Monday, May 30, 2011

Yeah I'm still here...

Last week I called a 'go slow'.  Billy & I were both exhausted from camp, his cold had freshened up considerably, it was rainy, cold & overcast most of the week.  So we took it easy for the week.

Well, Billy did anyway - spending a lot of the week playing his latest obsession, Minecraft. 

I had a problem at a client's site that involved several trips out there to fix.  We had various people wander around the yard to give us quotes on some landscaping we want done (finally getting a driveway after 11 years in the house!, as well as concreting an area out the back) and quotes on solar panels & solar hot water.

Archery this week was outdoors due to our regular indoor venue being unavailable.  It was a gorgeous day and really fun to shoot outdoors for a change.  It was a great incentive to hit the target - otherwise you had to go searching the ground for your arrows!

My eating & exercising were less than stellar this week.  I'm blaming hormones and the cold weather :)  On Saturday I did make it back to defendo for the first time in 3 weeks - and boy are my muscles feeling it today!!

From the 'what was I thinking' files, I signed up to take part in RWA's 50K in 30 days challenge....  Its like NaNoWriMo - except in June, and you get to choose your own word count.  So I'm aiming for 25,000 words in June.  Eeeeekk!  I was going to go for the whole impossible 50K, then realised I'd signed up for another online course already in June, and I have various other work committments which will cut down on the time I have available.  So don't expect to hear from me much during June - I'll be saving my words for my book!  I'm madly plotting out a category romance (Harlequin Mills & Book type).

Oh, and we also had a bit of a Pirates of the Carribean movie-fest  (mmmm, Johnny Depp!!).  Billy & I watched PotC 2 and 3 on DVD, then we all headed off to watch PotC 4 at the cinema.  Too much Captain Jack Sparrow is never enough!

Today we're off to help my niece celebrate her 14th birthday! 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Billy's week 22nd May, 2011


Made a shrinkie with a chip packet (ie observed how plastic changes when heat is added!)


Backyard Science, Cyberchase, Behind the News, For the Juniors (Human Body)

Being active:

Dragons martial arts, AFL training, archery

Having Fun:

Exploring Minecraft, Club Penguin, Lego, playing on the Wii

Making paper airplanes, learning knots and first aid at cubs


Cub camp - at the zoo with an animals, birds & conservation theme.  Activities included making a terrarium, leaf prints in plaster and observation of native birds & animals.  He also used my camera to take lots of photos.

On-line learning:

Had a play with this site - completed a grade 5 spelling test with 20/24 correct, and played around with building a roller-coaster.

Completed the Addition 2.0 (2 digit addition with grouping) questions on Khan Academy.


Started writing a play and created a trailer for it..


Selby Snaps by Duncan Ball

District Cub Camp

Over the weekend, Billy went on a District Cub Camp in the unique location of Hunter Valley Zoo. (I went along as well as a parent helper).  There were about 108 kids and (at a rough count) 30 or so leaders and helpers so it was a bit of tent city.

The theme of the camp was animals, birds & conservation, so activities included making a terrarium with corn seeds, drawing animals, feeding them, learning about bird calls and observing animals & birds (including a night walk through the zoo with the staff).  Plus a fun obstacle course.

It was certainly unique camping among the animals - I could've lived without camping next to the American alligators though :)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Celebrate with Mii!

Today my Wii Fit finally told me I was in the Ideal weight range (just!).  I met my first goal - to get out of the 'Overweight' category (calculated by BMI).  I've lost 4.4 kg since I started on 6th March and at least 5cm off my waist (I only started measuring that in April so it would be more).

My next goal is to lost 2kg more and keep toning up.  That'll take me to the weight I was almost 2 years ago.  I'll see how I feel after that if I need to lose more - possibly a further 2 kgs which should be be right in the middle of the ideal weight.

I'm so excited - I think I'll treat myself to a chai latte at my writer's meeting today.  Then off to cub camp - where who knows what we'll be eating :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Billy's week 15th May, 2011


We made bread to watch how yeast performed - love Science that you get to eat :)

We had some success with making a tea bag rocket (this has been an ongoing project - to see it work properly check out


Backyard Science, Cyberchase, Behind the News, For the Juniors (Human Body)

We headed down to Sydney Opera House to see Bell Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing.  It was Billy's first exposure to Bell Shakespeare - he enjoyed it despite it not finishing til after 10pm - it went for 2hrs 40 minutes.

While in Sydney, we also headed off to watch a game of AFL at the SCG. 


The water cycle - evaporation, condensation and how it occurs naturally
Nutritional labels and how to read them

Being active:

Dragons martial arts, AFL training, archery

Having Fun:

Exploring Minecraft, Club Penguin, Webkinz, Lego, playing on the Wii

On-line learning:

Learning about Chance using Skwirk


He made a rather impressive stool at Cubs - he hasn't had much opportunity to do wood-work so I was quite impressed with how he did!


Specky Magee and the Season of Champions by Felice Arena and Gary Lyon

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Khan Academy

Have you checked out Khan Academy lately?  It was floating around the boards a few years ago - at that stage it was a site with hundreds of maths teaching videos for free.  Brilliant resource - and one of those I promptly bookmarked and forgot all about.

A chance video on the TED website titled "Let's use video to reinvent education" led me to check it out again.  It's still chock full of wonderful maths videos and now includes science and finance ones as well - over 2,100 free videos in fact. Maths covers everything from basic addition to algebra, geometry to derivatives. And its still free!

But even more impressive, a whole knowledge-map based system has been integrated into it.

You start wherever you want - right back at Addition 1 if you need to - and each point on the map has videos explaining that particular topic.  Plus randomly generated exercises for the topic - if you answer 10 in a row correctly, it assumes you have mastered that topic and marks it as proficient (shown as blue on your knowledge map).  You can go back and watch the video again at any point without stopping your answering streak.

Once proficient at a topic, it then suggests the next areas you might want to do - for example after Addition 1 (1 digit addition), it suggests Addition 2 (2 digit addition), Multiplication 0.5 or Subtraction 1 (1 digit subtraction).

I've also noticed that if you haven't covered something in a while, it suggests you review the topic to make sure you can still do it.

You can also earn badges and points as you go along, but I'm not really sure what that's used for.  There are reports in the back section that you can see how you (or your student) are doing - I think you can assign exercises as well.  It's been trialled in a US school district where they set watching the videos as homework, and then do the exercises in class so the teacher can help each child at their own level.  Radical stuff!

We're also still using Mathletics (since we've paid for it!) - but Billy's interest in that has waned - and some topics on Skwirk.  Khan Academy offers another approach and is a nice one to add into the mix.