Category Archives: Homeschooling Days

First School Week of 2019

Well, week one of the homeschool year is complete.

We survived.

No one was particularly keen, myself included.

Holidaying is much more fun.

Plus, the end of this year is the end of homeschooling for Ethan.

So, if we don’t start the school year, then we can’t finish it.

That sounds logical, doesn’t it?


Well, we did manage to drag ourselves to our books,

so the year has started.

This week there has been plenty of great reading.

Reading is always our favourite part of the school day.

No, I don’t send my kids away to read through a pile of books by themselves.

Sure, that’s fine,

but, in our house,

we prefer to read aloud and share what we are learning.

This way we have shared learning and experiences and can discuss it.

In History, we are reading about Theodore Roosevelt.

I find the man fascinating

and his character is to be admired.

Franklin Roosevelt, his distant cousin,

said Theodore was ‘the greatest man he ever knew’.

Did you know that Eleanor Roosevelt

was Theodore’s niece (his brother’s daughter)?

Franklin was a distant cousin to both.

The book we are reading is by Albert Marrin,

one of my favourite authors.

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We also read a book called “Kids at Work”.

I’ve had this book on the shelf for ages

and we finally got around to reading it.

The photos in this book are by the famous photographer, Lewis Hine,

who showed the world the reality of child labour.

The photos are haunting.

To see such young children working at dangerous jobs

for long periods and for so little money.

Children as young as five!!

It was a tough book but a necessary one.

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We also started two literature titles this week.

We began reading Frankenstein and the Aeneid.

Well, we haven’t launched into the ‘real’ Aeneid just yet.

We always start with a children’s version of tougher books,

so, this week, we are reading Penelope Lively’s “In Search of a Homeland”.

Straight away the boys noticed the changed in the names of the gods and goddesses.

In previous years, we read the Iliad and the Odyssey,

so we are used to the Greek version of the names.

Now we have to switch to the Roman names.

I’m going to get one of the boys to make us a name comparison poster,

so we can refer to it as we listen.

I can’t keep all my Roman gods straight in my mind.

Oh and I won’t be reading the ‘real’ Aeneid.

We’ll be listening to an audio version of the story.

Just reading the children’s version, I’m massacring all of the names.

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No, we’re not using a children’s version of Frankenstein.

These sorts of classics don’t really need a simplified version.

Well, not if you are used to classic books.

Sure, the language is tough,

especially when you dive into the first few pages,

but the storyline is relatively straight forward.

Well, it is so far.

I haven’t read Frankenstein before so I’m looking forward to this book.

I’ve also ordered a book about the author, Mary Shelley.

From what I understand, the story of the creation of “Frankenstein” is rather interesting,

however, Shelley’s life is rather a sad one.

The book I ordered was “Mary Shelley:  The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein’s Creator”.

Having checked out Common Sense Media,

I’ll be avoiding the Mary Shelley dvd like the plague.

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We also began reading the Tuttle Twin books.

I only just heard of these late last year

and HAD to read them

(mostly for my own curiosity).

They are way too young for my boys,

however, if the content is good and could spark discussion,

age recommendations never worry me.

The first book, “The Tuttle Twins Learn About the Law”

took us only a few minutes to read

and each book is the same length

so the books won’t take much time away from our other reading.

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Plus, I plan for the books to be launching points.

This first book leads naturally into reading Bastiat’s book, “The Law”,

a book perfectly suited to my students.

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We’re also reading, “Uncle Eric Talks About Personal, Career, and Financial Security”.

We love the Uncle Eric series by Richard Maybury.

We plan on reading them all.

These books also spark conversation!

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In Science we are finishing off a book we started last year,

“What Einstein Told His Barber”.

It’s a ‘popular science’ book that answers all manner of questions

and it’s great as a launching point for different directions of study,

which is why it’s taking so long to finish the book.

We also make notes about our learning in a notebook.

We made several new entries this week.

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We also returned to reading “Art of Argument”.

I’ve done a terrible job at teaching logic.

It’s the subject that is always forgotten

and set aside.

So this year we are going to attack it with gusto.

This week, we reread this book from the start

and even worked through a few new chapters.

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Logic is so important.

In a world without logic, you must use power and threats to win arguments.

In that world, people aren’t pursuing the Truth,

but merely desiring to win,

while embracing or ignoring their ignorance.

So, this year, we WILL study Logic.

Oh, I can’t help myself.

I have to add a great related quote I read this week.

“Be careful that you’re fighting for the right cause.”

I snorted.  “What, for the Igniters?”

“No.  Don’t fight for the Igniters.  Don’t fight for the Keepers.”

I pressed both hands against one of the house walls, taking a deep breath.  “Shouldn’t I fight for what I believe in?”

“It’s not as simple as that.  Fighting for what you believe in is too subjective.”

I raised my head to meet her eyes.

“We need to fight for truth.  Your beliefs can be misguided.”

“So can yours,” I ground out, defensive, though I wasn’t sure why.  Hadn’t I been thinking the same thing before she entered the alley?

“Exactly.  Both Igniters and Keepers and people in between fight for their own agendas…instead of being willing to discuss and seek what’s right.”

I tried not to sneer.  “Do you really think there’s some ultimate truth out there?”

She laughed.  “Of course there is!  It is the foundation of morals and justice.  A foundation of truth represents what life was intended to be.”

(p267.  “Fawkes” by Nadine Brandes)

“Fawkes” is a brilliant book by a brilliant author.

Yes, she’s a Christian author,

but I love that she doesn’t moralise in her book.

Faith is an integral part of her writing,

but it’s not lathered on thickly as decoration,

which is so often the case in Christian fiction.

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Anyway, back to our school week.

Each school day, the boys reviewed the states of the US

and the countries of Europe using Seterra.

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The boys also worked on Latin using Picta Dicta.

Picta Dicta has been great for building their vocabulary skills,

to go with all the Latin grammar they know.

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They also worked on grammar each day, parsing four sentences a day.

It’s pretty second nature to us now

and we actually enjoy it.

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The boys also worked on their spelling.

It’s an area where they need some refining and tweaking

so it’s going to be a big focus this year.

The first essay of the year was also started.

As you know, we don’t use textbooks for content areas, like History for example.

Instead, the boys write essay to relate what they have learned or are thinking.

Since it’s the start of the year,

I had to select a non-book topic.

So the boys will be writing about whether we should celebrate Australia Day on the 26th January.

Using the Lost Tools of Writing, the boys have to research and address both sides of the argument

and that’s what they did this week.

They also gathered their arguments together and selected a viewpoint to defend,

and then wrote a detailed outline of their essay.

Next week, they’ll draft the essay.

It generally takes two weeks to complete an essay

when you include all of the steps.

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Yes, we did some Math too.

Yes, there’s a hint of reluctance in my voice.

We are still finishing off our year 11 text

so we had to dive right into a tough chapter

with no warm up period.

My head hurts just recalling it.

But we blitzed through two exercises a day!

The online worked solution book disappears from our account in April

and we have several chapters to finish before then,

so it’s full steam ahead.

Why are we still working on last year’s text?

Well, lots of people are happy with

the ‘you don’t have to do everything’ approach

or the ‘do every second question’ type of thing,

but that’s not us.

Seeing how the exercises are carefully planned

to guide your learning,

it just doesn’t sit well with us to be skipping things.

So, we often don’t finish a whole textbook in ONE year,

but we ALWAYS finish a WHOLE textbook.

At the rate we worked this past week,

we should be on schedule to finish this book this term.

I’m happy with that.

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What else did we do?

Well the boys read independently each day.

That’s a requirement.

In the car, we also listened to several hours of our latest audio story,

“1493: From Columbus’ Voyage to Globalisation”.

It’s a fascinating book.

Did you realise that slavery in the US was heavily influenced by malaria?!

While slaves from Africa were a lot more expensive than indentured servants from Britain,

the indentured servants (and colonists) more often died from malaria,

so the extra expense in the short term became a better investment in the long run.

We just listened to the chapter on sugar plantations

and it’s already inspired a learning tangent.

We want to learn more about Queensland’s history of kanaka labour in our sugar cane plantations.

I will have to see if I can find a book or documentary.

Yes, there was some socialising this week too.

Non-homeschoolers are always worried about our social life.

Well, we went to a friend’s place and played boardgames all afternoon

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and we also went to the park with different friends for an afternoon.

Oh and on the weekend we went to my niece’s third birthday party.

So that’s plenty of socialising.

That wraps up our first week of school for the year.

If anyone is wondering, there are 54 sleeps until the next lot of holidays,

but who’s counting.




Posted by on February 9, 2019 in Homeschooling Days


Term Two Review

Oh how I am failing at blogging this year.

I have no good excuses.

Blogging just hasn’t been happening.

So what have we been doing this past term?

Well, first of all, we’ve been sneaking in as many visits of my new niece as possible.

Isn’t she cute?

These are a handful of the hundreds of shots I took of her.
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This is one of my favourites.

She wasn’t a keen model.

She just wanted to sleep and her mother and I just wanted to pose and photograph her.

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Then she woke up and gave us some more cute shots.

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She was only a couple of weeks old in these shots

so this isn’t a ‘real’ smile but boy does it look like it.

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She’s now about three months old

and coming out of that newborn fog

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and interacting more with the people around her.

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Her big sister, Miss Two, is also growing.

Growing in personality and attitude.

I love this age.

(And she loved the kidney beans activity I set up for her.)
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These girls love my boys

and my boys idolise these little girls.

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Moment like these (below) just melt my heart. 

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The other day I had my first school experience.

I took my eldest niece to her first sports carnival.

Watching her run her little race made my eyes well up with tears of pride.


My own not-so-little munchkins have also been hard at work.

We’ve been digging into trigonometry this term.

I like it a whole lot more than I did when I was at school.


The boys (one in particular) are loving their graphing calculator.

I still feel faint at the cost…of two of them!


Of course, it wouldn’t be my house if we weren’t reading.

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We read lots of books this term (as always) but a highlight was this book about the Lebensborn program.

If you don’t know anything about it, “Hitler’s Forgotten Children” is an informative read.


We also read about Eva Mozes and Dr Mengele.

You have to watch her dvd “Forgiving Dr Mengele”.

It was fantastic.


We also read “Gulliver’s Travels”.

It was our dud read of the term.

I had been really looking forward to it, but, now that we’ve read it, I don’t recommend it to others.

I totally understand why the book has been abridged for children.

Not a fan and I had really wanted to be.


We also read the whole Egyptian Mummies souvenir guide from the museum.

No, we haven’t been to the exhibit yet.

We just always read the guides before we visit.

I know.  We’re weird.

Hopefully we’ll get to the exhibition during the holidays,

which are quickly filling to the brim.


My favourite documentary this term was “How the States Got Their Shapes”.

It was fascinating.

I learned so many new things.


Oh and I read this delightful little junior fiction novel to myself.

I totally loved it.

Reading bugs, lots of great book references and a library to save – what’s not to love!!

Hubby is going to read it to his grade two class next term.


Actually, there’s been lots of book action this term.

I’ve been book culling, cleaning and shuffling again.

I got rid of a whole pile of junior non-fiction that the boys had grown out of

and that I didn’t love enough to keep in the house.

Don’t panic, only one of those six empty shelves were left totally empty by the time I was finished.

I haven’t totally lost my mind.


Of course, a book decluttering means that there are spaces to fill

so of course I have been to the Lifeline Bookfest.


I didn’t buy a huge amount though.

I bought a bag full for my nieces

and this tidy little pile for our own shelves.


I don’t tend to buy much at the Lifeline sales anymore.

I prefer to buy exactly what I want from online bookstores.

For instance, these Richard Maybury books that complete my collection of his books.


Or this lovely new book from Living Books Press.

I just love how they present their books in brown paper, twine and a wax seal.


Or any one of these glorious books that are in my ‘to read’ pile.


Oh I have to recommend this title – “In the Land of the Blue Burqas”.

I just finished reading it last week (and another of the author’s books, “Farewell, Four Waters”).

I had to rush out and buy a paperback copy of it to read to my boys next term.

It’s brilliant.

It’s about a Christian aid worker who goes to Afghanistan and her interactions with her Muslim neighbours.

If you want to be reminded of how good our God is, read this book.


This term I’ve also been busy with schole for the mumma.

Yes, the homeschooling mother should also be learning and stretching her mind.

I’m almost finished “Saving Leonardo”.

I highly highly recommend this book to fellow Christians.


Check out the view from where I sometimes meet with friends to discuss books.

How distracting is that view!


The boys have also been to more QUT Stem workshops.

This last workshop was on robotic arms.

The boys loved it.

We have several more of these workshops in coming months.


Plenty of technology has been happening in our home this term.

The boys have been steadily working through Arduino tasks.

Ethan does the programming and Brayden does the electronics.

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Yes, yes, I let my homeschooled kids out of the house sometimes too.  🙂

I let them mow the backyard at least fortnightly!!  🙂

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And we head to different parks to let them run wild with friends every week.

The other day we were at this park (below) for six hours!!

It’s just trees and space to run and play but we love it.

I had a dear U.S. friend visit and we sat at this park and talked and talked until the sun was on the way down

and we were concerned that our husbands might send out search parties.


Ah, it’s been a very good term.

And next term is going to be huge.

We have more travel planned.

Nothing overseas this time

…unless you count the Bass Strait as ‘overseas’.





Posted by on June 30, 2018 in Family Life, Homeschooling Days


Another Fortnight

Two more weeks have flown past and now it’s the holidays.

As usual, we have been doing school.

(Yes, our ‘school’ photos are usually of Math.

That’s when they look the most studious and when I think to take a photo.)

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Check out this groovy little stand I got from Ikea.

I absolutely love it.

It cost less than two bucks.

We’ve been using it for everything.

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Brace yourself – this is year eleven Math.

Doesn’t it make your head hurt just looking at it.

Mine too.

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We’ve been on a bit of a Winston Churchill spree recently.

These are only a couple of the books and dvds we’ve used.

What a fascinating man.

If you haven’t learned about him, you should.

I learned absolutely nothing about him when I was at school.

I wonder if learning about Churchill is scheduled in the Australian National Curriculum.

I doubt it.

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As I’ve read aloud to the boys,

Brayden has been dabbling with the Fractiles.

These are just a few of his creations.


This is my favourite.

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One of my nieces turned 5 this past fortnight.

Gosh little people grow fast.

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She was delighted with the size of our gift.

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It wasn’t full to the brim…it simply had a lot of little gifts at the bottom

and they happened to arrive in the post in this giant box.

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Last week we spent two mornings at the World Science Festival.

The first morning we attended the “Cool Jobs” lecture

and the second morning we attended “MathMagic” by Dr Arthur Benjamin.

MathMagic was excellent.

(Check out Dr Arthur Benjamin on youtube.)


During the festival, the Science Centre

(what remains open of it during their renovations)

was free so we also popped in there for a quick visit.


All in all, it has been a very busy fortnight.

But, now, it’s the Easter holidays.

Happy Easter everyone.

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Posted by on April 1, 2018 in Homeschooling Days


More School Updates

We have had some rather busy weeks here.

Our biggest event was our termite inspection.

Our guy likes all the furniture pulled away from walls

and all the stuff pulled out of cupboards to expose the skirting boards.

It’s a huge job but it’s a great opportunity to do some decluttering.

So that’s where a huge chunk of our last fortnight went.

(Thankfully, he found no termites.  Whoohoo!)


Of course, school has happened around all this mess.

Every morning we spent a few hours on Math.

Year 11 Math takes a long time.

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And an expensive calculator!!

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After Math we did some grammar, Latin, spelling and worked on our current essay.

We always have an essay on the go.

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By then the postie has usually been so it’s reading time.

Okay, he doesn’t come every day (that’s a shame!)

and he rarely brings big piles like this,

but, when he does, it’s lovely.


In the past fortnight, the postie bought this lovely book on Abel Tasman.

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I bought it primarily for the illustrations.

Just look at them.

It was a good read too.

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We also got this little Anzac title.

I’m always adding to our Anzac book collection.

This book also become the subject matter for their most recent essay.

Picture books aren’t just for the little guys!

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We also read this lovely newly published book, “The Chinese Emperor’s New Clothes”.

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And a lovely friend sent me several book gifts –

“Twelve Kinds of Ice”, “Roxaboxen” and “Miss Dorothy and her Bookmobile”.

My book friend knows my tastes so well.


And from the library, we read “Ten Pound Pom”.


I highly recommend this book.

It’s an interesting historical read.


As you can tell, I’m very partial to children’s picture books.

But never fret, they are always additions to our school reading.

The core of our reading is always big people books.

Here’s our current reading basket.

(Actually, we’ve already finished that Louisiana Purchase book.

I need to move it back to the bookshelves.)


In the evenings, our documentaries have had a Russian flavour.

We’ve been working through the “Peter the Great” miniseries.

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And, yes, we pulled out a picture book from our shelves for a quick review of Peter the Great.

Picture books are much lovelier than a paragraph from a dull textbook.

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We also watched “The Way Back” which is about a group of people escaping a Russian gulag.

It’s based on a true story and quite inspiring.

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Recently, we’ve been watching a little family of curlews.

The mother and father bird nested in a friend’s front yard

so each week, when we’ve visited, we’ve checked up on the little bird family.

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Check out the way the curlew bird sits.

Their ‘knees’ bend forwards when they sit!

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But, our whole life isn’t bookwork, books and birds.

Recently, we headed to a friend’s place for a computer processing workshop.


My computer boy was in techie heaven.


Actually, all of the boys loved the workshop.


Dr Karstan Schulz presented the workshop

to demonstrate his product, the B4 Learning System.


We were all, parents included, incredibly impressed with the product,

the presentation and Dr Schulz.


I’m very very tempted to purchase further kits to work through.

Hmmm…whose birthday is next?


This past week, we also headed to the orchestra to hear some Mendelssohn and Brucker.


And almost every week ends up in a park somewhere.

This week we explored a new park and I believe it may become a new favourite.


Outside of school hours and playing mum’s taxi,

I’ve been busying reading, “Saving Leonardo” and “How Should We Then Live”.

“How Should We Then Live” is touted as an excellent read

but, to be honest, “Saving Leonardo” is so much better.

Toss Schaeffer and keep Pearcey, I say.

You must read “Saving Leonardo”!

It’s all about worldviews and it’s brilliant.


Speaking of books and book spaces,

(Do I ever speak of anything else?!),

I bought myself a new little bookshelf recently.

We have all of these delicious books that we want to read

 sitting on my desk cluttering up our work space.

I didn’t want to put them away in the bigger bookshelves

because they’d be forgotten and overlooked before we got a chance to read them,

so I bought them their own little shelf.

I suppose you could call it the ‘to be read’ shelf.

Yes, some people have a pile, but we have a whole shelf.


Finally, we had a some birthday cake with friends this week.

Lauren, Miss 15, baked this cake for me.

She bakes me something every year.

Yes, she’s that sweet.

And this was her birthday surprise this year – a cupcake.

It tasted as good as it looks.


Tomorrow, for my actual birthday, I have a dishwasher installer man

coming to bring me my birthday present – a new dishwasher.

I haven’t had a dishwasher in years and years.

So, for my birthday, you now know what I won’t be doing…

washing dishes,

ever ever again!


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Posted by on March 11, 2018 in Homeschooling Days