Thursday, 9 October 2014

Home Art Studio

Time for an update on our art lessons! Unfortunately I have had to give up on the wonderful Atelier DVD series as I began to see how expensive it was going to be if we used it all the way through. I preferred not to use a subscription-based curriculum and so, after seeing some wonderful reviews of Home Art Studio with a 50% off discount at Homeschool Buyers Coop no less, I went for it! For a mere $90 plus postage I now have a kindergarten to grade 5 complete art curriculum to watch over and over forever! Ms Volin is just lovely and the kids have been watching it though the laptop while working on our dining table. Art is something I want to do together so I decided to start them all from the beginning disc (kindergarten). Miss K (8) was not bored and has been enjoying the lessons, and Miss R (3) likes to do her own version so I think we'll just keep on going this way!

The first project was "colour mixing handprints", a nice lesson on making secondary colours and tracing. The second was "happy sun", again colour mixing, cutting/pasting and drawing. The third project was "van Gogh sunflowers", a fun and crafty take on an artist's style. We have found a very good replacement for Atelier.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Beyond Paleo - My Journey With Food (so far)

I'd like to share how I am going with paleo these days and some of my challenges and goals. Preoccupation with food began in my teenage years along with a variety of physical symptoms fuelling a lifelong search for the "perfect diet". Paleo has helped me a lot in these areas and made an enormous difference in how I look and feel today. Following this way of eating for an extended period of time and keeping a food diary has been the only way I have discovered exactly what my body reacts to and what its ideal fuel source is. 

I discovered rather quickly, however, that I needed to include more carbs and other foods to sustain me longer, and so I began experimenting. I was at a good weight without any known health issues, and have been able to maintain this without being limited to a strict paleo diet. I eat safe starches like white rice and potatoes (Perfect Health Diet). I tolerate homemade sourdough (WAPF) which I eat with vegetable soup I make from bone broth (GAPS). I continue to limit grains and processed food (Paleo) but include well-soaked legumes while enjoying a cheat day on the weekend (Slow Carb). I have learned tricks such as consuming fat in a fasted state to stave off hunger (Shangri-La), useful when travelling, and you can find whey protein and various supplements in my pantry. 

As well as including some foods back into my diet, I have also chosen to limit certain paleo foods as well. My long term goal is to become stronger and fitter, with less body fat. Consuming excess nuts, dried fruit and fat (baked goods!) sabotages this and I like to save these for the weekend. I also need to watch portion sizes as I'm finding that my body doesn't need to eat a lot to feel satisfied. Finding an exercise routine that I could stick to that has the right variety and intensity was challenging too. I currently do a mixture of kettlebell swings, HIIT and core strengthening exercises.

It's my opinion that for healthy active individuals a strict paleo diet is unnecessary. Having said that, I think anyone would benefit from a Whole 30 as well as a food diary when introducing foods back. There is freedom when you are able to work out which foods cause problems for you (if any) and you are able to establish an individualised plan that addresses your own needs. I'll be sure to update my progress!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

The End of Story of the World 1

I want to update our SOTW history projects. We actually finished book 1 early in the year and it has been such a pleasure to read! I did want to begin book 2 by the time term one started so it ended up a bit of a mad dash to have it all read. We spent a lot of time on ancient Rome, an important and memorable part of history for us. We did quite a bit of side reading. One book in particular that Katie enjoyed was Roman diary: the journal of Iliona a young slave.

Our project activities included making a fasces (you probably read that twice!) which was a bundle of wooden rods around an axe with its head showing. It was a symbol of official Roman power.

We later made a cuff bracelet which Roman soldiers wore. SPQR stood for Senatus Populus que Romanus, which means “The Senate and the Roman People” in Latin. Soldiers were supposed to remember that they served Roman citizens and the Senate. Romans also often used to wear money as jewellery!

Julius Caesar liked to wear a laurel wreath crown and we attempted a couple ourselves.

Romans made mosaics in the shape of a picture by using small tiles of stone to decorate floors etc. Katie and I worked on one ourselves just with coloured paper. It's still up on her bedroom wall!

We took a break from Rome and looked again at China - Confucius, the Great Wall, and Chinese calligraphy/characters.

Finally we looked at the beginning of Christianity, Boadicea and the Celts, and the end of Rome. We continued the mosaic theme by decorating some crosses, a timely activity which we displayed for Christmas, and experimented with various Celtic designs.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Curriculum update and Atelier art lessons

We are well and truly stuck into the new school year! We haven't made many changes curriculum-wise and I've updated all our materials on the curriculum page. We've changed our spelling book and added in Latin study. This year is going to be a great year!

I wanted to share some of the things we have been learning about in our Atelier art classes. I did an introductory post on Atelier a while back and am so happy with it. I did also buy another separate book-based course as a supplement and ended up doing one lesson only to have it sit on the shelf for six months! I do feel Atelier is meeting and will continue to meet all our art needs in the future. We are all loving it so far and I'm looking forward to the later levels which expand on the techniques.

The lessons require the child to produce a specific piece of work and I think this is the best way to teach a skill. The idea is to have the child learn a specific technique and be able to draw on that later for their own future creative projects. Being on DVD they can watch and practice it over and over as needed.

Unfortunately I lost a couple of photos of the early projects, but continuing in level 1 which we began last year, we focused on different types of patterns as we created some clowns.

We learned about shape and how artists can overlap them. For this lesson we made two cats and a dog.

In producing art we can use a variety of media. In this lesson we used potatoes to create a family portrait.

Next up was a drawing lesson based on the Cat in the Hat.

Finally, another drawing lesson telling the action of a story with pictures, in this case an action strip on The Queen of Hearts.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

My Reading Update 01/14

It's no surprise I did NOT actually start all the original 10 books I had set for myself by the end of last year! One book (ebook) in particular I did finish rather quickly was Wisdom's Way of Learning. It has made a huge difference in the way I approach homeschooling. I've purposed this year to not make our home too school-ish and to not end up a curriculum junkie! WWOL has some wonderful ideas and in my search for ways of actually putting these principles into practice I came across a book called Project Based Homeschooling, which I am devouring at the moment. It also has a fantastic website. WWOL is one of many books put out by Lifestyle of Learning and I've since acquired Empowering the Transfer of Moral Values and Faith, which is a real gem. It emphasises the importance of the quality of our relationships and what love looks like. This is something I'll probably continually reread.

On account of the above I decided to put away The Writer's Jungle for a while. It's an awesome resource for "teaching" writing and I think it will be most useful in a couple of years from now. I do want to incorporate some of its ideas such as freewriting and transcribing my children's stories/narrations and then using that for their copywork.

Greg Deuble's They Never Told Me This in Church! is a book that will challenge any Christian. Again, it's something I am still reading because I want to fully immerse myself in and mull over. It's the kind of book that will make you get your Bible out and have plenty of a-ha! moments and encourage you to do a bit of research yourself. In the end no matter what your reaction to this book is, it's an encouraging reminder to never sit back and accept everything no matter who it's coming from, but to ask questions and check for yourself. TNTMTIC has led me to the works of Anthony Buzzard which I have lined up for my reading this year. These two authors are truly a breath of fresh air.

For a long time (when I just had babies and toddlers) I didn't bother reading fiction. Perhaps it was because I was too busy reading all those how-to baby/parenting books that I didn't have much time left over! I regret that because there's something about fiction that makes your brain switch gears, transports you to another place and makes you empathise and really feel something. I think that would have helped my parenting woes at the time! I don't know what prompted me to read Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides but it was a really good read. The protagonist is a complex character, a hermaphrodite raised as a girl. The novel's setting begins in Asia Minor and makes reference to Greek mythology, which was timely as we were covering Ancient Greece for history then. A pleasure to read.

Speaking of history, I felt rather daunted when I first picked up Bauer's The History of the Ancient World. It's one massive tome! My intention was to use this as my own background reading while preparing SOTW readings. didn't happen! Mostly because I didn't have the time and I wanted to enjoy it in a relaxed way or not at all. I also began The Iliad (Rouse) but wish I had started it a lot earlier in the year. Although very readable, and from what I understand one of the better translations, for someone not acquainted with the background story of the Greeks and the Trojans, I would say it's still a difficult one to begin with. I decided to read Black Ships Before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliffe out loud to Katie. Even though this is geared for older children she was spellbound and so was I! I'd like to one day go back to Rouse's version of Homer, and also in our next cycle through the ancients read Sutcliffe's follow-up, The Wanderings of Odysseus.

At the moment for fiction I am reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. This one will take me a while I know. I started it not knowing much about her philosophies but very much want to see the evolution of her characters in this complex and thoughtful work.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

SOTW - Egypt, Israel, Greece, Americas

We are officially on "holidays" but does that mean we have stopped our beloved history? Not at all! We have not finished Book 1: Ancient Times yet and are not in a hurry to. Katie is thoroughly enjoying the readings and I want to be sure we are taking it in slowly at our pace. After all, Story of the World is a story that will be continuously with us for a whole four years (at least). I plan to relish it even on the holidays! We won't start up school again for another few weeks so plenty of time before we begin Book 2: The Middle Ages. Project-wise this is what we've been up to (these are from a few months' back):

Here is a "gold" bracelet signifying Nubia in Africa, who Egypt invaded for its gold.

We then weaved a Moses basket (let's just say Mum did most of that!) after reading about Israel's flight from Egypt. Katie was already familiar with that but it was nice to see it mentioned in a secular text. 

Sam loved his Mycenaean shield which he still refuses to get rid of! 

We spent a few weeks on Ancient Greece. This is a timpanon, a tambourine the Greeks played. We had our own "Olympic Games" and made some yummy hummus! 

I then printed out a few Spartan and Greek paper dolls with removable clothes and armour.

There was a brief reading on the Americas and we made up some colourful Native American headbands and enjoyed some tapioca pudding.

Monday, 14 October 2013

SOTW projects: Babylon, India, China, Africa

The kids have absolutely not tired of their SOTW projects - I really love the integration of interesting activities to supplement the readings. If we weren't doing any other art I'd say we are definitely covering it in history!

We built our own ziggurat temple out of old boxes which the kids painted and glued. It was one of our better projects and we kept it for many weeks. We then read about one of the first cities in India, Mohenjo-Daro, and made our own clay bricks to create a miniature dwelling. Moving further east into China we learned about silk, pictograms and rice farming. We added in some additional literature, The Story About Ping and Tikki Tikki Tembo - the younger kids loved these and requested them over and over. We also made some blue and white Ming bowls. 

We then moved onto Africa and Miss K made a paper bead necklace which she couldn't resist wearing with our Djembe drum! Then it was my turn - I made an African stew but unfortunately I can't remember where I found the recipe from. I decided to give plantains a go as we read about it in one of the Anansi stories. I've been wanting to try plantain but couldn't justify buying basically a tasteless giant banana for four times the price - I didn't regret it when I tried this recipe!