Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Relocating the veggie bed...

...Away from the back door. Cursed rodents chewed through the back screen door so I didn't want vegetation for them to hide in near the door.

The grass in the new location keeps dying so we decided to go with a shadecloth. After a lot of swearing from me, we all finally got it up. Kalea and Shae played in the ute tray, Tyger helped hold up stuff and I did a lot of hammering. *lol* dropped the hammer on my precious ute too. Damnit! Then more swearing when I realised the poles were too far away from the shed for all of the shadecloth to reach. Also more swearing when the stupid coil of wire got all tangled and wouldn't uncoil nicely for me. The kids were entertained and made suggestions from bird balls (I didn't think birds had balls but!) to fish sticks  (which had them in hysterical laughter for some reason). We didn't finish til late, in the middle of a rainstorm!

Monday, January 16, 2012

I'm sick of junk food!

I was thinking about healthy vs unhealthy choices while making the shop list. I was debating whether to suggest the children think about picking something healthy this time as they've had a fair bit of junk this week what with all the pinata madness.

It was as if Kalea had read my mind as she came up to me and said "I'm sick of junk food! I think I will pick something nice and yummy that isn't junk when we go shopping today!" Tyger overheard this and said promptly "Not me! But I am sick of sweet so I will have chips this time!". As for me I think I'll follow Kalea's example and get fresh blueberries. Hopefully they are still on special!

Saturday, January 14, 2012


At Rainforestation with Nana for Kalea's birthday outing. The last photo is of Shae while we were on the Army ducks. She had that look on her face the entire trip! I don't think she was too impressed with the noise.

Skull n crossbones!

After it was all finished, Shae came across the broken pinata inside and attacked it!

Pirate mapmaking

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Arr Arr!

Take that ye scurvy landlubber! Maybe it is time I bought out Monkey Island again and played it through with the kids. Some games are like reading an interactive visual book, with the most interesting and comical storylines. LucasArts's Monkey Island is one such game, and the kids love being involved spectators as much as I love playing the game!

The kids are totally on a pirate kick. Last night they were up making their VERY VERY VERY old maps. I told them Grumps once told me when I was a little girl, that very times three was EXTREMELY, and they liked that. A new word! Once their scrumpled up papers were sufficiently tea-bagged, they left them to dry under the fans before drawing their paths, x's and map landmarks down.

Tyger's map was super interesting. He had a volcano, an island (which both took some figuring out on my part as he wasn't pronouncing it properly for Kalea to understand, and I couldn't lipread it well), a graveyard, and a maze. Kalea's map featured a pinata on the tree where X marked the spot!

As soon as they woke this morning it was all "The pinata is dry! Let's skull and crossbones it now!!!!!!!!!" until I dragged myself out of bed to pour them the paint. Then the kids disappeared for a hour after they finished painting. Shae and I went to see what they were up to and they were making pirate eyepatches from twisty wire and paper they coloured in black. I walked in on them going "Arr! Arr!".

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Books and pirates

Today started off nice and slow with the kids watching Sponge Bob for a couple of hours while eating brekkie.

Tyger had a couple of mini-meltdowns because he had to share me with Kalea today, stomping off each time to bang around in his room before calming down and coming back. I played a game of Starcraft with him on the pc against a computer (we won), and then helped him with Mario Bros on the ds.

Kalea asked for help making her own book in Reading Eggs, then she printed it out and I helped her put it together and tape it up. She decorated it then we read it out. She has such a great sense of humour! Then she asked me to read a library book with her (Storylands Pirates one). Tyger came up when we were reading and announced he wanted to make a map. The book said we needed tea bags so off to the shops we went.

While at the shops, the kids decided they wanted a skull pinata, treasure for the map, and to make a pirate ship in the backyard. Sigh. Ended up spending $30 instead of the planned $2 for cheapo teabags. We came home with black and white poster paint, a newspaper, a free coles junk phamplet, a bag of big balloons, chocolate eggs (as there were no chocolate pirate coins), a bag of mars bars and two lollipops. The kids put the chocolate in the fridge immediately and didn't even ask for any. They were too busy making plans for their backyard pirating.

This is what we ended up doing after a quick soak in the pool to cool off. Even Shae was eager to help after she finished playing in the dirt and grass!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Unschooling tip #3

#3 - Don't put value on any particular activity over another. For example, don't assign more value to academics which can be measured such as reading, writing, sums etc over activities such as watching tv, playing a computer game, or baking a cake.

One good reason for this is academics is about steps (basics/skills/etc) taken to travel from A to B, which are in themselves taught as end goals. These steps are taught in structured, measurable, tangible ways, so that the evaluator can ascertain whether learning is taking place or not.

Unschooling is not about taking skills and basics out of context and making sure children focus on mastering those skills. It is about children deciding they want to be able to do something eg. play a game that seems interesting, or eat a yummy chocolate cake with cherry filling. It is about children figuring out how they can do that, and learning how to do that without paying much attention to the side learning taking place.

For instance, Tyger clicked around Starcraft using trial and error, observed what happened and drew conclusions; which he then tested out by implementing his own gaming strategies. This is real world scientific experimentation. He also picked up some words from things such as "Not enough minerals" echoing over the speakers and flashing on the screen. That is reading. Even math is a part of Starcraft, where Tyger worked out he needs 4 more marines to make up two bunkers of 8 marines in total, or that he can make 10 SCV's before he needs a supply depot and that if he started building when he is at 8/10, by the time he hits 10/10 he will have the supply depot, extending the maximum number of people.

On the other hand, Kalea's desire for a chocolate cherry filled cake was very specific as she saw a picture and wants it exactly like so! Luckily for her the picture is accompanied by a recipe. She can't read the recipe well enough so she asks for help. What followed was a flurry of cupboard searching for ingredients during which Kalea sees labels such as "cinnamon" and associates it with the picture of cinnamon. Then a request to go shopping because we don't have cherries, chocolate, or icing sugar. At the shops there are prices, labels, words, numbers. On paying for the ingredients, the difference between the amount owed and the amount paid when she is given change is observed. Back at home again there is measuring out because unlike me Kalea is a precise baker, so more numbers and fractions. The decoration of the cake is a fine work of art, painstakingly created like so! (the pic). Then it is gobbled up in front of the TV, where Kalea discovers that bonjour is the French word for hello, which she shares with me and in turn learns that oui, I know French also, a grand total of 3 words off the top of my head, one which is a swear word! Merde! She asks me how she can learn French and I say she could find a french book to read, or go to French lessons, or check out a few websites that might have audio French, or go to the library for books or tapes. There is a silence. Then Kalea says "I think this chocolate cake needs less sugar. I think I will use less sugar next time even if the recipe said it needs 1 cup".

That is unschooling for you! If I put more value on certain activities over others, then my children would be watching way less DVDS, spend less time idly playing with blocks and train sets, miss out on staying up late in a flurry of flour and chocolate drippings, sleeping through the most amazing 2am lightning storm, and most importantly of all miss out on important learning, experiences and discovery.

Tired baby!

I don't think I've seen Shae tired before as she usually gets to sleep when she needs to. But not even sleeps could ease her tiredness today! She had such a big day yesterday swimming and then we were all up early today on a cleaning blitz.

Then we went to the park with friends and Shae crawled all through the grass and over tree stumps and picked up leaves and grass, wriggled her feet, laid on her back and gazed at the leaves blowing in the wind, laughed with the other baby there (who was younger than her) and then finally zonked out when we got home.

I could tell she was tired at the park but it was too good of an opportunity for her to miss out on so she stuck her chin out and got her exploring done!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Such a big head!

We were at the falls today with N & J, when J heard Kalea say "I could fit through there if I didn't have such a big head!" (referring to the railings).

I was explaining the joke to her later, giving literal and non-literal meanings to common sayings when she realised what it meant and said "I don't have a big head!!!" and to that I said "But you do. You couldn't squeeze between the railings cos of your big head!!" She thought that was hysterical.

Now it is silly hour here for Kalea as she s being loopy and for once Tyger isn't! He is laying on the floor chilling out to a cartoon on tv after the big day we had today! Shae is sound asleep in the hangup. She had a good time at the pool, was kicking and wriggling and getting herself from one spot to another for the good part of an hour!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Unschooling tips #1-2

#1 - Leave chalk in the shower! When showering with the kids, make letters, words numbers, silly pictures, rainbows, bees on knees and owls on noses, groups of numbers, tens of numbers, a word and a list of letters that will change the word and so on. Even if you aren't showering with the kids, they can make their own art and form their own letters, words, numbers, sums and sentences!

#2 - Never interrupt an engrossed, learning child. Unless the house is burning down, it is probably safe to say whatever it is can wait!

Results of unschooling reading

 Kalea did some Reading Eggs today, announced she was bored and went outside to play on the waterslides. A hour or so later, I found her in the shower, scrawling sentences all over the walls. She had written;

I can see a hat, I see a rat, I see a Kalea, I see a bat, I see a cat, I can see a cat. I see a can, I see a mat,  (and as I walked in she wrote I can see a MAMA!).

Earlier today, Kalea was checking out the calendar and excitedly asked me why Nana's name was on the 13th. As it was supposed to be a surprise, I hedged "Oh is that Nana? I thought it said Mama" and she said "Oh no you don't! Mama has M's and Nana has N's!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

I am glad I didn't push her too much with reading despite my hangups over it. I really wanted her to be reading earlier as she is the oldest child and is usually the one under scrutiny from others with schooled mindsets. But I didn't, and here she is at nine years of age suddenly writing words and sentences and playing around with switching letters around, of her own initiative. She spent a hour in the shower, and only 8 minutes on Reading Eggs!