math Game a lot! The boys love it, and it's an awesome way to get them adding, subtracting, counting coins, and exchanging coins as well. They've even roped other family members into playing this one with them several times. We've used our journals a few times to jot down the things we do, but normally we just use our calculator and exchange coins as we go along. This has been a lot of fun for the boys, but I want to teach them while they are young to show their work. Plus, I think showing their work for this game will be a great start in decimal work. So, I opted to make a Piggy Bank Show Your Work Math paper. This means that next time we play they'll write down on their sheet the various money amounts. Morgan will especially like this, Jayden may or may not. He's not big on writing, so we'll see. I also made another sheet with larger squares with no amount written in it. This way as we start adding larger dollar amounts or if we choose to make up amounts we can still show our work.

This is a new game that comes from the book, A Collection Of Math Lessons, that I mentioned a while back. I really, really love this book. Have I mentioned that before? Anyway, this particular game pulled to me because Jayden hasn't worked much with double digit numbers, and Morgan, on occasion, can still mix them up. Even when he doesn't mix them up he often lacks the confidence in himself to be sure he's saying it right way around. This game works on that, and it also gets them thinking. The idea is that you think of any number between 10 - 98. You must not use numbers like 11, 22, 33, 44, etc. So we had a little discussion about like number double-digits. It amazed me how quickly Jayden piped up with the succession of numbers that we couldn't use. Once that was out of the way, I wrote a number down on a small piece of paper. I folded it up and put it in my pocket. The boys then guessed numbers. Under the area that says Start I wrote the numbers they said. Under digit I wrote either 0, 1, or 2 depending on how many of the digits they said were in the number I thought up. The same applies for place. This continues until the number is guessed. We had a lot of fun with this game and when the Principle saw what we were up to he jumped in with a few numbers himself. While the need of a paper for this game is NOT necessary, we played on normal lined paper, I'm choosing to use one for the sake of record keeping. That's it. I'm sure this game will be played a LOT on our camping trips, but I doubt each time we'll use Digit-Place math paper.

The Place Value Game also comes from, A Collection Of Math Lessons. It was a simplistic and fun way to teach place value and we played it for the first time while scarfing down spaghetti and watching our dice dodge the cups of apple juice on the table. While the ladies in the book did not make a "worksheet" for the game when they played it, I did. Morgan has only briefly learned about place value, and not enough to fully know it. I wanted them to have a good visual of it, and not get frustrated at setting up the game board. So I made up a game sheet quite quickly and printed a copy out for each of us. (This is also when we discussed strategy.) The sheet allows for 6 rounds of play, and everyone was begging to keep going when our paper was full. In fact, there was much sulking when I said we really should put it away and move onto something else! The game is quite simplistic, but so very appealing and there's never EVER a guarantee as to who will win until it's over.

To play you simple need 1 die. You roll the dice 5 times. Each time it's rolled you must put a number in one of the 5 available boxes. Only one number can be rejected, so once you reject a number that's it. You must use the rest. While no one was permitted to pick on another player for their choice of play, we did all wonder at Jayden's method of simply putting the numbers in the boxes from Thousand to Reject as they were rolled. Yet he managed to win a few games with his method, just as the rest of us each one a few round with our method. At the end of each round we had each player read out their number by saying 6,451. No one had to say what they rejected, but we heard a lot of, "Wish I hadn't rejected.." At first the boys needed prompts to remember to say Thousands, Hundreds.. but by the end they had it down pat. I've made up a large handful of these papers to stick in their notebooks. I truly can't recommend that book enough!

All the math papers are available by clicking on the pictures or the titles. Feel free to use them as you wish, all though I'd advise against paper airplanes while waiting in check-out lines at the grocery (Ask Morgan why...) We just ask that you don't post the pdfs directly on your twitter or facbook account, or on your blogs or websites.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Beach Fun

Just a few pictures from the beach this past week. During one of those rare moments of no rain we took the kids and the dog and went out for an evening walk. We were seriously side tracked at the beach and had a lot more fun looking in tide pools and hunting under rocks.

Can you see the lighthouse in the distance?

Love the barnacles..

Sunday, September 27, 2009

FFWW: Slowing Down

We're going to be slowing down with school for the next week or two. We're busy preparing for our annual family camping trip which means there will be lots of baking and food prep happening around here. Plus, we don't want to jump too deeply into another unit study just to pause it for our camping. So we've decided we'll focus in on math, reading, and finishing up a couple of outstanding read alouds. We're also crossing our fingers that the next week will be a bit less wet and we can do a few nature walks too. We'll have to wait and see what the weather has in store, but in the mean time we have some fun new math games to play.

We'll also be working with our new Bible study & art program. Neither of which we got to last week, much to my disappointment.
What about you, what do you have planned for your Fun Filled Weekly Workboxes? Blog about it and then come back and link up! Don't have a blog and want to play along? Just leave a comment telling us what fun things you have planned for your workboxes.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Amazing Race

Let me tell you about a small passion this family has. It's a weird one, and totally nerdy, but it's us. You see, we love the show The Amazing Race. We use to watch it regularly while we were in America and we were always amazed at the things people on the show were able to see and truly experience. It's always interesting to see how teammates either bond really deeply, or are eating each other for breakfast. There's hardly ever an in between. It's also interesting to see how Phil, the host, becomes a bit attached to certain contestants. While I'm sure he's not allowed to show partiality, he's human, and on occasion you can tell how he's become attached to a contestant.

The truth is, we, as a family, also become attached. We cheer a particular team on and some of us can be seen hiding behind our fingers, pillows, or blankets as we sit on the edge of our seats and watch people dash through downtown HongKong, the deserts of Egypt, and the outskirts of other third world countries. Teams are always so quickly humbled by the poverty stricken people they see as they are able to take off work and school to race around the world for a million dollars.

Now that the boys are older it's the one show we watch in "real time". Which means we don't often record it to watch later (except when it's a double episode.) It's one of those special nights when the kids are permitted to stay up just a wee bit later then normal. They sit and marvel at the wonders of the world. They gape at the things they've learned about and are now viewing through the lens of a camera. There's cheers of excitement at how they KNOW that place and how they wonder what it must be like to REALLY be there. Pleas of "Can we go there too?" or "Can we sign up to be in the Amazing Race, it looks like so much fun!"

However, I've noticed something else too. My boys are quick to point out how someone is rude simply by the look on their face when they sneer at a team mate. The disgust in the boys voices when they hear someone speak and scream at a taxi cab driver simply because they don't understand the language. Morgan is especially turned off by these aspects and was quite mortified to see that two sweetly tempered young ladies became vicious when a mere accident led them to believe someone was "out to get them." It suddenly took the boys from cheering this team on as the "nice girls" to "I hope they don't win, because they aren't playing very nice and it wouldn't be good if mean people won."

Don't get me wrong, my boys are known to be excessively pushy, speak rudely, and threaten each other all over a race to get the first chocolate chip cookie. In fact, when their cousin was visiting and she witnessed that she was lost somewhere in giggles and shock, all though the shock might have been because I gave her the first cookie since she was the only one acting like civilised! It's nice though, to know, that the boys can see good and bad for what it is and not be drawn to someone because of how quick they run or how soon they finish a race.

Last night was the end of yet another race around the world. One that took them through something like 5 continents and 9 countries. We were in awe to see the various places in Russia we'd learned about and only viewed from books. We sat opened mouth watching the cormorants dive for fish and bring them back to their masters. (And while they no longer have tight metal rings around their necks, they do most certainly have wire-ties around those necks!) We saw the rising of the flag in China (a country dear to my boys hearts), and we also saw some amazing relationships unfold between father and son, mother and son, and brother and sister. You know, the kind of relationships that give you warm fuzzies and make you so grateful for the family you have despite the hiccups and bumps that you see all the time.

While the team we most hoped would win (Sorry Luke and Margie, we were with you all the way! I was so with you wanting to see a deaf participant win!) we really enjoyed watching this show. It's one of the few where you rarely encounter profanity (all though there was a bit), and oddly enough we turned yet one more moment into a learning experience. Or maybe, as odd as it sounds, it was more of a review moment; where the boys could sit back in awe and remember all they've learned.

So this morning when we all sat around the table sullen because it didn't end how we hoped there was only one question on Morgan's mind, "Can I do the Amazing Race Mom?" You know something, I sat there and thought about what an amazing homeschool journey that would be! The stories we'd come home with, the experiences we'd have, all of it! "Yeah Morgan, you can do the Amazing Race, but you have to take one of us with you. Can it be me, pretty please?"

Friday, September 25, 2009

G-Force Cookies

G-Force finally hit theaters here this month, and two little boys I know were over the moon excited! Guinea pigs, secret spies, and cool gadgets what more could they ask for? Okay, so personally the movie was a tad cheesy, but it was totally them and they loved it. They are now hoping it comes out on dvd soon so they can buy it. Which of course means they will then watch. Over, and over, and over.. Yup, they loved it. In a recent Family Fun magazine they had a recipe and instructions to make G-Force cookies.

I asked Jayden if he'd like to make them, and he jumped at the chance. So we went to the store to purchase some peanuts and broke into our new stash of grain sweetened chocolate chips and set to work. I made the dough up, swapping coconut sugar for the sugars originally called for. Jayden put the eyes on and Morgan tended to the ears. It was quite the assembly line we had going. Then the boys proceeded to gobble them right up. I was told they were good, and we'll just have to take their word for it, because I wasn't permitted to eat a single one!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Microwave Popcorn

We eat a lot of popcorn in this house for snacks. The boys like it when I pop it on top of the stove, so much so they refer to it as "movie theater popcorn". However, there are those times when they want to pop it themselves. I don't really want them messing with hot oil on the stove though, and while they will gleefully stand there and shake the pan it's not like doing it "all" by themselves. Now, I know microwave popcorn isn't a new thing, I really do. However, microwave popcorn in my neck of the woods leaves much to be desired. Not only is there a punch of ick in there with the kernels and oil, but it doesn't pop very well. As in, it only half pops unless we burn the contents of the bag. So, on occasion we make it ourselves...

Drop 1 tsp of coconut oil (we kinda heap it) into a brown paper bag. Excuse my grainy picture there..

Add 3 Tablespoons of popping corn to the bag, & fold the bag over twice.
(We use organic and it pops up a lot better then ordinary popping corn.)

Then set the microwave for about 2 minutes, listen for the popping, when it slows down remove it. I often set our's for 3 minutes and stand by. When the kids make it on their own I recommend they set it between the 2 & 3.

Remove carefully from the microwave, bag can be hot. You can use the above picture to guide you in folding your bag over. You don't want to fold it over too far or you may not leave enough room for the corn to pop!

Transfer to a serving bowl and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Christmas Bags

Last year we did a variety of things during the month of December to keep our focus off of getting and more on why we choose to celebrate Christmas in the first place. One of those things was fun little craft bags. Each day the boys pulled out a craft bag and did the craft that was inside. Somedays those crafts were very simple, and other days they were much more time consuming. Since sharing this idea I've been asked quite a bit about those little craft bags and I finally took the time to write down all the crafts and include where I found the instructions for them. It's something the boys really enjoyed doing last year, and we'll most certainly be repeating it this year. Probably with a handful of different crafts as I've been jotting down some ideas as I see them this year. As for the crafts we filled our bags with last year, you can get the ebook here, or by clicking on the cover below. It's a 12 page pdf file. Happy crafting!

Egypt Projects

We wrapped up our Egypt studies this past week and the boys had so much fun! They tried their hands at sledges. Morgan enjoyed experimenting to see how many books he could keep adding to his before it was too heavy to move; he never reached that point. They dressed up in Pharaoh crowns and spent the afternoon playing Pharaohs (I was suppose to be the slave, but that plan failed them..) They dressed up like mummies, which they loved. Then, they proceeded to show anyone who'd sit still long enough their notebooks. They really and truly enjoyed this study. In fact, we wrapped up the study with a report each. They had so much fun with it that Morgan asked if they'd be writing one for each of their studies. Mind you, he also said that if he'd lived in Ancient Egypt he'd loved to have been a scribe because he loves to write stories and letters. He's also decided he'd love to be an archeologist when he grows up so that he can be a real treasure hunter, you know.. like Indiana Jones.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Homemade Oreos

Back in February I wanted to make Morgan some homemade oreos for his birthday. You see, with our outing of sugar he hasn't been allowed to indulge in them in quite some time. For most of us that's no big deal, but to him that's a huge deal. He has a serious fetish for oreos, and I noticed his longing looks at them in the shop as we'd pass by a display of them. I wanted to surprise him with a batch for his birthday, but unfortunately my attempts at obtaining Maple Sugar were squashed. I tried making them with stevia, which made them taste fine, but they didn't hold up for filling. Thus his impromptu cake which looked oreoish, but wasn't.

Refusing to give up, I've been playing with various natural sweeteners in our kitchen for a considerable amount of time. Not only is it fun to see how they work in various baked goods, it's also interesting to see how they all taste. Our newest sweetener is coconut sugar, which I've mentioned before. I'm enjoying using this particular sweetener when I bake biscuits (cookies) for the kids. It not only sweetens on a 1:1 ratio like sugar, but it also gives them the same texture as a biscuit made with sugar.

So this weekend I broke out the coconut sugar and decided to try a batch of oreos. Only, in case it went horribly wrong, I told the boys it was a secret snack I was working on. Using the oreo recipe from Smitten Kitchen I replaced the regular sugar with coconut sugar for the wafer part. I also threw coconut sugar in the blender (what I had left in the bag) and blended on high until it turned into powdered coconut sugar. Seriously! Then, because I had no organic shortening (does such a thing even exist? Cause, to be honst I don't even know when I last bought shortening!) I replaced the shortening with coconut sugar.

The only deal is that the creamy center will be brownish due to the hue of the coconut sugar. Depending on the time of year near you, you may need to store these in the fridge, at least until the creamy center solids up. Coconut sugar can melt or soften quite quickly. I stored them in the fridge, and they were fine out of the fridge for an hour or so. The kids, and the husband man, gobbled them up. In fact, I'm pretty sure the tin is quite completely and totally empty.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

F.F.W.W.: Nim's Island Again

You'll be seeing most of the repeats from last week's boxes because we never tackled Nim with Jayden being sick. However, the upside is I remembered a few things I'd tucked away so the boys will be finding those as well. The boys are looking forward to digging back into Nim, they each have their favorites from the book. It really comes as no doubt that Jayden's favorite is Fred. In fact I think Jayden is quite like Fred, except for maybe all that coconut eating! Morgan really likes Jack because Jack does all sorts of amazing science things, but he also really likes Nim because she has a spy glass and a pocket knife, plus she gets to help Jack with lots of his science stuff. If you have no idea what I'm talking about you should really pick up a copy of Nim's Island! Anyway, on top of watching our Prof H videos that go with the Nim classes we'll be:

  • Open a coconut (with a hammer instead of Jack's Machette), and after eating the meat use the shell for a bowl
  • Scour the seaside for shells, and check for messages in a bottle (you might have to read the book to understand that one!) -- I may put a message in a bottle in their workboxes
  • Record the coming and going of the tide
  • Check their weather stations daily
  • Read about hurricanes & volcanoes
  • Work on a weather notebook
  • Learn about Marine Iguanes, sea lions, sea turtles, & frigate birds
  • ride on a raft (possibly, we'll have to see how the weather goes)
  • discuss emergency evacuation plans for our family
  • Watch Bill Nye's Weather video (Morgan's been itching on this one for a while!)
  • Weather math (think graphs)
We'll also be starting our new art program & Bible study this week. We're excited about both of them!
What about you? What do you have planned for your Fun Filled Weekly Workboxes? Blog about it and then come link up! Don't have a blog and want to play along? Just leave us a comment telling us what fun things you have planned for your boxes this week.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Are you writing??

November is National Novel Writing Month over at NaNoWriMo. The idea is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Better get those ideas churning, you've only got 43 days left to decide what you're writing about! That's right, I'm in again this year. Have you checked out the new t-shirts up for sale? I've got mine all picked out! My fingers are itching to get started, are yours? Check out their website for more information.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Change Of Plans

So this week we had grand plans for school and maybe even a field trip to a local police department. Then Jayden woke up dragging, snuffly nosed, cough, the whole nine yards. The poor kid has been dragging the whole week, and has even succumbed to naps. The upside of homeschooling is that he doesn't actually miss any school, we just change our plans a bit. We indulge a bit more in our read alouds, we pop on a few "educational" videos (you know like Magic Schoolbus & Bill Nye) and we play a few more games and we skip some of the other items we'd normally do. It means our workboxes are out, and we're not going to be embarking upon Nim this week either, but that's okay. The ocean is always out there waiting for us.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Book Sale

The Homeschool Library Builder Big Bin Sale is back! That means you can search through bins of books priced at $1, $2, $3, $5. There's some really fantastic books over there waiting to be had. Lots of historical fiction, a few American Girl books, Boxcar Children, Henry & Mudge, and even a few Magic School Bus chapter books. Better not wait too long, the sale ends October 1st!

Great Math Books

I'm always on the lookout for a fun and gentle way to teach the kids math concepts. Something that fits in with our living math theory. It amazes me how much more the boys continue to retain this way. For instance, we discussed Roman Numerals many months ago as a brief introduction when we did a unit study based on the book The Glorious Flight. We even made a small flipbook with the Roman Numerals on the outside and the Arabic numbers inside. Morgan has never forgotten Roman Numerals. He's desperate for me to buy a clock that shows them. He asked me to print him out a Roman Numeral paper for his math journal. Why? So he can write some of his answers with Roman Numerals. Seriously, he's obsessed. The best part? He's becoming a math detective because he can scope out a Roman Numeral some 3k's away and will instantly start trying to "decode" it. I'm pretty certain if I had produced a workbook page based on this same concept he would have listened and done the work, but somehow I'm not thinking he would have retained it as well. After all it wasn't until some hands on games that he noticed the pattern and lay-out of a hundreds chart, something he's been using for 4 years!

We're finding some really unique ways to learn math around here. This week alone we've played two really fun card games that the boys are fully hooked on! (Blog posts coming soon, because they are just that fun..) Then yesterday Card Game Roundup showed up in our mailbox, and after whooping and hooraying because we got a package we broke in and picked out a game to play (and bookmarked a whole ton more.) This books is loaded with really fun games, most of which can be played with as little as two people. There is one game, I noticed, that requires 11 people, but can easily be replicated with stuffed animals, cousins, legos, or anything else you can rope into playing along. Today we played a game called 1-2-3, Duel! It's similar to War, but introduces the concept of greater then and less then (something we needed work on) with a wild west theme to it. The rules are slightly different, which also makes for quicker playing time. Strangely enough, I found the boys playing another game of it while they were waiting for their lunch this afternoon.

The mailman also surprised us with The Everything Kids' Math Puzzle Book. We're going to have a lot of fun in our math journals with this fun little book! The book is loaded with history, jokes, riddles, puzzles, explanations, games, and so much more! In fact, I noticed a few fun Roman Numeral puzzles and codes to crack that I'm pretty sure Morgan will love. There was also the recommendation of the book Roman Numerals I to MM. (That will make one really nice Christmas present for a book/math loving little boy I know, don't you think? You can also preview it here, isn't the artwork amazing?) What I love about this book the most is that it has some really creative ways to explain complex things, like binary numbers, burden of proof, and prime numbers. I think it will be a lot of fun to use one of the challenges each day/week for the math journals. I can also see Super Math Bear leaving a few jokes behind. Poppy you better watch out, they might actually know a few "real" jokes now...

This last book is the biggest gem of all. A Collection Of Math Lessons From Grades 1 Through 3 is just an amazing treasure trove of ideas. The book is written by math teachers, and the ideas inside are ones they used on various classes. You'll read actual dialogue that took place, see copies of their notes, and the conclusions that children came up with on a variety of subjects. The book covers a vast range of math topics, and each presented in such a simplistic and gentle way that I was drawn to the book instantly. In fact that's what I love the most about this book, the gentle nature of how the teachers presented the topics to their students. I've only read a small portion of this book and I was pulled in immediately. In fact I was sorely tempted to round the boys up and play a game of Digit Place with them, but I resisted the urge and decided it could surely wait until tomorrow morning. I can see this book being bookmarked, post-it noted, dog eared, and littered with a million different notes. I'll most certainly be purchasing the rest of the books in this series as we need them.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fun Crochet Site

Just pretend that little image is a nice picture of a large stack of brown and pink granny squares, will you? It appears I've misplaced my picture, so that graphic will have to do. Anyway.. this past soccer season I decided to keep busy during those practices that I'd crochet a blanket. I'm not entirely sure why I was hit with this notion, other then the fact that dragging along the sewing machine was a tad inconvenient. Only, my crocheting skills were kinda limited and hazy considering the last thing I recall crocheting was a few stitches on a dolls outfit when I was younger. So, I decided to see what I could find online, which is when I stumbled upon The Art Of Crochet. Her blog is a well spring of patterns and instructions, and if that isn't enough for you she also has a load of videos on you tube showing how to do the patterns as well. And, if you're like me, you'll probably need both!

Monday, September 14, 2009


Sometimes, there's nothing funnier then sitting back and listening to the kids carry on conversations. Over the past few days I've heard some really funny stuff, and I'm not just talking Morgan's attempts and singing, "Jesus Freak" either! Today we were packing up to go to Nana's house when I told the boys to get in the car. Morgan dashes out the door, and no sooner exits before running back in screaming, "Wait I don't think have any underpants on!" Now I know what you're thinking, but you see in our house odd statements like this barely get a nod or any attention for that matter. So, instead of paying any attention I finished pouring smoothies to hand to people as they darted out the door. However, Daddy, oh silly Daddy, he said, "What? You haven't been wearing underpants all day?" Morgan, always willing to answer replies, "Let me check. Nope, I'm good. These are just so comfy they don't feel like I have anything on at all!" It's hard being the only girl in the house, what can I say?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Good Book..

We're pretty avid readers around here. I have books in every room of the house, and even half the hallways have books on a shelf in them. I use to get laughs from a few family members about my book issues, and my plans for a home with a library in it are always met with laughter. Especially when I mention one of those ladders that can spin around the room.. Okay, so maybe I'm being fanciful, but I'm pretty sure we own enough books to start our own private library here. The part that really confuses people is that not only do we know what books we have, but at least one person in this house has read all the books we own. Granted, it might not be the same person who's read each book, but the point remains someone has read them. Morgan's greatest ambition when he was 2 was to learn to read so he could have his own library card. Seriously! He'd sit at this little table and work quite hard at making his abc's too.

A real threat to my kids is revoking their library card for any length of time. The mere mention of such a threat brings instant panic to them, but their not alone! The librarian once told me on a Wednesday that the library would be closed the following Monday and I made sure to get back in before they were closed for that extra day! This has left such an impression on the kids, that when Morgan was learning his days of the week his picture for Sunday was me. Yeah, in a very unlady like fashion jumping up and down pulling out my hair because *gasp* the library was closed. Lawrence laughed for hours over that one.

When we go in used stores the first place we hit is the books. There's just nothing like finding a good book. So last month when I was cashing in my credits over at Audible.com I decided to pick up the book called Inkheart. I read a review about it quite some time ago, and was finally ready to make some time to listen to it.

There was one small problem.. The book is so well written, and so well read that I was lost to the world for sixteen solid hours. I was found at all times with my ipod in my ears listening away, and when I was done I simply said, "You guys have to hear this!" It's true, it's an amazingly good book.

I'll also add that while it has fanciful creatures in it (fairies) it's not actually a book of magic at all. Rather the "spell" the title refers to is the captivation one feels when pulled into such an amazing story told be an even more wonderful storyteller.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

F.F.W.W.: Nim's Island

This week the boys will be finishing up an online class based on the novel Nim's Island. We really love Nim's Island, and the sequel Nim at Sea. They kept us captivated until the very end, and we must honestly say that it's one book where the movie followed along reasonably well. The boys fell so in love with Nim, that for weeks after we read the book the first time they fought over who'd be Nim as they played out the story. They roped the dog into being Selkie, and pulled out a few toy lizards to play Fred's roll. So we were delighted to see that Professor H was offering up a class on Nim's Island! In the class the boys listen to a short video and then compile a notebook as they go along. We opted to only participate in a few classes and wait for the rest to be posted so we could do them in a weeks (maybe a pinch more) time. This also gives us the opportunity to see about adding in a few fun things to complete our studies. So this week, on top of watching the ever funny Prof. H and compiling the notebook the boys will also:
  • Open a coconut (with a hammer instead of Jack's Machette), and after eating the meat use the shell for a bowl
  • Scour the seaside for shells, and check for messages in a bottle (you might have to read the book to understand that one!) -- I may put a message in a bottle in their workboxes
  • Record the coming and going of the tide
  • Check their weather stations daily
  • Read about hurricanes & volcanoes
  • Work on a weather notebook
  • Learn about Marine Iguanes, sea lions, sea turtles, & frigate birds
  • ride on a raft (possibly, we'll have to see how the weather goes)
  • Make flat bread (pita)
  • discuss emergency evacuation plans for our family
  • They'll also need to wrap up any of their outstanding Egyptian projects
What about you? What do you have planned for your Fun Filled Weekly Workboxes? Blog about it and then come back and link up! Don't have a blog and want to play along, leave us a comment and tell us what fun things you have planned for your workboxes!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Free Shipping On Books..

A Fellow Aussie homeschooler mentioned The Book Depository (UK) to me a while back (thanks Kim!), and I really love the website. It offers tons of books at low prices but you don't pay shipping to just about anywhere in the world, including Australia! I was delighted to learn this information, especially when I noticed many of the prices were similar to Amazon prices. The really cool part?

They just opened a branch in America! Why is this so cool for me? It pretty much means if the UK branch doesn't have the book I'm after the American branch will! I get to take advantage of the best of both worlds, and I never have to pay shipping. That's a big deal here, because often shipping to Australia is the price of another 2-3 books! The books arrive in no more time then they would if I ordered them from Amazon too! Oh, and incase you're wondering, their Customer Service is great too.

Another Rainy Day..

I haven't fallen off the edge of the earth, I promise! In fact, if you make the mistake of saying that Morgan will give you a rather long lecture on how the world isn't flat so it'd be totally impossible to fall off the edge.. That kid takes in a lot more then we give him credit for sometimes! We're still suffering through some dreary days here despite spring having settled in. I've been asked countless times if I've got webbed feet yet, but with the amount of rain we've had I think the webbing is taking over my body! It's gotten to the point where people all over our town have given up waiting for the rain to stop. You see them out doing ordinary things in the rain.. you know, walking the dogs (because not everyone's dog hides under a bush when it rains!), playing on the playground, and hanging up the washing-- outside.

In fact, I was beginning to feel guilty this week when I realized the haircutting cloth and apron were still on the back line (we had a few hours of sun this past weekend..) until I realized that my poor neighbors laundry wasn't just out in the rain, but it was blowing away (into our yard) in the rain.

I have to be honest and admit that on Wednesday we woke up to beautiful blue skies and warmth! It was so amazing and shocking we drew a smiling sun on the calendar to mark the occasion. We threw caution to the wind and went down to the beach. We spent too many hours crab hunting, barnacle inspecting, and shell collecting before pure hunger drove us home for lunch. We washed every piece of laundry we could possibly find and hung them all outside to dry! We opened the windows and beckoned all the fresh air we could in. When we woke up Thursday and saw the sun shinning again we repeated the day, but instead of laundry washing the boys stripped down to their bare essentials and went swimming in the icy cold ocean.

No, I'm not joking. Morgan came to his senses much quicker then Jayden who lamented it was quite unfair he had to come out and warm up for a while. After all if ones unders are all ready soaked and you didn't bring a spare pair to the beach why not just keep swimming? We eventually lured him out and set him to work digging for clams and crabs (none of which he found on the area of beach we'd claimed as our own.)

Needless to say when we woke up today and were found shivering around the heater and forlornly staring out at the abysmal sky it was a huge let down. Even the dog seemed less then pleased. There were no visits from Mr & Mrs Blackbird who've set up residence in our back garden. All though the boys opted to dash outside early and play Egyptologists before the rain fully set in.

I figure at the rate the rains falling I'll just start sending the kids outside for their baths, the dog can join them! If I send everyone outside with the dirty dishes and soap I can save water there too. And really, to be fully honest, I'm up for washing my hair in the rain. I mean, there's no point really in running the shower when it's constantly running outside!

I know I shouldn't complain about rain, there are parts of this country that are still in drought and thus under major water restrictions. I also know that all this rain will mean some big juicy watermelons come summer, and in fact we've all ready started to notice a few in our veggie shed this week! I'm also pretty sure the frogs and ducks are as happy as the clams, but wow I've no idea how on earth Noah and his family stayed sane for those 40 days and nights. I feel for him, I really do.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Learning Clock Face

We've officially wrapped up our main time telling lessons for a while, and we've simply been doing review. I may leave instructions in the kids journals for them, or I may print out a silly worksheet for them to tend to, or we play a fun time telling game. Either way, they've retained a good deal of what they know. Which means I can now find them reliable when I ask them to check the time for me, which happens quite often. Mainly because our new stove has no clock upon it. Not so cool when you must stand there and mix something for 2-3 minutes. I mean, really, but I'm getting distracted! The point is, that the boys are pretty good at telling time. Jayden needs no help with whole and half hours whatsoever. Yeah! Morgan doesn't need help to read a clock either, all though it can take him a bit more time to grab the minute number for me as he takes the time to count by fives around the face clock. Because I know he understands HOW to do it, I want to help him DO it quickly. So, I was tossing the idea around for quite some time of his lovely Timex watch. I wanted to put that on my clock, which I tried to do with a few Crayola washables (because I was honestly too lazy to walk down to the kitchen and unearth the sharpies from my secret hiding place..) and needless to say it didn't have the effect I was hoping for. I gave this a great deal of though and decided I would make one on the computer, and I did.

What You Need:
  • Learning clock face template
  • scissors
  • invisible tape (I used scotch)
  • double stick tape or glue (or even modge podge)
  • a clock & possibly a screwdriver to reach the face of said clock

Step 1:
  • Expose the face of your clock, and remove batteries that make clock hands run. Sometimes the plastic pops right off the front, but in this case we had to remove first the legs, then the guts, then the bells, and finally I was able to pull the clock out of it's little shell. Hopefully your clock won't be so difficult.
Step 2:

  • Cut out the Learning Clock Template. You'll need to cut around the dark black outline, or just inside of it if your prefer. Then cut up the dotted line, and around the black circle in the middle.
Step 3:
  • Place your double sided take on exposed clock face; by the 12, 3, 6, & 9 areas. Using the slit in the paper slip it over the clock hands (it's important that your second hand is NOT moving when you do this or you'll pull your hair out.. trust me.) Once the Template is over the hands center as desired, matching the 12's and smooth down. Place a piece of invisible tape over the cut you made.

Step 4:
  • Put your clock back together and hang it up where your children will ooh and ahh over how much easier it is to tell the time. Then, make it a real point to ask them quite often what time it is. Practice makes perfect and all that..

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

We've Been Featured...

The Aussie Pumpkin Patch has been featured on a few fellow blogs recently. These are blogs or sites that we visit frequently so we thought we'd share them with you. Free Homeschool Printables is a blog run be a fellow Aussie who shares various links for a variety of free things you can print off for use in your homeschool/school. Let's Play Math's Teacher's At Play #5 featured our Joey Math on Homeschool Math Blog. We were also featured on Aussie Homeschool.

We'll also be hosting another Give-Away coming up in the next few days, so you'll have to stay tuned for that one!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Happy Father's Day

To my husband: Happy Father's Day! (On time no less!!) Thank you for being such a wonderful father to our children. I've learned an unusually odd amount of things that our children think about you.. like the fact that you have a mustache (I think that's wishful thinking on their part), and that they both think you're very funny when you do science experiments with them. But, they both said the same thing (and oddly enough, they weren't in the same room when they said it..) You make them feel so special because when they are grumpy you can make them feel so much better. They know you're the best Daddy in the world.

FFWW: Egypt Wrap-Up

We had hoped to finish up our Ancient Egypt studies last week, but we had so much fun putting together a book for Daddy for Father's Day that we didn't quite manage everything we had planned for Egypt. So this week we have a bit more Egypt stuff & hopefully a field trip. The boys have really enjoyed their studies on Ancient Egypt, and were quite shocked at how disgusting the details of mummy making were in their Indiana Jones book. In fact, Morgan was so mortified by it he's not sure he wants to do our mummy lessons this week. Morgan's not really one of those "blood & guts" kinda boys. He's more into the bones then the guts, he's actually inspected many bones along our nature walks, but if he sees fur or skin on them he freaks out. So here's hoping we can do a small bit of mummy fun without giving the poor boy nightmares!

  • Build a clay pyramid (this may become play-do or blocks) after reading You'd Wouldn't Want To Be A Pyramid Builder
  • Make a sledge (this should be very fun as they'll need to operate it with their noses)
  • Wrap each other up as mummies after reading Mummies Made In Egypt by Aliki
  • Read about the "pecking order" in Egypt and draw a diagram of it for their notebooks
  • Discuss and notebook Moses & Joseph's roles in Egyptian History
  • Read about and notebook Cleopatra; add to timeline
  • Finish up their nile river replica so we can get a photo of it for their notebooks
  • Choose a Pharaoh crown to make and wear
  • Make & Play Senat
  • Field trip to the Honey Farm
Then the boys will have lots of fun sharing their Egyptian notebooks with Daddy and anyone else who will sit still long enough to listen. So if you live in Tasmania watch out!
What about you, what do you have planned for your Fun Filled Weekly Workboxes? Blog about it, and then come back and link up! Don't have a blog and want to play along? Leave us a comment to tell us what fun things you're planning for your workboxes this week!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Another CurrClick Sale!

Marcy pointed out that Currclick is having another fantastic sale again, and I thought I'd share about it. I always like cashing in on a great deal, and some of the products are over 50% off!! Not everything is on sale this time, just a few of the things from varying publishers. The items that caught my interest this time were put out by the folks from History Scribe. Morgan loves drawing and writing, so using notebooking pages that work that way is perfect for him.

I was especially excited by this find! History Scribe Scholar offers 36 of their history ebooks in one. It's also including the three varying levels they offer. It's currently on sale for $7.50 compared to it's normal $30 price. If you'd prefer it on cd, you can purchase it that way directly from History Scribe, but it's not currently on special over there. The idea is that the child draws a picture of what they've learned and then they write about it as well. These will be perfect to go along with our Gold study that we have coming up, not to mention the pending World War II study Morgan is really intent on. It also covers topics like Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome, Civil War, Colonel times and more!

This History Scribe Biographies has over 100 different papers for the kids to draw a picture and write about famous people throughout history. This particular ebook focuses in on world history, but includes a few well known Americans and even Biblical folks as well. Because I want to use these papers to go along with our history lessons I also picked up the 100 Famous Artists, 100 Famous Scientists, 100 Famous Writers, & 100 Famous Americans. Many of these will match up quite well with the books we enjoy reading for history. The really fun thing about these ebooks is that not only do they come with some amazing papers for specific people in history, but there's also a few blank pages, which means the boys can use the blank ones for the various famous Australians they'll be learning about too. These are all up for grabs for $1.32 right now!

Unfortunately, the one thing the history ebook didn't come with was Pioneer papers, and since we'll be studying this era in history I opted to pick up the additional History Scribe Pioneer ebook. This covers a large span of time and will work well with a few of our Five In A Row units as well as with our major pioneer study that we have planned. Some of the topics covered are Going West, Oregon Trail, Indians, Prairies, Homestead Act, etc. Considering we were going to do some studies out of the Little House On The Prairie books I think these notebooking papers will fit in well and save me a bit of time making some for our studies! It was very well priced at only $1.32 as well, I love it when we find a great deal like that.

I also picked up this Science Scribe ebook about Weather. It too covers a large range of weather information, and will go perfectly with our Nim study, or just to use in general. Morgan seems really caught up in the weather lately too. I'm not sure if it's a pure scientific interest, or just a, "when will it stop raining so we can go camping.." kinda interest. He's been slowly working on building his own weather station too, so I think he'll enjoy drawing pictures and writing about what he's doing/learning will be a nice touch for him. I think they'll both find it useful this summer as well to track clouds with for their nature journals.

I was delighted to see a Geoscribe book as well. My kids LOVE geography. They can't get enough of it. We have way too many maps hanging around this place, but they are always in use. The boys mapping skills are outstanding, as they proved when we went orienteering earlier this year. This ebook comes as a large zip file containing three large ebooks. One focusing on the United States, one focusing on Countries around the world, and one focusing in on mapping terms. I think my boys will be all over these ones, wanting to draw and write to make their own world atlas.

I also ended up picking up Bible Scribe, this is 9 ebooks in one where the kids can draw pictures and narrate (or write it themselves) stories of the Bible. This will go along beautifully with our study of the New Testament this year. I love that they can simply draw a picture of what their Bible verse means to them if they want, or of more specific things as we study them.

I also snatched up a copy of American Holidays & History Of Christmas by History Scribe. We'll be using them for a variety of things. While you can download all of these as ebooks from Currclick, you can also buy them on cd via History Scribe. No, I am in no way affilated with History Scribe, I just really enjoy their products. In fact, I'd really love to snag one of their Timeline books...