Friday, July 27, 2012

100 Best Chapter Books of All Time

We visit our library all the time. At least once a week, we started when the kids were still at school and to be honest I thought I was pretty smart coming up with this. See I was so sick of going to the shops and going through the whole "Mum can we get something?" Even typing those words makes me want to shrivel up and crawl under the desk - what I'd like to yell is "For goodness sake give me a break, what more could you possibly want!" but of course I don't because I ' always want everyone to be happy' (I am learning this is impossible).

Anyway my answer evolved into 'Yes you can when we get to the library.' Unbelievably it worked! And it continues to work. However now I am homeschooling I need to make sure that their choices are actually literary and educational but of course fun (there I go again trying to please everyone!)

Anyway I just stumbled across this link 100 Best Chapter Books of All Time  from  K3TeacherResources on Facebook and I am going to use it as a guide to introduce my kids to some all time classics like Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and Huckleberry Finn as well as some newbies even I haven't read - who said only the kids get to have all the fun! I hope you enjoy the resource too.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Indigenous Studies

The first unit that I have been taking the kids through is "My Gold Coast". I thought this was important as they have ancestral ties to the first white man born on the Gold Coast (on Brett's side). I am pretty sure this is not part of the Australian Curriculum, so we have really dived in.
I wanted them to understand what life was like William Duncan (their ancestor) when he first arrived here in the 1800's and historical accounts report that he lived closely with the native Kombemerri people. So we have taken a few snapshot at their everyday life by reading Our Sunburnt Country by Arthur Baillie. We also went on a bush walk with Connect with nature where we were guided by an Indigenous Ranger and shown bush food, native bees and useful plants.
Another tact we took with this is we read a book that my Mum got on a trip to the Kimberleys called "More Tales of My Grandmother's Dreamtime" by Naiura, it is illustrated beautifully and the Dreamtime stories prompted discussions about morals and aboriginal culture.
The kids then spent a few hours with their Nanny (Nanette Clifton - a professional artist ) they were given a brief to plan and paint a picture in the indigenous style including symbols that would tell a story, and here is what they came up with:

I love these pictures they seem so natural and relaxed, it's been a while since I've seen that light in Jake's eyes - I think this homeschool business really suits us!
Our next stop on the journey of the Gold Coast history is to visit Great Uncle Chippy Duncan at the Gold Coast Historical Society.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Oh dear! Bigger classes...really?!

Oh now here we go... I just read this article that says Politician wants bigger classes how can that be helpful for the kids at school - honestly!

I think there needs to be a change in attitude, we are currently educating the future leaders that will have to make major decisions in regard to our energy sources, our environmental impact and our living conditions. Lets not count pennies.

How about the Australian Government has a really good look at why private schools are allocated tax payers dollars in addition to the fees they recieve from the student's parents.

Schools and Teachers need as much support as possible, the Teachers in particular are doing a really tough job with limited resources.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

We don't follow the Yellow Brick Road will skip down the Green Lane

A few weeks ago I stumbled across this awesome activity when I was searching for lesson plans to make the kids more aware of environmental issues. I figure it's a problem that unfortunately they are going to inherit, they should at least understand the issues, who knows it may help them with future employment.

The site is called so I emailed them and they sent me 2 Green Lane Diaries and a workbooks. Basically you work through the book with the kids and you complete your diary. There are plenty suggestions on how to help the environment from saving water to major projects that maker a larger impact. The best thing is it shows the kids that they can really make a difference I am all about empowerment. Here is a video with a bit of an intro:

We had a bit of a science day today. You see Mali saw this ant farm at Toy World yesterday and of course she really wanted it. I decided this was not an essential item and she then launched into her 100 reasons why it would be a good idea, so to bring a sudden end to this conversation I had a brilliant idea - lets see if we can make one!

After a very quick search I found this video which served our purpose:

So this morning I put Brett to work on this one (yes I know it was my idea, and yes I am spoilt to have him help out and yes I am very very grateful !!!) and in under an hour they had created it:

They did a great job, don't you think? Of course Mali now thinks the ants might be sad or might take their revenge by getting in her bed in the middle of the night. So it may only last long enough to see them build their tunnels.

Good ol' Mali she knows how to milk this homeschooling business!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mali's first post

Part of the Australian Curriculum General Capabilities for Science for Year 1 are understanding "observable changes occur in the sky and landscape". Sounds pretty complex hey? Well this is Mali and my version of this.
Nearly everyday Mali and I take our little dog Trixi for a walk in the park, it's an awesome big park full of native trees including Wattle. So I noticed the Wattle had little buds all over it which glowed this beautiful lime green in the morning sunshine, so I pointed it out to Mali and said "One day soon we are going to look at this tree and it is going to be an explosion of yellow blossoms." Well this was months ago, to be honest I was getting bored with looking for these damn blossoms I thought it would never happen until today...

Hello my name is Mali.
Today is special because the Wattle in our park flowered. We had not been to the park for a while because it was raining and we were suprised when we saw all the yellow trees.

Here is a picture of me holding some

Dad thought it was a Sydney Wattle but Mum and I checked...(*Dad isn't always right - Mum)

 but the internet says this is a Sydney Wattle and the flowers are different.

Mum and I think it is a Brisbane Golden Wattle like this one...

What do you think?

From Mali xxx.

This little exercise for Mali would be counted in the following subjects:
  • Science (observable changes in the landscape)
  • Nature Studies (learning about how to differentiate between different wattles)
  • Health and Physical Education (the walk)
  • Technology (typing and learning about blogs)
  • English (learning the words and discussing how to structure the sentences)
Who wouldn't love homeschooling!

Getting started...

It's been a while since my last post, that's because this Homeschooling business is hard work - I'm not going to pretend. I have literally taken on a new job, it may be part time, but add that to part time business owner and full time Mum - I'm getting hammered from all directions. Regardless here I am I made it!

Our first week has been awesome, but more about that later. What I want to share today is what the process is to get started so these are the steps I went through to go from being a State School Queensland Mum to a Homeschooling Everywhere Mum.

Step 1: I researched, I started with 'how am I going to teach them what they need to know?' so I google 'homeschooling Australia', I stumbled onto an awesome sight called this was a great place to start for me, Michelle has a way of simplifying what I considered a convoluted subject, this site made me realise I could really do this and introduced me to Charlotte Mason whom I have grown to love.
My next stop was to be honest this scared the begeezers out of me especially when I looked at their planning section and all the examples, but it has been priceless in my preparation of the kids curriculum (yes you have to prepare a 12 month curriculum to be a Homeschooler in QLD). This was where I found a great document that the lovely staff at the QLD Home Ed Unit prepared I devoured these sites and started to jot some things down.
I also read a number of books at the library I found "Getting Started with Homeschooling" by Beverley Paine and then found her website she is awesome - I spent alot of time here and

Step 2: I looked more closely at the templates at and I just kept writing lists of what I wanted my kids to learn, this then morphed into an 'ecclectic' approach to the curriculum combining Charlotte Mason, Curriculum texts (maths, grammar and science) and unit studies. This is how it works -
I have chose 4 units - one for each term of the year My Gold Coast, Healthy Happy Me, My Country and Plants. During each term we do the following activities and relate them to the unit topic:
  •  read  'living' books (real life stories) about each subject
  • go on excursions
  • make a notebook (a book with small project pages that the kids design)
  • lapbooks (little books made out of quad folded manilla folders)
  • handwriting practice using phrases from books they have read
  • A big project eg plan a veggie garden
  • Every morn the kids work on their curriculum texts
Step 3: I chose a template and completed it using all the resources I collected (I had to borrow the Beverley Paine book 4 times from the library). I am still at this step, I have completed Mali's curriculum now I need to copy and paste it into Jake's and slightly change his objectives and tasks for his level. I now have to send that all off the the Home Education Unit. I have already sent in the application forms and the Home ed Unit called me to ask about the curriculum - I said it is on the way, (lovely ladies - don't be afraid of them , they want to help us succeed).

Step 4: I then made up a timetable and implemented it, we deviate from the timetable but this week at least it has all worked well.

Make no mistake this has been hard work and I'm sure I have made it harder than I needed it to be. If I could start all over again I would join some homeschooling groups on yahoo and ask questions from experienced homeschoolers. Having said that I have loved this week, we have all learnt so much, I have seen changes in my 9 year old son that I thought may have been lost forever. I have watched my husband do a demonstration of an Aborigine hunting a roo (our dog Trixi). I have had time to talk to the kids without ordering them around, the TV has been off most the time - Jake said he hadn't watched it in 4 days at one stage.

So this post has been about the 'yucky' stuff , so now that is out of the way, lets have some fun.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

10 Good Reasons to Homeschool (and 3 reasons not to!)

In my 'Welcome' post I shared our personal reasons for Homeschooling our 2 kids. This process was pretty therapeudic for me. Even though in my heart I know my reasons sometimes it is hard to convey it to people who ask me about it. Most of my family and friends have been really great, but some...when I start to explain it to them glaze over or start to look away, as if I have personally insulted them.

What I'd like to say is... "My decision to homeschool in no way means that I disagree with your decision to take the 'in school' option for you kids. It does not mean that I think you are a bad mother and it does not mean that I am some super hero all knowing Mum, it's just an option that I think may help my kids. I think all Mums are doing the best they can with the deal that have been handed."

Bear in mind I am part of the 'in school' option. I am a Teacher Aide - I love my job, the staff and the kids, I enjoy seeing the kids eyes light up when they learn something new. Kids are in good hands at school.

I also want to make another point, there are so many reasons not to homeschool and I think the top two for most families is:

1. Financial - obviously to homeschool you (or hubby) has to be there to teach them, and many families are two income. Fair enough!

2. I'm not smart enough - I'd really hate this to be the only thing holding back a family from homeschooling especially if in every other way it would improve their situation. It's really typical for Mothers to underestimate their abilities - I'm no genius I only passed my HSC because I got 98% in 3 unit textiles (yes I will teach that to them:-)). I have discovered that there are so many awesome resources, not to mention Distance Education which is basically that they have a Teacher teach them over the internet and you supervise and keep them on track.

There is also a 3rd reason...
3. I think we would end up driving each other crazy!? It's funny but I have found the more time my husband and I spend with the kids the more amazing I find them. However there are conditions...I need to pay them my full attention when they are learning, if I am cooking or cleaning or chatting on the phone, they keep interrrupting and yes that does drive me crazy - so learning time is dedicated to that and the kids are starting to understand that I need time to work on the house, our business and to just be Chandra (not Mum or Teacher). I think they are cherishing their free time too (Don't bother Mum or she will make us help her clean the house - see I have my ways ;-))

Now getting back on track I recently found this great article 10 Good Reasons to Homeschool it helped to solidify my reasons for homeschooling (I don't agree with all of it), which has only strengthened my resolve. Have a look it is an interesting read.