Sunday, 31 May 2015

Cracking Narration

For years I've been using narration successfully with my older girls - however Rose (6yr) has always struggled with it - either she just repeats the last sentence back to me, or you can hear her chanting under her breath the fact she wants to share with us.

This week I asked her why she wasn't listening and her reply was 'my brain just doesn't remember', this prompted me to give her loads of examples where she does remember but she still didn't seem happy. This worried me so I took it right back to the basics and made up three daft stories I asked her questions about it and to tell me what came next in the story - she managed to remember all the facts and got so excited by her 'skills' that she decided she would tell me stories and ask me to narrate them back. She especially likes when I get an answer mixed up.

Needless to say I finally have a youngest who is happy during our narration exercises and nips into bed every morning to play 'brain games' :)

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Kinetic and Potential Energy Activities

We started with a discussion about energy - they knew a fair bit from the physics activity last week and some books they'd read (can't be destroyed, measured in joules etc) then looked at a couple of videos explaining the differences between potential and kinetic energy - their favourite used clips from Hoodwinked to explain.

They then explored the different types of potential energy.

We created two slopes and used these to discuss which would have the greatest potential gravitational energy and which would turn into the greatest kinetic energy (and which ball would win the race)

Catapults are a must when exploring elastic potential energy :)
We used our Da Vinci catapult indoors

then chose to make a big one in the garden, turning over my garden table and attaching elastic to the legs.

We discussed batteries and how they store potential chemical energy (I did want to create a circuit but all the bits are still packed up). Lilly asked a question 'Does that mean baking soda and vinegar have potential chemical energy?' which lead to some good research for them.

They had to write some notes for their folders to finish.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Physics Activities

We went to a great Physics activity day this week - we learnt all about Newtons laws of motion.

There were three activities to look at inertia - penny drop (pennies on an index card over a glass, hit the card out of the way and the pennies drop into the glass), spinning egg (spin a raw egg, place your finger on the top to stop it spinning then remove your finger and watch as the egg starts spinning again) and skateboard push (tape a lid to the top of a skateboard then place some counters in - push the skateboard and stop it suddenly and watch the counters keep moving)

For Newtons second law (F=MxA) we dropped a marble and a piece of screwed up paper (about the same size as a marble) into a pan of flour and saw which landed with the most force.

The third law involved two film canisters - one half filled with water and placed on the line then half filled the second with water and added half an Alka Seltzer.

Discussed buoyancy and water displacement. They first looked at why the plasticine ball sank and how much water it displaced,

then looked at how the same piece of plasticine could float - she explained how water pressure works against gravity to keep a boat afloat. They had to make the best boat they could and see how much 'cargo' it could carry - I think the best boat carried 41 screws.

There was an activity station to look at objects that float and sink.

Made static electricity (this took dedication - it was a lovely hot day but this mum wore a big jumper so she could do the activity)

Looked briefly at flight.

Made a Sundial and discussed the earth orbiting the sun

They finished with loads of games - my favourites were N-tropy and Polarity.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Successful Homeschooling Made Easy - TOS Review

As a Homeschool mother, I've always been plagued by doubts 'Am I teaching them the right things?', 'Am I sure this is the right choice for my family?' but my first ever question was 'How do I do it?'. As a general rule - to try and answer my questions I turn to advice from others whether in the form of people with experience or books. I got very excited when asked if I wanted to review SHME, who wouldn't want loads of advice, tips and solutions???
Successful Homeschooling Made Easy  by Stephanie Walmsley is a 26 week online course - each week you are emailed a PDF 'lesson' which you read and act upon. The lessons are fairly quick to read but do require 'homework' where you have to answer questions to point you in the right direction for what you want for your homeschool.

So far I have received the first 9 
weeks (which have been fairly impressive - really looking forward to the rest) which included;

1.Start Homeschooling Today - this gives an overview of the course as well as tips to start homeschooling today. Stephanie encourages you to create an 8 week schedule for you family, this is fairly simple to start with (just a literacy hour to start with) but she does outline what will be included over the next few weeks. I loved that she encourages you to schedule breaks during the day.

2.Math Made Easy - you introduce math hour this week to go along with you literary hour. She also discusses how to teach math in a practical way and offers a checklist for when you choose a math curriculum.

This weeks work also came with a More on Math Bonus - packed full of math games to play and some recommended books for you to read.

3.Welcome Home - discusses how to 'deschool' your child, its full of experiences from various families whose children went to school before they were homeschooled - so lots of advice and tips.

4.Fireproof Your Homeschool - she starts by adding a fun activity to your schedule this week then goes on to discuss your homeschool style and how to create a 'vision' for your homeschool that will help you cope with the invariable criticism from others. Stephanie also introduces some classical music to listen to whilst your kids are working.

5.Three Key Ingredients for Success - you are asked to consider what you want to achieve with your child, how will homeschooling help achieve your goals and where you want your child to be in 10 years time. This is all about working out what is important for your family and using that knowledge to support your homeschool.

Fulfill Your Dreams - she discussed how your attitude is key to your homeschool experience and stresses how important it is to take care of ourselves and live our own dreams. 

Why Curriculum Doesn’t Matter - is all about keeping focused on the right thing. She discusses different homeschool style so you can find out which suits you best.

Why You Might Need to Let Go of Good Things - all about 'out of home' activities and how to balance them (not too much but just enough). She stress the importance of not overbooking and allowing children to have time to be 'just children'. 

She also 
shares some great statistical data about how homeschooled children compare to non homeschooled in later life.

9.Housework and Homeschool - this lesson starts by addressing how the schedule is working for you and how to see what need to adapt/change. She then moves onto housework stressing that it is important for kids to be involved (Home Economics lessons anyone?) and even has suggested cores for different ages/abilities. I personally loved the hidden treats to encourage proper dusting - heck, I'd even dust properly if there were treats hidden on the bookshelf.

I have really enjoyed what I have read so far and look forward to the rest of the course - t
he tips and ideas so far have really helped me even though I am a veteran homeschooler 
Her writing style is easy to read and she intersperses her work with inspiring quotes.

I took Stephanie's advice and scaled back to just a literacy and math hour whilst I was moving house - not only did it make things easier and less stressful but it helped highlight areas is our schedule that could be used more effectively. It also helped me feel more excited and energised about homeschooling. We have decided that our summer schedule this year will revert back to the basic literacy and math hours : )

Another lesson the resonated with me was about taking care of myself - its so easy for me to devote most of time to the kids, their fun and their education, the house and to hubby, that I often forget that I need to be refreshed too. Since reading this I decided to start a organic garden - its something I've dabbled in over the years but never had the time to truly develop. So far I've managed to get in at least an hour a day whilst the kids are playing (or occasionally helping me) and its feels amazing to see what has been accomplished.

Although this was designed for new homeschoolers, I have found the series really helpful and full of good advice to make our homeschool journey simpler - it has helped me break some of our bad homeschool habits and start some good ones. I think this would be a great read for anyone experiencing homeschool fatigue or burnout as well as anyone who wants to improve their homeschool journey and enjoy homeshooling again.

The course is available for $10 per month for 6 months, or $48 as a one off payment.

You can see what my crew 
mates thought over at the TOS Blog.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Exploring Acids and Bases

We've spent the last week learning all about acids and bases. The discussion started with definition of and properties of acids and bases followed by a few hands on activities.

We had to start with red cabbage indicator (the water from boiled red cabbage leaves) 

Rose got carried away with this one and ended up testing everything she could juice (including cucumbers)

The girls then moved onto bursting balloons with acid from citrus fruits (I knew this worked for lemons but did the rest on a test of faith) - just be aware that it only works with a fully blown up balloon and once the juice is on it takes about 40 seconds to react.

The girls did try to use the juice from the fruit but it didn't work - the easiest way was when they cut off a portion of the skin and then squeezed it over the balloon.

They had also heard that red cabbage juice could be used to reveal invisible ink (lemon Juice writing) this did work but was very faint, they decided heat was a better revealer. 

Thursday, 7 May 2015

The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Daylight - TOS Review

I never have enough time in the day for everything that needs to happen - this often leaves me feeling frazzled and stressed, so when the chance to review The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Daylight from Real Life Press, I just knew I needed it.

It is written by Heidi St.John, a fellow busy homeschooler and mum of seven. Her writing style is honest and humorous - she really tells you how it is, all the mistakes she made, lessons she learnt and tips to improve.

The Busy Mom's guide to daylight is an easy read. The introduction not only makes you giggle but helps you realise that Heidi understands your my situation as she's been there. The book is divided into eight chapters;

Intentional Daylight - this covers improving you relationships with your spouse and children, why you homeschool, how you homeschool, creating a Plan of Action (to carry you through the inevitable burn out) and the importance of the need for flexibility.

Organised Daylight - probably one of the most relevant chapters for me (I never knew how much stuff I had until I had to pack it for a move) this chapter is all about getting organised and controlling clutter thus reclaiming your life. Heidi packs it full of tips to help you purge your collection as well as practical ideas to assess what you actually need.

Scheduled Daylight - as you may have guessed, this chapter is all about schedules - again highlighting the need for flexibility (life changes often and what worked for you last month may change this month/year etc.) she talks about the different schedules that have worked or failed for her family as well as sharing schedules from various different styles of homeschoolers. She does stress the importance of making time for the Lord, time for your spouse and time for you.

Hungry Daylight - here she focuses on how to fill their empty tummies. She discusses meal planning and strategies to help prevent the panic you feel when you forgot to defrost the meat and now you are wondering what to make quickly for dinner. I totally love her tips on pressure cookers and slow cookers - so much so that I've dusted off my pressure cooker and it now has pride of place on my kitchen side.

Discouraged Daylight - as the title suggests, this chapter explains how she deals with discouragement (it happens to us all) and tips for overcoming it. Remembering in her words that 'nothing good is ever easy'.

Consolidated Daylight - this explains how Heidi coped with teaching multiple aged students (she had high school and tots at the same time) and gives lots of ideas for creating combined group studies.

Wasted Daylight - this was the most important chapter for me - it's all about taking control of your time and identifying your personal time stealer's, Heidi offers practical suggestions and gives action steps so you can implement the changes you want.

Surrendered Daylight - all about accepted the Lords help to manage you homeschool and about not comparing yourself to others.

A number of Heidi's ideas inspired me whilst I read this book, The two I found most helpful were to address my lack of self control when it came to my own time wasters (I will hold my hands up and admit I struggle to put a good book down once I've started reading it - I have taken to setting a timer now so I don't go to sleep too late or let it take up more than its allocated time) 
and to create 'white space' on your calender - this is at least two days back to back where you have nothing planned, where you can take time to recover (avoid burnout) and enjoy time with your family.

I loved that Heidi shares so freely from her own experiences (I no longer feel bad about pyjama days), she is completely transparent and knows that being honest about her challenges will encourage others. I was impressed by the scripture she incorporates throughout the book and about how open she is that she relies on grace to get her through.

This book is a fun, uplifting read. I think most parents would benefit from the tips she shares - I know I did : )

I received the e-book priced at $10.00 and there is a paperback available for $12.95.

You can see what my crew mates thought to this and other Heidi St.John books over at the TOS Blog.

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