Thursday, 12 January 2012

I Blinked and Missed This Week

This week, we took things rather easily because L wasn't feeling well, and neither was I. M had a touch of something too.

L had a piano lesson this week, and we went to a synagogue for a visit and that was a very interesting time.

The Rabbi was so good and the children were hanging off of his every word. This man had a great connection with them and the other thing that I thought was great was that he was a much older man, like close to retirement age and he got in with them. He treated the questions like a quiz show and if they got the answer wrong, he said 'beep, wrong answer, thanks for playing!' He had the parents in stitches too.

We went into the Ark (not Noah's but the place where the Torah is kept), and he talked about the festivals of the year and kosher food and what it means.

She also went to dance lessons and then came home exhausted and fell asleep very quickly after coming in. She did too much.

We had a birthday party for a Bärli who is M's bear and she told me that he turned two and that he needed a cake with two candles on it. So I obliged and baked a cake.

We went swimming today as well and had a social time with another home ed family who came over for lunch. It was a fun afternoon.

I have decided to take out a gym membership at my local gym because with it I can use the pool whenever I want and try out all sorts of fitness classes. I need to do that. If I take out the membership, the girls and I will swim each week because then I only have to pay for their sessions which to be honest is still cheaper than lessons :-) L has a fitness goal with swimming so I want to encourage that.

For having had some ill(ish) people we did a lot of stuff this week!

Off I dash now, to get ready to dash out tonight , I have band practice.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

It's All Go Today!

This week M has been doing a lot of lesson work. She's been practising her handwriting (printing) and has been so good about it. She's been learning the logic and method for sorting things alphabetically. I wrote the alphabet down for her and she said 'Well done you!'

We've been reading Paddle-to-the-Sea each day and it will be interesting to follow the travels of this little wooden canoe and its occupant. We read The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader and the illustrations are simply gorgeous. It is a story of how animals prepare for winter, some hibernate, some adapt, some migrate and there is a couple who feed the animals who stayed behind.

I was looking at the book and its illustrations and showed it to TBG (The Big Guy) and he agreed that they are beautiful drawings. Then I looked at when the book was published, 1948, and realised why they were so beautiful. The animals looked realistic and not drawn to look like something unrecognisable. For some reason now everything can't look like what it really would in the real world, perhaps it's for copyright or licensing reasons so we end up with unrealistic looking cr*p that doesn't show how something really looks in nature.

Look at the toys children have today, there is a pet shop that is really popular in our house and the skunk doesn't look like a skunk and the cat doesn't look like a cat and the dog, well, you get the idea. I want a skunk to look realistic because in the wild skunks are not purple with a yellow stripe down their back and big heads and small bodies. I nearly tripped over one and came face to face with another one (or maybe face to bottom with one if he had decided to spray). I hoped and prayed that neither skunk sprayed me. I was negotiating with them, 'Please don't spray, please don't spray.' I slowly backed away and quietly walked to the other door of the house (yes, it was on my doorstep!). Breathed a huge sigh of relief when I was safely inside the house. Skunks spray if they are frightened, it is their defence mechanism, so I was hoping to not frighten the two skunks on my path that night! Their odour is so strong that it permeates walls. Another time a skunk decided to make its bed in a chair on our doorstep. We had to keep the dog inside the house for the day and the skunk smell lingered even after we humanely trapped it and then took it elsewhere and let it go free. The skunk didn't spray either, that's just their natural scent!

OK I digressed off topic but I couldn't help myself. Back to educational stuff, L has been teaching herself Japanese and today she was reviewing everything and then she went on to read about William the Conqueror (obviously written in English) and now we are about to read Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? by Richard Maybury.

I needed a break from reading aloud because I read Paddle-to-the-Sea and The Big Snow to M and my voice is a bit tired. We will be doing a nice lapbook on The Big Snow (available through Hands of a Child) and so this book is our winter project because it will take us a long time to work through it.

Later on today we will read a chapter from the story Our Island Story written by H E Marshall. It gives a fantastic overview of the history the British Isles but it is written specifically for children. She says in her introduction that it's meant to be a story.

Then, when you find out how much has been left untold in this little book, do not be cross, but remember that, when you were very small, you would not have been able to understand things that seem quite simple and very interesting to you as you grow older. Remember, too, I was not trying to teach you, but only to tell a story. H.E. Marshall, Melbourne 1905

Holling Clancy Holling is also another great children's author, and after we finish Paddle-to-the-Sea, we will start on Seabird and then move on to Pagoo. I also like James Herriott and will start reading his stories to M. I used to read them as a child/teen because my grandmother kept giving them to me. Again, the illustrations in these books are simply gorgeous. We are going to look at some paintings by Jean-Honoré Fragonard today as well. Here is a nice one for your enjoyment The Grand Cascade at Tivoli.

What are you up to today?

Monday, 2 January 2012

New Year New Direction New.....

Today is the second day of 2012. I am again looking at how I will change the way things are done. Last year around this time and into February, I looked at my curriculum/syllabus and decided what we were going to do for the period of September 2011 to July 2012. Everything then went in its own direction, so now I am not planning a year in advance, I have discovered that to be a big waste of my time and an even bigger waste of money in some cases because I bought books to use which we aren't even using now. I will keep them because we might use them at another time.

L studies independently and does her own thing for the most part. She is teaching herself Japanese, learning the periodic table, and studying about Tsunamis and Earthquakes. She also goes to a book group and has discussions about books that are actually beyond the level of what her schooled peers are doing. The only thing I can see that is missing is writing, both penmanship and creative writing, so I will encourage her along those lines. For history, we are revising what her schooled peers would be doing at the Key Stage 3 level and GCSE level (she has already done the entire British Time Line last year with a group). She can also look into whatever period is interesting to her. For Geography, she is interested in Japan, so she has a project that she will do on that country. We are also reading Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? which is an Uncle Eric book. He explains economics in very simple terms and it is very interesting. The author has written a few other books which we will read as well.

M has started back to lessons already, actually she started back yesterday and we are really working mostly on her handwriting practice and we finished off a unit study on Christmas. Her last task was to follow written directions on how to colour a snowman and then the next activity was drawing a snowman again following written instructions like draw three circles (small, medium and large etc). I found a really good site with some materials on it for her age (kindergarten) and ability and obviously some of the tasks were written tasks and she really needs the practice with writing. We will be working through those tasks, along with reading stories. Today I read to M a story about Paddle-to-the-Sea. This is the story of a boy who whittled a little canoe with an 'Indian' (sorry not the correct word the correct term is either 'First Nations Person' or 'Aboriginal Canadian') sitting/kneeling in it holding a paddle. The boy places the canoe on a hilltop and waits for the sun to melt the snow and the canoe sets off on a journey from Nipigon to the Big Salt Water (travelling through the Great Lakes and the St Lawrence River). There are 27 chapters (actually mini chapters as they are two pages - one for story and one for the illustration). Obviously this book is to teach a bit of Canadian Geography. The book was written by Holling Clancy Holling and it is a great book! We are also doing mental arithmetic. We did a lot today while everyone else was off doing their own things. We also have a world map and she loves to look at the map and read the country names.

I do a lot of 'theme' work or unit studies with her and the best thing for this is lapbooks because she is able to read all of the information in her lapbook, she finds writing too much at the moment. She is still learning and we have something tangible that she can look back on when she's older.

We are going to be doing lapbooks on the various systems and organs in the body and she already knows the names of the internal organs in two languages (English and German). L will probably join in on these little projects but probably to help her sister assemble the lapbooks. This teaches M about teamwork.

L and M have weekly activities that they go to, such as drama, brigade, dancing and music lessons and then I host a small playgroup for M and a couple of her friends twice a week because most of the activities are L's activities and M goes along for the ride.

Happy New Year and here's hoping I actually blog on a weekly or fortnightly basis :-)