Friday, 26 October 2012

Can party planning be considered educational??

We've been getting ready for Sunflower and Rose's joint Birthday party this weekend and have spent loads of time making things. I stopped to consider if anything we had done for the party could be considered educational and at a long shot I could get some maths and geometry in when making party bags
(counting how many bags we have done and how many left to do along with shape nets)

But then I felt peaceful when the girls took great delight in telling me off - because the spider pinata we were making was anatomically incorrect : )

PS if anyone wants the printable pattern for the party bags just leave me a comment and I'll email them to you.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Planning season is upon us.

I've been asked a few questions recently about how I plan our work. To be honest I'm more of a 'big picture' type of girl - the fine details tend to come later. I really wish I was one of those super organised mums who plan a year in advance but I'm more of a monthly girl.

My favourite planning tool is my notebook - this comes everywhere with me as I constantly jot down various ideas - the front half of the book is for things I want to make and the back half is where I keep ideas for specific topics. As I am a visual person I use my pinterest board to collate good ideas.

For Science and Geography I tend to create the work myself. I start by looking at what they should be learning and in what order - for example I have an old Biology text book from my studies and noticed that it starts with plant life, animal life, cells, human body etc. so I would plan activities in that order. I start with a 2 year plan and my 'big picture' looks like this

 2011Group SciencePhysical GeoPolitical Geo
April""South America
MayAnimalsearth stucture"
JunSpacevolcanoNorth America
Group SciencePhysical GeoPolitical Geo
JanSimple MachinesHabitatAfrica
April"" "
MayAcids and AlkaliMountainsEurope
Jun"" "
JulPhys experimentsFossilsAustralia
AugWeather /cloudsWater cycle "
Sep"Plate TectonicsNorth America
OctCells - animal/plant" "
NovOceanOcean CurrentsSouth America

once I have my bigger picture (I always leave Dec blank for catch up and crafts) I then work on a monthly basis. I try to plan a month in advance so I have time to collect anything I need (if I did anything more than monthly it would overwhelm me.)
I work from my notebook - put the ideas in order, make sure I've all aspects of the topic covered and source a hands on activity for each (some I make up, some I collect from pintrest and some from science books), so for example our weather unit covered:

  • Water cycle (where rain comes from)
  • Types of precipitation
  • How clouds are formed
  • Types of clouds
  • Rainbows
  • Why the Sky is blue
  • Air currents
  • Tornado/Hurricanes
  • Thunder/Lightning 
  • Famous storms in history

Once I've planned the month I print off my calender, fill in all the trips and activities then work on my individual weekly plans. I try to print off everything I need for the month at this point because nothing is more annoying than being halfway through a lesson and realising you don't have the papers/pictures they need.

For Maths, English and Geometry I use Montessori methods/procedures. I use Story of the world for History. Meet the masters covers Art (although I am looking at a few new products for next year - any recommendations welcome) and I have various Spanish and French programmes. Music is something that has taken a back burner this year but I am hoping to improve this next year and am sourcing new products as we speak.

How do you plan? I am always open to new tips and product suggestions (anything to make my life easier) 

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Plants activity day

Our co-op ran a great group last week - all about plants.

There were loads of activities including:

Plant classification. 

Learning the parts of a bulb.

Planting bulbs for spring.

Identifying local plants and trees.


Monocot and Dicot identification.

Exploring parts of plants under a microscope.

Making leaf skeletons.

Leaf rubbing and art.

Waxing leaves.

Sprouting seeds.

Seed dispersal.

Various games

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Kinderbach discount code

Kinderbach have just contacted me to offer a special discount to my readers - 30% off any order - homeschool, classroom, online or DVDs.

Coupon Code:  TOS_crew2012
Expires: 31/12/2012

Also the KinderBach App is on sale This Friday, Oct. 19th, 2012 ONLY.  The app will be discounted over 50%, down to $12.99! No code needed just the link to the Classroom KinderBach app in the App store:

Cloud fun

We followed on from our Water Cycle activities by exploring clouds.
The girls learnt how a cloud is made,

facts about types of clouds,

made a wonderfully messy cloud poster (lots of glue and cotton wool)

and took some time to chill and watch the clouds float by : )

Thursday, 11 October 2012

TOS Review - Kinderbach

This is the second time I've been able to review Kinderbach - an on-line piano program. Last time Tulip, Sunflower and Lilly used it but Rose was too young. This time she is three and falls right in their suggested age bracket of 3-7. Tulip was really excited to be using this again and took great pride in showing Rose where Dodi lived (she remembered most of the characters but her favourite was Carla the Caterpillar)

Kinderbach is an online curriculum for younger children. It uses engaging characters and songs to help memorisation. Lessons are just a few minutes long and include games, printable activity sheets, colouring and using a piano/keyboard (so you will also need access to either a keyboard or a piano - I believe the iPad app doesn't require a piano so you can see what my crew mates thought who reviewed the app).  

Lessons cover topics like music vocabulary, note reading, rhythm, singing and composition as well as playing the piano. Kinderbach is an in-depth programme and you can view their full curriculum here.

One thing I still love about this program is the length of the lessons - they are very short which makes it easy to do more than one lesson a day, it's not uncommon for Rose to ask for 'more music'. : )
I also love that you do not have to have a musical background of any kind to utilise and learn from this programme. Their lessons really capture a child's imagination and therefore attention, so much so that months after we last used it Tulip still remembers her lessons.

If you're looking for a fun, effective way to introduce your kids to music then this is a great product choice. We reviewed the on-line membership - a one year subscription is $95.88 which works out at $7.99 per month or you can opt to pay $19.99 per month, billed monthly. There are other options available like the various DVD packages or the iPad app.

If that very reasonable price isn't enough you can try before you buy with the free trial to see how it will work for your child.

Kinderbach are offering a special discount to our readers - 30% off any order - homeschool, classroom, online or DVDs.

Coupon Code:  TOS_crew2012
Expires: 12/31/2012

Also the KinderBach App is on sale Friday, Oct. 19th, 2012 ONLY.  The app will be discounted over 50%, down to $12.99! No code needed just the link to the Classroom KinderBach app in the App store:

You can see what my crew mates thought over at the TOS Blog - be sure to check out the iPad app reviews as well.

Disclaimer: I received a free on-line membership of this product for the purpose of providing an open and honest review.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

TOS Review - ZooWhiz

ZooWhiz is a fun online educational site, designed to help your child practise their skills in reading, grammar and maths. While it isn't a teaching programme, it is a fantastic way to supplement and review what they've learnt as well as targeting problem areas.

When your child logs on they are taken to the main screen, from here they can navigate though the buildings - Learn and Earn, Milestones, Arcade and Biodome.

Learn and Earn: This is the main educational section. The questions are grouped into math, words and reading and you can set an age appropriate level within each area - so if you have a struggling speller, who excels at maths (like Sunflower) you can opt for a different levels in each section.

Milestones: Here you can have an in depth look at how they are doing. 
Arcade: There are a selection of arcade games to choose from and the age is clearly indicated. It does cost 50 coins to play for 3 minutes so it naturally limits the time your child will spend here.
This is where you buy and learn about your zoo animals. When you first log in you have 5,000 coins and every day you log in you get an additional 100 coins (as well as earning them from 'learning').
The selection of animals is varied (even including mythical and extinct creatures) and prices range from 100 to 5,000 coins. Once you have purchased your animals you can click their icon to learn all about them. As premium members we were able to access a lot of information including habitat, diet, threat, classification and more. These pages were a lesson all by themselves.

The parental pages allow you to choose the age levels and see their progress. An added feature of the premium membership allows you to use the Premium Integrated Content Selector
to target your child's specific learning needs - pre-selecting by subject, age, question, category etc.

ZooWhiz is a fantastic way to supplement your curriculum - I liked the content of the questions and being able to target questions with the Premium Integrated Content Selector is a real bonus. I loved that the arcade time was limited (50 coins only buys 3 mins).

Sunflower has enjoyed this programme, she really looks forward to using it and has spent most of her time in 'learn and earn' rather than the arcade (she is saving up for a dragon).
However she was disappointed that she couldn't do more with the animals - she thought she would be able to feed them : )

Overall I think this is a great site to practise and improve skills and the proof that ZooWhiz worked for us - Sunflower is using it outside of lesson time as a recreational activity. 

ZooWhiz is suitable for ages 5 -15. You can opt for a free keeper but you get limited animals to buy and basic reporting information or you can upgrade to a Premium membership for $19.95 a year - this offers loads of additional animals and games for your child, as well as more detailed reports of their work and the ability to pre-set educational activities. They are currently working on a number of new features for the premium level including printable certificates.

A little birdie has told me that ZooWhiz will shortly be running an offer for Premium Membership at $14.95 - so go grab a bargain.

You can see what my fellow crew mates thought over at the TOS Blog.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free premium membership so I could provide an open and honest review.

Thursday, 4 October 2012


We went to a great activity this week - making parasols for a Jazz parade. We learnt all about the history of the parades/marches in New Orleans and looked over a couple of examples before they got to have a go themselves.

The girls had great fun coming up with different themes for their 'umbrella'.
Rose went with an underwater theme - the ideas were her own but she had help with the execution.

Lilly just liked the ribbons,

while both Tulip and Sunflower went for a pirate theme.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

You know you are committed to Home Ed when.... go out for your new winter boots but come home with the entire Horrible Science book set instead.

oh well - money well spent : ) 

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