Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Finishing UFOs

During art this week, The Fashionista went to work on completing her very first hand sewn teddy bear. There's a bit of work still to go but she has finished attaching, stuffing and sewing up the legs. The arms are also attached and there is now only the head to go. I have been helping with the pins used to secure the limbs as they are a little hard to twist. When I first started hand sewing bears I used to get the Papa to twist the pins for me.

Agent Smelly chose to sew a bow onto one of her teddy's ears (that's teddy in the pic and you can just see a glimpse of the bow on her right ear which matches her dress) and then she sewed some Guiding patches that she recently earned onto her sash.

Both the girls said they are really enjoying our Fridays and I had to suggest they take a break a couple of times as they got so into what they were doing.

I confess I sat at the end of the table updating the blog rather than completing any of my own UFOs ... Naughty Mama.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Harry Potter Learning Activities

This week for Harry Potter, we read another chapter of the book, filled in the questionnaire that related to the chapter we'd read and also did some .

In one of the earlier chapters one of the things on Harry's school book / uniform list was that they may bring either an owl, cat or toad with them to Hogwarts, so I had the girls write a paragraph for me on which they'd choose and why? The Fashionista thought an owl would be good to poop on any enemies (this is what you get when you homeschool I suspect, trying to make their mama laugh!), Agent Smelly included the following poem in her answer.

The Moonlight Owl
My postie was my owl,
it delivered late at night,
that's why I called it the Moonlight owl
but it had a bad habit to bite.

Their Family of Owls
Both girls chose owls (I suspect because of Harry's own beautiful owl) so when we did art later in the week I had them make clay owls. Our clay wasn't very good as it kept breaking up but they still came out kind of cute. TF made one big one and AS made a wee family.

For living maths I wrote up some random maths questions based on the wizarding currency, galleons, sickles and knuts (IE one galleon = 17 sickles) and on some of the things mentioned in the book. Did you know unicorn horns are 21 galleons each ... seems rather pricey to me but these ones are apparently silver so maybe that's not a bad price.  The "chocolate" gold coin was an incentive for them ... nothing like a little bribery to have them finish quickly so they could eat their galleon.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Camping Out

My girls love, love, love camping. No idea why ... they do not get it from me that's for sure! Last Friday night they asked me what the weather was going to be like that night and when I said, it looked fine, they asked if they could spend the night in their tent outside.

As there's basically no work involved for me these days as they are quite competent at putting it all up themselves, I agreed to it. They do make me laugh as they basically set the tent up outside our bedroom / deck door. Apparently that's in case they need the toilet in the night they can just come through and use our en suite ... yeah right!

Even though they hadn't asked, the next morning, I pulled out their camp burners and some bacon and eggs and took it out to them to make their own breakfast. They were very surprised and absolutely over the moon and offered to make breakfast for all of us, which I gratefully agreed to.

Note The Fashionista's face, that was caused by the smoke coming from the burning bacon! The camp frying pans are very thin and they will need some practice getting used to using them. They also aren't used to cooking over a flame as we have an electric stove but it's all good fun and a good learning experience. What you can't see here is that once they had cooked the scrambled eggs (which has started out as being fried ... oops) a rain shower came down so we had to eat inside. Our plates had burnt bacon, scrambled egg with bits of burnt black stuff through it all served on a slippery wet camp plate with damp toast ... oh yum, such a veritable feast. 

They made no mistakes with the tea and their hot chocolate though. I do confess drinking tea from a camp cup whilst sitting out on the deck, watching your kids destroy breakfast, is kind of fun.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Christmas Block Countdown

How onto are we ... it's October and we have already completed our first Christmas craft. OK because I am so honest I will confess we started these not last year but the year before and simply ran out of time to finish them. I packed them away and only found them over the school break. 

Now I have scheduled (yes I am a scheduler ... I tried going freestyle and it was awful but that's for a whole other blog post) Fridays as our creative day. We spend the day doing a shared reading, poetry, music, arts and crafts. Because we have a few UFOs (unfinished objects) laying about I have decided that these must be finished first before we tackle any further big art projects. This Mama is as bad as the kids and it's really not a good habit to get into, so I am endeavouring to either finish it or get rid of it for someone else to enjoy doing.  

Now for this project we ...

1. First up cut some wood. We cut two small cubes from a 4" x 4" and then a third piece that was just a little bit longer than the two small pieces of block.

They grow up so fast.
2. Sand the pieces so there are no rough sides.

3. We painted the blocks in an acrylic paint. We used some enamel house paint for the white and purchased a small tin of tester paint for the green and red. You could simply varnish them or even decoupage them if you wanted to.

4. The girls chose a Santa picture / clip art (The Fashionista wanted modern and Agent Smelly old fashioned) and I printed off their labels (a bit smaller than the side of the largest block) on the PC and then simply laminated them. You could use stencil, stickers, or even hand paint them. I hot glued their labels onto one side of their largest blocks.

5. They then painted the numbers onto the blocks. You could use a stencil (the girls used me to sketch them on for them), or even foam numbers or stickers.
      - One block needs to have the numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5
         and block two need to have 0, 1, 2, 6 (which also serves as 9), 7 and 8.

Sadly the girls are already using their blocks to count down the days to Christmas, which is causing me heart palpitations ... who knew Christmas was so close!!!!
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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Swimming Lessons

One of the few stipulations that The Papa had about homeschooling that the girls be taught to swim well. He himself is not a strong swimmer and it is something he feels strongly about because we have a bach (holiday house) down at a seaside village.

I was finally able to organise swimming lessons for homeschoolers in the area, this year at a nearby swim centre. I have been trying to talk the centre into it for years but was finally able to negotiate some good rates this year. We meet once a week and have 30 minute lessons. As there are only two teachers available (it's a rural swim centre so can be a bit quiet) we have lessons there for about 1 1/2 hours (there have been five or six groups each term) but all end up there longer whilst the kids have a play before, between, and after their lessons. There are about 24 kids having lessons so it's kind of cool to see so many homeschool kids mucking about in the water together.

The Fashionista, who is in her final level for lessons passed her speed trial this week (she swims faster than me now!), which I think means she graduates from the lessons. She had to swim four laps of the "big" pool (there are three there) under 2 mins 30 secs. She'll continue to come next term as Agent Smelly still has 3 more levels to finish, but will simply do laps with a couple of the other kids who have completed their levels. I am very happy as it means saving some money next term on lessons ... hehehe

What I like about swimming lessons is that not only do they learn to swim but their teacher really puts them through their paces and has them working hard so it really gives them a work out.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Agent Smelly in the Kitchen

Agent Smelly hasn't spent as much time in the kitchen as her older sister and it's because of this that I think her fractions are not so great. She doesn't always recognise what 1/4, etc is. She can match the correct cup to measure out the flour, etc but she doesn't pronounce or read them correctly. I just assumed she knew them but we hadn't actually gotten to the fraction book of her maths program til recently. Her sister basically flew through her fractions book quite confidently and often didn't even need to be explained how to work things out in the first place and I am quite sure that is from spending so much time baking whenever she could.

Don't you love our cookbook, i.e. the lap top!

Agent Smelly is more of an outdoors girl but recently has become more confident in getting in the kitchen and making things. She spent a couple of days over the school break following some recipes and reading out the measurements to me (just so I knew she knew how to say them), then one morning I wrote up all kinds of fractions on the whiteboard and we went through them all and by the end of our two week break she seems to have a very good understanding of what is what now.

I am sure using math books it would have taken her a lot longer to get the hang of it, mostly because it wasn't interesting, not because she struggles in math - quite the opposite. The other bonus is that she makes the most beautiful crepes now!


Friday, October 18, 2013

Kids and emailing ...

Both my girls have their own email accounts. They have had then since they were babies. That way their grandparents, family etc overseas can always send them a birthday, Christmas message, etc. and I could show them, cause they were of course to young to use it themselves.

Just in the last couple of years they have started to use their accounts as they've now gotten friends that they have made that don't live nearby (I have heard them swap emails with a Canadian girl they met whilst we were up North on holidays), or may have shifted, etc.

Agent Smelly often swaps email addresses with her friends and they write back and forth often. Mostly they are just simply a single sentence back and forth with the occasional report on a trip one of the kids has been on. It's quite good for her typing, grammar, spelling, etc. and she just loves it. Agent Smelly also has her little poetry club going on. She writes the most funny little poems, almost limericks and sends them out to people.

The Fashionista doesn't have as many friends that email and has been complaining that no-one ever writes to her. Co-incidentally even though they live in the same house, the girls email each other along with me on occasion! So recently I obtained some new "email" pen pals for her. Just children she corresponds with via email, no snail mail, although I have suggested she may want to post a Christmas or birthday card to them. She has two in the United States and one in Queensland, Australia. She is having the most awesome time writing back and forth to them.

Now my girls do not spend all day on the computer emailing friends and family (otherwise we'd never see Agent Smelly again who loves the PC), they earn 30 minutes technology allowances (PC, apps, wii, etc) for doing well with their school work, helping around the house and such. They are also aware that they may only have their email accounts if I know the password as I do check their accounts every now and then (I know a violation of privacy and all that but I really can't stress how safety conscious we all need to be with children and the Internet!) to make sure nothing untoward or inappropriate is going on. Kids can say the wildest stuff after all.

I am pleased to say that so far I have found nothing to worry about, although many times their correspondence makes me laugh. This is the latest comment, to make me chortle, in an email to one of their Aunties in Australia, written the last day of school holidays by The Fashionista, who is in no way dramatic of course ... "Tomorrow I'll wake up in the depths of despair because I'll have to do school work."  Seriously girl ... the depths of despair???? 

Well I best be off, to set up for another "despairing day of homeschooling" ... ;)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Math Riddles

I read this riddle on Highhill Homeschool latest blog posting Multiplying Fractions and thought it seemed like fun, so I called my girls over and had them each, using a pen and paper, work it out. Surprisingly, my youngest (and that's because she hasn't really worked on fractions yet) worked out the answer before her older sister (who has).

One time a mom made a pie for her four children. The first child came to her and asked for some pie. The mom said "you can have 1/4 of the pie." Then the second child came to her and asked for some pie. The mom said "of course, you can have 1/3 of the pie." Then the third child came to ask for some pie. The mom said "yes, you can have 1/2 of the pie." When the last child asked for some pie the mom said "you can have it all." Who got the most pie?

Answer: They all got the same amount.

They enjoyed it so much that they asked for me so I searched and found some more Math Riddles for them to do.

No. 1  --  Two fathers and two sons sat down to eat eggs for breakfast. They ate exactly three eggs, each person had an egg. The riddle is for you to explain how.

Answer: One of the 'fathers' is also a grandfather. Therefore the other father is both a son and a father to the grandson. In other words, the one father is both a son and a father.

No. 2  --  How can you add eight 8's to get the number 1,000? (only use addition)
Answer: 8 + 8 + 8 + 88 + 888 = 1,000
No. 3  --  If there are 4 apples and you take away 3, how many do you have?
Answer: You took 3 apples, so obviously you have 3.

They just loved doing these so much so that I have been asked to find more riddles to give them.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Night at the Theatre


This week the girls and I had the pleasure of going into the beautiful Civic Theatre in Auckland to see the theatre production of Wicked.

I didn't actually know much about the story, I just knew it was linked with The Wizard of OZ and I like to take the girls to the theatre at least once a year so off we went with some new and very lovely homeschooling friends and our local college drama class. Being in New Zealand, frankly we don't get a lot of Theatre shows so you sort of grab them when you can.

I have got to say I was SO not disappointed, in fact I would have to say it was one of the best productions I have seen in years. Yes even better than the Thomas the Tank one I took the girls to when they were younger. ;)  Both my daughters loved it (despite it being a bit loud for The Fashionista a couple of times).

The story in this show is amazing and has a very good moral. I don't want to spoil it for anyone but it is basically about how the Elphaba (the wicked witch) in the movie ended up wicked (or was she really?). Jemma Rix, who played the "wicked witch" simply had the most beautiful voice and had me spellbound each time she came on stage. Maggie Kirkpatrick (remember her as Joan the nasty prison officer from Prisoner?) played Madam Morrible and was just magnificent, she just commanded the stage and Suzie Mathers as Glinda (in NZ) was just adorable and very funny in her role.

Agent Smelly endeavouring to look "Wicked".

Funny little story about the word "Wicked". My ma-in-law years back used to prepare dinner and look after a couple of young boys after school at their house until their professional parents arrived home from work. She used to help them with their homework also and one of the questions the older boy once had, was to use one word to describe your father. Well the young boy in question wrote "Wicked", as in awesome. Well my dear ma-in-law, who was in her 70's only knew that the word wicked meant evil so was horrified and was gently trying to get him to change it. It apparently took a while before she understood he was actually saying his dad was awsome and not evil. She still laughs about it today.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How is Temperature controlled in Spacecraft?

For today's chemistry experiment the children used polystyrene to investigate how good it is at shielding materials from outside heat.

Great photography skills there by the Mama ... ;)

They took some polystyrene and cut a whole in it big enough to take an ice cube. They also cut a piece to work as a lid to close the ice cube inside.

They then noted the time they place an ice cube inside their polystyrene pack and another in a glass nearby.

They then had to keep checking to see how long the ice cube in the open took to melt in comparison to the one in the polystyrene and recorded the details.

There was a moment of much hilarity when Scruffie decided to drink part of the melted experiment and then proceeded to lick the ice cube til we stopped him.

The girls were totally astonished to find the ice cube in the polystyrene still not fully melted the very next day. It took around 24 hours for it to melt!

We then looked into polystyrene's properties and why it is such a good insulator. Also the impact it is having on the environment.

I love that these days I can hand the girls an experiment and after discussing it with them to make sure they have things in control, I can walk away and leave them to it. I find without my assistance their records are actually more detailed and better kept. They take much more ownership of things and thankfully they do make sure that the jobs are shared between them.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A funeral and a wake ...

The girls are visiting Grannie J and I just rang to see how it's going and to confirm when it would be convenient to pick them up.

I was surprised to learn that I'd just interupted a wake. The three of them were happily indulging in biscuits, cake and cups of tea. Of course this wake was news to me and I had to ask for whom it was being held ... apparently they had just held a funeral outside for a praying mantis that they'd caught this morning.

They all said a few words and buried him (apparently they had decided it was a boy) in the garden.

Grannie quite happily participates in all their imaginative "games" fully. I hope the neighbours weren't listening over the fence ... goodness knows what they would have heard!

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