Monday, October 29, 2012

Random Monday

You want living maths? I'll give you living maths!!! How about the Fibonacci Cabinet?

Whinge time. (do you "whinge" in the U.S.?? It is probably an Aussie/British thing). Anyway, my complaint today is about husbands who hog the remote. It. Drives. Me. Insane. Apparently, there is only one person in the room watching the TV - except he is attempting to watch about 5 channels at once and never watch an advert. I don't think I ever get to watch a show in its entirety when Mr DF is in the living room. Drives. Me. Nuts. It is just uber-selfish! And it's not as if I've sat meekly our entire 17 year marriage and put up with it. I have whinged directly to the source of my frustration, but nada. Nothing. He still does it. Drives. Me. Bonkers. 

I do believe that I'm not alone in my annoyance....

 My daughter wants to go Trick or Treating. I'm not happy about this. It is only in the last couple of years that Halloween has become a big-ish thing in Oz. I personally don't get it - but that may just be my cranky old whinger self coming to the fore. I don't want to bother making a costume (that's why we homeschool, so we don't have to do the dress-up days at school!) and I don't like the idea of her wandering the streets harassing old people for lollies. I could, however, be convinced to make this! I wonder if that would satisfy her Halloween urge?

Ermagud!!! I totally loved Edith Ann (the very clever Lily Tomlin before her Ms Frizzle days)!!!

And so I have to revisit her sandwich making skills:

Happy random Monday! Go visit Deb at Not Inadequate so we can take over the whole internet.

Friday, October 26, 2012

I got the homeschool blahs...

This has to be normal, right? You know, the ebb and flow, the ups and downs, the troughs and peaks, the...can't think of any more metaphors! I've temporarily lost my homeschooling mojo. It has left the building...although the kids are still working away.

Tackling grammar - Video Boy rocked this!

I feel like I'm in a bit of a homeschooling funk. Nothing super-major, but just a sense of "gotta think of what to do next, and I don't feel like doing it". Maybe it's because it's the end of October and the year has been a bit...disjointed? Maybe because we don't have anything juicy to get our teeth into and it's all a bit ho-hum. Maybe I need to go on a holiday?

Writing a story about a two-headed, multiple personality sea serpent!

Whatever it is, I'm sure it's just a passing phase. And I share with you because I'm sure (I think) that most homeschooling parents go through this? A sense of Groundhog Day - that feeling of more of the same, stretching on forever.....

Looks like squiggles - is actually a physics experiment!

Except when I'm rational, I know it won't last forever. My babies are growing up. The work they are doing is getting high-level! It won't be long before I pack them off to university (a mother has to have dreams, you know!).

Playing Spot It - a lovely new game addition (thanks Jane!)

We do have some exciting things coming up - there are more homeschoolers in our area now and group things are starting to happen - things like art and bushcraft and getting together with other kids that are my kids ages. I've learned from experience here in blogland not to say "and soon we will do this" because inevitably it doesn't happen...but hopefully there are some lovely new things to look forward too.

I think we just need some "quality" time. Snuggles on the lounge reading together. Walks along the beach in the spring sunshine. Cooking up a storm. Enjoying these moments of being home with my kids. Just because we can. Just because we homeschool and I am in the precious, enviable position of being able to give them what they need. I couldn't get tired of that!

Do you ever have homeschooling blah's? (please tell me I'm not alone)
How do you find your homeschooling mojo?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Random err "Monday"

...because of course, I'm running late again....

Did you know that you can now Google any actor/actress' "Bacon Number"?? In one, easy step you can now sleep soundly in the knowledge that:

  • Michael J Fox has a Bacon Number of 1 - they both starred in The Magic 7
  • Pierce Brosnan has a Bacon Number of 2 - he starred with Denise Williams in The World Is Not Enough and she starred with KB in Wild Things
  • Grant Dodwell (Australian actor from A Country Practice about a billion years ago) has a Bacon Number of 3 (who'da thunk?). I'll leave you to Google that one.

Ermahgerd! There is now an Ermahgerd Translator!

Get your tissues ready because this is the most awe-inspiring, beautiful thing you will see for a while - fireworks, I tell you!

Joining in with Deb at Not Inadequate

Monday, October 15, 2012

But wait! There's MORE paper-folding madness!

"I know it is wet
And the sun is not sunny
But we can have lots of good fun
That is funny!"
      (Dr Seuss)      

Inspired by Nikole over at Verde Mama (who in turn was inspired by us and made Popup Fractals!), we had our own rainy day.

Well, I'm pretty sure she didn't actually inspire the low pressure system that brought 233mm of rain to our tiny coastal village in 24 hours:

That moment when your street turns into river...

...and that river heads down your driveway and into Video Boy's bedroom...

She did however inspire us to watch Vi Hart's latest vids on flexagons. Now I thought I was pretty clever, back in the day, making "cootie catchers" (or chatterboxes or paper fortune tellers). We spent many a maths lesson making those! But these flexagon thingies are a whole 'nuther ball game! How on earth could I have missed them??? Misspent youth? Anyway, prepare to have your mind blown. I'll sit and wait...

Full-on, right? But Vi wasn't finished - oh no. October is Flexagon Month and she has more in store for us:

And so, of course, there's nothing left to do on this cold, cold wet day, but to make flexagons!

Easier said than done.

We tried really hard to follow Vi's instructions. She talks fast. So we paused and rewound and played a lot. But we got a bit frustrated.

It was time to call in the big guns! Google for more instructions

Video Boy conquered a tri-hexaflexagon:

and then he and Wombat Girl and I did hexahexaflexagons!

They aren't as pretty to photograph as the popup fractals, but damn! They are trippy to play with  :-) So you've just gotta go give them a try.

What's your favourite rainy day activity?
Have you ever had housing disasters related to rain (or wind, or snow)?
Did you ever make flexagons in your youth 
or were you sidetracked by some other mis-spent activity?

PS: This is Defying Gravity's 200th post!!!! I had no idea I would have written/photographed that many posts when I started! A big thank you to my loyal band of followers and especially to my regular commenters - you all make my day! I love that someone out there in cyberspace likes what I have to say and is even inspired by what we do. Totes chuffed! And you don't care that I over-use exclamation marks like crazy!!!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Glad to be homeschooling!

Generally speaking, I am pretty happy with this decision to homeschool of ours. We've been through the birth of fire and have settled down into a routine (of sorts) that suits us.

That's not to say it's all smooth sailing around here - many days it is not. We have tears, we have tantrums. And that's just me!

But every now and then, I am able to sit back and observe the kids. And be very grateful that they are able to be at home. Because I fear if they were at school, the consequences would not be pretty. For them or their teachers.

Imagine the following scenarios (played out on a daily basis around here) in a school situation, rather than at home:

  • Wombat Girl is supposed to be doing questions on trigonometry (Yr 9 work). You know - sin, cos and tan. She is supposed to just be writing the correct ratios of selected angles on her worksheet. She has decided instead to calculate the missing sides using Pythagorus' Theorem then using the solutions fully calculate sin, cos and tan for each angle, in each triangle, to 2 decimal places. 
  • Video Boy is supposed to be doing some trigonometry practice on Khan Academy. Instead he is under a blanket watching YouTube videos on the iPad. He has not taken his medication. I coax him out (gently) but am met with tears, shaking and muttering. It is nearly midday. He struggles to concentrate on each question, but after constant re-focussing from me, the medication kicking in he is able to finish three sets of 8 questions and then move onto answering questions from his physics textbook (which he types into Word) all by himself. 

In either of these situations at school, the kids would not even be doing the work listed above - it is years above their age grade. They would be bored by the content. The teachers would not like them going off-track and doing more than required by the questions. They would not be as patient with "immature" behaviour. They would be reticent to use technology to overcome issues with writing. It would be a lose-lose situation. Their strengths would not be catered to sufficiently and their weaknesses would not be supported enough.

The kids are so lucky (and I keep reminding them!!) that they have me and my seemingly endless stores of patience, because if they were in regular classroom, they would be bored, frustrated, annoyed and depressed. Their teachers would be annoyed, frustrated, disappointed and irritated. This would not be a win-win situation.

As it turned out, the work (and then some) is completed. They are happy and proud of their accomplishments. They are doing work that stimulates them mentally. They have some "products" to show for their work. I haven't lost the plot with them and they haven't (totally) blown their cool either. We will go on to do more cool stuff in the afternoon. Life is good - even with tears.

Have you had moments lately that made you appreciate your decision to homeschool?
What is it about homeschooling that really works for your kids?

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

More popout fractal madness!

So after my last post where everyone loved the fractal popouts so much, I put up the link to the activity.

You see the first lot we made were from the back of Maggie and Abacaba Genies book - no template there and it took us a while to figure it out!

So, in case you are reading the instructions and quietly saying WTF (why the face?) to yourself, rest assured that I had difficulty too. Wombat Girl figured it out and showed me, but many pieces of coloured paper were abandoned by all of us in our attempts to pop out fractals. But once the penny drops (fold first, then invert), you should be on your way to this:

But wait! There is more!!! I hadn't printed out the template for the more complicated version. So today we did and put contrasting paper behind them and look how fabulous they turned out:

But there's still more!!!!!! I googled "popout fractal" and found this page and attempted that one as well (which is hidden in the sandcastle of Maggie and the Genies)

 and they look great too!

If you look at these side on, you'll find they look like Sierpinki's Triangle, which in turn is linked to Pascal's Triangle.

Now if I lived anywhere remotely close to Albuquerque, New Mexico, I would be headed to the Fractal Show, but at the very least I think we will be exploring some more activities found here and share with you a beautiful fractal world:

So have you been inspired to fractal?
If you blogged about it, please put the link in the comments below and share!

Nikole at Verde Mama fractalled!! 

Monday, October 08, 2012

Wake up!

Well, it's Monday morning of Week 1, Term 4 here. 

It's 10:15 AM (but two days ago it was still 9:15am).

No sign of the kids, despite my numerous attempts to rouse them. 

Ahh - how times change! I keep reading Facebook statuses that say they would love a sleep-in past 6am. Those people obviously DO NOT have teens/pre-teens!! I feel like saying to them "give it a few years, times will change!"

Teenage hormones plus shift to daylight savings do not for early mornings make! Apparently adolescents naturally shift to going to bed later and also have a increased need for sleep - something that is very noticeable around here with a 12 year old and 13 year old!  Before daylight savings kicked in, my two were often still in bed, putting out zzz's at 10 or 11am. Shift the clocks forward one hour and you can make that 11am or midday!!

The article I linked to has a recommendation from the University of Toronto psychologists (who must know about such things) suggesting that Universities and high school classes should start at 11am to take into account the changes in circadian rhythms that adolescents go through. How lovely we can accommodate that recommendation! 

One of the many, many advantages of homeschooling is that instead of them snoring their way through a school day that would start at 8:30am, at least one hours travel way (so we would be getting up at 6:30am!), we can just adjust to their changed sleep patterns, so they are not sleep deprived.

I tutor teenagers after school. I've had a couple literally nod their heads and close their eyes at 5pm, because they are exhausted. Doesn't make for constructive learning, does it?

Of course, not everyone here feels the same way...Hubby thinks everyone should be up and dressed at 9am, ready to "work". Especially if he is going to work. But he is also the one who loves a bit of an afternoon nanna nap, so go figure.

So given the absence of any children awake to homeschool this morning, and the fact that I'm getting through loads of washing and cups of tea is not riveting reading, here are a few snapshots of the past couple of weeks, where learning does indeed happen all the time, even in the school holidays, even if you get up at 11am:

Little fellow enjoying the spring sunshine in our tidied up garden!

Ahhh, holidays!

Exploring ABACABA patterns...

Measuring, calculating

Verbal explanations

Proud of his work!

Pop-up fractals! Instructions found here (scroll way down to Pop Up Fractals....actually these aren't the instructions I used...but I can't find the ones I did). Would love see your attempts! We will have to try the second template too :-) More instructions found here!

Wave physics on Khan academy

Uno and rugby league grand final
Looking for patterns in nature

Pandemic board game

Great cooperative game, but unfortunately we have yet to save the world from destruction!

Now if you will excuse me, I have another load of washing to hang out and some kids to attempt to wake up!

If you have teens, do you let them sleep in?
Do you love a bit of a nanna nap in the afternoon?
When was the last time you had a really good sleep in?
Did you enjoy the school holidays?

Thursday, October 04, 2012

We passed the test!

We are in the middle of school holidays here, which for us means me working in the library and for National Parks:

Wombat Girl's birthday (and associated get-together's with friends because I said "no party!") falls in the holidays too:

My gorgeous 12 year old with her lovely friends

Father and daughter

It's a busy time.

In this middle of all this 'busy' is also when we had our follow-up inspection from the NSW Board of Studies Authorised Person. I can't believe it's been two years since we first got our approval to homeschool! I've found our "AP" to be a nice guy - especially given he seems to under the impression I'm super-organised!

I have a theory about getting registered for homeschooling (if you have to in your state - we do) - over-prepare.

First up, I cleaned the house to within an inch of its life. It will never be home beautiful, but we don't need to have the guy thinking "geez, she needs to clean". First impressions count!

I did a summary of all the outcomes we have achieved in the last two years (through a variety of means, both bookwork and natural learning) accompanied by a bunch of photos (mostly pulled from this blog!). He was very impressed - going so far as to say that it was the best summary of outcomes he'd ever viewed!!! Over-prepare, people.

He also had a look at some of the work we'd done - the kids ran up and down the stairs fetching various workbooks, project, lapbooks and pieces of art. He sat for while playing chess with them and generally chatted about homeschooling life. He certainly didn't go through everything with a fine-tooth comb (which was, quite frankly, a relief! Because I was freaking out that he would notice everything we haven't done!)

Last time around I drew up a year-long plan of unit studies with which outcomes I would cover in each term. Needless to say, we didn't really end up following it. This year's "plan" was a list of potential areas we might cover from the syllabus and some resources we might use to do it. He was happy with that.

The trick is to basically be super-confident in your ability to deliver a great program that suits your kids. Give them no reason to doubt you or your ability to provide education for your kids. Play the game. Over-prepare.

I forgot to ask him if I could take pics so I could blog about him! But after an hour or so, he said that it made him very happy to see a family for which their homeschooling program was obviously working so well. He said the kids were very polite (they had better be!!!) and well-spoken. He is going to approve another 2 years for us (the maximum time he can). Yay!

In other "yay" news, a few weeks back, Wombat Girl got the trophy at chess for the Best Player (for mentoring other students) and mission accomplished for Video Boy as he got the Highest Score medal!

In other results, we have our 2012 NAPLAN back - I'm very proud of both my kids, and as our AP said - "you can't argue with those results!". The kids both scored at the very top in Reading, Grammar/Punctuation and Numeracy, a little under the top with Spelling and whilst Wombat Girl scored in the second top Band for Writing, Video Boy is treading water with no real improvement in his Writing. Such is the struggle for the ADHD student trying to conquer executive functioning. We shall persist! But really proud of both them, for even giving the dreaded things a go.

Well done Wombat Girl! (who is really only in Yr 6 and so has done especially well)

And well done Video Boy! (who has the added hassle of ADHD/executive functioning
 issues and did this with no special provisions, except a nice quiet room)

And we also have all our other ICAS exam results!!
  • English - both got Distinctions (84th percentile)
  • Spelling - both got Credits (VB 65% and WG 75%)
  • Writing - Wombat Girl got a credit (77%) in her first attempt at this one
  • Mathematics - VB got a Credit (84%) and WG got a Distinction (93%)
We chose to do those external/standardised testing - not everyone feels the same way or wants to. Fair enough. But given that we did, I think we can hold our heads up high and say HOME SCHOOLING ROCKS BABY!!!

Embroidery Project - Blue Butterfly

I downloaded this pattern as a PDF from Hoop Embroidery Co on Esty as my first attempt at the technique known as "thread painting"...