Friday, 9 September 2011

Review of week 5th september to 9th september

Ok as usual I say something, then something changes!!! I think it is the nature of the first year of homeschooling!!! I was set on all of our changes, but a little voice kept saying Heart of Dakota!! I would feel drawn to it and then think, ' No, it didn't work!!' But the niggle in my mind kept resurfacing!! But I kept it at arms length because the new way was easier!!

Then on monday, Damon turns around and says, 'Mum I really enjoyed Heart of Dakota history', 'Can we do it?'. I was taken aback!! I thought for sure he would be happier with the new approach! And he did like Ancient Civilisations and the Bible, but preferred HOD. I jumped at the chance to return, which after feeling so stressed over it, surprised me! But you know what, I had changed :). I wasn't letting the curriculums control me, I am now in control of them. So now I can pick and choose and it doesn't worry me :)So we have returned to HOD history.

This week they had to make a clay map of the area where Noahs Ark landed and Tower of Babel was most likely located. Now I didn't have clay and playdough was no good. So we made salt dough, which worked well. The kids followed the recipe themselves, following the procedure to make the dough, and they did a great job.

Next job was to use a sketch in A child's history of the world, to etch in the rivers, oceans and land. It wasa lovely warm spring day so they sat under the shade of the washing line and etched away. before we baked them, the kids put toothpicks in each area to be labelled, so they would set nicely in the dough. Next we baked them and left them to continue the next day.

Damon even went a step further and made a sea horse out of the left over dough :)

Their next job was to create labels for their flags showing the locations on the maps. Adele definately took more care with this than Damon, but he wanted to finish and go and play :) Once labelled, we decided to paint them, to illustrate the oceans, rivers and land. But before they did this, they created an ice wall on their maps, that was once there. The younger kids enjoyed picking up all of the ice to throw into their water table for a play.

We have also picked up their poetry, reading Robert Louis Stevenson, because to my surprise Damon loves poetry especially writing his own. Here is one of his creations:

Buttercup by Damon

There's a flower so yellow,
It reminds me of jello,
You pick it out of the ground so green,
And you put it under your chin,
And you shine so yellow,
Like some yellow jello,
So next time you see a flower so yellow,
Think about jello!

I am so proud of him, I had no idea he could write poetry.

We are still using Drawn into the heart of reading HOD, a fantastic reading program based on charcter studies. We back up this study by using Character sketches. Character sketches looks at the behaviours of different animals and how they illustrate a character quality, as well as a study of a character from the Bible. We read from this, then the kids write a written narration and then illustrate their work.

We are also following HOD Bible time as we memorise and discuss the Psalms. We are currently reading Psalm 1: 1 - 6. And the kids have surprised me by actually memorising the whole of the Psalm. This is a great time with the kids when we can talk about what it means to be a Christian. Damon has surprised me this week by starting his own prayer journal!! And having his own devotion time without me suggecting it!! I think sometimes example can be better than words, as I have recently started a prayer journal and have been having more regular devotion time. Also his god mum was visiting and she also followed this practice. I am so glad that Damon is giving his time to God and his heart.

Damon is desperate to read about the cactus desert ( he wants to make a plydough cactus and stick tooth picks in it!!), HOD science, but we are nearing the end of a unit on bats (which he is also passionate about) in Exploring creation through zoology. This has been a great unit, learning interesting facts about bats. Adele and I were interested to find out the bats are a very important part of us being able to eat our favourite foods, avocados, mangos and bananas. We love bats!! lol On monday we will be visiting a local nature reserve to view their 20,000 bats and do a sensory walk. I love linking in reading with hands on experiences, so they can be immersed in their learning.

Adele has at last finished her spelling/phonics reviews in A reason for spelling, and we are now on our spelling activities. This week one of the activities gave her a choice of how to do her spelling words, so she made them out of cotton wool :)

Adele has become quite good at using a dictionary now. A month ago it was a new challenge for her but today she did it semi independently. Well done Adele!!

At the end of this week the kids had a wonderful adventure at a bike safety worksshop run by the NSW police. They had to be trained to ride on the roads safely, without losing points off their bike licences!!! Poor Damon lost 3 points out of 12 but I think that is pretty good for a learner (but thankful there was no real traffic!!! lol) Adele has only just learned to ride a two wheeler bike, so she crashed a lot, ending up with a nice graze between her eyes! But she says she still had an amazing day!! They did obstacle courses, watched a DVD on bike safety, practiced bike safety on a course with crossings, traffic lights, stop signs etc. And the police were there to make sure they followed the road rules or bye, bye points!! And there was even hand ball at lunch break :)

Avril and Josef at Tot School/ preschool

I have been doing research, as I wanted to have some activities for Avril. I found a term on the internet - TOT school - and a method called Montessori, I don't know much about their philosophy, but I like their learning approaches. I have taken ideas from here and there, creating my own approach to tot school/preschool!! And it is working, the kids are happy!!

This week at Totschool we have:

Cut playdough, which I read is great for strengthening fine motor skills, but whilst we were playing with the playdough, Avril created her name and made biscuits for us to play bakers!! I was really impressed at how playdough fun was so enjoyable and successful. Avril had no problems creating her name, loved cutting the playdough and enjoyed selling her cookies to the crazy little girl who came to buy them (me!).

Avril and I rediscovered our game of Playschool cards. We played memory, snap and Go fish!! And we had a lovely time together. Since the older two grew up and went to schoo (but now homeschooled), I hadn't realised I forgot about preschool play!! Poor littlies!! It had all become about the big kids!!

Avril wanted to sew and I wasn't sure about how to teach her, or what she could actually do! So I prayed and God answered my prayer. I was researching and the first page I found explained how to teach littlies how to sew!! I was so excited :) And so is she. I started out by making her a rabbit threading card, which she really liked. But after going shopping we picked up some plastic cross stitch board. And on it I coloured in a line, a square and a triangle. Avril has completed the line so far using woll and a large sewing needle. I wanted a plastic one, but couldn't get one. But she was fine with the metal one.

Avril became a wonderful jewellery maker this week. We cut up straws and she threaded them onto some wool. Now I thought she would love this activity, but she did some, lost interest and took off. But she had done enoug for her to be able to wear it. Josef wanted a turn too!! And he wanted no help and he gave it his best effort, but a bit more practice is needed lol.

We also created apple prints this week. We cut in half an apple, dipped it in paint and randomly made a masterpiece!! I did view this activity on another blog (can't remember which) and they cut them out and made an apple wreath. I am seriously considering this and hanging it up for christmas.

We spent the week reviewing A and it's sounds. Avril surprised me by her memory. And Josef surprised me by joining in the actions to her A rhyme from HOD - A-A-A Adam. When I said A-A-A, he tapped his cheeks, and when I said 'would you believe?' heswept his arms out the front of him!! It was very exciting!! I love that HOD teaches them letter sounds through rhyme and actions.

We also tried the shaving foam writing this week, but amusingly, there was no letter writing just mucky play!! They had a ball, walking in it, painting the yard with it!! It really was mucky fun :)

Other fun we have been having as a family this week:

The girls decided that a concert would be fun, so encouraged Damon and Josef in on the action on a couple of nights. They all took turns dancing and playing the keyboard. It was a lovely concert and they really got into it!

We enjoyed the sunshine on Fathers Day sunday. And Derek cooked himself a lovely Fathers Day lunch of burgers (I cooked later in the day :)). He loves his BBQ!! I love spring, the flowers, the birds, the sunshine and the excitment of a new season.

It has been a great week, even funny enough, with the changes.

I would love to hear from other homeschool families and your experiences of your first year at homeschool. Was it a bit all over the place, chooping and changing? Or did you find your feet really quickly? Please leave a comment as I really would love to hear other experiences :)


  1. Definitely all over the place, but eventually settled at about the 6-12 month mark. We started with conservative Light Education Ministries which sent us Rod & Staff & Abeka texts. We didn't mind the Abeka but ditched R&S quick. Then we found Homeschooling Downunder and started to research and use Charlotte Mason methods and ideas. We still look to Homeschooling Downunder & Simply Charlotte Mason for ideas and love to use living books but find that taking our own natural approach along the way has been the key to happiness/balance at home for us. If the kids want to learn about a particular thing we just go for it now but I am strongly influenced by CM. I am loving homeschool now that we feel free to learn instead of produce! That's just us, everyone is different. You are doing a wonderful job exposing your kid lets to all sorts of ways to learn, be encouraged.

  2. The first year of hs can be so challangeing. The decision on what curriculum to pick can make your head spin. I spent so much on curriculum that was just okay but I have gone a completely different direction this year. Pray for God to order your steps. It looks like you all enjoyed a fun, busy week. Way to go with your son writing poetry! That would definately be something I saved.

  3. I have decided that I haven't cemented in my mind our exact path just yet!! But for now a blend of HOD and a few others are where we are. And I have decided that is ok.

    I do need to seek God more, as I do seek him, but I don't always take time to listen and wait on Him. I am a jump in with both feet kind of girl!!! Not always wise!!

    Thanks Renelle and Tiffany for your responses it is really good to hear about other peoples journeys - it is encouraging ;) I hope I can begin to settle on something like you two have one day soon.

    Tiffany what approach did you end up taking this year?

    Damon has done an amazing job on his poetry. We will be keeping it.