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Category Archives: Homeschooling Days

Peek at Our Week

We found our Term 2 groove this week.  Yes, I realise that it’s week 6 (of 10) in the term and we’re only just finding our groove. I’m just thankful we found it at all.

* This week we’ve been dabbling with some Science activities.  Here the boys were investigating gravity

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and here they were working on centre of gravity.

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* We finished reading several books this week.  First, we finished “To the Moon and Back”.  I highly recommend this book.  It’s fabulous!  There were facts in the book that my space-loving husband didn’t even know.  If you ever want an Australian-flavoured book about space travel, this is the one you need.

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We also wrapped up “Everyday Battles” by Bob Schultz.  The epilogue was a bit of a bummer though.  It describes the events surrounding the author’s death. That’s not the way we wanted to finish a book.  Not to take anything away from the book though.  All of Bob Schultz’s books have been excellent.  They are aimed at boys and directing their walk into adulthood with God as their pilot.

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We just finished reading “All About Captain Cook” today.  It was also excellent.  (Yep, everything we’ve read this week was excellent and recommended.)  This book was an older title and I loved how it read.  It  told the life of James Cook in a different way from which I’m used to in modern books.  This book made me ‘care’ about Cook in a way I never have.

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* In the evenings, we’ve been watching “Alexander’s Lost World”.  It took us six nights to finish it off.  What did I learn while watching this dvd series – that I have absolutely no desire to travel to these locations and that my boys don’t know the story of Jason and the Argonauts.  (Yes, I immediately jumped onto Bookdepository and ordered a book about Jason – any excuse is a good excuse for buying a book.)

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* Now, in case you are starting to think that all we do all day is read books and watch documentaries (wouldn’t that be a lovely life!), here’s a glimpse at some of the other things we did this week in school: reviewed the US states, completed several Latin lessons, completed an economics lesson on video, completed a Logic lesson in “The Art of Argument”, completed a technology lesson in “The Art of Construction”, completed two Physics tasks plus reading (and set up the third ready for next week), completed a whole unit on Geometry, did copywork and spelling tasks every day, parsed and diagrammed sentences every day, worked on a persuasive essay about whether we should believe that man walked on the moon, continued to listen to the audio “1984”, read more of “Great Expectations”,  began reading “A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk” and did plenty of our own reading.  I also took one son to hubby’s school to help teach a computer programming class and we all spent an afternoon at the park with friends.

* When I’m not working side by side with my sons on Math or some other schooly thing, and if the house isn’t screaming my name and demanding attention, I can be found reading.  This week, I finished reading, “Edge of Extinction”.  I loved it and had to buy my own copy and the sequel (which I haven’t read yet).  Middle schoolers will love this book.  Yes, the covers look a little scary but it’s not that scary.  Yes, there are some dinosaur related injuries, but, to be fair, there are a lot more dinosaurs being injured than humans.  In case you were wondering, dinosaurs have been bought back to life (whose great idea was that?!!) and so humans have fled into the safety of underground compounds and have been living there for some time.  However, a girl named Sky, leaves the compound and goes top-side to find her father and solve a mystery.  It’s a thrilling read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  My boys will love it.

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“Unwind” is another book I finished recently.  I really liked this book and plan to read the read of the series.  I could see them making this series into movies (although I don’t think our twisted society will like the message).  Now brace yourself for this plot outline.  Abortion is illegal in this future society and life is protected…well, until a child turns 13.  At that point, parents can choose to ‘unwind’ their child.  Any reason is valid – disabilities, rebellion, or just don’t want the kid.  The unwound’s body parts are then donated to those looking for ‘replacement parts’.  Sounds horrible, doesn’t it.   But it’s a very clever way of getting the reader to understand that, regardless of age, abortion is the murder of a child, no matter what lens you are looking through.  The story follows a group of runaway ‘unwinds’ and those people who help them survive.  The story isn’t gruesome but it does make you think.

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I’ve also just finished reading “The Shadow of the Bear“.  I loved it.  It’s part of a series called ‘fairy tale novels’.  But, don’t be deceived; these are no ordinary fairy tales.  They have been modernised.  Initially I didn’t think I’d like the books because of the modernising but it was such a crazy mix that it just worked.  In the first book, Blanche and Rose are sisters who live with their mother in the Bronx in New York.  One night a stranger helps their mother and they invite him into their apartment.  Rose instantly makes the stranger, a young man named Bear, feel at home but Blanche is a lot more cautious and vaguely remembers seeing Bear at their school gate where the drug dealers hang out.  Anyway the story goes on and there is some danger from their association with Bear but not in the way you might expect.  Now, despite the dark, dangerous setting, complete with drugs and murders, the story is contains a good dose of innocence, which I think is what made me like it so much.  None of the ugliness is described in great detail (we don’t need to get a clear imagine of what is happening) and Rose and Blanche are uncomfortable and wary of the things they should be.  They care about modesty and purity and spend their time talking about poetry and literature.  My favourite element of the books are some of the things that the characters talk about and say.  Check out this quote from the first book:

“Art’s about truth,” said Bear, “Truth and beauty go together”…”Art’s almost always beautiful because beauty is truth,” Bear said.

or this one:

“C.S. Lewis had said something about true humility being the ability to rejoice in somebody else’s good fortune as if it were your own.  So she took in the picture of her sister, with her smooth, shining hair, sparkling eyes, and slim figures, and sighing, counted it all joy.”

What’s not to like about books that include these kinds of discussions and ideas!

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* This week, when we were over visiting my parents, we got the grand tour of the cubby house renovations.  My two nieces spend a fair bit of time with grandma and grandad so the cubby was built with two little girls in mind.  And it is AMAZING.  Firstly, there’s a little bed that doubles as a storage box.  And, since Missy 4 requested a door to ‘her bedroom,’ a curtain divider was installed.

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The cubby’s window doubles as a store front.  The window can be slid open to attend to your customers.

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Now, this kitchen is the most deluxe cubby kitchen I have EVER seen.  There’s plenty of storage above and below and even hooks for hanging your cups.  There’s a space for the microwave, and under that there’s a built-in oven (complete with a timer that counts down – yes, it has digital numbers that count backwards!).  Under the over is a built-in dishwasher (complete with buttons that turns on lights which are on a timer so you’ll know when your dishes are done).  Oh and don’t forget the fridge under the stove (yes, a light turns on when you open the fridge door – I kid you not!!).

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Check out the stove top!  You press the black buttons on the front and it turns on lights, I mean the heating elements.  How cool is that?!!!

Yes, that’s a blackboard for messages that you can see behind the kettle and toaster.

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It’s simply amazing and all handmade by my father.  (No, I didn’t have one when I was a kid.  So technically this should be MY cubby house because my name was on the wishlist first but I don’t think I’ll win in a battle of wills with Missy 4 so I’ll let her and her sister have it.)

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Here’s a picture of the outside of the cubby. (You can see my men in the reflection checking out the renovations.  They were impressed and feel that playing with their little cousins just got a whole lot more interesting).  Yes, the cubby exterior is set up as a shop.  See the little spot for your cash register over on the left.  Yep, my dad has thought of everything.  Oh and in case you were wondering about how all of the electrics are powered in the cubby, there are solar panels on the roof.  I mean, don’t all cubbies come with solar panels nowadays.  🙂

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* Finally, this week, I Kon Mari-ed the boys’ clothes dresser.  Everything is folded into a nice little parcel and stood on its end in the drawer.  I love it.  I Kon Mari-ed hubby’s dresser ages ago and he loved it.  He can easily see all of the clothes he owns and make his selection.  I love how much you can fit into the drawers using this method, how easy everything is to put away, and how easy it is to open and close the drawers now.

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And yes, this is all of the summer and winter clothes that this one child owns (aside from his smalls, pjs, swimmers, two hanging button-up shirts and jumper).  In fact, I could probably cut back on the jeans and shorts, but I like to have about one week’s worth in case I get behind in washing.

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That’s it for another week folks.  I wonder what next week will hold.

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2017 in Homeschooling Days

 

Peek at My Week

* We read a fantastic picture book this week.  It’s been on my purchase list for a long time and then I noticed that it was available with my Scribd account so we sat down and read it.  What a wonderful story!  (I’m going to have to buy a proper copy of the book for my collection).  It’s about Isatou Ceesay, a woman from Gambia, who turns discarded plastic bags into crocheted purses.  It’s a true story and you can find out more about the project online.  There’s even a little video interview about Isatou Seesay.

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Here’s a sample of the purses that Isatou’s organisation now makes, thanks to Isatou’s innovative recycling project.

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* “Team Moon” was another great book we read this week.  It tells the story of Apollo 11 while at the same time telling the stories of some of the 400 000 people who made the moon landing possible.  This book sent us on a number of info hunts as question after question came to mind.  (A good book always leaves you full of questions and possible tangents.)

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Consequently, our viewing time was rather space orientated this week.  We watched “The Dish” and “Apollo 13”.  And, being us, we also had to do some research to separate fact from fiction in these movies.  That was really interesting.

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Then on my bookshelf I found this title, “To the Moon and Back“, which will be the perfect followup to “The Dish”.  The book takes the reader on a journey through all of the Apollo Missions while also giving more detail about Australia’s role in the missions.  Did you know that Jackie French’s husband, Bryan Sullivan, worked at Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station during the Apollo missions?

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* From the library I borrowed this newly released book, “Say Yes”.  It fit perfectly with some of our recent discussions but it turned out to be a disappointing choice.

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The author chose to address the topic to young children, making it a terrible choice for older students, for which the topic is more appropriate.

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Its only redeeming feature was the factual page at the back of the book.

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* On Wednesday evening, we went to the theatre to see a performance called Model Citizens by Circus Oz.  We chose to attend the night time showing, rather than the school daytime showing (so hubby could join us).  We made the right choice.  The night time performance was twice as long as the school performance while the price remained the same (which was, for us, free – local homeschoolers were offered free tickets).  The performance wasn’t an ordinary ‘circus’ performance.  It was a piece of theatre with a story and a message to share, all told through giant props and talented acrobats.  It was however a little on the edge of risque for a family performance.  We saw a lot of flesh and several bare bottoms.  I’m guessing that element was removed for the school performances.  But, still, we thoroughly enjoyed the performance.  It had a valuable message to share, and the acrobats were amazing.

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* Our favourite book this week has been, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind“.  It told the true story of William Kamkwamba, a poor boy from Malawi, who has to drop out of school when his family can no longer pay his school fees.  Hoping to keep up with his classmates, this resourceful boy begins reading books from the local library and then determines to build a windmill to bring electricity and perhaps security and prosperity to his home.  It’s an amazing story, which has led us to explore electric circuits and related concepts.

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In the coming days, we plan to watch the related documentary, “William and the Windmill” and William’s Ted Talks (1 & 2).  (I tend towards the belief, that inspiration from curious, resourceful and talented people is far more valuable than all those facts in Science textbooks).

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William’s story, while being a Science focused story, also fit nicely into our focus on Africa. These resources (“Queen of Katwe”, “A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk” and “War Brothers”), set in Africa, came from the library this week and hint at what we’ll be reading and viewing in coming days.  There is soooo much to learn about Africa – some of it is immensely sad, and some of it is wonderful.

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* I attended my monthly homeschooling mother’s book club this week (the kids join us too and run wild in nature while the mum’s chat).  It’s one of my favourite days of the month.  Currently, we’re reading “Life Under Compulsion” and are almost finished.  We’re already in discussion about what to read next.

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* Last night I sat and watched the documentary, “That Vitamin Movie”.  Have you seen it?  It’s powerfully convicting.  As a result of watching it, I’ve ordered the book, “Vitamin C:  The Real Story” and my family is now walking around with so many vitamin C tablets in them that I’m sure I can hear them rattling as they run around.  :)-

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And that pretty much sums up our week.  We did a whole pile of others things – schooly things, family things and lifey things – but these are the things that stood out.

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2017 in Homeschooling Days

 

A Peek at Our Week

* We had a rough week in the documentary world.  We started out nicely by watching a movie version of Eddie Mabo’s story.

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Then we moved to “Servant or Slave”.  This was an eye-opening documentary about the Stolen Generation and what life was like for them.  I highly recommend the dvd however there are ‘mature’ moments.

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“War Dance” was the toughest documentary of the week.  We almost didn’t watch it as it seemed like it was just a dvd about a bunch of Ugandan children and a music competition.  Thank goodness we gave it a chance though.  It was a powerful dvd but it was incredibly hard to watch.  Sandwiched between moments of joy, music and dance, the children from Northern Uganda told their stories and they were tragic stories of massacre, despair and death.  One of the children had been a child soldier.  These children stood talking to the audience with tears streaming down their faces.  It was heartbreaking.  But we’re of the opinion that we must hear their story and we must not turn away from it.

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To finish off the week, we watched “Hotel Rwanda”, another devastating African story.  So, yes, it’s been an increasingly difficult documentary week.  But, at the same time, an important one.

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* We’ve also been busy with construction this week.  We’re reading the book, “The Art of Construction” and this week’s chapter was about columns and beams.  It’s fascinating how strong ordinary paper can be if constructed in the best fashion.

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The construction task of the week was to build the frame of a paper house using “I beams” with reinforced webs and flanges.

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It took a bit of time but in the end they had a nice little structure.

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And it’s an amazingly sturdy little structure.  You can place several hardcover books on this thing (provided they rest on the four corners and not merely in the middle of the floor).

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The boys also worked on building a bridge using a Knex bridge building kit.

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It’s a great little kit which allows you to build all sorts of bridge structures (13 different sorts) and also includes information about each.

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Our bridge was an arch over bridge.

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* This week, we started reading several new books.  Firstly, we started reading “Great Expectations”.  What a great book!  It’s such a shame that the classics have a generally bad reputation.  They are really good books!

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We also started reading, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind”.  This is another great story.  It’s set in Malawi and tells the story of an inventive young man.  This is the kind of book that inspires its readers.

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This final book was weird.  Like, totally weird.  It was purchased on a whim because it intrigued me and still does but it’s a weird story.  Golem is a Jewish legend and it’s believed to have inspired Mary Shelley’s book, “Frankenstein”.  Weird but fascinating.

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I wonder what next week holds.  🙂

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2017 in Homeschooling Days

 

Hodge Podge

*  We’re in our second week of Term 2 so that means school, school, school.

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*  The other day, we spent two and a half hours (!!!!) on Math. It was a Geometry topic.  Geometry is supposed to be easy!!  Did someone forget to tell Singapore Math that?!!  My head hurt that day.

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My spatially-talented young man had no problems with the task.  He did most of the teaching that lesson, thankfully.

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*  Their favourite activity, so far this term, was investigating sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks

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and sorting them.

It’s not as easy as you might think.

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*  Recently, the boys pulled out some old favourites – our Brainbox kits

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and our Zometools.

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Zometools are one of my absolute favourite toys.  Well, they’re a ‘toy’ for the young at heart; little guys struggle with them.

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*  Over the holidays, I finally got around to hanging some of the boys’ artworks.

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These are my favourite pieces ever!

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*  Over the weekend, I created a large 4×4 map of the US.  We’re memorising the states and I wanted a wall map for the job.  So I made one.  I used Mega Maps to print out the outline.

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*  We’ve watched a bundle of great dvds over recent weeks.  These are just some.  We watched a series of Brain Games (a family favourite and a ‘must watch’), the Huckleberry Finn movie (which we were pleased to see kept fairly close to the book) and “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” (which is a documentary about advertising and quite an eye opener).  We also watched “The First Grader” (we highly recommend this movie but it’s a tear jerker), “The True Cost” (about the human and environmental cost of fashion), “Mabo” (a documentary about Eddie Mabo), “Molokai: The Story of Father Damien” (about a leper colony), “High:  How Drugs Works” (an ugly side of the world), and “Mystery of Sleep” (about sleep, disorders and the importance of sleep).

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Currently, we’re watching “The Years that Made Us:  Australia Between the Wars”.  It’s a great documentary.

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*  But not everything is a documentary.  At the movies we saw “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” which we all enjoyed, and, at home, I (I say ‘I’ because no one would join me!) watched “Trolls” and “Moana”.  The child in me has not grown up.  I didn’t like “Trolls” though.  Sickly sweet and insipid.  But “Moana” was great.  It’s a ‘must watch’.

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*  Oh and this week we scored free tickets to the theatre for a stage Circus performance.  It’s an offer open to all Gold Coast homeschoolers.

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*  We’ve also spent time with my nieces and their family.  We went to Dreamworld with them, to see the Tiger Show, again.

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Aria loves the tigers.

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She also loves that ‘her boys’ go on the kiddy rides with her.  They don’t care that no other teenage boy would be caught dead on one of these rides.

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They walk around Dreamworld hand in hand with ‘their girls’ and think nothing of it.  That’s what homeschooling does for families.

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And this little mite.  Well, what can I say about her?  She’s just ‘eat me up’ sweet, and one of the two reasons we make sure we spent plenty of time with them.

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Posted by on April 30, 2017 in Family Life, Homeschooling Days