Wednesday, 20 October 2010

It's a Bug's Life

As part of our nature science this week we are looking at the environment of the ant.  We are fortunate to have nearby a wildlife centre housing a whole variety of mammals, fish and mini beasts; so yesterday we ventured North as part of our Tuesday field trip day.  We saw meerkats, degu, dwarf mongoose, monkeys, birds, squirrels, cavy, bugs, butterflies and snakes.  Pip's favourite was the dwarf mongoose she was fascinated by them.  Benedict enjoyed looking at them all but I think the new adventure play space won hands down!

Today our written work centred around yesterday's trip.  After writing a short account of our visit Benedict then drew a picture of one of the meerkats and their environment.  In addition to our times table work we have been working on telling the time, Benedict filled in a printed sheet of activities and there corresponding times.  Our final task for the morning was our weekly spelling list.

After lunch Benedict watched Bug's Life  in the hope that it will give him some clues pertaining to the environment of the ant and other related insects.  Hopefully we will be continuing the topic on our next official work day which is Friday.  I must admit we are all feeling pretty jaded at this end, both Benedict and Pip are weary with minor colds and coughs and not sleeping too well.  Naturally all of this adds up to crabby behaviour and poor concentration, good job we are on a non teaching day tomorrow!

Here are the pictures of our trip:


Tuesday, 12 October 2010

First Things First

The firsts are Benedict attending Beaver camp on Saturday.  A whole six hours of running, climbing, fire building (under supervision, naturally!), orienteering, friendship making and eating.  Dave went along to monitor diabetic control and act as blog photographer!

Getting ready to play

Collecting wood for the fire

Toasted Treats

Eating the evidence!

Burning off the calories with a stint on the climbing wall

For tea the Beaver leader Tess had made beef and vegetable pie with cake for dessert.  Since Benedict is gluten intolerant aswell as diabetic, he ate the casserole mix and Dave took along an alternative sweet.  He benefited enormously from the day and came home very tired and happy.

Pip was also experiencing a "first" that day, not only was it the longest she had ever been apart from her daddy and big brother but she also refused to nap that day, ack!  Despite having been on the go since 7am, she was quite happy to help with household activities aswell as play time with mummy.  It was a rare treat for me too as so often I'm either caught up with "teaching" Benedict or playing catch up with the never ending chores.

Our other first has been an attempt at putting God first at the start of our day and throughout the day as it unfolds.  Yeah, I know it's a no brainer!  Sometimes spiritual common sense fails to prevail in this household, sorry Lord.  So today after breakfast and chores we headed off to Mass, both Benedict and Pip were really good at sitting still and reading/listening to the Mass.  Once home I prepped part of our lunch and put it in the Remoska to cook, then it was down to work for Benedict and I.  He completed three pages of cursive handwriting practise, two pages of sticker Maths and then using the cheery maths gnomes, looked at how many ways plus gnome could write out twelve.  We used standard math format aswell as pictorial representation to reinforce the learning.

After our lunch break Benedict wrote out plus gnomes evaluation in his Main Lesson Book, whizzed through his spelling sheet using Rummikub tiles as a concrete tool and lastly we shared the reading of the next chapter in " Five go down to the sea".  As a reward for all the hard work we stuck flowers on our picture of Our Lady and baby Jesus and both him and Pip  Hermie.

Pip is also learning too, her latest batch of words are as follows: off, car, cat, down, dink,hat,hair,chair,tractor,book and boots.  New words seem to be appearing nearly every day and her understanding of complex set of instructions is wonderful to see.  She certainly is a very loving and happy little girl.  Hard to believe that she will be two in a matter of months.  Now where did the time go?

All in all a peaceful and productive day.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Twenty Two Years

You ask me now to marry you,

You ask for my reply,

And if I turned you down my dear,

Your heart might wonder why?

Before I answer let me ask,

"How old are you today?"

Not by the numbers of your years,

But what you think and say.

"What are you really looking for?"

The moon and stars above?

A paradise of happiness

In everlasting love?

Or will you keep your faith with me,

In sickness and in health?

And whether we are lucky or

We never live in wealth?

If love is really in your heart

Forever deep and true,

Then be assured my darling one

I want to marry you.

                             James J Metcalfe

Twenty two years today we made promises to love and cherish, honour, care in sickness, manage our finances as best we can and welcome a family.  There have been inumerable ups and downs and like any good wine we have matured with age!  God has and continues to be the cementing in this partnership, without Him I'm sure we would have floundered long ago.  He endows us with His grace and makes many a crooked path straight.

" The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered towards the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptised persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament"

Article 7 " The Sacrament of Matrimony" Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Sunshine and Showers

This in truth has been our Home Ed story for the past few weeks.  We've been averaging a hit rating of two good days out of the five and although I always start the week with enthusiasm, it slowly dissipates as the week progresses.  I had acupuncture on Tuesday and apart from being very good at her job, Cathy my acupuncturist is a very good listener.  She commented yet again that I needed to take greater care of my own health and with that, comment once more ringing in my ears. I decided "something" had to change.
First up I moved all the Home Ed stuff into the caravan at the side of the house.  Essentially we walk out of the kitchen door into a five berth caravan, with stove/oven, CD player and radio and warm air heating and fire.  No excuse for being cold and a great place for extra cooking activities if needed!  My dining room is back into an eating/play area and that suits me fine, I now can switch off at the end of the day instead of feeling obliged to spend my evenings reviewing curriculum material or planning lessons.
Our weekly routine has changed yet again and at last I feel that we have something that is workable for us all.  Using the Oak Meadow materials as a guide we "do" school type stuff on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  The work covered on those days will be language arts and math problems.  Tuesday is our field trip day to places of interest, nature walks or even visits to family and friends.  Thursday will be our town based day: Dave and Benedict to visit the library/museum and then Nero's for a coffee and juice, Pip and I will attend our weekly sing and play toddler session.  Thursday afternoons will also be a chance for Benedict to cook or bake in the kitchen or have a go at some hands on science.
I think the days off in between are important for the health and well being of the entire family.  We've felt bogged down with everything and sometimes it is a very painful process getting Benedict to sit and "do" something formal.  This way he knows it is only for one day and then a break, it also means that I can get on with much needed household activities, instead of feeling frustrated about the jobs that are not being done.  From a social viewpoint we also need to be mixing with people from all walks of life, learning isn't just restricted to bums on seats education, there is a  whole world out there waiting to be explored.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Oak Meadow Curriculum

After much discussion Dave and I both felt that, using a pre-planned curriculum would help enormously with our home school journey.  We decided to buy from Oak Meadow and were not only impressed with the speed in which the package arrived but also the quality of the materials supplied.  Oak Meadow can be found here:
Oak Meadow
Our new routine for the week includes Language Arts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings and Math Stories on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.  After lunch we have a variety of afternoon activities recorder practise, craft,humanities, science and handicraft.  The subject areas incorporate stories, practical activities and a small amount of writing and art to reinforce each concept.  Today's lesson was Language Art and our Animal Story for the next few weeks is The Jolly Robin, to be read at bedtime.
The first chapter was entitled "Nestlings" and centres around the main character Jolly Robin and his nestling brothers and sisters.  We are given hints relating to his temperament, his relationships with his other family members and even his favourite food!  This morning our task was to remember and narrate the story and from that write three sentences and an accompanying picture.  Initially I was amazed by how much we did remember, but upon reflection I should not be so surprised, this just confirms Benedict preferred learning style, which is auditory in nature.  Here is our list of remembered items:
Jolly Robin is the biggest of the nestlings for he loves his food.
His favourite meal is angleworms.
He likes playing tricks on mummy bird, if she isn't moving quickly out of the nest, he encourages his brother and sisters who are nestling underneath her, to jostle and push her out of the way!
We remembered the description of the nest; it was made of twigs, leaves, moss and mud.  Benedict recalled a nature programme he had seen whereupon a bird had used sheep's wool to line the nest.  The sheep's wool helped keep the eggs warm and also acted as a protection; he likened it to the bubble wrap used when sending fragile items through the post.  He also talked about nesting boxes and why the holes in them are small, in order to protect the eggs/baby birds from predators.
To prepare the birds for leaving the nest, one day daddy bird sits on a branch with an angleworm in his mouth.  Since angleworms are Jolly Robins favourite treat he leaves the nest to devour this delicious morsel.  From that day he does not return to the nest.
The three sentences that Benedict chose to say and write are as follows:
The Jolly Robin loves angleworms.
Jolly Robin loves playing tricks on mummy bird.
To get Jolly Robin out of the nest daddy bird sits on a twig with an angleworm in his mouth.
Here is the accompanying writing and drawing:

Our next task was to tackle this week's spelling list.  Benedict used the Rummikub tiles as a tactile  lettering system and did well considering he had only briefly looked at them late last week.  Free time and chore time was next on the agenda, Benedict and Pip played with the modelling clay whilst I caught up on kitchen chores.
After lunch Benedict read the first chapter of "Five go down to the sea" by Enid Blyton.  He also typed out his narration from last week relating to our Ravenglass trip, he did this using Microsoft Word.  We chose our poem of the week and here it is:
An Autumn Greeting
" Come" said the wind to the leaves one day.
"Come over the meadow and we will play.
Put on your dresses of red and gold
For Summer is gone and the days grow cold"
Whilst I worked on finishing tomorrow's Math Story Benedict played with the Lego outside.  
Early days I know but so far so good.  It is the first time ever Benedict has not moaned about having to put pen to paper!  He has worked diligently and quietly.  Our flower garden for Our Lady over  is also shaping up nicely too!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Railway Stories and St Therese

Benedict was back on form today and so he worked on his narrative from our family trip on Tuesday:
On Tuesday we went to Ravenglass to see the trains, as a birthday treat for Daddy.  We met Nanna and Grandad H, because we missed the first train we had a cup of tea in the cafe.  Daddy talked to the engine driver and had a footplate ride.
After Ravenglass we went to a cafe and I had egg and chips.  The weather was good and I had a lovely day.
He also copied out the following railway poem:
The Song of the Engine
When you travel on the railway,
And the line goes up a hill,
Just listen to the engine
As it pulls you with a will,
Though it goes very slowly
It sings this little song.
"I think I can, I think I can,"
And so it goes along,
But later on the journey,
When you're going down a hill,
The train requires no pulling,
And the engine's singing still.
If you listen very quietly
You will hear this little song,
"I thought I could, I thought I could!"
And so it speeds along.
                                Christine Weatherl
Today was also the feast day of St Therese of Lisieux.  We didn't manage a liturgical tea as we were pressed for time but Benedict did manage to draw his own picture of The Little Flower using this image as a guide:

A very happy St Therese, after all her greatest wish was to spend time in Heaven doing good on earth.
God, Our Father,
You promised Your Kingdom
to the little ones
and the humble of heart.
Give us the grace
to walk confidently in the way
of St Therese of the Child Jesus,
so that helped by her prayers,
we may see Your glory
and share in Your Kingdom.

Flowers for Our Lady

October is recognised as the month of The Holy Rosary and the particular feast day associated with this  is on the 7th October.  In an effort to do little things with the love and cheerfulness as St Therese would have done, we are offering our efforts as a spiritual bouquet for our Blessed Mother.   Each time we manage to complete our tasks without grumbling, bear a suffering quietly without complaining and make extra special efforts to be truly kind to one another, then we will place a flower on the following picture:

I hope and pray that come the end of the month the picture will be carpeted with flowers.