Weekly Update – 9th April 2011

Well another week has come and gone. This week has seen us continue on our path of learning and exploring Aesops fables. As part of this we had to make ourselves headbands to depict three characters from the Tortoise and the Hare fable.

We then wore the headbands and the girls had to explore the story and possible alternative endings. We read multiple versions of this story written by various authors to understand different view points and perspectives as each story had the same underlying features, but each was also unique in how the story was told. This was a fun and exciting exercise. We talked about events and how different people see them differently and how even though multiple people can experience the same event they can have very different perspectives and viewpoints and recount very different experiences.

In following with this theme we have started reading a series of books called ‘My Side of the Story‘. They focus on an event in time and then present two sides to that one event. The first book we read was Escape from War. This book presents two perspectives from two very different children, Frank and Hannah, who are living through the events of the second world war. Their paths are interconnected, yet each has their own unique spin on the war and how it has affected them and their families, and therefore how they perceive it. The book is true to the difficulties faced by children in World War II and is very engaging and informative.

The second book we have read is called The Plague. It focuses on the bubonic plague as it embraces London in 1665. This story focuses on the lives of two children called Rachel and Robert. They two have interconnected lives, yet each has their own story to tell regarding the plague and how it affects their lives and families. This book is also based on facts about the bubonic plague and provides a very interesting account of what it could have been like to live in London during this frightening event.

Both of these book have provided Phinee with access to historical information, as well as two very different perspectives of the same major life changing event as seen through the eyes of children around her own age. This has helped to make the challenges they faced seem more real to her and opened up her knowledge of how far we, as a human race, have come since these early years. Discussions we have had have focused around topics such as medical improvements, health conditions, living conditions, a superior breed of humans, freedom of religion as well as needs of people and how they have changed (or haven’t) over time and so much more. We now can’t wait to read two other books in the series together – Salem Witch and  Trouble at the Mill.

Phinee has also been busy reading books of her own choosing. This week seen her enjoy the following books within the Roman Mysteries Series by Caroline Lawrence. They are books 3,4,5,6 & 7 and called The Pirates of Pompeii, The Assassins of Rome, The Dolphins of Laurentum, The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina and is now onto The Enemies of Jupiter. There are 17 books in this series, so she has a few more to go before she is finished.

On Monday we took a trip into Richmond. Richmond is a gorgeous town in Tasmania, full of history, fine dinning, shopping and many little art galleries, specialty shops and tourist attractions such as the Richmond Gaol and The Richmond Bridge. We had wanted to have a picnic in the gardens there, but the weather was not the best, so we just enjoyed a stroll around the town and a look at the local buildings. The girls share my passion for old and interesting architecture, so we had lots to look at.

During the week Phinee has written a long letter to one of her penpals Anneke in America and sent it through the post with a few postcards as well as a small gift for her. Now all she has to do is respond to her other penpals in Florida, Hawaii, Alaska and then she might be back on top of her letter writing! She has continued to explore her latest interest in Kings and Queens of England and Scotland. As part of her English work this week she had to envisage herself as being Queen Elizabeth I and write a letter to her father explaining what had occurred since his death. Phinee embraced this challenge and wrote a lovely long letter to King Henry VIII that was full of  facts, and feeling and was very engaging to read.

This week has seen Nik show more enthusiasm for sit down learning. She loves to do a lot of hands on activities, but getting her to actually sit and do her book work at times can be difficult. She is a real wriggler at times. She has however managed to complete all tasks as given which is all we can ask. Nik is yet to write another letter to her penpal in Florida, but she enjoys receiving letters so much, that I just need to remind her that to receive a letter, she has to actually write back to her friend and then I am sure she will finish her letter and post it this upcoming week

Wednesday seen us all enjoy a night out at the local pub for a meal. This is something we have done a few times since moving here. It is always nice to go out and enjoy some one elses cooking, and even more wonderful when you are supporting local businesses, especially when we have so few of them in town!

Other things the girls enjoyed this week include netball, dancing and bike riding. We walked around our town of Kempton (originally called Green Ponds) and took some pictures of the town. We enjoyed a morning in Claremont at the park while Tata’s car was getting serviced. We did some cooking, played hopscotch, completed our learning outside in nature and had a great week.

Here are some picture of our week in action, Enjoy!


Weekly Update – 2nd April 2011

Usually I write my weekly updates just for our family, and keep them with all the documentation I usually stow away for our monitoring visits. Sometimes we will reread them just for our own memory lane kind of activity, thus giving us an insight into how far we have come and what we have covered. However we have decided to share these – as often as we can – hopefully weekly with anyone who cares to read them.

This week has seen us extremely busy with our reading. Nik has enjoyed the progressive phonics books along with our nightly reading as we read together from the book Disneys Bedtime Stories. This book has fast become a nighttime favourite. Phinee has also enjoyed a good week of reading. It is always hard to try and keep up with not only the names, but number of books she has read in any one particular week. This week she has finished reading The complete collection of the Brothers Grimm’s Fairytales and The Roman Mysteries book 1 -The Thieves of Ostia, however I know that she has read a number of books that I have not written down, which is something I should have done. Note to self for next week – write the names of the books down for future reference!

Finally we finished reading our family read aloud book Elizabeth by Katheryn Lasky. This was a very good read and left us wanting to read more. The discussions that occurred through the reading of this book were also very interesting. We discussed the fact that Elizabeth only had one stable person in her young life, which was that of her nanny. The fact that she was never meant to be a queen and what that meant for her in life, as well as how it affected the way her father approached her and her upbringing. We also discussed her relationship with her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, and how the beheading of her Mother, Anne Boleyn, affected her throughout life, even though she was very young at the time her mother was beheaded Elizabeth was greatly affected by her mothers passing.

Phinee can name the order of Henry VIII’s wives, she also can explain the differences between his three children, who are all half siblings, and who their mother’s where. She has learnt the order of the demise of Henry VIII’s wives also….

Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived!

We are now looking for our next book to read together. Not sure which book that might be…. but we will choose from the following books. I have a sneaking suspicion that as we are studying the Kings and Queens of England and Scotland in depth the winner will be ‘Henry VIII  Wives‘, but you never know!


Other things we have been up to this week include a lot of cooking. The girls enjoy this kind of activity very much. We have tried a few new recipes as well as some tried and true old favourites. They included choc chip cookies, scouse, rum balls, bean and tomato soup and kotletti. I had taken some photos of the girls cooking, but the memory card in my camera decided to become faulty, so I have lost them. Thankfully I have managed to order a new card and hopefully it will arrive on our doorstep on Monday, so we don’t miss out on photo opportunities too much in the near future.

This past week has also seen Phinee get back into the swing of Netball, which started a few weeks ago. She is playing well and keeping on top of the other players she comes up against. So far they have played four games and won two out of four. Nik on the other hand has started dancing up again. She first started dancing a few years ago, but with us moving and different things happening in our lives, it just never stuck. Anyway, Nik has now started her dancing again, which she is very excited about. So we went and purchased her some new pink leather dancing shoes and also some tan Bloch tap shoes. She has her own black leotard and top. The dance schools colours are deep purple and black, so I am hoping to eventually find her a purple top or leotard to mix and match her black dancing clothes.

We have started reading and looking at Aesop’s fables. This came about while reading ‘Elizabeth’ as it talks about her reading Aesop’s Fables and actually translating them from Latin into English. We however have just started reading them and trying to take a deeper understanding of certain one’s. I purchased the following book – Literature Pockets, Aesop’s Fables and we have been using part of it along with our own study pages to explore Aesop’s fables and all they have to offer. The girls are enjoying this, especially Nik.

Nik has been working hard in her Spelling Rules A and Comprehension Checkpoints workbooks. The more she uses them the more she enjoys them and feels a sense of achievement. Nik is also using the Targeting Handwriting Book 1. We have found these textbooks to be great for our homeschooling needs. Nik loves the fact she has her own books, that are similar to Phinee’s and that she can do the ‘same’ book at the same time as her bigger sister. Phinee is however using the Spelling Rules D book as well as Targeting Handwriting 5 and Comprehension Checkpoints 5. Other books Phinee utilises are Mighty Mentals and Signpost Math 5.

Here is what some of these books look like –

Targeting Handwriting: Year 1 Student Book
Mighty Mentals: Bk. C
New Signpost Maths for Victoria: Student Book 5 (Signpost Maths)
Targeting Handwriting: Year 5
Spelling Rules!: Makes Spelling Stick: Bk. A: Student (Spelling Rules! S.)
Spelling Rules!: Bk. D: Student (Spelling Rules! S.)

I am sure there is a million more wonderful things we have been up to this week, but for now I shall wind up the weekly wrap up and if anything comes to mind I shall put it in a separate post!

Enjoy your upcoming week, as we definitely will!


Working well together

Well today the girls were working well together. We have struggled at times to have the girls working independently on their own stuff within the same space. Mainly because NIK likes to talk her way through her work and JAHG likes it to be quiet. Today was a great day though as NIK concentrated on her cutting and pasting skills while JAHG busily went about her English and Maths work. Lets hope we get more great days in the near future!

NIK busy working

NIK busy working

JAHG busy Working

JAHG busy Working

Mathletics has re appeared in our weekly learning!

Well I am happy to say that the use of Mathletics seems to be re appearing in our weekly learning. Yesterday JAHG and I created a new learning grid, which is designed to document all the required things she is to complete in a seven day cycle. It does not have time frames, or even set work for each day, instead it has 50 boxes with a single topic written in each. The idea is that JAHG can choose which activity to do and once she completes it she can colour in the box. The only requirement is that in seven days time everything has to be completed – or it will become carried over into the next weeks learning grid, on top of the usual activities.

If JAHG manages to complete the work in good time, then she will have more time to herself before she must start on the next weeks learning grid. The page is designed to have a fortnights work on it, split into weekly sections. This means JAHG also has the choice to move on over to the next weeks work if she wants so that she has more control over when and where the work is completed.

I must add that since JAHG received her learning grid yesterday the manner in which she has approached her work is great. She is always one to happily do what needs to be done, but the idea of being able to colour in the boxes and therefore see her achievements in chunks of an area on the grid, is enthusiastically pushing her forward to complete the tasks in record time.

Some of the tasks added are simple living skills and chores, like washing, set table and clean up. While others are more learning activities like, spelladrome, mathletics, writing, science, maths, spelling, English, research  and specific work books.

So through the introduction of our Learning Grid we have seen JAHG reintroduce learning tools such as Spelladrome and mathletics again into her daily life, which up until now have been more of a chore than a pleasure to participate in.

Home Educational Resources – Spelling Rules Textbooks!

For Spelling we are using a series of Textbooks called Spelling Rules with our Children.

This is a great series, that has each book set up with a unit of work designed to be completed each week. The book contains 35 units in all. Each unit comprises of a series of activities based around a set spelling list. We have found that even though JAHG is extremely good at spelling and always gets the designated spelling words right, that the extended activities are great reinforcement for her learning. JAHG never gets bored of these books and enjoys the activities within each weeks lessons.

Most of the time JAHG will sit down and complete the unit of work in one sitting and often she will do more than one unit a week. We often also build upon the activities within the unit with extra writing, drawing and word games related to the topic of the unit.

Spelling rules is the basis of our weekly spelling. We do however build a series of other spelling related activities such as Boggle, Spelladrome & Focus on Text just to make a few.

The Spelling Rules series starts at Book A which is grade Prep level and continue through to book G for grade 6. It also has Two teaching books you can purchase if you wish to to help you teach your own children. however we did not buy these.

The best thing about these books is that they are made in Australia,

with Australian Spelling for all the words!

Teachers Spelling Rules books

Spelling Rules!: For Spelling Rules! A, B, C

Spelling Rules!: For Spelling Rules! D, E, F, G

Children s Text books

Spelling Rules!: Makes Spelling Stick: Bk. A: Student (Spelling Rules! S.) Grade Prep Spelling Rules!: Bk. B: Student (Spelling Rules! S.) Grade 1Spelling Rules!: Bk. C: Student (Spelling Rules! S.) Grade 2

Spelling Rules!: Bk. D: Student (Spelling Rules! S.)- Grade 3 Spelling Rules!: Makes Spelling Stick: Bk. E: Student (Spelling Rules! S.) Grade 4 Spelling Rules!: Makes Spelling Stick: Bk. F: Student (Spelling Rules! S.) Grade 5 Spelling Rules!: Bk. G: Student (Spelling Rules! S.) Grade 6

Other Interesting Links

Homeschooling with Spelladrome

Homeschooling  Workbooks