27 July 2015

Our Week Ahead ~ Monday 27th July 2015

We're looking forward to starting our, high school years, unit on Australia & New Zealand; and, as in previous years, we'll stay longer on this geographical area in history than any other we're reading about this year.  We've intentionally cut a whole heap of U.S and Asian history reading from Biblioplan so that we can focus on other portions of history that we want to immerse ourselves in more.
·       Family
History & Geography
The Story of New Zealand ~ Basset p.20-27 Explorers

1:  Read Alouds:
Thomas Paine: Crusader for Liberty ~ Marrin
2:  Book Basket:
·  New Zealand’s Christian Heritage ~ Stringer pg7-46
1:  Car (& craft time) time audio: 
Lecture 17.  Defoe—Crusoe and the Rise of Capitalism

·       Daisy
History & Geography
Australia and New Zealand Unit Study    our wks 21 -23 
1: Biblioplan Early Modern Times:
Ch:24  Australia and New Zealand 577-598, (601 Washington)        Mon to Fri                          

History, Literature, & Book Basket:
1: Book Basket Options:
The Scarlet Pimpernel ~ Orczy (1792) bk study
Choose 1:
The Seventh One ~ Elizabeth Yates
TheJourney Man, (& sequel:  Hue &Cry) ~ Yates
Star Rise ~ Lasky (super easy read)

2:  History Reading: 
A:  How They Lived: A Sailor with Captain Cook ~ Gibson (n/f)
6:  Audio’s for this month:
B:  1789’s The Mutiny on Board H.M.S Bounty ~ Bligh (illustrated) 
( We chose this seriously abridged edition  of The Mutiny on Board H.M.S Bounty, as Daisy didn't wanted to listen to, or read, through the unabridged edition; however, she did want a quick overview of this story.)

Other:  In her spare time, Daisy's working her way through a composers series on Khan Academy, and is currently listening to Dvorak’s works
We're hoping to get her restarted with music lesson this term - she's been taking a much needed music lessons sabbatical.

1:  GGtEML  21:Lesson 16:  Oliver Goldsmith (1728 – 1774)
   She Stoops to Conquer ~ Goldsmith (play 1773)
2: The Scarlet Pimpernel ~ Orczy (1792) Progeny Press Study wk 2 of 5 

·       Jay
History & Geography
Australia and New Zealand Unit Study    our wks 21 -23 
1: Biblioplan Early Modern Times:
Ch:24 Australia and New Zealand pgs 524-549    Mon to Fri                          
History, Literature, & Book Basket:
1: Book Basket:  
The Tale of Three Kings ~ Edwards 
Traitor: The Case of Benedict Arnold –Fritz    1777+    Jay's already read this (2 yrs ago apparently.... I'd misplaced that fact ;))

2:  History Reading: 
A:  1768  Young Nick’s Head ~ Hesse  (I'm not sure how Jay will go with this book, as none of our family are that keen on reading "diaries")

3:  Audio’s for this month:  

1:  Greenleaf Guide Yr 3 Lit (1550-1900)  ~ Shearer
Lesson 16:   Oliver Goldsmith (1728-74)
She Stoops to Conquer ~ Goldsmith (play)
8Typing.  start a blog         

Science   Cosmos for School  (Term 3 )    Mon, Tue
We're taking a delight led approach with this course, Jay is researching and reading through alternate theories/view points on some of the topics Cosmos for Schools cover in Term 3:
Vaccination: Science versus superstition
A Changing Climate: Cold adventures   

23 July 2015

Crafts & Critters ~ July 2015

A very sweet friend of mine offered to teach Jay, along with her son, how to bake bread.  Jay has never made bread before,  and this is what he came home with: from top left clockwise; a mini pizza, chilli and cheese plait, sweet cinnamon rolls, and pull-apart garlic rolls.
Baked by Jay
How impressive is that!!  They tasted good too :-)
Have to add here; my teen boy rather enjoys learning to cook, and bake, his favourite foods.  Jay currently enjoys making Cowboy Casserole and cafe styled BLATs ... he's keen to master scones, and lemon roast chicken next.

Another dear family friend got Daisy, and one of her best friends, Fleur, kick started on crocheting.
(I'm hoping that Fleur will allow us to share a picture of her beautiful blanket when she's finished it.)
Daisy has been working diligently and putting her newly learnt crochet skills to work, to craft a granny squares blanket.  It took her 2 months  to complete and the blanket is now on her bed.   Dn and I are so proud of the focus and effort she's put in to create this.  She's continuing to practise her crocheting skills, and is crafting some squares to make lap rugs.
Leroy gets in on the photo shoot.
Little Dorrit, with Petal & Pansy's backs showing
Daisy took this picture of Little Dorrit.  She is the progeny of Titus, who has been released back into the 'wild', and Pearle, who sadly we found dead in the bird coop one morning in June.
Natural science experiments don't always go as we plan; we had Pearle lined up to be our main breeding bird - she obviously had other ideas ☺
Dorrit is our noisest bird yet!  She sounds like a sea-gull using a megaphone!
LOUD :-)
And, she talks most of the day.
Meet 'Roo.  Our first lamb this year.
As we do not have a working farm dog, we had rather a job to catch 'Roo so we could dock her tail and check her hooves.  Hence the mud on Daisy's sleeve.
'Roo is a ewe lamb, and the result of our ongoing sheep breeding 'experiment'.  She's a Wiltshire / Dorper X
AbaRam is the Wiltshire stud,
and Clementine (one of the first lambs we hand raised) is the Dorper ewe.
We're waiting for the other Wiltshire ewes to starting lambing ♥

21 July 2015

Our Week Ahead ~ Weds 22 July 2015

This is a shorter schooling week for us, and our week ahead reflects that.  I'll just share the books we're still reading, or are about to start.
The children and I are enjoying the last 2 days of our term break; if anyone were to visit us, they'd see delight led cupboard sorting, and projects a-plenty happening.  The organised chaos that goes with decluttering and being creative can get rather interesting  :-)

·       Family
All:  Proverbs 10 onwards      Mon to Fri

History & Geography
1:  Read Alouds: 
Francis Asbury ~ Benge   1745-1816
Thomas Paine: Crusader for Liberty ~ Marrin
2:  Book Basket:
King Alfred’s English ~ White  continue
The New Oxford Book of Children’s Verse ~Philip

1:  Car (& craft time) time audio: 
The Great Courses: Classics of British Literature 
Lecture 17. Defoe—Crusoe and the Rise of Capitalism

·       Daisy

History & Geography
FMoMT M.Press: Kosciusko
FMoMT M.Press: Washington
1: Biblioplan Early Modern Times: our wk 20,  Ch:22 American Rev… War    Weds to Fri                            

History, Literature, & Book Basket:
1: Book Basket Options:
Do Hard Things ~ Harris (read with mum)
Sherwood Ring ~ Elizabeth Pope  (SL RA7)  (content issues.  This book needs discussing in our family)

2:  History Reading: 
A:  ITTC ~ Cowan:  Rousseau - Confessions 1781, 1788 

6:  Audios for this month:
B:  Delight led 

2: The Scarlet Pimpernel ~ Orczy (1792) Progeny Press Study wk 1 of 5
5:  Word Up! Greek and Latin Roots (Episode 5: Put Place Thurs, Fri

·       Jay

History & Geography
1: Biblioplan Early Modern Times: our wk 20,  Ch:22 American Rev… War    Weds to Fri                          
History, Literature, & Book Basket:
1: Book Basket:  
The Tale of Three Kings ~ Edwards 
1777  The Arrow Over the Door ~ Bruchac  RA SL7
Traitor: The Case of Benedict Arnold – Fritz    1777+
2:  History Reading: 
A:  ITTC ~ Cowan:  Rousseau- Confessions 1781, 1788 

3:  Audio’s for this month:  
B: George Whitefield ~ Dallimore Completed
CNicholas Nickleby ~ Dickens (dramatised)
D:  Tale of Oake Cake Crag ~ Wittig    (author writes about fairies, & uses anthropomorphism.... though a bonus is, the animals don't 'talk' to the people :)  And though Jay and I felt Wittig gets a little repetitive about details from previous books - really noticeable when you're listening to the books back to back - this is an interesting 'gentle' series surrounding an era in Beatrix Potter's life.)

1:  Greenleaf Guide Yr 3 Lit (1550-1900)  ~ Shearer
Lesson 15:   Phillis Wheatley (1753-84) Thomas Gray (1716-71)

20 July 2015

Books, Mostly ~ July 2015

Book sharing posts are some of my favourite ones by other bloggers to read, and also to write myself; just love books!!

The line-up for this month is pretty eclectic and a few are repeat reads, or listens, yet I'm enjoying it.
Winter is a good time for me to fresh and encourage myself with homeschooling 'talks' so I'll include those too.

Evidence Not Seen ~ Darlene Rose
I've been wanting to read this book about Darlene's testimony during WWII.  There is an audible option , but I felt in the frame of mind to read this one :)  I'm just about to start it.

Come Back, Ginger ~ Dorothy Butler (NZ Picture Book. OOP)
**This review is my own; and yes, others are welcome to use it  - so long as you include a link back to this post in your type up. 
Based on a incident which happen in Russell (or Kororareka), the far North of NZ,  in 1845.
The township of Russell was expecting an attack from the Maori and in the upheaval to get everyone evicted and onto the America warships heading for Auckland, Ginger, the Flowerday family's beloved cat, goes missing.
Young Catherine Flowerday, the central figure in the story, is distraught!  Fortunately, in the last minutes of hustle n bustle, Ginger turns up and makes it onto the longboat with a dead bird clasped firmly in his jaws.   The boats ship mate, also a taxidermist, helps to 'rescue' the bird from Ginger and creates a beautiful gift; a glass fronted box with the Putopu inside it. (Now extinct, the Putopu is a member of the rail family.)
The original case was donated to the Captain Cook Museum at Russell by Catherine's great-niece, Mrs. Elsie Wilkinson.

Lyn Kriegler has created some beautiful, historically accurate, illustrations to go with this story.  I really enjoy her artwork; she's illustrated others of Dorothy Butler's books, and the partnership seems to work very well!

Do Hard Things ~ Alex & Brett Harris (Repeat read.  Reading this aloud to Daisy)
This is one of my favourite books to recommend for parents with (teens) youth, to read with their children.  We find it to be an excellent book to discuss with youth - and, it has lots of scope for 'us' to be challenged as adults too.

Child of Divorce, Child of God ~ Kristine Steakley
 I wondered from the outset whether this was going to a drag-myself-through-it read.  Definitely NOT!  Kristine Steakley is a very gifted word smith; she had the ability to pull me in and kept me wanting to read on.  Okay.... I devoured it.  My copy now bears pink highlighting and personal footnotes.
  The content matter is one I care very deeply about - so many loved friends and family members are children of divorce.  The reading is not a fluffy good feelings read, the topics covered are gritty and honest, and personal; however, it is a hope filled, Christ centred, book for those that are looking for hope, help, and healing after divorce 'broke-up' their family.
I'm so thankful I added it to my shopping cart.

Laying Down the Rails: A Charlotte Mason Habits Handbook ~ Shafer (repeat read)
Force of Habit is one of my favourite Charlotte Mason 'lessons to mother' .  That lesson has helped me so much in my effort to create smooth and easy days in our home.
I've sipped read this book on and off over the years, and after listening to the audio, below, I decided I'd knuckle down and read the whole thing right through.

Laying Down the Rails ~ Sonya Shafer (download)
A good quick  introduction/overview of the book above.  If you don't have time to read the book, perhaps make time to listen to the audio.  Food for thought.  Be prepared, you may come away challenged :-)

When More is Less: A Call to Simplicity ~ Sonya Shafer (download)  
It's always interesting to hear a minimalists view point on less and simpler :-)
Again, some food for thought in here.
One of my go-to-favourites on simplifying our lives is Lorrie Flem's,  Just Say No!  audio

What is History? How & Why Should I Teach It? ~ Susan W. Bauer (download)
Susan's lecture was a real pause for reflection listen for me!
I came away with a better understanding of how - & why!! - I want to continue to teach history the way that we are, along with extra insight into the approaches that Susan Bauer writes history from (at various levels).

18 July 2015

Maths ~ Options We've Used from Age 6 into Highschool

I often get asked what we've used for maths with Jay and Daisy.  (We use this spelling of "maths" because we're British-based spellers :-) )
Though I've written a post focusing on the highschool maths options we're using,  I thought I'd back up and start from our primary school years.

My purpose, not only with maths, has always been to find the tools that met the need of each child, and as they both have such different strengths, and learning styles, we've tried to customise our choices to suit them personally.  I didn't expect, or require, Daisy to try and follow along in the maths path Jay and I were creating for him.

During the younger years of maths discovery we used many !!
hands on tools (puzzles, manipulatives,  games - lots of games.)
real life maths applications (cooking, shopping, measuring and cutting etc) ,
living math books,
and, maths Dvd's like Singapore Maths & Mathtacular (though we weren't fussed on #4 in that series!).

I'll list a few of the less obvious board games that we've enjoyed using over the years. Chess, Domino's, Battle Ships, Bingo, Matching cards,  Monopoly, and most dice involved games, are what I classify as obvious maths games :)
Younger Years Maths Exploration
Youngers & Middles
Create a Critter (science) (math)
Colorku Suduko (math)
Think it Through (Discovery Toys) (math/phonics)
Marbles & Marble Mat (math) (hand-eye coordination)
Perfection (math) (hand-eye coordination)
Dino Math
Aunty Pasta Fractions
Thinkfun (puzzle) Games

The NZ Investment Game

All Ages
Resort  (geog) (math)
Scotland Yard (math)
Getaway (geog) (math)
Connect Four Advanced
Some maths tools we've used over the years
We're still using
real life maths  (there is always so much happening herewith all the projects the children are doing or helping with)
and living maths literature in our highschooling years, though obviously at a much higher level.

Another higher schooling math application/option, that kiwimum recommended we try - excellent suggestion - was to focus on just doing the maths portions inside Apologia's Chemistry texts.  Jay is happy to use a science text this way, as a maths tool;  yet, he remains science text, with experiments, resistant.

With 'formal' maths curriculum we've taken a slightly different route to most, here it is:

1: Singapore Maths (only up to book 3b),  &, Miquon
2: Making Math Meaningful, and, Life of Fred (and lots of discovery maths tools)
3: Teaching Textbooks 
(Used TT for  6 months; the program was a resounding flop for him!)
4: Art of Problem Solving 
(this series is excellent; but Jay found the writing style in the texts were too long winded for him.  He used to say he liked maths, but not that much ;) ) so we switched to....
5: Khan Academy & Life of Fred 
(he's completed all the LOF books we have. We don't have, nor will we be purchasing LoF Calculus... the story line is yuck!)  Khan & LoF were  a really good fit for Jay, yet once I ran out of LoF books for him to use Khan became a bit too 'random' for me to use as a stand alone maths tool for him, and Jay would get seriously distracted by other stuff on the site so we decided to move to...)
6: IXL      
During a year of sickness with one of our family I elected to switch him to something I didn’t have to “think” about monitoring so much.

(and IX, , along with maths literature and real life maths, is where he still is, and enjoying it.  He will refer to Khan for assistance, but doesn’t spend his maths time there.  He's reading through some of the LOF texts again as review, and for the fun factor.) 

Jay is only a year away from completing all the levels of math we are wanting him to go through; then we're not sure what he'll do - so many options! 
Real Life Maths:  One of the projects Jay has worked on.
1: Miquon and small amounts of Singapore Maths
(she needed extra visual and tactile, discovery type, tools.  So I incorporated Mathtacular Dvd’s, lots of maths games, Singapore Maths Dvd’s, Applied (real life) maths.  I entertained using Developmental Math with her, but after comparing curriculums, and praying, we then went with:
2: Making Math Meaningful    
One of Daisy's choice of Maths Manipulatives to use with MMM
She stopped a little before book 5 and we switched her to just using  Life of Fred and Khan Academy for instruction.  Daisy is not a maths intuitive student, as are some students,  she requires clear in depth instruction that obviously caters to her learning style; which includes an organised, systematic, teaching buddy along with discovery styled forms of instruction (visual/tactile.  ie: in the increasing levels in maths acumen using colouring in maths diagrams for things like percentages works really well too).  While she was using these 2 maths tools I was not able to be that teaching buddy/ maths topic co-ordinator, due to that year of sickness with one of our family members, so she asked to have a go on:
3: IXL   
She did okay with this but long term needed more visual instruction than IXL gives.   IXL is designed for practice, and does not give in depth instruction with a selection of examples.  I thought of adding in some Key To books, but she was keen to have an instructor ;) ). So we've moved  her to: 
4: CTC Math  
(US equivalent ofMathbuddy;  we’ll switch to MB once our CTC subscription expires.)  
CTC is an excellent fit for her as it comes with an instructor who uses visual diagrams, teaches thoroughly & clearly, and the instructor has an Australian accent; which is much more user friendly for us to listen to than some of the other overseas instructors we've previewed :D

Along with CTC Math, Daisy is also going through Life of Fred for review, not as her leading maths tool.
Practical, Real life Maths
Jay and Daisy both really enjoy maths based literature ;) and have devoured books like Murderous Maths (these are not!!! christian books & I recommend that the parents know the content of these books before handing them over to your students) , and any other books with maths tricks in.   These type of books helped their maths acumen so much.
If you are interested to read through other posts about our maths journey, click on the label Math to the right.

Teaching extras I've used to assist the children as we've gone along:
1:  Miquon Diary & the Miquon Yahoo Group
2:  Family Math ~ Stenmark
3:  Creative Homeschooling: A Resource Guide for Smart Families ~ Rivero
4:  Bill Handley's items (ie: Speed Mathematics etc..), mostly used these with Jay
5:  Khan Academy ;)
6:  Dr. Wright's Kitchen Table Math 
This is an excellent series for mums to increase their own skill base in "teaching" math .  I highly recommend this series of books.
7:  The Great Courses:  Math Courses, beneath. (Great as fast refresher courses for me)
DO wait until TCG is having one of their mega sales before purchasing!  The standard list prices are crazy!
Mastering the Fundamentals of Mathematics ~ Prof. Sellars
Algebra I, &, Algebra II (set) ~ Prof. Sellars
Secrets of Mental Math ~ Pro. Benjamin

15 July 2015

Sonlight Forums, and, Our Years with Sonlight Literature

We often get asked do we use Sonlight , or, are we still using Sonlight Curriculum, and do we use the Sonlight forums.
I'll chat about curriculum (literature) first, and the Sonlight Forums further down this post.
(And please note:  this is not a Sonlight bashing post ☺)

The answer to the first two questions is; sort of, and as we get further into our highschooling years it's becoming hardly at all.

Sonlight Curriculum?
In a nut shell; we've been reading through the literature choices Sonlight has selected out to use in their Cores since 2004: they've chosen some great books.
Lynn, in Australia, introduced us to Sonlight literature all those years ago and as we wanted to educate from a literature base, we've ended up going on to read a lot of Sonlight's literature selections alongside their pre-2012 booknotes. 
Sonlight, that way, used to work perfectly for us.  Just loved it
As the children have gotten older we starting moving away from even doing that.  (Daisy is still reading quite a few SL titles in 2015 -  Jay, not so many.)
Here are the books scheduled for this year that are from Sonlight's selection, and that I have a collection of separate booknotes for:

Out of Many Waters ~ Greene SL7
Master Cornhill ~ McGraw SL
Traitor -The Case of Benedict Arnold – Fritz
They Loved to Laugh ~ Worth (1830) Amos Fortune Freeman ~ Yates SL
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase ~ Aiken  SL5
Escape Across the Sea ~ Kirkpatrick SL7
Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison  ~ Lenski  SL100
Sherwood Ring ~ Pope SL7
The Ravenmaster’s Secret ~ Woodruff  SL7 (optional. repeat read)
 The Kidnapped Prince ~ Equiano SL
The Journeyman ~ Yates SL RA3
The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn ~ Hoobler SL7
1860  Sing Down the Moon ~ O’Dell  SL RA4
Jane Eyre  (SL200)
Other Sonlight titles we've selected out, but are not using SL booknotes with:
Lorna Doone ~ R.D. Blackmore  ex.SL
1850 The Scarlet Letter ~ Hawthorne (SL 400)
Great Expectations ~ Dickens
Levi Straus -The Blue Jeans Man ~ Van Steenwyk ex.SL
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde  (for Jay) SL200
Gulliver's Travels (SL 500)
A Tale of Two Cities (SL 500)

Sonlight's upper cores, and especially the post 2012 guides, don't tend to mesh well with where we are wanting to go in our history studies during high school;  World history over four years with a wider range of literature is what we're aiming for. 
I used to purchase the Instructor's Guides and any titles printed by Sonlight, along with Sonlight's Timeline Figures,  through their website.  We ignored SL's schedules and just pulled out their booknotes to use. Before I discovered Book Depository - we would buy many of the books, in bulk, through ebay and get them posted by the now obsolete M.bag.  ($25.00 USD for a huge sack of books).

Our days of purchasing anything through Sonlight seems to be over, for now, ... their Instructor's Guides changed in 2012 and that was the end of purchasing new cores for us.  My last IG purchase was for British Literature; I thought I was purchasing the pre-2012 version - I wasn't!  They'd all been sold - and ended up with the newer piecemealed version.  Sonlight's staff we're so helpful with ensuring we got the IG back to them as painlessly, for us, as they could.  Without any doubt, Sonlight do have the best customer service - only made possible by the top quality people they employ!

I digress .....  I really don't need, nor have ever wanted a Sonlight schedule to follow, not even in the first year of home educating.  I started out customising the schedules Janet and Amy had shared to go with Pre-K ... might sound teeth grinding to some of you, but I enjoy creating our own schedules.  It's become a home educating hobby :D
The customised schedule we type up each year co-ordinates many of the history, English and science items we are wanting each child to use separately, or those that we hope to enjoy together as a family.
My schedule is not my master, it's a guide for me to deviate from at any point I like.  And I do. There are no rules that say we have to do everything I've included in our schedule - items get side stepped or replaced as suits.  One year one of the children made a huge leap forward in their reading level - time to reinvent the schedule.

With the latest Sonlight Instructor Guides, the way the booknotes are now designed to be used has changed too; they are more like one of the earlier Sonlight schedules that had the booknotes shared on the back of each weeks schedule.
The booknotes are, once again, grouped together to be used piecemeal with each weeks schedule.  That change finished us off being able to pull the booknotes out separately and slide them into where ever we wanted to schedule a Sonlight book into be read. :(
We'd often have a selection of books from four different Sonlight Cores slotted into a single learning year for us. Imagine the post-it tabs needed to make that happen with the new IG's.

Time to switch gears and chat about the forums:
The Sonlight Forums have, 2014/2015, changed back to being free (ducking so I don't get egged by some of you ☺) and are much more open to the general public.  I wasn't  sure long term how that was going to affect my usage over there; and understandably, the reality appears to be that we're no longer Sonlight enough especially with the IG changes  - grin  We were diligent "Sonlight reinventors"  from the start but fitted into a small niche on the closed  forums
 -  so I don't feel I have much to contribute to those using the *new* Sonlight Cores that could be of help.  And as we're moving further on into our NZ based highschooling journey my approach to homeschooling is less and less Sonlight literature-centric.    I still pop on & off the forums occasionally, but mostly to answer private messages the sweet friends I've made, via the old SL forums, send me.
I think my favourite years on the forums were while we read through Core K, and then the last 2 years, 2013, &, 2014, on a customised World History chat.

Sonlight kindly allowed those of us that wanted to, to clear our personal posts before the forums went public.  I made good on that offer.
And, sadly, so did others that had some wonderful, eloquent, help filled posts there.
All gone.
Ah well. For some, change doesn't always feel like progress ;-)

The open forum / newer curriculum changes may be what others love; so, please, don't be put off by me!
The "open and newer" may be a custom made fit for you.

(I just wanted to post this here as quite a few of you, that read our blog, are on other groups with us,   and/or are on the Sonlight Forums, have been asking over the last wee while;  what, or where we are up to with Sonlight now - and where we've gone due to the 2014/2015 changes on the Sonlight Forums.)