Monday, August 23, 2010

Learning between the lines

If you asked me during the day yesterday what we were doing, I would probably have answered 'not much' or 'just the usual'.  As usual, I started with a vague idea of how the day might go ... an easy day at home, a bit of school work, reading together, lots of play (inside as it's raining), and as always going with the flow and having a lot of fun.

It didn't seem like much, just an ordinary home Monday, as much as any day here is 'normal'!  Looking back I'm amazed by the scope of what went on between the lines, during our 'ordinary' day:

5:15am     Snuggly little ones in sneak in with me after Pete left for work, neither of them sleepy ... we talk and pray about what we're thankful for.  Jasmine starts a Sudoku puzzle from my bedside table - needs a lot of help, but she has the general idea.  They start a debate about pets ... Jasmine wants a white rabbit, Elijah wants a turtle ... though they know we are not likely to become pet owners any time soon!  I half-sleep, half listen as their thoughts bubble out about care, habitats, natural environments, food (I'll grow carrots, said J.), temperature regulation, cleaning etc ... the possibility of further sleep melts with the rising sun.  Around 7am we drift out to a sunny dining room.

Breakfasts are made to order ... toast with all the colours of the rainbow for Jasmine (a rectangle each of jam, vegemite, peanut butter and honey), a banana sandwich for Elijah, toast for me.  The kids eat and watch cartoons from 7:35 to 8:30am, while I shower, check emails, read blogs, wash dishes ... away from the screen, kids dress, make beds, brush teeth and play.

The kids play variously with dolls, books, bikes and scooters and a big cardboard box, which they wallpaper with paintings done last week.  This ends in tears later in the day, as some paintings rip during removal.  Meanwhile, I start a new blog, Ink Island , to write more about writing, and I write my first post.  It's fun playing with layouts, background pictures and words.  I also finish my previous, jumbled blog post for Chrysalis Island.  My mind is a bit clearer after getting these thoughts down!

We come together for morning tea (fairy floss and nuts) and read about Sarah and Abraham's baby and their praising, from The Little Girl's Bible .  I write Psalm 34:1 on the whiteboard.  The kids copy the verse into an exercise book and draw and label what they praise the Lord for.  Jasmine makes hers sparkle with glitter pens and glitter glue.  Elijah's picture spreads to the next page as he tells us a story as he draws.  He writes on the whiteboard - sunny (Jasmine wants an 'e' on the end, but reluctantly trusts me that it must end in 'y' like baby and puppy).  Elijah draws boxes for a checklist and labels the first one 'litrse' (literacy).

Jasmine does a page of a spelling textbook then starts colouring in and doing patterns inside bubble-writing.  I ask Elijah if he'd like to write about pets or knights, but he says chocolate!  He tells me a title, which he copies from the whiteboard (Chocolate Flavour Inventions).  He narrates a bit while I write (the new chocolates will be sold to raise money for poor people), then he draws and labels some new flavours, which somehow turn into icecreams along the way!

Around 1pm, Pete arrives home and we have lunch (he's home early as today's work was overtime on a rostered day off), toasted sandwiches.  He offers to clean up, so the kids and I sit on the lounge to continue our informal (make it up as we go) unit study learning about Poles and Polar Bears.  We've watched DVDs over the years, and read a few books recently, like Polar Bears Past Bedtime , by Mary Pope-Osborne, and parts of Horrible Geography: Perishing Poles .  We talk about (and I record) what we know and what we want to know .  It's fun and I'm impressed!  We look at the globe and wall map, to see Antarctica and the Arctic.  Then we re-read a picture book, Antarctic Dad , share a few pages from non-fiction Antarctica , and a new picture book Over in the Arctic .  We take a long time to read, as each page is fuel for discussion, dominated by Master E.!

The kids put away a stack of about 30 books they've been browsing.  Jasmine plays boxes/ dots with Pete while Elijah 'reads' Knights and Castles .  From 3-4 pm the kids watch ABC TV (playschool, cartoons).  Pete starts our tax returns, and I read in bed!

While Pete has a well earned rest I keep the kids quiet with a game of Rummikub .  It's their first time playing, and I'm surprised by Jasmine's patience and by how interested and eager they both are.  We play open hands, but by the end they can make their own moves if I give a small clue.  At 5pm the kids call Pete out and we all watch Survive This! on ABC ... an adventurous Canadian survival show for kids.

The kids take turns doing dot to dots in a booklet of A-Z and 1-30 puzzles, easy but fun, and play 'memory' with a deck of picture cards.  Dinner (chicken schnitzel, mashed potato and veges) sparks talk of volcanoes (as Elijah's mash mountain erupts with sauce), and is followed by the final few chapters of our latest chapter book, The Littles and the Lost Children by John Peterson.  Together the kids quickly do a set of Maths Mentals from New Wave Mentals B , and Elijah asks to do more.  They find it fun because it's new today, but I'm thinking "it's too easy, even the next book is too easy, what's the point?" but I do want them to have quick recall and some 'schoolish' skills in case they ever decide to do maths tests, competitions or need to slot into a classroom at some stage.  I have always done maths just for fun, and my kids do seem to be wired the same way.  We'll see.

Time for pyjamas, tooth brushing, tucking in, chatting and praying.  Pete read a chapter of the next book, The Littles go to school .  Then the kids play in bed, read and colour in until about 8pm when they fall asleep.  I go online to renew library books and update the kids' book lists for the Premier's Reading Challenge (both are now finished, Jasmine's first and Elijah's second year).

In bed at 10pm, I'm too tired to read for once (aside from a quick scripture), but I can't sleep.  Several times I flick on the light to jot down notes to myself.  I finally do some maths (double 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 etc) to switch off my meandering mind, and drift to sleep trying to double 16384 ... finally .... zzzz

Sunday, August 22, 2010

You've got mail!

Hi everyone,

I'm writing you a letter this morning, just for a change.  First of all I wanted to say thanks for all of your comments, and for sharing your time and thoughts with me.  Sorry I don't always leave comments on your blogs ... even if I want to sometimes I just can't put thoughts into words in the time I have.

Chrysalis Island is a bit eclectic, like everything I do, and is about more than homeschooling, though home schooling does absorb a lot of my time, energy and is a veritable playground of discovery, challenge, inspiration and creativity.  On here, I try to usually write something which neatly fits into a box or answers a specific question or explore a certain topic.  This is a messier post ...

I had good intentions to write helpful, practical home ed posts recently, and whilst I could (since I live it and have many ideas I'd love to share), I also couldn't because I might write too much (and you'd fall asleep mid sentence) or too little (and it would be nothing new) or somewhere in between ... besides, every day shines a new light on things, and how do you paint when the colours are always changing?

Lately I've been scatter-brained, forgetful, daydreaming, preoccupied, off with the fairies ... the other day I tried to phrase it nicely ... so perhaps I'm an absent minded professor.  Now that sounds fun!  Never mind that I'm not actually a genius, I can still have the eccentric trait, right?  An acceptable way to excuse my shortcomings?  I do wish I could be more realistic at times, instead of idealistic and vague.

Some of the tangents I've been on lately include brain teaser and IQ websites, the theory and practicality of gifted education, science, especially chemistry, Sunday school coordinating and as always, reading a variety of thought-provoking books.  I'm also studying what the Bible says about thinking, to try and resolve a few philosophical questions I've been wrestling with.  It's helping put a lot of recent challenges into clearer perspective.  But I still feel like I need a few days of strenuous bushwalking to force me to focus on reality and practicality!

I've been thinking about why I don't write more on my blog.  I have plenty more to write about than actually makes it to the page.  Some of it would probably interest, help or inspire some people.  So what holds me back from writing more?

  • I tend to avoid controversy and conflict ... on the other hand a lot can be learned from diversity and debate.  I hesitate to write about 'loaded' topics for fear of seeming too introspective, intellectual or opinionated, yet these are also the ones which I question, most want to understand and would welcome debate about.  So I might get there yet!
  • Deciding what to share here, and what is better kept in a private journal.  Will my children be upset with me for sharing their trials, triumphs and quirks?  Online is fun and convenient, but if in doubt, I'll leave it out.
  • Every topic is so wide and deep that it's hard to declare anything 'ready to publish'.  'Finished' is an arbitrary, subjective word.  Not that it matters anyway!!
  • Trying to protect the 'precious present ' from slipping away while my mind is occupied writing.  The average post takes me 1-2 hours to write and rewrite, and whilst I want to write, I don't want to rob my family of time.
  • Self-doubt ... if I can't write confidently for a diverse audience of 13 (subscribers I know of), how will I ever finish any particular book for a potentially much wider audience?!

Anyway, what do you think about this blog?  I originally started it as my thinking space, but have used it mostly for home ed. related subjects.  I have just started Ink Island to blog about my writing hobby.  Should I further separate my home ed entries from my other thoughts, or keep Chrysalis Island as is, complete with these sometimes diverse musings?

I look forward to hearing what you think.  Either way, I'm just me and I'm glad to know you!

Best wishes,

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Homeschool Wordle

Wordle: EandJhomeschool

I created this at, to print and use in our homeschool journal after seeing the idea here and here .  If you click on the Wordle it will open in the Wordle gallery to view at a more readable size!

It was easy and a LOT of fun!

I just typed lots of words in a basic text editor (Stickies) then pasted my list into Wordle, played with the style and saved it in the public gallery.  Voila!

I am hoping it will print well ... when I tried to resize it for this page, the text became too foggy.

Have a go, and add a link to your Wordle in my comments!

P.S.  If you use Mac OS X as I do, refer to FAQs for information about how to print your Wordle.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

It's official!

We're doing a happy dance!  We are now officially home schooling Elijah!!  I know it's only a technical, legal point, but I'm the kind of person who likes to be affirmed and told I'm on track.  It's probably not normal to be so excited by this, but it's such a relief, since we've waited for this day for a long time.

Our interview went for two hours, and Mr N. read everything I'd written.  Often his eyebrows would wobble, he'd go tut-tut and shake his head.  Uh oh, I thought.

I saw that face a lot as he turned the pages (educational philosophy, goals and plans, evaluation, scope and sequence, reflections, etc.).  Half of it was nicely typed and polished, and half scribbled in handwriting, trains of thought, lists, messy mind maps.  A lot of things I just pulled from my blog and slightly altered to suit the purpose!

After seeing that head shake and hearing the tutting a few times, I asked him what was up ... it turns out that's his 'I'm impressed' face!  He gave us a lot of positive feedback.  I was embarrassed.  I didn't go overboard with paperwork, as in my uni student and teaching days, but I guess all my research, thinking and reflection over the last few years has paid off and ended up as something coherent which represents what we do well enough.  I'm sure the Lord helped me balance my responsibilities this week ... busy life with the kids, preparation for our FBI Detective Day, preparing Sunday School lessons and pulling together 3 years worth of home ed. stuff'!!

Whew!  Glad it's over and I can get some sleep.  We went out for dinner to celebrate tonight ... a seafood restaurant.  Elijah is OVER THE MOON to know that we are now registered, so he doesn't have to worry about having his education interrupted by school!  When asked what he likes best about home schooling, he said "We play a lot."  Ha!

Gotta get some zzzz's.  Just had to say WOOHOO!!!!!!!!