Sunday, 24 May 2015

This Week in Learning: May 24th, 2015

Hard to believe we are half way through Term 2 already, five weeks of study and nary a post have I shared. We have been learning, but I've been engaged in my usual struggle, record keeping, therefore only have snippets and reflections of the past five weeks to share.

Speech Therapy
  • Bass is having weekly lessons with a speech therapist which means I'm given 'homework' to do with him.  It's not onerous, nor time heavy, but it is one more thing on my to do list. sigh
Reading
  • Jelly Bean exploded into the world of reading at the end of Term 1.  She has continued to read an average of a book a day, reading her way through the Magic Ballerina books. Whilst they aren't 'high literature' they are indeed chapter books!:)  And even worthy of producing conversations about plots, and 'mis-casting' and the need for editors to proofread so 'sequence of events' are logical. So very thrilling to see her enthused about reading.
  • Jack Jack continues to be un-enthused about reading, he can and will do it if I 'corral' him, and I know daily practice is the only solution but I admit arguing gets tiring and there are days reading practice slips by the wayside.
  • Jem has the potential to wizz ahead if only he would spend 10 minutes a day consistently on All About Reading (yes it's that good) but he has the attention span 'of a flea'
  • Whilst Michelangelo and Princess are still reading too much twaddle, I have been assigning them a quality book a week and they are reading. Hooray! (see list below)

Literature
Family Read: (Younger Children)
Sisters of the Last Straw: The Case of the Missing Novice - Karen Kelly Boyce. The younger children enjoyed, I find it odd and slightly irritating.
Escape from Mr Lemoncello's Library - Chris Grabenstein. Abandoned after a couple of chapters, maybe the younger children are too young to appreciate?
History - John of the Sirius - Doris Chadwick Excellent! Dearly loved and nearly finished.

Spelling
  • Taking a break from All About Spelling with the younger children and using Schonell's Spelling book instead.  A great little book, 3200 common words, grouped in families and an easy way for the children to build on their spelling skills. JB and JJ are ready to increase their 'weekly word count'. 
  • Princess has been focusing on lists of words for 'Secondary Students', a good stretch for my competent speller
  • Michelangelo Schonell AAS
Handwriting
  • Jack Jack still begins and continues his letters incorrectly. End result is neat but still....trying to get him to correct.
  • Jem should be practising more regularly but truth is I'm prioritising his Sacramental Preparation and reading at present.

Grammar
  • Finally having the grammar lessons and conversations I've long dreamed of with the older children. Using an old text, English for Australian Schools - Ridout, Book 5 (Grade 11), I'm finding 'teaching' the lessons with the two of our teens together most effective. At this stage we are focusing on vocabulary and the words and exercises are a stretch, which is wonderful. I have an extensive vocabulary but some words have stretched me.  Using the older texts highlights the quality of education of yesteryear.
  • Continue to be happy with the older Australian grammar texts I'm using with Jelly Bean and Jack Jack, a great mix of focuses. Both children impress me with their understanding, I expected them to struggle with some concepts but they haven't, they often listen in to each other's lessons and contribute, they really enjoy grammar. 
  • I've tried to start Jem with grammar but really he's not ready, at this stage his time would be best spent focusing on his reading anyhow.
Writing
  • Have been using The Lively Art of Writing - Lucile Vaughan Payne with Michelangelo and Princess.  Reading through the chapters together and the children then doing the exercises. I've been most happy with their writing ability but the chapters are rather long and even though I'm skimming and condensing I know Princess in particular is finding it too much of a stretch, I'm losing her. In our last lesson we've been focusing on thesis statements and she's really not getting it, she's a couple of years younger than Michelangelo, which is a factor. My new plan is for me to pre-read the chapter and then just 'teach' the content in my words so she's not lost by the chapter end, as the concepts are brilliant.
  •  Encouraging the younger children to write a couple of short stories a week. For the boys I'm scribing, it encourages them to focus on story plots, sequence of events, probability (or not;)
  •  JB's writing voice has suddenly become more mature which is wonderful to see, I do wonder if there is a correlation between her independent reading and her writing maturity.  Is she writing better now she is immersing more in the written world? More aware of plots and development?
  • A few weeks back I made small simple paper books for the boys, one of those 'quick moments' that lead to a deep learning immersion. You can't plan those moments but you can jump aboard and enjoy the ride. JJ was so taken with his booklet that he became very engrossed in 'writing a book' for the next couple of weeks. Using the ladybird reader on the story of the Three Little Pigs, he copied much of the story but added twists and turns and planned a different ending. He lived and dreamed that book, taking it to bed with him, his constant companion, he'd regale us with what he planned to write when he got to the point of deviation.  He never actually finished the book, maybe one day, but a writer 'was born' during that period.
Faith
  • Sacramental Preparation for JJ and Jem using my plans. In a few short months JJ will be making his Confirmation and Jem his Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. Lots of fascinating conversations with the children, such a privilege to prepare our children to receive their Sacraments. 
  • JB has been reading her way through Fr Lovasik's Picture Book of Saints. She has been fascinated by some of the Saints in particular, excitedly telling me all about them. (extra reading practice too, win, win;)
  • Saints biographies for Princess and has begun the Philadelphia Catholic in King James Court, she is finding it most interesting.
  • Michelangelo has begun the second book in the Beginning Apologetics Set, he is still loving  apologetics.

Maths
  • The three younger children have been concentrating on learning their times tables, with the assistance of youtube, though I admit hearing them rap out throughout the day "Yo bro, you know the score, 2 x 2 = 4" is a little disconcerting. 
  • All three are also feeling too challenged and therefore unmotivated to undertake their lessons, needing a little tlc, so I have been sitting with them and encouraging and walking them through the lessons. 
  • Princess 'hit a wall with her maths' so took herself back and is revising some of her work from her earlier years to find the missing pieces.  I'm impressed with her initiative and diligence.
  • Michelangelo has been focusing on statistics, tax fees etc
 Science 
  • Princess has been learning about The World Environment: pollution, endangered animals, the effects of war on the environment and other environmental issues, she is finding it interesting and for a child who's not that interested in scientific matters that's rather exciting. 
  • Michelangelo has continued reading Science Matters (fantastic book) and watching youtubes on Quantam Mechanics. 
  • Reading through Wonderland of Nature by Nuri Mass with the younger children. They are rather engaged, particularly Jem. One day he announced that he'd "like to be a bee, a princess bee 'cause prince bees die quickly." Priceless conversations.  
Geography
  • Children focusing on learning the counties and capitals of various continents, the older children learnt all of South America and are now memorising African  nations. The younger children focused on Australia. Checked their knowledge with pop quizzes at the end of the weeks.
  • This then led to an interest in other map knowledge and now has evolved for some into flag knowledge too.  They have been deeply engaged in online geography games, an interactive, engaging way to learn with no tears:)
  • Reasonably happy with the couple of sites we are using but I wish they had sound for pronunciation. Anyone have any sites to recommend? 

History
  • Reading John of the Sirius - Doris Chadwick for Australian history with the younger children, as always excellent and dearly loved.  We're close to finishing and then plan to read the sequels. 
  • History for the older children has fallen to the wayside, so I need to keep my 'finger on the pulse' a little better with them.  Not overly worried though with Michelangelo as in the past he has devoured audios and books on history, he is a history buff, at present much of his energies are 'all things science'.  Princess however, whilst a living book fan does need to broaden her general knowledge. 
Creative Arts
  • Our local homeschool group has engaged a drama teacher this term and we are having weekly workshops.  The teacher is brilliant, the children are loving this opporutunity and we'll complete the Term with a play. 
  • Drawing as always is a passion with children
  • Extra curricula of dance lessons and soccer training are happening. 

Saturday, 16 May 2015

8 Tips When Op- Shopping For Clothes




We purchased our first home via auction, a rather nerve wracking yet exhilarating experience. Flushed with success we began attending farm auctions and furnished our home with our finds, on a shoestring budget we were selective in our bidding. Eventually we were to also discover the world of garage sales, a story for another day.

Months after purchasing our home we were expecting our first babe, this was when I discovered the attraction of the op-shop hunt.  It wasn't long before I realised that one could dress yourself and your loved ones well by selectively searching for quality amongst the dross. Years on I've continued to maintain my passion for the hunt of a bargain and have learnt a few 'tricks of the trade' along the way.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Mother's Day Reality

* This 'letter' was inspired by a conversation with a family member, a 'Young Mum' of two small children.
I began writing three years ago on Mother's Day night, never completed and it has sat in drafts all this time. Polishing and publishing now as I feel my reflections are still relevant.

Dear 'Young Mum',
I've been thinking about your phone call tonight, when you rang to wish me a "Happy Mother's Day" you shared your disappointment of how your secret hopes for the day with your two little ones hadn't eventuated, that you didn't have the day of mothering dreams. You then kindly inquired of me "How was your Mother's Day?" and I responded "Great." Reflecting afterwards I realised my response wasn't helpful, nor supportive, whilst I choose to focus on the positive when I answered, by not divulging the full picture I possibly added to your disheartened feeling. I may have given a false impression that my children, husband and life must all be 'perfect.' The truth is my day wasn't entirely "great," it was made up of great and not so great moments and emotions, a kaleidoscope, a reflection of my life.

 Mother's Day 2012

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Podcast Interview With...Me


Anybody who knows me knows I love to chat, I'm an extrovert, I become energized by conversation with others; my husband, my children, friends, strangers or even myself ;) I often come away buzzed, thinking, mulling and chatting about our conversation.

So when Pam from Homeschool Snapshots Podcast asked if I would be a guest speaker, explaining all I needed to do was talk, I was in, talk is something I can do. Pam and I chatted away just as if we were sitting together on my verandah, looking over the bush having a cuppa together. We discussed; home education with many of all ages, the importance of good habits (always a work in progress), our favourite family read alouds and how to nurture mama.

Grab a cuppa or a cool glass of water and join us, if nothing else you can laugh at my Aussie accent. I really didn't think I had one but 'blow me down' I can hear it, I have an accent. Pam says I sound a little like 'Crocodile' Dundee and she's right!
After you've joined us Pam has plenty of other podcasts you may also like to check out.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

My Daybook: May 5th, 2015

Outside my window...
the daylight is waning, night falls earlier in autumn


I am thankful...
that we do not have major earthquakes here in Australia. Our thoughts are with the dead, grieving and homeless in Nepal, praying that Nepal receives all the aid they need, and fast

I am thinking...
about the future direction of my blog? You helped by participating in the survey back in January, it was wonderful to hear your voice.  Truthfully though I've continued to feel a bit 'stale' and have done so for some time, eight and a half years is a long time to blog. Whilst I'm committed to continue writing, I am mulling what direction to take from here. Mostly I'm thinking about "What is my talent, my passion, what knowledge can I share, what do I have to offer?"