Friday, August 21, 2015

Timeline Organisation

We love using timelines in our homeschool, but I confess sometimes we forgot to add the pieces each week to our timeline. It’s easy for them to build up when that happens, & then we spend a day colouring our pieces in & placing them into our books. While there’s no harm in doing it this way I rather like slipping them in the book at the end of the week as a great way to wrap up our week & review what we’ve done as the kids chat about each piece they stick on their timeline.

While reading through a small group on Facebook the other day someone shared their plan for making sure no timeline pieces were forgotten; kinda makes you think if the slogan, “No Child Left Behind..”, only we’ll say, “No Timeline Piece Left Behind!” Anyway, the idea she shared was that she snagged some baseball/football card sheets & slapped in her timeline pieces broken down by 1 slot per week. Genius.

Except, my kids don’t collect sports cards. Somewhere in the depths of my parents attic I possibly still have a bunch of autographed football & baseball cards, pretty sure I have a Reggie White card in that fashion & a Jim Kelly card, but that’s not really the point.. The point is, if they are locked away in the crawl spaces I’m not going in after them because first off that’d be one long plane ride to uncover them, & secondly last time I peeked in the crawl spaces I saw a snake skin.. a really really big snake skin. Big enough that I simply closed the crawl space double timed it downstairs &, in an eerily calm voice said, “Dad, you’d better get up here before Mom sees what I saw!”  Sorry Mom, I really didn’t think you’d want to know about it at the time..

I was actually debating what I could use instead of ball card holders. My eldest is a huge card collector, but he’s all about using the cards too. This kid literally has buckets of cards & he generally uses them all, but they don’t go into protective sleeves. However, it was a high priority that his room get cleaned up last week & while that was happening a couple of card notebooks appeared. I recall they cost about $3 at the local K-Mart & I believe originally had a Club Penguin logo on them. My kids played that card game until their cards started falling apart, literally! They rarely stored things in the notebooks because it was too much bother to pull them out every half hour to use.

My boy was really torn on getting rid of those books, & as he sat there debating it I told him that if he was keen to get rid of them I'd like to use them for school. He was confused but happily deposited them on the school table. I spent the weekend listening to an audio book & cutting out all our timeline figures for the rest of the year & slipping them into a notebook per child.

Seriously, it was so easy to do! I actually located all the timeline pieces we hadn't used earlier this year, all though I think a fair few were doubles as I accidentally managed to order 2 timeline sets for one child & none for the other. Genius, I know. Anyway, when I was done I decided to label the pockets with the scrap bits of timeline page sticker. Yep, if I don't purchase our timeline pieces all ready on sticker paper I just print them out on sticker paper. I prefer the pre-printed ones because, locally, I haven't been able to find heavier duty sticker paper, but it all works. 

I actually had enough pages in one of these books to put timeline stickers in for two 36 week programmes & more. The picture above shows some of our Winter Promise Royals & Revolutionary Theme timeline cards. We love these cards, & my eldest is especially keen that at the end of the year he has his own trivia game. One I prefer he not play with his Nana because the next time they get into a spat over Queen Elizabeth I, I might take the chocolate for myself & leave them to duke it out.

One of our card books was a bit more stretched out with the top row of pockets then another so for those pages I just slipped a paperclip on the side or top. That particular pocket really doesn't have 2 clips on it, you can just see the one behind it as well. Easy fix, the other card holder doesn't have that issue because I suspect it was never ever used.

The best part is that the cover {front & back} are pockets. We just slip their planner page for the week in the front pocket & the back pocket is saved for notebooking pages, space timeline pieces, or scratch paper depending on what's needed for the week ahead. This week my eldest was delighted to be able to locate his timeline figures without hassle & take them off to colour in while listening to his weekly audio book. Win-Win!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

World War 2 Books

All book links are affiliate links
I started in on the WW2 books that Morgan will use later this year or next. I really enjoyed all 4 of these books & can't wait to hear his feedback on some of them.

Endless Steppe is going to require you to have google earth or a great pictorial atlas at your fingertips. I found myself quickly googling things as I was reading this book because the descriptions were quite amazing. The story is about a prominent Jewish family that all live in one huge house with many small apartments off of it for various members. The young girl on the cover is 10 the day this story starts & she's awoken on a summer morning & her mother demands she gets dressed at once. Young Esther is quite use to doing as she pleases & living a life of high privlage, she finds the demand very out of place & begins to argue. She soon learns, though, that in order to survive she must do as she's asked without question. The Rudomin family are considered Capitalists & are whisked away on cattle cars for a 6 week ride which lands them in Siberia. A far away land reserved for the worst criminals. Through the course of the story you learn the harsh reality of life for many who were sent there & considered criminals. There is no perfect ending to this story as it follows the outcome of WW2, but for the Rudomin Family, at least those who were banished to Siberia, find a happy ending eventually.

I Am David  is also known as North To Freedom & was made into a movie in 2008. This is a book that's been on our children's "to read" list for many years. It's a book my husband dearly loved as a child & caused him to fall in love with reading, so when it sprung up on our list this year Mr S was very very excited. Funnier yet, while reading the book with visiting company this past weekend my brother-in-law said the very same thing. This book takes a different look at WW2 as we follow David's escape from a concentration camp & his journey, by foot, to Denmark. Why Denmark? That's where he was told to go by the man who helped him escape.

David's journey is emotional, made by a young boy with the wisdom that most adults lack. I really loved this book & no sooner finished it then I wanted to pick it up & begin it all over again. As David journeys, night after night, he stumbles, across people but is always wary of each of them. After all, they could be working for them. He's deeply scared, emotionally, due to his time in the concentration camp, but it's this deep scaring that spurs him along, always, to his final destination.

The Silver Sword is also known by the more modern title of Escape From Warsaw. Either way the story is about a young family who are torn in many directions when WW2 explodes on Warsaw. Their father is taken to prison for turning the picture of Hitler to face the wall during a Bible lesson. Mother is hauled off by the police to work the German land, & the children are presumed dead by the neighbours when the apartment building they are in blows up.

Within minutes of beginning the book you'll find yourself caught up in father's escape from the prison, his journey back to Warsaw as he seeks out his children. The knowledge from the sensible neighbour who reminds him that all families must have pre-arranged an emergency meeting place should they be torn apart. Thus begins the story of Balicki family..  While I enjoyed this book, I especially enjoyed the ending & not due to a "happily ever after" but more for the fact that it included so much information, woven into the final chapter, about the plight & help given to so many children who were now displaced & lost due to WW2.

Snow Treasure was the lightest read of all these stories, but no less enjoyable. It tells the story of a Norwegian village occupied by German soldiers. They have much gold in their bank, because despite the horrors of the world at that time, their banks were doing quite well. They refuse to let the money fall into enemy hands & choose, instead, to make a daring plan to move the money out of their country right under the noses of the soldiers who are now occupying their country. Is it true? That's the burning question when you read this story, & the author states that it's never been proven to be true, but that her idea was based on the story of a Norwegian Freighter landing in Baltimore telling this very story. It is said that the Captain of the Freighter would not tell the name of the fjord in which his boat came so as to protect the young children who had helped save all the gold, & thus if the story was true it could never be proven.

My only fault with this book was that I wanted more.. there is conclusion at the end, but my mind had so many questions I wanted to ask that I went looking to see if I could find a sequel, but I couldn't discover any other books even written by this author. The book was apparently made into a movie in 1968, but I can't seem to locate a copy. It also looks like another version is under production.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Eye Spy

Can you find: an iPhone, seven 9's, six stars, Monster's Inc Logo, Channel 7's Logo, 2 H's, Press Play Logo {the band}, 3 Lightning Bolts, 3 Hallows {think Book 7 of the HP series}, 11 X's, Wii Logo, Lego City Game Hospital Logo, Match, Red Heads Match Box, Marker, & a backwards F.

He worked on this project for days, adding meticulous details & double checking he'd included everything in his list. He had it all laid out to present to us while tea finished cooking. We all explored the drawing & found each of the items.

He's made many of these for us over the years, & each one gets a little cooler then the last one. He stresses over the end project though, the writing out of his list. He worries that he'll spell something wrong, or have put a letter facing the wrong direction once he's finished spelling it all out.. in ink.

We've learned to read through the mistakes, to read backwards, or even upside down. He's often fascinated by the great minds that have gone before him.. each one with it's own quirk. Da Vinci's own Mirror Writing. Was it really intentional, or were his eyes crazy like mine & he just didn't know? He smiles each time he hears one is a poor speller, struggled with their own inner demons. It's not the smile of a person who's one-upped you, but a knowing smile; one that screams, "I get it, I understand. Me too!"

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Five In A Row: A Review

The very first curriculum we ever used was Five In A Row. My boys were much younger, & smaller, way back then. We'd curl up on the couch & read the same story for 5 straight days. We read about little girls who struggled to read, bulls who didn't want to fight, people who traveled great distances to new lands, & of bears who could dance with great talent.

The stories always made us smile, & introduced my children to the knowledge that learning is fun. That with the knowledge to open a book & read, one could find the information to nearly anything they desired.

Over the years we read the stories, & we read them again. One child finished them all off & the next one was ready to be introduced. Our eldest could be heard saying, "Oh that's such a good story, let me tell you about it.." & his little brother would sit still & silent, a rare thing to be honest, as he was told all about how amazing the book for the week was going to be.

My eldest still holds a great fondness for each & every one of those beautiful picture books that were the introduction to his education, the beginning of a world of knowledge for him. He fell in love with Grandfather who's heart is always torn between two countries, & with Amber who wanted to desperately to learn to read but struggles so much. Two subjects very dear to his own sweet heart.

Our youngest would giggle each time we turned off the last light for the night & I attempted my best Ms Clavel voice as I said, "That is all there is Little Girls, there isn't anymore." It's still a saying that gets spoken around here from time to time, as do many quotes from the books we fell in love with so long ago.

When one writes a review it's easy to say what we love or hate about a programme or a book, but it can be far harder to remain unbiased & explain the deep love we have for something. Love that has no words or boundaries. These picture books now sit in a place of honour on bookshelf, & we still take time to collect them as we stumble upon them in shops. Not because we don't all ready own the set, because I know at least one of my children desperately wants his own complete collection.

Explaining that type of love & passion can be difficult without sounding mushy & crazy. After all it's just homeschool curriculum, right? They are just books with lovely pictures & stories inside. Yet to us, they are so much more. They are the books that my children will forever remember, they are the books they pull off the shelf when they need a "pick me up" & they tell the story aloud to each other, then go back through rearranging the story to make the other one laugh.

These are the books that get quoted & requoted; the quotes mixed with one another to weave every story into one long line of craziness. These are the books my children sat for hours listening to & then begged for just "one more reading please!" Our copy of Mike Mulligan was nearly read into the ground & I've forever been grateful when my parents sent us another copy complete with audio cd so my voice could take a break form reading the beloved story of Mary Anne. Never mind I could read it without the book in hand as my child sat perched upon the counter dutifully turning pages while I was washing dishes.

I'm not really sure I conveyed that deep seated love when I wrote our review, I just hope I represented in the light that it's an amazing curriculum if you want to give it a go. You can read our review here if you're interested, for the more nitty gritty on the curriculum & not just the mushy stuff.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Week In Review: Week 22

We're slowly getting back into the rhythm of our days here, all though we're still not up to full speed with our work yet. Our mornings are still off a bit shaky as Mr S has thrown out his back & needs to be taken to the office instead of his normal biking. I keep teasing him that by the time we've found a good pattern with it he'll be right as rain & back to biking in.. you know, until the spring rains hit. Not that we've been for lack of rain here lately.

Lots of wind & rain this week as cold fronts have tried to resurface & make themselves known. It's made for some interesting weather that's for sure. Nothing quite like walking outside & getting whipped off your feet from the stiff sea breeze.

The boys have taken great pleasure in keeping the wood fire going this week. I'm not sure we've all shared the same pleasure with the mess that it makes, but the warmth has been welcome in these brisker winter months.

At long last we wrapped up The Wind In The Willows which caused shouts of jubilation from the youngest amongst us. The excessive descriptions & long winded vocabulary really turned him off. I think the chapter I mentioned last week in which seemed completely unfitting compared to the rest of the book was just more then he could cope with & he asked if we could skip the last few remaining chapters. He was dragged back into the finish, after all a great galloping fight in order to regain control of Toad Hall was right up his ally, but it wasn't quite enough to win him back. We did have a few good chuckles reading about the inspiration for toad; Mr Grahame own son!

We dug back into our Bible study this week, we're so close to being done with the entirety of 2nd Timothy. It's been such a lovely study & the lessons this week have been so incredibly fitting for things going on in our neck of the woods. I promise that is not scribble all over my Bible, but marks that have specific meanings. We should wrap this study up next week, & then the great debate comes to which one we'll tackle next.

We continued with our current Devotional, despite the length of time it's taking us we're really enjoying it. We may pull out our other AIO devotional & read through that one again when we wrap this one up. We've crossed the halfway mark in Live Like A Jesus Freak. We're really enjoying the thoughts & messages in this book, it makes me wonder about the others in the series & if they might be worth acquiring or not..

Taking Mr S to work means we have to pick him up to.. the nights the kids came with me we continue listening to 101 Dalmatians. There are a few scenes we'd forgotten about that had us chuckling again & then the beloved scenes we still remember. I'm curious if the sequel still follows the same story line or if it's entirely different all together.

It was forward march with spelling this week. We were suppose to hit Lesson 80 this week, but one of the boys really struggle with a phonetic combination this week & I put the breaks on to create a few "homemade" Sequential Spelling lessons with words based on that combination & another combination he'd equally been struggling with. We'll tackle that next week & then move forward as planned. Usually they do well if a phonetic sound is introduced despite being spelled 2 ways, but this week there was just a bit of confusion & I really don't want to that to be an issue every time they go to spell certain words.

Both boys moved forward in math. The one in the background was actually reading in the picture above, he'd finished his math all ready. We may need to pause in math for one student as well & take the time to review previously learned lessons just to really help him build confidence & feel grounded. He's doubting himself a little bit too much in some areas & it's causing more dread then normal for math. A small pause to review previous lessons should help build confidence & have him ready to roll in a week's time or so.

On the few days it was raining we skipped out for walks at a local walk path. We had the shock of our lives one afternoon when on our way back to the car there was a truck coming up the walk path with two children in front of it screaming at people to get out of the way. I ended up annoying the driver when I stopped in the middle of the path to figure out what on earth was going on & why his children were screaming. I'd had earphones in & thought something was wrong.. Once we sorted out what was going on I refused to move off the track onto the rocky edge which was eroding away due to excessive rain waters. Alas, who knew walking tracks were for trucks! For the record, they aren't, so if you live locally don't get any ideas. A call to the police sorted that question out & they are now patrolling the area to prevent further incidents.

Speaking of eroding we read about eroding river banks in Raging Rivers this week as well as a great many other interesting things including how the source of the Nile was the source of an ongoing fight until Stanley solved the question that had been plaguing people for years. On our science days we read from Chemical Chaos which elicited a lot of gleeful, "Oh you didn't forget hoorah!" from certain young men. We read about Marvellous Murderous Metals..

We wrapped up our week by digging into our next book, Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. Jayden's been less then delighted about the idea after being completely frustrated with our last one, but thus far he's found the lighter read enjoyable. It truly is lighter compared to our last few & shouldn't take us long to get through. We'll see next week we need to add in a bit more science & some history.. not to mention writing.