Sunday, June 30, 2013

Selecting Books

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Jayden is my picky reader. He's not opposed to reading, but he knows what he likes & what he doesn't.  It took a while to find a book he'd be content to read with me, & as he's nearing it's end I asked him what he wanted to read next. What kind of book did he want. His answer was immediate, "War." I wasn't really surprised by that answer.

He's all about everything military. Studying about the Revolutionary War, Civil War, & the World Wars was sheer delight for him over the past two years, but he's just as happy to read about the smaller wars in any country. It's not the fact that it's war that entices him as much as the adventure & military factors that excite him.

So I scanned my shelves for books I knew would entice him upon his request. I didn't just select books with war themes as I knew I had other books he'd enjoy. I also wanted to show him he could find adventure & loveable characters in other books as well. I had him arrange the books in the order he most wanted to read them, & then I snapped a photo so I wouldn't forget. Here's what he's selected:


  • Nathan Hale: Patriot Spy {I think Morgan read this one a few years ago, but not Jayden. Nathan Hale is his kinda guy..}
  • Yankee Doodle Boy {This is the diary of a boy from the Revolutionary War, he's super keen to read this, and originally was planning to read it first.}
  • Night Journeys {This was a book we obtained with our Winter Promise AA-1 Theme, but never read}
  • The Secret Soldier {We read this one back when we studied the Revolutionary War so he knows he's gonna love this book}
  • George Washington's Socks {We purchased this one many years ago, & it obviously takes place during the Revolutionary War.}
  • Farmer Boy {He's such a big Laura fan I thought he might love reading about Almonzo}
  • Dog of Discovery {Another WP Reader from our AA-1 Theme}
  • Davy Crockett {It's Davy Crockett, need I say more?!}
  • Benjamin West & His Cat Grimalkin {Jayden is really into art lately so I thought he'd enjoy this story}
We've told him once he finishes the stack of books he'll get a reading certificate. My boys are pretty keen for certificates lately. As in, they noticed there were certificates to be earned in the back of their maths books as well as their spelling books. I also told them when they completed their themes for the year they'll get one then as well. So why not a certificate for accomplishing a hefty amount of reading too?! 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

2013 Week In Review: Week 19

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One more week until the end of term, that's the chant around here lately. Which means we're still busy working away with our studies. It's been a slightly hectic term so I'm looking forward to a break &, prayerfully, a slightly calmer third term.

That's pretty much what our school table looks like about 20 minutes into our day. I have stopped things, many times over, to instruct people to put their books & supplies away before pulling anything else out. It's probably a miracle there's only one dirty dish on that table, but then again that's one thing I make them put away straight up.

With all the papers & books on the table I don't like the risk of something getting spoiled due to a spill. In fact, they don't generally eat at that table, but it was yogurt day. Which pretty much means for the first time in weeks the shop had our coconut milk yogurt in stock so I splurged & bought some. Between you & me, I think the only reason the boys like it is the crushed up raspberries we put on top. After all, who can resist a raspberry?!


Math this week slowed down for Morgan, not so much because the lesson was hard, but because I didn't want to start long division before term break. So he enjoyed Mitten Multiplication & Upside Down Multiplication, nothing extremely challenging for him, to be honest. In fact he was kinda annoyed about doing the upside down multiplication because he knew the answers without doing it in the long form. I assured him it was good practice for long division work. Jayden seems to have finally conquered borrowing, which is how he landed in the MUS book he's in. He'll most likely fly through the first half of the Gamma book in Term 4 as well because he knows all most all of his multiplication facts by heart.


We visited Russia this week. The boys worked for a while on their notebooking pages together while I busied myself with other tasks. We had a few cities & lakes we didn't end up labeling, but the boys enjoyed the rest of their notebooking pages. Morgan asked for the colour sheets to his Travel Diary, so I obliged him. I don't blame him, the World Travel Diary is awesome as it is, but in colour it's amazing!


They had a few figures from Germany to put on the wall map, as well as the pieces for Russia. Our map only has a portion of Russia showing, at this point, because it's the portion that's considered part of Europe. I think I might need to print out the Asia map as well so they can see Russia as a whole, they like to try & decide what each country most looks like.


The boys are still moving along in their AAS, I suspect if we sat for longer they'd accomplish more & move through Level 1 a bit quicker, but honestly I'm happy with the progress they are making at the pace we are going with it. I had Morgan use a dry erase marker on our glass sliding door for spelling one day, but he couldn't see what he was writing very well so he taped a piece of paper to the outside of the door to give it a bright background. Jayden had a go with it & then said, "Wow, I didn't know marker erased off paper!" We had such a laugh.


Morgan has been reading through the Usborne DNA & Gene book with his Sonlight Science, but as I've mentioned before was a little disappointed with the lack of experiments this year. While the boys were busy spending pocket money at the toy shop I was looking through the science kit section & spotted a DNA kit. So he made himself a nifty double helix ladder.


On our last visit to the library, two weeks ago shockingly enough, I snagged this audio cd which has 3 Paddington stories on it. We started listening to it last week as we drove Mr S to & from work while he recoupes from that nasty cold & cough he had. Despite declaring Paddington, "for babies." Jayden has thoroughly enjoyed the story. I knew he would, he loves characters who mean well, but end up in hot water. I think he easily relates to them. Anyway, we've laughed ourselves into fits of tears listening to these stories. The first 2 Paddington stories are on this cd & then the most recent one that was written 30 years after the first: Paddington Here & Now is on there as well. We started the later yesterday, & oh my that first chapter was so funny I thought I was going to have to pull the car over I was laughing so hard. The boys are totally smitten with Paddington, & have declared that we must buy the whole set of books. I tickled them pink by purchasing the 3rd book used this week.


Jayden & I have struck a happy medium with his writing & handwriting. I've told him that as soon as his handwriting is neat at all times he can drop the handwriting book, otherwise he either has to do writing or handwriting. I agreed that he did not have to do both on the same day. However, I did have him use the same sheet of paper for the week in regards to his writing. This backfired a little when he was doing dictation & decided to "surprise me" & flipped the page over to gather the rest of the sentence instead of waiting for me to read it out. Good intentions, good intentions. I explained that when we do dictation he doesn't need to skip ahead, but I gave him a gold star for being diligent in his work.


Morgan is totally & utterly in love with his writing. I'm not sure what part of it he loves more, the quips from lovely books we might not have considered reading or the fact that he gets to write. This week we read bits from the book that The Sword In The Stone was based on. Did you know that movie was based on a book? I think we'll grab it for Kindle to read this summer, if I can hold out that long!  Morgan was delighted to write about the Titanic this week & he did really well with the assignment. He told Mr S, "I wrote about the Titanic this week, the Captain said something pretty famous."


We finished A Midsummer Night's Dream this week as well. We're still reading a Shakespeare story each week. The idea was really to do this with Morgan, but Jayden seems to find himself lured into each story & gets quite annoyed with us if we try to sneak in a reading without him. Because we finished A Midsummer's Night Dream early in the week we jumped right into MacBeth.



Friday we wrapped up The Tale Of Christopher Mouse much to the displeasure of Morgan & the joy of Jayden. Jayden was not keen on the story, I think it was too emotional for him & while there was adventure it wasn't the type of adventure & fun that he enjoys. Morgan, however, really enjoys stories like that & was disappointed with the ending. After our school was wrapped up we headed to our local library, only to discover we'd forgotten all the books & had to go back home to get them. Jayden insisted he wasn't staying there more then 30 minutes, which was apparently short. An hour later I was sweating the parking meter & reminding them the dog was in the car waiting for his walk.


By the time the kids finally wrapped up their library trip Mr S met us at the car, literally, & we took the dog for a night walk along a path by the ocean. We stopped on some benches on the way back to enjoy some orange juice while the boys told Mr S all about our outing the day before & the friend they were hoping would ring for a chat. In fact they lectured Mr S that if someone called asking for them it was not a joke call, but a very serious call. Not too shabby of a week.

The boys were back to swim lessons this week, much to their delight. Still working on perfecting strokes & survival skills. Only one more lesson this term, which I'm not quite sure Jayden has figured out yet. Now that he's no longer bothered to jump or dive in he doesn't like missing out on his swim days. We also tried a few ear experiments to prove that one not only hears with their ears, but also their bones. Interesting stuff! The boys also pulled out some Where In The World Is Carmen SanDiego videos to see if they could find the one about Russia to watch.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

We're On..

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Our family was featured on the lovely new Winter Promise Wednesday where we shared how we're using Winter Promise. It might not be much of anything new if you've been reading here for a while, but it excited my kids. Mr S hasn't spotted himself over there in his lovely costume for our English Tea. I'm sure if he did he'd have another hour of "in the trenches" stories to tell us & then what would we do?!

The boys haven't showed him their Travel Diary pages from Russia this week. I can't decide if it's because they've been busy sharing other things with him or because they're afraid he'll try out the ballet moves on them. After all, the boys tried them out & that didn't end too well for them.

Anyway, if you're interested you can check out the post here. If you're interested enough you can poke around the blog over there a bit & read the story behind how Winter Promise started. I always enjoy reading about those sorts of things. Apparently my kids do too because they always say things like, "Yes, but why did he wrote this book. I mean, what made him think to!"

Saturday, June 22, 2013

2013 Week In Review: Week 18

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Another week completed, which seems hard to believe it's only been a week! It's funny that when people are sick & you're juggling a lot more on your plate that it seems like a lot more time has elapsed then normal.

When I was looking back over my planner for the past week I was delighted to see it all filled in with lots of colours stating we'd accomplished so much, but then I asked, out loud, "Has it really only been a week since Jayden's birthday!" You know, it didn't even feel like a long week, but then we were kept quite busy.

Mr S was home sick for 2 days with a cold. He & Jayden seemed to have come down with it at about the same time, but Jayden wasn't let off the hook from school. We don't often take off school when the kids are sick unless they are flat out. Jayden wasn't so we carried on as we would normally.

Love my colourful pencil-pens? They are pens that are suppose to look a bit like pencils. I like to use 4-5 different colours for my planner, but my green was leaking & I needed a finer pointed one anyway. I popped into the office supply store on Wednesday to pick up a new pen when I saw a couple of lovely packages of them. I controlled myself & only bought the smaller package.


Monday, while Jayden was busy writing a secret letter to Mr S {it was actually a very funny letter begging him to get better soon because he wanted to play a game with him..} Morgan & I sat down to tackle an outstanding writing assignment he had. I absolutely love the writing programme we've been using with him this year, all though we haven't moved at quite the pace I had intended. When we started the assignment he was actually in his chair, & when I suddenly noticed the room go dark I looked up from my typing & he was sitting on the table scanning his notes. His assignment was to write a 150-300 word Chronological Narration, which he did wonderfully well with.


The boys are still giving way too much pomp & circumstance to Advance Australia Fair, this week, during one of the days Mr S was attempting to sleep off the cold, the boys were singing at full tilt while flailing arms around. Yeah, Mr S came out & told them they were doing a, "Very fine job indeed, much better then those blokes on the computer I should say."


We added a new verse to our box this week. Or rather I found a verse floating in our box that we didn't work on last year & so I pulled it up to our daily section. It was time to update & rotate verses around, all though the boys had a good chuckle that our Monday verse{s} haven't changed in about a year. They were working on some verses to go with a shadow puppet play we never got to, so I figured until they do the verses will stay.


We're still reading through two poetry books this year, one animal based for Jayden & the other was the one that goes with Morgan's Core this year. Both are well done, all though Morgan's gotten a little frustrated with reading poems from his book & prefers to let me read them. We started using the Adventure In Odyssey Devotional a few weeks ago & the boys are both enjoying it. We've been using the Animal Devotional all year as it made a nice fit with Jayden's zoology. We're still working our way through Psalms & Job for Bible reading. I think I need to pull out the What's In The Bible Dvd again on Job for them, but they aren't doing too bad with it.


Excuse the mess & the blur.. For Australian history this week we continued to read Voyage To Botany Bay, it's been interesting reading about it from the French perspective & I'm still curious if my original thought process on the ending of this story will turn out as I expect. We finished the first Snugglepot & Cuddlepie story in our book, all though there are two more in there. We've also spent a bit of time over the last week or two watching My Place, which is an Australian History show based on a small picture book. It takes you through many years of seeing families living in one small area. It's been really interesting to watch & one of those things the boys ask each evening if we can watch one or two of. I'm not sure what they'll do when they finish the series!


Jayden begged to do the Children Around The World theme with Morgan stating that, "I want to do maps & flags too!" I had intended to use it with him in a year or two as he'd picked the animal theme, but I also didn't want to miss out on an opportunity to dish up something educational to a child who rarely asks for it. Instead I snagged a second copy of The World Traveler's Diary {this time in ebook form} & after reading the spine to the boys I set them up at the table to work. I was going to supervise, but I was told that I was prohibiting them from actually getting work done & that they worked faster when I wasn't in the way. Ho-hum, so I went & folded a few loads of laundry, tidied up a couple of rooms, & then proceeded to rearrange the house. Okay, not the whole house, just a couple of large pieces of furniture. They worked really well together & I was impressed with Jayden was more then eager to let Morgan help him when he needed it.


Jayden attended to his own writing this week. He still just does copywork & dictation for writing, but he has to take an oral narration down to a couple of sentences & that often becomes his copywork. He's getting much better at his narrations & this week I told him that as soon as his handwriting was neat at all times during copywork we'd drop the handwriting book. There was a huge & vast improvement in the tidiness of his work, & he was delighted to find a huge stocker screaming AWESOME! on his page too. I've also cut back on handwriting for him, which seems a little backwards, but he simply isn't able to cope with handwriting lessons on the same days he does copywork or dictation. I get better work from him if I only require one of those.


Ahh, now you've caught me out on some of the furniture I was rearranging.. Morgan had a break from official math lessons this week because I wanted him to become more comfortable with division with remainders because I was a little worried he wasn't quite ready to move on. However, he proved that he was perfectly comfortable with that process & we actually ended up practicing something else that was tripping him up. He's now officially just over halfway through the book so depending on the pace he takes with the rest of the book will depend on if we tackle a second math book this year or not.


Jayden was still moving at his normal pace all though I discovered he needed a little review with the second lesson I'd assigned him for the week. However, once he decided to pull out the hundreds chart to get his barrings he did fine & will be ready to continue moving forward next week. He's more then halfway through the book & pretty excited to know that when he's done he'll end up with a certificate of completion.


Morgan worked on changing cursive to print in his handwriting book. He was working on cursive last year but struggled to read it, so I was delighted to see this print book was going to show him how to read it first. He didn't do too badly either. Notice all the medals around his neck? Those were from a birthday party we'd had on Sunday. When I went to town to get Mr S' medicine & more tissues we had a couple of people comment on how awesome he must have done in school to get so many medals. We didn't correct them. While headed to the car some lady ran past us then stopped & ran back exclaiming, "Wow Mate! You must be REALLY awesome at school, keep up the good work!" Then she ran off. I told Morgan if another person stopped us I was going to tell them he got them for each letter of his abc's that he knew.


I pulled the "piano" out of the ice cold depths of the back rooms in our home & brought it to the school area. It meant moving a huge cabinet that had shelves stacked on top of it, a computer desk, & rearranging half the lounge room, but it was totally worth it to see Mr S' face light up when he came in from work & dash over to have a play. Until I realised I'd forgotten to pull out the speakers. Whoops. He had it all hooked up in a matter of minutes & was quickly over powered by the boys who were keen to have a go too.

We're still reading through Christopher Mouse & Wheel On The School all though we've been a little delayed on the later as we have quite a few, if not too many, books going at one time. We also haven't wrapped our missionary story, George Mueller, with the last two chapters hanging over us. I'm debating reading those on the weekend to the boys!

The boys picked up A Bear Called Paddington from the library which we absolutely devoured last week amidst a whole lot of laughter & giggles. Jayden was very opposed to listening to it at first because he was convinced Paddington was only for babies. He was thinking of the lovely little Paddington book he use to read every night that was a board book. However, once we loaded the cd up he was in love. We were so excited to learn that the cd we'd snagged from the library also has More About Paddington on it so once we finished the first book we simply began the second one as well.

Jayden also worked on his lovely Animal World Theme, all though I have no photos because he & Mr S did most of the reading with it snuggled up under a quilt before we went to swim practice one day. In fact, the only day we indulged in swimming this past week as Morgan was hit with the cold by Tuesday evening. Both boys were quite put out that I said they couldn't go to swim lessons. Alas..


Morgan's also been reading to me, but we laid that aside when his sore throat hurt. Yep, I still assign the boys books to read aloud to me so I can see their progress. I also ask them what they've been reading at night, all though with Morgan it's pretty much guaranteed he'll be reading some form or Geronimo Stilton lately.

All in all not a bad week considering we had some form of sick people all week. We're hoping Morgan will be well on the mend by our Tuesday afternoon swim practice session next week, but we'll see how things go. The boys also enjoyed an activity day with our local homeschool group & then playing with friends afterwards. Two more weeks until Term break!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Weird Traditions

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Many years ago we played a game on Morgan's birthday called "find the penguins".  I'd snuck around the house before he'd woken up & hidden a dozen or more laminated penguins. It was that simple. It caused a great amount of laughing & kept the kids busy for days because while the penguins were all found that day, they held great delight in finding them over & over again.

Eventually we had it down to just one penguin. Someone would find him & then hide it in a new place. This went on for a good length of time until, one day, someone hid him & couldn't remember where. We've moved house since then & there's often been questions about wondering if the new occupants ever found our crazy missing penguin.

Things have been a little wild here this week trying to balance school, sickies, rearranging, & all that kinda stuff. During one of those crazy moments when we couldn't tell up from down Morgan threw himself on the couch & says, "I really miss that penguin." To which I'm thinking, "Huh?"

After explaining himself he asked if he could print a new picture out for the game so we could get back to it. Why not? Of course he chose the insane Toad character from the Mario games. He has this odd fascination with that creature that's all I can say. Mr S was home sick & considering the hideous rendition we'd just given of Advance Australia Fair he was no longer sleeping & offered to help resize the image while I made lunch.

Next thing I knew the game was a foot! Here's the thing though, no one goes around intentionally looking for the hidden item. Nope, you just go about life as normal & the goal is that you'll eventually stumble upon it. So when I was standing in my closet picking things up I spotted the crazy creature hiding in Mr S' clothing. So I snatched it up & hid it in plain sight in a picture frame in our lounge room. Not only did I hide in plain view I did it in front of all 3 guys who were deeply engrossed in reasons why the boys felt it a worthy expenditure to use their pocket money on purchasing MineCraft.

It took them 3 days to find it. Apparently it was hidden on a book case next, & then found inside Mr S' nightstand. Which explains why I found it beside the sink this morning. Apparently Mr S hid it in the clean dishes this morning hoping to leave a fun surprise for children during their chores. Only, a certain little boy got off this specific chore to keep his sick brother company & I found it! I hid it in plain sight again where they should find it if they do a chore correctly. It'll be interesting to see if they've discovered it before going to bed tomorrow night.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Few Reviews..

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I've been a bit slack sharing some of the reviews we've written for The Curriculum Choice. Our most recent review is based on the books A Collection Of Math Lessons, my absolute favourite math books ever. I've had the Red & Blue books for a while & have gleaned much from them. I need to read them again & obtain the Yellow Book. That seemed a long ways off when I first bought the red book! I'll warn you before you go peeking at the review that the books are a bit pricey, all though I picked mine up used & felt it was very worth the effort.

I also shared our love for The Word Spy over on The Curriculum Choice as well earlier this year. My boys seriously love that book & refer to The Word Spy as a true friend. I hear things like, "Yeah, but didn't The Word Spy say.." Imagine their delight when a package from her showed up in our post box complete with a coded letter they had to solve & official badges to say they were part of The Word Spy Club. Sheer delight. We're now reading Return Of The Word Spy which has elicited all most as much laughter as the first book did. Mr S was home from work the first two days this week as he's tried to fight another cold & the boys insisted he absolutely had to listen to the section we were reading that particular day. They were a little disappointed that upon waking him from slumber & prying earbuds out of his ears to hear information about babytalk didn't cause him to double up in laughter as it did them.

Friday, June 14, 2013

2013 Week In Review: Week 17

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Week 17, or as a friend pointed out, nearly halfway through our school year! It made sense considering both boys are more then halfway through their math books, but I hadn't really made the connection so it was lovely for someone to point it out to me!

I actually intended to use this as a bit of a catch-up week for ourselves because I knew our days for true work would be limited & I didn't want anyone, as in me, feeling frazzled over what wasn't being accomplished.

We had Monday off which was a public holiday & since Mr S was home it was also a school holiday in our house. We went for a lovely walk that went a whole lot like, "Stop complaining & keep moving!" followed by, "But I'm telling you Mom it's raining on me & you know how I feel about rain!" Yeah, anyway we all made it back alive all though I'm pretty sure it might take the cake for least fun family walk ever.

Tuesday we were a little more focused as Morgan had a few pages of math I really wanted him to finish up. I think we've found our resting spot for a week as he becomes comfortable with the concept he's reached in math. Truthfully it's not entirely new to him, but remainders seem to freak him out a bit. So we'll take an extra week to work with those pesky little remainders & reevaluate then. He also had a few notebooking projects to finish off. Jayden didn't have as much work waiting for finishing, all though I did throw him a nifty 4 page math test. He wasn't impressed.


Wednesday a certain little boy turned 10 & I had this ridiculous idea that we'd do a pinch of school. Laugh, I did. Instead we chatted with Gram, put together 3 nifty playmobil sets, & then I spent the afternoon trying not to laugh myself senseless over every crazy thing they acted out with the new sets. They certainly enjoyed themselves! We also took a walk so he could use his lovely new pocket knife & then I convinced him to walk a new trail with me by telling him he could mark every so many trees so we didn't get lost.


Excuse the funky pixels in the photo, I was trying to be sure only my children's faces were in the photo & all that.. Thursday we had a lovely time with our local homeschool group. A group from a semi-local college came in & did some drama with the kids. This was the group my boys paired up with to put on a short skit about someone getting fired in an elevator. It was actually quite funny & I have a video of it somewhere too. Both my boys ended up fired by the end of the skit! I was actually really impressed with Jayden getting out & joining in without asking me to go with him. He's often very shy about putting himself out there in this manner, but not only did he enjoy himself in the little skit, but the activity afterwards where you acted on your own he voluntarily went up countless times as well.


Friday Morgan & I fixed up his Children Around The World Geography notebook up to date. He had a few straggling things on a couple of pages & a whole lot of just filing he needed to do. Our laminator broke several months ago & so the page dividers we'd been making came to a huge halt  While out last weekend Mr S insisted on buying a new one. I told him that I'd make good use of it, but I didn't need one. To which he said, "Yes you do, I saw you covering things with contact paper!" Ha, true I was. Here's some of Morgan's lovely Ireland pages. The page on the left is part of the Winter Promise Curriculum we use the page on the left was some extra things he did from the Passport To Ireland unit study.


Again, the page on the left is from Winter Promise. The colours are a bit brighter then the photo shows. He pastes in the flag of the country he studies & puts the number it's marked with on the larger map underneath it. That page is just for the European countries. The page on the left is what we were using for country dividers. Originally we glued some to actual notebook dividers, it was while laminating the China one that our laminator gave up on us. We decided, upon getting the new one, just to laminate the pages & we can add tabs later if we want.


Last week he used Passport To France while studying France & I made up some notebooking pages with the questions from the unit study on them. That way after he read about it he could record specific things. We included little pictures on the bottom of the pages for fun. We filed the stack of those he did away this week as well.


We also updated his passport with stops that he's made. He was tickled pink to see it filling up. The stamps above came from the various Passport To.. unit studies we used. We just cut them out & he glues them into the little passport he keeps in his geography notebook.

Not a particularly busy week, but that's okay. We did spelling this week as well, Morgan managed to finish up a few more steps in the AAS book, & then when I had him tick them off I realised I'd somehow skipped step 8. I have no idea how I managed it. Apparently in the same way that I'd never fully explained syllables to him before. Which we discovered this week. Next week will be full on again with only 3 weeks until our term break!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Happy 10th Birthday

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Ten. In most cases I'd consider that an incomplete sentence, but that was before our youngest child turned ten. At times it doesn't feel like ten years since we began to wonder if he'd ever sleep through the night, or if the crazy nightmares he seemed to suffer with through the toddler years would ever end, or attempting to navigate the waters of a child with food intolerances, but then there are times where it seems an eternity ago. Yet, here we are, right now. Celebrating his 10th birthday. Where on earth did the time go?

I apparently blanked out somewhere between the time he threw himself out of his crib to climb in bed with his brother & now. You know, when your kids are suppose to be sound asleep & the light hanging from the ceiling shakes when you hear the loudest thud ever you really do chuck the phone across the room & run for it. He did it a second time, so we left him sleeping in the floor. He was always our daring child until he ended up with stitches, then things seemed to finally slow down a bit.

After all, this was the child who permitted his brother to tie him to a skateboard & shove him down a tiered hill. Oh to have been able to video tape that escapade! These days he's a little less daring in his leaps of craziness, but a whole lot more outgoing. Long gone are the days when I had a permanent bruise on my chest from him quickly slamming his head into it to hide. Now he takes his replica rifle out front to practice standing guard at the front gate. I've given up worrying about what the neighbors think, all though they still seem to give us a pretty wide girth.

Ten is when the birthday traditions seem to start in our home. On one side of the family a watch is the gift of choice, while on the other it's the year they get their first pocket knife. Jayden has been heavily stressed about the pocket knife tradition, he's questions & questioned about it. "Are you sure I'll get a pocket knife?" "You won't buy it will you, it will really be from Poppy won't it?" These questions started at the first of the year. While we did buy Morgan's first pocket knife, Dad had really wanted to do that & was happy to replace it when the first one was lost.

Jayden wanted Poppy to buy his knife, he wanted his knife to be as special. Little did he know that if we hadn't had the "ten rule" in place Poppy would have bought him that pocket knife a couple of years ago. But we do have the "ten rule" & a "sixteen rule" & a "thirty five rule" & I think an "eighty rule" too.

None of those really bother Jayden. He wasn't keen on anything but his pocket knife. So we did the only thing we could think of. We obtained the knife for him & I wrote him a note. I told him that he wasn't forgotten, that he was well loved. That there was a knife for him but that Mom & Dad had that dreadful "ten rule" & so they'd had to save the knife until he was old enough to have it. I suppose, without meaning to, we implied we had the knife in our hands all this time. I hadn't actually meant to do that.

So now, when he shows off his brilliant new "ten rule" pocket knife, he tells everyone how his grandpa in America bought it for him & his parents kept it until he was ten. Will I change his story? No, & even if I did he would tell the version he tells now. After all, this is the child who tells everyone he was born on a toilet where he jumped out of Mom's belly button, skateboarded across the bathroom, & jumped into Dad's arms so he could cut his belly button. Never a dull moment with this child.

Monday, June 10, 2013

All About Spelling Tiles

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With the All About Spelling programme you can magnetise the little letter tiles & use them on a magnetic white board. Here's the thing, I don't have a magnetic white board, & the last 3 white boards we've had seem to have held a lot of marker stain rather early in their lives. Now, chances are it's probably because I'm very cheap & bought inexpensive ones.

However, I figured rather then going out & purchasing a magnetic white board straight away I'd use my fridge. The company recommends a board that is 2' by 3', I told Mr S that, & then said it didn't really matter for us though as I'd set it up with the space I had. Joker that he is, he offered to flip the fridge for me & commented that when people ask why it's like that he can tell them it has to do with the children's education.

Yeah, no. I could have used our chest freezer too, all though that's more square then rectangular & it's in a room of the house we don't generally heat in the winter. So the fridge was the next logical step.

I actually printed the letter tiles {red, blue, purple, orange, & yellow} that are spread around the fridge on magnetic paper. I'd heard a lot of complaints that putting the magnet on the tiles caused them to fall off. I wasn't willing to have that kinda mess each time I closed my fridge.  I use to keep magnetic letters on my fridge for the kids to play with when they were littler & oh my the tears spilled if letters tipped off before the note was read by the intended person..

The jail, prefixes, & tiles at the bottom of the fridge are as they came from AAS & Mr S helped glue bits of magnet to the back of them so we could get the whole thing set up. We'll add to it as the kids travel through the levels. Morgan is flying through Level 1 right now, which isn't a huge surprise as he's very solid with his phonics. He's very happy to be making such quick progress. Jayden isn't doing too bad, but I slowed him down a bit because I was a bit surprised to see what caused him to stumble. Jayden was our self-taught reader. His phonics lessons were often what he heard his brother doing, & that's not to say he didn't have his own but generally he all ready knew the information in them. So it's been an interesting journey for us.

Incase you're wondering about the group of tiles in the middle. I printed 2 sets of letter tiles onto the magnetic paper but only cut out one set for now. The kids were eager to watch Gnomeo & Juliet to wrap up their latest Shakespeare read, so I decided to join them instead of cutting out magnets. I was joking when I told you my kids were a little Shakespeare ga-ga!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Place Value Fun

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I mentioned in our weekly wrap up that Morgan was overwhelmed for a bit with place value as high as trillion & so we'd made a number line on our driveway with chalk. He used it all week & was really pleased with being able to check his own work & decide if he'd made mistakes or not. However, it's winter here in Australia. For Tasmania that means our rainy season. Lots & lots of rain. The kind of rain where you wonder if you'll ever dry out. We don't complain though because our summers can be very very dry.

Bottom line, our chalk line kept getting washed away despite being under the carport. One day, while it was cold & drizzly last week Morgan wrote his own number line on scrap paper to double check his work because he felt pretty certain he'd missed a digit somewhere. Which reminded me of how I taught them about place value in the first place way back before we used math curriculum. We learned thousands by playing a lovely game called The Place Value Game. Everything about it was simplistic which is what made it so much fun for them. They begged to play this game over breakfast, lunch, & dinner every single day!

This weekend I decided to make up a couple of new game boards that went considerably higher. While Jayden has only learned place value as high as Hundred Thousand I figure jumping right into trillion will be no big deal, especially with our game board, for him. That way, when he does reach the higher place values it'll be no big deal for him. That happens a lot, at least in our house. When the older sibling learns something the younger one jumps on for the ride.

I chose to make the board colourful for a few reasons. The biggest one being that when reading out such a long number it helps them to quickly realise they are entering a new place value. This is how we set up our chalk line & when we read out the number we moved from one coloured section to the other. Easy Peasy. There's also the fact that I thrive on colour, as does Morgan, & so I made it super colourful because I wanted to.


I made another board that goes to Hundred Trillion as well, because honestly once you've hit trillion it's no big deal to just go a bit farther anyway. Morgan did a few problems this week with hundred trillion & felt comfortable just adding the extra digits to his number line in the correct place.

Now, if you're not familiar with the Place Value Game it's really simple. All you need is a copy of the game board above for each person playing, a pencil for each person, & dice. We use to play with just one, but a group of dice would work well when you have this many digits to get to. You could break down the amount of numbers needed by the amount of people playing & let each person roll a specific number of dice. It's pretty flexible to be honest & depends on how long or short you want the game to go for.

Once the dice have been rolled you fill in your number line. You can place them in any order you want, & throw out one number {the black box on the end}. When we played with smaller numbers, such as to thousand, we had one die that was rolled at a time. We took turns & each number had to be placed into the number line before it was rolled again. It evens the playing field a lot for someone who might be a beginner & thinking to associate the bigger numbers with the far left side of the number line.

Going with 2 dice for the bigger game board would still keep the playing field reasonably equal & allow you to keep the game moving at a reasonably quick pace. Just remember not to add the digits together but instead to use them as individuals. Another option might be to give each person playing 3 dice. Have each person roll the dice & choose to fill in three same coloured sections: green, purple, orange, blur, OR red. Then everyone rolls again, & so on. You could still choose to throw out one of those digits into the trash box & reroll that one die to attempt for a higher number.

Like I said the game is pretty simplistic & easy adapted to whatever situation you find yourself in. I also plan to keep a few of these on hand for Morgan to use as a reference guide when he's doing his math. He likes to write the number down in his book & then check with the line to be sure he's gotten the correct answer. This will allow him to do that without having to dash outside in this crazy blustery weather we're having!

Trillion Board Game PDF
Hundred Trillion Board Game PDF

Friday, June 7, 2013

2013 Week In Review Week 16

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It seems odd to be bringing our week to a close when we just recapped the last one, but it's true another week has come to an end here. The boys commented, many times over, that this week seemed so much shorter then last week. I have to say it was pretty short for me when I realised it wasn't Tuesday {again}, but Thursday. Tell me you have weeks like that!

We've played a lot with our schedule this year & finally found one that works really well for us, & results in that rather large pile of books being read through each morning. We actually read a few more as well, but the pile was close to toppling so I started another one.

It includes books from both boys Cores as well as our Aussie history books, devotionals & anything else we're reading for the day. In fact the only thing that I don't think is included in the pile are the books Morgan & I are reading through for his science this year. And maybe the Shakespeare book because there was a knock-down-drag-out over the book this week so I put it up on the shelf & told them it had to stay there until we were ready to use it again. Yeah, I know, weird kids who are willing to fight over Shakespeare.


We started a new song this week: Deep & Wide. I consider it a bit of a Classic considering I remember singing it in Sunday School as a child & while planning songs for this year I wasn't sure if the boys knew it or not. It's funny how songs that use to be common to sing eventually become replaced with others. Anyway, it's such a quick song it also gives us time to work on previous songs or to sing it a few times over.


We also continued on with Advance Australia Fair, which I brought up with music & lyrics via YouTube. Oh my goodness gracious me. Who knew it would be so hard to hunt down a simple cd of Classic Australian songs including Advance Australia Fair? Preferably not sung by a soprano women, because seriously I find it amazing people can sing that high, but we can't so we'd like the music for the pitch we can sing. If you know of a cd I'd love to hear about it, in the mean time my kids have taken to adding all sorts of insane flair to the ending of this song. Heaven help me!


We updated the memory box too. It was time for a new daily verse, all though that's not the one, because when it got to the point where the boys were saying the whole thing as soon as I picked up the box I realised I hadn't updated it since Term 1. Whoops. I still need to move a few things farther back in the box, but it was quite fun surprising them with a new verse this week.


Both boys started the week with what they call "Computer School", which were unit studies pertaining to what they are learning from Unitstudy.com. Jayden was working on the Tiger Download-N-Go & Morgan was working on Passport To France this week. On the first day Morgan did it pretty much as it was written, but his day was really loaded so I suggested the next day that he only visit the stops included in the unit. It's a beautifully done study on France, but as we were studying this country outside of there as well this worked better for us. And yes, I made notebooking sheets to go along with their studies. The Passport To.. & Download-N-Go have lapbooking pieces, but I was after having them get specific information that pertained to what we were doing.


Morgan was thrown for a small loop when his book moved up to Trillions with place value. He became quickly overwhelmed trying to figure out how many zeroes he needed, so I took him outside & drew this number line on the driveway. We broke it off into sections for trillion, billion, million, thousands, hundreds. Each one is labeled above the box in a different colour chalk. I called out some random numbers & let him put them wherever he wanted on the number line, then he had to walk along it & read out the number to me. Then he did his math by writing the numbers from the book in the boxes, read the number aloud & wrote it in his book. Finally we grabbed one of our funky dice that goes from 0-9 & when a number came up he had to put it wherever he wanted. Then I had to walk the line & read the number to him. He absolutely loved using that number line all week, & I think we'll use it for a while longer until he's no longer feeling the love for it. Jayden used it a few times himself as well.


Monday we headed out semi-later in the day for a walk in the bush. We were hiking up a steep hill when we rang Mr S at work to verify we were following the right paths. They jump around, loop back, & are crazily numbered where we were. My conversation went a bit like, "Hey, don't panic, but I'm up in the tiers & I just need to verify that I go 1, 6, 16, 1. Am I on the right path?" "Um, yeah, that sounds right. Are you telling me you're lost?" "No, not yet. But if you get home & we're not there then we probably are." "Which path are you on right now?" "6, I'm headed up the steep hill." "Did you hit the Y yet?" "Uh, maybe.." Never fear, we did make it back, all though we nearly forgot to tell Mr S we were back home again!


While Jayden was working on some Panda origami {which we never got a photo of} Morgan did a 3D puzzle of the Eiffel tower. I picked several different ones up at a cheap shop before they closed down knowing they'd be fun for him this year. He was delighted with this one, but came out looking sullen. Turned out the book I had him listening to, Treasures Of The Snow, was a little sad at the start. I assured him it gets way better.


I also had the Arc de Triumphe that he put together. This one was a little bit tricker as the instructions are all in pictures & not words. It doesn't seem to matter how many pieces you have the instructions seem to all be 4 steps as well. He still enjoyed it & then loved reading about it & watching a video to match. All though he kept referring to Napoleon as "That short little guy" thanks to National Treasure 2. On the flip side, at least he remembered the historical value behind this nifty landmark!


We finished up Romeo & Juliet this week. The boys are really loving this book on Shakespeare. I'm not sure why, to be honest, except that the each one is written very much in story form. They are gentle & easy to understand. Despite that I do read them with Morgan & we swap reading pages as we work through each chapter & book. Jayden likes to sit in on the stories too & insisted on looking ahead after we finished Chapter 5 on Wednesday. Each play is broken down into 6 chapters, which is what caused the knock-down-drag-out. Jayden peeped ahead & then kept hinting at what would happen & Morgan became really cross with him. The funniest part of the whole incident to me was that when Morgan knew we'd read Romeo & Juliet he asked what the point was, ".. we all know they both die!" Turns out there's a Charles Dickens book like this as well that I'm thinking of obtaining so we can read too. After reading about Shakespeare & Dickens while studying the British Isles both boys have became rather captured by the men.


Morgan also reviewed division with remainders this week. He had a minor freak out over it because he couldn't get the answers evened out & it just threw him for a loop. So I pointed out that we use Math U See & thus we could work with our nifty blocks to see the math. Second day working on the lesson he said, "I'm not sure why I was panicking, I did this stuff last year, it's pretty easy you know." I think we're nearly to the point where we may need to slow down with him, but we'll see. I'm pretty certain we'll be taking our time as soon as we hit long division. Jayden on the other hand still seems to be moving quickly through his book. He did trip with place value to a small degree, but once he used the number line on the driveway that sorted itself out quickly. We'll see where next week takes us!


Morgan worked on a nerve necklace this week. Most of his science this week was review if you're doing 5 day Sonlight F science. Which, we are. You spend the first 8-9 weeks learning about the brain on the 5th day of the week, but then when you hit week 10 you learn about the brain in the "everyday" studies section. It wasn't bad to have a review, & as we read about nerves again I pulled out this fun little necklace to make. He was keen to put it on along with his brain hat & then he & Mr S made hideous brain & nerve jokes all night long. Never mind that we had to run to the shop, the jokes just kept coming to which I finally turned around & said, "You two have some nerve!!"


Morgan wrapped up his country study on France this week. He was pretty keen for this one as he's always loved France. All his geography skills are starting to come together with our daily practice of "where is.." in regards to European countries we've all ready studied. It came in handy for labeling mountain ranges & oceans on the map he's working on in that photo. I really loved the notebooking pages this week for France, especially the one on French History. We're using the ones from Winter Promise's Children Around The World. Jayden's been sitting in on all our geography lessons so I'm thinking of ordering him a set as well. He'd be pretty keen for it.


We hit land this week & read about Botany Bay in one of our spines. I really love that particular book on Australian history for our spine. Don't get me wrong, Our Sunburnt Country is nice, but I think it leans way too far to the wrong side in making it sound a little too "happy as" for everything that was happening. I like the more no nonsense approach with this Scholastic version. We're still reading Voyage To Botany Bay which is about a crew of Frenchman who were headed to Botany Bay as the French also wanted to claim the land as a port for themselves as well. It's been an interesting read thus far, all though more about the characters in the book then the actual history of the time or the land itself.

After our reading this week from our spine I had Morgan take notes in the same manner he's learning to do in Writing With Skill. We chose which notes were worthy for our needs & which ones weren't & then put them in a Chronological order that fit what we were writing about. This was a new way to narrate to me for him & while he did it, he stumbled just a little bit but the end result was well done. We added a couple of cheesey graphics because we couldn't find what we wanted, a boat similar in style to what would have been used by the First Fleet.

And just as a side note, despite his lack of appearance in the photos Jayden really did join us for school each day this week! He's gotten funny about photos, but I bet if I'd pulled it out at swim lessons he'd have been happy to pose. He's become a little fish! Both boys are still working on perfecting their dives, but have a second week to continue practicing as lessons this week were full on with stroke practice. Not too shabby of a week, which is nice because next week will be a really short week for us!