Sunday, July 28, 2013

2013 Week In Review: Week 21

Despite a sick child at the start of the week this has been one of our calmest weeks all year. In fact, on Friday when we were heading out to meet up with friends Morgan stated that he didn't feel frazzled & couldn't believe it was the weekend all ready. Apparently he knows it's the weekend, normally, because he feels like he really needs that break.

Now mind you, we didn't include writing for him this week because he was out with a pretty sore throat & rough ears for half the week, but he kept up with the rest of his studies.

Needless to say we had a really good week & our final changes for the year were put in place this week which allowed us a more relaxed, but still very full week. Our last change was nothing major, just choosing to meet up with friends a few Fridays a month instead of Thursdays. This just lets our whole week run so much more smoothly.

Both boys resumed math where they left off last term & didn't miss a beat. I was a little worried about that so offered up a smidge of screen time in exchange for specific sets of math fact review being done in advance. Morgan's swimming along with long division & quite confident with it, all though he was baffled how he knew the answers without having done the work first. I told him that hard work pays off when it came to those math fact review sessions. As for Jayden, I might need to hide the only digital clock in our home I found: 40:80 written as a time in his math book this week. Say what?! Ha, turned out he'd means to write 8:40, but because he all ready had 40 in for the hour he presumed he needed to write 08 for the minute.

Jayden is still studying Wetlands & animals that are native to those areas with his Animal Habitats theme. We've struggled a bit filling in his Animal Journal as we've not been able to actually get to a wetlands to record things. It hasn't dampened {excuse the pun} his spirits for the science though. He's enjoyed reading about the animals & filling out what he can for now. We're also using the "Take a walk" books which add quite a bit to the studies.

We visited Romania this week in our studies with Children Around The World. It was a bit heartbreaking to read through their history & then follow that up with reading about a family from Bosnia in the 1990's from Material World. I think Material World is such a lovely book to add to these studies, as it's one thing to read about these things, but when the boys see the pictures it just drives everything home for them. We've also been spending a good deal of time reading about the plight of children around the world who are forced to work for one reason or another. Jayden was horrified to know that it's still a problem today & did not die out with the Industrial Revolution. When a local commercial came on touting the joys of rugs for sale from Pakistan I pointed out that those very rugs could be made by children.

Morgan really loved science this week & I had absolutely no complaints from him. He was content to just take his book & listen to the lesson, do the assigned notebooking pages, & experiments as called for. I did have him narrate to me before we put anything in the empty narration pages, it allowed me to know what he comprehended from the lesson. So did having him do the Crossword Puzzle at the end of the week. Ignore the frumpy look in the photo above, that was taken on Monday when his ears & throat were really bugging him & he had a Dr's appointment for it looming over him.

This particular experiment was used a lot this week. The font was minuscule & you drop a dot of water on it to enlarge it. I had him use a plastic sheet protector over the book before dropping the water on it. He did it over & over on a variety of different sized fonts, which of course inspired his brother to have a go of it too. I was beginning to fear for the life of the book!

Jayden has finally accepted that writing is a daily part of his schedule four days a week. I'm not going to say he's in love with it, but he's also aware if it's not done he doesn't get to go swimming & swimming is something he does love. Let's call it a compromise. In either case he's doing quite well with it & I'm really loving the improvement in handwriting from both of them since starting with the lovely HWOT paper. Both of them are finally remembering not to throw capital letters into the middle of their words, & Morgan must find it a bit of a comfort factor because he grabbed a sheet of it to use for science copywork vs the provided space.

George paid us a visit every day this week, the pesky bird. Like how he comes up & peers in at us? When he's feeling especially cheeky he just comes up & lets his beak glide into view, then an eye, then a head.. He amuses us, what can I say. He had Jayden in absolute stitches during a writing lesson this week with his crazy antics, it really was quite amusing.

In order to come to a fair, & yet appropriate, compromise Jayden only does handwriting from his book 2 days a week. The other 2-3 days he does writing from his writing book. It leaves him less overwhelmed which means he doesn't complain about it. I'm also noticing better care in his handwriting since cutting back on it which makes this a win-win.

Morgan is nearly done with All About Spelling's Level 1. We found a few rules he was unaware of, but now that he knows I told him I was holding him to spelling those types of words correctly. The boys prefer to write with dry erase marker on the sliding glass door then use the tiles. Maybe because I desperately need to meet a giant who is 10' or so high who can change lightbulbs in my kitchen, where as our school area is beautifully sunny. Plus, who doesn't like getting to write on something you're normally not allowed to?! Jayden's a bit farther behind compared to Morgan, but most of that is semi-intentional on my behalf. He won't be long before finishing up with Level 1 either, &, like Morgan, I told him I plan to be much tougher on expecting good spelling based on rules they all ready know.

We've started reading through the Bible in 180 days. This is something I was offered in exchange for a review so I'll be more forthcoming with the details about the curriculum later. However, it was great timing for us in order for us to explore our new Bibles. I dunno about you, but I kinda hate getting a new Bible because it's never like the one you've used for years & years & can open in an instant to exactly where you want to be. Yep, I was given a lovely purple Bible which is actually very beautiful, in fact inside of it there are lovely pictures of places we read about, maps on the pages of scripture as we read, & more. It's really lovely. As for our reading, we've made it through Genesis 32 or the return of Jacob!

We've finally crossed the halfway mark with this lovely book. I really do love this story & remember having it read to me as a child, but I had no idea how long the chapters were & our plates were considerably full with many other books which meant this one didn't get read in the way it was planned. The story has finally hit some of the most exciting part & the boys are all a twitter with it. We're also reading The Journal Of Watkin Stench for our Australian History book. The chapters are incredibly short & I really think to get the most of the book we should read several at one time, but I refuse to pick up the pace with it until we've finished the lovely The Wheel On The School.

I had Jayden use his MUS blocks & clock template to make the clock for this weeks lesson to be sure he comprehended the whole hour issue after he wrote 40:08. He only used it for the duration of the video lesson & then we packed it up & put it away. The template is in my notebook which he's free to get out if he needs, but truthfully It was more a funny mistake then an issue of knowledge.

Thursday the boys had their first swim lesson of the term & they were super eager to get in & do their thing. We'd gone to great efforts to locate Jayden some new swim shorts & tops. Mind you, both boys went in dressed in black tops where as one normally has blue & the other red. Their poor coach was struggling again to tell them apart which was slightly amusing to me because Morgan wears a swim cap & Jayden doesn't. They were also delighted to make it to both swim practices this week as due to a fever last week we'd skipped out.

Friday we met up with friends for a nature walk at our local Arboretum. We walked around the water while enjoying a lovely scavenger hunt & then the kids worked on a group collage. The boys chatted about how much fun they had the entire way home, & probably would have continued if I hadn't told them go shower. They both smelled horrible after playing footy where the Native Hens do their business. Now there's one thing I don't miss about having Native Hens in my yard, the mess they make in the winter!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Apologia Science: A few Quick Notes

I just wanted to clarify a few questions & statements I've gotten since my last post on how we've adapted Apologia to work for us:

What about the narration pages in the notebooks?
I have scheduled the notebooking pages that go with this particular book, I've based those pages on the regular journal, not the junior journal. However, I did not schedule the "narration" pages because when my son is finished & I ask him the questions assigned for the day I also ask him if he took notes & has anything he'd like to specifically add to those narration pages for the day. If he says yes I let him narrate to his hearts content while I write fast enough that we often risk catching the paper on fire. Then I give him back his notebook & he draws in pictures that match what he's said. I also did not schedule the narration pages for specific topics from lesson 1 because that page had been done when we'd attempted to use this science book previously.

Do I have to do the lesson in the specified days listed? What does D1, D2, etc mean?
I chose to schedule the lessons in the term of Day 1 Day 2, etc. Simply because this is also how I tend to think of all our school plans. While Apologia has schedule it differently {you can find their schedule in the front of any of their accompanying journals} taking 2 days per week per lesson, that was still just too much for us. By breaking the lessons into even smaller bites we can do it more often, if we want, & still learn just as much. How much you do in a week is up to you, your family, & your schedule. Yes, in this instance my son will aim to finish 7 lessons in 10 weeks. He's pretty big on science though & thus far it's yet, experiments included, take him more then 10-20 minutes per lesson.

Do you have an affiliation with Apologia science?
No, I am not affiliated with Apologia, I was not given their books or material to review. Rather, in my searching for a science curriculum I settled upon Apologia. I use the term settled because there were a few things about it I was certain about in regards to my family, however we have enjoyed it when we've used it & I was very grateful to still have it on the shelf. My boys really do enjoy using the curriculum.

Do you add any of the extra suggestions to the science lessons?
No, I don't generally add much of anything extra to the Apologia science books. I know there are plenty of suggestions in the notebooks for videos & books. There are also some boards on pinterest by the author for extra ideas. I don't generally worry about it. I think the curriclum is complete as it is. However, if there's a video suggested that we own or I know I can view on YouTube then I mention it to the kids & if they want to watch it, go for it. I did also flag one craft that I know my kids will get a kick out of. Less is more. Trust me on this.

Does your son do the entire lesson independently?
Yes, I've set this up so my son can do the lessons completely on his own. He checks the schedule to see what pages he's suppose to read & where he needs to stop at on any given page. He goes off with the text & has a listen to the lesson. When he's done with that, he checks the Try This or Project & works through that, asking for help if he needs it. Then he checks in with me, I ask him the questions that are scheduled for the day & that's when he tells me about what he's learned. Pretty quick & simple.

Does your son read the lessons himself?
No, he's not reading the text he's listening to the text. There's a cd available through CBD if you want to purchase it that way. As members of we simply used one of our monthly tokens to obtain the audio version. He follows along in the textbook looking at the diagrams the author speaks of, & keeping track of where she's reading from so he knows when to pause for the day. I did not, however burn it to a cd for him, but instead popped it on the family ipod touch {which is the object in the photo above with the busted screen} so he can grab that & his headphones. Or, as is sometimes the case, he pops it on the base in my bedroom & lounges on my bed to do his science, experiments excluded.

Will you share the other 7 weeks worth of scheduling?
Yes, I will do the other 7 lessons in the book, but most likely not until the end of our current term, which will be at the end of September. I may do them sooner, but as I won't need them before then I can't promise anything. When they are done I will share happily share them. I like to try & stay focused on the smaller pictures at times rather then fuss about the entirety of it all.

Have you got schedules for all the other Apologia books?
No, I haven't done all the other books yet, but I will do have plans to use a few of the others in the near future. Jayden has requested to use Zoology in the summer, so I'll set up lessons for Zoology 2 {swimming creatures} for him then. We also own Astronomy so we may be doing that with Jayden next school year or just together as a family. Okay, so we actually own quite a few of these books & if/when we use them & I make plans I'll share them.

Will the schedule for the notebooking pages work with the jr journals?
We do own a couple of the Jr Journals, but I chose not to schedule that one because Morgan has always used the regular. If you choose to use the Jr Journal you'll simply have to adjust the NB plans/suggestions. They do differ just a little bit with colouring pictures in the jr journals, a bit less narration space, & no crosswords if I remember correctly.

Doesn't Apologia have a Young Earth view? Do you agree with that?
Yes, I'm very aware of the old earth/young earth debate & where these books sit within that. I am, however, completely uninterested in the debate or answering questions based on that thought pattern. I think there are many better things to spend our time worrying about. I choose to use these books because the majority of their content fits the needs my family has. It's simply that easy.

Where do you purchase your Apologia books?
I tend to purchase my Apologia books from CBD as they will ship internationally & generally the shipping is reasonable all though their prices did go up in the past year or so. Book Depository does sell the books & journals though if you'd rather purchase them that way. I've also purchased several used & had no issues with that either.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Term 3 Notebook

Another term is upon us & I find that term 3 tends to be our calmest term of the year. We've found our groove & the schedule that works best for us this year. There's no more last minute books or items arriving that we still have to figure out how to best use. The holidays {all be them fun} that plague our normal schedule at the start of the year are over & done with. We're far enough into our books that the boys can see their accomplishments & feel some sort of accomplishment. The changes or alterations that often get made at the start of the year are in place & things are now moving along like a well oiled machine.

This is extremely evident in my term 3 notebook. Remember how in term 2 I had to switch to a 3-ring binder because I was trying to balance so many things? A couple of science themes, a couple of main themes, notes, paper, and so much more. While the notebook was helpful in regards to storing everything I needed it was rather cumbersome in dragging around not to mention how much room it could take up on the table.

I was delighted to go back to my old trusty purple notebook this term which is nothing more then a cheap refillable Marbig A4 notebook that has a pocket on the front. I tend to stop up on those notebooks at the start of the year when they are on special. I pick up a couple with pockets & even more without,  & they never go to waste.

Last term I started making my own schedule for each week. I'm not going to lie here, at first it seemed silly & pointless, not to mention it took a good chunk of time. But the first week I did it nothing got forgotten & everything was in one place. The second week was even quicker to put together because I was able to just adjust a few things on my page & print it back out. By the end of the term I was able to have one ready to print out in a fraction of the time it took me when I started.

It also means my notebook isn't splitting at the seams! I simply adjust our schedule each week, entering in what I hope for each person to accomplish. I can fit it all on one, two sided, piece of paper, but I generally just print it on two separate papers so I can have them laying flat in front of me when I open the notebook. Each person is colour coded, thing done together have their own colour, & so on.

I adjust the week on the top, leave the date empty so I can fill it after I print it out, & change the weeks on the bottom so I knew which week we are in within our term. This is helpful for when a child asks when our next break is coming up, or knowing if I need to adjust work loads based on goals that need to be met during a term.

When I created the page from the very start I made sure I entered listed things in the pattern we like to accomplish school in. Meaning, that generally we start our day with Bible & read alouds & end with seat work. Generally when I waver from that schedule our days are a bit crazy. Oddly enough, though, our more calm Term 3 start has been the absolute opposite, & that's okay too.

At the end of the week I staple the pages together & slip them into a clear page protector which is filed in my file box. I doubt I need to do that, but I tend to be a little over cautious when it comes to keeping track of what we did incase I need to present that when our home evaluator comes.

Behind that I also keep:

Our Sonlight Timeline Schedule & timeline pieces. I don't normally need that schedule, but as we're not following SL as written this year it helps me remember to use them & know when to have the kids colour them in to fit on their timeline.

I also keep our Children Around The World schedule in there. While I don't need to look at it daily, or even weekly, thanks to the nifty planning sheet{s} I made up that are in the front of the book, I do like having the originals there. They are mostly for reference. If I open a book up & see that the page numbers are wrong I can quickly flip to my schedule & find the right pages. Discussion questions are on the original schedule as well as the Cultural Gathering ideas which really help round out the studies for us. I just keep a moveable tab on the week we are currently on. I don't bother to empty the notebook until the end of term, so the tab allows me to quickly find the week we're on if I need to.

After those I have Jayden's Animal Habitats schedule. In Term 2 I put those plans directly on my homemade schedule, but this term I decided not to. In term 2 we were using the theme in am ore full-on way, but when he decided to join in on the CAW theme we decided to go back to using it as a proper science theme. This was an easy switch as we own both the science & full themes. I also think making the switch has caused a deeper enjoyment for him with this particular theme. Because I don't have these written directly on my homemade planner page I simply keep a tab on the current week for this & flip to it when it's our time to work on his science theme. Thanks to the fact that these are page protectors I slip things into it also allows me to hold his lovely animal squares to his growth chart there.

Then I slipped in the kids World Travel Diary pages. While you can easily print out the entire book at one time, I just print out the pages we need for each week on the weekend prior & then stick them in my notebook. There's no fumbling looking for the right pages or wondering which order they go in. There's no excess unfinished pages in the kids notebooks. It's quick, simply, & organised. I also store their world flags there. Those are all on one page & they need one flag each week to glue into their book. Despite their own notebooks having pockets they always seem to spill out & be found upon the floor. That drives me batty. So instead I keep them in my notebook & they are allowed to fish them out if they need them.

I also have some plans a few friends & I made together for getting our kids together this term & doing some fun things. It has all the nitty gritty information, dates, & places we are meeting. I do transfer that information to the calendar, but generally not until each month pops up. Plus, you only show up 1 week early to a Dr's appointment & 1 week late to a field trip before you find yourself triple checking dates & times before heading out.

Lastly, I've got some Handwriting Without Tears paper in the back, all though Jayden is pretty certain it should just be called "tears paper". Not that he cries when it comes to writing or handwriting, but it's still not his favourite subject. I like to keep some in my notebook because it never fails that when I send a child off to retrieve some it takes them twice as long as it should. So by keeping some at hand I can just grab it out, assign the lesson & move on. Quick & simple.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Zig Zags

There were 2 things I wanted to do during our term break: sew a quilt & read a book. Pretty simple, I suppose, but I don't often to get to read "for fun" during our school year simply because it's far too easy for me to get sucked into a good story. So I prefer to save those lovely books for holiday time.

I had a few quilts flagged to make & was debating which one when I stumbled upon this pretty simple zig zag quilt. I pulled out a few scraps & had a go with it, but my initial fear was confirmed. I struggle with keeping the points on my triangles when quilting. While googling for something to help me conquer that battle I stumbled upon an even easier idea for a zig-zag quilt: rectangles. Rather then using triangles to create the zig & zag you simply used rectangles.

I don't generally struggle, too much, with lining up my seams so I knew I'd be okay getting the full effect. I ended up going out & purchasing material for the project, which hadn't been my original idea. However, the quilt shop I went to had a few bolts of autumn material on the clearance table & after getting over my shock of seeing $190 on her cash register I was okay. Don't panic, the quilt didn't cost that much to make. That was the price before measurements & sale prices were added. Afterwards it was just over $40, which was still pricey to me considering I had baskets of scraps at home.

However, I'm pretty cheap when it comes to do doing things & don't even use fancy batting inside my quilts. I buy the $5-$10 old ugly woollen blankets from the local op-shops & use those instead. Then I go one step farther in my cheapness & pick up old sheets for $2-$4 at the same op-shops & use that for my backing.

I was really pleased with how the top turned out, but you know I didn't end up finishing that quilt during our term break! The top is beautiful pieced together & awaiting some actual quilting to happen. I'm holding out hope I might just get to it this weekend, but I said that last weekend too..

Mr S is pretty keen for me to finish it up, he says it's because he can't wait to see the finished look, but personally I suspect it's so he can snitch it & curl up to watch footy with it. The boys, are a bit more honest & simply can't wait for me to finish it so I can make them each one for the trailer tent. Only, I'm thinking of trying the next one in this fashion. You know, so I can actually use up all those scraps I have in my scrap baskets. Yes, that was plural, & after I cleaned out all the scraps that were beyond useful sizes.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Massive Chess Board

Morgan is obsessed with Chess. Actually, he's always been obsessed with it playing it at full speed from a very young age. His favourite set is one we purchased for him as a Christmas gift when he was 4 or 5. It's actually Sesame Street characters, but he doesn't mind even at the ripe old age of 12.

In one of the towns adjoining us there's a large outdoor chess set. While we were over there last week Jayden wanted to have a game on it, but Morgan was so slow in joining him that a group of teen boys thought Jayden was just standing on the board. He was too embaressed to tell them he'd been waiting for his brother to join them & he refused to let me tell them. Instead he begrudgingly joined me in the quilt shop to pick up a piece of material.

The following afternoon Morgan set up a giant chess board in the lounge room from various colours of scrap & coloured paper. I was pretty impressed when I saw how big it was considering there was barely any room for them to move around & get their pieces.

They dragged out various stuffed animals to play the roles of all the chess pieces & kept which toy was which piece on the board straight for the many many games they played that afternoon. It was one of those drizzly rainy days & they played for hours!

In fact, Morgan was keen to keep going, but even after an extended break Jayden was showing signs of burnout & I suggested they put the whole thing away for the day. Life sized versions of games seems to be Morgan's specialty as he's always setting up life sized games, based on normal sized ones, for people to play. Love watching his imagination at work.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Apologia Elementary Biology

Morgan's been studying biology this year via science F with Sonlight. We've really enjoyed the selection of books, the ease of the lessons, & the fact that the lessons don't take much time at all to do. Morgan's been really disappointed by the lack of experiments with science F though, it dawned on me during term break that the biggest reason he's struggling with the lack of experiments is that he learns best in hands on situations.

We all ready owned Apologia's Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy & Physiology, & I pulled it off the shelf to see about matching up experiments with what we were learning. Then a lovely friend pointed out that I can get the audios that accompanies many of Apologia's books over at Audible. How did I not know this?! It was like opening up a whole new world! Seriously, it was that exciting to me. Easily amused, I know I know..

So after looking through our book again I decided to snag the audio with one of our monthly credits & break down all the lessons into small bites for Morgan each day. He listens to the audio while following along in the book. Then reads through the experiments & performs them as dictated in the book. He's pretty pleased with the hands on application. We also owned the journal to go with it, so I pulled that out & assigned the pages in a likewise fashion.

The thing is, we tried using this science book last year, but oh my goodness the lessons are very very long. I found that it was easily pushed to the back burner at the end of a long day or busy week. Which was one of the main reasons we switched to Sonlight science to start with, & we really enjoyed previous science themes with them. This is not to say we don't enjoy Science F, we have fully enjoyed all the books thus far. I simply needed to get that hands on learning in there in order for what he was learning to actually stick. In fact, we won't quit reading the remaining science F books, but simply work them in as we go along.

I've only planned out the first seven lessons, but if you're interested here's those plans:

You should be able to click on it to open a larger printable version if you're interested in that.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Term 3

Our two week break has flown by & we've fully enjoyed our time off. But it's back to business around here as we tackle another 10 weeks of school. I pulled most of the books we'll be using over the next 10 weeks up to the front of our book boxes, which also entices the kids to get excited about upcoming plans.

We only have one last story left to read in our Shakespeare book & it's the famous MacBeth. I discovered Unsborne also sells a version like this of Dickens stories which I'm debating picking up. The stories aren't the full versions, I wouldn't even call them junior adaptions, but they are just right!

Both boys selected books to read to me in the coming term. Jayden's set for the remainder of the year I think. The books I wanted Morgan to read through aren't here yet, which is okay too. I pulled a few off the shelf that I thought he might enjoy, but in one of those funny moments that can only happen when Morgan is involved he ended up begging to read Paddington Helps Out next. Then he had to verify that it was really the third book in the series.

We'll be traveling through the rest of Europe & the Americas, all though the majority of our books don't entirely reflect that. We'll be finishing off Wheel On The School & then moving into Water Sky. After that we'll dig into our lovely books on Africa which is the continent we'll be reaching in Term 4. We had a few missionaries to read about in Africa so we selected one to read about in Term 3 as well Listening for Lions which takes place in both Africa & Europe. I really love that book!

We were also given a copy of Seekers Of The Lost Boys by the author who just so happens to be a homeschool mamma who wrote a book with characters that happen to be homeschooled. We're very excited to read this story! We'd hoped to read it between Terms, but other things got in our way.

At long last we get to dig into The Journal Of Watkins Stench as well! I'm very excited about this. It'll be our first book back for Australian History & hopefully by the time we're done with that our next one will be in at the library: Surviving Sydney Cove. We'll finally be moving into the settlement of Australia!

It's just hard to imagine we only have 20 weeks of school left to our year! Unless you ask Jayden, then he says 22, he's counting his next 2 week break as part of his school time. Which makes me wonder exactly what he has planned for that two week break. I'm kinda hoping not much because the plan is to go away camping during that time.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mary, Joseph, & Jesus

The boys are on a huge drawing kick of late & when I walked I spotted this picture I asked Jayden who the people were. Without missing a beat he replied:

"Joseph, who ate too many donuts waiting for Jesus to be born. Mary got a little freaked out, it's why her hair is on end. You can only see Jesus' hand he's reaching up to grab something."

I managed to wait until he left the room to start  laughing.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Visitor

Meet George, the crazy currawong that visits us very regularly & has started bringing it's much more shy mate with it. No idea if George was a visitor before we moved into this house, but he was quickly attracted to our home shortly after we moved in. He use to go right up to Jayden's bedroom window & peek in at him. We thought he was heavily attracted to the shiny objects in the window, which the boys removed, but George still keeps coming daily for his visits.

Mind you, his biggest reason for coming is to pop up to the door, peer in at us to see if we are watching & then attempt to steal some of the dog chow from the bowl. However, even if the bowl is inside instead of out he'll still come up & have a peep in the backdoor then go scavenge things from the garden.

In fact, he & the dog had a big of a game one day. We throw the empty peanut butter jars outside for the dog to lick clean. Only, one day George was pretty intent to use his very long beak to get what the dog could not reach. Except Buster wasn't very keen that someone else was after his special treat. Which meant he'd wait until George's head was in the jar & then he'd sneak up behind him to chase him away.

Lest you think this bird is small, I tried to get a closer picture, but I'm afraid while George doesn't mind sitting on the fence while we stare at him, or popping right up to the door to see what we are doing, he doesn't seem to enjoy having his photo taken. He's a tricky fellow sitting there gawking at me until I pick up my camera or phone to snap his mug shot, then he gleefully steps aside so I can't get a proper shot.

He's especially sneaky about it when he brings his mate around, can you see them both in the photo above? The one farther back in the top left hand corner of the photo is the mate. S/he runs up to steal a bit of chow & then quickly dashes off to our trampoline to enjoy the spoils. They are also much less bold & do not peep in the window or door before helping themselves, they try to sneak up, instead. Hiding under the table & trying to stay in the shadows. It's offered us many hours of entertainment to watch them, that's for sure!

Friday, July 19, 2013

House Inspections

We had one of those annoying regularly scheduled rental inspections this week. They really aren't that huge of a deal, except that I panic about them & suggest people clean all sorts of odd things. Mr S says I'm crazy & really panicking far too much because we've yet to fail one of these lovely inspections.

So you can only imagine my moment of panic, after spending the week cleaning the house, & the day cleaning carpets to come up from doing laundry & find this absurd contraption stretching from the dining room to the kitchen.

The builder was beaming with pride at his cleverness while I was freaking out, & not figuratively but quite literally much to the poor child's disappointment.

He'd tied string to the dining room curtain rod {you can just make out the white stripe} & held it in place with those nifty pink hand weights. Then proceeded to slide things down it. First the wooden snake, then the wooden dino, followed by the crazy stuffed club penguin which was strapped to a coat hanger.

Mr S assured me it would all be put away before the morning & suggested we go out to eat instead of fussing over it. So we did. And it was put away. In fact the house was absolutely spotless in the morning & I found the boys sitting on the couch staring at nothing. I asked what they were doing & Jayden said, "Oh we're just waiting to play & make a mess until this whole thing is over!" 

"I didn't say you couldn't play! I just said not to make a huge mess!" 

And with that I wandered off to work on my quilt leaving them free to play. All was well on the home front as they came in & out of where I was working searching for markers & scrap paper. Nothing too serious. I managed to get half my quilt top sewed together when I decided they were a little to quiet & I should go check on things.

Which is when I found this:

Strung across the kitchen doorway. As in, they'd literally roped off the kitchen & hung this sign up, but just to be sure no one went in & discovered the explosion they proceeded to weave string hither & yon between the dining room & the kitchen!

I just stood there for a minute before exploding with, "Take this down right now!" 
"Mom, there's not really an explosion out there you know."
"But there's string blocking us from the kitchen!"
"Yes, but that's so you don't drown in popcorn."
"You said there was no popcorn explosion!"
"There isn't, it's a joke!"
"Then take this down right now!"

We went round & round in circles before Jayden said, "Take it down Morgan, she's not herself. She's freaking out can't stop cleaning person right now. Take it down before she makes you clean something!" 

We passed our inspection, but I found that sign laying on the kitchen counter after the agent left the kitchen. There were a few titters from the peanut gallery. I took a photo of the crazy sign & sent it to Mr S at work. His simple response was: "Ahh, so I see things are going as normal then, good to know, good to know!" 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Weekend Out..

A couple of weekends ago we drove into the city to catch the Hawks game & wouldn't you know it was some kinda wild weather. Thankfully I'd prepped Jayden repeatedly about the fact that the sky would be miserable & that it would probably rain, but not to panic we'd be under cover. He's petrified of wind & rain most of the time.

When the sun poked it's head out for about 10 minutes during the third quarter I got all excited because I was pretty sure I'd get the feeling back in my legs, but Mr deflated that balloon when he said he wasn't convinced it was the sun as much as the lights. Ha!

Morgan was disappointed he didn't get his sign made, he was determined to make a sign that said something down the lines of, "My father made me come, I don't like the Hawks." or something of that nature. He was going for funny & honest all rolled into one, I think. He was pretty eager to cheer for the Lions, all though disappointed in the outcome.

There was a competition at half time to show your support for your team & Jayde wanted me to SMS this photo for him. Yeah, well I kinda missed the number. Whoops. Mr S took Jayden down to the grounds afterwards to high five his team instead. He was most content with that, all though disappointed his favourite player wasn't the one who came to his side of the grounds after play.  And yes, that is a stuffed Lego Man, it's done many rounds with us including a trip to the US I do believe.

The boys each purchased one with their own money & then a week later those crazy dolls were half price! Mr S felt so bad for them he went & purchased them each another one. Despite having 4 at one time we are down to 3 3/4. Yep, you read that right. The arm of one fell off & we're pretty sure the other one was left reading a book at the library a few years ago. There were many tears shed over that, & still the occasional wonder of where the crazy doll might be.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Story of a cup..

Two weeks ago I spotted this mug in the local news agency. The one I pass everytime I have to go into the grocery shop. The Grocery shop I had to frequent a lot because I didn't place our monthly grocery order. This particular News Agency often has lovely things in the windows & we've often thought about getting a thing or two. For instance, once they had a book you could read aloud while it recorded your voice. I very quite nearly purchased it to send to my mother so she could record herself reading it for the boys. I'm glad I didn't, she'd all ready bought one, unknown to us, & mailed it to the boys for Christmas.

Another time Morgan spotted a footy ladder in the window & purchased that. He's kept it up regularly for a few seasons now, & it made a perfect excuse to work on percentages for a while.

Lots of times we just enjoy peeking in the window & looking but never purchasing. Such was the case when I spotted this mug. Then, one evening, we were all cold & tired but in desperate need of vegetables after picking up Mr S from work. I wouldn't let the kids stay in the car alone because it was, well dark. So as we're all traipsing in & attempting not to slip on the very wet entry way I spot the mug again & whisper to the boys that they should purchase said cup for me because after all I am the best teacher they've ever known. My plan worked & Morgan busted up in a fit of giggles while Jayden rolled his eyes but then asked how much it was. 

For an entire week, without fail, I teased all three guys as we passed the mug. Which is the only thing that made having to stop at the grocery so often for fruits, veggies, & meat bearable to be honest. By the end of my week of ribbings Mr S decided to play along & said, "Well I couldn't possibly give you that cup because you'd have to work much harder to earn it!" 

Of course I told him that was completely inappropriate for the principle to say & considering I held a lot of weight with the board of directors of our school he'd better be careful what he said. The boys were utterly confused & I think the people behind us were making a wide girth as they hurried into the shop themselves.

The following Monday after dropping Mr S off at work Jayden informed me we were out of dog food. What?! Seriously?! I think I even followed it up with a, "You couldn't tell me that while I was actually at the store one of those bajillion times last week?!" Yeah, well anyway, the point was we needed dog food & the dog wasn't going to be particularly understanding if he didn't get some. 

So we trekked off, once again to the local grocery shop. Only, because I was going early the News Agency was actually open. I did the only sensible thing one can do. I went inside & purchased the mug. Obtained dog chow from the grocery & made a mad dash for home. I washed the cup & put it up in the cupboard next to the glasses Mr S uses the most. Only he decided not to use them that night..

Luckily I'd promised to make pudding for the starving men-folk & the little dishes we serve it in were also on the same shelf. So I asked Mr S if he'd grab them down for me, because honesty unless I climb on the counter I can't reach them anyway. He did, but didn't even notice the crazy mug!

So I asked him where the crazy pudding cups had been,
"Where they always are, why?"
"Just wondered."
"Obviously I was suppose to see something I didn't."

He opens the cupboards spots the cup, busts up laughing & then says, "That was totally unfair, I was going to sneak down there tomorrow & get the cup!" And you know, he probably would have too.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Review & Freebies

Our latest review is up over at The Curriculum Choice. It's about schedules & routines. We really enjoyed the quick read of this book, but don't be fooled by it's simplicity I really feel like I should read some sections of it again. Anyway, if you're interested in hearing more you can head on over there to check it out.

There's also a free download over there right now for helping you plan your new school year, or your coming school term if you're in Australia. Lots of links & information in choosing curriculum for all grade levels & just about every subject line. as well. So if you're looking for a little inspiration or just enjoy checking out what others are up to you might enjoy checking out the latest post.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Fun Finds

A couple of weekends ago Mr S announced, over breakfast, that our local book shop was having a sale with books as low as $3 & $5. Sadly, the first thing all of us asked him was, "How do you know?" Yes, well anyway. We had a few errands to run, like dropping his computer off at the shop & watching the look on the guy's face when he attempted to tell us what we needed to do & Mr S casually says, "Oh yes, I've tried that and.." which led to a 10 minute explanation of what he'd done.

However, we did eventually make it back to the book shop & while they did have books that low they weren't any of the books we'd hoped to find. So after perusing the isles & coming away a little poorer after purchasing the kids each a book we ran by our favourite Chemist & discovered the used book shop in town was open. We, being the boys & I while Mr S was in the chemist, decided to go see if any of the books we were after were on the shelves there.

While I can't say we found any of the books we were looking for, which is often the case, we did however find a few books that cost us all of $9 all together. I spotted Heidi Grows Up & was shocked to see it marked for $1. Jayden has been desperate to hear the rest of Heidi's story & know if all that he guessed might happen to her really did. It would be an understatement to say that Jayden speaks of Heidi as an old friend, more like a long lost sister I'm afraid.

Did you know the author of Heidi Grows Up is actually the translator Johanna Spyri used when writing Heidi? The original Heidi was written in German, which just proves my point to Jayden that we really should learn German. I digress.. For $1 we've picked ourselves up a fun read for the summer ahead if we don't get to it sooner then that.

I spotted this on the shelf of classics & was rather surprised to see it & also see that low price inside the front cover. I think the lady working the shop was too because she squealed with joy when she saw the book commenting over & over how we'd found a really goody & we should never ever part with it because it was far too special of a book for that. Pretty sure we discovered the book of her childhood! Mind you, I'm glad she was squealing because that way no one could hear me doing the exact same thing!

I love it when we find some real "goodies that we should never ever party with" when we pop into the book shop. After snagging these two books we made a rather abrupt run for it so if there were other treasures on the shelf we didn't spot them. However, I heard the lady locking the door & decided we should leave so she could go home & enjoy the remainder of her day. Of course when she couldn't get the door to unlock to let us out I said, "At least we're in a good place with plenty to read for the weekend" The boys giggled & started talking about the little girls from Thimble Summer who got locked in the library. Mr S, on the other hand, told the lady if she stepped aside he'd give it a go. Apparently the idea of living in a used book store for the weekend was freaking him out.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Botany Bay

I said I would share more information about this book which is what I'm about to do. If you're worried about the book being spoiled before you read it then you might not want to read the next paragraph or two.

This book is written based on the French Diary of Julienne Fulbright. She, accidentally, stowed away on a French ship headed for the new colonies in Australia. The story, based on her diary, tells of the voyage there, the time spent there, & how her amnesia effected her. In the end of the story her memory returns & she suddenly realises who she really is, the captain of the boat she is on has suspected it but because she claimed she was a boy did not question her about it. However, that is where the story ends. If you're looking for a happy reunion for this young lady with her family it's not there. The book ends when the diary ends. No one knows whatever happened to this young lady, the crew from the ship, or the ship itself. It simply did not make it to it's final destination. The letter they sent back to France gave one date for departure while the British in Sydney Cove claimed several days later. They found the remains of the ship sunken off the coast of an island. They also found remains of what appear to be French items of that time period. The journal was one of the things they found. There are theories of what may have happened to the group of people, but nothing certain. Over the years they've sent different groups from France to go & check the place the ruins were found &, as of the time the book was printed the latest group had found that diary.

Now, as for the book & lending itself to Australian history. It was a delightful read. It explained how other countries, the French in particular, saw the treatment of the prisoners in Sydney Cove. It also shed light on how they saw the way people were behaving that were in command. That is not to say that it differs from the British or Australian accounts, but simply that it agrees with it. However, while the book was delightful & the date of the book lended itself to this particular time in our studies, I do think it would be better suited to reading during the time when you read the My Australian Diary of Surviving Sydney Cove.  This is also a deep & semi emotional story. This young girl has no idea who she is & only trusts one man on the ship enough to tell him. There is much she suffers through & sees as well. It was not above my children by any means, but our Jayden didn't care for the book. 

He struggles with books that have a lot of deep emotion & not enough action. So it wasn't a huge surprise that he didn't enjoy the book as a whole. There was not much action in the book in regards to major things happening.  We ended up countering this book with a whole lot of Paddington which had him laughing hysterically the whole time.

All that said, we did enjoy the book, but I'm super excited to start the next one I had picked out: The Journal Of Watkin Stench. Which is a telling of the journey on the First Fleet from the view of a rat. We had to wait on this book to arrive in the mail & then we had the wrong book shipped to us which meant double the waiting, but at long last it's here so I'm very excited to get started with it!

Monday, July 8, 2013

2013 Week In Review: Week 20

Our final week of Term 2 was a bit of a hodge podge of things we wanted to wrap up before stopping for a 2 week break.  One of those things was Morgan's paper ear model that went along with his science for the week. He's a bit farther behind in the science that we had aimed to be & might end up with a couple of weeks that trail into the summer, but that's okay. He was a little annoyed with the cochlea because he'd used a tri colour crayon on it that turned out more like scribble then rainbow. Whoops! The whole thing folds down & there's a paper ear that sits on top.

We also tried our hands at a few minor experiments in regards to hearing. Nothing major, but he enjoyed them which is what counts the most!  We also started another book that goes with Science F, Food & Nutrition for Every Kid. We may pick & choose which chapters we read within that book though.

In case your wondering the ear model came from the Scholastic Human Body book I mentioned last week. The book matches up really well with this particular science core & offers a bit of hands on. It's also more fun to build the model then label it, all though I've still had him label them as well.

The boys are still singing Advance Australia Fair with much gusto. We'll start a new hymn next when we resume in Term 3. I think we're diverting from the original plan because Jayden has one he's desperate for us to sing. 

We wrapped up our reading of Job & will start in I Timothy next term. Yes, we bounce around a little with the plan we are using, but that's okay. We're looking at reading through our Bibles in 180 days too so we might change our original plan, who knows! The boys started working on a new set of verses in the Memory Box, sometimes we move through verses quickly & sometimes it takes more time. Jayden is still the quickest of all of us though.

We wrapped up this book which had a rather miserable & disappointing ending in our opinion. In fact, I'll have to share in detail about the book later. I also think I slipped it into the wrong timeframe for Australian history despite the dates of young Jules Diary. I'll explain that later too.

Both boys continued reading their books to me. Jayden reads very well, but is prone to skip words instead of sounding them out so I still have him read aloud to me regularly in order to be sure he's improving with those larger words. He's currently reading an Adventure's In Odyssey book to me about WW II, once that's finished he'll start working through the stack of books I shared before.

Morgan was hoping to wrap his book up by Term Break, but he had that week with a sore throat {again} & I told him I thought it best to rest his throat & not read to me. His reading is coming along really well too & his goal is to read Lord Of The Rings by summer. For a child his age that might seem like a pretty easy goal, but you have to remember Morgan is behind in regards to reading levels due to his SSS. Having said that, he's really making a lot of progress which is evident in the ever growing stack of Geronimo Stilton books he's read & the daily reading aloud to me. I especially love his old person voice & his raging voice. All though I try very hard not to giggle.

Thursday we met up with some friends for a day of planning & playing. The boys are attempting to work their way of handcuffs that were hooked together. They spent the rest of the evening telling us all about the fun they'd had & then completely forgot to attempt this trick on Dad when he got in from work. Which might have also had something to do with the fact that they realised they'd lost Jayden's handcuffs at a local park.

The boys had their final swim lesson of the term on Thursday as well. They enjoyed showing what they remembered from the term & then worked on more safety/survival skills which had the parents laughing quite a bit. Which might, or might not, have had a lot to do with their swim coach squealing a lot. The above picture shows them trying to help a friend who was struggling to stay afloat in the water. Jayden is in the red up against the wall as he'd all ready had a go & there was an uneven number of students. Morgan is the one in the middle with the green hat & blue shirt. 

They both finished up a math lesson I'd intentionally dragged out as I didn't want them to jump into new stuff until after term break. Much to Morgan's disappointment we skipped writing this week because I opted to have term break start on Friday & I knew we'd be too busy on Thursday to get his fourth day in. Instead I bought Sword In The Stone for him to watch.

Odd thought, perhaps, but we'd read a portion of the book that movie is based on & he was so smitten with the reading I picked up the movie. We've put the book on our Summer reading list which actually works very nicely since that's the time period he'll be studying in history next year! 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Silly Boy

I was making dinner one night last week when I looked up to see this strange fellow sitting across from me. He looked up and, I'm not joking, when I say his moustache was quivering. Mind you, it was only a paper one, but it was quivering all the same.

What you can't see is that he's wearing a pair of dress pants Mr S wore to his 40th birthday party, op shop specials. They were too big on him so he stuffed the legs & stomach area with pillows which caused Jayden to laugh so hard we had to remind him he still needed to breathe.

Morgan just sat there all casually & said, "Mom do you think I can still borrow some of Jessica's Geronimo Stilton books?" He's been on a GS craze around here lately knocking of the Kingdom of Fantasy versions, which we've all heard every last detail of, & then read one he'd purchased himself called The Way Of The Samurai. Yes, slightly cheesy books, but he enjoys them & is simply delighted he can read them on his own with his glasses.

Apparently his cousin owns a large stack & he's keen to raid them for a few new reads. I suggested he call her, but apparently his moustache was in the way & he was not willing to remove it until after he'd greeted Mr S at work dressed like that.

Mr S held it together for about 5 seconds before he doubled up in laughter & then said, "Right I think I'd like to stop by the shop on the way home for chocolate." Morgan enjoyed the joke until he found out I really was stopping at the shop for veggies, mind you we let him stay in the car all though I think the clerk might have enjoyed the laugh..

Thursday, July 4, 2013

More Science Fun

After Morgan put together the double helix in the DNA kit he wanted to do another experiment, but he really had to wait on the chilling alcohol before extracting the DNA. So I reminded him he'd purchased another Ein-O's science kit with some pocket money he had & told him he could give that a go instead if he wanted. 

Honestly, it was a very basic kit with a few nifty pipettes, some pots for mixing colours in, & a nifty tray with holes for mixing even more colours. While it was nothing fancy I think it was the lure of mixing & being a crazy scientist that really lured him to it. He'll love Chemistry.. 

Unfortunately his glasses were missing, yet again, so I read him the instructions in the booklet which were too small & on the wrong coloured background for him to deal with without his glasses, which eventually turned up. They always do. In weird places. 

That's what he ended up with when he was done. The table is altering some of the colours in the pots, but basically he started with a clear liquid & went through primary colours to make more complex colours by mixing & matching. The smaller pots are suppose to show colour gradients based on how much color & how much clear are mixed together. Nothing fancy & he had more fun making his own colours up in the end, but he was pleased with it.

Jayden decided he didn't want to be left out & pulled a kit out himself. He found a heat one we'd somehow overlooked & never ended up opening. So he did the ice on a rope trick. Apparently he's never seen it before because he was pretty impressed with the results. He worked on seeing how many he could get on the string at a time before I suggested he leave some salt in the pot considering he'd grabbed the good salt & not the craft salt.

He also pulled out his old Bubble Kit which saw a lot of action in it's day. He'd gotten a little pot of bubbles for his birthday so he used those to experiment with. Only, he made this huge bubble so Morgan & Mr S got in on it too in an effort to help him make the biggest pot of bubbles ever. Mr S came after Morgan & it was quite huge, but the device I used to take the photo with crashed & I lost the photo. Yep, this is how we spend weeknights, which, according to my boys, beats hibernating like I suggest every winter.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Weekly Check Lists

In my efforts to encourage the boys to be more independent in their learning I've been playing with ways of providing them lists of what they need to do for the week. We've tried a few different methods, but I ended up with these lists I made on the computer. My biggest reason for doing it this way was that it was a quick cut & paste, rearrange, & slight edit to make a new one each week. If I was less detailed I could probably just print a fresh one off each week without out editing any part of it, but I tend to be very detail oriented.

The idea is that the list is broken down by days of the week, running alongside the left hands side, & subjects across the top. They can choose to tick off accomplished things in any manner they want, but the big thing is I shouldn't hear, "I didn't know I needed to do that.." because when I do I point out that it's simply because they didn't refer to their checklist.

Both of the boys have their own, which sadly, is colour coded. Jayden's favourite colour is blue so his list has the blue header on it. Morgan's favourite colour seems to fluctuate based on his mood so he's been assigned the colour green on all my planning sheets, family calendars, & even when I buy colour coded school supplies. Yeah, I actually do that. This makes my planning sheet pretty easy to figure out too as, much to Mr S' horror I've colour coded my entire family. Yep, true story.

As for the planning sheets, they go on a clipboard, which is also in their designated colour. Now, if you think I'm going over board in all this colour coding then you've clearly never watched your children have a knock-down-drag-out over clipboards that happen to be the same colour. It's just easier to eliminate the problem before it happens. So they have their own special coloured clipboards that hang on small hooks in the school room.

The idea is that we discuss everything they need to do on it at the start of the week & evaluate as the week progresses. If, for instance, on Wednesday Morgan is feeling frustrated because he hasn't accomplished as much as he feels he should, we check it over. We might bump things around or spend a bit of time getting him caught up. At the end of the week we just flip them over & print on the reverse side.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Body Book

Remember that $1 sale that Scholastic had on recently? I mentioned that the Easy Make & Learn Project book was on special again as well as another book entitled The Body Book. I picked up the later as it had slightly more complex projects for older students.

Last week Morgan made the layered eye project after we learned all sorts of new stuff about eyes, sight, & all that goes along with it. The project folds up nice & small like this & can be hole punched to slide into the science section of his notebook. But, it's actually a bit more complex then it looks & can open up into several layers.

This is with the first two layers lifted. The one you can't see is the outer eye lid, which you saw in the first picture. The one at the base of the photo is actually covered with plastic wrap to create the effect we needed. Each piece in the center of the photo lifts up until you get to the base page which has the a tiny little optic nerve. It was a great in-depth view of an eye without actually having to dissect one!

For $1 I think we got quite the bargain with this little book! It adds a really nice hands on aspect to our science this year, which makes Morgan happy, which in turn makes me happy.