Friday, February 28, 2014

Writing in 2014

We haven't done a lot of writing as a class subject over the years and last year, both of my girls I noticed, really started to enjoy writing their own stories. Every now and then after we had done our regular schoolwork the pair of them would take off and start writing their own stories.  As they seemed to enjoy it so much, I thought I'd foster that interest and incorporate it into our schedule.

I had planned to write out some writing prompts (otherwise they can complain they don't know what to write about) but came across 100 Writing Prompts from Curric Click. It's a cheap download; I think it was US 99 cents but really, really well worth it.

I printed the pages onto A4 card stock, cut them into small cards and placed them in a wee container and the girls simply take one card out and write on whatever it reads on the card. They are allowed to choose up to three cards, if they find the first or second hard to do but, no more than that.

There is no amount they have to write but they have a small exercise book to write in and usually keep them to about a page long. I do realise they need to know some grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc (we have studied that formally before) but I am being very careful in those areas so as not to kill their creativity ... I don't want to stifle their writing at this stage. They can always tighten up on some of the other side of things later on. For instance if there is a word misspelled that I know they should know I will point it out to them to see if they realise.

The stories coming from them have been awesome, even the Papa has been reading them and having a laugh and been astonished at some of their ideas and creativity. We have been using them for a couple of months now and not once have I heard "do we have to" in fact although I only ask them to do it once a week they will ask some mornings if they can do one of the cards. Who am I to say no!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Mr Bluenose - Book Review

Mr Bluenose by Kiwi Author Jack Lasenby

This is a very funny book about a young boy (you never find out his name) living in a small NZ town, with just his dad who is really nice, back in the olden days. He gets up to all kinds of  mischief and funny stuff.

Mr Bluenose is a local farmer from overseas, who helps doing odd jobs for. Mr Bluenose tells some awesome stories to the kid, the kid tells them to Mr Bryce, the shopkeeper, and if the story is good enough the shop keeper might give him some boiled lollies. He LOVES boiled lollies as does Mr Bluenose, his dad and Horse, who is really a horse.

A couple of local boys were always trying to steal apples from Mr Bluenose's orchard, so Mr Bluenose with the boys help sets out some boy traps which included a funny ghost. It was so funny. 

The boy also told some whopper stories to some of his mates which scared them. They were really naught but funny too. His poor dad was always getting visits from their parents asking for him not to tell them scary stories anymore as their kids were having bad dreams.

I thought this was such a good story, I almost wanted to read it again.

By Sammi (Age 9)

A delightful, whimsical story of a young rapscallion set during the days when a fresh banana was a great treat, people waited for the train to deliver the daily newspaper to town, and kids played marbles on the corner roads. Some new words, or rather an introduction to some old words, along with some very kiwi words. Did you know "chutty" (or chuddy) is an old slang word for chewing gum ... my hubby did! This book was an unexpected find (in one of those cheap book bins) and it has made us eager to try some more Jack Lasenby books.

The Mama (over age 9)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Magyk - Book Review


MAGYK, Septimus Heap Book One by Angie Sage
This is the first book in a series of seven. It is a ginormous book with just over 555 pages in it. We have the hard back book and I absolutely adore the pages as they have made them with different edges, kind of rough, so it looks like an old magic book. It is very well written and I highly recommend reading it, as it is good for a laugh and even better for a mystery. There are lots of twists and turns. If you are a fan of Harry Potter you'll most likely enjoy reading this enchanting book.

It is about saving a princess from the evil wizard, DomDaniel, who wants to get rid of her in order for him to take over the kingdom. Jenna, the princess was rescued as a baby by Septimus Heap, unknowingly after her mother the Queen was assassinated and brought up by a wizarding family, The Heaps, as their youngest child and only daughter, without them or her initially realising that she was the princess. The Heaps and Marcia the ExtraOrdinary wizard (who was involved in saving Jenna in the first place when she was a baby) are now on the run with Jenna in order to save her from DomDaniel's many disguised assassin's.

Along the journey you meet lots of unusual characters. Besides the Heap family and their 6 wizard sons, you will meet boy 412 of the young army, a white witch, Aunt Zelda, whom they stay with, a cat that was turned into a duck, a few forest witches, a most grumpy boggart, a fat message rat, some shield bugs, a dragon, and several, helpful, ghosts.

Will they succeed ...You'll just have to read it and find out.

Reviewed by Hana

Friday, February 14, 2014

Dining with Royalty

We are currently reading one of the My Royal series, "Mary Queen of Scots". It is Mary's "supposed" diary from when she was aged 11 and living in France with the King, his family, and her Scottish BFF's (I am hip with the lingo peeps) who lived with her, the four Mary's. This book relates to our history program, Story of the World (Volume Three, Chptr 2), and simply expands a bit of information on Mary as a girl and gives the children a picture of how she may have lived during that time.
Both girls are really enjoying the diary and press me daily for another read. They are quite capable of reading it by themselves but for some reason they still really love it when I read to them. The good thing about reading these books out loud is that we can discuss certain situations, scenes and meanings so there is no misinterpretation of them. 
The book has affected them more than I realised. This is what I walked past in the school room late this afternoon. Milo, crackers, dips and brie and they even had Mozart playing in the background. Afternoon tea between the Queen of France and Queen of Spain apparently!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My Butterflies Take Flight

As part of our biology curriculum, the children needed to watch and make observations on the metamorphosis of a butterfly and learn about the life cycle. Now we are off on holidays shortly so we don't really have the time to wait for some butterflies to hatch and we did study the life cycle of the butterfly when they were kiddlings (doesn't everyone) so I suggested they each do something simple like a poster on the butterfly to cover these areas. Now one of the things I am aiming for as they get older is more independent learning so I didn't provide them with any exact requirements, just asked that they include things about the life cycle amongst other information and I left them to it.
Unfortunately in order to make sure they finished it today and not next year (they had gotten as far as writing Butterfly 30 minutes later when I popped in on them to see how they were doing!), I said I would be checking their presentations later that day. Yes I used the word "presentation" ... always a mistake with my two.
Now the little darlings did their posters with lots of information on them on the same day ... a great feat in itself! I should stop here and wallow in the glow of them completing a task without any nagging or moaning ... from me! But there was more ...

Was I allowed to view them? Oh no that would have been too simple, remember I had used the word presentation. So the school room was decorated with flowers and butterfly wings, there was even a sign stuck to the door "Butterfly presentation". Then the Papa and I were invited to sit on the couch in the school room, after dinner, where we were cordially welcomed and offered a refreshment of water or lemonade before they started on "the presentation". Our presenters both had on fairy/butterfly wings!
They displayed their posters and took it in turns to explain the information on there and thankfully they summarised some of the more interesting points, which is better than in the past when they have read what they have written word for word. The Papa and I actually learnt some knew and interesting things too. They taught themselves some news words in their investigations; the word excrement caused a lot giggling. Seriously the Papa needs to pull himself together sometimes ... kidding!
Agent Smelly also included The Butterfly poem by Christina G Rossetti on her poster (which had the obligatory glitter) which she recited and performed. The death scene in itself was impressive. Then she performed a song about a butterfly, with dancing and all. They even had the sense to go and photocopy some pictures from their books to put on their posters. On the little table there were some extra pictures to be passed around so that we could look closer at the butterflies.

After The Fashionista did her presentation she popped on a Hillary Duff CD. The Papa and I were a little perplexed ... turns out the CD is called Metamorphosis. Aha! Well played Fashionista, well played!
Then we had to have a dance party ... I kid you not! Anytime these two plan something it has to turn into a dance party ... much to the Papa's horror, who has not been blessed with a dancing gene and somehow managed to escape!

Well this little poster I was expecting turned into an impressive learning experience and the girls have already asked for another one to do. A successful learning moment ... mine not theirs!


Monday, February 10, 2014

Aboriginal Art

As we are hoping to head over to Aussie for a month, I have kind of been mixing things up a bit with our Australian studies. I would like to visit a few places so have brought some subjects forward a bit so that when visit some places on my list, they will understand it better and the excursions will give it more meaning.

So this week we jumped ahead to doing some work on the Australian Aboriginals. We read a couple of books, had a discussion on the Aboriginal people and culture. We did not get into it to deeply as we will save that for later when we have more time and then we followed that up with them looking at some aboriginal art online and then doing some by themselves.

I left them too and came back in a wee while later and this is when the mummy fail moment happened. I told Agent Smelly how awesome the whale she was working on was looking (Bottom right corner) ... she pointed out that it was a lizard. Oh dear! You would think I would know better! I did love her fireworks at the top.

The Fashionista has drawn a snake with some patterns. They really enjoyed making these and are keen to do them again.

Then Agent Smelly came out like this ... they decided to start painting themselves for a Corroborree. I do love it when they do crazy stuff like this because they have been inspired by something we have read or done!
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