Monday, January 31, 2011

Mm yum!

I've been trying out some new recipes and I think I've found a hit with this one:  fish cakes on zucchini fritters with salad and cherry tomatoes.  Both kids ate their entire meal and C didn't muck around with his either.

I also got to play with my new food picks :)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sonorous Sunday

I like poetry.  It gives me great pleasure to read and perform it.  My taste is fairly eclectic although probably a little old fashioned.  I don't get to enjoy it as often as I would like to nowadays, so I'm going to try and look out something I like to post each Sunday.

I went to the funeral of my Great-Uncle this week, a man who, when he found out that I liked poetry, used to bring another poetry book with him each time he came to visit.  I think he chose at random from secondhand book shops so they're an interesting mixture, but all enjoyed.  This week's poem is for him.

Death Be Not Proud - John Donne

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and terrible, for thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soules delivery.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well,
And better then thy touch; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

Just in case you care - this is one of the "Holy Sonnets" and is known as "Terrible Sonnet" because it is kind of a hybrid Petrarchan / Shakespearian Sonnet: it follows the the Shakespearian model of three quatrains and a couplet, but the rhyme scheme within the quatrains is Petrarchan.  There are a number of disruptions to the usual sonnet iambic pentameter  too, with several inversions or changes in emphasis.  

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Little Pig, Little Pig!

I picked up this model from a clearance shop before Christmas.

It took a family effort to assemble and has since been the scene of many different retellings of the three little pig story, including the musical version!  Oddly whenever Big Brother is in charge of the plot the wolf eats all of the pigs and lives happily ever after - except when he meets a horrible death at the last moment.  
Once upon a time there were three little pigs...
Little Pig, Little Pig, let me come in!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Growing Stuff

C has been busy planting trees and berries and building me a lovely raised garden - it's been hot work some days, and dodging raindrops others, but he's finally finished.  Big Brother and I chose some plants to put into the raised bed - lettuce and silverbeet so we're watching and waiting to see them grow now.  Thanks to C's hard work we also have raspberry, blueberry, black currant, cherry, apple, pear, plum, quince and fig all planted and getting ready to give us lots of yummy fruit in the next few years.  I wonder how he'll take my next idea which is to plant grapes along the drive way?

 Strawberries down below and a nice little path so I don't have to touch the dirt ;)

An overview of our 'orchard' and garden

Big Brother's lettuce and silverbeet   

Raspberries... I can't wait for these to get big! 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Adventures in Home Education: Maths

We've reached the conclusion that BB is better off at home for now.  The decision isn't final and we'll continue looking for options to get him 'in the system' but for now we're working at home.

Maths: after much debate and research we've settled on

Miquon  - he's currently working on the red book.  This isn't new learning for him for the most part, but he's able to work it through independently and is enjoying the review.  He loves filling in the workbooks and every now and then he strikes something new.  The hands on aspect of the rods is excellent for when he meets new ideas because he can 'see' what is happening, although in reality they mostly sit on the shelf while he works through the pages independently.

In addition to the Miquon books we've been trying out a few different websites to add variety and challenge.  We've completed trials of WhizzMath, Dreambox and Aleks.

WhizzMath claims to give a full report of the child's "math age" in various areas and then to work the child at that level.  Unfortunately the trial was pretty limited and after putting lots of time into the initial assessment we discovered that we 1) couldn't access the report without subscribing and 2) could only try one lesson as part of the trial.  This meant we couldn't tell how accurate the assessment was, and couldn't tell how well the lessons are adjusted to meet the learner's needs so far as pace and repetition of the lessons.  What we did see looked good, and we might come back to it at some point.

Dreambox was fun, and BB often asked to play with this, but there was so much 'fluff' surrounding the actual learning - stories, games and animations that he got frustrated with it quickly and didn't stick with tasks long enough to make much progress without direct supervision.  The teaching style and sequence of activities was excellent and for a child who likes stories and 'playing' with maths I'd really recommend it.  The other disadvantage of this was that it only goes to grade 3 which is about where he's finishing now.  Oddly it started him at the beginning of grade 2 which meant he didn't try any new learning activities, but the review was good.

Aleks was our favourite, and the one we're continuing with for now.  It's the one with the least 'game like' learning (it's not game based at all).  BB is very motivated by seeing what's left in the pie chart for him to learn, and we both like that he can move on as soon as he demonstrates mastery so the pace is as fast or as slow as he needs it to be.  For some of the tasks he needs some paper and pencil practice to really master them, but it's great that it's broken down in to small chunks so we can see exactly what we need to address.  He's looking like completing 3rd grade in the next week or two, but the programme includes right through to college level courses so it should keep him happy for as long as he's interested.

Life of Fred is probably where we'll go once he's finished with miquon  - BB will likely enjoy the story and the concepts covered should provide challenge for some time to come.

Finally, we've also been adding a few bits and pieces of other maths from various sources, like some Christmas themed bits and pieces we did last month:

Equivalent decimals, fractions and words Christmas Trees
Two times table Angels

Monday, January 24, 2011

Like Sands Through the Hour Glass...

it's all slipping away so quickly, so here's a place for me to record our happenings.

BB is 4 years and 2 months old, LS is 1 year and 9 months old... how'd that happen?  

Here they are enjoying their morning tea, LS is also sporting her brand new hair ties gifted to her in a random act of kindness from a fellow member of TNN.  She likes them so much she 'oinks' at me until I put them in most mornings.  

BB is enjoying his second week of swimming lessons this week, and was excited to manage a front float with a kick board all on his own today.  He's hoping to get a few more things ticked off on his certificate by the end of the week.