Sunday, September 29, 2013

Week Ending September 29

Miss 12 is very much in a  low tide/interest-led/unschooling/ delight-driven phase. During this week she has chosen to:



* Review her Latin vocabulary everyday. She likes flashcards and has decided to do ten cards "most days" to keep it fresh in her mind for when she continues with the next book in series.

* Resume learning French. We'd done some French - light and fun stuff - when she was much younger but now she's decided to get more serious. She's picked So You Really Want to Learn French which we had on the shelf since her older siblings used it several years earlier.

* Spend some time reviewing her knowledge of bird calls and worked on some new ones.

* Take a trip back to the wetlands to see if the Welcome Swallow eggs had hatched and to see if any Shining Cuckoos had arrived for the season. We were surprised to discover the eggs had not yet hatched (they take15-19 days to incubate and we first saw them fifteen days ago) and not so surprised that there was no sign of the cuckoos (reports place the first ones of the season just outside the city - but since we were going we thought we'd look anyway) . It'll give us a good excuse to go back next week and we enjoyed seeing the birds that we saw anyway.



* Work on a PowerPoint presentation on birds' nests. Her online bird class included the option for the students to do a live presentation to their classmates. Live is not an attractive option for us given the class meets at 3am our time, so the plan is to record the presentation, upload to YouTube and have that played in class while we are sleeping!

*  Spend several hours finalising the first stage of a long-term secret project she is involved in.

*  Play plenty of board and card games.




* Read - fiction and non-fiction books, magazines, newspapers, ornithology journals.

* Browse my boards on Pinterest and plan out some activities she'd like to work on in the next few weeks.




* Take some photos and contribute to the Great Nature Project.

* Participate in her online bird class. This week's class was on swifts and hummingbirds.

* Go on a birding expedition. We visited two locations, one of which was new to us. Although, frustratingly, we didn't see any new species, we did see and hear lots that made our hearts sing - Skylarks soaring overhead, the flash of emerald and blue of a Kingfisher hunting, the trill of a Grey Warbler singing, a large flock of Bar-Tailed Godwits feeding (this was the first time we've seen them this season since they migrated back from the Arctic), a Welcome Swallow that perched close to us for the longest time.

* Attend three trampoline training sessions.





* Work on some Mind Benders puzzles from Critical Thinking  Co.- Our book is from the old C series and the further we go the tougher they get!

* Play Set and Kenken online.

* Make further attempts to train her budgie. Some books say this will be difficult since his wings haven't been clipped but she enjoys spending time with him regardless of the outcome.






Sunday, September 22, 2013

Week ending 22 September

I thought I'd start this week with a little multiple choice test. Would a diligent homeschooling family like mine be using this delicious chocolate cake - filled with whipped cream and mashed raspberries no less - to celebrate


a)  The one hundred and twentieth anniversary of our country becoming the first to  grant full woman's suffrage in national election,  
b) The anniversary - the 174th as it happens - of the birth of George Cadbury, who went on to found what is now a global confectionery company (we used Cadbury cocoa powder in the making of the cake),  or
c) The fact that a  maths textbook was completed and therefore no more formal math is required  this year?

The truth is revealed below!

Whenever homeschoolers get together the issues of homeschooling methods tends to crop up - Classical/CharlotteMason/Workbooks/Unit Studies/Notebooking/Textbooks/Outside classes/Unschooling? I'm never sure what label someone would put on our style of homeschooling since, at different times, for different topics and with different children, we've utilised bits of all of these - an probably more besides! 

Still,  this week  week the label  tidal homeschooling resonated the most.  In the words of author Melissa Wiley who coined the term -

"We have high tide times when I charter a boat and we set sail with purpose and    direction, deliberately casting our net for a particular type of fish. On these excursions I am the captain; I have charted the course. But the children are eager crew members because they know I value their contributions.....And we have low tide times when we amble along the shore, peering into tide pools and digging in the sand, or just relaxing under beach umbrella. The children wander off in directions of their own choosing; they dig and poke and ponder." - See more at: http://melissawiley.com/blog/2006/01/11/tidal-homeschooling/#sthash.rhmLjadX.dpuf

This week the tide was going out around here and fast.  I mentioned last week that we had a special celebration planned for  this week. Miss 12 and Mr 15 both finished their maths books and Miss 12 in particular felt the need to celebrate - not so much the knowledge gained but more the fact that she gets a break from maths books for several months!

She also completed her study of the artist Jacob Lawrence. We looked at more pictures and read some poems by Langston Hughes since they seem to go so well together. We also completed a Masterpiece Mosaic on one of his paintings. I adapted the idea for our situation. We just had six pieces. Miss 12 did three non-adjacent sections and Mr 20, dh and I applied our artistic skills to the other three sections.

With the end in sight Miss 12  put in extra time and effort to complete some work on the Renaissance which ends the history work we had mapped out for this year. So she is well and truly at the low tide mark and will probably spend the rest of this calendar year ambling along the shore and peering into whatever metaphorical tide pools catch her interest. Mr 15 hasn't quite made it down to the low-tide mark yet but  with maths and science completed for the year he's heading in that direction.

Lest you think we were stuck inside all week, heads bent over the books frantically trying to finish things off  I should add that Miss 12 spend the weekend at Scout camp and we also managed a return trip to our favourite wetlands where a friend gave us a behind the scenes tour. Since the eggs we spotted the previous week haven't hatched yet we'll head back this coming week in the hope of seeing some nestlings.

Despite the changing of the tide there will still be lots of learning going on in these parts.


We have high tide times when I charter a boat and we set sail with purpose and direction, deliberately casting our net for a particular type of fish. On these excursions I am the captain; I have charted the course. But the children are eager crew members because they know I value their contributions - See more at: http://melissawiley.com/blog/2006/01/11/tidal-homeschooling/#sthash.P6XpHKs6.dpuf
We have high tide times when I charter a boat and we set sail with purpose and direction, deliberately casting our net for a particular type of fish. On these excursions I am the captain; I have charted the course. But the children are eager crew members because they know I value their contributions - See more at: http://melissawiley.com/blog/2006/01/11/tidal-homeschooling/#sthash.P6XpHKs6.dpuf
We have high tide times when I charter a boat and we set sail with purpose and direction, deliberately casting our net for a particular type of fish. On these excursions I am the captain; I have charted the course. But the children are eager crew members because they know I value their contributions. - See more at: http://melissawiley.com/blog/2006/01/11/tidal-homeschooling/#sthash.P6XpHKs6.dpuf
We have high tide times when I charter a boat and we set sail with purpose and direction, deliberately casting our net for a particular type of fish. On these excursions I am the captain; I have charted the course. But the children are eager crew members because they know I value their contributions. - See more at: http://melissawiley.com/blog/2006/01/11/tidal-homeschooling/#sthash.P6XpHKs6.dpuf
We have high tide times when I charter a boat and we set sail with purpose and direction, deliberately casting our net for a particular type of fish. On these excursions I am the captain; I have charted the course. But the children are eager crew members because they know I value their contributions. - See more at: http://melissawiley.com/blog/2006/01/11/tidal-homeschooling/#sthash.P6XpHKs6.dpuf
We have high tide times when I charter a boat and we set sail with purpose and direction, deliberately casting our net for a particular type of fish. On these excursions I am the captain; I have charted the course. But the children are eager crew members because they know I value their contributions. - See more at: http://melissawiley.com/blog/2006/01/11/tidal-homeschooling/#sthash.P6XpHKs6.dpuf
We have high tide times when I charter a boat and we set sail with purpose and direction, deliberately casting our net for a particular type of fish. On these excursions I am the captain; I have charted the course. But the children are eager crew members because they know I value their contributions. - See more at: http://melissawiley.com/blog/2006/01/11/tidal-homeschooling/#sthash.P6XpHKs6.dpuf
We have high tide times when I charter a boat and we set sail with purpose and direction, deliberately casting our net for a particular type of fish. On these excursions I am the captain; I have charted the course. But the children are eager crew members because they know I value their contributions. - See more at: http://melissawiley.com/blog/2006/01/11/tidal-homeschooling/#sthash.P6XpHKs6.dpuf
We have high tide times when I charter a boat and we set sail with purpose and direction, deliberately casting our net for a particular type of fish. On these excursions I am the captain; I have charted the course. But the children are eager crew members because they know I value their contributions. - See more at: http://melissawiley.com/blog/2006/01/11/tidal-homeschooling/#sthash.P6XpHKs6.dpuf
We have high tide times when I charter a boat and we set sail with purpose and direction, deliberately casting our net for a particular type of fish. On these excursions I am the captain; I have charted the course. But the children are eager crew members because they know I value their contributions. - See more at: http://melissawiley.com/blog/2006/01/11/tidal-homeschooling/#sthash.P6XpHKs6.dpuf

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Week Ending 15 September

Compared to many blogs I've read this week we seem to have had a very boring and uneventful week, just doing everyday routine things including enjoying some more signs of spring.



* Lots of sports practice. Mr 15 had 3 sessions of pre-season cricket training and Miss 12 had her regular 6 hours of trampoline training, plus a small competition on the weekend where she placed 4th which was a good effort given the virus she's battling at the moment. Given how unsporty and non-competitive I am (my ability to avoid PE class and compulsory sporting events at school was legendary) it's somewhat ironic how much sports practice and training dominates my life now!

* Maths lessons were diligently if not exactly joyfully completed (I'd have to say she is more diligent but less joyful than him when it comes to math) - Saxon 78 and Algebra 1 respectively.

* Both are working on history. Miss 12 is currently looking at the Renaissance while Mr 15 is focussing on Modern History. I believe he has an essay on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for me to run my eye over.

* Mr 15 gleefully finished the chemistry programme he was working on. Despite him picking both the topic and the course he did not enjoy this, is glad to see the back of it and has no desire to investigate any of the optional extras I've suggested. That's fine - he's done the basics and if there is no love of a subject I don't see any sense spending more time and resources on it. Far better to focus on areas of passion.

* Miss 12's science has been all about her passion this week - birds. She completed a blog entry on the Shining Cuckoo for her bird class, did more work on her presentation on birds' nests, watched the class on Barn Owl, and fitted in a couple of bird watching expeditions. Highlights were the Skylarks soaring and singing overhead, hearing then spotting a Grey Warbler on several different occassions (we're getting better with bird calls) and finding a pair of Welcome Swallows nesting in a bird hide. We're going back next week to see if the eggs have hatched.




* Mr 15 attended Woodwork class, did some photography and volunteered at Cubs. He had organised an outing for Venturers but it fell through die to storm damage (we had winds of over 200km per hour - lots of trees and powerlines down resulting in road closures). Miss 12 attended Scouts where they completed a First Aid course.


* There was plenty of reading. Miss 12 is tackling Mansfield Park, re-reading Charles and Mary Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare  plus plenty of Calvin and Hobbes among other things. Mr 15 is back on his non-fiction World War II kick.

I'm sure there was more but the trouble with everyday routine things, important as they are, is that they tend not to be memorable. Next week at least will be memorable - we have a special celebration coming up.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Week Ending 8 September

The main highlight of the week  came on Monday with a trip to a local wildlife reserve. Miss 12 wanted photos of her favourite bird, the kaka, to include in a blog post for her online bird class, and this reserve has a pair of kaka on display. The reserve is an eclectic mix  with a big focus on New Zealand wildlife, a large farmyard section with an emphasis in rare breeds, plus a smaller section with exotic animals. Birds were everywhere - we saw over 50 different species and that is not including all the different breeds of domestic poultry.

Our favourite displays were probably the New Zealand native birds. Most of these we haven't seen in the wild, either because they are very rare or because they live in parts of the country where we haven't visited.

Clockwise from top left - Kaka,  Banded Rail, New Zealand Falcon,Morepork, Buff Weka and Kingfisher.




Two New Zealand parrots - the Kea enjoying a bath and the Kaka - and two rare teal - the Campbell  Teal (above) and the Brown Teal  (below with ducklings).


Some of the birds were fairly common.





Others were exotic and far more colourful than most of our native species.



Some of the birds were not especially attractive in appearance or behaviour - but
Miss 12 was still entranced regardless !


We even spent some time enjoying the non-avian animals. The Asian Small Clawed Otters were favourites. They enjoyed their salmon as much as the Ring-Tailed Lemurs enjoyed the sunshine.


Since it seems we can never get enough of things ornithological around here, some of our other activities were bird-related as well. We took a quick trip to check on the swans. We could only spot one of the "cygnets'  - all grown up and more properly known as a juvenile now. The parents seem to have a new nest - on a small island so we haven't been able to get a close look and aren't sure how many eggs are in it - but we don't know what happened to the other juvenile.



This week marked the fiftieth anniversary of the last confirmed sighting (sadly a shooting) of the Eskimo Curlew.  We watched the animated movie  The Last of the Curlews on YouTube which tells the story of this species suspected demise. We also discovered a theatrical interpretation of the same story, involving live actors and shadow puppets which had been presented as a TED Talk. Comparing and contrasting the two made for an interesting discussion.


After a stressful week battling misleading and conflicting information from our insurance company dh and
I were able to get our paperwork together at the last minute and successfully close on the purchase of our house. We were worried we might not be able to purchase it and would have to move (not an attractive prospect in this post-earthquake environment where prices are rising rapidly and housing is in very short supply) so this was a real relief.


The other highlight of the week came on the weekend when  Miss 18, Miss 12 and I made our annual visit to a wonderful visiting craft show. Lots of amazing work to admire and also a chance for the girls to stock up on cardmaking (their major craft of choice) supplies from a vendor who is only in town once a year for this show and carries  supplies we haven't seen elsewhere. Plus, I always treat myself to some wonderful homemade soaps that small good enough to eat. One day I'd like to start making my own but for now I'm happy with this annual treat.

I also enjoyed more signs of spring these week - bluebells blooming in the garden and spotting the first Monarch of the season laying eggs on our swan plants. I just hope the plants hurry and grow more leaves before the caterpillars hatch.