January around the World – Looking at the Southern Hemisphere

Today’s co-op was special because E  got to stay in her PJ’s!!!  And you know how much kids love that.  Mrs. M led a great circle time with show and tell, our virtues of compassion and courage, and of course a bedtime story (and a dance:)  How many of you dance before bed? A great time was had by all reading and acting out the story Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton. Our verse this week is: Phil. 4:13.

After circle time the kids shared their post card from Australia.  It was great to listen to what they could discover from the cards.  We then read the letter from Sam and Sophia to learn about their adventure in Australia. The kids learned about animal habitats – and unique features of animals of Australia – mammals, marsupials, and monotones. The grade one and two’s were then given a research assignment to pick and learn about one Australian animal.  Using books and the internet they are to write point form things they discover about habitat, unique features of how they look, what they eat, how the move, how they reproduce, etc.  This is now a homework assignment to finish over the next 2 weeks.

We practised our 3Rs by reusing toilet paper rolls to make Koala bears. The kids used a template and paint to create the craft. There were lots of take home worksheets this week including a kangaroo print-out  that E enjoyed using to make australian dot art – using a Q tip for the paint ( they saw an example of one from the Sam & Sophia travel kit).  She loves learning about different art techniques and it was interesting to see and practise this form after looking at Seurat and Le Grande Jatte in detail during our French unit! It might be fun to expand this art lesson into a global investigation of painting styles around the world that use circles or dots primarily in the composition of their pieces.


Tuesday we worked on some spelling tasks, and patterning in math and some outside time playing soccer with her brother then finished the day with swimming lessons.


Wednesday E was a childcare helper at a church program that we went to in the morning then in the afternoon E practised her independent reading and then we had a great dance party for PE just before supper! Our current favourite song is Waka Waka by Shakira as we love the African sound of the song and the kids like singing the words Waka Waka because it sounds silly 🙂

Thursday  E started the day with piano lessons. She  has been making excellent progress and has on average learned 3 new songs each week! We have started using the RAZ kids website for our reading program. E loves reading the stories and recording herself and is enjoying playing back her recordings for her brothers as well. She is also continuing with her poetry memorization program. This week E and her brother learned The Man who Wasn’t There by Hugh Mearnes and Singing Time by Robert Louis Stevenson. We have also started a French Program called Little Pim and began watching the dvds and doing the flash card exercises.

Friday we focussed on math doing some patterning activities on the practice section of Math iXL and the following websites: http://www.coolmath-games.com/0-patternmemory/index.html E was able to work on the Math iXL and Coolmath games independently and easily filled in the missing spaces in repeating patterns with 2 and 3 variables in a variety of number, colour and shape sequences.


She found the Line Dry patterns quite difficult and although understood the concept of having a repeating interval number she needed assistance with each series picking out the interval from the 3 digit numbers. I think these patterns are above our local grade expectations so we just used it as enrichment.

Wrapping up the week with some great social time we had a wonderful creative evening with musical friends on Friday, invited our neighbours over on Saturday and explained the concept of missions in your backyard then took it global attending Missions Fest for the afternoon and evening. E really enjoyed looking at all the booths in the exhibitor hall and the children’s programs. She was given a passport with information about missionaries around the world and also acquired a prayer bracelet to encourage prayer for global workers, the poor and oppressed around the world, and more specifically widows and orphans in Uganda.

It was a great week!

January Swing (7-21, 2013)

Co-op this week was another look at French traditions and more creative fundraising for global poverty initiatives.

First off in our scripture circle time, the children started off with repeating the song from Isa. 54:10 and came up with some action ideas then divided into 4 groups where they practiced a mini play to show the others how to show compassion to others in our life.

Ms M taught the children how to make Jacob’s Ladder toys and then Ms M & Ms S turned the room into a factory giving the children specific roles at designated stations and thereby demonstrating the actual realities of mass production and the global economy. After snack we started our work in the production line for our Jacob’s ladders. The word that Ms S. pointed out was precision. At each table the children were reminded that precision in each task was important for the ladders to be working properly. There was a measuring, cutting, gluing, and sticking table and numerous helpers that made deliveries from one table to the other.

We ‘worked’ until the kids were tired at 12pm. Our ‘sweat shop’ was humane and actually enjoyable but it will set a foundation of understanding for child labour and poor working conditions in the developing world and hopefully helped to foster the compassion for those children that we want to encourage in our children. We talked about money in France and learned about Euros versus Canadian dollars. As an extension activity the kids drew some Euros  and visited a store to ‘buy’ a Jacob’s Ladder using the french they had learned earlier(greeting, colours and numbers). The coins they made had to add up to 5 Euros. Finally Ms. S read a story about a cat that walked through France, revisiting several facts that the kids had heard from that country before.

In Math E worked on creating bar graphs of the survey data that she had collected last week. She learned how to set up the graph, display the necessary information and make the graph easy to understand. She also saw how much more effective our 2 variable question was in a graph versus the open-ended questions that had a large variety of responses.IMG_8302

We had swimming lessons on Tuesday and Thursday, and piano lesson on Thursday then wrapped up our week with a trip to the Aquarium on Friday. It was a great science outing with a presentation on Bioluminescence. E really enjoyed the demonstrations and discussion of bioluminescence, electric light, incandescent light and fluorescing light.

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Next we were able to attend another presentation about the realities and myths about sharks versus humans. The presenter started off with common assumptions about sharks ie, they are faster, they attack/ kill many humans each year, and they are bigger than humans. Then working co-operatively with a diver in the shark exhibit, the presenter refuted each of those claims and showed us that people generally move faster than sharks (in boats), in general we are 2x as big (average shark is less than 1m long), and current numbers show 100 MILLION sharks are killed each year by humans!! Conclusion: sharks have far more to fear from humans than humans have to fear from sharks.


Last we went to the 4D show on the Salmon run and learned what an important role these fish play in our ecosystem. The film showed the complete life cycle of the salmon and the importance their spawning run plays in the life cycle of other creatures like bears and eagles.


And an exciting feature of this trip to the aquarium was a QR code scavenger hunt where the kids searched each exhibit for the QR code symbol then answered the questions or found different items in the display. It was a great interactive feature and engaged the children’s interest in a new way.

We also enjoyed the new penguin exhibit and the kids are excited to make a weekend trip to Cape Town when we go to SA to see the African penguins that we learned about!


Independent reading this week E has logged: Silent Kay & the Dragon (Larry Dane Brimner), How to Drive Your Sister Crazy (Diane Z. Shore) and E is working her way through Tintin; Destination Moon independently as well. She usually reads about 5 or so pages in a sitting but is really chugging along with it and only has trouble with the cursive writing in some of the insets.

January: it all begins again

Our first week back into  home learning was a great beginning.

What a creative and co-operative crew we had on Monday! We started the day with a wonderful lesson on the Epiphany in opening circle and our first virtue of 2013 is… COMPASSION. Our first bible verse of the year is Isaiah 54:10 and to celebrate the Epiphany Ms. M introduced us to this delicious Swiss tradition of Kings bread. It was a very satisfying lesson! 🙂
Today Ms. J. taught the kids about France’s tradition of perfume, cosmetics and luxury bath products then instructed them in our project of the day – making bath salts to sell in the spring. This is a comprehensive project in conjunction with Compassion and Food for the Hungry. Our kids are learning about cottage industries, small business practise, global poverty and our role as people of faith to show compassion to those in the developing world. They will be making a few different projects to sell and raise money to donate to the above organizations.  The children practised measuring, counting in French, printing, and working co-operatively to mix the salts, fill the containers and then create labels for them. We had a great time together and are so glad to be back in our co-op routine!
We played some interesting french games at recess called Zic, Zac, Zuc and Cups & Balls. The kids enjoyed the new games and made the most of another indoor recess. We finished our morning creating labels.
This week E began learning about Data management and graphic representations. We began by creating a survey and then E called 20 different friends on the phone and collected their answers to her survey questions. It took a couple of days to get ahold of everyone and gather all the data. Then we began creating tables to organize the information we collected and begin formulating some conclusions. We discussed the importance of asking a question so that you can actually obtain measurable results. E created 2 open variable questions and one question that had 2 variables. E saw that it was much easier to make a definite statement of preference when people had less choices to answer from. It took some work getting our tables in order so we’ll work on creating some graphs from our data next week. E will be creating a variety of graphs this month to show different data sets and to learn how to interpret different models.
In reading E has been continuing to expand her ability. E did an online reading test and had a 100% score for her grade level. The test was a read -aloud passage, one fiction and one informational, then answering a series of questions about the passage after. She showed excellent understanding of what she read and self-corrected all her mistakes using context and rereading the sentence. E is clearly able to read for meaning and will always ask to make sure she understands what she is reading. E loves stories and informational texts and understands that books are a source of information about new and familiar topics alike. She understands that we can read for leisure as well as for work or research.
Books this week: Tintin and Explorers on the Moon, Asterix in Spain, How to Drive your Sister Crazy, The Truth about Hansel & Gretel and Get Well Good Knight.
E is continuing with her poetry and bible memorization. She is working on learning I’m a Manatee by John Lithgow and has nearly mastered Psalm 23 and the Lord’s Prayer. She practised typing out Psalm 23 on the computer and is creating a piece of art to hang in her room with the passage on it.
In Science Eva learned aboutevaporation. E learned about water vapour and steam and how mist, clouds, rain and snow are all part of the water cycle.
In PE we have started swimming lessons again and E goes twice a week. We went skating, rode bikes, went for a walk in the forest and another long walk in town and played at the playgrounds on a couple of cold, but clear sunny days.

2012; A Room with a View and Visioneering into 2013

If hindsight is is 20/20 than this is the time of year when we have the picture window view on the past year! However, as the old adage goes, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it’s mistakes and so with our informed look at the past, we are turning our faces to the future and how we can become our best selves.


1. Our faith is the centre of who we are and what we want to be. Looking back we have begun to show that in some of our daily activities but this is an area that we want to be at the heart of everything and so for the new year we are committed to deepening, broadening and running full-steam into the realm of belief. We have challenged ourselves to learn at least 33 bible verses by the end of the school year and want to implement a more consistent time of daily devotions. God has blessed E with a desire to know him and it warms my heart to see her poring over the genealogy of Jesus in the book of Matthew or writing songs of praise on the piano. We are so grateful for this spark in her heart and pray that we will be instrumental in fanning it into a full flame that burns brightly and makes her a witness to others.IMG_1937

2. We are a family of unique and creative individuals. I am learning that in our family this means that we need space to figure out our own ideas, opportunities and materialsto explore and sometimes we even need some structure to turn those ideas into realities. In order to more fully develop this aspect of our family, we are significantly decreasing screen time and engaging in more creative time. This means boredom is not an option and free play with less toys and more found objects is now the gold standard in our house.


3. We strive to be intentional about community. We have joined our learning paths with the wonderful families in our co-op group. This has been a fun-filled journey of discovery and collaboration. We also marked the 1st anniversary at our church home and are finding more connections there as we increase our involvement and profile. Through our neighbourhood we have begun to build relationships with neighbours and new friends from the community centre. Now at the beginning of this new year we are planning a 6 month sojourn in South Africa and are excited about what God will do in our lives there. This idea of community is especially important as we will just be briefly passing through the lives the people we will meet. We desire to be open and joyful in these relationships and hope that this will be a life-changing experience for our whole family.

December Summary

The hustle and bustle of Christmas is a wonderful and chaotic time. I believe that in the midst of the craziness we found some meaningful time to reflect on our life, our family, and our faith. Here are the highlights:

E sang with joy and great expression in our church Christmas play. She literally stole the show from her spot in the choir 🙂

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We had one more co-op before we started Christmas holidays and decided to make it a fun time of Christmas around the world and times past. The children learned the true story of St. Nicholas and how we say his name in 6 different languages. We learned how to make hot chocolate from whole ingredients and popcorn balls.IMG_7869IMG_7905

Following snack we spent time making ornaments with origami and paper strips.IMG_7880 IMG_7873

Then we were into Christmas break and were even blessed with snowfall giving us some hopes for a white Christmas.IMG_1825 IMG_1821

Alas, that was not to be as it never lasts very long around here!

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So many fun things to do and see at this time of year. We enjoyed the German Christmas Market, especially the carousel!IMG_1866 IMG_1855

After all the hullaballoo we were able to get outside and enjoy some beautiful sunny weather! IMG_1942

We had a fun morning outing roasting bannock over the fire in the nearby historical fort and being extras on Breakfast Television.


And family game time…


and reading of course… lots and lots of reading now… YAY!


That was our December in a nutshell. How do you spend time with your family during the long holidays?