Monday, September 29, 2014

A Classic Term

I have come to realise that there is far too much that I want my children to learn, and that I simply do not have enough time to do it all. The same goes with classic books. I would love to read them all with them but in order to do so we would never have any other time for any of our other subjects.

Also if I am completely honest, I feel that just because a book is termed a classic, it doesn't automatically mean that it is a good, or easy or even an enjoyable read so I made the decision to read some abridged versions. That way we could get through more books in a quicker time and if the girls really enjoyed them then we can read the full version or they can in their own time and if they didn't then well at least they had the general gist of it.  So we have been reading the Classic Starts books. They are a little young for The Fashionista and even Agent Smelly really but we can get by with them.

We read one chapter each day (unless it's huge) and complete a wee lap book with each book; and I couldn't believe my luck when I found on Pinterest that Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler has been using the same book series and produced lap books we could use. Yeah what a time saver. When we finish reading the book we then watch related movies or mini series (OH boy have we found some stinkers doing this, but we enjoy picking it to pieces!) and sometimes we make a craft, an activity or meal to accompany the book. It's been taking us a week or two to complete each book and the work with it.

En garde ... All for one and one for all.
They made their swords from scratch!
We read in 10 weeks:-

  • Dr DOLITTLE - Neither enjoyed it much; I was a bit surprised, I thought they might. Haven't been able to find the movie yet.
  • KING ARTHUR - They LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this so much we have read many more versions and watched a couple of different movie and mini series too.
  • ROBIN HOOD - Unsurprisingly after King Arthur they LOVED this too. We have since read the full version. I even managed to find a copy of the Errol Flynn version of the movie ... and now they love it as much as I always have.
  • THE SECRET GARDEN - They enjoyed this, despite no sword fighting.
  • JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH - We all quite enjoyed this book. Sadly the movie versions are often very loosely based on the book so whilst most are enjoyable (btw if you come across a version with Bryan Brown avoid it!) they have left us a bit disappointed.
  • THE THREE MUSKETEERS - Again a firm favourite. They love the characters in this book and this is another we are reading the full version of.
  • CALL OF THE WILD - We finished this book at the end of term and when I finished reading (I struggled with the last bit with a rather wobbly voice) I looked up to find my two girls with tears streaming down their faces, which then turned into full blown sobs. So guess who joined in. The Papa then walked in from work found us all walking around wiping our tears and passing each other tissues, etc and wondered what had happened.  I had to explain it was all over the book. He just raised his eyebrows, shook his head and went on his way ... hahaha.  We girls now have a good laugh over it but was told not read any sad animal books like that again.

When we finished Robin Hood I surprised the girls with a couple of $2 shop plastic bows and arrows and drew a target on our whiteboard and placed it up the end of the hallway for them to shoot at. They had quite a bit of fun and still pull them out to play with.
The little horrors turned on me and found it funny. I had to high tail it out of there!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Beginning with Buddhism

This term we started looking at and learning about different faiths. We are using QED's World of Faiths series.

The girls chose to start with the book on Buddhism. These books are written by a specialist in the faith and aimed at children. They are simple to read and explain the faith in an easy simplistic manner without coming across at all preachy. We covered The Eightfold Path (or Middle Way), the Five Precepts (a guide for living which I think everyone should have on their wall to remind themselves of how to behave!), discussed the different types of Buddhism, read about some rituals, festivals, important figures, holy places and art and symbolism. It was all very interesting. They even inlcude some activities that you can do if you wish to and of course we wished to!

Tibetan Prayer Flag

One of the activities in the book was to make a Tibetan Prayer Flag. We had a GirlGuide afternoon tea fundraiser coming up that week where we were raising money towards a new cancer treatment for one of our GirlGuide mums, (whose breast cancer metastasized). We had already made some banners at Guides for the event so my girls made a banner not unlike the prayer flag to hang at the event also.

The different colours of the flag represent natural elements: yellow (earth), green (water), red (fire), white (cloud) and blue (sky).

A Meditation Experiment
Buddhists believe that unhelpful emotions such as anger, hatred and greed make the mind cloudy. The more cloudy our minds become, the more problems we encounter. We did this experiment to get a better understanding of the "clearing of the mind".

1. Put a spoonful of soil into a jar of water and stir. The water becomes cloudy.

2. Check your water mixture. Does the water become clear again?

3. Eventually, the soil settles and the water becomes clearer.  In meditation, our emotions settle and our minds become clearer.

Lastly the girls made up a poster to pop on the wall. I didn't want them spending too much time on this so suggested they photocopy some of the info from the books. The Fashionista was aghast as she of course wanted to make it all pretty and use lots of different coloured pens. So I suggested chalking over the white paper which sort of satisfied her.

Next up is the Jewish faith and they are quite keen to learn about this as some of their friends are Jewish and they wish to understand it more.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Tweens first Daffodil Day

Cancer is something that has effected my family quite personally.
My Aunt Deb, a really close friend and sort of my idol (she was only 6 years older than me) died from cancer when she was just 32 years old, leaving behind a four year old son. Later two of my nephews who were only pre-schoolers, lost their mother Julie suddenly from it (within 4 days of diagnosis!), whilst she was only in her 20's. Two deaths of two very young mums taken by this really awful disease.  The Papa's own father died from cancer also, but it was before I ever met him.
For this reason every year I volunteer to sit on the local stall on Daffodil Day to collect money (sell pens, raffle tickets, etc) to help raise money and awareness.
For any international readers who don't know what Daffodil Day is, it is the Cancer Society's annual flagship event and one of the most important fundraising and awareness campaigns in New Zealand. As well as providing an opportunity to raise awareness of cancer in New Zealand, it's a major funding source for the Cancer Society.
The daffodil is one of the first flowers of spring, whose bright yellow blooms remind us of the joys the new season will bring. It represents the hope there is for the 1 in 3 New Zealanders affected by cancer.
This year I felt The Fashionista was old enough to sit on the stall with me and so I asked her if she'd like to volunteer with me. Of course she said YES!  Agent Smelly, never one to be left out of anything, decided that she'd like to come along also. So here are my sweet girls working their first Daffodil Day.

Here they are sitting outside our local dairy (milk bar, corner store, etc) at the table. Yes I was a proud Mama sitting nearby!
Aren't their hats cute? Usually I get stuck wearing one, so kind of glad with them both working I didn't have to wear it this year!
I love that both my girls understand how easy it is to donate a bit of time to worthy causes and am hoping that it is something they continue to do throughout their lives.
Pin It