Crafting, Patterning and Play

This week we had another look at our littles in their play zone. They have so much fun together!

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We are so blessed to have the talent and ministry of Ms. K and Ms. J working with our littles each week. We can see the love they have for our kids and our children love them in return! 


Ms. M wore a beautiful African dress and is continuing to focus on the virtue of truth and introduced an African fable about selfishness.  She did an African song with the children which they loved! 
The children were able to play with their Jacob’s ladders again and spent some time placing stickers on them to mark the steps when doing tricks. 
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Then a wonderful surprise today with a special puppet theatre and loads of puppets! We continued our African literature study learning about various fables and the lessons that were being presented in them.  The children then split into groups to do a puppet show that taught a lesson, using African animal puppets.


And our Actors in training took turns putting on shows for the group. 
Here is our lovely audience showing their attentive listening!

Some of us got very excited during the performance. 🙂


For recess today Ms. S and Ms. M took advantage of the dry weather and took the group to the park for playground time and snack.

Everyone loves the playground!
After recess, Ms. S presented  a variety of examples of African geometric patterns and instructed the children to decorate their own African birdhouse with geometric patterns. We modelled our work after the artwork in the book African Animals ABC’s.  The children each worked on a miniature bird house using these techniques.  They were incredibly focussed working for over half an hour straight.)
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Here’s an independent inquiry to do with your children: look up pictures of African villages. These little houses look very similar to the grass and stick roofed homes found in the more rural/ traditional African villages. 

The children really embraced this project and we saw great diversity in their choice of patterns and colours! While they were colouring Ms. S read them the story of the Greedy Zebra – E really enjoyed retelling her brothers the story, she thought it was pretty funny. 


One thing we are really proud of is how our children are becoming encouragers.  We have modelled walking around to gain inspiration from one another’s art work and pointing out the great thing that each child is doing.  Today we heard so many encouraging comments and compliments that were unsolicited by us, and were so uplifting to the students.

For closing circle Ms. M had the kids review all their memory verses from the past months. It was great to see their joy and pride in singing all the verses and seeing that they had learned  so many! 

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 If I as an earthly parent am filled with joy at these moments, how much more is our father in heaven delighted by the love our children are developing for him!!


Homeschooling beyond co-op!

Well co-op is getting so full it requires it’s own post, so if’ I can keep up I will be posting twice a week whenever we have co-op! Henceforth this section will be categorized as the week in review!

Our week was pleasantly motivated this week by our portfolio meeting with our support teacher scheduled for Friday morning. This meant we had a very productive time of seatwork with E completing the last pages of her Australian animals unit, a small unit on measurement and one final set of mapping skills sheets.

We focussed on putting the organic learning that we experience all the time down on paper and I was so happy that despite a small amount of grumbling E actually showed great focus and commitment to the process!

Monday was a beautiful day so after we finished co-op we picked up our boys and headed for a wetlands area to try out new binoculars and birdwatching! E really enjoyed using the binoculars and spotted several ducks and small birds. We also practised using our eyes to look for signs and spring.

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Along our walk, we found some great plaques that provided information on the different animals in this habitat. This one in particular included a First Nations story about the Beaver and it’s role in the world.IMG_0068

Tuesday we had a productive kitchen table morning then headed out for some more animal science with friends. We visited a man called The Reptile Guy and had an amazing tour of his reptile rescue/ rehab facility. We had a chance to get VERY up close and personal with the animals and E surprised me by being not only brave but actually enjoying some of the creepiest critters on the planet!!!

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YIKES! It was great fun though and we learned so much about problems with pet stores not properly informing consumers about growth and habitat requirements as well as the widespread problems of illegally releasing red-sided turtles into local ponds and their devastating impact on our local painted turtle population! Mike, AKA the reptile guy was so passionate about these animals and desperately seeks to inform people of the necessity of giving these animals proper homes and what to do with them if they can no longer care for them.

This outing provided a great opportunity to discuss with E the problems around pet stores and people making impulsive choices and then being unprepared to live with the consequences. (ie: 2 of the 3 little snakes that are wrapped around her hands can eventually become the size of the one wrapped around her shoulders. It’s important when people see them in the pet store and decide to buy them that they have a long term plan in mind.)

Wednesday we worked on our measurement and E and I talked about the need for different units of measurement. I played a Q&A game with her to ask which unit of measurement would she use to measure a doll, the room, the distance to Grandma’s house? Then changed my questions to “name something you would measure in centimetres”, “name something you would measure in metres”, “name something you would measure in kilometres”. After a little while of playing she seemed to have a good grasp of the subject but we will be spending a bit more time reviewing it this month.

Thursday we had a funny incident where I prepared everything for our teacher to visit and then when he was a half an hour overdue with no phone call, reviewed my email and realized I had the date wrong! This turned out to be a blessing as we now felt fairly organized and had a little bit of grace time to finish up a few things.

Finally Friday arrived, the meeting went beautifully and E was relatively confident reciting her poetry and showing her work to Mr. V.

The pressure was suddenly off and it was another sunny day so as soon as everyone could be rounded up we packed up our car and binoculars and explored a Great Blue Heron reserve. It was a lovely facility with a fantastic interpretive centre with helpful volunteers, well marked walking trails and most amazingly a colony of nesting Herons! We saw a cluster of about 20 nests and Herons flying to and fro between the water and the nests. What a neat experience to see them in their natural habitat and have such a good view of their nesting behaviour!

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E enjoyed observing the ducks building their nests from behind this bird blind.IMG_0430 IMG_0432 IMG_0435 IMG_0444

We found some tracks along the path to the river and examined them to see what information we could take from them. E was able to identify both sets of tracks, dog and horse, and show which direction the horses had been going at that spot.

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Ubuntu! Bringing African philosophy around the World

This week our co-op travelled to South Africa! We had a display featuring some African arts, crafts and animals to set the stage for our journey and the word of the day was: UBUNTU
Ubuntu is a Zulu word that does not translate directly into English. The best definition I found was: “we are all family, belonging to God.” You see, Ubuntu is a concept rather than a word and this concept means that one person should never do something selfish because it would impact another member of their community negatively, or even better one can say that this word translates to “love your neighbour as yourself!” What a great summary of all the wonderful virtues are children are learning this year!

In circle time this week the children talked about the virtue of Honesty and Ms. M & Ms. C role-played a demonstration how even silence can be dishonest if you do not speak the truth when needed. Bible verse this week: Proverbs 12:19

We had a fantastic slide show from some far away friends telling us all about their life in South Africa and some special treats that they sent for us to enjoy! 
RECESS! With the glorious sunshine we spent about 20 minutes outside getting our vitamin D and practising our South African sports – soccer! We also learned about Cricket and had a brief discussion of how Rugby is played but due to the rather violent nature of Rugby opted to stick with soccer 🙂

In our discussion we talked about poverty in South Africa and as a hands-on experience of the innovations people can come up with, we played with a “ball” made from plastic grocery bags and string. We encouraged the children to think about how they can reuse things they have in their house for new purposes and hope you will all be upcycling all kinds of interesting things! 🙂 Please share pics and stories of any creations you make!!

Some observations after comparing the real soccer ball with our home-made one were: it doesn’t roll away too far, it is lighter and more fun to kick and easier to control. A great tool perhaps for teaching younger children some kicking skills without spending all your time corralling the ball! 🙂
After recess we learned about the African tradition of weaving and the children created their own book-covers and baskets.
Instructions for weaving the basic mat:
1) Using a piece of card-stock, fold in half and cut from the middle toward the edges stopping the cut about 2 cm from the edge of the paper.
2) Repeat all the way down so you have a folded piece of paper with a rows of slits going from top to bottom.
3) Taking strips of paper scraps weave them between the rows in an over-under-over-under pattern until each strip is fed all the way through.
4) Repeat this action with another strip of paper reversing the order from the previous piece (ie: under-over-under-over…)
5) Continue feeding strips through the slots in an alternating order and wiggle strips over until they are quite snug to each other and you have filled the page
6) Glue all the loose ends to the card then trim off any excess paper
 The kids were focussed and really industrious with creating these beautiful pieces!

 The skills in this activity were patterning (MATH), Three-dimensional art with found materials, paper craft, (ART), and great fine motor skill development (PE).

Instructions for turning your woven mat into a basket:
2) Figure out how tall the sides will be (ie, does the child want a taller/narrower basket or a wider/shallower one?)
2) fold the edges over to show where the sides will be
3) carefully cut in from each end to make three sections, and try not to cut along an existing slot rather cut just over on the card stock as it will be stronger
4) taking the outer flaps, you should be able to pull them toward the center and over lap them to create a 3d square. Glue the 2 outer flaps together
5) Lift the 3rd middle flap and glue it to the other two flaps creating the outside “cap” piece to the basket (you can also staple them)
6) repeat on the other side and you should now have an open basket without a handle
7) to make the handle take an extra strip of cardstock and glue a strip of paper on the outside or colour to decorate
8) Cut a small slit in each end
9) put one side of the slit on the inside of the basket and one on the outside then glue, tape or staple it to the base
10) repeat on the other side and your basket should be done!

Next, as part of our ARTs PLOs; (create movement sequence based on patterns, move safely in both personal space and general space, move in a variety of levels, move in time to a variety of rhythms), Ms. C taught the children the beginning steps of the African Gumboot Dance. Here is the youtube link:
Gumboot Dance Breakdown:
1) Quick hopping step of RIGHT – LEFT- RIGHT
2) cross right leg behind left and slap the sole of the right foot with your left hand
3) slap left thigh – right thigh – stomp right foot down – clap hands
do the above sequence 3 times then transition with the hop step (1) to the next move
4) criss cross arms while kicking right leg up and shout HA!
5) criss cross arms kicking left leg up and shouting HA!’
6) kick right leg and clap under knee while shouting HA! 

The tradition of this dance comes from men working in the mines and shuffling in and out of the tunnels while slapping out a marching rhythm on their gumboots!

We also learned some other South African words today: “a monkey’s wedding” – raining when it’s sunny, “robot”- a traffic light, and “Mbube”- lion
We played a game at the end of our lesson called Mbube, Mbube where 2 children were blindfolded while the rest formed a circle around them. One child was the lion and the other was the antelope.  The kids would say Mbube Mbube softly if the lion was far away from the antelope and louder as the lion got closer. The lion’s job was to catch the antelope while the antelope could try to hide  or keep away. They all enjoyed the game and loved switching roles and taking turns being in the centre! 
That was our day at co-op! The rest of the week looks to be good so stay tuned for more home learning adventures!

Life in the limelight!

Our weekly routine was off this week as we suspended co-op to allow for the longer theatre camp practise and final performance of the evening. E had the honour of introducing the show and sang and acted her heart out!

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The early part of this week was very rainy and we stayed inside enjoying some extra time home with Dad and more seat work. E has been working on an integrated unit on Australian animals. She has been working through some information reading sheets on different Australian animals and looking up youtube videos on Platypuses and Tasmanian Devils and Echidnas. She is fascinated by animal behaviours and habitats. She is increasing her science vocabulary as well in adding the words monotreme, marsupial, venom, gland and gestation.

After a couple of days of heavy rain we needed to find new ways to be active so we parked our car in the driveway and rearranged our garage. E is determined to learn how to rollerblade and is anxious to try at every opportunity.

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E and her brother decided to increase the challenge to add in a game of catch while on rollerblades!IMG_9896

We worked on measurement more this week using our tape measure to go around the house and measure lengths and heights in metric and imperial units. E has been intrigued by our family’s everyday use of pounds to measure weight but using metric to measure distances.

We had piano lessons as usual and E is now branching out to incorporate ipad apps to her music learning. She loves the Tiny Piano app. She has also been using Sparklefish to create  silly stories and learn parts of speech, essentially mad-libs. She also enjoys another story-maker app called Toontastic and is working on improving her speed and skill in math through Math iXL and Meerkat Math.

Finally the end of the week brought some sunshine and we couldn’t wait to get outside! We went for a long walk and spent the afternoon playing frisbee and scrub baseball in a nearby park.

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