2019’s Books and More

I posted earlier this month about what our homeschool core curricula were going to be for 2019.
Today I will share the full list of different books we will be using in our two core language based curricula – Build Your Library and Bravewriter. To make it helpful for you I’ve split them in to their different learning areas, and provided a key for the tags at the end of each title.

BYL GRADE 4 – The Modern World

Build Your Library Website

A – Audible
K – Kindle
L – Library


  • The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child, Volume 4: The Modern Age
  • Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun (K)
  • Fields of Fury: The American Civil War
  • Where Poppies Grow: A World War I Companion
  • Gandhi
  • Escape from Saigon: How a Vietnam War Orphan Became an American Boy (K)


These are books that I will be reading aloud to the kids.

  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  • The Twenty-One Balloons
  • From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (A)
  • Nory Ryan’s Song
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  • The Singing Tree
  • Angel on the Square
  • When My Name Was Keoko
  • Redwall  (A)
  • Because of Winn-Dixie (L)
  • Shooting Kabul


These are the books that the kids will be reading.  Master Oh may skip some of these, we will see how his year progresses.

  • The Capture (Guardians of Ga’hoole, Book 1) (L)
  • James and the Giant Peach (L)
  • Bull Run
  • Rodzina
  • Stuart Little (L)
  • The Toothpaste Millionaire
  • Maggie’s Door
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • The Water Horse (L)
  • Number the Stars (L)
  • Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes 
  • The Borrowers (L)
  • Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.?
  • The School Story
  • Journey to Jo’burg: A South African Story


  • Knock at a Star: A Child’s Introduction to Poetry


  • The New Way Things Work (L)
  • 10 Inventors Who Changed the World (L)
  • The Usborne Internet-Linked Science Encyclopedia


  • Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters
  • The Usborne Introduction to Art


Bravewriter Website

As you can see there is A LOT of crossover between the books studied here and those we will be or have just read as part of our BYL curriculum.  We will marry up the Arrow to the time of year when we are reading the book as part of BYL.   I can’t tell you how happy I am that they are this well aligned.  The amount of reading it saves!

  • Aug: Penderwicks at Last
  • Sep: Redwall
  • Oct: Mary Poppins
  • Nov: Journey to Jo’burg
  • Dec: Because of Winn Dixie
  • Jan: Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes
  • Feb: Freedom Train
  • Mar: Harriet the Spy
  • Apr: By the Great Horn Spoon
  • May: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The Money

For the full range of curricula, for two kids we are looking at ~NZ$500.

This splits down into:

Book Depository:  $296 – $15 affiliate rebate = $281
Kindle: $29
Pandia Press: ~$60 for Earth and Space; $23 for The Stargazer’s Notebook.
My Pals Are Here! Maths – 3A & B: $54
My Pals Are Here! Maths – 5A & B: $48

This could have been reduced if I had spent the time to hunt for secondhand books, but frankly my time trying to find them would probably outweigh the savings.

I hope you found that interesting.


2019 Homeschool Curricula

What does 2019 hold in store for us here at the Patch?

As we have done over the past two years, we will be having a mix and match of curricula so that we touch on all of the core basic learning areas with the kids and that’s what I’ll detail for you today.  We may add in extras throughout the year, depending on how we’re doing with the workload of this central core.  As most of the work can be accomplished during the morning, that leaves the afternoons for the kids’ own interests or general play / downtime.

Note: rather than do one level of learning for each child we go for the middle ground, with the exception of maths, and we adjust expectations for each child based on their skill set.

The Curricula

Build Your Library (BYL) : Grade 4 – The Modern World
It covers history, literature, poetry, science and art.

Bravewriter: Arrow
We are currently mid-stream with this.  It’s an annual subscription that runs with the US school year.  It covers the mechanics of writing as studied from good works of children’s literature.  There’s A LOT of crossover between the books used in the 2019 Bravewriter Arrow and those recommended in BYL.

Your Pals Are Here! Maths
This is a Singaporean maths series.  It is supposedly used in many of their schools and I’ve found it to be pretty solid and not excessive in the amount of work required of the kids.  This year they will be doing 3A & B, and 5A & B.

RSO Earth & Space – Level 1
This is a secular* science curriculum out of the US.  It covers the earth sciences and astronomy.  We may add in “The Stargazers Notebook”, which is a year long study of the sky.  It depends on how our time and energy goes.


We may also look at doing “Bravewriter Jot It Down” for creative writing since  I’d really like to encourage Master Oh’s creativity to come out in some form of writing and this may be the best way to get him moving on it.

There will also be the ongoing tutoring to assist with Master Oh’s probable dyslexia.  Perhaps some use of Nessy and other apps that can reinforce the learning we will be working through.
And for variety we will probably dip in and out of Khan Academy as we need a break from our regular programme.
There may be extracurricular items as well, but they will probably come later in the year and I’ll post about any changes as we go.

As always, we try to be flexible and adapt to changing needs.  What seems like a good idea today may turn out to be a horrible idea in a month or two.  Watch this space for any updates.

I will be writing another post with a full listing of the books we will be using this year, along with an approximate cost for all of the year’s core curricula and resources.

Here’s to a fantastic range of learning happening in 2019 !

* I note this as secular as it’s a bit of an issue when you use curricula out of the USA.

As I’ve learned from their online secular community, a lot of the curricula available are considered “neutral” so they can be sold to people whose faith does not agree with the concept of evolution. So they skirt the subject, ignore the subject or explain it as “one theory” while giving a faith based “theory” the same platform.  That, obviously, wouldn’t suit us.

Sick and tired already?


Welcome to the first day of The Pukeko Patch’s NaBloPoMo posts.

It is a highly inauspicious start, following the contraction of some random cold and cough by Master Oh Waily on Sunday, and the subsequent contraction of it by Miss Oh Waily yesterday.  As the senior Oh Waily at home right now, I am dutifully awaiting my turn for the miserable sniffles and scratchy throat to arrive.  My best guess is either tomorrow evening or Thursday morning.

In the meantime I am very grateful that we can be flexible around our home educating when such things happen; and happen this past six months they most certainly have.  I cannot remember a year where we have continuously cycled from well, to ill, to well again, only to have a few weeks respite before repeating the process all over again.

We are all heartily sick and tired of it – both literally and figuratively.

In the meantime, what are we to do when we have the weak, feeble, tired bodies, scratchy throats and sniffy noses?
We read.

Well.  I read.  They listen.

Today we managed to breeze through our week’s worth of history readings and have arrived in Rome.  I did our week’s art readings too and the kids drew their version of Romulus, Remus and the Wolf.  I’ll post photographs later in the week, if I’m not laid low as I suspect may be the case.

We watched the first part of a German documentary about Alexander the Great, which we picked up from Curiosity Stream, and will probably watch the second part tomorrow.  It fitted in quite well with the end of our time in Greece.


tlotrgwOur literature reading for this week is more of The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards, which we have been doing as a bit of bedtime reading over the past week to create some spare time during the day to spend on other things.  The kids seem to be enjoying it, but it hasn’t been as gripping as some of the earlier books.  To be fair, though, we have only just finished the first part and the real adventure is yet to begin.

I will see if I can get a review out of the kids once we have finished it in a couple of weeks.

In addition to this, we also read a number of poems involving wind which led to discussions about the different sorts of imagery the poets chose.  It was really good to see them thinking about and recognising the connections.

And that ends a pretty run-of-the-mill day around The Patch.  The only thing missing today was our regular swimming lessons, which fell victim to the colds as well.

Tomorrow will probably follow a similar pattern, depending on what sort of grip the cold gets on the Oh Waily kids (and if it starts in on me).
See you then.


Ancients and Art

This is what we are going through this year in History.  I’ve chosen to hit the middle ground between the kids so that I can do one set of readings with them.  It’s about a year ahead of the young lad and a year lower for the young miss.  But, like all things home ed, it can be tailored to suit as you go along.

As I mentioned before, we are trialling Build Your Library this year and so far it seems to be working a treat.  We cover literature, history, art, language arts, mythology and we will be adding in the science component shortly.  Maths we already do through our My Pals Are Here! curriculum from Singapore.

What I’m enjoying about BYL is that many of those different curriculum areas are nicely tied together.  The art activities tie in with the period or culture being read about in the history section and this also applies to the mythology.  With the language arts and literature, they tie together with the book being read.

I obviously need to supplement this with ‘specific to the kid’ extras.  For instance, Miss Oh gets a bit of spelling practice while Master Oh gets some more reading practice.  But I can say categorically that we have more flow to our days now and I think some of that can be put down to using BYL.

So today, I thought I’d show you a bit of their art which tied in with their history lessons around archaeology.  Specifically, cave painting.  Here are how Miss Oh Waily and Master Oh Waily represented cave art à la Lascaux.  It helped that we already had crumpled paper from our moving that could replicate the texture of a cave wall.

G's Cave Art

Miss Oh’s art depicts a bull being hunted with a spear, and you can note her normal motif of small baby and mother included to the right of the action.  And yes, the ‘boy bits’ were intentional.

M's Cave Art

In Master Oh’s work we see a bit of a mixed theme.  And true to his style, this piece of visual art was accompanied by a lengthy explanation of what is going on.  For brevity I will shorten it here.
You are witnessing a bull being hunted.  The two figures at top and on the right are holding torches, while the figure on the left has a spear ready.  The golden spear-like object in the bull’s bottom (or “butt-arks” as Master Oh likes to call it) is supposedly a copper spear.  So a discussion regarding when technological advances was had regarding that particular aspect of the drawing.  There was more to the story, but I think that gives you the gist of it.

If you or your kids are interested in the amazing cave art of Lascaux, I can’t recommend this link more.  The interactive experience of gliding through the caves looking at the drawings is most excellent.

Happy Home Edding!

Valentine’s Day Art contest

RainbowGems' picture of those people she loves. ️#afkhlove16
Posted by Instagrate to WordPress

This is Miss Oh’s picture of the people she loves.  It’s her entry in to an online art contest run by her favourite YouTube art channel, Art For Kids Hub.

Her drawings have taken on a new twist since she has started to avidly work through the videos she is attracted to.  Do you see those eyes?  The ones with white highlights?  Up until her current patch of drawing along with these guys you would not have seen those.  There are more, subtle, changes to the way she draws now which I certainly put down to her watching and replicating from the videos.  So if you have a young child who is creative, this might be a good option for them.  But watch out for the origami section, you might find your house overflowing with papery creations, and every birthday and Christmas may be accompanied by a folded masterpiece.  Go on.  Ask me how I know.   🙂

Sneaky Art


Miss Oh snuck the iPad off to her bedroom yesterday and I thought she was either watching the ubiquitous Minecraft videos on YouTube or playing a random game.  It turns out I was wrong on both points.

She was watching YouTube videos, but it was one of our other subscriptions, Art for Kids Hub.

Instead of doing any of the drawing prompts she chose to do the origami.  She made and decorated the Snapper, a cup, a flower, a hat and heart.  All done sneakily on her own.  Here are some of them.  She’s undecided if she will decorate them or not, so for now they are mostly plain white.

Origami Cup

Origami Heart-2

Origami Hat

And then she finished off with a Minecraft drawing, in homage to an effort to find a wolf to tame that she had made earlier in the morning.

Minecraft Doggie

I can heartily recommend the Art for Kids Hub, either at their website or at their YouTube channel.  It’s great, straightforward art for kids to try out.  And it’s on topic for what’s in with younger kids.

Our creative table – oil pastels

Our Creative Table rectangle

Today, while out exploring the sunny day with camera in hand, I discovered that I had filled up my SD card.  So this evening I took the time to get the photographs off and to clean up the card.  That means I can finally share some photos that have been awaiting my attention for a while now.

Back in October I set up another creative table for the Oh Waily kids.   This time I put out some oil pastels and a few knickknacks as possible prompts.

Here are some of the results.

This is Miss Oh’s view and first piece of art.  She pretty much chose to ignore the prompts, but for a later piece where she wrote out, in colours, the word ‘love’.  For the keen sighted, you might notice her drawing of Sqaishy in her art journal.

Oil Pastel 1

Here we have Master Oh’s main piece, which turned in to something of a series.  These days his art isn’t so much just a drawing as a visual piece of a very long, convoluted and involved verbal story.  But I’m sure you can see that he was inspired by the frog, only these frogs have a lot of super-powers and stuff going on that is both exciting and gruesome at the same time.

Oil Pastel Frogs

And Miss Oh’s main piece from the oil pastel day was on a very consistent theme for her – hearts.Oil Pastel Heart

And that pretty much sums up our oil pastel creative table.  What have you and yours been creating lately?

Our Creative Table

Our Creative Table rectangleInspired by a post at Tinkerlab I thought I would start a once-a-week art provocation called ‘Our Creative Table’ and see if the kids enjoyed it.

I’d say it was a resounding success.  They’ve asked me to do it again today!

Taking my initial inspiration from this Creative Table post at Tinkerlab, I cleared off our table and set it up with watercolours and some plain paper with swirly loops.  It was quite interesting how each of the Oh Waily kids chose to use the swirls.

So here is what it looked like to start off.

Watercolour Provocation

A nice clear table with only the art supplies… nothing to distract from the opportunity to create.




Watercolour Provocation 2

Nice swirly patterns to interpret as they see fit.  And so they did.






Miss Oh chose to colour in and add her own flourishes.  While Master Oh chose to make faces.






Interpretation 2

As I put out basic paper the watercolours started to crinkle it, but using the masking tape and leaving them to dry in situ seems to have sorted that out quite well.  Today I’ll be putting out some of our watercolour paper and they can compare it to yesterday’s experience.





So here are the final products.

Final product

Final product 2

Apologies for the dull photographs, it’s been rather miserable weather around here for a while.  Time to find a good spot to take finished photos even when the weather is uncooperative!

As for the activity, I can highly recommend this and will be doing it again in a couple of weeks when we return from visiting family.  If you want to join in with a creative table post every Friday, then feel free to drop a link to your post in the comments.  The more, the merrier.

Also, if you read through the Tinkerlab post you will see that there is a hashtag to use on Instagram if you want to join in there, #creativetable.  You will find an incredible 8,000 posts for a tiny bit of inspiration, and much better photographs!   (Clearly I need to up my game on that front.)

Happy creating everyone.

Family Field Trip: Singapore

Back in October the Oh Waily family had a very short stay in one of my favourite places, Singapore.
The kids got to see, feel and enjoy some of the sights.

On Orchard Road it was hard to miss the sculpture exhibition.

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Art display


Rhino meets child-2


We also took a trip around the Zoo to see some animals that are not so common in our part of the world.  The kids got to watch the sea lion display, see polar bears, orang-utans and more.  The highlight for all would be the elephant ride.  Yes, on the back of a real elephant.  Very popular it was.

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Bearly there


On safari


We also took a trip to the Botanic Gardens, specifically the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden.  The kids had great fun in the treehouse play area, learning about photosynthesis and most importantly in the heat of mid-morning Singapore, getting in to their togs and playing in the water play area with a bunch of local pre-schoolers.

Butterfly entrance way

And as usual, the swimming pool attached to where we stayed was also a popular spot.  Unsurprising in the equatorial heat really.

Spidey in the water

They must have had a nice time because they keep saying ‘the next time we go to Singapore we can…’ every now and then.  And frankly I can’t wait for it.  There was plenty to do that we simply didn’t have time to and as they get older they will be that much more able to withstand the temperature so that we don’t have to have a daily siesta.


An emerging Artist

And without warning there was Art.
Art that did not include masses of paint or crayon colours splashed across the page with abandon and no form.
Art that showed previously unseen fine motor control using pencils.
Art that shows an actual named figure !!

Meet Laval from Chima, as imagined by Master Oh Waily.

M's Drawing


Apologies for the quality of the photograph… must work on my art photography skills.  🙂