Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Toolbox - hijacked by the pool

It looks like we will be taking another week out of the toolbox studies to make the most of our winter pool pass. I brought the pass for swimming lessons - we tend to relax at the local hot pools rather than the leisure pool in town.

Next year I will sort out PE a bit better so we don't end up wiht everything happening in the 2nd and third term.

For now it means that we will take time out from our toolbox studies and continue our swimming lessons. It should be fun, and might just give us a welcome mid term break.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Toolbox: Poetry weeks 3 & 4

This weeks poems will be the Coming of Spring and the Fox and the Bunch of Grapes. the first seems timely. Hopefully we have had our last ski modified week and we can settle into a normal routine. I certainly hope so. So working from Classical Writing(CWP): Poetry for Beginners.

  • Day one: Read through the coming of spring carefully using the guidelines in (CWP). Discuss, look up any foreign words. Continue onto Rhyme schemes which for this week covers a review of using a Rhyming Dictionary and introduces the Thesaurus for writing poetry. (Is it going to be an issue that I only have one rhyming dictionary.) We then can work on building rhymes.

  • Day two, review meter, and identify the meter in the poem. Begin imitation using word substitution. Look at stanzas and write summary sentences for the poem.

  • Day Three: Read through the Fox and the Grapes. Discuss. Continue working with rhyme schemes. If possible extend the lesson to cover imitation of meter to allow time on day to work with couplets.

  • Day 4 Complete work from day three imitation of meter. Work on couplets. Aim to spend as much of the available time exploring and writing.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Homeschool Classical Education in a box

Over the weekend my favorite email group looked like having a renaissance. The idea excites me.

Many of the original group members are of the generation when Classical education was first being brought to light. The old text books had been reprinted but that was all they had. How often they wished for a boxed classical education.

Now as my kids approach the NZ college age (US High School) I find myself with a wealth of options - Classical homeschool in a box is a reality. OK I have to put it together from a couple of suppliers but its all there.

Along with it is a slowly dawning reality that Classical Education is not a one size fits all. Its not a simple case of taking a of living text books, a progym based writing program, grammar reinforced with Latin study, solid maths and logic texts and putting them together.

Classical Education, the trivium and the whole idea of mastery learning is something very different. At some point the aim is not just ticking the box and completing the exercise hoping that somewhere sometime it will all click together. It is a means of raising of a person to worship God, recognize what is truly good, true, and beautiful. To see God's footprints not just on a heart level but a full person. To honour God with our self control, ability to think, ability to hear and our growing knowledge about and of Him who we serve.

These beautiful new curriculum choices help heaps they really do. I have much more guidance than was available before, especially for my very unsteady writing skills. Sometimes though they leave me feeling unnecessarily stressed.

I am increasingly aware of how much I need to work through the issues of how to teach my trio, their strengths and weaknesses, their characters. I still need to nut through making the available resources fit us. I need to know when to use a text and when to write my own. Maybe I need to juggle three or four texts because some confuse us more than help us.

I hope the discussions, that I peeked at when my kids were small, that inspired me to walk down the classical path, can be revisited for a new generation of Mums. I also hope to enjoy the journey myself.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Just one thing

I think its from my Charlotte Mason reading, the idea of correcting just one behavior issue in your children at a time. One focus, to remind them about. I think though that the idea has cropped up in other places. Each time I've either fought against it, or wanted to include everything in that one thing. Around here its time to revisit the concept - from a sane perspective.

So what is the one thing that would make the biggest difference. Currently its being nice when asked to do something. Having a good attitude whether being asked to do school, correct something, or do chores. OK its a very broad idea, and it could easily be undermined by other things, but at the heart of whether we have a good or a bad day around here is our attitudes, yes mum's included.

I've done a bit to work on mine in the last few months. Cutting out caffeine and getting some sleep has done heaps. So now its time to work on the children's responses to "Please can you...."

So for the next six weeks we'll be working on responding to requests with a smile.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Toolbox: Logic Chapter one

Last time we tackled this it went well - ok slowly lots of sidetracks and lots of needing to make it fun, but we got there in the end. I'm resisting the temptation to take this faster. Everyone enjoys finishing with the Fallacy detective, even if we do spend a lot of time trying to work through those cultural things that leave us scratching our heads.
  • Day 1 Simple Apprehension, read through the whole chapter as an introduction. Then re-read through the first two sections. Answer the Questions provided in a group session. Include definitions in "Tricks or the Trade" notebook. Finish with the next chapter of the Fallacy Detective book.

  • Day 2 Introduction, day 2 Answer the Questions provided in a group session. Include definitions in "Tricks or the Trade" notebook. Finish with the next chapter of the Fallacy Detective book.

  • Day 3 Introduction, day 3 Answer the Questions provided in a group session. Include definitions in "Tricks or the Trade" notebook. Finish with a chapter of the Fallacy Detective book.

  • Day 4 Introduction, day 4 Answer the Questions provided in a group session. Include definitions in "Tricks or the Trade" notebook. Finish with a of the Fallacy Detective book.

Monday, August 10, 2009


We are fortunate to live close enough to the ski-fields that we can enjoy the mountain without the cost of accommodation.Yet even more importantly the mountain we live by has a policy of encouraging the local schools with cheap passes and hire. (About the cost of an adult movie pass.) and so we are blessed by the place where God has planted us.

Our journey here wasn't an easy one, sometimes it felt like we were simply running from one situation to another, looking for an elusive job opportunity, but in the end we have found ourselves in a place where we can enjoy the outdoors, tramp, swim, be filled by the beauty of Gods creation, and enjoy being the people that we are. In winter the climax of this are the three trips to the mountain that we loosely classify as PE. We ski as a family only by God's grace, as hubby and I are often in different school groups for our days on the mountain, but at least one day a year we seem to end up on the mountain together.

Our first trip of the year threatened that. Our ski area is a volcano, a sleepy one normally, closely monitored, carefully watched, and it's been quiet for the last year or so, a good year. Unfortunately we hit a lahar drill, we never have before and it took all the confidence my daughter had away. For me I would have been happy not to go back, and we have changed which runs we ski. But the drill was on the easier ski run the one that was meant to give them confidence.

When we went up on Friday we had a great day. Blue skis, beautiful white snow, lovely scenery, and with some adjustment to skis we were able to have a great day skiing. My middle boy managed to convince me to take them down a run that was long and fun with some tricky bits in the middle and soon it was my daughters favorite run. Whats more is she was keeping up with her brothers. I even got to ski behind not just follow and make sure they were all OK.

It was a great day, and as we drove there and home the sunrise and sunset filled our souls with the wonder of God's creation. It made me very aware of God's grace, that while we don't have what some of our friends, or co-workers have, we have been blessed with what will fill our souls and encourage us in God.

It was a lovely day on the mountain. (Unfortunately I left the camera in the car these are older photos)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Toolbox: Diagraming prepositions.

Finishing off Mary Daly's Elementary Diagramming Text,
  • Day 1 Review Using the diagrams on pg 50, covering subject, predicate, adverbs and adjectives. New work - prepositions. Cover the diagramming of prepositions using the sentences on pages 55 and 56. Then independently work on the diagrams on page 56 and 57 to put into practice what we have discussed.
  • Day 2 More prepositions. Working with Discuss using the notes on page 58 whether the preposition modifies the subject the verb of the direct object. Practice diagraming using text on pages 59 - 61

  • Day 3 Continue from previous day using work on pages 62-64.
    Extension if we get extra time look at doing the six sentence shuffle (from Classical Writing Homer, using one of the sentences we have just diagrammed.

  • Day 4 Work through the discussion on clauses and how to diagram sentences with more than one clause.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Notebook Studies: Scientific method, and applied science.

This week is about finishing off what we didn't get to last time we did science and then moving onto the next section. This should leave us with geology for the rest of the term. I'm still blending hubby's website with Apologia. I have no idea why I'm trying to put the two together except that its easier than just following hubby's. (Eitherthat or I sell my Apologia books and use the funds to buy lab equipment. )

  1. Finishing of the chapter on applied science. As an intro back into science well work through hubby's website on lab equipment.
    Then Following a method - Making a pumice-like rock. (effectively Hokey Pokey) what causes the mixture to foam up.

    Working through the experiment in Exploring Creation with General Science. The aim of this is to look at what we are trying to do when we do an experiment. Be careful with observations.

  2. Work through how to draw scientific equipment in order to document experiments.
    Work on recording observations.

    Designing an experiment to use only one variable - looking at testing whether coffee with milk in it cools faster than coffee without milk.

  3. Simple machines and Levers - read the section. complete the experiment with the leaver and 5 coins. Take notes on board as we go through the work to ensure that we have the right information. Have some fun working out mechanical advantages for different levers. We might want to get the How Things Work video out from the library for this one.

  4. The Wheel and Axle. the pulley, the inclined plane and the screw. Following the process in the previous day. Again have some fun with the maths part of this. (There are some huge advantages of getting the kids to see that math contributes to science.)

Writing and Art: This hopefully is the last of our ski weeks. So for that reason I haven't sorted out a plan for our Art and Writing projects.

Art would come in the form of a nature journal of the students choice.

For writing Take one of these simple machines and right a poem reflecting on there use or benefits.

Or similarly take one of the simple machines and write an encomium about it. Work through ideas on the board first so that they have an idea of how this form could be applied to an object rather than a person.