Saturday, May 31, 2014

2014 Weekly Wrap Up: Week 13/14

This is a bit of a weird Weekly Wrap Up for us because we've had two short weeks of school, & when I say short I mean a couple of days each week.

Last week we did minor things like Bible Readings, spelling review, & finishing off some outstanding books we had. We hung out with our Home Ed group, & called it a week. Not a strong academic week & not something I'd generally give credit for unless it was the end of the year & we were wrapping up loose strings. Yep, I'm that kinda homeschooler.

This week was off to a bumpy start when Jayden woke up with the beginnings of a cold on Friday of last week which progressed to Sunday, but started disappearing on Monday, all though I canceled swim lessons anyway. By that evening Mr S, Morgan, & I were all feeling funky like we'd contracted a portion of it ourselves. I announced it would be a delight to all be sick at one time instead of the spreading it out over the course of a month nonsense that seemed to be a chain reaction last year. Not sure the poor guys found the humour in my weirdness. We did accomplish a few things prior to my being down for the count on Wednesday with too much congestion in my head.

I finally hung our markable map up in our new house, I know it only took me 5 months right? So we filled in a few places we've visited this year & more that we heard about in the news report we watched & the article we read in our Gods World Newspaper. We mark the map differently depending on what we're marking. If the place is too small to handle letters we simply put a number on the location, then we put the same number at the top of the map & write the location's name up there. We aren't using a variety of colours, just whatever wet-wipe dry erase marker they can find at the moment. We might do different colours next year, but considering we were all ready 5 months behind, just getting it rolling was key this week.

Jayden worked on wrapping up last weeks math lesson. He managed well despite the chaos that was happening around him, but then he concentrates better while singing during math. Drives me absolutely bonkers simply because his songs tend to be repetitive, random, & make no sense what-so-ever. I did get him to hush during frazzled phone messages that Mr S had to deal with from the office.

Morgan didn't handle the insanity as well while trying to work on algebraic formulas with fractions this week. The phone was seriously ringing off the hook by Tuesday afternoon when Mr S' office was trying to deal with a server outage without him. I was trying to balance explaining the math lesson, waking Mr S up so he could deal with the problem, & asking Jayden to pipe down on his incredibly silly song.

In the end I took Morgan into the kitchen, thankfully we can close off most of the rooms in our home, & used the white board to draw out the formula while explaining it every step of the way. This kid not only has to see it being done but he has to know the why of every single step. I colour coded everything for him & then had him work through a half dozen problems with the method. He was fine by that point, but slightly annoyed at the excess of the formula because he could look at the problem & tell you the answer without missing a beat. We've had a rule for years that he has to show his work with the majority of his math, so we called it the "Just Prove It" formula. Ahh yes, well we found it amusing at the time.

Once things quieted down around here Morgan read to me for a bit. He's doing really well, but feeling intimidated with the size of the chapters in the book he's moved onto. I've tried pointing out that he was reading 2 chapters a day to me in the past 2 books & sometimes that was more then what's in this book, but he didn't really care about that. Rather then overwhelm him we'll scoot down to half a chapter adding in a few pages each week until he's up to a whole chapter. One thing I've learned is that if something causes him grief in this area we need to learn to roll with it because once he reaches the overwhelmed point he can't see straight. Literally.

This book is a bit below Jayden's reading level, but he's enjoying these lovely books all written by the same author. He was suppose to read a couple of chapters to Mr S while I dealt with laundry & dinner, but that crazy phone interrupted them after 1 chapter so they called it good. Mind you, I was simply impressed Jayde read to Daddy, because prior to this he won't read to/with anyone but myself or Morgan. You might find that weird, but this is the child who was walking & talking but no one believed us because he simply curled up in a ball & threw himself face first into my shoulder for the first year of his life. We once had a neighbor for 6 months who, upon the day she left, finally got our boy to wave good-bye to her. He even removed his dummy/pacifier from his mouth & shouted, "BYE!" She slammed on her breaks & screamed, "I SAW HIS FACE!" Yep, that pretty much sums up our kid. He's not as shy these days with most things, but he still has his moments.

Jayden started listening to Story Of The World, which he enjoys. I found some simple things to go along with it & offered them to him. One of which were these large timeline cards which we laminate & cut out to pin up in one of our long halls after he listens to a lesson. I downloaded them a long time ago, but if I find the link I'll share.

Morgan continued with his Mystery Of History lessons. He does 3 audio lessons each day, & then he tells me about them. We've pulled together a variety of notebooking pages, lapbooking bits, & so forth to have a small recording of something from the day. I also snagged the Challenge Cards that go with MOH from Bright Idea Press. He loves trivia so they are right up his alley, all though laminating & cutting them all out was not right up my alley!

Jayde started back with his Sea & Sky school, he was so excited about it. We're in the middle ages this week & instead of reading off the Kindle Fire which was, unfortunately, flat as a tack, we pulled up Unfurling The Sail on the computer & I fed it through our tv so he could look at the pictures while I read. He loved seeing the boat up there for labelling purposes, all though I'm impressed which how many locations on a boat he all ready knows!

We managed 1 day with these books as well. I actually read these Monday evening while the guys were playing a game of Ticket To Ride. We didn't get to the project in Explore Ancient Rome! Yet this week, but we're hoping to tackle it this weekend. The guys are pretty excited about it!

Looking forward to digging in a lot deeper with The Ides Of April which we're still only in the early chapters. Seriously considering reading some aloud to the gang this weekend, but we'll see what happens.

As Jayden is covering Marco Polo in his theme right now I thought I'd add in this read aloud & save the one he was suppose to be doing for next year. Yes, that's a long time away, but it's an Aussie history book so I'm happy to let it wait. In the mean time Morgan was excited to see this book in our stack this week because he remembers when I read it previously to him. I dug out Around The World in A Hundred Years to use to cover a few explorers with Jayden as well. Not sure if we'll read about all of them in there or not, but I figured if we have the resources we might as well make the most of it. He wasn't to keen about it at first, but then Morgan started telling him about the fun stories inside & Jayde decided he'd give it a chance. Wait until we get to the story about the rabbits..

That's pretty much our week. We had a few solid spelling lessons, did Bible reading, & did some poetry this week too, but the majority of our work happened in Monday & Tuesday of this week & last. I'm looking forward to a normal week!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Making Curriculum Work For You

For the past four years we've been using 1 of 2 out of the box style curriculums. It was a tough choice for us when we first left behind the curriculum we'd been using. It's easy to feel that way when you are comfortable for something, & it takes courage to step away from what's not working, even if it's familiar, & move forward with something that is unfamiliar but better suited for your needs. 

The curriculums we chose fit those exact needs, & while we may borrow from here or there to fully round out our studies we're not left lacking regardless of what we choose to do. I get that boxed curriculum isn't for everyone & that's okay, because we all need to pick what works best for our families, but I gotta say one thing that really drives me batty is when people say they could never use a curriculum because a small portion here or there doesn't work for them.

Many boxed curriculums were created out of need. As in, a parent created these curriculums to use with their own families & over time their friends found out & wanted in on it. Those same friends had friends who also wanted in on it & assured the original family/author that people would pay for it. And people do. Sure, not all aspects may appeal & please, but that's the beauty of homeschooling, you can make the curriculum work for you instead of bending the child to work with the curriculum.

Which is exactly what we do: make the curriculum work for us. If we feel a book doesn't fit our families needs we drop it, if we find a book that would tie in well with our studies, we add it to our list. If we find an additional craft, movie, website, or outing that will help round out our studies, we attack it with gusto. It's what helps make the curriculum ours, it's what endears it to us, it's what makes us want to recommend it to our friends, & shout all about how awesome it is.

The first thing I do each year when our new instructor guides show up is to find the book list & check it out in full. Now I'm not gonna kid you hear, chances are I know that book list inside out because I've been exploring it prior, but this is my chance to write all over that page & start making firm choices on what books we'll use & what, if any, we'll drop. This year, for instance, with world history being covered in 12 months I had a plethora of books, all so deliciously wonderful, I had to make hard choices about which ones to use & which ones we just wouldn't have time for.

This year I went crazy & not only retyped up our book list but included dates & themes for the books. Our list was extraordinarily long, so we peeked to see what we could find available in audio format, & were pretty amazed with what we found. All the books we found in this format we simply removed from our main list. These books are now assigned throughout the year for him to read. Not only does this help us delve deeper into some time periods & topics, it also allows him to work on goal setting & time management as he learns to complete these books within a set amount of time. 

The rest of the books are put on our World History Book List in chronological order & these are the ones we read together throughout the year. These include our various spines, non-fiction, & historical fiction books.

All of these books are labeled for easy finding on our shelves, baskets, & tables around the home. Now I know it would be so much more simple to put them all in one place, but we're kinda out of bookshelf space & our book baskets are overflowing too. So we put things where they fit & locate them as needed keeping 6 weeks or more worth of books at easy reach. Plus, some books I prefer to preread prior to sharing with the kids.

The coloured labels, in this case green, are for one curriculum, while the quite labels are for another. The letters on them mean something to us, all though we've been asked about them by people pursuing our home library. If you're one of those who happens to be wondering, W stands for World History, & QA stands for Quest For Ancients. Pretty simple, yes?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Vegetables, Colds, & The Bible

Have you seen the newest fad at Woolies? It's all about getting kids excited about fruits & veggies. My kids are pretty good in this area so I haven't really paid much attention to the whole thing, but when my kids spotted the plush toys inside they were pretty keen to spend some pocket money on vegetables wearing underpants. I mean, who wouldn't be, right? When I ordered groceries this month I surprised them each by purchasing them an additional underpants clad fruit.

Ironically while my kids are boating about the value of the fruits & veggies, in underpants, that they now own & how this one or that one is loaded with this or that vitamin the house is struck with a head cold. A pot of chicken soup was in order, & thankfully we had leftovers on hand when Mr S was struck down with the cold today. Struck down enough that I advised him not to go to work, & his workmates agreed they'd prefer he keep his germs to himself.

However, nothing is ever that simple is it? Plus, you're probably wondering what on earth these absurdities all have to do one with another, well I assure you they all cross paths here eventually..

Low & behold a work calamity struck & poor Mr S could do little about it from home. The phone rang & squawked like crazy as he tried to talk workmates through how to solve the problem, but by 6pm there was nothing left for it then to head into the office & fix it himself. Being wet, dark, & could out I suggested I drive him into town, plus I needed to restock on cold medicines.

So we dropped Mr S off at work, ran by the grocery, where the kids decided to purchase themselves each one more underpants clad vegetable. We quickly drove back across town to hang outside the office while we waited for Mr S, & while we waited the boys decided to retell the foretelling of John The Baptist's birth.

It started out okay with things like..

"Zachariah was in the temple praying when the angel of the Lord came to him, & .."

"Wait, you have to say he had a sword!"
"Who has a sword?"
"The angel!"
"All angels have swords! I saw it in a book. Just say he had a sword."

"Okay, fine. & the angel had a sword. He told Zachariah he was going to have a baby, & Zachariah screamed, "Me?! I'm a dude man!

The angel of the Lord shut Old Zachariah's mouth tight for that kinda talk."
"You know, I hope he doesn't get a cold until the baby is born, he might not be able to breathe!"
"You know, when your nose is so stuffed up even picking it won't help, so if he got a bad cold & maybe had a fever, he'd die."
"Zachariah doesn't die in my story! That's now how hit happened."
"Yeah, but what if he'd gotten a cold!"
"He didn't. He didn't get a cold, he just got his mouth stuck shut."
"You know, I don't think God meant his mouth was really stuck shut, just that he couldn't talk. So I guess even if he did get a cold he'd be okay."
"Can I finish the story now?"
"Okay, but make the tomato be the baby!"

"So Zachariah went out & wrote his wife a note to tell them they were having a baby. She didn't believe him & then BAM she was pregnant. "Wow!" she screamed, "I'm pregnant, that was quick!" And then she decided it was time for the baby to come out & it did.

Everyone screams, "What's the baby's name, what's the baby's name!" & John takes a clay pot, smashes it on the ground, & grabs a wet quill. He writes, "The baby's name is John!" Everyone says, "Oh hello Baby John!!" Then Zachariah's mouth isn't stuck anymore, & he says.."

"Wait, I told you I don't think his mouth was really stuck shut! So you don't have to say that part."
"I'm telling the story!"
"I just think you shouldn't say that part. When does the broccoli get to come into the story?"

"Whatever, so Zachariah says, "God said our baby shall only eat grasshoppers & never have beer enter his lips."
"Why would a baby have beer? Did his parens own a pub?"
"No, I don't think so, they probably didn't have pubs back then."
"They had to have a pub, Jesus had wine."
"Never mind, let me finish the story before Dad comes!"
"Okay, but I want to see the broccoli in the story!"

"So Elizabeth says, "No problem honey & she runs outside & gets some wormy things & feeds the baby. "Yummy!" John squeals & asks for more. But then he sees all the other children drinking beer & he feels sad & says, "Mummy can I have beer too?" "Oh no, son you must never have beer, God says you can only have grasshoppers & honey."
"Wait, I don't think grasshoppers are worms. I think they are more like crunchy beetles."

""Here John have some crunchy grasshoppers!" "Thank you mummy these are way better then brussels sprouts! But I still want beer." "You can't have beer child so here have a honey drink instead & then we must go live in the desert until you are grown up enough. Oh why the desert it will be full of sand &.. Don't complain son, there will be plenty of grasshoppers out there plus internet so you can call your friends.""
"What?! They did not have electronics back then! You have to change that part of the story, that's just not right!"
"Okay, fine. So they go to the desert & eat honey drink & crunchy beetles until the time is right & then they come out & John offers to baptise people."
"Quick! Let him baptise the broccoli!!"
"Fine, he can baptise the broccoli if you promise to quit talking about broccoli!!"
"Oh, this is gonna be good!"

"So John baptises the broccoli with water, but it doesn't go so well & he says, "Oh dear, I'm sure I'll get better at this, would anyone else like a go?" But before he can do anymore the miserable good for nothing queen screams, "Give me his head!""
"What?! Wait, you never mentioned a queen in this story before. Where did she come from?"
"She obviously came from her mother, & she demanded John's head & since the broccoli was so angry about water in his nose he took the angel's sword & chopped it off."

"That's the worst ending to a story you've ever told! I mean how did he get the angel's sword?"
"Well, he's a broccoli he can do pretty much anything."

Thursday, May 22, 2014

2014 Week In Review: Week 12

Another week has flown by here on us & we're still trying to settle into a routine with school for our new term. We've had so much happening it's been a bit difficult, so we're still only going at half speed. With all that's going on for us we've decided to slip back into a 6-1-1 schedule meaning six weeks on & 1 catch up week, 1 off week or very slow week.

We're hoping to use our off weeks, especially when we get on the other side of winter, for more camping adventures & such, but we'll see what comes of it. We use to use a 3-1 & 6-2 schedule when the boys were younger, but a few years ago we switched to a 10-2 schedule which worked well for us quite some time. 

I love that we can adapt our schedules so easily as needed for in our little homeschool. It can sure make things a lot more pleasant when/if something you're doing isn't working quite as well as you'd hoped.

As for this past week we've been having a few laughs over seeing all our American friends wrapping up school years & talking about summer holidays while we're just hitting the doldrums of winter weather around here!

Monday started off with swim lessons, we changed our lesson times to give us a wee bit more time before having to be at the pool from now on. The boys had their final week with the sub-teacher, in fact they were wondering when on earth their normal teacher would be back when we ran into him on our way out to the car.

Morgan wrote a lovely essay on The Trojan War as we finally wrapped up Black Ships Before Troy last week. He still needs to illustrate it, but I wanted him to get things on paper before he forgot the book. I actually had some review questions for him as we used the Writing With Skill method to guide him through his essay, not that he really needed the guides as he does an amazing job with what he's asked to write about. However, I chose to use the guided question to keep the flow moving forward as he loves giving detail & this restricts him a little bit. Considering we've put Writing With Skill on hold for a little while I was impressed with how much of it he not only remembers but eagerly puts to use. {In case you're wondering we learned that there's an upcoming online class that will be using the WWS book, & I'm waiting for more details as I consider enrolling him in it.}

We're still moving along with our poetry book for the year. It really has some lovely poems in it, some familiar some not. The boys thought I was joking around when I started reading the passage we memorised a few years ago from Luke about the birth of Christ. We've also had a few giggles about April bringing in spring as it brings in autumn here!

Nearly finished with our "30 Days with Jesus". Yes, I know it's taken us far more then 30 days, but there's something to be said for our persistence in sticking with it. Excuse the incredibly blurry photo, won't you? Morgan received the Get-A-Clue devotional over the holidays & we've been reading it ever since. It's well done in that over 7 days you have to read the devotional each day in order to figure out the mystery. 

Jayden is continuing with his lessons in Delta. I need to fast tract him quite a bit which is what I discovered with Morgan with Delta as well. As long as they know their multiplication facts, & know them well, they tend to fly through the first portion of this book. I'm pretty sure if I required him to sit for 10-20 minutes to do math he'd finish an entire weeks worth of pages if not two weeks. I have no problems with that, but I also don't see the point in having him dawdle when he could move forward. And yes, that's a Christmas hat & a Christmas table runner still up. The hat, actually came out for a movie the boys recorded recently, the runner never came down as it looks so nice up there. My sister-in-law gave it to me for Christmas two years ago & it was one of the only decorations to go up this year. I told her I need another for year round, a bit greedy of me wasn't it!

Morgan is still humming along with Epsilon, he's very eager to finish the book up. He's reached multi-step {as in 5-6 step} problems & by the end of the week he declared that, "My head is so full of numbers I can't tell which ones I need!" We'll pause on Lesson 23 next week as well to get him a bit more comfortable with all those steps before advancing forward again. I prefer for them to not only know the material but be extremely confident in what & why they are doing it. I find it causes less stress & set-backs in the long run.

We're reading A Child's History Of The World aloud as one of our many spines this year. I wouldn't say it's a strong spine for Morgan, but he enjoys it & it's very simplistic to read. I love that it's written directly to the child which makes it more engaging for them. This is why we also have him listening to the Mystery Of History volumes this year, to help balance it out with something a bit more at grade level. God King was our read aloud for the past couple of weeks & at along last we wrapped it up & returned it to the shelf. It was a really lovely read & Morgan really enjoyed listening to this one. We've been mixing in books from Winter Promise's Quest for Ancients & Kings & Carpenters is one such book. We're reading a couple pages a day & finding a whole lot of jobs we really wouldn't want to have! 

Morgan is reading The Children Of Noisy Village aloud to me this week. We'd hoped to wrap it up, but an unexpected call from Mr S in the middle of the day on Friday had us running around town like crazy & the book simply didn't get happen. It's a really sweet story & I'm enjoying listening to him. It's been a long road for him, & it's really amazing to see the progress he's made in the past 12 months. Not only is he capable of finally focusing on the smaller font in these books, but he's able to keep the pace set by the curriculum. While we've always adjusted for him, now that his eyes can cope with the smaller font, we're working on endurance. 

While I have no photos of it, Jayden wrapped up the book he was reading to me too. He was so proud of himself to finally be able to sit wherever he wants while I'm busy & read to me. He's been known to do a "Peter" in the past & skip difficult words. You know who Peter is, right? From Heidi. Remember how Grandmother preferred for Heidi to read because it always sounded better, not because Peter was a poor reader, but because something was always missing? Yep, I use to say to him, "Be a Heidi not a Peter." 

Morgan is flying along with his programming. He does hit brick walls now & again, but has quickly learned that when he does he simply needs to pack it up for the day & return to it the next day. Generally when he does that he can find his mistake{s} within a matter of seconds & is off rolling again. Jayden enjoys watching, & has hinted that he might like to have a go at it, we've told him maybe next year. He'd have to be willing to put the work into it & not just be in it for the testing portion that you do in MindCraft considering the price of the class.

We tried out or new science last week as well, all though we only touched briefly with it. I had hoped that perhaps I could combine them in the Level 3 Physics I'd purchased after the ordering conundrum I had with the Level 2 which was intended for Jayden. Unfortunately most of what we learned in Day 1 went sailing over Jayden's head which was evident by the slightly glazed look in his eyes & confirmed when he said, "So can you just sum that all up for me in words I actually might possibly really know instead of all this nonsense please?" Ahh, gotta love that kid!

I spent some of the weekend fleshing our plans that will work to combine them both without going over or under either person's head. While science is probably my weakest point it's one of Mr S' strongest so I tend to flesh things out & have him overlook it all to be sure I'm not missing anything. 

Aside from all of that we also had a day out with friends, which the boys absolutely loved. The crazy stories they've come back sharing still have us cracking up. We met up with our local home ed group for their annual swap meet, all though I'm delighted we didn't bring much home.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sonlight Notebook

Sometimes the most difficult part of using a big lovely curriculum that has lots of papers, schedules, timelines, & other bits with it is deciding how to store & use it. Over the years I've used a variety of ways that have worked for me during those times. This year we're using an older version of Sonlight's Core W for Morgan's year of World History. The older versions were thinner as the language arts weren't included in the main core.

I've bound the older ones with spiral binding before, & I was going to do that with this one too, but I've misplaced the booklist, which I use all the time! So much so that I tend to run off copies or retype it on the computer "just in case" I lose it. I know the crazy thing is around somewhere in a page protector, but until I found it I wasn't willing to bind the core.

Instead I stuck it in a Hybrid Flex-Notebook that I'd picked up while in the USA last time we were there. Hybrid Flex-notebooks are really lovely if you have US sized paper. They work like a 3-ring binder, but they  can lay open like a spiral bound notebook. I love that! I also love the little dividers that come with it which have perfect big pockets for things like our timeline figure sticker sheets, but they also have lovely little pockets for notecards, the stickers I slap on the side of our books, bookmarks, & so forth.

Unfortunately, if you're using A4 paper these notebooks will not work because they are too short, but since Sonlight Cores are printed on US paper before they are shipped to you I was in luck! The Flex notebook I have is the larger one, which I think is 1.5 inches, but I'm not certain. I picked it up at a Walgreens in the little town mom lives in. In fact, I'm pretty sure it was the very last one on the shelf & I was super disappointed there was only one, but really excited it had the clear view pocket on the front. Am I the only one who gets excited about clear view pockets?! Amazingly enough the notebook was green, which is the same colour as Core W!

The notebook was a pretty quick set up, & laid out the same way I would have done it if/when I bind it. The clear-view cover houses the nifty Core W cover. Inside I have one of those lovely dividers I mentioned which has our timeline pieces. As we cut things off we stick the smaller sections into that smaller envelope pocket. I get asked a lot about Sonlight & Winter Promise so I keep website info & referral cards in my notebook. I'd love to give out catalogs of both curriculums to the people who ask, but I don't actually have any of those to spare.

Next are the weekly schedules. In the older Cores you put one side up for a 5 day schedule or flip it over for the 4 day schedule up. While we do tend to only school 4 days a week with our core, I still use the 5-day schedule because there's often a few books we really want to read included in that schedule. We just take it at our own pace & it all works out.

After that I have the History Notes, Reader Notes, & Read Aloud Notes. The various flags/tabs at the top of my notebook are just marking where I need to be. The red marks the week we are on for our spine & generally our read aloud. Pink marks our timeline figure schedule. Green is marking the reader that Morgan is on, Blue marks the read history spine notes, & the yellow one marks our read aloud spines.

I like to read the notes about a given book prior to our starting so I'm forewarned if there's anything I want to skip or avoid. I pre read anything I have him read on his own & then refresh myself with the synopsis in the notes as well as the questions. Morgan's an amazing narrator about what he's read so I don't often use the questions in the book unless they hit on something he hasn't mentioned & I know it'll make a lovely discussion.

I also write changes we make to anything on our schedule in there as we go along so I don't scratch my head wondering when it's Jaden's turn. In other words, if I swap out one book for another I simply make a note of it on the week where it best fits in & the schedule we used. I'm pretty big about keeping notes on what we do/did so that I don't have to fuss about it when we come to it again with the next one in line.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Australian History

One of the many things keeping me hopping around here lately is my efforts in putting together a massive Australian History study for my boys next year. Over the past several years we've used various Sonlight Cores & Winter Promise Themes which we've adored. The only downer to any of them is that they don't, for obvious reasons, offer an Australian History version. Which means, over the years, we've fit in a few things here or there, but haven't dug as deep as I'd really like to have.

I've attempted to work on one before & it ended up falling by the wayside in leu of other things that were happening in our lives. However a fellow Sonlight Mum has been working on something herself which she's used a few times over & was keen to share. It was inspiring to see that it was possible & what she'd come up with was lovely. It's only 29 weeks & uses several books I can't obtain my state for one reason or another.

The inspiration was enough to get me back to the drawing board & really flesh out a good portion of our plans. I'm pretty sure I maxed out just about every library card we owned in an attempt to look through books & weedle out which ones we'll use, which ones we'll purchase, & so forth. It's been fun, all though I've had to put it aside for a little while to concentrate on another 6 weeks of school here.

However, in the time I did have to work on it I managed to get my spines worked out & it looks like we might have two years of plans instead of one. Either way doesn't matter to me, all though our school years tend to be longer then most so who knows how long it will or won't take to accomplish. It would be a waste of time to speculate on that at the moment!

We're excited to dig deep with the resources we can access here, either because we own them, can borrow them, access them for free on the internet, or because they simple enough to purchase. The boys have been eyeing up the books that have been coming in & going out of the house which has them pretty excited about things too. Jayden was delighted to know we'd dawdle a little bit on Bushrangers, & Morgan was happy to revisit a variety of explorers he's previously studied. All though between me & you, I'm pretty sure Jayden is holding out for Bushrangers for the whole "glory & adventure" aspect, while Morgan's probably hoping for another Explorers Cake. 

I, however, am excited about it on many levels & I'm prayerful I'll be able to make the time to finish off the project. Not to mention that when we actually use those plans it all unfolds well & not in some patched together way that makes me wonder what on earth I was thinking! 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

2014 Week Wrap Up: Week 11

Wow, it seems like it's been a while since I've updated with a school post, or many posts for that matter! We took our term break & continued to do a light sprinkling of school throughout. The kids continued reading aloud to me, such a treat, we listened to a few audio books, piano lessons began, swim continued, & company came. Lots of company. Or rather, lots of family members came at varying times & our front door seemed in constant revolving motion. We no sooner had beds changed from one lot when another arrived, but I'm not complaining. We enjoy it when family comes to visit, & even more when they are keen to stay & put up with our craziness for a day or two.

All though most cousins are totally relieved not to be greeted by a cheeky 4 year old who announces they've been, "watching you sleep forever & I thought you were never going to wake up & I needed you to wake up so I could know what kind of pyjamas you wore!" Ahh yes, my kids have certainly freaked out their fare share of cousins before.

The picture above is Morgan sitting in a local tree watching the Anzac ceremony. We never can, or try, to get too close to the monument until after the parade when things have settled down a bit, but the tree was perfect for being up in & watching the people speaking. And no, he's not wearing shorts he just wears through the knees of his pants & I've given up patching them. This kid wears through the 'steel knee' Lands End pants!!

Jayden was reading a kindle book to me this week, I'm not generally a fan of him reading from the Kindle or iPad because he tends to flip pages without meaning to, but the next book on his schedule wasn't here & was available in e-format so we went with it. That's his bird on the table, pretending to nap. I assure you if I'd been reading he would flown right into my face, landed on my shoulder & made his annoying, "I'm totally happy pooing on your shoulder while you read" noises. Which are slightly less annoying then his habit of trying to eat my wicker baskets!  Jaydie hit a point a month or two ago where he decided he wasn't a "reading kinda guy" & I realised he was in a bit of a rut, so out came a reading schedule to encourage him along a bit.

Swim lessons were, as normal, last week all though the boys coach has been off duty for a few weeks now. They missed him enough they informed the stand-in teacher that they really liked her lessons, but were wondering when Mr A would be back. She told them they had one more week with her, which Jayde decided he liked because she plays games with them & Mr A is all about swimming. Morgan was in the opposite boat because he learns better when he can see things demonstrated & their stand-in teacher just coached from the sidelines.

Morgan stared piano lessons with Hoffman's Academy, wow is that Mr Hoffman talented! He's really excited about it all though he's only done one lesson as our non-stop flow of company didn't encourage a lot of practice time. I love that there's a "play along" for him so that he not only has something to keep time with, but helps him see the goals he's trying to accomplish by being able to play correctly along with Mr Hoffman.  Jayden was suppose to start as well, but he opted out for now.

Morgan started reading a new book to me, having wrapped up yet another one previously in the week. The book is a lovely story, but misspelled words & slang spellings were doing numbers with his SSS so we packed the book away & moved to the next book on his list. He flew through that book & ended the week with it more then half finished. Before it's mentioned, I know there are times when he'll have to be challenged with things that ill-effect his SSS, but when we don't have to challenge it we choose not to.

The boys received the movie, Jericho, over the holidays & have watched it countless times. It inspired Morgan to consider making a few bits of clothes for his own minifigs. He's had heaps of capes for his Hobbit & Harry Potter legos, but he was inspired to try making some for other things as well. I warned him not to go with the hole puncher for the holes, but he opted to try it anyway & figured out pretty quickly why that wasn't a good idea. I helped him for a while because my dress scissors were not left-hand friendly, but he eventually found some that worked for him & we now have a plethora of capes around here.

Morgan has crossed the 3/4 mark in Epsilon, no pun intended. He's done really well with the work & set himself the goal of having the book done by July holidays. He originally was going to aim for only a couple of weeks, but I pointed out that if he needed a bit of a slow down should he hit a tough lesson that wouldn't leave much wiggle room. We glanced over how quickly he's been able to move previously & added in a few extra weeks for a "just in case" & he was happy with the idea of being done by July because he figures that gives him an additional 6 months to finish the next book. He's super eager to get to Algebra because he loves messing with x & y. Seriously, his words not mine!

Jayden wrapped up Gamma & moved into Delta. He was terrified about the whole thing & wasn't very keen to get going with the new math book, but I eventually found him at the table with the book & the cap gun. All I can say is, at least it wasn't the rifle. There was so much laughter during a family dinner with company recently when I had to shout over the din, "Jayden put the rifle down & set the table!" Notice Toad hiding in his hand? Morgan had hidden him in the new math book hoping it would help him smile during that first lesson.

My kids have been known to be in weird places while reading to me before, but when I turned around to work on the table while Morgan was reading to me & found him laying on the table I cracked up. And yes, his glasses are way too far down his face, he's annoyed about it. We need to visit the Optometrist so they can tighten them up, we're also hoping they can sell us another pair of frames because his back up glasses went through the washer. Not a grand combo, thankfully the expensive lenses were fine, but the frames, not so much.

It was a slow start back to a fuller schedule & while I don't have any pictures we also read our poetry & Bible each day. Worked through more of our history books, took a couple of long bike rides, & watched The Whipping Boy. It's a bit ahead of us, historically speaking, but the kids were eager to see it after hearing Mr S & I rave about it. We pulled it up on the Apple Tv & enjoyed watching it with them one evening.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Lego Chocolates

Jayden was lamenting that when I get him chocolate he only gets boring old chocolate because most dairy free chocolate is super dark & has nothing mixed into it. Telling him not to complain & be grateful wasn't really going to fix the disappointment he had.

I've suggested, previously, that we melt it down & mix in our own things to it, but that's not quite the same as being able to get something special from the shop. Mind you, being able to have chocolate from the shop should be special enough, but again that's not the battle I was choosing to fight.

Instead, I purchased some lego silicon moulds off ebay. There's a seller out of HongKong who was selling the moulds at a really reasonable price & I snagged 4 of the minifig moulds. When they arrived there was a huge amount of hubbub around here. Including the plead of could we please go to the shop right now & get chocolate!

We did end up biking to the shop for chocolate, but it took for ever for those moulds to air dry from our washing & we ended up waiting until the next day to actually make the chocolates. I did spray the moulds with some non-stick spray, all though I don't know that you need to.

Just to make them extra special I put a few 100's & 1000's in the bottom of the moulds & poured chocolate on top. The boys were pretty excited & didn't want to wait for them to harden so they slipped them in the freezer & we turned that onto "fast freeze" {ahh the fancy things we can do with modern technology!} & within 5 minutes we were turning out the chocolate.

The ones above are actually from milk chocolate that Morgan used where as Jayden's were much darker from the dairy free version. The end result was pretty cool & they were delighted about it. They think it would be fun to make them with white chocolate & tint it yellow, all though I mentioned it would look like a whole bunch of naked minifigs in the fridge. That's probably only encouraged their thinking though. Whoops!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Monkey Business

A package arrived yesterday with all sorts of interesting things inside of it, including this crazy monkey. Jayden had been eagerly anticipating it's arrival for a while now & he nearly bowled me over when I went to open the door & receive the package from the postie.

Throughout the day this monkey was scolded quite often for a variety of reasons, his owner kept saying, "Monkey stop that!" Which of course did not work & so Monkey was scolded to no end with all sorts of funny threats.

When his owner went to have his nightly bath, a bit earlier then normal, I was doing a tidy up in the kitchen when I discovered Monkey sleeping in the basket of napkins. I asked him what he was doing & he said he was napping. I have no idea if it was punishment for his crimes or if he was truly in need of a nap. His owner wasn't exactly forth coming with the information...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Greek Mythology

We've spent the past few weeks learning about Ancient Greece which included their mythological gods. We enjoyed the book Greek Myths by d'Aulaire, which gave a great overview of who was who. We had a lot of giggles over some of the stories & some plain old, "Say what.." type moments too.

Then we moved on to the Trojan War with the book Black Ships Before Troy, it was really nice to have the knowledge or at least some information, about the greek myths & gods prior to reading the story. 

This weekend while looking for a notebooking page on the Trojan War, I didn't find one so made one instead, I stumbled upon some kids videos about this very war. We watched a Horrible Histories version which was probably the funniest, but also not the best. The made Helen Of The Fair Cheeks out to be a bit of a nutter & not how we imagined her being portrayed via the impression we gained in Black Ships.

We watched another version which was a bit less insane, all though in order to be a quick & short cartoon it needed skipped a lot of detail out. Still, it captured the gist of the story in the 2 minutes it worked with. It was probably my favourite to be honest.

Phineas & Ferb also have a Trojan War show which is, of course, gets the point across in style complete with a song & dance routine. We watched this one prior to reading anything about the Trojan War just to give the boys an idea of what we'd be studying. It worked well because it peeked their curiosity to know more.

We also spotted this fun online version of learning about Greece, greek mythology, & more. I loved that you could see the actual locations of where certain legends supposedly happened. The website is well done & has a lot to explore, plus the music/sound isn't half bad compared to most!

But our real treasure trove was when we spotted a children's show called Mythical Warriors this weekend. We spotted 13 episodes that are 22 minutes long each. Each episode tells about one of the mythical warriors & some of the stories associated with them. It was an interesting way to round our studies on Ancient Greece.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Free Science Notebooking Pages

I haven't totally disappeared off the face of the earth, we've just been very busy enjoying our time off. We had lots of company drop in, some unexpectedly, some not & the boys had an absolute blast playing with cousins they don't see often, seeing other cousins more often then normal, & all sorts of other insane things. They managed to rope their Auntie, myself, & Nana into a lego challenge which was quite funny to be honest. I was voted best space machine, but I dunno because I think Auntie's was far more creative, but I digress..

During my spare moments I've been pre-reading books for Morgan's history this year, gathering together other books for the boys to read in their spare time, working on notebooking pages, & all sorts of other interesting things. I finally finished, for now, the science pages & thought I'd come share them here.

I spent a good chunk of time looking for some freebie ones, & while there is a lot out there to choose from, none were exactly what I needed. Perhaps I'm not the only one, then, who could benefit from the use of these pages? You see, the boys science this year, Noeo Physics, doesn't use little worksheets to keep track of what they are learning. I don't mind that & I'm sure they won't, all though they did enjoy labelling things & the crosswords they've done in the past with the Sonlight Worksheets.

Instead Noeo provides some free notebooking pages to use after each reading & a basic lab sheet to use after experiments as well. The thing is I wasn't too keen on the pages. With Morgans SSS he really needs to have the guidance of the HWOT lines still, the difference they make astounds even his beloved Dr F. I also wanted a bit more in depth lab sheet for our experiment time, & something more for our science words that they are required to define.

In the end I created 20 different pages. Many of the basic pages are the same with the boxes for sketches moved around. It often depends on what we are writing about, which child is using it, & things like that as to how many boxes we need. The first of the 20 pages I created with the idea in mind that we often take photos during science & they can print out a photo & affix it there then tell about it.

There are several different lab sheets, & if you download it you might wonder why. While creating the pages I asked Morgan for his opinion on the fonts I used for headers. He couldn't decide between the two I chose! So I kept them both & figured he can pick & choose whatever suits his fancy on any given day. You'll notice that 2 sets of lab sheets have helps/guides for writing down information, while the other two don't. That was also purposeful so that as they get familiar with filling in the pages they can move on to the ones without guides.  I had Mr S weigh in on the lab sheets to make sure I included everything, & after a detailed review he  gave them the thumbs up.

If you're interested in downloading them you can find them here. Enjoy!