Sunday, September 27, 2009

We are pottering

Yesterday was a mix of trying to decide if we had energy to do something or not ...I was very in favour of enjoying a quiet day just pottering. After all three boys (hubby included) had asked several times what we were doing my daughter wrote this on the school whiteboard ....

So find a pot (in finding a pot do not pull out Mum's flowers) and start "ering" it for an hour. You must do it outside or you will have to clean up the mess.

Its still written there and still leaves me smiling.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Latin is the subject most due for tinkering. Three kids, three different levels, with a mix of success. I really do want to try and bring the three kids together. For the next week that is easier sad than done.

Thus far we have used Memoria Press- Latina Christiana, and Henle. Sounds Good, but in practice it hasn't been great. Perseverance describes our course more than delight or mastery. So where to. For my youngest its going to be business as usual next week. He's one week away from finishing and it would be good to have him do that.

So Latina Christiana 25 stands as an ongoing lesson.

For the rest of us. we will continue in our studies for this week and probably work through a combined review lesson next week. Then new things

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Ok this week is a bit of an experiment. We're going to try working together in Greek. This was always a together subject. Then we split tow children carried on an one went back a bit to catch up. Since then a couple of things have happened. We've all been moving forward, but mastery has been a bit of an issue. So I'll see where we are at.

Working from Elementary Greek Chapter 29,
  • Day 1 Work through the memory verse on the board and include in our books. Vocab new words and review words. work with drill cards. Listen to CD and copy out the words. Discuss where our words come from. Then review the fem. declension where we have an alpha and eta endings. Copy out the first declension masculine endings. Identify the differences. Do the same for the the word for young man. in the new vocab.

  • Day 2 Review words and saying using cards and then drill sheets. Complete the declension for the last noun on our vocab to review yesterday/s work. Then review verbs as per the Greek book. Include review or the words for I am and I was.

  • Day 3 Continue to review words and sayings. Review declensions we have learned - 1 st, second masc, 2nd neuter. Discuss agreement of adjectives given that we have some masculine 1 st dec nouns. Translation of phrases into Greek.

  • Day 4 Continue to review words and sayings. Review paradigm for I and you and the article. Then work through translation sentences for the week.

    For this week use Friday to review vocab in Greek. Next week it will be review in Latin.

Toolbox: Grammar

Last term we finished our diagramming review. So heading forward, my aim is to catch up to where we are in Homer, and use either Harvey's or Mother Tongue as a base. Either is possible. Mother Tongue is on my computer s a PDF so printing out worksheets is very very easy. Too easy. The exercises are nicer to, but its a much longer text. Much longer.

  • Monday: Introduction to the sentence and its parts. Aim is to record the definitions in our Tricks of the Trade book and move on. Since much of these chapters is review we should be able to get through most of Harvey's parts 1-6 during this session.

  • Tuesday: Record the rules for plural endings. Review Subject and Predicate. Exercises from mother Tongue II chapter II

  • Wednesday: Homer makes a diversion into phrases and clauses. Which I think we are starting to understand from our diagramming and Latin/Greek work. So work through Homer week 1 Day 3. Use our diagramming skills to work out what we are dealing with here.
    Finish with a fun review of abbreviations and conjunctions.

  • Thursday: Harvey's work on singular and plural.
    Introduction to parsing. Looking at nouns only. using exercises from Homer week 2 day 3.
We possibly wont get through this much but at least I have enough to keep us busy and we will see where we get to.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Latin is the subject most due for tinkering. Three kids, three different levels, with a mix of success. I really do want to try and bring the three kids together. For the next week that is easier sad than done.

Thus far we have used Memoria Press- Latina Christiana, and Henle. Sounds Good, but in practice it hasn't been great. Perseverance describes our course more than delight or mastery. So where to. For my youngest its going to be business as usual next week. He's one week away from finishing and it would be good to have him do that.

So Latina Christiana 25 stands as an ongoing lesson.

For the rest of us we will continue as per normal this week. Working through where we are at and then if all goes well in Greek we will merge our studies and work together. Using Wheelock's as a base and adding in a bit of Christian content from Henle ( because we can) Lingua Angelica and Lingua Biblica. It should be fun. That's the aim.


For this week I'm trying a more hands on approach to all the kids subjects: especially the ones that need support. Beth has been working through Jacobs algebra slowly. She can do the work but really the level of questions are leaving her more confused than confident. So ...
  • Mon & Tues: Beth to do Set 1 beside me: discuss each question before she does it.

    Then we're looking at equations in more than one variable. Chapter one is simply looking at the possibilities, can two numbers represent x and y in an equation. Slowly work Beth through each of these questions.

  • Tue: continue working through the questions.. look at set 4 and see how she goes. (In between work with the boys on Fractions.)

  • Wed: Review Exercises again discuss each group of questions before she does it.

  • Thurs: Chapter two is simply taking what we were doing in the previous chapter and formalizing it as a formula.
Josh and Ben, See how they go together again. If it goes well give Josh the chance to work on Keys when he finished early.

Up to now I've had the kids work through key's to Fractions in order to get up to speed. It works to a point. They have lots of practice, but I'm not sure if either boy has really gotten a good understanding of how fractions work. For Grade 5...
  • Mon & Tues: Looking at multiplying functions as per Singapore Maths. Go over this slowly and make sure he is confident before we head off on the exercises.

  • Tue: Word Problems: Remind him that these are all dealing with multiplication, since that's what we are studying. Diagrams and find the multiplication equation in the story.

  • Wed: Practice 3, should be simple enough if we take 5 min at the beginning. Practice 4 is like it but without the improper fraction. We might be able to get through both.

  • Thurs: Finish up from Wed, and if going well work on the word problems. Again these will all involve multiplication just like we were working on.
If that doesn't work for Josh then have him continue solo. I think it will though.

Facing the Giants

For a long time we have been trying to find the balance between our kids wills and trying to keep a tidy home and a regular homeschool program.

We all love homeschooling, its just that for Mum and Dad - learning featured much higher in that than for the kids.

Trying to find the balance has been a journey, one that has needed much prayer and thought. Its had some ups and some downs...ok lots of downs. Not because homeschooling is hard, just well three strong willed kids and a determined mum can give some interesting results. I've learned a lot about my kids, education, sibling rivalry and life along the way.

This year has seen a lot of change in how we home school and how we react to each other. I've had to work out what my motivation is - to prove that homeschooling works, to have really smart kids, or because we love God and each other and believe that this is the best option for our families education.

Last Monday we showed the kids a film that is having huge results in how we talk about school and how we respond to each other. The film "Facing the Giants" comes from the same people who produced "Fireproof" and while blatantly Christian it has an equally good message - Give God your Best and leave the rest - good or bad, win or loose up to him. He can do the impossible - or not... our job it to give him our best and give him glory. The kids watched the film with us and they are thinking. Thinking and acting on what we saw - and that's good.


Last night we were privileged to have one of the teams from Watoto in Uganda visit our church. Not only visit but host overnight two of the kids and their caregiver.

On stage they are great, full of energy and praise, and beautiful voices. The sound system lost them a bit loosing the voices to the backing tracks. When they sang grace unaccompanied they were amazing.

Neat to see my Artist in the thick of conversation with the older girls - trying to find out who was coming to stay that night. Learning and listening. We could see the conversation from the back of the room. The boys worked out that my son was ticklish .. and well.. he may never let on to that again. Fun, joy and praise. Polite kids. Polished, poised and hopeful.

It was good, challenging leaving me with much to think about as we go about our lives - could we simplify.

Here's their website they are well worth seeing and supporting. Valda

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Toolbox: Progym


This week we are onto longer narratives. From what I can see in the previous weeks writing projects we could also do with spending a little bit of time reviewing outlining proper.

  • Day 1: Read through the narrative and see how it fits together. Who wrote it, who did they write it too, what is its message.

    Discuss scenes and what makes a scene break. Outline the story showing the scene breaks. Then complete Theons 6 on each scene. (What is the authors emphasis on each scene.) If we get extra time look at the sentence work for "To the Sea" start to play with one sentence. Finish the day working on the sentence analysis for this lesson. Keep it fun.

  • Day 2: Repeat day 1 using the Parable of the Good Samaritan, if time allows work through synonym substitutions and diagramming exercise.

  • Day 3: Repeat day 1 using the Parable of the Workers in the vineyard. Complete the day with the six sentence shuffle exercise for this assignment.

  • Day 4: Select one of the three stories we have studied this week to imitate. Retell the story in a way that keeps the scenes separate from each other and shows the changes when moving from one scene to another.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Starting Shakespeare

Yesterday was our first settled reading of the Taming of the Shrew. We tried earlier in the week, read through the background notes of the first scene from "Brightest Heaven of Invention", and then floundered due to overly excited kids and trying to find individual versions.

Yesterday we tried again, handed out laptops and books, and assigned parts. Everyone read, wow. Even my reluctant reader managed ok, the boys added in their dramatic flair, and it was fun. Interestingly enough the humor left them a little abashed. They just couldn't laugh at what was obviously inappropriate. Well you have to love them for that.

They are in love. The main encouragement to change from our blocks to a more balanced week is to include these works and AI can see benefits on so many levels from doing so.

The Bard stays, Plutarch similarly was a hit although I'll keep that as a read aloud for a while. Between Shakespeare and our bible reading we might be able to include a daily reading out loud slot for each of the kids that doesn't threaten my Artist but gives her motivation to develop her skills.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Those other subjects

This journey into playing with an Ambleside format came from the realisation that some things are just easier that way. I want to re- establish our nature studies, and give a place to Poetry, Shakespeare and Plutarch. Inclusion of Artists and Composer studies would round our work areas out.

Nature Study

A Country Diary of An Edwardian Lady (transposed for the New Zealand Seasons),
Apologia Swimming Creatures. The Grand Canyon a Different View


Taming of the Shrew.




Eugene Field
If we finish early I'll fill in with Christine Rossetti until next year.


Grieg, Edgar



Musing on afternoon studies

In the last week I've been thinking a lot about what each subject contributes to our learning experience. In the process I've come to realize that some fine tuning is required. I'm happy with the toolbox and the omnibus studies. Despite the debate about whether we do eachsubject in a block or mix them through the day my aim for the next year is to work through the following resources:


The story of the World 1,
Famous Men of Greece, Famous Men of Rome,
D'Auldaires Myths,
Black ships before Troy,
The Adventures of Odysseus
and In search of a Homeland.
(This gives us all a grounding in Greece and Rome which somehow kept getting disrupted in earlier years.)


Reading through the OT from Genesis through Judges
A house for my name.


Apologia Exploring Creation with General Science.


The Horse and His Boy
Veritas Omnibus Notes

I must have been tired when I first wrote this post. Put like that is isn't as scary as it seemed this morning when I tried to work out if the blocks were better.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Toolbox - Art and Form

Day 1
Topic intro: Discuss the different ways artists show form and shape.
Warm up: Take a white piece of paper and create a three dimensional
shape with form, form them into a mobile over the week using ideas from
everyone. You can use scissors and sellotape only.
Exercise: To start our investigation of shape and form, and to work on an understanding of why we do art, select five objects within a category ie rocks, leaves, shells, seed pods, insects and draw them showing their differences in shape and size.
Day 2
Warm up: As per day one:
Topic intro: Discuss the brown Pelican by John James Audubon. How does he show form in the picture.
Exercise: Draw a picture of an item the way the sun shines on it. (Show light and dark and discuss at the end of the exercise.)
Day 3
Warm up: As per day one:

Topic intro: Talk about how the way we use line can also show form. If our lines reflect the curves of the object that will also you show form.
Exercise: Choose another simple object and show form using both shading and line.
Day 4
Warm up: Create another shape for the mobile and then put it together using string and a coat hanger.
We might want to work on this one during the morning and put out extra bread, or head down to the lake and draw their. The exercise for this lesson is to draw a picture of a bird showing form and shape . Encourage the kids to use either black and white for this exercise.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I didn't see that coming

Change hit our home-school this week. I didn't realize we were heading for change... or that we needed it. Or even that it is real. I've been settled with my weekly blocks of learning. Having just one or two things to think about and plan made life easy and comfortable.

Last weekend I looked over the subject list and while they were all good things to study none felt right for this week. Nothing made sense in terms of what we were studying although by Monday morning I had a plan of sorts.

Across the week hiccup after hiccup disrupted the plan. Along the way a new plan evolved. Firstly a recognition that nature study was important. Then a realization that those subjects that incorporate beauty (poetry, music and art works) were missing.

Slowly its began to dawn that interspersing out days with reading and discussion doesn't need to be stressful. We can simply keep a pile of books and read the portions that we need to do throughout the day. With weekly writing projects we don't need written narrations, crafts or experiments on every subject. Where we do we can slot them in as required without having a big block for afternoon studies. I didn't have to be tied to a schedule. If we lose a day to skiing, the pools, sickness or just needed to get on top of life it was OK. My biggest challenge in homeschooling has always been dealing with the challenge of having an afternoon disrupted and wondering what to do about it. Many weeks have been lost simply on the realization that by Tuesday we weren't going to be able to finish the plan - and then what did I do.

The realization that we could use our existing program CM style without taking on board the whole plan of Ambleside is appealing. For some reason I've always felt I had to do all of Ambleside using all their selections. When we got to the stage of having alternative preferences it came apart.

Now I'm feeling content with our curriculum choices but seeing the option for a stress free implementation. No detailed plans. No schedules that we have to meet, no deadlines. No more subjects than we are happy learning from. It sounds refreshing and good, the kids are keen... and so we head forward.

I wonder where this journey leads.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


For the last week I've been once again pondering how we develop an atmosphere of learning. As I have done so I have pondered the inherent disciplines and characteristics that certain studies give to our days.

Latin and Greek to me seem to be very calming, focused activities that build order and routine into our days. I'm not sure I'm expressing that right but they seem to give us a peace from having to focus so carefully on our work.

Nature study not only opens our eyes to what is happening around us, but leads to a questioning and appreciative spirit. What is that? Isn't that amazing! Isn't that cool! There is an excitement at the never ending change that occurs around us as each season brings its own special surprises.

I love our in-depth bible times and the study that we do about people in other times and places. The growing understanding of why the world is like it is and how it is that way. These topics also bring an element of working together and thinking through. Talking and taking our questions just a little bit further. We never quite know where we are going to end up in our discussions. Whether we will learn about the topic in hand or a rabbit trail of to one side.

The thoughts that this have had me wondering if it was time to change direction and move from my weekly blocks to a more flexible mixed up week. My old decision of a Veritas style Omnibus or Ambleside type multi-book lessons. Umm.

I think that we will stick with what we're doing and simply make the add one, poetry, artist, composer and nature study.

At the heart to go either way is not a big deal. It is purely a question of flexibility rather than content or what we truly do with each day.

A Simple Daybook

Outside my window,

Lots of blossom buds just a day or two from opening

I am listening to...

The heater fan whirring, quiet pencil noises, peace.

I am thankful for...
A calm Friday, in the midst of ballet exam nerves and in-laws visiting

From the learning rooms...
Poetry and growth. I think that we took a huge step forward this week in terms of the kids settling into school work and the growing realization that its 100% about attitude and atmosphere.

From the kitchen...
Umm..taking the plunge and making a real carrot cake for the kids, comfort food or sfish pie, homemade hamburgers, and fun....

I am wearing...
Jeans and a soft cream jersey. finally finding an old pair of jeans that fit - how did i manage to buy two pairs of jeans last season that were simply a size to big...ugg!

I am reading...

Notes on Exodus... when I can my reading has fallen victum to trying to keep up with my kids Latin and Greek...slowly slowly

I am praying for...
Peace in this family, and our wider family, peace at my husbands work...

On of my favourite things...

Sitting with a cup of tea looking out over the garden and just enjoying the moment. (Why don't I do that more often. )

A few plans for the rest of the week:

Ballet exams, and soccer, a slower week, making use of the pool pass before it expires, and afternoons in... exodus or geology still praying still deciding, maybe we should finish of swimming creatures instead.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

In the tradition of the Simple Womans Daybook