History here we come

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 8.17.24 pmStarting tomorrow we are giving a new history curriculum a run-through.

We did try out a Classical option earlier but found that it wasn’t a really good fit for us. Between the age that the kids were when we tried it and my completely unrealistic expectations of what and how home education would work for us, it turned out to be the first thing to drop from our lives.

Now, however, I have finally figured out that the best way to get ‘learning’ in to my children is to sneak it in, in small doses and with as much fun as I can manage to cram in.  And to be completely relaxed about the whole process as well.

This time around I am giving a secular Charlotte Mason curriculum it’s opportunity.  Hopefully I’m also more aware of what is a reasonable expectation from my kids and their ages, so we are slightly less likely to founder on the rocks so quickly. I already had the two main books that form the spine of the curriculum, so even better from the planning & purchasing point of view.

For this round of learning about the ‘Ancients’ we will be doing lots of colouring in, listening to information and if I can find something on YouTube or Netflix, watching documentaries too.  I’ve also learned to not put pressure on the kids or myself.  I will happily do all of the reading and writing, rather than impose my expectation on them to do that (or parts of that for Master Oh).  Flowing with their interest and skill level is going to be key to following a full curriculum like this, but I’m looking forward to the opportunity to introduce history on an ongoing basis.

I’ve printed out the first lesson’s worth of pictures and text and will be reading sections to go with that.  The kids can colour in the pictures while I’m reading.  I’ve even made the pockets out of A3 paper I had on hand and there’s even some washi tape getting in on the act.  (Only because Miss Oh hates staples after she opened a birthday present that stabbed her mercilessly.  Ah the trials of being young! )

For the record, the curriculum we’re going to use is History Odyssey – Ancients Level One from Pandia Press.  I really liked the fact that the owner seems to have a sense of humour (read their explanations of eBook over printed and the cost of the curriculum soapbox explanation) and that they were willing to let me (and you) have access to a decent chunk of the lessons to help decide if it looked right for us.  If we find that this works well for us, then I may consider their science curriculum too, but that’s a decision for later as we have basic science stuff that will see us through a few more months.

So… do you follow a curriculum?  If so, what and why?

As an eclectic home educator I’m really interested in the choices people make and why.  On a personal level, I love to research and look in to the different options I can present to my kids to keep their minds open and growing, so feel free to go to town with your comments if you have something you love.


NaBloPoMo disappointment

I am quite disappointed that I missed yesterday’s post deadline, and thereby did not quite fulfill my promised NaBloPoMo daily posting.  But quite frankly, two posts a day has been quite a challenge and unsurprisingly it has not proved to be without troubles.

Still, on the bright side, it did take until the 23rd day of the month for me to miss a day.  I think that’s a pretty good achievement.

I had been hoping to tell you all about our newly arrived maths books yesterday, but DHL have only just managed to have them arrive in Wellington this morning. I am guessing that they don’t do Saturday deliveries since they must still be sitting at the depot instead of in my hot little hands.  Oh well, I guess that will be Monday or Tuesday’s edition of the Patch.

Something else to edutain you today instead.


Where to begin with this one?
Many.  But really they aren’t truly failures, they’re learning experiences and adjustments.  They’re only failures if you sit down and never get back up again, or if you are inclined to not notice results and you therefore repeat the choices expecting things to change.

Failure #1: Formal instruction.

Miss Oh just doesn’t tend to like “being taught”.  She likes to do it herself.  She likes conversation.  She likes to ask questions and get answers.  She doesn’t particularly like “bookwork”.  She likes to play and tell stories and invent games.
As a traditionally schooled person, this sometimes grates on me.  It can frustrate and annoy me.  Every now and then I wander back into this mindset (it’s ingrained I tell you) and find myself with a resistant child.  So this is my number one problem, as I try to re-train myself to stick with what works.

Failure #2:  Trying to pitch too high.

While I love the idea of Classical Education, in conjunction with Failure #1, it is perhaps something that can be worked on in a more informal manner.  More in topic form with fun activities attached, rather than in the more formal written way that we tried it.  Having tried out the set out curriculum it seems to me that it is perhaps a little to high for Miss Oh at the moment.  I think that Miss Oh, while she can and does like to listen to stories, is perhaps a kinesthetic learner too.  She has always been a very physical child – lots of great physical skills from an early age.  But it’s a bit too early to tell which of the three learning styles she most leans toward.  No doubt this will store up future failures for me to tell you about.

There are more, but I’ll save them for later, as well as my own blushes.

So, what works for you and what failures have you had?  I’d like to not feel too alone on the failure front.  🙂

Welcome to Egypt

All Gizah PyramidsWe have been taking a trip into the world of Ancient Egypt.

We are following the reading suggestion in the pre-made classical curriculum and read through the excellent, short, story book in no time flat.

I am now officially in love with the Magic Tree House series, and I’ve only read the one book, Mummies in the Morning.  It has two characters, Jack and Annie, who are brother and sister.  They visit a treehouse in which there are many books on different subjects.  Opening a book and wishing to be taken to the scene inside magically transports them and the treehouse there.  In our case, to ancient Egypt.

The nice thing about this series of books is that they are accompanied by a non-fiction book on the same topic, Mummies and Pyramids.  Using the same characters, we are able to learn a range of bite-sized snippets of information about Egypt and it’s culture in a non-fiction form.  Both books have some drawings and photographs, so that helps with keeping up the interest and aids in understanding.

I have also been directed to Activity Village’s Ancient Egypt theme section where we printed off many, many copies of images for colouring in.  We revisited the Creation Myth book that we had been using for earlier reading, and read about Ra and Apophis.

We have been reading about making mummies, sarcophagi, the pyramids, the Black Land and the Red Land, the Sphinx and the Nile.  So far it seems to be interesting enough to have Miss Oh Waily ask me to read about Egypt to her while she is having her lunch.

Here are some of the things she has done so far.

Egyptian Narration & Art

Using the creation myth book from previous entries, we read about Ra and Apophis with Miss Oh Waily doing a drawing of them fighting it out. Then I printed a few different colouring-in sheets for her to do (and her brother had to have some too). Can you tell that she is a bit in love with the gold and silver Artline pens? Perfect for those gilded and bright masks and sarcophagi.

Home made Pyramid

Then I cut out (they were a bit fiddly) the shape of a pyramid and let her colour it in. Together we used sellotape to make the final 3D item.  I’m not sure what the Pharoahs would have thought of the aesthetics, but hey a five year old had fun designing it.

Home made Cartouche

And finally, we collaborated on creating a cartouche.  Miss Oh helped a bit with the rolling out of the base and the making of the sausage that created the edge.  Then once it was dry* she set to it with her paints.  I’m contemplating whether to create the hieroglyphics to spell out her name and seeing if she wants to add them to it later.  I’ll see how it goes.

And that has been our first foray into the world of ancient Egypt.  No doubt we will now move on for a while, but I hope to come back for a visit soon.


* it’s made of DAS modeling clay, so she had to wait.  A great lesson in patience alone.

History in a nutshell: Volume 1

So it will come as no surprise to those who know me that I’m a bit of a history geek.  And when I decided to try out the classical education ready-made curriculum that I’ve been talking about lately, I was introduced to a series of potted histories of the world designed for children.  I figured I might as well go the whole hog if I was going to give this a fair chance, so after rummaging around the local library systems and coming up blank I headed off to my beloved Book Depository and placed my order.

It arrived today.  And I think I might just be a little bitty bit in love with a book.

As you can see from the title this is Volume 1: Ancient Times.  It will be introducing history and cultures to my children that I did not get to know in any great way until I was in my late teens/early twenties.

I get to tell them about Hammurabi and that I’ve seen his stele in the flesh, so to speak.  We get to chat about Sargon, the Mycenaeans (been there too, got the photographs to prove it), Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great and Confucius.  A snippet by snippet introduction to our earliest history and some of the legacies of those times and people.  A great way to put your alphabet and writing into a context while you are practicing using it.

I can see myself using a relaxed version of Classical Education, no stress, no long hours of study, or copy work, just gentle reading and scene setting with some arts and crafts thrown in for good measure.

Look out for my post about our current reading and learning adventures in Ancient Egypt, that’s coming up next week.

So, what do your kids know about the history of the world?  Do you think it’s important or irrelevant to your child’s education?  Leave a comment, I’d love to know what you think and what you do.

Phan Ku

As I mentioned yesterday, we have started working through some creation stories, Bursting From The Hen’s Egg and Spider Ananse Finds Something.

The first of these is about Phan Ku and comes from China.  We went over this a couple of times yesterday, and Miss Oh struggled to concentrate on the story enough to be able to relate back the events in her own words.  So after leaving it overnight we had another, relaxed, morning of revisiting this story.  I chose to work more on getting her to draw Phan Ku, which she did.

Here are the three sheets she produced about this story.  The first is the sheet provided, and includes a section where you can write things your child tells you they remember or like about the work.  Or, if they are writing on their own, where they can write about the story.
Above that you can see a square to allow for illustration, which Miss Oh enjoyed doing.  She described all the aspects as she drew them – Phan Ku’s horns, tusks, his chisel and his breath (that’s the funny little dotted line on the left and around the bottom of his chisel).  The image in the middle is one she did yesterday of Phan Ku.  And the one on the right is the Egg with Phan Ku inside the small squiggles that are the egg cracking and the squiggly lines around the egg is the “bursting out” that is happening.

Phan Ku

So I think tomorrow we will move on to Spider Ananse and do the same for that story.  We will be following our own schedule for working through the suggested curriculum, but that’s just fine by me.  After all, that is one of the main points of choosing to homeschool – working at the kids’ pace.

Some things I’ve learned today:

– we will try to work at the table until her concentration level is good enough to work wherever.
– we will work specifically on her handwriting from now on rather than just letting her write as and when she wants.  But only in short bursts.
– Master Oh can work quite happily with the Montessori apps on the iPad while Miss Oh is listening or drawing.  An hour should be possible.
– I am very impatient at the moment and that was coming out in my approach to “teaching” this lesson.   I learned my own lesson yesterday.

So tomorrow we will move ourselves into the creation stories of Africa.  I can’t wait to see what sort of spider Ananse will turn out to be when he’s drawn.  And I will relax about what to expect Miss Oh to be capable of doing from now on.

Remind me – whose learning journey is this again?

Classical Education – First Steps

Well, we are going to dip our toes into the waters of a Classical Education this week.
With the help and assistance of the Ancients downloadable curriculum from Classical House of Learning we are starting off with a variety of Creation Myths/Stories.

So today we read about Phan Ku* and Ananse.  A giant with horns and tusks, and a wily spider.

I will need my patience hat on, that much is clear.  Due to the recent sickness we seem to have lost our ability to concentrate following on from a super dose of television watching / recovery.  Thankfully, in a roundabout sort of way, I am unable to source the suggested reading book for the second week so we will perhaps just take a bit longer going through more than the myths/stories suggested.

I can also see that doing this may be difficult with a three year old fidgeting away next to us.  The problem is – he will not want to be excluded, and I am doubtful of any meaningful distraction too.  Oh well, no one said this journey was an easy one.  My intelligence and versatility will surely be tested.

So what Creation stories have you read to your children?

* It’s quite interesting to see the differences between the version in our library book and the wikipedia entry.  I’m sure my eyes would spin up into the back of my head if I tried to reconcile all the variations.  🙂