Friday, June 17, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - 16

In my life this week…
Back into the running after a short break to give my sore calves a rest. I found a new program - Ease Into 10K, which means after 10 weeks, I should be able to run for 60 minutes without stopping (say what!?). I'm a fairly slow runner, so I don't think I'll be doing 10km in 60 minutes, but it's good to have goals!

One of the local churches has an annual Queens Birthday long weekend book sale. I got a few cheap resources for homeschooling:

but the real find of the day was a whole box of Agatha Christie novels!!! 

My hubby was almost beside himself with excitement and there was a PG Wodehouse that he didn't have as well!
In our homeschool this week…
Some homeschoolers I "know" plan out their entire year's activities and curriculum and resources a year in advance. Apart from wishing I was that organised, I definitely fall into eclectic homeschooling camp - I have what we might achieve set out in school terms (listed against NSW Board of Studies Outcomes), but I am like a bower bird when it comes to curriculum/resources - I find all sorts of wonderful things along the way....

I started the week with a straightforward Excel Year 6 worksheet on similes, metaphors and alliteration. The last part of the worksheet recommended having a look at Graham Base classic Animalia as it has fabulous alliteration for each of the letters of the alphabet. It turns out it was the only GB book we don't have, so I was delighted to find an iPad app for the book!

We then spent a lovely hour or so searching each page (zoomable!) for all the objects starting with each letter. I then allocated each kid a letter of the alphabet and a dictionary and they had to come up with alliterative sentences - only using words that started with their letter. Not what I had planned, but very enjoyable learning!

iPad Screenshot 1

We also read the beautiful Way Home by Australian author Libby Hathorn and illustrated by Gregory Rogers. For a picture book, it had me hooked - I didn't expect that ending! We did a worksheet on comparing the main character of Shane presented by the text and the illustrations. We also had a great discussion about how lucky we are to live in a home with two parents who care for you.

In maths, we moved onto symmetry - line and rotational. While the kids were completing textbook work, I found this amazing (free) website Symface which lets you see how your face would look if it were perfectly symmetrical. You upload a photo of yourself, pick the centre line and voila!

The next day I had planned some lovely Mandala colouring in, but Wombat Girl had other plans! She had been reading the Childcraft book I picked up at the book sale called Mathemagic and she came up to me at breakfast, asking if we could make a "Flatland". What? I read the section of the book she was referring to, discovered it was based on a 1884 novella by Edwin A. Abbott (also available free on iTunes!). The story introduces readers to the geometry of dimensions (long before Einstein was around) and is also a satirical view of Edwardian society.

The kids (and I) spent hours cutting out flat 2D shapes, giving them personalities and creating Flatville for them to live and work in. They were so engrossed in the task, I just let them go with the flow. Video Boy often struggles to concentrate on his work - but he cut and drew and constructed his heart out. All the while, I listened with joy to their conversation about polygons and dimensions. It is moments like these that I truly love homeschooling!

A bit more surfing and I discovered they have made a movie of the book, so I paid my $9.95 for the instant download and we snuggled up on the lounge to watch it.

For anyone who has trouble understanding geometry and dimensions, this movie has plenty of "aha!" moments. Can I also add there are some beautiful fractal images in the movie and a reference to the Mandelbrot set :-)  I think I will invest a bit more for the DVD which has extras and educational worksheets....and maybe also the book! And, apparently they are releasing a 3D version through Imax in October - so excited!!!!

Today Wombat Girl asks "can we do some geography?" as the kids had been playing a "talk game" involving bananas and different countries (don't ask!). I got out our world map, stuck it up on the wall and told them to study it. I then got out "Mapping the World by Heart" curriculum I had recently purchased through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. I hadn't planned to use it until next term, but Wombat Girl was keen!

I copied a blank Mercator Projection Grid and we all (me too!) had to draw a map of the world my memory! Well, it was an interesting exercise in how much we don't know about world geography! Poor Video Boy was a reluctant participant because it is one of the few subjects he doesn't know a lot about and he didn't want to appear "dumb". Not surprisingly, we were better at the Australia/Pacific part of the world than the rest.
My world map effort - please don't laugh too loud!

We then did the same exercise, but had to name countries on a blank world map. My knowledge of African, European and South American countries is shocking! There are lots of exercises to do with basic mapping skills and learning the major continents in more detail, so it looks like I'll be doing a lot of learning alongside the kids!

Wombat Girl's country knowledge - she knows many more African countries than her mum!

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share...
Even if you have purchased the most amazing curriculum, don't shut your mind to all the wonderful learning and opportunities that are around us!

I am inspired by...
Hex, who dares to think and imagine "outside the square".

Places we're going and people we're seeing...
We braved the rain and went to see the Scarecrow Festival and bought yummy candy....(edit) and I almost forgot - DH and I went to the movies (sans kinda) to watch the filmed Broadway revival of The Importance of Being Earnest. Lovely dialogue, very pleasant couple of hours.

My favourite thing this week...
Flatland! But also Video Boy coming up to me the day before and asking "Guess what I learnt today Mum?". Well, I was hoping he was going to say "rotational symmetry", but he piped up with "Well, I was reading Timebenders (another book sale bargain) and they were talking about Klein bottles which is a four-dimensional object which goes through itself." Say what?!

This is, of course, a 2D image of a 3D rendering of a 4D object (so Video Boy tells me)

Wombat Girl got in on the act and made her version of a Klein Bottle with paper:

My other favourite thing (and I realise that's three!) was getting organised for our day, but Wombat Girl was reading Flatland on the iPad, Video Boy was reading Life of Fred which had arrived in the post that morning, both were in their pajamas, both learning, both loving it and I realised I could abandon any boring plans I had and go with the flow (and that we didn't have to hurry up, get dressed and go to school).

I'm reading...
Just finished Wendy Harmer's Friends Like These, and now enjoying Anne de Lisle's Swim Club - both Australian and both not on Shelfari (grrr). Also reading lots of info on ADHD (but that's a post for another day).

I'm cooking...
Cold, rainy days means comfort food - poached eggs (done to perfection I might add!), sauteed swiss brown mushrooms on toast, roast beef and Yorkshire puddings, and with the kids - Mars Bar cheesecake!

A photo, video, link, or quote to share....
To finish up this rather long post, I will share the fame that is Flatland which spread to the Big Bang Theory (last bit is PG rated) (embedding was disabled so follow the link...)


  1. Ingi,

    Can you recommend anything you have read re: ADHD? I am just beginning my research...


  2. Hi Jessica - yes, I'm just starting too. The best overall one I've come across is "ADHD - the facts" by Mark Selikowitz (Oxford University Press). He is a development paedatrician and he understands giftedness too.

  3. A whole box of Agatha Christie;s! :) Yipee. My your week was productive!

  4. Ingi
    This is so inspiring! Wished you lived down the road so we could come and hang out!
    I have opened every link, just need to find some time to explore!
    Great stuff.
    PS came across this yesterday for someone else re ADHD

  5. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Your journal post is great. I will have to devote some time to reading your blog and looking at all the great resources.

    AGeekyMom - LLM

  6. Thank you ladies for your lovely comments! For a week that started out pretty slowly and ordinarily, it developed into a great learning journey and really got me (and hubby) excited about homeschooling!

  7. I am really happy to come across all your great gifted links- I really haven't had any resources in that department- just us exploring and having fun- but I want to offer my boys all they really need (without pushing too hard- wouldn't want to cramp our style) but, we need the info & "relationships" and links to the gifted info in particular. Thank you-

    love the projects they worked on this week- fun!

  8. Wow! Lots of great stuff to explore. I looked at Flatland on Amazon and also found Donald's Adventures in Mathland. Wheee! I'm also looking for Timebenders for David. And he will love the klein bottles. Have you read "A Wrinkle in Time?" It's about dimensions and gifted children.

    No doubt we are all ADD here. What did I sit down for?

  9. Hey Kelli - glad I can help a bit! Hi Jane - no, I haven't looked at Mathland yet (but I will!) and no, haven't read A Wrinkle in Time (but I will!). We have been playing lots of board games this week and our favourite quote "who's turn is it?".


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