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The Genial Hearth
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Archive for History/Geography

Geography: Format

First Monday: Location. (I’ve found a world map I’ll use, and just set him to find the country in the atlas, and identify it on the map)
First Tuesday: Flag.
First Wednesday: Language.
First Thursday: Animals.
First Friday: Music. (Folk songs/dancing)
Second Monday: Features. (Cities, Mountains, Rivers)
Second Tuesday: Famous People.
Second Wednesday: Language.
Second Thursday: Culture. (Currency, festivals, population, religion)
Second Friday: Art/Craft. (if there’s a related ‘My Family Feast’ episode, we’ll watch it)
Second Saturday: Food.


Taking Over the World

Puggle has had a plan for a while. He intends (with his friends, the oldest of whom is 8) to re-build the Roman Empire (he was very taken with our studies of Rome last year, Story of the World is wonderful:-) ).

Tonight, I asked him what he’d do when he had the Empire re-built. He told me, “Keep the Barbarians out, obviously… Of course, it might be rather hard, because it’s quite small.”

He then decided that it might be more sensible to take over the whole world. “But then people might try to kill me. I may need to ponder some more on this.”

(He’s also very taken with Asterix. He was asking earlier whether Julia Gillard would be carried around on a shield like Chief Vitalstatistix. When we said we didn’t really think so, he suggested Kevin Rudd probably would have… He seemed kind of disappointed that we didn’t think that was very likely either:-) )

ETA. Paddington has just told me the reason he intends to re-build the Roman Empire is so that Susan Wise Bauer [the author of the series] will write more books:-)

Geography: France

First Monday: Location. (I’ve found a world map I’ll use, and just set him to find the country in the atlas, and identify it on the map)
First Tuesday: Flag.
First Wednesday: Language (I’m not sure what we’ll do here, because we’re already doing French every week).
First Thursday: Famous People (we’ll read from Claude Monet, A Picture Book of Louis Braille, Louis Braille.
First Friday: Music. (Folk songs/dancing and ‘culture’) Frére Jacques, Boules, Citron Presse, Croque Monsieur. The Marseillaise
Second Monday: Features. (Cities, Mountains, Rivers)
Second Tuesday: Animals.
Second Wednesday: Language (Once again, not sure what we’ll do here).
Second Thursday: Culture. (Currency, festivals, population, religion) More Boules:-)
Second Friday: Art/Craft. We’ll probably try painting in the style of one of the French schools.
Second Saturday: Food (will possibly be shifted around a bit as there’s a party in the way:-) ).

I’ll update the books once we work out which ones have actually been useful.

Anzac Day

For a file folder swap, I’ve done up a collection of Anzac Day activities and information. I thought I might as well share my links here so that other people can make use of it:-)

Most of this is aimed at younger children. And it’s basically from an Australian perspective.

For starters, there’s a great (young kids) introduction. It covers the Anzac Connection, War, (with a detour to a re-telling of Simpson and his Donkey), the Defence Forces and Anzac Day.
(I need to include some information about books… still to come. In the meantime, there’s a useful looking post here!)

You might want to explore flags. Firstly, a bit about the Parts of a Flag, then Australian and New Zealand flags to colour, and a little about flag protocol.

Next, words and music are a fairly important feature of Anzac Day.

First up, the texts of ‘In Flanders Fields’, ‘Ode of Remembrance’ (where we get “They shall not grow old”) and ‘Recessional’ (source of “Lest we forget”… which is often sung to the tune of Eternal Father, Strong to Save). These may be useful for copywork or memorisation (or just so that they’re known for Anzac services).

There’s the lyrics to some of the songs I associate with Anzac Day. Two Little Boys, God Bless Australia, And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda, I Was Only Nineteen, and Mothers, Daughters, Wives.

Of course, the cornet/trumpet calls are a key feature. The most important is The Last Post (music here), (although, if you have smaller children who might want to learn to play things, Taps might be a easier choice! It is used locally, although not in the military.) We commonly refer to Reveille (as mentioned yesterday, be sure it’s the Commonwealth version, here it starts at 1:20! Music at the same link as above). But we usually hear Rouse, because it’s shorter (here it starts at 1:30, once again, music at the same link). This page which contains audio files of The Last Post, Reveille (Commonwealth version) and Rouse. (The same friend that pointed me at that also linked to this page, which has US bugle calls! How cool! There’s one for school! And meals! And mail! Not really Anzac Day… but interesting all the same—and I’d like to be able to find it again!)

There’s instructions on how to make a bugle, and how to play it. (And if you want to add some science, try this video explanation of how to make your brass instrument:-) )

I’ve made a playlist of all (or almost all) the music I included.

For the smaller kids, some activities that might be of interest include a dot-to-dot soldier, a numbered dot-to-dot soldier, a maze (helping Simpson and his donkey find their way to the medical tent), some poppies, a Digger’s Rising Sun (I enlarged it, to fill a page), a WW1 Digger and nurse, making (or colouring) a wreath, and instructions to make tissue paper flowers.
(You can also find some online activities.)

Finally, I included some activities for slightly older children. There’s some teacher’s notes for Memorial. There’s a range of activities here (they’re probably mostly for high school aged kids). Some that seemed appropriate for primary (maybe?) aged kids, include Investigating the Spirit of Anzac and Their Spirit, Our History. There’s also a list of suggested activities here, for a range of primary ages.

Reveille or Rousse

I’ve been assembling a collection of ANZAC Day resources, and discovered a number of things. I wanted to note here, that what we (in Commonwealth countries) know as Reveille is not the same as folks in the US… But then again, what we know as Reveille, might actually be Rouse. You can check it out by comparing what you’re listening to, to the music here!

Geography: Burma

First Monday: Location. (I’ve found a world map I’ll use, and just set him to find the country in the atlas, and identify it on the map)
First Tuesday: Flag.
First Wednesday: Language (YouTube).
First Thursday: Animals.
First Friday: Music. (Folk songs/dancing)
First Saturday: Food. The Burmese Food Fete is running today, so we’ll go along with Grandad.
Second Monday: Features. (Cities, Mountains, Rivers) (I’ll give him a list of surrounding countries to colour particular colours).
Second Tuesday: Famous People (from Welcome to Myanmar).
Second Wednesday: Language.
Second Thursday: Culture (from Welcome to Myanmar. (Currency, festivals, population, religion)
Second Friday: Art/Craft. (from Welcome to Myanmar)
Second Sunday: Thingyan. BAWA is holding a celebration, so we’ll attend.

Welcome to Myanmar
Thailand and Myanmar

Geography: Thailand

First Monday: Location. (Once again, he’ll use the atlas to identify Thailand on a world map.)
First Tuesday: Flag.
First Wednesday: Language.
First Thursday: Animals.
First Friday: Music. (Folk songs/dancing) Some links from youTube are here.
Second Monday: Features. (Cities, Mountains, Rivers)
Second Tuesday: Famous People.
Second Wednesday: Language.
Second Thursday: Culture. (Currency, festivals, population, religion)
Second Friday: Art/Craft.
Second Saturday: Food.

*Welcome to Thailand
*Thailand (World of Recipes)
*Thailand (Festivals of the World)
Elephant Hospital
Culture in Thailand
Thailand (Focus on Asia)
Thailand (Countries of the World)
A Tale of Two Rice Birds: A Folktale from Thailand

Geography: Vietnam

First Monday: Location. (I’ve found a world map I’ll use, and just set him to find the country in the atlas, and identify it on the map)
First Tuesday: Flag.
First Wednesday: Language. Milet Bilingual Visual Dictionary: English-Vietnamese
First Thursday: Animals.
First Friday: Music. (Folk songs/dancing)
Second Monday: Features. (Cities, Mountains, Rivers)
Second Tuesday: Famous People. Ho Chi Minh It’s really a bit old for him, but it will do. There’s a reasonable timeline at the back, and decent pictures throughout.
Second Wednesday: Language.
Second Thursday: Culture. (Currency, festivals, population, religion) Tet: Vietnamese New Year, Asian Holidays, Festivals of the World: Vietnam
Second Friday: Art/Craft. Weaving. (We’ve got some of a guy on SBS visiting Vietnam and learning about the food, we’ll try and watch that in preparation for the food.)
Second Saturday: Food.

(These seem reasonable… but there are no stand out books this time.)
Vietnam: Land/Vietnam: Peoples/Vietnam: Cultures
A Family from Vietnam
Vietnam: Still Struggling, Still Spirited
Australia’s Neighbours: Vietnam
To Swim in Our Own Pond: Ta Ve Ta Tam Ao Ta : A Book of Vietnamese Proverbs
The Vietnamese in Australia

Geography: India

First Monday: Location. (I’ve found a world map I’ll use, and just set him to find the country in the atlas, and identify it on the map)
First Tuesday: Flag.
First Wednesday: Language.
First Thursday: Animals. (Asian Elephant, Bengal Tiger, King Cobra, Indian Walking Stick, Peafowl, Dhole)
First Friday: Music. (Folk songs/dancing)
Second Monday: Features. (Cities, Mountains, Rivers)
Second Tuesday: Famous People. Mohandas Gandhi, Mother Teresa
Second Wednesday: Language.
Second Thursday: Culture. (Currency, festivals, population, religion)
Second Friday: Art/Craft
Second Saturday: Food.

(These were the ones that seemed particularly useful, as were the two biographies above.)
Taj Mahal
Welcome to India
India (Festivals)
India (A World of Recipes)
Tiger Child

(other books we had, they seemed reasonable and age appropriate [I left more at the library:-)], but they as useful as the above books)
Indian Food and Drink
Indian Subcontinent (I know that’s not the listed title… but it’s the book we had—just with a different title)
Jamil’s Clever Cat: A Folk Tale from Bengal
Demons, Gods & Holy Men from Indian Myths & Legends
We Come From India
Country Insights: India


So I really didn’t succeed particularly well with the language section for China—but Little Pim (one of our French resources) just sent out notification of their Valentine’s Day Video. And not only is it in French, but there’s Chinese as well!

Geography: China

First Monday: Location. (I’ve found a world map I’ll use, and just set him to find the country in the atlas, and identify it on the map)
First Tuesday: Flag.
First Wednesday: Language. (I need to remember to use youtube… I’m sure there must be some basic language lessons there—and particularly with the asian languages, I have not a clue:-( )
First Thursday: Animals. (and the panda)
First Friday: Music. (Folk songs/dancing) (Hmm… haven’t done this)
Second Monday: Features. (Cities, Mountains, Rivers)
Second Tuesday: Famous People. (well, inventions)
Second Wednesday: Language.
Second Thursday: Culture. (Currency, festivals, population, religion) (Something on Chinese New Year—how’s that for happenstance! It’s in the week after we finish, which is break week! Maybe we’ll just see what we can find then.)
Second Friday: Art/Craft. I’ve printed the instructions for lanterns, fireworks and a dragon. He can choose what he does. (if there’s a related ‘My Family Feast’ episode, we’ll watch it)
Second Saturday: Food. We’re going to cook Fried Wontons with Dipping Sauce, Steamed (perch) with Ginger, Chicken in Vermicelli Fried Nest,  and Watermelon and Lychee with Ginger Sauce (or some variation thereof).

Ancient China
China: The Culture
Chinese New Year
Marco Polo
Taste of China
People’s Republic of China

Geography: Japan

First Monday: Location. (Continent, Bordering countries/oceans, hemisphere)
First Tuesday: Flag.
First Wednesday: Language. (I need to remember to use youtube… I’m sure there must be some basic language lessons there—and particularly with the asian languages, I have not a clue:-( )
First Thursday: Animals.
First Friday: Music. (Folk songs/dancing) (ETA: See in the comments for some music links! Thanks Purrdence!)
Second Monday: Features. (Cities, Mountains, Rivers)
Second Tuesday: Famous People.
Second Wednesday: Language.
Second Thursday: Culture. (Currency, festivals, population, religion)
Second Friday: Art/Craft. (if there’s a related ‘My Family Feast’ episode, we’ll watch it)
(This book appears to cover a large number of the topics I want, and seeing as we’re starting later than I’d anticipated, it will be ideal:-) )
Second Saturday: Food. We’re going to cook Chicken Kuwayaki, California Rolls, and Monkey Maki. We’ll probably use the leftover sushi rice, and bits of the chicken to do Onigiri the next day. (We use an egg-cup to help shape the balls.)

I was surprised how few appropriate books I could find (mind you, I failed to do my prep work, so I was searching at the library, and remembering dewey codes, and chasing kids).
Japan in Colors


Last year at Co-op, one of the mums ran a series of activities focussing on different countries. Puggle loved it! Another mother mentioned the existance of My Family Feast which was on TV at the time, and we watched that week’s episode—Puggle was hooked (even asked for it for Christmas, and Uncle R. kindly gave it to him:-) )
I figured that we needed to do some sort of exploration of the world, because he was obviously keen:-) So I decided that we’d spend two years and ‘do’ a number of different countries. I’m sticking with the continents (we’ll skip Antartica, there’s not so much of the culture side… Certainly not enough for the three months each of the other continents will take), and doing three a year. This year we’ll do Asia (Japan, China, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma), Europe (France, England, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Scotland) and Africa (Egypt, Morocco, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Congo). Next year we’ll do North and South America, and Australasia (I still need to fine tune our country choices). At the same time, I’m trying to make/aquire some of the Montessori-type materials to do with Geography (I’m drooling over the puzzle maps, but haven’t done anything about them yet), and I plan to put together a continent box for the continent we’re covering.

Given he’s in year 1, and this is only part of what we’re doing, I didn’t want it to be too heavy, so we’re staying in each place for two weeks, doing a little bit each day. I’m also going to borrow a stack of library books on the country, so they can be accessible (thank goodness for online reservations! I request everything that looks ok, then flick through the stack and only borrow the dozen or so that seem most interesting—and I don’t have to wander the shelves with the kids in tow:-) )
First Monday: Location (Continent, Bordering countries/oceans, hemisphere)
First Tuesday: Flag
First Wednesday: Language (I need to remember to use youtube… I’m sure there must be some basic language lessons there—and particularly with the asian languages, I have not a clue:-( )
First Thursday: Animals
First Friday: Music (Folk songs/dancing)
Second Monday: Features (Cities, Mountains, Rivers)
Second Tuesday: Famous People
Second Wednesday: Language
Second Thursday: Culture (Currency, festivals, population, religion)
Second Friday: Art/Craft (if there’s a related ‘My Family Feast’ episode, we’ll watch it)
Second Saturday: Food (we’ll go to any specialty stores, and then we’ll cook a feast—and eat it of course:-) )

Fortunately, countries are often used as themes, and with the internet, it’s really easy to do a search and find all (or most) of these things—at an appropriate level! It does take a little while… but not too long. I print them in one hit, and file them in the appropriate folder, ready to go. And if I come across something for one of the other countries we’re planning to do, I can print it then and put it in that folder.

Educating Puggle 2009

Technically, this would have been his Kindergarten year.

Although I lost it in terms of blogging what we did, we did keep doing a lot. (The things I talk about below probably aren’t everything I could mention… they’re just the things that were a standout one way or another.)

Things that worked
Story of the World
Puggle loved this! I had heard good things about the audio version, so we got it in addition to the text, and I’m very glad we did! At random other times of the week Puggle has asked to listen to it, and grabbed the book and followed along (more and more accurately as his reading has improved:-) ) We haven’t done all the associated activities. This is our first time through, and he’s quite young yet (certainly not writing in any reliable way), so I’ve mostly just set him some colouring in. But he talks about what he’s heard, and he goes searching for food (like the nomads) or brings up new facts when related things are being discussed (and I really haven’t done a great job about noting those occasions—I can’t think of any now:-( )
Right Start Maths
This hasn’t precisely ‘filled his day with joy’, but he has worked happily with it, and has learnt a lot. It does work for him, but I am still developing strategies (and working on the timing) to allow me to work with him without the other two needing me:-) Bilby is better when she has her own tally sticks and abacus, but Cygnet is starting to require attention at this sort of time. Bilby likes to sing along with the songs as well:-)
Song School Latin
This has been a blast:-) Both Puggle and Bilby sing the songs, and Puggle has enjoyed working through the book. I really like the songs (well, with one exception:-) The Silly Sally one sets me on edge, but that’s not bad:-) ), and I love the range of sounds they’ve used:-) The activities have been nicely pitched (we’ve done a fair bit orally, especially at the start of the year, and used lines to join things rather than writing words out… but it’s worked well). He has been able to be somewhat independent with this. First day of a new chapter I’ve worked with him, but the rest of the week he’s managed on his own.
BlackBelt Recorder
I had not planned on getting anything for recorder. I can play a bit, and we have a couple of beginning recorder books. But we weren’t actually settling down to do it. A friend mentioned this, and I noticed it when I was at Wooldridges, and it’s only $10 (for the student book), so I picked it up. It has been great! I think a big part is the accompanying CD. I have the current tracks in our daily playlist, which means he hears them, and because they have ‘big’ instrumentation, it was actually still fun even when he was only playing 2 notes:-) Now that he’s playing actual songs (nursery rhymes), it’s a blast:-)
This is one of those posts I have meant to do for about the last 6 months, and haven’t got to. I would still like to put it in, with all the links I collected when reading about it, but I doubt I’ll finish the post I’d intended.
Earlier this year (about May), I came across some references to Workboxes, a daily organisation system that swept portions of the homeschooling community by storm. I read a number of blogs on the topic, and thought it looked quite workable, then read a friend’s copy of the book and decided to go for it. Unusually for me, i didn’t leap in all guns blazing, instead I used stuff we had, and printed off copies of other people’s ‘setting up’ sheets. I waited until the start of the next block, rather than beginning in the middle of one. And we gave it a go.
And it worked for me. So then, for the next block, I invested the effort to set it up ‘properly’, to make things look ‘right’.
Essentially, you have a given number of receptacles for each child (Puggle has 10, because we had inherited 2 sets of 5 drawers, and they seem to be of a suitable size, Bilby has 5, and i structure hers rather differently). In each draw, you put all the things that are required for one activity. Pretty much, Puggle starts every day with the same four boxes. Copywork (activity card, a pencil, timer, copywork sheets), Latin (activity card, pencil, Song School Latin book, any extras required for the day’s activity), Maths (activity card, pencil, workbook [sometimes], abacus, blocks/cards/tallysticks), Recorder (activty card, his recorder, my recorder, Black Belt Recorder book, pencil and sheet if there’s an activity I’d like him to do). The rest of the boxes are filled with other tasks for the day. This usually includes some independent reading, some read alouds (often beeswax to accompany them), it often includes a meal to cook, art or craft to do. Each day of the week has a focus for the afternoon, so those activities are in here.
I think it works so well for us, because it forces me to get all the little bits organised ahead of time (think about what food he might be able to cook for example, and then print out the recipe), and think about which of those activities need to be done at particular times, and which he might be able to do independently. All that means that he can get on with stuff himself.
Doing it strictly, the child is supposed to work through in order, and complete everything. I haven’t been particularly fussy about that this year, although in 2010 I expect that will probably change.
As I said, I haven’t done Bilby’s the same. I no longer number hers at all (mostly because Cygnet kept stealing the numbers, and Bilby ran off with the velcro that stuck them!) and I pretty much load them for the week. I’m not so happy with how hers worked, but when I stopped putting anything in them, she complained:-)
Activity Cards
The one thing I did take the time to do when trialling Workboxes initially, was to make up activity cards. I printed a pile of titles and images (clipart type) onto coloured paper (4 to a page), cut them out and laminated them. This means that I can write the relevant activity on them, and then wipe it out and write a new one. This has been really useful with the work boxes, but I would anticipate being able to use them just with books as well (like bookmarks).
Another post that hasn’t happened:-(
For a couple of years, another friend and I have talked about finding a native speaker to play with all our kids, in French. This year, she finally found someone! Unfortunately, scheduling difficulties meant that we gave up after two meetings. But when we decided to stop, we also decided that we would still get together (at a more suitable time, thus enforcing weekly French use). We pick a topic together, and brainstorm a list of related words (we started with Food, we’re currently doing a combination of (farm) Animals and Christmas, and we’ll go on to Wild Animals shortly after we return). We’re then taking it in turns to lead… we all sing to start, we do a bit of ‘conversation’ (asking everyone in the circle their name and how they are… the babies don’t generally answer:-) ), introduce the new words, move to the table for an activity, sing a song to end. We try to speak as much French as we can while doing the activity. We’re finding our school based vocabulary is not quite sufficient! We’re having to look up ‘glue’ and ‘sticky tape’ and ‘popsticks’:-)
We’ve been really amazed at the way the kids have not only picked up the words and can answer them when asked, but at the way they are choosing to use the words in their everyday lives—any fruit we have introduced is now pretty much only referred to by it’s French name (in our home). One of the reasons we think this has worked so well is because the kids of the two families enjoy playing with the words with each other:-)
We’ve only been doing this about six weeks (I think?), so we’re definitely still in the establishing phase, but so far, it’s an absolute delight:-) Part of that is the fact that we’re getting in a playdate (the kids play when we arrive while we get organised, we do French, then they play more) with friends… but part of it is how the kids are responding—and the joy of doing something we’ve been meaning to do for ages:-)
As a support to this, we acquired a copy of Little Pim. It’s designed as a language immersion tool. The little films are short, about 5 minutes, and there’s 7 in each set (well, I have to confirm that… we’re on the second, but the total thing seems to say it’s 30 minutes long… something in that maths doesn’t quite work). Each little film introduces a few words on each topic. The first is Food:-) They’re designed for 2-5 year olds. Bilby is bang in the target group. She loves them—and uses the words (there’s some overlap with the words we had been doing, but there are some which have only been introduced via Little Pim, and she’s using those regularly:-) ). Cygnet doesn’t do anything with the words, but he loves to watch. I am looking forward to hearing him starting to speak and seeing which of the words he starts using:-) Puggle still enjoys it, but where the others will watch it as often as I show it (and would like it more, as far as Bilby is concerned), he likes to watch it, but really he’s not so interested in repeated viewings (although, he has yet to complain about it being on!) He was the first to start using the words from the DVD.
One thing I’ve found really interesting is the way the kids control the language use at home. Most of the time, they don’t mind particularly what language we use (I try at times to use French through the week—when I feel I have the vocabulary:-) ). I’ve been surprised though, by the times that they (Bilby in particular) will call “Maman” instead of “Mama”. If I don’t pay attention and answer with “Yes”, she gets rather put out, and reminds me that she spoke in French. The same happens in the reverse (where I answer “Mama” with “Oui”), but less often:-) They will talk to each other and choose to use the French pronunciation of their names to signify that they are speaking French (their vocabulary is still fairly limited). And Puggle in particular has started playing with his animals in ‘French’. He moves them around and has them talk in nonsense syllables, but they are not ‘English’:-) (We have been reading picture books in French all year, so they do have a sense of the sound of the language, and they are reasonably accurate at identifying when non-English speakers are using French—although, they tend to default to non-English=French when in doubt).
All of this to say that French is finally happening in our house:-) And it’s fun, and the kids are using it in real ways:-)
I’m taking this very slowly. Puggle’s fine motor control is what you’d expect of a 5 1/2 year old boy, and as such, I’m not anticipating rushing into lots of independent writing. We’re still working our way through the phonemes (it’s doing double duty at the moment, being the way we’re teaching sounds), and he’s tracing.
I made the decision (after some more reading, and talking with Puggle) to switch to cursive rather than print. I’m not going to bother with print, on the assumption that he will pick up printing as he goes, and if we’re going to invest the effort into learning to write, it might as well be cursive. One phoneme, a couple of times a day (two times generally, unless he makes a big error) seems to be working nicely. Because we started with print, that does tend to be how he writes when he’s working independently, but we’ve only been doing cursive for the last couple of months, and we’re still working through the basic letters.
He’s been doing a lot of cooking this year:-) Most weeks (when we’re workboxing) he’ll cook dinner at least once, and he’ll usually help with another dinner as well. He’s also well and truly able to get breakfast and lunch for himself and Bilby (except for cutting the bread… he can do that, but the slices aren’t very uniform—and the remaining loaf is also somewhat hacked… so I prefer to do it until he’s larger). He is developing a recipe book, which contains meals he can cook independently. I still tend to chop the onions (hard and spherical makes me a bit nervous), but he’s moved this year to being able to light the (gas) stove, and cook on it. He has put things in the oven, but not lit it (it can be idiosyncratic) or taken anything out (they tend to be too heavy for him to manage with the added challenge of heat). His chopping is becoming more uniform, and his stamina to complete recipes is improving. The workboxes has been the reason I’ve been happy to have him do this. Because I set it up the night before, he can begin sufficiently in advance of the time we need to eat—he tends to need to start about two hours beforehand!
This will require a little tweaking in the new year. Since we moved French, it’s now on the day on which he tended to cook, and so he hasn’t done so much in that time. But that’s just logistics on my part:-)
He’s moved from strength to strength:-) Although he had reached ‘reading’, last year, he still required a reasonable amount of support, and on his own, he tended to look at books rather than read them.
Over this year, he has reached the point where he can’t help but read:-) We have a pile (30 or 40?) of early readers (about a dozen pages, with 4 lines per page, and lots of pictures) which will occupy him for some hours. He’s now able to read chapter books on his own, although, he tends to still see them as a bit too big to attack. Somewhere along the way I realised that he is able to read in his head. I asked him about it, where he’d learnt it, and he told me he’d watched Dada reading:-) It does mean I have to actually get him to read to me occasionally, to check he’s reading correctly (he still does the ‘guess based on the first letter of the word’ thing at times). But he is at a stage where he can read independently, and generally understand what he’s reading—and that’s a great thing:-) I didn’t assign him any reading this year, aside from as reading practice, but next year, I expect to be able to give him something to read, that we can then follow up. We’ve continued to read aloud to him though, and I expect this to continue. (I’ve also really enjoyed watching him read aloud to both Bilby and Cygnet:-) )
Sadly, Puggle got too old for his previous swimming school, so we had to move. We’re now at StateSwim. While I wouldn’t say we love it (it’s certainly not as much fun, and not as personal as his original), he does enjoy it, and is progressing nicely. He started at the end of term one in Torpedoes, and is now a Dolphin. We do expect a longish stay in Dolphin, because the purpose of this level is to develop freestyle breathing. He is relishing this challenge, however!

Things that didn’t work
Blogging plans
When I managed to get my plans typed up (in WordPress) by the end of Break Week, I was able to blog them. What I found though, was that if I managed to type them up in the running sheet for the week, and get the workbox planner sorted, I tended not to get to blogging. In actual fact, I could largely copy and paste, but I do like to include links to the texts, and that’s the bit that tends to take the time.
Probably a start would be to improve the layout of the information I include. If I can just copy and paste, rather than switching the order of things between my planning documents and on the blog, that would help, then I could just have the links (which don’t change all the time) in one place and add them in. We’ll have to see how that goes. I’d like to keep blogging my plans… but it’s probably not one of my top priorities, because I do have that information elsewhere.
Blogging progress
This on the other hand, is something I do want to do. It fell by the wayside about the same time as blogging plans, but mostly I think, because I hadn’t mentally switched to ‘it doesn’t matter about the plans’, so it became one more thing in a large pile, rather than a separate thing that needed blogging. I don’t require myself to be very detailed, but I really do want to make a few notes each week about what we did, what we didn’t get to, and what developments occurred. I think I can probably manage that (I did in 2008!), but I need to slot it into my week properly.
Mat Time
The arrival of workboxes pretty much signalled the end of Mat Time as a regular thing. My idea of Mat Time was that it was things that were common to both Puggle and Bilby, with just a bit extra for each of them. Most of Puggle’s extra things ended up happening in his boxes and in the early part of Quiet Time. But the common things, and Bilby’s extra’s rather stopped. This is mostly about setting the rhythm for the day… and it obviously needs some work. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to fix this yet… but it’s a fairly high priority.
This disappeared a bit with the end of Mat Time. And a couple of the folksongs that I didn’t know. I need to find another solution for the French nursery rhymes… they’ve been a bit hit and miss. Hopefully though, that will sort out as we go through in French.
Composer Study
My failure to source the tracks and add them to the daily playlist is to blame for this… I think it’s been the same problem as I’ve had before. I guess the answer is to make sure I source the pieces earlier in the year.
Nature Walks
We’ve done better at Nature Study, as Puggle likes to be outside and look around him, but Nature Walks continue to elude us. As seems to be a common theme with the things that haven’t worked, it’s all due to my scheduling—or lack thereof.
With the exception of Watercolours (which have been a revelation! We use the dry pans, and Puggle can do all the set up required for he and Bilby, basically getting water, and the clean up. That means they can paint whenever they want to, pretty much!) art has been a bit hit and miss. I keep intending them to do activities from the Art Ideas book, but haven’t yet managed to arrange things in a workable fashion. I did get a large tray from IKEA just before the end of the year, and I’m hoping to set work out on it. Art is probably a good candidate for that.
This hasn’t worked in any formal sense. I stopped putting the poems on the TV cabinet, and we stopped repeating them at different times. Earlier in the year, when Puggle was listening to the iPod during Quiet Time, and I had managed to find some of his pieces on Librivox, he was actually doing pretty well. I think this is should be solvable… It’s merely habits I have to reacquire—and I can now add a copy of the poem in one of his boxes. I do need to begin working with him on the Recitation aspect… he will happily let fly with something he’s memorised, but rarely at a pace (or volume!) that allows others to enjoy it!

Generally a good year—and the advantage of writing it all out like this, I can see the common themes:-)

The World at a Glance!

Need maps? Continent level or country level? Want country borders, or not? Want names included, or space left for them to be filled in?

I do not want to lose track of this site! I saw a link to it on one of my mailing lists, and I can see that it will be very useful in our Geography efforts next year!

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