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End of an era

Tonight, if Video Boy was still at school, he would be "graduating" from Primary School (Year 6 in Australia). And because Wombat Girl skipped a grade (she went from Year 3 to Year 5), she would also be in her last year of Primary School and be graduating too.

I can't believe that nearly seven short years ago, Video Boy really was a little boy, on his first day of "big school".

Or that nearly six ago, we sent a tiny Wombat Girl off to "big school" too:

They've grown up so much (and had their share of school ups and downs):

And now they would be "graduating".

I feel a little bittersweet about that. It feels like the end of an era....except that we have opted out of that. I don't have any official school portraits from this year and we won't attend an awards night. Would they have got an academic award? Chances are they wouldn't have got a sport award!

What we have done this year is work that we (mostly) enjoyed and were interested in. School was not an endless tedium. We have not really worked at Year 6 level - we have not focussed on Year levels at all, but what we were interested in, what we wanted and needed to know about. I think we still ended up with a pretty well-rounded educational year!

So, here more for my benefit than anything else, is a summary, by Key Learning Area (KLA) of our highlights of this academic year:

English/Language Arts
  • Using Brave Writer/Writer's Jungle exercises (Jabberwocky dictionary, sensory descriptions, Freewriting, poetry morning teas) to get our creative writing juices flowing
  • developed our notetaking and summarising skills
  • used technology to display our thought processes (Inspiration mind maps, Powerpoint, Comic Builder, Word Tamer)
  • Developed speaking and listening skills by using oral narratives, conversations, answering the telephone, discussions, Socratic questioning
  • Exposure to literature including novels (A Chemy Called Al, A Gebra Named Al, Who Really Killed Cock Robin, Anne of Green Gables, Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, Wind in the Willows, Peter Pan); picture books (Weslandia, The Lost Thing, Animalia, Home, Belonging, Way Home); poetry (Man From Snowy River, The Lady of Shalott, Winnie the Pooh, Jabberwocky, etc)
  • Exposure to a range of movies
  • Developed our skills using board games (Rory's Story Cubes, Apples to Apples Jnr, Bananagrams, Crosswords, PDQ)
  • lots and lots of reading for fun and information

  • Number (prime numbers,Fibonacci sequence, Joy of Maths DVD, Basic Maths DVD, fractions, decimals, directed numbers, Beyond Base 10)
  • Geometry (constructing polyhedra, perimeter and area, angles, symmetry, Symface, Through the Wormhole - Are there more than 3 dimensions?)
  • Patterns and algebra (inputs & outputs, pronumerals, terms, equations, coefficients, adding like terms, expansion, factorisation, solving equations, substituting into formulae, mathematical models)
  • Practical maths (banking, sundials, Chess, cooking, calculating, 
  • Life of Fred (decimals & fractions, pre-algebra, beginning algebra)
  • Mathematical board games - Forbidden Island, Go, Mastermind, Set, River Crossing, Kaleidoscope, Zeuss on the Loose, Marble Run
  • Maths just for fun (Flatland, Klein bottles, Tesseracts, To Infinity and Beyond)

  • acids and bases
  • systems thinking
  • alternative energy kits
  • circuits and electronics
  • Lego mazes
  • elements and periodic table
  • cooking chemistry
  • Secret Life of Chaos
  • Story of Science - What is out there?, Can we have unlimited power?
  • Absolute Zero - the conquest of cold
  • Wonders of the Universe
  • The Universe - Gravity
  • Hydro-electricity
  • Energy lapbooks
  • energy experiments
  • Computer games - Minecraft, Portal 2, Evac-u-8
  • sharks
  • terrariums
  • beach walk - habitats, niches, adaptations
  • balancing chemical equations
  • hot ice
  • model volcano
  • sodium alginate/calcium chloride reactions
  • Level Up! - video game design
  • Alice software
  • Minute Physics - youtube
  • OTEN - Physics (Waves), Chemistry 
  • Ohm's Law
  • Wave Model/wave-particle duality
  • Schrodinger's Cat
  • Dark energy and Nobel Prizes
  • vision and structure of the eye - dissection skills

Geography/History/Social Studies
  • Stone Age
  • Horrible Histories
  • Discovering Democracy - King John and Magna Carta
  • Australia's legal system
  • State Election
  • Census
  • Mapping the World by Heart
  • mapping rainforests
  • climographs
  • biomes
  • Planet Earth DVD game
  • history of China
  • fjords and how they are formed
  • New Zealand natural and social history

Creative and Performing Arts
  • watercolour painting
  • clay sculpture
  • self-portraits
  • Harry Potter currency
  • parts of the orchestra
  • costumes for teddies
  • exposure to new music - Glacier Bay, Winter Into Spring, Peter and the Wolf
  • Piano (Wombat Girl)
  • acting out Sorcerer's Apprentice and Alice In Wonderland
  • sewing zombie felties

  • swimming
  • trampolining
  • walking/running/bushwalking
  • decision-making
  • bike riding
  • gymnastics
  • Speed Up handwriting development
  • healthy food choices - monkey platters
  • exercise ball
  • skiing
  • playgrounds

Wow. When you list it all like that (and I'm sure I've left out lots of little things that we learn from all the time), we've had a great year. More detailed and more meaningful than what they would have got at school. And not really "primary" school because we kind of don't think that way any more.

So I give them my Academic Award for Excellence and my Sport Award for Keeping Fit & Healthy, from the Defying Gravity Academy, which is, as luck would have it, is a K-12 school catering for the gifted (and they have a brilliant teacher)! I think we've had a great year, I'm looking forward to a fabulous summer and I'm sure we will keep on having a educational time all the way through the rest of our lives.


  1. Great round up! I am imagining that you all did far more than this too. Your science list has me feeling very guilty. We did not cover much science at all this year besides our ocean biology course. Woops!

    I am wondering what you thought of the life with fred series? I have read a few opinions and looked at buying but not sure just how much it entails. I am assuming alone it would not be enough? Is the fractions one beneficial in learning fractions do you think? I have bought so many books that we have not used that I am wary of paying out the overseas costs. Maths is really not my strong point so would appreciate any advice. Thanks lovely.

  2. Wow! I remember some of those pictures and it wasn't that long ago.

    I'm impressed with your organization. And you should smack yourself for ever thinking you don't do enough.

  3. I have had trouble commenting on my own posts (grrr) - just read that it only happens when the comments are embedded, so I changed the comments to "pop up" and voila! I can comment again!!!! Yay!!!

    Anyway, here is the comment I tried to post earlier:

    Life of Fred is a great alternative to maths text books. I have to admit, we haven't really done the exercises (like he implores you to) at the end of each chapter, but the kids LOVE reading them and I'm pretty sure they understand what is going on. They do when we sit down with text-booky type worksheets.

  4. Hi Ingi
    This is sooooo impressive! I love that you have listed it in KLAs! Hehe!
    I know which school I would rather have gone to...yours for sure : )
    I have just ordered some achievement medals for our girls to "end" the year off.
    November is just sitting here next to me completing her Year 6 Spelling Term 1 review - we have done a lot more worksheet stuff in the last month to get that feeling of "completed!" but I think I need to do a list like yours - excellent idea!
    Cheers, Tracey
    PS We love LoFred and yes we do all the questions, but we also jump to other things when the inclination strikes. It is a great gifted program as it is not too repetitive and talks to the "whole" child.


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