Sunday, November 25, 2007


This is what I found when I went to go to bed one night recently. They were so fast asleep that the flash of the first photo didn't wake them and I was able to take a second photo. They like to set up camp in Geoff's and my room sometimes.

Friday, November 16, 2007


It has been some weeks now since we instigated the idea that rather than working on every subject every week, Josiah and Tessa could do concentrated stints on subjects if they preferred. This is going well: it is allowing the children to really get their teeth into a subject. They've both put time into science work; history has been another focus, and of course, the Lego stop motion movie.

I've begun to be conscious that there's not much maths going on and that Tessa and I have stalled completely in our progress through the drawing lessons in Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes. I have caught myself suggesting activities in these subjects with what is probably a prejudicial frequency. I think it would be helpful to me to review, say at the middle and end of each term, what work the children have done in each subject, mainly so that I don't get tempted to push neglected subjects on a day to day basis but can wait till the children show signs of coming to the end of a stint on one subject then look at my most recent review to identify which subjects have missed out a bit and pull out some activities in those to remind the children of their wider options.

The following is a brief review of Josiah and Tessa's recent work. I actually wrote the first draft of this a couple of weeks ago but didn't get around to finishing it till now because of being on jury service last week. I have put the subjects together in groups that make sense to me.

Maths, Geometry

Not a lot has happened in this area ... until this week: Tessa has wanted to do geometry activities every day this week! She is hooked again. She also did a negative numbers activity a week or so ago. Oh! and Josiah has been doing all sorts of statistical analysis of the Weetbix All Black Stat Attack cards - calculating averages of the various figures in order to determine which players are best on defence, which on attack. I am still finding sheets of graph paper all over the house filled with columns of numbers. Update: Tessa asked today to learn about algebra (the geometry activities she's been doing have involved some algebra). Will have to hunt out the activities I used to introduce Josiah to algebra.

I have put a multiplication chart in the car so that the children can get practice at their times tables by quizzing me and each other. Fun so far.

Language, Latin, Foreign languages

Inspired by the visit of our German friends last winter, Tessa has expressed an interest in taking up German again. Unfortunately, with the end of the year in sight and so much else going on, it doesn't seem feasible right now. I will look into German materials for next year.

Latin is going well. The kids decided they wanted to do one lesson a week, on Fridays. Coming up with English words derived from given Latin words is fun. I'm surprised how well we are all memorising the Latin vocab - I think it's because of the emphasis on English derivations - they help us create an association between the Latin word and it's meaning. I am keeping our Latin student workbook in the car so that we can quiz each other on our Latin vocab while we are travelling around town. At home, it's a bit boring to practise vocab but in the car it is nice to have anything to do.

Not much other language work has happened except for real life work: Josiah's climbing diary, Tessa's letter writing, Christmas cards.

History, Geography

We continue to enjoy reading through Kingfisher's History Encyclopedia. After reading each double page spread, we each choose something to record on our timeline. We are currently at the early Middle Ages. I've begun reading aloud The Once and Future King by TH White - the story of King Arthur. The children tell me they have previously read a library book about King Arthur, and have also read about him in Horrible Histories.

Somewhere recently (The Well-Trained Mind?) I read a reference to a book on how coats of arms were designed in the Middle Ages - the idea being that after reading the book, children could design their own coats of arms. Sounds like fun.


Reading about cladistics.

Exploring plants, through the information and activities in How Nature Works by David Burnie.

Art, Music

Reading just occasionally The Bible with Paintings which is a collection of paintings of Bible scenes by famous artists, with the relevant excerpts from the Bible.

Tessa's guitar lessons continue; I like listening to her play.

Logic, Politics, Behaviour, Morals, Christianity

Lots of discussion around the recent local body elections.

After purchasing Critical Thinking by Anita Harnadek, I haven't found time to introduce it yet. Too busy just now. Basically the book is a collection of provocative discussion starters. Maybe we will get into these over the summer.

Health, Exercise, Climbing

I had a chat a couple of days ago with Tessa, who is thinking she may write a "Christmas letter" this year. (I write a Christmas letter to distant friends and relatives some years.) When we brainstormed ideas she could write about, I asked her what she likes doing. She replied, "Climbing ... climbing ... climbing." It used to be that Josiah was the one obsessed with climbing but now there is nothing to pick between the pair of them! They are at the climbing wall four times a week, discussing climbing all the time, constantly learning. Josiah has been plagued recently with finger injuries which is reinforcing what we have read in climbing books about the importance of exercising the "antagonistic" muscles (arm, shoulder and back muscles not used in climbing). I need to help both children develop a habit of doing regular antagonistic exercises, especially reverse wrist curls.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

This week

This is turning out to be one of those weeks where life gets in the way of homeschooling, though really that is a contradiction in terms. It seemed most of Monday was taken up with housework - probably only a couple of hours in reality. Geoff and I usually do the housework at the weekend but we were out on Saturday at Karori Sanctuary's Spider Day, and on Sunday, bouldering, which is rock climbing to heights that are safe to climb to without ropes, at Baring Head.

Tuesday morning, Josiah had Technicraft class and Tessa tried to decide on her costume for the Saints and Angels Party on Wednesday night ("a positive alternative to Halloween"). Tuesday afternoon, the kids had a friend over. Wednesday, I didn't do much more than help Tessa create angel wings out of an old wedding veil; you can see our results in the photos. The Saints and Angels Party was fun, though so loud and frantic that I came home exhausted; Tessa ran around with friends, made a bead butterfly and got her face painted; Josiah, with others from his Boys Brigade company, helped run an abseiling activity; I chatted to the friend we went with.

Today, Thursday, was the homeschoolers library class, after which Josiah and Tessa collected a stack of Asterix books to take home and read - not a particularly educational way to spend the afternoon but that's the kind of week we're having. Tessa is going to a birthday party at the pool at the weekend so at some stage we will have to go shopping for a birthday present and, I think, new swimming togs for Tessa - her current pair was too small for her last time she wore them and I think she's grown even taller since then - she seems to be going through a growth spurt.