History of Air Transport

Wright Brothers 1908

So, seeing as we’ve decided to take the leap into home schooling, most of my posts will touch on it in some way, because this is a huge part of my life at the moment… edumacating my kids.

In among the worksheets I found for the kids relating to James’s and the Giant Peach, was an activity to research the history of planes. It related to a couple of sentences where a plane made an appearance in the story. Don’t get me wrong, the insertion of a plane into the story, was a necessary addition to the story’s outcome, but initially when I found the activity I thought, wow, that’s clutching at straws! But, really it’s no different to us taking pause yesterday & discussing gardening trivia from facts discussed in the book. Perhaps we should do more research into that too? Or, I could go with my gut & leave that one alone for now. I feel like maybe we could return to researching some of the gardening facts in the spring again, when we could actually look at getting a colony of ladybugs to help eat the little pests that eat the plants & dig through the compost pile for worms & spread the beautiful rich soil they have mulched down in our different garden beds.

As much as home schooling is a fair amount of work, I must say that I really like the sense of ownership & pride that one feels whilst doing so. Home schooling these days is obviously very different in a pandemic & with at risk individuals in the house it certainly is isolating, compared to much of what you read about the beauty of it. We aren’t taking advantage of museum passes we already possess, like our air & space one that would be ideal for this subject. Not to mention that our library cards have been cast aside with them, joining the large pile we no longer make use of.

We are very fortunate to have internet access though, which of course means we still have a plethora of information at our fingertips, so I am incredibly thankful for that, as so many don’t even have that. That being said I still get very excited when we’re doing home schooling activities & I can share a physical item with them. Today, it was a newspaper from September 11, 1908, and pictured above. *

The kids though it was cool to have a newspaper that’s over 110 years old in our home, even though I know that the concept was a little mind blowing to consider. “A newspaper, that’s older than the combined age of the four of us, huh, ok, that’s cool.”

I love that, home schooling has made my more acutely aware of how a couple of sentences in a book can set you off on on so many different paths of learning.

* I actually only have this newspaper in my possession because I was given a few by a friend, for a creative project.  The old newspapers didn’t quite work for the project I had in mind at the time because they are so old & brittle, but are pretty cool still. At some stage maybe, I will find a suitable project for them, that preserves them instead of my original plan that was to reuse & somewhat deface them, but I’m in no rush.

Posted in COVID times, Home Schooling, Literacy | 1 Comment

James & The Giant Peach

Who doesn’t like Roald Dahl? I guess that there are some that might dislike his writings, but they don’t exist in in our house, thankfully. His writings are fantastical in nature & honestly in this new & still rather dystopian reality, a welcome distraction. The world needs magic & what better place to find it than books.

Today, I decided to start our Roald Dahl journey with the kids, starting with James & The Giant Peach, as part of our home schooling, a way to insert some fun into our literacy studies. Kidlet1 is very adept at reading & doesn’t go far without a book in their hands & whilst Kidlet2 is following in their older siblings footsteps, reading to them both is a great method to teach them to pay attention & retain information, without putting undue pressure on Kidlet2 to read faster than they are comfortable with, inadvertently.

I had intended to drag the reading out all week, but instead the kids kept begging me to continue, “Please keep reading the next chapter, Mummy”, so I did, I read all 39 chapters & now it’s done. I know I could’ve told the kids, no, let’s save it for later, but they were so keen to know what happened that I couldn’t do it. To be so engrossed in a story, that you NEED to know what happens & cannot fathom the idea of stopping, is a wonderful experience.

We broke up the reading of course with a few breaks for food & a little time to run around outside for a “recess break” etc, but we also stopped every so often at different stages of the story to predict what might happen next, which was fun. We looked up locations & information mentioned in the book, like how a grasshopper makes noise, the popularity of ladybugs (called ladybirds, in the story) with gardeners and other real life facts contained within the pages. We did some maths with the shoes the centipede wore and more. Then there were the worksheets that we did as well. Speaking of worksheets, we still have a few more to do, some of which I admit I copied by hand after doing a search online (& then copied for the kids to write in the answers) & others that I printed such as this one, which was free. We’re going to continue to work on the ones left tomorrow.

Pretty sure we won’t be dragging out this activity for a week, but maybe I’ll just make use of the “extra time” to do something else after we do all the activity sheets I have. I do have a small pile of sheets, but given the kids interest, I’m pretty sure we can cover it all in a day & best to do it all before we move onto a new book. ?

Final note about our home schooling journey so far

I have to admit that sometimes I find myself wondering that IF the kids do return to the public school system in the future, will they get a little bored? I’m almost certain they will look on it as a holiday at the moment. With only the two of them, there’s less time to muck around, than you might have in a classroom with a few more students. Today, was very successful, but also a very LONG day. I ended up doing supervised school work from 9-5 (with short breaks between, as mentioned) & whilst we covered a lot, I think the kids needed to run off more energy than they did. It’s a tough balance though, I want to foster the idea that if they want to extend our learning together, they can do so as needed, after all, learning should be fun

Posted in COVID times, Home Schooling, Literacy | Leave a comment

Wooden Dolls

Wooden Peg Dolls

Guess what arrived today? Our little piece of sweatshop labor, disguised as wooden peg dolls.

It was one of the highlights of the day, (which says a lot about the day we’ve had), actually, it might make the day seem less difficult than it actually was. hmmmm…

Anyhow, the idea behind these is to make the peg dolls a dollhouse. We haven’t quite settled on the dollhouse design though. At first it was to be a wooden dollhouse, but now it appears it will be sewn. I’m sure it will change again, given how quickly they changed their mind about a wooden structure to sewn, which is fine. I’ve been making them take notes throughout the design process, so as it evolves, so too do their notes. Honestly, it’s a fairly accurate portrayal of my design process too. I start out with an idea & along the way I either tweak it a little OR it changes entirely.

Anyhow, back to motivating them to finish their work, before the fun stuff…

Posted in Art & Design, Canada, COVID times, Home Schooling | Leave a comment

Our Resources for Home School

Following on with my previous home schooling post, I thought that I would share some thoughts & resources that have worked for us, even though I am VERY new to the game.

In my flailing about, stage of the journey, I found myself caught up with the idea that I had to follow the ministries curriculum policy documents to the letter & was a little stressed, I was also getting pressure from G to do so, but there really isn’t much in terms of support material. The letter that the School Board sent the other day could make one believe that there is an actual useful amount of material given, but when the goal is to get butts on seats in schools, you can understand why the material is a little lacking. I’m only using the policy documents to refer to.

If you are on Facebook, you can join a lot of online groups & pages which share information. I found them useful to peruse, but would recommend not getting too bogged down in them or the politics. Home schooling isn’t all about religion, although sometimes it can feel like there’s far too many posts that link back to religious curriculum’s. I have certainly “happened” across some great non-denominational resources for us, via these groups. I also need to give due credit to with friends & others who had experience with home schooling that I spoke with.

The great advantage of home schooling for me, has been the added flexibility to find resources that fit the kids, not the other way around, as well as a real connection to their learning adventures. Now, when they ask a question or make a half statement, I have context & it’s pretty amazing.

Now, for some of the resources that we’re using at the moment.
The first one is the Complete Canadian Curriculum. I have grade level books for both the kidlets. The books give you a quick rundown on different topics of learning, which you can then build on, but as the link states, it doesn’t really contain enough information to use as your sole resource for an entire year.We also use grade level Scholastic books for extended activities, Scholastic books are quite popular with teachers, which I admit I really liked. Both the Complete Canadian Curriculum & Scholastic books can be purchased from Costco for a reasonable price, if you are looking for them & know someone with a card (cheaper to buy in person than online too).

Whilst we have had issues with sole reliance on online resources, I am not entirely opposed to them. I found that Khan Academy is a wonderful one, just like everyone says. You can use all their online resources regardless of whether you have contributed towards the running costs or not, which I love, they really do stand by their “equal access for all” stance. They have some wonderful videos that explain many of the areas of teaching which we love. The site keeps track of their progress as they do various activities. Mine think of it as a game, so are always keen to do their Khan work, as it gives rewards for finishing tasks etc. I honestly can’t say enough good things about it. As an aside, my oldest has started to do coding, which was an added bonus in terms of topics on offer & I personally love that the tutor in the videos is female.

We use duolingo a little, but I admit that we are actually not really doing too much French. It’s a wonderful resource though, we used it with the kids to learn some Spanish before we went to Peru in January this year. I have actually focused more attention on Sign Languages (Auslan (Australian Sign Language) and ASL) mostly as I have ties to the Deaf community & studied to become a qualified Auslan interpreter years ago. Honestly, at this stage, it’s far more useful than French, at least in our family unit.

In my opinion there’s only so much textbook work that you can do before you get bored, so we’ve gotten a little creative with other modes of learning.

To counteract the social limits with COVID & balance that with some social activities, as well as the fact that we’re considered an at risk family unit, I came up with the idea to organise pen-pals for the kidlets. There are so many wonderful resources available online, as to how to write a letter. For us I found, this reading mama had a fairly decent resource to start. We’ve been doing a mixture of handwritten (snail mail) notes & email to both kids & adults. At the moment we’re all caught up on messages, so they’re learning the skill of patience. Writing letters to other’s is also a great way to encourage literacy skills, without the kids being as aware as they are when we’re doing book work, for which they aren’t seeing any sort of imminent return.

We’ve always used everyday activities to teach practical life skills, that hasn’t really changed, these days, they’re more involved now than they were pre-covid, due to their 24×7 presence. At as someone who picked up my lifeskills outside of the home, I have always been a huge advocate of teaching mine as early as possible.

Both of the kids love to cook, so I use that as much as possible. Cooking is so much more than just filling a need for sustenance which many don’t think about. I use it to improve on skills of language, teaching colours, textures, mathematics, fine motor skills, science & art.

There are basically crossovers in any subject matter, art easily crosses into science, language, math etc. Even chores like cleaning, washing clothes & dishes etc can all be educational. We recently started playing D&D with the kids, which they are embracing with enthusiasm, they don’t even notice the mathematics, the language & literacy skills (the character writing is particularly impressive), among other skills.

We have a nice library of books at home, being a bit of a bibliophile is great to be honest, because these days, we just aren’t going to the library like we used to. To be honest I miss libraries, but this is the new norm for us, so we are going with the flow. That being said, there are some great online resources to borrow/ read copies of virtual copies of books too if you don’t have physical books.

The kids still ask about when they might get to go back to school to see their friends, but they also understand that at the moment, this is the safest option for us going ahead, for what feels like an undefined period of time. Best make the learning experience as much fun as possible & enjoy the flexibility our current situation affords us.

I hope that you find something I have mentioned of benefit. Just because it works for us, does not mean it’s destined to greatness on your journey. I very much believe that in the end you are responsible for your own decisions & have to live with them, others, do not. Make your own path & all the best in your educational journey

Posted in Canada, COVID times, Home Schooling | Leave a comment

Home Schooling

Yesterday, we checked the mail & found a letter from the school board confirming that they had received our notification to home school & that the kidlets were officially withdrawn from the board. It was relieving in some ways as I had submitted the form at the start of August, but when I stopped receiving the emails hounding me to choose an option for returning to school, I had an inkling that the process might have happened. We started home schooling though the summer, so this was more of a formality.

Home schooling has been something I have to admit that I have thought about in the past, mostly because many thought that I was already doing it over the years & I have always liked to teach others various skills. To be honest though, we were quite content to send our kids to the local public school & watch them grow with external influences in life. Albeit sometimes there were issues that we didn’t really appreciate, but all in all, the small school they attended has some wonderful teachers & we were content.

Then COVID-19 hit & things changed. Friday March 13th 2020, was their last day of school. It was also the Friday before March Break. Thursday (12th), was when it became clear that everything was closing. Schools were shutting at that stage for 2 weeks after March break. I tried not to alarm the kids too much, but encouraged them to bring back as much of their belongings as possible, they remembered their pencil cases, but left everything else, at least it was something, so kudos to them. They only knew they had to stay home to stay safe for a little while.

There was a huge amount of uncertainty, as much as I tried to be an optimist in what I said, I was also a realist, I knew, life as we had known it was over.

I wasn’t overly surprised when we went into lockdown, the writing had been on the wall for a few months really. I had read the news about a deadly virus in China & then watched as it ripped through Italy & I knew our life of bliss was likely changing. When we went to lockdown, I had to of course continue to stay up to date with the train wreck that is 2020. I was reading the news & watching the daily press briefings by our PM, Trudeau & the Premier, Ford with bated breath. I remember hoping that the school closures would be extended & breathing a sigh of relief every time they were.

School wasn’t entirely finished though. We moved to online. Both of the kids teachers would send through emails with links to resource or attachments for resources that you were to do with your kids. It was a nightmare, we had issues with trying to stream video’s and gain access to different sites whilst G was working from home. G’s work had actually instructed everyone to work from home immediately a week or two before schools shut down, but with 3 people needing access, it was a nightmare.

The kids were only supposed to do about an hour of work each day, but this wasn’t always the case & were often online for hours, as we tried to get different sites to work, & dealt with issues of too much screen time & keeping them to task. It was incredibly wearing. I actually had to pass it off to G to look after for a while, because it wasn’t working for my sanity. He solved the issue by removing screens pretty much all together for them both, sitting them at separate tables in the basement & they weren’t able to get up UNTIL it was afternoon, then I looked after them.

With the issues that we had from April – June, I knew that it was highly likely that I would be home schooling & pulling them from the board, unless I could see a viable option for us. At the same time, I didn’t want to corner us into home schooling if that too was a non starter. Bearing this in mind, I started to do some research over the summer. I know there are a lot of religious fanatics that home school, so that took some perseverance to get past my own bias to find more non denominational resources, but I did it. I joined a heap of home schooling groups that I could in Canada & Australia (we are dual citizens after all) & scrolled through a mountain of info, before deciding step out on my own.

I’m so glad that I took the time to get things sorted, because it took weeks to work it out a suitable plan of action for both myself & the kids. Sure, I could’ve probably slapped something together, but I needed time to process it all & I felt the kids did too. It has been both hard & easy at the same time.

Hard in that initially G said, if you want to do it, then do it, but you are solely responsible & I kept getting guilted by comments about how their socialization would suffer, which annoyed me to no end, but I persevered & now he’s on the same page. I’m sure it’s helped by the fact that the ministry of education here seems to be flailing without a solid plan & G recognizes that whilst any method of education at the moment is not ideal, this is the best one for US, given the options that the school board is offering simply do NOT work for our family. Equally so, our decision to home school has been viewed by some parents we know as too extreme. However, home schooling for us will mean more consistency for the kids, ensuring not only safety for all of us, but a happier family.

It was also a little bumpy, because as much as I did a lot of research, I had to cast aside some of my bias’s I had, as to how to teach & work with what actually works best with the kids. I originally cast aside all online resources, but now we use some, with great success. I love the freedom that we have with learning too, you aren’t hemmed into only spending a certain amount of time on different subjects, it’s quite fun, when you start to let go a bit more.

My next post, as this one is a little long, is to share some of the resources that we’re using, with some links, for anyone interested, never know when they might come in handy.

All the best to everyone in school for 2020/2021

Posted in Canada, COVID times, Home Schooling | Leave a comment

Terry Fox

Both of the kids have always loved participating the in the Terry Fox run at school every year. The youngest was participating before she even went, as the school let parents come with other family members to do a few laps of the school yard.

Last year we took part in the run (really, it was mostly a walk for some of us), down in my hometown of Prescott, as a family. Kidlet2 was the one who spurred us all on to participate, so it made sense for her to be our team captain for the 5 of us (we had G’s brother staying with us from Australia, so we dragged him along).

As Kidlet2 was registered as team captain last year, this year she received a note soliciting her participation again in the same role & of course, she jumped at it. She was not going to miss taking part, just because she won’t be able to do so through the school, doesn’t mean she wasn’t going to take part, no way! In fact, she has fully embraced the idea to do it “Your Way” & has been preparing herself to do a 20km bike ride, in the local area.

So far, we’ve managed to do a 15km ride, which is amazing for a 6yr old who has to peddle that little bit harder on her little bike to keep up the pace. The ride is on the 20th of this month (or around that date, weather dependent).

She’s doing the ride for Grandma, who unfortunately passed away in early 2004 from cancer (so she never met any of her grandkids) and for kids & others who have cancer.

If you wish to support the Terry Fox Foundation & the kidlet’s ambitious venture, her page is here

Thank you to everyone who has supported her thus far. To date she has raised $380! 🙂

Posted in Canada, COVID times, Kidlet2 | Leave a comment

The Fair

With so much upheaval this year & a feeling that the world is upside down, there is an overwhelming feeling of loss & grief. Things have changed for an undetermined amount of time.

All big events have been canned for in person attendance here, but, there are some events like the Spencerville Fair that have decided to continue, albiet in a slightly different fashion.

This year the fair decided to go online. There are no rides or food trucks obviously, but there are virtual competitions. They even had an incentive for kids to enter $5 for your first entry OR if you entered at least 5 different categories, you would earn $20 total. The kidlets loved it, although one needed a little prodding, but we got there. Thank goodness they extended submission dates by a week, because we had a lot of half baked ideas that still needed to be complete. Here are a few pictures of their submissions for your viewing pleasure. I missed a couple, but they did each manage to submit at least 5 each. They did so much better than myself, who had the best of intentions to enter, but simply ran out of time.

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Random Thoughts

Now, that I’ve taken a jab at people, it’s time to do some writing

2020, has been a strange year indeed, hasn’t it? I mean it’s great if you’re a hardcore introvert, but do those people even exist? I mean we all need some sort of human contact & connection, even if we don’t like to admit it.

We went into lockdown here basically in March, Friday March 13th, was when schools closed. I think of all the dates to be the last day of school for my kids, that’s a pretty awesome one to end on. I had been watching (reading if you want to be precise) the news & could see the train wreck unfolding. Still, when it hit here, it was surreal. It’s still somewhat surreal to be honest.

Now, months later, with our family still distancing from others, as the majority are going back to life as it was before, or as close to, it’s getting wearing. I miss being able to go against the grain in my own special way. None of us knows for sure how the virus would impact our family unit if any of us get’s it, so for us the best course of action is to limit the chances of catching it.

Even with our limited contact with others it’s been interesting to watch the reactions people have in these COVID times to anything in general. I find people are lacking not only patience but compassion, likely a product of fear.

I’ve observed & had so called ‘friends’ turn nasty. Both keyboard & justice warriors are out in full force. Saying your piece can be good, but my experience has shown that most that get their knickers in a knot, really couldn’t care to hear the other side & set the record straight. Often the best thing you can do is take note of their treatment & walk away. I thought I was really adept at that before, but now, I feel like a pro. Thanks COVID!

At least COVID is helping to ensure when it does come time for us to resurface we will do so with a smaller circle of genuine friends. That being said, for now, I miss my old life, I miss people, I miss the human contact, the ability to travel anywhere without worry.

Posted in Canada, COVID times | 2 Comments

Back again

As per usual. I tend to leave it a long time between posts. Who knew it would be a few years though, after the last time?

One of the reasons I haven’t written on here for a while, relates to family that are still members of a cult that value blind beliefs over actual relationships with living and breathing family, & their stalking of this page. Too invested in a perceived relationship with an invisible being, to actually care for those that they could have a truly meaningful relationship with, but then again I would be ignoring the fact that I actually don’t want to have anything to do with a family that has tried to ensure family secrets that portray anything other than a wonderful rainbow & sparkles home life, stay hidden under the rug.

….. and email of outrage is in my mailbox in 3,2,1 …..

Anyhow, let me take this moment to say HELLO to the stalkers, be them genuinely interested & actually involved in our lives or the weird stalkers, both related & not. Welcome back creepy people!

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Still around

Finally logging back into my blog. Not been sharing much on here of late, but now that I have sorted out some site issues, who knows, maybe I will make some sort of return.


In the meantime though, Hello 🙂

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