For Narnia!

October 31st was the culmination of a month of planning and prepping. We transformed our house into the magical world of Narnia and hosted 23 of our friends in a series of  grand adventures! Throughout the party we tried to give “coles notes” versions of each book in the Chronicles of Narnia through our games and activities. We drank cordial and ate Turkish Delight, we made shields, and jumped in imaginary ponds in the wood between the worlds. Our party was an in-depth, hands-on exploration of the text we read and enjoyed so thoroughly. Through the planning and implementing of this party E and D were making text to film connections, text to self connections and text to text connections as they related each book to other reference points in planning our decor and events. We thought about what it would be like to go into the underground realm where Prince Rinian was imprisoned, or how the wind would blow the sails if we were sailing on the Dawn Treader. We used those queries to recreate the feelings we imagined by using our crawl space as a dark, underground realm and setting a fan and streamers on the ceiling to simulate sailing on the Narnian Sea.

We greeted our guests with a Narnian quote that seemed apt for the beginning of our fantasy.

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Then this is what they saw when we opened the door:

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The child guests, (adults had a alternate entrance), had to crawl through the wardrobe and enter the Narnian forest. This is the view of hallway from inside the wardrobe and then a look backwards! Our entrance was also our main reference to the book The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe.

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We “bobbed” for apples and made yellow and green rings as part of our exploration of the Wood between the Worlds from The Magicians Nephew.

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We were fortunate enough to already have a wonderful horse for The Horse & His Boy! We decorated this room to give a sense of the forests of Archenland and a couple of palm trees to represent Calormen. The kids played a game of Hot and Cold with two play mobile figures. We recapped the scenario of Cor the lost prince of Archenland and told the children they needed to find the identical twins and reunite them. After reuniting the twins the children were told they could each rock on the horse 5 times to join the race to warn Narnia that the Telmarines were marching towards them.

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Next we toured the ruins of Cair Paravel in the saga of Prince Caspian. The task in this room was to search for the missing treasures of the High Kings and Queens of Narnia. We hid 5 small treasure boxes around the room and each box contained 3 miniature copies of the gifts from Father Christmas: Peter’s sword and shield, Susan’s Bow, Susan’s horn, (for the purists – we recognize that this is a departure from the original story as Susan’s horn was actually in the possession of Prince Caspian), Lucy’s dagger and cordial, and a small cutout of Aslan (also a wee departure but we thought it fit and couldn’t find a good image of Edmund’s sword so did this instead).

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Further up and Further in to this wonderful series we went to the Far Islands on the Dawn Treader. In this room the kids played a Narnian version of the game Wink/ Murder. One person is chosen to be Ramandu who must put everyone to sleep with a wink while trying not to get caught in the act. the first person to identify him by catching him winking is the winner. My wonderful hubby wrote this on a sign in the room: “On the island of Ramandu, the star has just told you that to rescue the last lords, you must sail into the utter east and leave one of your company there. Yes, one of you will get to travel on into Aslan’s country, and the others must return to Narnia to await His return there. who will is be? The last to be put to sleep by Ranandu or the first to identify him?

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We had a break and enjoyed a lovely Narnian feast complete with Dufflepud cookies and Turkish Delight.

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For the next book, The Silver Chair, we painted a small doll chair silver and hid it in our crawl space. E and D, together with a couple of friends had been busy setting up the crawl space like a play castle and for the day of the party we turned out all the lights and spread glowsticks everywhere. The kids were given flashlights and small LED lanterns to search for the hidden chair. There was also a green rubber snake hidden that they could find if they wanted to search more.

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This was definitely the hit of the party. Everyone wanted to play downstairs in the dark. We had more games planned but due to the popularity of this space we let them spend the rest of the time exploring all the rooms and playing with the props.

We paid homage to The Last Battle with a shield-making craft.  We cut out shield templates from cardboard then spray-painted them silver and gold. The party guests then used coloured duct tape to decorate them.

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At the end of the party we presented everyone with certificates to appoint them official Narnian status. TheLionTheWitchAndTheWardrobeCertificate

We had goody bags with small gold lions, lion stamps, gold and silver coins  (bubble gum) and ring pops. It was a loud and rambunctious party that I hope the kids will remember for a long time!

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Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is a beautiful time of year where we are all reminded to be thankful. I love autumn because of the changing colours and sense of transition that it entails. I hate that it means the weather is going to grow colder! . IMG_3844 IMG_3840IMG_3831

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So to embrace the inevitable we decided to head north for Thanksgiving and spend time with the kids’ great-grandparents at their remote ranch.

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We always love our time at the ranch spending precious moments with my grandparents, enjoying the wide open spaces, free-range play and all the animals!

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We were able to maintain a good school routine at the ranch and kept up our math and journals during our time away.

In the past couple of weeks we have had our skating lessons. The kids are really enjoying the lessons and are developing their endurance during the one hour recreation skate afterwards.

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E will perform her group piece at Worship Dance next week and is preparing to auction for the church Christmas play.

In Co-op the kids had a great week reading All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan.

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They spent time talking about important places to their family and are now writing individual books about the meaningful places in their lives.  They have been doing lots of work on structures at STEM camp and at Community Connections they are learning how to paint with an airbrush and are working on still life painting. E is learning about the human brain and is examining the similarities and differences between her life in Canada and the life of a girl growing up in Uganda. D is working on poetry and learning about the seasons. They are both learning movement skills in the PE time.

We also received the link for the documentary we participated in. We show up at 11:24 in Part 1 and if you are interested, you can view it here: http://www.fairchildtv.com/newsarchive_detail.php?n=27&topic=330&episode=609

We are thankful this week for our loving immediate and extended family, wonderful learning community, our friends and the beautiful country we live in. We are truly blessed.

Dividing Lines

I forgot to get my camera out this week so sadly, no pictures 😦
The kids had a great circle time with M and are really taking their apples/ good character traits to heart!
In my lesson we continued learning about genre this week by extending last week’s lesson. The kids played a couple of quick sorting games such as grouping themselves according to who was wearing shorts or pants. Then we grouped according to what colour we were wearing. As they were each wearing more than one of the colours listed they began to consider which group to place themselves in more deliberately. As we became more complicated in our sorting criteria they had to begin asking more questions to determine which category they belonged in. We returned to the library table I had set up and reviewed our genres of fiction and non-fiction. I picked up a storybook, a novel and a poetry book and asked if they were all the same. The kids decided that even though they were all fiction they had very different features. I then start pulling out posters of 12 different genres and we read the definitions together and looked at examples then placed the posters around the room.
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When all the posters were up we broke into groups for the kids to sort our library into the appropriate sections.
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We wrote down some questions to consider as we sorted and learned to delve a little more deeply into how we look at books. There was lots of great discussion during this activity and at the end I asked them to think about which category might be their favourite.
As it was pretty wet out and not everyone had rain gear, we opted for an indoor recess. Most of the kids skipped and then we played a game called Grab the Bacon. I don’t know why this game is called this but played it as a child and always enjoyed it. We created two teams and numbered off each team so that each team had a number 1, 2, 3… player. The teams line up at opposite ends of the playing area then the caller shouts out a number and the two corresponding players have to race to grab an object in the middle called the “bacon”. We used a bright scarf and the  kids were very engaged and competitive about grabbing the scarf! It was lots of fun and a good way to be active on a rainy day!
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In the second half of the class we began making a lapbook that we will add to throughout the term.  For the first activity the children created a little library card index with pockets labelled for each genre. Some of them also worked on their cover designs. Next lesson we will add in more mini-books and some of their personal reflections on genre. I found a great *** free ***link here: http://hedua.com/literary-genres-lapbook which includes all the printables you could want to fill in the lapbook using these 10 genre categories: fantasy, mystery, historical fiction, science-fiction, realistic fiction, poetry, biography, autobiography, fairytale, and tall tales.
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If you haven’t tried lapbooks yet and are interested in learning more then go here: http://howtohomeschoolforfree.com/free-lapbook-notebook-resources/
And for more fun with genre lessons check this out: http://www.3rdgradethoughts.com/2013/10/sorting-books-by-genre-freebie.html
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For the rest of the week we continued with our math and journals. We are also working on a BIG reading response activity. We are planning a Narnia party for October 31! We are so excited and are busy sourcing out props to decorate our house to represent scenes from each book. We will publish a blog post about the party full of pictures after that day but in the meantime we are digging in to our planning and preparation!
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May the autumn winds blow good changes in your direction 🙂

Time flies when you’re having fun!

Another post after weeks of absence and time to regroup! We have been touring this beautiful country again this time with some intrepid grand-parents from Canada. IMG_9520We went to visit the Rhino and Lion Park again: a hungry lion/ ngonyama approaching his dinner.IMG_9220 we so enjoy these incredible views of some of the harder animals to see in the open veld/bush. Cheetahs are such graceful animals and I think they might be my favourite 🙂IMG_9248We found this baby leopard tortoise/ mfutsu crossing the road. We gently helped it safely clear the road and held it for a few minutes.IMG_9363Elands are the larges antelope in SA and are called impofu – the humble one.IMG_9289

Although in captivity, these rare white lions are protected and breeding well in this park. It is with mixed feelings that we participated in the “pet the cubs” creche. The cubs are being hand reared and are regularly exposed to human contact. They are not likely to be released into the wild so the impact of this contact is probably negligible. The wild territories these animals once enjoyed are restricted now to game parks with limited capacities.

I enjoy zoos and aquariums so that my children can experience animals they might never otherwise see so closely. In the wake of recent media attention and the documentary Blackfish,  I have become more concerned about the prioritization of feeding the public appetite for such things over the well-being and general health of the animals. This is my current dilemma as we try to teach our children about God’s beautiful creation and how to be good stewards in caring for our environment and the many creatures within. How do you respond to the questions of viewing/ supporting facilities that keep animals in captivity?IMG_9393From the Rhino and Lion Park we picked up Daddy and drove up, up, up, into the mountains. To show our BC family that Africa too has some respectable mountains of it’s own! We drove through rain and fog beside frightfully unknown drop-offs following the taillights of a taxi ahead that seemed to know the way. We arrived in the dark and woke up to a blanket of clouds so instead of our planned hike to a scenic lookout, the kids went horseback riding instead!USER0938IMG_9487 Later the clouds cleared a little and we went for a short hike to the waterfall pools. We got to see this troop of wild baboons/ imfene(s) along the way, (from a safe distance of course 🙂IMG_9538 Sunrise the next morning was a riot of colour and beauty!IMG_9546 The Drakensberg mountains are stunning in their full glory and we soaked in the serenity and majesty of the landscape!IMG_9552IMG_9553IMG_9566One of the great things about touring SA by car is the opportunity to see these traditional Zulu villages scattered over the hillsides.USER1051Cars also provide some important family memories as we let the kids take turns on various laps while on game drives. (*** We only allow this on game drives as we are inside a park with speed limits of 20km per hour or less and little to no opposing traffic).IMG_0205The reality of another road trip and visiting with special people was that a little less bookwork got done. However, life is a learning journey and as the kids grab onto their field experience with both hands we are seeing them really develop a strong knowledge of South African flora and fauna! We are continuing our quest to learn the Zulu names for every animal we see and try to use only Zulu names when spotting game in the bush. If you would like to learn more about the interesting cultural perceptions of different animals and associated idioms go to this page: http://www.krugerpark.co.za/krugerpark-times-2-1-animals-name-18978.html (if that link doesn’t work then google Zulu names for animals). D is especially quick to remember the names and seems to have an aptitude for language. E remembers more complex info about the individual creatures such as their proper classification and habitat details. She can tell you how many muscles and elephant has in its trunk, (40,000), why it has such wrinkled skin (helps trap water and make it evaporate slowly thereby cooling the elephant off) and how elephants / indlovus communicate.

A very full croc/ ngwenya relaxing on the shore. I love the zulu name for Croc since my sister is named Gwen and after reading the zulu idioms about crocs I am choosing this one for her: “kuva ngwenya emtini” -to be a champion fighter 🙂IMG_0191Southern Yellow HornbillsIMG_0208FrancolinIMG_0217European Bee-EatersIMG_0220  Herd of Indlovus at sunsetIMG_9717 African fish eagleIMG_9813 Snorkeling with Papa in the Indian Ocean.IMG_9884 We don’t know if this is an albino or natural colour variation of a rare Samango monkey. IMG_9924 Normally they look more like this:IMG_9913Rare Canadian monkeys at the seaside in Febrary 🙂IMG_9937 Baby vervet monkeyIMG_9963 Mother and baby, in any species this is always beautiful!IMG_9991

Science experiments in the garden are always a favourite! We learned about fat solubility and tested out a variety of liquids the kids suggested to determine what would happen with different ingredients. Milk produced the most satisfying result!IMG_0222IMG_0224IMG_0229as we prepared to say goodbye to Nana and Papa, we went out to an African themed restaurant with face painting and live music.IMG_0263IMG_0267IMG_0272We all enjoyed the exotic meals of roasted Springbok Shank, Oxtail Stew and Ostrich steak and the kids were pretty willing to be adventurous too. E had a few qualms about eating the national animal, (Springbok), IMG_9298but D decided that it tasted pretty good!

A glimpse into life a world away

Driving in SA is always a bit of an adventure. First of all there is wrapping your head around driving on the “other” side of the road, then there are the taxis and lorries, predictably unpredictable, and once you get sort of used to all that you have the constant parade of “bakkies” full of people in the box and people everywhere selling, or trying to sell you something.IMG_2664 IMG_2665

The adjustments of coming from Canada to Africa are not unpleasant though. As we arrived here at the beginning of spring we have been humbled by the abundant beauty of this place.IMG_2678Jacaranda trees in bloom – a stunning sight!IMG_2679Inexpensive and tasty cappuccino in the morning sun with my sweeties.IMG_2682And the blessing of homeschooling throughout it all! We’ve  been doing lots of art as we lost power for 3 days and had a wicked virus going through everybody. Art was a quiet activity to pass the days and find ways to keep moving ahead with school without electronic support.IMG_6649IMG_6651IMG_6648E has become the resident story time gal when the moms and dads are preoccupied with other tasks. They love to curl up in different corners of the house with a pile of books.IMG_6653 IMG_6654 IMG_6655D has been challenged at school to work on his puzzle skills. He is taking it quite seriously and is continually trying to do more complex puzzles than previously mastered.IMG_6656And as we got into our art vibe we decided to start planning ahead towards advent. I went to my favourite source of inspiration, pinterest, and combined a few different ideas to come up with this cheap and cheerful advent calendar:

Step one: Take a 24 egg flat egg carton. IMG_66862) Number the depressions 1-25IMG_6687 3) measure corresponding squares on an 11×14 piece of and plan a design.IMG_66904) We worked on a couple of art objectives such as using and creating shades of a colour and staying in a cool or warm palette. Silhouette style figures and then pastel technique; rubbing pastels to get a solid coverage and blending for effect. Finally, we sealed the picture with a fabric paint sealer but you could use modge podge or even white glue.IMG_66915) Last you can decide what to put in your calendar. Fill up your slots and then glue, or tape the whole thing closed. I used a cereal box to edge mine and tidy it all up.IMG_6693In and out of arting we have been working away at spelling, reading, math and science. As the children here are preparing for the end of the school year we are prepping for the end of term 1. It will be our first report card meeting by Skype/ Facetime and will require some good planning to accommodate everyone’s schedules and the 10 hour time difference. We are enjoying our life here and feeling so blessed to be in this adventure!

Light a lantern and pour a cup of tea… learning about Chinese customs!

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This week at co-op we learned about China again and reviewed our memory verses in preparation for our recording session next week! Ms. K brought some beautiful items to display from her time in China.

IMG_2843Ms. K then demonstrated a proper Chinese tea ceremony in which the children were very happy to participate!IMG_2860They were great sports and even though the tea was stronger and more bitter than they were accustomed to they were enthusiastic to learn.IMG_2851They followed the tea ceremony with a lesson on Chinese New Year and created a lantern book full of facts about China.IMG_2870

IMG_2871Ms. K also had a great pictograph lesson using the Chinese Zodiac. She had each grade 2 student say the year they were born then come and place the appropriate symbol on the graph. IMG_2879The kids immediately saw the utility of a graphic organizer for it’s ability to show information.IMG_2885 IMG_2889After co-op we had our final day of sports camp. We were so thankful to finally have a sunny day!IMG_2920They played a version of capture the flag trying to capture soccer balls from the opposing team’s net and get them back to their own net. They loved it!IMG_2956 IMG_2981And at the end of the day there was a certificate and freezies for everybody!!IMG_3056We love our co-op group and look forward to each week’s adventures. What is the highlight of your week?

Bees, Butterflies and Caterpillars, oh my!

With a long weekend and warmer summer weather starting school is really winding down, however, we’re not really done yet so without further adieu here are the missing weeks since my last update in mid-may!

First, we went on a great impromptu field trip to the Honeybee Centre as we had run out of honey and wanted to source out some raw local honey to try. This turned out to be a very educational trip with hives to observe, books to look at and samples to try!

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E has been embracing Language Arts this term with reading more complex novels, and a new-found love of writing, Hallelujah!!!! She and her cousin are now engaging in a regular pen pal exchange, she has a diary that is extremely PRIVATE and our house is filling up with little signs and cards that she makes every day.

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In co-op this week we had a medieval market to teach the children a tiny bit about medieval Europe but also to prepare them for the Farmer’s Market sale they will be participating in shortly. We all dressed in prince, princess and pauper clothes and the kids started by reviewing Canadian money denominations by doing coin rubbings and working out some basic change calculations. (ie. “what are three different ways you can make $1?”)

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After practising the money we set up our wares and designated shoppers and sellers.

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Ms. M .made a great observation with the children that a sad or bored seller does not attract customers…

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But a happy, enthusiastic seller does! She demonstrated how you can call out to customers and promote the items you are selling to increase business!

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A few days later we had the pleasure of attending a birthday party for one of our co-op littles that was based on the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

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The moms in our group are always amazing but this party really stood out as a fantastic holistic, community learning adventure! From the decor, to the food and the great activities my children were engaged and enthusiastic throughout!

We made multi-media caterpillars with printed outlines and tissue paper strips and glue,

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butterflies with coffee filters, clothes pegs and food colouring,

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and tiny hungry caterpillar food sculptures with clay. Then Ms. J read the story to the kids.

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They loved every second of it!

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What is the best birthday party you’ve ever been to?