No Toys in Sight

When no toys are around, you can make up creative stories and go on adventures on boats with captains, rough sea sailing and skuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef and we can't forget the treasure map, crocodiles and sharks!

Time for a Mango ice after all that.

A Little Poem About Worms

 When I asked J and H this question..."what things or words do you associate with earthworms?"
they came up with all of the above and it works well as a poem, so now we have our first poem in our poetry book. This is an easy way of formulating a poem with children. Brainstorming ideas and words.

J found a worm for H (but we quickly put him back in the soil). We discussed what they eat and how good they are for our soil in the garden. J told us they don't have eyes or ears and they breathe through their skin, although they do have a mouth for eating.
Did you know that here in Australia we have the Giant Gippsland Earthworm, which can reach up to 3m in length. It never comes above ground and you can actually hear them squelching in their holes from above ground! David Attenborough made a doccumentary on them if you are interested.

Sight Words

I have always favoured using magnetic words on the fridge to assist in learning sight words. 
J used them many times when learning to read and now H is enjoying watching his list of "I know" words grow.It doesn't take long before there is a huge list of words on the fridge and it is a fun way to learn.

All about Dogs

Today we had a quick look at dogs in more detail.
Their skeletons, some different types of dogs, jobs they do, famous dogs and dog crafts.
 Super runny dog complete with a colander helmet, cape and rocket shoes!
 Origami dog.
We tried to measure Mustard, however he thought we were playing a game and would not stay still, so we got an estimate.

All about Crabs

J told me all about coconut crabs the other day (I had never heard of them to be quite honest).
I went looking on the web for info and sure enough there they were. They say they can climb up coconut trees and knock the coconuts onto rocks below to get them open. They also eat birds!

I then remembered the Christmas Island crab migrations, so we watched some documentaries on these also.

There are plenty more Arthropods to discover!

What has been happening...

 The pink frangipane tree has flowered.
 We have discovered a great place to take the soccer ball and frisbee.
We are trying this game to help us remember our music notes.

Paper Mouse

We have this book from the library at the moment and I thought H might like to make this paper mouse from the activity page of the Leo Lionni Random House website, which I got from Margaret (thanks again).

We read the book and they traced the shapes and glued and then added a little something that the mouse was looking at. H wanted swiss cheese and J wanted some framed Art similar to what is in the book, however I didn't notice that he had named the piece of art "Mana". When I asked him what it meant, he said that was what the picture was of! Having a Kiwi as a husband, this word sounded familiar and this is one meaning I found for mana...
In Māori, a tribe that has mana whenua must have demonstrated their authority over a piece of land or territory.
In the Māori culture, there are two essential aspects to a person's mana: mana tangata, authority derived from whakapapa connections, and mana huaanga, defined as "authority derived from having a wealth of resources to gift to others to bind them into reciprocal obligations".
Very interesting title for a painting I thought.

Diary of a First year Homeschool Mum-Day 1

The first day back at school for many in QLD and we were happily laying in bed, reading books about marine life and making up stories. So nice!
No rushing to get lunch made, get dressed and race out the door by 8am to drive in traffic to school!

It really struck me this morning as we chatted about Blue Marlins reaching a length the width of our bedroom, that we have been missing out on quality time and learning opportunities together in the past two years J has been at school.
This year we will be doing Christian Distance Education through Australian Christian College, but until some of our work arrives I am picking a few topics that we have haven't looked at before and casually filling in the days.
I didn't plan on studying marine life today, however J brought this particular book in to read and started telling H all about different whales, reefs, bait balls etc, etc. Because we weren't in a hurry to go to school, we could just sit and discuss and read something that was of interest to J. We did this for about an hour! 1 hour of quality learning time.
Today we also discussed family trees, H noticed the Australian coins have a Queen on them and we discussed why, this discussion progressed into the value of money over time (Nanny would be able to go to the movies 5 times with $1, but now it takes $10 to go one time).The boys also talked to Nanny about her family tree and where the names originated from. 
Later on J read some more information on oceans and found some words to write in his dictionary.
At the shopping centre we practised different types of greetings to those people we met at various shops. In the fruit shop J purchased avocados worth $4 handing over a ten dollar note and working out his change.
We had time for piano practise, Kumon maths book, Lego, Uno games, swimming and free play.
When I look at what we do during the day now, it is full but way more relaxed and value added in a multitude of ways.

Our Australia Day...

This year we went down to the beach (which we had to ourselves) to have some fun...

On such a lovely day we had to have a swim...

We made our version of lamingtons for the first time since I was in high school I think.

This time I used the Donna Hay icing recipe which had butter, water, icing sugar and cocoa. I used organic coconut, Dutch cocoa and Danish butter and made it slightly thicker. We also whipped cream and used it along with raspberry jam for a filling.

They were messy, fluffy and moist and the best I have had for a very long time.

Fun at Play

Who doesn't like a good detective style hunt, everyone likes hide and seek...
 We spent quite a while with these sheets the other day, playing detectives, having fun and learning at the same time. Nate the Great is one of the new chapter book series we will be picking up from the library this week.
(Print out from Random House website activity pages)

Speaking of fun. If you haven't seen these two Aussie guys before, you have to watch a show because they are great at a particular type of mime and very creative and original. All interactive and funny shows for kids with a sense of humour.
 The Upside Down Show, check it out here.
Is anyone else addicted to Lego and the minifigures?
The boys had their pocket money to spend and we felt all the packets until we found a banana shape and this cute fellow is exactly what we were looking for. The gorilla suit head comes off to show a sweat covered face. Next time we might find the sumo wrestler.

Learning about Australia Day

We are waiting for our Distance Education materials to arrive, so today we spent most of our learning time on Australia Day activities.
(The Captain on the First Fleet)
Flora, Fauna, maps, flags, food and climate.
 I love the Kangaroo, Koala and snake J made above and this funny Kangaroo from H...

 J made this flag from memory, I wanted to see what he could make and now we can focus on the missing bits. H said the flag should be green, but J doesn't like the idea of changing it, a good opportunity to discuss where the flag originally came from.

Do you know the floral emblems of each State in Australia? I didn't!

We will complete our studies tomorrow with lamington making and a game of cricket!

How to Develop a Love of Books and Confident Readers?

Our boys (7 and 3) love, love, love books and love to read books and are reading at years above their age level.
Why do they love reading? How did we do it?
I have my theories as to why they enjoy reading so much, perhaps some of the things we have done over the years have assisted, or perhaps we were just blessed with two naturally good readers. 

J reads a minimum of 10 books a day (picture and chapter books) of his own accord. H copies his brother, but often asks myself or J to read to him. He is happy to read a few beginner books like this one above, but mostly when I am reading, he happily reads the words he knows on each page.

I have been asked the question before "How do you get them to read?"  Well,
these are some of the things we have done...

1. Start early! Baby toys are great but fabric books and waterproof books are better (and cheaper in most cases). This is where you and books make the first impression, books should be everywhere and seen as a toy. Fun, and happy play times can be associated (the Psychology Degree has come in handy now and again) with books and storytelling by family and friends.

2. Have a huge variety of interesting books. You can never have too many books, they will get used again and again especially if you have younger children coming up the ranks. First you read them, then the first child reads them, then he reads them to his brother, then his brother reads them, etc etc. 
Don't waste too much time with some of those boring readers in the early years. If the book is boring for you to read, it probably is going to be for the child. You don't teach children to love reading by giving them boring stories to read.
Tip- always say "books please", if someone wants to buy a present for the children. Buy from garage sales, liquidators, 2nd hand shops and Lifeline Book fairs, or get to the Library for FREE books.
I visit the library at least once a week, collecting 30-40 books at a time, they are free and we go through them many times over. Variety is the spice of life, and it does make a difference if there are more than enough books lying around the house to choose from.
 Books that can teach a new language.
Books that can help teach about life situations.

3. One parent at least should value books, love books and read books. The books also need to come alive and by that I mean make an effort when reading the story, using funny voices and getting into character. It definitely makes a huge difference!

4.I try many different techniques when teaching children to read, variety once again is important in keeping children interested. I sometimes point at the words as I read them, so that the boys get used to which way the words go. Letter searches are a great way to get the mind trained to work from left to right, top to bottom when reading. I explain how to methodically search for a letter, starting at the top and working your way across and down, I am sure this helped H (nearly 4) get the idea that following words across the page is how to read.
I also use computer software such as Letterland and websites such as ABC Reading Eggs. I started with these at age 3 and both the boys found them fun and wanted to use them everyday. I used alphabet books like "Little a had a box...", which focus on one letter per book and I repeated a letter each night for one week at a time to reinforce letters. Looking for words we recognise on signs whilst driving, letters on number plates and alphabet music in the car are other techniques I use.Whenever I can make an opportunity a teaching moment I certainly try ("there is a bus, what does bus start with?"). Spelling games can be fun too (believe it or not) when TV is a reward for getting 10 words right.

5. I avoid forcing books, I don't think it should be a "must do" activity, it should be a "want to" choice for children to pick up a book and discover what lies within the pages. This has been my philosophy, it seems to have worked for me, now I am finding I have to repeatedly ask the boys to put their books down to do something else (like eat or sleep!). A good problem to have!

My next challenge is spelling... just because you have a confident reader, doesn't mean they will excel at spelling.

Mozaic Craft

I found this craft set with mozaic tiles and thought we should give it a go, since we haven't done much of mozaic anything at all. I quite like it.

After H and I finished the Astronaut, there were plenty of leftovers for our own designs.

BBQ Lunch

We had a lovely BBQ on the weekend with some GIANT New York Steaks and lots of salads and a cake of course.
I always like to test out new recipes. This one I have wanted to try for a while...
 It is a raspberry/white chocolate mousse cake. It is a Womans Weekly recipe and has three layers on the inside (but is very simple to make). 
There are two layers of almond cake.I made it gluten free by using GF flour with the almond meal for the cake. One middle layer of mousse, which I made using frozen raspberries. The top really needs fresh berries (luckily they were on special!). It has a cream and raspberry syrup covering.
Verdict- very nice and you could do it in a choc version for a special occasion.
This is a broadbean and baby beet salad with a lemon/dijon dressing.
I had never had broad beans before and they are very nice. I used frozen beans which I cooked and peeled.
 This is always yummy...rocket, crispy salami, egg,grilled asparagus,parmesan toast.
The next salad doesn't look that pretty, but always impresses. 
Sweet potatoes par boiled whole then baked, cooled and dressed with soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce and coriander, yum yum.

 Slow roasted tomatoes with bocconcini and basil.
 J and H set the table. Their design included a centrepiece of a T tower made from Lego.

Uno Mania

This is what we are playing after breakfast, after lunch, and after dinner.
Yes Uno has taken over the house (well Lego is still the favourite).
H (nearly 4) loves it, so if you have young ones, get them started, it has so many benefits for learning and it is fun for all ages!

We just found this special Toy Story version, so will be enjoying playing for a long while yet.