Hazy Days

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School 2009

Homeschooling means, sadly, no school uniforms, break times, new lunch boxes and new teachers.  On the plus side it means no dashing around in the morning in order to hurtle, headfirst, into rush hour traffic; no playground bullies; no homework and no school uniforms (yes, school uniforms fit into both categories!).  But, there is a certain amount of excitement that goes with preparing for the new school year that the girls’ friends will be experiencing around about now – stationery shopping, new haircuts and shoes to name a few.  Sue and I chatted (emailed) over these mini-milestone-moments that our kids wouldn’t have and decided to make the new home-school year just as exciting.  So, on separate days, we took our kids out for the “Before School Shopping Outing”.  The Hayes kids got new kokis (markers) and pencils; found sweet dresses (“school dresses”) and met Daddy at Kauai for a special “before-school” lunch treat.  It was exciting for us all, but by the end of the afternoon even Kiera was rolling her eyes at yet another “Back to School is Cool” poster advertisement.

The new school year begins officially on Wednesday, 21st January.  We’ve decided to stick to school terms more or less this year (not that we did anything different last year!).  So, on Wednesday when the rest of the Western Cape gets up early, dresses up in crisp new school uniforms and heads off to school with a brand new lunchbox and fresh haircut … we’re going to a party! 

Although my kids don’t know what they’re missing with all the excitement that is The First Day of School, they certainly know that parties are fun and having a party when their other friends are heading to school is pretty exciting in their book.  But, once the party is just a few crushed chips in Sue’s carpet, we’ll have to start knuckling down to school here in the Hayes house too.  And that means loads of prep for me. 

We’re diving into a whole bunch of great resources and curriculum this year.  We’ll be alternating between Sonlight Core K (we have 10 weeks left from last year’s programme) and Little Footprints, a South African literature-based curriculum aimed at 4-8 year olds.  I may introduce reading to Katie, if she is up to it, with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  She’ll also do some pre-writing exercises with Developing the Early Learner and some Maths from a few basic Maths workbooks that I’ve bought from newsagents here, plus a LOT of maths play games and manipulatives.  Kiera will also carry on with Singapore Maths (Grade 1 level); Sonlight Language Arts (Grade 2 level reading); A Reason For Handwriting and nature study.  I hope to include classical Art and classical music studies in the week.  Perhaps I’ll get around to blogging about those at some stage!  Sam will play, play, play!  Sometimes that means he’ll play at school stuff, and other times it means we’ll haul out blocks; puzzles; beads and all sorts of fun playthings that work out to be great teaching tools.  And Micah?  Well, Micah will also be learning – learning to sleep unaided; learning to sit; learning to crawl; learning to eat solids; learning to obey; learning to talk etc!

So now that we’ve bought the few stationery supplies we needed; we’ve organised the schedule (mostly) and we’ve talked up school, school, school, we just have to … start!

Another Sonlight moment

I’m sure there will be many more posts like these, so I’m not going to get creative with the post title! 

One of the things that I love about our Sonlight curriculum is the wonderfully ordered Instructor’s Guide (IG) that gives moms and dads great guidance and instruction on what and how to teach kids. 

For example – I would never dream of teaching my 5-year old contractions.  And I’m not talking about the variety that I’m soon to experience again.  I’m talking about the English language version.  (For the uninformed – a contraction in English is the term given to a word containing an apostrophe which is made up of two other words – such as can’t, won’t, she’ll etc.)  So, as I was saying – I’d never in a million years think that contractions are things that my 5-year old would grasp or need to learn at this stage in her life.  But, there it was in the IG a few weeks ago… a week’s worth of simple instruction and exercises with contractions.  Kiera grasped the concept pretty quickly and then we moved onto homonyms and later antonyms (I remember teaching these to my Grade 7 class years ago!). 

The “Sonlight Moment” came during swimming lessons last week.  Katie was having her lesson while Kiera read from her reader to me.  Then after that she picked out an easy Winnie the Pooh book from Jeanette’s toybox for me to read to her.  While going through the book she started to pick out the contractions – on each page she spotted one and was able to tell me what words they were made out of – including the more difficult ones like “won’t = would not”!  The lessons on contractions from weeks ago stuck!  And then she began to pick out words that could be contracted and told me what to do in order to make the word a contraction.  :)  

I love Sonlight!  I love that I don’t have to figure it all out for myself.  I love that Sonlight stretches my child’s learning in a gentle, yet effective way.  I love the look on my child’s face when she “gets” it and this moment by the swimming pool was one of those grin from ear-to-ear moments of accomplishment for my little one. 

Acid Science!

I’ve been catching up on some of the Science things we’ve missed in our school time lately.  So, did YOU know which of the foods you consume are acids or bases?  This fun experiment was quick and easy…

Step one: pour boiling water over red cabbage and allow to sit for a few hours.  Drain the water and discard the leaves. (We did this a couple days ago)

Step two: pour the cooled, now purple, liquid into separate cups

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Step three: select a few common foods / liquids to pour into the cabbage juice

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Step four: ensure that you have at least 1, 2 or more crazily excited students …

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Step five: observe – if it turns pink or red, it’s an acid!

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Step six: try not to drop the orange into the cup!

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Step seven: record your observations on a super-scientific-observation sheet

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Step eight: line it all up and take the final photo – can YOU see which ones were acids?  (don’t cheat and look at Kiera’s sheet above – she made a mistake which she corrected later)

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Step nine: CLEAN UP and DO NOT drink any of the combinations! — no pics of this one, sorry

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And to make your experiment more interesting, try get a bit of lemon juice in your eye like Katie did.  What a great object lesson – acids BURN!  Especially stronger acids like lemon.  Use this opportunity to zone home that one should NEVER EVER just taste something, especially if you don’t know what it is.  Because these acids are really “weak” acids.  Stronger acids are usually poisons and can kill you! 

And … just so you know, milk is actually an acid, but it is such a weak acid it is almost neutral and didn’t change the cabbage juice to anything other than a milky purple.  For the kids’ sake we left it as “not an acid”. 

Fish

A couple weeks ago the Lunch Bunch headed to the aquarium for an outing.  Tegan and Kiera have been doing a science section on fish these past few weeks, so Sue and I thought it appropriate to conclude the section with an aquarium outing.  What fun they had!  It was great to see how much they remembered from the books we’d been reading together and how interested they were in all they had to see.  Of course, being with their friends makes for a wonderfully fun experience too.  Some pics of our time together…

turtles and rays…

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Giant crabs are always a fascination

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Jaiden and Joel caught up in one of the information DVDs

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Jellyfish

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Sam was fascinated with all he saw and loved the stinky penguins!  He was a star in his pram.

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Everything is always so much more fun with friends…

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Here the kids are watching the shark attack advertisement – it’s a funny awareness campaign of tons of people dashing out of the sea water in great fear and screaming … only to see a chair/iron, or some other “harmless” house hold thing, floating in the water with the caption, “X more people are killed by chairs than sharks per year.” (or something like that). 

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In the Nemo tank.  The clown fish tank has an inner chamber that the kids can crawl into and stand up – it’s great fun for them to see the fish swimming all around them.  They loved it!  Unfortunately, it was impossible to get a shot without the flash bouncing off all that extra glass!

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Many of the kids at the Lunch Bunch have toy seals.  Kiera has wanted one for ages and when Tegan went off to buy one for herself with her birthday money, while we were at the aquarium, her desire for one was re-ignited.  I didn’t realise just how keen she was until she called me to the playroom later that day to see her latest creation.  She had created her own seal… a stuffed pillow case for a body; a ice-cream container for a face; some fanned printer paper for flippers and we have a Kiera-seal!  I give her 10/10 for effort, creativity and creating a solution to her problem without spending money!  Unfortunately it isn’t quite the cuddly little, take-to-bed, type of toy and she has since dismantled it and forgotten her desire … for now!

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