Sunday, January 31, 2016

Planners Week 5

Last week I never really had the design in my planner grow on me. It wasn't bad, by any means, but I just really missed the whole decorating aspect & didn't feel I really got that with the label type stickers last week. Mind you, this weeks layout is lovely & colourful & bright so comparing them is pretty hard. Equally I had a bit of extra time thanks to some crazy rough weather to play this week.

I was asked several questions about items used in this layout, so I'll do my best to give a quick rundown on that for those interested:

  • The colourful tape is actually sticker border; the washi I purchased last November has still not arrived so I found something else to use in it's place.
  • Border Stamps: I'm not sure who made them, I picked them up last year for $2 at a local craft shop. There's no insert & no brand written on the acetate.
  • All the small icons & words came from various Sweet Stamp Shop sets: Plan To Eat, Plan Every Day, Plan School, Plan Fitness, Plan Home
  • The Gumballs & Gumball Machine are from Lawn Fawn's Sweet Smiles set. Dashes between the gumballs are from the Lawn Fawn Happy trails Set
  • Hexagons are from Miss Kimm's Weekend set.
Phew, I think that's all I used aside from my coloured pencils! 

Our School Planner is less colourful & more business like. No idea who made the car/truck stickers, it's another packet I found. Years ago, when our second child was 3, he was always going to be a tow truck driver. Trucks in general fascinated him & I can't tell you how many times I'd pull over, much to the annoyance of other drivers, to the sound of a siren that often turned out to be our own child. Somehow, he managed to miss sticking a few of these silly stickers to his bed, his face, his clothes, the car windows, & anything else that seemed a good idea at the time.

Yes, our Friday is pretty empty. We use it to catch up on things we didn't accomplish, meet up with friends, &/or go somewhere on our own. We'll also be using some Friday mornings for art & other fun projects. This coming week, however, our Friday looks pretty empty..

Monday, January 25, 2016

Current Events

Our history curriculum urges the use of reading & watching Current Event news reports with your children. We're all for it, to a degree, & use to participate much more openly in this early last year & the year prior. Then the world went a little crazy, & a whole lot scary. Add that to the anxiety issues our youngest is dealing with & it left us wondering about what sources to use.

While I won't say we've replaced that yet, we've spent the last couple of weeks reading articles from the Summer Special our Australian Reader's Digest subscription gave us. The articles inside, much like the Fred article, are all written years ago, but each one had something important to share.

I selected each one based on that. Years ago we were all sitting in the lounge room discussing various modern amenities, don't ask me why it's pretty normal around here, when Nana mentioned she remembered when the ball point pen was invited. It kinda halted us in our tracks to think about such a majorly used item being a hot ticket item. When the article about the history behind the ball point pen turned up I knew I had to share it with the kids.. & so goes each article from above.

I have a few more flagged from this particular issue as well as a previous one from last year. While it's not actually current event articles, it's a bit of a relief from the scariness of our world. Terror Attacks, Bush Fires, Mud-Flinging Politicians,  & the list goes on. It's nice to reflect back on events that changed our world, moments of kindness that helped shape another's life.

As for actual current events, I read through our local newspaper, other newspapers in our country, & The Washington Post to share things with the gang. We choose to be a little picky about what we share with our youngest. It's not our attempt to hide what's going on, but rather to choose how much of it to share with him.

What to do you choose to use for Current Events & why? I'd be curious to know & see if it's one of the items on my list that I peek in on from time to time.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Planners Week 4

This weeks planner has an Australian theme. Admittedly I'm not as found of the overall layout because I didn't have right texture of sticker paper to print out & the ink was heavily absorbed causing them to look dull. I printed the various Aussie themed sections from a Free Project Life Australia Day I'd grabbed a while back. I think the red icon on the bottom left is a random image I found online & thought it was fitting for the holiday. It's caused me the most grief going on there evenly. Oh well, the main theme is conveyed & there's plenty of room to write down all that I record each week so i'm good with that.

However, I couldn't handle the lack of decorative stamping! The white stickers, such as the one on the far right here are really fun, but they don't add the same decorative feel. So I pulled out a sheep from a Lawn Fawn stamp set & plopped him in there. I gave him an Aussie flag sticker to hold to keep the theme alive. 

My school planner was a little more cut & dry, & I liked it a bit more. I don't do decorating in this planner because I don't have a lot of room to spare so it's a pretty clean layout with some Aussie stickers we've had around for ages. I'm pretty sure the kids picked up one of those 250 page sets way back when they head a half dozen pen-pals & wanted to include a little something special for each one. The bookmark is one I made with some scrapbooking paper I had & spare ribbons. I still have the school schedule one, but I moved it to a back area for the time being as I needed something very visible to see my place when the planner was closed.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

2016 Week Wrap Up: Week 2

We wrapped up another lovely week of school here in our home. It's crazy to think we only have a week of January left & that the first month of the new year is behind us. Where on earth does the time go?

We added Language Arts back into the rotation this week which is a variety of things for us from spelling to assigned reading. Our days were no longer adding it in which caused some deep confusion for one little boy in our home.

I'm pretty sure the getting up on time & following our schedule had a lot to do with that, but he was very confused by the whole thing. In all honesty there's often a timer running around here to keep us on task too because it's very easy for one thing to lead to another..

One minute we're all reading contentedly & the next minute we might be chasing birds, only to be interrupted by the postman, only to realise bushfire smoke is coming our way & we have to slam windows shut & get exhaust fans running.. Yep, timers help keep us on task!

We read from this lovely stack of history books this week. We actually wrapped up Elizabeth I as our first biography of the year. It was a light read, but covered some interesting factoids that really intrigued the boys. We're still making our way through the Reformation in European History & have watched many people interpret the Bible all so differently. We finished off our first read aloud, Secret Of The Andes, & most of us appreciated it the second time around. We read bits & pieces from the encyclopedia as they align with what we read in SOTW.

We added a Canadian provence or two to the map this week after reading about Henry Hudson. Nova Scotia gave us a large bit of grief, & once it was finally dealt with & the marked recapped I pointed out that we'd actually been looking for Quebec anyway. We all had a great laugh about it in the end.

After wrapping up Elizabeth I's biography I requested one child to write a summary in the fashion he's been using with his writing book. He was delighted with the request & quickly set himself about the task. I think had he been given a bit more time & leeway he'd have written a paper as long as the book to be quite honest. Elizabeth I was a lovely chance of pace after reading about Henry VIII.

We continued reading from Do Hard Things this week. We're still really enjoying this book & the challenges & mindset it presents. The short version is that if low expectations are given to teens they won't strive for anything greater. Someone was reminded of that when he offered to let me do his laundry this week.. We're enjoying our Odyssey devotional as well. This is one we used about 4 years ago & didn't finish before it was packed away. By the time it was unpacked we'd started another & knew we'd cycle back to this one at some point.

We're studying John this term with our Discover For Yourself Bible studies. Compared to some we've done in the past Jesus In The Spotlight is a little bit weaker in content. We'll see how week 2 compares. Admittedly the author is squeezing the first 10 chapters of John in this study so I can imagine how tough that had to be.. & she did state that we wouldn't be marking as much in the text as we had a lot to cover but that one should feel free to go about doing more. You can get these lovely studies from Precept Ministries Australia, but I can't link up yet as their website is still down, alternatively you could check your local Koorong or their website. I believe Book Depository, Amazon, & CBD all have these lovely studies as well.

Math carried on as normal around here. Excuse the blur, I was in a spinning chair. Both boys moved into new lessons in their books. Jayde tackled Volume as if he's been doing it all along, he'll have no issues moving forward. Morgan wants to lag behind a little because he got a few of the geometrical concepts he learned this week mixed up & prefers to build confidence before he races forward. I'm all for it.

We only have 1 set of the BkSk timeline figures that go with our Core. I'm not sure if I didn't have the presence of mind to order 2 or what. In all honesty I have the entire set of HSITW Timeline figures on CD & should just buy better quality sticker paper. Either way, this week Morgan coloured all the figures & then they ran off copies & applied them in their timeline books. We should look for figures to match some of the people we're reading about in the European History book as BkSk doesn't have figures included for it. I have no idea what the mark on his arm is for.. Chances are it's a reminder only he'll understand.

Both boys tackled writing like champs this week. Morgan's writing lessons are all recorded, something I attended to in the summer holidays, so he just pulls up the recording & then sets about his work. He was a little rusty at the start of the week but picked up speed by the end. Jayden is plodding forward in Writing With Ease. It's interesting, for us, to see his handwriting & spelling with this programme, now that he has his specs on. It'll be interesting to see is his narrations improve as a side effect as well. They also covered spelling this week all though I seem to lack a photo of it.

We had a visit with Nana one day this week.. After chatting for ages they decided to play Timeline with her. Jayden couldn't wait to test her knowledge of history. He takes it all very seriously somedays, silly boy! He was so impressed she got her very first question correct too. Thereafter a long conversation{s} ensued about each card that was produced until they all grew tired of it & opted to play Guess Who instead, which turned into a rather interestingly funny game.

We dug back into our poetry book for this year. It's not as full as last year's book with only a few readings throughout the week. On the other hand it has a small biography of the various poets inside which are all fun to read. This weeks poet was William Blake who might have been a talented poet, but apparently didn't make much at his job. That biography actually brought us full circle as a debate arose over Mr Blake actually doing Hard Things or not...

We added a fair few new cards to our lovely timeline review stash. We rotate through them all each day & the kids each take turns telling something about each person. One particular day we were all bit tired, we hadn't slept well as our home had filled with smoke from surrounding bush fires, so when I asked them to tell me something about Elizabeth I a certain child came up with, "Her name was Elizabeth, people probably called her E-Girl, Liz, Beth.." Which was topped by, "James I was a horrible good for nothing King, but no one had the guts to tell him so." Ahh yes..

The boys are still reading away at their books. Jayden shared some interesting tidbits about WWI & dogs from his own book.. such as people often shot their dogs or got rid of them because you had to pay a dog tax. Yikes! Other times dogs were taken for use in the army. Morgan is loving his Flora & Ulysses book. So much so that we popped into the local bookshop & picked up our own copy, he'd been reading one from the library & said he thought it was so funny he'd happily read it again.

We watched a PBS video this week about the Secrets Of King Henry VIII Palace. It was really very interesting in regards to the palace, but was absolutely loaded with history on King Henry, much of which we hadn't learned prior. Netflix, Amazon Prime, PBS Shop, & YouTube all seem to have the video. We chose to watch via NetFlix, it's about an hour long & mostly focuses on Henry VIII, but does touch on William & Mary, & then King George III.

Next week we add in science..

Friday, January 22, 2016

School Planner 2016

I shared late last year that I was purchasing a planner this year & have shared glimpses of it as I've used it over the course of the past 3 weeks. I've also received a fair few questions about it so I thought I'd do my best to give a bit more information about it, a month in, & see if that clears things up. We'll see how we go.. I don't know that a month is a fair judgement call on a planner, but I've not had any issues with it so we'll see if that opinion holds true through the entirety of this year, shall we?

This is my functional planner, meaning I don't do a lot of decorations in this planner like I might in my personal planner, I purchased a large school planner because I knew I'd need the space. This size allows me a good amount of room to both write out our plan as well as other intentional events that the kids might have in a week. It's pretty straight forward with how I use it, but here we go..

The planner layout is pretty simple for the entire year which makes it very easy to plan ahead. I've entered our book basket for Term 1 several weeks in advance as well as things that I like to remind myself of daily. Those go in the left hand section that's normally entitled Weekly Prep. I used included stickers {with the planner} to cover up the original wording that was there. The weekly check-list above it gets filled in the weekend prior to starting. It might be reminders of outings or events; it may be a need to renew library books. Anything really.

I also fill in the 2 top most sections the weekend prior as well. One generally has a fun quote the other has a Bible verse that I want to focus on for the week ahead. There's also a calendar there in the top righthand corner. I tend to highlight the week we are on so I can tell at a glance if I need to be prepared for something in the week following.

I don't fill in the small boxes on the lefthand side. I left them blank on purpose when I ordered & I've only filled them in once or twice & have found that filling those in or leaving them empty doesn't matter. Who knows, maybe I'll make quick stickers for them or something, but in general empty or full isn't going to change how I use the planner.

The remainder of the 2 page spread is filled out with the things we plan to accomplish in the week. Some colourings are due to which person does what, others are just so I can see things quickly at a glance. I tend to start with our Bible & Current Events, then move down through math, language arts, science, & then history. Admittedly we actually do history & science prior to math & language arts, but again it doesn't matter how they are labeled as long as they are in there.

We use a prescheduled curriculum so I don't write that whole schedule back out again. I'd find that tedious & pointless. Rather I write which books we'll be using because some of those books are ones we add in! This allows me to see at a glance as I tick things off that we didn't miss something.

Again, I fill out this section 2-3 weeks in advance. It's not that big of an issue because I leave certain areas blank. If you look closely at the above picture you'll see that while I have things like Math, History, & Bible Study written down the weeks, pages, & chapters are all blank. That means if we don't accomplish something in a week previous we'll just carry it over without the need to freak out that I got ahead of myself.

The large section left blank, for now, is where I'll scheduled in the kids assigned readers. I didn't fill in the titles for the week above because that's 2 weeks away still & there's a high chances that people could have finished books up by then. If not no biggie, but if they do it's equally no biggie because I didn't write the title in there. It will only take me 5 minutes to fill in that week now!!

As we accomplish things each day I tend to highlight them in a specific colour. One colour per day allows me to keep track of which days we accomplished what. We did really well this past week & pretty much everything was accomplished on the assigned days. We finished one of our books 2 days earlier then planned so you'll see that indicated by green highlighting on Wednesday & Thursday. Sometimes I do use checkmarks to indicate something happened or was dealt with. This is especially true for our book basket section, all though you can't see it in the photo above.

I used the monthly divider in a variety of ways & have some for other months slightly filled in {Nature things to look out for}. I included 3 goals we work towards at the top. Our January goals were pretty simple for easing back into our school year. I may use them, in later months, for character traits we, as a family, want to focus on as well as goals, academic or otherwise.

The next section was set up for birthdays & events. In our home we don't have any January birthdays so I used it to list Nature things to be looking for in the summer around here. Not that we're planning to go out looking for the sharks that are stirring up trouble around here, but we often find their egg casings on the shore.. The events section has days we're off in a month, this is generally based on when my husband is off. If he's off we're off & if he's not we may work or we may take off depending on where we are in our schedule. We like to have fun sometimes too!!

After that there was a Things To Remember section where I made a notes for myself about prep-work for the new school year.. From when our 1st Term would & getting the kids planners set up as of the time I took that photo. Underneath that I headed the two empty sections with Notes & Bible Verse. In the notes section I jotted down the local school's 2016 term schedule. We won't be on the same schedule as them this year, but it allows me to see at a glance if it's a great weekend to plan a getaway or not. We prefer quieter camping trips to be honest. The Bible verse is one I use to keep in the front of my homemade school planner so it seemed fitting to stick it in there for January.

I wrote our Bible reading schedule, for school, down in the back in one of my empty checklist pages. This allows me to quickly flip to that page each week & transfer those chapters to our main planner. I tend to highlight what we've accomplished so that I don't accidentally look at the wrong week & write down something we've all ready read. I used some thin pink washi tape I had to make the columns on the front & back of that checklist.

Other check-lists in the back are dedicates to book lists for the kids & how much of each subject we hope to accomplish each term. It's not necessary to plan it out like that, but it helps us stay on our toes if we have a plan. "Can we skip spelling today?" "Sure, but if you do then you won't finish this book by the end of Term 2.." "Never mind, let's do it!" I've found that seeing it all written out can really keep us on target.

I've been using the calendar pages to mark our weeks & days. It's not a requirement here, but it's always fun to say, "Wow, we've been at this for how long now? I also jot down special things that happen, accomplishments, & such. In a former planner those would have gone under Evidence Of God's Grace & Accomplishments. It's a fun way to look back at the end of the year & see everything that's happened. The dots are part of my colour coding system, & before I'm asked yes the picture is blurry on purpose.

Finally there are 2 note pages in each month. I wasn't sure how I'd utalise those at first & put off jotting anything on them for a while until I had a think about it. Truthfully I love the extra note pages in any planner & was so frustrated when I had a planner that only had 2 pages for extra notes. I mean 2 pages?! Either I write a lot or the author of that planner didn't write much of anything. Ha! Because I have a huge section of note pages at the back of my planner I opted to use the 2 pages in each month for "reviews".

At the end of each week I jot down a bit about our lows & highs, more details about the accomplishments & special things that are simple sentences on our calendar at a glance page. I might write down areas of concern or things we need to work on for one reason or another. Considering most months have 4 weeks I figure I can use half of each sheet & get a review for each week of the month. Again, the picture above is blurred on purpose.

For now my only disappointment is the cover. The design itself is fine, I picked it because I rather like banners. I have some hanging around my house & have since long before they became the "in-thing" to do.. No, the real disappointment is how easily it picks up marks & mess. It's also not firm. It's like comparing a hardback book to a softback book. I do like a planner to be floppy in that it's not a struggle to turn & flip through it, but I also like the cover to be firm enough that when I pick it up it doesn't feel like I'm losing it either. This isn't something that will keep me from using it or would discourage me from recommending the planner. In fact I'll just print out a cover I designed & laminate it in some heavy duty laminate & attack it to the front of my planner. That should resolve the issue without too much trouble.

Hopefully that answers some of the many questions in regards to how I'm using the planner. I do love it & have found it to be the easiest planner to use thus far, & let's face it I've used a fair few! This one has ample writing space for me to schedule 2 kids without issue & still have room to add more things in there then I might if I had to schedule in more children.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Book Choices

Prior to the start of our first term here I sat down with each child in turn & asked them about some book selections & which ones most appalled to them. While they had a good amount of input the final choices are a mixed combination. I wanted books that would lure them in & that they'd want to keep reading. They've reached that point, after many long hard years, of being ready for this stage. VDP/SSS has held this point up & it's an exciting time for us to be able to say, "Oh you'll really love this book!"

The objective being that less is more & I don't want him feeling rushed through the year or frazzeled if he has any minor setbacks. The thing about VDP/SSS is that you have good days & you have bad days. I've been having a few bad days of late, I stumble over words, I trip, & I become incredibly frustrated. My kids understand they have them too. But good days are amazing & wonderful & we have far more great days lately then bad days.

I've also selected books that have a variety of lexile numbers/levels. I don't live & breathe by lexile numbers, but they help me see my child's progress which is really important. I need to know if he's slipping because it could easily mean we need to get him back in to see his specialist. It could just mean he's not using his glasses properly, either way I like to be aware. I've actually started considerably lower then the level he reads at for pleasure & fun, but I feel confident he'll enjoy thesebbooks.

Without further ado, here's the 8 books we select for our eldest, with affiliate links to Book Depository:

1. Flora & Ulysses --  This is a new book to us, but by a favourite author. We love Kate Dicamillo's books & have read most of them. When I spotted this book in a literature selection I had to go & find it. I have no idea how we missed this one, except that we had to put it on hold in our library & wait for it to be shipped up from the bottom of the state. It was so hard to contain my laughter while I was reading this. I've also loved hearing the giggles erupting from the chair. There's nothing quite like hearing, "She's giving the squirrel CPR.." This title mixes graphic novel with chapter & it's a really fun combination!

2. The Island Of Dr Libris --  Again, another new to us book that came highly recommended & really appeals to my boy. I'm still waiting for my copy to come in {& hoping he doesn't polish off Flora too quickly..} so I can't give you much insight to this book other then the synopsis on the back of the book.

3. Ella Enchanted -- I read this book years ago & fell in love with the author & the book. It was one of few books that I got to the end of & felt the need to read it all over again. It's about a young girl, Ella, who has a curse put on her by a fairy at birth. It's an accidental curse as the Fairy thinks she's doing a good thing, but in actuality Ella is now compelled to do exactly as she's told, regardless of how good or bad it is. This book tends to follow a fortunately unfortunately layout with the chapters, but that didn't hamper the delight I had when I first read it. Morgan tends to be drawn to the same stories I am & he really loves fantasy so I'm suspecting he'll equally enjoy this one.

4. Escape From Mr Lemoncello's Library -- This has been on my read list for a while, & as I was scanning the copious book lists I have around here I realised how great this book would be for my boy. After seeing Night At The Museum my kids talked about how cool it would be if that could happen in the library {aka Pagemaster, which funnily enough they've never seen or read..} they had all these characters they wanted to meet & chat to. My boy is also into games big time & the combination of these two in a book is just a win-win situation for him! I'm still pre-reading this one so I'll have to fill in more details about this down the road.

5. A Wrinkle in Time -- I actually read this book for the first time 12 years ago while pregnant with our second child. I had to make a 45 minute {one way} drive twice a day to deliver & collect Mr S from work. I checked out stacks of audio books to keep me awake on the long nightly drives while Morgan slept in the backseat. We watched the movie {did you know that exists?!} 2 years ago while everyone was down with some virus that hit us all {mercifully} in the same couple of days. The movie, as it turns out, is not nearly as good as I remembered the book. I think there are parts of this he'll love & parts of this he may not, but over all I think he'll enjoy the book. Sci-Fi is not my cup of tea, nor does it seem to be his, but this is a book that I absolutely loved, much to my own surprise.

6. Inkheart --  Another series I read years ago & when I got to the end I started it all over again because I simply had to go back & follow the chain of events again. This is most certainly a fantasy book in which people fall in, & out of, books. I strongly suspect he'll love this book, but he'll despise the ending because it's a major cliff hanger for the second book in the trilogy. I had originally planned to place this book last, & we still might, but Lexile wise it's a lower level then I anticipated.

7. The Evolution Of Calpurnia Tate -- Before you wrinkle your nose about the second word in this title, understand the meaning of it. This book is far more about the evolving of a little girl into a young lady as well as a naturalist. That is not to say that evolution is part of the story, not at all. Rather the story is about young Calpurnia, the only girl in a house of boys {I feel her pain} who's trying to find her place. She befriends her very grumpy grandfather & together they set out to find an undiscovered plant. Yes, Darwin's book is mentioned in the story, but it's mentioned historically in the fact that it's a banned book at this time. Grandfather does own a copy, but it's kept under lock & key.. This is more of a story I picked because it's a good story & it has value to it, & for that I think he'll appreciate it. Be a top favourite? I don't know, but I am curious to find out.

8. The Doldrums -- In all fairness this is another blind pick. I haven't read this book, & it may not even make the final cut because of that. However, while scanning for lexile numbers this one popped up & when we read the description he said it sounded like a great adventure story.

Monday, January 18, 2016

2016 Week 1: Weekly Wrap Up

It was back to business for us this week, & while some may groan at the thought it was a lovely relief for us to be back on a schedule. We don't jump back in feet first, but creep back in slowly, dipping our toes to test the water. It's a great way to get back into a routine, & to ease back into subjects that might overwhelm children when thrown in their face full-force after a break. Our break wasn't as long as it's been in years past due to some illness back in Term 2 & a variety of other life events that came our way, but I still felt it was important to ease my boys back into a routine.

We started off our week with history & math. History is by far the top subject in our home. The subject that comes up for the most discussion & debate more often then anything else. It was, in fact, the discussion & debate of many dinner conversations this week which all resulted in a few interesting conversations & eventual research to back up one's point. I'm cherishing these days, when my children have reached a point where they can logically argue & validate why they think things are as they are.

This year we're kicking off with Bookshark 7's history. Which is the second half of world history; we did the first half last year & enjoyed ourselves entirely! While we'd dug into this very lightly towards the end of last year we'd really only read about the first 2 main topics & devoured the first read aloud. Admittedly the first read aloud, The King's Fifth, is not for everyone but it was one we enjoyed.

For our first week back we dug back into those first couple of topics to review them, & then went beyond them. The boys were pretty up-to-speed on the Dutch Revolt & remembered it very well from our study last year. It was a topic that required extra reading because they had so many unanswered questions, thus it was a topic they weren't soon to forget. We also dug into our Queen Elizabeth I book & continued forward in European History reading mainly about Martin Luther this week.

We learned a fair deal more then usual about him & it was all very interesting. There were a few, "Wait, read that last sentence again it can't be right.." moments & further "Hmms.." as people pondered what we read. I debated having the boys do a summary or written narration about Luther, but in the end we didn't. It's all good.

We pulled out our timeline Review Cards from Winter Promise's Quest For Royals & Revolutionaries to use to review all topics we cover in European History as well as those we encounter in our other studies that there are cards for. If we lack a card, I'm not really sure we will, we may devise our own to use. We're pretty simple with the cards & I basically read out the name or key event & the child tells us a fact or two about the name/event I read out.

We added to our Mark-Able map, which has all ready begun filling in quickly. We mark the places we read about in our history, in Current Events we read about, & so forth. It's fun to see all the places we've traveled  in a year. It's currently hanging by our, slightly, tattered world map so the kids can refer to it for a bigger picture if they want. The only real trick is keeping the birds from eating it. Archimedes is a rather cheeky little thing & seems ot have a taste for the bottom lefthand corner above all else.

We eased back into math with lessons that weren't too terribly difficult at all. There was no fuss or muss about it which is always pleasant. Jayden was so delighted with himself that he was able to do his long division & complex multiplication problems on his own. Previously, while he can tell me every step & answer he's really struggled to do them on his own. During his specialist appointment it was revealed that he was seeing double, at times, & the figures were jumping around the page. No wonder the poor kid was struggling! We're delighted with his effort & he is obviously delighted too as he's pushing to the finish line in his book.

Cooking was on the card for both this week, all though I honestly only have this pathetic photo of what the kitchen looked like Friday evening after they'd made a pot of popcorn. I walked into the kitchen to get a glass of water, sighed deeply, & said, "I take it you made some popcorn then?" Friday Night is movie night in our home, which is a long standing tradition I partook in as a child too.. The kids sleep in the lounge room & enjoy a movie with popcorn while I go to bed a normal hour. This is slightly disrupted during Football season, but as the boys get older they don't seem to mind the ability to stay up later to cash in on Movie Night.

Morgan is signed up for an online course via an Aussie university for improving his video game making skills. He's really taken to programming & has been creating all sorts of games around here for people to try out. Many of them are built off of things he knew all ready & he was looking to devise something for himself. A friend has mentioned Open2Study a few times to us & we finally caught it during enrollment time. He's really enjoying himself & taking gobs of notes, mostly after the fact. His only confusion came when he noticed the assessment had 25+ days in which to be taken. He found that rather odd & wondered why anyone would want to advance to the second Module of study without having closed off the first. He passed all his quizzes & assessment thus far so he's quite pleased with himself. He really holds high expectations for himself & I had to remind him that this was an 11-12 or higher course & that if he didn't ace everything that was okay. He didn't agree in regards to settling for second best, but it did reduce his stress levels.

We pulled out Kloo French to play. The game is incredibly simplistic, but is meant to teach you a variety of vocabulary as you travel along. We also watched a Muzzy French Video to get a feel for the programme as we looked into signing up. The boys really need something which doesn't spend as much time concentrating on the writing as much as the speaking at this stage.

We took a few walks, not as many as normal as we've been battling some high humidity & smoke from bush fires. We took advantage of the few times it was cooler & hit a nature trail, beach path, & other places closer to home.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Planners Week 3

Another fun planner layout. It's actually a bit heavy on the decorations, to be honest, & I don't think I'll decorate that heavy except on rare occasions, but some new stamps arrived in the mail this week. I was given a gift certificate for Christmas & I used it to purchase a few stamps that had been on my wishlist. They all arrived in the same week so I used a few from each. A nice summery layout, yes?

The little girls, surfboards, conch shell, seagulls, & seastar are all from the Penny Black's Fun In The Sun series. The beach huts, bucket, & ball are all from the Sweet Stamp Shop Beach Bum set. The dinner setting, shoe, & weight are also from Sweet Stamp shop, but 2 seperate sets. The blue pushpins are from a Marion Smith's Design stamps. It's suppose to be for Pintrest, but I shaded in the P with a coloured pencil.

It really is a fun summery spread, & despite the lack of information written on the page we have a full & busy week ahead. I just opted to snap a photo to share prior to filling some of it in, other portions will get filled in as we make our way through the week.

Our School Planner is more clean & simple. Yes, the various coloured inks all mean something to me which I'm not going to explain at this time. The stickers are from a local cheap shop, I have gobs of them from back when the kids loved putting stickers on papers & it kept them busy for ages. I'm not sure how this one escaped being used all up; a singing koala seems just the thing my kids would find insane uses for.

We're adding our Language Arts components back into things this week so our planner is a bit more full. I moved our book basket list to a more sensible location considering I don't generally have prep-work for our week. I tend to do all my prep-work between terms so that our weekends are free for fun & family. I'll put a colour coded checkmark next to the books each day we read them, if we read them. Book Basket, despite being in the planner, is probably on hold until our 4th week back. Other items we do daily are listed under the book basket area & will get a tick next to them each time we do them as well. Honestly, French & Piano could be there, but I didn't have room. No biggie.

The quote sticker is from a Stackable set purchased form Hobby Lobby back when we lived in the USA. It's probably been around for 12 years or so, which makes it kinda nice to use them up! I figured it fit with the stickers I chose for the week. The other side has a Bible Verse that spoke to me & I wanted to remember it for the week ahead.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Planners Week 2

I thought I'd share my sunny planner page for the week ahead. Still not sure how many of these I'll post publicly, especially after I start filling them in.  I'm a huge sunflower fanatic, incase you couldn't tell. They were even one of the flowers at our wedding. I'm still waiting on some stamps to come in the mail, & while debating which of my older ones to use I stumbled upon some of my older SunFlower stickers. The picket fence is a bit of an inside joke too. Mr S & I use to say we'd buy a house with a white picket fence & plant a ton of sunflowers. Our home does have a fence, all be it not picketed, so I guess that means I really need to get my sunflowers growing.. all though these days, I'm also deeply drawn to poppies.

I honestly have no idea where the stickers came from, all though there are two entirely different sets used on that page. I use to find stickers for .50-$1.00 when we lived in the USA & I'd pick up sets that appealed to me here & there. Many were used for scrapbooks, journals, letters, birthday cards. Many are still in a huge basket upstairs. Unfortunately, I don't have any poppy stamps, I may need to rectify that problem. The gobs of ribbon up-top are a homemade bookmark.

Our school planner for the week. It's a bit of a mess, compared to what I had in mind, but it all works for me. We've got a low plan this week because I like to start back slowly as we ease into things & get back into our routines. Next week things will look a little fuller & I probably won't have as much room for cute, but big, stickers all over the place. We'll see. Seriously though, I couldn't resist the monsters, they cracked me up when I was digging around the sticker box & found them. I may have a small sticker addiction. I blame my Aunt & Mother who got me into sticker collecting way back in the late 80's when it was "the thing" to do. I've spent years trying to explain scratch & sniff stickers to my kids until I finally found popcorn ones!

I made the little bookmark there in my planner. I glued two bookmarks together with a clip between them in order to affix it to the spiral spine of my planner. Then I stamped it up {on both sides} with the time frame we aim to spend on each topic. There's a lower & higher time limit for most. The objective being it's about quality not quantity when it comes to our school work. I often struggle with the concept feeling that we need to finish a full lesson, but admittedly that's not always possible. This helps keep us on track.

In fact I even debated not using a timer this year & was discussing it with Mr S, who is often not very vocal about what we choose to do in our homeschool. He supports us fully. He will teach anything I ask. He supplies the funds for our books, & the job the provides me with the ability to be home, but in general his rule of thumb is, "You've not failed me yet & you've certainly not failed our children an education so I'm totally on board with whatever you choose!" Yep, he didn't even hesitate & said we should most definitely use the timer, his point being that people have to work under time constraints & within specific time spans all the time. Sometimes you get the project done, sometimes you have to adjust your plans. Talk about a good life lesson, right?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Curriculium Choices 2016

We begin our 2016 school year tomorrow. My how our time off has flown by! We've filled it with a great number of things, but we are truly ready to get back to our books again.. or at least most of us are. I'm looking forward to a year filled with adventure & learning, the same goal & hope I hold each year. While every day may not be filled with such beauty, each day is full of learning.

I'm curious to see how our newly glasses glad child will fair in certain subjects. He's never really loved the subjects, but realising he was seeing double, rivers, & a fair few other oddities certainly didn't endear the subjects to him I'm sure. He's nervous, & slightly grumpy, at the idea of getting back to business, but I keep reminding him that each year is a fresh new start & he has an extra special new start because he now has extra helps for the problems he was previously dealing with. As a note, all BookDepository links are affiliate links.

History: Both boys will be using Bookshark Reading With History 7. I've pre-read most of the books, all though we'll still read them together. There are so many deliciously wonderful books in this pack that I cannot wait for the kids to get to them. I know they will befriend many new characters, both fictional & real, & enjoy a great many journeys as we travel through time this year. We will be adding in a few books to this lovely set, merely because they fit, we own them, & they are totally worth reading.

Book Basket: Our book basket is loaded for Term 1. We'll be reading 90 Devotions For Kids throughout the year, or until we finish it. Do Hard Things was a book we acquired last year to read as our first "speak to me/theology" book this year. 

Pinocchio was the requested next classic we're choosing to read & I'm eager to share the story with my boys. I have fond memories of Mom reading this book to my siblings & I from a glorious tall hardback copy that had beautiful illustrations in it. Our copy is equally beautiful, but it is not the same. 

We keep a Horrible Science & a Horrible Geography book in our basket & read from one or the other depending on the day of the week. We have a minute amount of Raging Rivers left to go & then we'll move into Stormy Weather.  We'll continue reading A Child's Geography, which we were enjoying late last year. We don't do any of the extras in it, as we're simply enjoying reading the information. 

We'll be reading a few fictional science novels this year in our book basket, but for now we're starting with Fatal Forces & Robert Boyle. We never finished his biography last year so we're back at it. European History will pick up where we left off. Despite the odd name it's a lovely book & chock full of information, & we really love it. Elizabeth I is our first added in history book, but it's in the book basket as it's a no pressure extra. 

The final books are 52 Weeks Of French which we were using last year. We learn a new set of words each week to practice using on each other or label the home. Foreign Language is not required here by law, so all our French studies are for fun! The last book is What To Do When You're Scared Or Worried which is part of our boys recovery process. He's doing so well, but still gets nervous in certain situations. So we continue to work with him.

Science: This year will be a variety of things. First on the list if working more with Bookshark Science 6. We started it rather late in the year & have only made it about 1/4 of less of the way through. So we'll start here for Term 1, all though we may dig deep into botany later. The boys will continue playing & experimenting with the Chemistry Kit we purchased; on the weekends with Mr S. There's an awful lot of laughter & craziness that happens with the kit, & much gushing of all the cool concoctions & such that they've created with it.

Writing: We're continuing with the same writing curriculum this year. I truly love Writing With Skill, & I always feel that's reasonably high praise because I'm incredibly picky & snotty about writing curriculum. My boy really loves this curriculum which is an added bonus, & it's quick, to the point, & sets the types of challenges he will face in University. He's about halfway through the book, or less, & will simply pick up where he left off & continue with the next volume when he's done.

Jayde will stick with Writing With Ease for a while longer still. I won't say he gushes praise for it, but he does enjoy the methodical pattern & knowing what to expect from it each day. He does, indeed, enjoy all the book choices they use for his narration & dictation which always makes it lots more fun. I'm curious to see if he'll have any added enjoyment with it now that he'll have his glasses & the book printed on his specially coloured paper.

Math: Math continues where we left off with MUS. Sadly each child had 5 lessons left in their previous books before we ended our old year. When Mr S has his 2 weeks holiday at the end of one year & into the new year, all books & pencils are officially put away so we can spend as much time enjoying doing things with him while he's home. Thus, both boys will pick up where they left off & then jump into their new books. 

Grammar I debated jumping back into another Winter Promise Language Arts programme as we all ready own the next level, but for this term, at least, we're opting to stay simple & focus more on the writing & enjoy the slower pace of Grammar Ace. We'll use the optional School House Rocks! video, all though we'll probably watch the clips on YouTube are our DVD player is iffy at best.

Spelling: Nothings changed here as we continue forward with Sequential Spelling. The boys didn't have to do a spelling test with their Specialist this year which disappointed at least one of them. While he's always nervous spelling in front of others, he's made such huge leaps & bounds this year having his glasses normalised & working on his Ocean Blue paper that he felt prepared to tackle whatever she presented him with. 

Bible: While we'll read through the New Testament this year {skipping around a bit} & read through a small portion of the Old Testament our Bible Study this year will be on John. We had intended to tackle it last year after finishing up 2 Timothy, but we went with something else instead because I was missing Book 1 in this series. Despite the fact that it's not in the picture, we actually do own it & will dig into the book of John this year! 

Reading: Reading is a little different this year. As we're working through the Bookshark Core together I don't assign the readers as readers. We simply read them together. Morgan finished the reading programme we worked him through last year & has, with much hard work & determination, reached a point where we can grab books for him & assign them to him with the stipulation that he will need to take them at his own pace. He's not a fast reader, & very well may never be, but we don't mind.

He & I sat down together & picked out 8 books for him to work through this year, unfortunately I can't find several of them on the shelf & may only have them in storage in the USA. Thus he'll be waiting for the library to get a copy of his first book in while the rest of them come via the mail.

Jayde is a bit of a harder cookie when it comes to reading. His tastes are very defined in what he prefers to read & with the troubles he was previously exhibiting he labeled himself as, "Not that Guy" when it comes to reading. His Specialist & I both told him that he was "That Guy", but that he didn't have all the tools to accomplish the job. He now has those, & so picking books for him has been a wee bit difficult. I selected books I knew he'd love, but when I presented them to him he was able to tell me the stories of each of the books all ready. Ahh, that boy! Much like myself he can remember books for a long time afterwards.

It was back to the drawing table for me & I came up with another stack of books for him, a few of which {pictured above} he was not familiar with. The rest that I plan to stick in his stack I will need to order as well. My objective was to find books unique to his tastes {adventure, cliff hangers, & no mushy nonsense or obvious morals} that would hook him in. We'll see how that unfolds through the year.

Electives: This year our electives are equally pretty much the same. We'll all continue forward with French. I have one opposed to learning it in leu of something else, but my hope is to convince him learning a new language is easier with friends on board so you can practice it on each other. We'll see. The biggest hiccup some have had with learning it is getting past that first hurdle to realise letters don't make the same normal sounds you're use to. We'll tarry forward, & if you visit us & find our home labeled with odd words, just remember it's all part of the fun!

Programming will continue as normal. This is honestly something the boys do in their free time of late. Morgan has created a few games with his skills & had Mr S test them. What a laugh this has caused because it use to be the other way around! It has really intrigued Jayde to want to get into some of it & as Scratch is free we thought it might be the best way for him to start out.

We'll continue with some fun robotics, possibly inviting friends to join us. We're unsure on that portion yet. We've been debating having Morgan teach the "class" if this unfolds & he was a bit nervous about it at first until we reminded him that he knows these children & sees them often anyway. When he stopped & thought about it like that & he realised he didn't have to teach the parents he thought it might not be too bad. We, his parents, think it would be a great adventure in learning to speak in front of others, organised ideas & plans, & learning to work with others. We'll see what unfolds.

Music remains the same as they plod forward with Mr Hoffman. Mr Hoffman's latest release of the freebie for the StarWars Theme Song might have enticed a certain young man to consider trying some piano lessons. He's not sure because what he'd really like to try is drums, & between you & me, I think he'd totally rock at it {no pun intended}.. I'm just not sure if I could handle it. I don't do well with a loud beat, but I'm also all for encouraging my children in their passions. I'm pretty adapt with a variety of ear plugs & I suppose I could just gift some to my neighbors as well, right?  Having said all that, the addition of a real piano {goal for 2016} might entice him more then the electric keyboard..

There will be a vast array of other projects happening this year for them too. We have a few household maintenance jobs they'll be learning how to do, cooking is on the books for them to take over a day each week to make meals on their own, & of course a few school related projects that I have up my sleeve this year.

We'll continue with our sweet little Art Club so long as classes are running, & in between we're looking at some fun little art classes on Craftsy. There's a few lovely ones several of us have been eyeing up, but I'll probably let the Drawing Master choose something to help refine his skills.

All in all it should be an awesome school year!