Actually I really don't remember what week of the year we started but it is week 17 for us. This year I have been planning less and recording more. Below is an example of what my journal looks like. I write down the things I would like to do during the week and what we actually end up achieving. I take lots of photos so I can print them out and put them in my journal. On the bad days (the days that I really look forward to 7pm bedtime after hours of breaking up bickering monkeys who show nothing but disrespect for their family and environment. If you have children I am sure you know what I am talking about!) I like to flick through this journal to see all we have done this year. It reminds me that this home education gig is not a race and some days it is ok to just slow down and live in the moment.
Over the last week we have mixed things up a little by having just one focused subject for the day, though I find that it is very difficult to isolate each subject area as sometimes happens in school.
Monday we worked on maths concepts (with language arts, science, history and some geography). Our maths manipulatives come in handy for every day building. Henry has become fond of building versions of things he makes in Minecraft. I have a feeling Lily has skipped a few essential concrete phases in her maths understanding so we have gone back to basics and concentrating on counting and visualising numbers in different ways. Tuesday we focused on language arts which of course included visual art, history, geography, and civics studies. It was good timing because the federal budget was released around that time so we had some interesting discussions on what the government actually does. Before lunch we drove down to Spanish in the park. It is rare the children tell me anything about what they learn in that class but this day they obviously had a good time with their teacher Miss Dominique because they told me quite a few new words. Papa is still our chauffeur and we all enjoy listening to the Narnia Chronicles in the car. Most days Papa asks to stay in the car a little longer after we have arrived home so he can hear a little more of the story! The children have their lunch in the car to and from the park and along with the wonderful story, we have a very quite and peaceful car ride!
Wednesday we had great fun with some easy science experiments which had an over lap of lots of other learning areas. We are calling Wednesday STEAM day - science, technology, engineering, art and maths. The children were fascinated with this acronym though I think Lily expected us to be playing with actual steam before I explained what STEAM is all about. The first experiment was bi carb of soda and vinegar (awesome for instant reaction!) in zip lock bags. We chatted about how the reaction produces carbon dioxide which makes the bags expand then explode. The children were excited about a new book to write in (STEAM journal) so they happily drew pictures, making predictions on what they thought would happen when we put bicarb in a tissue, in a bag then poured vinegar in on top. We had to be quick to seal it up before the air escaped. After that they drew and wrote about the results. The second experiment was watching how temperature effects food colouring in water. It was kind of cool to see how cold water allowed the colouring to move in the water. This is the first in a few experiments I have in mind to reinforce how temperature can effect how substances dissolve. Wednesdays are probably going to be our favourite day!
Thursday we took it easy with some history and geography along with language arts and visual arts. Fridays I am going to leave clear for the arts (dance, drama, music, media arts and visual art) and excursions. One learning area that is missing from the schedule is physical education. That is because we don't need to make time to move - the children don't stop moving while they are concious! Now that they can ride bikes we are out most days until they are exhausted. This does lead to a few fatigue meltdowns but at least I know they are getting enough fresh air and exercise!
An update of what has been happening over the last couple of months...
Before winter arrived (about a fortnight ago) their children were still enjoying time in the back yard playing under the hose. Aunty Nikki gave us a cool sprinkler hose and that made for a great work out for all the monkeys! Our Little Flower Lily lost three teeth in less than a week. I can't help but get the giggles sometimes because she does look comical sans her front teeth! The adult teeth are taking their time coming through so she continues to look a little like a vampire. Lily is now good enough at chess for us to stop going easy on her. She decided it was time to play like everyone else after she beat me! One morning she taught Henry how to play, in about half an hour. I came out to the kitchen after they had had breakfast and found both of them actually playing the game, not just mucking around with the pieces. Lily was taking Henry's pieces every move so I asked her if she was taking it easy on him, like we did when she was learning. She replied 'How is he going to learn if we don't play the game properly? If we go easy on him he won't learn!' Luckily Henry didn't really mind losing, which is the main lesson when learning a new game for any child. It is quite lovely to watch their friendship grow and it makes their little tiffs almost bearable.
The other week Henry had his first tummy bug since he was an infant and Lily was helping to take care of him. The poor boy can't remember ever being sick and it made him quite upset to be on bed rest with the vomits. We had a PJ day and snuggled up in the lounge and watched Master Chef and Horrible Histories as well as a few more shows that I think they can learn from, like Behind the News. I used to love that show when I was a kid and it is still quite good.
You'll notice the last photo above is an epic fail. I have been dabbling in sour dough bead making and having a ball! Yes, most of what I have made is edible, just, but I am getting better and the children are actually getting used to eating it. Which is great because I like that the only thing in the bread is water and flour. I also think it is good for the children to see me getting excited about learning a new skill and celebrating my failures as much as my success. After all, we learn so much more from failure than we do from success.