National Council of Home Educators New Zealand

NCHENZ Header Small
I thought I would share a great resource if you happen to be a home educator in New Zealand.  It is the National Council of Home Educators New Zealand.

If you click through on the logo to the left you will be taken to a wealth of information on all aspects of home education in New Zealand.

It’s really great stuff if you are in the contemplation stage as there are plenty of links to a large number of resources, both physical and online.  And if you are already under way there is still plenty there for you to brush up on, especially in the regulation and review areas.

Even better, it is being continually updated, and is totally free to join as an individual.  Simply fill out the form and you will be invited in to the community and will gain access to some excellent resources at NCHENZ prices.

So what are you waiting for?  Head over and sign up!  Join the community.

Disclaimer:  I’ve recently joined the NCHENZ committee, so I am slightly biased.  From now on when there are any significant issues or information of use to the home education community, I will probably be posting about it here under the Category NCHENZ.


Art Detectives

Today’s Thursday Adventure Club* outing was to Te Papa Tongarewa, known simply as Te Papa.

I had let my fingers do the walking and found an interesting link on their site, at the bottom of the What’s on for kids page.  The Family Trails.
I mean, who could pass up he chance of becoming an Art Detective?  Not us.

So this rather soggy Wellington morning saw us in town bright and early.  We headed to the Information Desk and were kitted out with our Art Detective bag and gear.  What did we get?

  • a deerstalker hat (what self-respecting detective goes without one?)
  • a matching cape
  • a pair of Harry Potter-style spectacles
  • a magnifying glass
  • some pipe cleaners
  • a foldable box
  • pencils
  • the Art Detective guide

Once we were all dressed for the occasion, Detective G and Detective M and their guide (me) headed off to Level 5 to work our way through the different galleries and the tasks set out in the AD guide book.

Do they look cute, or do they look cute?

Detective GDetective M

The amount of double takes and smiles the costumes generated was worth it alone.  But, in the process of following the art trail they were exposed to a range of artists and artistic styles.

We started off in the Artist In Focus gallery where they did a bit of counting, writing and creating with their pipe cleaners.  Then we moved through to the Arts Studio, which we will try to visit again when there isn’t a school class in the galleries, where I helped them make their own small cardboard waka huia to store their treasures in.  Then in the same area they had to find and then work out how to use a mystery box to help them with one of the following clues.
Then it was off to the Maori & Pacific Encounters gallery to look at and answer questions about a painting done by John Webber 200 years ago while sailing with James Cook.

Next we headed to the Framing the  View gallery where we used the descriptions noted from the Mystery Box to find an art work.  We did some more counting here and also a bit of geometry.   Miss Oh Waily took over the writing duties from here on.  She also drew the geometrical shapes that were used in the art work.
We stayed here and using a set of three clues supplied in our detective bag we had to work out which painting they represented.  And Miss Oh then had to make up a story to go with that particular piece of art.  I was her secretary here or we would have struggled for space and time.

From here we headed into the gallery Emblems of Identity where we got to see a number of Rita Angus portraits including Rutu which was the subject of this section of the trail.  We learned about symbols in art – in this case a white lotus – and made one of our own for our waka huia.  Then we did several word clues to identify the next artworks including McCahon’s The Valley of Dry Bones and then the kids got to draw their version of some Angus portraits and added speech bubbles to them.  Then we moved on to the Being Modern gallery into the Modern Maori Art gallery where there was more writing and drawing to be done.

Finally we made our way through the Art & Change and Contemporary galleries.  This latter one was a bit of a toughie.  It houses a couple of interesting works by Ralph Hotere which were the subject of another project in the book.  But by this stage they were getting to the end of their attention span (almost an hour and a half of detecting by this time) and the glossy attractions of Michael Parekowhai’s amazing piano was proving a bit much for Detective G.  Clearly she is a tactile person (and curious with it) so I had a bit of trouble keeping her hands off it.

We whizzed through the remaining gallery and we were done.  A fluffy and biscuit were their rewards for being so good at detecting and keeping on the trail for almost the entire time.  They did fabulously well.  And I am most definitely going to keep an eye on the Family Trails section for any new options elsewhere in the museum.  It’s a great way to make kids this little stop and actually look at art in galleries.  It makes it interactive and fun, but not laborious.

A complete Pukeko Patch thumbs up for this activity.

But be aware that they only had four or five detective bags at the information desk.  I’d suggest going early on a weekday in order to ensure your little detectives are able to enjoy themselves.  Oh, and you do have to be interactive throughout the process (not just reading the guide book) so that they get the most out of it.  But well worth it in my opinion.

* My arbitrary name for our family field trips.  Makes it sound flashy for the small ones.

Language learning resource

Does your library do this?  Mine does.  They have Mango for libraries.


Isn’t that fabulous?
If, like me, you live in a monolingual home then having access to an online option is a great bonus.  Did I mention it’s free to library members?  No?  Well it is.
What an excellent way to get a taster of many, many languages.  When you find the one you like you can always find an ‘in real life’ teacher to work with as well as working quietly away in your own home.

Did I mention it is portable?  No? Well it is.  Add the app to your phone and you can be as anti-social as you like in the gym while stretching your language skills.

If you’re a Wellingtonian, just click on the nifty picture and it will take you to the blog post about the new addition to their digital collection.  Enjoy!

If you are not in Wellington, it may be time to investigate your local library’s digital collection.  You may be happy to find it there too.


My Pals Are Here! – Maths

Following up on my earlier, excited, post here is a first look at the new maths books.

I gave Miss Oh Waily the choice of which set to begin with, and naturally she chose the red set (it’s the closest colour to pink, after all).  So we have started off with My Pals Are Here! Maths.

Miss Oh's Choice

Sorry about the photo.  I should have thought about the red on red beforehand.  Anyway, another attraction for Miss Oh were the cute characters inside.  Her favourite (unsurprisingly) being Koogol – that’d be the fuzzy pink one on the right hand side.

Cute characters

Last Monday we started out on our new maths adventure and so far it is going fairly well.  Miss Oh isn’t keen on structured, sit-down (sit still) learning but she is coping with it for the most part.  I’ve been keeping it short – one chapter or section at a time – as seems sensible.

Here’s the contents page for the pupil’s book for you to get an idea of what they cover.  We are pretty much at the end of the Number Bonds chapter after 10 days. (A total of 5 sessions – today’s being shortened due to Miss Oh being a little under the weather.)
Pupil book contents

Next up is the first contents page of the workbook that accompanies the pupil’s book.  It’s all fairly straightforward and there are notes and identifiers (as though you actually need them) to tell you which part of the workbook corresponds to the pupil’s book.
Practice contents

Finally, here are a couple of pages in the workbook relating to counting 1 to 10.
Practice example

We’re currently breezing our way through these exercises with very little difficulty.  At the moment we are really learning how to read and follow instructions, as well as understand how exercise books are set out more than anything else.

Admittedly, if you haven’t been teaching anything to your children in the maths area you will not be whizzing through a section a day (or every second day).  You will be needing to work on the basics of counting, number identification (both numeral and written) and similar.   And, frankly, until very recently I would not have thought to teach number bonds.  Having read about Singapore Maths I decided to add those in to our semi-regular maths/writing/Classical Education session a while back though so Miss Oh Waily is familiar with them.

You will most probably need to supplement the exercise and pupil’s book with more exercises of a similar nature.  We’ve done a lot of number bonds in the past so the ones we are currently doing in the book are very straightforward.  There are many free resources on the internet to help you do this, plus there are the old stand-bys of your own word processor and some simple images.

If, like me, you find that there might be areas that aren’t well understood (number patterns in a graphic form) then this set of books will show it up and you can find other resources to help cover them until you are satisfied that your little person has got it.

The only other issue with the books is the fact that they have the connector blocks (see the image on the front page) as a method of teaching the concepts, along with a nifty number balance scale.  In our home we’ve used some simple manipulatives (wooden ladybugs) and small, square, lego blocks as alternatives.  There’s not much I can do to replicate the number balance scale, but it doesn’t seem to have thrown Miss Oh so unless it becomes more important later we won’t need to figure out an alternative.

So far so good is my assessment of this set.  Miss Oh even likes to colour in her workbook pictures so it keeps it closer to being ‘fun’ rather than ‘work’ most of the time.

What do you use to teach maths?  How have you found it?  (Or, how does your local school teach maths?  And does it work for your little person?)

Reading Eggs deal

Just a quick note for those who may be interested.

Today’s Living Social deal for Wellington is a very well priced annual subscription to Reading Eggs.   We use Reading Eggs for Miss Oh Waily, but I couldn’t justify another subscription for Master Oh Waily – until today.  The littlest member of the family will now become the proud owner of his own login to Reading Eggs for a whopping $39 for the year.  Hopefully his letter learning will take a nice leap forward from this.

It can join his iPad Eggy apps and instead of watching his sister sit learning, he can get his hands on it too.  I’ll let you know how it goes.



Coffee Youtube-128Today’s post is a very short one.  Perhaps attributable to a NaBloPoMo hangover?

Anyway, I just wanted to say that I’ve created a new page here called “videos”.  Yes, I’m showing my age.  Perhaps I should have called it YouTube or Media or some other funky, techy name.  But I am what I am.  And Videos it is.

Currently it is only inhabited by three actual links to YouTube, but I do promise that more will be forthcoming.  I just want to make sure that I don’t double up and that what I put on the page is actually worth listening to.

So sit back with a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy.  I hope you find them thought provoking, funny and interesting.

Maths Resources

I’m sure we come across as a little maths crazy in this house.  Well isn’t that a good thing?  I’d rather be saying that than the opposite.

So to keep the enthusiasm up, here are our latest batch of maths resources.  First, this wonderful website that I came across through one of my HE groups.  The printable charts are fantastic.  It is called A Maths Dictionary for Kids.

The books that are on their way to us from Singapore are the first year of each of these two series: My Pals Are Here! and Shaping Maths.   I was unsure which of these would work for my kids so I chose to get both.  Once we have these we will be able to figure out which follow-up years to buy.
The reason for choosing these two series is fairly straightforward, they are currently on the approved textbook lists for Singaporean schools.  And since they are at the top of the list for this area of learning it seems to be sensible to assess their methods to see if they would work for us too.
I’m hoping that these will arrive tomorrow, as per the estimated arrival date of the courier.

From our local library we have Maths for Fun: Measuring Sizes out of which both Oh Waily children are insisting we do multiple activities.  So we shall.  Hopefully I will remember to take photographs and show you what and how we got on.

What maths resources do you (and your kids) love, and why?

Home Study Kit

Just a quick plug today for the wonderful Jo of My Organized Chaos.  She has put together a Home Study Pack option.  So if you found the e-course price a bit intimidating, then perhaps you might be more comfortable with this new offer.

What’s even better is that it is currently on an Earlybird Special, so take a look and see what you think.

My Organized Chaos Home Study Pack

If you’re still not sure, then why not sign up to Jo’s newsletter and see just what neat ideas she has to share. Just click over to My Organized Chaos and sign up for the free training videos and to receive the newsletters.

Things around the Patch have improved seriously since I went through the e-course and I now use the course printables every day to keep me on target.  Not to mention the altered perception it has given me of what I can achieve here in the Oh Waily household.

It can’t hurt to take a look, and what’s not to like about free training videos?

That’s Pinteresting

Follow Me on PinterestCourtesy of my time with Jo on the My Organized Chaos course I have become inspired to sort out (read: re-organise) my old child-related pins that I had collected as myself.

I am currently relocating all of my pins to my new profile The Pukeko Patch.  I have a ridiculous number of pins, and I will have a ridiculous number of boards by the time I am finished.  I plan to have broad subject boards and theme boards, with some pins being on both.

So far I have 19 boards and 145 pins, but that’s just the beginning of the transfer of ideas.  If you are Pinner, then come join me on my quest to store ideas for educational and fun projects and activities to do with my children.
It has been a great exercise to do as I have rediscovered many excellent things to do, and ideas for monthly themes.

I have left a button in the sidebar for you to click on if you want to follow me and all the little finds that I come across.

If you pin, and especially pin about things educational, feel free to leave a comment with a link to your username.  I’m always up for finding new ideas.

Happy pinning.

Resources – Language

I am starting to pull together as many resources for my little homeschool as I can find.  When I have a reasonably sized list of options in most general learning areas I will put them up here as a page for my own reference, and anyone who comes to visit too.

I will, no doubt, be replicating lists found online in groups that I belong to as well as adding in my own found materials and sources.  If any of you, who may be more experienced in the homeschool world, wish to offer up suggestions that would be most welcome.  There is great value in helping newcomers (to any venture) gain a steady footing right at the start.  While learning as you go has its merits, having some foundations to start you off does too.

I am starting with the online world.  In this household we have started to use Reading Eggs in order to encourage Miss Oh Waily to take more interest in her letters and words.  She loves technology of all sorts and has shown little interest in the “real” letters – both the home made moveable type and the sandpaper letters – that we have.  So I turned to technology to encourage her interest without her noticing.  And it is beginning to work.  She is showing signs of wanting to try to read books now. Previously she would have been happy just to listen or read from memory.

So, this coming week I am going to be working on creating the language section of my resources page.  If you wish to contribute suggestions, that would be wonderful.  If you wish to contribute suggestions for learning second, third or more languages, that would be most excellent too.