Investigating India

I’m going to lump together 2 weeks of co-op so that we can get caught up again 🙂

Three weeks ago the children were introduced to the country of India. Sadly we were ill and had to stay home so if you want to see their first lesson here are the pics on our friend’s blog: Gathered In

Last week the children learned where India is on a map and some major features of the land and culture and various Indian traditions, such as the festival where they throw coloured powders on passer-bys and about the extent to which religion isin every aspect of Indian life. Ms. K wore a beautiful Sari and told the children about the spiritual and practical significance of the Ganges River complete with a great science lesson on water quality.  She began by discussing the religious customs and the importance of the Ganges as a sacred river to the Hindu people. The children learned that Hindu people bury their loved ones by laying the bodies on a floating pallet and setting them on fire and letting them float down the Ganges river. Ms. K took clear water and then slowly added in other liquids and solids to represent what kinds of things are in the water of the river. She explained that India does not have sewage treatment and people use the river as a toilet. She also showed the industry and pollution that affects the river and finally she told the children that people bathe in and drink this water… ewwwww!

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This week we finished our time in India. Sadly after 4 weeks of South Africa I would have loved to spend more time on India as well but the year is running out on us so this week we wrapped up as much as we could.

In circle time, Ms. M played a fun game with the kids to figure out the virtue they were learning about.

This was a variation of hangman with these cute little people getting closer to the water with each missed letter.
Such pondering and brainstorming going on until finally that a ha moment arrived! 
And here we have G showing her incredible printing as she fills in the answer.
Today’s verse: Colossians 3:20
And the joyful singing as our kids imprint the scripture upon their minds and hearts!
 The children also practised their skip counting as they added up the money earned at the booth we set up at the homeschool convention. We sold soup mixes and bath salts as part of our initiative to raise money for Food for the Hungry. (We are setting up a booth at a local farmers market next weekend where we hope to sell the rest of our products!)
 We followed circle time with our lesson in Indian Dance. The song we danced to was called Po Po from the Sons of Sardaar soundtrack or on itunes the album was called Top 25 Songs of 2012 (Bollywood). 
This was our “lotus hands” movement where we took 4 side steps as we held up our arms up and out with middle fingers touching thumbs something approximating that 🙂
 And the slithering snake movement 
 This one wasn’t in our dance but it was so fun to do that we learned it anyways, we called it the “catch me” movement. 
 I love these happy faces when we learn. 
 Next Ms. K showed the kids different way children in India get to school. It was fun for the kids to think about riding to school in a rickshaw or on a camel! 
After that great book we learned about the different climate in India. The children discussed their feelings about the rain and how we react to the sunny hot days of spring and summer. Ms. K showed us a video of people dancing to welcome the monsoons and used a beautiful story about Monsoons to demonstrate the contrast of Indian feelings about weather to our own experiences. We learned that Indian people are joyful and excited when the monsoons come and even though it rains for weeks and weeks they are happy because the rain brings relief from the heat and feeds their animals and crops.
 Another time of body learning before recess as Ms. K taught the children the following yoga poses: tree, cow, cat and… 
 …downward dog. 
 Then during recess the children used the new positions to play yoga tag! (Like freeze tag but with yoga positions. )
 We are loving this sunny weather!!!
After recess Ms. K finished the morning with a mini-lesson on the 7 continents and a map of India. The children learned a song with the names of all the continents and brainstormed ways to recognize the shape of India on a world map or even just a map showing the continent of Asia. They used words like “ice-cream cone”, “pizza” and “upside down mountain to describe the shape of the country.
 Using the whiteboard and a guide map, they marked out significant landmarks such as the Himalayas, Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea and the capital city of New Delhi. 
That was co-op this week and our last look at India. I can’t wait for our next co-op travel adventure! 🙂

Getting creative and doing the Craft Factory

In co-op this week we talked briefly about South Africa again and the social inequality that exists there. To continue with our social justice/ global action project we set up our craft factory again to make felt accessories to sell.

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After working hard to create headbands, broaches, bow-ties and super hero wristbands it was time for a break and the kids played some favourite games outside for recess.


After recess we came in to do a literature lesson on making predictions. I had left a note in our circle area and when we gathered I read it aloud to the kids. “Dear Co-op kids, I came by to deliver a special parcel from South Africa that looks very yummy, but since you weren’t here I hid it somewhere for you. Ms. C knows the hiding place and will answer your questions to give you clues and help you find it. Happy Hunting. Love the mailman.” Before they could look for the parcel I told them we needed to practise our detective skills and see if we could make predictions using our prior knowledge. I had stapled several paper lunch bags closed with common objects hidden inside and a simple clue about the object on the outside. Each bag was passed around and the children were able to examine it by shape, weight and the clue to try and figure out what was inside.IMG_1554 IMG_1553

They wrote their predictions down in their journals then after passing the bag to each person we opened it up and revealed the item.

IMG_1366They loved the game and were so excited when I said that their detective skills seemed ready for the big parcel hunt. Apparently the “mailman” underestimated their sleuthing skill because one clue and approximately 3 seconds later they found a package of candy sent to us by our SA friends in a previous parcel!IMG_1370

So with a big candy finish that was our Monday at co-op!

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!!


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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Spring is in the air!

We are blessed to live in one of the mildest regions of our country and now in the middle of February we have signs of spring everywhere! The robins have returned, the crocuses and daffodils are triumphantly raising their green fists to the sky, and the pussy willows are peeping out on the trees.

In co-op we are finishing our section on Australia with a science lesson about air and some of it’s properties. Ms J presented a variety of experiments and the children were enthralled by all the demonstrations.

First we learned that air can have force: in this experiment she filled a glass half full with water than put a lid on and inverted the glass. The air created a vacuum keeping the water in the glass and holding the lid on.


Then to further demonstrate this force, she gave the kids juice boxes to drink and had them practise blowing air in and out after they finished to see how the air could change the shape of the box.


Next Ms. J demonstrated that air reacts to temperature: first the children crushed some ice and then put it into an empty plastic bottle. Ms. J put on the lid and shook the ice around and then asked the kids to make observations. After some random suggestions they noticed indentations in the bottle and we talked about how the lower temperature of the ice was causing the air inside the bottle to contract or shrink and was pulling the plastic in with it as a result.

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Following the demonstration of the effects of cold temperature on the air, Ms. J asked the kids to hypothesize how heat would affect the air in the bottle. She ran hot water over the outside of the bottle and the children were able to see the sides bulge out as the air expanded.


The next two demonstrations showed how air also contains gases and those gases interact with other forces in interesting ways. First we saw two tea-light candles covered by glasses of different sizes. The children discussed their ideas about what would happen and then observed as first the tea-light in the shorter glass went out followed a few seconds later by the other one in the taller glass. They learned that our air on earth is full of oxygen which we breathe and which is also fuel for fire. The kids discovered that the fire starved once it consumed all the O2 in the glass and that the glass with the larger volume allowed one fire to live longer than the other.


Next Ms. J placed a tea-light in a bowl with baking soda in the bottom. She lit the candle then carefully poured vinegar around the candle onto the baking soda. The children watched the solution bubble and the flame go out then discussed what caused the fire to lose oxygen when it wasn’t covered by anything. They found out that the chemical reaction between the baking soda and vinegar created CO2 which also used up the oxygen and took away the fire’s source of that fuel.

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The last experiment of the morning was a final example of  the force that air can produce. The kids threaded a straw onto a string then taped the string between 2 chairs. Meanwhile, E was asked to blow up a balloon which we carefully taped to the straw while holding the opening closed. When E let go of the balloon it traveled the distance of the string with force and speed. The children were able to see how harnessing air can actually provide power and might have good environmental implications as a source of energy.

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The balloon demo provided an excellent segue into an exploration of wind power and the use of windmills to create energy. Two kids volunteered to represent positive or negative ideas about wind energy. Then the rest of the children took cards from a basket with statements about wind energy. They discussed each statement then decided if it was a positive or negative and pinned it on the appropriate person.

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Finally it was time for recess! The kids practised some windmill arms and ran into and away from the wind to explore the way that wind moved on their bodies.

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This week in co-op our verse is:

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Following co-op was our second last theatre camp and E has been working so hard on memorizing her lines and all the songs!

The rest of the week was a whirlwind of family visiting with an out-of-town uncle visiting and a few regular events at the end of the week such as piano and play-dates. We spent one exciting afternoon playing on a wharf with different children’s interactive displays and were able to drop in on a free juggling lesson with a local circus school!

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We enjoyed the beautiful sunshine, mountains and ocean and spent as much time as we could outside playing!IMG_9589

E is gaining so much confidence with her reading and here she is practising her lines for Theatre Camp with her Oma.


We had some creative time with playdough. This is the world’s largest brownie with a surprise hidden inside!


As a new method to foster better sibling co-operation, my kids now experience time out as a moment to hold hands with their beloved sister or brother whenever they fight. The time-out ends as soon as they can forgive each other and move forward as friends. So far we are having some reasonable success. 🙂IMG_9667

To fill in our week we spent some time on patterning with Math iXL, reading some great books from the library and a science construction project with dad to try and build a rocket.

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Wrapping it up with a bit more time outside! We love the sun! Here we are getting our upper body workout at the playground, Mom even got in on the action 🙂

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E is trying to master roller blading whenever it’s dry and she is making great progress with her balance and control.IMG_9705

May the sun shine brightly on you today!

Can Learning be Fun too?

Due to a new stat holiday and a public school holiday this was a short week for school attenders but our home-learning journey continues along it’s regular ambling path! We drove home from our trip to see family on Monday so filled our car ride with ipad apps, audio books and sleep.

Tuesday we repacked our suitcases and jumped in the car for a spontaneous get-away by ourselves. We drove to a beautiful lake with a natural hot spring and spent 48 glorious hours floating in the steaming pools outdoors in the rain and sunshine! We met a family from Zimbabwe who told us wonderful stories about Africa and it’s incredible environment!


Happy Valentine’s Day! We spent a much needed day at home doing the everyday chores of life. We had a great time finding our family Valentine’s surprises and E was such a caring sister she read her brothers’ cards to them before she even cracked her own!


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For some added Valentine’s fun, E helped me make some special V-day pancakes! Pink pancake anyone? 🙂 We put blended strawberries and bananas in the batter than added pink food colouring for some real pop and chocolate chips because these were sweet treats for our sweeties after all! 🙂



E and her brother worked on Canadian maps together following a colour key to identify the provinces and labelling them.

Friday was clean up day and chores routines to accomplish, however, after a week away it was pretty light duty so we collected our middle one from pre-school along with a friend and headed off to enjoy a sunny afternoon at the zoo! The day was a perfect spring day with sun-soaked earth warming our tired-of-winter feet! I know in this part of the country there is no real winter to complain of, but the often grey skies do wear us down sometimes, and as we emerge from our dens blinking into that dazzling orb in the sky, we are overwhelmed with the blessing of sunlight!

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The weather held for the weekend and we enjoyed it immensely. Somehow, I feel refreshed and ready for another week of adventurous learning. Tonight we have a family member arriving for a visit so home learning will be full of twists and turns as we enjoy our time with him, but that is the wonderful thing about this learning exploration from home – it’s a wonderful journey and we know to enjoy the path as much as the destination!

Sunshine and smiles to you!