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First full day back, 2014

29 January, 2014

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).

20140129-120757.jpg As you can see, there is always an audience. Although I’m not sure how engaging the video would have been to the little two, since they couldn’t hear the sound due to the headphones.

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.


As you can see – we often have “extras” in our “class” and we do actually do some school work at the table.

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.

20140129-123729.jpg 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.

While I read, the kids drew “war” pictures of soldiers and the like.



We then watched some Horrible Histories sketches about the First World War.

20140129-124336.jpg 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!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. mandy snow permalink
    29 January, 2014 2:20 pm

    Yes…we were off to an early start too…im tired.…looks like you were busy beavers today….

  2. 29 January, 2014 4:23 pm

    Oh, I do love this, Liz. I especially love the pics of your kids working where they find themselves. And the facial expressions on their soldiers are fantastic!

    Thanks for sharing.

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