Sunday, February 28, 2010

Our week of learning - 28th Feb - M&Ms

A deliberately slower week this week!

Current Readaloud: The Adventurous Four by Enid Blyton

The Adventurous Four: Shipwrecked! (The adventurous four)

Audio books: Robot Riot by Andy Griffiths; Two weeks with the Queen by Morris Gleitzmann

Independent Reading: The Mystery of Banshee Towers by Enid Blyton

The Mystery of Banshee Towers (Five Find-outers & Dog S.)

English: This hangman (hang mouse!) game that I found on someone's blog - but now I can't remember who, sorry!

Maths: I threw a packet of M&Ms into the trolley while we were shopping the other day - Eagle Eyes noticed and wanted to know what they were for. "To do some maths with" was my reply... I wouldn't tell him what we were doing though, and the suspense was killing him! "Can we do it straight after lunch today???!" lol, love it!

So we did! We made an Eratosthenes' Sieve to find prime numbers up to 120. First we put an M&M on all the multiples of 2, then 3, 5, and 7. He was able to see the patterns in some of the numbers and we both learnt a trick of finding whether or not a number can be divided by 3 (if its digits add up to a multiple of 3). And yes, then we got to eat the M&Ms! (not all of them at once though!)

He also watched a couple of episodes of Cyberchase online - one of the episodes was showing how to draw a circle with a pencil & a piece of string, so I pulled out the compass and let him experiment to his heart's content.

Science & Technology:
The slime kit got another workout this week.

HSIE (Human Society and it's environment): We went and did the month's Waterwatch testing again, and picked up rubbish along the river bank.

Hundreds of flying foxes (fruit bats) have taken up residence in a street in our town - we saw them at dusk a week or so ago, all out flying looking for a feed. It was quite spectacular! Our local paper had an article about them which identified where they were, so we took a drive to have a look. They were very noisy but kind of cute :)

Creative & Practical Arts: Drama class.

PDHPE (Personal Development, Health & Physical Education): Little Dragons martial arts class, exercising each morning with Pete, and the area's homeschool swimming carnival (attended by over 100 kids).

Life skills (cooking, gardening, housekeeping): General tidying plus he made 'rocky road' biscuits with marshmallows and M&Ms.

School shows: BTN, Our Earth (about fossils), Count Us In.

Other fun stuff: He attended
the Regional Show with his grandparents & had a sleep over at their house for the night.

New look..

I've been playing. What do you think of my new look? (Well, my blog's new look - I still look the same!)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Our week of learning - 21st Feb - Non-stop!

This was Pete's first week working from home, so its been a very odd week as we all tried to get into a new routine. I think it will still take a while. Looking back on the week, it's been a very busy one!

Current Readaloud: Five on a Treasure Island

Five on a Treasure Island (Famous Five)

Audio books: The Waterhorse by Dick King-Smith; Just Macbeth by Andy Griffiths

Independent Reading: The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl; Bernice Knows Best by Max Dann

The Magic Finger Aussie Bites: Bernice Knows Best

English: Discussions (ad nauseum lol) about the differences between the book of The Water Horse and the movie.

Maths: He spent about 45 mins on Mathletics and was introduced to the concept of mixed fractions. Discussions about 2d and 3d shapes at the FBI (Fun Brain Institute) run by another homeschool mum, and attempts at making some with pipe-cleaners and straws.

Science & Technology: To celebrate Galileo's b'day we made a telescope from a kit we'd bought recently. Unfortunately one of the lenses was smeared by the sticky tape holding it in the packet and when I tried to clean it, it made it even worse, so you couldn't actually see much out of the telescope. It was enough to give him the idea though.

And that inspired some experimentation with lenses and pulling the real telescope out of the cupboard to spy on the neighbourhood trees :)

At the FBI day, they had to work in teams to make the strongest bridge possible out of 2 straws, 2 styrofoam cups and a piece of paper. Billy's team's bridge got up to 80-odd coins and would've taken more except some were knocked off.

He did some more work on his website adding a member's sign-up section. I helped him with creating the database and the code behind the scenes.

He's also discovered Windows Messenger - I signed him up to chat with Pete & I and he's investigated every single option it has! Including webcam messages. I didn't even know his machine had a built-in webcam :)

Oh and he spent some time on a Building Blaster physics game suggested by Alicia.

HSIE (Human Society and it's environment): He watched 2 Horrible Histories episodes - Terrible Tudors and Amazing Aussies.

We made pancakes for Pancake Tuesday and discussed the day's history.

Creative & Practical Arts: Drama class plus he made a 'secret agent' movie with the video camera.

PDHPE (Personal Development, Health & Physical Education): Little Dragons martial arts class, exercising each morning with Pete, and a full on day at the Scout Fun Day - rock climbing, flying fox, rope bridge, laser tag.

Life skills (cooking, gardening, housekeeping): After watching a show on a designing ice-cream flavours, he went out to the kitchen and whipped up a batch of choc-mint ice-cream. (Vanilla ice-cream with choc-mint chocolates crushed up in it!) He helped make Pancakes for Pancake Tuesday and anzac biscuits just because we felt like it.

School shows: Music Moves, For the Juniors (Birthdays), Designers, BTN, Our Earth (about the age of the earth), Three Kinds of Writing, Take on Technology, BTN Specials.

Other fun stuff:
Its been a week obsessed with 'Escape from Scorpion Island' (a kid's reality TV challenge show) - it was the final week of the series. He's watched it (over and over again) and played the challenges on the website. Also a bit of Xbox and PS2.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Book #8, #9 & #10 - Life of Pi, Kings in Grass Castles, We of the Never Never

It's been a while since I've updated my list of 'non-twaddle' books I've been reading. I have to admit that I've slowed down significantly and have mainly gone back to books that don't require any brain cells. I read these ones over the Christmas break - but I do have a few that I've started on my bedside tables atm.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

Life of Pi

This is the story of a teenage boy, cast adrift after a shipwreck in a lifeboat with a zebra, a tiger, a hyena and an orungatan. It's the story of survival against the odds - or is it?

Most reviews I've read of this book sang its praises, but I have to say I didn't actually like it. I enjoyed reading some of it - it had some wonderfully descriptive passages, but on the whole I found it disturbing. Maybe because I like books that wrap things up neatly, and without giving anything away, the ending of this was just too open-ended.

I guess I'm glad I read it so that I know what all of the fuss was about.

Kings in Grass Castles by Mary Durack

Kings in Grass Castles

For a complete change of pace, this is the true story of the Durack family, one of the original cattle barons of Australia. It's written by the grand-daughter of the main character, Patsy Durack and tells how her grand-father came from Ireland in 1853 to escape the potato famine. He & his brothers set out to open up the country that was at that time largely unexplored - how they drove huge herds of cattle to set up properties in some of the most remote parts of Australia in NSW, Queensland and finally Western Australia.

Although its a bit dry & factual in places, I found it absolutely fascinating. I loved reading how they lived, how they set up their homes in the middle of nowhere, how they survived. Recommended for anyone who wants a glimpse into Australian life in the 1800s.

We of the Never Never / The Little Black Princess by Mrs Aeneas Gunn

We of the Never Never

Another Australian classic, this is an autobiographical account by Jeannie Gunn, published under her married name. Written in 1902, its her experiences of setting up homestead in Northern Territory, being the only white woman in the area, coping with the droughts & floods, the lack of provisions, the remoteness from everything.

I enjoyed the book but it did take me many starts and stops to get through it due to the style of writing. I found it really hard to get into it. Apparently it was made into a movie too - I'd be interested in watching that.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Our week of learning - 14th Feb - Movie time!

This was a fairly interrupted week - we were still away on holidays on Monday and Pete came home from a trip on Wednesday. We just seemed to be all over the place. We pretty much ambled along for most of the week but seemed to gain a bit more enthusiasm by the end of it.

Current Readaloud: Five on a Treasure Island

Five on a Treasure Island (Famous Five)

Audio books: Just Crazy by Andy Griffiths (very boy-oriented!); Beware of the Gingerbread House by Emily Rodda

Independent Reading: He finished reading Jack Stalwart: The Theft of the Samurai Sword. I looked up the information for the NSW Premier's Reading Challenge last night and realised he can start reading books towards it even though he can't register til March. I'm going to register him in the Yr 3-4 level (even though he's only 'officially' in Yr 2) which means he has to independently read 20 books from the approved reading list. Jack Stalwart will be his first!

Jack Stalwart: The Theft of the Samurai Sword - Japan

English: He researched some facts about Baden Powell (the founder of Scouts) and wrote an information sheet as part of his Promise Challenge for Joeys. He was quite disgusted to be told he had to hand-write it, not type it (by the leaders, not by me), but he did it without any complaining!

Maths: We did some logic practice by playing a game of Cluedo Jr - he's starting to get the hang of the strategy of it. We watched an episode of Cyberchase, he weighed some fruit at the grocery shop and tried to work out approximately how much it would cost and I gave him an introductory 'lesson' on binary numbers as part of our robots investigation. I didn't know how well he'd understand, but he got the hang of how the numbers worked quite quickly and was asking some good questions.

Science & Technology: While he was moving stuff around in his cubby (sorry, I have to call it a clubhouse now!), he uncovered some little lizard eggs & some newborn lizards so we investigated those and looked them up on the internet to confirm what we were looking at.

We also watched the evolution videos on Risa's blog in honour of Charles Darwin's b'day - he particularly liked the Simpson's one :)

HSIE (Human Society and it's environment): He played the Pink Panther Passport to Peril CD again which teaches about different countries as the Pink Panther visits each one.

He made his own Chinese New Year Dragon for Chinese New Year (it appears to be a mythical white dragon!), and we cooked Chinese tonight to celebrate (sweet & sour pork - delicious! & fried rice).

Creative & Practical Arts: Drama class. He's also been having a 'Mr Bean fest' and watching the episodes over and over. It's provoked many discussions on the way Roman Atkinson uses visual humour with Billy predicting what would happen a few times.

PDHPE (Personal Development, Health & Physical Education): Little Dragons martial arts class, an obstacle course at Joeys.

Life skills (cooking, gardening, housekeeping): He begged me to make fresh pasta last night, so we did. He had fun using the pasta machine to flatten it out and then made up his own shapes. I stuck with fettucine :)

School shows: Not on yet.

Other fun stuff:
Pete came home after 10 days away in the US. We also got 'Up' out of the DVD shop and watched it again - twice!

Are you on Facebook?

I initially joined Facebook because a couple of friends from online groups had drifted away from the group and were using it pretty exclusively. I wanted to keep in touch with what they were doing so I joined too.

I added a few friends that I knew and checked it sporadically. Now several groups that I'm on have moved across to it or use it in addition to their other forum. So I check it most days, leave a comment or two if I feel like it and keep in touch that way.

Do you facebook? (Is it actually a verb??!) If you do, and you'd like to be friends ('do you want to play with me?' lol), I'm Kez Ptol on there. Let me know who you are when you add me. A word of warning though - if you send me any hugs, gifts, flowers, animals or request that I join groups or participate in silly status updates etc, don't be offended when I don't play along :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Impressed with myself :)

I bought myself an overlocker a few weeks ago (actually it was even longer than that since I ordered it since a certain well-known chain starting with S and ending in 'light' doesn't keep stock of sewing machines in store!!!)... Anyway... It stayed in the box while I read the instruction manual and tried to figure out how the heck to use it! I took it away with us on the weekend so that Mum could help me set it up and stop me freaking out that I was going to chop my fingers off :)

I love it!

So ta-da, presenting the first thing made on my new overlocker - a pair of boxer shorts for Master B!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Our week of learning - 7th Feb 2010 - Macbeth & Robots!

We've had a bit of a theme of Robots going on this week. Billy decided he wanted to learn more about them, so that's the direction we've headed (as well as a lot of other bunny trails).

Current Readaloud: The Lemonade Trick, Five on a Treasure Island

Five on a Treasure Island (Famous Five) The Lemonade Trick

Audio books: Billy listens to audio books every night as he goes to sleep, plus on his music player and sometimes in the car, so I thought I'd start recording what he listens to.

We've been listening to Andy Griffith's "Just Macbeth" in the car - an adaptation of the "Scottish play" for younger audiences - basically add fart jokes into Macbeth and you've got the idea! It's actually very funny and well done - we'll have to keep an eye out for the stage play coming to Newcastle again. I think it toured last year but I thought he'd be too young.

Just Macbeth!

He's also been listening to 'The Waterhorse' by Dick King-Smith.

English: We watched the movie 'Robots' which led to many discussions on character & plot development, as well as vocabulary work. There is a scene where Fender sings "Singin' in the Rain" so I found the original Gene Kelly sequence on YouTube and Billy watched it.

He's been reading a book of magic tricks that he got for Xmas, and then trying to do the trick by following the instructions - if that's not 'reading for comprehension' I don't know what is!!

To my great pleasure, he's been keen to actually sit and read this week - woohoo! The book that's grabbed his attention is a Jack Stalwart one: The Theft of the Samurai Sword. I like those books - they're a good mix of an easy to read chapter book with cultural information about a different country (in this case, Japan).

Jack Stalwart: The Theft of the Samurai Sword - Japan

Maths: One of the magic tricks he learnt involved the use of parallel lines - this was a new concept for Billy so we had a discussion on those.

Science & Technology: He wanted to learn more about robots, so we got a few books out of the library. One that we've started reading together is called 'How to Build a Robot'. Obviously that meant he wanted to build one - so we trotted off to our local electronics store to see what we could find. I'd love to buy the Lego Mindstorm NXT kit but at $400+, finances just won't agree! So we ended up with a cute little sound detecting robot that we had to build. (ie I had to do the majority of the fiddly bits like building the gears and putting wires where they needed to go and he helped me with the bigger bits).

It's so cool - it turns towards the sound of your clapping and moves towards you!

He also spent some time updating his website.

HSIE (Human Society and it's environment): We had a social day at Blackbutt Reserve with the natural learner's group, and had a great time going around looking at the animals.

On the weekend we spent ages looking at the mangrove eco-system and had a walk through the wetlands.

Creative & Practical Arts: Drama started back this week. He seemed to enjoy it again.

PDHPE (Personal Development, Health & Physical Education): Little Dragons martial arts class, fishing, swimming, walking and running around at the playground.

Life skills (cooking, gardening, housekeeping): Just general contributing to the household.

School shows: Not on yet.

Other fun stuff:
Joey's started back again for the year, and he's started working on his Promise badge.

Exploring our local area: Karuah

40 mins drive from us is a little town called Karuah - the highway to Brisbane now bypasses it and it's a sleepy little town (but welcoming according to the website!) Other than travelling through it, I have no memories of ever stopping there, so I wasn't sure what to expect when we headed there for a weekend away.

My sister and nieces, and Billy & I shared a cabin at the caravan park and Mum & Dad took their van. We spent a lovely extended weekend there, with the kids going fishing & swimming, we all explored the mangroves that were literally right outside our verandah, did lots of mud-crab and bird-watching, jumped on the giant jumping pillow (well the kids and I did anyway!) and even took in a wetlands walk on the way home in honour of World Wetlands Day last week.

We found a lovely park there that will be great for day trips to go fishing.

The only down side to the whole weekend was the @#$%^ midges / sandflies! But I guess you get that when you're camped on the edge of a mangrove!

The view from our cabin's verandah!

Water lillies at the Karuah Wetlands

We spent hours watching and photographing mud crabs. They were fascinating!