Saturday, September 28, 2013

Taking Notes

When Morgan listens to his science I've mentioned that I have him take notes. Normally he tucks them in his pocket or puts them somewhere safe until he's ready to tell me about things he's learned. This week we sat down right away & he slapped that paper on the table. I took one look at it & had no idea what any of it meant. Not one clue. Not that I had to know, they were his notes. But seriously, not one clue!!

Would you believe those crazy drawings that look like they belong on a cave wall somewhere equaled a good 20 minutes of telling me all about what he learned, filled a notebooking page & two booklets for his notebook, & he still managed to remember more things throughout the day.

I don't require proper note taking for things like this because I feel it's better he concentrate on leaving reminders for himself in whatever way possible that won't distract him from the lectures. When I take notes it looks a lot different. I have sentences written down, things scribbled in the margins, a few diagrams, some words circles, underlined, or even boxed in. You know the way it goes, right?

Jayden takes notes too when he's listening to his science, but they often result in words. Just one word will spur his memory to remember full pages of information as well, or at least enough information to show he understood the days lesson. He does, occasionally, draw a picture here or there, but not very often when he's taking notes.

Funnily enough, I'm pretty sure each person's note taking represents them rather well. Which leaves a person wondering exactly how others choose to take notes in non formal settings...

Friday, September 27, 2013

Week In Review 2013: Week 30

 And just like that we wrapped up Term 3! It was a tough week for the boys, though, as they just wanted to get on with the fun of being on break. I couldn't truly blame them, but I reminded them that it wouldn't be nearly as satisfying if we didn't finish up our intended goals. So terry on we did.

We were still done by midmorning on Thursday, all though I do believe 1 child has a couple of science sessions lingering. We'll have a small discussion/meeting about that & decide what he wants to do. They could be pushed to next term, but it will mean that he can't slack off as he'll be on a slightly narrower deadline to finish it up by the time we wrap up all of our final term.

We wrapped up both these books on Africa this week & will start some new books on said country next term. My boys adored the top book which was added in to our literature as the author sent us a copy in exchange for a review. The bottom book was our first African missionary: David Livingstone. We found him a little disappointing to be honest. Or at least I did. I found his story lacking spiritually compared to the other missionaries we've learned about this year, & thus I found many of his choices & actions very selfish.

We enjoyed reading about Libya this week in our Children Around The World book. Yes, we're leaving a continent undone between terms, but we'll wrap it up upon our return. In the mean time this was the country we focused on this week as well as a gentle introduction to the peoples of Africa.

They each worked on some notebooking pages about Libya too. This weeks pages encouraged a lot of writing from the readings we did, which was lovely. Sometimes the pages just require drawing or cutting & pasting, but this time there was a significant amount of writing too.

Jayden moved forward with his science learning about pandas, which he doesn't remember seeing in person many years ago, & sea otters which he also saw in person once upon a time. Don't ask about the pencil... I suggested against it because I felt the top end heaviness would lead to poor penmanship, he disagreed. Needless to say the pencil is now banned from copywork sessions.

Morgan finished off some little things from Chapter 6 in his science book & moved into Chapter 7. The idea had been to finish up all of Chapter 7 this week, which was well scheduled in order for him to accomplish it, but goodness it was hard to concentrate this week. We'll discuss his options for that later.

Morgan gained a few more lessons in AAS 2 this week while Jayden may have finally tackled the lessons holding him back in Level 1. Time will tell, all though I don't expect absolute perfection each time I need to see more right then wrong too. Having said that I saw a lot of rules applied & used in their notebooking pages this week which was a good sign that when we start back in Term 4 they'll both be ready to keep moving forward.

They both had 2 practices & lessons this week, hurrah! Yes, that's one of my children wearing a shark cap in the pool. It cracked most of us up. It was a lovely quiet lesson this week as only one other child aside from ours showed up. We've decided we'll take a full 2 week break from all swimming.

And now we're ready to relax!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Mad Scientists Club

No, we didn't start a new club with friends, we found a book on our shelves. Each year for Christmas since the boys were babies they've always been given books. It's just one of those lovely traditions. Some years the books are ones they've read throughout the year & fell in love with. Like the time I bought Morgan a few Humphrey Hamster books & a little stuffed Hamster to go with it. Then there are years when we get them books that they've not read, but we know they'll enjoy. Like last year when we bought Morgan a book on building robots, complete with parts! The ideas are truly endless.

Grandparents also join in on this lovely tradition. The boys have scored some really lovely books over the years & of course books given to them by grandparents tend to be a little bit more cherished. In fact last night we heard a whole bunch of noise coming from the room the boys were sleeping in & upon deciding we'd break in & catch them in the act we realised they'd pulled out a book Mom had sent them. One of those books you can record yourself reading, needless to say no one was sprung for anything!

I can't honestly remember if it was last year or the year before but Mom selected a lovely collection of stories called The Mad Scientists' Club. This was one of those situations where we'd never read the books before, but were really excited to read it! In fact, the book was selected as the "summer camp book". Do you have one of those?

When we go camping my boys love being read to sleep, or while waiting for Daddy& cousins to wake up, uncles to return from early morning runs, etc. Of course we have to be careful, because we've lost our books to said family members when we've left them laying around camp. We'll never forget the night we were quietly reading our book in the tent when the boys Nana's voice rang out with, "Who took that book about the dog that's a spy? I was really enjoying that book & I can't find it anywhere!" There were a few snickers, turned gaffaws emanating from our tent.

As for The Mad Scientists' Club we never ended up reading it! I don't truly remember exactly what happened & why the book was never packed with the camp supplies, or if it was why we never read it. Needless to say it spent all year, once school started, sitting on the shelf collecting dust while it awaited someone to open it up & read it. While moving Morgan to a new room I emptied his bookcase & found the book.

Upon sitting on the floor & reading through some of it & admiring the art work in it, I love how the older books use to have the occasional drawn picture inside!, Morgan said, "You never read us that book! We were going to read that anytime we camped & you never did!!" Needless to say when the mention of a possible camping trip was coming up between term breaks the book was rescued from the shelf where I promptly covered it contact paper, hey anything can happen while camping! & then flagged the first story in the book.

Not being familiar with the books I'm choosing to read them out of publication order. Now, as a die hard Narnia fan I'd roll my eyes if I heard someone suggesting doing this, so if you're a die hard Mad Scientist Fan you'll have to forgive us! We read that The Big Kerplop! is actually the first in the series & explains how the club was started, how the protagonist came to be such a person, & other tidbits despite being published many years after the first book.

Funny thing is, we also learned that the author had the exclamation mark in the book title, but when it went to print the published dropped the exclamation mark. Go figure! Anyway, apparently upon reprint, or was it second print, brought the exclamation point back. Now that we know a little back story to the books we're even more excited to dig into it during term break. I doubt we'll finish the entire collection during that time, but that's okay we'll be camping during summer holidays too!

Of course, now we're curious to know if anyone out there has ever read The Mad Scientists' Club? Have you read any of the books? Our lovely big book has all 4 titles combined into one: The Mad Scientists' ClubThe New Adventures of The Mad Scientists' Club, The Big Kerplop! & The Big Chunk of Ice. So, how about it, have you read any of these books?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Praying For Children Around The World

One of the things I've really appreciated about our studies with Children Around The World this year is the fact that the plight of children far less fortunate than my own have been brought to light. It's been equally balanced out which children who may live similar lives, but always with the foreshadowing that there are those in the world who have less. Those that go without, those who could use our help.

As children it can be hard to consider that there are others out there who need help & wonder what you can do for them. So it's lovely to see the various prayer charts in the Prayer & Investment Journal. We've printed out a copy which I keep in my planner to remind us if what we're praying for children around the world on a given day of the month. Prayer is something even the smallest of children can do for others.

The particular chart above is just a basic prayer chart for children around the world. There's another one for children who are living in war torn countries with requests specific to things children might need or suffer through. Of course while we are praying for the children around the world it's fair to say that the adults of the world could use the same prayers as well.

The Journal also has many websites & charity ideas a child could participate in to offer help via funds or clothing to be sent to children around the world. I'm going to be honest & say we haven't focused deeply on those because when we come to the end of our studies I'd like the boys to pick just one of those foundations to give to in order to help a child somewhere.

There's also things like Operation Shoebox that offer them the chance to help a child somewhere around the world, or even many children depending on how many boxes one chooses to fill & if one can locate a donation drop off centre in their area. A local video shop also, annually, runs a canned food drive. Bring in a tin of food get a free film. We often take in several tins of food, & they always try to offer us excess films in which we decline. It's not that we wouldn't watch the films if we had them, but I think it's equally important for us to remember we help because we want to & because it's the right thing to do, not because we get something other then the sense of a job well done.

My children were recently able to see this sort of thing in action when, in town last week, we ran into a women trying to order some food a local sandwich shop. The clerk kept shouting at customer that she couldn't hear her. The women kept repeating herself in her very quiet voice & then gesticulating at what she wanted. I was appalled that the clerk didn't come out from behind the counter to ask the women what she wanted & instead walked over to ask if I could help. Thus, taking the customers order & relaying it to the clerk. The boys wanted to know if the elderly women was one of my friends, or maybe Nana's, but I told them I had no idea who she was other then someone desperate to order food.

It also lends itself greatly when my child screams, "It's so unfair! My life is so hard!" Yep, I've heard that cry before, all though not in a few weeks. In fact when it was last heard we sat down & I asked my child if he had a clean bed, water, clothes, medicine, food, etc. The mere access to those, in the excess he has, means that his life is far from hard. We reminded him of some of the families we've read about in Material World, in particular a family who's home is full of bullet holes. The photo of a women who rejoiced upon crossing a street without getting shot. The children all sleeping in one bed. The women who walked 3 nights to get to a feeding station in Africa. Suddenly his inability to have an extra turn on an electronically device seemed null & void in the grand scheme of things.

It helps put things in perspective. It helps remind us that stressing over when we can return library books, what day we'll go grocery shopping, or if the carpets are vacuumed are considered a great luxury by some people in the world. Which reminds us of just how blessed we truly are.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

More Large Maps

It only took us the first three terms to get a supersized map of Australia hung up, but we finally did it! We used a slightly different technique for putting this one together too. Instead of trimming the paper we just taped them, on the back side, together edge to edge. Then I used a black marker to connect the lines. For the most part it worked without issue except down there on poor old Victoria where her coastline is a little messed up.  Don't get too picky about our waterways either, will you?

We've added our tags from Winter Promise & were a little disappointed at the lack of them. With the USA we had a tag for each of the 50 states so we'd rather hoped we'd have 7 tags for the states & territories of Australia. We also only had a couple of cities to label. But, in all fairness that's okay. The idea of the map wasn't so much for our CAW studies as it was/is for our lovely Aussie History studies. I like to have the kids find the places we're reading about on the maps & label them. Thus the super sized map.

Mind you, we haven't labeled much, but that's okay too as we most of what we've read, thus far, has taken place in Sydney Cove area. We'll start with some early explorers, all though the Bass Straight might all ready be labeled there. And yes, we know Tasmania is slightly squashed & dumpy looking. It threw us for a loop for a while because I couldn't quite put my finger on what was wrong with the map until we had it all taped together & noticed that it was Tasmania that was doing us in. Alas...

This was the 25 page map & I simply didn't put on the top lefthand corner because it was going to be blank, the same for the bottom left pages. You will have some blank ones in the middle as it's not a political map & we outlined the states & territories ourselves. Once we had the states drawn in I called all hands on deck to help colour them in. The idea was to pick a different colour for each state so none were confused with another, but in the photo the Northern Territory &  New South Wales look the same colour. One is actually pink while the other was read, but I think my "all hands on deck" may have cross coloured them at times because they do seem to blend together a bit at times. Oh well.

If you haven't made a supersized map you've really got to try it out! We still need to make one for Africa & Asia to round out our CAW studies & then we might be able to lay them all next to each other & see how they hook up. We might need a really calm day to do it in the back garden, you know as long as we can keep the dog off the maps!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

2013 Week In Review: Week 29

This was suppose to be one of those insanely busy weeks for us that turned itself upside down & was equally busy, just not in the ways we'd expected. It can be frustrating when that happens, but we're learning to take it in stride.

You just gotta love it when a week is so busy it felt like it was a lot longer then a week ago that things happened. Or you can't even remember what happened at the start of the week without looking back over your notes & photos. Yep, it was that kinda insane week for us here, & the weekend was a very welcome sight indeed!

We wrapped up another entire continent this week which was a lovely accomplishment. Yes, it seems absurd we can wrap up an entire continent in a week, but when you consider we all ready live here it's probably a little easier to understand!

The boys are now in their final countdown for term break, all though I haven't heard any plans on what they expect to do during that time. I suspect a whole lot of movie making & lego playing though.

Morgan finished up Lesson 30 in his math book! That was the last lesson in the book & he'll work on the Final Book Test next week. Don't ask me what he was contemplating there, I think he's double checking all his Roman Numerals which he does phenomenally well with.  Jayden, whom I seem to have few pictures of this week, is up to Lesson 7 in his math book. I'm actually quite happy that we have term break coming up so I can look over his book & decide how many unit tests I want him to take to figure out where to place him in his book. I think he'll end up skipping a fair few lessons again next term because he simply all ready knows the information. Not sure about Morgan as we'll wait to make that choice when his Epsilon book shows up!

Jayden has nearly wrapped up Week 3 in Zoology 3. I doubt we'll finish the book this year, but that's okay. His choice for science next year is only a 2 day course with the option of being done 1x a week so he can also use the remainder of Zoology 3 during the year as well. We had a great time learning about bears & it was interesting to hear their nose was the most sensitive part, you know, in case you get in a fight with a bear.

Morgan wrapped up most of Lesson 6 in Human Anatomy too, he's doing really well with the little schedule I made for him. He's constantly giving us tidbits on what he learned & his notes are rather impressive as well. He's a little disappointed by the experiments in the book because they are either ones we've done, seen done, or are pretty simplistic. I think he'll be delighted with his science next year.

We had a grand laugh over Paddington's escapades this week. He managed to saw a table in half & as the boys were retelling the chapter to Mr S Nana walked in & was horrified to hear someone had cut a table in half. She was quite interested to know which of our tables had the unfortunate end when the boys explained it was only Paddington. Jayden has nearly wrapped up the book he was reading aloud to me, in fact he should have, but the tail end of our week was insane & he didn't read to me on those days.

We started Nanaberry this week for our latest Australian history. This book starts out with a small pox breakout in an Aborigine tribe, but quickly moved to a convicts point of view, & then a Surgeon's view. You hear the story from the various view points & of course they eventually all converge.   We also read the book Red Sand, Blue Sky which was our geography book, also taking place in Australia. It gave a lovely view of life in the Nullabor contrasted with life in Melbourne, all though I wouldn't say it gives an overall view of life in Australia. Either way, the boys enjoyed the story.

Our radiator blew on Tuesday evening so Wednesday I dropped it at with the mechanic & walked back home. We're not too far from town & the walk back was about an hour. I'd left the kids with their planners & pointed out things they could do on their own including labling their Australian map. Only, upon returning home only one child had done his math & science. Nothing else had been accomplished because apparently Jayden had tried to call me to ask what page in math he was suppose to do, & I didn't pick up. Then the mechanic called me & I didn't pick up so he called the house. In a total panic the boys called Mr S at work who also tried to call me to no avail. Before you freak, Nana was with my kids. I get home, after being chased down our road, in the rain I might add, by some wonderfully territorial plovers my children greeted me with, "Your wet & we tried to call you & you didn't answer & daddy tried to call you & you didn't answer & now everyone is panicked! Where were you?" To which I replied, "Oh sniffing lilacs." Apparently my phone was on silent. It was a wonderfully quiet walk home, & I really did stop to sniff someone's lilacs, all though it was hard I resisted picking a few.

Once things calmed down we finished up our Australian pages, the boys had a spot to draw themselves as wanted BushRangers which delighted them to no end. That's Jayden's fellow who was starting to look a lot like the Big Bad Bushranger in the book of the same name, all though it was a koala. Morgan was apparently wanted, on what charges I have no idea, for a great sum of money.

After spending 5 hours in town on Wednesday waiting on the car I brought it home & it spewed coolant all over my driveway. I cleaned up the mess praying it was just from the first issue, but upon getting Mr S from work we discovered another mess of it after turning the car off again. So we dropped the car with the mechanic on Thursday & walked over to a local museum to meet up with our home ed group for a tour. The boys were a little disappointed in the display, admittedly so was I, as it didn't offer as much as it has in the past & I think it was described differently then it was. To top it off all the experiments they did, as the display lacked a bit of hands on this time, were ones we've done many times at home including the rocket launching! All though it did encourage the kids to come home & dig our launcher out & give it a go. Afterwards we walked back to the car shop & our car was all most done. It had a faulty cap on it that they fixed, under warranty, & had us back on the road shortly thereafter.

The car was done in time to haul the kids to swim lessons. The boys were so excited to see that their practice paid off & they could easily swim from one end of the pool to the other without needing to stop for air. Then we came home & crashed! We were suppose to go to two birthday parties this week as well, but unfortunately between sickness & other things happening we didn't make it to either. The boys were extremely disappointed, but gracious enough to take it in stride.

We also had to manoeuvre school around a couple of meetings & Dr's appointments this week as the boys Nana is staying with us while she recoups from a broken hip. Thankfully the boys worked well on their own while I dropped Nana at various appointments. We're looking forward to a much calmer week to finish out our term in!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Too Much Noise

The other night, after we purchased the stack of books, Morgan curled up in a chair to read the one he'd selected, which was actually a TinTin book. My kids are pretty keen on Tintin & constantly discussing it with Mr S who read them as a child himself. I think they've even loaned a few copies of the ones they have to an Auntie who wanted to read them.

Our home is rarely quiet. In fact, when my children were little & I put them down for naps I use to have to turn on the tv or the radio, anything, or I'd fall asleep because of the lack of noise. Now a days the boys are always chatting about something, discussing something, arguing about something, experimenting with something. Sometimes there's 4 of them talking at once because they record themselves & then roll with laughter at the weird things they've done.

On this particular evening Jayden was rewatching one of this many videos, which he cranked all the way up. Nana was chatting with Mr S, about what I have no idea because generally their conversations go in circles. I was sitting on the floor attempting to add a few key things to our mega Australian map & gave up on it to help Jayden write that script for his play. Which had Jayden so excited he kept randomly jumping up off the floor squealing, "Daddy will you be able to.." & then he'd squeal, "I'm so excited I've got butterflies in my stomach!"

It was when Jayden suggested Morgan play a part in his movie & Morgan said nothing that we realised Morgan had been saying very little & we turned around to find him sitting in the chair with his fingers jammed in his ears deeply engrossed in his Tintin book. I'm not sure how long it took before he realised we were all staring at him, but he laid the book aside when he realised he had a part in the makings of that WW 2 play.

Friday, September 20, 2013

More Books

When we picked up the Roy & Matlida book we also snagged a few other lovelies from the clearance shelf. There were quite a few lovely books there actually, but we showed a little reserve & only took a few. I was delighted to find one of the Barrumbi books on special as those were on our list to read later this year, or next, as part of our Aussie History studies. Mind you, it's not the first one in the series, but that's okay.

Escape To Eaglehawk was a delightful find, all though not on our list, as it takes place in Tasmania. The book is about 2 convicts who attempt to escape from Point Puet. We've read another book about the boys camp before when we read Castaway Convict which is a delightful read, but didn't tell a great deal about life in the prison as the boy escaped in a rather round-about way.

I also spotted Chinese Cinderella which has a wee bit of a funny story to it because I pointed to the book & told the kids it was a bit of a sad story. The same author has written another book with the exact same title, only it's full title is: Chinese Cinderella The Story Of An Unwanted Daughter. I read that earlier this year & it was an incredibly sad story. Only, as it turns out this books title is ever so slightly different: Chinese Cinderella The Mystery of The Song Dynasty Painting. Which I only realised upon reading the back cover because the boys pointed out the cover was a little different then the one I'd read before. Ha!

The books are different so I picked up it up as a fun Read Aloud, perhaps this summer, to round off some of our Asian studies. While Morgan covered China all ready this year Jayden hasn't so I thought it might be a fun read when we review China. We'll see, as we also have a couple of audio books to listen to for that country as well.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Movie Making

Last year for Jayden's birthday we bought him a little tiny hot wheels video camera. It was the one thing he really wanted & considering he was constantly asking to borrow our phones or cameras to do this we decided it was a great choice. Over the past year he's made some pretty silly videos, but very few of them are more then silly jokes or him beating up stuffed animals, & things like that.

He goes through stages with the video camera & he's currently in another stage. My last straw came when he started making the umpteenth icky joke with his video camera, which he of course finds hilarious & doesn't understand why no one is laughing. So I told him he needed to write a movie script, he groaned. I told him I'd write it, but he was equally disgusted.

So instead, I stared giving him ideas knowing full well what would capture his interest. Before long he was fully on board & equally delighted to be giving me full details to write down. Of course our script is pretty basic considering he only has 2 actors in it, himself being one. But it's him!

It'll be fun to see if this inspires a little more interesting videos or if we'll still have to put up with non-stop insanity from his videos. In the mean time I think he's booked out his weekend for this funny little video!

Aussie Art Book

We popped into our local book shop this week & found a stack of lovely books on the clearance shelf. This lovely title, Roy & Matilda The Gallery Mice, was amongst them. It caught my eye because I'm always on the lookout for books with pieces of famous {or not} Australian Art inside. This sweet book tells the tale of two little mice who live in the Melbourne Art Museum & the inspiration they get from each of the famous art prints they see.

The inside is just as lovely with reasonably large prints of the various famous prints. Nana was with us when I made the purchase & flipped through the book & she was equally delighted with the book telling us what each picture was & whom she thought painted it. Then she asked us to check & see if she was right.  The only downer to the book is that I really wish there were prints in the back of the book that you could take out, you know perhaps the same size as the book that you could even hang up if you wanted. However, considering the book was formerly $30 & we got it for $5 I'm not complaining!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Ladybird Art

I don't really consider myself an artistically inclined person, but I know how much my kids love doing art projects. So I'm trying to make a huge effort to do art with them more often. I've actually purchased an art curriculum to use, but it's not officially here yet.. Anyway, I won't say I teach them any techniques considering I'm not sure I'd know if I know any myself. Instead I just flag ideas as I spot them, mostly from Art Projects For Kids.

Then when we have a day where things aren't too crazy I just select one, round up the supplies & the kids. When we did the ladybird art project last week it was the same thing. I didn't want to do a painting project because honestly I wasn't up for the mess on that particular day. Truthfully the guys are good about helping clean it up, but because some of us take longer on projects then others it can also mean wrangling them back in. I wanted to keep it simple.

That's why I selected a project that was basically cut & paste. I had, believe it or not, forgotten that Jayden hates glue. He often refers to it as his worst enemy with all sincerity. He actually didn't mind working on this project, all though he did make his typical glue statement about halfway through the project, but then piped up with, "But it's okay Mom, I don't mind this!"

Our projects were derived from this idea. Which APFK had flagged on Pinterest, & thus I'd seen it. How's that for a round-about way of getting a project to use with your kids? Thus there were no specific directions on how to do the project so we just went with it. All of ours turned out different & everyone was pleased with how they turned out which makes it a pretty big win-win around here!

Incase you're wondering we just random strips from three different colours of green paper. We pulled out some dirt & sand coloured brown paper & cut waves into them. We used a large round punch for the ladybirds. We glued it all down as we desired on heavier sheets of white paper. The details on the bugs was done with black marker. We mounted them on natural paper & then Morgan thought it would be cool to make it look properly mounted so I cut some black corners out for everyone. Morgan's is on top, Jayden's is bottom left, mine is bottom right.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Aussie History Links

We started Nanberry this week as our current Aussie Read Aloud. We most likely won't finish this book before term break, but that hasn't stopped us from enjoying it. It's all ready covered a few things that our other books have only barely graced over which has fully delighted me.

If you're looking for a little extra with the book, discussion questions, time frames, research ideas, websites, or even notes from the author there's a lovely PDF put together by Book Vibes. There's a lot of information in there, probably more then you'd need or even want to use, but it makes an interesting read & you never know you might find some really lovely jumping off points for discussion while reading the book.

The book itself is well dated, in regards to keeping a timeline of actual events if one wanted, as well as giving specific places to keep track of on a map. However, you might want to preview the book before reading aloud as it is an emotional story. You'd have to decide for yourself if it's right for your family.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Let's Talk: Schedules & Routines

I really hate the question, “But how do you do it all?” Here’s the thing, no one out there simply does it all each day, every week, or even every month. We all have plans, often big plans, but honestly they don’t always unfold like we hope they do. Our family is absolutely no exception!

When we share what we do each week this is for our family to look back over & say, “Wow, we did a lot more then I thought!” or “See, we did do spelling this week & I have no idea why you didn’t put a sticker on our chart!” Here’s the other thing, by recording what we do each week we can print those pages out & have a pretty simple yearbook of our accomplishments, short comings, & weekly activities. They are a great way for us to also see our progress when we’re having a low moment, week, day. 

If reading our weekly reviews, or any other part of my blog, makes you think for one minute we’ve got it all together & you don’t,  thus overwhelming you to the point of frustration; I’ve got one very simple piece of advice for you. Don’t read my blog. I’m not saying that in a snarky, I’m better then you voice. I’m saying that in a voice that is pleading with you. That is not our intention. 

Like everyone else, we have days where we wish we could just have one big do-over. We’ve had days where school doesn’t start until it should have finished. Where when Mr S walks in the door we’re still scrambling to get things done. It happens, we’re not perfect. Not every day is imperfect either, & sometimes the best way to keep our little family on track is with a schedule or a routine.

We tend to start our day on a schedule & finish it with a routine. Does that sound confusing? Here’s the thing, a schedule is when you do the same things at specific times where as a routine is a pattern you follow each day. We mix them both together & get something that works really well for our family on most days.

For us this means that we all eat breakfast together by 815 where we can do our lovely poetry books, memory box, & if anyone has anything major going on for the day we remind them. It’s also our time together with Mr S before he heads off to work.

By 9 we start school. See, our whole day isn’t on a strict schedule, but there are certain times when things must be done. 9am is our start time. Is it mandatory we start then? No, we’ve had days where it just hasn’t flowed well for us. Maybe it was raining and Mr S couldn’t bike to work thus needed a lift. Maybe a sick child was down & out. Things happen that knock you off course at times. But in general I prefer to start at 9 because I have a child who freaks out if he can’t knock off at our normal knock off time.

At 9 we hit our routine which is how our school days flow: 

Reading to Mom for one child while the other does his morning chores, then they swap. I do time this particular thing on our schedule because it’s very easy for us to spend the whole day reading. Then we do our hymns together.

Next, Jayden & I work together while Morgan does his independent work {Bible, Science, Math}. Jayden & I do science, writing, & Bible together. Then he does his independent work {any pages related to those I know he can do on his own & math} while Morgan & I go over his work & do his writing together.

Then we meet together at the learning table to do our Winter Promise Theme. Things can get crazy here because we’re nearing the end of our day & the boys have all ready been working for a couple of hours. If the boys have pages the require colouring or drawing on them I sit right at the table & read aloud to them. In the above picture I was reading their Aussie History book, but that’s usually read after the WP books are read.

We wrap up with our Missionary story & possibly our read aloud for the week. Sometimes we save that one for after lunch & a hard play. Either way, we end at 1:30. If I’m all ready reading a book to them & that time rolls around I finish the selection for the day & then we have lunch.

After lunch the kids are sent outside to play or busy themselves with something simple & fun that they’ve been itching for all day. If we have read alouds to do I tend to try and wrangle them up around 3 where we read for a half hour or so. By 530 I call for a tidy up for the day which is when the kids do their afternoon chores while I clean up the school room, fold laundry, clean up the kitchen, & start dinner prep. 

We’ve taken, of late, to listening to our audio book during this time & it really keeps the arguing & complaining down to nothing. Seriously, it’s been really nice! Once their chores are done they leave the book on & sit listening or playing quietly until Mr S gets in from work. 

That’s a perfect day, but we don’t always have perfect days. There are those days when all we want to do is go rejoice because we saw the sun after a wet winter. When every salesman & religious group has decided to knock on my front door despite the beware of dog sign. I didn’t put it up, & you don’t really need to beware, but I kinda sort wish on days like that that you did! 

I’m also going to tell you it took us 3 terms this year to find that groove for us that has things moving along as a lovely well oiled machine. Play with your routine or schedule until you find that groove that works best for everyone!  Pay no attention to what, or how, others do things. And another secret, I like to pray for our day before going to sleep & when getting going in the morning. The biggest part of my prayer is that I remain calm & don’t freak if people slip off track. True story.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

2013 Week In Review: Week 28

This week was a lovely full week as we had no extra activites to attend to aside from our normal swim which generally falls well enough outside of our typical schooling hours.

We tend to school from 9-130 & then have a lunch break. Most days we are done by then if we stared on time, stayed on tracked & worked hard. This leaves our afternoons free for play, hobbies, reading, or whatever else people can find to do.

For Morgan it's generally game creating. Jayden's usually found outside unless it's raining, then he's generally plotting some war with his army men in his room. I always have grand plans for my free afternoons, & normally only manage to get to one or two of those grand things. Still, one can't complain because it's better then nothing!

We decided to use our extra time at home this week to work our way through 2 countries instead of just one. There were a few reasons for this all of which boil down to a scheduling dilemma. Which started out with us thinking we were behind only to discover we were ahead of where we'd intended to be. No biggie though, because it's actually opened up a small planning jam I had for next term.

We generally start our days with the boys taking turns reading to me. Now that they both read fluently the other one often hangs out to listen to the story, which is what Morgan was doing in the background while he worked on some crazy drawings he had going trying out a few different colouring techniques. Jayden is still working through his various war stories. I don't go with pages read or chapters read when they read to me, we simply set the timer & read until it goes off, if they are in the middle of a page we generally finish it off. I have Jayden read to me because we learned earlier this year he simply skipped hard words instead of sounding them out, it led to little comprehension of what he was reading. This allows me to see how much progress he's making.

Morgan's still reading a Paddington book aloud to us. I'd say me, but Jayden makes sure he's present for each day's reading because he really loves the Paddington stories too. This particular day they asked if we could make chocolate muffins, & after Jayden finished helping measure dry ingredients he pulled my Kindle to himself to follow along with & look at the pictures. I love that cover on my kindle, which allows it to stand up so I can, for instance, bake muffins while Morgan is reading to me & I can still see where he is should he need any assistance. Yes, Jayden is laying on the kitchen counter, how else would you read about Paddington & his marmalade mishaps?!

The first half of the week we learned about Brazil. The boys were far more impressed than I anticipated to learn about various sites & cultural experiences. Turned out they'd seen a few of these before & remembered that the upcoming summer olympics will be held there which was part of where their curiosity came from. Either way we had a grand time learning all about it. I tried a new tactic with the lovely book Material World. In the book you look at a family from a particular place & they are outside with their entire contents of the home in the picture too. It's absolutely amazing how much some have & how little others have. My boys love the book so much there's often a lot of jostling over who gets to look first for fear that the other will tell them about all the "good stuff." So this week I told each child to take a slow turn & find three things in the picture they thought no one else would see & write them down on a scrap of paper. It was really amusing to me that Morgan's things centred around food, Jayden's around toys, & mine around cleaning. We had a great laugh afterwards, & I loved that no one squabbled while enjoying looking at the families belongings & daily life.

Tuesday evening we pulled out our copy of Rio to watch. Silly movie, but it has a lot of Brazilian culture in it including some of the parade for Carnival so it tied in really well with our studies. The boys spent a lot of time pointing out all sorts of things that had been included in the movie that we had learned about, from spotting the flag in odd spots to landmarks.

Morgan's down to 2 more lessons in his math book, which is perfect for how many weeks we have left in this term. Yes, I'm counting down the weeks until he's done with that math book. It's not been bad & I'm still super pleased with MUS, but there's a lot of division in this book & from what I've heard via other MUS Mom's it's one of the toughest books out there. I don't know if it's because of the content so much as it's a big deal to be doing those major long division problems. Morgan constantly tries to second guess himself when he's on the right track! Yes, he's wearing his glasses for math, I told him it was mandatory when I found he'd written every digit backwards one day. He's had issues with number reversals for long enough we've worried about various forms of dyslexia, but those disappear when he's got his glasses on.

Jayden skipped a few math lessons this week & ended up jumping straight to Unit Test 1 in his new book. He took it all ever so seriously & when I went to ask him a question during his video he freaked & told me to be quiet or he might miss something important. He was suppose to start the lessons following Unit Test 1, but ended up doing a few review pages this week instead.

Morgan's writing took a new turn this week. He's ben working with Writing With Skill for the former part of the year, but as his goal this summer is to work on fictional writing I decided to lay the non-fiction writing aside for the remainder of the year & pick some writing lessons that would benefit him a bit more for his coming summer project. We moved into a high level of Writing With Ease, so he could have a brief refresher on punctuation, not that he's really needed it. He's known where to put everything we worked on last week without reminder. However, it's also given him the chance to work on some of those nifty spelling rules he's learned which is fun for both of us!

Jayden is still plucking away at his earlier level of Writing With Ease which he no longer dreads. Of course he thought he was in a book ahead of Morgan so that had him pretty excited. He'll most likely move to the lovely new books we received earlier this week. Not because he needs a change of pace as they will be set up very similarly, but because I think he'll really enjoy it & we need to use it to review it!

Both boys had spelling lessons, Jayden has finally moved beyond steps 19 & 20 in Level 1. I have no idea why he knew the rules but wasn't applying what he'd learned. We spent a lot of time at the fridge with the tiles last week so he could choose between the k & ck options for endings & that seemed to help him. He's not actually spelling in that picture, but writing 6 "properly formed, correctly facing g's, & if you write one of them backwards I'll have you write another 6!" Yeah, I actually said that. I'd had him erase one in a prior word & then he snickered & wrote the next one backwards on purpose. Morgan conquered a couple of steps himself in his new level, but I don't seem to have any photos of it.

The second half of the week we studied Peru, which my kids call Darkest Peru. It reminded them they have some lovely alpaca wool sweaters in their closet that came from Peru. One of them even has a couple of alpacas or llamas woven into the pattern. They pages above are both boys mixed into the pile. The little postcard on the one in the front right hand corner is how each weeks end. Sometimes they write "letters" home, & sometimes they just list places we've learned about they'd like to see. I believe for Peru Morgan drew a picture of a person selling ponchos & a llama spitting on someone. I'm glad he remembered the important things...

Excuse the freaky photo.. Thursday evening we watched The Emperor's New Groove which tied in beautifully with our lovely little study on Peru. Again, the boys remembered this one when we learned not only of some of the customs of Peru, but started labelling our map. We were going to have a little Peruvian dish {no, not guinea pig!} but time got away from us so we changed our plans a little. We're thinking of having a few cultural meals during our term break for some that we haven't gotten to yet!

We started this lovely book last week on Friday. It's written by a fellow homeschooling Mamma who lives in S. Africa. Our next stop was suppose to be Africa so we snuck this one in, we'll be detouring through the Pacific Islands before stopping in Africa, but that didn't stop us from loving this book & digging into it. When Morgan saw how quickly we were moving through it he said, "Slow down I want this book to last forever, but read it quickly so I can find out what happens!" I'm not sure which one of us laughed the most.

I haven't mentioned it in a while but we're still reading Return Of The Word Spy & enjoying it. I noticed our local little book shop has it back in stock again too! The codes to crack at the end of this book refer more to what you learned in the first one, which the boys have had no trouble cracking. We spent this week learning all about verbs.

Both boys covered science this week. Jayden wrapped up Chapter 1 in Zoology 3 & debated what science he's doing next year. He was so torn on that, not sure if he's fully made up his mind yet or not. Morgan wrapped up another chapter in his book as well, but I can't remember which one now! The one on Nutrition I believe..

Thursday the boys had their normal swim lessons. There were only a total of 4 kids this week & my boys were sitting here waiting for the other two to finish their laps. They've figured out that the pool we practice in is longer then the pool they regurally swim in right now. So by swimming a few laps in the practice pool before working on other things or playing they can manage their practice laps in a decent amount of time. Course, it always helps when there are less kids in the pool & they don't all run into each other in their great haste!

The boys worked so hard all week they managed to finish all their theme & seat work before Friday so we decided we'd do some fun things! I looked through my stash of art ideas & selected one I thought might be fun. We were going to go for a walk on the beach to look for shark eggs, but the tide was against us. Alas..

We finally hooked up a temporary desktop this week so we loaded up our typing programme & Morgan was keen to have a go on Friday. It took me a while to access his account because we couldn't remember what on earth we'd set his password to! He was so excited that after not messing with it for a good six months or more he scored a 91% on his accuracy test. You need at least an 85% to move on to the next level. It was a great lesson to remind him speed isn't as important as accuracy, a lesson he's struggling to remember.

And that pretty much wraps up our weeks. The boys had high hopes of using a Story Starter this Friday too & I was all set for them, but we ended up spending a lot of time outside, despite the cold streak that came in, & then decided to watch a rather lengthy movie they'd been begging to see for the past few weeks. There's rumours we might go shark egg hunting & do story writing on Saturday.

Just to clarify, we don't eat the shark eggs, we just look for them. if they are empty & in good shape we've been known to collect them, but we're actually keen to see if we can see anything in them as this is the time of year to spot the embryos in them.