Monday, May 07, 2012

Premier's Reading Challenge 2012


It's that time of year in Queensland again!  

'' The Premier's Reading Challenge is an annual event, aimed at improving children's literacy, cultivating a passion for literature and encouraging children to read widely for pleasure and learning.

The challenge encourages students from Prep to Year 7 to read or experience a variety of books.   The Premier's Reading Challenge is not a competition, but a way to encourage greater involvement in reading and develop a love of reading for life. 
All students can participate.   

Now in its seventh year, the challenge aims to help young minds to learn through literacy by boosting the number of books children read, and encouraging them to read more challenging texts.

In 2011, more than 680 schools and over 110,000 students participated in the challenge. 
More than 78,000 students successfully completed the challenge reading over one million books.  ''

Visit  Premier's Reading Challenge to register and download reading record forms.  The list of books is always includes books by Australian authors, and new books that you may not have come across yet.  We'll be participating as a bit of fun.  Doing our bit for the National Year of Reading ;)

All the best!  

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Australian Money

Australian Money - data gathering and recording, money denominations, internet research.

Get the information straight from the mint!

They even have an education page, with worksheets, activities and puzzles.

We did make our own information gathering document.   Add a bit of experience fitting writing into a small, allocated space ....

BlueBelle did rubbings for all the coins (yes, I washed them first!), and filled in the the information using

10 cents reverse image - lyrebird20 cents reverse image - platypus2010 Australia Day 50 cents coin1 dollar reverse image2 dollars reverse image - traditional Australian Aboriginal - HH initials removed

Information gathered:
  1. shape
  2. composition
  3. edge
  4. millimetres
  5. how many add up to a dollar
  6. representing numbers in number symbol and writing

DD measured the coins using one of our many circle templates.  Drafting tools come in handy!

Rank-Broadley's obverse design on coins of different denominations

Followed by some classic book work!

For the notes, we will copy using a colour copier and revisit the exercise using If anyone has a few hundred dollar bills laying around that they would like to donate to an educational cause, please get in touch ;)
Notes are printed in Melbourne by Note Printing Australia.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Rock Art

“Rock, stone, pebble, sand; body, shoulder arm, hand; 
A moat to dig a shell to keep, All the world is wide and deep.” 

Rock Art:

What you need:
  • watercolour paper
  • masking tape
  • watercolour paint
  • pebbles or stones
  • time!

Prepare your watercolour paper  ( Preparing Watercolour paper ) . 

These are very professional directions.  I use masking tape, and have never fully 

submerged my paper ... I give it a liberal dousing with a wet paint brush.   

Let your paper dry in the sun, and then mount it onto a clipboard, 

drawing board, cardboard with masking tape.

Select some stones or pebbles. 
Heavy, smooth ones seem to work best.

Mix a range of complimentary watercolours

Tape your paper onto a board/ piece of masonite/plastic tupperware lid - 
anything flat that wont get soggy.


Start to layer your watercolours, by dabbing a colour ladden brush onto the top of your stone, and letting the water drip and run.  Let the paint dry at various stages. 
Do not move the stone until you are finished and the last layer has dried!   

After a few days they may (or may not!) resemble these.
The whole process can take a day, or two or three - depending how much sun you have, and how much patience and time.
It's art, geology and character building ;) 


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Science Workshops: Mini-beasts

CSIRO Workshop: Mini-beasts

One of the Home Ed. moms seamlessly organizes incursions, about once a month throughout the year, to the CSIRO educational workshops.  We love them!  The whole day is an event, as we have to plan ahead, leave home early to catch the train, and then often take our time getting back afterwards.

This week the education officer/friendly scientist presented a workshop called Mini-Beasts. There is a full list  of available workshops  here.

The journey was extra-special, as this was the first time BlueBelle used her own go-card
Definitely worth getting if you are travelling around on public transport.

There were a number of activities set out for the children to work through. I think the activities were very thorough.  From life cycles, food chains, social insects, classifying orders, parasites, pests and beneficial insects, insect anatomy, ideas on how to catch insects, insect sounds and even insect xrays.  

And the facilities are terrific as well - microscopes, digital microscopes, light boxes, specimen and of course insects both models and live.  We were pleased to see our old friends the stick insects  - alive and thriving, unlike the specimens below.

Some entomology and related links you may like:

hands-on life cylces charts:   Dragonfly; Butterfly; Beetle

Of course no day is complete without a butterfly on your nose.

in the garden 
the little girl dances 
behind the butterflies

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Geography Landforms

Geography Landforms

We love making these.  
And it's very easy. We use air dried clay, because they are something we make often.  When we move onto making continents, and have perfected that art, we'll use the more durable oven baked fimo ... because they'll make a good reference resource.

Print out the landform cards.  
Here are some good ones

Trace the outlines onto tracing paper and cut them out (keeping the negative and positive shapes).  
Fill a container lid with clay.   Place the cutout on top of the clay.  

Scoop out clay to suit your landform.  

Wait for them to dry.  

Fill the ocean with blue sand/marbles/buttons/pom-poms/paper/rice ...  they won't last long with blue-food-coloured- water, but you can always make some more.

And then you might like to locate some landforms on a wall map or in an atlas, or try the 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Edgar Degas

... and all things Ballet

This term BlueBelle started attending  ballet class 
with her friend DollFace.  DollFace started school this year, 
and so it is an opportunity 
for them to see each other, though it doesn't make up for 
a day of free play.  
Bring on the school holidays I say!! 

Anyway, so, in Natural Learning stylie, March morphed 
into Ballet month.
Our artist for the month  - Edgar DEGAS
our composer - DEBUSSY
country - FRANCE
 city  - PARIS
 language - FRENCH

I was unable to convince BlueBelle to try  snails.

We've read a number of books about Degas and the Impressionists.  And we've discovered that there is a Degas painting exhibited a train ride away at  QAG/GoMA

Edgar Degas | France 1834-1917 
Trois danseuses à la classe de danse (Three dancers at a dancing class) | c.1888-90 
Oil on cardboard | 50.5 x 60.6cm 
Purchased 1959 with funds donated by Major Harold de Vahl Rubin 
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

We discovered that Edgar Degas was one of the first artists to popularise the use of pastels.  BlueBelle was fascinated by his bronze sculpture that makes use of real hair and real fabric.  

The only sculpture Degas exhibited during his lifetime -''Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer''.  

A couple of other favourites, 
aren't these paintings exquisite ....  

Edgar Degas | France 1834-1917 
The Rehearsal c. 1873-78;
Oil on canvas, 41 x 61.7 cm
Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

File:Edgar Germain Hilaire Degas 005.jpg
Edgar Degas | France 1834-1917 
Ballet Rehearsal on the Set. 
Oil on canvas
Musée d'Orsay, Paris, Franc

Of course, little Miss had to modify her ballet shoes, and wear 
a ribbon around her neck.   Ballet teacher was not amused, and 
BlueBelle had to remove all adornment before going into class.  
I understand both sides .......

This is a small part of our Ballet / France / Paris stack
 (no, they are not in alphabetical order!)

 Edgar Degas : dance like a butterfly   Wenzel, Angela
 Little ballerina : inspired by a painting by Edgar Degas   Kerillis, Helene
 Ballet : a step-by-step guide to the secrets of ballet   Hackett, Jane
 Edgar Degas, 1834-1917   Growe, Bernd.
 Portraits : dancing through fire   Lasky, Kathryn.
 The life and work of Edgar Degas   Woodhouse, Jayne
 Children's book of music   Lock, Deborah

 Angelina on stage   Holabird, Katharine
 Lettice : the dancing rabbit   Stanley, Mandy
 Gina the dancing queen   Alo, Marisa
 Olivia leaps!   Shaw, Natalie

I can't recommend this book enough - it is so cute 
and sprinkled with French vocabulary.

This book is also cute.  
Pom Pom takes a tour around Paris,
but ends up in the best place of all.

[sound recordings] 
Madame Pamplemousse and her incredible edibles - Kingfisher, Rupert
Madame Pamplemousse and the enchanted sweet shop - Kingfisher, Rupert
The twinkling tutu -  Rees, Gwyneth

Paris: Capital cities a tourists' guide  
 The Eiffel Tower 

OOOh, we've also added an interest-led component to our spelling.  
I ask BlueBelle what words she'd like to learn,  we write the words on slips of paper and then keep them in an envelope labelled with the theme/topic.  This month we have added these words to the Ballet envelope:    
  • ballet
  • ballerina
  • beauty
  • beautiful (eat apples up!)
  • dance
  • satin
  • ribbon
  • point
  • stockings

And finally, before the crashing pc annoys me further, some Debussy for you :)

Saturday, March 03, 2012

A day in our Life

As earth turns around the sun, so are the days of our lives ...  (or something to that affect!).

Two days a week that are assigned to extramurals, and though we often do 'work' on these days I don't count on them.   So, an average non-extramural day goes something like this.

06:00 - Alarm sounds.  DH gets up to shower etc.  DD is up shortly afterwards.
06:30 - DH and DD have breakfast together while I shower, make bed, put a load of washing in.  
07:00 - Wave DD goodbye, get ready for the day. Load dishwasher, put the kettle on for early morning tea. 
07:30 - Maths: prepared activity, times tables or some kind of maths game.
08:30 - Music: either practice, theory or history / Japanese / Botany
09:15 - English: writing, reading or spelling 
10:00 - morning tea,outside play  (chores)
11:30 - Geography or Science activity 
13:00 - lunch (hanging washing, quick vacuum and tidy)
14:00 - art, craft or some sort of 'making', often related to, and whilst listening to an audiobook. 
15:30/16:00 - afternoon tea, outside play

We swap things around every now and then.  And, sometimes find that we hit on something particularly interesting and keep doing that all morning, or all day.  I'm trying to fit early morning gym in .... getting there!

17:30 - tidy, bath, dinner, teeth
19:15 - storytime, sometimes a little time to read 
20:00 - mommy time after cleaning the kitchen! prep, emails, skype, CQHS, scrabble, assignments.
23:00 - bed, which is too late and has to be changed.

Great Not Back to School Blog Hop ... 4 weeks left of the term?!?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Our plans for the year

I approach this post with trepidation.  The next in the Not Back to School bloghop .   

We are naturally eclectic, strewing, neo-classicists. There, I've said it! lol.

As this is our first year of official schooling, I'm approaching the year using the National Curriculum  (version 2 ) guidelines, and seeing how they apply to us, where BlueBelle is situated according to these (arbitrary but Dept. Ed necessary) and getting my head around reporting for HEU.

English Language 2012
Mathematics 2012
Science 2012
Social Sciences 2012
The Arts 2012
LOTE 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012


Over the weekend, while DH was mowing the lawn a gust of wind blew his hat off.  Now, this is no ordinary hat, so it had to be retreived, and in a hurry!  The hat had landed on the dam and was heading towards the swamplands.   Nothing for it but to call back into service our, mostly ornamental, row boat.

she doesn't look like much, a duck haven at best

but, amazingly, she floats!

hat was retrieved with the multifunctional rake-oar

all parties safely ashore, mission complete

Dad had to be reassured that being called a water rat with a mole for a passenger was a good thing!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Our learning places and spaces

Week 3 in the Not Back to School Bloghop.   

The topic this week, learning spaces.   Well, we work and learn in numerous places.

at the writing desk

at the outside table

at the dinning room table
at the lounge room table
basically, any unsuspecting table .... 

in the 'playroom' on the floor

on the deck

on the grass

at the park

at the library
in the car
at the art gallery
at the EcoScience building
oOOH, and how could I forget? The Kitchen!
and all over the world

After the last big rain the playroom sprang a leak which saturated in the inside skin of the walls, as well as a strip along the edge of the carpet.  
On pulling up the carpet we discovered funky mould - out it went, all of it, including the wall skins.  
So, at the moment the playroom looks like this ....  

The assessor came last week, and hopefully we can start fixing the room next week.  I'm planning to paint everything white, and let BluebBelle and friends treat it like the Kusama exhibition -  ' Obliteration Room'. Husband has resigned himself to the idea, poor chap, lol.

The obliteration room

If you haven't played the game have a go ;)    Kusama's World of Dots