Why I’m suddenly changing our history plans!

Did you see my post about our new schoolroom?  Later this year we are going to take off in our caravan and explore Australia.  All of us.  For more than a year.  We’re packing up our house (we rent), putting all our belongings in storage and…going.

Our Aussie Homeschool | Our New Schoolroom!

Heaps to come on that.

Before that we are going overseas for a month.  A month! 

So what does that mean for the rest of our school year?  It means we’re not going to get everything done.  No way.  Won’t happen.  We’ve got to pack up this place, do our overseas trip, come back and adjust to life in a caravan.  That’s a good chunk of the school year gone.

I had a good look at the calendar recently and realised there is no way we were going to finish Story of the World this year.  We were using Volume 2, the Middle Ages.  But we’d barely made a dent.  At first I thought we’d just keep going, maybe speed it up, see how far we got.  Then I remembered…

I have Project Passport: The Middle Ages!  I bought it originally thinking I’d do it along with Story of the World.  You know, a fun supplement.  Right.  (Why was I thinking we could do two history programs??)

Our Aussie Homeschool | Project Passport: The Middle Ages

Project Passport: The Middle Ages from Home School in the Woods is an 8-12 week journey through the Middle Ages aimed at grades 3-8.  We’re doing it a little faster.  More like six weeks.  We’re rushing a bit in order to get through it before we leave.  So we aren’t getting to everything, but doing most of it. (I purchased the CD version as pictured above, but it’s also available as a download.)  Below is my Guide Book, a.k.a. Teacher’s Manual.

Our Aussie Homeschool | Project Passport: The Middle Ages, Guide Book aka Teacher's Manual

Only one of my kiddos is in the suggested age range of grades 3-8.  The text is definitely aimed at these older ages.  While we are reading I stop and explain things to help the younger ones get what we’re talking about.  I’m betting we’ll do this study again when my youngers are…er, older. 

There’s a travel itinerary that gives all the instructions for each stop (lesson).  It’s a list of what timeline figures you’ll need, newspaper articles to write, lapbook pieces to complete, etc.  I printed all of these and placed the text for each stop behind them.  These could be viewed on a tablet or computer, I decided it would be easier to have it in a binder.  I use a post-it tab at the top of the page to mark which stop we are on.

Our Aussie Homeschool | Project Passport: The Middle Ages, Guide Book aka Teacher's Manual

I love that this is all laid out for me.  All I had to do was print (and print, and print…).  The only thing I’ve added was to make myself a list of topics from each stop so that I could add books to use for supplemental reading.  Story of the World is chronological while Project Passport is more topical.  You could easily extend it by spending more time on each stop, fleshing out the topics a bit more with more books or projects.  The only thing I really feel is missing is mapwork, there’s not much in this program so far.

Our Aussie Homeschool | Project Passport: The Middle Ages, Guide Book aka Teacher's Manual

I’m a bit sad about leaving behind Story of the World for now.  But we have it on audio, so we can listen to it later while we are on our journey around Australia. 

About that printing…It’s a lot of printing.  Especially for three kids! I already had regular printer paper, coloured paper, white cardstock, and coloured cardstock.  You need all of those.  It’s a lot of switching paper out in the printer if you are doing all your printing at once.  I’ve organised mine into pockets that fit in the back of my binder.  There’s too much paper to fit it all in the binder at the beginning, so I just switch them out as needed.

Our Aussie Homeschool | Project Passport: The Middle Ages, Guide Book aka Teacher's Manual 

When we started this I printed out just what we needed for the first couple of days.  After I had a feel for it I printed a few stops a night until I had the whole thing done.

Just a warning…there is a lot of colouring, and cutting, and lapbooking, and notebooking type projects in this program.  If your kids don’t like those activities, this program may not work for your family!

I’ll be posting more on this in the weeks to come.

Note: I was not given this product in exchange for review.  Just really enjoying it!

Periodic Table of the Elements: in Cupcakes!

Look what we made!

Our Aussie Homeschool | Periodic Table of the Elements- in Cupcakes!

Yes, really. Those are mini-cupcakes.  One hundred and eighteen of them.

Our Aussie Homeschool | Periodic Table of the Elements- in Cupcakes!

We made more, but the dog got them.  After we took pictures he managed to get some more.  Thank goodness we got the pictures of the completed table first!  Does he look guilty?  Not so much.

Our Aussie Homeschool | Periodic Table of the Elements- in Cupcakes!

This little guy made off with a couple too.  He was so pleased with himself.  He’d only just learned that he can reach the table.  The first one he grabbed he was off as fast as his little toddler feet could carry him.  Afraid I’d take it away, I guess.  Then he stopped to inspect his prize and the delight on his face as he had his first mouthful was so adorable.  Toddlers are wonderful.  (And infuriating, but that’s another post!)

Our Aussie Homeschool | Periodic Table of the Elements- in Cupcakes!

Am I crazy?  Maybe.  We didn’t make them all in one day.  Two different days of baking, one day for icing, one more day for the writing. 

Our Aussie Homeschool | Periodic Table of the Elements- in Cupcakes!

I used cupcake mix from a box, chocolate and vanilla.  The writing icing was the kind that comes in a tube.  The kids did much of the writing.  All things that made the process a little easier.

Our Aussie Homeschool | Periodic Table of the Elements- in Cupcakes!  Our Aussie Homeschool | Periodic Table of the Elements- in Cupcakes!  

The bad thing?  Mini-cupcakes are bite-size.  Which means before you know it you’ve eaten quite a few.  ;)

Our Aussie Homeschool | Periodic Table of the Elements- in Cupcakes!

These are not perfect.  But so much fun. 

Our Aussie Homeschool | Periodic Table of the Elements- in Cupcakes!

Great activity to go with The Elements curriculum that we are using right now.

What do you think?  Do you see a cupcake periodic table in your future?  :)

Our New Schoolroom

So I really wanted to link up to the Schoolroom week for the Not Back to School Blog Hop this week. But we are in the midst of changes and our schoolroom is a mess.  And it’s going to continue to be a mess for some time.  There’s no way I can get it cleaned up enough to take pictures that I’d care to post here.  So, here’s an old picture and a link to my post from a couple of years ago that shows the room we’re in.  We’ve moved things around since then, but it’s the same room.  Same table and chairs and bookcases.  We moved the futon out, added a little art table under the window, and we’ve tried to toddler-proof things a bit.

Our Aussie Homeschool | Our Schoolroom | Not Back to School Blog Hop  

But really all of the changes don’t matter now.  Because we will soon be moving, which is why our schoolroom (and the rest of our house!) is currently such a mess.

Did you notice the title of this post?  Our New Schoolroom.  Here’s a hint…

Our Aussie Homeschool | Our Schoolroom | Not Back to School Blog Hop

I can’t give you a tour yet because we’ve got some redecorating to do.  More to come!

Linking up…

nbts-blog-hop-2014

First Day of School Booklet 2014!

A lovely commenter made me realise that I hadn’t posted an updated First Day of School Booklet for this year.  I actually  started them ages ago and just hadn’t finished them up and gotten them posted.  So here they are!  (Download here or click the cover images below.)

Can I just pause and say I love when it’s back to school time in America?  It hits just when I’m hitting the February homeschool ‘blahs’.  For me, since we school on a calendar year, those February ‘blahs’ hits in August.  And suddenly the bloggy world is full of lovely back to school posts, schoolroom pics, curriculum choices, etc.  The excitement is catching!  Then there are the sales too.  It’s a good time of year to stock up on digital curriculum.

Anyway…here’s a glimpse at the cover choices.  It occurred to me as I was completing these with my own kids that it would be nice to have some different covers so everybody could choose their own.  Nothing fancy, but if your kids are like mine they’ll still fight over who gets which one. (Ha!)

        Our Aussie Homeschool | First Day of School Booklet 2014 - Free Printable! Our Aussie Homeschool | First Day of School Booklet 2014 - Free Printable! Our Aussie Homeschool | First Day of School Booklet 2014 - Free Printable! 

                  Our Aussie Homeschool | First Day of School Booklet 2014 - Free Printable! Our Aussie Homeschool | First Day of School Booklet 2014 - Free Printable!

Still two choices for a back cover, one with a Bible verse and one without.  Good for classrooms!  I sound like an infomercial.  [‘But wait, there’s more!  Not only do you get your choice of front cover, you can also choose from not just one, but two back covers!  There’s no better value than that, Sally!’]

                            Our Aussie Homeschool | First Day of School Booklet 2014 - Free Printable!Our Aussie Homeschool | First Day of School Booklet 2014 - Free Printable!

Inside the booklet are places to record that all-important information! [‘Really, Peter?  We get pages to go between our covers?  What more could you need?’]

Our Aussie Homeschool | First Day of School Booklet 2014 - Free Printable!Our Aussie Homeschool | First Day of School Booklet 2014 - Free Printable! Our Aussie Homeschool | First Day of School Booklet 2014 - Free Printable! Our Aussie Homeschool | First Day of School Booklet 2014 - Free Printable!

These all fold up into a little booklet to have as a keepsake.  The pages could also be cut in half and stapled together if that’s easier for you (or your kids!) to put together. [‘So easy even a child could do it, Sally!’] 

I’ve actually found that my kids don’t like to complete these all at once.  So they are more like a ‘First Week of School’ project for us!

Download the First Week of School Booklet for 2014 here, and all my free printables here!

Happy first day of school or homeschool!

Our Curriculum: Grade Four

Skeeterbug is nine and in grade four this year.

Our Curriculum Grade 4 | Our Aussie Homeschool

Writing: I’m excited to be using Writing & Rhetoric from Classical Academic Press with Skeeterbug this year.  Right now he’s in Fable and will move on to the next book, Narrative 1, when he’s done.  Writing is not his favourite subject, but he’s doing well with this curriculum.  I’m so happy with it, I’m just tickled pink as my Grandma would say.  :)  On ‘off’ days he’ll do a lesson from Writing With Ease Level 3.  An ‘off’ day might be when I don’t want to start a new W&R lesson at the end of the week, or we need a change, or I think he needs some more challenging dictation. 

Spelling: Skeeterbug is continuing with All About Spelling, right now he’s in Level 4 and will finish it by the end of this term (which ends in September).  I’ve already got Level 5 sitting on my bookshelf.  It’s purple.  It’s pretty. 

Grammar: First Language Lessons Level 3.  I looked at Level 4 but decided I wanted to be thorough and so started with the first level that had a workbook.  Last year our grammar coverage was pretty light, only completing Grammar-land which only took up part of the year.  This year we are covering a lot more.  Sadly, I have discovered that my grammar knowledge is not even up to level 3.  I’m learning right along with Skeeterbug.  I love FLL because it lays everything out so clearly.  And it’s scripted.  Did I mention my grammar knowledge is sadly lacking?  Yeah, scripted is good.

Handwriting: Skeeterbug is finishing up the last Handwriting Without Tears cursive book.  Once he’s finished I’ll have him complete much of his work in cursive.  Right now I am not requiring that, but I notice him doing some of it in cursive without my prompting.  Yay!

Math: RightStart Math, Level D.  This level has just the right mix of ‘easy’ and ‘spot on’ for Skeeterbug.  For the ‘hard’ he does Singapore Challenging Word Problems, which are sometimes a challenge for me too.  (Did I say that?)  He also has a Dreambox subscription which is a fun way to reinforce concepts.

Science: The Elements by Ellen McHenry.  So fun!  We’re only on lesson two, but we’ll be getting on with it so that we can finish it this term. 

Geography:  We started the year doing Evan-Moor’s Daily Geography.  I found that we’d often push it aside and he’d end up doing a whole week’s worth at once.  Not necessarily bad, but it felt like busywork.  So we’ve dropped it, and I’ve just ordered Legends & Leagues: South for him to try.  I’m hoping it’s something he can do independently.  He’s also done some map tracing, and labeling, and Geopuzzles, and online games.

Latin: Getting Started With Latin, very simple and effective.  And it can be done independently, which is important to me since we have so many teacher-intensive subjects around here.

With his siblings:

Bible: Grapevine’s Old Testament Part 4, we’ll finish by the end of this term.  After that we’ll probably switch to Picture Smart Bible for awhile.  I’m sure we’ll come back to Grapevine at a later date.  

History: Story of the World Volume 2: Middle Ages with heaps of readers and read-alouds.  Skeeterbug is listening to the corresponding lessons in Mystery of History Volume II to go along with SOTW. (The list of corresponding lessons can be found here.)  I plan to use MOH the next time we go through the Middle Ages, for now Skeeterbug will just listen to the lessons and read along in the text.

Art: Home Art Studio’s First Grade DVD, we do this fortnightly with friends.  Yup, first grade.  It works.  He just follows the directions a bit better than the younger kids.  ;)

Memory Work:  Skeeterbug is memorising poetry, Bible verses, and a history timeline.

I’m probably forgetting some things.  Like typing.  And unit studies.  But this is our list of basics that we get to on a mostly regular basis. 

 

Our other curriculum choices:

Our Curriculum: Grade One

Our Curriculum: Preschool

Linking up to the Not Back-to-School Blog Hop…

nbts-blog-hop-2014

Note: no affiliate links in this post.

New! Colourful Calendar Notebook Pages

So this year when I made our calendar notebooks I decided they needed a little more colour.  Don’t they look pretty all gathered together like this?  :)

Free! Colourful Calendar Notebook Pages from Our Aussie Homeschool

{Click the image to go to the download link!}

I’ve included all the regular calendar notebook items plus a couple of new ones.  I hope you’ll like these!  First up is a page to record the date.  One with a column to write the whole date, one without.  Sometimes the younger ones can only handle so much writing. 

Free! Colourful Calendar Notebook Pages from Our Aussie HomeschoolFree! Colourful Calendar Notebook Pages from Our Aussie Homeschool

This one is for preschoolers (or children who are allergic to too much writing).  Laminate this or place it in a page protector and use it with a dry erase marker. Completing this sheet will give them practice writing the day of the week, the month, the year, and help them remember the date  they wrote on their calendar page.

Free! Colourful Calendar Notebook Pages from Our Aussie Homeschool

A page to track the number of days school has been in session.  I included a page with traceable numbers and a page with blank squares to fill in with written numbers.  Stickers work well, too!

Free! Colourful Calendar Notebook Pages from Our Aussie Homeschool

This page is for learning to write tally marks.  Five for each box.

Free! Colourful Calendar Notebook Pages from Our Aussie Homeschool

Or you could use this page where you write your tallies by month and add them up at the end.  (Inspired by calendar notebooks at Homeschool Creations and Confessions of a Homeschooler.)

Free! Colourful Calendar Notebook Pages from Our Aussie Homeschool

For practice line graphing, use this temperature chart.  (Don’t worry, I included one in Fahrenheit too!)

Free! Colourful Calendar Notebook Pages from Our Aussie Homeschool

The classic daily weather page.  My kids like to use this to record what they *wish* the weather was rather than what it actually *is*.  Sigh.  (Inspired by the calendar notebooks at Confessions of a Homeschooler.)  There’s also a page to summarise the weather for the year, by month.  (Not pictured.)

Free! Colourful Calendar Notebook Pages from Our Aussie Homeschool

A place to write your name all year.  If they can restrain themselves that long- my kids seem to want to do this one every day!

Free! Colourful Calendar Notebook Pages from Our Aussie Homeschool

The daily math practice page with a bit of colour.  There’s a copy of the black & white page in the file, too, but I think it looks a little jazzier this way.  This could be laminated or placed in a page protector to save some cost on printing.

Free! Colourful Calendar Notebook Pages from Our Aussie Homeschool

In the hopes that they can complete the entire calendar notebook independently, I included this sheet with number words spelled out.  If they remember it’s there, they won’t have to ask and they might even spell it right!

Free! Colourful Calendar Notebook Pages from Our Aussie Homeschool

Head over here to download these colourful calendar notebook pages!

Looking for daily calendars to go with these?

Colourful calendars for 2014/15

Calendars for 2015

Also: my original Calendar Notebook

Cheers!

Flying Creatures: Birdfeeders

{This is an activity we did last year that I never got around to posting!}

Lesson two in our Flying Creatures book had us making birdfeeders.  The idea is to make two identical birdfeeders filled with different types of seed, then hang them near each other to see which the birds prefer.  We followed the instructions in the book to make simple feeders out of two-litre plastic bottles. 

Our Aussie Homeschool ~ Flying Creatures ~ Homemade Birdfeeders

Filling them was the most fun for the kids. Not so fun for me because of the bird seed that went everywhere, but they enjoyed it.

Our Aussie Homeschool ~ Flying Creatures ~ Homemade BirdfeedersOur Aussie Homeschool ~ Flying Creatures ~ Homemade Birdfeeders

Ladybug was using a spoon and kept tipping it the wrong way so it kept spilling.  I gave her a small measuring cup instead, it worked much better.

Our Aussie Homeschool ~ Flying Creatures ~ Homemade Birdfeeders Our Aussie Homeschool ~ Flying Creatures ~ Homemade Birdfeeders

Lots of filling.  There are two holes near the bottom for the birds to eat from.  While we were filling we had to cover them with our hands until the seed was above that line so that it wouldn’t spill.

Our Aussie Homeschool ~ Flying Creatures ~ Homemade Birdfeeders

What’s wrong with this picture?  We forgot that we were supposed to have two different types of seed.  Whoops.

Our Aussie Homeschool ~ Flying Creatures ~ Homemade Birdfeeders Our Aussie Homeschool ~ Flying Creatures ~ Homemade Birdfeeders

A few days later we remedied the seed situation by replacing one with just sunflower seeds.

Our Aussie Homeschool ~ Flying Creatures ~ Homemade Birdfeeders

We placed our birdfeeders in this tree because it is the only one we can easily observe from a window.  We left them up for ages and the birds didn’t like them at all!  So we tried again with new feeders in case the birds just didn’t like the feeders.

I know it doesn’t look like it from these shots, but we hung them both in the same tree.

Our Aussie Homeschool ~ Flying Creatures ~ Homemade Birdfeeders Our Aussie Homeschool ~ Flying Creatures ~ Homemade Birdfeeders

One with mixed seed, one with sunflower seeds.

Our Aussie Homeschool ~ Flying Creatures ~ Homemade Birdfeeders Our Aussie Homeschool ~ Flying Creatures ~ Homemade Birdfeeders

These were a hit!  It didn’t take the birds long to find them and once they did both feeders were emptied within a day.  So we filled them up and they were again empty in a day.  Unfortunately we couldn’t see them feeding very well in order to observe which feeder got more activity.  So much for the experiment!  Our next experiment that involved birdfeeders went much better…post to come!

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