We began this week’s art-maths lesson with a simple art activity. Butterfly painting. So simple that my almost-4yo niece became the instructor and explained how to complete the activity.
We then made “snowflakes” to explore rotational symmetry. We folded the paper into halves, quarters, eights, sixteenths, thirds and sixths. We had fun cutting out different shapes and seeing how they would look when our “snowflake” was opened. We also explored how many times the shape looked like the original, as we turned it around one full circle.
I only just realised I hadn’t yet posted about this art activity we completed a few weeks back.
We started off with the artwork Rabbit Round Up into an Old Mine Shaft.
This artwork was a two-step process (well two week process anyhow). The first week we created our animal outline stamps and painted the backgrounds.
The second week we added our “plague” of animals across our background and discussed slide or translational symmetry.
Funnily enough, I never learnt about any sort of symmetry at school except for the “butterfly” type symmetry – known as flip or reflectional symmetry. It wasn’t until I read a book on mathematics some years ago (and the name of the book escapes me) that I realised that there were other types of symmetry.
We have continued to read about World War One this week. We started off by introducing two new books we’ll be reading approximately once per week. Discover Downunder and Prime Ministers of Australia, are both available through Homeschooling Downunder, and have downloadable e-books to print and have your students complete work in. If you remember to print them out in advance.
In Discover Downunder we had a general introduction to his Great South Land, written in a narrative style by Michelle of Homeschooling Downunder. I’m looking forward to using this resource over the coming months.
In Prime Ministers of Australia we reviewed the legal and governance systems in place before 1901, chiefly the laws of Britain and the governors of the new colony of New South Wales. It shall be interesting to learn a little more about the Prime Ministers of Australia – something we don’t have a lot of emphasis on in Australia, unlike in the US when children often memorise the names of the Presidents in order.
We also read The Promise, about the town of Villers-Britennouex in France. It was about the battle fought there by the Australian Soldiers but also the lasting relationship between the French town and Australia.
We managed to track down two pieces of music mentioned in the book. One is called The Glass Soldier, written by the grandson of a soldier who died in Villers-Bretonneux, telling his grandfather’s story. The second is called The Minstrel Boy and is a traditional Irish patriotic song. We already had an instrumental version by The Corrs, but it does have lyrics.
For week twenty, see our post on our first day back for 2014 because that’s all the history we got done, amongst excursions, appointments, sleepless nights and the like.
Week twenty one… We continued, and finished, reading the chapter in Our Sunburnt Country on World War One. We added the Rabbit Proof Fence to our timeline (after the previous Thursday’s art activity based on Rabbit Round Up Into An Old Mine).
We then read the book In Flanders Fields. It’s a stunning picture book, mostly in black and white, set at the time of the Christmas Day ceasefire. It made me tear up, but then most war picture books do. I’d highly recommend the book.
Later in the week we read My Mother’s Eyes by Mark Wilson.
It’s a moving story, and while the fate of the boy soldier, William, isn’t spelled out, it is implied that he died like so many other young men – or boys – in the First World War. It was also good to get a different perspective, as A Day to Remember focused on Gallipoli whereas My Mother’s Eyes looked at the fighting in France.
We also completed our Rabbits artworks, creating plagues of animals with stamps we made. We discussed symmetry (slide and turn as opposed to flip symmetry).
It really hit home to me a few days ago that… We just can’t do some things together as a family, that others can do as a family. We had already gotten to the point where I couldn’t take all five children on an big excursion by myself due to Josiah’s behaviours, sensory challenges, cognitive development and growing size.
Now we have gotten to the point where some excursions are just not possible to take Josiah on at all, even with a second adult. Even with Mark coming.
We can still go to parks, do bush walks, and go to super cold focused fun activities. But museums, historic houses and the like… We just can’t do any more.
On a recent outing to a museum, even playing nicely in the member’s lounge (who were very accommodating) became too much for him. He repeatedly ran away, out of the members lounge, and threw tantrums on the floor. I don’t even know what the problem was.
Later in the day we had to resort to him watching the few kids’ videos I have on my phone, just to get him to sit still and calm down a little. Then even the water play became too much when every time a ferry went to the wharf on the other side of the water to us (instead of the wharf on our side) distressed tears followed. It was all too much.
In the future, the only activities we can do as a whole family will be limited to parks, bushwalks, and other child friendly, child focused experiences. We won’t be able to go on adventures to museums, fairs, festivals and shows as a family anymore. Not necessarily forever, but for the foreseeable future.
We’ve always enjoyed doing a variety of things as a family. We like to play board games, but most board games are too complex for Josiah and he gets impatient waiting for his turn or distracted and ends up missing turns. We like to watch the cricket but it’s not something Josiah will sit and watch for long. We like to read books together but Josiah doesn’t follow a storyline, even in a picture book. We like to go to museums, festivals, art galleries etc and Josiah just finds those situations overwhelming for a variety of reasons.
In the past, we made things work. We brought the twin pram, or a pram and a baby carrier, so he could sleep/rest in the pram. We are members at a pile of places, partly in order to access the member’s lounge for a family quiet time when we all could relax and unwind a little. We allowed Josiah to play on devices or watch videos at times. But these efforts are no longer enough.
An outing is not enjoyable when you’re constantly on the lookout for a child who could dash off at any second. Or when you have to repeatedly say, “yes, it echoes in here. Squealing is for outside”. Or when you have to deal with meltdowns that you have no clue what the cause was. When “take a photo?” then “can see?” are repeated twenty times an hour. When you have a grumpy child who is hungry but won’t eat because you didn’t pack peanut butter sandwiches. Not. Relaxing. At. All.
And so we change. We adapt. We arrange babysitting for midweek excursions. Take turns at taking the other kids out on the weekend. Plan shorter days with more free play breaks (especially outdoors). Watch the cricket on TV instead of going to the game.
We love Josiah to death and most of the time I wouldn’t change him for the world. But… Just sometimes… I wish we could be that normal family who can go to the library without having to chase a child who runs away four times, have a tipped over pram, a child that is squealing because he likes the sound/echo and a mountain of books to get back to the car because you don’t get to take the kids as often as you’d like because it ends up being so stressful. We used to love trips to the library.
We’ve been doing some school work since Mark went back to work after New Year. We get back into some work quickly so we have more freedom to take mid term breaks later in the year.
Yesterday was technically the first day back of the school year in NSW, although most (if not all) public schools take that day as a staff day, so the teachers can get their classrooms ready and have staff development meetings.
This was our day yesterday.
So, coincidentally more than anything else, today was our first day back at a full school load.
Our school day begins at 7:30am when the children do their independent devotions (Bible reading). The eldest two are using XTB, and I am reading Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing with Rhiannon. Then each child has a small chore to do – unpacking the dishwasher, collecting up the dirty washing and generally tidying our hallway or emptying bins.
Then, at 8am, we gather for group devotions and memorisation time. For group devotions we are using Table Talk which matches up with the XTB reading each day. We were supposed to also read a chapter of the Bible today but I’d forgotten about that and Mark and I hadn’t decided what to read yet. Today’s devotion was about the golden calf.
Then on to memorisation. This week we added questions 2 and 3 of the Shorter Catechism for Children (the Prove It version, where each answer is accompanied by a relevant Bible verse). Normally I’d only add one question for the week but we have already learnt the Bible verse for question two (Q. What else did God make? God made all things. Prove It! Genesis 1:1, In the beginning…) so I figured we could tackle two questions this week. We are still very much in the early stages of learning the poem I added last week – The Triantiwontigongolope by CJ Dennis. Normally we would add a poem one week and a Bible verse or passage the next but I’m undecided as to whether we are ready to add another poem when we still haven’t got a good grasp of The Triantiwontigongolope.
After memorisation, about 8:20, is independent school work time. In reality, some children have already started this before our group devotions, because they have completed their morning tasks quickly. This was the case this morning.
Each child has some English work, some Maths work and another task to complete each day. Here is Reuben watching a video on my iPad through Brain Pop Jr for maths, learning about symmetry – flips, turns and slides (or reflection, rotation and translation).
Each day’s maths work includes completing some book work, practice and reinforcement with mentals and drills and a task on a website or iPad app. Here’s Rhiannon getting stuck into her maths book work.
English today was a bit odd. Normally the older two would have a piece of writing they started on Monday but since it’s Wednesday and they didn’t have a piece of writing to finish, we just skipped that today (shh, don’t tell anyone!).
The other part of English for today was introducing new Spelling programs. Rhiannon is using All About Spelling Level One. Today was just a gentle introduction to phonograms, to see which ones she knows all the sounds for and which ones she doesn’t yet know. Thankfully there are only seven we need to work on!
Zoe and Reuben are using Phonetic Zoo, Level A. I present each new lesson as they are ready for it and then each day they take a spelling test, staying on the same one until they get every word correct two days in a row. Beyond the first week or so it is quite likely they will be working on different lessons.
Then we have a break for morning tea. Yoghurt and fruit today.
Next it was into group work. For Science we are continuing on with Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day. Last year we covered the basic concepts of zoology (binomial nomenclature, classification etc), birds and bats. In our “warm up” weeks we covered pterosaurs and so now we are on to insects.
We just started with the basics – what is an insect? What makes an insect and insect? We completed a little exercise in the book of identifying which of the six pictured creatures were insects.
Then I gave the kids the task of creating their own imaginary insects. It could be anything they wanted as long as it met the criteria we had read about. Here are the results.
Next was history. We haven’t done anything formal for history for about six weeks so we discussed where we were up to when we ended the school year last year (Federation). Then I asked “What happened before that?” (Gold rush, bushrangers, Cobb and Co coaches) and then before that (Crossing the Great Dividing Range, and other journeys of exploration). And then before that (the Sydney colony/NSW going through lots of governors). Before that (convicts arriving). Before that (Captain Cook discovering the east coast of Australia). Before that… Well you get the picture. I was pretty happy with their recollection of the history we’ve studied.
We then began the next chapter of Our Sunburnt Country.
I’ve always loved modern history and especially learning about the two World Wars. I
obviously hadn’t prepared as well as I should hadn’t realised that we jumped straight from Federation into World War One.
After reading a few pages from Our Sunburnt Country, I pulled out the Big Book of Australian History by one of my favourite non-fiction authors for children, Peter Macinnis. We read about the recruitment drives and, specifically, the Cooee March.
We then watched some Horrible Histories sketches about the First World War.
I’d highly recommend the one about the Causes of the First World War. I found it to be a great summary of how it all started.
With all that covered, it was time for lunch. School is pretty much done for the day at lunch time today and every day. One of the older kids is going to begin with Rosetta Stone Spanish today and someone else owes me some maths work that didn’t get completed but we are generally complete by lunch time.
What I’ve listed here isn’t all the work we ever complete, nor is it all the resources we use. This is just a snapshot of our first day and probably what a typical Wednesday will look like.
So here’s to term one!