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The Genial Hearth
I’ve just put the kettle on, join me for a cuppa and a chat.

Archive for August, 2007

Nature Study!

We went walking today, at Herdsman Lake. I’m amazed that I have never been there before—I’ve lived within a couple of kilometres of it for most of my life! Bilby was a little less settled than I would have liked (there was just so much to see!) so we couldn’t settle in and have a go at drawing, but other than that, it was a lovely morning.

It reinforced just how bad my general nature knowledge is:-( But I can use the net:-) Since getting home I’ve managed to identify most of what we saw (I’m sure we saw a couple of others, but I could only remember a certain number of images).

I’m fairly sure we saw some Australian Ravens, Australian White Ibis, Black Swans, Dusky Moorehens, Eurasian Coots, Pacific Black Ducks and the ubiquitous Willie Wagtail. Puggle also assures me that we heard some Australian Magpies (and given that he has been able to identify them, including by song, for at least a year, I’m inclined to think he’s correct!)

I also think we saw Magpie Larks, Little Black Cormorants, Laughing Turtle-doves (almost certainly a turtle-dove of some sort) and Welcome Swallows (but they were darting around so quickly that it was very hard to tell). I am pretty sure there were another couple of dark-coloured, wading type birds, but I can’t remember sufficient details.

Next time, I’ll take a camera! I’m assuming it’ll take me a while to get decent bird photos, but there were some terribly picturesque paperbarks (about a third of the way down the page):-) There were also some Bottlebrush that were flowering at a convenient height for close observation of the flowers—very cool:-)

Blackboard Sketching

I just came across this. Go and look at the plates—mind-boggling!

This Week

Our plans for
Week 3, Block 7
‘Blow Wind, Blow’, ‘Grey Goose and Gander’ from My Very First Mother Goose by Iona Opie
‘My Shadow’ from A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert L. Stevenson
‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ from The Yellow Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
The Tale of Ginger and Pickles by Beatrix Potter
Folksong: The Star-Spangled Banner
Composer: Jacques Offenbach
Work: selections from Tales of Hoffman
Artist: Titian
Work: The Supper at Emmaus
Art Activity: Make a rice ‘R‘. Make a tissue paper rainbow.
Cooking: Pizza


Week 2, Block 7
We did some reading, some colouring, some aeroplane watching (an hour and a half!) and we went to “Puss in Boats” at the Shipwreck Galleries.
Puggle has turned our couches into aeroplanes, the folding tables onto scissor lifters to load the planes, and everything else in the room into luggage (it’s certainly as crowded on the couches as it is on planes!)
Less singing this week, but we’re once again to a song that I’m only vaguely familiar with. I just haven’t been playing it often enough.

This Week

Our plans for
Week 2, Block 7
‘Sally Go Round the Sun’, ‘The Wind, The Wind Blows High’ from My Very First Mother Goose by Iona Opie
‘The Swing’ from A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert L. Stevenson
‘The Dragon of the North’ from The Yellow Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies* by Beatrix Potter
Folksong: The Star-Spangled Banner
Composer: Jacques Offenbach
Work: selections fromOrpheus in the Underworld
Artist: Titian
Work: The Descent of the Holy Ghost
Art Activity: Make a quilted ‘Q‘. Quilt with paper.
Cooking: Pizza

*We may redo one of the stories I had planned on us reading earlier.


Week 1, Block 7
We’ve had the lurgy around here, so we’ve taken the week off for the most part. We didn’t go out, and we certainly didn’t sing:-( We did some reading, but in spite of the fact I’d printed out the poems and fairy tale, I didn’t read those.
The excerpt from ‘Orpheus’ has proved popular though:-) (It’s the Can-Can.) Bilby has been having teething issues (again!) as well as not really understanding about the cold, but she hears the music and cheers right up:-)

Craft Day On Sunday

No ‘theme’ this time (I think I’ll probably be making some montessori materials, but I’ll see how I feel on the day).

Come by anytime from about 1.30 (to give me a chance to put the boy to bed) and bring craft (if you feel so inclined, or just come and chat) and nibbles.

I should warn you all that we have/have had colds here. I think Puggle should be over it by Sunday, but Bilby is just beginning with the nose now. I have no idea how mine is progressing:-(

People are still welcome, I’m mostly posting to confirm to folks that it’s on as promised:-) I will be crafting, whether or not I have company:-)

Next craft day will be Sunday 16th of September.

Italian Casserole

This is probably my brother’s favourite meal… we used to get it for his birthday dinner every year:-) It’s a really good meal for preparing ahead of time.

Italian Casserole from Mum
serves 8

680 grams mince, topside
2 onions, white
4 cloves garlic
2 rashers bacon
1 capsicum, green, large
1 tin corn
1 tin tomatoes
1 tin sliced mushrooms
1 tin tomato paste
½ cup sherry, dry
¾ teaspoon chilli powder
1 tablespoon sugar, brown
1 bag of pasta shells
poppy seeds

Place bacon, onion and garlic in a heated pan—there should be enough fat from the bacon to sauté these until golden brown, add mince and brown, remove all fat. Add tomatoes, corn, green pepper, tomato paste, mushrooms, sherry chilli powder, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes then place in a casserole, store in fridge overnight. Cook the next day in a moderate oven (170˚C) for an hour and a half.
Cook pasta shells, toss in butter and poppy seeds.
Serve on the table for people to help themselves.

This Week

Our plans for
Week 1, Block 7 (Beginning of the third term—new artist and composer!)
‘Pop Goes the Weasel’, ‘Star Light, Star Bright’ from My Very First Mother Goose by Iona Opie
‘Wintertime’ from A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert L. Stevenson
‘The Six Swans’ from The Yellow Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies by Beatrix Potter
Folksong: The Star-Spangled Banner
Composer: Jacques Offenbach
Work: selections fromOrpheus in the Underworld
Artist: Titian
Work: The Descent of the Holy Ghost
Art Activity: Make an pumpkin seed ‘P‘. Playdough
Cooking: Pizza


Week 5, Block 6 Break Week
This week has been mostly focussed on my getting organised. I didn’t get as much done on my list of preparatory tasks, but I did do some de-cluttering, and some re-organising (and some cleaning!) So we haven’t even really sung:-(
Combining this with Bilby’s teething, and both Bilby and Puggle beginning to come down with something, has left me feeling rather as though I’ve done nothing:-(
Overall, I don’t know that this was a very productive term. I guess I’m gathering thoughts as to how we’ll work in the future. I would like to experiment with recording some of the readings, (particularly the Fairy books this year) and see if that helps me get to doing them.


We have a lot of stuff.

I have had in my mind that I wanted to have sorted all our stuff, thrown things out, and found homes for everything before Puggle was five. Currently he’s three and not quite a half. That deadline is racing up on us!

I’ve gone through some really active efforts, and some less so patches:-( Really, I haven’t done much since Bilby was born. I was consistently cataloguing the books during the latter part of my pregnancy, and that’s a task that’s hanging over my head—in spite of the fact that I don’t feel that as ‘clutter’ so much. I’m also out of the swing of all the regular home maintainence tasks:-(

It’s been building up over the last few weeks, it’s time to get back into the swing of things. (Conveniently, we have a household junk collection in a couple of weeks time, so I can get to with dumping stuff on the verge—well the patio while I advertise on freecycle, but then the verge.)

Cluttered booksWhen I start (as I have done many times before!) I often begin with the loungeroom. Friday, I had an idea about rearranging the furniture, and although I wasn’t sure about it once I’d moved it, I’m now thinking it has real benefits. We’ve ended up with more floor space, and the opportunity for a ‘child zone’ that doesn’t necessarily (hah!) come in the middle of adult conversation.

But in the corner is the bookcase of doom (well, one of them… I’ll get to the recipe books when I can make more space, and the ones in the study are too hard to get to)! It’s the last bookcase we got, and it has ended up with a lot of overflow books, ones we’ve got from booksales, as well as those of Paddington’s that haven’t fitted on other shelves. They are (as you can see) in no particular order, and not even stacked properly.

(For bookclub tonight we were doing ‘Look to Windward’ and we thought we had a copy. When I went to look for it I couldn’t find it. I requested it at the library and it finally came in yesterday. Today, I found the book—it had been there all the time.)

So today, I attacked the shelves. I’ve almost started this task about a dozen times in the last week or so, and have delayed it for one reason or another. Today, I just started removing all the books. As I pulled them off the shelves, I sorted them into piles on the couches (in case Bilby woke up before I finished—she devours books!) Puggle had a great time dusting the shelves while I spoke to someone on the phone. Then, he passed me each group of books, I alphabetised them, and returned them to the shelves.


Bookcase 2
I think they look much better—and there’s certainly more space! (I even found a couple of duplicates on this shelf, a few others I think are duplicates of books on other shelves… which means I get to get rid of some!) This will make it much easier to get on with cataloguing these books—and give us room to put the others of Paddington’s which are unordered, before consolidating them properly.

So, I’m feeling a little more accomplished:-)

The Greek Alphabet

When I was at school, I learnt a handful of letters from the Greek alphabet, but I didn’t ever learn the whole thing. A week or so ago at KinderClassics the teacher mentioned that there was ‘some maths programme that has a video teaching the Greek alphabet in story form’. Apparently it was the programme where the different levels were named after Greek letters. I wasn’t sure (but meant to check) but I thought it might be Maths-U-See. Then last week, Lissa posted a link to Steve Demme (the Maths-U-See guy) talking about the alphabet. (It’s ten minutes long, but if you’ve ever wanted to learn, it works!)

Toy Rotation

Toy DrawersAs part of rearranging the loungeroom, I took the opportunity to sort out Bilby’s toys. She’s had a plastic drawer with a pile of various things in it, but there’s really too many to see. When Puggle was the same age I had divided his toys into four sets and gave him a different set each week. It seemed an appropriate time to do the same for Bilby.

I pulled out a couple of Puggle’s toys that had been put away once he outgrew them, emptied the set of drawers, and sorted the pile of Bilby toys. Each drawer has something to stack or insert, something soft, something hard and a ball (some things belong in more than one catagory).

Now, each week I’ll replace the drawer under the TV cabinet with a new one so she’ll have some variety.

I’ve also done the same for Puggle’s games and puzzles.

It wil be interesting to see how it goes with Puggle able to access things himself. His toy rotation thing rather fell by the way side once he was able to open the drawers himself—and he loves to help Bilby! We don’t have a lot of suitable storage, so although he can’t reach his alternate things, he could open the drawers with Bilby’s other toys if he chose. We’ll see.

Montessori Monday—Pencil Holders

Pencil HoldersRecently, I made a set of pencil holders like these. We don’t use them only for pencils (with only one child using them as yet, we don’t need multiples of any colour), instead they hold pencils and crayons of that colour.

I made them from yoghurt/cream containers, and simply covered them with coloured paper. I have another couple of containers to finish the set (light blue, light green, brown, possibly white and grey) and will eventually replace the taller containers so they are all the same size.

The other day, I rearranged the furninture in the loungeroom, so now Puggle has a table in the corner on which to work. I have moved the pencil holders to the window sill—I like the way they look in the sun (and I’m guessing, so does he… he usually chooses one colour, I’m not sure if his letter ‘A’ writing is obvious in the picture…he’s done each colour!)

This was fairly quick to do, and makes it easy to tidy the pencils away (and provides colour sorting practice!)

This Week

Our plans for
Week 5, Block 6 (Break Week)
Folksong: The Star Spangled Banner
Cooking: Small cakes

Of course, our regularly scheduled events are continuing… Kinderclassics, Waterbabies, Co-op and Body Bees. That really is quite a lot!

This is also the end of this ‘term’, so the time for me will also include preparation for the coming ‘term’. Picture and music bits, and I think I should plan on printing all the stories and poems before the term starts. I didn’t do so well when they weren’t ready for me to just pick up and read.
*Check pictures are downloaded.
*Check we have music selections (or re-select if necessary).
*Print 12 poetry selections.
*Print 12 stories from ‘Yellow Fairy Book’.
*Print alphabet pages.
*Check craft requirements.
*Assemble craft requirements for Week 1.
*Type and cue “This Week” posts for Block 7.
*Check shopping list requirements.

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