Thursday, 23 May 2013

Unexpected Learning

Our week started off nice and normal, the older two were mastering the order of operations 

whilst the younger girls were working on letters, reading and spelling. That all changed yesterday when the snake we were babysitting decided to shed it's skin,
this obviously resulted in a break from the norm and masses of research on why snakes shed their skin, what other animals do and even what to do with old snakeskin (thanks to Nanny for telling the girls they could make soap from it - YUCK).

They also spent ages exploring the skin - they were amazed at the different scale shapes

 and eye holes.

Then this morning our chicks hatched : ) 

We only have pullets so when one got broody I managed to buy some hatching eggs and popped them under her - the others decided to join in (talk about peer pressure) and today all six hatched.(yes, all three hens fought over sitting on the same six eggs, often ending up sitting on each other)

when we went to feed them this morning there were two chicks but the other eggs were all cracked and the rest joined us by 4pm.

They are really cute and the girls are super excited so of course we spent the whole day researching the breed we got (lavender pekins), learning how to care for baby chicks
(although we are mostly relying on the broody hens for that), how they develop etc.

So loads of unexpected learning this week but that's the joy of Homeschooling : )

New Schoolhouse Library

I've just found out about a great offer and wanted to share it with you all.

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine are offering a new Schoolhouse Library where for a one off fee $25 you have full access to over 175 ebooks/audio books!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A timely reminder

"Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed." – Maria Montessori. 

This an area where I constantly have to remind myself to let them do it:- I must let them get their own shoes on (even when I'm running late).
This is sometimes easier said than done but then there are days like yesterday which remind me all over again of the importance of 'I must let them'.
I was sawing a cherry log to make some tree sections for our botany shelf when Sunflower decided she wanted one - it had taken me nearly 20 mins to cut my section with a hand saw and if I'm truthful, the only reason I said she would have to do it if she wanted one was because I was too tired to cut another : )

Well it worked - she persisted and persisted and persisted and a while later had her own tree section that she had proudly cut (it took over half an hour but even when she wanted to 'rest her arm' she wouldn't let anyone else do any for her)
What would have happened if I had done this for her instead of letting her do it for herself? 

She wouldn't have had the experience of hard work yielding a good result, she wouldn't of had an object lesson on the importance of persistence and she wouldn't have experienced the pride of a task achieved.

The other great benefit for me is when she now faces a hard task, we have a great object lesson to fall back on that highlights her ability to persist, achieve the seemingly impossible and shows her the benefits of independence.

Linking up at Montessori Monday

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Spanish for You- TOS Review

We were given the chance to review Spanish for Youit was designed by Debbie Annett who has years of experience as a Spanish teacher and it shows! this is a user friendly and effective Spanish curriculum.

We chose Estaciones which is based on the topic of seasons, it consists of  27 weeks worth of lessons.

We received the downloadable version which comes with a pdf of the book, lesson plans, worksheets, flashcard pictures and two MP3 audio files (one is a native Spanish speaker's voice). I did print everything out and bind it before we started so I could see how the different grade levels would work for us.

We used the program on average for three days a week but you could easily do less or more - the lessons averaged at 20-30 mins and included various activities (listening, repeating, worksheets, games, learning songs and command activities)
One of the girls favourite activities was to created their own flashcards for playing games like memory, draw and fish.

I really appreciated how this programme builds oral, written, reading and grammatical knowledge - because it teaches Spanish in a theme the girls are actually learning to converse in Spanish rather than just leaning boring lists of words : )

I also like how you use the book for all ages and just choose the lesson plans/ worksheets that would be appropriate for each individual child's level - It's perfect because we can study together but still work at individual levels so no-one gets bored.

We have used a number of Spanish programmes and this is one of my favourites so far : )
It is designed for grades 3-8 but my younger two were happy to join in with the speaking (and games!)

You can purchase the full package for $64.95 which contains the materials for all grade levels (3-8) or you can opt to buy grade specific packages for $39.95 for each individual grade level.

Why don't you try some of their free lessons here to see how it would work for you, it's also worth checking out their free worksheets page and the games/activities page.

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

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

British Nature Activity Day

Our Home Ed group ran an activity day on British Nature.

We got to look at how spiders build their webs

and build a giant web.

They were taught to make some fishing baits (they were served a local trout for lunch that one of the kids had previously caught)
and to identify what insects the bait represents.

Learnt about local butterflies and build a balancing butterfly, 

looked at British flowers  

and built a bee hotel.

They spent the afternoon planting a bee and butterfly friendly garden : )

Friday, 3 May 2013

Home School in the Woods - TOS Review

We love hands-on activities here so when the chance came to review Great Empires Activity Study by Home School in the Woods I was very excited.

Home School in the Woods have created a number of great History study guides that provide a fun and exciting way to bring history to life.

The Great Empires study guide gives an introduction to 14 great historical empires. It comes as a PDF which includes text, projects and activity pages - the projects include loads of hands on activities like historical recipes, crafts, games etc. The reading usually consists of 2-3 pages and you can cover most of the activities in each unit over 3 days, depending how much extra research you want to do (they do provide a list of recommended reading so you can go as in-depth as you like).

I started by printing off the timeline and then discussing with the girls which unit they would like to start with - they opted to start at the beginning and work through but it would be just as easy to pick and choose to fit in with your curriculum.

I printed off the reading and projects pages for each unit we worked on. We did rush through Egypt, Rome and the Greeks (although they did pause to paint some Greek urns) as we covered these in depth last year, then moved onto China - the girls loved making the lapbook

and did loads of extra research on the terracotta army and the silk route. Next came the Vikings where we got to make flat bread and stew, which I am happy to report they really liked.

They also made Viking coins and played longboat explorers.

We are currently half way through the Arab unit and they are looking forward to some cucumber soup for dinner tomorrow : )

Overall the girls have found this an engaging study, it has given them enough information to whet their appetites to explore some more. I personally have really enjoyed the recipes and tying traditional foods as well as the hands-on activities. I love their timeline which has a bar for each great empire so you compare them all together in one place.
Great Empires activity study is designed for elementary aged children and is available for $18.95, you can also purchase as a CD.
You can see what my crew mates thought of this and other Home School in the Woods products over at the TOS Blog

Dairy Day part 2

Our Home Ed group had organised a field trip to a local working dairy as a follow on from our dairy activity day.

They showed us the milking machines while explaining all about how they care for the cows,

viewed the bottling plant,

were introduced to some overly friendly calves

(yes, it is suckling on my whole hand)

and finished off with some ice cream they make on site : )

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