Archive for January, 2009


On the weekend we visited the zoo with our cousin C and then on Sunday, Derek spent the day tidying our backyard (and it looks great!).  We had a play date on Tuesday with J and D, boys who are the same age as Eli and Zi, and who get along fantastically.  We spent two full days at home which is so lovely and precious especially with all the commitments we will have this term.  Today we went to the park for a picnic lunch and have party in the evening.

I have been reading pretty consistently with the kids this week, though the non fiction read alouds have been put on the back burner until we can get to the library.  Eli and Zi have been enjoying a book called The Squire and the Scroll by Jennie Bishop.  Zi is entranced in his knightly imagination and is continually parading about in his cape (thanks F!) and armor.


Eli has enjoyed learning about change in money and subtraction this week. I love how Rightstart gears his mind for what is coming next so that the new information is delved into so effortlessly.  Eli got subtraction so easily because of the time he has spent on his mental addition throughout the year.  We have also begun to give him pocket money of $2 a week.  After long discussions with Derek, we have decided that he must save 50c, donate 50c (to a place of his choosing, at the moment that’s church) and he gets to choose what he does with his $1.  He had a bit of money saved from birthdays/ my mum and he bought himself a pair of thongs, some wool and some knitting needles at the shops last night!  The money that must be saved will be managed by Daddy (in a pretend bank of which the details are to be confirmed). Also, we would like this money to be unattached to things like chores or behaviour.  Though I’m happy that a consequence of breaking something would be to contribute money to the replacement of it!


Zi read to book 8 in Fitzroy.  His frustration is decreasing and he is able to blend more difficult words in his head.  We spent most of this week reading for fun, rather than getting through the readers.  Zi has also taken it upon himself to teach Gubbs his letters (which suits me fine!).  To my surprise, Gubbs now knows about half the sounds in the alphabet!

I have started getting Eli to read aloud books to me as he is not really interested in reading chapter books to himself at the moment.  I think this may be due to our effort in completing our maths book.  I am just aiming to get him to read enough to get those juices flowing again! Eli has enjoyed writing secret messages for various people this week.  He writes the message in white crayon and then we have to shade the page with texta to find the answer.


As we have been reading The Squire and the Scroll, we have been talking a lot about keeping our hearts clean and pure.  Especailly about filtering what we hear and see.  We have been talking about what we choose to watch on tv, what we listen to on the radio and how we listen to what others say.  It’s been lovely giving Eli some responsibilty in this area and watching him make great choices.

We have also been working on beign respectful to people older than ourselves and to those we love.  This is an area that we are getting better at as the week went on.

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The Zoo and C

We had a fantastic weekend.  On Saturday, we spent the day with my cousin C and took her to the zoo, which was sooo much fun.  The kids adore her and we have so many beautiful photos of them playing and running after each other.  C led the way at the zoo and we got to visit just about everything she wanted to.  My sister (also C) and her daughter Moo met us later on and joined in our fun.  After the zoo we went to my parents’ house for dinner and then to the beach for an ice cream.  I thought the kids would be exhausted after a long day out (I certainly was!), but they were all wide awake on the 45 min journey to C’s Grandma’s home.  You see, C was playing a game that they thought was hilarious.  It went like this…

Eli:  Do you know what you’re having for dinner tonight?

C: What?

Eli: Monkey’s brains!

Everyone: hysterical laughter…

Zi: Do you know what you’re having for dinner tonight?

C: What?

Zi: potato and peas mashed with poo!!

Everyone: hysterical laughter…

C: Do you know what you’re having for dinner tonight?

Eli and Zi: What?

C: A zebra’s stripy bum!!! (that had been a highlight of our zoo outing!)

Everyone: hysterical laughter…

And so the journey went on.  I don’t know how the game started, but it was one of those ‘in’ jokes being formed between C and our kids.  You know, the joke that the ‘people who were there’ often bring up and the ‘people who weren’t there’ just don’t get.  We got to our destination and C decelared that she would see us on Saturday (I hope so).  The kids and her didn’t want to say goodbye, but Zeek was screaming andthe others were tired.  We left and the kids fell asleep within about 3 mins.  Derek and I had a lovely drive home.

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Our Week Learning Life


This week wasn’t all that productive with me not feeling well at the beginning of the week.  Zi and Gubbs both got their 4 year old vaccinations (and didn’t even cry!).  I was scared taking them by myself as Eli screamed and screamed when he got his 4 year olds.  The two boys were delighted about having a piece of sticky tape (with cotton wool) stuck to each of their arms, in fact, I had a bit of an argument with Gubbs to take it off the next day!  I had to go for blood tests to check my hormone and iron  levels and will get the results in a fortnight.  We went to tee ball practice and enjoyed a sausage sizzle with the team afterward. On Friday F brought her kids around for a play which was lovely.  We had a great chat (between kids) and the kids played really nicely.  We did achieve the basics of formal work…


Zi reviewed his readers this week and didn’t actually start any new ones.  He is getting good at blending in his head and would rather do this than blend aloud.  I have to keep reminding myself to let him look intensely at the pictures on each page as it keeps him quite motivated.  He has begun to have a a go


We didn’t do much violin this week.  Eli is still working on Minuet 2 and can play Minuet 1 on slow cd.  Our goal for the holidays was to be learnign the notes for Minuet 3 by th etime we go back to lessons and this looks achievable.

The kids are still enjoying driving me crazy with the Lion King songs.  I think I’ve heard enough Hakuna Matatas for a life time.

Oh and me… I’m getting better at Go Tell Aunt Rhody and have started on Clair de Lune.  I think I’m going to need lessons soon though.

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Teaching Reading – Part 3

Away they go!!!!

Most kids go through what is called a ‘reading explosion’.  They do the same when they are learning to talk.  One day they are saying ‘mama’, ‘dada’ and ‘ball’, and the next they are saying more words than you can count!  When this happens, I talk a lot about how words are formed, how the sounds are made up (eg.  when ‘e’ and ‘a’ are together they can say ‘ee’ or ‘e’) and how words are made up of smaller words (eg.  cupboard).  I still like them to read aloud to me so that I can see how fluently they’re reading and also to aid in their own comprehension of the text.  It is around this time that they will naturally tend to ‘read in their heads’, but make sure that they are still reading aloud occasionally so that you can monitor common mistakes and comprehension skills.


I don’t stick firmly to any one spelling program.  We do however use the Soundwaves workbooks.  I teach that each word is made up of a number of sounds and that letters represent these sounds (eg.  the word ‘goat’ is made up of three sounds /g/ /oa/ /t/, but four letters g-o-a-t).  When spelling a word, I get the child to put dots or strokes for each sound, then they can make letter choice for each sound.  Remember some sounds are represented by more than one letter!  As my children get older, I plan on learning Latin and Greek roots as well as grammar related rules (eg.  drop the ‘e’ when adding ‘ing’)

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Teaching Reading – Part 2

Learning sounds

We use baby sign with our children to enable them to communicate before they can talk, so it was a very natural step to learn letters and their sounds using gesture or sign.  We adopt the gestures from Jolly Phonics for the single letters of the alphabet (a,b,c,d…) and then I teach digraphs (two letters that make one sound eg. ee)  informally and then through their spelling program.  I have worked with children who need more steps to be able to read (eg.  learning digraphs individually as they would letter sounds), but I have found that my kids learn them very naturally after they get the reading explosion happening.

Early Readers

We use the Fitzroy readers as the first set of readers. I love these readers as they are phonologically easy to decode and provide a real sense of achievement as the child reads them.  They are colourfully illustrated and progress quite slowly so that slower readers can still find success.  they also have workbooks which I use for ‘penmanship’.  that is, we do the worksheets for handwriting practice more so than the spelling practice that comes from it (though, that’s a bonus!)

Sight words

I try not to use flash cards or to teach sight words out of context.  I think it is quite difficult to memorise what ‘the’ looks like if their are no other words aorund it.  If I were to put ‘the’ on a flash card, it would be with a noun eg. ‘the cat’.  Fitzroy readers introduce sight words gradually throguh their readers and so I just follow their sequence.  If one of my kids comes accross a sight word elsewhere that they haven’t learned, I explain that “it’s a word that they can’t sound out, they just have to know it”

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Thanks to a wonderful friend, I have had the opportunity to read Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home by Elizabeth Foss.  I just wanted to jot down some inspirations before I have to return the book (or pass it on to the next enthusiastic reader!).

  • create an atmosphere of learning in your home – this is what I am going to call my mess every time I get overwhelmed with the craft supplies, toys and books strewn all over my living spaces: our learning atmosphere!
  • 15-20 minutes of concentrated attention for each lesson.
  • Home education is a lifestyle – so true.  That’s our standard answer when people ask us why we homeschool – it is a lifestyle choice.
  • Narration – something that we have always incorporated into our informal read alouds, maybe something I will carry through and use more of, though not solely in developing writing skills.
  • Living Books – something that has always spoken to my heart.  I would like to base our history, science and geography on the living books we read (it probably means we have to buy more books – yay!)
  • Nature Study – something I would like to do more regularly… maybe we should start with drawing things we find in our backyard.  This would be much more achievable than actually making an excursion of it every week.
  • Tea – we have started having formal afternoon teas where we sit at the table and actually have a cup of tea (herbal or normal) and share about our day, what we have learned and discussed a particular virtue of the day.  This would be nice to do a few times a week, though I will aim for once a week when mainstream school goes back.  It would also be nice to invite Godparents for a special afternoon tea for their Godchild’s Baptism anniversary.
  • I loved the chapter on burnout. I learned to
  1. Take care of me personally, as I have done while I am pregnant.
  2. Nurture my emotional health by spending time alone and give myself permission to do so.
  3. Begin the day asking God for His graces and end it with gratitude.  I love journalling (prayer journalling that is!) and so writing down four things I am grateful for at the end of each day would be a joy to do.
  4. Be a friend to my children – ahhh so simple, so wise and so much fun!
  5. As a homemaker, decide what I can reasonably do and then get help for the rest (either paid or husband or decide to abandon that task until it seems easier to achieve – yes I am talking about the ironing!)
  6. Look for opportunities to serve from home with my children beside me.  This for me often means reaching out to other mums, doubling my evening meal and sending the other half to someone who needs it, babysitting nieces and nephews and friends…)

All in all, this was a lovely book to read.  I really enjoyed that it was applicable to large families, very practical and so easy to read.

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Blogging resolutions

Okay, for this year, I hope to write a blog post at least once a week, hopefully more.  These may not be as elaborate or as articulate as I would like and be warned that they may not contain many photos!  But now I have committed myself to the web and that’s that!

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