Thursday, September 30, 2004

Reading around

The problem with not blogging regularly is that it takes all evening for me to read around everyone's blogs and catch up (I am a very slow reader & I like details!!), but I'm done now!

On Wednesday we did our first Geography lesson. We learnt the compass points, the difference between a map and a globe and made (well folded together really) this little hexagonal 3D globe which came with the bundle. Then I got the kids to label a floor map of our house, which they really enjoyed and it meant working out which way to hold the map to figure out which room was which. After that they each drew a map of our walk into town, which is a very simple straight line route, but they had to fill in the land-marks, like the railway line & the job-centre, any roads we cross and a roundabout, etc.. That was fun too. Next week we'll talk about continents and countries (although they do already have a vague idea of the difference between those from playing 'globe trotting' - the ELC version of Twister with the seven continents and the main oceans marked on) and then perhaps onto looking at China. I did consider starting closer to home (and still am actually). I need to look closer at the materials and visit the library. What is distinctive about the UK...? I wish we could have made that meet up in London! We have also some made some Swedish friends recently - maybe we should start there...? On second thoughts, I think I will start in Europe, especially as we are 2/3 through completing a jigsaw map of Europe. We could use that as a reference point and I could let the children 'pick a country' to look at. Yes, I think that might work! :) The good thing about the GTG curriculum is that it is a framework and not overly prescriptive. It encourages a continent by continent approach, but it doesn't matter which continent you start at. And it is also 'unit study' style, so there's lots of ideas in there to use.

No art today, but Cath has promised me a double helping in the next two weeks (she had double booked herself for today :( ). The boys have done some nice pieces in the 'art-notebooks' though. I think she'll be impressed. They did them completely unassisted and I was certainly impressed - better than I could do for sure and in just one lesson!!

The boys were dragging their heals a bit by the end of today - but then so was I, so I guess it showed!! They really do work well though on the whole and we do pack an awful lot in sometimes. I was ready to jack it in before them today though. They requested to do some 'Treks' (which is health-ed), but ran out of steam half way through the topic (cleanliness) and as I didn't have much left to start with I struggled too! Still we did it and it wasn't with tears or anything so that was good. Next time I think I will say when I've had enough, even if it's before them!! Children are not always the best judges of what they are capable of are they?!. I was very pleased with them both today though, when they both got full marks in their spellings (10/10 for Joel & 24/24 for Jacob). Admittedly Jacob's were 'easy' for him, but I thought we'd start the term off with a high success rate to encourage him. Joel's I thought were quite tough (words like 'thinking'), but apparently he thought not!! I've been using wordsearches for spelling practice midweek (thanks Merry for that idea) and it seems to be paying off as well as being enjoyable for the boys. :)

Going to bed now. I'm feeling very tired of late. Feel like I wish it was half term already!! Dunno quite what happened to my 'take it easy' week? Somehow I'm just not too good at that and I feel like I need to keep the children busy to keep them out of trouble, or from bickering all the time. Not sure which is more wearing - squabbling kids or having to constantly think about what we're doing next. I think the former in the long run actually!

Night Folks.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Not too good at this Lately...

I just never seem to get two minutes to sit and blog of late and why is that when I think I'm going to get a couple one of the children brings Ellie to me - whether or not she is crying. It really is quite wearing - they just don't seem to be able to leave the poor child alone. Every time she cries - they pick her up. Every time she goes anywhere near the one step we have in our house they lift her down it so she can crawl to me (even though she has realised quite quickly that she cannot get down by herself and just hovers near the edge). Ya, yah, yah,...moan, moan, moan!!

In all though everything is good here. I never seem to see much of Paul of late because either he or I are out most evenings with one thing and another. Speaking of whom... he just got home. Going to say HI! Back in a mo...

Well, while my fab hubby cooks tea...I'll carry on.

No real point filling you in too much on days gone by as nothing special really happened. A usual weekend really. But yesterday we did some cooking again in the afternoon girls had brought home harvest boxes from playgroup, containing various vegetables. So yesterday we made "Abbie & Phoebe Harvest soup!!" (winter vegetable by any other name!). The children did nearly all the work. I helped a little with the pealing, but Joel managed a whole carrot and Jacob a huge spud & an apple by themselves. Then they did ALL the chopping by themselves - took ages, but was very worthwhile. Jacob fried the onions off and they all helped add the water, stock and herbs. They all gave it a mix - which scared me, having them all standing up next to the stove, but it has to be done I guess - in the name of education! It was keeping their hands off the cooker that was worrying, as being electric it does not look obviously hot. I much prefer gas if for no other reason than at least you can SEE the fire and that is usually a good deterrent to small hands!!

A team effort

Joel carefully chopping spuds

Joel chopping more spuds

Jacob pealing apple

Today has been busy, and fun too. We started the day with a puppet show of the story of Queen Esther and Mordecai (from the Bible), just a fresh approach to bible-study for today. Then we got maths out of the way as quick as a flash so that we could get onto 'History' (favourite subject of the moment!) We spent absolutely AGES talking about Adam & Eve eating the apple, and why, and what it meant for the whole of creation. We played a game which illustrated how the world could not have happened 'by chance' which was fun and produced lots of giggles at the thought of animals being created before the land for them to live on & man being around before there was any Sun & Moon in the sky, or even before GOD!(sorry all you folks out there who don't hold to this view and I'm not intending to open a debate on this one, it's just that we are starting our history lessons at the very Beginning and teaching what we believe!!) After we put things in their proper order we sang a song to the tune of 'This old man' about the days of creation. We followed that with another game - all pretending to be different animals and 'Adam' naming each one! To mellow things a little I read a 'story' account of the Garden of Eden and the Fall (we did the Creation chapter the other week) from "Adam & His Kin" while the boys quietly listened and did some colouring of a creation picture. Lots of fun for a history lesson. I really love this Diana Waring curriculum. Although today was combined with some resources from "Considering God's Creation" which came yesterday in an M-bag with my Galloping the Globe Geography curriculum (which looks FAB by the way!!)

Finished the day off with a little English at which point Ellie was a complete distraction;

Elisheva under table!!

Must go help Paul put the kids to bed now. I fell asleep on the sofa at 6pm last night and he did it solo. I didn't wake up til' midnight and went straight to bed, but of course then I couldn't sleep, so I had to get an empty the tumble drier at 1am!! Then I was so bored sleep was not a problem!! Best not leave him to do it all himself again tonight poor man.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Very Quick Update

Sunday - Church as usual. Nice day! :)

Monday - Did some maths with the boys then felt VERY sick. Crawled up the road to collect Abbie from playgroup then went straight to bed when I got home. Jacob & Joel were ACE!! They teamed up and made lunch for all the children (and couldn't understand why Ellie wouldn't eat hers, but as she had been ill on Saturday - VERY sick, I wasn't surprised), put Ellie to bed with her cloth, dummy and music and then settled the other two girls down for a rest too. Played on the PS1 for a while themselves then went and had a nap too until their Dad got home - who I had been unable to contact because he had his phone off!! I promptly was ill myself and floated in and out of sleep all afternoon and night.

Tuesday - arose far too early for someone not too well to got the hospital (for 8am)to have a sebaceous cyst removed from the top of my head. I didn't go down to theatre until 4pm!! WHY was I there at 8am?? Don't answer that one...! Anyway, the job is done and now I have a sore head!

Wednesday - still not feeling too hot, but muddled through school. Boys were very good indeed

Thursday - ditto! I'm amazed how much we did this week considering the amount of time we didn't do school! I've decided we're going to have a 'cool it' week next week because the boys are zipping away with everything and just 'getting' stuff I was expecting to be a struggle. I'm so pleased with the choices I have made for this year. Everything seems to be 'bang on' the mark for them both.

Friday - nothing much. Jacob went out with Paul this morning and collected about a million conkers. Joel had to stay in because he deliberately cut a whole in his T-shirt yesterday with his scissors - right under my nose! I was a little mad to say the least!!

Saturday, September 18, 2004

We're In!

I forgot to blog that Paul has been accepted for Minister in Training status! A-men!! We are so relieved, excited, happy. Now to wait and see what the future holds come next May... I only hate the thought of moving again, both for myself and for the children, particularly the boys. I really love it here and we have all made so many fabulous friends, but we never came with the intention of staying. :( Oh well - not to worry about that yet and I'm sure whatever happens we will be happy ... :)

Hopping Mad!!

I have loads I should be doing, but I have just spent 3 hours cruising round the blog-ring!!

We went swimming this morning, as is our Saturday custom after the boys finish tennis. Jacob spotted a frog at the bottom of the pool! (you have to realise this is not a public swimming pool, it is the one that belongs to Paul's College, that we use for free). He thought it was dead, so I told him to swim down ant lift it out. He re-emerged a little freaked and anounced that it wasn't dead and had wriggled in his hand! I then had the pleasent job of collecting this frog from the bottom of the deep end of the pool. I ushered it to the top of the water and scooped it onto the side, where it sat panting for air, while I struggled out of the pool (the ladder at the deep end is at the menders). By the time I was out he had re-cooped a bit and was a tad 'jumpy'! There I was crawling along the side of the pool trying to catch a frog, whilst also trying to prevent it hopping straight back in! Not a sight for sore eyes I can tell you, but it caused a giggle from everyone!! I eventually caught it, but then of course all of the numerous children we had with us wanted to see the little fellow, who was all too keen to get out of my hands! My friend Helen (after a very careful transfer of hands) then took him to the college fountain, where we thought he would be quite happy!! A little bit of fun anyway!!

The boys have been at Dom's all afternoon and the girls asleep, while I have 'wasted' precious no-kids, no hubby (he's been at college studying) time on here reading all your blogs!! But I'm happy and chilled now:)
The girls are now up ! Ho-humm, best go start tea.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Getting Arty!

Today has been another very pleasant day. It started out with my friend Cath' coming to do Art with the boys. They were so thrilled - and she did so much with them! First they looked at some paintings (in a book) and discussed together the difference between 'realistic' and 'stylised' paintings. They were looking mainly at portraits, but did look at some other things too. There was one painting that Joel said looked like "eyes in space" - cool! It was a painting by Kadinski (if that's how you spell it - I am no coniseur on art at all!) Then She got them to experiment with different mediums and played around with 'smudging' & seeing how each type of implement felt to work with. Joel liked the soft pastels best and Jacob the chalks - although Jacob did something very nice with the oil pastels. They have 'homework' too - collect cut out pictures of faces - all different sorts of faces and draw any picture they like in their art note-book using one of today's mediums. I'm looking forward to seeing what they produce. They really did have fun.

Jacob's smudging!

close up of Jacob's oil pastel shapes & soft pastel names

Joel's smudging

close up of Joel's soft pastel shapes

After Cath' had gone we did spelling tests and both boys got full marks :) !

Then Joel did a little Maths while Jacob did his Handwriting. Joel went off to play at Dom's for a couple of hours and Jacob started playing with Music composition on the PC (got the 'Compose World Junior' demo which I downloaded and it's great fun), so that was his IT . Thursday is a Maths free day for Jacob provided he has finished his work in the week, so that pleased him too. :)

Then Trailblazers club and tea and bed - all very pleasent. Paul even managed to get to footy. I managed to hoover the entire house and get a couple of hours sleep this arvo when Paul came home to do some internet research for his dicitation at the end of the year. Unfortunately Ellie woke up, so Paul didn't do the surfing, but he sat and read instead while she played around his feet. He woke me when tea was ready (fantastic man!!). I also managed to do three loads of washing, which included changing our bed & remaking it. I am impressed with myself!! ;)

Dom' didn't come in the end today because he had a major nose bleed this morning and had to have the day of school. He looked pretty wiped when I saw him so today wouldn't have been the ideal day to start doing 'extra' lessons with him. So Joel went to play at his instead. Michelle said she hoped it would cheer Dom up a little. Joel is pretty good at that! :)

Ellie seems to be getting the hang of crawling without bawling! To begin she seemed to think the two had to go together which was little wearing for a few days, but now she is getting quicker, and it's easier for her, the crying seems to be dropping off - phew!! :)

Forgot to mention - Phoebe started at playgroup last week. Just Thursday mornings. She came out really chatty and happy today and obviously had a lovely time. "nice morning - abbie - play sand...." she's getting there with her talking at last!


Sorry I haven't been blogging much. Paul needs the computer a lot at the mo as his studies are significantly MORE this year, so I get less PC time. :( We need a lap-top - honestly - we really do!! Paul would like one so that he can takes notes in lectures and then work in the lounge of an evening - sounds ideal to me, but we shall have to see what money comes through...

Good things that happened this week;

We got given a car - a Ford Mondeo. Not big enough for all of us at any one time, but a real bless ing all the same - will be very useful for Paul next year. One hitch - neither of us can drive, so now that is WAY up there on the list of priorities!! Paul has been practicing 3 point turns in the yard (yes, our yard is that big even with my Mums Astra in it!!), which is braver than I have been. It's diesel too - so low fuel costs - big boon - :)

Ellie is crawling - have I already told you that one?

Abbie had her first Ballet lesson on Saturday and adored it. :) I'm hoping it will help her with her pigeon toed-ness and improve her 'way of moving' (she is not the daintiest of girls!), but if nothing else I want it for her (and believe me, she really wants it too) because I never had it!! Here's a pic of her dressed and ready to go. She looked a lot less neat when she got home!!

Prima Ballerina!

serious about this

Another good week of school and it definitely seems to be getting a whole lot more fun this year. Joel is so applied for a nearly 6 year old and really understands the concept of reward. "Get this done quick and you can..." Jacob does understand the idea, but struggles with the application and with attention. He also still wants to check he is going to write the right thing before he rights it ALL the time - which is very infuriating! We had a chat today about it and I explained that I actually would like him to pick his own brain a little more often and 'have a go' and then we can talk over what he has written afterwards. I think it got through - tomorrow will tell...! That said we have only a couple of head-on battles this week (which is not just a school thing, it happens about all sorts of things and is more about personality than school - gladly!) which is a major improvement and today he did his Maths in 20 minutes which meant he had time on 'Rainbow Rock' ( a maths CDRom that compliments Singapore Maths) to help cement this weeks lessons in his brain. Joel, on the other hand, is really struggling to commit number bonds to memory. He is normally fabulous with 'memory' stuff, but the numbers thing has got him stumped. So we played with the 'rods' for about 30 minutes (he gets those fine) in the hope of helping him to remember colours ( + = blue) if not numbers initially, because he can then translate the colours to numbers with no problem. I'm not stressed about it though - we were here with Jacob a year further down the line. I know that if we stick at it he WILL get it in the end. I just don't want to bore him in the process. I think we will keep at it until the end of next week and then move on. We can always come back - and I know we will anyway. And we always have Rainbow Rock to help us!!

I went to Ikea on Monday morning with a friend, and bought 3 bookcases (my friend has new Vectra estate)!! Then stayed up until 2am sorting books. One bookcase has boxes of toys on, but the other two are 2/3rds full already. It was nice to clear some space in my other overcrowded bookcases, so that I could actually pull just one book out at a time instead of four! My house is looking more and more like a library - though not to same extent as maybe Jan's does ;) ! We are now up to 5 bookcases and a cupboard almost full of books - not bad for someone who does not have a love of reading!! I feel so much more organized now. A shelf for this and a shelf for that...and the children seem to be able to lay their hands on books easier too. I did try to make it 'child mind' friendly when I was sorting them all.

My friend Cath is coming over to do 'Art' with the boys at 10 in the morning - looking forward to that and I haven't told the boys yet, so that will be a nice surprise for them. They both love Cath and she is so imaginative - I know they will have a great hour with her. :) The girls will be out at Playgroup, so they won't be missing out and maybe I can catch up on some cleaning that seems to have gone sadly amiss for a few weeks. :(

my little pre-schooler!

Had the CIS insurance man over tonight and bought Life/Critical Illness cover and a Savings Plan (we asked them to come) - neither of which we have had for a number of years and were well over due. Tick that one off my list! :)

And on the subject of my title...My friend has asked me to teach/help her little boy with his reading. He is in the same school year as Joel, but whereas Joel is 6 next month, he only just turned 5 last month. His school have used the Jolly Phonics reading scheme, but although Dom' can read a little he is struggling (or at least the school say he is. His Mum is not so sure...). The school have said they are thinking about giving him remedial reading lessons! I just think they have no brains - he is only just 5!!! His parents and I think this is crazy and it's just that he was too young when he started to really take it all on board. So... Dom' is going to come round here once a week (Joel is his best friend) and I will re-teach him from the start, doing about 20-30 minutes of work. I may have to do two letters at a time (but hopefully as it will be a kind of 'refresher' that will be OK) and set his Mum 'homework' to go over with him in the week. She has said she will buy the JP workbooks and I will say what I want him to cover. I'm hoping Joel will join in a little to make it more fun and less 'chore-like' for Dom'. When we have reviewed the basic letter sounds, and he can read to a reasonable level (like where Joel is at now), Joel and him can do a bit of stuff together. What we are really aiming for is him not getting too far behind his classmates because Michelle (Dom's Mum) can already see that it has made a dent in his self esteem and she is sure he has heard people tell him, or he has overheard them say, he can't read. So now he thinks he can't and we need to show him that he really CAN. Poor little lad - 5 and already the system is failing him. :( It's weird though, but I have always thought it would be lovely to have a small group of children in my front room all learning together in a friendly, self-paced, unthreatening way... Maybe this is the start of things to come - a little earlier than I had anticipated. Michelle has offered to pay me too (I've not decided on that one - I like to help out my friends and I just want to see the little boy thrive, but the money could be useful!!).

Still waiting to hear about the MIT - let you all know as soon as!!

Thursday, September 09, 2004


Today was our big day - we had our interview to see if Paul will be accepted into Elim as a 'Minister in Training'. It's scary, as really our future as a family hinge-pins on today. We will not know for a fortnight. We think it went OK... watch this space :)

Because we knew we were out for half the morning I didn't try to cram a whole day's schooling in, but I am amazed at how much we managed to achieve anyway; Maths, Handwriting, R.E.(looking at an old traditional story (not Biblical) of Abraham and how he discovered the 'One True God' ) - the boys drew a 'story-board' which they seemed to quite enjoy doing together and was a good way to help them remember the story. I might try that for other topics too. And Jacob also did some Science.

Having had a reasonably good start to the week I can safely say it got even better. We have finished our first week of 'school' this year and with smiles all round I think. Jacob managed to do his Maths with much less trouble today - I sent him to work at his desk in a room on his own and with less distraction he cracked on. So maybe Maths needs to be a subject he does in quieter, less distracting place. The other subjects we have done this week he seemed to be much better motivated by the bustle of family life around him - like that made his imagination & thoughts come easier. We'll play that by ear, but I guess it makes sense. I have to remember to look at how Jake functions and forget about how I work, or even how I used to work as a child. For me I ALWAYS liked to be somewhere quiet and peaceful. I needed to 'hear' the thoughts in my own head (or numbers if it was Maths) in order to produce anything. Even now I cannot read or work well with noise round me (hence I don't read much - having 5 children!!) and if I am trying to read something that I have to act on or need to retain I really need hush for it to sink in. I find myself constantly telling the children to "be quiet, can't you see I'm reading? I'm trying to concentrate on this." - poor little souls!! How are they to understand what a hard thing it is for me to read amongst chatter and noise? Reading never really became a joy for me, because it has always been such hard work and required such intense concentration from me. But Jacob seems to be quite different. He seems to need constant stimulation of his brain in order for it to produce anything much at all!! That not meant to sound as if he is stupid - he is definitely not that - but just that he doesn't really do the 'fantasy' thing and so 'thoughts in his head' are an alien idea to him (hmm - some 'double en tongues' there I think!!) - he thinks almost everything out-loud (which can be very annoying at times, especially when it tells you that his thoughts are anywhere other than where they are supposed to be at any given time - and causes a constant stream of verbal diarrohea!!) - and when it comes to writing, he likes to check that his thoughts are acceptable before he puts pen to paper. The creative writing course that we are using this year is called "Just Write" and it is so aptly named and it is SO what he needs to learn to do - to almost write before he thinks about what he's thinking about too much! When we started it on Tuesday I must have said "just write" to him about 20 times in the space of the 40 minutes we were working - I'm hoping he will begin to say it to himself in time and get the hang of actually doing so. Jacob is a real thinker, but he thinks in very concrete terms, so everything is very black and white (which is VERY like me) and like I had to, he is having to learn that he has an imagination and how to use it - it does not come naturally to him (or me). So with 'stuff' going on around it is easier for him to exercise a little imagination because he can be fired by what is happening in real-life - iyswim.

Joel is verbally reluctant to do anything, but once we get started gets on fine and joins in enthusiastically. He moaned when I said we were doing R.E today because he thought it was going to be History again - which seemed odd as he had seemed to thoroughly enjoy History on Wednesday! - but once I started asking them questions he answered with gusto - so it appears it is all down-talk with him. I did end up doing a really 'teachery' thing by telling the boys to sit on the floor with their 'legs and arms crossed', purely to prevent them fidgeting and fiddling with the chalks and the blackboard when we were trying to have a together conversation about what they believed about God. I felt a bit mean, but having never been to school they just thought it was funny!! :) - and it is next to impossible to get anything sensible out of wriggly squiggly children, let alone get them to retain anything - although it never does cease to amaze me how much children can learn whilst seeming to be ignoring everything going on around them!!

As far as the 'schedule' goes, I have managed to stick to it for the most part, but I have actually used it more as a framework/checklist. It shows me at the end of the week what I have omitted to cover this week so that I can be more vigilant to cover those things next week. I think it would be next to impossible to get everything on the program covered every week. Things always get thrown out here and there - children don't work to scheduled time slots in reality do they - and nor do baby's bottoms (she says, having just rescued Joel who lifted Ellie off his lap to find poo all over it - and up her back and on her trousers - and... eeew) !!

My friend has agreed to take on the 'art' lessons and is going to do them fortnightly on Thursday mornings for an hour - when the girls are at playgroup - and leave the boys with 'stuff to work on' in between times. She has some great ideas up her sleeve and better still wants to tie it in with teaching them about God, expressions of ourselves and our relationship with Him, our uniqueness, etc... - this term that is. FAB - that's one less subject for me to worry about and I know she will do a far better job than I ever could with my ever-so-not artiness! I might just be able to manage DT - that's less about imagination and more about putting 'plans' into action - more my thing really!!

On the imagination subject - I really am looking forward to teaching my very 'fantastical' Joel and watching him blossom as he begins to find writing less of a chore - and even more so Abbie, whose whole life seems to be one made-up story at the moment. I am so glad that I do have children who don't struggle in this way, as it has always been such an obstacle to me. I really hope that the materials I have bought will only encourage their imaginations to grow and grow. That is what I am aiming at for all my children. I know that workbooks stand a risk of stifling creativity, but I hope that the ones we use will serve only as tools to equip the children and to spark ideas that they can develop at will. So far I have seen a marked improvement from where we left off last year - even in just a week.

I am a smiling Mummy today (P.O.T seeming to have passed now) ! :)
Wow - that was a mammoth post!

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


We had another good day - well until we got to maths that is. What is it with Jacob and maths? He is very able and the work I have set him the last two days he was doing with ease before the hols, but he seems to have really lost momentum...hmmm...just hoping he will pick up again. But he completely loses attention when faced with his maths. Oh well, we'll see.

Otherwise a great day. We got so carried away with history this morning (story of Creation), mazes, code-pages and inventing names for animals the boys didn't know the real names of (because Adam had the job of naming all the animals), which was a whole heap of fun and giggles! Time ran away with us and that knocked everything out by half an hour. Fortunately I have a 1.5 hr lunch break sketched in so we made that just an hour instead - no problem! Then we did Health Ed' - what makes us healthy? (rest - I should take note here!!, good food - NOT junk!, and exercise - Oh well !! I fail on the healthy front then all round!) That was fun too. No time for R.E though, but I've got a gap later in the week - maybe... :)

English was a little stressful because it was the end of the day, but with a little help and encouragement both boys did fine. Joel was thrilled at himself for being able to work out the spelling of the word 'toothbrush' - "that's a really long word Mummy!!" :)

Joel started reading Mr Gumdrops Motorcar and did very well. Jacob started a new book too, but only read one page before some friends came round to play. We even managed to squeeze a few minutes piano practice in for Joel, but he really wasn't in the mood.

At bedtime we read a nice story about a little boy overcoming his fear of the dark - not that any of mine are, but it was a nice story. And we read "Jaberwokey" (probably one of my favourite poems because it holds fond memories of someone I know who recites it SOOOO well) and the "The Jubberlies" which the children thought fun. I thought poems at bedtime might be nice for a bit - especially as I was solo tonight, so it was an easy thing to read to all four at once (baby was already asleep).

Sadly I finished off the day by spoiling it. :( I am over tired and ovulating too, which strangely makes me have PMT symptoms which I no longer get with the M, just my O!? So I yelled at the children very unreasonably considering how fab they've all been today, blamed the boys for stuff the girls had done and generally got myself in a fix - because Abbie couldn't tell me where she'd put her medal and Joel had pulled the string off Jacob's! How mad is that? I yelled at them for not thanking me for putting in effort for them and making them nice things - like a 7 & 5 yr old are going to spontaneously do that, or even realise how much effort it all takes. When I'd cooled, which I did very rapidly - in almost seconds, like my anger had burned itself out, I found myself very humbly apologising to all the children, especially the boys, for my unreasonable behaviour and telling them it was not their fault at all. I think they had not quite known what to say or think and were VERY relieved to hear me say it was me who as naughty , not them!!

On a different note; who was it doing the 'Dinner Winner' medals some time ago? Well I've done the mud-pud thing and pinched the idea, but we also have 'Tidy-up Champion', 'Happy Helper' & 'Super Student' - that way everyone has the opportunity to win a medal, but someone could also win more than one and someone none - iyswim. It's worked for the last two days - a great motivator that is more about attitude and behaviour than about results. So they only win 'Tidy-up Champion' if they have done the job willingly & well. 'Super student' is about good attitude and working hard when it's required (not fiddling and dancing around etc...) and 'Happy Helper' is self explanatory. I'll keep you all posted, but the desire to win and the daily reward seem a fine combination so far. Even the littler ones can understand what it's about - well maybe not Ellie! ;)

Monday, September 06, 2004

First Day Success!!

Yes, today was our first day of 'term and we really had a nice day. Save for Jacob being a bit slow to get going with his maths this morning, all else went according to plan - WOW! I think the boys enjoyed everything and as Joel said "things might get a bit tricky this year" - because the work's a bit harder and there's more of it than last year, but nothing too tough today. We managed to do some 'together' stuff, talking about 'diversity' of life - looking at an atlas to see different races of people. Everybody and everything differs in some way, but every person is the same on the inside. And the day was rounded off with the boys and Abbie making shortcrust pastry, which the boys made a very good job of, that we then made into jam tarts and quiches! The children did all the measuring and cutting, mixing and rubbing, rolling and cutting, whisking (quiche egg-mix) and filling completely by themselves. Very successful :)
I have history planned for tomorrow, as well as RE and health ED. In history we are looking at Creation (and therefore diversity again) and in RE Joel, especially, will be looking at himself & others - how we are similar and different. I can't believe how this is all fitting together SO well. :)
One of the nicest things about today has been that the children have fought very little because they have been so occupied and, although I haven't had a moment to myself really, I have really enjoyed myself (mostly) too.
And possibly the very best moment today was when Jacob asked me to keep reading Winn-Dixie at bedtime (our current read-aloud) because he wanted to know what happened next. He seems to have eventually caught the thrill of hearing a story read to him and the excitement/suspense of not knowing what comes next. :) If I had let him he would have gone to bed and finished the book (only another two chapters), but I told him he would have to wait...What a nasty Mummy I am! But I hope this will make him keener to have me read to him more and more. Even Joel is into the story (as a by-product of having to hear it each night) and wants to know the end, and it's not even his story (he likes to have a different story to his brother, his own story, and not live in his brother's shadow!!).
So a very lovely day all round. I'm very busy for the next couple of days, so if you don't hear from me - you've been for-warned!

Friday, September 03, 2004

All Planned Out...!

The last few days I have been so busy! I am up to my eyes in bits of paper and books - trying to get my 'plans' into something I can actually put into action on a day-to-day basis. Taking the bare skeleton and trying to put some flesh on it's bones so that the children actually have something to work with. I think I'm just going to have to muddle my way through a bit this half term to get a feel for all the new material we are using. I'd like to be able to offer the children some choices each day about what work they do - within my general plan. I have several different resources for English, for example, and I'd like to not get too stuck in one book or another, but be flexible to the mood of each day. All this 'flexibility' scares me silly - I am one who really needs black & white schedules, but I don't want my children to become as rigid as I am! I'd like them to learn to think 'outside the box' - which means I have to get out of it myself! For Jacob this could be quite a challenge, as he is also one who likes to know exactly what is expected of him each day - page numbers and all. But I think it will good for him, and stretch him more, to have to decide what material he'd like to use that day, set himself a target (with some guidance) and then to stick with his own decision. I hope this will also mean that he learns to think a little more creatively about what each day CAN contain.
But in the meantime I am busy scanning and printing stuff, gathering all the 'crafty' bits and collecting the right books together, ready to get us started on Monday. I am amazed at how things are fitting together so nicely - well for the first week at least!! I'm sure things will get out of synch' in time, but for now it's all looking very much like unit study - only unintentionally!! I think they call it 'cross curriculum' study in schools these days! :)

For Joel (yr1):
English Language - focusing on 'ME' - verbal descriptions and pictures of, portrayal of mood in pictures etc...
Art - looking at self-portrait (personal to 'ME' and those of professional artists).
RE - looking at ME and my relationships.
Science - looking at 'Parts of ME'.
Music - rhythm and feeling the beat (internalising the feel of the music - what does it make ME feel?)
History - Creation (including of ME)
Geography - don't know - still waiting on the parcel! :(
Cookery - plans to make bread Dough faces maybe.
Health Ed' - well that all about ME anyway!

For Jacob (yr3):
English Language - Brainstorming (MY ideas)
English Comprehension - Not really looked at that yet.
RE - looking at Judaism and what God means to the Jewish people.
History - same as Joel
Geography - same as Joel
Science - Living & Non Living things, diversity,characteristics (fits nicely with studying creation, and with Judaism to a point)
Art - same as Joel
Music - same as Joel
Health Ed' - same as Joel

I'd just like to blog my lovely Wednesday too:

Paul left the house at 9am for college - his first day back. He had already fed two of the children and it was beautiful sunny morning. I decided we needed to use it well, as we've seen too few this summer. So I quickly fed the other three & myself and motivated them to get dressed quickly by stating that we were going to feed the ducks. We were out of the house by 9.40am (unheard of) and spent the next two hours walking, feeding ducks, playing on 'the beach' (the river shore) throwing stones and having leaf-boat races, and watching the water mist rising above the weir and then crossing the weir so we could 'feel' it too. Then we played in the park on the swings for a bit. Jacob then met a friend and went back off to the river with them. I didn't see him again until 7pm! Joel decided he'd like to knock his friend's door too and so spent most of the afternoon (him & Abbie) playing there. That left just Phoebe, me and Ellie at home. Ellie had her usual nap and Phoebe wanted to watch Blues Clues - it's not often she gets the choice of the video - which she promptly fell asleep in front of. It was so peaceful here and I didn't feel guilty because I had given them all such good quality time in the morning. :) I spent the time on the computer - planning (Ho Humm) - but I so wish I'd just sat and read my book!